Page 2814 - Week 08 - Thursday, 11 August 2016

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Similarly, through the significant savings that were made on the expansion project, I was able to put the view to cabinet, and cabinet supported this, that those spare funds be used towards the enhancement of industries. That is something that is now underway. I note the comments Mr Wall made last night. I will elaborate a little on what is happening and reflect on the points and concerns that he raised last night.

The expansion of industries will help detainees to build work skills to support their rehabilitation and reintegration back into society. I am of the view that we do need prison industries. I think it has been one of the shortcomings of the AMC since it opened. I have been very pleased that we were able to find the resources to move forward in getting prison industries going.

Certainly, we have looked to New South Wales. They have a very extensive prison industry. They, of course, have a much larger network of jails and range of security types of jails. So they have different considerations but certainly New South Wales has been very helpful in giving us advice on how to go about establishing prison industries.

The first stage in the development of industries capacity will include expansion of the existing laundry facilities, as well as construction of a bakery facility. The laundry in particular will serve two outcomes: firstly, to provide work opportunities for detainees; and, secondly, to respond to heightened demand caused by increased detainee numbers. In terms of the bakery, I noted Mr Wall’s comment yesterday that these industries will only serve the prison itself. I do not actually see the limitation at the moment. We actually have very significant demand.

The laundry capacity will be fairly close to fully utilised by the requirements of the centre itself. Certainly, when it comes to the bakery facility, I am very open to selling externally but in the first instance at the moment we have around 400 detainees requiring three meals a day. It is a very significant job simply to feed all of those people. If we reach a point where we have enough capacity to start selling externally, we will do that.

I note, however, that we will need to work closely with local businesses because one of the key pieces of advice New South Wales gave to us—I think Mr Wall will be very interested in this in light of his particular support for small business—was that an issue has been raised in New South Wales about essentially relatively cheaper labour working inside the jail competing with businesses outside it who pay full award rates, which detainees are not paid. So we need to make sure that there is, to use the jargon, competitive neutrality and that there is not an unfair subsidy. I suspect that most Canberrans, and even most local businesses, would be quite happy to do that but we would need to work through a process to make sure that we were not unfairly undermining another local business.

In terms of issues of rehabilitation, these two things tie together. The Auditor-General made her findings and the government agreed with all of those findings. I share the concerns that the Auditor-General has raised. That is why I have been working on bringing in prison industries. That engagement in industries provides an opportunity for rehabilitation.

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