Condemning Labor’s Desperate Prison Extension Announcement

Tuesday, 6th Feb

Mr WELLS (Rowville) (16:05:14) — This statement condemns Labor’s rushed and desperate announcement that they will extend prison facilities at Lara. The announcement of Labor’s fourth Minister for Corrections, Gayle Tierney, seems to have been written on the back of an envelope. The minister could not say how much the prison extension would cost, how much was budgeted for the project, where the money was coming from, when the project would be built or even how many actual prison beds an extension would provide. Nor could the minister provide any information about the acquisition of land needed for the project. Like residents in Werribee, people in Lara have had this announcement dumped on them without any detail to go on.

Minister Tierney said in her announcement:

… we’re planning for that growth now.

She also said:

Planning for growth in the prison population is what good governments do.

However, back in 2015 the Andrews government were warned by Ombudsman Deborah Glass that Victorian prisons would reach maximum capacity by 2019, even with the opening of the 1000 new beds at the coalition-funded Ravenhall prison. When the coalition signed the $670 million Ravenhall contracts in 2014, Minister Tierney was deeply critical of the coalition for spending money on new prisons. This did not stop the minister describing her great pleasure and delight when she opened Ravenhall last year.

Victorians are outraged by lenient prison sentences that are sometimes less than half those in New South Wales.