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Grafton is top priority for jail inquiry

The sun sets on day five of the Grafton jail picket line.
The sun sets on day five of the Grafton jail picket line. Debrah Novak

GRAFTON will be the first town to host the parliamentary committee heading an inquiry into the NSW Government's controversial corrective services overhaul.

In the past four weeks, the outpouring of community grief following the downsizing of the Grafton Jail has translated onto the pages of at least 30 public submissions sent to Macquarie St in response to the injury.

As chairman Paul Green read through the final submissions yesterday afternoon, he noted the "overwhelming majority" had come from the Clarence Valley and said the tone ranged from "disappointing to scathing".

He said it was clear community anger centred on the perceived "lack of process and lack of planning" undertaken by the State Government in the lead-up to drastic overhaul.

Public submissions have closed for the inquiry but extensions have been granted to Corrective Services NSW and Unions NSW.

Next Tuesday, the committee will meet for the first time to endorse submissions and a schedule of hearing dates.

Mr Green said he expected the committee would plan a visit to Grafton in early December.

He said he believed it was important for committee members to "get a feel for the area" and not go into the Sydney hearing in a "clinical" fashion.

"It is important we hear both sides of this story," Mr Green said

"We have heard a lot (from the State Government) about the age of the building in regards to infrastructure and the need for cost cutting."

The first public hearing into the "closure or downsizing of NSW Corrective Services facilities" is expected to begin in Sydney on December 10.

Topics:  grafton jail, inquiry



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