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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2150 ..


minister, who has not made enough changes since taking over to give anybody the impression that things are turning around. What a joke. What an absolute joke.

Transparency is good, and complexity is used here far too often as an excuse. Nobody sits around in Canberra saying, “Oh it must be very simple to run a prison. It must be simple to run a hospital.” That is not the argument put by any reasonable member of the community. However, it is your job to run it. It is your job as the cabinet. It is Minister Gentleman’s job as the minister for this area to change things so we can see an end to these problems.

Very minimal changes have occurred since Minister Gentleman started in this role. At the very least I support the move of the women—that should have happened years ago—but it is too little and too slow. People are being harmed. Officers’ livelihoods are on the line because they may not actually be able to work anymore after being in these stressful situations. People’s psychological states can only handle so much distress, so much intimidation and so much trauma before they start breaking down.

These are tough people who have put themselves on the line week after week, year after year, in our corrections system as officers. If we do not treat them with the respect they deserve by providing a safe and reasonable work environment, then we do not deserve to be here. Minister Gentleman does not deserve to be here, because there are still grave safety issues and there are still training deficiencies. The prison is still a tinder box, and corrections officers go to work afraid. Any of us who have family who have worn a uniform to a difficult job at work know that eventually, when the psychological state of our ACT government employees starts to break down, that needs to be put fairly at the feet of the minister.

In this case Minister Gentleman has not acted fast enough to change. At least we now have as an agreed position that the prison has a lot of problems. Cannot blame anybody else. Cannot say it is okay—it is not okay. I would like to see a much swifter change so we do not see prisoners escaping and being let on the loose when they should not be. I would like to see enough change in that prison system so there is a daily program so people are not bored, so we can start to address the fact that they all have lighters, and so they do not have sharp implements to harm each other with. They are bored all the time, which has been a problem ever since that facility opened.

Money flows too freely around there and there are drug problems, as the minister well knows. He has not convinced us or the Canberra people that he is addressing this appropriately or fast enough. Therefore, he should go.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (10.48): I want to speak briefly on this motion and extend my support to my colleague Mick Gentleman, who I have known for a number of years before coming into this place. I know of his care and his careful consideration in roles like this one. That is why he put his hand up to be the Minister for Corrections in the ACT. He has a dedication to that job and to the corrections officers as well as to the detainees, so much so that a couple of weeks ago


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