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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 850 ..

Ms Stephen-Smith: Madam Speaker, I want to seek some clarification. Mr Cain’s initial question very clearly indicated that the staff member in question is a staff member of the City Renewal Authority. To clarify, the City Renewal Authority does not report to Minister Gentleman; it is not one of his agencies.

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister has taken the substantive and the supplementary question, but it is just a reminder that admin orders are clearly spelt out and if they are directed to the wrong minister, another minister is free to stand. Mr Gentleman, to the question.

MR GENTLEMAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. As I said earlier, any staff member that works for the ACT government, whether it is in my directorate or other directorates, is supposed to act correctly. Any conflicts are appropriately managed.

Alexander Maconochie Centre—Official Visitor

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Corrections. The AMC was named after the visionary penal reformer Alexander Maconochie, known for his, at the time, radical ideas, which would prove to be re-adopted in various ways in modern times. The AMC was to be managed under human rights principles, so, fittingly, it was named after this reformer. At the time, it attracted international interest, though nowadays it would probably only catch the attention of UN human rights inspectors. There have been recent suggestions that the prison change its name as it is unfair to the late Alexander Maconochie that his name be associated with this prison. Minister, now that it is clear that the AMC fails to live up to its namesake, will the government consider changing its name?

MR GENTLEMAN: I have not heard any suggestion that there should be a change of name for the AMC. I think that the view originally of Mr Stanhope and the government at the time to have a human rights prison was appropriate. Of course, we do as much as we can to remain human rights compliant. There is a good deal of work done by the Human Rights Commission and the official visitors to ensure that we can be as close to that as possible. But I would say that it is a prison; it does take away the freedoms of people who, as decided by the courts, have committed offences. Therefore, there is a limit to the amount of human rights compliance we can have in that sense. Once you take away a person’s freedom, there is an impact on human rights.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, what is the most pressing issue that would need to be addressed at the AMC in order for it to be found to be compliant with UN rules?

MR GENTLEMAN: My most pressing issue at the AMC at the moment is staff and their wellbeing. That will then transfer down to assisting detainees as well. Now, where we have some staff shortages; we see more lockdowns across the ACT in the prison, because we cannot staff those particular posts that need to be staffed. If we are to support our staff at the AMC with more recruiting, which is what I have announced, we will be able to provide a more human rights compliant prison.

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