The Victorian Greens have said the Victorian Labor Government’s decision to spend $1.1 billion dollars on an empty prison is a sad indictment on their spending priorities.
The Greens say with a State Budget around the corner, the Government needs to get their priorities straight and invest in the services that our community needs.
Prior to the pandemic, the Government increased the rate of spending on police and prisons more than any other portfolio area.
And as reports overnight have made clear, this includes investing $1.1 billion dollars to establish the Western Plains Correctional Centre in Lara – which contains 1248 beds and is currently sitting idle.
The Greens say money like that could have helped build over 2,000 public and affordable homes, with the right political will.
Yet for years the Government has prioritised police and prisons as an answer to their tough on crime policies which disproportionately target First Nations people.
With the State Budget due to be handed down later this month, the Greens are urging the Government to introduce revenue-raising measures that would help raise billions of dollars.
This money could then be used to invest in things that people need, like public and affordable housing, higher wages for public sector workers like nurses and teachers, a Zero Extinction Fund for threatened species, and more free GPs, dentists and psychologists.
In the lead up to the 2022 Victorian State Election, the Greens launched a pitch to close two state prisons, which the Parliamentary Budget Office estimated would save $215.1 million dollars over the next decade.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“It’s a sad indictment on Victorian Labor’s priorities that they’re willing to spend billions on prisons while we have 120,000 people on the public housing waiting list.
“This Government needs to get its priorities straight in the upcoming budget and invest in the things that people actually need, not empty prisons.
“One billion dollars could have been used to build public housing to lessen the impacts of the current housing crisis. The Government made the wrong choice then. It is time for them to make the right choice now.”
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens justice spokesperson, Katherine Copsey MLC:
“The Victorian Labor Government spends too much on prisons, and not nearly enough on more effective solutions for our community like crime prevention, justice reinvestment and social supports like housing.
“Too often Labor makes the wrong budget choices. Case in point - the extraordinary spend of public money on Victoria’s broken and ineffective corrections system, much of which goes to profiteering corporations."