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Prisons scandal that just won't die

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

21 May 2008

Prisons scandal that just won't die

The release of yet another report highlighting the shortcomings of the Labour Government's prison construction project is further proof that it was poorly managed, says National's Justice and Corrections and spokesman Simon Power.

The Controller and Auditor-General's report into the Department of Corrections' consultation processes for new regional prisons has found that the department not only made mistakes, but also that improvements 'were put in place later than they ideally should have been'.

"This is just the latest in a trail of critical reports, including a State Services Commission report in 2006 which questioned the use of the Collaborative Working Arrangements process, which allowed construction to begin without costs nailed down, and a Treasury report last year which found there was overspending at Spring Hill and Otago prisons.

"And because of that bad planning, the regional prisons project came in $490 million over budget.

"On the specific issue of consultation, today's Auditor-General's report also refers to a number of other critical reports, including:

* A 2001 expert review into consent delays at Ngawha which found that 'the original consultation strategy for Ngawha prison had been incomplete', and 'record keeping systems had not worked well'.

* A 2004 Audit NZ report which 'identified a number of issues relating to governance and monitoring', including inadequate reporting.

* Another 2004 report into the department's management of contracts for consultation with Maori at Spring Hill, which found that too many individuals had been contracted, more detailed background checks would have revealed that one of the contractors was facing fraud charges, and that it paid too much for these contracts.

"According to the Auditor-General, yet another report into 'lessons-learned' for the process as a whole was due in mid-March 2008, so where is that report Minister?

"The regional prisons project is a monument to Labour's waste of taxpayers' money, and the processes used should never be used again."


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