WRAP media release - 12 May 2020
WRAP calls on Planning Minister to rule out fast-tracking Westbury Prison
WRAP has written to the Planning Minister Roger Jaensch seeking confirmation that the proposed major projects legislation would not be used to fast track the Northern Regional Prison if it passes into law.
"Countless hours have been spent by so many passionate people in the Westbury community voicing their concerns about the proposed prison site and facilitating community engagement in the planning process. Hundreds of people have attended public meetings".
Elise Archer MP, Minister for Corrections, has advised WRAP that the project is proceeding in line with the “planning process that currently applies”. However, this does not rule out the potential for the project to be fast tracked at some future point.
"WRAP is deeply concerned that the Major Projects legislation could be invoked at some future point if the standard planning process becomes more problematic or too drawn out for the State Government."
"The standard rezoning application process has so far proven itself to be a prickly path for the Government to tread. It would be very tempting to fast track this project in the name of economic recovery, whilst the reality is that such a course would curtail public participation in the planning process, an extremely convenient outcome for the Government".
For this reason, WRAP has called on the Planning Minister to rule out the application of the major projects legislation to the Northern Regional Prison Project at any future point in time.
"It would be a complete slap in the face to the community for this legislation to be invoked just because the going has gotten too tough for the Council or the Government".
Communities all around Tasmania need to be alert to the fact that public participation in planning decisions will be significantly curtailed if the Major Projects Bill becomes law.
"The legislation itself is being fast tracked through the Parliament while communities in Tasmania are reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. Many are not alert to its potential ramifications."
President, WRAP Inc