FUTURE SCENES: An artists impression of what the new Grafton jail will look like.
FUTURE SCENES: An artists impression of what the new Grafton jail will look like. INFRASTRUCTURE NSW

OPINION: Economy boon, but at what price?

THE obligatory pomp and ceremony of the turning of the first sod of the new Grafton jail on Monday signified the start of the $500m project which will bring another economic boon to the region.

Jobs, jobs, jobs is the mantra of the modern government and a brand new piece of infrastructure is no slouch when it comes to creating those in abundance.

But let's face it, what it also brings is one of society's less than desirable industries back to Grafton - the jail town as it's known to be described before - which goes some way in demonstrating the lack of jostling for the same kind of development in other regions.

Much like the nuclear power plant or the steel smelter once did for Lucas Heights or Newcastle, it might be framed as an economic blessing, but like most controversial projects that nobody wants in their backyard, along with the wages windfall there are other prices to pay.

This new jail will create the fourth largest 'village' in the Clarence (larger than Iluka) if you include inmates, their families and staff, an entire community that has a high concentration of activity that revolves around law-breaking, enforcing and rehabilitation, and the people who are exposed to that in their daily lives.

So what does that mean for the Clarence community besides the economic boost?

Time will tell, but despite the stigma that goes with having a jail in your town, the new facility will have the opportunity to demonstrate effective criminal rehabilitation 21st century style.

And there are some riches to be gained by that, apart from the economic ones.



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