Revealed: Taxpayer-funded ‘wellbeing’ goodie bags during Level 4 lockdown
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the NZ Super Fund spent over $15,000 on “COVID-19 well-being parcels” from designer supermarket Farro Fresh for the Fund’s highly-paid staff over lockdown.
Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “At a time when global markets were plummeting, and the fund’s investment portfolio was dwindling, the leadership at NZSF were focused on buying goodie bags for their well-remunerated staff.”
According to NZSF, the parcels included ‘sundry goods’ such as coffee and hot cross buns. Assuming every full-time staff member received a goodie bag, the average parcel cost about $106.
“The CEO of NZSF is paid around a million dollars per year. Forty-five staff are paid more than $300,000. Pretty much everyone else is paid more than $100,000 – 121 out of 135 full-time staff. These people do not need home-delivered hot-cross buns funded by taxpayers who are going without during COVID-19 lockdown.”
“The pandemic has once again highlighted the mismatch between the public and private sectors during an economic crisis. The unprecedented economic fallout of COVID-19 left many in the private sector reeling. Businesses unable to trade during the Level 4 lockdown were left scrambling to make up the losses on their balance sheets, with closures and lay-offs common.”
“In stark contrast, staff at NZSF enjoyed complete job security and hot cross buns while the taxpayers who fund their salaries were cutting back.”
The Taxpayers’ Union requested the credit card statements of the NZSF from the 1st of March 2020 – 31 May 2020 under the Official Information Act. We found:
• $9,782.00 spent on Farro Covid-19 wellbeing parcels on 2 April
• $5,174.00 spent on Farro Covid-19 wellbeing parcels on 4 May
• $89.50 spent on an individual Covid-19 wellbeing parcel from Baskits on 4 April
• $88.58 spent on an individual Covid-19 wellbeing parcel from Baskits on 3 May
Other statements of interest included:
• Inspired Accountants team building trip for corporate strategy team for $1359.90 paid for on 6 May – during Level 3 lockdown.
• A canoe hire for $794.00 on 9 March.
• Hand sanitiser for $568.80 on 6 March.
• Renewal of a practicing certificate with the NZ Psychologists Board for $550.85 on 6 March.
• A 10-year anniversary gift for a staff member for $515 on 24 April.
• Lunch at White & Wongs for $156 on 23 March – the day it was announced New Zealand would enter Level 4 lockdown.
• “Motivation morning tea” before working from home for the investments team, for $107.61 on 23 March.
• Meals from Farro for a staff member “having difficult time during lockdown” for $94.97 on 2 April.
Letter of response from NZSF
Appendix A: GNZS Credit Card Statements 1 March - 30 May 2020
Appendix C: Staff reimbursements paid during 1 March - 30 May 2020
Appendix B: Staff reimbursements not captured by Appendix A & C
Explanation from NZSF regarding the Farro expenditure
NZSF annual report showing remuneration levels (page 205)