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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2398 ..


MS TUCKER (3.30): I move:

That this Assembly calls on the Chief Minister to remove from the responsibility of the Attorney-General the administration of all matters relating to the powers of the Executive in relation to the Quamby Juvenile Detention Facility and allocate those powers to the Minister for Education, pending the presentation to the Assembly of the Standing Committee on Education's report on its inquiry into Quamby.

Yesterday the Assembly resolved that the Standing Committee on Education inquire into recommendations 1 and 3 of the report of Coroner Somes on the inquest into the death of Mark Watson. Given that, it is important that the recent change to take Quamby from the responsibility of the Department of Education and Community Services to the Department of Justice and Community Safety be reversed until the committee has reported.

As I stated yesterday, I am unsure which department is the right one to administer juvenile justice. I do not have a set view on it. But after the change was announced, I was contacted by many people in the service sector and community organisations who are very concerned about this announcement of the Government. Basically, they were not consulted or asked for their view on it and have serious concerns about it. It appears that this change was ad hoc and one recommendation of the coroner was selectively quoted to justify it. The response from the community is that one recommendation from the coroner is not enough to justify such a change.

Certainly, it is an important recommendation and one that deserves consideration, but many members of the community who have expertise and experience in the area feel that they should have been asked about this issue. I have had concerns expressed to me by the ACT Council of Social Service, the Youth Coalition, the Winnungah Aboriginal Health Service and Janet Rickwood, who is the ACT Official Visitor. A number of people contacted me after the media publicity and, interestingly enough, some of them were individuals who had worked in the sector. One chap who had worked as a custodial officer as well as a youth worker had particular concerns about what was happening that he wanted to see addressed. His concerns were quite different in a way, but seemed very legitimate and thoughtful, from the concerns that have been expressed by other groups. Obviously, there are people in the community with different views about this matter and they all have a right to put those views, given the experience and expertise on which they speak. That is why it is really important that we not make these changes without listening to these people.

The other comment I have to make is that we have a minority government here, but there was no consultation with other members of the Assembly about this move. It was done between sitting periods and we were all taken by surprise. Once again, it appears that I have support today for objecting to that in terms of the support for this motion.

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