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Prison Problem Won't Go Away

Prison Problem Won't Go Away

Proposed trouble at this year's Waitangi Day celebrations is a direct result of the Government's `divide and conquer' approach to the building of the Northland prison, ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Government methods of paying off some local Maori have divided the community and will be a source of ongoing disruption for Northland residents," Dr Newman said.

"Against all advice and consultation, Labour remains set on its course to build a prison at Ngawha. The unsuitability of the site will cost taxpayers dearly - the cost of building the prison has already skyrocketed from $40 million to more than $100 million. This is merely the beginning.

"The swampy and geothermal nature of the land - a flood plain with more than 30,000 drainage wells - which contains heavy metals and toxic gases, will see this prison become a white elephant with huge future maintenance problems.

"Yet concern for the taxpayer seems to be the lowest priority - especially in the face of the fact that building the prison on stable ground would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Previous Corrections Ministers Clem Simich and Matt Robson ignored advice against the site. Present Corrections Minister Mark Gosche has followed in their footsteps, despite a recent opportunity to review the decision.

"It is little wonder that Northland residents are up in arms. This idea created an uproar which, against all expectations, has not - and will not - go away.

"The Minister must finally accept his failure. He should bite the bullet and do the right thing. He must urgently cancel the Ngawha prison project, and find a suitable site on stable ground instead," Dr Newman said.

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