The Green Party is accusing Social Development Minister Anne Tolley of misleading Parliament after she repeatedly denied that the embattled prison operator Serco had visited youth justice facilities, when it can now be confirmed it had.
It was revealed by 3News tonight that Serco staff had visited a youth justice facility in South Auckland, prior to the debacle over Serco’s management of Mount Eden Prison being made public.
“The Green Party has repeatedly questioned Mrs Tolley about Serco visiting CYFS youth justice facilities and she has repeatedly denied any knowledge,” Green Party spokesperson Jan Logie said.
“It is not credible to think the Minister did not know, considering half of Parliament had heard the rumours and she had an obligation to ask before replying to written questions.
“It now seems clear that the Government has had CYFS youth justice facilities in its sights for privatisation for some time, but when the prison experiment involving Serco blew up in the media, it hastily decided to pull back on its plans to save face.
“It is also being reported tonight that the high level review of CYFS by Paula Rebstock will be released tomorrow and that it will include some options for outsourcing core CYFS services.
“It is unbelievable that after the Serco disaster, tomorrow’s report is likely to recommend more privatisation of services involving the most at risk children in New Zealand.
“Despite the Minister’s requests to look into youth justice facilities, the Rebstock Report is unlikely to include recommendations to outsource any youth justice services.
“The experience with SERCO’s management of Mount Eden Prison highlights how safety and quality get sacrificed when the provider’s primary focus is for profit.
“Clearly, what has happened is that the Government has rapidly backtracked on privatising parts of the youth justice service to save from another justice related embarrassment, while ploughing head with privatising other areas of CYFS involving some of the most at risk children in New Zealand,” Ms Logie said.