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Total prisons construction blow-out $490m

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

20 January 2006

Total prisons construction blow-out $490m

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says the total prison construction budget blow-out is much worse than previously revealed by Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor and his department.

“Damien O’Connor’s announcement of a review of construction costs at Springhill and Otago prisons talks about an over-spend of $140 million, but that is just how much costs have increased between Budget 2005 and now. That is not the real amount of over-spend.

“If you take the original costings of $184 million for Springhill and $155 million for Otago, and compare them with the latest costings of $380 million and $218 million respectively, you get the true picture: a $258 million blow-out.

“That’s what they are hiding. That’s double what they admitted this week.

“But even that is not the whole story. By talking about only those two prisons they are hiding an even worse picture.

“When the cost increases for Auckland Women’s prison and the recently completed Ngawha are added to the mix, the true blow-out picture emerges.

“In October 2002, Corrections Department chief executive Mark Byers told a parliamentary select committee that the four prisons would cost about $400 million.

“This week, just 39 months later, Damien O’Connor said the ‘final capital cost’ of the four prisons was $890 million. That’s a $490 million blow-out, and points to planning and managerial incompetence of epic proportions.

“Damien O’Connor has been forced to undertake this review by the State Services Commissioner and is now trying to take credit for looking tough and forcing this review on his department,” says Mr Power.

“The Cabinet should be very worried about the performance of this Minister and this department.”

ENDS

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