Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for CORRECTIONS, Ms ARCHER
The new location for the unnecessary northern prison, the Westbury reserve, did not even make it onto -
Dr WOODRUFF - The Westbury reserve did not even make it on to your Government's list of initial sites. It has no services, no water, gas or sewerage, but, worse, it is a forest that is protected under Tasmania's Reserve Estate, recorded on your list map, which you should have seen. Any due diligence would have shown you. It is a haven for birds and animals, including wedged-tailed eagles, Tasmanian devils, white goshawks, wood swallows, whistlers, silvereyes, and on and on.
Current evidence of natural values shows it is a rich natural biodiversity hotspot. Your obsession with secrecy about this prison means you never even thought to speak to the community about the values of this site; who would have told you all about them.
We are meant to believe the preliminary desktop assessment for the site suitability did not raise any red flags. How was that possible? You have said the characteristics of this site are very promising for a prison. How did you get it so wrong?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her statement and question. It is remarkable that the Greens think that if they say something, it is fact. If they say something often enough, remarkably
Dr Woodruff - Sarah Lloyd received the Order of Australia for the work she had done around the Westbury Reserve. How could you have missed that?
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - Madam Speaker, I do not doubt anyone's credentials or personal opinions. What I want to do is state, and further state from what the Premier has clarified correctly, in parliament today, the facts about this site and what our preliminary investigations have received and how we have arrived at this site and what our plans are from hereon in.
It is troubling that the Greens continually peddle things in this House, and outside the House, that are simply not true.
As the Premier already stated this morning, issues have been raised in correspondence received by the Government on the status of this land for some time and certainly in recent days. It is based on the same misunderstandings. As the Premier has said, the site was originally purchased from a private landholder because it was believed to contain a specific forest type that had been significantly reduced by agricultural development and was not well reserved. However, subsequent investigation revealed that the site did not contain its forest type, but instead a similar but not threatened -
Ms O'Connor - Say that to Sarah Lloyd - the Order of Australia for contribution to conservation.
Ms ARCHER - The cause of this initial error is not clear, as we have said, and there is no criticism of how that assessment was undertaken. But the site does not contain a pristine forest -
Dr Woodruff - Not true, not true. That was corrected.
Ms ARCHER - but shows evidence of a very long history of timber harvesting and, more recently, illegal firewood collections, stock raising, rubbish dumping and shooting. The locals are well aware of this. The Government did not put the sign that has been placed on the fence alleging it is a nature conservation site -
Ms O'Connor - DPIPWE put the sign there.
Ms ARCHER - The Government did not put the sign on the fence; we have stated that publicly.
Ms ARCHER - Publicly, the site has not been actively managed by the Crown. It is not the responsibility of DPIPWE's private land conservation program. The site does not contain the values for which it was originally purchased and, for more than decade, consideration has been given to the land being sold, as the Premier has outlined.
I want to clarify one thing about the preliminary assessment. Our proposal is that the design will occupy less than one quarter, which is approximately 15 hectares of the 70-hectare site, with the remaining vegetation to be retained on site. That would provide an opportunity for the remaining area to be formally reserved and given the protection it currently does not enjoy.
Madam Speaker, I also want to clarify the consultation on this particular site. As the Premier outlined, as the result of our consultation, and I have outlined the consultation that occurred, we have looked up the road -
Ms O'Connor - Walking down the main street and chatting to people is not consultation.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - I have outlined the consultation that occurred. We have looked up the road. Many people wanted us to move the site further away from the Westbury town centre and 5.2 kilometres is a significant distance. It is more than Lindisfarne is from Risdon. It is more than Ashley Youth Detention Centre is from Deloraine.
To clarify, as I have said, assessment of the site is currently underway to determine its exact characteristics and how they will be accommodated in the use of the site for the construction of the prison. Preliminary investigation is being conducted by DPIPWE. It is understood there are no eagle nests on the site. In addition, there are no covenants on the block; nor are there any records of threatened wildlife on the block.
Dr Woodruff - There is an eagle nest right next to the site. You know that affects it. You were the previous environment minister. You should know.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Ms ARCHER - I call on the Greens to stop saying these things in public.
Dr Woodruff - Somebody has to do it.
Ms ARCHER - But do not make things up. Stop saying things about a site that are simply not true.