Tuesday, 29 November 2016

No new parliamentary building for MPs, says NOT PC: Make room downtown instead



Some years ago back when Rodney Hide was busting perks rather than enjoying them, he busted the government’s plans for a new parliamentary building that was going to cost taxpayers millions. (This may be the only service he ever performed for the country.)

The plan to give hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to Wellington builders and interior designers didn’t disappear like his morals, however, it just slumbered. And with the lease on  Bowen House soon to expire, Sleeping Beauty has been dusted off – this time with the boast that it will cost “only” $100 million this time. Plus cockups.

Naturally, the Government’s David Farrar is big on the boasting, arguing it’s better not to pay foreigners $6 million a year to rent Bowen House to house MPs, and to build big instead. A commenter there identifies the false alternative however, and with it calls the National blogger’s bluff in a way that saves us both costs: given that National had promised to slash bureaucrat numbers, surely it’s better to use one of the many government buildings that should now be sitting empty for lack of staff to fill them? And if there are not, then why not.

And since we know that rather than slashing numbers as promised the Key Government has instead raised them, perhaps some genuine opposition to the government could extract some sort of a promise from them: that instead of either building big or renting again, that it has until the Bowen House lease expires to find office space in Wellington by laying off enough surplus staff to make room for Bowen House’s soon-to-be ex-tenants.

Tick tock.

PS: If anyone thinks the cost of building for MPs is ever cheap, they need to read (or re-read) the story of Europe’s most costly building of its size ever constructed. Situated in Westminster and connected by tunnel to its parliamentary host, just like Bowen House, the cost of Portcullis House became so rapidly inflated by all the extras that British MPs desired for themselves that the palace was built (eventually) at a cost of £1.2m for each MP.

And they’re still suing.

[Pic from the Government Blogger]

[Pic from.


  1. They could house them in the space vacated by the Inland Revenue staff who have had to leave Asteron House in Featherston Street, once that building is back in service. Of course, that would mean permanently losing many of the IR staff who used to occupy that building - gosh, that's a bonus I've only just thought of!

  2. Lets get a few facts straight. They never promised to "slash bureaucrat numbers" - only to cap 'core' admin numbers - which they have done and it is reported on regularly by the SSC.

    There are exceptions (corrections, WINZ, CYFS)

    See: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/sites/all/files/capping-update-december-2015.pdf

    Quote: "On 16 March 2009, Cabinet agreed that the cap for the size of core government
    administration would be 38,859 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. This comprised the
    total of FTE staff and unfilled vacancies for the cap at that time.


    As at 31 December 2015, there were 35,917 FTE positions in the core government

    From the graph you will see that the total public service FTE headcount including the three exempted departments above has gone from 45,297 to 45,348.

    Remember that under Labour the public service was ballooning at a frightening rate - turning that juggernaut around was good work.

    1. Alright, fair enough, they talked about reducing numbers by attrition, about a 'sinking lid,' but since their reign began the lid has been rising, not sinking.

      You should note that their definition of "core" bureacrats was changed post-election, which is precisely what politicians do to massage figures. Which is what this new measure has done.

      Because the total number, the only number that matters, is still rising -- never shrinking.

      And that's without counting "consultants" ...

  3. The Government blogger needs me.
    I can straighten up Bowen house for only $1.2 x ten.


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