The Deputy Premier says he supports a decision to downsize the Grafton jail, but admits it could have been handled better.
Nationals’ leader Andrew Stoner has been the focus of community anger over the axing of 180 beds and more than 100 jobs at the prison.
Today he broke his silence on the issue.
Mr Stoner says he was unaware of the extent of the cuts until after they were announced.
“I think that the extent of the consultation, the extent of the information regarding the decision could have been done better,” he said.
“I think possibly myself, as the National Party leader, could have been involved sooner than having returned from a trip as acting Premier to find out that the proverbial had hit the fan.”
Mr Stoner says Government plans for Grafton mean it will eventually be better off.
He has been given eight weeks to identify other public sector jobs that could be relocated to the Clarence Valley.
Mr Stoner won’t speculate about what departments might be involved, but says Grafton’s economy will be boosted.
“Overall between our jobs plan for these private-sector jobs as well as the public-sector jobs we’re going to relocate, and add onto that the increase in teachers, nurses and police that are going into the Clarence electorate, Grafton is going to have more jobs than ever when the plan is done,” he said.