The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has come under fire for spending $200,000 on an app that has been downloaded just 1,000 times, forcing staff members to post positive reviews in a bid to boost downloads.
In Parliamentary records revealed this week, the Steven Joyce led department forked out $198,067.30 to external provider Alphero to create and develop a New Zealand Regions mobile app.
Designed to promote Regional Economic Activity Report, poor initial downloads have prompted opposition from across the political landscape, chiefly the Labour Party who’ve criticised Joyce’s culture of extravagance.
“It was likely never intended to be used much, just to look good at Steven Joyce’s launch party,” claims David Clark, Spokesperson, Economic Development.
“This is classic Joyce. No one in the real world would download an app to look at information they can find more easily on the internet.
“This is just expensive window dressing. Most apps cost just a dollar. This one has cost the taxpayer $200 for each download.”
As Clark points out, it appears the makers and MBIE got so worried about lack of interest they rated the app themselves.
“The first three ratings are Nicholas Guthrie and Craig Eades, who work for the app maker Alphero, and Peter Ellis who works for MBIE,” Clark claims.
“Of course they all gave it five stars. Mr Joyce will be pleased with them. There is so much wasted money coming from agencies connected to Steven Joyce.
“MBIE is infamous for its makeover that included $360,000 on expensive furniture, $140,000 on a giant TV screen, $260,000 on a sundeck, $70,000 on a sign and $200 on hair straighteners.”
Clark adds that just last week another of Steven Joyce’s agencies, NZTE, was exposed for spending $30,000 on pounamu pendants for staff and as Tertiary Education Minister he is jointly responsible for the Ministry of Education’s $2.5 million Stairway to Heaven.
“If we want regional New Zealand to prosper, we need to support regional priorities,” Clark adds.
“That means investment in real infrastructure and real jobs, not TVs, trinkets and flashy downloads.”