Tasmanians deserve to live in safety and free from the impact of crime.
To that end, the Hodgman Government makes no apology for being tough on crime and continually working to keep Tasmanians safe.
At the last state election, we committed to building a new prison in the North to address Tasmania's ageing prison infrastructure and to address capacity issues which had not been addressed by the previous government.
To this end, I can announce that we are getting on with the job of delivering on our commitment and have selected the preferred site for the new $270 million, 270 bed Northern Regional Prison just outside of Westbury.
The new prison will be built in two stages with the $150 million first stage incorporating the construction of facilities for 140 prisoners.
Community safety is our number one priority and the new prison will feature multiple high-security measures to ensure the safety of staff, prisoners, visitors and the wider community.
It will be the most secure prison facility in Tasmania being classified as a maximum-security facility but will accommodate all classifications of sentenced prisoners and remandees within it.
A large amount of work has been undertaken to assess potential sites across the north and north-west region of Tasmania for this new prison.
A prison site assessment panel considered many factors in selecting the preferred site, including access to courts and services, land characteristics such as how flat it was and what it was adjacent to, as well as being centrally located across the region.
The government is committed to working closely with the local community and the Meander Valley Council to develop a shared vision for the project and explaining the major economic benefits that a project of this type can bring to the area.
We expect these economic benefits and jobs generated to extend well beyond Westbury and the Meander Valley. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, right across the North and North-West will no doubt contribute to the construction and ongoing operation of the new prison.
The new Northern Regional Prison is part of the government's investment of more than $350 million to fix Tasmania's ageing prison infrastructure and increase its capacity for future-proofing.
Apart from the new Northern Regional Prison, our Plan also includes a new $70 million Southern Remand Centre and a $9.3 million investment in upgrading facilities at the existing Risdon Prison Complex.
Overall, we anticipate that these major works will generate thousands of direct and indirect jobs during construction and hundreds more in ongoing, permanent employment.
Prison populations across the country are increasing, and Tasmania is not immune from this trend. Some jurisdictions have seen a doubling of their prison population.
Under our government, however, there has been considerable investment in both staff and infrastructure and, as a result, Tasmania's prison system remains under-capacity.
While prison officers were stood down under the Labor-Green Government, we are employing additional prison staff.
Since May 2016, we have employed 107 new Correctional Officers, with a further round of new correctional officers graduating next month to join the Tasmanian prison system. We will also be recruiting up to 90 more correctional officers next year.
All Tasmanians deserve to live in safety and free from crime and that is why we have a strong law and order reform agenda.
This clear approach by the Hodgman Government is in direct contrast to Rebecca White's Labor opposition. Labor opposes our plans to keep Tasmanians safe.
Labor did not promise one additional correctional officer at the last election nor do they support a new northern prison.
Every step of the way Labor sought to block the government's commonsense reforms to ensure prisoners are not let out before their court-ordered sentence is completed. Just days before a vote on these reforms in the Legislative Council, Labor's corrections spokesperson, Ella Haddad, said Labor opposed the changes.
Yet, under the cover of darkness, they went against Ms Haddad, back-flipped on their position and voted with the government.
It once again proved that Labor can't be trusted, that they continue to show contempt for the views of the community who voted for our policies at the last two elections, and they have no plan or policies of their own on law and order or keeping our community safe.
And it must never be forgotten that Labor and the Greens continue to team up in Parliament to oppose guaranteed jail time for child sex offenders, as well as mandatory jail time for those that seriously assault our valued nurses, paramedics, correctional officers and other frontline workers.
These legislative measures are part of the Hodgman Government's commitment to protecting those who protect us, and ensuring that sentences match community expectations. That is why the government will not be deterred from pursuing our strong law and order legislative agenda to keep Tasmanians safe.
- Elise Archer, Tasmanian Attorney-General.