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Mike's Minute: Yet another Government Covid programme found wanting

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Feb 2021, 9:31AM

Mike's Minute: Yet another Government Covid programme found wanting

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Feb 2021, 9:31AM

A little bit of vindication for those of us that have seen the mess part of the government's so-called Covid Support Scheme has produced.

This government doesn’t do detail, it doesn't think things through.

The wage subsidy has run into months of trouble as it became abundantly clear that many of those that got support to stay open and save jobs, not only stayed open and saved jobs, but as it turned out, made a profit. And in some cases, boomed, and then in some other cases paid investors a dividend.

Many asked, if you're so profitable why is the taxpayer funding this?

I defended it. Based on the simple premise that the government wanted money out the door fast, and as such simply said, if you're income is hit by 30 percent or more, you meet the criteria. The rest is a moral scrap that still unfolds to this day.

But the STAPP programme seemed even less thought out. It was designed to help tourism operators survive until the borders opened and a special part of that programme was for integral companies who attracted tourists and supported regions.

Trouble is some got a fortune, some got nothing, and not a lot of it made any sense.

The Auditor General has now launched an investigation. It got so bad at one point, MBIE said pull the pin, it's a mess.

The most famous case was, of course, the Hackett bungy operation. They got $5 million cash and a $5 million credit line. Some businesses didn't think they even qualified, so didn’t apply, only to see a similar business get support.

As the borders remain shut, and those who missed the boat, hang on by a thread, or indeed have folded, the anger not surprisingly has grown. The government, yet again, are caught not acting, not knowing what to do, and certainly not reassuring anyone.

Big question is, what will an inquiry do? It will unquestionably find the scheme wanting, it was a shambles. But then what? And even bigger question, do the government learn? Or do they just do what they always do? Release it on a Friday, or before Christmas, and pretend there is nothing to see here.

By the time you deal with Ihumatao, Trevor Mallard, the Simpson-Roche report, the flu vaccine, the PPE, the measles, MIQ, the wage subsidy, the SME loan scheme, the PGF, KiwiBuild, Iain Less-Galloway, Clare Curran, Meka Whaitiri, and Phil Twyford, they're racking up quite the record.

The sad reality is the Auditor General's STAPP report will simply get added to the pile.

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