This story is getting murkier and murkier.
Earlier today I revealed that the Corrections union and Labour have been well aware for years that prisoners were being transported on flights, despite their fake surprise and outrage in the DomPost.
It seems that the union revealed security details about a prisoner flight and arranged for the paper to be there to take pictures. And – hey presto! – paper runs a story saying this is new and dangerous, while union and Labour are given the opportunity to bash the government.
The DomPost ran the story again yesterday claiming that the flights were “secret”.
This story first appeared – wait for it – eight years ago.
On March 27, 2006 the Herald reports:
Dangerous prisoners are being flown around the country on commercial flights, it was reported today.
Â Any prisoner, including maximum-security inmates, could be transferred on commercial flights.
And the incredible line: Â Â
Â TheÂ Dominion PostÂ reported today that the transfers were taking place as the Corrections Department struggled to cope with a record number of inmates.
Does this mean the DomPost ran a similar story eight years ago – but all of a sudden presented it as news on Friday?
It won’t surprise anyone either to find out that this was debated in parliament at the time and is recorded in Hansard.
Simon Power: How can the Minister continue to have confidence in his department when in the last 7 months it has spent almost three times as much per head on transferring prisoners as it did in the previous yearâmuch of it on commercial airlinesâwhich at the rate of $100,000 a month will lead to a blowout of approximately $1.2 million by the end of the financial year?
Hon DAMIEN OâCONNOR: I acknowledge that there has been pressure on the prison system. We have a very large number of inmates, and from time to time we are required to transfer prisoners around the country to suitable prisons. I reassure the public that at no time has anyone been at risk. The record speaks for itself, and I can reassure the House that the prisoners do not get Airpoints.
Simon Power: Does the Minister agree with the claim on National Radio by Beven Hanlon of the Corrections Association that the Ministerâs department is loading prisoners into vans and other transport facilities and moving them around the country because: âWhile theyâre being transported theyâre on nobodyâs muster, so theyâre not actually showing on a muster for a prison, so the prison itself wasnât over muster until the van got in.â; if not, why not?
Hon DAMIEN OâCONNOR: No, I do not. I assume that what that member is quoting is referring to one incident at Mount Eden Prison about 6 months ago. We have since that time addressed that problem. I do not accept the claims made by Beven Hanlon or by the member opposite.
Again Beven Hanlon is front and centre speaking to media about prisoner transfers using airlines, something he claimed to the Dom Post was the first he ever heard of with the recent revelations.
We can now safely assume that Beven Hanlon is a pathological liar.
Serious questions need to be asked. Something is rotten in this whole affair. If I was the editor of the DomPost I’d be seriously annoyed with my journalists right about now…that they have basically taken the word of a proven liar and manufactured a story…that is at least 8 years old.