WINZ Conference Mark II

Another sign of third termitis. Most will recall the fuss over a WINZ conference in 1999 which cost $235,000.

Phil Heatley revealed yesterday that Hosuing NZ has spent $65,000 on a conference for 94 managers at the luxury Tongariro Lodge.

The third termitis is the staunch defence of it by Minister Maryan Street, instead of realising the political impact of holding a conference in a luxury resort.

There are two issues when it comes to public service conferences – cost and location.

In terms of cost, the conference cost around $700 a person. It isn’t an outrageous amount, but neither is it as cheap as if you held the conference in Auckland or Wellington where most of the staff are.

The bigger issue is location. A luxury lodge location is a bad look for a taxpayer funded agency. Doesn’t matter if you get a discount. And if you are WINZ or Housing NZ – an agency tasked with helping low income families especially, it is even more inappropriate.

Street should have acknowledged this, rather than defended the decision.

If you hold the conference at the Rotorua Novotel or the Dunedin Holiday Inn, no one will criticise you for it.

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