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Monday, 23 November 1998
Page: 369


Mr NAIRN —Less than two years ago the Cooma correctional facility was operating very well and performing an excellent duty within the New South Wales system. It predominantly housed drug and sexual offenders. It ran an excellent rehabilitation program, which was the subject of outside studies which demonstrated just how effective it was. Cooma Gaol had a very low re-offending rate. In fact, it was almost nil. Despite all of this, the New South Wales Labor government announced that it was closing Cooma Gaol from July this year, thus taking 60-odd jobs out of Cooma and several million dollars out of our economy.

The New South Wales Labor government has never adequately explained why this facility had to close with such haste, if at all. But it has, and it came at a bad time for the Monaro, following from five years of drought. It closed back in July this year. We had the revelation yesterday from Bob Carr that there is a drastic shortage of prison accommodation in New South Wales. Surprise, surprise! Either he or his minister are absolutely incompetent in not knowing that this was probably going to occur, or they closed that gaol because of some other hidden agenda. I wonder what that might be. Carr's admission yesterday is an insult to the people of Cooma. (Time expired)