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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2438 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, there is much more reform needed in our corrections law. Compared to some more proactive states, our corrections law is outdated, inconsistent and uncoordinated. The previous government had an agenda for improvement, which is partially represented by the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Interim) Act passed by this Assembly in 2001.

Mr Speaker, the momentum for improvement has been lost by the new government, which has had two corrections ministers already. In fact, since late 2001, nothing has taken place to improve our corrections system. The only significant new policy, or in fact lack of policy, has seen the tragic and costly decision to continue to send our prisoners and over $10 million in taxpayers' money each year to New South Wales jails, over the border and beyond our control.

Mr Speaker, these prisoners will continue to return to the ACT with many of the worst elements of these old incarceration institutions, unaided by the family contact and programs which could help ensure their rehabilitation. It's a sad policy which directly contributes to the future rates of crime in Canberra. The government's lack of commitment to a prison and the lack of progress on this front are most disappointing.

I cannot understand why corrections ministers, past and present, refused to comprehend the importance of a jail to the ACT. It seems that all this government has done, as on so many other issues, is launch a slow review of sentencing options by a panel of officials.

I have contributed to this review, and happily it is assisted by some external experts. But a review is not action; it is only a preparation to act. All too often with this government, reviews are used as an excuse for inaction.

I certainly hope that this government eventually gets its act together and develops creative additions to our sentence options, such as restorative justice options. I can indicate that this opposition will make a constructive contribution to all such efforts and support any sensible policies which are brought to this Assembly.

Mr Speaker, the bill I present today deals with basic, uncontroversial ideas. They are good and sensible ideas, which would improve our corrections system. This bill will improve confidence in our system among two groups who have come to lack that confidence: our courts and the public themselves.

I hope that all members will agree that my bill is non-political, sensible legislation, which is worthy of support by all groups in this place.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned to the next sitting.

Bail (Serious Offences) Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Stefaniak

, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by acting clerk.

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