WRAP - No prison in Westbury

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Prison a threat to nature

The Examiner - 17 February 2021

At times of health and times of threat, a community is reminded that it takes a village to raise a child.

Infrastructure, houses, workplaces, schools, playgrounds, dedicated teachers. The love of friends and family.

Seventy hectares near Westbury is reserved for a community of myriad species other than a man. Plants and animals need enough space for biological interactions of intricate complexity, where baby owls, devil pups and pygmy possums; learning and playing are raised to healthy adulthood. Yet of this natural village, the people of our state government deem a right to annex one quarter for a prison of man's making.

Do they miss the point that ecologists such as Rathcke and Jules 'Current Science' 1993* have long been saying; "Habitat fragmentation is one of the most apparent forms of environmental degradation and is often considered to be one of the greatest threats to terrestrial biodiversity".

Helen Tait, West Launceston

Prison system problems

The Examiner - 17 November 2020

Attorney-General Elise Archer claims she remains committed to solving the challenges of the state's correctional system (The Examiner, November 13).

To remain committed, you have to have been committed in the first place.

Tasmania has a recent history of significantly increasing prisoner recidivism rates, to the extent that maximum security prison number two is planned for Westbury, costing $500 million, use-by-date 1900.

It is very easy to allocate taxpayers money, but commitment without results of lowered recidivism has now become commitment without credibility.

Chris Donaldson, Westbury

Consultation can be done right

The Examiner - 15 November 2020

How wonderful for the suburb of Legana to be getting a new school.

With two rounds of community consultation (The Examiner, October 23) and more planned, the locals are receiving plenty of opportunities to have input into this positive development. It seems the government can appropriately consult a community if it wants to. Westbury and the proposed Northern prison? No such consultation was held.

Westbury was told where it was going after a closed door EOI process.

When it was obvious that the first site was too hot and problematic, it was kicked a few kilometres down the road into a rocky, boggy nature reserve that's situated on a winding, narrow road. Consultation? None. The immediate neighbours received a call 30 minutes before the June 18 announcement.

The community found out through the media. How come a school gets consultation and a prison doesn't? There is something terribly unbalanced happening here.

Anne-Marie Loader, Westbury

A shovel ready prison site

The Examiner - 5 November 2020

I wonder if the government still regards the Westbury Nature Reserve proposed prison site as shovel ready infrastructure project?

If the site has as much solid dolerite as people say, I wish them luck with shovels. A 19th century prison might need a chain gang to break up the rock.

H Donaldson, Westbury

Prison officers akin to teachers

The Examiner - 31 October 2020

I totally applaud the comments by Ivan Dean (The Examiner, October 20).

Mr Dean is in a position to know what he is talking about. The new prison must emphasise rehabilitation above all else.

Recidivism is an expensive cost to our state. Far better to have programs encouraging ex-prisoners, such things as subsidised housing and ongoing support to find employment. The prison should be set up to provide skills to inmates with workshops, adjacent gardens, orchards and animal husbandry facilities, all designed to generate skills and positive attitudes.

Mr Greg Barnes could well be a consultant on this. Let us have a prison system that develops skills and rewards rather than one meting out constant punishments and negativity and lockdowns. That is yesterday's thinking and a most wasteful way in which to operate. To be a prison officer ought to be akin to being a teacher.

Dick James, Launceston

The role of modern prisons

The Examiner - 28 October 2020

Adam Holmes' analysis of the Tasmanian prison system (The Examiner, October 24) is a superb example of the journalist craft.

I don't agree with the conclusion that a new prison, no matter how well-intentioned, is the solution to the problems he explains.

And I think he's being a tad charitable about the culpability of the media in Tasmania. But on balance a good explainer.

This article and this journalist is part of the solution.

Bill Bartlett, Bracknell

New thinking needed

The Examiner - 22 October 2020

Perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board on this controversial old school Northern prison that has been shown to have no social license.

It is last century ideology, and it's sucking up an awful lot of money for a system that is not serving its purpose, that of saving lives.

When the Productivity Commission is reporting an increase in re-offending rates something is wrong. Greg Barns SC from the Prisoners Legal Service of Tasmania recommends new thinking as is being enacted in other states. Your due diligence, Guy Barnett (The Examiner, October 19), should demand a rethink; it's not all about jobs and investment for the region, it's about lives.

Victoria Wilkinson, Grindelwald

World best practice

The Examiner - 22 October 2020

After listening to Greg Barns on Sunday at Deloraine my question is, who does the state government get its advice from because wouldn't he be the logical choice when making these decisions?

We could be the state that leads Australia in the future of prisons.

Mr Barns is advocating for world best practice in Tasmania so all taxpayers should be concerned with the way the state government is planning to spend our money.

Carol Firth, Westbury

Money well spent?

The Examiner - 22 October 2020

I am currently reading "The Gulag of Archipelago" and the implications of prisons run by Russian government.

It's a terrible indictment of the history of the world, especially Russia's history and the cost to human rights and life.

As the state government is adamant on building a prison in the north of Tasmania and its main focus is for economic development and growth by building this prison, my simple question is:

We have a growing homeless population in the state, and we're dealing with a virus that's affecting the world. Is it safe and or right to use taxation money to build a prison or perhaps should we explore other economic opportunities and to help the marginalised and oppressed people have basic human rights?

Adam Ashton, Launceston

Too hot in Westbury

The Mercury - 22 October 2020

While Minister Barnett might like a photo opportunity ("Photo op king: 37 photos of Guy Barnett holding things", The Mercury 20 October), over the last 12 months he's been sadly MIA from many in Westbury. Initially he showed up, but since those early days of the prison debate, he's been nowhere near the Village. He'll hold a duck, a kitten or a puppy but when the Tasmanian Devils and eagles of Brushy Reserve need support, he's nowhere to be found.

The heat in Westbury's kitchen is way too hot; there's more sting here than a hive of bees. He's happy to hold a potato, but definitely not a hot one. Here's a good photo and one to ensure he's back in Westbury's good books: Minister Barnett holding an olive branch and a promise to stop the prison.

Anne-Marie Loader, Westbury

The Mercury - 22 October 2020

Drilling near eagles

The Advocate - 19 October 2020

National Bird Week starts this Monday October 19.

This is the day chosen by the Tasmanian government to start exploratory hard rock drilling on the Westbury prison site within 1 kilometre of an active wedge-tailed eagle's nest; slap bang in the middle of the critical breeding season for these magnificent, endangered birds.

It's against their own published guidelines for this site. But then they don't really care, do they?

Heather and Chris Donaldson, Westbury

Prison site

The Examiner - 19 October 2020

It's a relief to hear the proposed drilling at the Westbury reserve has been postponed.

To conduct this kind of disturbing activity in the middle of the eagles' nesting season is against all regulations.

Surely the government can find a more suitable site for a prison than an area beloved by locals and containing 32 species of native birds, nine of which are found only in Tasmania, three listed as endangered.

With birds in decline all over the state because of land clearing, development, and broad-scale chemical use in plantations, it's time for the state government to rethink its decision to build a prison on the most diverse site available and find somewhere else that has no natural values.

The proposed clearing of this site is just another nail in the coffin for Tasmania's unique natural heritage.

Beris Hansberry, Gould's Country

The Mercury - 19 October 2020

Short of prison beds

The Mercury - 17 October 2020

New government figures show that there are 646 prisoners in Risdon Prison, with a projected 1200 by 2050. Of today's prisoners, 308 are from the North and North-West. So our enlightened leaders plan to build a 270-bed prison in the bush for the existing 308. Now that is impressive forward planning. Perhaps as we shall be short of tourists for the foreseeable future, Port Arthur and Richmond Jail could be repurposed, the Female Factory in South Hobart and Ross could accommodate the female prisoners and the rest let out as slave labour to large landowners. Because if the government is not planning for the future, they should look back to see how it was handled in the past.

Peter Wileman, Westbury

Riding roughshod over the law

The Examiner - 30 August 2020

Once again, Westbury Region Against the Prison has forced the truth out from behind the barriers set up by the government to hide its mistruths.

Right to Information documents mined out of DPIPWE's vaults by WRAP clearly show that the government's obsession with building a northern prison at Westbury can't go ahead.

Minister Archer continues to disguise the truth by asserting that the prison only requires 13 hectares, but conveniently fails to mention the 19 hectare buffer zone required to surround the 13 hectares that would completely overwhelm legally protected wildlife land.

If this was a school exercise, the government would receive a fail, resubmit grade.

They need to go back to their list of sites that had the required "expressions of interest" lodged, or go even further back to the start and do the job properly without hidden agendas and shady deals.

If they come up with another Westbury site then the situation would be bizarre at the very least.

This is a prime example of the government's willingness to ride roughshod over the law, and really demonstrates the dangers involved with the Major Projects Bill.

Gilly Bellarosso, Westbury

'No clue on consultation'

The Advocate - 20 August 2020

Justice Minister Elise Archer has an interesting idea of consultation.

To consult means to ask with the intention to understand and gather information. It's a transparent process designed to truly discover and learn.

Mrs Archer has again shown she has no clue what consultation is.

In regard to the relocation of the Burnie court she's not bothered to ask the people who will be directly affected but rather only "key stakeholders". Aren't the neighbours key stakeholders?

Really Mrs Archer, here you go again. You didn't bother to ask us in Westbury if we would support a maximum security prison, then you moved it further down the road and didn't bother to ask the new direct neighbours, now you want to plonk a courthouse in suburban Burnie and you didn't ask those people either.

As a Westbury resident I stand with the residents of Park Grove. Every community should have a say in what happens where they live. Sure, call us all NIMBYs but when "hypothetical" becomes "likely" watch the name-callers change their ideas.

This government has lost its way; they no longer represent the people, they represent themselves.

Anne-Marie Loader, Westbury

Protect or destroy what we have

The Examiner - 17 August 2020

I see that our tourism, infrastructure and even justice bodies are ramping up on the promotion of nature as the key selling point for Tasmania (The Examiner, August 13).

What then, are we to make of the sanctimonious dumping of a "green" prison on reserved bushland near Westbury.

In the interest of nurturing the natural spirit, is it the idea that wayward souls would be reinforced there to listen through the night to the wisdom of the owls.

That is unless, after the construction of the prison, that wantonly deconstructs the homeland of birds, there are no owls left to do the job.

Helen Tait, West Launceston

Cost of votes to fulfil promises

The Examiner - 30 July 2020

While many question the government's fixation on Westbury we know, thanks to Labor's Right To Information request, that other sites were identified in Latrobe, Wivenhoe and Rocherlea. At the time the government defended Westbury as the preferred site, stating the other sites weren't suitable because they weren't flat, needed too much work done etc.

Yet the government's response to being driven off their preferred site at Westbury was to produce a parcel of land that's not flat and needs to be cleared and have extensive work done. So why this new site, and not one of the other preferred sites?

A quick look at the 2018 election results proves illuminating. Rocherlea - Liberal Party votes 386 vs 236 for Labor, of those Liberal votes 158 were for now-Premier Gutwein. Wivenhoe - Liberal votes 303 vs 147 for Labor. Latrobe - Liberal votes 1396 vs 599 for Labor, of those Liberal votes 838 were for Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff.

While the government continues to say building the prison is fulfilling an important election promise, it looks like they don't want to build it anywhere that might damage their chance of re-election - which is probably the most important selection criteria of all.

Emma Hamilton, Westbury

New Northern prison site

The Examiner - 20 July 2020

With the increasing number of blunders and slip ups over the new Northern Regional Prison site, ranging from the presence of threatened species, to sewerage overflow into Launceston's water source, from the land's status as a Reserve and to a dangerous and inadequate road, one must ponder whether the Liberal Government have any intention of building it [at] all.

As much as $280 million is a lot to spend on a project with very little political upside, particularly in a post-COVID world.

Surely it's a better use of money to pick an unviable State Reserve bush block, which environmentalists are bound to oppose, wait for the inevitable court cases and use the earmarked money for more politically palatable post-COVID infrastructure - decrying all the way to the election "it wasn't us govn'r, the greens made us do it". One must ponder.

Jane Holder, Prospect

Secrets sour government's goal

The Mercury - 12 July 2020

Of all the extensive consultation Minister Elise Archer speaks of, how much of it centred around the secretive, non-transparent and poor processes used to come up with the preferred Northern Regional prison site? Going back to the drawing board and selecting a site for a new prison using the guiding principles on site selection in an open and honest way would be preferable to putting on a blindfold and stabbing pins at a map of the Meander Valley and hoping that wherever it lands no one notices. The Government has failed to learn from the debacle it created in September. Rather than being open, transparent, and honest it is inviting failure by being secretive and manipulative in locating a Northern Regional Prison.

Phil Giles, Westbury

Not just the birds

Meander Valley Gazette - 10 July 2020

It seems that the state government has found possibly the most inappropriate site in the entire Meander Valley for the northern prison on Birralee road. Below are my concerns:

  1. It is my belief that a level site is needed for a prison. The site chosen is possibly the most gently undulating on the crown land. However, not only will considerable work be required to actually level the site, but it is adjacent to one of the most dangerous sections of the Birralee Road. I have lived at Birralee for 32 years and know that this windy and hilly section can be extremely frightening when faced with on-coming trucks, other large vehicles and people travelling too quickly.
  2. There are currently no services on site which means a considerable easement along Birralee Road will be required to bring electricity and water to the site. Not only will this be very disruptive to commercial vehicles and resident's travel on this very busy road, it is on a main tourist route. What impression will this make on visitors to Tasmania?
  3. What will happen to waste water? Given the aspect of the site, it is likely to make its way to Brushy Rivulet, eventually to end up polluting the Meander River.
  4. Illumination of the building will extend its footprint beyond the 10-15 ha the government claims. All life on earth is geared to respond to the 24-hour day night cycle. The lights will have an impact on all plants and animals in the vicinity, including domestic stock.
  5. Listed threatened species including Wedge-tailed Eagle, Grey Goshawk and Masked Owl have been observed at the site. It has additional natural values that make it worthy of a nature conservation area.

Serious consideration should be given to locating the new prison at the current site of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

This looks like yet another complete stuff up on the part of Minister Archer.

Sarah Lloyd OAM, Birralee

Wrong answer on jail

The Mercury - 9 July 2020

While the government is busy reassuring us the level of support for the Northern Regional Prison would increase if people felt their concerns were being listened to as a way to justify the new site, they either haven't noticed or cared that according to their own SEIS Report only 3.5 per cent of the total sample from the mail-out survey asked that the location be changed but still kept close to Westbury. Why let the facts stand in the way of a predetermined outcome, when they have the clear support of the minority?

Sally Crawford, Westbury

The Mercury - 8 July 2020

Taxpayers bought that reserve

The Mercury - 6 July 2020

Sarah Lloyd's "Westbury bird haven worth saving" neatly establishes that the Gutwein government's Plan B for a northern prison near Westbury is even worse than Plan A (Talking Point, July 1). Isn't it time the government stopped trying to ram home its ideas and started serious consultation? I'm very supportive of making it easier for family and friends to keep in touch to improve rehabilitation but dumping a dehumanising monster at Westbury at great social and environmental cost seems an odd way to go about it.

I was on the advisory committee for the Private Land Reserve Program that helped the federal government pay considerations to private landholders to establish reserves as part of the 1996 Regional Forest Agreement. These parcels of land, including the one at Westbury, were secured with taxpayers' money to form part of Australia's national reserve system and it's a bit rich for the Tasmanian government to agree to manage them only to years later decide they don't want them - without giving the Feds their money back. Mind you, for those ministers and officials who think helicoptering tourists into the Wilderness World Heritage Area is OK, sticking a prison in a nature reserve probably doesn't seem so strange.

Alistair Graham, West Hobart

We didn't ask for jail

The Mercury - 6 July 2020

What does a $350m maximum security prison have to do with us? Westbury is a small, quiet, historical village made up largely of young working families and retired citizens. Society needs places like this to raise and educate children and for older people to live peacefully and in relative safety. To take that away unnecessarily is to deny us our humanity and our rights as citizens. We have no need nor have we asked for a prison to be here.

The government told us the North-West needs a prison close by to eliminate a long journey to visit relatives. So why are our council representatives so determined to have it in near Westbury? This is bureaucratic bullying by Meander Valley Council and the state government. We have been treated with cynicism and disdain by the council, which owes us an apology for unprofessional behaviour and must explain the determination to impose the government's plans against our heart-felt pleas. Be very careful who you vote for.

Sybilla Scott-Smith, Westbury

Must be better sites

The Mercury - 6 July 2020

Tasmania is fast losing habitat that supports unique endemic flora and fauna ("Westbury bird haven worth saving," Talking Point, July 2). Extinction is forever and when much of our natural heritage has disappeared, our grandchildren will wonder who made the misguided decisions to use valuable habitat rather than cleared land or areas with poor biodiversity. There must be many more suitable sites and I hope that careful consideration of the value of the land to the environment will be put into the planning of this and other future projects.

Hazel Britton, Ulverstone

High-security list

The Mercury - 6 July 2020

Congratulations must go to the state government in reacting to the outcry of the Westbury community and moving it further from its original preferred site. Does the new, more remote site comply with all, or in fact any, of the siting principles required for a maximum-security prison? It seems they have been totally ignored this time around.

Dave Gibson, Westbury

Conjuring trick

WRAP - 6 July 2020

A round of applause for Elise Archer as she attempts to pull a conjuring trick of the most magnificent order. Her sleight of hand is on display as she uses the classic "we listened to the community" routine. This routine is designed to get the people least affected by the prison site relocation to believe the government cares for the people of Westbury and surrounds.

Once she has her audience on her side, without pausing, she showers them with sparkles such as a "$500 million economic boost" and "support 1000 jobs", giving them no time to realise that wherever in the Northern Region that the prison is built those same economic benefits and jobs will be available if we are to believe the biased "Social and Economic Impact Study".

The new "preferred" location, a huge 3 kilometres up the road, seems to have been chosen deliberately to antagonise, not only those in the community that opposed the original site but the Greens as well. As for the direct neighbours now affected by the nearer-to-Birralee location, once again, no empathy or concern shown by the government. In other words, "bad luck we are going to steam-roll it through".

The old chestnut, "Stupidity, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result", is clearly on display here as the government has failed to learn from the debacle it created in September last year. Rather than being open, transparent, and honest they are inviting failure by being secretive and manipulative.

Phil Giles, Westbury

Comments by WRAP:

An edited version of this letter was published in The Mercury on 6 July 2020.

The Mercury - 4 July 2020

Northern prison race

The Examiner - 2 July 2020

Anthony Galvin (The Examiner, June 29) thinks that a lot of councils in Tasmania would like it (a maximum security prison) built in their area.

That is exactly the point Mr Galvin.

There are no councils vying for the honour of hosting the prison. Not one.

So, if it's such a good thing, why would that be so. Please research by phoning any council north of Campbell Town to see if you can find a single council that is competing with the Meander Valley Council. You will be wasting your time, but it might make you wonder why Westbury has been singled out.

Peter Wileman, Westbury

Fixated on Westbury

The Mercury - 1 July 2020

An observer of the prison saga in Westbury would rightly be puzzled at the Government's decision to move the prison just a little farther up the road from the former site after a torrid nine-month saga, to a new site with its own complications. Why is the obsession with Westbury so impossible to shake off?

Look closer and this was never a voluntary move by the Government designed to placate opponents of the prison as the Government would have us believe. Instead, it was an involuntary step backwards, designed to appease those fixated on the prison remaining close to Westbury. A masterclass in smoke and mirrors!

Linda Poulton, Westbury

So it's 'Westbury or bust'?

The Examiner - 30 June 2020

On January 24, 2020, Premier Peter Gutwein was quoted as saying "it's not Westbury or bust". Since then, it has come to light that in 2018, almost a full year before the EOI process had even begun for the Northern Regional Prison, the then Meander Valley Council general manager was in talks with the Department of Justice in an attempt to lock Westbury in as the site.

So it appears as though it has always been "Westbury or bust", it was Westbury on September 30, 2019, when Corrections Minister Elise Archer announced the "preferred site", it was Westbury on February 6 when the Premier visited the town, and it's still Westbury now. Just like the movie Groundhog Day, it seems as if the Liberal government is stuck in a loop where all they can see is Westbury, even when other (more suitable) options have been offered to them.

Martin Hamilton, Westbury

Devaluing bushland for prison

The Examiner - 27 June 2020

In the Queen's Crown bushland how might we protect her Australian botanical, zoological and even fungoid subjects from a fire that might arise in the prison.

Seriously, how much of the Westbury bush block will be intact and fully eco-operational after we clear, road, double fence, fire protect and illuminate this little gem.

Is the stamp on the Westbury deal even more viral and below social license than COVID-19?

Helen Tait, West Launceston

The Mercury - 27 June 2020

Spend cash on mental health

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

Two important stories were reported in recent days. One was youth mental health presentations at Royal Hobart Hospital doubling over the past three years. with $31,000 to fund research into this disturbing trend (Sunday Tasmanian. June 21).

The other was the saga of the site of the Westbury prison, where the State Government plans to incarcerate their expected increase of prisoners. The taxpayer will fund this maximum security prison to the tune of half a billion dollars, to be completed in 10 years. Mental health problems are a significant cause of increasing incarceration rates. It is not unreasonable to suggest some young Tasmanians now subject to the $31,000 research study will be incarcerated in the new prison.

How can we think this policy is justified? Do we not care about the future of these young people? It is not only the fault of our politicians who plan such inept and uncaring policies. It is all of us who do not insist that preventive strategies receive the same or more funding, compared to the building and management of unproductive prison infrastructure.

Chris Donaldson, Westbury

Hardly pristine

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

Here we go again. Same old stuff, different day. Absolutely predictable that the Greens and their ilk would immediately discover a bunch of conservation values on the new site for the Northern Regional Prison. Never mind that it is unallocated Crown reserve, which is encroached by gorse, extensively used for hunting, firewood collection and stock grazing, etc, for decades. Hardly pristine. Shades of the Greens' long-running and futile campaign against the construction of the hugely successful Meander Dam project.

Their entrenched ideological opposition to virtually any development will leave them forever stuck in their own political wildernesses.

Kerrie Butler, Deloraine

Locking up lower classes

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

I can't understand why any working-class person is in favour of the new prison. Prison is a 19th century answer to a problem that they had with working classes getting uppity. Either hang 'em or imprison 'em! How many of today's prisons in Australia are home to any of the hugely rich bankers who recently committed millions of crimes from money laundering to arms sales? None!

If you're wealthy, you can skip prison and just give the impression that you've lost your job and must leave the stage with suitcases of cash. If you are rich and have powerful friends, take Bronwyn Bishop for instance, then your transgressions might be rewarded by an Order of Australia. If we spent the money on lifting people out of poverty, adequate mental health programs and improved education then the so-called lower classes wouldn't need to revert to crime. I don't deny that there'll always be a need to incarcerate some dangerous people, but seriously, look around the world and see where prisons are closing, and ask why.

Peter Wileman, Westbury

Find a cleared site

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

With so much of Tasmania denuded of forest and trees, does the proposed northern prison site have to be on a potentially high-conservation wooded parcel of land? If there is no suitable cleared Crown land, then surely purchase of private cleared and can be negotiated.

Paul Merhulik, Blackmans Bay

One prison, at Liawenee

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

In an effort to bring our prison system into a more manageable domain, may I suggest that the new prison that the government is so insistent on building be moved to a more central position, so that we have a single prison that is financially manageable and more able to be properly staffed. My suggestion is to eventually close down Risdon Prison and move all prisoner to a new site 60km south of Liawenee. On completion of the prison then work should immediately start on a new parliament house next door, so that for at least three months of the year we don't have to be aware of parliament or prison whilst they are snowed in.

Gillie Bellarosso, Westbury

The Mercury - 26 June 2020

The Mercury - 24 June 2020

Prison badge of honour

The Mercury - 23 June 2020

Turn it up Westbury. A prison in your backyard is a badge of honour. Take it from a bloke who grew up in Risdon Vale through the late 1960s and 70s. I had a front-row seat of a jailbreak from the Pink Palace. Jobs jobs jobs! You'll be fine.

Scott Briggs, Seven Mile Beach

Apples and oranges

The Examiner - 22 June 2020

So Westbury people should be happy about a prison five kilometres away because Deloraine doesn't mind Ashley four kilometres from their town? Comparing a maximum security prison complex of 270 inmates with a detention centre holding a handful of juveniles, is like comparing a watermelon with a grape, or a snake bite with a flea bite. Sorry, but they are really not the same.

Heather Donaldson, Westbury

Prisons are problematic

The Examiner - 22 June 2020

I can't understand why any working-class person is in favour of Minister Elise Archer's prison. Prisons are a 19th century answer to a problem that they had with working classes getting uppity. Either hang 'em or imprison 'em! How many of today's prisons in Australia are home to any of the hugely rich bankers who commit millions of dollars in crimes that range from money laundering to arms sales? I'll tell you: none!

If you're wealthy, you can skip prison and just give the impression that you've lost your job and must leave the stage with suitcases of cash. It's time we realised that if we spent the money on lifting people out of poverty, provided adequate mental health programs and improved education then the 'lower classes' wouldn't need to revert to crime.

I don't deny that there'll always be a need to incarcerate some dangerous people, but seriously, look around the world and see where prisons are being closed, and why.

Peter Wileman, Westbury

Cheap shot

The Examiner - 22 June 2020

What a petty comment from State Growth Minister Michael Ferguson (The Examiner, June 20) when adding to the story about the proposed new prison. He said, "It would be fair to say that there would be some people in this state who would not support it anywhere".

I beg to differ and would argue not one person in Tasmania is against a new prison being built, somewhere. Those sorts of comments from a politician are just cheap shots at those who are opposed to this going ahead in their community.

Daryl Camino, George Town

Prison off the rails

The Mercury - 22 June 2020

The farce that continues around the proposed northern prison would be laughable if it wasn't for the clear demonstration that our leaders are totally without imagination. Certainly there's a need for finding jobs for people after this dreadful pandemic. But instead of building another warehouse for people who have broken the rules, how about something positive? How about a railway from Devonport to Hobart via Launceston, from the ferry to the capital?

It could be efficient steam or electric or diesel, but if we are to be the battery of the nation, perhaps electric would be the most efficient eventually. Sure there would be people who object, but don't we live in a democracy? They're not whingers or nay-sayers. They're concerned citizens, who supposedly live in a democracy with a right to state their opinion.

Doreen Wileman, Westbury

Risdon pretty close

The Mercury - 22 June 2020

The whingers again at Westbury say the new proposed jail is still too close. I live at Glenorchy. Risdon Prison is a lot bloody closer to my house.

Barry Ryan, Glenorchy

Comments by WRAP:

The vast majority of people in Lindisfarne and Glenorchy would have moved there after the prison, not had one imposed on them after they had settled in already.

The Examiner - 20 June 2020