Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2823..
Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.30 pm.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I will be taking questions that would otherwise be directed to my colleague Bill Wood, who, members realise, is representing the territory elsewhere today. For the information of members, in Mr Wood's absence, Mr Corbell is Manager of Government Business.
Questions without notice
MR HUMPHRIES: My question is to the minister for corrections, Mr Quinlan. It concerns the remand centre at Symonston. On 9 April this year, you told the Assembly that there would be a protocol that would ensure that "low risk prisoners go there". The Southside Chronicle reported on 22 January:
Mr Quinlan said most of the prisoners sent to Symonston under his proposal would be women because they were considered less of a risk.
I do not recall seeing any correction to that article in the Chronicle. The capacity of the Symonston facility, Minister, is 30 prisoners. We have heard that in recent weeks. Is it not the case, Minister, that there would be, on average, only one or two fine defaulters in the corrections system at any one time and, on average, five or six women in the system at the same time? Will the balance of prisoners, therefore, held at the remand centre at Symonston be-again I quote you-"real-life criminals"?
MR QUINLAN: If people are on remand, I do not know that they are real-life criminals.
Mr Humphries: That is how you described them in the Estimates Committee.
MR QUINLAN: Yes. They are yet to be tried for the particular offence that they may be in for. There has been some misinformation in relation to the extension to the Belconnen Remand Centre. Let me repeat for the benefit of the Assembly that the use of the Periodic Detention Centre as an extended campus for the Belconnen Remand Centre was part of the announced ALP policy before the election. The ALP announced that it would not build a prison at Symonston. Mr Hargreaves, our corrections spokesman at the time, produced a policy document which included that statement, and at the same time he put out a press release to say that.
What we have tried to communicate-whether it be good, bad or indifferent-is that we would try to ensure that prisoners that went to the Symonston remand centre annexe were, by the judgment of those in corrections, prisoners who were of less risk. That is the message we are trying to get across.
It seems to me that the misinformation the opposition is trying to get across is that very dangerous people are being placed in Symonston. That is unfortunate. You choose your politics as you may, but we have said that we will try to put in place a protocol that ensures that prisoners considered less likely to try to escape and prisoners considered to