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Liberals’ Westbury Spin Comes Undone

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Tags: Northern Prison, Westbury, Environment, Corrections, Justice

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson

Today in Parliament, the Government confirmed its decision to pursue the second site for the northern prison was made in a rush, and revealed they have no idea how they actually want to use the proposed site. 

The Liberals’ panicked, politically-driven decision to move the northern prison site has resulted in it selecting an ill-advised, inappropriate, costly location, that’s fraught with significant unresolvable issues

A northern prison would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, yet the decision for the site has been mired in secrecy, and came after no consultation with Westbury residents. 

It’s clear the Government hasn’t done proper due diligence on the Birralee Road site. It seems the only real work they’ve done so far is to draw up ministerial talking points designed to mislead the community. 

Right to Information documents released show the 2016 DPIPWE assessment of the reserve acknowledges it meets the IUCN criteria for conservation. It identified endangered masked owl and Tasmanian devils on the site, and a wedge-tail eagle nest close by. DPIPWE recommended the site have permanent protection. 

In 2018, DPIPWE reaffirmed with the Federal Government the site is part of the National Reserve System, that it had been purchased to become a protected area, and gazettal was in progress. 

It is inexplicable that Corrections Minister, Elise Archer, continues to deny the new prison site is a reserve with values that should be protected. This has been verified by governments on multiple occasions across more than a decade.  

The northern prison site has no public support, compromises natural values, and will be a massive drain on the public purse. The Liberals should swallow their pride and abandon this highly problematic proposal.