Music has always been a tool of free expression. Particularly from the 1960s onwards, artists began politicising their messages through music, voicing their opinions about war, famine and other hardships. The Beatles, Bob Geldof, The Exploited and Pussy Riot music has not just been a tool of expression, but a call to action.
Yesterday saw the release of a track by New Zealand hip-hop act @peace, grimly titled “Kill the PM”.
“An Auckland hip-hop crew slammed for releasing a song with lyrics that apparently include a threat to kill Prime Minister John Key are urging young people to enrol to vote.
Kill The PM, by @peace, depicts a golfing, luxury car-driving Key, and says he should die - "ain't doin' nothin' so I'm gonna kill the prime minister".
It continues: "I been tryin' to get a job but they got none/so I instead I got a sawnoff shotgun/and 'pop'."”
It soon came to our attention that @peace had been in receipt of taxpayer-funded grants from NZ On Air for previous tracks.
According to the NZ On Air website, the group has received $32,000 since late 2011. $6,000 of which was received to make a music video for one of their songs last month.
So far NZ On Air has refused to denounce @peace for their hateful track, nor have they pledged to refuse the group taxpayer-funded grants in the future.
We have written to NZ On Air to outline our concerns and request assurance from the Chief Executive that no further taxpayer-funded grants will be made to any group espousing hate-speech.
Porky loves identifying troughing MPs and bureaucrats. The crème de la crème, he surprises with an awards ceremony. After all, when you’ve turned troughing on the taxpayer into an art, it would be rude to get no recognition!
This morning Porky issues his first award having read the Dominion Post's coverage of Pauline Winter, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and her $30,000 expense bill , including weekend trips for her and an assistant to fly to Auckland most weekends.
Taxpayers are stumping up for Pacific Island Affairs boss Pauline Winter to travel between Wellington and Auckland most weekends.
Winter has a home in Westmere, but her $240,000-a-year job is based in the capital.
Her expense records show that over the last year she flew between the two cities almost every weekend. Between July 2013 and 2014, her expenditure totalled more than $30,000, most of which went on airfares, taxis and rental car hire in Wellington and Auckland.
Taxpayers fork out $270,000 per year for this Chief Executive and she is refusing to take calls from the media. The Taxpayers' Union called on Ms Winter to front up, or resign.
This afternoon Porky visited the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, hoping to present Ms Winter with a “Troughing Award” to acknowledge her endeavours with taxpayers’ money.
Unfortunately Ms Winter's didn’t front. Porky was devastated. Executive Director Jordan Williams recounts:
"For Ms Winter's gallant efforts to rip off New Zealand taxpayers with publicly funded weekend trips to the exotic capital of the South Pacific known as Auckland, Porky and I visited the Ministry’s offices to present her with the first of our 'Troughing Awards’."
“Ms Winters was in the office but refused to front-up or speak to media."
"Despite Ms Winter's expenses being more than $30,000 she chose to hide in her office and send a spin doctor to accept the award on her behalf."
“Ms Winter's refusal to justify her expense bill is the epitome of arrogance. She should front up, justify her extravagance on the taxpayer purse, or resign.”
Porky’s quest will continue - in fact you can expect to see him out and about where ever wasteful bureaucrats, politicians and taxpayer funded groups are wasting hard earned tax dollars.
The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning the merits and costs of the “No car? No problem! Getting around your community without a car” brochure, released by the Office for Senior Citizens. The brochure’s purpose is to explain to senior citizens transport options when they can no longer drive.
The primary purpose of the taxpayer funded brochure is to make suggestions such as:
It has cost taxpayers over $37,000 to produce the brochures since 2005 (excluding the cost of staff time).
Instead of addressing pressing issues such as fraudsters preying on our seniors and elder-abuse, the Government is throwing money away at brochures that parrot what is surely common sense. When the brochure launched, the Minister for Senior Citizens even put out a press release to welcome it!
We think that publishing a brochure explaining that people can walk places is a waste of taxpayers’ money and public servants’ time. Take a read and tell us what you think via our Facebook page.
We know that politicians like to be seen to be doing something, but surely New Zealanders don’t need to be told by the Government that taking a bus is an option, when you can no longer drive.
To view the responses to our information requests lodged with the Minister and Office for Senior citizens, click "continue reading".
A few months ago a Ministry of Health official contacted us regarding the use of taxi charge cards within the Ministry, and suggested we look at the number of 'micro-trips' taken by managers, often between the Ministry's Wellington offices and Parliament.
Details of the Ministry's taxi charges show its Wellington staff are making more than 1,000 taxi trips a year costing less than $10.
In the 2012/2013 financial year, Ministry staff based in Wellington charged taxpayers for 8,645 taxi trips with 1,076 of those for journeys costing less than $10.
It is sadly ironic that while the Ministry of Health spends taxpayer money to promote active living, officials are getting taxis a few hundred metres down the road.
A taxi trip for the sake of a five minute walk is simply not justifiable when it’s someone else's money. The documents show that these short trips make up more than ten percent of all taxi charges by Wellington based staff.
Taxpayers will not be impressed that Wellington health bureaucrats are the in habit of getting them to pay for micro-trips when it is probably faster to walk.
Click 'continue reading' to view the document.
Political parties often engage musicians to drum up support during the election season. It’s the time of year when party hacks attempt to swell their numbers by using musicians as Trojan Horses for their political ideals. We all remember The Feelers’ song used in National Party adverts last election.
But what happens when taxpayer funds are propping up these artists?
The Party, Party put on by the Internet Party features numerous bands that have recently received significant grants of taxpayers’ money courtesy of NZ On Air.
Sons of Zion, State of Mind and PNC all received subsidies from NZ On Air as recently as late last year. The sums involved are not insignificant. A quick glance at the list of subsidies suggests that in the past few years these acts have received well over $200,000 of taxpayer funds.
Laughton Kora of L.A.B was also part of a group that received $245,000 NZ On Air funding to visit prisons for a Maori TV programme.
While we can all appreciate that bands are comprised of individuals with their own political beliefs, it seems wrong for bands to be enabled to support a political cause by being propped up by the taxpayer.
That’s right – the Auckland Council’s CEO has a secretary that is advertising for a secretary.
We have all heard about stories of politicians looking to empire build courtesy of the taxpayers’ pocket, but this really takes the cake.
No wonder Auckland Council now has more bureaucrats on living off ratepayers than all of the councils it replaced combined.
If that’s the role of the secretary’s secretary, what’s left for the secretary to do?
At a time when the Council needs to find savings of $860 per ratepayer, empire building in Council offices should not be tolerated.
With nearly 6,000 bureaucrats on the pay-roll, 811 of which are earning over $100,000 a year, Len Brown and his CEO ought to be out trimming the fat rather than increasing the burden on ratepayers even further.
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction - the Devonport Flagstaff reports:
A $100,000 budget has been set aside for a space-dividing, silk curtain in Devonport’s new library.
But the public art piece will be mostly invisible during the day.
Creator of the curtain, Judy Millar, was selected from 85 artists to design an object ofpublic art for the new building and bring a unique energy to its interior.
Auckland Council project manager David Thomas said the curtain will be three metres high and made out ofdouble-sided silk. It comes with its own dry-cleaning schedule and a ten-year maintenance or replacement budget 0f$30,000. “We expect that people will want to touch it,” Thomas says. A large part of the project’s total $100,000 budget is going into the tracking, railing and security system to hang the curtain, as well as the printing and sewing ofthe piece, he said.
The curtain will be visible from the street after business hours, when it will be used to divide off and secure the facility’s main area from the community room that remains open to the public.During library opening hours the curtain will be stored next to the new fireplace, where it will also be shaded from being bleached by the sun, Thomas says. It will also need to be treated with non-flammable chemicals, he says. Read more.
This is an inexcusable waste of ratepayer money. Does Auckland Council have no respect for those who pay its bills?
The culture of big spending in Auckland Council needs to stop. As our Ratepayers' Report shows Auckland already has eye watering debt, the highest in New Zealand on a per ratepayer basis, even before the big infrastructure projects have started.