Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 300 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
friends, most certainly would enhance the prospects that prisoners will have to better integrate back into the mainstream of society following their release. This is a significant argument that both the Government and the Opposition advance in relation to the desirability of constructing a prison in the ACT.
There are further issues also. I have recently had an exchange of correspondence with the Attorney in relation to ACT citizens currently imprisoned in other States and Territories and the strong desire that some of those prisoners have to be returned to the ACT in terms of their concern for their rehabilitation back into the community following their imprisonment. There are very difficult issues raised in relation to applications by ACT residents imprisoned elsewhere who desperately wish to return to the ACT and whose families desperately wish to have them within the community in terms of their desire to assist them in their rehabilitation back into the community.
I understand the extreme financial burdens that may, nevertheless, be imposed on those receiving States if these things go ahead without some reciprocal arrangements. I do not disagree with the Attorney's response to me in that case, but I have to say that my heartstrings were tugged by the family of that particular prisoner who wished to see his return to the ACT and I have great sympathy for them. As I said, the Opposition is very pleased to support this legislation.
MS TUCKER (11.44): The Greens also will be supporting this Bill. Obviously, it is important for prisoners to be able to serve their prison term in their home country, for the reasons that members have stated. They can be with family and be familiar with the culture of the prison and services that are available as well, which is often important in terms of advocacy and dealing with problems.
Of course, there are some countries where, I imagine, prisoners would prefer not to be returned to and which would actually make our prisons look quite luxurious. I do not think we can assume that it is always necessarily going to be an improvement in the situation, and I want to have that put on the record. However, generally, of course, it is better to have people imprisoned, if they have to be, in a situation where they have contact with their families.
The other issues of the economic imposts and so on of accommodating people in our prisons have to be taken into account as well.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.45), in reply: Mr Speaker, I want to thank members for their support for this Bill. It goes without saying that this legislation is not going to be heavily used. We are not going to see a great flow of prisoners to and from the ACT, even when the ACT has its own gaol. These are likely to be rarely used provisions, but, when they are used, obviously the legislative framework needs to be there and needs to be clear. Having a framework which fits in with the national framework as agreed through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General facilitates the ACT's participation in that process very smoothly.