Page 2330 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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I mentioned some problems in terms of court decisions earlier. Might I close, though, by saying I would certainly hope, now that this prison is going to come on stream in a couple of months time—a prison where rehabilitation, quite rightly, is put at the forefront of treating prisoners who go in there addicted by drugs and then come out at the other end as clean as they possibly can be from drugs—the courts, especially the Supreme Court, will see the prison as a place where it is desirable to put people for their own benefit and we do not see some of the pathetically weak sentences we have seen in recent times. What especially horrifies me is suspended sentences for people who point sawn-off shotguns at 20-year-old girls’ heads and things like that.

Most of these criminals suffer from a drug addiction or something else. They are not going to actually kick their habit or do anything about it if they go to a voluntary place, even if they attend—and most of the time they do not—hopefully, to be cleaned up. At least in a prison they are a captive audience; they can be rehabilitated. And one thing the government has said—and the opposition certainly supports this—is that, in the new prison, people will have a range of health facilities to help them, educational facilities to train them up so that hopefully they might have a chance of employment when they get out, and they will come out better people than when they went in.

Twenty years ago, when the ACT was still a leading jurisdiction, you knew that if you went to the Supreme Court you would get jailed if you deserved to go to jail most of the time. I know the judicial officers then had a great concern about not controlling what happened in New South Wales. The same applied to magistrates. That excuse goes out the window. I think it was more than an excuse; it was a real concern 20 years ago. Often it can be used as an excuse. That excuse goes out the window when this new prison starts.

I would expect to see, and I certainly hope to see—and I think justice demands it—this new prison actually being used. Ultimately that will be to the benefit especially of victims in society but also to the benefit of the criminals themselves. Effectively the only sure-fire way you can get some of these people off drugs and actually help them help themselves is by giving them the health treatment they need and the education training they need which they simply will not get on the outside and will have no real show of getting because of the state of their addiction or the state of their mind or whatever. I await with bated breath the opening of the prison just to see what effect that will have on our judicial system.

Standing orders—suspension

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.39): I move:

That standing order 76 be suspended for the remainder of this sitting.

Standing order 76 prohibits the introduction of new business after 11 o’clock. Following the conclusion of this budget debate we need to suspend the standing order so that we can also vote on noting the select committee and estimates report on the appropriation bill and the government response.

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