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Cost of keeping prisoners jumps to $92,000 a year

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

30 July 2007

Cost of keeping prisoners jumps to $92,000 a year

Labour has allowed the costs of keeping people in prisons to increase by more than 63% since it became the Government, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on information in the Corrections Department’s responses to select committee questions, which forecasts that it will cost $253 per night, or $92,345 a year, in 2007/08 to keep each sentenced prisoner, compared to $155 per night, or $56,575 a year, in 2001 – a 63% increase.

“Just last week, Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor said it cost $69,000, or $189 a night, to keep each prisoner for a year. That was for 2004/05 and means a 33% increase in just two years.

“That’s astounding. That’s higher than the cost of a room at many top hotels with breakfast thrown in.

“Labour tries to blame this increase on the cost of ‘new prison capacity’, but it is the shoddy and cavalier way in which the building of that new capacity was handled that is the real problem.

“Corrections used the unproven Collaborative Working Arrangement contracting method to build three of the prisons, which meant indicative costs were not established till years after construction began, resulting in a $490 million budget blowout.

“That blowout included spending $1,852 a day for an external consultant to manage the project while the Project Management Office at head office, established to keep costs down, was costing $455,000 in its first five months.

“And, at the same time Minister Damien O’Connor was promising the prisons were ‘not gold plated’, they were spending $11 million on landscaping, and purchasing flat-screen TVs for six prisons, as well as Playstations and X-boxes, and installing under-floor heating.

“There is no doubt this Government’s slack use of taxpayers’ money has contributed greatly to the huge cost of keeping prisoners.”


Attachment: page from Corrections’ additional estimates document - 1 page. (PDF)

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