Lies, damned lies and . . .

I used to chair a trust which supported people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Most of our funding came through government agencies and it was precarious.

We knew that we were competing with other providers and if we ours wasn’t the best proposal someone else would get the funds.

That happens all the times, and not just with government agencies.

The Problem Gambling Foundation has found that out and isn’t happy about it and has Labour’s support for that:

Labour says funding for the Problem Gambling Foundation has been stopped because the foundation opposed the deal to increase the number of gambling machines at SkyCity Casino.

That doesn’t sound good but the very next paragraph makes it better:

But the Government has confirmed the new holder of the contract to provide health and counselling services for problem gamblers throughout New Zealand is the Salvation Army, which also opposed the SkyCity deal.

That didn’t stop Labour blaming the government:

Labour’s Internal Affairs Spokesman Trevor Mallard said the foundation was being forced to close its doors because it vocally opposed the deal between the Government and SkyCity to increase the number of pokies in the Auckland casino, in return for building a new national convention centre. . .

This would be the same Mallard who was a guest of Sky City at the Rugby World Cup.

That was then, back to now:

Mallard said the foundation was the largest provider of problem-gambling services in Australasia and “it is hard to imagine a more qualified organisation to do this work”.

The funding decision was based on far stronger grounds than Mallard’s imagination.

Health Ministry group manager Rod Bartling said negotiations were still ongoing, but the tender process was fair and independently assessed.

“The ministry can confirm that it has informed the Problem Gambling Foundation that it does not intend to renew its national contract to prevent and reduce gambling harm,” he said.

“The process to re-tender the contracts for these services was an open contestable tender process.

“The evaluation panel deciding on the tender comprised six members – three internal ministry staff and three external evaluators from the Department of Internal Affairs, the Health Promotion Agency and a Pacific health consultant.

“The ministry also asked Pricewaterhouse to independently review the procurement process and this confirmed the ministry’s processes followed accepted good practice.”

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne was even stronger in refuting the claims  that the PGF lost funding  due to political pressure.

“The Ministry of Health clearly signalled in 2012 that it would go to the market for the provision of gambling harm minimisation services during its public consultation on this issue, and this is the outcome of that process”, says Mr Dunne.

“This review had been on the cards for some years prior to this, as the development of the sector has to a large extent been undertaken in an ad hoc manner, with duplication of services from national providers simply not achieving best value for money that clients of services are entitled to expect.”

The process to retender the contracts for these services was an open contestable tender.   The evaluation panel deciding on the tender comprised six members: three internal Ministry staff and three external evaluators from the Department of Internal Affairs, the Health Promotion Agency and a Pacific health consultant.  

“The Ministry of Health has been particularly mindful to keep the process clearly separate from any perception of political interference. This extended to commissioning an independent review by Pricewaterhouse on its proposed decisions and I congratulate them on the rigorous commitment to probity they have shown in following this tender process as it went beyond the requirements of best practice”.

“The outcome is that services are more streamlined and will achieve increased service provision from government funding in the gambling harm minimisation area. The Problem Gambling Foundation will continue to be contracted to provide specialist services, if negotiations with them are successful, says Mr Dunne.

It is proposed that the major national provider will be the Salvation Army’s Oasis service, which already provides gambling harm and other addiction and social services across the country.

“I am aware that the Salvation Army has been critical of the government in certain areas over the years, including the SkyCity convention centre, but I see no reason why this should prevent them from being contracted to provide the excellent services that they do.

“For Labour and the Greens to say that the Problem Gambling Foundation’s funding has been cut because of its opposition to particular government policies is patent nonsense. It was not until that process was completed that I was advised of the outcome.

“Just because they have Problem Gambling in their title, doesn’t mean they become a default provider, and I commend the Ministry for its rigorous process and decision making which will ultimately benefit those New Zealanders who may who experience negative outcomes from their, or others, gambling activities”, says Mr Dunne.

The PGF lost funding because the Salvation Army, which was also critical of the Sky City convention centre, convinced the evaluation panel, backed by an independent review by Pricewaterhouse that it was offering something better.

That still wasn’t good enough for Labour leader who has been active on Twitter:

A picture might paint a thousand words but that doesn’t make them true.

Cunliffe and Mallard aren’t going to let the truth get in the way of their story which gives us lies, damned lies and Labour.

31 Responses to Lies, damned lies and . . .

  1. Paranormal says:

    Sooo, Liarbour think its ok to play politics over what is supposed to be an independent appointment. That makes them lying hypocrites.

    You have to wonder how Liarbour found out so quickly when it hasn’t been made public or even finalised yet. But then again it does point to PGF being a political, rather than neutral organisation….


  2. Excellent post Ele. Labour harps on about Judith Collins, but both Labour and the Greens have their own conflicts of interest with the Problem Gambling Foundation.


  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think you need to listen to this interview with John Stansfield (a few minutes in), the decision to ditch the PGF makes absolutely no sense at all:


  4. Andrei says:

    Boy Labour sure knows how to go about alienating voters.

    Most people trust and admire the Salvation Army and the work they do in the community, a least likely candidate for an organization to be involved in political skulduggery for personal profit would be hard to find.

    And yet Labour jumps in boots and all……


  5. homepaddock says:

    Dave @ 9:28 – ah yes, the Green Party shares Labour’s views though haven’t mentioned that the former CEO of the PGF is an active member of the Green Party and partner of a Green MP.


  6. You’re not suggesting that the Greens have been less than honest about their motivations here are you Ele?


  7. Gravedodger says:

    Nice little bit of Mortar fire there Ele, lobbed right into the leadership bunker/s, have they still got separate HQs.
    Didnt do a bit of territorial army service did you, your tactical use of weaponry indicates a basic knowledge.
    Poor old Dave picked up a bit of unexploded ordinance and wondered why the pin was in place, didn’t have the nous to put it down gently and quickly walk away.


  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    John Stanfield founded the PFG and it became one of the largest providers of support for problem gamblers in the world,
    -it is often approached by other countries for advice
    -it has helped 25,000 problem gamblers
    -employs around 75 people who are solely focussed on the gambling issue
    -Has worked positively with local councils to reduce pokie numbers and better manage gambling
    -There has been no issue with the Foundation’s operations or effectiveness
    -It gets the majority of its funding through the Govt and has been very vocal against the SkyCity deal (the worst gambling issues come from Casinos)

    The Salvation Army provides a good general service but does not just focus on gambling and does not have the same level of expertise. If you look at the decision as a purely financial one it seems particularly short sighted considering the actual cost of problem gambling to communities and I am very aware of the political pressure that can be applied to supposed independent decision makers.

    We should make decisions based on the facts and merits of the case and in this instance it just doesn’t add up. To dismiss the Foundation because John happens to be Denise Roche’s husband is just plain silly, but seems to be a common approach. Gerry Brownlee recently stated that he would support the Greens’ idea to make cycling and walking to school safer “because I’m in the National Party”. Good grief!


  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops Gerry Brownlee said he WOULDN’T support the Greens’ policy because he was in the National Party.


  10. Andrei says:

    Dave Kennedy – first rule of common sense, when you are in a hole
    stop digging


  11. Dave Kennedy says:

    No hole, Andrei, I was building a mountain of evidence 😉 I wonder if any will read it with an open mind…


  12. Gravedodger says:

    Dave If you are for one second suggesting you have an open mind we have a serious credibility problem right there.
    A week ago your posts indicated progress but I guess one Roy Morgan and regression sets in again.
    What goes into a Roy Morgan after the three shots of Tanquerays Gin? aaaagh my memory its gone out again, who left the bloody door open?


  13. Dave – when it comes to building “a mountain of evidence”, less is more.

    But ponder this for a moment. Whilst the PGF averages 1,250 clients per year (25,000/20), the Salvation Army’s 2013 Annual Report says that its addiction service had 29,000 sessions with 7501 clients.

    Click to access 20131218SA%20Annual%20Report%202013%20-%20Web.pdf

    Even if only 20% of those clients were being treated for problem gambling, that’s still more than the PGF’s 20-year average. In addition, the Sallies’ report says this:

    Addiction Services provides residential and day treatment and support for people with alcohol and drug addictions and for those struggling with problem gambling.

    I’d provide more evidence, but “less is more”! 😀


  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    KS, the Salvation Army deals with drug and alcohol addiction which involves a great deal more people, your 20% figure is just a random guess. The PGF has a focus on gambling only. Also I have heard that the Salvation Army didn’t actually put in a tender, but got the money anyway…bizarre.


  15. jabba says:

    so Dave .. are you, like Mallard and indeed the Labour Party, saying the Nat Govt have their dirty hands all over this .. yes or no?


  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    I am just asking why the PGF is no longer supported when they have obviously been doing excellent work and are internationally well regarded? Why over 70 staff will have to lose their jobs and why the Salvation Army have been given the role when they didn’t even put in a tender? Not all gamblers would want Christian based support.

    It all points to being politically influenced no matter what is being said about those who made the the decision. If there was a good reason then it could easily have been stated, but I haven’t heard a proper explanation yet. Do you know, Jabba?


  17. JC says:

    “If there was a good reason then it could easily have been stated, but I haven’t heard a proper explanation yet. Do you know, Jabba?”

    Its not up to Jabba to justify anything.. you are the one asserting without any evidence whatever that several public officials and Price Waterhouse have acted corruptly in this matter.

    Nor have you justified your high opinion of PGF, but using their own figures it looks like around 70 staff in dozens of locations have an annual client base of around 1200 gamblers.

    Thats around 17 gamblers per staff member at an annual cost of around $4100 per client.. clients who may be the same clients as the year before?

    Now PGF is a massive publicist of problem gambling but if all they can come up with is 1200 clients a year then we dont have a problem with gambling in this country or PGF isn’t very good or someone else has all the clients.. or whatever.

    If, as you say PGF has a good international reputation then all I can say is PGF are either magnificent turd polishers, or are following a lousy model and/or the KPI are inappropriate.

    Whatever, its time for someone else to have a go.



  18. Gravedodger says:

    Direct links between PGF and NZLP/GP through senior management roles of PGF and the unequalled speed Mallard went to open the batting before a ball was bowled, subsequent moon howling by Invercargill GP candidate Dave Kennedy with a shallow but impassioned defence of the trough makes what was once a redirection of contested funding to the Salvation Army very very sordid.

    Even if there was any connection between what Mallard and later you among others alledge, why be so surprised.
    Rest assured though evidence will be very hard to first discover and then verify.
    Making such wild and potentially defamitory statements about what I and many others saw as a very transparent contest for funding, at a significant arms length from the relevant ministers, and given a substantial kicking by Mallard so very early would have thinking people very wary.

    Dave K, have a look at the senior management of PGF and their “Board” then tell me why Kama would not show at least a passing interest , particularly with the very vocal and politically motovated opposition to the free convention center, the consolidation of the reducing numbers of poker machines to Sky City with that transfer reducing numbers in so called areas where “Vulnerable” gamblers have easy access.

    Then formulate a far better critique of what has actually happened to the contestable funding.

    On available published evidence around what PGF actually delivers, the costs and staff required, supporting infrastructure, for the millions cost to vote health says to me The Salvos woukld have had minimal difficulty in winning the contest.


  19. Dave Kennedy says:

    Unless we are given the real reason why the PGF has been passed over then we can only speculate. It appears that the PGF were very successful in limiting the growth of pokies in communities and were able to considerably cut the numbers back. They did far more than just treating individual gamblers as they attacked the problem at source. I can imagine many in the industry have not been happy with their effectiveness. Obviously I don’t have evidence for this but we do have parallels in other sectors. It is clear that lobbying from the liquor industry had a huge influence on the final legislation on the sale and advertising of alcohol, very few of the recommendations from the law commission were enacted in the end.

    To say that it was a transparent contest for funding is not reflecting the reality, I understand (and I am open to correction) that the Salvation Army didn’t actually put up a bid against the PGF but got the support anyway. I haven’t heard about the criteria that was used and why the Salvation Army was considered better in this particular role.

    This stuff about politically motivation makes no sense when no Green or Labour MPs will personally benefit from funding the PGF. Densie Roche’s husband no longer works for them. There is the possibility that they are genuinely upset because a worthy organisation will cease to exist.


  20. TraceyS says:

    Tender provisions usually make it clear that there is no obligation to accept any of the proposals tendered. Certainly no tenderer should go into that process expecting preferential treatment just because they have held contracts in the past.

    If none of the proposals are accepted then the principal can seek alternative proposals. There is nothing unusual in that and I think the reasons for it are quite clear. The principal doesn’t want to be forced into accepting a proposal that is not what it wants in the case that there are few or maybe even only one proposal(s) tendered.

    This goes on in the business world all the time – companies missing out on tenders where they clearly felt they were the best for the job. But it is necessarily a top-down process. Imagine trying to ensure procedural fairness if it was a bottom-up one? The process would become vulnerable to all manner of manipulations.

    Just reading through the above commentary, and in particular Dave’s comment; “…the PGF were very successful in limiting the growth of pokies in communities and were able to considerably cut the numbers back. They did far more than just treating individual gamblers as they attacked the problem at source”, I wonder if the PGF proposal might have gone beyond the scope of the tender prescription. Surely it is within the principal’s power to ask for tender proposals to treat problem gambling specifically, rather than having to accept that the money will be spent on a mix of gambling treatment and industry lobbying.


  21. TraceyS says:

    Now speaking of lies…

    Dave in a recent blog post states that Amy Adams is defending “conflict of interest charges”. He links those words to another person’s blog post that doesn’t even mention the word “charges” within its text.

    To give Dave the benefit of the doubt I will accept that this was a moment of overexcitement and that he may have made the all-too-common mistake of getting carried away. Heady with the latest poll result for the Green’s perhaps? Not likely as Dave doesn’t read too much into the polls.

    The alternative explanation would be that he’s “making stuff up!”


  22. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, using the word ‘charges’ was the milder term I could have used based on that link, I didn’t use the word corruption that was tagged underneath.

    It is interesting that a Herald editorial also implied that political influence was involved with the PGF decision.


  23. Ray says:

    “The alternative explanation would be that he’s “making stuff up!””

    He has some history with that on another blog.


  24. TraceyS says:

    Dave, I think you mean’t “claims”. Quite a different meaning to “charges” especially when including the word “defending” in the same sentence. Very misleading. But then I’d not expect you to agree.


  25. JC says:

    “It is interesting that a Herald editorial also implied that political influence was involved with the PGF decision.”

    The Herald also reported on these facts as opposed to conjecture:

    “Its director, Graeme Ramsay, did not blame politicians directly but offered: “The effect of this decision will be to silence our voice. We have spoken out on behalf of our clients and communities against the harm from gambling caused mainly by pokies and casinos.”

    Interestingly, the funding was for clinical and public health services, not for the advocacy elements of the foundation’s activities.”

    There in a nutshell is a problem for PGF.. there is a public perception that it has been working way outside its stated brief and funding to advocate an extreme position not favoured by any NZ Govt or by a major slice of the public.

    The knowledge that PGF has become a rathole for Labour and Green politicians and activists will have further weakened its position.



  26. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, rather than repeat what I have already written, here is my full argument:

    If problem gambling is treated like other addictions than the best way of doing that is to control the cause, just like we do with tobacco and alcohol. The gambling industry did not like how effective the PGF was at reducing the numbers of gaming machines and have made numerous complaints. Obviously the tendering process was shaped in a way that was able to skew the process and we may even see the growth of gaming machine numbers again (worst case scenario, but possible).


  27. JC says:

    “If problem gambling is treated like other addictions than the best way of doing that is to control the cause, just like we do with tobacco and alcohol.”

    If we are to compare numbers between smoking, drinking and gambling then gambling is a tiny problem as is demonstrated by the PGF figures on people counseled each year. The only reason for gambling to have any profile is the presence of lefty activists in PGF.. its a lefty political organization of dodgy accounting and ethics and we would be well rid of it.

    If the Greens want to make a splash with gambling they can do it through Parliament rather than infesting NGOs.



  28. TraceyS says:

    Exactly JC. If the government accepts that it will fund activism what’s to stop unions and other groups expecting (and being given) the same for their cause?

    Why can the PGF not continue with its lobbying role without government funding as other groups do? eg:

    “We are a not-for-profit organisation, and we receive no funding from the government – we need your support.”

    Dave often raises an issue with NZ’s dependency on single large industries, particularly dairy, for export income. All eggs in one basket not good, or something like that. So why does he defend an organisation so dependent on one particular source of funding income? Because it suits his agenda is why – just as the opposite eggs-basket argument does in the case of dairying.


  29. Gravedodger says:

    @ Dave K 24th 9 20 pm.
    You confuse “cause” and “opportunity”!

    Some of those I deem to have a “problem” are merely indulging themselves and the money they drop is discretionary just as others go to extraordinary efforts to play golf and indulge in other forms of entertainment I choose to avoid

    We see people on charges of fraud and misappropriation who are not so much addicted as “stupid”, plain and simple.
    Their crime and the subsequent offered excuse of addiction is total bollocks, they are thieves and the pathetic blaming and excusing results more from poor process and supervision and the rat cunning of the thief.
    Does the justice system excuse rape by suggesting the rapist is “addicted” and the victim was the cause, I don’t think so.

    Just because panty waists and do gooders resent some indulging in poker machines and label participation as a “problem” when in fact they really only resent a perceived waste of money.
    Why do those demented souls not have the same attitude to say garden clubs and golf clubs, they also remove money, time and resources from the “addicted” and could equally be charged with contributing to the misery of those close but not involved yet who could be said to “suffer” as a result of the resources being used to indulge a passion.
    Crikey I am addicted to fishing, reason dictates I would be seriously better off to buy fish at Fendalton Fish supply, sell all my gear, cease wasting endless hours on river banks and spend more time in my vege garden.

    The entirely voluntary contributions that accumulate from all forms of gambling create a resource as a first point of call for those requiring money for good works much preferred to tapping forced contributions from tax and rate payers.

    The Salvation army are dedicated people doing good works as a low cost service, the PGF was just another trough for now squealing pigs who would be better employed doing far more needed work elsewhere, cripes those 70 persons now with reduced work opportunities could join the salvos and we would not notice the change.
    The little piglets might notice a reduction in their returns from the gambling industry though.


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