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New Zealand: ‘Talkfest torpedoed’

A few right-of-center New Zealand bloggers have applauded the new Social Development Minister’s push to cancel a February summit planned by the Families Commission that would bring together 150 leaders and decision makers together at Auckland's Waipuna Lodge.

The problem: The cost, which was estimated at $200,000.

The Families Commission had been planning the summit for more than a year, when economic times were much brighter. But Paula Bennett, the Minister of the new National government, said that at a time when New Zealand’s economy was faltering, the proposed summit would be seen as wasteful.

BustedBlonde, who writes RoarPrawn, a blog that prides itself on “keeping watch for any evidence of corruption in our political sphere,” was escatic.

Paula Bennett might be part Maori but its clear she aint one for bullshit hui. She has given the Families Commission ( What the hell have they ever achieved????) a stern talking to about a big $200k talkfest they had planned. Its now not happening.

While we are at it, we here at Roarprawn reckon that Paula should disband the Commission and get the volunatry agencies to bid for the commisson money and give it to the ones with the best ideas. They voluntary agencies have the best networks, are at the coalface and know where the greatest need is.

From Keeping Stock said the decision shines brightly on the newly elected Minister:

Paula Bennett's Ministerial career is off to a great start with her “recommendation” to the Families Commission that it “reconsider” plans for a $200,000 summit in Auckland. The Commission has duly reconsidered, and pulled the plug!

It's interesting that the summit had been signed off by former Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson, who was only too happy to follow Labour's culture of “spend the taxpayers’ money and bugger the consequences.”. And who originally proposed the summit? Why, no other luminary than Rajen Prasad who, by sheer coincidence, has just eneterd Parliament from Labour's list, in its bid for rejuvenation!!

Lindsay Mitchell, who argues “the welfare state is unsustainable economically, socially and morally,” was also supportive of Bennett’s moves.

It was unclear yesterday what Paula Bennett intended to do about a families Commission Summit to be held in February 2009 at the cost of 200,000 so I didn't comment. Now it is clear she is pulling the plug on the affair. Well done. If National continues with this habit there will certainly be less to criticise. With the talkfest torpedoed she might as well go a step further and disband the Commission itself. Apart from preserving paper-producing jobs (of which there are hundreds more within MSD) I can think of no reason to persist with it.

Politics may also be at issue with criticism of the summit. New Zealand newspapers have pointed out the Families Commssion — responsible, among other things, for helping shape government policies serving the best interests of families — was initially a United Party initiative whose establishment was a condition of the “minor party's support agreement with the Labour Government after the 2002 election.” All that remains of the once solidly Christian party in Parliament is leader Peter Dunne, who became part of the newly elected National Government and has retained a portfolio of Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister for Health.

KiwiBlog was incredulous that the Families Commission had trouble finding suitable funding for the conference and had changed the agenda to focus more on economic issues.

So they were not going to attract their budgeted income for the conference, yet still go ahead with it. And more curious, there seemed to be no fixed reason for having the conference – they just changed it to whatever was topical.

Let’s stay with a few commenters in Kiwiblog.

From goodgod:

I notice the Families Commission also tried wailing that it was “well known” that the conference would take place over a year ago. As if that’s a valid reason to waste $200k. Well guess what, wastrells, your Labour friends are gone and it’s time to wake up.

Chfr opined:

…I also noticed that the bill for this event of $200 000 for 150 participants equates to $1333 odd per person, without flights as participants were being asked to pay for them themselves. Knowing the venue this seems a bit steep for a 2 day event so who was being paid to offer their advice.

Note to the new government…If a lay person needs a highly paid wallah to explain either the title or content of an event such as this then there is a good chance that this is a feel good waste of time and effort and someone just trying to justify either their own job or whole department and probably shouldn’t go ahead.

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