Pontville detention centre closure shock

TASMANIA'S only detention centre will be closed permanently four months after the last asylum seekers were moved out.

Yesterday's announcement by federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to shut four detention centres, including Pontville, came as a shock to Serco staff, who worked at the facility, and Brighton Mayor Tony Foster.

Cr Foster said the communication from the minister's office was ``despicable''. 

``There's a lot of very upset people at Serco because of the way it's been conveyed to them,'' Cr Foster said. 

He urged the state and federal governments to consider alternative uses for the facility, such as turning it into a minimum security prison for offenders aged between 18 and 24. 

``We've got to try to make some sort of opportunity out of this because of the immense amount of taxpayer money spent on this,'' he said.

``We just don't want to see it bulldozed and all that money going to waste.''

More than 250 people were made redundant last year when the facility was placed into standby mode.  

Premier Lara Giddings slammed the decision, saying it would remove a key economic driver at Brighton. 

``This is an appalling decision by the federal Liberal Party, which makes a mockery of its promise to create jobs in Tasmania,'' Ms Giddings said.

The federal government spent $14.8 million converting the old army barracks into a detention centre for male asylum seekers in 2011. 

The Pontville site will be handed back to the Department of Defence.

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