Kembla Grange jail meetings ‘a sham’ say Labor MPs

The NSW Government’s highly-anticipated release of consultation dates for the Kembla Grange prison proposal has been condemned by Illawarra Labor MPs.

In parliament on Tuesday, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson delivered a statement slamming the government’s consultation plan as “a sham”.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward on Monday announced “drop-in sessions” would be held in late June.

Three sessions – two in Dapto and one in Berkeley – will be staffed with employees from Corrective Services. Mr Ward said he has asked Corritives to provide “as much information as they have” at the kiosks.

Ms Watson told parliament these consultation kiosks were inadequate and should be brought forward, and broadened into large public meetings.

“[The government will] only be holding ‘drop in centres’ open for a total of nine hours, two of which are on weekdays between 9am-5pm,” she said.

“No evening sessions have been announced for commuter residents, which could effectively exclude them from voicing their opinions.”

Disappointed: Campaigners on the anti-jail Facebook page, led by residents including Britt Bryant and Ami Beck, say they would prefer a large public meeting.

Disappointed: Campaigners on the anti-jail Facebook page, led by residents including Britt Bryant and Ami Beck, say they would prefer a large public meeting.

“If the NSW Government’s ‘community consultation sessions’ consist of a trestle table and some pamphlets in Dapto Square then they should be down here right now, listening to residents and answering their questions - not in two months’ time.”

She said a community meeting or forum which had “every stakeholder and resident in the same room at the same time” was the only way to gauge true community opinion.

Online, campaigners against the jail have also expressed disappointment in the consultation plans.

They have questioned the weekday timing of two of the sessions, the lack of an evening timeslot, and why the government can’t provide more information on its website in the lead up to the kiosks.

The jail proposal will also be on the agenda at next week’s Wollongong council meeting.

Labor councillor David Brown will introduce a motion encouraging a Corrective Services staff member to address the council.

Cr Brown said the state representative would be asked to explain how the proposed prison relates to the council’s plans for the West Dapto area. 

He also hopes they will address “what implications any such prison will have on infrastructure needs in the immediate area and any other impacts it will have on the city”.