Group wary of jail switch
By Judy Augustine
10 December 2021
The site of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre would be well suited for the northern prison, according to Corrections Minister Elise Archer.
But a community group opposing the previous preferred site says the minister's suggestion has done little to ease concerns.
The state government announced in September it planned to shut the detention centre, near Deloraine, within the next three years and replace it with two new facilities.
The announcement sparked calls for the government to consider the Ashley site for the northern prison.
On Thursday, Ms Archer confirmed the option was being considered.
"While no decision has been made on moving the northern correctional facility, an initial evaluation indicates the AYDC site is well suited for a modern, state-of-the art correctional facility in northern Tasmania with a rehabilitative focus," she said.
The site previously earmarked for the northern prison is 5km from Westbury on Birralee Rd, but its proximity to the township and fears the plan could affect wildlife resulted in backlash from some community members.
Ms Archer said more community consultation would be needed.
"The initial engagement focus will be with the immediate neighbours, followed by feedback from the broader Meander Valley and surrounding communities," she said.
"Following this process, the government will then decide whether to move the correctional facility to the AYDC site or to continue on the existing site at Birralee Rd.
"As part of this consultation, I reiterate that the northern correctional facility will have a rehabilitative focus and to deliver this, we will now invest in more maximum security facilities at the Risdon Prison Complex."
Westbury Residents Against the Prison (WRAP) president Linda Poulton said opposition to the Birralee Rd option needed to be factored into the decision.
"The question is: how will community sentiment on the Brushy Rivulet reserve be assessed?" Ms Poulton said.
"Today's announcement does not provide closure for WRAP.
"The refusal to abandon the Brushy Rivulet site altogether means we cannot and will not be complacent."
The group is promising to escalate action if the option remains on the table.
"Unless (federal) Environment Minister Sussan Ley declares the Brushy Rivulet reserve as off limits, we will have no choice but to lobby people not to vote for the Liberal candidate for Lyons in the upcoming election," Ms Poulton said.