Petition spurs council to seek info on new Northern prison site
By Isobel Cootes
16 July 2020
A petition to the Meander Valley Council about the Birralee Road prison site has spurred the council to write to the state government seeking further information about the new site.
The Westbury Region Against the Prison group's petition was handed in on June 1, pre-dating the government's June 18 announcement of the new site, but amassed 865 signatures. It asked for another public meeting about the previous site.
The council found 44 were duplicate signatures, 102 did not provide a full address, 51 were outside the municipality and seven did not present information to determine their address.
Mayor Wayne Johnston said the council would write to Corrections Minister Elise Archer and the Department of Justice seeking information about any planned consultation, time frames and information relating to the new preferred site.
"We have an obligation to ensure that petitions are compliant with certain legislative requirements and council will not be progressing a public meeting about the previous site," he said.
"That said, the community needs more information about the new site. The petition confirms this need. We are committed to continuing to listen to all residents, particularly the owners of neighbouring properties and those who may not yet have had their say."
The government announced the preferred site change from 135 Birralee Road, near the Westbury industrial estate, to a 70-hectare parcel of Crown land at Brushy Rivulet on Birralee Road, where 15-hectares will be utilised for the proposed $270 million Northern regional prison.
Cr Johnston said the need for more informed and "equitable" consultation was highlighted at the last public meeting and council was focused on achieving it.
"We want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to have their say in a respectful way," he said.
"When we have more information from the Tasmanian government, we will bring together community representatives to plan consultation and any workarounds because of COVID-19."