Standing before 850 delegates at NSW Labor’s annual conference at Sydney Town Hall, Mr Robertson praised the protesters who held a five-day demonstration outside Grafton Correctional Centre on the NSW north coast, which ended early on Thursday morning.
More than 100 jobs have been lost following a state government decision to transfer medium-security prisoners from the 119-year-old jail to a new wing of Cessnock jail, downgrading Grafton jail to a holding facility for remand prisoners awaiting court appearances.
“They gave it everything they had and they deserve a round of applause,” Mr Robertson said.
“And Labor in government will reopen Grafton jail.”
Mr Robertson also took aim at a Shooters Party deal with the government to allow the hunting of feral animals in 79 national parks, to enable the privatisation of power generators.
“We will not stand by while you put people’s lives and our environment at risk,” he said.
“When Labor is elected, we will overturn this decision and ban hunting in national parks immediately.”
While an election is not due until March 2015, Mr Robertson announced a Labor state government would fund 800 new university scholarships to train science and maths teachers.
But the standing ovation and thunderous applause came when Mr Robertson announced he would scrap state government changes to rein in Workcover’s $4 billion deficit.
“Just as we fought the passage of these laws on the floor of parliament until three o’clock in the morning, we will fight these changes until the day Barry O’Farrell is thrown out of office.”
He dedicated the promise to injured worker Denise, at the conference, who faces losing her house after she was removed from Workcover coverage.