INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cost overruns for yet another prison

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2005 04:00 PM
Cost overruns for yet another prison
National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says bad planning by the Corrections Department is costing taxpayers massive amounts of money, and the Minister must take full responsibility for it.
He is commenting on figures supplied in answer to a written question to Minister Damien O’Connor, which show the estimated cost of the Otago Region Corrections Facility at Milburn has jumped $13 million in a year, to $174.8 million.
“How can they get these things so wrong? It makes you wonder just how robust the costings were. By my estimate, in the past six years our three newest prisons have run over budget by a total of about $171 million. That’s the cost of an extra new prison.
“This is the latest in a long line of expensive miscalculations, both in costings and design, made by Corrections since Labour came to power.”
Other recent cost overruns and design faults include:
Springhill Prison, Waikato: Original cost of $184 million rises to $250 million. Cost includes $1.3 million for ‘iwi consultation’. Corrections ordered by court to pay $10,000 to two groups for ‘inappropriately aggressive’ action to strike out appeals over the project.
Ngawha Prison, Northland: Original cost of $40 million rises to $132 million, partly because of problems with site selection and consent applications. The prison is dogged by design faults that allow prisoners to leave cells at night and wander around undetected, and which cause a crack the length of the room to appear in a cell wall and ceiling.
“When you add costing and design miscalculations to issues of severe overcrowding, a shortage of trained staff and warnings of problems meeting future recruitment targets, seven escapes in one month, and assaults on guards and a Parole Board member, you get a very clear picture of one big shambles.
“So far Mr O’Connor has shown nothing that indicates he is up to the job. For the good of us all let’s hope that changes very soon,” says Mr Power.
Ends

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