Page 855 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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measures really will last for five years, which has not been the practice in this place in previous legislative measures of this nature.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I advise that my colleague the Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services is unavailable to take questions today. I would be happy to seek to assist to the best of my ability. Beware!

Questions without notice

Alexander Maconochie Centre

MR STEFANIAK: My question is addressed to the Attorney General. The projected prison for the ACT is the biggest capital project ever undertaken by the ACT. Recurrent spending on the prison will be at least $20 million a year once it is established. Will the prison be considered as part of the functional review of government services? If not, is this not a good example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish at a time when the government is reducing basic services due to a lack of money?

MR STANHOPE: It needs to be understood, in relation to the recurrent costs of the Alexander Maconochie Centre, that the $20 million—I am not accepting that that is the number; I would have to take advice on that or check the latest information—incorporates the recurrent expenditure that we provide to pay for the care of ACT prisoners in New South Wales. Currently we have about 140 or thereabouts; the number fluctuates somewhere between 120 and 160. We have somewhere between 120 and 160 prisoners in New South Wales at the moment. Of the $20 million a significant portion, of course, goes to New South Wales.

Mr Stefaniak: It’s about half.

MR STANHOPE: Yes; $9½ million to $10 million. Of the $20 million, $9½ million to $10 million is currently paid to people employed by the New South Wales government on our behalf to care for our prisoners in New South Wales. In the context of some of the economies of the prison, I know the Liberal Party and certainly the chamber of commerce are talking down the construction of the prison and talking down the economic benefits, or are completely ignoring the economic benefits.

If we dismiss all those other benefits in relation to rehabilitation, recidivism and our responsibility to ACT prisoners in the first place—let us just dismiss from the question the social and criminological aspects of conducting, managing and organising our own

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