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The Nation on the Taxpayers' Union

Union not a party in the making The Nation - 2/11/2013

Union not a party in the making The National Business Review - 2/11/2013

The country’s newest union will never become a political party, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union co-founder.

Jordan Williams, who co-founded the union with Kiwiblog’s David Farrar, said it was a bottom line of his involvement that the union wouldn’t become a political party - and if it ever became one, he would leave.

 

Council website 'astronomical' cost

The Marlborough Express covers the figures on website spending released by the Taxpayers' Union
showing that Marlborough District Council spend three times as much as Nelson / Tasman / West Coast combined.

Council website 'astronomical' cost 'Marlborough Express - 31/10/2013

Council website 'astronomical' cost

The Marlborough District Council has spent more than $400,000 on website redevelopment over the past two years, nearly three times as much as Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast put together.
Figures released by the Taxpayers' Union show that only Auckland Council has spent more than Marlborough on website upgrades since July 2011.
Councils of a similar size to Marlborough, like Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Wanganui, have all spent less than $15,000.
In comparison, Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.
Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year, spent almost $100,000 less than Marlborough.
Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said the astronomical amount was potentially a huge waste of ratepayer money.
''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.''
Council acting chief executive Mark Wheeler defended the spend, saying figures released by the union were not comparing apples with apples.
The council had undertaken a major upgrade, involving the design and development of three separate websites, in the last two years, while Dunedin, for example, might not have carried out any, Mr Wheeler said.
''Maybe they will do it next year, or did it five years ago,'' he said.
''You cannot compare how much has been spent over two years and say one is more efficient than the other.''
The figures did not take into consideration the services being provided on the websites, Mr Wheeler said.
The total cost of $410,550 covered the redesign of the council's website and the electronic access to property files, the development of an on-line payment and application system, the redesign of the separate Marlborough District Libraries website, which serves Blenheim and Picton, and the establishment of a Marlborough Youth website, he said.
Providing on-line access to thousands of property, building and resource consent files held by council was a major project and involved much more than a few tweaks to the existing website.
''The work is an important part of the council strategy to improve on-line customer service and, in fact, the on-line file access has been a first for local government in New Zealand.''
Other councils would likely have to follow Marlborough's lead over the coming years, he said.
Mr Williams said the amount spent by Marlborough District Council on its three websites was still excessive.
''Even if we did divide the amount by a third, the amount spent by Marlborough District Council is still astronomical compared to other councils of equivalent size,'' he said.
The Taxpayers' Union website cost $7000 to develop, Mr Williams said.
''We cannot figure out how they spent so much, even on three websites,'' he said.
''It's a nice website but it's not space age.''

The Herald: 12 questions with David Farrar

Twelve Questions: David Farrar The New Zealand Herald - 31/10/2013

3. And now you've set up the NZ Taxpayers Union. What's a right-wing political blogger doing with a union?

It's a lobby group representing the views of the taxpayer and targeting government waste. I've never been anti union - I've signed people up to unions in the past and I think they are important when there is a big power imbalance and workers are vulnerable. I think Unite has been pretty effective in some of the stuff they've done. This is something I've been working on for several years and I'll give you an example of the kind of thing we're targeting - the $30 million subsidy to Rio Tinto. I can't imagine we'd be saying that was great. Or the $3 million the Government spent on a road safety campaign telling us to be nice to our fellow drivers. No, it's not the new Act Party. And it's not anti left or right. I suspect we will somewhat annoy whoever is in government at the time.

Marlborough City Council website spending

Council website 'astronomical' cost The Marlborough Express - 31/10/2013

The Marlborough District Council has spent more than $400,000 on website redevelopment over the past two years, nearly three times as much as Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast put together.

Figures released by the Taxpayers' Union show that only Auckland Council has spent more than Marlborough on website upgrades since July 2011.

Councils of a similar size to Marlborough, like Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Wanganui, have all spent less than $15,000.

In comparison, Dunedin City Council spent only $35,520 over the same time period.

Wellington City, which redeveloped its award winning website earlier in the year, spent almost $100,000 less than Marlborough.

Tax Payers Union eyes up first target Newstalk ZB - 30/10/2013

The newly established New Zealand Tax Payers Union has already eyed up it's first target - the Marlborough District Council.

It says since July 2011, the council has spent $410,550 on its website design and development.

In comparison, Dunedin City Council is said to have spent only $35,200 on its website.

Tax Payers Union co-founder Jordan Williams says the Marlborough Council's spent an exuberant amount of money.

"If, let's say, half the population of that district has actually been to the website, we estimate it would have actually been cheaper to have brought them all a taxi chit to physically go into the council."

Mr Williams says the union will be putting the microscope on spending across the political spectrum.

"We're not a political party and the Taxpayers Union will never become one. The success depends on us being a grassroots organisation for people that think there is too much waste and extravagance in Government."


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