MFaT blows $9million on conference, most of it on a cruise liner

TROUGHING: P&O Pacific Jewel in Apia for the SIDS conference

TROUGHING: P&O Pacific Jewel in Apia for the SIDS conference

Government departments are essentially large troughs where they find innovative ways to blow taxpayer cash on themselves.

But none it appears are as wasteful or out of control than Murray McCully’s depart, MFaT.

They have blown $9 million on a 4 day conference in Samoa where they even rented a cruise liner!

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for bankrolling a four-day UN conference in Samoa last September has cost New Zealand taxpayers over $9 million.

According to an Mfat spokesman, New Zealand’s $9 million contribution to the third Small Island Developing States (SIDS) international conference covered operating costs, accommodation, police support, technical advice and assistance to New Zealand’s “counterpart agencies,” as well as infrastructure support for Apia’s port and the hosting of high-level visitors.

SIDS was the largest conference ever held in the Pacific. About 2000 delegates attended from over 100 countries, including many heads of government and ministers.

“It is difficult to comprehend how $9 million could be spent on a conference lasting just four days,” Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams says.

“The amount is nearly half New Zealand’s annual aid budget to Samoa and amounts to $4500 per attendee. It appears someone else picked up the attendees’ flights, travel and presumably cocktails, which makes the amount all the more remarkable.”

“If the $9 million had been used for genuine economic development or investment, no one would complain. Instead taxpayers forked out for a conference that resulted only in a document that ‘reaffirmed’, ‘acknowledged’, ‘recognised’ and ‘recommitted’ to various bureaucratic platitudes.”   

New Zealand’s contribution to SIDS came out of MFAT’s existing budgets.

The ministry had originally claimed that New Zealand’s financial contribution to SIDS would be known at the conclusion of the conference in Apia on the September 4. However, it only released the final amount last Friday, after numerous requests from NBR ONLINE.

Following a formal request from the Samoan government, NZ Police confirmed to NBR in August that it would provide 90 staff to assist with the conference, 50 of whom are Samoan-speaking.

Mr Williams says that it appears that instead of the money going into the local Samoan economy, British-American owned P&O cruises were the main beneficiary of New Zealand $9 million contribution.

“This is the first instance we’re aware of where New Zealand taxpayers have charted a luxury cruise-liner. It appears that MFAT brought in the liner so conference attendees could avoid the mainland.

“The ship is marketed at ‘the world’s largest adventure park at sea’ and includes a zip line across the top deck, an outdoor circus performance arena and numerous movie theatres. Conference attendees had nine bars, pubs and nightclubs to choose from and seven restaurants and cafes to dine in,” Mr Williams says.

“No wonder MFAT waited until just before Christmas to answerNBR’s questions. It’s a shameful misuse of public money and officials are no doubt praying that the Christmas rush allows them to avoid public vilification.”

Astonishing waste.

I can imagine the carnage the first sitting day in parliament next year when Murray McCully is going to have to answer heaps of questions.




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • symgardiner

    Absolutely guarantee that Muzza won’t be in the country when Parliament reconvenes. Absolutely guaranteed!

  • Carl

    I bet Shane Jones is loving his new job.

  • Alexander K

    I’m normally a Grumpy Old Man – this doesn’t help!

    • kayaker

      And I’m a grumpy girl

  • Not Clinically Insane

    Murray…. do the honourable thing and retire to the backbenches

  • kayaker

    This is just gross and the kind of excess we really don’t need to have in our faces.

    When reading about this, I have been reflecting on my 2014 contract with an amazing and innovative enterprise charged with educating and developing 50 young people of 22 different nationalities who will go on to make a difference in this world in time.

    What a fulfilling and rewarding year’s investment of my time this has been. As much as money motivates me, I have no desire to be involved in organisations who trough at the real people’s expense.

    This kind of bourgeois behaviour is sickening.

    Disclosure: I’m a true blue right winger.

  • Bobb

    Bloody McCully! Just shows that the left is not the only refuge for troughing scoundrels. I sat in the seat in front of McCully on a trip back from HK a couple years ago. He had about 4 other sycophants with him. He made the usual friendly gestures around the cabin when he boarded and wondered why I refused to engage with him.

  • Rick H

    Winston will be absolutely gutted he wasn’t invited.
    Nine bars, pubs and nightclubs to choose from and seven restaurants and cafes to dine in.
    Right up his alley

  • Tom

    i’d rather that working government employees had a holiday instead of local iwi getting the cash.

  • Wallace Westland

    “I can imagine the carnage the first sitting day in parliament next year
    when Murray McCully is going to have to answer heaps of questions.”

    Sure…but who is going to ask the questions?
    We have an illiterate and incompetent opposition fixated on Nicky Hager’s 2 cent novel.
    Angry Andy is too busy appeasing his union backers and his haters are busy plotting how to fit a knife into his shoulder blades. Between them all there is no time to hold a third term government to account.
    The troughers will continue to run rampant.

  • Billythekid

    So…….. The gap between the rich and poor is for real eh ?

  • Dave

    The cost could be better explained if they had invited Len Brown and entourage, a few more private cabins ad a meeting room would be needed. He could have delivered a 2 minute performance on how he has turned Auckland into the worlds most livable city for him.

  • Andy Brown

    Sick to death of the cost to us taxpayers. MoFAT’s embassy workers accomodation costs should also be looked at. Even junior staff members at NZ embassies and consulates around the world pick apartments that are very pricey. One I know is a 15,000 dollar a month apartment chosen by a beginning staff member. Add up those around the world and you get over $100 million annually. Why can’t they make do with normal apartments rather than glitzy ones?