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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Here comes Amazon.com?

19 April 2021

Apparently Amazon.com is coming to New Zealand.

Does that mean we'll have local access to a rich wealth of online shopping?

Will it mean that our skies will be darkened by flocks of drones dropping your new purchase at your doorstep?

Might it be that thousands of Kiwis will have the chance of new jobs in warehouses where toilet break consists of unscrewing a bottle and having a wee at your workstation?

Um... probably not.

Amazon is coming to New Zealand in order to make episodes of its LOTR series for the Amazon Prime streaming video service.

The government has been crowing about this coup in recent days and claiming that it will be a great boost to the nation's economy.

They have also quietly understated the fact that there will be over $100m of taxpayers's money involved in luring the giant multinational's production team to our shores.

Don't worry, we're told. The 25% taxpayer contribution towards the cost of making this epic TV series will be repaid manifold in terms of the tourism revenues that are generated in the wake of that series.

Excuse me?

Has someone forgotten to tell our government that we're in the middle of a global pandemic and that tourists can't come to NZ even if they want to?

Okay, let's be fair, the pandemic can't last forever -- right? Eventually our borders will re-open and then we can reap the rich rewards that come from subsidising one of the largest and richest corporations in the world to make dross for our TV sets.

Forget about NZ's child poverty problem. Disregard the incredible housing issues. Ignore the fact that by the time our borders reopen we may not have much of an international tourism industry left here in NZ.

Oh no, this isn't about the little people... it's far more about boozy lunches and perks for NZ's own top civil servants, politicians and business-people perhaps.

Nothing attracts favours from politicians more than a photo-opportunity or the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Just look at how the Wiggles jumped a very long queue to get spots in MIQ so that they could tour NZ -- whilst good, honest, hard-working Kiwis estranged from their families and seeking to return before they died had to wait in line.

It seems our politicians don't see much value in rubbing shoulders with the poor, homeless or terminaly ill these days.

Okay, I probably overstate things for effect there... but the naivety of the current government beggars belief in respect to Amazon. They've decided to justify this massive expenditure of taxpayers' money (at a time we can least afford it) by claiming that Amazon will bring not just a production crew to NZ but many of their other technologies and business arms. Hell, we could even see those Amazon drones in our skies -- if you believe the rot that we're being told by our leaders.

I sigh with disappointment (again) when I see that those who are charged with the responsibility of leading this nation into the future actually get sucked in by scams like the "Amazone drone delivery" hype. As I've said many times before, Amazon is not and never will be a drone delivery company. The economics of drone delivery do not stack up and Amazon's involvement in this field is simply smoke and mirrors designed to reserve a place in the drone traffic management arena for some unspecified time in the future.

The other worry is that if our government was to encourage Amazon to set up a local warehouse and get heavily into servicing the local market then they would be condemning even more of our small businesses to the scrapheap. Many small retailers would go out of business almost overnight, if Amazon set up an operation here.

How would you feel if you were a small retailer and your taxes were being given to the company that ultimately puts you out of business?

Our government has a lot to learn about the way the world works these days and I fear that even when the benches of parliament are fully populated the combined IQ of the entire building barely reaches room temperature.

This inability to see the obvious spans the entire spectrum of governance in this country. Regular readers will recall that I was pushing the South Waikato District Council to spend their $4m "redevelopment" fund on making the front of Tokoroa into an "EV Central" -- a place where EV drivers could stop and recharge their batteries whilst enjoying a quick cafe lunch or doing a bit of browsing through the shops.

The "because it's you Bruce" factor nixed that idea and instead we got five toilets that were supposed to lure traffic off SH1 (even though we have Maccas, BK, KFC and a BP station that all offer toilet facilities within a few hundred metres of the new poo-tubes.

Creating an "EV Central" theme would also associate the town and the area with clean renewable energy and theming would be very easy, given the number of hydro stations that are on the Waikato River bordering the district.

Instead, of course, we got the now infamous poo-tubes and just last week the council even added "spectator seating". Yes, in an unbelievable move, they've put seats just a couple of metres from the doors of the public toilets. If you ever have performance anxiety when trying to use a public toilet, these are not the loos for you. However, if you get a kick out of making people feel self-conscious by watching them enter and leave a public convenience then there's wonderful seating now in place.

Read and weep

Yes, politicians at all levels really are this stupid. Instead of spending the $4m to future-proof and rebrand the town as being clean, green and important -- they've flushed that money down the toilet, quite literally.

Footnote: I even get a photo-credit in that Stuff story :-)

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