- More than 670 beds to be added across currently overcrowded prison estate
- $120m for beds and infrastructure upgrades at Casuarina and Bunbury prisons
- Expansion to address capacity constraints caused by poorly managed growth in prisoner numbers under previous Liberal National Government
- Another McGowan Labor Government investment that will create local jobs with local contractors across metropolitan and regional WA
The McGowan Labor Government today announced $120 million in capital investment to increase custodial capacity in the male prison estate.
An additional 672 beds will be added to the estate by the end of 2019, helping address the chronic issue of prison overcrowding that was inherited by the McGowan Labor Government.
The prisoner population has grown by about 10 per cent per annum in the past two years, placing significant pressure on the State's custodial capacity.
Despite advice that a new prison was desperately needed several years ago, the Liberal National Government failed to act instead forcing existing facilities to become overcrowded, creating significant pressure on prison staff and infrastructure.
The McGowan Government's investment will deliver four new units at Casuarina Prison to accommodate 512 prisoners ($96.3 million), increasing the prison's capacity to more than 1,500 making it the State's biggest prison.
An additional 160 beds will be added at Bunbury Regional Prison ($23.7 million).
This represents a significant saving of hundreds of millions of dollars by using existing facilities instead of plunging the State further into debt with a standalone $600 million prison, which was the Liberal National Government's intention.
The capacity expansion means the estate can be managed safely and securely for prisoners and prison staff, and includes essential upgrades to kitchens, laundries and video-court facilities.
The upgrade and expansion of Bunbury Regional Prison will be funded from Royalties for Regions as a high-priority infrastructure project.
The investment is on top of $636 million in South-West capital projects announced in the 2017-18 State Budget to create jobs and boost the local Bunbury economy.
Both projects will create significant opportunities for local businesses in line with the Government's commitment to local jobs and local content. The construction is expected to generate up to 1,000 jobs over the next two years, with the projects to begin early in the new year.
Comments attributed to Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan:
"The overcrowding mess was swept under the carpet by the previous Liberal National Government causing significant problems that put staff and prisoners at risk, and placed enormous strain on existing infrastructure.
"We have to build more cells, but we have saved hundreds of millions of dollars by acting wisely and using existing space at two of the State's major prisons.
"If the Liberal National Government was still in office, Western Australians would be facing another $600 million on the taxpayers' credit card for a new standalone prison, which was actually needed several years ago.
"These additional 672 beds will help address the chronic capacity constraints that we inherited from the previous government but there is still much work to be done to resolve the significant issues in WA's prison estate.
"Without this expansion, the prison system would have been over 100 per cent capacity by the end of 2018 and these new units mean the cohorts of minimum, medium and maximum prisoners will be able to be separated and managed more effectively."
Comments attributed to Treasurer Ben Wyatt:
"The McGowan Government has funded a $120 million expansion to the prison system through the reprioritisation of existing infrastructure funding and an injection from Royalties for Regions.
"This has been achieved with only a $32 million impact on the State's net debt."
Corrective Services Minister's office - 6552 6300
Treasurer's office - 6552 5900