December 7, 2021
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Not a dime more for podcasts, poetry and picture books in the name of ‘Covid recovery’

By on September 20, 2021 0
As New Zealand faced the full brunt of a global pandemic, the government spent $ 26,000 to commission a novel about the collapse of democracy from an alpaca herders association.

As people lost their jobs in droves, nearly $ 50,000 was donated to the Comedy Trust to look at changes to better support a more diverse and sustainable comedy industry.

I am not making this up.
Since the start of the pandemic, the government has spent $ 57 billion on New Zealand’s economic recovery.
Much of that money was well spent – the wage subsidy program prevented what would likely have been an economic collapse.
But among the large and well-targeted expenses is an assortment of abject waste.
Billions and billions of dollars have been spent on projects that do not come close to a semblance of reasonable spending, let alone reaching the Covid Recovery threshold.
Take the $ 18,000 to write poetry that “explores indigeneity and love in a time of climate change,” for example.
It’s easy to aim for funding for Creative NZ and dig holes in what the government has decided to fund through its $ 55 million fund for “public service journalism.”
And yes, while $ 21,800 for writing music that forms a suburban maze song cycle is a relatively small amount given the gigantic government budget, other bigger projects are harder to ignore.
Some $ 26.7 million has been spent on cameras on fishing boats, in the name of Covid recovery.
There was also $ 200 million for the construction of a new building at the University of Auckland.
And a whopping $ 1.22 billion has been spent on the Jobs for Nature program – as a small prospect, that’s enough to buy roughly 1,000 homes in Auckland.
Are they important projects? May be. Should they have been the government’s priority in these unprecedented times? Absolutely not.
The motto of the policy is the opportunity cost – which project ran out of funding because another got the go-ahead from the hive.
In the case of the Covid-19 Recovery Fund, every penny spent on ordering podcasts, picture books and poetry is money that is not spent on New Zealand’s healthcare system.
Meanwhile, this same system is being pushed to its limits.
Senior government adviser on Covid-19 Sir David Skegg put it better in a recent warning to MPs.
“[The health care system] is under a lot of stress right now, even without any significant issues related to the pandemic.
“We all have to accept that we need to invest more in our health care system. “
If the government decides to abandon its Covid-19 elimination strategy, the pressure on New Zealand hospitals already under strain will only worsen.
But by this point, it will have been too late – the Covid fund has already been largely looted.
At the bottom of a press release from Grant Robertson on New Zealand’s “strong economic momentum”, there was a fairly important note.
The Cabinet has decided to allocate an additional $ 7 billion to the Covid-19 Stimulus Fund.
When added to the $ 3 billion that is left in this fund, ministers have an additional $ 10 billion to spend.
While this is a sixth the size of the global Covid fund, it is not an insignificant amount of money.
It needs to be spent properly, with a focus on New Zealand’s healthcare system.
That’s more hospital beds – no funding for the instrumental arrangement of 10 children’s songs, based on ideas given by the children.
No more nurses – don’t pay for seven large fiberglass domes to exhibit as exoplanets using satellite imagery.

More money for New Zealand hospitals – no funding for obscure and unnecessary projects in the name of “Covid Recovery”.


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