This week the Palaszczuk Government announced its decision to transfer two Correctional Centres from private to public control. While Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) runs most of Queensland’s prisons, the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre has been managed by the GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, and the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre has been managed by Serco Australia Pty Ltd.

In July last year, the government announced it had suspended the tender processes for these two privately operated prisons pending government consideration of the Crime and Corruption Commission’s (CCC) Taskforce Flaxton Final Report.

Taskforce Flaxton was established to examine corruption and corruption risks in QCS facilities. The CCC made 33 recommendations concerning safety for staff and prisoners, ethical and impartial decision making, enhanced accountability and transparency, and improvements to performance standards.

The Minister for Police and Minister for Corrective Services Mark Ryan said the decision to transfer the prisons to public operation will have multiple benefits.

“The government is of the view that the transfer to public operation will lead to improved staff safety.

“Importantly, this decision aligns government policy with issues arising from Taskforce Flaxton.

“The Taskforce observed that Queensland’s hybrid prisons system, with its mix of private and public operational responsibility, was not optimal.

“The government believes that by providing QCS with full operational and day-to-day management control of all prisons and all employees, the transition will strengthen corruption resistance in Queensland prisons and improve overall integrity.

“Planning is already underway, and there will be extensive consultation with the private providers, staffing groups, industrial representatives and service providers to ensure the delivery of safe and secure prison services during the transition,” Minister Ryan said.

Staff at the privately run prisons will be given priority to take up positions in the newly transitioned correctional centres, subject to the usual vetting procedures.

Under the public operating model there will also be more prison staff, which the Government predicts will lead to greater staff safety.

The transition process will cost an extra $111m over four years.

Cover image – Istock – edit:berkay