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Corrections Bill Proposals Ideological Nonsense

Corrections Bill Proposals Ideological Nonsense

"The government's plans to end New Zealand's sole private prison management contract and make it illegal for the private sector to run prisons are driven simply by ideology and the interests of public sector unions", Michael Whittaker, CEO of The Atlantis Group, said today.

Speaking for the New Zealand Business Roundtable, Mr Whittaker said that the private prison management company Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) had successfully run Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) since July 2000.

He released a paper by economic consultant Phil Barry which showed that ACM was providing a cheaper service than comparable publicly run prisons and doing the job well. In submissions on the Bill, Maori and Pacific Island groups had supported the company, with one saying "under the ACRP contract with a private provider we have seen more progress and innovation in a prison than we have seen in decades from the public prison service".

Mr Barry's research found that New Zealand 's experience was in line with that of other countries, where private prison management had usually reduced costs and improved performance. About 50 percent of Australian prisons are now privately managed, private prisons are dominant in the United States, and in 'Third Way' Britain the Blair Labour government has decided that all new prisons are to be designed, built, financed and operated by private firms (with no in-house bid by the Prison Service allowed).

"In yet another area, New Zealand is on a different path from leading countries", Mr Whittaker said. "As with ACC, the government is turning prison management back into a state monopoly for reasons that are purely political".

"Corrections minister Paul Swain professes to be business-friendly, yet he is persisting with a policy that reveals yet again the government's anti-private sector instincts and is against the interests of people whom the government claims to care about", Mr Whittaker concluded.

The paper is available at:

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