Future of Grafton Jail questioned

CONTENTION remains over the future of Grafton Jail, with both sides of politics weighing into the debate of will it or won't it be closed.

Country Labor candidate for Clarence Peter Ellem said that during questioning in Wednesday's budget estimates, Attorney-General Greg Smith refused to rule out closing Grafton Jail.

In addition to the possible closure, Mr Ellem said the O'Farrell Government had doubled the number of prison jobs it would slash statewide to 600, with Grafton in the crosshairs.

"To add insult to injury, the Attorney-General refused to step in and stop the planned loss of 13 jobs from Grafton Jail," he said.

"We want an ironclad guarantee Grafton Jail will not close or be privatised, and a commitment to maintaining the current job levels.

"Major employment centres like the Grafton Jail are the lifeblood of regional communities, employing local workers, contractors and supporting local business."

Yesterday, Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals Andrew Stoner refuted Mr Ellem's claims.

"There are no plans to privatise Grafton Jail. There are no plans to close it," he said.

Asked if a replacement correctional facility, which had been touted for Grafton for several years, would be built before the existing one closed, Mr Stoner said this was a Department of Corrective Services issue.

"As the jail ages we may have to look at its replacement ... somewhere on the North Coast," Mr Stoner said.

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