Winning the Government’s lottery

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
29 April, 2022

If only the Government’s public relations staff were as good as Lotto New Zealand’s.

Twice each week, Lotto asks us to imagine those millions of dollars coming our way in the Powerball draw.

Lotto also places small trophies at newsagents selling winning tickets. After that, they share glimpses of the luxury lives enjoyed by their winners.

Well, the winners of the latest lottery run by the Government only receive a media release from energy minister Megan Woods. No trophy, no photo shoot, no extravagant party.

It is grossly unfair. Those Government lottery winners are even luckier than your average Lotto millionaire.

The Government’s hand-picked winners didn’t even have to buy tickets. They just did their normal jobs.

Consider the case of ANZCO Foods, which won $1,081,000 from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund.

There is an aging coal boiler at ANZCO’s Kokiri site, which needs to be replaced. Not only because it is aging but also because, with current carbon prices above $70 a tonne, it no longer makes sense to burn coal.

Therefore, ANZCO swapped its old, carbon-intensive equipment for an electric boiler and a high-temperature heat pump.

That the Government then subsidised this business decision would have been like a first division lottery price for the company.

Congratulations, ANZCO. You got money for nothing.

The same is true for DB Breweries: half a million dollars for a heat pump to reduce its gas consumption. A good business decision that wins the company some extra government cash at the same time. As they say, “Yeah, right.”

How ironic that DB Breweries is mostly owned by the Dutch Heineken family. Who knew that even foreigners can win the Government’s lottery?

But wait, it gets better.

The Government also claims that all their wonderful GIDI funding saves carbon emissions. But because of the cap in our Emissions Trading Scheme, any emissions saved from these projects will be transferred to other emitters. The net effect is zero.

Oh, and by the way, funding for the Government’s GIDI lottery comes from ... drum rolls ... the Covid Response and Recovery Fund. Who knew what a pandemic can be good for?

Finally, if the Government does not celebrate its idiotic lottery enough, at least BusinessNZ did it for them with a gushing media release. As if business subsidies could replace good policy.

Cash for business-as-usual. Cash for no overall carbon reductions. Cash for foreign-owned private companies. Cash for climate projects from the Covid fund.

Why write satire these days when this is official government policy?

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