Clean mud but still muck up

Concern over biosecurity issues with mud Rotorua plans to import for a festival have prompted the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to issue this statement:

MPI is aware of the potential upcoming import of mud from South Korea and we have been working with the Rotorua City Council to ensure that there are no biosecurity risks associated with this shipment.

All imports of risk goods including plants and soil or clay must meet our strict biosecurity standards before being allowed into New Zealand. The product in this case, is clay (but called ‘mud’) that would be milled and filtered to remove any possible organic material, then heat treated to between 70 and 80 degrees for 72 hours, before being crushed into a fine powder. The mud is finally irradiated at 10 kilogray before it is imported.

These treatments will make the mud sterile, therefore removing any biosecurity risks.

To ensure the mud is safe, MPI will verify that the treatments have been applied before providing clearance.

We can be assured then that any mud, or clay, that gets to Rotorua will be clean.

There is much less assurance over the wisdom of spending $90,000 to import the mud which prompted a visit from the Taxpayers’ Union Porky:

The Taxpayers’ Union mascot, “Porky the Waste-hater”, visited Rotorua this morning, and awarded the Rotorua Mayor a “Supreme Achievement Award” for imagination and achievement in wasting public money, following the Mayor’s decision to spend $90,000 of public money to import five tonnes of mud from South Korea. The mud is to supplement the local variety at Rotorua’s ‘Mudtopia’ festival later in the year.

After some waiting, Ms Chadwick failed to front (apparently she was too busy). Nevertheless, an official accepted the award on her behalf.  

The award recognises the most creative use of taxpayers’ money we have seen yet. The favourite pastime of our mascot Porky is playing in mud, but even he condemns this total waste of money.

Steve Chadwick has created New Zealand’s very own ‘coals to Newcastle’ story.  Even the BBC has covered this ridiculous and frivolous waste.

The whole reason Rotorua Lakes Council received a tourism grant from MBIE was to promote Rotorua and its mud as a destination.  Instead, these geniuses flew to Korea and used the money to buy the foreign variety.

We elect politicians to be guardians of the ratepayer and taxpayer purse.  Unfortunately, that’s clearly not happening here in Rotorua.

What makes this Council’s behaviour particularly galling is the fact that Councillors tried to defend the spending in local media by saying that it’s ‘only taxpayer’ money, since a large amount was funded from an MBIE grant. What a disgraceful attitude to the hard-working taxpayers who earned that money.

It may be true that where there’s muck there’s brass, in this case it looks like a muck-up using the public’s brass.

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