Page 2485 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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With regard to the so-called misleading and evasive answers to questions on notice, I understand how frustrating the question and answer process can be in committee hearings and in this place but I do not believe that Ms Gallagher has been particularly evasive and I do not believe that her answers were misleading. However, it might have suited Mr Seselja’s purposes to see it that way. There have certainly been several answers to questions that I have put which strike me as evasive and potentially misleading. However, I am not sure if private members’ business is best spent complaining about the quality of answers to our questions. Indeed, the lack of an answer can be as informative in its way as an answer that actually addresses the question can be.

With regard to the ongoing breach at Quamby of the Human Rights Act, I believe there has been consensus on all sides of this Assembly about our joint concern. The government agreed during the estimates process that there was a breach of human rights at Quamby and outlined what they were doing to address the problem. This included building a new facility and having the Human Rights Commissioner conduct an audit of Quamby.

I think the next step for us as an Assembly is to focus on the results of the Human Rights Commissioner’s audit, and to ensure that government takes responsibility for these matters and implements measures to ensure that, where possible, breaches will be resolved. I understand that we may not have the full ability to comply with human rights provisions until we have a new building. As the Chief Minister has already illustrated, only the construction of a new facility might address this breach of rights. There are inherent problems with the existing building, despite the best intentions of those who work there. Nonetheless, the Human Rights Commissioner’s audit and the outcome of the working group’s assessment of current and future programs at Quamby all need to be considered in this light.

Mr Speaker I feel that as a member of the Assembly it is incumbent on me to find out more about Quamby. On this note, I look forward to attending a NAIDOC event at Quamby next week, partly because I believe I have played a small part by putting an Aboriginal dance instructor in touch with the program organiser so as to work with indigenous young people in devising a dance performance.

I guess my approach to this issue is to find out as much as I can, because I care very much about the young people who find themselves in this place. I want to do what I can to support good work and to try to bring about change where I do not think the work is good.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.42): Mr Speaker, I do not think we could question the fact that Quamby can be a very difficult problem for anyone, let alone a minister. I am not going to be churlish about this. The minister has managed to get a lot of extra money for it.

However, the minister said that nothing happened for seven years. Let us look very briefly at what has happened to date. This facility never should have been built by, I think, the Follett government. It was badly designed and staff preferred the old facility, which is now the periodic detention centre at Symonston. It was a poor facility and there

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