Tasmania currently has its main prison facilities in the south of the State.
Almost half of the current prison population is from the north or north-west region of Tasmania. Families and support networks currently have to travel longer distances to visit them in the south of the State and many are not able to do so regularly. A new prison will alleviate some pressure on these groups.
The new Northern Regional Prison will be constructed in two stages and on completion will accommodate up to 270 prisoners and remandees. Stage one of the prison to house 140 prisoners is due to be completed in the next five years, with full completion in 10 years.
The prison will employ hundreds of people during construction and will employ around 250 people once in full operation.
The Tasmanian Government is investing $270 million into this project. The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs during construction with flow on benefits to the Tasmanian community providing opportunities for business to support its operation.
Once the facility is fully operational, the Department of Justice will support the local economy through the use local contractors and suppliers, wherever possible.
New site location
Following consultation with the residents of Westbury and broader Meander Valley community, the previously preferred site will no longer be pursued.
Instead, a new Crown land site is where the Government will build the Northern Regional Prison. The Crown land site is further along Birralee Road and is 5.2 kilometres from the Westbury town centre
The Social and Economic Impact Study
SGS Economics and Planning (SGS) were engaged to prepare a Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) in relation to the proposal to build the Northern Regional Prison at the previously preferred site.
The final Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) (PDF, 1.6 MB) was publicly released on 18 June 2020.
The SEIS combines an Economic Impact Assessment with a Cost Benefit Analysis to present a high-level socio-economic analysis of the proposal, particularly for the surrounding towns and communities.
The study also includes the results of a phone survey of residents in the Westbury postcode area, a mail survey of Meander Valley residents; and a survey of businesses located in the Valley Central industrial precinct.
The SEIS concludes that the proposed development will have the following impacts, in present value terms, on the Northern region of Tasmania:
- an increased economic output of $280 million due to the construction of the prison, and a further economic output of $268 million from prison operations;
- a broader economic benefit to the region (gross regional product) of $92 million due to construction of the prison, and a further $168 million from prison operations; and
- a total of 739 additional full time equivalent jobs supported during construction and an additional 372 ongoing jobs supported by prison operations, with a further 40 ongoing jobs supported indirectly.
The SEIS shows that the proposed Northern Regional Prison will also generate a range of other important benefits to the north and north-west of Tasmania, including improved inmate rehabilitation driven by increased connectedness between inmates and their families during incarceration, which will lead to a reduction in crime and an economic benefit of $29.4 million to the north and north-west regions, according to the study.
The telephone survey of the Westbury postcode area included calls to a random selection of 333 residents. Respondents were asked to rate their level of support for the proposal with 39.1 per cent supporting or strongly supporting it and 43.9 per cent either opposing or strongly opposing it, while 17 per cent indicated they felt neutral.
A mail survey was posted to 8,581 households across the Meander Valley Local Government Area with 2,226 surveys returned. Respondents were asked to rate their level of support for the proposal with 50.3 per cent supporting or strongly supporting it, and 36.5 per cent either opposing or strongly opposing it, while 13.2 per cent indicated they felt neutral.
The independent consultant also undertook individual consultations with industrial businesses in the Valley Central industrial precinct. A total of five businesses agreed to discuss their views with the consultants. Two of the five businesses supported the proposed prison at the Valley Central site, two strongly opposed it and one was neutral.
Frequently asked questions
Go to our FAQ's page for more information about the new Northern Regional Prison.
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