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Source: Taxpayers Union

Government waste celebrated at 2020 Jonesie Awards
EMBARGOED FOR 11:30AM TODAY
The third annual Jonesie Awards were hosted at Parliament today, celebrating the best of the worst of Government waste.
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Every year, we host a glamourous Oscars-style award ceremony to highlight and lament the most absurd examples of wasted taxpayer money to emerge in the last 12 months.”
“Behind the tuxedos and gilded statuettes is a serious message: politicians and bureaucrats in both local and central government happily fritter away your hard-earned money on bizarre pet projects and ill-planned schemes without fear of consequence.”
“The Jonesies serve as a shot across the bow for anyone in charge of a government chequebook: rein in the waste, or see your name up in lights at the next Jonesie Awards.”
Local government nominees
Dunedin City Council: Responding to COVID-19 with dots
Dunedin City Council responded to COVID-19 by spending $40,000 on red and blue dots for its main street. The dots were variously justified as a tool to assist social distancing, a way to attract people to the city, and as a “traffic calming” device. The Council also spent $145,000 on a new tourism slogan: “Dunedin, a pretty good plan D”.
Napier City Council: Golden handshakes for a failed CEO
After a series of headline-grabbing failures, Napier City Council gave its CEO Wayne Jack a reported $1 million payout to leave before his contract expired. Mr Jack’s final official act was to throw himself a $4,000 farewell tea party. The Mayor complained that she was not invited.
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster for Extraordinary Leadership
When nine-term councillor Andy Foster was unexpectedly elected Mayor last year, he promptly enrolled himself in a $30,000 leadership course at Arrowtown’s Millbrook estate. However, he has refused to say what, if anything, he learned – and has since spent more money on a team facilitator to smooth over problems on his Council.
Auckland Council: Temporary cycleways for COVID-19
Auckland Council installed 17 kilometres of temporary cycleway in response to COVID-19. Like Dunedin’s dots, the initiative was intended to assist social distancing. All works had to be reversed in a matter of weeks. The total cost is estimated to be more than a million dollars.
Rotorua Lakes District Council: $743,000 for the Hemo Gorge sculpture
Rotorua’s 12-metre, 3D printed Hemo Gorge sculpture was initially planned to open in 2017 at a cost of $500,000. Three years later, it is still under construction, and costs have blown out to at least $743,000.
WINNER: To be revealed at today’s Jonesie Awards, 11am, Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament.
Central government nominees
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Responding to COVID-19 with horse tracks
The Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Party Leader led the Government’s COVID-19 response by announcing a $72 million funding package for the racing industry. This package included two synthetic horse tracks. No-one has been able to establish how horse tracks relate to coronavirus.
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard: $572,000 for a Parliamentary slide
As part of his initiative to make Parliament more “family-friendly”, the Speaker of the House commissioned the construction of a playground on Parliament’s lawn. The playground, which essentially consists of a slide and some stepping stones, was budgeted at $400,000, but ultimately cost $572,000.
Hon Chris Hipkins: $87 million for unwanted internet modems
An $87 million package to give students the means to study remotely during COVID-19 lockdown resulted in thousands of unwanted modems being sent to wealthy schools. Epsom’s Auckland Grammar alone received 137 unwanted modems, and even Mike Hosking’s child was a beneficiary of the policy.
Hon Shane Jones: Three train trips for $6.2 million
The Regional Economic Development Minister re-opened the Wairoa-Napier rail line last year, predicting that up to six train services would run per week. As of last month, only three services had run in total: a cost of more than $2 million per train trip.
Hon Kelvin Davis: $10 million for AJ Hackett Bungy
In response to a tourism downturn due to COVID-19, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis singled out one of Queenstown’s most successful businesses – AJ Hackett Bungy – for a taxpayer handout. AJ Hackett received a $5.1 million grant, plus a potential $5.1 million loan, all on top of its substantial payout received under the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.
WINNER: To be revealed at today’s Jonesie Awards, 11am, Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament.
Lifetime Achievement Award
WINNER: To be revealed at today’s Jonesie Awards, 11am, Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament.

MIL OSI