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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2716 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I am satisfied this was an isolated incident and that inmates are released in NSW with lawful authority.

I am very pleased and reassured that he has that comment to close his letter with, Mr Speaker. I table both my letter to Mr Debus of 25 February and his reply of 4 May.

We can see from that correspondence that there was no phone call from Corrective Services saying, "Let him out". That was obviously made up by somebody who was trying to cover their tracks, and what has been in the past a somewhat unsatisfactory nature of the New South Wales gaol system has been highlighted yet again.

That, I might point out, Mr Speaker, is why the ACT Government has been keen to press ahead with the project for an ACT prison. It is not just because we like the idea of a place somewhere in the Territory with iron bars in it that we can throw people in, much as that might appeal to Mr Hargreaves. The fact is, Mr Speaker, that there needs to be a retreat from a system which is fundamentally just not serving our needs, and that is the New South Wales gaol system. I think we should press ahead with that. Obviously, do the groundwork beforehand, and that is going on, but the need to open that gaol, I think, in the ACT grows more pressing by the month. I believe that we should press ahead with the project as soon as we can.

MR OSBORNE: I have a supplementary question. Are you able to tell us whether it was a privately run or publicly run gaol?

MR HUMPHRIES: It was a government run gaol from which he was released, Mr Speaker.

Mr Stanhope: How much cock and bull in that?

MR HUMPHRIES: None at all, Mr Stanhope. Not a word.

Mr Stanhope: No cock and bull in that. Not a term you use.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Berry has the floor, please.

School Bursars

MR BERRY: Thank you for your protection, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Education and it is in relation to the much reported attack on school bursars as a result of their industrial action in the school system and the use of the Reith laws against these workers. Why were the school bursars stood down and their pay stopped for failing to carry out work outside their duty statement when the Government has accepted that industrial action in other places is a legitimate part of the bargaining process? Why is it, Minister, that bursars are receiving harsher treatment from you than other workers are from your ministerial colleagues? Why are you being so hard on the bursars, Minister? Would you tell us that?

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