National has uncovered yet more irresponsible and wasteful spending from the Government with new information showing Corrections, under Minister Kelvin Davis, has spent more than a million dollars on frozen slushy machines, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Information released under the Official Information Act shows Corrections spent $1.095 million on 193 ice slushy machines at the end of last year for staff to enjoy flavoured frozen beverages at work.
“This is an extraordinary waste of taxpayers’ money. The Minister has responded to this by saying ‘who cares?’ Well I think most hardworking taxpayers will.
“Corrections claims that the summer of 17/18 was particularly hot and this increased the risk of volatile prisoner behaviour. It then says it managed this with handheld fans, cold water and cold flannels for staff and there were no major incidents."
“Corrections seems to be saying that by keeping staff cool that this stopped violent prisoner behaviour.
“Corrections then says that despite there being no major incidents in the 17/18 summer, it took the decision the following year to provide crushed ice machines and electrolyte replacement mixtures. It said this would also ‘minimise the risk of sodium depletion from dehydration.’
“Corrections says that there is research to say that drinking slushies ‘offers immediate and effective means of significantly reducing core body temperature’ and is ‘three times more effective than drinking water’.
“It wasn’t just one machine per prison, there are 26 slushy machines at Rimutaka and Arohata prisons, 20 machines at Mt Eden Corrections Facility, 18 at Christchurch Men’s Prison and 15 at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. These machines offer two or three different flavours of drink per machine.
“It’s unclear whether prisoners had any access to these cold, flavoured beverages.
“This frivolous spending follows the Government’s Justice Summit which saw $1.6 million including $20,000 on three registration desks, $970,660 on consultants, $26,592 on MCs, $65,800 on gourmet catering and $101,528 on international speakers.
“Government departments under Labour have got the idea that taxpayer money is there to spray around on whatever. Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis owes New Zealanders an explanation and an apology.
“This kind of spending shows the Government doesn’t need to be taxing Kiwis more, as they clearly don’t know how to spend what they’re already taking. I have no doubt we’ll see more of this wasteful spending as the ‘wellbeing’ Budget kicks in. Slushy funds everywhere, not just for Shane Jones and Corrections but across the public service.
“National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn and we would take care of your money by spending it wisely.”
OIA response from Department of Corrections can be found here