Council working to clarify information around public meeting on prison proposal

Posted on July 23, 2021

Meander Valley Council wishes to clarify some key points over the upcoming public meeting on the Tasmanian Government’s Northern Regional Prison proposal.

Council is holding the public meeting in response to the receipt of a compliant petition from members of the community.

The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, 11 August at the Deloraine Community Complex, 6pm – 8pm.

Mayor Wayne Johnston said Deloraine was the best location for the public meeting due to COVID requirements.

“Council decided on the Deloraine Community Complex because unlike other options in Westbury, the sporting complex can accommodate the most people while fulfilling COVID requirements,” Mayor Johnston said.

“Council agrees that it is important we ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to attend the meeting. After submitting required paperwork, the complex can currently take around 500 attendees under COVID rules. Council is now applying to the State Government to increase capacity in line with COVID so we can have around 600 people attend if need be.

“Also because of COVID, the meeting is a ticketed event which will allow us to keep track of numbers in line with restrictions.”

Council is working to ensure everyone is able to have their say at the public meeting. There will be questions from the floor and also an opportunity for attendees to write down their questions and have someone else read them out if they would prefer not to speak in front of a crowd.

The event will also be livestreamed for those who are unable to make it on the night.

The focus of the meeting is the Tasmanian Government’s proposal to build a prison on Crown land at Brushy Rivulet on Birralee Road, 5.3 kilometres from the Westbury town centre.

It will also consider the broader question of whether a prison should be located in Meander Valley in line with representations received.

Mayor Johnston said the public meeting was an opportunity for people in the community, be they for or against the prison, to openly express their views and ask questions for clarification.

“I want to remind the community that the Northern Regional Prison proposal is a Tasmanian Government proposal,” Mayor Johnston said.

“The proposal is not expected to come before Council until the New Year and Council has very little information about the specifics of the development.

“Our role at this stage is to continue to listen to the community and provide updates on the project where we can. We will certainly pass on any messages from the community to the State Government where this is needed.

“Council has already met with some petitioners and others, including some who support the proposal and some who live in close proximity to the proposed site.”

Council has invited Attorney General and Minister for Corrections Elise Archer and representatives from the State Government to the public meeting to answer questions from attendees. At this stage, we are yet to confirm their attendance.

”I understand WRAP does not want politicians there, but if we want to be heard then elected representatives need to be involved and it is after all a public meeting,” Mayor Johnston said.

“We appreciate that the prison proposal is divisive and attracts a high level of emotion. We are urging people to be respectful.

“Everybody who registers to attend the meeting is entitled to be treated with respect and commits to also treat others with respect. This means being willing to share opportunities to speak and listening to others.

“Council will appoint an independent facilitator with the aim of giving everyone a fair say and keeping things respectful.

“Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and the recent Council meeting did see a small number of people disrupt the meeting. I hope people play the ball not the person and respect the process.

“Also continuing along the lines of keeping things respectful, if people wish to bring a placard or a sign, they can, but these will not be allowed in the venue.”

People can get a free ticket to the public meeting by visiting the Meander Valley Council website and clicking the link on the bottom of the homepage.

There is a limit of four tickets per transaction and each ticket must be assigned to a separate individual. For those residents who do not have internet access, Council is recommending they contact friends or family to assist them.

Local libraries at Deloraine and Westbury and the Deloraine Online Access Centre also offer internet access and if these options aren’t suitable, then people should contact Council for assistance.

Council is calling for written submissions ahead of the meeting in line with legislative requirements. People can find more information on the Meander Valley Council website. Submissions must be received by 5pm, Tuesday, 10 August 2021 and will be summarised at the meeting.