Government pushing ahead with privatisation agenda

Tuesday 23 Jun 2015

The WA Prison Officers’ Union said the State Government was pushing ahead with its privatisation agenda for the state’s prison system, with the revelation that services at the new women’s facility could be privatised.

The government has confirmed that Expression of Interest documents will be released tomorrow to identify private sector options for operating the new $22 million women’s remand centre at Hakea Prison.

“Our main issue with the private sector running the women’s facility is that private companies have to make a profit, and to do that, they have to cut corners when it comes to quality, staffing and safety,” said Mr Welch.

“Instead of building a new facility for women, the government has decided to convert two units currently used to house men at Hakea.

“Hakea is already grossly overcrowded, and moving the prisoners out of these two units is going to cause even more problems in the prison.”

Mr Welch said the Minister had confirmed that the public sector would also be asked to develop an internal cost model to operate the new women’s facility.

“We believe that the public sector will do a much better job of managing this facility and we will do whatever we can to help the Department of Corrective Services with its internal cost model.

“It would be less than ideal for the men’s section of Hakea to be managed by the public sector, and the women’s to be managed by the private sector.

“If the entire prison is run by the Department, it would be a lot more seamless in terms of management and resources sharing.”

Mr Welch said it was ridiculous for the government to be pushing ahead with its privatisation agenda before the Economic Regulation Authority had completed its inquiry into the efficiency of the state’s prison system.

“We believe the government asked the ERA to undertake this review in the hope that it would justify the government’s privatisation agenda; however, the Minister is apparently too impatient to wait for the final report of this inquiry before pushing ahead with privatising more of the state’s prison services,” he said.

The ERA’s final report is due in November.