INTERNATIONAL PRISONER TRANSFER
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: My question is addressed to the Attorney General, Minister for Industrial Relations, and Minister for Fair Trading. With reference to the International Transfer of Prisoners (New South Wales) Bill, which was passed by the Parliament last year, what has happened at the Federal level? Have all States agreed to implementation of arrangements to enable international prisoner transfers? If the answer is in the affirmative, when will those transfers be implemented?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: Model State and Territory legislation to give effect to the international transfer of prisoners scheme was endorsed by all participating jurisdictions at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in October 1996. Since then the Commonwealth has enacted the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997, and complementary legislation has been passed in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. Legislation has also been introduced in the Victorian Parliament but, as I understand it, that legislation has not yet been passed. The Northern Territory Government has indicated that it will not participate in the scheme, and I recall that indication being made at the relevant meeting of Attorneys-General.
To my knowledge, the Northern Territory is the sole dissentient, subject to an observation I shall make at the end of this answer. The Commonwealth Minister for Justice, Senator Vanstone, has advised that the Commonwealth Government is proceeding with preparatory work so that the appropriate agreements relating to the scheme may be concluded as soon as possible after the necessary State and Territory legislation has been passed. In short, I report positive progress. New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have the legislation in place. Victoria is moving on the matter. The Northern Territory is a dissentient. I point out that the only other dissentient in the land, the only other political force to oppose this sensible legislation, is the New South Wales Opposition. Opposition members oppose the legislation root and branch.