Page 4232 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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it, the media were informed of this event and tried to find out what had occurred, because they had been advised that there had been a methadone overdose, they were told by ACT Corrective Services—or by the department or the minister’s office; it is unclear to me—that this was just an epileptic fit. It is quite clear that it was more than that, and that has been exposed.

If the government had been more open, accountable and honest when these incidents first arose, rather than trying to cover them up and not provide the information to the media or community, we would not have found ourselves in the position where we had to drag every piece of information out of them tooth and nail. Again we are seeing the discrepancy between the government’s rhetoric about being open and accountable and the reality, which is that they wanted to bury this incident as deeply as they could, because it yet again highlights the problems that they have had managing the jail.

In relation to the needle and syringe program, that is not the subject of this motion and I had not intended to make it any part of the formal motion. But in speaking to the motion, it does again highlight the difficulties of administrating methadone in this prison environment. It is extremely complex. The potential for misadventure, for serious harm to be caused by a needle and syringe program, has been highlighted by the Australian Nursing Federation, who have come out against the recommendations of the Moore report; by the corrections officers; and, in the submission made by Mr Bill Allcroft to the Moore report, by prisoners themselves.

I again call on the government to stop their push for a needle and syringe program. This near tragic incident again highlights the flaws in that policy position that the government takes. Although Ms Gallagher was trying to back away somewhat from her advocacy for a needle and syringe program, on ABC 666 on 2 September, she made it very clear that she supports a needle and syringe program at the AMC. It is not that she does not desire one; she is pushing for one. It is simply a matter of whether she can get one done.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the Indigenous community that we have been talking to regarding this issue. There has been significant dialogue between my office and the Indigenous community. I would like to thank Ms Brigitte Morten from my office for the extensive work that she has done in that process. And I know that members of the Indigenous community have also been talking to the Greens.

This is a very serious issue. All politics aside, I think we can all agree that we must be doing everything that we can to make sure that we prevent incidents of harm and prevent any death of an Indigenous prisoner at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. It is quite clear from this incident that we came very close—very close indeed. Let this be a warning to the government and let this be a warning to the community. Let us make sure that we use this incident as an opportunity to learn, as a warning that is provided to us to make sure that this sort of incident does not happen in the future.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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