The NT Government has abandoned plans to build a new youth prison at Pinelands, between Palmerston and Darwin.
Despite a massive local community backlash about the plans to move Don Dale, the government said it came down to a failed rezoning application.
"The Planning Minister has carefully considered the findings of the Northern Territory Planning Commission regarding the rezoning application for a new Youth Justice Centre and Rehabilitation Precinct, and has declined the application," the government said in a media release today.
The Government is now seeking an alternative site for the new Youth Justice Centre and Rehabilitation Precinct, to replace the almost infamous Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.
While there has been comments in Parliament this week about half the youth in Don Dale being from Alice Springs, so the government should locate the prison there.
And Alderman Toni Tapp Coutts has previously suggested Katherine should be chosen as the location of a prison farm, the youth jail will need to be close to Darwin and the courts and agencies located there.
The government picked the site in August last year so it could close the now notorious Don Dale.
Construction of the new centre was expected to start in the middle of this year.
Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler Minister said: “Based on the evidence in front of me, I have acted in the best interest of the local community in declining the rezoning application for the Youth Justice Centre and Rehabilitation Precinct in Pinelands.”
Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield said: “Selection for the new site will have criteria which includes easy access for family visits to ensure that at-risk young people are connected to family, culture and community, as well as for professional service providers.”
Deputy Leader of the Opposition deputy leader Lia Finocchiaro said today’s announcement vindicates seven months of tireless fighting by Pinelands business, residents and the Opposition against the Pinelands site.
“This backflip is a victory for those hardworking Territorians who poured all of their energy, time and finances into a strong campaign against the Government.”
"In August 2018 the Government announced the site without any consultation in a desperate attempt to be seen to be moving forward on its election commitment to build a new youth detention facility in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“In a desperate attempt to look busy this Government failed to undertake any consultation or due diligence into the suitability of this site and today they have egg on their face – they should have listened to the feedback right from day one,” she said.
“In seven months, how much taxpayer’s money did the Government waste?
“In the meantime, it has poured over $10m into making Don Dale safer and more suitable.
“The Government has driven the Territory into an economic and financial crisis of an unimaginable magnitude – it is little wonder it wants to hold over building a $50m facility."
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