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In the Media

February 02, 2014


3 News: $15M genetics funding bad economics – union

A $15 million government investment to improve the genetics of New Zealand lamb and beef is bad economics, the Taxpayers' Union says.
The Government this week announced it the investment, over five years, as part of a new partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.
The Government's $15M contribution will make up part of the $8.8M spent annually on researching genetic improvement in cattle and sheep.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the Government is committed to investing in research that benefits New Zealand. Click here to read more.
February 01, 2014


3 News on taxpayer subsidy for rural genetics

$15M genetics funding bad economics – union 3 News - 01/02/2014

A $15 million government investment to improve the genetics of New Zealand lamb and beef is bad economics, the Taxpayers' Union says.

The Government this week announced it the investment, over five years, as part of a new partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The Government's $15M contribution will make up part of the $8.8M spent annually on researching genetic improvement in cattle and sheep.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the Government is committed to investing in research that benefits New Zealand.

"Investing in genetics will help improve meat quality, contribute directly to improving on-farm profitability, and ensure we're meeting the needs of consumers," Mr Joyce said.

But the Taxpayers' Union says the only winners from the funding, will be lamb and sheep farmers.

"What other industries have their normal research and development costs borne by the taxpayer?" Jordan Williams said.

New Zealand is the world leader in pastoral animal and plant genetics, Mr Joyce said.

January 31, 2014


Len Brown has as many staff as PM - print, TV and radio coverage

Brown has as many staff as PM NBR - 31/01/2014

NBR logo

NBR ONLINE can reveal Auckland mayor Len Brown has 20 regular staff – almost as many as Prime Minister John Key. ...

Mr Brown’s list doesn’t include short term or temporary contractors.
“By the time you add that, that is the equivalent of the prime minister’s office in size,” says Jordan Williams, executive director of recently­ formed lobby group Taxpayers Union.
“Not only that, this doesn’t even account for his new security detail.”
Mr Brown’s staff list includes six advisers of various ilk, three spin doctors as well as an executive assistant, a diary administrator and diary manager.
“In the age of Outlook and the iPhone, why does Len Brown need two fulltime diary managers?” asks Mr Williams... Read more.

Brown blasted at 'Mayor in the chair' 3 News - 31/01/2014

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is being accused of having an overblown number of ratepayer-funded advisors and spin doctors. There were 20 at the last count – almost as many as the Prime Minister. Click here or the image below for video on demand.


Newstalk ZB with the Taxpayers' Union on Mayoral staff costs

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers' Union, chats to Larry Williams about the number of staff employed in Auckland Mayor Len Brown's office. Click here for audio on demand.

Continue Reading >

January 21, 2014


Pressure builds on Len Brown

Pressure builds on Len Brown Newstalk ZB - 20/1/2014

Len Brown's opponents continue to apply pressure on the Auckland mayor.
Security guards protected Mr Brown from hecklers as he opened a railway station at Panmure on Saturday.
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams says if the mayor feels he needs extra security, he should foot the bill himself.
"And lets be honest, he only has that security to stop people ridiculing him and mocking him, I question whether it is for his genuine protection."
But a spokesman for the mayor's office says the Panmure transport interchange opening was an Auckland Transport event, and the extra security was ATs decision.
There are also claims that Mr Brown has already breached the censure enforced by his councillors.
All 20 Auckland councillors censured the mayor last month, requiring a stronger working relationship and level of accountability.
But councillor Cameron Brewer says the mayor has effectively thumbed his nose at the censure by informing news media of his six priorities for 2014, before telling councillors.
Mr Brewer says the media rang councillors yesterday for comment, but they didn't even know what Len Brown had said.
Mr Brewer says the mayor's actions are not in the spirit of what was formally agreed, not to mention the many assurances and promises the Mayor has made publicly.

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January 17, 2014


Newstalk ZB on funding for yacht race that never happened

Government won't seek repayment from axed yacht race Newstalk ZB - 16/1/2014

The Government has no intention of making the organisers of an axed yacht race repay $100,000 in taxpayer funding.

The inaugural Auckland to Bluff race - scheduled for next month - was cancelled due to a lack of entrants, but not before receiving a quarter of its $400,000 government grant.

The Taxpayers' Union says organisers should be made to pay it back.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says organisers have already spent the money and he doesn't expect them to find another $100,000 to pay it back. 

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January 15, 2014


$19m wasted on health and safety training with 84c per dollar wasted

Health and safety training 'a waste of time' ONE News - 14/1/2014 

The ACC Minister is promising to scrap a Government-funded health and safety training scheme.

Judith Collins agrees with a taxpayers' lobby group, the Taxpayers' Union, that the 10-year-old scheme has been a waste of money.

Click here or the image below for video on demand.TVNZ screenshot

ACC dumps workplace training scheme 3 News - 15/1/2014

Click here or the image below for video on demand. 

ACC to can programme after $19m spent NZ Herald - 14/1/2014

The Accident Compensation Corporation will end a health and safety training programme it said today after activist group the Taxpayers Union highlighted almost $20 million in spending on the training which generated few benefits.

The union today released documents detailing the corporation's spending since 2003 on the programme to train employees in health and safety practices.

Beginning in 2003, the money was paid to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), employers' group Business NZ and private training provider Impac Services.

However the documents showed the $19 million spent "did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents", Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said.

The documents released under the Official Information Act showed reviews of the programme showed its net effect in reducing injuries were "small in size and were inconsistent in direction to be considered effective".

ACC analysis found that over the time the programme was working there was a reduction in claims even in workplaces where no safety or workplace activity has occurred.

The analysis suggested that even if the training was responsible for half of the reduction in accidents, at best only 16c in every $1 spent did any good, or in other words, 84c in every $1 was being wasted.

The documents reveal that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

"Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves", said Mr Williams.

"It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash."

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville today said the corporation decided late last year "that the training programme wouldn't be continued past its current contract".

"While the training programme did provide some value, it did not meet our level of expectations, nor deliver value for money."

Click here to continue reading.

ACC cuts $1.5m in health, safety training stuff.co.nz - 14/1/2014

Accident prevention training may end Otago Daily Times - 15/1/2014

Lucrative training programmes which the Taxpayers Union says has cost ACC levy-payers $19 million since 2003 may be close to ending.

The union released documents yesterday which showed ACC knew millions of dollars paid to BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

The documents were obtained under the Official Information Act.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the documents showed BusinessNZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture. Doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

''BusinessNZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash.''

ACC axing union health and safety partnership Newstalk ZB - 14/1/2014

ACC admits programme poor value Radio NZ - 14/1/2014

Click here to listen to item on Checkpoint ( 2' 39'' )

ACC programme a cosy deal, says minister Radio NZ - 15/1/2014

Click here to listen to Judith Collins on Summer Report ( 7' 08'' )

BusinessNZ rejects training scheme attacks stuff.co.nz - 16/1/2014

Business NZ has hit back at ACC Minister Judith Collins over her attacks on an ACC-funded health and safety training programme run by Business NZ, the Council Of Trade Unions and a private provider.

ACC announced this week that the $1.5 million a year programme would be canned at the end of of 2014 because it was not providing value for money.

Collins had joined criticism of the scheme, which has run since 2003, describing it as a cosy arrangement that had the hallmarks of a scam and a rort.

Business NZ today broke its silence on the issue, with a press release quoting its chief executive, Phil O'Reilly.

Continue reading.

Minister softens over claims of rort in ACC workplace safety training NZ Herald - 17/1/2014

Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA
Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA

... Ms Collins had spoken to CTU Secretary Peter Conway and while she wouldn't apologise "she said she will no longer use the word rort".

Ms Collins last night confirmed she had spoken with Mr Conway and had agreed to try "not to use those words".

However she maintained the scheme had been "a complete waste of money and a disgrace". Read more.

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January 09, 2014


MP employment spats costing taxpayers

Payouts cost Parliamentary Service $400k New Zealand Herald - 8/1/2014

Parliamentary Service spent nearly $400,000 on payouts for former staff in the second half of last year, a period in which the agency was mired in controversy.

Figures released by the Speaker showed that since June, 20 former employees had received a severance payment. On average, former staff received nearly $20,000 each.

Parliamentary Service employed around 650 people including assistants and advisers for MPs in Wellington and regional offices, and also staff within the parliamentary precinct such as security guards.

Eleven of the people who received severance packages had worked for MPs.

...

Taxpayers' Union spokesman Jordan Williams criticised the costly use of public money to pay out former staff. He claimed that Parliamentary Service was "buying the silence" of workers who had been sacked on the spot by MPs.

A clause in parliamentary staff contracts allowed instant dismissal of staff in cases of "irreconcilable differences".

Mr Williams said he knew of two dismissals in which a minor party leader refused to hear their employee's response to allegations made by other colleagues.

Parliamentary Service would not confirm how many of the payments related to the irreconcilable differences clause, but said the agency followed strict processes in dealing with employment disputes.

The payments usually covered three months' wages and any outstanding leave or other entitlements.

The figures released did not include ministerial staff.

Severance payments

MP support staff: Eleven payments totalling $122,935.
Other staff: Nine payments totalling $273,006

Severance payments in spotlight stuff.co.nz - 8/1/2014 

Parliamentary staff who lost their jobs received almost $400,000 in severance payments over six months last year, a bill ultimately footed by taxpayers.

Figures released by the Taxpayers' Union show that in the six months to November 13, 2013, 11 support staff working directly for MPs received a total of $122,935, while nine other parliamentary staff received payments totalling $273,006.

Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said many of the payments were from MPs sacking staff on the spot.

"It appears that parliamentary officials offer generous settlements to avoid cases going to the Employment Relations Authority," he said.

Spotlight on Parliamentary severance payments TVNZ - 8/1/2014

Claims taxpayers "buying silence" of former Parliamentary staff The Farming Show - 8/1/2014

Claims taxpayers "buying silence" of former Parliamentary staff Newstalk ZB - 8/1/2014

MP's chew through cash sacking staff Newstalk ZB - 8/1/2014

MP employment spats costing taxpayers - Taxpayers' Union Yahoo! New Zealand - 8/1/2014

From Dominion Post page A2 9/1/2014

Payments 'buy the silence' of staff at Parliament Dominion Post - 9/1/2014

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