Further to our questions about whether or not DoC is a supporter of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (the scientific expedition that got stuck in the ice recently), yesterday we received another letter from DoC confirming that DoC has not supported the AAE. It states that DoC has now asked the AAE for its logo to be removed from the expedition's website.
We look forward to receiving responses from the other New Zealand 'supporters', Landcare Research and the University of Waikato.
Click "continue reading" for the correspondence.
Last week we released material showing that millions of dollars is being wasted in a CTU/Business NZ deal for health and safety training that, according to ACC's experts, for every dollar spent 84 cents is wasted. As you'll recall, the Minister of ACC, Judith Collins, labelled the scheme a 'sham' and a 'rort'. It was clear that millions intended to improve workplace health and safety was being used for programmes that did little, if anything, except 'raise awareness'.
We are pleased to report that, despite the initial doubt, the Taxpayers' Union has now confirmed that ACC is cutting the taxpayer funding of the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ for this dodgy training program. We understand that the final contracts revealed last week dramatically reduce the funding Business NZ and the CTU receive.
This is a big win for levy payers - who will no longer have the burden of funding a deal that achieves little, if anything. For workers this is a win - the money can now be redirected to measures that actually reduces accidents. It's also a win for Business NZ and CTU members - no longer are the two organisations conflicted in their ACC advocacy for members.
ACC has now publicly stated that the this training programme will end this year. That, combined with the CTU and Business NZ's new contracts is a policy victory.
Readers will be aware that Australia is facing huge deficits, despite the promise of the previous Government to get into surplus.
As a response to this, the Centre for Independent Studies has proposed some fiscal rules to bind future Governments. They are:
Fiscal rules are not new for Australia. The Labor Hawke/Keating Government set rules being:
Anyway what I like most of all is their mechanism to encourage Governments to keep to the fiscal limits or rules. They propose:
This would involve cutting federal politicians’ overall remuneration by 1% for every percentage point breach of each fiscal rule for the duration of the breach.
Now that appeals!
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.
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.
Yesterday Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced research and development grants that are set to cost taxpayers $140million over three years. The Herald reports:
Note that one of recipients of the grants is high profile technology firm Rakon, which share price has been in free-fall since 2007 and just announced to the NZX that it is closing its UK plant.
This is precisely why the government shouldn’t be trying to pick winners with taxpayer cash.
In 2007 Rakon’s share price reached $5.70. Today it is trading at less than 4 per cent of that, at around 19cents. In addition, the Shareholders Association, and others, have been vocal in criticising the governance of the company. See for example the NBR back in August "NZ Shareholders Association to vote against reelection of Rakon chair, director" and stuff.co.nz "Rakon profit warning 'disturbing'":
"The Rakon shareholders have sent a powerful message to the board that they are displeased with the performance of the company and are looking for either an improvement in performance or a change in the composition of the board,"
Later in August, this Businessdesk update "NZ Shareholders Association to agitate at Rakon AGM" said:
The New Zealand Shareholders Association will next month vote against the reappointment of Rakon chairman Bryan Mogridge and director Darren Robinson, citing erosion of shareholder wealth and the desire to improve company governance.
The Shareholders Association will use its proxies to vote against the reappointment of Mogridge at the Sept. 6 meeting in Auckland after shares in the maker of crystal oscillators lost half their value the past year, making it one the worst performers on the stock exchange.
If the government is going to give out taxpayer money, at least give it to companies that are succeeding, not failing.
This is a grant to a company that is shrinking rather than growing New Zealand exports.
Looks to us like a big win for Rakon shareholders, but not so much for the taxpayer...
Yesterday it looked like the Taxpayers' Union struck up it's first win, with ACC announcing that it would scrap the health and safety training scheme which has cost levy holders $19million to date, with 84 cents per dollar being wasted (even with optimistic assumptions).
This morning we read the small print...
The contracts released to the Taxpayers' Union on 5 December note that the ending date is 31 December 2013.
Despite the ACC telling media yesterday that it decided 'late last year' to can the programme, we learned this morning that the contracts were renewed in December. The end date is now 31 December 2014.
It appears that ACC only changed its tune since the Taxpayers' Union publicly exposed the rort.
Remember, it’s not the Taxpayers’ Union who labelled the training scheme a waste of money, it’s ACC’s own experts. Telling the public that they will scrap the scheme but waiting for the new contracts to expire is not good enough. They conveniently failed to mention that the contracts have just been renewed...
The Taxpayers’ Union is also backing the Minister for ACC’s reported comments that Business NZ and the CTU should pay the wasted money back to ACC. With such clear evidence that the money did little if anything to improve workplace safety, we think Business NZ and the CTU are morally obliged to stop wasting this money and compensate ACC levy payers.
UPDATE: We've been told that the rolled over contract is 'transitional' and reduces the amounts paid to the CTU and Business NZ. We are trying to confirm this with ACC and have requested the documentation.
Tonight's TV news coverage of the corporate and union welfare exposed earlier today.