Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 985 ..
MR STEFANIAK (11.29), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank my two colleagues for their comments. I agree with Mr Hargreaves' very short and succinct comments about the committee. Its wonderful secretary, Rod Power, did a very good job of putting the report together, ably assisted by the secretariat. Might I also extend the committee's thanks to, and appreciation of, those who participated in the inquiry.
Mr Speaker, I would like to make a few points. We invited public input into the inquiry by way of an advertisement placed in the public notices section of the Canberra Times on 9 February. We also put a advertisement in the Chronicle the following week, and the closing date for submissions was 8 March. I also wrote to a number of usual suspects, I suppose, asking them to put in their submissions. I must say I was, in a way, a little bit disappointed at the lack of responses from some of those groups. I appreciate that many of them are very busy people and maybe they did not want to make a submission.
We received some six submissions plus a letter from the Law Society, the summary of which has been put in the report. I thank those groups in their submissions, although, as I said, I guess I was a little bit concerned that there probably was not a little bit more interest in this inquiry. I cannot comment on the reasons for that-I merely make that observation. However, I thank ATCOSS, the Canberra/Queanbeyan Attention Deficit Disorder Support Group, Care, the Law Society of the ACT, the Welfare and Legal Rights Centre, the Youth Coalition of the ACT and Toora Women Inc for their submissions.
I am not going to go through any of those submissions. However, one thing in the ADHD submission that jumped out at me, which I have heard a fair bit of in the past and which I might highlight, is that special diets without preservatives, additives and colouring should be implemented at Quamby and at the jail, should it be built in the ACT. The submission pointed out that there is evidence that these additives in food cause many problems with children, adolescents and adults with ADHD. I highlight that point because it was made to me on a number of occasions when I had responsibility for Quamby. I think there is great strength in that point.
Such a program would not be terribly expensive to implement and certainly I think there is a lot of merit in it. That is something that the government could have a serious look at. I would certainly hope that the current government isn't going to drop the ball on the building of a jail in the ACT, which it seems to be doing, because I think we need such a facility.
I note that there was reference in a couple of the submissions to the government continuing to develop and implement a range of progressive alternatives to sentencing of offenders. I think, as I said in an earlier debate, we probably have more of those than in any other jurisdiction. Whilst that is always a good thing, I think we need to look at the other side of the coin, and that is the community expectation that prisoners who deserve to go to gaol, in fact do go to gaol. Once in there, of course, I think it is very important that proper programs be put in place. This is something we could do and ensure happens if we had our own jail.