TENTATIVE plans to turn Glenormiston College into a low-security prison have been ruled out by Acting Premier Peter Ryan.
A report yesterday suggested the now-defunct agricultural college was on a shortlist of sites proposed to ease the state’s burgeoning prisoner population, given the site was already owned by the state government.
The report also claimed Shepparton’s Dookie Agri-cultural College and a school camp near Healesville were being examined as potential sites for a prison because of overcrowding at a number of established jails.
Glenormiston College will be vacated by South West Institute of TAFE in March after seven years of occupation because of diminishing demand for residential courses in agriculture.
Mr Ryan told Fairfax radio yesterday the state government had ruled out Glenormiston College as an option. “Governments encourage departments to explore options,” Mr Ryan said.
“As a general principle, I have no objection to that.
“But I can tell you conclusively, Glenormiston is not going to be acquired by the state government for the purposes of its use for a prison.
“It is simply not going to happen.
“I am ruling it out.”
Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor said a low-security prison would bring both economic positives and negatives to the region but preferred to see the site remain as an educational institution.
He said the Acting Premier’s statements yesterday eliminated the prison proposal.
“(The proposal) has its good points and not-so-good points,” Cr O’Connor said. “I’m sure the community would be split if it did go ahead and there’d be some strong opponents as well as some supporters.
“There are some economic benefits such as employment being generated and investment in the region.
“On the other side, visitors can be a problem and there could be a negative impact on property prices.”
The prison concept was raised at a community forum at Glenormiston College prior to Christmas.
Using the government-owned site as an organic farming test site or an asylum seeker processing centre were also flagged as possible future uses.
“I think most people in the area would like to see the college continue to be used for its original purpose,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Obviously, it can’t be in exactly the same format but there is a need for agricultural training in some form.”