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What exactly is Labour employment policy?

ACT Broadcasting spokesman Penny Webster is concerned that honest taxpayers jobs are being taken by a questionable Government initiative at Päremoremo Prison.

Mrs Webster has been contacted by numerous industry sources who believe that Päremoremo Prison has an $80,000 AVID editing suite on site that is being used to edit television programmes. Due to cheaper running costs the prison editing work is affecting the profitability of private industries.

“It seems that the private film editors are working hard to stay afloat, while the Government is paying inmates to undercut them. As taxpayers they are basically funding their own redundancies,” said Penny Webster.

“It seems ironic that the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton is parading around the country promising more jobs while his colleague, the Minister of Broadcasting Marion Hobbs, is trumpeting new initiatives for the local television and film industry.

“Yet it seems that neither has spoken to their colleague Minister of Corrections Matt Robson who is supporting a scheme that is ruining the employment of other hard working citizens.”

“I sent a letter to Matt Robson yesterday to find out the exact facts of the situation and if the impact on local industry employment is as bas as claimed, I will be looking for some hard answers.

“If the issues that have been shared with me are correct, the situation it is in direct contradiction to both Department of Corrections and Labour Party policy.

“Labour MP Steve Maharey said during the 1997 Wanganui Prison shoe fiasco that, ‘Labour had no philosophical objection to putting prisoners to work, but shared Treasury fears that businesses using prison labour would have an unfair advantage over private competitors.’ It would appear that this is no longer a concern.

“ACT wholeheartedly supports the educational training for prisoners. However we believe there is a big difference between training for educational purposes and gaining commercial returns from the exploiting of unfair labour costs,” said Penny Webster.


Letter to Matt Robson Attached....

Penny Webster MP
Level 8
Bowen House

4 April 2000

Matt Robson
Minister of Corrections
The Beehive

Dear Minister,

I feel that it is my duty to investigate complaints laid at my office by concerned citizens.

I was contacted today by various people who feel that the Ministry of Corrections has been running an unfair contracting service at Päremoremo Prison. This contracting concerns the use of editing equipment being used by prisoners to edit television film under contract to a third party.

To assist in my investigations I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer the following questions;

1. Has the Auckland Area Prison Authority brought or leased an AVID editing machine?
2. Have prisoners at Päremoremo Prison been undertaking editing work for private business?
3. Was the contract for supervising and training the prisoners in this task conducted in an open tender process?
4. What remuneration, if any, have the prisoners involved received from participating in the editing work?
5. Were any studies undertaken to determine the market price for the work?
6. Were any studies undertaken on the impact the prisoners editing work would have on private industry?

Please consider this request as falling under the Official Information Act 1982. Could you please provide any documentation, either written or verbal, that relates to the above question areas.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely

Penny Webster ACT MP

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