Prison project shelved
THE project to build a giant prison complex in the Lockyer Valley has been shelved with just 10% of the planned number of prisoners now likely to be housed in the jail.
While a 300-bed women's prison has been built at Spring Creek, north of Gatton, the State Government has revealed it has no immediate plans to further develop the site.
The precinct was designed to house seven correctional centres, accommodating 3500 prisoners.
About $400m has been spent on building the women's prison – money which state MP Ian Rickuss says has been wasted after the State Government admitted it now had so much spare prison capacity, it could afford to allow Borallon Prison, near Ipswich, to become a detention centre for asylum seekers.
Mr Rickuss, the LNP member for Lockyer, said, “It's a classic example of the government getting it wrong... again.
“The first stage has cost more than $400 million and there is now talk of moving only a few hundred prisoners there.
“A sum of $400 million would have built another hospital in Ipswich or 10 schools. This has turned into a terrible waste of $400 million. It's as simple as that.”
The State Government said prisoner numbers had not matched its earlier predictions because crime rates had “reduced significantly”.
Acting Corrective Services Minister Andrew Fraser said the first inmates would arrive at Spring Creek next year.
In a statement he added: “The master plan for the corrections precinct near Gatton includes up to seven centres.
“Future stages will be brought online as needs require. The precinct has been reserved to cater for future growth.”
A spokesman for Mr Fraser said there was no date for further development.
The prison's construction contractor, Baulderstone, is understood to have carried out foundation work across the entire Spring Creek site, but will have no further role at the site once the women's prison is complete.
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones said he supported the building of the prison.
“At the time it was a good strategic move to build a prison out here, and as a council we were happy to accept the development,” Cr Jones said.
“Through the global financial crisis, shops and pubs were doing a good trade and without the prison many of them wouldn't have been able to survive.”
Cr Jones said although work on the prison had stopped, it would provide long-term benefits.
“We have always been told it will house about 3000 prisoners and even if it's not filled to capacity, we are talking about several hundred employees moving to the area to work at the prison.
"That in itself will bring dollars into our region.”
Federal LNP MP for Wright Scott Buchholz said, “I'm glad we don't have the amount of prisoners as predicted but that's reflective of the court system.