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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1496 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: I am pleased to table on behalf of the government the government's response to the third interim report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety on the establishment of an ACT prison entitled, Committee visit to Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. I am pleased that the committee found their visits worthwhile and informative. Practically all the issues encountered, discussed and reported on by the committee in its third interim report have been identified by the ACT Prison Project Office, ACT Corrective Services, and the Department of Justice and Community Safety and reported on in various ways to the government.

It is pleasing to note that the government and the committee are in agreement on many key issues and that the findings of the committee reinforce much of what has been learned from the ACT Prison Project Office. The recently completed report of the ACT Prison Community Panel also canvasses most of these issues.

There has been significant progress on the ACT prison project since the government tabled its response to the second interim report of the standing committee's inquiry into the ACT prison. On 7 December 2000 the Chief Minister announced that Rengain Pty Ltd had been appointed to assist the government in determining the most suitable design, finance, ownership and operational model for the facility. These are important issues for the government and ones on which it will not make decisions until the best and most comprehensive advice is available to it. It is anticipated that this advice will be made available to the government shortly.

A broadly based prison community panel was established in February 2000. The panel, chaired by Jim Leedman AM, has worked intensively during the last year on formulating its views on a wide range of issues in relation to the new prison. The ACT Prison Community Panel presented its report entitled, An ACT prison: getting it right, to the Chief Minister on 14 December 2000. The matters addressed in the report include rehabilitation of prisoners and appropriate interventions; community initiatives in providing for continuity of care from within the prison to the general community to reintegration by prisoners such as work relief programs; the type of prison industry that might operate within the prison; provision of recreation facilities for prisoners and remandees; design considerations for the prison; and monitoring of prison operations.

The site identified at Symonston in earlier reports has been confirmed as the most suitable site for the facility, and consultants Herdman Associates have been appointed to undertake the preliminary assessment of the site in accordance with the requirements of the land act. A community consultation panel is being finalised, as is a communications plan. Consideration is also being given to legislation that will be required in order to operate a correctional facility in the ACT.

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