Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I thank the member for McIntyre for the motion before us.
It certainly is an issue. Like other members, I have also toured the facility at Launceston. I have been out to Ashley with Whitelion.
It is a sad reflection on our society that we need another prison. It would have been nice if we still have the Hayes Prison Farm for low-risk offenders. Unfortunately that is no longer there. Also, you read every day that people need drug diversionary places; they cannot have them, so they have to go to prison, because there is no facility for them. It would be good if the Government could look at putting more money into those areas.
Another concern is if we do remove the suspended sentences. It may not be likely to be coming up this year -
Ms Forrest - I reckon it will. It has been introduced by the new Minister for Justice.
Ms Armitage - It is on the Government's agenda. If we are looking to things like that, surely we will have to look at another prison.
Members might remember that during recent briefings guards and workers from Risdon said there has been some doubling up in the cells and overcrowding, depending on the level of the prisoner and whether they should be sharing and whether that situation should arise regardless of the reason they are there. Who they are sharing with may be of concern to families, particularly if the prisoner is in jail for something considered to be a minor crime
Most of the issues have been raised by the members. I have been listening to the debate so I will not be going over a lot already said. I support the member for McIntyre's motion now before us. I think it is very important that we have facilities for visitors and families of prisoners. It is a huge impost for many families who might not have the ability or the funds to be able to get to Hobart and back. Access to their family, to their children, to their loved ones so that they know what they are coming back to, and to try to assist them, has to help with the rehabilitation of some prisoners.
I see this as a good move forward. As I said, it is disappointing we lost things such as the Hayes Prison Farm, which certainly could have been there for offenders onvicted of lesser crimes. We do not have it, and we cannot go back to what we do not have, but I certainly support the motion before us.