Photo Of The Day

A migrant worker scavenges for materials in a landfill in the Maldives. Thilafushi is an artificial island created by filling one of the Maldives' shallow lagoons with garbage. More than 330 tons of rubbish was brought to Thilafushi each day.

A migrant worker scavenges for materials in a landfill in the Maldives. Thilafushi is an artificial island created by filling one of the Maldives’ shallow lagoons with garbage. More than 330 tons of rubbish was brought to Thilafushi each day.

Thilafushi – The “Rubbish Island”

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101 ways for councils to save ratepayers money

While most lobby groups just grumble and moan, the Taxpayers’ Union has gone over the head of Local Government New Zealand and put together a report on how the local government sector can save ratepayer money. It’s based largely on the suggestions of the nation’s mayors and highlights efforts by some councils.


The Taxpayers’ Union has today published a new report by Jono Brown that suggest ways local councils can save money and reduce the rates burden on New Zealanders. Rate Saver Report: 101 Ways to Save Money in Local Government is a guide for local authorities on how they can cut waste, save money, reduce bureaucracy and ultimately lower rates. The report adopts many suggestions made by the country’s mayors, and is based on similar reports published in the United Kingdom.


Ray Wallace, Mayor of Lower Hutt, says in a foreword to the report:

“I urge local government people to take these suggestions as a challenge. If you do not like them, come up with some better ones.”

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We already pay for rubbish collection but Len Brown wants to charge you for it again

Rebecca Wright on the Paul Henry Show explains Len Brown’s new plan to scalp ratepayers to pick up rubbish, a service we already pay for in our rates.

From next year, all of Auckland will have to pay for rubbish collection.

One of the reasons for this, says manager of Solid Waste Services Ian Stupple, is that residents are throwing out their rubbish in the wrong types of bins.

Mr Stupple differentiates between types of the bins available and how refuse bins are often the house owner’s last resort for waste.

“There’s the recycle bin, which takes anything from newspaper tins to cardboard, a food-waste bin, in addition to a food waste caddy, and then the bin that goes out to kerbside. Lastly, a refuse bin which is really the bin of last resort.”

The refuse bin is the first resort for many, which is a problem for the powers that be at Auckland Council.

They say too much waste is headed straight for landfill when it could be reduced or recycled.

And this bin will be barcoded or microchipped.

Under the new scheme, Aucklanders will pay for it to be emptied – and charged per lift   Read more »

Good to see NZTA saving so many lives with new “road safety” campaign

One thing that really gets to me is all the government funded, feel good advertising campaigns designed to do nothing other than show the government is spending my money.  This sort of thing was common under Labour, but now it looks like Big Gerry’s been too busy to reign in his Transport Ministry officials.  The Taxpayers’ Union has blogged:

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the New Zealand Transport Authority’s ‘Drive Social’ campaign cost taxpayers $1,492,395 on advertising, $985,019 on communications and advertising consultancy fees and $301,872 in other related costs.  This website alone cost $186,142.

The ‘Drive Social’ campaign was organised by NZTA to educate road-users that they “share the road with other drivers” and instructs them to “be considerate” (we’re not making this up!).

We think that the funds for these sort of self-evident campaigns would be better spent on improving roads or preventing drink driving.  The Taxpayers’ Union asked the NZTA to provide cost-benefit analysis of the campaign. Instead, it could only provide us the costs to the taxpayer and ‘media monitoring’ reports.  Read more »

Auckland Council blowing millions on luxury fit-out for Ivory Tower

Policy Parrot says:

A year after agreeing to acquire the former ASB Tower in Albert Street the Auckland Council is preparing to fit-out the interior ready for staff to move in.

But the process has turned into a bloated exercise of expense and original budgets are ballooning faster than Greek national debt.

Policy Parrot has learned that the budget for the fit-out of the ASB Tower was set at $50 million consisting of $20 million for services and $30 million for actual hard fit-out costs.

Now that is now blowing out substantially because the Council’s own green loony brigade have stepped in to demand that the interior be built to a Green-star rating and that fit-out materials include sustainable environmentally friendly and vastly expensive luxuries such as wood pulp walls, hemp carpets and other hard to source green trinkets.

The word to this Parrot is that the fit-out cost are creeping by 30-40% and could balloon higher. That might imply that it could reach $70m before Christmas. Seventy million dollars! That’s a whopping amount of money!  Read more »

We fund this?

National may cut some spending but there is still plenty of bullshit wasting of tax dollars out there. How could these people possibly think this was prudent spending of the public purse?

I’d love to know what the spend on this was.

A natural therapy clinic at Whanganui Hospital offering massage and traditional Maori healing has been shelved after a doctor linked it to witchcraft and wizardry.

The clinic also offered Christian prayer and energy healing – including reiki and colour therapy – to staff for health and wellbeing.

The hospital agreed to offer the therapies as a three-month trial, but it was stopped early, on September 19, because of the doctor’s comments.

“After we decided to have the pilot for staff, there was some negative publicity generated by a couple of our board members,” chief executive Julie Patterson said. “I wasn’t overly concerned about it.

“Some weeks later, one of the senior doctors made a comment publicly in the local newspaper – a positive comment, not a negative comment – about the trial, but linked it with witchcraft and wizardry.”


Two new Offices for ATEED?

ᔄ the tipline

It looks like ATEED is getting into a bit of empire building…they have called for tenders for office fitouts for TWO offices…one in Mairangi Bay (pdf 498k) and one in East Tamaki (pdf 496k).

Why does ATEED need two new offices to be fitted out?

It looks like a couple of million bucks is being lined up to be dropped into fitting out these offices.


Council branding costing ratepayers millions

The CCO Strategy Review Committee, which Len Brown chairs, resolved to direct a rebranding exercise for all Auckland Council CCOs.

Part of this appears to be a requirement for all CCOs to align with the Council’s pohutukawa brand.  Documents released to this blog show that the cost of this exercise for Watercare alone is in the region of $2 million. One can only wonder how much other CCOs are shelling out on re-branding as ordered by Len Brown.

Here is a standalone company responsible for delivering potable water and processing shit. And instead of leaving it to do its job, Auckland Council, under direction from Len Brown, is continuing to apply a mothership approach to operational matters such as corporate branding and as a consequence burdening these organisations with considerable additional uncalled for costs.

Will Aucklanders feel better when they turn on the tap or flush the toilet knowing that the Mayor is demanding that a pohutukawa brand logo will cost Watercare alone in the region of $2m. Is this part of the mayoral plan to make Auckland the world’s most liveable city?”

Worse though, is it appears that the changed has been forced upon Watercare even after they sought some public relations advice from Senate Communications also released to this blog. That advice states:

Hmmm…”lightening rod for wider ratepayer dissatisfaction“….you bet it will.

Rubbish Video

The headline says it all: “Robyn Malcolm stars in Rubbish Video“.

Anything Robyn Malcolm does is rubbish, so it is unsurprising that a video she stars in is rubbish as well.

Wayne Thompson is a lefty writer at the Herald and he probably thinks he was doing Robyn Malcolm a favour when he wrote:

As star of Outrageous Fortune, Robyn Malcolm was Queen of the West but the feisty actor has now become Queen of the Waste.

Challenging Aucklanders to “get our rubbish sorted”, Malcolm presents a short video on the Auckland Council website as the face of its $200,000 education campaign for the draft waste management and minimisation plan.

Spending $200,000 on an advertising campaign is waste, and now Robyn Malcolm has conveniently also been branded the “Queen of Waste”. Every Queen needs a King and in this instance the King of Waste is Len Brown who remains unable to get a handle on his profligate spending.

The video is rubbish and Len Brown and Robyn Malcolm are the King and Queen of Waste, especially when it comes to spending ratepayers money.

Officers running amok with council advertising

The officers are now clearly running amok with the ratepayer chequebook at the new Auckland Council. Truly there is a wasteful culture at Len Brown’s council.

Communications staff are now placing ads in local suburban newspapers to promote the activities of local boards, this despite the fact that there is already an expensive glossy publication sent out to 500,000 households every month called “Our Auckland”, the replacement to the old weekly “City Scene” that the Auckland City council sent out.

Here’s an example or two of what the new ads are like:

Using Orakei as the example, you will see Desley Simpson, the Orakei Board chair singularly starring in what is a thinly ratepayer funded campaign ad – in this case there is a half page ad in the local Eastern Bays Courier, of which Princess Desley gets to take up the predominate space.

What does it all cost then? A half page ad in the Central Leader costs around $1800 a pop, though there are obviously discounts for regularly buying ads. If they run these ads once a month with a news update for every local board then there will be 21 ads a month – $450,000 a year on retail prices. Even with a big discount, expect this communications lark to cost $300,000-350,000 per year.

And remember, this is to buy extra advertising space for politicians to talk about “their achievements” on top of the crappy and forgotten “Our Auckland” magazine they print. And dollars to a knob of goat poo that there are specialist comms staff appointed to every local board too, presumably to issue press releases about the successes of all the workshops that local boards are hosting for the benefit of local board member waistlines. If local board pollies feel they need to raise their profile, they should get off their chuff and do newsworthy things instead of spending all their time in workshops eating pies and pastries. Local papers normally are happy to print vacuous stories about politicians unveiling playgrounds and park upgrades.

Len Brown has failed to keep the officers under control. Communications at the council look like an unwieldy and expensive mess. Even worse, rates are being used to promote politicians with glossy pictures.