Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne in his local office.
Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne in his local office. Melanie Plane

Bill Byrne labels Doblo's prison expansion attack as 'alternative fact'

YESTERDAY outspoken businessman Dominic Doblo hit out at the Palaszczuk Government's plan to expand the Capricornia Correctional Centre (CCC), saying it would attract the wrong sort of people to Rockhampton.

Today, Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne defended the $200m project, which he worked on for 18 months as the former Minister for Corrective Services.

The project will see an additional 164 single-bed cells at CCC with construction expected to start in November this year.

Mr Doblo claimed that prisoners brought in from other areas to the expanded centre, "90 per cent of the time” would stay living in Rockhampton after being released, which would lead to increased crime in Rockhampton.

He then suggested a prison be built in "Charleville, Longreach, Cunnamulla, somewhere right out west” because "there's less chance of the families even wanting to move out there”.

Mr Byrne labelled Mr Doblo's comments as mischievous and said the expansion would provide positive opportunities for the region.

"There are many communities in Queensland that have lobbied really hard to have a corrections centre built in their community, because they know it provides a very solid economic foundation and permanent jobs going forward,” Mr Byrne said.

"It's a churlish approach to take to suggest that a modest expansion... is in anyway going to change the social fabric of Rockhampton.”

When Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the expansion in Rockhampton last week, she said it was possible prisoners would be brought in from other areas, but Mr Byrne said this was a common practice already.

"Prisoners are moved around correctional facilities in Queensland for a variety of reasons all the time,” Mr Byrne said.

"There is nothing unusual in moving prisoners from one location to another, whether for internal management issues or issues of a prisoner's circumstance, or for personal reasons.

"Prisoners move interstate all the time.

"The notion that any transfers in here to fill modest capacity increases are going to bring some massive influx of families, or people that have had a problem with the law, is mischievous and not going to be validated by the truth.”

Mr Byrne said the main thing to take from the announcement, was the enormity of the project, which will see significant job opportunities for locals.

"I suppose in this world of alternative facts, you can say anything you want and people will believe you,” Mr Byrne said.

"This is a totally irrelevant distraction from what this is about. This is about $200m; this is about a lot of construction jobs and a a lot of permanent jobs going forward.”

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