Winston Peters is promising to boost the wool industry by forbidding the use of synthetic carpets and insulation in government-funded buildings if NZ First is part of the next government.
“Whether a government office or a Housing New Zealand property, where carpet is specified it will be natural wool or fibre from here on in,” he said on Monday.
“New Zealand First will swing government procurement in behind natural, renewable and sustainable wool and natural fibres.”
Why stop there? Why not also promise the bricklayers than wood buildings will be banned. Also promise the dairy farmers than no government office will have any liquids other than milk.
The Taxpayers’ Union described the policy as “a refreshing step back to the 1970s”.
“Carpets, as well as all other government supplies, should be selected on value for money alone,” said executive director Jordan Williams.
“This sort of crony favouritism by politicians is exactly the sort of thing which sent New Zealand bust in the early days of Peters’ career.”
It is cronyism. And expensive cronyism. The NZTU point out:
NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’ announcement this morning, to line all Government offices with woollen carpets, would cost approximately $120 million, based on the Government Property Group’s estimate of Government floor space.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “While smarter carpets for government bureaucrats may be appealing to some, in comparison to what $120 million will buy you in nurses, policeman or teachers, we’re not so sure.”
Yep $120 million on nicer carpets for public servants!
Using a standard price of a woollen carpet of $79 per square metre, and a floor space of 1,524,524 metres squared, the total cost is $120,437,396.
If new carpets were only installed as part of usual replacements, the marginal cost of wool is $60 million to $93 million (in today’s dollars) more than usual synthetic commercial carpets.
Either way a huge amount of money as a naked bribe.