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Report strengthens call for Minister to resign

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

11 December 2006

Report strengthens call for Minister to resign

National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, says the report into Liam Ashley's death in a prison van strengthens his call for Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor to resign.

"This report is much more damning than anyone expected.

"What is most alarming is that so many mistakes were made.

"They not only failed to keep Liam Ashley separated from adults, they also failed to keep his killer separated from all others, to the point where they were actually handcuffed together.

"The other disturbing revelations in this report are the extent to which this incompetence was repeated throughout the department from top to bottom."

"For example, confusion over the split of responsibilities within Corrections meant the contract with Chubb was not updated to take into account legislative changes from 2004 and 2005.

"Chubb also expressed concern that guards did not have the capability of communicating with prisoners in the vans, but there is no record that Corrections ever responded to this.

"Corrections' inability to follow so many guidelines is staggering.

"The report further highlights the culture of incompetence that is rife throughout this department.

"This tragedy was the result of systemic failure within a government department, the like of which has not been seen since Cave Creek.

"Labour was keen to invoke the doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility over that tragedy and put pressure on the Minister of Conservation to resign.

"Though Damien O'Connor is not to blame for Liam Ashley's death, he is politically responsible for the litany of shortcomings in his department and he must resign.

"If he doesn't, Helen Clark should push him."

ENDS


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