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Bike NZ should front up

Today's Sunday Star Times reports the despite taxpayers' forking out over $70,000 for a review into Bike NZ's performance, the organisation is refusing to allow the public access to the report which would give insights into the value for money taxpayers are receiving from the millions pumped in to subsidise the sport.

Sport New Zealand is trying to stop information being released on the state of the government's second-biggest Olympic investment and the findings of a review into Bike NZ's capabilities.

Taxpayers will foot a bill of $70,500 after Sport NZ commissioned a review of Bike New Zealand - who received $18.3 million in public funding for its last Olympics campaign -- and which looked at the national sport organisation's financial state including the loss of its major sponsor, its relocation to Cambridge and high-performance planning in the wake of the sudden departure of successful national sprint coach Justin Grace and chief executive Kieran Turner.

Under the Official Information Act, Fairfax Media has requested details of the review. Sport NZ confirmed it had spent $70,500 on the review which was "initiated by BikeNZ" and "conducted by Martin Jenkins", a domestic consultancy firm owned by former Sport NZ boss Nick Hill.

The story goes on to say:

Last year the taxpayer-funded organisation avoided "a relatively large" financial deficit only by "capitalising" $200,000 spent on redeveloping a website (moving a $200,000 expense into an asset instead) and the organisation is still trying to replace the loss of its prime commercial sponsor which left two years ago.

If a sporting organisation throws $200,000 of taxpayer's money at a website, we think the performance review is probably necessary and its release in the public interest. We'll be writing to the Ombudsman to support Fairfax's complaint.

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Nearly $3m for NZTA to treat drivers like children

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the New Zealand Transport Authority's 'Drive Social' campaign cost taxpayers $1,492,395 on advertising, $985,019 on communications and advertising consultancy fees and $301,872 in other related costs.  This website alone cost $186,142.

The 'Drive Social' campaign was organised by NZTA to educate road-users that they “share the road with other drivers” and instructs them to “be considerate” (we're not making this up!).

We think that the funds for these sort of self-evident campaigns would be better spent on improving roads or preventing drink driving.  The Taxpayers’ Union asked the NZTA to provide cost-benefit analysis of the campaign. Instead, it could only provide us the costs to the taxpayer and ‘media motoring’ reports.

We can all support advertising efforts to reduce the road toll, but here is an agency spending nearly three million dollars to tell drivers that there are other drivers on the road.  It’s bureaucrats spending our money to treat us like like children.

Complete with a condescending tone and nursery rhyme-like music the ‘Drive Social’ website would insult the intelligence of most drivers.  Judge for yourself at

Here is an example of one of the campaign billboards:

Drive social billboard

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Taxi chits probably cheaper than visiting Marlborough Council website

Analysis by the Taxpayers’ Union suggests that Marlborough District ratepayers have been duped into paying for an expensive website that is only matched by New Zealand’s largest cities.

Since July 2011, the Marlborough District Council has paid $410,550 for website design maintenance and development costs.  In comparison Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.

“The only council that spent more on web design than Marlborough was Auckland Council” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union. 

“Even if we assume that half of Marlborough’s residents have actually visited the site, it would probably have been cheaper for the Council to pay for a taxi for them to visit the office.  It is potentially a huge waste of ratepayer money.”

Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year spent almost one hundred thousand dollars less than Marlborough.

For the full analysis click here.

Spending on website design maintenance and development costs since July 2011 (click here for PDF of image)