The Tasmanian Government is not ruling out the closure of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre as it unveils plans to build a prison in the state’s north.
The Liberals have continued the unofficial state election campaign by today announcing plans to build a 270-bed prison if re-elected in March.
“This commitment of ours — $340 million — is a statewide investment in critical infrastructure,” Premier Will Hodgman said.
“The decision will be made on what is the best place for the prison, its infrastructure, its staff.”
The funding commitment also includes a 70-bed remand centre in the state’s south to ease the strain on Hobart’s Risdon Prison.
It remains unclear what the announcement will mean for the Ashley Youth Detention Centre in Deloraine.
In 2016, Right to Information documents obtained by the ABC showed that at one stage 61 staff were managing just eight children at the centre.
Mr Hodgman was asked if he could rule out the closure of Ashley.
“That is another issue for us to make a decision about and we will have more to say about that soon,” he said.
‘Alternative needed before closure’
Announcing a $106 million affordable housing package, Labor leader Rebecca White was also not ruling out the closure of Ashley if her party wins government.
“It’s not the best model of care,” she said.
“We don’t see there’s a need to close Ashley Youth Detention Centre unless we have an alternative.”
Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff said both major parties needed to commit to the closure of Ashley.
“It’s incredibly important that we spend the money that is spent on the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and funnel that into supporting children so that they can change their behaviour patterns,” she said.
Ashley costs the Government about $9 million a year to run.