Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 March 2011) . . Page.. 617 ..
The other argument which is false is the suggestion that the opening of the AMC was somehow staged for political advantage. I do not know which planet those guys are living on, Madam Assistant Speaker, but I can assure you there are no votes in building and operating prisons. Governments do not get any political advantage from opening and operating prisons. You ask any corrections minister in the country and they will tell you there are no votes in prisons. They are important but, I tell you what, they are not particularly popular, and that is a simple fact.
To suggest that there was some political advantage to be gained by the government through the opening of the prison is simply false. The fact is that the opening occurred on the basis of advice from Corrective Services, which advised that the prison was effectively complete and was expected to be handed over within a few short weeks of the opening date. Therefore, it was determined to proceed with the opening on that basis. It is as simple as that. The record now clearly shows that there was a delay, but that delay was not the fault of the government.
In fact, the independent arbiter appointed under the terms of the contract with the construction company building the prison determined—of course, opposition members do not like this fact either—that the delay was not the fault of the government but the fault of the construction company and that the construction company was liable to damages as a result. The suggestion that the government or I, as the minister, were responsible for that delay is not borne out by the facts. But, of course, we know in this debate that the Liberal Party are not interested in the facts; they are only interested in cheap political opportunity.
I would like to turn in my remaining time to the substance of the amendment proposed by Ms Bresnan. The amendment is one the government will support, although we do express some concern about whether it is going to be possible to deliver within the time frame suggested the level of detail that Ms Bresnan is asking for in terms of a report to the Assembly.
These matters are worthy of further advice to the Assembly, and that is why the government will agree to it. But there are a number of matters which will be difficult to analyse, simply because there is nowhere in the country which is able to do this in a comprehensive way. That said, we acknowledge that it would be desirable to consider further the question of the role of community corrections vis-a-vis full-time imprisonment. Indeed, I am on the record as supporting alternatives for full-time imprisonment, such as periodic detention, which is a good alternative to full-time detention, as is a range of community-based work orders and other supervision options in the community.
Of course, the other issue which is always notoriously difficult to analyse is that of reoffending rates for people who have been committed to full-time detention as opposed to community-based orders. Again, it is something which the government is prepared to provide what advice it can on the matter. We acknowledge the constructive approach that is being adopted to this matter in relation to Ms Bresnan’s amendment, and the government will support that amendment.