Lyndon Hood does it again:
The National Government has cancelled another conference, with Prime Minister John Key describing it as “a waste of public money at a critical time”. During a line-by-line review of spending by the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Key discovered the so-called “Summit on Employment”, which was to be held in Auckland on February 27. The summit, which was organised by bureaucrats, was to gather business leaders together from around the country to have a bit of a chat about employment-related issues.
“Employers are the life blood of our economy,” said My Key, “We don’t want them swanning around at some fancy conference venue eating sausage rolls – they should be at work employing people!”
My Key emphasised the he supported the goal of gathering fresh ideas to retain and grow jobs. “But haven’t they ever heard of email? Or telephones?”
“Unfortunately we won’t be able to recoup the money spent on branding and publicity for the conference,” Mr Key continued, “I shall be asking some very stern questions about why an publicly-funded event needs its own logo.
“Not that it’s a bad logo. It’s got lines making a sort of mountain.Summit, you see. Because it’s a summit.”
After an uncomfortable pause Mr Key suggested it might actually be a roof with retrofitted insulation.
My Key cited this action as proof the he and the Beehive political staff were right on the ball when it came to saving money.
“In these hard economic times we need to make sure every taxpayer dollar is well spent. How many manufacturing workers could be employed with that money? Or, to put the spending in more standard terms, how many hip operations could an osteopathic surgeon employed with that money perform?
“The number of blocks of cheese involved doesn’t bear thinking about.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office later clarified that, while whether the summit was a waste of money was debatable, Mr Key did not want to be the last minister to cancel a conference or fire somebody.
The summit is another example of Key’s ‘politics of gesture‘ but something has to be seen to come from it. I expect that the outcomes of the summit will be some training allowance-type programme (it will have to be damn small because English won’t open the purse), work force ‘flexibility’ measures, ie. anti-union laws, extension of the Fire at Will law, and, maybe, a tax credit for employers.