Radio: Across The Ditch – All Responsibility No Accountability Over Mt Eden Prison Scandal

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Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.

Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.
Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.
Selwyn Manning and Australian radio station FiveAA’s Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly bulletin, Across The Ditch. This week New Zealand’s Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Inga under pressure to resign after scandalous and tragic revelations emerging from Mt Eden Prison. Also discussed, ANZAC painting Simpson and His Donkey will remain in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Minister of Corrections is under pressure to resign after revelations have emerged of scandals and tragedy relating to inmates of Auckland’s notorious Mt Eden Prison, which is managed by Serco a multinational private service company.

Since the weekend serious problems have been revealed where images and video have been uploaded to social media showing inmates partying, smoking cannabis, drinking home brew alcohol,.

But more sinister and serious among the revelations are how inmates have organised fight clubs inside the prison, and have filmed themselves competing in bare knuckled cage fighting styled violent bouts.

And on Wednesday, information was made public where an inmate died from illness after he was dropped from a balcony inside the prison, his injuries included a punctured lung.

The Labour Party has accused the Minister of Corrections Sam Lotu-Iiga of sitting on information and doing nothing.

Labour’s Kelvin Davis presented evidence (a transcript) to Parliament on Wednesday showing Lotu-Inga was warned a month ago in a select committee meeting that prisoners were being dropped from a balcony at Mt Eden Prison.

The minister earlier said he heard about the “dropping” this week.

Under pressure to resign, Lotu-Inga said on Wednesday night he was aware of the case of a prisoner transferred to Ngawha Prison, who had died.

In a statement, Lotu-Inga said, initially, he did not want to speculate on the death, because it was being investigated by the coroner.

He added: “If Kelvin Davis was alluding to a practice known as ‘dropping’ he did not make it clear that it was widespread, that it was a practice that was ongoing, nor did he refer to it as ‘dropping’.

Lotu-Inga said: “If he had, I would have pursued it with my officials.”

But Labour’s Kelvin Davis, insists there is a serious lack of accountability, especially as the prison is run by a private business. He has called for the Minister’s resignation.

Kelvin Davis added: “It was National who made the decision to outsource our prison system to a private company, and now they are stopping Parliament from asking questions about the mess they have created.”

Davis said: “The Government is being soft on Serco, allowing them to investigate themselves. This is further evidence we need a fully independent investigation to get to the bottom of what is happening in our prisons.

“Serco needs to be held to account, and answer questions to give Kiwis confidence in what is going on. Today, the Government has said no to accountability,” Kelvin Davis said.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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