Topics:  andrew stoner, grafton jail, job cuts

Our fight-back begins

The signs said it all at the Save the Jail rally at Memorial Park.
The signs said it all at the Save the Jail rally at Memorial Park.

FIVE years ago NSW Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner came up with a policy that could stop the job cuts at Grafton Jail.

During his speech at yesterday's rally to save Grafton Jail, Grafton chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe quoted from NSW Parliamentary Hansard of May 31, 2007, when Mr Stoner introduced the Rural Communities Impacts Bill, 2007.

" 'This is a simple bill that requires the preparation of a rural community impact statement for decisions taken by Cabinet that affect areas outside the metropolitan block'," Mr Challacombe quoted Mr Stoner as saying. " 'The bill defines 'rural' as areas outside the Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong block. If Cabinet makes a decision that has an impact on those areas, an impact statement must be produced and made available to the public. This simple bill puts into legislation the broken promises of governments. It will enable country people to have the confidence that their interests are being properly represented in government'."

"Andrew, stand up, follow your words and make sure you believe and implement what you have said," Mr Challacombe said.

It was a call repeated often in speeches at the rally: Mr Stoner, stand up for our town.

"Mr Stoner needs to make a decision about what the National Party stands for," said union representative Shane O'Brien. "The question now is where does Andrew Stoner see the National Party ... are they simply a wing of the North Shore Liberals."

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said: "This (Grafton jail) is in our DNA....we have a connection with the jail," he said. "We are not going to let this go lightly. Our resolve is absolutely strong."

Opening speaker Sharryn Usher said Grafton's response to the challenge had been inspiring. "You, the people of the Clarence Valley have inspired a nation," she said.



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