Prisoners to 'serve' council

PRISONERS could soon be helping to lower the costs of running Rockhampton Regional Council.

Convicts from the Capricornia Correctional Centre will be able to provide a range of cost-effective services, says council chief executive Alastair Dawson.

The authority is to enter an agreement with the prison at Etna Creek which could see trusted inmates leave jail to carry out work on behalf of the council.

And Mr Dawson told councillors he was keen to take advantage of the prison's workshops. After visiting the jail and inspecting products made in the workshops he persuaded councillors there was an untapped resource they should exploit.

“The centre has the capacity to provide very high quality products at extremely competitive prices,” he said.

Because the prison is owned by the Queensland Government, the council can commission products like indoor and outdoor furniture without putting contracts out to tender.

He assured councillors he was not proposing anything that would threaten the wages or job security of council workers.

And, answering the concerns of Cr Glenda Mather, he said entering an agreement with the prison was not intended to take business away from local companies.

Cr Mather was not convinced. She was the only councillor to vote against the policy and said she was afraid it would put private businesses at a disadvantage because they would not be able to compete with an organisation that didn't pay wages.

Mr Dawson said the centre could be asked to make items from wood and steel to specific designs. And skilled and semi-skilled work crews would be available to assist the council's workforce with specific one-off tasks such as putting a new batch of recycling bins together.



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