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Private prison ban costs taxpayers millions

Private prison ban costs taxpayers millions

The National Party says the Government's ideology against private prisons is costing taxpayers millions as a budget blowout looms for the new South Auckland Men's prison at Meremere.

"Within a few weeks, Labour plans to ram the Corrections Bill through Parliament banning private prison management," says National's Tony Ryall.

The Auckland Central Remand Prison is currently operated by Australian Correctional Management.

"Labour's stand against private prisons will needlessly cost taxpayers millions of dollars" says Mr Ryall.

"The private prison company says it could build the 650-bed Springhill prison at Meremere for $130 million. The Department would own the prison for at least $100 million less than the Government's April budget figure.

"The cost of the new South Auckland prison was $232 million in April. But Treasury is now conducting an investigation with suggestions of the costs exceeding $250 million. The original budget figure was $188 million.

"ACM says it could run the prison for $105 per prisoner per day. Corrections' Annual Report says the average cost of an inmate is around $155 per day - the difference over a year, $11.8 million.

"The $12 million a year that could be saved on running the new South Auckland prison could be spent elsewhere if the facility was run by the private sector," says Mr Ryall.

"It could help fund the extra hospital operations, the school teachers and the police we need. But Labour won't make this choice because its ideology says the Government should only own prisons.

"If public-private partnerships are fine for roads, they should be fine for prisons," Mr Ryall says.

"Labour should dump the ban on private prisons and spend the millions it would save elsewhere. Backing private prisons is a no-brainer - they are cheaper and more effective," says Mr Ryall.

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