Government needs to learn lessons from Queensland and stop privatising prisons

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has warned the State Government against pursuing its privatisation agenda for the WA prison system.

The warning comes on the back of Campbell Newman’s crushing election loss in Queensland, where privatisation was a key issue.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said WA’s Corrective Services Minister had made it clear he supported privatising more prisons in Western Australia and the government had ordered the Economic Regulation Authority to undertake a review in order to justify its privatisation agenda.

Mr Welch said the ERA had been given limited terms of reference and an insufficient reporting period so that the government could get the answers it wanted.

“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.

“The terms of reference do not ask the ERA to look at the major issues in the prison system around quality, safety and security; this is simply an exercise in looking at dollars and cents.

“It’s clear from his previous comments that the Corrective Services Minister supports privatisation and he is softening the public up to the idea of privatising more of the state’s prisons.”

Mr Welch said Queensland voters had made it clear they do not support privatisation, and he believed the WA public largely felt the same.

“We all know that the main priority of private companies is to make a profit, and to do that they have to cut corners when it comes to quality, safety and staffing,” he said.

The ERA is due to provide an interim report to the government in May.