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Bribe-O-Meter

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Welcome to the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Bribe-O-Meter. As political parties announce their policies in the weeks leading up to the General Election, we'll be crunching the numbers and showing you just how much all the promises cost. The information below covers all spending policies announced up to Monday 25 July 2017.

And the results are:

Bribe-O-Meter Graph

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Click the shaded area of the parties above for detailed information on the spending promises in each area of spending.

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Bribe-O-Meter - Party totals (as of 1 August):

Party Total cost (saving) of announced spending promises Cost (saving) per New Zealand household
National Party $6.75 billion $3,920.43
Labour Party $19.38 billion $11,241.62
Green Party $8.52 billion $4,938.65
NZ First $22.97 billion $13,323.80
Maori Party $12.17 billion $7,060.14
ACT ($5,35 billion) ($3,103.40)
The Opportunities Party $10.69 billion $6,198.64

Commentary:

Bribe-O-Meter week 6 (as at 22 August): Opposition Parties Promise $60.6b – Government Parties $3.4b

National spends-up large...

The National Party has more than doubled its new election spending in the space of just one week, according to the Taxpayers’ Union election costing Bribe-O-Meter. Since last Monday, the National Party has increased promised spending from $2.5 to $6.8 billion across the next parliamentary term. $6.8 billion is equivalent to $3,920 per household.
 
The most expensive new policy Bill English has announced is the proposed roads of national significance. The cost works out at approximately one billion each year over the estimated ten-year time frame. This was accompanied by $290 million in agreed-in-principle treaty settlements; $285 million in cheaper GP visits for children; and $459 million over three years towards the building of a new hospital in Dunedin.
 
...so does the Maori Party

The Bribe-O-Meter has also been updated to reflect the Maori Party's manifesto, which was only released last week.

Unfortunately, the encompassing policies have about as much fiscal transparency as NZ First. That is they are nearly impossible to cost.
 
From just the policies we have been able to estimate, the Maori Party's policies would cost $12.2 billion over the next parliamentary term. This is equivalent to $7,060 per household. Maori Party policies are predominantly a list of giveaways and subsidies, neither of which come cheap. For example, the largest component of the manifesto that we have been able to cost is an estimated $4 billion write-off of student loan living cost debt.

Little Difference with Ardern
 
There has been some criticism in the political commentariat of the Labour Party not being substantively different in policy under Jacinda Ardern – compared to her predecessor Andrew Little. The Bribe-O-Meter appears to validate this view. Since Ms Ardern has taken over, there has been very little new policy aside from water taxes and a commuter rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
 
Total Labour Party spending is now at $19.4 billion, which is within $1 billion of Andrew Little’s Labour Party.

United Future removed
 
Peter Dunne’s resignation has led us to remove United Future from the Bribe-O-Meter as without Dunne there is almost zero possibility of United Future returning to Parliament.
 
Last week we criticised Mr Dunne for trying to buy himself into Parliament with taxpayer money. Taxpayers will be breathing a sigh of relief now that they won’t have to front up for Mr Dunne’s $4.7 billion of pork barrel politics.

Transparency Rating

As part of the Bribe-O-Meter, our economic staff have assessed political party's transparency across policy detail and cost and given each a score out of five (see below). The most transparent parties have been National and the Greens. The least transparent is NZ First, closely followed by the Maori Party. 

Key Findings (as of 22 August):

  • National has promised $6.8 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $3,920 per household. Transparency rating: 5/5
  • Labour has promised $19.4 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $11,242 per household. Transparency rating: 4/5
  • The Green Party has promised $8.5 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $4,939 per household. Transparency rating: 5/5
  • NZ First has promised $23 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $13,324 per household. Transparency rating: 0/5
  • ACT has promised $5.4 billion in taxpayer savings over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $3,103 in savings per household. Transparency rating: 3/5
  • The Maori Party has promised $12.2 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $7,060 per household. Transparency rating: 1/5
  • The Opportunities Party has promised  $10.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $6,199 per household. Transparency rating: 4/5

You can read detailed breakdowns of each party's policies (and the costs) here:


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FAQ:

What is the methodology and how is the information displayed?

The Bribe-O-Meter compiles the political promises of each of the main political parties and places them within the major spending portfolios.

It assumes that the government elected on 23 September will last for a full three-year term and oversee Budgets 2018/19 to 2020/21.  Policies announced that do not come into effect during the next Parliament will not be included in the figures.

Our analysis includes spending pledges announced between 2014 and now. Given that the purpose of the Bribe-o-meter is to track spending pledges announced by politicians, it does not model the effect of tax cuts or tax increases and the effect they have on households.

Tax credits and rebates have been considered as constituting new spending.

Will you work with political parties to correct or refine the numbers?

Absolutely! We want to provide the public and media with as much information as possible. If there are errors or a party disagrees with our assessment of their costings, we hope that the Bribe-o-meter will encourage the parties to provide the public with more information and transparency.


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