Ministry of Bloody Insulting Extravagance

David Clark clashed with Steven Joyce clashed in Parliament over hair straighteners.

That’s David Clark:


And Steven Joyce:


Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I would suggest to the member that in his case and mine, hair straighteners are no use paid for by anybody, frankly.

He’s right about that, it’s not something either of them would have much experience with.

But Clark was right to point out the extravagance of MBIE spending taxpayer money on:

  • Installation of hair straighteners for staff use
  • $140,747.66 on a public information screen
  • $74,000 on a reception desk
  • $260,000 spent renovating a rooftop sundeck
  • $1,696 spending on a ministerial plaque  – plaques are commonly installed on buildings – but for new buildings. A plaque for a refurbishment seems to be a bit ridiculous.

This is on top of a $40,000 sign. MBIE is an extravagant embarrassment for Joyce.

MBIE – Ministry of Bloody Insulting Extravagance
(a poor example for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

[Sitting date: 17 June 2015. Volume:706;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

4. Dr DAVID CLARK (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Minister for Economic Development : Does the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s expenditure of $140,747.66 on a public information screen show it is achieving one of its principal goals of realising efficiency gains over time?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I am disappointed with both the cost of the public information screen and the outside sign, and, as I have said publicly, I have spoken to the chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and made clear my disappointment. He has accepted that those two items in their relocation should have cost less, and in future large building projects will have additional oversight. It is important that these two items are seen in the context of savings of $40 million over 20 years by being located in a single head office that come from a 31 percent reduction in office space. It is also important to note that the overall cost of that development came in at $2 million under budget.

Dr David Clark : Does spending $74,000 on a reception desk show good judgment?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The member could run through a number of things that he and I could both have an opinion on, but, actually, overall the project has saved very significant sums of money for taxpayers—$40 million over 20 years—and it also came in under budget.

Dr David Clark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very direct and straightforward question, and it was not answered or addressed.

Mr SPEAKER : In my opinion, in listening carefully to the answer, from what I could hear it was addressed. It would help if the member could ask his own colleagues to be a little quieter, and then he might well have heard the answer more clearly as well. Does the member have a further supplementary question?

Dr David Clark : I did hear the answer, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Then he will agree that it was addressed.

Dr David Clark : Can he confirm that his name appears on the ministerial plaque described in the release documents as requiring an additional $1,696 spending variation in the contract; if so, is he the Minister responsible to this House for the expenditure referred to in my questions today?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : It could be helpful to the member to point out that he is failing to make the distinction between policy-related issues, which it is right and proper that the Minister gets involved in, and operational issues, which are the responsibility of the chief executive. We have seen examples in this House of members failing to observe the differences that are appropriate in what could be known as the “Trevor Mallard – Erin Leigh effect”. If Ministers start trying to run the departments for the chief executives, that generally does not work out well.

Dr David Clark : It will be an epitaph, not a plaque. Does spending taxpayer money on the installation of hair straighteners show good judgment—

Hon Steven Joyce : Well, not for you.

Dr David Clark : —well, not for you or me—if so, is the forward rental contract flexible enough to allow the Government installation of hair curlers as and when Wellington’s fashions change?

Mr SPEAKER : In so far as there is ministerial responsibility in this particular case.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I would suggest to the member that in his case and mine, hair straighteners are no use paid for by anybody, frankly.

Labour press release: Labour attacks cost of MBIE’s “flashy foyer” in new Stout Street offices

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  1. An Asian at my table

     /  17th June 2015

    Sounds like the CEO of the MBIE has taken a leaf out of Len Brown’s spending manual 🙂

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th June 2015

    Ye Gods, hair straighteners. Are they employing Melanesians? What a useless bunch of self-entitling wasters.

  3. Pete Kane

     /  17th June 2015

    Their CEO on Morning Report today sounded like a character out of a Public Service/Government ‘black comedy’ that the British do so well (even provided the accent to add authenticity).$140,000-on-display-monitor

    But then I caught up with the much discussed Native Affairs expose (NO.2) regarding the Directors and Management of the Te Kohanga Reo Trust Board and its ‘commercial’ offshoot.

    They had MIBE looking positively prudent and Hekia Parata making Steven Joyce appear Christ like.

  4. Goldie

     /  18th June 2015

    No surprise. MBIE is completely dysfunctional. Management is generally very poor in MBIE, and from my experience, the staff really don’t know what they are supposed to be doing. There is no direction from above, no performance management, no discipline, and useless staff and managers have entrenched themselves. I am amazed after the AG’s damning report last year that David Smol is still there.

    • Beryl

       /  18th June 2015

      My brother was contracted as an IT Consultant to MBIE for a number of months last year. He said it was the nearest thing to a re-run of Roger Hall’s ‘Gliding On’ he had ever come across – except they weren’t acting 🙂


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