Two recent news reports show a stark difference in treatment of taxpayers by this Government.
Sarah Warren is a mother of four who lives in Putaruru. She has struggled to find work because there are no local jobs. She does not want to move because her children prefer living where they are. She has no car and there is no WINZ office in Putaruru. To attend a recent mandatory meeting she walked 25 kilometers from Putaruru to the WINZ office in Tokoroa and then walked back.
Her reason for doing this was simple, “If you didn’t turn up they cut your benefit off.”
Her attempt to find an alternative arrangement has not worked.
They didn’t care how I got there. They didn’t want to hear about my situation.”
Her treatment should be contrasted with that of Chorus. This is the company that has received the thick end of $1.3 billion of our money interest free to do the fibre roll out. It tendered for and won 70% of the roll out contracts and did this with the knowledge that the Commerce Commission was reviewing the price of copper broadband and a reduction was likely. It undercooked the tender, possibly so that it could keep control of the network, and despite early indications of financial pressure has kept paying dividends.
Now it has gone cap in hand to the Government and asked for a handout. On the same day as preliminary results of the review have been handed to the Government Amy Adams has all but promised support for Chorus.
According to interest.co.nz:
“The preliminary conclusion from Ernst & Young is that copper price changes will have a significant impact on Chorus’ financial position and that absent further action, Chorus is at risk of not meeting its UFB and RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative) contractual commitments, after taking into account a wide range of actions Chorus can take itself,” Adams said, adding that a full report due from Ernst and Young next Thursday was unlikely to alter that finding.
Adams said the Government’s UFB rollout had a budget of NZ$1.35 billion and CFH was required to act within that “fiscal envelope.”
At a later news conference she said the Government was hopeful that changing some of the terms of the rollout would mean the Government did not have to top up the NZ$1.35 billion cost. She said the government was committed to the current agreed levels of service and timing of the rollout, but that other conditions could be tweaked, including perhaps the make up and timing of debt and equity payments within that NZ$1.35 billion cost.
“The Government expects Chorus to meet a significant part of the shortfall,” Adams said, adding the Government expected to know the outcome of the discussions between Chorus and CFH “in a few months time.”
Chorus is a large corporation with significant resources. In the commercial world if a company signs a contract then it is expected to stick to it and meet the full amount of any shortfall. If it breaches the contract then it normally has to pay damages and if it does not have the resources then it is almost inevitably wound up. But in this case the Government appears to be happy for the country’s resources being used to bail Chorus out.
And the contrast of the Government’s treatment of Chorus with its treatment of Sarah Warren is jarring.
Only on Planet Key do we have a Government which insists on a beneficiary walking 25 kilometres to attend a meeting to help look for a job that is not there yet will bail out a billion dollar corporation when it cries poor.