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