Get back in your box, Judith

Lloyd’s List’s Last Word opines:

DON’T you get heartily sick of namby-pamby, bleeding-heart liberals and their stick-in-the-mud notion that containers are primarily a means of shifting cargo between world ports, rather than keeping criminals under lock and key?

Last Word understands that in New Zealand, Judith Collins — a politician who, we understand, rejoices in the title of corrections minister, which probably isn’t as saucy as it sounds — is planning to bang up cons in Rimutaka Prison in surplus boxes.

A new unit will provide beds for 60 inmates at a cost of NZ$63,000 ($43,000), which is substantially less than conventional prison accommodation.

Ms Collins is looking to cut costs further in future and is considering proposals to make prisoners do the conversion work themselves.

But hand-wringing do-gooders such as Peter Williams, president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, has blasted the scheme as bringing about “tin shanties and slum prisons”.

He has even called for them to be air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter. What does he think prison is — a holiday camp?

The move has also been slammed by Maritime Union of New Zealand general secretary Trevor Hanson, who says: “New Zealanders needs secure jobs, not jail cells.”

We at Lloyd’s List can have no truck with such social worker sentiment. Given that containers are regarded as the last word in luxury by stowaways, they are more than good enough for Kiwi crims, especially if container lessors can flog worn-out units to the New Zealand government at suitably inflated prices.

Judith Collins is off to Gdansk, one of Europe’s largest ports, next week, ostensibly in her capacity as Veterans’ Affairs Minister to attend commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.

But given that Collins is also Corrections Minister, this seems too good an opportunity for her to pass by.

What’s the bet she will also be hanging around Gdansk’s port looking for a cheap deal on some of these: