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In the Media

February 21, 2014

Newstalk ZB interview: government funded political advocacy for a sugar tax

Newstalk ZB

Jordan Williams joined Larry Williams on NewstalkZB Drive to discuss activities by the group of academics calling themselves "Fizz" promoting new taxes on sugar and soda.


February 17, 2014

More than two thirds of New Zealanders say no to more tax and spend this election year

In case you missed it, the Fairfax Media/Ipsos Poll published on Saturday shows that New Zealanders do not support new tax and spend policies. Of the 1018 people asked, 69.4% opposed raising taxes to pay for new spending this election year. Responding to the poll on behalf of the Taxpayers’ Union, Gabrielle O’Brien said:

"Politicians that go into the election with big spending promises will need to find savings elsewhere or will be punished at the ballot box."

"New Zealanders joining the Taxpayers' Union are telling us that households are already taxed too much. Politicians should be trimming public waste before increasing the tax burden."

Newstalk ZB picked up the comments and interviewed Gabrielle on Sunday morning (audio below).

Survey reveals deep resistance to idea of higher taxes Newstalk ZB - 16/02/2014

The Taxpayers' Union is encouraged by a survey which shows deep opposition to tax hikes, to pay for new Government spending.

The Fairfax poll shows nearly 70 percent of people are against paying more tax to fund election promises.

Spokeswoman Gabrielle O'Brien says politicians will need to sit up and take notice.

"Given that we are in election year the political Parties need to be very careful as they're drafting their policies about the cost of those because people don't have an appetite to be paying more."

Ms O'Brien says people just don't have the appetite to pay more.

"They need to be considerate that these things are going to cost money. Where is that money going to come from and is that money going to come from increasing taxes or is that going to come from reducing services elsewhere, or should it come from, as we believe, more sensible spending."


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February 14, 2014

Nelson Mail editorial backs Taxpayers' Union's call for passport reform

Editorial: Five-year passports pricey and pointless Nelson Mail - 14/02/2014

The Nelson Mail backs calls from the Taxpayers' Union for the reintroduction of ten year passports.

Taxpayers Union researcher Jordan McCluskey says even if the renewal period were extended to 10 years, New Zealand passports would still be more expensive than most of the countries we compare ourselves with. For example, the Kiwi one currently works out at $28 a year, against South Africa $4.46, Fiji $4.95, the United Kingdom $14.74, Canada $17.78, the United States $19.18 and $26.40 in Australia.
Multimillion-dollar surpluses aside, the Government claims the real issue is security, with five-year renewals reducing the risk of identity fraud.
However, countries such as Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany all issue 10-year passports. Are the security risks considered greater in New Zealand than anywhere else?
The Government should at least be upfront and admit that the prime advantage in shorter renewals is fiscal.
... Read more.
February 13, 2014

Breakfast TV: Peter Dunn on Passport Tax

This morning TVNZ's Breakfast questioned the Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Dunn using figures contained in the Taxpayers' Union 'Sky High' briefing paper.

Pushing for 10 year passports TVNZ's Breakfast - 13/02/2014

Click image below for video on demand.

February 12, 2014

Coverage of Taxpayers' Union 'Sky High' briefing paper on passports

Pressure builds for return to 10-year passports ONE news - 12/02/2014



Push to get 10-year NZ passports NZ Herald - 12/02/2014

"A group lobbying for a return to a 10-year passport claims New Zealand passports are more expensive per year than most other comparable countries and the fee has become a simple revenue-gathering exercise.

Kyle Lockwood has presented a petition signed by about 12,000 people to Parliament to return from a 5-year to a 10-year passport and will speak to the select committee on his petition today, despite the Government ruling out extending the term last year.

A Taxpayers' Union briefing report by Jordan McCluskey on international comparisons put the cost of a New Zealand passport at $28 a year - about double the cost of other countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Canada and Sweden. Only Australia's cost came close, costing $26.40 a year for a 10-year passport. Most of those countries also had 10-year passports. Mr McCluskey, who is also in the Young Nats, said the Government's claim that five-year passports were necessary for security did not ring true given other countries such as Canada, China and the Netherlands had returned to 10 years recently.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said Labour would return to 10-year passport terms, but Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain ruled it out last year saying five-year terms made it easier to keep pace with developments in security technology.

"The research suggests that the current regime isn't about security - it's about raising money for the Government," said Taxpayers' Union head Jordan Williams."



Dominion Post logo

The Dominion Post: NZ passports the world's priciest Dominion Post - 12/02/2014

New Zealand passports are the world's most expensive, and have earned the Government an extra $20.8 million, a new report shows.


Five-year passports were introduced in 2005, and the Department of Internal Affairs said this was in line with 140 other countries.

However Taxpayers Union researcher Jordan McCluskey said this is not the case - most developed countries issued 10-year passports.

He also found that the Government had received more in passport fees than was necessary to cover its costs.

The account was in surplus from 2001 and had an excess of $20.8m, enough to cover 136,000 passports.

The Government argued New Zealanders were among the world's most frequent travellers, had visa-free access to more than 50 countries, and five-year passports were at lower risk from identity fraud.

A shorter validity period allowed officials to keep pace with new technology, and fees would also be high for a 10-year passport, it said.

However, McCluskey doesn't buy this.

He said New Zealand's international trading partners were not "buckling under the pressure" for short passport validity.

"Individuals who are frequent travellers and would benefit from increased security could choose to update their passports as often as they wish in order to take advantage of any enhanced technology," he said.

"There is no need to make this compulsory.

"Canada, China and the Netherlands all recently increased their passport validities to 10 years."

... Read more.


Push to get 10-year passports back 3 News - 12/02/2014

New Zealanders pay more than most other countries for passports and have them for half as long, a new report shows.

The Taxpayers' Union has released a briefing paper today which compares passport prices of 17 countries and shows New Zealanders pay NZ$28 per year for the ability to travel overseas.

New Zealand and Sweden are the only countries in the list which have 5-year passports, while the rest including Canada, Australia, Samoa and the UK have passports that expire after 10 years. Read more.



Newstalk ZB interview of passports - 12/02/2014

Newstalk ZB

Jordan Williams joined Leighton Smith on Wednesday to discuss Jordan McCluskey's report on passports. 



Duncan Garner interviews Jordan Williams on passports Radio LIVE - 12/02/2014

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February 08, 2014

Reaction to Len Brown payment of $40k towards $250k affair report

Len Brown to pay $40k towards $250k affair report TVNZ - 07/02/2014

Len Brown
Auckland Mayor Len Brown will pay $40,000 towards the costs incurred by the $250,000 review of his expenses during his extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang.
... Executive Director of the Taxpayer's Union Jordan Williams says the amount is a "token gesture and a slap in the face to Auckland ratepayers".
Mr Williams says the council should be taking steps to make Mr Brown pay the full cost of the report back. Read more.


Mayor Brown to pay $40k towards review into affair NZ Herald - 07/02/2014

"The amount is a token gesture and a slap in the face to Auckland ratepayers. It is a new low for Mr Brown. Does he only pay a fifth of his rates too?" Read more.


Newstalk ZB interviews Taxpayers' Union on Len Brown partial payback

Newstalk ZBJordan Williams joined Larry Williams Drive on Friday to discuss Len Brown.


February 07, 2014

Coverage of Napier's Museum of Omnishambles

Taxpayers slam museum storage problems Hawke's Bay Today - 07/02/2014
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said yesterday he would not get involved in a debate with the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union. Photo / Duncan Brown
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said yesterday he would not get involved in a debate with the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union. 

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union has labelled the MTG Hawke's Bay museum's problems an "omnishambles", while Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule has denied Napier Mayor Bill Dalton's claim they knew about storage issues with the facility as early as last year.

At Wednesday's City Development Committee meeting, Mr Dalton said the previous council and Mr Yule were made aware last year that there were issues relating to storage at the museum. That was refuted yesterday by Mr Yule who said he would have taken steps to remedy the situation, had he known about it.

"Firstly, I would have told my council straight away, because we are governors of half that collection, and two, we'd have worked out - what is the plan and how can we fix this?" he said.

"There was a conversation a number of years ago about whether we should have off-site storage. It was decided not to do that, effectively because the operating costs of having two facilities would be high.

"Until a week ago, that was my understanding of what was happening."

Mr Dalton declined to respond to Mr Yule's denial.

This week it was revealed there were storage issues at the new museum, with only as much as 40 per cent of the collection able to be housed - a figure Mr Dalton said was inaccurate.

Furthermore, at Wednesday's meeting projected visitor targets were found to be grossly erroneous with this year's target of 690,000 visitors reduced to a more realistic 120,000.

At the meeting tourism services manager Neil Fergus said the targets were based on the old building, which allowed for a free public flow through the Century Foyer "which is no longer relevant to the redeveloped site".

Mr Dalton said yesterday he would not get involved in a debate with the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.

"We've built a magnificent new building.

"We do require some fine tuning and we're going to undergo a review to get it fine tuned. End of story."

He was unsure when the planned review of the MTG issues would be completed as Napier City Council chief executive Wayne Jack was away on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's dam fact-finding trip to the South Island.

"I'm not going to make any comment until we've done the review," Mr Dalton said.

"Let us get the review done and see what the facts are."

Meanwhile, Jordan Williams of the Taxpayers' Union said: "A three-children family doesn't build a two-bedroom house, but Napier has built a museum forgetting 40 per cent of its collection. It is a complete omnishambles."

Newstalk ZB 'Calls for mayors to front over Napier museum crisis' Newstalk ZB - 06/02/2014

There are calls for the mayors of Napier and Hastings to front up over the storage crisis at the region's new museum.

The new MTG building opened in Napier late last year but can only house 40 per cent of its $44 million collection.

It's pitted the mayors of Napier and Hastings against each other, with Bill Dalton claiming Lawrence Yule knew about the problem a year ago, which Mr Yule denies.

New Zealand Tax Payers Union executive director Jordan Williams says the situation is a shambles.

"We've got to know who knew what when and how on earth this has been allowed to happen. Hawke's Bay ratepayers should be expecting answers."

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