Union concerned over reports new prison may be privatised

Tuesday 16 Jun 2015

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has accused the State Government of pursuing a privatisation agenda in relation to the state’s prison system.

The Corrective Services Minister has revealed he is considering building and operating a new prison in WA through a public-private partnership.

The Minister revealed last week that planning for the new prison was already underway, after the Corrective Services Commissioner suggested WA would need a new prison within three years to cope with the escalating prison population.

WAPOU State Secretary John Welch said history showed prisons were better managed by the public sector.

“The problem with private companies building and operating prisons is that private companies need to make a profit, and to do that, they have to cut corners when it comes to quality, staffing and safety,” said Mr Welch.

“We have seen a number of escapes and serious incidents happen under private companies, including the Supreme Court escape in 2005, the death of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward in 2008 and more recently the Greenough escape.”

Mr Welch said the government had asked the Economic Regulation Authority to undertake a review of the state’s prisons in order to justify its privatisation agenda.

“The government has set up this review and given it terms of reference which we think it has engineered so that the ERA will support its privatisation agenda,” he said.

“However, the final report isn’t due until November, so the Corrective Services Minister is pre- empting this review by announcing the new prison could be built and run privately.

“It’s clear the Minister supports privatisation and he is softening the public up to the idea of privatising more of the state’s prisons.”