New $620m jail promises 900 jobs for region
A NEW prison will equal "jobs and opportunity" and work as a catalyst for more investment in the Lockyer Valley according to mayor Tanya Milligan.
The Queensland State Budget included $2 million for a Scope of Procurement plan for a 1000-bed men's facility about 20km north of Gatton.
Construction of Stage 2 of the Southern Queensland Correctional Precinct, which would cost about $620 million, is set to be completed within five years.
The project is expected to create 400 construction jobs over the three-year build and more than 500 permanent roles, as well as ongoing opportunities for local businesses to supply goods and services.
It is the first prison to be built in the state since Stage 1 was opened in 2012 and forms part of the most significant budget in terms of financial commitment and resourcing in the history of Queensland Corrective Services.
Cr Milligan, then a Laidley Shire Councillor, can remember the angst in the community when the first facility was mooted but believes there had "only been benefits from it".
While talk surrounding the prison causing "social" problems had been thrown around since the first facility was planned, she said many residents didn't even know where the Spring Creek prison was.
"Unfortunately Laidley council didn't want it but Gatton put their hand up for the facility and that gave them a boost," she said.
"That's why they got the funds that went towards the swimming pool, that's why they have the cultural centre. It's because they were smart. There's economic stimulus and benefits in it.
"There was a bit of scaremongering (at the time). I'm excited. For the construction phase there will definitely be a high percentage that will come from the local area.
"This is certainly going to raise the profile for the Lockyer Valley."
Cr Milligan believed the significant investment would act as a "catalyst" for other important projects like a regional hospital and passenger rail.
She hoped it would also mean more financial support for community centres in Gatton and Laidley.
"I certainly wasn't expecting the Palaszczuk government to be throwing almost $620 million to build this facility," she said.
"For me as mayor I'll certainly be pushing all the harder for (investment for these projects).
"I guess the reality is our population and our community will grow. I think it's a good catalyst to be able to say to the state... 'we think it's a great what's going to be happen with the prison, but there's the hospital, the rail, there's our community centres that need to be better funded to provide the services'."
Cr Milligan said it would provide a boost to farmers in the Lockyer, who were facing tough times at the moment.
"If you're not getting your produce from the Lockyer Valley, there's something wrong with you," she said.