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Ngawha Prison project cost trebles

Ngawha Prison project cost trebles

National is calling for an Audit Office investigation into the Corrections Department's handling of the Ngawha Prison project, which has now trebled its original budget.

"There's appalling mismanagement in the Corrections Department. The Government is continuing to cover up the incompetent and irresponsible use of taxpayers' money," says National's Corrections spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"National is astounded that the Ngawha Prison project is becoming a bottomless pit into which tens of millions of dollars are disappearing.

"When plans were announced for the prison in late 1998, the cost was estimated at $40m. In late 1999, the Department said it would cost closer to $60-$70m [NZPA 15.09.99]. In August 2001 the cost rose to $99.5m [Northern News 15.08.01]. Parliament was told in October 2002 to expect to pay $105m [NZPA 3.10.02]. Now the Department has advised a contract has been let at a cost of $132.8m.

"That's a three-fold increase of the original budget.

"There is only a limited amount of taxpayers' money. National has no confidence it is being well spent or well managed by the Department of Corrections.

"Had this prison been built by private enterprise, I am in no doubt we would not be seeing this astounding cost blowout. The cost is now around $380,000 per cell, almost three times the average house value in Northland," says Mr Ryall.

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