Whether the Government has been deliberately duplicitous or simply chaotic with regards to the public-private partnership for Waikeria Prison, it is yet another example of its shambolic handling of law and order, National’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett says.
“Labour spent years campaigning on cancelling public-private partnerships, with Jacinda Ardern saying just before the election that Labour did not agree with PPPs when it came to building core infrastructure like prisons.
“Kelvin Davis is on record in Parliament damning PPPs for building and maintaining prisons and in 2016 he blasted the decision by then-Corrections Minister Judith Collins to build and maintain a new prison at Waikeria.
“So it was a surprise to everyone that after all this big talk, the Government went ahead with a $750 million PPP contract to build and maintain Waikeria Prison for 25 years.
“Given the contradiction between its campaign promise and its decision to sign a PPP contract for Waikeria Prison, Ministers were questioned in Parliament where they claimed that a contract had been already been signed under National.
“When asked about the contract, Associate Finance Minister David Clark said that ‘They [the National Government] signed the contract and it cost $34 million’. Finance Minister Grant Robertson subsequently doubled down, saying a ‘PPP contract for Waikeria Prison was in place and that breaking it would've cost significant sums of money to this Government’.
“When asked today whether these statements were incorrect, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis refused to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and instead waffled on about how he was happy with Corrections running Waikeria Prison.
“It is clear that the statements were incorrect but whether Ministers were being deliberately misleading or were simply confused remains to be seen.
“Either way, Mr Davis has been a complete hypocrite in damning PPPs for three years in Opposition, signing a $750 million PPP contract for the new Waikeria Prison and then attempting to justify his conversion of Damascus by having his colleagues falsely claim that the Government was bound by a contract signed by the previous Government.”