Andrew Stoner
Andrew Stoner

Stoner not privy to jail closure

NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner has said in a radio interview he knew nothing about the full extent of the Grafton Jail closure even though it had been in the planning since October last year.

The Daily Examiner contacted Mr Stoner's office yesterday and it confirmed the NSW Nationals Leader was only aware of what was happening at Grafton Jail shortly before the announcement of the cuts on June 29.

Mr Stoner confirmed the Gov- ernment would look at transferring public sector jobs from Sydney to Grafton and attracting private sector jobs.

But he would not commit to quarantining current public service jobs in Grafton in the sights of the Government razor gang.

"As the chair of the Cabinet's sub-committee on Rural and Regional NSW I will be working to identify metropolitan-based public service jobs that can be transferred to Grafton as a matter of priority," Mr Stoner wrote.

"In light of the current situation in Grafton, the Rural and Regional NSW sub-committee will hold an urgent meeting to discuss these matters and report back to Cabinet within eight weeks."

Mr Stoner said an ambitious target to get these jobs to Grafton would be the end of the year.

He said there could be some jobs coming to the region in the private sector in a couple of months.

Mr Stoner has denied the handling of the Grafton Jail downsizing has damaged the Nationals' brand in the bush but conceded it could have been handled better.

And the absence of community consultation had been a problem.

He said the Minister for Corrective Services Greg Smith made the decision within his portfolio without advising Cabinet.

This meant a rural communities impact statement, which is normally required, was not done.

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