Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 905 ..


Debate resumed from 28 March 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MS FOLLETT (11.30): Mr Speaker, the Labor Opposition will be supporting this Bill, which was presented by Mr Humphries. The Bill basically appears to correct a drafting error in the Remand Centres (Amendment) Act that was passed last year - if not a drafting error, at least an unintended consequence. The effect of the Bill before us is to provide as an option, but not an entitlement, the holding of people in Belconnen Remand Centre after they have been convicted and during the course of an appeal. The Minister, in tabling the Bill, said:

What this Bill does is to make it clear that the previous amendment to the Remand Centres Act does not, of itself, give a prisoner who appeals against their conviction an entitlement to be held in the Remand Centre during the course of their appeal. It merely provides a capacity for the Remand Centre to hold such a prisoner ...

That is a course of action with which Labor agrees. Mr Humphries, the Attorney-General, when tabling this Bill, went on to say:

It is important to clarify that intention because otherwise there could be operational and resource problems for the Remand Centre.

For that reason, Mr Speaker, Labor is supporting the Bill.

I do want to make a couple of comments about the Minister's reference to operational and resource problems for the Remand Centre. I would like to flag with members of the Assembly that I believe that it is time that there was some public scrutiny of the operation of the Remand Centre. It has been some years since that occurred. I am not about to move that way today because, clearly, there are particular and tragic circumstances surrounding the Remand Centre at the moment.

However, Mr Speaker, I do have before me a document which indicates to me that there are considerable pressures on the Remand Centre in relation to staffing and budget. I believe that all areas of government administration have to be conscious of their budget and have to make every effort to meet their budget. In relation to the Remand Centre, it seems from the document that I have that in an attempt to meet their budget the Remand Centre has had to make different provisions, perhaps more stringent provisions, for staffing, has had to cut back on things like overtime, and has had to put its own staff under pressure, but also, according to this document, put the detainees under some considerable pressure - for example, by locking detainees in their units at approximately 5.30 pm for meals and at 6.30 pm for the night. It seems to me that that is a pretty stringent requirement. It may well be that we need to look at the resources and the operation of the Remand Centre and perhaps come to some conclusions about whether we are providing sufficient public resources to run the centre in the best interests of the whole community.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .