Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson
The Liberals continue to grubby their northern prison planning process with secrecy and bad faith community consultation. It is little wonder the Westbury community are furious.
The Gutwein Government has failed to participate in engaged discussion with Westbury residents, let alone listened to their feedback, around the so-called "benefits" study. Rather, it has treated them with disdain and ignored the profound justice benefits of the obvious alternative – rehabilitation of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
The benefits of closing the discredited Ashley Youth Detention Centre, repurposing it to become a northern adult rehabilitation centre, and establishing two new purpose-built facilities in the State for youth detention are obvious.
Both the Liberal and Labor parties are baying for a northern prison, and now both parties have indicated support for the stinky Major Projects Bill.
This is bad news for Westbury residents, who face the prospect of their town being selected as the site for a misguided second prison. If it were declared a major project they would be stripped of the normal planning processes, including their right to a say and appeal.
Northern Tasmania doesn’t need to spend $270 million building a new prison, when this money could go to drug rehabilitation, social and employment programs, public housing and transport – targeting support into areas with high crime rates.
Critically, repurposing Ashley would not only solve the economic burden of a new prison build and ease the concerns of Westbury, it would also allow the Government to reset youth justice. Money saved could be directed into the therapeutic youth justice model recommended to government in the 2018 Noetic Report.
The Liberals now have the opportunity to abandon their divisive and archaic prison build vision to ‘fix crime’. It is in the best interests of the community of Westbury, but also the community at large