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Taxpayers’ Union launch report at Parliament with inaugural "Jonesie Waste Awards"

Jordan, Tabitha, and Porky

Today at Parliament the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union presented the inaugural Jonesie Waste Awards, recognising the best of the worst in government waste revealed in the last 12 months.

The full details of the 2018 Jonesies are available as a report, which was launched at the awards ceremony (see below).

The Jonesies celebrate the best of the worst of government waste, greed and graft, foolishness and flagrancy, at the local and central government levels.

The sheer scale of troughing is not the only criteria for a Jonesie nomination – some smaller extravagances have earned nominations thanks to their absolute absurdity or how they encapsulate a corrosive culture of frivolous waste.

While we’ve hosted this ceremony with our tongues firmly in cheek, there is a serious point. These examples of waste make a lie of the claim that governments deserve more and more of your taxpayer money.

This is envisaged as the first event of an annual tradition. We suggest that in future, any politician or bureaucrat pondering ways to fritter away taxpayer money ought to consider whether they might end up with a Jonesie on their desk.

The awards were inspired by the Canadian ‘Teddies’, which have been hosted at the Federal Parliament in Ottawa for 19 years.

Local Government Nominees:

  • Hastings District Council spent $116,371 on catering in 2017 – more than $50,000 of which was for elected members.
  • Auckland Council spent $91,742 on a Hunua Ranges goat cull in 2016/17 that killed zero goats.
  • Christchurch City Council spent $1.25 million on a seven-metre touch screen for their new library, information that it refused to release even after intervention from the Ombudsman.
  • Auckland Council spent $260,000 on a 2.4-metrewide mirror, hung between buildings in the centre city – only to have it crack open a week after its unveiling.
  • Auckland Transport spent $4 million on a Grey Lynn cycleway, but now must spend $23-35 million fixing it, despite minimal use.

Winner: Auckland Council’s vegan-approved goat hunt.

Central Government Nominees:

  • Callaghan Innovation spent $1,141,230 on ‘entertainment’ and gifts in the four years to 2017 – including boozy dinners, drag queens, and even pedometers for staff.
  • The New Zealand Film Commission paid American producers of the children’s TV show “Power Rangers” $1.6 million to include references to New Zealand in its script, such as a plot involving a pavlova.
  • Inland Revenue paid $40,000 to The Spinoff to publish a series of articles on “Tax Heroes”, promoting the tax system and tax compliance to the point of stating “Tax is love”.
  • The Provincial Growth Fund saw Gisborne’s ‘Chardonnay Express’, a locomotive wine tour, receive a share of $60,000 given to three tourism businesses.
  • The Ministry of Social Development spent $150,000 developing a video game to teach people how to run a business.

Winner: The Film Commission’s ‘Power Rangers pavlova’.

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner:

  • Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development, Infrastructure, and Forestry, receives this award in recognition of the scale of pork-barrelling achieved via his $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund – of which so far only 10 per cent has been allocated.


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