Parton / Drug scare? Call the accountants!

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I GET so many calls to my radio show about drugs in the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Like me, my listeners don’t understand how it is that drugs get into the jail.

Mark Parton.
Mark Parton.
We’re told time and again that “oh, this happens at every jail right around the world…the drugs just get in”.

But how?

“They just do.”

Well, it’s not a good enough explanation.

As a journalist, I’ve been in the AMC and if I’d been carrying anything that I wasn’t supposed to be, it would have been discovered at entry point. You have to jump through a lot of hoops as a member of the public visiting the place.

So many of my radio listeners get logical about the whole thing and, with no evidence to back up their claims, blame the prison staff. I usually say they’ve been watching too many old prison movies and dramatised American TV shows. You have to give staff the benefit of the doubt.

Those same listeners have a “told-you-so” look on their faces this past week.

Granted this story doesn’t involve the “Hume Hilton”, but rather the kiddies prison in Mitchell, where we discovered the finger had been pointed at detention centre staff. Indeed, some of the staff were told not to come in to work until an investigation into drug sales within the walls of Bimberi was completed.

We shouldn’t jump to conclusions because a part of this investigation is still in motion, but it doesn’t look good, does it?

We learnt that earlier this year a group of workers were accused of smuggling drugs into the detention centre and selling them to inmates.

They were stood down, with pay, as external investigators from consultancy firm KPMG looked into the accusations. The investigation was completed in May and officials said no additional AFP or ACT Policing investigation or raid took place.

Can I tell you, if my workplace thought I was bringing drugs into the building and selling them to the sales team, I don’t think they’d be engaging the services of KPMG to do the investigation (aren’t they accountants?). Wouldn’t you think they’d just get the police in?

Natalie Howson is the director-general of the Community Services Directorate and is said to be concerned by the allegations, but she points out none of the accusations have been verified.

Well that’s good Nat, but there’s a fair bit of smoke around this one. There is still one staff member who remains stood down, but nobody will tell us why.


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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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