Taxpayers’ Union Victory: DOC extinguishes wasteful staff junkets to Australia
In mid-2014, the Taxpayers’ Union blew the whistle on the Department of Conservation for spending over $100,000 to send 47 staff overseas to learn about controlled burning of bush – a fire fighting technique that is not even used in New Zealand.
We had obtained under the Official Information Act, documents which showed that the trips were really just junkets for staff to visit Australia.
We highlighted feedback from staff who had said that the group “didn’t really do much fire stuff”, and that it was an excuse to go on an overseas trip. TVNZ and the NZ Herald (among others) picked up the story, and the Department were forced to account for the ‘junket’. Our expose even received a mention in the UK.
Two years on, we have now followed this issue up with DOC – so that they know the Taxpayers’ Union is keeping a watchful eye – and we are happy to confirm that despite DOC defending the trips at the time it has discontinued these deployments. Well done DOC.
This is a perfect example of why our work to expose government waste, and ask questions of those spending taxpayer money, is important. If you know of a government department or local council wasting money, drop us a line so one of our researchers can look into it.