The safety of staff, prisoners and the community remains a top priority for the Tasmanian Liberal Government.

In regard to today’s stop-work action, it is very disappointing that the unions are playing politics with this. Last Friday I extended an invitation to meet with them today, before any mention of stop-work action had been made, and a meeting has now been confirmed for Wednesday, 21 July.

It is also simply wrong for anyone to claim we haven’t significantly invested in our prison system. We have employed more than 200 extra Correctional Officers in our prison system since 2016, including 79 in 2020 alone and at least two new recruitments planned this year, with the first of those already underway. We are planning for more recruitment courses next year as well as intensive recruitment of Correctional Officers nationally.

We are recruiting Correctional Officers as fast as we can, but I do need to stress we will not throw untrained staff onto the frontline and put their safety, and the safety of prisoners and the community, at risk.

We also recognise the pressures that exist within any correctional facility and the challenges they present to staff and prisoners alike. While lockdowns are a necessary and unavoidable part of our prison system, prison management continues to explore a variety of other strategies to minimise their likelihood.

I expect to discuss these strategies with the unions this Wednesday.

However, suggestions that prisoners have been locked down for multiple days in a row are untrue, and it is not common for all prisoners to be locked down all day.

We will continue to provide additional resources to support hard-working staff at our prison facilities to do this difficult job, and we remain absolutely committed to addressing the challenges within the prison service.

Elise Archer, Minister for Corrections