Is new Grafton jail herald of golden age or sting in tail?
THE new jail for Grafton heralds a golden time for the city say politicians, while those closer to coal face warn of a sting in the tail in the public/private partnership side of the announcement.
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson says the jail is the icing on the cake for the region following on from $4.5 billion worth of highway upgrade and bridge works.
"There's going to be a lot of jobs from it in the construction phase plus, I've been told, close to 200 permanent jobs once the facility is operational," Cr Williamson said.
"It's good news the jail will be a greenfield site, because of the number of construction jobs that will create."
He said council will help fast track the jail's planning when a site is being chosen.
"As long as a site ticks the boxes, whatever zoning is needed, council will play its part."
Cr Williamson said a new site will have constraints.
"It will have to be flood free and close to services like water, electricity and power," he said.
"There are several sites around the region, mainly in South Grafton, that fit the bill."
Former Grafton jail governor John Heffernan said the news was bittersweet for him.
"It's great news for Grafton, but there's a sting in the tail with it," he said.
"It's the death knell for the current jail and government employees in the jail.
"It's likely some current staff will not want to work in a new jail because of the wages and conditions in privately run jails."
Mr Heffernan said the experience of the Western Australian government with a privately-run jail showed there were still problems for governments.
"I think they had a 20-year agreement with Serco, but maybe they've had second thoughts about that," he said.
Mr Heffernan said he had moral problems with making money from incarcerating prisoners.
"Governments who privatise prisons have abrogated their responsibilities to the community," he said.
"But I think most people in Grafton won't care about that. They will think it's great news for their economy."