Tuesday 16 August 2016

Hansard of the Legislative Council
Risdon Prison - Overtime Costs



In respect of the answer you have just given, have we not heard all that before, through our budget Estimates programs the members and I pursued over many years?  It must be decade that we have been highlighting this.  We were given those solid assurances by the change manager a couple of years ago - 'Yes, we have found the solution, we have found the way forward.'  The member for Windermere went interstate to have a look at programs -

Mr PRESIDENT - Remember this is question time, not a debate.

Mr FINCH - Have we not heard all this before, Leader?


Mr President, I completely understand the member for Rosevears' frustration and disappointment that the overtime costs, which were trending down, appear to have blown out again.  I accept it is very disappointing and frustrating. 

I have tried to provide some context around why that has occurred.  I specifically mentioned the issue with staffing and the high number of separations.  I am not necessarily saying that the separations are a bad thing, either.  As I mentioned, there were some performance management issues.  It is vitally important that we have the right staff in place at the prison.  I said that we have been recruiting ever since we were elected to government.  While at one stage we did have the right number, through separations we again have ground to make up to ensure that we have the right staffing number for the prison. 

I accept that you are disappointed and frustrated, and so am I, I am also mindful that the prison has had a very challenging time.  There is no option but to provide staff for the purposes of a coronial inquest.  There is no option but to provide staff for medical escorts for prisoners, and that means sometimes sitting in the hospital with the prisoner while they are being attended to, for however long that takes.  We have some elderly prisoners in the system.  We have some prisoners with quite significant medical issues. 

The reality of the situation is that sometimes we have no option but to incur overtime costs.  While we are doing everything that we possibly can to bring those costs down, there are occasionally going to be spikes because of circumstances not always within my control particularly - or even within the control of the TPS