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Spending Time with the Taxpayers’ Union: An Aussie Summer Intern’s Inside Scoop

Rhys Budge interned at the Taxpayers' Union from November 2023 until January 2024. He is currently finishing his Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics and Finance at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. 

For the past 10 weeks, I have had the pleasure of joining the Taxpayers’ Union out on the frontlines in their battle against government waste. 

Friend of the Union and fellow advocate for liberty, the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, offered to support my journey from Perth, Western Australia to the TU office in Wellington as part of their 2023 scholarship program.   

The Taxpayers’ Union’s mission really stood out to me. I loved that the New Zealand taxpayer had an advocate out there fighting for their interests – all the while showing such a task could be achieved in a fun, humorous, and well-spirited way. I gratefully accepted the opportunity and made the journey across the Tasman in early November last year. 

Intern Rhys Budge with the Debt Monster

Upon arriving, I was introduced to the team and given a project to get me started. For the coming holiday season, the Taxpayers’ Union wanted to know what our Christmas day meals would look like if people really abided by the New Zealand Government’s diet guidelines – similar to something put out by the UK Taxpayers’ Alliance. Having casually explored the effectiveness of different diets in the past, I hoped some of my prior knowledge could help me in deciphering the hundreds of pages of New Zealand Government diet guidelines I went on to find. Needless to say, it did not. 

Over a month later and after making lots of Excel spreadsheets, I had finally come up with a festive feast just in time for Christmas. It was grisly, it was boring, but even still, it did not satisfy every single parameter required to be truly government approved (for that I probably needed a whole year and a hell of a lot more spreadsheets). 

Thankfully though, I did more than just stare at figures showing the sodium levels and saturated fats within our foods while I was with the Union. I spent a lot of time researching and writing on other topics including, MP pay, government branding, and government website standards. Knowing such research has the potential to kick-off or contribute to a wider conversation that can really make a positive difference in people’s lives is a humbling thought. It is a privilege to be in such a position, and seeing how hard the Union staff work, you get the sense they all see it that way too. 

The Taxpayers' Union ute on the Desert Road

What I have really enjoyed has been meeting many of you, the great supporters of this organization. After volunteering to help with some of the 'on the ground' campaign field-ops, I was tasked with the Taxpayers’ Union Ute (which, if you haven’t seen, is impossible to miss), and I found myself meeting and shaking hands with supporters seemingly wherever I pulled up and parked. I appreciated hearing your personal stories and how much you value the work coming out of the Taxpayers’ Union. Similar sentiment was also shared among those of you I met at the Taxpayers’ Union 10th anniversary gala at Gibbs Farm. I could see how you all shared a common desire to see a government that shows respect for your hard-earned dollars. I felt lucky to have had the opportunity to contribute towards this goal for you all, even for just a short while. 

As my time with the Union now comes to an end, I would like to express my thanks to the Taxpayers’ Union for welcoming me into the team from day one. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your hard work behind the scenes come out over this new year as you continue advancing New Zealand in a positive direction. I am eager to see how some of my unfinished projects turn out after they are placed into the hands of another capable intern. Something tells me though that I’m not going to be able to keep my hands off, even if it means working on it remotely all the way from down under. 

Finally, I would like to thank Mannkal for supporting me during my time here. I feel fortunate to have been given so many incredible opportunities over this past year and it is only through the generosity of people passionate about liberty that I get to do something like this. 

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  • Nztu Media
    published this page in News 2024-01-19 14:26:57 +1300

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