Apology from LGNZ
The Taxpayers’ Union has accepted a settlement and apology from Local Government New Zealand President Dave Cull relating to public statements he made about the accuracy of the Taxpayers’ Union’s local government league tables, ‘Ratepayers Report’, and honesty of the organisation.
While we make no apology for our research being hard hitting and won’t shy from controversy, we take allegations concerning our honesty very seriously and take pride in our research being accurate and reliable.
In this case, Mr Cull’s comments, published by LGNZ, some of its member councils, and the Dominion Post, were demonstrably wrong. He got the basic facts totally wrong.
The only material error, which we will be making further comment on later today, was caused by Auckland Council providing incorrect information under the LGOIMA. No one knew of that prior to Mr Cull’s comments, and any dishonesty was at Auckland Council, not at the offices of the Taxpayers’ Union.
We have accepted Mr Cull’s apology and modest financial payment as full and final settlement of this matter.
As part of the agreed settlement Mr Cull has provided the following statement:
On 23 August I wrote an opinion piece regarding my concerns about the quality and utility of Taxpayers' Union 2017 Ratepayer's Report.The Taxpayers’ Union expects to make no further comment on this matter.
The Taxpayers' Union has objected to two sentences in the piece, which referred critically to some ratepayer analysis work conducted in 2014. I said: "The organisation got its first attempt at this data fundamentally incorrect in 2014. There were so many errors the material was withdrawn".
The Taxpayers' Union has now told me that its 2014 work was taken down because it was out of date, not for any other reason. It has also pointed out that LGNZ's critical review of ratepayer analysis in 2014 related to work done early in 2014 by an independent person, rather than the later Taxpayers' Union’s 2014 Report.
As a result, I have asked the Dominion Post to delete from the opinion piece the references to work undertaken in 2014. LGNZ apologises to the Taxpayers' Union for any confusion.