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Nats object to DOC engaging ad agency

Hon Dr Nick Smith MP
National Party Conservation Spokesman

14 August 2008

Nats object to DOC engaging ad agency

Plans to employ an advertising agency to rebrand the Department of Conservation show how out of touch the Government is over spending taxpayers' money, says National's Conservation spokesman Nick Smith.

Dr Smith is releasing official papers on the department's Brand Refreshment Project.

"Angry DOC staff have contacted me advising that $2.3 million is to be spent on developing and implementing the new brand.

"Director-General Al Morrison must think New Zealanders came down in the last shower of rain if he expects us to believe the cost is just $100,000. That will be the cost of developing the brand, not implementing it.

"The $2.3 million is the cost of changing the logo on every track, hut, vehicle, and sign from Kaitaia to Bluff.

"It's unbelievable that at a time when the economy is in recession and families are struggling to pay basic bills, the Government wants to spend millions on new logos on DOC's parks, tracks, huts and its letterhead.

"It's as insulting to DOC staff as it is to taxpayers.

"This is a department that only months ago was laying off marine scientists because of funding constraints. This sends a message that clever branding is more important than sound science.

"National can think of hundreds of better ways DOC could spend this money than on an ad agency. We've got dozens of endangered species with no programme to protect them, thousands of kilometres of substandard tracks, million of hectares of land needing pest control, and community conservation projects all over the country needing support.

"The problem here is not just the money but the Government's attitude that DOC's problems can be fixed by an advertising agency.

"A National-led Government will not proceed with this inane rebranding project.

"We call on the Minister of Conservation to defer entering into any contract before the election so that, in the event of a change of Government, no public money is wasted."


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