INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt Misled Public Over Kaikohe Probation Problems

Published: Tue 21 Nov 2000 11:12 AM
The Government gave misleading assurances to Parliament last week that the situation in the parole office in Kaikohe was under control, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.
“I was aware last week that the Kaikohe office instead of having a manager and four probation officers had only the manager and that as of last Thursday emergency relief staff were simply not available because of the huge pressure on the rest of the Probation Service.
“Yet when I asked questions about this in Parliament, the Corrections Minister Matt Robson said that ‘the position of the parole office in Kaikohe is under control. It is being managed by responsible officials’. He then proceeded to attack ACT for bringing this serious matter to the public’s attention. He has been trying to detract attention from my parole reform bill, which is to be debated in the House tomorrow.
“Today The New Zealand Herald reports that chronic staff shortages forced the closure of the Kaikohe office at 3.30 pm yesterday instead of 5 pm. Four of the staff were away on stress leave, one was on sick leave after having a heart attack and the manager was attending a course.
“Mark Furey, organiser for the Public Service Association, which represents probation officers says that staff are at breaking point and ‘in a mess physically’. This is consistent with the accounts I have had from elsewhere in the service.
“What is actually happening in Northland is very at odds with the Minister’s glib assurances of the situation being ‘under control’. I want to know what the Minister intends to do about this situation. It is the current flashpoint of a crisis throughout the Probation Service.
“I will be questioning the Minister about this further in Parliament today and hope that he is able to provide the people of New Zealand with more reliable answers than he did last week,” Mr Franks said.
ENDS
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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