Premier O’Farrell is caught between the two queens, (left) 2011 Jacaranda Queen Nikki Mackie and Clarence Valley Council’s queen for their performance, Jamie Noy.
Premier O’Farrell is caught between the two queens, (left) 2011 Jacaranda Queen Nikki Mackie and Clarence Valley Council’s queen for their performance, Jamie Noy. Adam Hourigan

Premier laughs off gaffe

AFTER spelling his candidate's name wrong on a twitter post about visiting Grafton, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell walked the streets of the Jacaranda city yesterday showing his support for Chris "Galuptis".

Almost two hours after arriving at Mr Gulaptis' Prince St campaign office dressed in a tie, after soaking up Jacaranda Thursday celebrations, Mr O'Farrell held a press conference, sans tie at Market Square.

Mr O'Farrell laughed off the spelling gaffe, saying it was probably auto-correct that resulted in Mr Gulaptis' name being spelt wrong.

The Daily Examiner asked the Premier about issues raised in the by-election campaign including the future of Grafton jail, policing in the Clarence Valley, a second Grafton bridge and his thoughts on the Nationals' chances in the November 19 by-election.

"Lies" was how Mr O'Farrell described the Public Service Association's claims that Grafton jail had been slated to close by the government.

"I can also give you an iron-clad guarantee that Grafton jail is not closing," he said.

Labor candidate for Clarence Peter Ellem returned fire at Mr O'Farrell's statement at yesterday's by-election ballot draw.

"What Mr O'Farrell has to do is rule out further job cuts at Grafton jail," he said. Mr Ellem challenged Mr O'Farrell to publicly state no jobs would be lost at Grafton jail despite Attorney General Greg Smith's plan to cut 600 corrective services jobs across the state.

Mr O'Farrell said the results of Peter Parsons' report on police resourcing across the state should be made public before Christmas.

He said the report results should address policing resources in the Clarence Valley.

"It will see an end of what has been happening for too long, that is areas like this starved of frontline police resources."

On the hot topic of coal seam gas mining, Mr O'Farrell said scientific evidence on the issue was essential before decisions were made.

"We have in place a process that allows the scientific evidence that allows the community to be heard, to have a say, before coal seam gas permits are granted."

"It is tough but what we are determined to do in the future is put in place guidelines that ensure before mining of coal seam gas can occur, all the issues, people issues, farming issues as well as the environmental issues are properly considered."

Mr O'Farrell said he was working toward honouring the parties commitment to have a second crossing across the Clarence river by 2015, but the lack of planning by the previous labor government meant the process was slow.

"We have had to start from scratch, that's why we have set aside four million dollars for that planning work."

Mr Ellem said he supported a bi-partisan approach to a second Grafton bridge, but a second crossing should avoid residential areas of Grafton.

Describing Mr Gulaptis' chances in the by-election, Mr O'Farrell said Clarence was "an absolutely tough seat".

But he said the coalition had a good candidate in Mr Gulaptis to retain Clarence.

"I sat in state parliament when a Labor member of parliament represented solidly this seat.

"We take nothing for granted, in politics 51% is a win, I'll settle for 51%."