27 Aug 2009

Prison union boss criticised over expense claims

8:20 pm on 27 August 2009

Corrections Minister Judith Collins has launched a stinging attack against the president of a prison officers' union over his expense claims.

The minister says the information came to light in an Official Information Act request from the Labour Party.

Ms Collins says Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon received $127,000 of taxpayer money from her department to subsidise wages and expenses in one year.

She says the money went towards Mr Hanlon's travel and accommodation expenses and to subsidise his salary while he was conducting union business for prison guards.

Ms Collins accused Mr Hanlon of living a "jet-set lifestyle" and has ordered a review to determine whether his expense claims are justified.

She says it is unacceptable he has received so much taxpayer money, given the union receives membership fees and Mr Hanlon is paid to be a fulltime Corrections officer.

Labour Party law and order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove on Thursday questioned the timing of the minister's comments.

Mr Cosgrove called them a tacky pre-emptive strike to possible court action by prison guards who are unhappy with the Government's plans to increase double-bunking in jails.

Mr Hanlon could not be contacted for comment on Thursday.