Tuesday, 20 December 2022
Questions without notice and ministers statements
Bev McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (16:43): (8) Thank you, President, and congratulations on your re-elevation to the role.
My question is to Minister Erdogan, the Minister for Corrections. Minister, since July 2022 how many emergency management days have been awarded to prisoners in the adult corrections system?
Enver ERDOGAN (Southern Metropolitan – Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support) (16:44): I thank the member for their question and interest in this area. I was wondering who would ask me my first question as a minister in my portfolio responsibilities, so thank you again, Mrs McArthur, for giving me this opportunity. As those opposite would understand, emergency management days are an important operational tool. There are longstanding arrangements around the way these operational tools are used by professionals in the field, so I think it is interesting that the opposition is trying to make this an issue when these arrangements around the use of emergency management days have been in place for longstanding –
Enver ERDOGAN: Even when you were in government, Dr Bach – before your time. So it is interesting. It is in fact our side of the chamber that tightened the laws around the use of these emergency management days to ensure that people that do the wrong thing are not rewarded with these days. But these operational tools exist for a purpose: to encourage good behaviour in our corrections system. I think it is a bit rich for the opposite side to try to make this an issue now, when it has been longstanding. I do want to say that the staff and professionals in this field do an enormous amount of work. They have done amazing work during the COVID-19 pandemic against all the difficulties they have faced. They have had this tool that they have used. Obviously, as long as these operational tools are used within the policy framework, I trust the advice of the professionals ahead of the advice of those opposite.
Bev McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (16:45): Thank you, Minister, for not answering the question. It was a specific question about days; you could not answer it. But the supplementary question is: how many days have prisoners been in lockdown due to understaffing which has put the corrections system and frontline staff at risk? Could we just have the specific answer.
Enver ERDOGAN (Southern Metropolitan – Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support) (16:46): Mrs McArthur has asked a very broad question about the corrections system and the way isolation policies are used. Obviously our government understands – and I guess for those of you in the gallery here today – that our corrections system is designed to keep the community safe and to reduce recidivism. There are a number of tools. Again, this is an operational question. When it comes to operational matters, it will not be my practice to comment on how the professionals in this area do their job. I will be taking advice from them, but ultimately these are operational matters. I think Mrs McArthur understands that. It is a tricky question to try to nail down this day, that day, when really I trust the advice of the professionals ahead of the advice of those opposite. These arrangements have been longstanding. As I stated to the earlier question, your substantive, these are operational matters that have been longstanding practice in the prison system, and the experts use this to encourage good behaviour and to get outcomes to ensure the corrections system operates efficiently.