Corrections Minister Elise Archer has defended consultation about the new Northern prison as Labor sought answers on how much consultants are costing for the project.
Labor unsuccessfully tried to get support in Parliament for a four-part motion noting concern from Westbury residents about the prison to be built in the town and criticising the "secrecy and lack of consultation".
Labor's corrections spokeswoman Ella Haddad also wanted to know how much the government had paid to a private public relations firm for community consultation.
The government's tender website says that public relations firm Corporation Communications has won a contract for $115,000 for community engagement for the new prison.
It is listed as part of the government's "community engagement and communications for corrections projects statewide".
"We also call on the government to say how much private consultants have been paid and to reveal the other nine short-listed sites to fully inform debate about the best location for the Northern prison," Ms Haddad said.
Ms Archer said she was "disappointed but not surprised" by Labor's negative response to the siting of the prison at Westbury.
"I understand the community unrest," she said.
"The Northern prison is critical for Tasmania and our ageing prison infrastructure and I do not shirk away from the fact that the government had to come up with a site.
"Not all proponents had the land needed to satisfy the criteria.
"It was not feasible to say 'we might put it here or we might put it there'."
She said community safety was the government's number one priority for the new $270 million prison.
Labor member for Lyons Jen Butler said she had an "open mind" when she door-knocked Westbury residents asking for their views on the prison.
She questioned why senior government members and ministers Guy Barnett and Mark Shelton had not been at Ms Archer's announcement that Westbury was the preferred location for the prison.
"Where are they? Why are they not here right now to champion it?" Ms Butler asked.