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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2715 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

So, from the perspective of the people using the service or the people who would have every right to be concerned if the service was going to change fundamentally in philosophy or infrastructure, it is simply not going to happen, Mr Speaker. So, for the people who use the service or who are involved in the service, the changes will not impact. Therefore, what is there to consult about?

Release of Prisoner

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Attorney-General, Mr Humphries. I refer the Minister to a question I asked him last year about the claim that an ACT prisoner was released after a phone call from an ACT Corrective Services officer, despite there being no lawful authority to do so. Minister, I understand that you finally heard from the New South Wales Government on this issue and I thank you for informing me about it, but I do feel that what they had to say about that incident is worth sharing with this Assembly.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, Mr Speaker, I think it is worth sharing as well, and I thank Mr Osborne for that question. Members will recall that we had some fairly outrageous claims made earlier this year about how there had been the release of an ACT prisoner from a New South Wales gaol on the strength of a telephone call, initiated by New South Wales Corrective Services or even initiated by ACT Corrective Services, to the relevant gaol officials in New South Wales saying, "Hey, this guy's time is up, let him out", and then, supposedly, the New South Wales justice said, "Sure, here you go, guy, out you go", and this fellow was let out of gaol. I have had some very critical things to say about the New South Wales gaol system but I imagined even that was a rather far-fetched story.

Mr Speaker, I contacted the New South Wales Minister, Mr Debus, and asked him what he was doing about this particular issue. He undertook to conduct an investigation into the claim that there had been some telephone call between the ACT Corrective Services and New South Wales Corrective Services, and that was put in train. I wrote to him on 25 February this year asking about where the matter stood. Actually, the original matter was raised in this place back in April of last year and I wrote in February of this year asking where the investigation stood. I received a reply on 4 May from Mr Debus, and I will quote the relevant part of the letter:

The inquiries revealed that there was some confusion about the release date of the inmate. The sentence received at the ACT Magistrates Court had been back-dated to commence from when Mr Viglatgis was taken into custody. In an attempt to clarify the situation the officers at Cooma Correctional Centre made inquiries of the ACT Magistrates Court and acted on the information received. They did not however, follow all of the required departmental procedures when releasing prisoners sentenced in the ACT.

The officers involved in the incident have been counselled about the matter.

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