News from NZ Labour Party
Labour has criticised the Minister of Corrections, Anne Tolley, for ‘turning the sod’ at the Wiri Prison, and trumpeting its supposed benefits, before she makes the cost to the taxpayer public.
“Anne Tolley must, by law, table the contract between Corrections and the Serco-led consortium that will build and operate Wiri. I challenge her to do so before the House rises next Thursday, rather than drop its details during a parliamentary recess, which I am sure is her plan”, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel, said.
“Serco told the London Stock Exchange earlier this month that it expected revenues of £15 million (NZ$29 million) per annum from the operation of the prison, and £2 million from the period before the prison even opens. The LSE has more information than the New Zealand public about what the taxpayer will pay under the arrangement.
“Also curiously absent from Anne Tolley’s press releases is any mention of the significant role of ACC in the SecureFuture Consortium, of which Serco is a lead member, that will operate the prison. The Government’s embarrassment about ACC’s involvement could not be plainer.
“This is a contract by which the Government will attempt to bind Kiwi taxpayers for 25 years. Parliament was not consulted in advance about its terms. A number of parties in Parliament, including the principal opposition party, oppose the principle of private sector management of prisons.
“The circumstances, if any, in which the Crown can withdraw from or renegotiate the arrangement, are not clear. When the contract is finally revealed, Labour will be looking at it very carefully indeed
“The construction of the prison may create new construction jobs. But the cost of those jobs to taxpayers, and the costs of all the redundancies in the regional prisons that have taken place this year in order to make the 960 bed prison at Wiri viable in terms of projected inmate numbers, remain unknown.
“Given Serco’s failure to perform so far in respect of the Mt Eden prison facility that it manages, the extent to which the taxpayer will be required to subsidise future corporate underperformance also remains a mystery.
“The contract, when it is finally revealed, will make interesting reading indeed. Given the extraordinary duration of the contract, Labour reserves the right to act, in the public interest, in regard to the contract, its terms, and the circumstances it governs, as we see fit, when next in office,” said Charles Chauvel.