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Minister caught napping on muster crisis

Minister caught napping on muster crisis

Ministers have been wasting months in consultation while the muster crisis worsens, answers in Parliament’s Question Time revealed today, says National MP Tony Ryall.

"Minister Swain has known for months and months that this crisis was happening. But in Parliament today he revealed that he still has 110 mothballed cells around the country. And he is still trying to negotiate an expansion in inmate numbers with the prison officers union.

“Surely, talking with the prison officers and agreeing on expanding the use of twin-share rooms in prisons would have been a priority for Ministers.”

Police Minister George Hawkins – who is fast becoming the fall guy for the crisis – confirmed that Ministers have been consulting for months.

Mr Ryall says: "The real problem with their incompetence is this: taxpayers will probably end up paying huge amounts of compensation to prisoners who have been held in police cells and court cells for weeks and weeks.

“Worse still, some guilty crims may get off because of the way they have been treated and the length of time they are held in these circumstances.

“Labour will end up paying compensation to crims for their 'hurt feelings’ when they should be paying to open up these mothballed beds.

"As if compensation payments of $130,000 to five inmates just last week was not enough, we are now likely to be faced with a huge compensation bill for a situation which should have been avoided months ago if this Minister had not sat on his hands,” Mr Ryall says.

Ends

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