WRAP - No prison in Westbury
WRAP media release - 27 January 2020

Meander Valley Council released personal information

In the week after the Minister's public meeting in Westbury on 16th December, a decision was made by the Department of Justice to widen the scope of the survey aimed at gauging local opinion on the prison. Prior to that, efforts to ascertain community sentiment about the prison had focussed on Westbury.

"The ample feedback provided to the State Government's consultants up to that point, combined with very well-attended anti-prison rallies, sent a clear message to the State Government that the majority in Westbury do not want this prison," said Ms Linda Poulton, President of WRAP.

At the 21st January 2020 meeting of the Meander Valley Council, the Mayor stated that "...he did not have any doubt that the majority of the residents of Westbury are against the proposed site for the prison." [Page 18] This revises his statement made on the same date as the announcement of the preferred site on 30 September that 70% of the people he had spoken to supported the prison.

"We believe that the decision to widen the scope of the survey became necessary for the State Government in order for it to obtain the pro-prison feedback that it desperately needs", said Ms Poulton.

The Government had previously indicated that the survey to be undertaken by its consultants, SGS Economics, would be done by both telephone and mail out.

At the meeting of 16th December 2019, the Minister indicated that SGS would be given access to the ratepayer roll to obtain relevant information. However, the Government has instead approached the Meander Valley Council for the information, which the Council has willingly handed over. [Refer to these emails].

"I am not sure that people in the municipality would feel that comfortable with personal information such as their names and addresses being shared between different levels of government for the sake of an exercise like this. Personal information is not meant to be shared with another party, even another public institution, unless it is for a very valid and lawful reason," said Ms Poulton.

When the people of the Meander Valley receive their personalised surveys about the prison over the coming month or so, some of them may justifiably feel a little miffed about their personal information being handed over to the State Government without a compelling reason and yet again without consultation by the Council with its community".

Linda Poulton
President, WRAP Inc
Westbury