Queensland’s second biggest infrastructure project surging ahead

Published Thursday, 12 August, 2021 at 03:15 PM

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Mark Ryan

Budget Estimates has today heard that safety and security are receiving a significant boost with the Palaszczuk Government investing $1 billion in Queensland Corrective Services for 2021-22, an increase of $32.2 million on the last financial year.

This financial year $320 million has been allocated to the Palaszczuk Government’s second biggest infrastructure project – the new, expanded 1,000-bed Southern Queensland Correctional Centre near Gatton that will boost prison capacity across the State.

Corrective Services Minister, Mark Ryan, said the 2021-22 budget funding is part of a bigger, broader investment in the new facility, which is a $650 million-plus project.

“Supporting new infrastructure and construction jobs is a key part of the Palaszczuk Government’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19,” the Minister said.

“Stage Two of the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre will transform the Lockyer Valley.

“It is an even better version of the original design and it will deliver even more jobs for Queenslanders.

  • More than 400 construction jobs over the life of the project and support up to 900 jobs at peak construction.
  • Over 500 permanent jobs when the new facility is operational.

“And the $241 million expansion of Capricornia Correctional Centre at Rockhampton is nearing completion.

“This financial year $20.6 million is allocated to complete the expansion at Capricornia Correctional Centre with a refurbishment of existing older cells, the medical centre, kitchen and prisoner processing facilities underway.

“The new prisoner accommodation units have been completed and I am advised they are all being utilised.

“Importantly, as part of the expansion project, QCS is also undertaking a refurbishment of the existing older cells at the Centre to ensure they remain fit for purpose and to extend the life of that infrastructure.

“This is a unique opportunity. The difficulties associated with refurbishing and repairing ageing infrastructure in an operational prison are multiple and complex. 

“Over the coming months, as these refurbishments are completed and auxiliary services brought online, the prisoner population at Capricornia will increase in a staged and safe manner, with full utilisation realised by the end of this year.  I’m told that the project remains on time and on budget.

“Capacity will also be further boosted with $8 million this financial year to install additional bunk beds in high security correctional centres across Queensland,” Minister Ryan said.

Minister Ryan said it was important to remember that the overriding goal was always to protect the victims of crime and condemn the perpetrators.

“That’s why this government is bringing in tough new laws around parole for multiple murderers serving a life sentence and for child killers serving a life sentence.

“These new laws will be the toughest parole laws in the nation so that a person convicted of killing a child and serving a life sentence or a person convicted of multiple murders and serving a life sentence can be blocked from obtaining parole, keeping them behind bars for longer, and shielding the families of victims from further trauma.

“In addition, a new presumption against parole will also be introduced for the prisoners who fall into this cohort.  This means these prisoners who are the worst of the worst, will have to prove that they do not pose a threat to the community before they are even considered eligible for parole.

“While it’s the role of independent Parole Board Queensland to determine parole matters with a focus on how community safety can best be achieved, these new laws will enhance community safety and shield the families of victims from further trauma.

“To enhance the capability of the independent Parole Board to do this work, extra resourcing has been made available to support the establishment of a fifth temporary operating team and to support the continued operation of a fourth temporary operating team until 30 June 2022.

“These two additional teams will help address a significant increase in the number of parole applications, as a consequence of the increased prisoner numbers and the unforeseeable increase in exceptional circumstances parole application arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This reflects the government’s continuing support ever since the board’s establishment.

“Since the board was established in 2017, funding allocated to the board has increased by more than 30%.”

Minister Ryan also highlighted the significant progress on implementation of the Sofronoff Report into the Queensland Parole System.

“Of the 89 recommendations supported, all have either been implemented, are on track for completion, or in progress.

“The implementation process was a large body of work, supported by a $265 million investment over six years.

“And as always, the reforms that have been put in place are all about supporting community safety,” Minister Ryan said.

Media contacts

Minister Ryan’s Office: Ph: (07) 3035 8300