Creative NZ sending your money overseas
This morning we revealed that in just 12 months Creative NZ paid out grants worth $631,266 to recipients in Germany, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Australia, Poland, South Korea, Fiji, the Netherlands, the Cook Islands, and the United States.
And of the 25 grants, 15 came from a COVID-19 response fund!
Ngahiraka Mason, who resides in the USA, was given $24,000 towards “a reflective, comparative and critical piece of writing”.
Brian Falkner in Australia was given $13,334 towards “writing a new novel set in an all too possible near future”.
Susie Elliot, who is Fijian and resides in Fiji, was given $11,790.99 towards “wage, materials, production costs, travel and accommodation to create and develop a new body of illustrations and video works”.
Luke Thompson, based in the United Kingdom, was awarded $42,000 towards “intensive research and development”.
Creative NZ released this information to us via an official information request which admits that Creative NZ does not require grant recipients to be New Zealand citizens. In fact, recipients included foreign arthouses such as London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which was paid $75,000 to exhibit paintings by New Zealand artist Rita Angus.
It’s galling that while Kiwi families were grappling with the economic effects of the worst pandemic in living memory, Creative NZ sent hundreds of thousands of dollars overseas to high-flying arts luvvies and international art houses.
At least when Creative NZ gave someone $50,000 to make an ‘indigenised hypno-soundscape’, that money was spent in New Zealand. But the cash Creative NZ sends overseas is a total loss for the local economy. We don’t even get back the GST!
Anti-taxpayer propaganda published by RNZ – and (surprise, surprise) they refuse to publish a balancing viewpoint
RNZ, which is funded by taxpayer money, recently published an article written by Victoria University lecturer who argues that the government's money does not belong to taxpayers and the media should stop calling it 'taxpayer money'.
The author even singles out the Taxpayers' Union and accuses us of "breaching the social contract!'
We approached RNZ with a response, but apparently they're not interested in publishing both sides. Regardless, you can read my response here.
Regardless of whether the government’s money is taxed, borrowed, or freshly-minted, every dollar spent on theatre for the homeless or slides on the lawn of Parliament is a dollar that could have instead been spent by the taxpayers and ratepayers who keep this country afloat, on things they actually need and desire. The phrase ‘taxpayer money’ is shorthand for this inescapable trade-off.
Minister must explain ACC payout for illegal overstayer
The Herald reports that ACC sent a taxpayer-funded payout to China for the death of an illegal worker at an Auckland building site.
While New Zealanders will have immense sympathy for the victim’s family, many will also be appalled that an overstayer seemingly has the same rights as New Zealanders who pay tax and levies into the ACC system.
To make things worse, ACC is refusing to confirm how or why it became policy to make payouts for illegal overstayers.
We say the ACC Minister, Carmel Sepuloni, must explain how this became the policy, and if she agrees with it.
Monument to waste is also a health and safety risk!
Remember we said over summer that there'd be even more costs associated with Rotorua's $743,000 bungled Hemo Gorge Statute Monument to Government Waste? Well it turns out the whole thing is at risk of collapse and now a safety fence has been erected by the Rotorua Lakes Council!
When contractors tried to install the monument last September, the pieces literally didn’t fit together. Contractors had to cut out pieces so the inner parts could fit. That cutting revealed the tubing structure has not been built to specifications, with an engineering report saying engineers ‘cannot prove whether the defects observed are isolated or systematic throughout the inner and/or outer [monument] tubes’.
The report concludes that the monument "exceeds design loads by 620 per cent”.
As Jordan told Stuff: This Rotorua ‘monument to government waste’ is truly living up to its name. It’s time the engineers at NZTA stepped in and took over this bungled Council vanity project.
Vaccines should be targeted by need, not race
Facing a serious risk of ongoing lockdowns, we literally cannot afford to derail the COVID-19 vaccination rollout with race-based politics.
But that's what's happening, with Māori reportedly being prioritised for the vaccine.
Vaccination against a pandemic is core government service – taxpayers fund the vaccination programme to build resilience for the wider community, not one particular demographic.
We must not elevate race above the many more relevant factors that determine vulnerability to COVID-19, such as age, pre-existing conditions, and physical exposure to other people. Likewise, if we want to target groups with historically low vaccination rates, we should be precise with our targeting, looking at factors like income level and geographic isolation.
Singling out the entire Māori cohort – 17 percent of the population – as a target group will mean our limited vaccination resources are targeted away from non-Māori individuals with greater need. That’s not just unfair, it’s potentially disastrous for our COVID-19 response.
Dodgy, dodgy stuff happening at Queenstown-Lakes District Council
An extraordinary investigation by Crux has uncovered serious apparent conflicts of interest at Queenstown-Lakes District Council.
In one example, consultants with personal connections to Mayor Jim Boult – including his children's nanny – were paid $150 an hour for 135 days to review one of three council bylaws. And they got the contract without an open tender process.
Our team is looking into the detail of this story, and we've also written to the Auditor-General to investigate.
A tale of two rainbow crossings
When Wellington City Council installed a rainbow crossing (pictured above) in 2018, it cost ratepayers $26,844.
Now, New Plymouth has unveiled its own rainbow crossing (below), so we asked how much was spent.
It turns out New Plymouth District Council got the job done for just $6,954 – a quarter of the price!
Perhaps proximity to the Beehive increases the cost of public works?
Have a great weekend,
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union
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