Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2716 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
remand awaiting sentence who have committed, or some people waiting to be dealt with by the courts who are alleged to have committed, some very serious offences. Some periodic detainees might be there for far lesser offences.
There is a real concern about putting those types of persons in the same building and the same complex, despite the very best efforts to keep them separate and despite the obvious care that would be taken. The Chief Minister has told us that there are conventions that relate to this matter and that systems have been put in place to try to avoid, wherever possible, this sort of thing happening. The opposition will not be supporting amendment No 5 but we will, as I say, support amendment No 4.
MS DUNDAS (5.14): In my speech at the in-principle stage I indicated that I would be supporting the JACS amendment bill and I will still support the bill with the late amendments that were tabled this morning to the Remand Centres Act and Periodic Detention Act. Although I do have some sympathy with the motives behind the Liberals' position as stated by Mr Stefaniak, I do not think it is appropriate to make a practice of relocating remandees, who are often detained for prolonged periods. Detainees are entitled to decent treatment and I think we should provide their lives with as much stability as we can. Stability of prisoner accommodation is necessary for the effective delivery of medical, educational and rehabilitation services to those in remand.
We should be looking at the bigger picture. I was very concerned to learn during estimates hearings that on average about one half of those scheduled to attend periodic detention actually fail to show up. I also learned that if all people on periodic detention did show up, we would not be able to house them, and the Chief Minister talked about this position. Obviously we all agree that this is clearly an unsatisfactory situation.
Allowing remand centres to be used for periodic detention and allowing periodic detention centres to be used for remandees, as these amendments propose, definitely is not going to solve a problem of this scope. The amendments are, at best, a stopgap solution. I hope that the government plans to find a sustainable solution to this problem in the near future. In the interim, I am willing to support the government's amendments-both amendment 4 and amendment 5-and hopefully we will see a solution to this long-term problem in the near future.
MS TUCKER (5.15): The Greens will also support this legislation. We had a briefing and went through some of the concerns that Mr Stefaniak raised with officials. We are of the view that the legislation will ensure that periodic detainees will not mix with remandees and that remandees will be what is called "locked down"-it sounds horrible, but anyway-by the time periodic detainees go to their accommodation. As other speakers have said, it is obviously not the best situation; it is not good at all. The situation generally in Canberra is far from good for people on remand as well as periodic detainees.
This government is doing its best to make up for the neglect of the previous government. There have been concerns for a long time about what has been going on. We have had a debate about a prison, and that is continuing. The Legal Affairs Committee, of which I am a member, has taken on a watching brief in respect of what is happening with the prison under this new government. But meanwhile we have to deal with the reality that there are periodic detainees and there are remandees, and we don't have space.