Queensland prisoners put to work manufacturing water tanks

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Prisoners in the Australian state of Queensland have been put to work manufacturing rainwater tanks to help meet a shortfall in supply.

The southeast corner of Queensland, which is currently undergoing one of its worst droughts on record, is experiencing a boom in the rainwater tank industry. Households, encouraged by subsidies introduced by the Beattie government, have enthusiastically begun installing rainwater tanks as well as other water-saving devices. These subsidies have led to a shortfall in supply however, with some households waiting months for tanks to be installed.

The new initiative, announced by Premier Peter Beattie as well as Corrective Services minister Judy Spence will see prisoners at Woodford Correctional Centre, Australia's largest gaol, constructing tanks for AU$4 per day. Spence has pledged not to use the cheap labour to undercut existing tank suppliers. Beattie also pointed out that the programme would give prisoners constructing the tanks valuable work skills for when their sentences are completed. If the programme is successful, it may be extended to other gaols around the state.

The Beattie government has been increasingly criticised over recent months for its failure to handle the water crisis engulfing Southeast Queensland. Opponents accuse the Government of a lack of planning foresight with regards to water supply for the booming area, which includes state capital Brisbane, as well as other cities such as Ipswich, Toowoomba and Gold Coast.

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