Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2009) . . Page.. 5362 ..
has made a finding and it has made a recommendation that is not backed up by any evidence. The committee itself says that the fault in relation to the security system was so unforeseeable and unusual that neither the territory nor the contractor could have been reasonably expected to take steps to prevent it. So let us be very clear about this. The key criticism of me was the result of a fault that I could not in any way have reasonably foreseen. This committee has the gall to make this accusation without any evidence.
There are a few other glaring deficiencies in this report. Finding No 5 is that the cessation of transfer of prisoners to New South Wales was never satisfactorily explained to the committee. Yes, it was. New South Wales was full. I do not how much simpler we can get, but New South Wales was full. New South Wales was so full that it was putting prisoners in police station cells because it did not have any room in its system. So how the committee can draw the conclusion that the cessation of transfer of prisoners was never satisfactorily explained is beyond me. The simple fact is that New South Wales was full. It was full; it had no more beds.
The committee goes on to make the astounding finding that ACT remand facilities were not human-rights compliant during this period. Well, shock, horror! Belconnen Remand Centre was probably not human rights compliant when it was built. That is why we were building the prison. Has an Assembly committee taken over a year to work out that the Belconnen Remand Centre was not human rights compliant? For heaven’s sake, that is why we were building the prison in the first place.
It is interesting that finding No 11 finds that I, as the minister, was not well briefed on delays in completing the AMC. Well, I reject that; I was well briefed. In the evidence I gave to the committee, I made it quite clear that the delays in the handover of the facility were expected in a short period of time after the immediate opening, and that it made sense to open the prison when we opened it. I stand by that. I made that decision on advice provided to me at the time by Corrective Services, and it is entirely appropriate to open a prison at a time when it does not have prisoners in it and it is not operational. It is entirely appropriate to do so, and I reject any assertion to the contrary.
The Liberal opposition seem to believe that you do not have the opening until all the prisoners are in it and it is all operational. I do not know whether they saw who went to the opening, but they included judges, politicians and a whole range of personnel. It would be highly unfeasible to have those people all in one place inside the prison whilst it was operational.
This committee has the gall to act as though it is some commission of inquiry or a court. It is not satisfied with recommendations; it has to make findings—not just recommendations but findings—that are not backed up by any analysis and that are completely contrary to the facts. This inquiry has been a sham from go to whoa. It has been quite clear what the agenda has been from Mrs Dunne: they are going to try and pin the political blame on the minister. Ignore the facts, ignore all the evidence, just pin the blame on the minister, because that is what it is all about. It is just a simple sham inquiry to achieve a political end. This report is a sham, it should be considered a sham, and I reject the assertions that are in this report.