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More Accountability

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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.

If you are a journalist seeking comment, please call us on our media line (24 hr) 04 282 0302. To join our national media distribution list please click here.


Taxpayers' Union Response to MP Claudette Hauiti charging Australian holiday to the taxpayers.

National MP charged Australia holiday to taxpayers The New Zealand Herald - 16/07/2014

National Party MP Claudette Hauiti has given up her parliamentary charge card after she used it to pay for a personal trip to Australia.

Ms Hauiti entered Parliament in May 2013, replacing disgraced list MP Aaron Gilmore.

Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said workers have been sacked for similar offences.

"If an employee charged a trip to Australia on the staff card, they would be sacked. How can someone be trusted to run the country when they can't be trusted with the plastic?"

Earlier this year Ms Hauiti was caught out breaking Parliament's rules by employing her civil union spouse in her electorate office.

"This is not the first time that Claudette Hauiti has played fast and loose with taxpayer money. Although she replaced Aaron Gilmore, she should be setting a higher standard.

"Rather than cover-up MPs' actions, Parliamentary Services should let the public be the judge of how MPs are spending taxpayer money. We are calling on Parliamentary Services to disclose the full details of all MP misspending."

Click here to read the full article in the Herald.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce publicly responds to Taxpayers' Union criticism

Joyce slams Taxpayers’ Union attack The National Business Review - 11/07/2014

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has slammed the Taxpayers’ Union’s attack on the minister as a “fundamental misunderstanding” by its executive director Jordan Williams.

Mr Williams described the $31 million worth of grants to eight new company incubators – under Callaghan Innovation’s incubator support programme – as an example of politicians thinking they know more than IT entrepreneurs.

Mr Joyce says that Mr William’s comments show a fundamental misunderstanding of both technology-based start-up companies and the intention of the government’s policy.

NBR ONLINE asked the Minister how Callaghan Innovation justifies a 3:1 funding ratio, with the taxpayer taking 75% of the risk?

Mr Joyce replied that the incubators would be funding early stage companies that have arisen from public research organisations, where generally the taxpayer has paid up to 100% of the costs of the research.

“International experience suggests around 60% of the incubated companies repay the grant.”

Mr Joyce did not, however, comment on where the remaining 40% leaves the taxpayer.

Click here to read the full story in the National Business Review.

In a press release we responded to Mr Joyce:

Good Intentions are not Good Policy Media Release - 11/07/2014

“The Taxpayers’ Union isn't questioning the intention of the Callaghan Innovation grants, our objection relates to the outcome, where taxpayers bear the risks and private businesses get the reward."

“Justifying the 3:1 funding ratio, where taxpayers take on 75% of the risk, Mr Joyce is effectively saying that 75% is better than 100%. He appears to ignore that under his policy 0% of the profit is returned to the Crown."

“We hoped to be proven wrong on our fear that the grants are interest free. Instead the Minister confirms the worst, with 40% of the grants expected to be written off and the rest not even adjusted for inflation.”

In February the world's third largest software maker, SAP, which last year posted a profit of €1.80 billion, received a similar ‘growth grant'.

“The SAP example shows that this isn’t some business IVF program," says Williams.

"We call on Mr Joyce to please explain what our ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ is. Where is the evidence that the return taxpayers get from the successful start-ups compensate for the money lost on the half that fail? In addition, who is ensuring that the decisions made by politicians on what businesses to back are better than what would have happened had the money stayed in taxpayers' pockets?"

Click here to read our full media release.




Seven Sharp: How much gas do you really get for your dollar

How much gas do you really get for your dollar: Seven Sharp - 01/07/2014

Yesterday we headed down to Z Energy Vivian Street where TVNZ's Seven Sharp filmed us refunding people's petrol tax. Not a single motorist guessed that for every dollar spent at the pump only 57 cents goes in the car!

The Government has locked in another 3 cent increase on petrol excise for next year  - now that we are back in surplus we're calling on the Government to ditch the tax hike.


How much gas do you really get for your dollar: Seven Sharp - 01/07/2014

Taxpayer's money spent on 'junket' - Taxpayers' Union

The Department of Conservation has spent over $100,000 to send staff overseas to learn how to conduct controlled burn-offs, despite the practice not being used by DoC, a taxpayers' lobby group claims.

The Taxpayers' Union says 47 DoC staff travelled to Australia this year at the taxpayer's expense to learn how to conduct controlled burn-offs - a skill that is not applicable in New Zealand.

DoC says the trip to Australia was about developing leadership qualities in the staff to deal with high stress situations.

However, the Taxpayers' Union says documents suggest the department was looking for an 'excuse' they could use for why they were sending staff members on the trip.

The documents also contained feedback from one staff member who made the trip admitting that the group didn't "really do much fire stuff", despite that being the apparent purpose of the trip.

"The documents reveal that DoC has been left searching for ad hoc excuses to justify this expenditure. Are DoC staff so well equipped that they need to send staff on training programs for things that only assist conservation in Australia?" says Taxpayers' Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

This isn't the first trip DoC has made to Australia. The department previously sent 25 staff on a trip in 2012.

It's estimated the 2012 and 2014 trips have cost taxpayers $106,000.

DoC says the trip to Australia was about: "enabling staff to experience a variety of fire behaviour in a controlled setting, applying fire control and suppression methods in different circumstances and generally allow staff to experience the intensity associated with large fire events and practice the appropriate responses."

Click here to read the story on the ONE news website.

Auckland public transport campaign hypocrisy

$356,000 for train campaign The New Zealand Herald - 28/06/2014








Public transport bosses in Auckland spent $356,000 to improve their public image - even as they lined up a special shuttle so staff don't have to travel on buses and trains.

The marketing campaign came with the introduction of the new electric trains and was also intended to encourage people to "give the trains a go".

It was revealed this week Auckland Transport has set up a regular private shuttle service to move staff between its Henderson headquarters and its central Auckland waterfront office.

The shuttle was intended as a time-saving measure for staff, but attracted criticism from public transport advocates because it leaves from and arrives at the same places used by the slower public transport options.

The $356,000 spending on the April campaign came as the shuttle service was being prepared for launch. The documents, released to the Taxpayers' Union, show the campaign was intended to "increase positive perceptions towards Auckland Transport and our breakthrough projects".


Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams criticised the spending.

"Instead of throwing money at advertising, Auckland Transport would have a better reputation if it stopped running the private shuttle between offices and started following its own advice to use public transport."

Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton told Radio New Zealand criticism was "superficial".

Click here to read the full story on nzherald.

When phones go down, Dyson knows who to call

A fault caused telephones in Parliament to be temporarily blocked from making long-distance calls yesterday, prompting long-serving Labour MP Ruth Dyson to suggest Right-leaning lobby group the Taxpayers’ Union might have been behind the problem.

‘‘No toll calling available from Parliament,’’ Dyson tweeted.

‘‘Saw ‘taxpayers’ ‘union’ in the building earlier. Money-saving move? Lights next?’’ Dyson tweeted. Click here to read more.

Herald covers Taxpayers' Union outrage taxpayer funding joke party

Civilian's gain major parties' loss Herald - 11/06/2014

The Civilian, a satirical website, has been allocated taxpayers' money to fund election policies such as 'free icecream' and a 'llama for each child'. The Herald covers Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams on the wasteful allocation of taxpayers' money. 

Mr Uffindell, the writer behind satirical website The Civilian, has been targeted by lobby group the Taxpayers Union and Prime Minister John Key for wasting taxpayer funding after last week being allocated $33,635 in taxpayer funds for broadcast election advertising for the coming campaign.

"In reality, the Civilian Party will be thinking the biggest joke's on us, the taxpayer," Mr Key said.

Taxpayers Union spokesman Jordan Williams said for the party to accept the money to promote its policies of free ice cream and a llama for each child in poverty was "outrageous".

"This is an affront to very important issues like health and education. It is absurd that while people wait for surgery, the Civilian Party receives $33,000 of taxpayer money for what is essentially a hobby horse."

But Mr Uffindell told the Herald the money was coming from a $3.28 million pool which would be fully allocated - mostly to National and Labour - anyway.

Click here to read more.

Taxpayers' Union calls for changes to the Official Information Act to include trusts

Trust investigates 'irregular payments' claim The New Zealand Herald - 27/05/2014

A taxpayer-funded South Auckland disability support provider which received $30 million last year is investigating its own accounts, after claims from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters of "irregular payments".


The Taxpayers' Union called for changes to the Official Information Act to cover groups such as the trust.

"Unlike government agencies, these non-profit groups are not required to comply with the act. This means that too often, taxpayer money disappears into a void," union executive director Jordan Williams said.

Click here to read more.

Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust shows need for OIA reform

The NZ Herald has picked up our comments in response to the recent scandal surrounding "irregular payments" at the taxpayer-funded South Auckland disability support provider, Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust

Trust investigates 'irregular payments' claim NZ Herald 27 May 2014

Trust investigates 'irregular payments' claim

A taxpayer-funded South Auckland disability support provider which received $30 million last year is investigating its own accounts, after claims from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters of "irregular payments".

Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust confirmed yesterday that its investigation had been ongoing for several months.

Among Mr Peters' claims were $360,662.90 paid to a bakery over two years for property maintenance, $250,000 to two firms unqualified to give financial advice and payments to a security systems company that does not exist. [...]

The Taxpayers' Union called for changes to the Official Information Act to cover groups such as the trust.

"Unlike government agencies, these non-profit groups are not required to comply with the act. This means that too often, taxpayer money disappears into a void," union executive director Jordan Williams said. Read more.

Autotalk on electric vehicles

White elephant says Taxpayer’s Union, not so says APEV Autotalk - 01 May 2014

The Taxpayers’ Union says it has uncovered what is probably the most expensive staff car park in the country, located at Z Energy on Customhouse Quay in Wellington.
However the Association for the promotion of electric vehicles (APEV) disagrees.
Between 2010 and 2012, the Wellington City Council spent $100,000 on a zero-emissions vehicle programme, and only thing to show for it is a charging station, which is a white elephant claims the Taxpayer’s Union.
Most days it is occupied by conventional vehicles owned by the staff at the Z Energy station according to the Taxpayer’s Union.
“Instead of being used to charge electric vehicles, the ratepayer funded charging station is used as a staff car park for the service station attendants,” says Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams.

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