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MR MOORE (3.50): I take this opportunity to speak to these amendments, not having spoken at the in-principle stage. I agree with Mr Humphries that, the more flexibility we can give the courts in dealing with people who are detained, the better. I would like to share with members an experience I had after I had been in the Assembly for, as I recall, something like 18 months. We were putting legislation through all the time that imposed one year’s imprisonment here, two years there or five years here. I had never been to a prison, and I decided that it would be a very good thing for me to understand what being in a prison was like. Rather than breaking the law and getting myself in in that way, I arranged instead to have a visit to Goulburn prison.
That experience was, for me, a great shock, Mr Speaker. I could not believe that we as a community could keep people in the older part of Goulburn gaol in such appalling conditions. Ironically, it contrasted greatly with the newer section of Goulburn gaol, which the authorities there were rightly very proud of. Since that time, I have been to visit some of the newer prisons. The one in Mareeba in Queensland was particularly interesting. I believe that the way that prison was set out was such as to work for rehabilitation. I cannot believe that, for somebody who is detained in a place like the old section of Goulburn gaol, we can in any way hope to move them towards reasonable rehabilitation, in spite of the best wishes and the best efforts of people who are working there. The odds against them would be just so great. Therefore, when I see legislation for alternatives such a periodic detention, I become very enthusiastic.
I would like to reiterate a great deal of what has been said already by Ms Tucker and other members. We need to keep in mind that in 99 per cent of cases of people who are incarcerated we ought to be looking at rehabilitation. Unfortunately, for a very small percentage of people, it seems to me, there is no choice, for the protection of the rest of society. They are highly unlikely ever to be rehabilitated. No doubt there will always be people who will try; but it seems to me that there are some people who, for various reasons, fit into this category. I think the flexibility Mr Humphries has provided with these amendments is the sort of flexibility we should apply whenever we are dealing with these sorts of circumstances. Over the last six years, under previous Ministers and previous governments, the ACT legislature has been quite advanced in moving towards finding ways whereby magistrates can punish people appropriately without necessarily resorting to imprisonment. I think that is a great credit to those Ministers and to the Assembly as a whole, and I believe that this is yet another step in ensuring that kind of flexibility.
MR CONNOLLY (3.54): I say to Mr Humphries that, while the Opposition will support these amendments, I think this would be the last time, on a Bill as important as this - and we are talking of a Bill that deals with the liberty of the subject, as older lawyers are wont to say - we could agree to amendments that at the moment I have not even seen.
Mr Humphries: They were sent down this morning.
MR CONNOLLY: I did not see them on my desk this morning; I may have been attending to something else. On a matter as important as this, it would be very helpful if members, particularly Opposition counterparts, could be given them some time