You know how the Government is so skint, and absolutely much get back into surplus by 2014/15, that it has cut education at every level, cut conservation, cut home insulation, cut Kiwisaver, cut Working for Families .. etc etc. They even created a new super-ministry to cut costs. And what’s the first action of Mobie Dick? $2.2 million sunk into Aussie V8s.
The Government money is in conjunction with $10.5m from the Auckland Council and will go to hosting 5 years of the V8 Supercars at Pukekohe.
But hang about, isn’t this the race that half bankrupted Hamilton after the council there spent $40m for 5 years of races? Yup.
Now, Auckland Council says they’re more clever. They wasting $10.5m and not a cent more!
It’s an outrage, of course. This is the Council that insisted on unrealistic returns from the Port, which led to the attempt to contract out the workforce to cut costs. And what do they do with those returns? Fritter them away on some stupid car race. If people want to see a car race, let them pay for it.
In Hamilton, they got 100,000 people along over the multi-day event. Repeat that in Auckland and the subsidy would be $25 per attendee per day per year.
The Council and the Government claim that the event will bring in tourism. Which is just rubbish. A few thousand fans might come from around the country, but that’s no net gain to the economy, no export earnings from that. Is anyone going to fly to New Zealand to see the V8s? Not likely. The Council estimate – and we all know these estimates are ust made up numbers that never come true – is that it will result in 50,000 more visitor nights over 5 years – so, that’s a spend of $200 from the Council per visitor night gained. Smart investment, guys.
Hearing the councilors claim that V8s would attract people to Auckland reminded me of the resident of Springfield in the South Island who enthused that the new Simpsons-style giant doughnut will attract tourists – yeah, right.
Of course, we know the rort here, even if the councilors have fallen through it. Just like PPPs, the trick is to get the government or council to sink a pile of money in with the promise that is all you’ll ask for. Then come back a little later: ‘oh, no! there were cost over-runs! It’s all going to fall over and your money will be wasted! Unless we can have a few million more…’. Then a little later, another cost over-run and the prospect of writing off a sunk cost or handing over a little more.
Every con man in history knows which way people will instinctively go: they’ll spend and spend to try to legitimise their previous mistake, rather than walk away from an obvious rip-off.
And, so this is what your government and your council, if you’re in Auckland, are doing with your money. This is why they’re cutting education and trying to cut the wages of port workers – so that the owners of an Australian racing series can make some profits and people who want to go see a race can get a big subsidy.
Finally, I can’t help but note that National’s spin on its local government reforms, which would undermine local democracy, is that councils need to stick to their knitting and not spend money on non-core services. And here they are, spending money in conjunction with a council to finance a purely commercial enterprise. I guess words are cheap.