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Wednesday, 29 February 1984
Page: 138

Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Attorney-General aware that there has been an announcement today regarding some projected improved conditions in Queensland gaols? This follows several months of community disquiet about alleged treatment of prisoners in some of the State's prisons. Has the Attorney-General yet received assurances from the Queensland Government that all prisons in that State in fact operate in accordance with the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen the report in this morning's Courier Mail about mail and other sorts of improvements to Queensland prisons, including improvements in visiting rules. I would like to think they represented a civilised response to the representations I made to the Queensland Minister for Justice and Attorney-General following in turn the question asked of me in this place by Senator Reynolds on 15 December last year. Since I have not yet received a response from the Queensland Minister to my letter of January this year I am not able to be completely satisfied that there is a causal nexus between those two events. But it is a pleasant thought that at last Queensland is beginning to show some signs of recognition of its obligations under international treaties to which Australia is a party to develop the conditions in the gaols to a standard which does not offend the basic humanitarian standards and values that are contained in those international instruments. When I get a reply from the Queensland Government I will be in a better position to advise Senator Reynolds and the Senate as to whether there is a general appreciation of Queensland's obligations in this repect or whether the present developments just represent some kind of fluke.