Page 172 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012
MS GALLAGHER: My view on this is the dangers being faced by corrections staff are faced on a daily basis. They work in a very, very difficult workplace. There is injecting equipment in the jail at the moment. They face those dangers now. The key to getting this developed and to seeking the agreement of corrections staff is that it actually supports the health of prisoners who are entitled to their health care. I think we would all agree with that—that prisoners are entitled to adequate health care, that they should be protected from harm while they are in the jail—again, this meets that—and that we provide a safe workplace for prison staff. That is already done through the work that corrections do now in minimising the risks to staff. But let us not pretend that those risks are not there now; they are.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.
MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, can you tell us what the threats to the ACT community would be by not addressing the spread of communicable diseases at AMC?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. As we know, hepatitis C is prevalent in about one per cent of the community. At the jail it is more like 60 per cent. That is what we are dealing with. And, for most of those people, they actually leave the jail. Yes, they have friends and they have family and they have children and they have work colleagues and they have a whole range of people they have contact with. The danger to the community in allowing this prevalence to continue and putting our heads in the sand and hoping it will go away, despite all the evidence to the contrary that it will not, is that the risks that they bring out into the community actually spreads to the rest of the community—to your children, to my children, to your family, to my family. That is the risk, and that is what we are trying to do.
Mr Hanson: Quasi legalisation of drugs.
MS GALLAGHER: Mr Hanson unhelpfully interjects “quasi legalisation of drugs”. It is a traditional conservative argument, and, if you read the evidence, it is completely wrong.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja.
MR SESELJA: Was Keith Hamburger wrong in his conclusion in relation to the quasi legalisation of drugs? How will you implement this, given that corrections officers continue to be opposed to this program?
MS GALLAGHER: There are a couple of issues. Yes, I personally disagree with Keith Hamburger on that issue. I do not believe the model that we have put forward in any way supports the quasi legalisation of drugs. The efforts that go into confiscating drugs, stopping drugs going into the jail and punishing prisoners where contraband is identified will all continue.
The doctors have made it very clear to me that they are not the slightest bit interested in being a part of any contact around the drugs that are being used. Their view is that when they see a patient that comes to them—