Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis continues to show what little control he has left of his portfolio, failing to reconcile his public statements with the recommendations he made to Cabinet about Waikeria Prison, National’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett says.
“Mr Davis recommended to Cabinet last year that it implement the 1500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison planned by National and that it was the ‘only sensible plan of action’.
“Fast-forward six months and he was condemning the planned 1500-bed facility as an ‘American-style mega prison’ and announcing he would instead build a much smaller facility.
“When asked to explain the significant turn of events and what exactly made the planned facility an ‘American-style mega prison’, Mr Davis could only say that American-style mega prisons were ‘bigger’ and ‘house more people’.
“The release of Mr Davis’ Cabinet papers on the Waikeria Prison decision revealed that Cabinet simply ignored his advice which is a better explanation for the turn of events, but raises concerns about the lack of confidence his colleagues have in him.
“Mr Davis also cannot reconcile his claim that he is focused on rehabilitation with the fact that Cabinet ignored the advice in his May 2018 paper that said larger prisons allow a ‘full range of specialist facilities and rehabilitation programmes’ and went ahead with a smaller build.
“When asked to confirm his statement to the Corrections estimates hearing that ‘we’re not expanding the facilities to actually service them,’ in reference to extra rehabilitation funding to accommodate prisoners who will be on pop-up beds in existing prisons, Mr Davis is now claiming there will be extra funding.
“I eagerly await his announcement about exactly how much the Government will be funding for these extra rehabilitation services.
“And I’ll continue to wait for his admission that National had the right plan all along, but that his colleagues simply ignored his advice to implement it.”