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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2824 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

be of a less dangerous nature, even if free, are the ones we send to the annexe. That is being done in good faith.

The Belconnen Remand Centre is inadequate. That is what we inherited. As I said, we stated in a policy before the election that we would do something about it, which is a lot more than the government at the time did. Make of it whatever politics you can, but the whole purpose of the extension of the Remand Centre and the construction of an annexe to the Remand Centre is for the safety of everybody-for the safety of the correctional staff, for the safety of the community, for the safety of the prisoners.

There are no votes, and we never considered there to be any votes, in us building that annexe. That is an initiative, as I said, described by Mr Hargreaves before the Assembly, born of responsibility in the corrections field. At least it ought to be given some moments in the sun being considered in that way.

MR HUMPHRIES: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, can you guarantee that only prisoners who are less likely to escape than others and low-risk prisoners go to Symonston, and do you wish to disassociate yourself from or correct the article in the Chronicle that I referred to, in which you are quoted as having said that most prisoners sent to Symonston would be women?

MR QUINLAN: I will deal with the second part first. I think it was probably ill advised to have said that, because the number of women is so low and occasionally overcrowding, when the number is up to around 90 plus, would give rise to male prisoners going there. So it is probable that there would be more male prisoners than female prisoners there.

But certainly if the overcrowding is a handful and there are a handful of women there, then that is the first process. It has to be remembered that often there are no remandees at the annexe in Symonston. It is an overflow facility and a temporary facility.

It is a little frustrating trying to answer the question "Do you guarantee that blah, blah, blah?" which seems to be part of the word processes you use to generate these questions. The answer to the first question applies if the intention is to ensure that there are lower risk prisoners.

As we have stated time and again, by definition all remandees are maximum security prisoners. Therefore, we cannot say we have a specific label for them and a specific official classification. There are commonsense reasons for all remandees, no matter who they are, being considered maximum security in how they are monitored and watched as well as controlled.

I think I stated in my original answer what the intent is. The intent is to have lower risk prisoners there. The broader intent is to ensure the safety of custodial staff, the safety of prisoners and the workability of the system. As I said in my first answer, I accept that there are no positive politics in this annexe. This is a case of the government exercising its responsibility, a responsibility that might have been exercised sooner by the former government.

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