The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the New Zealand Transport Authority's 'Drive Social' campaign cost taxpayers $1,492,395 on advertising, $985,019 on communications and advertising consultancy fees and $301,872 in other related costs. This website alone cost $186,142.
The 'Drive Social' campaign was organised by NZTA to educate road-users that they “share the road with other drivers” and instructs them to “be considerate” (we're not making this up!).
We think that the funds for these sort of self-evident campaigns would be better spent on improving roads or preventing drink driving. The Taxpayers’ Union asked the NZTA to provide cost-benefit analysis of the campaign. Instead, it could only provide us the costs to the taxpayer and ‘media motoring’ reports.
We can all support advertising efforts to reduce the road toll, but here is an agency spending nearly three million dollars to tell drivers that there are other drivers on the road. It’s bureaucrats spending our money to treat us like like children.
Complete with a condescending tone and nursery rhyme-like music the ‘Drive Social’ website would insult the intelligence of most drivers. Judge for yourself at www.drivesocial.co.nz.
Here is an example of one of the campaign billboards:
The Taxpayers’ Union has welcomed Labour MP Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that if elected, Labour will scrap the Families Commission quango.
Government funding for an organisation churning out reports such as ‘Eating Together at Mealtimes’, is better spent on the frontline. We support Labour’s stance.
The Families Commission was only ever a result of an election deal with a minor party. We are glad Labour realise the need for money to be spent where it will be most effective for taxpayers.
The Families Commission’s ‘Eating Together at Mealtimes’ report is available at http://www.familiescommission.org.nz/publications/research-reports/eating-together-at-mealtimes
Analysis by the Taxpayers’ Union suggests that Marlborough District ratepayers have been duped into paying for an expensive website that is only matched by New Zealand’s largest cities.
Since July 2011, the Marlborough District Council has paid $410,550 for website design maintenance and development costs. In comparison Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.
“The only council that spent more on web design than Marlborough was Auckland Council” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
“Even if we assume that half of Marlborough’s residents have actually visited the site, it would probably have been cheaper for the Council to pay for a taxi for them to visit the office. It is potentially a huge waste of ratepayer money.”
Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year spent almost one hundred thousand dollars less than Marlborough.
Spending on website design maintenance and development costs since July 2011 (click here for PDF of image)
A question we have been asked is what type of wasteful government spending will the Taxpayers' Union target? Broadly speaking there will be three types.
This may be the CEO spending up large at Hooters, personal use of taxpayer or ratepayer money, and other spending which is simply not appropriate for a taxpayer funded organisation.
This is where the spending is on something appropriate such as a Council website, but the amount spent is excessive for the value gained. Just because something is worthwhile, doesn't mean that there should be no reasonable budget for it. For example, spending $300,000 on a website for a district of less than 50,000 residents.
This is spending where the policy is misdirected and the spending is inefficient. An example from across the Tasman is Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme which rather than cap the subsidy at a level to target low and middle income parents, will provide the greatest subsidies (up to $2,900 a week) to the richest parents - who least need it.
A local example would be the Supergold transport subsidy which has been a financial windfall for transport operators, or interest free-student loans. If the desire is to help low income pensioners with transport costs or to make tertiary education more affordable, there are alternative policies which would achieve these outcomes more efficiently.
Dear politicians, bureaucrats and taxpayer funded organisations,
You are on notice. The Taxpayers' Union is standing up for Kiwi taxpayers and looking to expose examples of waste, extravagance and silly government expenditure.
We publicly launch today.
Though we are new, we already know of examples where bureaucrats are not respecting the hard earned income of the New Zealanders who pay for their spending decisions through taxes. Over the coming weeks we will be exposing some of those examples.
To stay up to date by following us on twitter or liking us on Facebook.
We are encouraging insiders to help. Maybe you're a respected official, frustrated with waste you see in a department. If so, please visit our tip line page - we guarantee the confidentiality of all out tip line sources.
The members of the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union
One of the ways the Taxpayers' Union will promote sensible restraint of government expenditure is by arguing for an end to corporate and union welfare.
Over the coming months we'll be exposing corporate and union welfare we think is wasteful or unfair on Kiwi taxpayers. If you have an example you think our researchers or members should look into, please let us know via our online tip line.