Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Prisoners complain guards are assaulting and abusing them, there’s a severe shortage of tradies, and the SkyCity Convention Centre suffers another delay.
Allegations of sexual abuse and serious assault by Corrections staff have been made by dozens of prisoners. One News has revealed that between 2012-2016, 16 complaints of sexual abuse, and 15 serious assault complaints were made against guards. One News has been asking for details of whether the complaints have been investigated or upheld since 2016, but Corrections still hasn’t given an answer. Mike Williams from the Howard League for Prison Reform says given the nature of incarceration, having the ability to make complaints that are taken seriously is crucial.
What is the state of the justice and corrections sector in New Zealand at the moment generally? Not great, by most accounts. The system is overcrowded, as per this report from Three’s The Project. There are hundreds of assaults on prison staff every year, reported the NZ Herald in January. And there are places where space issues are acute, for example, on the front page of the Nelson Mail today is a story about a lack of youth justice facilities, and the risks of children then being locked up in police cells.
The government currently has two major decisions to make, both inter-related. The first is whether or not to change bail laws, something the NZ Herald reports justice minister Andrew Little is considering, in order to reduce the number of people on remand. And the second; whether to build the extension at Waikeria Prison, which would alleviate over-crowding, but cost billions of dollars, and expand a prison system which arguably isn’t working. The difficulty of that decision is highlighted by the fact that Andrew Little told Newshub in March that an announcement would be coming in two weeks.
The Dominion Post’s front page today covers New Zealand’s severe shortage in tradies. The print version of the story doesn’t appear to be online, but an in–depth report from the feature section is here on the Dominion Post’s micro-site. The fundamental problem is this: New Zealand needs 50,000 more construction workers over the next four years to keep up with building demand. Some tradies are reporting that they are currently booked up well into 2019.
Completion of the much-vaunted SkyCity Convention Centre has been delayed by another six months, reports the NZ Herald. Because of the problems being faced by builder Fletcher Construction, the convention centre is now not expected to be finished until the end of next year. Despite the news, SkyCity remains on track to make at least $10 billion in turnover in the 2018 financial year.
The Budget, and what the government has available to spend, has been a huge topic of political debate this week, and will be until it is revealed on the 17th of May. Until then, this explainer from Stuff’s Henry Cooke is an absolute must read. It breaks down exactly where money tends to be allocated, how it has been spent so far, how the Labour government’s ‘Budget Responsibility Rules’ affect borrowing, and so on. Print the article out and stick it on your fridge, it’s the most useful reference point there will be between now and the Budget.
Construction company Hawkins has been ordered to pay up $13 million to fix a leaky and rotting Botany Downs High School, reports Radio NZ. Almost 2000 students attend the school in the east Tamaki area of Auckland, and the total cost of repairs could be up to $17 million.
Dairy prices have fallen in the overnight Global Dairy Auction. Whole milk powder – a key measurement for New Zealand – is down, but long term the range of prices is in about the middle of where it has swung between, over the last decade.
The landmark Fortune Theatre in Dunedin is closing down, sending shockwaves through the city’s artistic community, reports the Otago Daily Times. The theatre was one of the few professional venues in the city, and had been operating for more than 40 years.
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