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Labour can’t be trusted to run prisons

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

22 September 2008

Labour can’t be trusted to run prisons

It’s clearer than ever that Labour can’t be trusted to manage the prisons system, now that Phil Goff has admitted Labour will need to build 'more prisons' after years of denials, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“As far back as 2005, Corrections was warning that the prisons would be full by 2010, but Damien O'Connor said there were no plans to build more.

“Instead, in 2006 Labour launched its Effective Interventions package to try to reduce the rising prison population, with Helen Clark arguing that ‘The criminal justice system cannot go on as it is’

“At one stage, Labour’s solution was to let 30% of prisoners out on community-based sentences.

“During last year's Estimates examination, Damien O'Connor gave the select committee a categorical 'No' to the question of whether more prisons would be needed.

“Then, in this year's Budget papers, the Department of Corrections said ‘There are no plans to construct further prisons apart from the replacement of Mt Eden Prison.’

“So, a few months ago they were saying there were no plans for more prisons, but now, just weeks from the election, Labour’s sixth Corrections Minister in nine years has backtracked on all that.

“This belated admission is a desperate bid by Phil Goff to look tough. Why? Because it’s election year and he has been going around the country trying to talk tough by saying that in spite of Helen Clark's policy to reduce prison numbers he ‘makes no apology’ for the increase that occurred under his watch.

“What he needs to explain is how many prisons Labour will build – and how it will build them.

“Will they repeat their Collaborative Working Arrangements system? The method which resulted in $500 million of cost overruns on the three newest prisons, $471 million of taxpayers’ money spent on the regional prisons project before they had any idea of target costs, and which resulted in a cost per bed of $650,000 at Otago Prison?

“That disaster is another reason why Labour cannot be trusted to make the right call on our prison system – because when it comes to law and order policy they can't decide whether they're Arthur or Martha.”

Attachments: Audit Office report, Estimates papers, O'Connor's comments

ENDS

Audit_report__target_costs.pdf
200708__200809_Estimates.pdf

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