North coast protesters are converging on Grafton today for a rally against the closure of the town’s jail, which is slated for almost complete closure by the state government with the loss of 100 jobs.
State Nationals member Chris Gulaptis, who initially supported his government’s closure of the high-security section of the prison, has since backed down and will be addressing the rally today after admitting he ‘stuffed up’.
Protesters are calling on Nationals leader and deputy premier Andrew Stoner to do likewise.
The government is looking to save about $5 million a year with the closure, which Mr Gulaptis initially said was tied to an ‘unhealthy culture’ in the prison.
Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson said it is too high a price to pay.
‘This decision is a game-changer for the economy of Grafton and the greater Clarence Valley and we need to ensure that the poor decision is overcome,’ he told ABC radio this morning.
Meanwhile, prison workers around the state have postponed a strike today to make way for the rally but warn that an action involving a lock-down of every prisoner in the state will go ahead unless the government backs down.