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

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The Dominion Post picks up Taxpayers' Union criticism of Government funding the America's Cup


Taxpayers' Union criticise Government funding $36m towards the America's Cup
The Dominion Post - 28/03/2014

Government claims that last year's America's Cup campaign has paid for itself more than twice over have been criticised by the Taxpayers' Union.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce yesterday released an independent report into the "direct and indirect benefits" of entering the high-speed yachting regatta.

"From a $36m taxpayer investment, the evaluation shows an estimated positive impact of $87m to the New Zealand economy," Joyce said.

However, Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said there was no reason to celebrate the funding of a sport for rich men.

"The analysis is based on the questionable assumption that private money would not have flowed into Team New Zealand without taxpayers coughing up," he said.

The report also says Team New Zealand contributed to 1220 new jobs.

"Of course politicians like Mr Joyce will claim to have created jobs by spending other people's money," Williams said.

"The jobs and economic activity lost due to the tax taken from the economy in the first place, is ignored. Even a sport full of the richest men in the world doesn't turn down government money," Williams said.

Click here to read more.

A question of value for taxpayer money

This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers' Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers' Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday's call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I've made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers' Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. See http://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers'_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

Jordan Williams.

3 News: $15M genetics funding bad economics – union

A $15 million government investment to improve the genetics of New Zealand lamb and beef is bad economics, the Taxpayers' Union says.
The Government this week announced it the investment, over five years, as part of a new partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.
The Government's $15M contribution will make up part of the $8.8M spent annually on researching genetic improvement in cattle and sheep.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the Government is committed to investing in research that benefits New Zealand. Click here to read more.

Pressure builds on Len Brown

Pressure builds on Len Brown Newstalk ZB - 20/1/2014

Len Brown's opponents continue to apply pressure on the Auckland mayor.
Security guards protected Mr Brown from hecklers as he opened a railway station at Panmure on Saturday.
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams says if the mayor feels he needs extra security, he should foot the bill himself.
"And lets be honest, he only has that security to stop people ridiculing him and mocking him, I question whether it is for his genuine protection."
But a spokesman for the mayor's office says the Panmure transport interchange opening was an Auckland Transport event, and the extra security was ATs decision.
There are also claims that Mr Brown has already breached the censure enforced by his councillors.
All 20 Auckland councillors censured the mayor last month, requiring a stronger working relationship and level of accountability.
But councillor Cameron Brewer says the mayor has effectively thumbed his nose at the censure by informing news media of his six priorities for 2014, before telling councillors.
Mr Brewer says the media rang councillors yesterday for comment, but they didn't even know what Len Brown had said.
Mr Brewer says the mayor's actions are not in the spirit of what was formally agreed, not to mention the many assurances and promises the Mayor has made publicly.

Newstalk ZB on funding for yacht race that never happened

Government won't seek repayment from axed yacht race Newstalk ZB - 16/1/2014

The Government has no intention of making the organisers of an axed yacht race repay $100,000 in taxpayer funding.

The inaugural Auckland to Bluff race - scheduled for next month - was cancelled due to a lack of entrants, but not before receiving a quarter of its $400,000 government grant.

The Taxpayers' Union says organisers should be made to pay it back.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says organisers have already spent the money and he doesn't expect them to find another $100,000 to pay it back. 

$19m wasted on health and safety training with 84c per dollar wasted

Health and safety training 'a waste of time' ONE News - 14/1/2014 

The ACC Minister is promising to scrap a Government-funded health and safety training scheme.

Judith Collins agrees with a taxpayers' lobby group, the Taxpayers' Union, that the 10-year-old scheme has been a waste of money.

Click here or the image below for video on demand.

TVNZ screenshot

ACC dumps workplace training scheme 3 News - 15/1/2014

Click here or the image below for video on demand.

 

ACC to can programme after $19m spent NZ Herald - 14/1/2014

The Accident Compensation Corporation will end a health and safety training programme it said today after activist group the Taxpayers Union highlighted almost $20 million in spending on the training which generated few benefits.

The union today released documents detailing the corporation's spending since 2003 on the programme to train employees in health and safety practices.

Beginning in 2003, the money was paid to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), employers' group Business NZ and private training provider Impac Services.

However the documents showed the $19 million spent "did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents", Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said.

The documents released under the Official Information Act showed reviews of the programme showed its net effect in reducing injuries were "small in size and were inconsistent in direction to be considered effective".

ACC analysis found that over the time the programme was working there was a reduction in claims even in workplaces where no safety or workplace activity has occurred.

The analysis suggested that even if the training was responsible for half of the reduction in accidents, at best only 16c in every $1 spent did any good, or in other words, 84c in every $1 was being wasted.

The documents reveal that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

"Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves", said Mr Williams.

"It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash."

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville today said the corporation decided late last year "that the training programme wouldn't be continued past its current contract".

"While the training programme did provide some value, it did not meet our level of expectations, nor deliver value for money."

Click here to continue reading.

ACC cuts $1.5m in health, safety training stuff.co.nz - 14/1/2014

Accident prevention training may end Otago Daily Times - 15/1/2014

Lucrative training programmes which the Taxpayers Union says has cost ACC levy-payers $19 million since 2003 may be close to ending.

The union released documents yesterday which showed ACC knew millions of dollars paid to BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

The documents were obtained under the Official Information Act.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the documents showed BusinessNZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture. Doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

''BusinessNZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash.''

ACC axing union health and safety partnership Newstalk ZB - 14/1/2014

ACC admits programme poor value Radio NZ - 14/1/2014

Click here to listen to item on Checkpoint ( 2' 39'' )

ACC programme a cosy deal, says minister Radio NZ - 15/1/2014

Click here to listen to Judith Collins on Summer Report ( 7' 08'' )

BusinessNZ rejects training scheme attacks stuff.co.nz - 16/1/2014

Business NZ has hit back at ACC Minister Judith Collins over her attacks on an ACC-funded health and safety training programme run by Business NZ, the Council Of Trade Unions and a private provider.

ACC announced this week that the $1.5 million a year programme would be canned at the end of of 2014 because it was not providing value for money.

Collins had joined criticism of the scheme, which has run since 2003, describing it as a cosy arrangement that had the hallmarks of a scam and a rort.

Business NZ today broke its silence on the issue, with a press release quoting its chief executive, Phil O'Reilly.

Continue reading.

Minister softens over claims of rort in ACC workplace safety training NZ Herald - 17/1/2014

Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA
Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA

... Ms Collins had spoken to CTU Secretary Peter Conway and while she wouldn't apologise "she said she will no longer use the word rort".

Ms Collins last night confirmed she had spoken with Mr Conway and had agreed to try "not to use those words".

However she maintained the scheme had been "a complete waste of money and a disgrace". Read more.

Cost of Royal visit less than full time head of state

Taxpayers' Union positive about royal visit Newstalk ZB 21/12/2014

A body set up to critique the way taxpayers' money is spent is feeling positive about next year's royal visit.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - William and Kate - have confirmed a trip to New Zealand in April.
It's not yet clear if Prince George will travel with them.
Taxpayers' Union spokesman Jordan Williams says while the cost of the trip isn't yet known....it may not be as bad as some people expect.
He says New Zealand is only picking up the tab for the few days the royals are here, while other countries have to carry the cost of a royal family or a president all year.

Taxpayers' Union Uncovers Massive IT Screw Up Within DOC

The Taxpayers’ Union revealed a massive cost overrun of a mismanaged IT project jointly commissioned by DoC and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).  Two independent reports on the project are damning of DoC.  They blame mismanagement and ineffective governance for the project’s failure. It appears that LINZ has walked away from the project and has left DoC to pick up the pieces.  A selection of the media coverage is below.

Another govt IT project failure - this time at DoC New Zealand Herald - 18/12/2013

Yet another Government IT project has gone off the rails with a new Department of Conservation land management system costing taxpayers millions in budget overruns while still failing to deliver as promised.

And as in the case of the Novopay debacle, officials have blamed an Australian IT company.

The National Property and Land Information System (NaPALIS) initiated two years ago was joint programme intended to replace the Department of Conservation's (DoC) and Land Information NZ's (Linz) existing systems, with Tasmanian company ICS winning the contract.

However documents obtained under the Official Information Act by activist group the Taxypayers Union reveal the $5.6 million project was completed several months late in September last year, required an extra $588,967 to complete and even then failed to function as required by DoC.

DoC has now allocated about $2 million of additional funding to make the programme fully operational.

Personality clashes causing budget blowout Newstalk ZB - 18/12/2013 

Trouble between LINZ and DOC 

Personality clashes between government departments could be to blame for a failing and over budget information system.

Documents released to the Taxpayers' Union show efforts for the Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand to work together to create a database of the country's land have been dodgy at best.

Union spokesperson Jordan Williams says the project is now $2 million over budget, and still not fully operational.

He says two independent reports blame ineffective governance, and even officials from the the two departments not getting along.

System now top priority

An expensive and overdue information system is now the top priority for Department of Conservation bosses to see fixed.

The National Property and Land Information System was due to be finished early last year, but still isn't fully operational, and needs an injection of $2 million for bug fixes.

Director-General Lou Sanson says he doesn't like waste, so he's determined to get it sorted.

He says taxpayers can be assured he'll wring maximum value out of the system to make up for the delays.

DoC admits failings over IT blow-out Radio New Zealand - 18/12/2013 

Click here to listen to Checkpoint interview with Lou Sanson, Director General, DOC

Click here to listen to Checkpoint interview with Jordan Williams, Taxpayers' Union

Cost overruns with DOC computer system Otago Daily Times - 18/12/2013

Taxpayers' Union 'uncover massive IT screw up' Yahoo! New Zealand - 18/12/2013


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