Page 1273 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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MR BARR: We all have the opportunity to lobby. I do take the opportunity to meet with the telcos and we do raise issues of coverage, but I do not have a legal or legislative or constitutional power to require them to deliver mobile phone towers in particular areas. I undertook, in response to Mrs Kikkert’s representations, to have the issue raised. But seriously, to suggest that this is a territory government responsibility and it has taken 10 years for anything to happen when your party has been in office for a decade and failed to address the issue. Why do you not raise the question with your Senate colleague Zed Seselja, who is supposed to represent ACT residents on this very issue?

Alexander Maconochie Centre—human rights

MR BRADDOCK: My question is directed to the Minister for Corrections. Minister, in protecting the human rights of detainees, could you please give us an update about the progress of utilising body scanners to replace strip searches in the AMC?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Braddock for the question. It is quite important that we do whatever we can to provide the best human rights compatibility that we can in our prison. Through that, as Mr Braddock suggested, we are purchasing some scanners that will alleviate the situation. There may still be a need to do some searchers, depending on the particular situation, but I am pleased to say that the purchases are occurring, and we are moving to install those as soon as we can.

MR BRADDOCK: Minister, can you please explain in which situations a strip search will need to be undertaken.

MR GENTLEMAN: ACT Corrective Services has recently finalised a new searching policy. This new policy makes it clear that there are no grounds for mandatory or regular strip searching of detainees, including on entry to the crisis support unit. The policy also reiterates that strip searching may only occur where there is no option for a suitable less intrusive search—in other words, at the last resort. The policy has a specific focus on appropriate decision making on a case-by-case basis for searches of persons, with the consideration of the detainees’ human rights embedded within the decision making.

MS CLAY: I have a supplementary question. How does ACT Corrective Services ensure that detainees’ human rights are respected?

MR GENTLEMAN: We do respect the human rights of all detainees, and we are committed to upholding our responsibilities in relation to the living conditions, as outlined in the Corrections Management Act 2007. As minister, I continue to work with the corrections commissioner to ensure the welfare of detainees. Together we will continue to review past practices, which, on occasion, did not meet standards, including human rights. These were before my time as minister, and before the current commissioner’s tenure. But it is also important that we respect the human rights of our workforce and ensure that they have a safe workplace. The Blueprint for Change process has been an important part of this.

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