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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1764 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The allegations arise from apparent dissatisfaction by the former employee with the handling of a complaint by a detainee at the Periodic Detention Centre of improper conduct by custodial officers at the centre. The complaint was referred to the Australian Federal Police on 7 August and is still under investigation. It would be most inappropriate to discuss the details of that investigation until the investigation is complete.

In relation to the former employee, it is correct that his contract was terminated with effect from 28 August, seven days prior to the assigned date under his contract for it to conclude. I have today spoken with the Auditor-General about the matter. I mentioned that he has taken on the question of the allegations as a public interest disclosure under that Act. I have asked him to broaden his investigation to include the circumstances of the discontinuation of the employment of the employee in question.

MR STANHOPE: I share the Minister's concern not to subvert the suppression order or the police investigation in any way. As I think the Minister has indicated in his response, I was directing my question just to the departmental aspect of the matter. I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that the interests of all officers involved as a result of the Auditor-General's inquiry are protected, including those of the officer whose contract was terminated. I wonder whether the Minister can tell us how the rights of all the officers will be protected.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is my intention that, above all, due process be observed and that the legitimate interests of any officers involved be protected in the process. There are clear procedures laid down in legislation to deal with investigations of this kind. I am confident that both the involvement of the Australian Federal Police in respect of any potential criminal activity and the involvement of the Auditor-General with respect to internal administrative matters that may be of interest to him in his role as Auditor-General - those two areas of independent statutory involvement in the process - will result in the matter being dealt with in an appropriate fashion, with the interests of parties being appropriately protected by that process. I have yet to discuss the matter directly with the head of my department, but when I do so I will certainly emphasise that it is important for this process to be handled in a way which observes probity and which takes into account the legitimate interests of all the parties concerned, including custodial officers who may have been caught up in the matter.

Periodic Detention Centre

MR CORBELL: My question is also to the Minister for Justice and Community Safety. I also refer to this morning's Canberra Times report about a police investigation into allegations against officers at the Periodic Detention Centre. Can the Minister say what the nature of the department's application to the Magistrates Court in relation to the matter was and who the departmental officer who made the application was?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I think I am coming close to an area where I am not going to be able to make any fruitful comment to the house.

MR SPEAKER: You will have to be guided by your own judgment on these matters.

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