The Hundertwasser Art Centre is a cautionary tale for politicians who believe they can spend money better than the people who earned it – and governments need to start resisting calls for corporate welfare if we’re going to get the books back in shape.

The Centre received $7 million from the National Government prior to the 2017 election and then $18.5 million from the Labour-NZ First Government.

Backers of the project claimed it would attract 450,000 new visitors to Whangarei a year and that it would pay its own way.

RNZ is now reporting that not even 20,000 people visited in the second half of 2023 – about 10 per cent of what was forecast. The Centre is forecast to run out of money in October 2025, with some suggestions local ratepayers would be asked to cover the shortfall.

Every politician knows the temptation of the photo opportunities that come with splashing taxpayer money.

But the reality is that New Zealanders simply can’t afford governments to continue dishing out corporate welfare based on false promises that ‘investing’ taxpayer money will result in significant payoffs – the payoff almost never eventuates, and the money is almost always better invested by the private sector.

No one knows how to spend a dollar better than the person who earned it. That’s why ACT is relentlessly focused on reducing wasteful spending in Wellington and returning it to taxpayers.

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