Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 4356..
dinkum about it. Does anyone really believe that Jon Stanhope and his government were fair dinkum about stopping drugs from getting into the prison? What was their focus? Their focus was not about keeping it drug free, about preventing contraband from coming in. Their focus, as always, was on the wrong issues. Their focus was on getting artwork into the prison. Their focus was on being able to call it the most human rights compliant prison in the country.
We certainly paid top dollar for this prison. We certainly paid for something that should have given us a better outcome. But now we are told we should simply accept that there is nothing this government can do. Despite the fact that we paid the most expensive price per bed for a prison in the country and the fact that it is the most expensive to run, what do we get? We get worse results, it seems, than other prisons.
This is a sell-out. This government and this Labor-Greens alliance are now selling out the interests of prison guards. They are ignoring their genuine concerns and they are selling out the interests of prisoners who genuinely wish to rehabilitate themselves. For that reason this motion should be supported today, and I commend Mr Hanson for bringing it forward.
Sitting suspended from 6.03 to 7.30 pm.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (7.30): The Greens will be opposing the motion from Mr Hanson today. There has been much mention by Mr Hanson in the media and here today in his speech about needing to stop drugs getting into the prison, with very little mention about how he would actually do this. His point is particularly relevant, given every prison, not just in Australia but around the world, has not been able to implement policies or procedures for this to occur.
Mr Hanson's recent call has been for randomised drug testing to be introduced at the AMC. Mr Corbell has today stated that this already occurs, as has Mr Stanhope in his speech earlier. I am also aware that all prisoners have a blood and urine test when they arrive at or enter the prison, which would also potentially pick up any possible drug use.
I will be interested in seeking some further information from Mr Corbell, the corrections minister, on how the tests are conducted at the AMC as there is information from new case studies on randomised drug testing conducted in the UK which does present some concerning information. These studies are some of the most comprehensive on this subject.
A number of studies have been conducted into the UK system of drug testing, including both qualitative and quantitative analyses. The most comprehensive analysis provided by the University of Central England and Birmingham indicated that the low detectability of hard drugs, in particular heroin, meant that random drug testing did not typically act as a deterrent for drug taking. The relatively high level of detectability of so-called soft drugs such as cannabis means that there is a measurable effect on individuals switching from these drugs to intravenous drugs.
Broad-ranging surveys of prison officers, governors and prisoners indicated that a likely effect of mandatory drug testing was to shift soft drug use to hard drug use.