AJ Hackett millions defended by minister

Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis
After a social media backlash, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis is defending $10million in grant and loan funding package to AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand.

Speaking in Queenstown yesterday, Mr Davis said the funding was about saving jobs so the wider community would benefit.

"If we don’t have the backbone of the New Zealand industry there when the borders do open, well, what will visitors do?

"It will diminish our tourism offering."

He was responding to hundreds of social media comments about Wednesday’s announcement that AJ Hackett Bungy, which operates six sites in Queenstown, Auckland and Taupo, would receive a $5.1million grant in the first year and a $5.1million loan in the second year, if required.

The funding will come from the strategic tourism assets protection programme, which is part of the Government’s $400million tourism sector recovery package.

Mr Davis told the Otago Daily Times any business that met the criteria — "big or small, mum-and-dad operations" — were in the running for the money.

Two Queenstown business owners were circumspect when asked about the issue.

Nomad Safaris Queenstown managing director David Gatward-Ferguson said it was a big topic of conversation among business owners in the resort.

While he realised more Queenstown businesses might benefit from the programme in the coming weeks, it was "disappointing" so much money was going to one company.

"It could’ve helped so many small businesses that are struggling."

Watertight Group owner Michael Burgess, who co-owns several resort bars, said he was reluctant to criticise any businesses that received money from the programme because they were simply following a process set down by the Government.

"You can’t save everybody, and I suppose the powers that be have to make decisions about who to support."

Comments

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The numbers do not stack up- it still is $500,000 per job saved over 2 years- that is crazy, period, no matter how you spin it. Remember, this company was charging $200 per jump (before reducing their prices by 40% recently). That was a money spinner, for someone- maybe they should be paying their workers out of those massive profits...not the NZ tax payer?

It is as has been said "corporate welfare" to already wealthy owners and which should have reserves to carry their business thru being relatively easy to hibernate. Shortly after announcement, a collector came by for funds to help lesser able children get access to teacher aides, !0 million would have gone a long way helping such children and benefitting society and these jobs.

On the day the money was announced a company representative said that this gift would allow the company to immediately reopen their 13 bungy sites. Only six of those sites are in NZ.

So NZ tax payer money is directly going to support foreign jobs in foreign countries. Why?

This is a silly, indefensible gift to one of the most profitable tourism companies in the country. And to one of the countries richest people who has made many millions over the years off the very same business.

Corporate welfare - we don't pay our taxes so an asset in private hands can get $10million. Dunstan hospital cost $8 million. It is so wrong to give one group of very limited number this $10 million for their private business. They should be ashamed to have asked and ashamed to accept.

Such a good deal. Tell you what Mr. Davis, for every $1/2 million you throw my way I'll guarantee to pay someone the same rate as an A J Hacket bungee instructor gets per annum as long as I get to keep the difference.

$200 per jump? Wow that went up. i remember when it was $100 jump and free for being naked... musta been years ago. I'm so out of the times.

This is absurd considering this is probably a temporary reprieve. Few seem to understand, we have a new future dawning, without mass tourism for 5 years at least.

$10 million to help people jump off a bridge, secured by a large rubber band? There must be a million ways to better use that much money.

We are witnessing the largest criminal heist in human history. Worldwide the transfer of money to corporate from middle class debt is obscene. All based on the sniffles.

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