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PETER WILLIAMS: Is there no end to the waste?

Fiscal discipline missing at DOC.

On May 24th this year, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Conservation Mike Tully emailed other members of the senior leadership team and other line managers at the department.

This was soon after the Budget, where DOC did not get a significant increase in funding and is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

Mr Tully is pretty frank. He wrote: “To be transparent, the initial view shows that we do not have sufficient funding to cover our basic running costs.”

So essentially DOC can’t get enough money to operate. They also have $300 million worth of deferred maintenance that needs doing.

But despite this dire financial situation, the department is now prepared to pay staff a bonus of up to $3500 a person if they become proficient in Māori language skills. Yet the skills that DOC staff might pick up through becoming proficient in te reo are completely unrelated to their job.

In other words, they can do their job just fine without learning Maori language. Their HR boss – these days called the Chief People Officer – says that “DOC have no positions that require te reo Maori for the practical purpose of communicating in the course of work.”

So why, when you are in deep financial schtuck, do you go and spend money like this?

Even worse there is no budget for it and requests for information about how much it might cost will only be considered under the Official Information Act.

It is, to say the kindest thing, absolutely irresponsible spending on the part of DOC.

They have around 2500 staff. If everybody reached the top achievement level in te reo proficiency, it would cost DOC about 8 and half million.

Which is a drop in the bucket of DOC’s 600 million annual budget. But that’s not the point. That eight and a half million could go some way towards all that maintenance and repairs at DOC facilities that are needed all over the country.

This is unnecessary, wasteful spending being pushed by the idealogues who just don’t care about spending other people’s money.

Writer and broadcaster for half a century. Now watching from the sidelines. Subscribe to Peter William's Substack here

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