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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3342 ..

Mr Humphries: You could have asked for them before now.

MR STANHOPE: I ask for them now.

Mr Humphries: I do not have them now.

MR STANHOPE: I would be very interested to see them, Minister. Gaoling marginalised people - the so-called recalcitrants that the Minister is concerned with and all the other people who will be caught up in this fine default legislation - has a range of other significant costs. These costs apply to any individual exposed to a gaol culture - the cost to the community, the cost to the social fabric, the cost of an imprisoned person being further marginalised and forced to the edges.

There are many reasons for keeping fine defaulters out of gaol and almost none for sending them there, particularly when you have another option that you are not prepared to entertain. We should do everything we can to keep them out of gaol, for the whole range of reasons that we abhor the use of prisons - the cost to the individual, the cost to the community, the cost to the social fabric and the financial costs of gaoling people.

Mr Humphries: You should abolish gaol if you do not like that option for those people.

MR STANHOPE: It is an option of last resort, Minister. It concerns me that you do not think that it is an option of absolute last resort. You are not allowing it to be that, because you have no faith in the community service order system. That is all we are saying here.

I was most concerned by Mr Rugendyke's comments on the Children's Services (Amendment) Bill. Mr Rugendyke completely misunderstood the proposal. It concerns me that Mr Rugendyke or anybody else, despite any problems they have about the Crimes (Amendment) Bill, have a desire to see people sent to gaol. Their ideological position is that gaoling law-breakers is the only way to go, the only way they will learn their lesson. They are not concerned about the issues underlying the need to keep people out of gaol at all cost. They are suggesting that the Children's Services (Amendment) Bill should be opposed. Yet all the Bill does is ask that before any child in this community convicted of an offence that requires them to pay a fine in relation to which they default is sent to an institution to be detained the Community Advocate should present a report to the court. It asks for the Community Advocate to be involved in the presentation of a report on that child to the court. For Mr Rugendyke to stand up and suggest that he is going to oppose that absolutely staggers me. Mr Rugendyke stood up and said that we all know about his concern for children. If he can possibly oppose that amendment, that puts the lie to his concern for children. There is no way anybody in this place can in any way oppose that suggestion. (Extension of time granted)

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