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Business NZ finally responds to allegations of cosy deal

Stuff has just reported:

BusinessNZ rejects training scheme attacks

Business NZ has hit back at ACC Minister Judith Collins over her attacks on an ACC-funded health and safety training programme run by Business NZ, the Council Of Trade Unions and a private provider.

ACC announced this week that the $1.5 million a year programme would be canned at the end of of 2014 because it was not providing value for money.

Collins had joined criticism of the scheme, which has run since 2003, describing it as a cosy arrangement that had the hallmarks of a scam and a rort.

Business NZ today broke its silence on the issue, with a press release quoting its chief executive, Phil O'Reilly.

"For the record, Business NZ utterly rejects mistaken allegations made by lobbyist Jordan Williams since repeated by the ACC minister," O'Reilly said.

"The BusinessNZ family's involvement has been completely ethical at all times, and I am confident that this is also the case with the involvement of the CTU and Impac Services."

The CTU has also strongly rejected the criticisms by Collins and Williams.

O'Reilly said it was "unfortunate that important debate on workplace safety has been undermined by intemperate media comment".

Media reporting of uninformed assumptions by Williams appeared to have led to the minister's comments, O'Reilly said. continue reading...

Business NZ’s reaction ignores the fact that the criticisms we've highlighted are from ACC’s own experts - all the Taxpayers’ Union did was bring them to the public’s attention.  We made all of the material available online and before we went public we checked our facts with people within the industry. We stand by our statements.

Business NZ should focus on rebutting the criticism that it has accepted millions of dollars from ACC that did little, if anything, to improve workplace safety. Rather than getting personal Mr O’Rielly could tell us what exactly is ‘mistaken’.  All we’ve done is highlight ACC’s expert analysis which states that, even with optimistic assumptions, 84 cents per dollar spent was wasted. 

Click here to listen to Judith Collins on Wednesday's RadioNZ Summer Report ( 7' 08'' )

To blame us for the Minister labelling the Business NZ scheme 'cosy' and 'a scam' is flattering, but vastly exaggerates the influence of the Taxpayers’ Union.

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Media coverage of Business NZ/CTU ACC rort

Tonight's TV news coverage of the corporate and union welfare exposed earlier today.

ONE News: $19m wasted on health and safety training with 84c per dollar wasted

Click here or the image below for video on demand.TVNZ screenshot

3 News: ACC dumps workplace training scheme

Click here or the image below for video on demand. 

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Seven Sharp on Transpower's $1.2million cafe/reception

Our Executive Director joined Seven Sharp's Heather du Plessis-Allan to check out taxpayer owned company, Transpowers' new $1.2million cafe on The Terrace, Wellington.  Click the image below for video on demand.

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Waste Watch: Transpower spend $1.2million on a cafe and reception

What's the difference between a 'cafe-style space' and a cafe?

Not a lot, but according to the government-owned monopoly Transpower, a $1.2million 'cafe-style space' is value for money unlike asking staff to visit the dozen cafes within a few hundred metres of its Wellington office building.

In 2012, the taxpayer owned company spent $1.2million refurbishing its reception and building "The Wire" a place where, according to Transpower CEO Patrick Strange, "we can engage and collaborate with each other, and with our guests."

Back in September, a Taxpayer's Union volunteer asked about the new cafe Transpower had built at 96 The Terrace, Wellington. It seems that calling it a "cafe" caused some offence. Transpower said (even bolding the text to emphasis the point):

The space on the ground level of Transpower House is not a café – it is a space for Transpower staff to meet internally and with our key stakeholders. 

We were told that the combined cost of the cafe space and adjacent reception area was $1.2million.

Unfortunately, Transpower would not initially tell us how long its lease for the building had remaining. After some haggling, we learned that the current lease expires in 2014.

Is $1.2million on a cafe and reception value for money?

According to Patrick Strange, yes. It turns out it's coffee that keeps the nations lights on. He told us that it had changed the "whole culture of the organisation" and that the decision to build the cafe was the "best decision" he'd ever made.

Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

Let's call a spade a spade. It is ridiculous for Transpower to justify this amount. The cost works out at around $65,000 per month for the time left on the lease of 96 The Terrace. This is a taxpayer-owned, state monopoly that has thrown money into building an exclusive cafe in the middle of Wellington's CBD. This is while at the same time, it is borrowing more, appealing a Commerce Commission decision with the hope it can charge more.

Click "continue reading" for more information.

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Seven Sharp on the NZTA's crazy 'Drive Social' campaign

Following our waste-watch press release (our blog post is here), Seven Sharp picked up the story (click the picture for video on demand).

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