One giant corporate welfare trough, run by troughers for troughers

Callaghan Innovation has turned out to be one giant corporate welfare trough, run by troughers for troughers.

Set up by Steve Joyce as his personal piggy bank for corporate welfare, they have attempted to wash all the troughing by sticking the word Innovation in the title.

It seems the only innovation going on is the ways they can spend taxpayers’ cash:

Government agency Callaghan Innovation spent almost $3 million on travel and entertainment in one year.

Among the entertainment spending was a $50 tip from the public purse, following dinner at Wellington’s Dockside restaurant.

The figures, released to the Taxpayers’ Union under the Official Information Act, show in the 2015/16 financial year, the agency responsible for giving grants to support science and innovation, spent more than $300,000 on entertainment, more than $1m on domestic airfares, more than $850,000 on domestic accommodation and other travel expenses, more than $400,000 on international airfares, and more than $300,000 on international accommodation and other travel-related expenses.  

These costs totalled $2,896,801, up from $2,884,909 in the 2014/15 financial year, and $2,278,599 in 2013/14.

The entertainment spend of more than $300,000 was mostly justified as entertaining clients, and last month Callaghan said that type of spending was not unusual for a client-facing organisation.

“These include meetings with customers and strategic partners, scientific briefings, hosting local and overseas delegations, and attendance at conferences and industry dinners,” a spokesperson said.

What clients? They dole out grants to corporate bludgers… there are no clients. That is just management and bureaucrat speak. Who the hell says “client-facing” in normal conversation?

A full breakdown of costs showed as well as a $2063 team dinner at drag queen cabaret restaurant Caluzzi, on Auckland’s Karangahape Rd, Callaghan staff racked up a $5212 bill over 188 visits to the Beer & Burger Joint, downstairs from Callaghan’s Auckland office, more than $4000 on lunches and dinners at Marvel Bar and Grill, and more than $3200 at Mojo coffeehouses.

Among the 2016 expenses is a dinner for seven people at Wellington’s Dockside which included a $50 tip.

Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams said tipping was rare in New Zealand, “it’s something you do to flaunt your wealth”.

The Callaghan Innovation spokesperson said the spending was historical – happening in the 2015/16 financial year.

“Since then, we have tightened relevant policies to ensure work-related spending by staff is modest and appropriate for the public sector.”

Really, we shall see. Here’s Vic Crone trying valiantly to explain all the corporate welfare :




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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.