New Zealand First is trying to court farmers and has come up with a policy that takes us back to the 1970s:
Clearly Winston Peters has had a flashback to the 1970s when he was MP for Hunua under Rob Muldoon with this ‘Fortress New Zealand’ proclamation that under his watch no civil servant would walk synthetic again.
Earlier today, Peters issued a press release setting out NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’which favours wool and fibre over everything else.
Taxpayers’ Union, Executive Director, Jordan Williams says “While some will be scratching their heads that 76 days out from the election Winston Peters’ priority is the carpets, the issue is actually an important reminder of why taxpayers must be ever-vigilant”.
“Carpets, as well as all other government supplies, should be selected on value for money alone. This sort of crony favouritism by politicians is exactly the sort of thing which sent New Zealand bust in the early days of Peters’ career”.
“Here’s hoping Peters’ release is merely an ill-timed joke and that he hasn’t come full circle”.
It isn’t a joke. It’s a policy and one farmers don’t want.
Wool is in the doldrums but a return to the woolly thinking of the past when political interference and subsidies were the norm is not the answer, especially when the $120 million it would cost would be better spent elsewhere:
NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’ announcement this morning, to line all Government offices with woollen carpets, would cost approximately $120 million, based on the Government Property Group’s estimate of Government floor space.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “While smarter carpets for government bureaucrats may be appealing to some, in comparison to what $120 million will buy you in nurses, policeman or teachers, we’re not so sure.”
“In another context, $120 million is the income tax take of over 6,000 average New Zealand households. The Taxpayers’ Union questions whether taxpayers would really get $120 million of value for bureaucrats having woollen carpet and a more comfortable walk around their office.”
“In the lead-up to the election, we would encourage all political parties to provide costings with their policy announcements. If not, the Taxpayers’ Union will be here to help.”
• Using a standard price of a woollen carpet of $79 per square metre, and a floor space of 1,524,524 metres squared, the total cost is $120,437,396.
• If new carpets were only installed as part of usual replacements, the marginal cost of wool is $60 million to $93 million (in today’s dollars) more than usual synthetic commercial carpets.
We have only wool carpet in our home but that’s our choice and paid for with our own money.
The decision on what carpet to use in Government offices is one for the chief executive, not politicians.
It should be based on the best value for the taxpayers’ money, not political direction from an opportunist trying to court voters.
Political interference and subsidies got farming and farmers into a mess. Getting out of it through the reforms of the 1980s and 90s came at considerable financial and emotional cost.
We don’t want policy based on woolly thinking that will take us back to the bad old days when political whim rather than commercial reality drove business decisions.