Bleijie says jobs and prison beds going to waste at Borallon
QUEENSLAND prisons are overflowing to breaking point and a major stoush has erupted over who is to blame.
On Tuesday, Shadow Corrective Services Minister Jarrod Bleijie travelled to Borallon Correctional Centre in Ipswich to lay the blame firmly at the feet of the Labor Government - with Corrective Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller copping the most heat for also allowing 200 jobs to go by the wayside.
Mr Bleijie said Borallon should be all but open by now and that Ms Miller had been asleep at the wheel and dithering over a project that the former LNP government had budgeted for.
But Ms Miller has fired back, saying that a decision on Borallon is imminent and that the former LNP government let overcrowding escalate and had "sneaky" plans to privatise the prison system.
Mr Bleijie pointed to the announcement in the former LNP Government's 2014-15 budget that $61 million would be invested into recommissioning, refurbishing and expanding existing correctional centres in order to manage prisoner growth, with Borallon receiving $54 million.
An LNP release from last year stated that the expansion included "recommissioning the Borallon Correctional Centre" with 492 beds for male prisoners.
The former government later announced that it had approved the 'invitation to offer' for the management and operation of the Borallon jail, and that tenderers had until December 16, 2014 to submit offers with "the successful applicant expected to be announced in March, 2015".
"The tenders were due to be announced in March and we know there was more than one tender put in," Mr Bleijie said.
"A decision should have been made by now and I have just been to the prison and I have been told that construction is almost finished but no-one knows who is going to run it.
"Minister Miller has been going on about prisoner numbers when she could overnight reduce the over capacity in other prisons by over 500 if the tender was awarded.
"We have also been told by someone in Corrections that the government is looking, if they do recommission it, to do it through the public sector where they have to go through a recruitment process which could take six to 12 months.
"They may have to also financially compensate the people who put in the tenders."
Ms Miller said former attorney-general Mr Bleijie was to blame for the overcrowding issues in prisons.
"Queensland prisons are overflowing due to Jarrod Bleijie's incompetence - so it's a bit rich for him to be lecturing anybody about prison capacity," Ms Miller said.
"The LNP's plan to sneakily privatise our prison system needed further scrutiny - that's why the Government is continuing to assess the Borallon proposal with a decision to be announced imminently.
"Jarrod Bleijie is once again asking me to fix a problem he caused. And I will."
Ms Miller said that Queensland Corrective Services had been "working hard to find short, medium and long-term solutions to prison overcrowding".
Mr Bleijie said the Labor Party had also privatised prisons and there were private entities that have run prisons in other parts of Queensland ready to do so at Borallon now.
"They have put in tenders and are willing, ready and able to operate Borallon by July of this year, but we have a Minister who has not made a decision and cannot make a decision," he said.
"That means 200 jobs that could be created next month will not be created.
"The Labor Government didn't even have to come up with the money. We had it in the budget, but now Borallon is a white elephant when it should be ready to open."