Simon Bridges lashes out at 'slushie fund' for prisons

Simon Bridges lashes out at 'slushie fund' for prisons
Corrections say prisoners and staff were exposed to uncomfortably hot conditions. Photo credit: Getty/Newshub

National Party leader Simon Bridges has slammed the Ministry of Corrections for spending over $1 million on slushie machines.

Corrections bought 193 ice slushie machines for their staff with the intention of improving "their health and wellbeing during the summer months", documents released to the party under the Official Information Act show.

Corrections say prisoners and staff were exposed to uncomfortably hot conditions during the summer of 2017/18 that could have led to unrest within their facilities.

That year, Corrections responded by providing staff extra breaks, access to cold water, fans and flannels while also allowing prisoners more cold showers and time outside of their cells.

Despite the fact no significant unrest occurred that summer, further measures were deemed necessary the next year.

"In preparation for the 2018/19 summer and the potential for a repeat of the previous summer's conditions, we provided crushed ice mixture for staff to consume when required to reduce core body temperatures in excessive heat conditions, while minimising the risk of sodium depletion from dehydration," the statement from Corrections read.

Bridges says these purchases were a complete waste of time and taxpayer money.

"They managed the year before well enough without these slushie machines," he told Newshub.

"It's irresponsible and it's wasteful from Kelvin Davis and the Government."

Neil Beales, the chief custodial officer for Corrections, told Newshub the machines are a well-researched investment and will be "available for use for many summers to come".

However, Bridges says he hopes this kind of purchase isn't a sign of things to come.

"What really concerns me is that it's going to be slushie funds everywhere… not just in corrections but across the public service."

The Ministry of Corrections has faced criticism on multiple fronts this year, including alleged harassment of staff and their policy of charging inmates to rent TVs.