FLASHBACK: This was at day six of the Grafton Jail community picket line in 2012.
FLASHBACK: This was at day six of the Grafton Jail community picket line in 2012.

Jail becomes a new battleground as March poll looms

COUNTRY Labor candidate for Clarence Trent Gilbert has called on local Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis to make Grafton Jail fully functional once again.

It follows the announcement the government was building demountable prison cells to cope with increased prisoner numbers.

"In 2012, the Liberals and Nationals decided that the Department of Corrective Services, along with the people of Grafton, no longer needed the Grafton Jail to be a fully functioning facility," Mr Gilbert said.

"Now, only two-and-a-half years later, the same Liberal National government that closed the Parramatta, Kirkconnell and Berrima jails, and significantly downsized the function of our local jail, has had to find extra capacity.

"Chris Gulaptis and his government's short-sighted decision to effectively mothball the Grafton Jail not only cut local jobs, it put enormous strain on our statewide corrections facilities. Now they're coming to realise their original policy was botched and needs reversing, so Gulaptis needs to get those jobs back and apologise to our community.

"With an expected rise in prison numbers, and the NSW Government's realisation that prison capacity across NSW will need to be increased, it is imperative Chris Gulaptis demand Grafton Jail be returned to full function." Mr Gilbert said the government would have some explaining to do if the jail did not reopen.

"If the Grafton Jail is not fully re-opened under their new plan, Gulaptis and his government will have to explain why they have neglected our community yet again," Mr Gilbert said.