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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3301..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

used by the RFS and the SES as a secondary means of communications for vehicle location, crew location and short text messages.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, why has your government managed FireLink so badly given that it is two years late, it is well over budget and it still does not work properly?

MR CORBELL: As I have just indicated, it is working. It has now been working comprehensively for at least the past month. That is very pleasing. I look forward to that continuing in the future.

Alexander Maconochie Centre—rights of prisoners

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Attorney-General and is in regard to the Alexander Maconochie Centre. The recently published drug, alcohol and tobacco strategy makes no mention of a needle and syringe program. However, yesterday you said that these matters were still being considered. The ACT government has also said that it will attempt to make the centre human rights compliant. Could you please advise the Assembly what advice or recommendations the human rights commissioner has provided to the ACT government regarding the need, according to human rights principles, to provide a needle and syringe program within the centre, as is provided to the wider public?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. Issues on drug and alcohol programs in the prison are subject to a separate policy framework; that is, the corrections health policy framework, not the broader community framework. The corrections health framework has yet to be agreed by the government. The corrections health plan is still in preparation between my department and the department of health. That will continue. It is at the consideration of that plan that issues on alcohol and drug programs in the prison will be properly considered.

In relation to issues on human rights compliance, certainly it is the case that I have asked the human rights commissioner to give advice to my department and to the government as a whole on the issues of human rights and the provision of health services in the prison. That is a very important consideration when the government is at a point where it makes a decision about the types of drug and alcohol programs that are available in the Alexander Maconochie Centre. The human rights commissioner will assist in informing that decision. The government will consider the corrections health plan. It will be that plan which determines drug and alcohol programs in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

DR FOSKEY: Minister, what findings has the government made regarding the risk to prison staff of a high proportion of prisoners having hep C and hiding needles that are shared versus the risk of prisoners having access to clean and personal needles kept in locations known by prison staff?

MR CORBELL: Again, these are issues which are part of the consideration of the provision of alcohol and drug programs in the prison. Those types of programs will be considered through the development and endorsement of the corrections health plan. The corrections health plan has not yet been endorsed by government. When it is, I am sure the government will be in a position to outline comprehensively its response on the full range of health facilities and services that are required in the AMC.

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