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Speech: Flavell - Contract Management of Prisons

Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons) Amendment Bill : Second Reading
Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki
Tuesday 17 November 2009; 8.20pm


This Bill starts with a very basic purpose – to amend the Corrections Act to allow for the competitive tendering of prison management.

Different parties across the House will come to this debate with a variety of priorities that they seek the Bill to address.

For the Maori Party, we can not ignore the reality that at this time we have record prison inmate numbers, about half of whom claim to be Maori, and an exceptionally high recidivism rate.

Sir, no New Zealander can rest easy that about 50 per cent; 50 percent of the people in jail come from 14 per cent of the population.

What we also know is that the state system is far from properly addressing the rehabilitation of Maori.

Consultation with the Treaty partner must be a priority in developing an effective approach to address the disproportionately high imprisonment levels of the indigenous peoples of this country.

We would expect, therefore, that in this Bill, as in any piece of legislation relating to prisons, that it would be a priority to consider the difference that will be made for tangata whenua as a result of this particular Bill.

And yet there appears to be a silence in the provisions in the Bill for Maori.

Sir in the course of the select committee process, I undersand that a number of submitters were concerned that the Bill does not require the chief executive to engage specifically with Maori in tendering for the management of prisons

They were also concerned that the Bill does not require the successful contractor to involve Maori in decisions about the management and treatment of Maori offenders.

It is surprising therefore that the Department had not thought it necessary to consult Te Puni Kokiri in responding to the Committee's report.

Sir, at the first reading of the Bill, Te Puni Kokiri had recommended that there should be explicit and measurable performance objectives and standards relating to the rehabilitation of, and the reduction of recidivism by, Māori inmates.

It saw that as a key element by which accountability could be achieved, so much so that it should be legislated for and regularly reported on.

Sir, we would recommend such consultation takes places as a priority.

Secondly, we noted the response from the Department with respect to consultation with Maori that the Chief Executive will consult with iwi and other Maori entities and here’s the catch, as appropriate.

Sir, we say that this is unacceptable.

Leaving consultation up to the judgement "as appropriate" is too tenuous a position to address a situation of such alarming proportions.

We note the advice from the Maori Council, that Maori should be given the opportunity to manage the prisons because state control had failed and therefore we align our views with what Mr Garrett has just laid down in the House.

And I want to place on the House record, that the Maori Council has stated that the Auckland Central Remand Prison experience clearly demonstrated that the Maori management style delivered at that setting was appropriate for all ethnic groups. So there’s a positive.

It should be remembered that after 150 years of prisons in New Zealand, Auckland Central Remand Prison was the first prison to employ a Māori general manager, namely Dom Karauria.

Under his leadership, the six iwi—Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, Te Kawerau-a-Maki, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Tribal Trust, Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Te Ata, and Te Waiohua—were the mana whenua tribes that signed a formal memorandum of partnership with the Department of Corrections with regard to the establishment and support of the Auckland Central Remand Prison.

Before Auckland, in March 1999, a Northland iwi, Ngāti Hine, talked with the Corrections Corporation of Australia regarding the proposed site at Ngāwhā near Kaikohe.

Sir, their proposal was a joint venture to participate in the administration of a prison. The Australian corporation would run the prison for five years, and then Ngāti Hine would take over the management. Unfortunately however, Labour scuttled the proposal.

Our conclusion is that there is certainly a willingness among the people to be engaged in the running of prisons, and the Auckland Central Remand Prison experience demonstrates that there has been a model for showing that the way prisons are run and managed, and how they treat and rehabilitate Māori, was being undertaken in a way that was, at long last, effective for Māori.

The standard that was set by the Auckland Central Remand Prison was about improving performance in service provision, cultural safety, community consultation, and attitude right across all levels of management.

Sir we believe the experience of best practice in the ACRP model is an important investment in success, and at a minimum, we recommend that the successful contractor must involve Maori in decisions about the management and treatment of Maori offenders.

Sir the over-representation of Maori in the New Zealand prison system has been of such long-standing concern, that we want to see specific requirements written into the legislation to ensure that there are specific and legislated provision for Maori.

Mr Speaker, we have three broad questions that we do not, as yet, have answers to satisfy.

Firstly of course, we want to know will private management of the prisons be effective in addressing and reducing Maori offending? How different will it be from state management? Will it be profit driven?.

Secondly, Sir, we want to be assured that Maori management of prisons will be effective.

We know from the experience at ACRP that we can be confident of the results.

But how different will it be able to be from private or state management? Will iwi require profit to be derived from the activity?

Finally, is something else required – such as a “whare whakaoranga” (rehabilitation centres), which would be consistent with a restorative philosophy and a kaupapa Maori approach. That’s the question that we can ask, are these models available?

My colleague, Dr Sharples, has often talked with great enthusiasm of the proposal he is advancing as the Associate Minister of Corrections, of a Whare Oranga Ake – a House of Renaissance, if you like.
Such a centre will offer prisoners who are determined to make changes in their lives a pathway to reform. It will expect them to confront their offending, to deal with the causes, and to prepare for a life outside of prison with courses in literacy, numeracy, and a programme in trade or vocational skills.
Sir part of the expectation is that there will be support groups who will help them make the transition and who will monitor their progress.
The broader goal will be in repatriating prisoners back to society, to their families and where appropriate to place emphasis on the restoration of healing to their victims and their victims’ families.
Mr Speaker, so often in this House we address the entrenched problems; the pathway to offending; the difficulties that families find themselves in.
Dr Sharples gives us confidence that there are other options – so too does Ngati Hine, or the experience that those at the Auckland Central Remand Prison left for us to consider.
We are serious about the need for the recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in this Bill; and for specific legislative requirement to provide kaupapa Maori based programmes for Maori prisoners.
We want to ensure there are measures to provide for and measure the rehabilitation of Maori or the reduction of Maori recidivism.

And we want to ensure that the Chief Executive will engage specifically with Maori in tendering for the management of prisons, including the commitment to involve Maori in decisions about the management and treatment of Maori offenders.

In the hope that the commitment of Dr Sharples will be respected, regarding all of these matters that I have placed before the House, we therefore will vote for this Bill at its second reading.

ENDS

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