MS TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) — As part of the Andrews government’s response to the Harper review into the post-sentence management of serious offenders, on 13 February I announced that Labor will build a 20-bed secure facility to house Victoria’s most serious adult offenders near Ararat. The facility will be located next to the Hopkins Correctional Centre and will accommodate sex offenders and violent offenders who are not yet suitable to be released into the community after they have completed their sentence.
This announcement was made after consultation with the Ararat Rural City Council, Victoria Police and other members of the local community. Along with this a new community advisory group, which will include members of the local council and community, Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police, will also be set up to spearhead further consultation with the local community. Up to 100 jobs will be created during construction, beginning in the second half of this year. A further 50 jobs will be created when the secure facility is opened at the end of 2018. These additional jobs have been welcomed by Ararat’s mayor, Cr Paul Hooper, who said, and I quote from the Ballarat Courier of 15 February this year, that Corrections Victoria was Ararat’s biggest employer:
There are over 600 jobs here, full time, higher paid and secure for individuals who are provided with a career path …
The prison has just recruited 25 people and there is another recruitment program in a couple of months … so it is not just Ararat that benefits but the surrounding area as well.
But it seems that not everyone is pleased. The Liberal Member for Ripon was out talking down our plans, putting her at odds with the council and some 600 employees that service Ararat’s corrections facilities. Even Mr O’Donohue claimed I had sped in, dropped the news and run out. Perhaps he did not read the Ararat Advertiser. Journalists sat in on my meeting with the council, community representatives, local police and staff from our other two facilities. This announcement builds on significant action taken by the Andrews government in the last two years to toughen the law to provide stronger oversight and management of serious offenders.
The PRESIDENT — Order! I would just remind ministers that a ministers statement needs to provide to the house information on new government initiatives. It is not an opportunity to actually attack other parties.