Crazy Rich Ministries

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
21 September, 2018

You can’t get more lavish than washing down some white gold caviar with Moet champagne while partying on top of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
That’s how the rich and famous celebrated in Crazy Rich Asians, the latest blockbuster to hit theatres.
Well, you might. Especially, if you were one of the delegates at the Ministry of Justice summit in Porirua, or at either of the Ministry of Education summits in Auckland or Christchurch.
At $1.5 million for the justice summit and $3 million for the two education summits, the ministries spent more than $2,000 per person.
We ran the numbers here at the Initiative and the only reasonable price, albeit overestimated, we could get to was around $1,000 per person. That is if they spent $300 on flights, $200 on taxis, $200 on food, $60 on venue hire and AV, and $200 on accommodation. And that’s if they flew all 2,100 delegates to the three summits and back.

We concluded that the only way these three summits could have cost $2,000 per person is by serving kopi luwak coffee for breakfast ($80 per cup), beluga caviar for morning tea ($8 per teaspoon), and wagyu steaks for lunch ($250) – and by giving everyone a bottle of Dom Perignon ($215) in their goodie bag to boot.

We still couldn’t create a $1.5 million event!

Even when we subtracted the $440,000 to design and develop the two education summits, the Ministry of Education still spent more than $1,900 per person.

Seriously, where did all that money go? Did they fly every delegate to Queenstown for a team building exercise beforehand?

Here at the Initiative we’ve organised one-day events with international guest speakers for less than $400 per person.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised. It was only a few years ago that the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment spent $140,000 on a 3.5-metre screen in their reception and $67,000 on a sign outside their building.

Indeed, the latest headline news stories on ministry overspending are completely in line with the Initiative’s latest report, Fit for Purpose? which concluded that one-third of New Zealand government spending is wasteful. This represents around 13% of GDP, or $20,000 per household, annually.

Not only does the data say the government is wasting money, but anecdotal evidence from anyone who’s worked in a Ministry points to an ongoing, egregious waste of taxpayer’s money.

Crazy Rich Asians are spending their own money, while Crazy Rich Ministries are spending your money

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates