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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2656 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Where a prisoner is transferred to Australia under the Commonwealth Act, the Bill recognises that the prisoner will be subject to the relevant Territory or Commonwealth law or law of another jurisdiction in relation to prison rules; removal between prisons, hospital and other places; treatment of mentally impaired prisoners; and interstate transfer of prisoners. Under the Commonwealth Act, the Commonwealth Attorney-General is empowered to give directions as to whether a foreign sentence will be continued or substituted with a different sentence. Where a foreign sentence is to continue, the directions will specify such adaptations as are necessary to ensure that the enforcement of a sentence is consistent with Australian law.

The Commonwealth Attorney-General may also, in certain circumstances, give a direction not to keep a transferred prisoner in custody or detention only because of a foreign sentence. These circumstances are where a prisoner transferred to Australia is pardoned or granted amnesty or commutation of sentence under an Australian law or under the law of the transfer country; where the transfer country notifies that the foreign conviction of the prisoner has been quashed or nullified; or in the case of a tribunal prisoner (that is, a prisoner convicted by a war crimes tribunal) transferred to Australia, where the relevant tribunal quashes or nullifies the conviction or the prisoner is pardoned or granted amnesty or commutation of the sentence by the tribunal or where the relevant tribunal notifies the Commonwealth Attorney-General that the prisoner may be pardoned or granted amnesty or commutation of sentence under an Australian law and the prisoner is granted such an amnesty or commutation of sentence.

The Bill will enable the Commonwealth Attorney-General's directions to be given effect to in the Territory. The Bill will be an ACT contribution to Australia's international commitment to a humanitarian program of prisoner transfers. It provides a mechanism whereby prisoners can be detained in their own communities close to family and friends. This should enhance the prospects that the prisoner will be better able to integrate into the mainstream of society following the prisoner's release.

Where a prisoner with community ties with the ACT is to be transferred to Australia, the proposed terms of the transfer will have to be agreed to by the ACT and the Commonwealth. Under section 51 of the Commonwealth Act, such terms may, if the Commonwealth Attorney-General considers it appropriate, include terms relating to the recovery of the costs and expenses reasonably incurred for the transfer.

Where any costs or expenses incurred by the Territory in relation to a transfer of a prisoner, such as for sending escort officers or for air fares, are recovered in accordance with the agreed terms, the Commonwealth will reimburse the Territory. Any transfer of prisoners convicted of ACT offences could be expected to result in savings to the Territory, but it is clearly impossible to predict the nature of any savings in advance. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned.

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