Oftentimes it can be difficult to draw attention to government waste and needless spending since most of it is done discreetly to avoid the public outrage that would rightly ensue. The New Zealand Taxpayers Union (NZTU) found a unique way to overcome this problem with their inaugural “Jonesie Waste Awards,” an event which took place inside the Legislative Council Chamber of Parliament in October.
The Jonesie Waste Awards (The Jonesies) are awards given out to government entities and elected officials who have wasted the New Zealand Taxpayers’ money in uniquely terrible ways. In other words — they “celebrate” the worst abuses of government. Members of the NZTU went into Parliament in the black-tie attire appropriate for an awards show event. The “nominees” were grouped into three categories: Local Government, Central Government, and individual Lifetime Achievement
“The Jonesies celebrate the best of the worst of government waste, greed, and graft, foolishness, and flagrancy, at the local and central government levels,” NZTU says in its report. “The sheer scale of troughing is not the only criteria for a Jonesie nomination — some smaller extravagances have earned nominations thanks to their absolute absurdity or how they encapsulate a corrosive culture of frivolous waste.”
Members of the NZTU went into Parliament in the black-tie attire appropriate for an awards show event. The “nominees” were grouped into three categories: Local Government, Central Government, and individual Lifetime Achievement
In the Local Government category, the winner was the city council of Auckland which spent $91,742 on an initiative to eliminate feral goats in its mountains and resulted in zero goats killed. The winner in the Central Government Category was the New Zealand Film commision which paid the producers of the kids show “Power Rangers” (which is filmed in the country) $1.6 million dollars to reference New Zealand in their scripts. Hon Shane Jones, minister for regional economic development, found himself the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for the $3 billion dollars his Provincial Growth Fund has accrued and of which only 10 percent has been allocated. This incredible achievement in government malfeasance prompted NZTU to name its award in his honor. NZTU has the full list of nominees in its report found on their website.
NZTU got the idea for the Jonsies from an Atlas Network partner, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which has hosted their awards show, the Teddies, in the Canadian Parliment for almost 20 years. While only its first year, in its report the New Zealand Taxpayers Union foresees the Jonesies having a long-lasting impact that will hold government agencies and officials accountable to their constituents. “This is envisaged as the first event of an annual tradition. We suggest that in future, any politician or bureaucrat pondering ways to fritter away taxpayer money ought to consider whether they might end up with a Jonesie on their desk.”