Refugee centre in our city?

AN IPSWICH jail may become the nation's newest immigration detention centre.

The Federal Government has reportedly been negotiating to take over the Borallon Correctional Centre, which is currently state-owned, and converting the high-security facility into immigration accommodation.

LNP Opposition Minister for Corrective Services John-Paul Langbroek said the Queensland Government should fight any move by the Federal Government to take over Borallon Prison for an immigration detention centre.

The state-owned facility is currently managed by Serco Australia, which also runs the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre near Weipa.

Mr Langbroek said the secret deal by the State Government was a "betrayal of the people of Ipswich".

"The Premier has never cared about Ipswich, and again has not had the decency to even contact the city's Labor mayor," Mr Langbroek said.

"Borallon prison is one of the oldest and most efficiently run prisons in the state."

He said the handover would mean more asylum seekers being held in Queensland.

Residents who live near the Borallon jail had mixed opinions.

A woman, who did not want to be named, said she did not mind living near the jail but would move if it became an immigration centre.

"What about when they start destroying things? Who pays for it?" the resident said.

"I wouldn't like them to get out and get on our property.

"You've always got to look after someone less fortunate than yourself but somewhere along the line it's the taxpayer paying for it."

Another resident said she had no problem with the jail and no qualms about living near a detention facility.

"We've got the quietest neighbours - lights out at eight, no noisy parties," she said.

Staff at the facility were reportedly told Borallon's 476 inmates would be moved to Gatton's new 300-bed women's prison in September.

But another report suggested the prisoners would be moved to Woodford Correctional Centre.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen yesterday declined to confirm or deny the plans.

"Federal and State Government officials do meet from time to time to discuss issues of mutual interest," Mr Bowen said.

"No decision has been made with respect to a new immigration detention centre in Queensland."

Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said he had not been privy to discussions about the future of the Borallon prison but his concern was saving Ipswich jobs.

"Borallon is a big facility and it is worth a lot of money locally," Mr Neumann said.

"If the State Government doesn't want to run a prison there and it's available for us for a detention centre, which is not too dissimilar ... I think that might be something that the Federal Government should look at.

"I don't want to see it (the facility) mothballed."

He said the Ipswich community needed to be consulted before any final decision was made.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said he was still in the dark over the rumoured plans.

Cr Pisasale said he was disappointed that a plan had arisen without any consultation with local government.

"I don't know whether it's true or fact or fiction or just made up," Cr Pisasale said.

The story comes as detainees staged a rooftop protest at the Christmas Island detention centre at the weekend after Federal police were forced to quell violence inside the centre.



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