ToryAid: The Standard resurrects Wastewatch

Written By: - Date published: 1:35 pm, May 27th, 2008 - 63 comments
Categories: International, national, tax - Tags: , , ,

Remember wastewatch.co.nz? It’s National’s site listing all the ‘government waste’. From six years of Labour government it managed to find a grand total of $1 billion in waste (0.32% of Government spending or a 10 cent a week tax cut) and most of that wasn’t ‘waste’ it included the entire $400 million for the new prisons, for example. Wastewatch has been on ‘a few months hiatus’ for two years now but, as National is now bringing back ‘cut waste to fund tax cuts’, we thought we would resurrect wastewatch for them.

Here’s the waste National has identified so far:

Embassy in Sweden – approx $3 million capital, $3 million operating

Why it’s waste: an embassy, in Sweden, hello! What are they going to do, create an ABBA cover-group exchange?

Why it’s not a waste: Sweden is a major source of tourism and many kiwis visit there. Having embassies in-country enables tourism and helps tourists when they get into distress. Sweden and neighbouring countries are potential growth markets for our products. Sweden is also a major player in the EU and it would be valuable to have more influence on EU trade decisions. We share many common values with the Scandinavian countries and often cooperate internationally, an embassy helps build on that. We don’t have an embassy in Scandinavia at present.

Potential tax cut instead of this ‘waste’: 2 cents a week each.

Cumulative total of National-identified ‘waste’: 2 cents a week or, since cheese has become the prime denominator of value in our political discourse (thanks, Irish), 1.5 grams of Mainland Mild cheese a week

We’ll update wastewatch for National if they identify any more ‘waste’.

63 comments on “ToryAid: The Standard resurrects Wastewatch”

  1. Lampie 1

    Bugger, thats a crumb of cheese, make your party vote National oh yay

  2. Hey, thanks to the Standardista who did the underlining in the post – looks much better now.

  3. Tane 3

    Lampie, clearly you’re not giving National enough credit. A 2 cent a week tax cut incentivises thrift, meaning if you’re ambitious enough to save that 2 cents a week for a year then by the end of it you’ll have a cool buck to blow on processed cheese. That’s gotta be at least three or four slices worth.

  4. Lampie 4

    Really??? gee Mr Key, your my hero, now i can afford processed cheese on my $75K salary

  5. rjs131 5

    What about Judith tizards ministerial salary and her travel expenses?

  6. Tane 6

    What about Judith tizards ministerial salary and her travel expenses?

    What about Judith Tizard’s ministerial salary and her travel expenses?

  7. Ari 7

    Ok, I have to admit the the 1.5 grams of cheese bit got a good laugh 🙂

  8. mike 8

    here’s a few mil to get us started

    The Families Commission
    Sky Hawk mothballing
    Judith Tizards Salary…bugger rjs beat me to it

  9. Well, without going into whether she’s a ‘waste’ or not – her salary would be in the order of 175K but if she were gone there would still be an MP on 110K. So, 65K saving there, and her travel expenses were what? I don’t know and can’t be bothered finding out but I’ll make a generous guess of 50K.

    So, no Tizard saves 110K (assuming her ministerial staff would be reallocated, rather than dismissed).

    110,000 divided by 3.2 million divided by 52 = 0.06 cents a week. I’m spending mine on bubblegum.

    But you do prove a valuable point, rjs131 and that is that the criticisms you bring up are really not just small beer but infinitesimally small beer in the scheme of things.

  10. mike. provide me with dollar figures on the skyhawks and the Families Commission and I’ll tell you how much of a taxcut it is.

    Or you can work it out yourself.

    For a one-off cost: tax cuts = cost divided by 10 (rough discount rate to get present value) divided by 3.2 million (taxpayers) divided by 52.15 (weeks in a year).

    For an operational cost: tax cuts = annual cost divided by 3.2 million (taxpayers) divided by 52.15 (weeks in a year).

    Remember to give $1 a week to each kiwi you need eliminate a one-off cost worth $1.7 billion or an operating cost worth $170 million a year.

  11. Exactly what is the number of tourists from Sweden that come to NZ each year? and what percentage is it?

    Also who the heck ever gets in distress by visiting Sweden?

    [don’t wear your ignorance as a badge. Most of the day to day operations of embassies are taken up helping their nationals who are in distress or sorting out visa and passport issues. SP]

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    The PSA are asking parties how they’re going to fund tax cuts – if the Nats give a substantial answer you might see a bit more “waste” to mock – doubtful though!

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501935&objectid=10512542

  13. Here is some waste for ya.

    NZ on Air
    Any Cultural Diversity Program
    Any program telling people how to eat/drink/sleep

    and worse of all

    “BUY NEW ZEALAND” ads on TV.

    You should buy a product because its the best value and highest quality.

  14. mike 14

    Steve, I can see your point but at the same time waste is waste. Who cares how small it is, it’s a culture thing.
    As my CEO says “save cents and the dollars will come”.

  15. Brett. To make the argument that spending is waste you have to show that an alternaive action would deliver the same utlity for less cost. Just blanket labelling of anything you don’t like as waste doesn’t cut it.

    Take the Skyhawks, for example. What is the alternative that would save money?

  16. gobsmacked 16

    And yet again, we are arguing with fantasists.

    Time to spell it out again in super slo-mo.

    IT. IS. NOT. NATIONAL. POLICY. TO. ABOLISH. THOSE. THINGS.

    They are promising to keep them, therefore they are still “wasting” the money. Got it?

    Look, I appreciate you Helen-haters must be incredibly frustrated that Key is flip-flopping weekly (weakly) and won’t give you your wish list. But could we please debate on the basis of what National REALLY SAY THEY WILL DO – not on what you make up.

    (Unless you’re planning to vote for somebody else, of course. Who?).

  17. Also, what is with the auto-picture thing’s obession with assigning people swastika-type patterns? Poor mike looks like he’s a Nazi environmentalist.

    [lprent: This is usually where I say read the FAQ. But seeing how it is you, I’d guess the question was rhetorical 🙂 ]

  18. Billy 18

    Good point about the “Buy NZ Made” ads. Has a single extra NZ-made good been bought as a result? Doubt it. $6.3m for nothing.

    PS I accept that this alone would not get me that tax cut I’m after, but it’d fund a bunch of herceptin.

    [hey, now there’s great argument style: find a programme you don’t like, assert it has a certain narrow goal, assert that it has failed to meet that goal (provide no evidence), conclude the programme is a waste of money. SP]

  19. Lampie 19

    “You should buy a product because its the best value and highest quality.”

    Yeah right, like that really happens in a price driven market

  20. Billy 20

    Since Steve started on a site-related tangent, when I did a search this morning using that very good new search thing, it told me a kitten had cried because the Standard wasn’t paying for the search engine. I hope you guys aren’t exploiting people.

  21. mike 21

    “Poor mike looks like he’s a Nazi environmentalist.”

    Well they were into recycling eveything Steve…

    I can only see a little red x on everyone so none the wiser.

  22. r0b 22

    Also, what is with the auto-picture thing’s obession with assigning people swastika-type patterns? Poor mike looks like he’s a Nazi environmentalist.

    The “identicons”. They are generated by working out a pattern for one quarter of the image (e.g. top left quarter) and then rotating around the image centre in three 90 degree steps to fill in the other three quarters. It’s a method that is almost guaranteed to produce swastika-like designs. Probably the work of a fan of Godwin’s law.

  23. gobsmacked 23

    “Buy NZ Made” is part of the co-operation agreement between the government and the Greens.

    John Key said National could easily sign up to that agreement.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=39&objectid=10443077

    Which is why he never mentions it as something National would scrap.

  24. Stephen 24

    eh? it would be a different agreement, surely.

  25. On the subject of cheese, how much cheese does every one here eat?

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    You should buy a product because its the best value and highest quality

    No such perfect information!

    There is a demand for local goods – given the advantage to our economy I don’t see the broblem with enhancing their profile and making it easier to find and buy them.

    The market is also an abject and dismal disaster when it comes to internalising its own failures. Given there’s no way the market can account for pollution or slavery wages, many people buy local so they know that a fair wage was paid, kids didn’t make it and it wasn’t shipped thousands of miles after being made in an environmental disaster of a factory.

    Some of us like NZ made!

  27. gobsmacked 27

    If National are planning to save money on “Buy NZ made”, why haven’t they said so?

    Stephen, read the article linked above.

  28. Stephen 28

    whoops

  29. Billy 29

    “assert [a programme you don’t like] has a certain narrow goal”

    OK, Smartypants.

    There I was thinking the only possible goal for a campaign called “Buy Kiwi Made” was to get people buying NZ made products. I am always willing to learn SP, what were its other goals? Making Oliver Driver look stupid? It’d be nice if they were measurable, but I am not expecting too much. If you use the word “awareness” I will personally hunt you down and knee you in the ballocks.

    “assert that it has failed to meet that goal (provide no evidence)”

    I didn’t assert anything. I asked a question and speculated on what I thought the answer would probably be. Given that I think we can assume that getting people buying more NZ made products than before the programme was implimented was at least one of the goals of the programme, and given that you are so fckuing clever, how about you providing some evidence that it has acheived that goal?

  30. Lampie 30

    On the subject of cheese, how much cheese does every one here eat?

    Under National, I get 4 slices of processed fat!!!!

    VOTE NATIONAL

    [lprent: If you want to put election advertisments in here, then I’d expect that you will
    a) Negoitiate a rate first.
    b) Put the relevent permissions in.
    c) Get permission from me – which you will not get, because we don’t allow advertising here.

    Read this and be warned that we have more policy than some political parties. Also read the topic on Banning, because if you advertise here again, then that is what will happen to you.]

    [to be fair, to Lampie, it was sarcastic.SP]

    [lprent: I know, checked on his messages. I have a big flag about advertising (even in sarcasm), because it can cause issues if it becomes common practice in a forum. I prefer to do preemptive strikes, rather than having to do too much effort later in reactive mode.

    Besides, it has been a bit quiet for my inmoderate moderation style for week or so now. Have to relieve the boredom of scanning messages somehow.]

  31. Billy 32

    Only, it doesn’t claim they’ve achieved anything. And they use the word “awareness”…

  32. Of course it doesn’t say they’ve achieved anything, it’s a Cabient paper from before the programme started stating the goals. As you can see they’re not merely monetary.

    jesus.

  33. Billy 34

    So you are unable to provide evidence that it has achieved anything?

  34. I’m not seeking to. I’m addressing your assertion that the programme is merely to increase sales.

    And, of course, it would be impossible to determine how much extra sales of NZ goods are resulting from this ongoing programme. there are too many other variables at play.

  35. Matthew Pilott 36

    Lynn P – “Read this and be warned that we have more policy than some political parties.

    Biggest laugh of the day.

    The problem I have with such “this is waste” programmes is that it is generally always hopelessly opinionated and without sound reasoning – and the ridiculous results that ensue, as I shall expound.

    Note Key’s embassy gag – that reads like a guide for “how to classify something as waste without engineering a serious discussion”.

    Billy hates NZ made. Well I make P and run a human trafficking organisation – the NZ Police, MAF, NZ Customs and Immigration are all a bloody waste, I say, get rid of them all!

    You can clearly give examples that show the four organs of the state I listed provide benefit to NZ – but it is difficult to provide qualitative evidence.

    Which is saying, in sum, if it doesn’t make money, the government shouldn’t be involved in it – because there’s no quantitative benefit.

    This is, I’m sure most will agree, very ironic, given that people on the right can get fired up when you suggest the Government tries to make a spot of dough (like when I suggested we buy Tiwai Point…), yet they seem to be advocating only retaining organs of state that are financially sound!

  36. Lampie 37

    Too right it was sarcastic SP, hahaha

  37. Lampie 38

    There I was thinking the only possible goal for a campaign called “Buy Kiwi Made’ was to get people buying NZ made products. I am always willing to learn SP, what were its other goals? Making Oliver Driver look stupid? It’d be nice if they were measurable, but I am not expecting too much. If you use the word “awareness’

    Hmmm sounds like you don’t fully understand the concept of advertising. If a Marketing Manager had a sales objective with their advertising campaign, then she/he would be fired very shortly afterwords. Advertising has no sales objectives, it has awareness objectives (don’t bellieve a marketing grad, then ask Mr Roberts then). The resulting “sales” that may arise from the advertising campaign is a symptom, a by-product, whatever you like to call it.

    As SP said, too many varibles plus how do you measure it’s success or failure?

  38. Billy 39

    “don’t bellieve a marketing grad, then ask Mr Roberts then”

    You mean Kevin Roberts? What’s he do for a job? Wonder why he’d think spending $6m on advertising was a good idea?

    And you’re right of course, Matthew, this campaign is almost certainly as valuable as the police and customs.

  39. lprent 40

    I have to disagree with Steve about the JK’s Swedish embassy remarks. It has value – I can see it in the stats.

    It has made the number of Swedish visitors to this site dramatically increase in the last few days. If the trend continues then they may hit 1% in a few weeks. In the last week they have become our 3rd biggest visitor country of origion along with Canada and Hong Kong (and some bloody spammers in Bulgaria – now that I’ve nuked the russian spammers, bulgaria has become visible).

    So I’d guess that JK’s remark has been noticed in Sweden. I wonder what they think about it?

  40. crashtard 41

    In the house today the Nats found more ‘waste’. They hounded Maryan Street for a $65k (if I recall correctly) HCNZ conference that saw 94 staff coming together to focus on more efficient service delivery.

    Phil Heatly was completely oblivious to the irony that he was a guest speaker at a private sector housing conference that cost over $1400 per person for 1 day!

    $65,000 dollars, chalk it up – how many grams of cheese can we get there?

  41. Lampie 42

    You mean Kevin Roberts? What’s he do for a job? Wonder why he’d think spending $6m on advertising was a good idea?

    How much would you spend then? How much would YOU spend promoting New Zealand business??Now step back and THINK who would see that, who would be exposed to adverts. (i’m not just thinking Kiwis)

  42. Matthew Pilott 43

    Billy – does a government function have to have equal, if not of greater, importance than the Police before it’s ok?

    Crashtard – that was just on JC live. I’m pretty stoked, we have a new National Policy – that makes it four and counting (slooooowly)!

    No more high quality work conferences for state agencies.

    I think that will get us about a cent each…a year.

    Go Team Tory Waste Busters!

  43. Billy 44

    “How much would you spend then?”

    Nothin’. It almost certainly does no good. Or, put another way, no one can demonstrate it does any good.

    Incidentally, I think I am in what you guys would consider pretty good company on this. I seem to recall Dr Cullen was very skeptical but recognised it was a small price to pay (with our money) to keep the Greens happy.

  44. MikeE 45

    You could always get rid of:

    Department of Building and Housing
    Department of Labour
    Education Review Office
    Ministry for Culture and Heritage
    Ministry for the Environment
    Ministry for the Environment
    Ministry of Māori Development
    Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
    Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income New Zealand is its trading name)
    Ministry of Women’s Affairs
    New Zealand Food Safety Authority
    Serious Fraud Office
    Accident Compensation Corporation
    Career Services
    Civil Aviation Authority
    Earthquake Commission
    Electricity Commission
    Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
    Health Sponsorship Council
    Housing New Zealand Corporation
    New Zealand Antarctic Institute
    New Zealand Blood Service
    New Zealand Tourism Board
    Pharmaceutical Management Agency
    Social Workers Registration Board
    Sport and Recreation New Zealand
    Tertiary Education Commission
    Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand
    Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa
    Broadcasting Commission
    Charities Commission
    Environmental Risk Management Authority
    Families Commission
    Government Superannuation Fund Authority
    Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
    Mental Health Commission
    Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
    New Zealand Artificial Limb Board
    New Zealand Film Commission
    New Zealand Historic Places Trust (Pouhere Taonga)
    New Zealand Lotteries Commission
    New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
    New Zealand Teachers Council
    Public Trust
    Retirement Commissioner
    Standards Council
    Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi (Maori Broadcasting Funding Agency)
    Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission)
    Testing Laboratory Registration Council
    Accounting Standards Review Board
    Broadcasting Standards Authority
    Children’s Commissioner
    Drug Free Sport New Zealand
    Health and Disability Commissioner
    Human Rights Commission
    Office of Film and Literature Classification
    Takeovers Panel
    Transport Accident Investigation Commission

    etc etc

    Of course I’m not saying disband them all – but theres a hell of a lot of public service departments that flat out don’t need to exist.

    [MikeE. lol. I see you’ve been to the SSC and grabbed one fo their lsits of government organisations. I know you probably haven’t heard of a lot of these organisations but that doesn’t mean what they do isn’t worthwhile. I could go through all of them and tell you why they’re worthwhile but it’s not worth my time. Tell you what – select one of the above, find out what it does and tell us why that is a waste of time. SP]

  45. randal 46

    I never eat cheese but I know it when I see it. anyway the national programme is still to disable government because basically they say they dont agree with it but only government can do those things that people need when the market cant and wont. Till National, and this goes for the whole conservative ‘movement’ decides how they are going to make government work properly for citizens and not seek to pull it down in an orgiastic ideological frenzy then they have no show. remember what happened to newt gingrich when he tried to halt the government. he was gone before tuesday…hhhahahahahaha

  46. Matthew Pilott 47

    Mike E – there are two Ministries for the Environment! Quick – get rid of one!

  47. Tane 48

    Steve, MikeE’s a libertarian. He doesn’t believe the state has a role other than as military and police to enforce private contracts and protect private property. The state’s role is to throw the poor off your property, not to provide them with a future. Charming, huh?

  48. MikeE 49

    Give me one good reason why we need a Ministry of Womens affairs?

    Or perhaps we need a Ministry of Mens affairs too?

    Or two ministries based soley around race?

    Here we have government departments whose whole reason for existance is to discriminate on the basis of risk or sex…

    I’m not saying they don’t do good things, I’m sure they do… I’m just questioning whether they need to exist as part of the state sector.

  49. Tane 50

    The idea behind the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is to ensure that legislation takes the needs of women into account. It’s a very small and under-resourced operation with just a handful of staff.

    According to the Ministry’s website it costs $4 million a year to run. That works out to a tax cut of around 2.4 cents per week, but feel free to argue that’s worth cutting the interests of women out of the policy-making process.

  50. MikeE wrote:

    “You could always get rid of:

    Department of Building and Housing
    Department of Labour
    Ministry for the Environment
    New Zealand Food Safety Authority
    Serious Fraud Office
    Pharmaceutical Management Agency
    Environmental Risk Management Authority
    Accounting Standards Review Board
    Human Rights Commission
    Takeovers Panel
    Transport Accident Investigation Commission”

    Sounds like a torys wet dream!!

  51. AncientGeek 52

    I’d like to see that as well, commenting about the worth of the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs.

    Perhaps someone should inform the woman bloggers. I’m sure that they’d like to comment. I noticed that they’re starting to talk about the bastions of blogging.

    Hell I’d use that as an excuse to get my mother and sister blogging. Be quite funny watching mike get done over.

    Besides isn’t there a Ministry of Men’s Affairs already (at least from what I’ve heard of their spending directions it should be renamed as that). Something about Sport. Personally I think it is a waste and should be killed pronto. Clearly an area for private enterprise.

  52. Dean 53

    “According to the Ministry’s website it costs $4 million a year to run. That works out to a tax cut of around 2.4 cents per week, but feel free to argue that’s worth cutting the interests of women out of the policy-making process.”

    Tane, I see you’re using the same line as Steve has been.

    If you take this argument but instead add up all the spending instead of treating it in isoliation you may very well end up with a much more realistic figure. Maybe you go to the supermarket and don’t worry about adding up individual purchaes and tallying them against your spending budget for the week, but both you and Steve are very much mistaken if you think that’s how everybody else doesn’t behave.

    You didn’t answer his other question though, so I’ll repeat it for you. Why isn’t there a ministry for men’s affrars? Surely it would only cost us, in your own simplistic terms, a few slices of cheese a month or so?

  53. Dean 54

    “Besides isn’t there a Ministry of Men’s Affairs already (at least from what I’ve heard of their spending directions it should be renamed as that). Something about Sport. Personally I think it is a waste and should be killed pronto. Clearly an area for private enterprise.”

    Clearly, all men are interested in sport.

    Get a clue, Ancient.

  54. AncientGeek 55

    D: I’m not interested in sports these days. Used to play, but could never understand the fetish for watching.

    In particular I’d like to get rid of the 2011 world cup. The traffic is bad enough here without the pile of drunken sports nuts around.

    Sure as hell can’t see why I should pay taxes for it at both the local level and national. Isn’t that the argument that MikeE is running? He doesn’t see the point in it, so it should be discontinued? If it makes sense for the Ministry of Womens Affairs, then it really makes sense for the cost of sport to me.

    Of course there are people who are interested – but lets just ignore them shall we…

  55. Tane 56

    Dean, as I said before, the idea behind the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is that we live in a society still blighted with sexism, both personal and institutional, and it’s important that we have a check on our legislation to ensure the interests of women are taken into account. I don’t personally see a need for a Ministry of Men’s Affairs as I’d say our interests are largely looked after by the status quo, but I’m not opposed to the idea in principle – if you can make an argument for one I’m happy to listen.

    As for your other question, the point we’re making is that if National and its supporters are going to talk about ‘trimming government waste’ as a viable way to pay for tax cuts then the onus is on them to come up with the costings. Your embassy in Sweden is 2 cents. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (which National incidentally no longer wants to abolish) is 2.4 cents. I’m still not seeing any meaningful room for tax cuts here.

  56. gobsmacked 57

    Just a reminder: John Key has pledged to keep the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4436523a10.html

    I don’t mind people arguing that the government should abolish it. Just as long as they’re not claiming that it’s National Party policy to do so. They will continue the “waste”. No savings there, then.

    Still waiting for somebody to come up with examples of waste that National is committed to cut (as opposed to things that you personally want to cut). But then, does anybody argue in favour of National’s policies these days?

  57. Billy 58

    “According to the Ministry’s website it costs $4 million a year to run.”

    Yeah, we could get two-thirds of a Buy Kiwi Made Campaign for that.

  58. Felix 59

    Here we have government departments whose whole reason for existance is to discriminate on the basis of risk or sex

    I assume you meant race, not risk.

    If so, what’s wrong with departments to look out for the interests of specific sectors of society?

  59. AncientGeek 60

    Tane: Fundementally, the Nats are going to have to hit some big ticket items. Even killing the money spent on sport isn’t really going to cut it.

    They should really look at the big ticket items and work down. Start with the biggest – superannuation, health and education. What is national party policy on those? Because if they don’t start there then they’re not going to get the billions they’ll need for “north of $50”

  60. Pascal's bookie 61

    They could can the four lane state highway one project, or a manned Mars mission or something, That’s squllions!!

  61. Another 0.00039 cents per week from those housing NZ big wigs who thought a weekends trout fishing was in order!

  62. Robert Cowan 63

    Almost any spending could be regarded as justifiable using the calculation of isolating it and dividing by population etc. Instead why not look at the actual monetary figure. Think what life saving operations could be preformed with $4million dollars. Think how many state houses it could buy. Consider how much infrastructure or healthcare it could fund in a developing nation.

    I am a social democrat and I dont believe in waste. One NZ dollar can mean the world to someone in Zimbamwe. And it all adds up. $20,000 needed for healthcare or schooling or housing is made from .00009 of a dollar of tax for each person per week, so yes it all makes a big difference.

    Furthermore, I have worked for a government department. There is waste. Yes, its difficult to identify it and eleminate it, and can ironically be costly in the short term, but it should never be justified by simply making it appear to look tedious by dividing it by the population and weeks in a year.

    Thanks for the debate.

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