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Inquiry needed into Springhill Prison excesses

Dr Paul Hutchison
Port Waikato MP

31 March 2004

Inquiry needed into Springhill Prison excesses

A huge waste of taxpayer money is one of many reasons for an inquiry into Springhill Prison, says Dr Paul Hutchison National MP for Port Waikato.

Yesterday, Corrections Minister Paul Swain refused to ask the Auditor-General for an independent inquiry into the new 650-bed prison at Meremere as controversy around exclusive consultation and burgeoning prices continues.

Dr Hutchison says the excessive $1.3 million spent to get iwi approval for the new prison shows just how determined the Government has been in using every resource to ram the project through.

"The $1.3 million is an affront to the local community which, by comparison, was virtually sidelined from the consultation process over the new prison site.

"The North Huntly Community Board wrote to the Corrections Minister suggesting a more suitable site than Meremere. Rather than being properly analysed, their suggestion was ignored.

"To rub salt into their wounds, the cost of Springhill Prison has escalated from $188 million to $250 million. "Even after serious accusations of 'manipulations of the resource consent process and... blatant corruption for pecuniary gain', the Corrections Department is failing to take accountability for the budget blowout.

"This is not satisfactory.

"The Government remains determined to bulldoze through approval for the prison regardless of public concerns and by paying excessive amounts to secure the support of local Maori," says Dr Hutchison.

Ends

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