Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 12 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3617..
Mr Rattenbury presented the following paper which was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting:
Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act, pursuant to section 13—Annual Reports 2012-2013—Territory and Municipal Services Directorate (2 volumes), dated 19 September 2013.
Alexander Maconochie Centre—capacity
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (4.00): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement concerning the pressures faced in the Alexander Maconochie Centre which I was scheduled to give earlier in the day but which was deferred due to the lunch break.
MR RATTENBURY: I rise today to provide a statement on the current pressures facing the Alexander Maconochie Centre, or the AMC. As members would be aware from recent statements I have made in the media, the AMC is currently experiencing record population and separation pressures and is nearing full operational capacity.
It is a fact that it is impossible to precisely predict future numbers of detainees, and this is the case across all Australian jurisdictions. In the case of the ACT, for instance, it is hard to imagine a more unpredictable scenario than the one the AMC has faced in 2013. Just 10 months ago, in January 2013, detainee numbers sat below 240. They have exceeded 340 in the last few weeks. That is a growth of more than 40 per cent.
This rapid growth in numbers is unexpected. In short, this is an extraordinary situation and one that requires immediate attention and a whole-of-government response.
I express my deep respect for and gratitude to the Corrective Services staff who are acting with exceptional professionalism under very trying times. They are all working in a difficult environment and they are doing it extremely well.
I would like to focus on the current situation before us, but I acknowledge that there has been a lot of discussion regarding the past. I am focused on those matters that have been presented to me in my time as minister, but I will say that regardless of whose projections were used, and whatever else was decided on over 10 years ago, the situation before us is completely unprecedented.
The average number of detainees in the AMC had risen consistently since the prison opened, as members would know. What may be of some surprise is the dramatic increase on the 2012-13 average of 266.