Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3506 ..

'(2) The responsible Minister must present a copy of each report presented to him or her under section 7, paragraph 8 (5) (a) or subsection 8 (5A) to the Legislative Assembly within 6 sitting days after the day on which he or she receives the report.'.

New Schedule-

After section 16, insert the following Schedule:


(See section 4)


  1. The official visitor under the Children and Young People Act (1999) (see dictionary).'.".

This amendment ensures that the Official Visitor is required to table an annual report as required under the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 1995. On the face of it, it is a simple amendment, but not so simple when you realise that currently the Chief Minister has the discretion to determine which public authorities, other than those already prescribed in the Act, are required to table annual reports. This discretion has led to a questionable anomaly in the reporting requirements of the Official Visitor. This anomaly was identified during the public hearings of the Estimates Committee this year.

To take you back to the Justice and Community Safety hearings, there was a perception among some of those who spoke, including the Minister for Justice and Community Safety, that the Official Visitor was required to present annual reports to the Minister for his/her activities, both at Belconnen Remand Centre and at Quamby. This proved inaccurate as the hearings progressed and it became clear that, while the Official Visitor was required to provide annual reports to the Minister on his/her activities at Quamby, this was not occurring for Belconnen Remand Centre. The ACT Discrimination Commissioner, when questioned during the estimates hearings about this anomaly, said:

I would be quite interested to look at it because if there is a difference in the rights of juveniles in detention as compared to adults in detention, that is something that could raise issues under the Discrimination Act.

Prisons, like shelters and other institutions, are very close to public scrutiny. People incarcerated and denied liberty require support, advocacy and certainty. But, where necessary, their concerns can reach a broader forum with the aid of an advocate. In a democracy, that broader forum is clearly the Legislative Assembly. This is surely a fundamental human right in a democracy that has to be defended vigilantly.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .