Page 2292 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 June 2013

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The AMC opened in 2009, at nearly $20 million over budget. In the budget yesterday, $3 million was allocated for the development of final sketch plans for a facility to meet medium-term accommodation requirements. Minister, why is the jail full after four years instead of the promised 25 years?

MR RATTENBURY: As Mr Seselja knows, I have been Minister for Corrections since November. During that time I have, obviously, become briefed on the situation at the AMC. I have formed a view and I have put a bid to cabinet that this is the approach that we should be taking. The reason that I have done this is that the AMC is not at capacity. The purpose of having these additional beds is that it will provide AMC officers with more flexibility and options to house detainees based on operational requirements such as security and separation.

I think those that have taken time to examine the way the AMC operates will have a good understanding of the fact that we do have a unique correctional facility. We have a prison population that spans the full range of security classifications and also we have a prison population where detainees tend to know each other. They come from a small town. So we have significant issues requiring separation. Also, with a mixture of remand detainees and sentenced detainees and also the range of protection classifications we have, we have a range of operational issues, particularly around separation. That means that, even with the number of beds that we do currently have, we need greater flexibility.

Take, for example, the women’s section of the AMC.

Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, on a point of order on relevance, the minister is providing a lecture on the nature of the AMC. The question was very specific. It contrasted a statement made by the then minister who said that the configuration was adequate for 25 years with the fact that this government is now building extra capacity because it needs to at the AMC, and an explanation of why that is so, rather than a broad discussion on the nature of the AMC.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, I think Mr Rattenbury was giving a broad-ranging answer to the question why is the jail full or why is there a necessity to build more beds, and I do not take the point of order. I think that Mr Rattenbury is in order.

MR RATTENBURY: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was just about to make the observation—and I think this will go to Mr Hanson’s point of order—for example, in the women’s section we have 25 beds. At most times in recent periods, we have had somewhere between 10 and 15 female detainees. We have got 10 or so spare beds. We obviously can only use them for female detainees. This goes to the question of how many beds there are and whether the prison is full or not.

That is why I am talking about the purpose of these additional beds. There are two stages in the budget. It is 30 beds and then an additional 80 beds. But the particular pressure for the 30, which is the first solution, is to provide a level of flexibility so that we can operate within that need to put the detainees in places where they are needed to deal with that range of separational issues.

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