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the periodic detention order tend to be repeated - and other crime as well. I think we need to be cautious about taking this idea further, until some of these more innovative experiments have been trialled; but certainly periodic detention as a principle is one that Labor supports.
In the normal course of events, a Bill of this nature would probably be the sort of Bill that an opposition would say should be looked at in great detail, and possibly should be referred to a committee. It is new; it is innovative; it is a rather detailed piece of legislation. Given, however, that this is legislation that is bipartisan in the sense that it was developed to near finality when this Opposition was in government and has been brought to the finishing line, and very quickly, by the new Government, it is one that the Opposition thinks should be supported by the house, and supported in fairly short time, and that an extensive period of consideration of the details is not necessary.
MS TUCKER (3.33): The Greens are happy to support this Bill as part of the expansion of community-based orders. As Mr Humphries said in his presentation speech, the introduction of periodic detention as a sentencing option does represent an important first step in the review and expansion of sentencing options. There are a range of arguments put against having a prison in the ACT - one argument, which is correct, being that we do not presently have enough business to have a gaol of our own and that costs are prohibitive. It has also been suggested that, if one were built, the provision of the facility would determine that it was filled. I believe that this argument is not a strong one, particularly if we think of ourselves as part of a region.
While it may not be appropriate or possible now, this is an issue that will have to be addressed in the future, and there are many arguments for having a small local gaol to serve Canberra and surrounding regions. There certainly would be a high cost to the provision of a gaol in the ACT. However, we are currently spending over $50,000 sending people to Goulburn gaol. If society sees fit to put people into prison, it makes sense to provide the best prospects for rehabilitation. Where imprisonment may be an appropriate sentence, that period of confinement should offer the maximum potential for rehabilitation and contact with family and friends. Visitors, mainly women, are often treated as prisoners themselves. There are obvious benefits from pleasant visiting conditions for families. A key factor in helping prisoners fit back into the community and preventing them from reoffending is continual contact with family and friends while in gaol.
The costs for many families visiting New South Wales prisons are prohibitive. The ACT Government no longer supports disadvantaged families with payment of fares to visit family members in New South Wales gaols. A community organisation, Prisoners Aid, provides financial assistance to families as part of its activities. This is an organisation that has a low profile but provides a very valuable community service, all of which is voluntary. Their work ranges from assisting with travel expenses and financial assistance to prisoners on release to offering support for prisoners and their families. This is all from a grant of $9,000, virtually all of which is spent directly on clients. Prisoners Aid is currently seeking additional resources to employ a full-time worker to operate a shopfront office. I am well aware of the budgetary difficulties faced by this Government; but there is also enormous community benefit from this organisation, and they should be supported.