Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1397..
Mr Stefaniak (continuing):
diseases. Those are the kinds of issues that the Greens are tackling. We have accepted that there is a need for a prison in the ACT. We think that sentencing should be a subtle art—it is an art—and that it should be related to the needs of the individual and the community, who will do better if our offenders are rehabilitated.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (4.41): This is a very important MPI, and I thank Mr Stefaniak for putting it on the agenda today. The whole question of corrections in the ACT is currently very, very murky in the amount of detail that the former minister would put out about it. I am sure the new minister will correct that and make sure that lots of detail about what is going to happen is out there in the public so that we can have a realistic discussion about what this government intends.
This government in 2001 said that before they built the prison they would design the programs, because, of course, the programs that you have will determine what sort of prison you design; that, having designed the programs, they would then come up with a plan for the shape and size of the prison; and, once they had the shape and size of the prison, they would then go and look for a site that would accommodate the prison. That all went out the window as soon as they were elected, because all they have done is pick a site. Then they put a plan in place—and then Mr Corbell called that plan in. We are yet to hear anything about the programs that the government has designed to make sure that the prison works—and, of course, programs like that are expensive.
That gets us to the second point: we have not seen or heard from the government anything about the real costs of the prison. The former minister for corrections, the Chief Minister, said that it was $110 million, and it was $110 million, and it was $110 million. No matter how hard we pushed, it was still, remarkably, after three or four years since that figure first appeared, going to be $110 million. Then a year or two back it was suddenly $128 million in 2003 dollar terms. I am not sure what he is working on there, but if from 2001 to 2003 it went from $110 million to $128 million it is about eight per cent growth a year—$110 million this year, $118 million next year, $128 million the following year, $139 million the following year, and the year after that it would be about $150 million.
In those terms, with that multiplier of about eight per cent, the cost has got to be at least $160 million—and we know the government is cash strapped, and we know that the Chief Minister, the now Treasurer, does not know the difference between a budget and appropriation, because he constantly told us he had appropriated all the money for the prison: "The money's in the bucket. Don't you understand? I've got the money. I've appropriated the money."In fact, what he had appropriated was just under $60 million—and there is the problem: the government has still got to find $100 million to build the prison. Perhaps the minister would like to tell us at some stage in the next couple of days whether it is going ahead and has he got the $100 million.
Mr Stefaniak has been following up the whole issue of the recurrent costs. It seems that they will be okay. Currently, there are about 110 prisoners interstate at a cost of somewhere between $10 million and $12 million a year. We have a plan for a 376-bed prison. You cannot just staff part of the wall. You cannot make it secure for just a small population. You have to secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the whole prison. One figure that I think was used was that it will cost about $19 million. So to double or triple