Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2764 ..
it comes to upholding human rights. Labor and the Greens have just demonstrated that deep down they really do not care about human rights.
To many in our community, the prison is a self-contained bubble where rules apply differently. And, to an extent, this perception is understandable. But I wish to impress on those listening and to anyone with a stake in our prison management that this prison is in our city. It is in Canberra. Canberra is our home. Canberrans can be rightfully proud of many aspects of this city. Unfortunately, we have a number of areas where we do not perform so well, and one of them is our prison. As it is only a few days since the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi it seems appropriate to note this quote from him.
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.
The detainees in our prison are undoubtedly some of our most vulnerable members. I encourage anyone listening to see for themselves the Nelson Mandela rules, the Bangkok rules and the ACT standard for adult corrections and look at just where this government is falling short in its commitment to human rights and minimum standards. In my prior speech I only had time to name a few. But there are many more.
I am not surprised that the Greens will not support this motion, even though they pay even more lip service to human rights than Labor. It should be brought to the attention of the public that if there were not a policy framework requiring mandatory strip searching on admission to the Crisis Support Unit and if there had been a functioning body scanner this whole scenario could have been avoided. The government has committed to the procurement of two body scanners in their response to the inspector’s report.
Mr Rattenbury spoke about the body scanners and how effective they are. He actually said it is an effective way and a compassionate way of treating detainees when AMC or our prisons have body scanners. But what they did not own up to—and this is very typical of them—is the fact that the AMC did at one point have a functioning body scanner but that it had been turned off in 2018 under the leadership of Mr Rattenbury. That is right. The Greens minister who loves to talk about human rights is the one who turned off the body scanner that protects human rights.
The AMC had a body scanner as early as 2010. In 2014 it was looked on favourably enough so that the Human Rights Commissioner recommended to Mr Rattenbury that its usage at the prison be expanded. But what did he do instead? He switched it off. Reflect on that for a moment! The Human Rights Commissioner recommended that the use of the body scanner be expanded. Mr Rattenbury was responsible for its deactivation and provided no replacement.
May I also mention that when he spoke about the bill that he brought to the Assembly, the OPCAT bill, and how the Canberra Liberals did not support it, it was about the oversight of the OPCAT. In my speech, we are talking about being compliant with OPCAT. They are two different things: complying and overseeing. We are asking the government to use the guidelines of OPCAT to direct the human rights issues that we are currently facing in AMC—not oversight. They are two different things.