CORRECTIONS Minister Mick Gentleman survived a no confidence motion moved in the ACT Legislative Assembly this morning (August 3).
Under Mr Gentleman’s leadership, shadow minister for corrections Elizabeth Kikkert said an Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) inmate was mistakenly released into the community, a detainee transport vehicle had been continuously used despite warnings from the Inspector of Corrections that it was unsuitable, a detainee escaped one of the inappropriate vehicles, which led to a dangerous car chase on Canberra’s streets, there’s been multiple prison riots costing the Canberra taxpayer more than $5 million, and there’s been an ongoing plague of alcohol, drugs and contraband at AMC.
“The Assembly cannot allow the minister to continue placing our corrections officers and the greater community in harm’s way,” she said.
In the assembly, Mr Gentleman admitted that parts of the Alexander Maconochie Centre are not operating how they were originally intended.
“[But] I’ve made it clear that reform and improvements are at the top of the agenda for corrections in the ACT,” he said.
“Now is the time to look forward and work with staff, stakeholders and detainees on solutions and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
“I’ve been working closely with the commissioner for corrections and the chair of my Blueprint for Change committee to bring about positive changes at AMC.”
Despite these described “failures”, both ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury (as did all Labor and Greens MLAs) did not support the vote of no confidence, instead blaming the issues on the “challenging” portfolio.
Mr Barr went further to express his strong support for Mr Gentleman’s role in the portfolio, saying he has brought experience and passion, and a desire to work with key stakeholders to implement a series of changes within the portfolio.
Mr Barr thanked Mr Gentleman for his work and said he has implemented a range of mechanisms, measures and reforms, and labelled Mrs Kikkert’s motion as “opposition for opposition’s sake”.
“This is the standard negativity you get from long-term opposition,” he said.
In response to Mr Barr’s remarks, Mrs Kikkert labelled the corrections minister inexperienced and called for him to step down, saying he is not fit for the portfolio.
“This is not about political points, this is about doing the right thing for the corrections officers,” she said.
She said the government has been in power for so long that it is blinded by their mismanagement, and said the entire government should take responsibility for the failings at the AMC.
“When will this government take responsibility for the sad state of this prison?” she said.
And while the motion was defeated, Mrs Kikkert said the party still has no confidence in the government’s management of the AMC.
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