This was NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell on the subject of his under the radar April 2012 decision to close Grafton Gaol:
"In response to a request, a very forceful request from the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and in line with our commitment to devolving public sector jobs out of Sydney to regional areas, Andrew Stoner, who chairs the Rural and Regional Subcommittee of Cabinet has been asked to come back within eight weeks to identify public sector jobs that are suitable".
In the 2012-13 NSW Budget the Coalition Government committed itself to a reduction in the size of the public service, predicted to eliminate in excess of 10,000 positions over the next four years in the primary industries, corrective services, legal/courts, education, health, aged care/disability, child protection, roads & maritime, industrial relations and environment sectors.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that; An internal email from a NSW Treasury official dated June 12, obtained by the Herald, says ''there is no floor or cap on redundancies'' and government departments should look to privatising more services.
On 13 July 2012 there were 313 government jobs across the state advertised by Jobs NSW in the previous 28 days.
Of these; 227 were positions based in the Sydney region and 48 were in regional NSW – only two of these (both area health service jobs) were possibly situated in Grafton.
Few of these jobs appeared to be of a category which were not location specific. In other words, most would not be the type of job likely to come into the Clarence Valley.
In fact, the O’Farrell Government’s previous attempts to encourage people to move to regional NSW have been monumental flops so far.
Less than 700 Regional Relocation home buyers grants have been taken up since July last year. What is obvious is that few (if any) people living in the Sydney region are moving to Northern NSW under this scheme.
So how many of these as yet to be identified jobs in the reduced public service pool will actually come to Grafton under the vague promise given by the Premier?
Do O'Farrell and Co. not understand that, as these are not vacant positions, what jobs may actually come will not give employment to local residents who lost their jobs at the gaol or lower the Clarence Valley LGA unemployment rate?
Is the Clarence electorate being treated like fools and lied to again?