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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3728 ..

MR STANHOPE: Mr Corbell expressed the government’s position as it presented at that time. The government’s position has changed in the context of expenses, particularly cost of construction and the extent to which cost of construction of all projects in the ACT has changed dramatically over the last couple of years as a result of the level particularly of commercial activity and construction activity in the ACT. I think over this last couple of years the ACT has led the nation in not just the level of construction activity but also the extent to which that level of construction has been maintained and the extent to which construction costs have increased.

It was my position, as Attorney-General and Minister for Corrections at the time the prison project was initiated, that the project would come in at $128 million. As a consequence of that particular policy position, as the project progressed and as costs of construction escalated for that project—as they have with every other major construction project in the ACT, private and public—we maintained that position.

As the project now enters the last six months, there are—in the context of some of the cuts made to the project—some potentially unfortunate outcomes that I and the Attorney believe will impact on our capacity to achieve the level of rehabilitation services or support that the entire philosophy underpinning the Alexander Maconochie Centre relies on.

As a result of that I, in consultation with the Attorney, resolved that, for the sake of an additional $2.5 million, it was important that we seek to re-establish or ensure, to the extent that we could with that very minimal level of additional funding, some of the outcomes central to the philosophy or the reason for establishing the prison in the first place—namely, our capacity to deliver the level of support and rehabilitation—accepting that there are two areas in which cuts would impact on the management of the prison under the philosophy we have arranged, namely cuts to sport and recreation facilities and a gym and, more important than that, a reduction in the size of the transitional release centre.

My major concern in shearing the project in terms of its capacity to deliver what we truly hope to deliver at Alexander Maconochie Centre was a winding back of the transitional release centre. This funding will go some way to addressing both of those concerns. It is minimal funding—2.5. It is a matter of regret that we did not remain within the 128, but in the context of a project of that size, I am comfortable that, to ensure that we meet the aims that we seek for this project, we spend another $2½ million.

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Treasurer, will you rule out any additional expenditure over and above this extra appropriation in order to complete this project?

MR STANHOPE: I have absolutely no advice to suggest or expectation that we will be providing any additional or further funds to complete the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

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