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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2395 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

(f) There is no evidence to support the claim that the numbers of female prisoners are increasing and they are becoming more violent. Members of the intersectoral reference group have repeatedly requested statistics on the profile of ACT female prisoners and received very little documentation. The statistics we did receive indicated that there were 11 female prisoners and they were mostly classified low or medium security.

We request that this whole matter be referred to an Assembly committee for further investigation and consultation. We would hope that this committee would seriously examine whether this is the best use of these resources and what constitutes best practice service delivery to this seriously disadvantaged group within our community. The matter of adequate and appropriate consultation with those with relevant expertise must be addressed.

I forwarded this letter to Mr Osborne, asking him to take it seriously and look at it in his inquiry. We do have an opportunity at this point in time, if we are going to have a prison, to do it well. Apparently, a process was set up to ensure that the sort of feedback and expertise that this group represents would be seriously integrated into the system and the report. Clearly, in the view of this group, that is not what has happened and a close look needs to be taken at the process here before we start making too many decisions which we may regret for a very long time.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (8.54): I thank members for their comments in this debate on part 16, Justice and Community Safety. I ask members to excuse me if I do not deal with all of their points in my response, but I will try to deal with the main ones. In summary, the government has committed significant extra funding to Justice and Community Safety, especially in the area of policing. In the last two budgets we have spent well over $10 million extra. That has enabled a lot more police to get out on the beat, which is a very positive move. There are a number of Justice and Community Safety initiatives in this budget, many of which impact on things such as early intervention, which Mr Stanhope, Mr Hargreaves and Ms Tucker have spoken about tonight and which is terribly important.

Mr Hargreaves talked about prisons. I could not agree more with him that, since it has become a self-governing territory, it very much behoves the ACT to take care of its own. I think that is a fundamental principle of the prison debate. I can recall as the justice spokesman in 1989-90 getting the Liberal Party to accept the case for having a prison at some stage. Mr Humphries, who has been our spokesman on that for many years, has started the ball rolling on bringing that to fruition. Recently, Mr Moore launched the next stage. Obviously, there is a lot more work to be done, but the prison is certainly taking shape.

It is important that we be responsible for our own. Having been around the courts for 15 or 16 years, I am somewhat tired of the excuse given by ACT magistrates and judges that they did not want to send to gaol someone who would in any other jurisdiction go to gaol simply because they could not control what occurred interstate-and they could not control what occurred interstate. As a prosecutor I would regularly see people whom I had been prosecuting go off to gaol and not have a clue what would happen to them. Sensible suggestions would be made and they would be ignored. It is important that we run our own system. It is especially important in terms of ensuring not only that people who should be gaoled for a crime actually do the time-that is certainly something I have

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