For those of us who have been fighting private prisons before it became fashionable, the sudden attention on Serco is a great relief that many of the criticisms against privatising prisons have been realised, but there needs further attention.
Allow me to cast our collective minds back to 2009 because what the Private Prison companies were telling our select committee back then utterly destroy the claims the Government are attempting to make now.
Let’s look at cost. The Government says this will experiment in privatisation will be cheaper, but what did the head of GEO, a Private Prison contractor tell the 2009 Select Committee…
GEO Group Australia managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said his company had managed prisons in Australia for 17 years, operating in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales…While National MPs had emphasised cost savings, that should not be the only driver, Mr Bezuidenhout said.
“Privatisation is not about cost savings. If that’s all you want to achieve I am saying that you are knocking at the wrong door”.
…the managing director of GEO told the Select Committee to their faces that Privatisation would not be a cheaper option, yet National still use this to justify this experiment.
I pointed this out repeatedly in 2009, but no one was bothering to listen then.
So the lower cost is a lie, what about the supposed safety of private prisons because the fines that can be imposed, well here’s Dom Karauria, a former general manager for ACRP who was running that prison privately. He is very clear where the responsibility will be…
“The answer is you people. You people here are representing the New Zealand public and I’m sure the final legislation that is determined will ensure there is no avenue for those difficulties to occur here.”
…agains – WHAT? The politicians, will be responsible, not the Private Prison? How extraordinary, yet we have the current Corrections Minister ducking and diving claiming it’s all Serco’s fault.
The Government were told in their own Select Committee hearing in 2009 that Private Prisons wouldn’t save them money and that the buck ultimately stopped with them. They were told that by actual management bosses of actual Private Prisons so pretending to not know or shifting responsibility elsewhere is simply crap.
The Government were told but the media didn’t bother making much of an issue of it and the public were asleep at the wheel. The mess that Serco has become is no surprise yet here we have a media and Government acting surprised.