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Taxpayer Update: Let's fund Pharmac, not films 💊 > 🎥 | The Maori Party and Mr Tamihere 🗳️👀 | POLL: Opposition gains 📊 | Parliament now making wine 🍾🍾🍾🤦‍♂️

The latest political poll is out (see midway down this email) but first, we ask the question: when New Zealand can't afford lifesaving cancer drugs, are hundreds of millions in new film subsidies to Hollywood film and video game studios really the best use of taxpayer money?

Budget 2024 – your verdict is in ⚖️

The dust has now settled on Nicola Willis's first budget. So how did she do? Last week, we asked our 200,000 supporters to rate the Budget out of ten.

The most common answer was 8 out of ten, with the average score being 5.99 (so basically 6) – a narrow passing mark.

Budget out of 10

From the comments, the top 'highlight' was the (modest) tax cuts (this is, after all, a taxpayer union!) with the 'lowlight' being National's broken promise to fund a list of cancer drugs.

And we've heard you on the drugs!  As part of this week's efforts to highlight low priority government spending and waste, we're asking:

Why is the Government prioritising movie subsidies over medicine? 🎥 > 💊

The Government's decision not to stump up funding for 13 cancer treatments that are available in Australia, is a mix of politics and economics.

First, the economics. Australia's GDP per capita (what the country's economy produces per person) is now more than one third higher than New Zealand's.

So much of New Zealand's political bun fighting comes back to the sad fact that we want first-world Government services (and rightly so), but are not running a first world economy to pay for it.  

So the right question we should be asking is: How do we make New Zealand more productive and catch up with Australia?

But, this is also about political prioritisation. How can the Government spend so much money on junk, instead of funding important cancer drugs?

And it's a very fair question.

That's why today we are launching a new campaign, calling on the Government to fund medicines, not movies.

This year, Wellington is doling out more than $100 million of taxpayer money on corporate welfare to the film and gaming sectors. Meanwhile, the cost to fund new cancer treatments is $70–80 million dollars. What would you prefer the money to be spent on?

Pharmac Not Films

We say the priority should go to Pharmac to support lifesaving healthcare, not billionaire Hollywood bigwigs and studios. We've launched an online petition here.

Now, I'm sure some film-buffs will claim that we must subsidise film production if we are to enjoy the economic benefits of the jobs the movie business brings to New Zealand. But if subsiding favoured industries was a recipe for economic success, why just film and video games? 

Taxing successful businesses more for politicians to pick and choose which industries to subsidise is best left in the 1970s. It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now.

And this isn't just us saying it: The boffins at Treasury have tried to call for the credits to roll on the billion-dollar scheme. The Government's own numbers suggest that the subsidies cost more than the economic benefits they generate.

✍️ If you agree, {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}, take 20 seconds to sign the petition calling on more funding for medicine and less for movies ✍️

Taxpayers’ Union at Mystery Creek: Come and meet the team @ National Fieldays 🚜👋

If you're at Fieldays this week, come and say hello and sign the petition in-person.


We'll be at site RM89 in the rural living marqueeKeep an eye out on our Facebook page for updates too and speaking events during the four days.

Mr Tamihere, his marae, the census, and the Māori Party 🫤

Last week's explosive accusations being made by whistleblowers and first reported by Andrea Vance in the Sunday Star Times are about as serious as they get in a democracy.

The first accusation is that John Tamihere's urban marae – which was part of a Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency drive to promote last year’s census – was photocopying the data and using it for a political drive for Te Pāti Māori (of which Mr Tamihere is President). The whistleblowers claim that the information was then used to target Māori electorate voters in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate.

SMSThe second set of accusations relate to text messages urging people to vote for Te Pāti Māori – sent from a four-digit number, which was the same as that used by Waipareira Trust to send out Covid-19 vaccination messages. Mr Tamihere is the Chief Executive of Waipareira Trust.

The messages also appear to break electoral legislation, because they do not have the required "promotor statement", which is in law so that people know who is behind (and paying) for electoral advertisements/communications. 

It was not previously public, but during the election campaign, the Labour Party complained to the Electoral Commission about text messages. Not really a surprise they're upset: their candidate lost to Te Pāti Māori MP Takutai Tarsh Kemp (the former CEO of the very same urban marae) by just 42 votes.

The third set of allegations relate to accusations that Marae staff who delivered census forms also included enrolment forms for voters to change from the general to the Māori roll and even gave away $100 supermarket vouchers, wellness packs and food parcels to encourage them to complete the forms.

From a taxpayers perspective, what makes the allegations even more concerning are the suggestions that the whistleblowers had reported their concerns to multiple government agencies, but that the agencies had failed to act! 

The Taxpayers' Union was one of the first organisations to call for a public, and most importantly, independent inquiry. Operating a census is one of the most basic functions of the State and public confidence should be guarded at all costs. We say that the Stats NZ review, for example, is nuts when it is officials holding the pen on the terms of enquiry into their own conduct.

So yesterday's announcement from the Prime Minister that the (acting) Public Services Commissioner will be doing a thorough review into the actions of the government agencies is very welcome (Radio NZ also covered the announcement and our response here).

But here's the thing, the Public Services Commission (nor Stats NZ, or MSD) cannot require Mr Tamihere, his entities, nor the Māori Party to front up with the necessary data or documents to determine what's really happened one way or another.

Formal complaint to the Privacy CommissionerLast week, I wrote to the Privacy Commissioner calling on him to launch an investigation. The Privacy Commissioner has extraordinary powers to subpoena witnesses, examine under oath, and require the production of records and documents. I made the case that Parliament gave the Commissioner these extraordinary powers for the most serious potential breaches of privacy. If this isn't among the most serious, what is?!

You can read the letter to the Privacy Commissioner requesting a formal investigation here or listen to me chatting about it with Jack Tame who was filling in for Heather du-Plessis Allan.

Finally, we should make clear: Mr Tamihere has strenuously denied that census information was collected and misused as well the other allegations. He said the allegations were driven by complainants with a gripe and even took a swipe at your humble Taxpayers' Union in a late night rant media release issues last week.

Assuming everything is “baseless and simply untrue”, it shows why Mr Tamihere needs an urgent inquiry to allow him to clear his good name... The Privacy Commissioner is the right body to do this as it has the power to summons witnesses and examine under oath.

UPDATE: This morning, speaking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB, the Prime Minister correctly made the distinction between what the Public Service Commission would be looking into (the actions of the government agencies) and what the Police and Privacy Commissioner can do (i.e. powers to investigate the third parties).

We haven't yet, heard back from the Privacy Commissioner, but we're hoping the Prime Minister perhaps knows something we don't in his suggestion that the Privacy Commissioner will get to the bottom of what's happened. We'll keep you posted.

Parliament making pour decisions 🍷

Parliamentary Wine

It's wine o’clock in Wellington because the Parliamentary Service has decided it would be wise to branch out into wine!

Rather than showcase wine from vineyards around the country, Parliamentary Services have opted to develop an "in-house signature range" to be served at internal events, and functions – and also gifted to visiting foreign dignitaries. 

And, who would have guessed, but Parliamentarians drink a lot. According to tender documents, the minimum order is 5,000 bottles of red, 5,000 of white, 4,000 of sparkling (hey, we're in recession after all!), and 300 ports.

We understand Parliamentary Services have been inundated with offers to join the "tasting panel". They say that they will be ensuring it is made up of “diverse people” from across the Parliamentary Service with “varied backgrounds”.  After all, wine not? It’s only taxpayer money! Thank goodness they're taking it so seriously...

NEW POLL: Gap narrows between Government and Opposition 📊

The Government won't be over the moon with this month's hot-off-the-press Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll. It's the first of the three major nationwide political polls since the Budget (and unlike the 1News and Newshub efforts, the Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll isn't even partially government funded!). The poll suggests Nicola Willis has failed to switch many votes.

Here it is:

Decided Party Vote over time

Compared with last month's poll, National is down 1.9 points to 35.4 percent while Labour is also down marginally to 29.4 percent (-0.6 points).

The Greens remain in third place up 2.5 points to 12.7 percent while ACT is relatively unchanged on 9.7 percent (+0.3 points). New Zealand First is also steady on 5.6% (+0.1 points) and Te Pāti Māori is up 0.9 points to 4.0%.

For the minor parties, Outdoors & Freedom is on 1.3 percent, TOP 0.8 percent, Vision NZ 0.5 percent, New Conservatives 0.1 percent, and the combined total for all other parties was 0.5 percent.

Here is how these results would translate to seats in Parliament:


National is down three seats on last month to 44 and Labour is also down one seat to 36. The Greens are up three seats to 16 while ACT is unchanged on last month on 12. Both NZ First and Te Pāti Māori are unchanged on last month on seven and six seats, respectively. 

The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 63 seats is down three seats from last month. On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. The combined seats for the Centre-Left is up 2 seats on 58. This assumes that all electorate seats are held. A Parliament on these numbers would include one overhang seat.

For favourability ratings, major voting issues, and to find out how to get access to our full polling reports (including geographic breakdowns), head over to our website.

Taxpayer Talk: MPs in Depth – Dr Hamish Campbell 🎙️

Taxpayer Talk: Hamish Campbell

This week on Taxpayer TalkI sat down with the National MP for Ilam, Hamish Campbell.

Hamish reclaimed the previously safe National seat of Ilam at the 2023 election, following it turning red for the first time in 2020. Prior to entering Parliament, Hamish had been a medical researcher and university lecturer using his Bachelor's degree in genetics and PhD in viruses and cancer from the University of Otago. Hamish shares his views on politics, why he wanted to be an MP, and provides an interesting insight on some of his unique hobbies that he has enjoyed over the years.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple Podcasts, | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Thank you for your support.


Jordan Williams
Executive Director

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union


Media Mentions:

NewstalkZB Jason Walls: Budget 2024 was only ever going to be 'okay' (01:52)

NewstalkZB The Sunday Panel: Did the 2024 Budget go too far? (04:45)

Newshub 'Silly' inconsistency: Police pay council rates while schools, hospitals and churches don't

interest.co.nz Brian Easton is impressed by how effective the Taxpayers' Union has been. He looks at their recipe of how to run a successful pressure group

NZ Herald Budget 2024: The dilemma that’s destroying us - Simon Wilson

NewstalkZB THE RE-WRAP: Bad Guys Going In the Wrong Direction

ACT Free Press ACT-ing Prime Minister

RNZ Claims of Census data misuse by Manurewa Marae probed by Stats NZ

RNZ Claims marae misused census data - latest details

The Working Group Budget Battles and Global Affairs | GUESTS: Maria Slade, Matthew McCarten & Jordan Williams

NZ Herald Budget 2024: Finance Minister Nicola Willis on tax cuts charm offensive as Labour highlights cuts

Waikato Times More than 1000 council staff across Waikato earning $100,000-plusMore than 1000 council staff across Waikato earning $100,000-plus

The Spinoff Is the next big media merger NZ on Air marrying the Film Commission?

NewstalkZB  Chris Hipkins: Labour leader on 'very serious' allegations against Te Pāti Māori

Chris Lynch Media Growing Investigations into John Tamihere and Te Pāti Māori Spark Calls for Comprehensive Inquiry

Business Desk Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade a 'sitting duck' for cyberattacks after $33m cloud IT flop

The Post PM 'monitoring closely' investigations into census allegations

NewstalkZB The Taxpayers Union has called for the Privacy Commissioner to investigate Te Pāti Māori allegations

BusinessDesk Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade a 'sitting duck' for cyberattacks after $33m cloud IT flop

RNZ Privacy Commissioner seeks more detail on possible census data breach at marae

RNZ Mediawatch for 9 June 2024 (10:54)


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  • Jordan Williams
    published this page in News 2024-06-11 11:22:14 +1200

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