15 Apr 2010

Maori Council supports private prison

11:35 am on 15 April 2010

The Maori Council says a decision to create a privately run prison in South Auckland will allow Maori to have a bigger role in prison management.

The Government on Wednesday announced its intention to open a privately built and run prison at Wiri, as long as it costs less than a public prison.

Infrastructure Minister Bill English, says savings of 10% - 20% could be made under a private prison deal, over a 25 - 35 year contract.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says the new 1000 bed prison should be ready by the end of 2014.

Maori Council chairman Maanu Paul says he welcomes the news and Ms Collins comment that Maori should be included in any plans a private operator puts forward.

He says this will allow Maori to have a day-to-day role in the prison, as well as rehabilitative programmes.

The Manukau and Waipareira Urban Maori Authorities want to be part of the management of the new private prison.

Manukau chief executive Willie Jackson says he and Waipareira head John Tamihere are talking to prison companies who are likely to bid for the management contract.

He told Waatea News the Auckland central remand prison was successfully managed by an Australian company before the former Labour Government put it back under state control.

Doubts held

However, the Green Party says a privately built and operated prison could be a risk to public safety.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says overseas examples show the savings are made at the prison officers' expense.