Australian government confirms jail privatization


Caroline Berdon
The Australian
November 11, 2008

THE NSW government has confirmed it will privatise Sydney’s Parklea jail and the Hunter region’s Cessnock prison in a move that has further enraged prison officers.

About 1000 officers gathered outside NSW Parliament about two weeks ago to protest against the government plans, which they say will compromise the safety of staff and inmates.

With the plans given the green light today, officers are already planning more industrial action, the
NSW Public Services Association (PSA) said.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The Government’s decision forms part of The Way Forward workplace reform strategies that were originally announced in August after overtime payments hit $43 million a year – more than double the budgeted $20 million.

The contracts for Parklea and Cessnock will be filed within the next seven to nine months, NSW Commissioner of Corrective Services Ron Woodham said.

Mr Woodham assured staff that no one would lose their jobs under the reforms and added that prison officers working in contracted jails would not suffer increased risks.

But the PSA’s general secretary John Cahill, who received the news by phone from Mr Woodham, said the move posed serious safety concerns for prison staff and inmates.

“The public jails are responsible to the government and therefore the people, but the only responsibility a private jail has is to its shareholders,” he said.

“There’s always pressure on them to cut costs and the main way they do this is by cutting staffing levels.

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