The newly appointed Minister for corrections, Emergency Services and Veterans Affairs David Elliott MP, visited the Grafton gaol last week with the commissioner for corrective services Peter Severin.
The minister told the media that he had only been in the job for two months and part of his new job was to visit regional gaols.
“Of course the first thing on the agenda would have to be, when am I going to go and see Grafton gaol,” he said.
“The commissioner and I wanted to make sure we got a first-hand view of how Grafton gaol is operating, the facilities that are available here, the makeup of the infrastructure and of course say a thank you to the prison officers that work here and do so well.”
The minister would not be drawn however on any imminent re-opening as a fully functional goal and that there had to be more discussions, concerning Grafton.
“I’m here to make sure that I’m well prepared for these discussions,” he said.
“With a new minister everything is on the table.”
Commissioner Severin said that the decision (to re-open the Grafton Gaol to full capacity) is in the minister and cabinet’s hands.
“Certainly we know the prison population is rising and we have put plans in place to increase the prison accommodation of the state,” he said.
“There have been 950 (beds opened) just since February.
“We are maintaining a very close look at Grafton.
“Operationally, the team’s doing an outstanding job here.”
During the ministers whirlwind visit he also met with Clarence Valley Council Mayor Richie Williamson and General Manager Scott Greensill, had discussions with the Clarence Valley RSL sub-branch, received a briefing from SES personnel and volunteers at the SES headquarters at South Grafton and met with the RFS personnel and volunteers at the Clarence Valley Fire Control Centre in Ulmarra.