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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 1 June 1995) . . Page.. 735 ..


PERIODIC DETENTION BILL 1995

Debate resumed from 11 May 1995, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CONNOLLY (3.28): Mr Speaker, the Periodic Detention Bill 1995 is a Bill the Labor Opposition will quite warmly support. That is perhaps not surprising, because it is a Bill that was developed to its near final stage during the period we were in office. Indeed, for about the first 2¾ years of that period I had precise responsibility for it, not only as Attorney-General but, for the greater part of that period, as the Minister responsible for corrective services. In the latter stages, from April of last year, Mr Lamont took that package forward and got it to its near final stage. It is, as Mr Humphries indicated in his presentation speech, a very significant move and something we fully applaud Mr Humphries for taking to finality. I am very pleased that in government the differences between the two parties on issues of law and order are remarkably less open than they appeared sometimes to be when the Liberal Party was in opposition. We heard a lot of rhetoric about the absolute top priority, an absolute demand, being an ACT prison. I note that the Government has now indicated that nothing will happen about that during the life of this Government.

As Mr Humphries said in his presentation speech, and very correctly, this issue should really be approached first from the alternatives. There is no doubt that in other parts of Australia the idea of periodic detention has proved most effective as a method of deterrence, particularly for those lower level offences. Money was made available in last year's budget, I believe, for the refurbishment of what was Quamby - that is, what was once the juvenile detention centre - to be an appropriate centre for periodic detention. That work has been completed. I understand that the centre is pretty much up and ready to go and that it is the intention of the Government that this program be introduced as rapidly as possible. That is something the Opposition will fully support.

There can be problems with periodic detention. There have been some difficulties in the early stages. There have been some rather overoptimistic methods of taking periodic detention further in some parts of Australia, and I am pleased that we are being a little cautious about that. When this method was starting to be trialled there were some experiments on home detention in South Australia, which at one stage looked terribly attractive, taking it the next step along the way. Instead of losing your liberty between 5.00 pm on Friday and 7.00 am on Monday by fronting at the detention centre, you would wear an electronic bracelet device which would monitor you and ensure that you remained at your residential premises. That was hoped to be a great new initiative.

There have been some disturbing suggestions that in domestic violence cases that has tended to have a counterproductive effect. A person is at home, frustrated and unable to do anything; but he is in the domestic environment, he tends to have little to amuse himself with other than the fridge and the television, he tops up with intoxicating liquor from the fridge, and incidents of domestic violence which often have been the trigger for


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