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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 252 ..

Assembly the government’s comprehensive response to the findings and recommendations of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s report into delays in the commencement of operations at the prison.

There is no doubt in my mind that the former Belconnen Remand Centre was a less than suitable facility for housing offenders. Just ask any one of the prisoners, staff or family members who were required to be held, work or visit there or did other things there at the facility. The government has repeatedly acknowledged the problems with the ACT’s ageing and inadequate remand centres. Our commitment to the construction of the AMC was a clear acknowledgement of this.

The government was in the unfortunate position that it was unable to take control of the AMC prior to March 2009. However, contrary to the accusations made by the committee’s report, and repeated by Mr Hanson, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that there was a rise in security incidents in late 2008 and early 2009 at the remand centre.

In regard to human rights issues, the standing committee provided no factual basis for its assertion that there were additional human rights concerns beyond those which existed before September 2008. The committee did not substantiate its claim that the delays made the pre-existing problems with the remand centres worse. The fact is the facility was inadequate before September 2008 and it remained inadequate afterwards. And the only way that was to be addressed was by providing modern facilities such as those now available at the AMC.

Let me turn to the issue of delay in the commencement of operations at the AMC. Yes, it is true that the AMC was not ready to accept prisoners prior to 30 March 2009. But it would also be much more accurate to state that the government was not willing to accept responsibility for a facility that was not ready to hold prisoners in a safe and secure manner. The reality of the situation is that the builder of the AMC was not able to complete the security system within the agreed time frames.

This is the great myth and the great lie of that committee report—that in some way the government was responsible for the delays associated with the security system. As I stated in the tabling statement that I made yesterday, it is not just the government’s opinion that this is a myth, that this is false. It is also the opinion of the independent expert appointed under the contract dispute arbitration mechanisms for the purposes of facilitating disputes between the contractor and the government in relation to the prison. That expert, contracted under those dispute resolutions and provisions of the AMC contract, has adjudicated on BLL’s claim that they were not responsible for the delay and has determined that they were. It is as simple as that. The independent expert, a person expert in arbitrating commercial disputes between parties under building contracts, has determined that BLL’s claim that they were entitled to extensions of time in relation to the installation of the security system was not to be supported.

Ms Bresnan: Mr Speaker, I request that Mr Corbell table that document he is quoting from, because it has not been seen.

MR CORBELL: You cannot do that. That is not a point of order. That is a debating point. She can make that point in the debate, Mr Speaker.

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