Seymour on budget waste and corporate welfare

David Seymour has used his Sunday Star-Times column to highlight some of Steve Joyce’s wasteful corporate welfare.

It’s Budget week and the message from National is the same as the past six years: no tax cuts.  Labour, meanwhile, want tax increases.

So, what better time to look at some government spending and simply ask: “Why?”  Surely, some of this money would be better spent on health, or education – or simply given back to people, so they can invest in businesses, their families, their communities, and themselves.

First up is the $56 million-a-year Marsden Fund, which bankrolls select ‘academic’ research.  Some of the science topics look kind of interesting, but what do New Zealand taxpayers really gain from funding research on Cultivating chamber music in Beethoven’s Vienna: a study in socio-musicology ($580,000); or anti-trade activist Jane Kelsey’s Transcending embedded neoliberalism in international economic regulation ($600,000); or Missing narratives of modern Chinese intellectual history: modernity and writings on art, 1900-1930 ($495,000)?

There are many, many more examples but Jane Kelsey’s troughing is atrocious and unnecessary. Most of the Marsden Fund is unnecessary.

Then there is NZ on Air, using around $130 million to subsidise programmes like season two of TheX Factor NZ  ($800,000); Mastermind ($685,360); Jono and Ben 2016 ($1,717,042); The Adam and Eve Show ($3,080,400); andFind Me a Maori Bride season 2′ ($590,000).

And interrupting these taxpayer-subsidised TV shows are annoyingly repetitive taxpayer-funded advertisements that seem to suggest the obvious, like “change your lightbulbs” (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s advertising comes to $8m), and “don’t break traffic laws” (NZTA’s marketing budget is $16.5m).

Or how about the Major Events Development Fund, costing taxpayers $77.5m since Budget 2009 for causes like The Ultimate Waterman stand-up paddle boarding event ($1.2m) and the New Zealand Golf Open ($1.9m).

Golf is a rich man’s sport…and also very popular. If NZ Golf couldn’t raise $1.9M from members or sponsors then it really shouldn’t be holding its hand out. Same goes for the America’s Cup.

Are you a high-flying executive? Well, every year the Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships programme sends 12 senior executives and business owners to attend the world’s most prestigious business schools. Cost to the taxpayer: more than $500,000 since 2010.

Ever heard about International Business Growth Services, costing taxpayers $533m since Budget 2011?  What does it do?  And why can’t businesses pay for it themselves?

‘Science and innovation’ is often just code for “politician seeks photo-op with rocket”.   Callaghan Innovation ($165m a year) basically gives taxpayer money to businesses (including billionaire-owned overseas firms) without getting shares in return.  If they fail, like Gameloft, the French game designer of My Little Pony recently did, the taxpayer loses out.  If they succeed, the taxpayer doesn’t benefit.

All up, the Government actually wastes $1.3 billion a year on “corporate welfare” grants, funds, and subsidies.

This is Steve Joyce’s sandpit…he’s the king of Corporate Welfare.

This is all small change compared to the cost of Kiwirail – over $13b lost since 2008.  That’s over $5000 for every household.  Or enough to cover 480 flag referendums.  Or 16,250 years’ worth of X Factor.  It’s like they say: “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

For $13b we could have rebuilt the main trunk line as a truck and busway and got rid of the expensive boondoggle that is Kiwirail.

National, Labour, and the Greens say we can’t afford tax cuts, making hardworking taxpayers feel guilty asking for them.  The truth is, we can afford tax relief for every worker while maintaining (or even increasing) spending on core services.  We just have to cut the waste and focus on the basics.

Now let’s see if Jacinda is willing to defend any of the spending I’ve named.

Oh she would, plus another $1.9billion in Health plus another $1.7billion on free university…and I’m sure they have a list several billions long on extra spending that they would do.


– Fairfax

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.