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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3068 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

But there is no money that I can see in either the health or corrections budget that identifies how the services will be provided at the Symonston temporary remand centre.

The whole farce of the corrections portfolio under this minister is of great concern. The government says they want "programs that are empathetic to the special needs of women". I wonder whether, in the $50 million remand centre, given the $11 million that have gone begging, there will be room for the special needs of women. The minister has explained that he would send primarily women to the Symonston temporary facility, except that there are so few women in our system normally that that would mean the temporary facility would be empty most of that time.

We get to see the guidelines on how they will choose which of the remandees-remember that all remandees are classified as maximum security-will go to the facility. There was this recommendation about that:

The Committee recommends that the Government table in the ACT Legislative Assembly, as soon as possible, the guidelines for determining which remandees will be housed in the temporary Symonston facility.

The answer to that recommendation 41 reads:

Induction of all remandees will continue to take place at the Belconnen Remand Centre. The Symonston Temporary Remand Centre will accommodate remandees only where the practical safe operating capacity of the BRC is exceeded.

No commitment has been made by this government to table these guidelines, and you have to ask why. What are they afraid of that they will not table? All we get is secrecy about this whole process. We should draw a parallel between that and the process we had when we were looking for a site for a facility, whether it be a combined remand centre/prison or stand-alone prison. We put out a number of sites. It went to a committee, which Mr Hargreaves was on. That committee recommended Symonston. It handed the choice back to the government saying either Kinlyside or Symonston, but they did make the choice in saying that Symonston would be adequate.

That was reneged on later by Mr Hargreaves when the politics of it got in the way and they wanted something to attack the government over. What we have is no commitment to a prison, secrecy about how they are going about a remand centre, a merry-go-round of how they will come to conclusions that affect the construction of a remand centre and a prison, a series of broken promises and a lack of involvement of the community-who, in his own words, the now Chief Minister was going to build bridges for and was going to involve more in government decisions.

Going simply on what is outlined here, the minister has been negligent on the remand centre issues and the prison issues, and I do not believe he is serious about offering the people of the ACT a real service at all.

Another issue is the mental health of our prisoners and of having a time-out facility. I do not know whether we will get into some early intervention. Labor in their policy talk about addressing the root causes of crime and attempting to keep people out of the system. Yet when I put up the idea for a time-out facility-

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