Monday, March 24, 2014

Stinkier and stinkier

The government's decision to cut the Problem Gambling Foundation's funding is looking stinkier and stinkier. First, news that they were the target of repeated complaints from the gambling industry:

The Ministry of Health had several meetings with the Problem Gambling Foundation to address concerns about political lobbying after complaints by poker machine trusts about outspoken attacks on the sector, the Sunday Star-Times has been told.

A senior industry source said pokie trusts had lodged several complaints with the ministry about PGF's behaviour, resulting in the foundation's chief executive, Graeme Ramsey, being called to "please explain" meetings.

Ramsey confirmed the meetings, saying "it's fair to say our political activity creates tension with the funder" but said he had told the ministry no taxpayer money was spent on advocacy work.

Second, it seems that the Salvation Army didn't even apply for the contract it won:
The Salvation Army says it was unaware it would be taking over as the lead agency for gambling addiction services after the Ministry of Health controversially cut funding to the Problem Gambling Foundation.


National manager of addictions Captain Gerry Walker said he had not yet been shown a contract and "did not know what the situation is".

His organisation had applied for its usual amount of funding for gambling addiction services - between $1 million and $2 million.

Instead, the ministry decided that it would take over as the national provider.

So, a contract is taken away from an organisation which is publicly acknowledged to do excellent work, and given to one which didn't even apply for it, because that organisation is unpopular with the industry the funder is supposed to be cleaning up after. If that isn't a political decision driven by revenge, I don't know what is.