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In The Media

This page highlights the best of media coverage of our campaigns to expose government waste and hold Wellington accountable.

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Free Tertiary Education on the Taxpayer

Internet-Mana promises free tertiary study Stuff.co.nz - 12/09/2014

Free tertiary education and a universal student allowance could be delivered immediately if they were prioritised over tax cuts, the Internet-Mana Party says.

Taxpayers' Union spokesman Ben Craven said writing off student debt would benefit professionals such as lawyers and doctors who had large student loans, but were also likely to be on good incomes.

Forgiving the entire amount of student loan debt currently owed would cost an average of $8374 per household, and was likely to be more expensive than the election policies of all the mainstream political parties combined, Craven said.

"Most voters will see this promise by Internet-Mana as both fanciful and misleading."

Click here for the full story on Stuff.co.nz.

Dunedin City Council Loses 152 Cars!

The Taxpayers' Union is calling for Dunedin City Council to disclose more details after it was revealed 152 Council vehicles have been sold without the Council recouping a cent. It is estimated that the Council is out of pocket to the tune of $1.5 million.

Dunedin City Council criticised over missing 150 fleet cars Newstalk ZB - 23/08/2014

Dunedin City Council is being criticised for failing ratepayers, by refusing to explain how it managed to lose more than 150 fleet cars.

The Council has confirmed it has complained to police over the alleged fraud which has cost the city more than 1.5 million dollars.

The information was released by way of a video comment from the Mayor and the Council's CEO no one's been available to answer questions.

Taxpayers Union spokesman Jordan Williams says people are right to feel aggrieved at the lack of information.

He says the Council should be explaining more about the complaint it's made to police.

Click here for the full news report.

NZ Herald on patronizing brochures

Backlash over costly brochure Herald on Sunday - 27/07/2014

The Herald on Sunday included comments from Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams in coverage of the recent "No car? No problem!" brochure from the Office for Senior Citizens which cost approximately $37,000 excluding staff time. 

"A brochure telling senior citizens they can walk or catch the bus when they're no longer able to drive has been slammed as patronising and a waste of public money."

The brochure, which was first printed in 2005 with an updated version this year, has cost about $37,000, excluding staff time.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the money could have been better used.

"Our seniors weren't born yesterday - spending taxpayers' money to produce patronising brochures explaining to them the existence of taxis and public transport is insulting.

"The Government is throwing money away at brochures that parrot what is surely common sense."

Read the full article here

Ministry of Health's Taxi Spending Raises Eyebrows

Ministry says walk's silly, we'd rather take a cab Stuff.co.nz - 27/07/2014

When it comes to walking the talk, it seems Ministry of Health staff would rather just take a cab.

Last year ministry staff took more than 1000 taxi rides for less than $10 - at the same time as officially advocating walking as a way to increase New Zealand's low levels of physical activity.

The ministry has internal advice for staff on nutrition and physical activity that includes walking short trips, and using stairs rather than lifts.

The taxis were an unacceptable use of taxpayer money by a ministry responsible for promoting physical activity, according to the Taxpayers' Union. "It is sadly ironic that while the Ministry of Health spends taxpayer money to promote active living, officials are getting taxis a few hundred metres down the road," said Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers' Union.

Click here for the full story.

Taxpayers Union plays part reducing foreign aid waste

In May the Taxpayers' Union revealed that  $116,000 of NZ Aid money, intended for economic development, was used to buy Cook Island Prime Minister, Henry Puna a new boat and outboard motor. The Cook Islands Government initially denied the claims, which were later found to be well founded following a 3 news investigation. Two months later, in July the New Zealand Government denied the Cook Island Prime Minister eligibility to receive future NZ aid funding.

Cook Island Government Initially Refutes Taxpayers' Union Claims: 

Cook Islands government dismisses PM aid money allegations 'Dateline Pacific' Radio New Zealand - 22/05/2014

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union says there has to be better oversight of NZ Aid money after revelations in the New Zealand media that Mr Puna got a large aid grant through a pearl farming programme. The Union's Jordan Williams says aid money needs to be targetted at people who need it and New Zealand taxpayers shouldn't be forking out funds for a new boat and outboard motor to senior politicians. He says Foreign Minister Murray McCully needs to reveal if he knew Henry Puna would be the largest recipient of the project funds.

JORDAN WILLIAMS: If everything was above board this conflict would have been acknowledged and it would have been handled properly. Instead the Cook Islands government has reacted to the story just with secrecy. There are plenty of questions to be answered both by the Cook Islands Prime Minister and indeed by our own Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Cook Islands Financial Secretary, Richard Neves, says the allegations of large payments to the Prime Minister and comments from the Taxpayers' Union are outlandish and ignorant. He says the Cook Islands is one of the leaders in 

transparency across the Pacific. He says the Manihiki Pearl Farmers Association and the Ministry of Marine Resources work out what each farmer needs and the Finance Ministry buys the materials and then finalises who gets what.

Click here for the full Radio NZ report - 22/05/2014

New Zealand Government Denies Cook Island PM Further NZ Aid Payments: 

Cook Islands PM denied pearl farm funding 3 News - 18/07/2014

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has been denied NZ Aid funding for his pearl farm following a 3 News investigation earlier this year.

In May, it was revealed that Mr Puna had requested $116,000 worth of equipment and loan funding for his Manihiki pearl farm despite an apparent conflict of interest.

Since then, pearl farmers who requested funding have been reassessed under the requirements signed off between the Cook Island and New Zealand governments. Mr Puna did not meet the criteria. It is unclear whether the reassessment was a direct result of 3 News' investigation.

One of the requirements was that pearl farmers had to be active to receive funding. However, Mr Puna's pearl farm was struck off by the Companies Office in November last year and his media adviser Trevor Pitt said the farm had been dormant since 2010.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union, is happy with the response but has further questions he wants answered.

 "While we are delighted that future aid money won't be wasted on the Cook Islands oligarchy, NZ Aid needs to front up and explain how this happened in the first place.  

"We still don't know precisely what the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister knew and when."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says it is working with the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of New Zealand's funding arrangement.

Prime Minister Henry Puna has not responded to interview requests.

Click here for the full 3 news article - 18/07/2014



Winston playing favourites with gst

Tax dodgers, GST on food top NZ First hit list  The New Zealand Herald - 21/07/2014

New Zealand First would take GST off basic food items and rates bills and would target tax dodgers to fund the expensive policies, leader Winston Peters said yesterday.

But both proposals have already been tagged as difficult to implement.

… 

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said he welcomed Mr Peters' recognition that New Zealand families were over-taxed, "but introducing new complexity to GST won't reduce the burden".

 

Click here to read the full story on nzherlad.

Taxpayers Union on Greens Economic Policy: 3 News

Greens announce $1B economic policy 3 News - 16/07/2014

Meanwhile, the Taxpayers' Union says the Greens' policy is the "lesser of two evils" and is taking a cautiously optimistic approach.

"Although the Greens' policy still leaves room for picking winners, on balance it is better than the existing corporate welfare scheme operated by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce," executive director Jordan Williams says.

The union is concerned tax credits could be vulnerable to businesses manipulating what they do to qualify for new research and development funding.

Click here to read the full report.


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