A prison slated for construction near Grafton in northern New South Wales will have beds for a total of 1,700 men, women and minimum security inmates.
Once completed, it will be the largest correctional facility in the country.
NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott announced the prison would be built and operated by consortium Northern Pathways comprising Serco, John Laing, John Holland and Macquarie Capital.
“The project received very high-quality bids, but Northern Pathways … has a significant focus on our commitment to reduce re-offending,” he said.
The consortium operates other correctional facilities in Western Australia, Queensland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Construction will begin this year and is expected to be completed in 2020.
Mr Elliott said the prison would create 1,100 jobs during construction and another 600 permanent jobs once it opened, injecting $560 million into the local economy.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said it signalled a milestone for the Clarence Valley.
“At a time when regional Australia is looking for investments and looking for jobs this is really great news,” he said.
“Grafton is a jail town, we’ve had a jail for a hundred years.
“The fact of life is we do have bad people and those people need to be locked away from the rest of society and we’re happy to look after them in Grafton.”
He said the prison would be operated by the consortium for a period of 20 years before it was handed back to the NSW Department of Corrections.
The existing medium security prison in Grafton will continue operating until a decision is made about its future.
Mr Gulaptis said the prison site was strategically located at the juncture of the old and new Pacific Highways.
“It can become a significant industrial hub,” he said.
“It’s essentially going to become a fourth community in the Clarence Valley, and that will generate interest for affiliated industries.”