Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (30 November) . .
In its response to the Moss review, the government agreed to recommendation 8 pertaining to the development of an inspectorate of custodial services. Similar recommendations were also made in 2007 in a human rights audit and in 2016 in the JACS inquiry into the Auditor-General's report on the rehabilitation of male detainees.
The Canberra Liberals welcome greater oversight of our correctional facilities in the ACT, including the troubled Alexander Maconochie Centre, the somewhat troubled Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and no doubt other places of detention such as under the courts building. This body will also have jurisdiction over ACT Corrective Services court cells and other facilities managed by ACT Corrective Services.
Establishing a preventative, proactive and independent role with expertise and resources to effectively conduct a full audit of any or all ACT correctional environments, with the ability to make recommendations to government, is a positive change. Such a body will hopefully ensure that detainees' rights are protected and make our correctional facilities more transparent and accountable.
We as a territory must tirelessly strive to operate our correctional facilities at the highest standards at all times. We do not have a death penalty in the ACT, yet prisoners have died in our custody. We do not want to see a repeat of such events.
The inspectorate will operate in an environment where other oversight bodies already exist. We are pleased to see that the minister has made it a requirement for the inspector to ensure that functions are exercised in a way that does not delay or unnecessarily duplicate functions by existing oversight bodies. This allows the inspector to refer matters that may be dealt with better by other bodies. In turn, other existing oversight bodies will be required to work with the inspector. These are positive requirements.
While this legislation is welcome, we would like to see greater consultation on and accountability in the appointment process. How will the person be treated if their findings are adverse? We have already seen in the previous term that official visitors, especially a couple who were really honest in committee hearings about problems in the correctional facilities, seemed to be being replaced at the next opportunity.
I want to reiterate that we would like this to work properly. I would like to make sure, where possible, that there is full confidence in the person appointed to this role and less opportunity for government to respond in unhealthy ways to any negative findings that are found.
Given that there have been plenty of issues inside the AMC, including deaths, bashings, escapes and overcrowding, it is vital that the entire Assembly and the ACT community have full confidence in the appointment of the inspector. The Canberra Liberals are concerned that the appointment process as outlined in the bill creates a situation where the inspector is an appointment purely of the executive, although I acknowledge there would be two ministers involved.
We have concerns that this creates something of a conflict of interest. The executive is selecting the person who will review and make recommendations on the actions of the
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