Page 2652 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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do not want to do something does not necessarily mean that the government has to walk away from it. If we did that, the government would never do anything.

My comments around this have been clear. If this was in any other place, this would be being dealt with as a public health matter. These prisoners leave the Alexander Maconochie Centre and re-integrate into the community. This becomes a community issue and it is one that the government needs to deal with. We need to accept that there are different points of view. It will be difficult to implement a needle and syringe program at the jail if corrections staff refuse to participate with it, but I am not prepared to accept that just because it is hard means that you do not explore it further.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, why are you pursuing a needle and syringe program when 100 per cent of former prisoners interviewed by Prisoners Aid were against it?

MS GALLAGHER: Again, this goes to my point that governments just cannot accept one view. We have to accept—

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister is answering the question.

MS GALLAGHER: We have to look at all of the different views, all of the different evidence before us, some of the possible solutions and then weigh up what is the best way forward. That does not necessarily mean that we will be able to accept the view of one person who represents Prisoners Aid.

My understanding from dealing and speaking with staff from other services, non-government services in particular, that provide support and assistance at the Alexander Maconochie Centre is that that is not a view shared by the prisoner population out there. Indeed, I am informed by Michael Moore’s work that that is not a view shared by all the prisoners he has spoken to as part of the work that he has done. I look forward to receiving his report. That will be tabled in this place and we can have further debate about it after that.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hargreaves?

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, given that the NSP is about harm minimisation, can you tell me why the government rejected the Liberals’ call to reduce the health budget for the AMC at the last election?

MS GALLAGHER: Indeed, the opposition went to the election with a program of budget cuts which included cutting health services out at the Hume medical centre. This is not an area where we believe cuts can be sustained. Indeed, I think some of the reviews that have been done into the health services out there have been calling for additional resources to be allocated to the Hume medical centre to allow for a full complement of health programs to be offered at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. We do not believe it is a place where budget savings can be found. Indeed, in line

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