Lower Taxes, Less Waste,
More Accountability

Championing Value For Money From Every Tax Dollar

Wasted $33.5 million on Northland railway shows danger of putting pet projects before economics

Wasted $33.5 million on Northland railway shows danger of putting pet projects before economics

Already, more than $33.5m has been spent attempting to reopen a mothballed section of railway between Kauri and Ōtiria despite the project now being put on hold.

Commenting on this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Over $25 million worth of railway sleepers are sat collecting dust in ditches and laybys across Northland for a boondoggle project hanging in limbo.

“The section of railway was mothballed for a reason – people didn’t want to use it enough to make it viable. The tens of millions lined up to recommission this white elephant never should’ve been approved in the first place.

“This and Auckland Light Rail show what happens when you try and brute-force pet projects through without proper planning. Wishful thinking shouldn’t be directing infrastructure policy.”

Fund medicine not movies - Taxpayers’ Union calls for scrapping corporate welfare to fund Pharmac

In last month’s Budget, the Government claimed it could not find the $70-80 million needed to deliver on National’s election promise to fund new cancer medicines. At the same time, over $100 million every year – more than enough to fund the medicines – is being doled out in corporate welfare for the film and gaming industries.

The Taxpayers’ Union has today launched a petition calling for these subsidies to be scrapped and the money to be redirected to funding Pharmac.

Commenting on this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“When the Government would rather line the pockets of Hollywood fat cats than deliver life-saving medicines for New Zealand’s most vulnerable, clearly they need to get their priorities straight.

“Treasury’s own numbers suggest these subsidies cost New Zealand more than they generate. Redirecting this money to fund things like the 13 life-saving cancer treatments available across the ditch but not in New Zealand would save lives and still be up to $30-million-a-year cheaper.

“Billionaires like Peter Jackson can do without taxpayer-funded corporate handouts, but sick Kiwis can’t go without medicine.”

NEW POLL: Gap between Government and Opposition narrows

 

National is down 1.9 points on last month to 35.4% while Labour is also down marginally on 29.4% (-0.6 points).

The Greens remain in third place up 2.5 points on last month to 12.7% while ACT is relatively unchanged on 9.7% (+0.3 points). New Zealand First is also steady on 5.6% (+0.1 points) and Te Pāti Māori is up 0.9 points to 4.0%.

For the minor parties, Outdoors & Freedom is on 1.3%, TOP is on 0.8%, Vision NZ is on 0.5%, the New Conservatives are on 0.1%, and the combined total for all other parties is 0.5%.

This month's results are compared to last month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll.

National is down three seats on last month to 44 and Labour is also down one seat to 36.

The Greens are up three seats to 16 while ACT is unchanged on last month on 12. Both NZ First and Te Pāti Māori are unchanged on last month on seven and six seats, respectively. 

The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 63 seats is down three seats from last month. On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government.

The combined seats for the Centre-Left is up 2 seats on 58.

This calculation assumes that all electorate seats are held. A Parliament on these figures would include one overhang seat.

More detailed results, including net favourability and major voting issues, are available on our website.

Taxpayer Update: Let's fund Pharmac, not films 💊 > 🎥 | The Maori Party and Mr Tamihere 🗳️👀 | POLL: Opposition gains 📊 | Parliament now making wine 🍾🍾🍾🤦‍♂️

The latest political poll is out (see midway down this email) but first, we ask the question: when New Zealand can't afford lifesaving cancer drugs, are hundreds of millions in new film subsidies to Hollywood film and video game studios really the best use of taxpayer money?

Budget 2024 – your verdict is in ⚖️

The dust has now settled on Nicola Willis's first budget. So how did she do? Last week, we asked our 200,000 supporters to rate the Budget out of ten.

The most common answer was 8 out of ten, with the average score being 5.99 (so basically 6) – a narrow passing mark.

Budget out of 10

From the comments, the top 'highlight' was the (modest) tax cuts (this is, after all, a taxpayer union!) with the 'lowlight' being National's broken promise to fund a list of cancer drugs.

And we've heard you on the drugs!  As part of this week's efforts to highlight low priority government spending and waste, we're asking:

Why is the Government prioritising movie subsidies over medicine? 🎥 > 💊

The Government's decision not to stump up funding for 13 cancer treatments that are available in Australia, is a mix of politics and economics.

First, the economics. Australia's GDP per capita (what the country's economy produces per person) is now more than one third higher than New Zealand's.

So much of New Zealand's political bun fighting comes back to the sad fact that we want first-world Government services (and rightly so), but are not running a first world economy to pay for it.  

So the right question we should be asking is: How do we make New Zealand more productive and catch up with Australia?

But, this is also about political prioritisation. How can the Government spend so much money on junk, instead of funding important cancer drugs?

And it's a very fair question.

That's why today we are launching a new campaign, calling on the Government to fund medicines, not movies.

This year, Wellington is doling out more than $100 million of taxpayer money on corporate welfare to the film and gaming sectors. Meanwhile, the cost to fund new cancer treatments is $70–80 million dollars. What would you prefer the money to be spent on?

Pharmac Not Films

We say the priority should go to Pharmac to support lifesaving healthcare, not billionaire Hollywood bigwigs and studios. We've launched an online petition here.

Now, I'm sure some film-buffs will claim that we must subsidise film production if we are to enjoy the economic benefits of the jobs the movie business brings to New Zealand. But if subsiding favoured industries was a recipe for economic success, why just film and video games? 

Taxing successful businesses more for politicians to pick and choose which industries to subsidise is best left in the 1970s. It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now.

And this isn't just us saying it: The boffins at Treasury have tried to call for the credits to roll on the billion-dollar scheme. The Government's own numbers suggest that the subsidies cost more than the economic benefits they generate.

✍️ If you agree, {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}, take 20 seconds to sign the petition calling on more funding for medicine and less for movies ✍️

Taxpayers’ Union at Mystery Creek: Come and meet the team @ National Fieldays 🚜👋

If you're at Fieldays this week, come and say hello and sign the petition in-person.

Fieldays

We'll be at site RM89 in the rural living marqueeKeep an eye out on our Facebook page for updates too and speaking events during the four days.

Mr Tamihere, his marae, the census, and the Māori Party 🫤

Last week's explosive accusations being made by whistleblowers and first reported by Andrea Vance in the Sunday Star Times are about as serious as they get in a democracy.

The first accusation is that John Tamihere's urban marae – which was part of a Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency drive to promote last year’s census – was photocopying the data and using it for a political drive for Te Pāti Māori (of which Mr Tamihere is President). The whistleblowers claim that the information was then used to target Māori electorate voters in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate.

SMSThe second set of accusations relate to text messages urging people to vote for Te Pāti Māori – sent from a four-digit number, which was the same as that used by Waipareira Trust to send out Covid-19 vaccination messages. Mr Tamihere is the Chief Executive of Waipareira Trust.

The messages also appear to break electoral legislation, because they do not have the required "promotor statement", which is in law so that people know who is behind (and paying) for electoral advertisements/communications. 

It was not previously public, but during the election campaign, the Labour Party complained to the Electoral Commission about text messages. Not really a surprise they're upset: their candidate lost to Te Pāti Māori MP Takutai Tarsh Kemp (the former CEO of the very same urban marae) by just 42 votes.

The third set of allegations relate to accusations that Marae staff who delivered census forms also included enrolment forms for voters to change from the general to the Māori roll and even gave away $100 supermarket vouchers, wellness packs and food parcels to encourage them to complete the forms.

From a taxpayers perspective, what makes the allegations even more concerning are the suggestions that the whistleblowers had reported their concerns to multiple government agencies, but that the agencies had failed to act! 

The Taxpayers' Union was one of the first organisations to call for a public, and most importantly, independent inquiry. Operating a census is one of the most basic functions of the State and public confidence should be guarded at all costs. We say that the Stats NZ review, for example, is nuts when it is officials holding the pen on the terms of enquiry into their own conduct.

So yesterday's announcement from the Prime Minister that the (acting) Public Services Commissioner will be doing a thorough review into the actions of the government agencies is very welcome (Radio NZ also covered the announcement and our response here).

But here's the thing, the Public Services Commission (nor Stats NZ, or MSD) cannot require Mr Tamihere, his entities, nor the Māori Party to front up with the necessary data or documents to determine what's really happened one way or another.

Formal complaint to the Privacy CommissionerLast week, I wrote to the Privacy Commissioner calling on him to launch an investigation. The Privacy Commissioner has extraordinary powers to subpoena witnesses, examine under oath, and require the production of records and documents. I made the case that Parliament gave the Commissioner these extraordinary powers for the most serious potential breaches of privacy. If this isn't among the most serious, what is?!

You can read the letter to the Privacy Commissioner requesting a formal investigation here or listen to me chatting about it with Jack Tame who was filling in for Heather du-Plessis Allan.

Finally, we should make clear: Mr Tamihere has strenuously denied that census information was collected and misused as well the other allegations. He said the allegations were driven by complainants with a gripe and even took a swipe at your humble Taxpayers' Union in a late night rant media release issues last week.

Assuming everything is “baseless and simply untrue”, it shows why Mr Tamihere needs an urgent inquiry to allow him to clear his good name... The Privacy Commissioner is the right body to do this as it has the power to summons witnesses and examine under oath.

UPDATE: This morning, speaking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB, the Prime Minister correctly made the distinction between what the Public Service Commission would be looking into (the actions of the government agencies) and what the Police and Privacy Commissioner can do (i.e. powers to investigate the third parties).

We haven't yet, heard back from the Privacy Commissioner, but we're hoping the Prime Minister perhaps knows something we don't in his suggestion that the Privacy Commissioner will get to the bottom of what's happened. We'll keep you posted.

Parliament making pour decisions 🍷

Parliamentary Wine

It's wine o’clock in Wellington because the Parliamentary Service has decided it would be wise to branch out into wine!

Rather than showcase wine from vineyards around the country, Parliamentary Services have opted to develop an "in-house signature range" to be served at internal events, and functions – and also gifted to visiting foreign dignitaries. 

And, who would have guessed, but Parliamentarians drink a lot. According to tender documents, the minimum order is 5,000 bottles of red, 5,000 of white, 4,000 of sparkling (hey, we're in recession after all!), and 300 ports.

We understand Parliamentary Services have been inundated with offers to join the "tasting panel". They say that they will be ensuring it is made up of “diverse people” from across the Parliamentary Service with “varied backgrounds”.  After all, wine not? It’s only taxpayer money! Thank goodness they're taking it so seriously...

NEW POLL: Gap narrows between Government and Opposition 📊

The Government won't be over the moon with this month's hot-off-the-press Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll. It's the first of the three major nationwide political polls since the Budget (and unlike the 1News and Newshub efforts, the Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll isn't even partially government funded!). The poll suggests Nicola Willis has failed to switch many votes.

Here it is:

Decided Party Vote over time

Compared with last month's poll, National is down 1.9 points to 35.4 percent while Labour is also down marginally to 29.4 percent (-0.6 points).

The Greens remain in third place up 2.5 points to 12.7 percent while ACT is relatively unchanged on 9.7 percent (+0.3 points). New Zealand First is also steady on 5.6% (+0.1 points) and Te Pāti Māori is up 0.9 points to 4.0%.

For the minor parties, Outdoors & Freedom is on 1.3 percent, TOP 0.8 percent, Vision NZ 0.5 percent, New Conservatives 0.1 percent, and the combined total for all other parties was 0.5 percent.

Here is how these results would translate to seats in Parliament:

Seats

National is down three seats on last month to 44 and Labour is also down one seat to 36. The Greens are up three seats to 16 while ACT is unchanged on last month on 12. Both NZ First and Te Pāti Māori are unchanged on last month on seven and six seats, respectively. 

The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 63 seats is down three seats from last month. On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. The combined seats for the Centre-Left is up 2 seats on 58. This assumes that all electorate seats are held. A Parliament on these numbers would include one overhang seat.

For favourability ratings, major voting issues, and to find out how to get access to our full polling reports (including geographic breakdowns), head over to our website.

Taxpayer Talk: MPs in Depth – Dr Hamish Campbell 🎙️

Taxpayer Talk: Hamish Campbell

This week on Taxpayer TalkI sat down with the National MP for Ilam, Hamish Campbell.

Hamish reclaimed the previously safe National seat of Ilam at the 2023 election, following it turning red for the first time in 2020. Prior to entering Parliament, Hamish had been a medical researcher and university lecturer using his Bachelor's degree in genetics and PhD in viruses and cancer from the University of Otago. Hamish shares his views on politics, why he wanted to be an MP, and provides an interesting insight on some of his unique hobbies that he has enjoyed over the years.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple Podcasts, | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Thank you for your support.

Jordan

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Jordan Williams
Executive Director

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

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Media Mentions:

NewstalkZB Jason Walls: Budget 2024 was only ever going to be 'okay' (01:52)

NewstalkZB The Sunday Panel: Did the 2024 Budget go too far? (04:45)

Newshub 'Silly' inconsistency: Police pay council rates while schools, hospitals and churches don't

interest.co.nz Brian Easton is impressed by how effective the Taxpayers' Union has been. He looks at their recipe of how to run a successful pressure group

NZ Herald Budget 2024: The dilemma that’s destroying us - Simon Wilson

NewstalkZB THE RE-WRAP: Bad Guys Going In the Wrong Direction

ACT Free Press ACT-ing Prime Minister

RNZ Claims of Census data misuse by Manurewa Marae probed by Stats NZ

RNZ Claims marae misused census data - latest details

The Working Group Budget Battles and Global Affairs | GUESTS: Maria Slade, Matthew McCarten & Jordan Williams

NZ Herald Budget 2024: Finance Minister Nicola Willis on tax cuts charm offensive as Labour highlights cuts

Waikato Times More than 1000 council staff across Waikato earning $100,000-plusMore than 1000 council staff across Waikato earning $100,000-plus

The Spinoff Is the next big media merger NZ on Air marrying the Film Commission?

NewstalkZB  Chris Hipkins: Labour leader on 'very serious' allegations against Te Pāti Māori

Chris Lynch Media Growing Investigations into John Tamihere and Te Pāti Māori Spark Calls for Comprehensive Inquiry

Business Desk Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade a 'sitting duck' for cyberattacks after $33m cloud IT flop

The Post PM 'monitoring closely' investigations into census allegations

NewstalkZB The Taxpayers Union has called for the Privacy Commissioner to investigate Te Pāti Māori allegations

BusinessDesk Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade a 'sitting duck' for cyberattacks after $33m cloud IT flop

RNZ Privacy Commissioner seeks more detail on possible census data breach at marae

RNZ Mediawatch for 9 June 2024 (10:54)

 

MPs in Depth: Hamish Campbell

Hamish Campbell MP

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Jordan sat down with National Party MP, Dr Hamish Campbell. 

Hamish reclaimed the previously safe National seat of Ilam at the 2023 election, following it turning red for the first time in 2020. Prior to entering Parliament, Hamish has been a medical researcher and university lecturer using his Bachelor's degree in genetics and PhD in viruses and cancer from the University of Otago. Hamish shares his views on politics, why he wanted to be an MP and provides an interesting insight on some of his unique hobbies that he has enjoyed over the years.

Hamish's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow Hamish on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

Richlister Peter Jackson should refuse corporate welfare to allow more funding for Pharmac instead


The Taxpayers’ Union congratulates Sir Peter Jackson on coming in at number 5 on this year’s NBR rich list and urges him to refuse any corporate welfare for his upcoming films so that the government can fund Pharmac instead.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Taxpayer money should go towards medicine not movies. Sir Peter’s films have already received hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate handouts thanks to the New Zealand taxpayer. With a combined net worth with his wife of an estimated $3 billion, it is clear that Sir Peter has benefitted significantly from generous taxpayer support – it’s time he returned the favour.

“While a good first step is refusing to take any further money, we encourage him to go further and return all of the taxpayer funding he has received so that the money can be used to increase the Pharmac budget to fund the life-saving medicines New Zealanders need.

“This gesture would hardly break the bank for Sir Peter but would go a long way to delivering more life-changing medicine to those battling illness. As an indication of what this money could do, the amount of money spent on film and gaming subsidies each year is approximately $30 million more than what it would cost to fund 13 new cancer treatments in New Zealand.

“Obviously funding decisions should be made by Pharmac, but it should be clear to all what is a better use of limited taxpayer funding – we hope Sir Peter Jackson agrees.”

The Government must scrap taxpayer funding for EV charging rort

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to scrap its EV charging rort that will see millions of taxpayer dollars funnelled into the hands of private companies despite the policy doing absolutely nothing to reduce New Zealand’s net emissions.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“National is supposed to be a party that believes in markets. Why are they wasting millions of dollars on a boondoggle that will do little more than subsidise wealthy Tesla owners and dish out corporate welfare to the very people who campaigned against them with misleading and deceptive advertising during the election period?

“Sock-puppet lobby group Better NZ Trust is urging the government to ‘just get on and spend it’ – very convenient for a group whose founder and trustee, Steve West, is also a director and major shareholder of ChargeNet a private company that has received more than $7 million in corporate welfare from EECA to subsidise their commercially operated charging stations.

“Simeon Brown and Simon Watts know that this won’t reduce New Zealand’s net emissions and is nothing more than an expensive virtue signal filling the blackhole created from their inability to explain their climate policy and the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“Any uptick in the use of EVs as a result of this policy may reduce transport emissions but, under New Zealand’s capped ETS, this reduction will be completely nullified by an increase in emissions in other sectors as carbon credits that would have been purchased for transport emissions are simply sold to other emitters to use. The end result is taxpayers are left out of pocket while the country’s emissions remain unchanged.”

Credit rating agency shot across the bow a danger to New Zealanders’ living standards

The Taxpayers’ Union says that the comments from credit ratings agency Fitch overnight represents a major threat to New Zealand’s public finances and New Zealanders’ living standards should the country see a credit ratings downgrade and higher costs of borrowing.

Taxpayers’ Union Economist Ray Deacon said:

“On budget forecasts, out last week, we’re already paying $10 billion per year in interest which is more than we pay on law and order or defence or school education and amounts to $5,092 per household.

“More borrowing to fund continuous government operating deficits is not a sustainable strategy. The Government simply has to get control of its expenditure and reduce it much more significantly than it has in Budget 2024. Yet another set of forecasts where a return to surplus is only at the end of the forecast period looks like a continuation of the game of kicking the ‘surplus’ can down the road.

“It would seem that Fitch might agree with us.”

Surge in dividend payments entirely predictable following trust tax hikes

Commenting on news today that companies’ dividend payments more than doubled in the tax year to 31 March from $23.6 billion to $49.4b ahead of the increase in the trustee tax rate from 33 to 39 percent, Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:

“While there is a case to be made for aligning the trustee tax rate with the top rate of income tax, this should be done by bringing the top income tax rate down from Labour’s punitive 39 percent, not by jacking up the trust tax to the same level.

“Clearly, today’s news shows the significant effort people are willing to put in in order to avoid the higher trust tax rates. This will only be exacerbated now that the higher 39% rate is in force. When the difference was just 5 percentage points, the asset protection advantages outweighed the higher rate in many cases.

“Now that the trust and income tax rates are 11 percentage points higher than the company and PIE tax rate of 28 percent, there is an even stronger incentive to move their assets out of trusts and into company structures and PIEs because the asset protection advantages are no longer worth the much higher rate.

“Rather than hitting those at the big end of town with higher taxes who can simply rearrange their finances into different structures, these changes hit the little guy – grandchildren putting money aside for their grandchildren or farmers whose family home is within the farm – and who can’t easily change their tax structures.

“It is now clear that the trustee tax rate has failed in its objectives and those with the means to do so are simply avoiding paying the higher rate as predicted. Nicola Willis needs to revisit these unfair changes immediately before they have an even more punitive effect on Kiwi families.”

The Clean Car Standard should just be scrapped altogether

Commenting on the Government’s review of the Clean Car Standard, which sees Minister Simeon Brown look to adjust the targets to make them more ‘achievable’ for vehicle companies, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman, Alex Murphy, said:

“Much like the Clean Car Discount was just middle-class welfare that did nothing to help lower New Zealand’s emissions, the Clean Car Standard also unnecessarily distorts the vehicle market for no environmental gain.

“New Zealand’s net emissions are already capped under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – using regulations that make it illegal to import certain cars will only reduce emissions in the transport sector, while subsequently freeing up more carbon credits to be used by the rest of the economy. In other words, none of it makes a shred of difference to New Zealand’s net emissions.

“Worse still, the Clean Car Standard reduces competition in the vehicle sector driving up the costs of all vehicles, including EVs, pushing essential transport further out of reach for many families. The feel-good, do-nothing scheme should be scrapped altogether.”

Taxpayers’ Union calls on Privacy Commissioner to open formal investigation into alleged misuse of census data by John Tamihere entities

The Taxpayers’ Union has written to the Privacy Commissioner this morning calling on him to launch an investigation into alleged misuse of census data by Auckland’s Manurewa Marae, entities associated with John Tamihere, and Te Pāti Māori.

Taxpayers’ Union Spokeperson, Jordan Williams, said:

“The allegations made this morning on a Newstalk ZB interview with Allan Hulse, an employment representative for workers at the Marae and MSD, suggest that various agencies were told of the allegations but failed to act prior to the matters becoming public on Sunday.”

“When part of the allegations are that Government agencies failed to act despite being tipped off by whistleblowers, it is not appropriate for the agencies to be managing the investigations.

“Earlier this week, Stats NZ announced that it has commissioned an external investigator to look into whether Census data has been misused. It is not clear whether the scope of that includes the allegations made by Allan Hulse, but in any case, without the ability to compel witnesses, or require third parties to provide information, it will be hopeless.

“If the allegations are true, and census data ended up in the Te Party Māori’s political databases, are they really going to hand over that information without being legally required to do so? Stats NZ are either kidding themselves or want a report that states ‘nothing to see here’.

“That’s why it is most appropriate for the Privacy Commissioner to lead this. He has the power to summons witnesses, examine under oath, and require the production of information and documents.

“The integrity and protection of census data is among the most important to be protected in a democratic society. Public confidence should be guarded at all costs. We can’t think of a more appropriate circumstance for the Privacy Commissioner to use all the powers at his disposal to get to the bottom of what has happened and provide public confidence in the handling of the allegations.”

The Taxpayers’ Union letter to the Privacy Commissioner can be read here.

Police Commissioner’s job is to enforce the law, not publicly lobby the government to change it

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming comments from Police Commissioner Andrew Coster where he appears to be lobbying the government to change alcohol regulations. Taxpayers’ Union Spokesperson, Jordan Williams, said:

“Andrew Coster is acting as a constitutional barbarian.  There is a long-held constitutional convention that Police - especially leadership - enforce the law, not lobby to change it.

“Who does the Police Commissioner think he is? If he wants to get involved in political campaigning, he should stand down.

“It appears Mr Coster is trying to have it both ways by saying it is not his job to be advocating for law changes before going on to do exactly that. Leading Morning Report with stories about the Commissioner advocating for minimum pricing of alcohol is a middle finger to the conventions Mr Coster is supposed to protect.

“The Police Minister and Public Service Commission need to pull the Commissioner into line.”

Four-year council terms must come with right of recall

Commenting on reports that former National Minister and current Mayor of Nelson, Nick Smith, will chair a group exploring local government electoral system reforms, Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:

“Ratepayers across the country are rightly frustrated by a toxic combination of sky-high rate hikes, wasteful spending and cuts to core council services. Three-year terms are one of the few checks and balances voters have on councils when they fail to keep their election promises.

“If four-year terms are to be introduced, they must come with the right of recall so that voters have the opportunity to kick out poorly performing elected officials. This would raise the political cost of squeezing ratepayers until the pips squeak and focus minds to deliver more efficient services.

“The group must also ensure that it properly consults the public on all options it is considering so that people across New Zealand can have their say on any proposed reforms. Any campaign for four-year terms will not attract public support if it is led by the very politicians who would benefit."

Manurewa Marae allegations warrant public inquiry

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to form a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act to ensure that MSD and Stats NZ are not tasked with reviewing their, alleged, lack of action following complaints from whistleblowers that the Manurewa Marae illegally used census data collation to booster the Māori Party’s electoral data gathering.

“These allegations are on the most serious end in terms of misuse of census information,” said Jordan Williams, a Spokesperson for the Taxpayers’ Union.

“It warrants an independent review to establish both what has happened, and whether agencies have responded with appropriate urgency.”

“Public inquiries have the power to require the production of evidence, to compel witnesses, and to take evidence on oath. Given the seriousness of the allegations reported by the Sunday Star Times over the weekend, that looks to be justified, and necessary to ensure continued public confidence.”

Taxpayer Update: Snap Budget Poll 📊 | National spends more than Labour 💥 | Government must go further and faster ✂️

Happy King's Birthday weekend!

For the team at the Taxpayers' Union, Budget week is always the busiest of the year. This week's Taxpayer Update wraps up our coverage, and (more importantly) asks you, what did you think of Budget 2024?

I've had thousands of responses to our initial reaction to Budget 2024 – I can't recall receiving so many emails in just a few days! So we thought we'd do a poll of our supporters: did Nicola Willis nail it, or did she fall short?

Budget 2024

>> Click here to give your score out of ten on Budget 2024 <<

Why this year's Budget was more important than most ⏰

Nicola Willis' choicesA lot of National Party supporters are making the point that the last government got New Zealand into the financial doo-doo and that we should lay off our criticism of this year's Budget.

{{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}, personally, I consider the last government the worst in my lifetime. I sweated blood to get rid of them last year; through the election campaign we chased Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson around with the Debt Clock, Debt Monster, held them to account on Three Waters, the outrageous "Central Planning Committee" proposal to replace the RMA – heck, we even launched a tongue-in-cheek removal company "Robbo's Removals" to highlight to voters just how bad things had become because of Grant Robertson.

But we didn't work so hard to expose the last Government to elect a new one that, in its first Budget, is increasing overall government spending, and borrowing at an even faster rate. From a personal perspective, that is what made Thursday working through the materials in the Beehive lock-up so disappointing: this budget effectively locks in Grant Robertson's post-COVID so-called 'ballooned' spending.

SNAP Budget Poll: Kiwis want Nicola Willis to go further, faster, harder ⏩ ⏩ 

Weekend HeraldThis morning's Weekend Herald covers our snap post-budget poll. And while the Nats have suggested we have been a little hard on Nicola Willis, it seems the majority of Kiwi voters agree with our broad critiques of Budget 2024. 

On tax cuts, Kiwis want Nicola Willis to go further. A majority of respondents (51%) think that the $25 a week less tax for the average earner doesn’t go far enough and want to see further tax reductions. That's compared to just 34% who are opposed.

And on public spending too, the public thinks the Government needs to do more to cut the waste. By a ratio of nearly 2 to 1, Kiwis think Nicola Willis should get public spending as a share of the whole economy back below the 30%. This was a target set by Labour and the Greens no less, but next year the Government will only get spending down to 33%.

When it comes to tackling the deficit left by Grant Robertson, there is no appetite for increasing taxes (-30% net support) or increasing borrowing (-39%). Kiwis want the Government to focus on driving higher economic growth (+78%) and by getting tougher on decreasing spending (+49%).

In the interests of transparency, we've made the full results and breakdowns available over on our website.

Weekend Herald 2Nicola Willis said that she won’t be able to deliver further tax reductions until she gets the books back into surplus in 2027/28. But these results demonstrate that New Zealanders would back her to reduce wasteful spending by much more and much sooner so that she can get the books back into the black and alleviate the tax burden even further next year.

The Weekend Herald coverage of the snap poll is in this news item and Claire Trevett's column.

Three cheers for tax relief! 🥲🥂

Nicola Willis says her tax relief package is "modest but meaningful". If you've not already checked what you're in line for, head over to The Treasury's tax calculator here.

But the emphasis really is on the word "modest". For the average earner, the tax reduction only unwinds the effects of three years' worth of inflation and is just half of the $49 Nicola Willis needed to deliver to catch Kiwis up for the last 14 years of stealth tax hikes due to inflation tipping people into higher tax brackets.

But didn't Labour leave the books in a mess? 😡

Absolutely. No one would deny that Nicola Willis and the new coalition had a challenge on their hands after the reckless budgets of the last Government: 84 percent more spending since 2017, more than 18,000 extra bureaucrats, and borrowing $75 million every day.

But while the Government has made some progress, the savings they have delivered are pretty small fry. 

In cash terms, Nicola Willis will be spending more than Labour did in each and every year of this budget. And it's not likely that spending as a share of our economy will get down to the level set out in Grant Robertson's big-spending 2019 Wellbeing Budget until at least 2038. That's 14 years away.

Well this is awkward 😬

A friend of the Taxpayers' Union pointed us to a speech from last year where Christopher Luxon accuses then Finance Minister Grant Robertson of having an 'addiction to spending' not once, but ten times. Awkward for Nicola Willis that she's spending even more, despite the election mandate to, well, spend less.

We couldn't help ourselves... 🤭

So how is the Government funding the tax reductions? 🧮 🧐

As well as some limited savings and the scrapping of Labour white elephants like Three Waters and Auckland Light Rail, there are also a laundry list of new taxes, levies and rebates to balance the books. Some make more sense than others:

✅ User pays immigration levies: New immigrants to New Zealand will have to cover the full costs of their visas. This is a sensible move. Why should the Kiwi taxpayer subsidise the costs of people who want to move here?

✅ Climate Dividend: Some of the money raised through auctions of carbon credits in our Emissions Trading Scheme will be used to fund tax reductions rather than being used to fund corporate welfare for climate initiatives that don’t actually reduce emissions (any emissions reduced are just made available elsewhere under our fixed-cap scheme). 

🟠 More money for tax inspectors: More money will be given to IRD to chase after those who are not paying their tax bills in the hope that this brings in a lot more revenue than it costs. The proof of this pudding will be in the eating. 

🟠 Fees ‘free’ tuition in the final year: Rather than getting the first year of university tuition courtesy of the taxpayer, students will get the final year paid instead. This is an improvement as it ensures we aren’t covering the costs of dropouts but the middle-class welfare that is fees ‘free’ should be scrapped entirely. 

🟠 Taxing online casino operators: Collecting revenue through a gaming duty on online casino operators isn’t particularly bad, so long as it taxes them in the same way as in-person gambling companies.

❌ Removing commercial building depreciation: Businesses will no longer be able to offset the costs of deteriorating buildings. That means less investment in improvements to things like apartment blocks or improving the earthquake ratings of older offices. 

❌ Digital Services Tax: This will force big international companies to pay more tax in New Zealand but raises concerns that this may breach the spirit of free trade agreements and could lead to costly retaliatory tariffs that cost the country more than the tax revenue.

In the media: making the case for taxpayers 📺

Jordan on RNZ post-Budget

I joined RNZ's Morning Report yesterday explaining why we were disappointed with the Budget and outlining why the Government needed to go further. Have a listen online here.

Over on The Platform, Connor was chatting to Sean Plunket and scored the Budget against our three key tests relating to tax, spending and debt, along with giving a few examples of additional areas he would like to see spending cuts.

Connor and Sean Plunkett

Watch the interview here.

Heather du Plessis-Allan doesn't hold back 😳

Over on NewstalkZB, Heather du Plessis-Allan covered our 'Mother of all Disappointments' reaction on Thursday's Drive show before putting some of our main criticisms of the Budget to the Minister of Finance herself.

Heather doesn't hold back and the interview with Nicola Willis is worth the time. Have a listen here.

We were also covered in the NBR and interest.co.nz.

Our policy guru, James, gives his verdict ⚖️

James Ross op-ed

Writing for The Post on the evening of the Budget, our Head of Policy, James Ross, gave his verdict on the Budget and what he thinks the Finance Minister ought to have done: 

Everything needed to deliver tax relief for the squeezed middle was ripe for the taking. But this Budget showed a Government which has buckled under pressure from the Wellington elite.

Kiwis needed a blockbuster Budget, but all they’ve got is a hackneyed reboot of Grant Robertson’s box-office flop.

Read the full piece over at Stuff's The Post website.

And from the experts: what did two of NZ's leading economists think?🎙️

I sat down with two of New Zealand's top economists just back from the Budget Lock Up. Suffice it to say that neither was very impressed with he Budget and (just like the Taxpayers' Union, apparently! 😳 ) have probably been taken off Nicola Willis' Christmas card list. 😥

Dr Eric Crampton is a semi-regular guest on the podcast and is the Chief Economist at The New Zealand Initiative think tank

Cameron Bagrie heads his own firm, Bagrie Economics, specialising in economic research, analysis and consultancy. 

The podcast with Eric is here.

The podcast with Cameron is here.

Taxpayer Talk is also available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and every good podcast platform.

That's all from us for this Budget week. Enjoy your long weekend!

Jordan

Jordan_signature.jpg
Jordan Williams
Executive Director

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

 

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Media Mentions:

Kiwiblog The Government must halt taxpayer funding of union staff 

NewstalkZB The Huddle: Is the closure of Smith & Caughey's a sign of bigger economic problems?

NewstalkZB Politics Thursday: Labour's Ginny Andersen and National's Chris Penk on the budget, protests and Kainga Ora (23:07)

Greymouth Star MP spending questioned [print only]

RNZ RNZ Budget Day Special (56:07)

The Post Budget 2024: A swing and a miss from Nicola Willis

The Post Budget 2024: Entrenching Labour's big-spending approach to government

NewstalkZB Heather du Plessis-Allan – Full Show Podcast: 30 May 2024 (38:50)

NZ Herald Budget 2024: Did the Government deliver what the country needs? (13:08)

RNZ Taxpayers Union disappointed over Budget

interest.co.nz Nicola Willis delivered on most of her promises but faces extremely tight budgets for years to come

RNZ RNZ News at 7am, May 31 (01:08)

Stuff Tova: Big Budget Special (02:29)

Not PC Budget 2024: The Mother of All Disappointments

NBR Tax cuts, spending cuts but more spending and more borrowing

Kiwiblog Guest Post: Budget 2024 Roundup: What you need to know

The Platform What Does the Budget Mean for Taxpayers?

NewstalkZB Friday Faceoff: Budget Special with former revenue minister Peter Dunne and Infometrics economist Brad Olsen
 (09:30)

The Platform Economist Eric Crampton Breaks Down the 2024 Budget

RNZ Week in Politics: What will the government get out of Budget 2024?

NZ Herald Budget 2024: Snap poll reveals voters’ views on Budget as Parliament rushes through tax cuts bill

NZ Herald Post-Budget snap poll gives Nicola Willis a lukewarm pass - but the cancer drug fail grates - Claire Trevett

The Post The cuts, the cash, the tax splash: What's feeding the budget?

The Post Willis' Budget has seized the financial agenda, but what's the plan?

Budget 2024: The Mother of All Disappointments

Budget 2024: The Mother of All Disappointments

Nicola Willis’s first Budget is the “The Mother of All Disappointments” says the Taxpayers’ Union, failing all three tests the National Party were elected to deliver on:

  • The tax reductions amount to just half the costs to the average worker of 14 years of inflation pushing them into higher marginal tax brackets. Instead of delivering the required $49 per week for the average earner, Willis has delivered just half – at $24.89 for the average worker on $66,196 a year. This amounts to a reversal of just the last three years of fiscal drag. 
  • Reducing the size of Government back to pre-Covid levels after an 84 percent increase in spending and hiring an extra 18,000 bureaucrats. Instead of cutting spending, Budget 2024 spends $13.9 billion more than Grant Robertson’s largess last year. 
  • Nicola Willis has totally failed to balance books with the date for surplus pushed back a year. This is a breach of the first “fiscal principle” listed in National’s pre-election Fiscal Plan. The deficit for the year ahead is even larger than the current year. Instead of stopping the Debt Clock, Nicola Willis is making it tick faster, and for longer.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, said:

“The Budget delivered by Nicola Willis today is The Mother of All Disappointments.”

“Each of the three coalition partners were elected to cut wasteful government spending. While there’s a little reprioritisation, this Budget spends more than Grant Robertson ever did. 

“Both Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon have repeatedly made the point that personal income tax brackets have not been adjusted for inflation since 2010. But rather than deliver the $49 a week less tax to put this right, the Government has opted for just half that and unwound just three years’ worth of inflation pushing workers into higher tax brackets. That isn’t tax relief, it’s shortchanging Kiwis who are continuing to do it tough.

“Nicola Willis can only reduce tax by a tiny amount as she won’t take the steps needed to right size the Public Service. Even by 2038, Nicola Willis will have higher Government spending as a share of our economy than Grant Robertson proposed in his 2019 Wellbeing Budget lolly scramble.

“If Nicola Willis is a fiscal conservative, she’s certainly not showing it – in fact, this Budget will be known for effectively ‘locking-in’ the new super-sized state created by Ardern and Robertson.

“All in all, this Budget means New Zealand goes further into the red. Debt servicing costs for the coming year will be $9.2 billion. That’s the same as we are forecast to spend on primary schools, secondary schools, and justice combined. This level of ongoing borrowing simply means we will be paying higher taxes for years to come.”

Budget 2024: $2.6 billion down the drain for no climate benefit

Budget 2024: $2.6 billion down the drain for no climate benefit

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming today’s continuation of a number of Labour’s climate change initiatives as economically and scientifically illiterate.

Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:

“This Government is supposed to be one that understands the Emissions Trading Scheme. Under the current cap and trade system, any reduction in emissions in one sector will simply free up room under the fixed cap for emissions elsewhere under the ETS’s fixed cap model.

“Simon Watts has swallowed the James Shaw cool-aid and is more focused on looking like he is doing something rather than actually reducing emissions at the lowest possible cost.

“This Government is milking taxpayers with its clean heavy vehicles corporate welfare fund that will see the likes of Fonterra receiving millions for absolutely no environmental gain.

“There is no need for the Government to be involved in EV charging. So long as they remove regulatory barriers, there is plenty of financial incentive for private companies to build and operate EV charging infrastructure. Again, this will have no environmental benefit.

“If Simon Watts doesn’t understand – or, worse, is just ignoring – the basics of the Emissions Trading Scheme, it would be better for both taxpayers and environment for him to be replaced with someone who does."

Budget 2024: Government promises to hike taxes by stealth

Budget 2024: Government promises to hike taxes by stealth

The Taxpayers’ Union is condemning the Government for failing to introduce ongoing annual adjustments to income tax brackets for inflation and calling out the hypocrisy of Nicola Willis using fiscal drag to get back to surplus, after complaining about the same in opposition.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Not only is the Government shortchanging New Zealanders by failing to fully unwind inflation-caused tax hikes since 2010, but the Treasury forecasts show that Ms Willis’ tax take will continue to balloon.

“The impact on the average worker since 2010 is devastating – amounting to an additional $49 a week in tax. Today’s tax reduction is only a partial catch up but without tackling the cause of the problem, Nicola Willis is able to stealthily claw back another $1900 per household by 2028 through fiscal drag.

Budget 2024: National continue to give taxpayer money to corporate welfare bludgers

Budget 2024: National continue to give taxpayer money to corporate welfare bludgers

The Taxpayers’ Union is lashing out at the continuation of the Government’s corporate welfase schemes, labelling them ‘socialism for the rich’.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“The $181.161 million to the Hollywood bigwigs and Peter Jackson’s of the world, along with the continuation of gaming subsidies reeks of economic illiteracy. The Government should be making it easier for all businesses to grow, not hand-picking fashionable special interest groups that can’t stand on their own two feet.

“Taxpayers should not be subsidising Hollywood and video game devs.

“Taking money from successful businesses, spinning it through the bureaucracy and then handing it to other businesses will not create more jobs than it costs – it’s socialism for the rich.

“If politicians were good any good at picking winners, they would never have to worry about fundraising ever again. The fact of the matter is that the Government is putting all of the risk on taxpayers while allowing wealthy corporates to keep the profit."

Budget 2024: Debt interest costs soon to be higher than spending on primary schools, secondary schools and the Ministry of Justice combined

Budget 2024: Debt interest costs soon to be higher than spending on primary schools, secondary schools and the Ministry of Justice combined

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the projected explosion in Government debt over the next 4 years, which will see interest payments amounting to more than $4,622 for every household in the coming  financial year alone.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Government debt ballooned by 161% under Grant Robertson. Forget cutting it back, Nicola Willis is pumping it even higher.

“Treasury forecast interest payments will amount to $9.2 billion ($4,622 per household) in the 2024/25 fiscal year. That’s the same as what the Government will spend on primary schools, secondary schools and the Ministry of Justice combined.

“Today was Nicola Willis’s opportunity to save our kids and grandkids from higher taxes and a sovereign debt recking ball.  Instead, she has continued the legacy of Grant Robertson. That’s now what Kiwis voted for.”

Taxpayer Update: It's budget day tomorrow 🙏

Tomorrow morning, Jordan, Connor and I will be heading into the Budget 2024 "Beehive lock-up" to be briefed on the Budget before it's made public by Nicola Willis at 2pm sharp.

As with every Budget, your humble Taxpayers' Union will be cutting through the political spin and will send you what you need to know – the good, bad, and ugly straight to your inbox shortly after 2 tomorrow.

As expected: Wellington's Eviction Notice causes a stir 🤭

Eviction Notice Advert

Remember the advert that Stuff banned and then unbanned? Our 'Eviction Notice' giving unproductive Wellington bureaucrats their marching orders has certainly got people talking after it appeared in yesterday's NZ Herald

It seemed to have veteran political commentator Audrey Young over at the NZ Herald spitting out her cornflakes. She gave us her 'Brickbat' in her weekly missive under the headline: Why borrowing is a key Budget issue; Taxpayers’ Union falls flat with ad celebrating mass job cuts.

But says who? We agree with Audrey that losing your job is anything but a laugh. But the way Wellington are overreacting to what is small scale correction to the dramatic growth in bureaucrat numbers is not a joke either. We are yet to see any sympathy for the tens of thousands of families who are doing it tough as a result of having to pay for Wellington's 84% increase in spending under the last Government.

We run adverts like this to provoke a little controversy and get people talking about important issues like the explosion in the size of the Public Service – over 18,000 extra bureaucrats since 2017. 

And it worked...

Heather du Plessis-Allan took a potshot at Stuff for initially banning the advert on her Drive show yesterday and read out the full 'Eviction Notice' live on air. Have a listen:

HDPA Stuff Video

Cuts in Context art installation goes viral 📺🚀

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we are always looking for weird and wonderful ways to get important messages across. I'm told our explainer video new piece of modern art we've gifted to Parliament has gone down well with the kidz on the socials...

The video's already reached more than 80,000 New Zealanders across Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, and YouTube, in just a day. Watch on YouTube here.

Connor Box Stunt Video

Public Service reductions don't go far enough 👎

Connor's also been busy in the media flying the flag for taxpayers. 

And in a shock to us all, RNZ chose an academic commentator who stood with us on the side of taxpayers! Professor Robert MacCulloch of University of Auckland said that "productivity hasn't increased in the past six years" despite the increase in the number of public servants and more job cuts are needed too. Have a listen.

Connor on RNZ

Tick tock: Debt Clock outside the Beehive ⏰

The Debt Clock was back outside the Beehive yesterday to make sure Ministers preparing for tomorrow's Budget are fully aware of New Zealand's debt problem ticking time bomb.

The Government is borrowing $75 million on our behalf every day and has now racked up over $90,000 in debt for every household across the country. 

Tomorrow we'll find out the latest figures and predictions, and sadly, our ol' mate the Debt Monster will also be on hand to update the invoice for your household's share.

Debt Clock at Parliament

Unfortunately, not everyone has quite grasped the seriousness of this situation. One public servant in particular was not best pleased by our presence and used some particularly colourful language towards our staff. At least we know the communications degrees are paying off!

What to look for tomorrow: Nicola Willis' big tests 🧐

Whether Nicola Willis delivers the goods tomorrow for taxpayers will be based on the three point test summarised in our full page ad in tomorrow’s NZ Herald.

NZ Herald advert

High res version here.

The number is 49 💵

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon have said several times in recent weeks that personal income tax brackets have not been adjusted for inflation since 2010.

We're all feeling it!

But they haven't been shouting what that actually means in hard cash: If tax brackets had kept pace with inflation, the average income earner today would be paying $49 less in tax each and every week.

Tomorrow, that's the minimum Nicola Willis needs to deliver to the average worker if she is to keep her promise of 'tax relief'. Anything less is just short changing Kiwis.

$49/week

Jordan set out our expectations on the level of tax relief in Stuff's budget preview this morning.

$49 per week would make a huge difference 😮‍💨

Last week, we asked supporters what they'd do with an extra $49 a week and I'm sad to say that many of the responses make for uncomfortable reading. 

A sample:

  • Keeping my heating on for longer
  • Meeting basic costs like rent and insurance
  • Getting fruit, vegetables or meat more regularly
  • Paying for childcare and a bit more support for my grandkids
  • Medical and dental expenses I currently can't afford
  • Saving up for warmer winter clothes

There were almost no extravagant expenses in the nearly 1,000 responses received. The Wellington bubble and some of the media commentariat really have no idea that many people are still really doing it tough. 

We sent a letter to Nicola Willis earlier today with a snapshot of the responses from our survey as a friendly reminder ahead of the tomorrow's Budget.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow. 

Yours aye,

Callum

Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

Donate

Media Mentions:

Newsroom Is that a tax boost in your pocket? (03:15)

Farmers Weekly Feds douse FENZ levy hike idea

RNZ Fast Track bill hits hurdles of public outrage (06:15)

The Post Public service watch: Ministry’s cost saving money shuffle

NZ Herald Nicola Willis’ first Budget will not be judged by tax cuts but by the question of economic credibility – Claire Trevett

The Post Budget week: Will action match the rhetoric?

RNZ Political commentators Brigitte Morten and Gareth Hughes (01:59)

BusinessDesk Exemption for Mfat on budget cuts 'isn't acceptable' – Taxpayers' Union

The Platform Film-makers follow the money on ‘disinformation’ bandwagon

NZ Herald Why borrowing is a key Budget issue; Taxpayers’ Union falls flat with ad celebrating mass job cuts - Audrey Young

RNZ Govt urged to make deeper public service cuts

RNZ Public service cuts: Taxpayers' Union urges government to axe more jobs

NewstalkZB Full Show Podcast: 28 May 2024 – Eviction Notice Advertisement (01:14:56)

The Working Group Nicola Willis, Underfunding Public Services and This Weeks Budget Predictions | GUESTS: Matthew Hooton & Brad Olsen (01:48)

RNZ RNZ News at 10pm, May 28 – ACC Chief Executive Trip (01:58)

Stuff The key questions being asked ahead of Budget day

interest.co.nz Finance Minister Nicola Willis will use Budget 2024 to rein in government spending after the pandemic-era boost

RNZ RNZ News at 7am, May 29 – MPs' Expenses (03:23)

RNZ Taxpayers Union questions MP travel spending

NEW POLL: Just 9% of New Zealanders think Grant Robertson’s Wellbeing Budget didn’t spend enough

A new Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll has revealed that most New Zealanders think that the level of spending in Grant Robertson’s 2019 Wellbeing Budget was about right or too high. Tomorrow’s budget from Nicola Willis should be compared against this as a pre-Covid baseline.

Voters were asked: “Grant Robertson’s 2019 Wellbeing Budget proposed that government spending should be 29% of GDP – in other words, 29% of New Zealand’s total economy. Do you think this level was too low, about right, or too high.”

34% of respondents said they thought spending was about right, 29% said too high, while just 9% thought it was too low. The remaining 29% were unsure.

The full polling report can be found herewww.taxpayers.org.nz/wellbeingbudgetpoll 

Commenting on the poll, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“After criticising Labour for six years over their big spending budgets, Nicola Willis’s first real opportunity to make her mark as Finance Minister looks set to make Grant Robertson look like a fiscal hawk.

“In the much-hyped Wellbeing Budget of 2019, Grant Robertson set a target of Government spending being 28.8% by 2023. While this obviously shot up during the pandemic, it seems National is happy for this emergency extra spending to become the norm by only seeking to get spending back down to 30%.

“This poll makes it clear that New Zealanders want the size of government to be brought back into line. If Nicola Willis is setting a higher spending target than Grant Robertson, there must be something wrong.”

Taxpayers’ Union lays challenge to Nicola Willis ahead of Budget Day

As the Minister of Finance prepares to deliver her first budget to the nation this Thursday, the Taxpayers’ Union has issued a challenge to Nicola Willis to keep her promise of delivering effective tax relief to New Zealanders.

Attached to a letter to Minister Willis was a collection of responses gathered containing how taxpayers would use an additional $49 each week. Responses included contributions towards; rent and mortgage repayments; swimming lessons for grandchildren; and paying for new reading glasses. Others included keeping up with increasing rates and insurance premiums.

In his letter to the Minister, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, wrote:

“You have made the point several times that personal income tax brackets have not been adjusted for inflation since 2010. In effect, this means the average income earner today is paying $49 more in tax every week, than they would have done had tax brackets kept pace with inflation.  Anything less than $49 per week to the average Kiwi taxpayer, cannot therefore be considered tax relief, but rather a ’tax catch-up.

“In anticipation of Thursday’s budget we asked our supporters what they would do with an $49 extra in their pockets, weekly.  Given the cost of living, the nature of their responses will not surprise you.  They are nevertheless a timely reminder of why it is critical that you deliver on your promise of tax relief.”

Is 40-year-old data is driving key health policy in 2024?

Opinion piece by Jordan Williams

Commentators, the Opposition and media went apoplectic when the new Government repealed Labour’s smoking laws.  Despite being years away from having any effect, these policies, somehow, apparently ‘save thousands.’  The worrying innovation of ‘prophecy-based policymaking’.  

But the same experts who insist upon ‘evidence’ have relied on some of the oldest we’ve seen.  Whether an oversight, or wilful blindness, the much repeated “4,000 to 5,000 who die from smoking every year” seemingly originates from 1981 Census via early to mid-1980s mortality data published in 1988. Policy in 2024 is seemingly driven by data when Sir Robert Muldoon was Prime Minister.

I've always suspected the figure was bogus and self perpetuating. Thanks to the help of an intern and a very good researcher (a retired historian), we've managed to track down, that it's so old, it's laughable (or worse) that it continues to be wheeled out.

ACC Chief Executive must lead from the front with savings

Responding to reports in today’s NZ Herald that ACC chief executive, Megan Main, spent $32,000 of taxpayers’ money on a business class trip to Europe while consulting on nearly 400 job cuts to reduce spending, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“While bureaucrats are losing their jobs, it is tone-deaf for executives to be swanning around the world in business class. ACC’s decision to lavishly spend on business-class flights while proposing significant job cuts reeks of the culture of extravagance that stems from the leadership of taxpayer-funded organisations.

“The Chief Executive must lead from the front and change the culture to one of financial prudence. It is simply not realistic to expect bureaucrats to show respect for taxpayer money when their own boss is jaunting around the world.

“There is no doubt that ACC is overbloated and while the proposed cuts are a good start, ACC must go further including cutting back on frivolous executive spending and some of the more questionable multi-million advertising campaigns.

Public Service cuts must be put in context

Responding to numerous reports in media relating to the number of jobs cuts in the Public Service, the Taxpayers’ Union is encouraging the media to put those cuts in context by referencing the more than 18,000 FTE growth in the bureaucracy since 2017, compared with just 3900 proposed redundancies.

The Taxpayers’ Union has released a video putting these cuts in context, alongside a 4-metre high art installation in the Beehive. That video can be watched here: https://youtu.be/yNrkcwafB7M

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“From 2017 to 2023, the Public Service grew by 18,418 – a 39% increase in just six years.

“But despite the eye-watering growth, core public services have continued to decline. The bloat has seen New Zealanders paying more but getting less.

“The art installation puts Nicola Willis’ proposed cuts in context, highlighting that they are a drop in the ocean compared to the ballooning of the bureaucracy we saw under Grant Robertson. It’s time for Nicola Willis to ignore the crocodile tears of the Unions and opposition parties and go further and faster to cut wasteful spending as promised to voters.”

Taxpayers’ Union launches briefing paper calling for $49 a week tax relief

The Taxpayers’ Union is today releasing its latest briefing paper, entitled $49 Dollars a Week – What Treasury Owes the Average Kiwi.”

This paper explains how much extra income tax a New Zealander on the median salary of $66,196 is paying thanks to bracket creep, compared to when their tax brackets were last adjusted in 2010.

Commenting on the release of this briefing, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“The inflation tax is robbing Kiwis of $49 a week, every single week. No one voted for this, and it’s long past time for the Government put a stop to this backhanded practice.

“Government spending is out of control, and it’s everyday families who get smacked with the bill. People have been paying more and getting less for far too long.

“Nicola Willis promised tax relief in Thursday’s Budget. Anything less than $49 a week is just shortchanging New Zealanders on what they’re owed.”

The first day of the year taxpayers get to work for themselves

Tax Freedom Day will fall at 02:17am Sunday 26th May this year, which means that every cent taxpayers have earnt so far in 2024 has taken by the government in tax. Almost 5 months into the year, Monday 27th May is the first full day where Kiwis get to know that they’re working for themselves and not the government.

Commenting on this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“When income tax brackets were last adjusted for the vast majority of Kiwis in 2010, Tax Freedom Day would’ve fallen on 18th May. Thanks to bracket creep, Kiwis are now paying with an extra week of their lives every year to prop up a seriously over-bloated bureaucracy.

“Tax Freedom Day keeps slipping back because the average Kiwi is now paying $49 more in income tax than they were when they last had any say in their tax rates. Kiwis need tax relief, but anything less than $49 a week is simply short-changing them.

“Nicola Willis needs to wind the clock back and start moving Tax Freedom Day in the right direction again. It’s time for the Government to get serious about slashing waste to deliver the tax relief promised to New Zealand.”

Taxpayer Talk: Eric Crampton on the growth in Government and Structural Deficit

Eric Crampton

This week on our podcast is a special Budget edition with our friend from the New Zealand Initiative, Eric Crampton.

Eric is the Initiative’s Chief Economist and provides a much welcome voice of reason to counter some the economic illiteracy often espoused by politicians. In this episode, Eric and Jordan discuss what they think the Government should focus on in the budget and what they need to do to wind back the spending that was ratcheted up by Grant Robertson over COVID.

Whether it’s spending, the growth in the number of bureaucrats, or the ‘brutal job cuts’, Eric provides a useful analysis that really puts the union, bureaucracy and opposition fear-mongering into perspective.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

New Wellington billboards throw down $49/week gauntlet for Budget

The Taxpayers’ Union is today launching five billboards around Parliament depicting the Finance Minister riding a piggy bank to emphasise the fact that the average Kiwi needs to see a $49/week tax reduction at next year’s budget in order to reverse 14 years of stealth tax hikes. The billboard text reads, “$49 per week. Anything less isn’t tax relief, it’s shortchanging New Zealanders.”

These billboards are located at five different sites across Wellington’s CBD – Whitmore St, Featherston St, The Terrace, Brandon St, and Wakefield St.

Commenting on the launch of these billboards, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Thanks to the successive Governments’ failure to adjust tax brackets for inflation since 2010, bracket creep has forced Kiwis to pay higher and higher tax rates without them earning more in real terms. For the average worker, this stealth tax hike is an eye-watering $49 each and every week.

“Nicola Willis has been highly critical of this stealth tax, but, as these billboards point out, anything less than $49 a week for the average Kiwi at this year’s Budget will only partially wind back the effects of the last 14 years worth of inflation.

“Our billboards throw down the gauntlet for the Finance Minister to deliver real tax relief for working New Zealanders. Naysayers argue we can’t afford tax relief – that’s bulldust. Since 2017, government spending has increased by 84% and the bureaucracy has grown by more than 18,000 people. The government is spoilt for choice when it comes to potential savings."

An image of the Whitmore St billboard can be found here.

An image of the Brandon St billboard can be found here.

A digital copy of all five design variations can be found here.

REVEALED: Taxpayers fork out $870,000 a year for MBIE staff to do union roles

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that taxpayers are forking out at least $871,484 each year for MBIE staff to do union work on taxpayer time.

The secretive arrangement - the creation of which MBIE did not have any correspondence with Ministers - includes two full-time roles paid at least $101,911 each and 125 other roles where employees are able to take between 8 and 64 hours a month off work for union activities.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“This is nothing short of a scandal where taxpayers are being forced to fund the operations, and growth, of one of the country’s most powerful lobby groups that regularly engages in overtly political campaigning.

“If the Government was found to be giving paid government positions to groups pushing for smaller government and less wasteful spending the unions and opposition parties would rightly be in uproar. Taxpayers should not be paying for the government to lobby itself.

“If a PSA union membership offers worthwhile benefits to its members, they should have no issue with funding their operations solely from membership dues – instead taxpayers are being forced to pick up the tab to fund the union’s dirty work.

“The fact this agreement was not even briefed to either the previous Labour or current government shows a shocking attitude by MBIE. Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying anything to unions, and the government must urgently step in to put an end to this rort which is happening in countless other departments too.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:
A copy of the OIA response from MBIE can be found here. 

A copy of the MBIE PSA NATIONAL CO-CONVENOR job description can be found here.

A copy of the spreadsheet used to calculate the costs can be downloaded here. 

Nicola Willis must tackle cost of living at next week’s Budget

Commenting on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand holding the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.5%, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Sky-high interest rates and the soaring price of household essentials continue to punish Kiwi families, and that won’t change until reckless and inflationary government waste is brought to heel.

“35 months and counting of inflation outside the target range keeps eating away at what’s left of Kiwis’ purchasing power, after 14 years of bracket creep has already left them paying $49 a week more in income tax than they were in 2010.

“Treasury’s recent revelations that New Zealand has a structural deficit prove the government can’t keep borrowing to pay for more waste. The last Finance Minister might’ve been happy to look the other way, but struggling Kiwi families need Nicola Willis to get the books back in the black.”

Labour must walk the talk and join the campaign against corporate welfare

Reacting to today’s Budget Speech from Labour’s Finance spokesperson, Barbara Edmonds, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“It is encouraging to see that one of Labour’s stated priorities is to focus on creating ‘a level playing field for small and medium businesses, not preferential treatment for those businesses with the flashest lobbyists’, but this must be matched by action.

“Under the previous Labour Government, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were awarded in corporate welfare to the gaming and film sectors, strongly represented by ‘flashy lobbyists’, along with handouts to other large companies like Fonterra, NZ Steel and Z energy. Unfortunately the new Government has decided to continue a large chunk of this. 

“Soundbites are all well and good but unless Labour u-turn on the special and distortionary treatment they championed in government they mean nothing. We will happily assist any Labour MP in drafting a Member’s bill to bring an end to corporate welfare.”

NEW POLL: Overwhelming majority of New Zealanders think debt is too high

A new Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll has revealed that a large majority of New Zealanders think government debt is too high.

Voters were asked: “In June 2017, New Zealand’s Net Core Crown Debt was $59 billion. Between then and June 2023, while the cumulative inflation was 25%, Net Core Crown Debt increased by 161% to $155 billion. Do you think that the level of New Zealand government debt is too low, about right, or too high.”

64% of respondents thought that government debt was too high, 19% thought it was about right while just 3% thought it was too low. The remaining 14% of respondents were unsure.
 
The full polling report can be found here.
 
Commenting on the poll, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“By 2028, we will be spending more than $6,000 per household on Government debt interest costs alone. That’s more than we currently spend on early childhood education, and primary and secondary schools combined.

“The results of this poll show that New Zealanders realise this debt is completely unsustainable and that the billions of dollars poured down the drain in interest payments is money that can’t be spent on providing core frontline services or delivering well-overdue tax relief.

“The only real tax cut is a spending cut and anything else is simply pushing higher taxes into the future. Nicola Willis needs to take tougher action to get the Government books back into the black faster and to start paying down the debt as soon as possible.

MEDIA SUMMARY STATEMENT:

Any media or other organisation that reports on this poll should include the following summary statement:

The poll was conducted by Curia Market Research Ltd for the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. It is a random poll of 1,000 adult New Zealanders and is weighted to the overall adult population. It was conducted by phone (landlines and mobile) and online between the 05 May and 07 May 2024, has a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1% and 4.2% were undecided on the party vote question. The full results are at: www.taxpayers.org.nz/debtpoll   

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The scientific poll was conducted by Curia Market Research and commissioned by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. As is well known, but for full disclosure, David Farrar co-founded the Taxpayers' Union and previously served on its board. He is also a Director of Curia Market Research Ltd.
 
This Taxpayers’ Union – Curia issue poll was conducted from Sunday 05 May to Tuesday 07 May 2024. The median response was collected on Monday 07 May 2024. The sample size was 1,000 eligible New Zealand voters: 800 by phone and 200 by online panel. The sample selection for the phone panel is from those who are contactable on a landline or mobile phone selected at random from 15,000 nationwide phone numbers plus a random selection from an online panel (that complies with ESOMAR guidelines for online research). The results are weighted to reflect the overall voting adult population in terms of gender, age, and area. Based on this sample of 1,000 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50%) is +/- 3.1%, at the 95% confidence level. Results for sub-groups such as age and area will have a much higher margin of error and not seen as precise.

Wake up call: Government debt hits $90,000 per household today – “$90k Debt Day”

Based on the latest Treasury forecasts, New Zealand Government debt will tick above $90,000 per household for the first time ever at 10pm today, Sunday 19 May 2024. The Taxpayers’ Union is calling it “$90k Debt Day”.

Commenting on this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“For the first time ever, the New Zealand Government Debt Clock will pass $90,000 per household. Our kids and grandkids will spend their lives paying this off, and it means less money for core services like health, policing and education.

“This means the average household is now having to stump up about $4,500 a year just paying the interest on the debt. That’s more than the cost of the defence force, police, corrections and customs combined.

“And it’s nowhere near stopping. Right now, Nicola Willis is borrowing $75 million a day to keep an over-bloated Government afloat. Her so-called ‘cuts’ barely scratch the surface of what is needed to get the books back into black.

“Kiwis can only bend so far before they break. Struggling families need Nicola Willis to take an axe to wasteful spending and deliver serious savings in the Budget on 30 May."

If the Wellington Mayor’s not going to bother turning up anyway, sell the airport shares

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has been revealed to have missed half of all Wellington Airport board meetings in the past year. Commenting on this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Given the local government crisis Wellington finds itself in, the very least the Mayor should be doing is showing up for the jobs ratepayers pay her to do.

“It’s far from the first time the Mayor has been called out for her absenteeism, and no doubt it won’t be the last.

“Wellington City Council is currently looking at selling the airport shares. The Mayor not bothering to turn up to board meetings is all the proof needed to show the airport will run just fine without them.”

NEW POLL: Luxon wants tax bracket indexation, so do Kiwis

Following comments from Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in yesterday’s pre-budget speech that not adjusting tax brackets for inflation each year is “lazy”, the Taxpayers’ Union is releasing a new poll that reveals that the vast majority of New Zealanders support automatic inflation adjustment of income tax brackets. 74% of respondents supported inflation adjustments while just 10% were opposed. The remainder were unsure.

Speaking yesterday, Christopher Luxon said, “if you think about it, many countries just index their tax thresholds to inflation each and every year. And the problem when you don’t do that is what we’ve seen in the last six years is inflation actually helps the government books because it ends up actually being quite lazy and actually government can leverage inflation in a very unhelpful and in a bad way, which is what’s happened.”

Voters were asked in the poll: “As welfare benefits automatically increase with inflation, would you support or oppose a law so that income tax thresholds also adjust for inflation, so that someone whose income increases in line with inflation doesn’t end up paying proportionally more income tax than previously?”

The full polling report can be found here.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments and the poll, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy said:

“The Prime Minister thinks income tax brackets should be inflation adjusted, as do an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders. Then why is he refusing to commit to it at this years’ budget?

“Since 2010, politicians have knowingly allowed stealth tax hikes by refusing to address the issue of inflation dragging workers into higher and higher tax brackets, even when their purchasing power remains the same.

“The impact of this stealth tax is so significant that it means the average worker is paying an additional $49 per week in income tax compared with someone on the same real income when tax brackets were last adjusted in 2010.

“That is money that can’t be spent on filling up the car, buying groceries or paying for kids’ swimming lessons. This is the real human impact of parties championing inflation adjustments of tax brackets in opposition then failing to act in Government.

“Stealth tax hikes are a political choice. Come Budget Day, Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon need to commit to ongoing annual inflation adjustments. Any tax relief without such a commitment will only be eroded away in a matter of years.”

Anything less than $49/week isn’t tax relief, it’s shortchanging New Zealanders

Reacting to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s pre-budget speech today, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Christopher Luxon is right to point out that inflation over the last 14 has pushed New Zealanders into higher income tax brackets so that they are paying more of their wages in tax even when they are not better off.

“Successive governments’ failure to ensure tax brackets keep pace with inflation means that workers earning an average income of $66,196 are paying $49 more in tax each and every week than they would have done had income tax brackets been adjusted annually.

“Anything up to $49 a week for the average worker isn’t really tax relief, it’s shortchanging New Zealanders by only partially winding back the effects of 14 years of inflation on tax rates. If the Government is serious about delivering tax relief, it needs to go further.”

Taxpayers’ Union warns against Digital Services Tax

Responding to the Government’s plans to implement Labour’s proposed Digital Services Tax (DST), Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, warns against the move:

“The Government should be cutting wasteful spending, not introducing new taxes that will see New Zealand businesses slapped with devastating retaliatory tariffs as seen in France.

“Introducing this new tax undermines New Zealand’s moral authority to argue against retaliatory protectionist measures from our trading partners with policies that, while neutral on paper, would go against the spirit of free trade through a structure that largely targets foreign firms.

“The proposals also risk raising prices for New Zealand consumers of digital services or seeing a reduction in the quality or quantity of services available as overseas companies direct their efforts elsewhere.

“With the economic costs of retaliatory tariffs likely to be higher than any increase in tax revenue, the government would be actively making New Zealanders poorer for very little gain.

"Revenue Minister Simon must send this proposal to the scrap heap and instead focus his efforts on cutting wasteful spending – especially in his Climate Change portfolio where it is so prevalent.”

Comical incompetence as Wellington Council might have to dig up brand new $55 million bus lanes and cycleways

A memo accidentally released by Wellington City Council shows at least $5.2 million of pipes needing urgent repair have just been covered up by $55 million of brand new bus and cycle lanes on Thorndon Quay.

Responding to this, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Residents and businesses said they didn’t want their money wasted on months of work to install these vanity projects. Now, they might have to go through it all again.

“To anyone not employed by a local council, it’s clearly common sense that if pipes need repairing and you’re digging up the road anyway, they should be replaced before plonking $55 million worth of shiny new infrastructure on top.

“If any Wellington residents are wondering why their rates bill is about to triple, look no further than the comical levels of incompetence at Wellington City Council.” 

Luxon must rule out taxpayer funding for “fatally compromised” Christchurch Call

Responding to the official launch of the Christchurch Call Foundation, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Only last month, the Christchurch Call Advisory Network was slammed for pressuring advisors to stifle reports which were critical of signatory governments. Leading experts called its independence “fatally compromised.”

“Internet Governance Project founder Milton Mueller asked “is the Christchurch Call accomplishing anything?” Increasingly it seems the only thing it hopes to achieve is killing off free expression.

“A mealy-mouthed Government media release says direct taxpayer funding of the Call is being replaced by a new Christchurch Call Foundation. The Call shouldn’t get another cent from Kiwi taxpayers until it’s got its act together, and Luxon must rule out taxpayer funding for this new middle man.”

Wellington residents’ views being misrepresented in Long-Term Plan consultation

Responding to allegations that the Wellington Long-Term Plan consultation has been falsely marking submitters as supporting certain projects, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“True to form, Wellington City Council’s consultation has been a flop. If they’ve been recording residents’ answers incorrectly, then the only option is to go back to the drawing board and start public consultations again from scratch.

“The consultation was also clearly designed to lead residents down the garden path. The boilerplate options on the form meant officials could artificially bolster support for certain projects by hiding them in the detail of more prominent ones.

“When the Council screwed the scrum in the same way with the annual plan last year, Councillor Ray Chung was threatened with being banned from voting for trying to help residents get their own views across. This is just what Wellington City Council does.”

NEW POLL: Labour up, Greens down but Centre-Right remains ahead

National is up slightly on last month to 37.3% (+0.2 points) while Labour is up to 30.0% (+4.3 points). The Greens maintain third place with 10.2% (-4.4 points) while ACT gain 2.2 points bringing them to 9.4%

The smaller parties are NZ First on 5.5% (-0.8 points) and Te Pāti Māori on 3.1% (-1.5 points). 

For the minor parties, TOP is on 1.4%, Outdoors and Freedom is on 1.1%, and the others combined were on 2%

This month's results are compared to last month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll.

National maintains its 47 seats in Parliament, while Labour is up five seats to 37. The Greens drop back to 13 seats (down five), while ACT rises to 12 seats (up three). NZ First is down one seat to 7 while Te Pāti Māori is unchanged on 6 seats. 

The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 66 seats is up 2 from last month while the Centre-Left is steady on 56 seats. 

On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. Due to the drop in Te Pāti Māori's support, a Parliament on these figures would have 2 overhang seats.

45.1% (+6.2 points) of New Zealanders think the country is heading in the right direction while 42.6% (-5.3 points) say the wrong direction for a net country direction of +2.5% (up 11.5 points)

This is the first time since February that voters have had a net positive view of the country direction.

More detailed results, including favourability rankings and the major voting issues, are available on our website.

Taxpayer Update: NEW POLL 📊 | Donating your money to my charity 🤨 | Disability CEO "knows best" on use of Te Reo 👀

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Happy Friday,

NEW POLL: Labour up, Greens down but centre-right remains ahead 🔢

Quick, WhatsApp Maiki Sherman! It's 'panic stations'! Mayday, mayday, mayday! Abandon ship, in this month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll.

Whoops, wrong script. Unlike 1News, your humble Taxpayers' Union trusts readers to judge for themselves and will leave the biased sensationalist propaganda to the state-owned news network.

This month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll sees a small increase in support for the Government, with Labour getting a much larger boost in support but at the expense of the Greens.

Decided Party Vote over time

Compared with last month's poll, National is virtually unchanged on 37.3 percent (+0.2 points). Labour is up 4.3 points to 30.0 percent while the Greens are down by roughly the same amount to 10.2 percent (-4.4 points) just ahead of ACT who are up 2.2 points to 9.4 percent. NZ First is down 0.8 points to 5.5 percent while Te Pāti Māori is down 1.5 points to 3.0 percent. 

Here's how these results would translate to seats in Parliament:

Seats

National is steady on 47 while Labour picks up five seats to bring them to 37. The Greens drop back to 13 seats (down five) while ACT is up to 12 seats (up three). NZ First is down one seat to 7 while Te Pāti Māori is unchanged on six seats.

The combined projected seats for the centre-right is 66, up two from last month, while the combined seats for the centre-left is unchanged on 56. On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. This assumes that all electorate seats are held. Parliament would have an overhang of two seats. 

For favourability ratings, major voting issues, and country direction, and to find out how to get access to our full polling reports, head over to our website.

Voters won't stay happy if the Budget disappoints 🤞

Budget 2024

While our poll shows that voters still have confidence in this government at the moment, its next big test will come on Budget Day in less than three weeks.

Nicola Willis confirmed yesterday that the Government had met its very unambitious savings target. If they hadn't, they might as well have packed up and gone home.

But as ministers take a tiny pair of scissors to trim the edges of Labour's Public Sector growth, the problem continues to get worse.

Treasury's latest monthly statements show the Government has already racked up a deficit of over $5 billion in the first 9 months of the financial year alone – that's $619 million higher than what was projected in the December forecast!

And Nicola Willis knows how deep we're in it. She summed up New Zealand's structural deficit problem in her Budget Policy Statement:

"The structural increase in spending means that the Government would be in deficit – and would need to borrow to cover this deficit – even if the economy was operating at full capacity. This is not sustainable."

No kidding, Nicola! And on 30 May, we'll see whether she's willing to do something about it or continue the 'gently, gently' approach the purple-haired bureaucrats are pushing for. 👀

Even for the worst offenders – like departments that have more than tripled their payroll since 2017 – Nicola Willis' 7.5 percent spending reduction and a slap on the wrist is about as far as National seems willing to go.

When there has been an 84 percent increase in public spending in just six years. Trims and tucks are not enough to avoid the fiscal cliff. 

Let's hope the reports in today's media that the Cabinet is sleepwalking towards locking-in Labour's wasteful spending habits and comments about previous measures to beat long-term structural deficits as 'mistakes of history' are wrong.

20 sleeps until the Budget.

'Charitable donations' are nothing but a cop out 🤮

Spending your money

Last week we called out the Remuneration Authority's decision to award MPs a 10.5 percent pay rise over the course of this Parliament. 

Some MPs like Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis have said they don't need or want the rise and will instead give their salary increases to charity. Nice lines for the media, but it's a bit of a cop out.

It misses the point: We shouldn't be borrowing to pay MPs more for them to give to their choice of charity. What they are saying, in effect, is that they know how to spend your money better than you do!

Some MPs have given the "excuse" that there is no mechanism for them to refuse a pay rise. 🤦‍♂️

That's nonsense on stilts. If telling Parliament's payroll department not to pay them the extra amount is too hard, just set up an AP back to Treasury. Here are the details:

Payee: Treasury Crown Receipts Account
Bank Account Number:
03-0049-0000327-25
Bank: Westpac
Reference: MP Salary Donation

Or for those MPs who find internet banking all a bit too confusing, here's a deposit slip.

You're welcome. 😊

A tone-deaf $57,000 office makeover is an own-goal for PM ⚽️

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we want to see Christopher Luxon do well and succeed in getting the country 'back on track' after the misadventures of the last government. But some friendly advice to Mr Luxon's office: stop cashing in on his parliamentary 'entitlements' and walk the talk about the need to cut costs.

First there was the initial defence of the $50k housing allowance, the failure to act on MPs' pay (even Ardern took action in her day!), and now another own-goal with news that  $57,000 was spent on fitting out the PM's office with new video equipment and furniture.

No wonder the Opposition is saying it's a case of "savings for thee but not for me".

Luxon's office needs to start nipping these stories in the bud before they get out of hand. If Ministers want public departments to engage in fiscal discipline, the PM and Ministers need to be willing to do the same.

But it's not just central government wasting money...

District Council goes mad! Whanganui ratepayers fund hotel + solving Gaza 🏨🇵🇸

While Whanganui ratepayers are looking down the barrel of a 10.6 percent rates hike, the Whanganui District Council is looking to pour $55 million into a ratepayer-funded luxury hotel. 

Mayor in luxury hotel

The Mayor claims there’s a "strong business case" for the hotel. Weird then that no private developer (or hotel chain) are lining up to build one without ratepayers carrying the can.

"Mayor Andrew Tripe says current tough times should not preclude council from having bold aspirations"

That's not quite the description most would use...

Forget upgrading core infrastructure or cutting back on wasteful spending to preserve public services (the Mayor is planning to cut those as part of its proposed budget), next on the agenda was a motion to [checks notes] demand a ceasefire in Gaza! 

Who wants to be the person to tell Winston Peters that Whanganui District Council has taken over New Zealand's international affairs? 😳

Ratepayers don't expect their council to create world peace, they just want them to listen when they're told not to waste time and money. This is why we need the Government to reform local government and force councils to get back in the box: core services, value for money, and no mission creep. 

Disability CEO gives middle finger to Cabinet directive on use of English language 👀

The Ministry for Disabled People, which didn't even exist until two years ago, is apparently so attached to its current name 'Whaikaha' that it is now pushing back against outright refusing the Cabinet's instruction to change the name so that it reads English first.

Worst of all, this little tantrum is being led from the top.

Chief Executive, Paula Tesoriero, sent an email to staff encouraging them to actively disobey the Government's orders to put the English name first:

“Please continue to use our full name when referring to us, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, and of course where possible, include the QR code for our NZSL name.'

Bureaucrats not listening

Whatever your view on the use of Māori names for public agencies, it highlights a much wider problem in Wellington. Gone are the days when public servants humbly implemented government policies and the will of the people (expressed through the ballot box). Political neutrality and service is out of fashion.

This sort of childish behaviour is what the new Government is up against. Ministers still haven't given themselves the legal ability to sack departmental CEOs (accountability lines are as complex as spaghetti and is all done through the Public Service Commission).

Until the law is changed, sending a clear message to the whole Wellington Bubble (shape up, or ship out) will be very hard indeed.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth with Tom Rutherford

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with newly elected National MP, Tom Rutherford.

Tom was elected as the MP for the Bay of Plenty at the 2023 General Election. Prior to entering Parliament, Tom had worked for the National Party, in local government and also had volunteered as a firefighter in his local community. Tom is also a keen cricketer, rugby referee and hockey umpire. As one of Parliament's youngest MPs, Tom is open about the fact he has had less of a career before politics than others but is clearly very passionate about doing the best for New Zealand and the Bay of Plenty.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple Podcasts, | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,

Callum

Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

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RNZ Solving the World's Problems with Dave Armstrong (03:10) 

NZ Herald Labour needs a bolder leader than Chris Hipkins – Matthew Hooton

MPs in Depth: Tom Rutherford

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Connor sat down with National Party MP, Tom Rutherford. 

Tom was elected as the MP for the Bay of Plenty at the 2023 General Election. Prior to entering Parliament, Tom had worked for the National Party, in local government and also had volunteered as a firefighter in his local community. Tom is also a keen cricketer, rugby referee and hockey umpire. As one of Parliament's youngest MPs, Tom is open about the fact he has had less of a career before politics than others but is clearly very passionate about doing the best for New Zealand and the Bay of Plenty.

Tom's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow Tom on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

Local council distracted by international politics

In response to calls made on Wednesday by Whanganui District Council for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesperson, Sam Warren, said:

“Locals are facing 10.6% rate hikes during a cost-of-living crisis. After receiving a record number of public submissions for its Long-Term Plan, Whanganui Council’s focus should be on keeping rates down – not on international politics.

“This comes only days after announcing their intentions of building a $55 million four-star hotel, completely out of its purview as a local district council and passing the cost onto ratepayers.

“Clearly, there is an issue of being distracted. Whanganui residents would agree it’s time for Council to get back to basics and stay in its own lane.”

Covid inquiry chair needs to jump or be pushed over conflicts of interest

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Brooke van Velden to replace epidemiologist Tony Blakey as Chair of the Covid-19 Royal Commission of Inquiry after the extraordinary revelations in today’s NZ Herald suggesting several strong conflicts of interest.

Commenting, Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:

“New Zealanders need to have confidence that the Covid-19 Royal Commission of Inquiry will examine the Government’s response to the once-in-a-generation pandemic without fear or favour. Its members – and especially its chair – need to have independence from how those decisions were made so they can objectively assess what worked well and what might have been done differently.

“The revelations today make it clear that Tony Blakey was not just an active participant in New Zealand’s Covid-19 response by providing direct advice to key policymakers and advisers but also that he had close relationships and friendships with many of the key policy players. It is simply not credible to suggest that this will not affect his judgement when considering matters as part of the Inquiry. Even if he feels he is able to manage any conflicts, the perception alone will undermine the work of the Commission.

“Mr Blakley should do the honourable thing and step down. If he refuses, Brooke van Velden should replace him. Given New Zealand is a small country and many of those who might be well suited to the role may also be conflicted, the Minister could consider appointing someone from another country to ensure impartiality and restore public confidence in the Inquiry.”

Government still a long way off $49 a week tax relief

Reacting to Nicola Willis’ speech to the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce this morning, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Nicola Willis rightly recognises that ‘[w]orkers have endured 14 years without any adjustment to tax brackets’. She must now unwind those stealth tax hikes by providing $49 a week in tax relief to the average earner.

“Anything less than $49 a week is simply a partial reset, keeping taxes much higher than they were 14 years ago while the Government pockets the rest. That is unacceptable.

“Kiwis are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, fuelled by wasteful and reckless government spending. Now is exactly the time to slash the waste and deliver tax relief to working New Zealanders.”

Gas tank heritage listing decision nothing but hot air

Responding to news that Minister Responsible for RMA Reform Chris Bishop has rejected Wellington City Council’s calls to remove ten buildings from the Heritage List, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Wellington ratepayers are drowning in the cost of propping up buildings like the Town Hall, which on its own is costing every household up to $4,000. When by some miracle Wellington Council agreed to de-list something, we shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

“It’s clear to anyone with access to Google images that some rust-bucket gas tank has no heritage value whatsoever. No-one but a tiny handful of fringe activists wants these buildings to be listed.

"Tying the city up in red tape does nothing except stunt growth and drive up house prices. It’s residents who end up on the hook for the cost of preserving them, so councils need the ability to de-list them without having to wade through endless central government bureaucracy."

Chief Electoral Officer needs to fall on his sword

Responding to an Auditor-General's report slamming failures in the administration of the 2023 General Election, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Even after taking weeks to count the vote, the best the Electoral Commission could manage was rushing an error-filled attempt at a final check hours before the result was announced.

“Official checks being little more than sticking a finger in the air and hoping for the best meant hundreds of votes were either lost, left out or double-counted. 

“Democracy can’t be allowed to become a fudge-job. If Electoral Commission Chief Exec Karl Le Quesne can’t do his job, then he needs to find a new one.”

Beehive need to lead by example

The Taxpayers’ Union says the Beehive need to lead by example, following reports of more than $50,000 spent upgrading video conferencing equipment and furniture in the Prime Minister’s office.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaign Manager, Connor Molloy, says:

“This is a bad look for the Government, and an own goal.

“This spending, on top of the Prime Minister’s failure to prevent unjustified pay hikes for MPs - while the average household’s real income is going backwards - is hypocritical.”

Double-dipping MP needs to pay salary back to Council

Responding to an announcement by Jamie Arbuckle MP that he intends to resign as a Marlborough Councillor in October this year, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross:

“Jamie Arbuckle claims that he’s hanging around as a Councillor until October to avoid the cost of a by-election, but that concern for ratepayers is clearly only skin-deep.

“When Mr Arbuckle says he’ll give his Council salary to charity, what he’s actually saying is he thinks he knows how to spend ratepayers’ money better than they do.

“Rather than picking projects he likes, Jamie Arbuckle needs to pay the salary he never should have been claiming in the first place back to the Council.”

Double-dipping MP Jamie Arbuckle taking ratepayers for a ride

NZ First MP Jamie Arbuckle should do the honourable thing and either resign his seat as a Marlborough councillor, or stop ‘double dipping’ in taking two salaries to be an elected representative. 

Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said; 

“Being an MP is more than a full-time job. That’s why councillors nearly always stand down when they stand for Parliament. 

“Having two jobs is one thing, but who does this MP think he is pocketing both salaries at the same time while the families who pay his wages are struggling through a cost-of-living crisis?

“MPs are paid handsomely to represent their community. Getting another job to do the same thing and taking both sets of cash is exactly the sort of double-dip rort Winston Peters would normally call out.” 

Auckland’s Watercare plan avoids pitfalls of Three Waters

The Taxpayers’ Union welcomes the Government’s changes to Watercare, as part of the Government’s replacement to the so-called “Three Waters”.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams said:

“The devil may be in the detail, but the Government’s announcement is consistent with our proposed replacement to Three Waters. It keeps ratepayer ownership and ultimate control under local democratically elected representatives, plus avoids unnecessary bureaucracy.

“Balance sheet separation is necessary in Auckland because the Council has borrowed up to the eyeballs, meaning Watercare didn’t have capacity to borrow for long-term infrastructure investment. These changes will protect Auckland ratepayers from having to pay upfront for long term infrastructure Auckland needs.

“Watercare is the odd one out, as balance sheet separation isn’t required for the the rest of New Zealand – despite what the last Government said. Nevertheless, if this is the model in terms of electricity lines-style regulatory oversight for other regions, ratepayers can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Taxpayer Update: Time to get rid of TVNZ 📺💰 | Hipkins caught telling porkies 🤥🐷

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Happy Friday,

Lots to cover this week so let's get straight into it...

1News isn't even pretending to be impartial anymore

1News political editor, Maiki Sherman, could barely hold back her excitement on Monday night when she announced the results of the latest 1News Verian poll, which showed the centre-right dropping a few points in support and handing Te Pāti Māori the balance of power. 


According to Sherman, ACT's score of 7% (down just 1.6 points since the election) somehow meant the party's support was in "free fall" and, with New Zealand First polling less than 5% (the threshold to get into Parliament), the poll result "could be mayday for the coalition".

Can someone please tell Maiki the next election is two-and-a-half years away? 🤣

She also described the Government's savings as "austerity in absolute overdrive". She needs to get a grip. The measures the Government has taken to stem out of control spending don't even wind back the increases to the levels they were in June last year! Is Maiki really so out of touch with the reality of the Government's books, or did Grant Robertson hack her tele prompter?

When a lobby group presents polling with less spin than the state-owned media company, maybe there's a problem...

We know a little bit about the presentation of polling. After all, our monthly Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll is both more regular and was more accurate in predicting the last election result than TVNZ's effort. As we say in our office, "a poll is a poll" – it speaks for itself. Our poll results regularly upset National, and Labour (as you'd expect). You don't need to gleefully add commentary which undermines the very objectivity that a professional/scientific third-party poll is supposed to be all about.

It should (but probably doesn't) concern TVNZ's board, that the Taxpayers' Union reports its poll with less sensationalism than our impartial state broadcaster.

A bad habit of dodgy poll reporting

But as "the best pollster in New Zealand" (as described by Sir John Key), David Farrar, pointed out, Maiki Sherman's gleefulness wasn't an isolated incident. TVNZ's news outfit also put out two other polls this week with the same slanted framing.

On Tuesday, TVNZ reported under the headline: A "slim majority agree with public sector cuts". Here's the tweet of the same story:

TVNZ Tweeting Flake News

Bzzzzzt. Wrong. 

According to the poll, 52% of people said the public sector cuts were "about right" or "didn't go far enough", as opposed to just 35% who thought it went "too far".  Slim, apparently...

Even former Labour MP Stuart Nash has labelled the recent reporting "absolutely shocking".

Doubling down on the trend, on Wednesday, TVNZ did even better, releasing a third poll, this time on support for the Fast–Track Approvals Bill. The poll found a statistically even split of 40% of voters in favour, and 41% against.

But you wouldn't have known that from the headline which, (colour me surprised) made out that most people didn't support the bill: claiming Just 40% support, and combining the 'don't knows' with the actual 'noes'! 🤦‍♂️

1News Tweet

Maiki's gleeful reporting on Monday night was bad enough, but the persistency of anti-government framing suggests that TVNZ's newsroom has lost its way, and is either ignorant, or ignoring, the tradition of state-owned media avoiding 'taking a side'.

What's the point in owning TVNZ anyway?

TVNZ is up front that it doesn’t do a public broadcaster-style “strictly news” approach, nor does it even ensure its John Campbell-type highly paid “opinion” contributors are balanced with even just a single conservative. Its only hard news shows (Sunday and Fair Go) are being axed, and Breakfast and Seven Sharp are so journalistically shallow that companies and causes can pay to be in them!

Now, even 1News political polls aren't being presented without an agenda.

So the obvious question is, why should TVNZ remain owned by taxpayers?

TVNZ doesn't want to be public broadcaster any more: Sign the petition to sell it

Proponents of state media say that it is important in a democracy to have impartial sources of news, but TVNZ and 1News have given up all pretence of being impartial. 

We say that they can't have it both ways. Either they are a commercial player (and should be covering their cost of capital and paying a dividend back to taxpayers) or they are an impartial public service news service. Right now, they are a subsidised propaganda outlet.

The Government has a debt problem. If we're lucky, TVNZ might still be worth something. Selling off TVNZ now could be a 'two birds, one stone' solution..

A private TVNZ would likely be more balanced and diverse than what it offers currently. It would be more incentivised to cater to an audience underserved by the current selection of media.

It's time the Government took action and sold off TVNZ while it's still worth something.

If TVNZ is sold off and left to sink or swim on entirely the merits of its programming, then it would be forced to try harder harder to build trust with Kiwis. If you agree, sign the petition to sell TVNZ.

>>> Sign the petition ✍️ <<<

Slew of secret judges' perks finally exposed 👨‍⚖️ 

For years we've been trying to get the secret list of judges' perks from the Ministry of Justice, which have – until now – effectively been a state secret. Props to Andrea Vance and the Sunday Star Times for their dogged determination in pursuing this that has finally resulted in a breakthrough.

And no wonder the judiciary wanted to keep their entitlements behind bars. It's nothing short of a courtroom rort.

Here's a breakdown of just some of the many perks judges receive (they're not all public, yet...):

🤑 5,360 km per year for each judge (and a plus one!) on any non-work-related plane rides.

🤑 Free limo rides to and from court outside normal working hours “when transport by taxi or other means is difficult or inconvenient”.

🤑 A $20,000 housing allowance for judges who regularly sit in Wellington but live outside the capital.

🤑 $500 towards a new pen and briefcase.

🤑 One year's sabbatical for each 10 years of service.

🤑 On retirement, a month's paid leave for every year of service (discounting the sabbatical).

In what other job does your employer pay for you to swan around the country with virtually unlimited plane rides for you and your partner!?

We say Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann needs to front up and explain why these allowances are necessary, particularly when many Kiwis can barely afford their weekly groceries, let alone the luxuries that are being provided to those already on half-a-million a year salaries.

New Zealanders slammed with third-highest tax hike in the OECD 🔝

According to new figures from the OECDthe average single income earner in New Zealand saw their effective tax rate increase by 4.5% from 2022 to 2023 – more than almost every other country in the developed world.

While politicians didn't announce income tax hikes, thanks to inflation, it's happened anyway. It's called 'fiscal drag' or 'bracket creep'.

Thanks to high inflation, earners have been bumped up into higher tax brackets and are paying a bigger share of their wages in taxes despite being no better off. 

To put this in perspective: a minimum wage worker doing 40 hours is now paying the third (30 cents on the dollar) marginal tax rate!

But one-off tax relief is only a temporary fix. Unless tax brackets are automatically adjusted for inflation each year, tax relief is only a partial return of stolen income, attached to a promise to keep on stealing. 

A Kiwi on the average income of $66,196 is paying $2,556 more in tax each year because of successive Governments' failure to adjust income tax brackets for inflation since they were last reset in 2010.

We look forward to Nicola Willis sorting this out on 30 May when she delivers her first budget. 😉🙏💰

Seeing straight through the Window & Glass Association's patch-protection 🪟

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, as a group on the side of taxpayers and consumers, we take pride in calling out the hundreds of special interest lobbies, even if they're on the side of "business".

This week, the Window and Glass Association tried it on: whinging about the Government opening up the building sector to [check notes] overseas competition. 🤔

Goodness, we can't allow that. Windows?! Built overseas? Perish the thought. 😱

The Window and Glass Association claims overseas products "won't be fit for purpose" and consumers won't be able to access replacement parts and warranties.

But those crocodile tears simply don't stand up to scrutiny. Every day people make tradeoffs in the products they buy and ultimately make what they believe is the best choice for themselves. We see it with those who buy a Japanese car over a European one so it's easier to get replacement parts. Trusting consumers to make their own decisions is nothing new.

The group also argued that restricting foreign competition and forcing people to pay more for building products 
would "support local manufacturers". But artificially forcing people to pay more for one product simply means they have less money to spend elsewhere, in effect harming other local businesses. Ironically, economists call arguments like those made by the Association a "broken window fallacy".

👆 The Association's broken window fallacy in a nutshell 👆

As a part time DIY'er (or so he says), my colleague Connor told Radio NZ, "Only a special interest industry group could complain about reducing building costs during a housing crisis."

RNZ Building Concerns

Chris Hipkins caught red-handed fibbing about public sector statistics 🤥

Chris Hipkins isn't letting the facts get in the way of his defence of his public sector union mates. His latest ploy to skew the narrative on the back-office bureaucracy problem is to pretend there isn't one and fib about the numbers.

In an interview on Newshub earlier this week, Chris Hipkins said that the the number of public sector employees as a proportion of the total NZ workforce was smaller now than when he first took over:

"The size of the public sector workforce relative to the overall size of the workforce is actually slightly less than it was when we first became the government."

Bzzzzt. Wrong.

Data from the Public Service Commission shows that the total number of employees in the public sector as a proportion of the total NZ workforce actually increased under Labour's watch from 17.9% in 2017 to 18.7% in 2023.

(Here's the link for the benefit of any journalists wanting to factcheck Mr. Hipkins)

To make things worse, Hipkins is trying to pull the wool over New Zealanders' eyes by using public sector figures (which include nurses, teachers, etc) rather than public service figures (ie the bureaucrats), which is where the real bloat is at.

In fact, the number of pen-pushers in Wellington grew at more than three times the rate of education workers during the Labour Government!

If only Hipkins had been Minister of Education. Oh wait.

And it's not like Mr. Hipkins would know the difference between the public sector and public service and is in full knowledge that he's comparing apples with oranges. It's not like he's been Minister for the Public Service or anything...

Government departments cheating with their staffing cuts 🥸

When is a 'cut' a cut? It appears departments across the Public Service have been playing games with their job cut figures too.

Government departments have been overcooking the scale of the job reductions by including roles that don't currently have anyone in them!

For instance, the Department of Internal Affairs just last week told staff that they would be cutting 59 roles. Cue the outrage by the likes of Maiki the public sector unions. But of the 59, 42 are already vacant!

And the Ministry of Education, which claimed to be getting rid of more roles than any other department, at 565, is only really sacking 340 bureaucrats, because the rest are already empty!

This is what happens when Ministers delegate control of savings decisions to public sector bosses, rather than taking the hard decisions themselves.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth with James Meager

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with newly elected National MP, James Meager.

James was elected as the MP for Rangitata at the 2023 General Election, reclaiming the seat from Labour with a significant majority. James is a lawyer and also has a Bachelor of Arts. James made national headlines following his maiden speech where he spoke of his early life growing up as a Māori boy in a state house house with a single mother before going on to be head boy and dux of Timaru Boys' High School. At university, he says he was a libertarian. Now he is more of a classical liberal – advocating for limited, rather than minimal, government. 

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple Podcasts, | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,

Callum

Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

Donate

 

Media Mentions:

Kiwiblog Call for Support: Has the Time Come for a Wellington Ratepayer Activist Group?

Newhsub 'Got another thing coming': Govt's RMA changes a 'direct attack', 'add fuel to climate crisis fire' - opponents

Stuff Councillors ‘can’t sugar-coat’ Gore’s rates increase

The Spinoff The voices that vanish in a decimated newsroom

RNZ Building product concerns dismissed: 'The industry is lacking competition'

NZ Herald Taxpayers’ Union attacks KiwiSaaS group that includes big tech names; they stand their ground

NZ Herald Mary Holm: How to kill debt without selling that classic car or treasured artwork

Sunday Star Times Aotearoa's most popular mayor: Dan Gordon of Waimakariri

NZ Herald Wayne Brown’s massive Auckland budget problems - Simon Wilson

interest.co.nz Independent Renumeration Authority recommends a 2.8% pay rise for Members of Parliament

NewstalkZB The Huddle: Do we need to keep funding the Christchurch Call?

The Platform Councillor Tony Randle on Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau's Decline

Otago Daily Times Letters to the Editor: Labour, trains and April fools

NewstalkZB Morning Edition: 01 May 2024 – Christchurch Call (01:50)

NewstalkZB Jason Walls: Newstalk ZB Political Editor on MPs being granted a pay rise

RNZ MPs pay rise 'out of touch' says Taxpayer Union

RNZ Labour leader Hipkins on EU trade deal

The Times Online Luxon pledges to donate pay rise to charity

Indian Newslink Taxpayers Union and others oppose pay hike to MPs

Pacific Media News PMN News 02 May 2024 – MPs’ Pay (01:00)

The Westport News How do Buller’s rates compare? [print only]

MPs in Depth: James Meager

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Connor sat down with National Party MP, James Meager. 

James was elected as the MP for Rangitata at the 2023 General Election, reclaiming the seat from Labour with a significant majority. James is a lawyer and also has a Bachelor of Arts. James made national headlines following his maiden speech where he spoke of his early life growing up as a Māori boy in a state house house with a single mother before going on to be head boy and dux of Timaru Boys' High School. At university, he says he was a libertarian. Now he is more of a classical liberal – advocating for limited, rather than minimal, government. 

James's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow James on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

BREAKING: Ivory tower academics call for tax on Netflix to subsidise Video Ezy and United Video

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming a proposal from ivory tower academics to tax digital services to subsidise traditional news media, equating it to taxing Netflix to subsidise obsolete Video Ezy and United Video.

Commenting on the proposal, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“If producers of better and cheaper goods and services were forced to stump up cash every time they threatened an incumbent, we would still be using horse and cart to get around.

“The reality is that consumer preferences are changing, so the media must change with it. Some companies are already doing this successfully, and we should not artificially prop up those who are unable to compete and crowd potentially better content out from the market.

“The only positive from this is that there appears to be at least some recognition that Willie Jackson’s Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill would lead to the same chaos seen in Canada and Australia where the tech companies have pulled news content - or are planning to - from their sites completely. But now, any claim to a supposedly principled argument over intellectual property is gone and it’s clear this is nothing more than a shameless money grab.”

Te Huia Train Service Must Stop Stealing From Motorists’ Pockets

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to end the rort that sees millions of dollars funnelled away from motorists into the inefficient and expensive Te Huia Train Service.

A recent review of the train service between Auckland and Hamilton reveals that it has budgeted a $5.45 million contribution from the NZTA for the current financial year.  Roughly 90% of NZTA’s Land Transport Fund comes from fuel, registration and road-user charges.

The Minister of Transport recently said that subsides equate to approximately $90 per passenger for each leg of the journey, or $180 per return trip.

Commenting on the review, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Motorists should not be forced to continue subsidising this unprofitable service, for which they derive minimal or no benefit at all. Essentially, motorists are subsidising the lifestyle choices of a small number of Hamiltonians – this has to stop.

“There is no clearer sign that this is a complete waste of money than the fact that it would be cheaper to pay for the fuel of every single passenger to drive alone each day instead.

“Transport decisions must be made with value for money and efficiency front of mind, not from an ill-informed and ideological hatred of cars.”

Economically illiterate council must not force $55 million hotel cost onto ratepayers

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming a proposal by Whanganui District Council to build a $55 million four-star hotel and carpark.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“It is unbelievable that while ratepayers are staring down the barrel of a 10.6% rates hike the council wants to throw ratepayer money down the drain on a vanity project.

“This is exactly the kind of waste and economically illiterate extravagance that got councils into the mess of needing double-digit rate hikes in the first place.

“The Mayor claims that there is strong case for the hotel, but if that’s really true then there will be plenty of private developers who will be willing to fund it. The council need not be involved.

Punishing businesses won’t lift Kiwis out of cost-of-living crisis

Responding to comments from Nicola Willis that scrapping commercial depreciation is being used to raise funds for personal income tax relief, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Hardworking Kiwis need income tax relief, but that’s only half the equation. Driving up the cost of doing business in New Zealand through short-term thinking like this will leave the country poorer in the long run.

“Given we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world, Kiwis wanting to see real wage growth need their Government to be doing everything it can to attract investment, not going out of their way to scare it away.

“Public spending has increased 84% in just six years, while outcomes in health, education, and law and order have been plummeting. Whipping the public sector into shape is where Nicola Willis needs to be finding the savings for tax relief.”

Taxpayers’ Union slams secret list of judges’ perks

Taxpayers’ Union slams secret list of judges’ perks

Responding to the long-awaited release of judges’ special allowances, including free air travel and hotels for spouses, generous sabbaticals, and access to limousines, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Alex Murphy said:

“In what world does your employer cover personal air fares for both you and your family, even when the purpose of the travel is completely unrelated to your work? No wonder the judiciary has been fighting tooth and nail to keep these special privileges under wraps – it’s a complete embarrassment.

“Judges are already paid upwards of $300,000 a year, and receive one of the most generous pension packages in the public sector. To then gift them a whole swathe of special perks on top of their already hefty salary is simply taking the mickey.

“The Chief Justice should be fronting up and justifying why any of these special allowances are appropriate, especially at a time when the courts are backed up the wazoo, and the average New Zealander is only getting poorer and poorer.”

Hipkins is wrong about what Labour Government got wrong

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming comments by Chris Hipkins that freezing MP pay under the Ardern government led to worse outcomes, arguing that he should instead reflect on the poor decision-making that made outcomes much worse over the past six years.

Chris Hipkins claimed on RNZ this morning that “every example of where we’ve meddled in the process as a Parliament in the past has led to worse outcomes rather than better outcomes.”

Responding to these comments, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Of all the decisions made by the previous government, it is embarrassing that Chris Hipkins’ only regret seems to be that his pay was frozen. The only bad outcome from freezing MP pay was felt by MPs personally with slightly less taxpayer money lining their pockets. The blame for the rest of the country’s problems sit squarely with politicians making terrible policy.

“Crime, education and health outcomes all got worse while government spending grew by 84% and debt spiralled out of control.

“It is the decisions of his Government that caused families to be struggling today. It is completely immoral to accept any pay increase until this country is turned back around.”

MPs must reject out-of-touch near $20,000 pay hike

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming today’s determination from the Remuneration Authority that backbench MPs will be receiving an additional $17,239 in base salaries by the end of the Parliamentary term.  This comes alongside a $2,320 increase to backbench MPs’ annual tax-free expense allowances by the end of the Parliamentary term.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman, Jordan Williams, said:

“While the average income of households is going backwards, MPs are locking in annual increases that don’t reflect the real world. The decision demonstrates that the Wellington-based Remuneration Authority are out of touch with the rest of New Zealand.

“The base salary is highly misleading. Once the enormous superannuation subsidy, tax-free allowances, taxpayer-funded meals and accommodation allowances are factored in, even the lowest-paid MP is already paid more than $200,000.

“The economy is going backwards. Household incomes continue to decline. The Government is adding $75 million a day to the national debt. Now is not the time to hike MPs' pay.”

Air NZ’s nosediving performance shows need for privatisation

Commenting on news that Jetstar has overtaken Air New Zealand as the most reliable airline service provider, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Where’s the incentive for efficiency when the Government’s always got your back? It’s no wonder Jetstar is beating Air NZ to the punch.

“Taxpayers can’t keep being expected to turn a blind eye to the fact that a former Air NZ CEO is now running the very same Government that is failing to hold his former work pals accountable for their performance.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidising Koru Lounge jet-setters, and it’s well past time Air NZ got the Telecom treatment and was sold off.”

Revealed: Tauranga Council spending thousands paying transport fares for highest paid staff

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Tauranga City Council has spent $41,900 over just seven months paying public transport fares for 630 of its staff, almost half of which are earning more than $100,000 a year.

The spending is part of the city’s Bee Card scheme that forces ratepayers to fund transport for bureaucrats who in most instances will be earning more than them.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

 “Council staff should be paying their own way to work like almost every other ratepayer has to. Ratepayers are effectively being forced to pay fares twice, once for their own travel into the city and a second time for the highly-paid bureaucrat sitting next to them.

“The Council is deliberately misleading ratepayers by over-inflating the impact of this handout on congestion and parking pressures. They assert that every ratepayer-funded trip taken means one less car on the road, neglecting to mention that some staff would have taken the bus regardless and others would have taken alternative transport such as walking, cycling or carpooling.

“If the council was really concerned about congestion, they should start by removing the free car parking subsidy for many of their staff. Tauranga residents would have never voted for this handout, but it’s no surprise the cartel of unelected commissioners are looking after their own at ratepayers’ expense.”

Kiwis slapped with second-highest tax hike in the developed world

Responding to news that New Zealanders faced the second-biggest tax hikes in the OECD last year, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“People earning no more in real terms have a higher and higher proportion of their income taken with every passing year thanks to 14 uninterrupted years of bracket creep. The inflation tax keeps robbing more from Kiwi workers, and Government after Government has been happy to look the other way.

“As health, education, and law & order outcomes plummet, Kiwis have been squeezed dry for the privilege. A single Kiwi on the average wage needs to see Nicola Willis slashing their income tax bill cut by almost 7% just to undo last year’s ballooning alone.

“A one-off adjustment isn’t enough. Any tax relief in the budget without indexing tax brackets to inflation is just giving with one hand whilst promising to keep stealing more and more each year with the other.”

Government should should pull plug on tech sector handouts

Government should should pull plug on tech sector handouts

Responding to calls from tech sector group KiwiSaaS for millions of dollars in corporate welfare to be renewed, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“A special interest group calling for corporate welfare isn’t exactly news, but Judith Collins needs to hold firm and not cave in to crony capitalism.

“Governments shouldn’t be using taxpayers' money trying to pick winners or propping up fashionable industries like SaaS with handouts.

“If the government wants to put a rocket under New Zealand businesses, then the tried-and-true way to do that is just getting out of their way. Cut red tape and deliver businesses tax relief across the board. For SaaS companies, introducing full expensing would be a far better way to foster investment and growth than government subsidies.”

New Media Minister must rule out state intervention in private media

The Taxpayers’ Union is today congratulating Hon. Paul Goldsmith on his appointment as Minister for Media and Communications and urges him to rule out state intervention in the private media sector.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“His first move must be to condemn Willie Jackson’s Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill to the scrap heap. This bill would see New Zealanders losing access to news content on social media, as seen in Canada, and would break the underpinning of the internet that it is free to link to other sites.

“If media companies want to stop their content being used on social media platforms, they can already put it behind a paywall. In fact, we know they benefit from the current arrangement as outfits, including RNZ, are actually paying Facebook to advertise links to their content.

“No one would accept government bailouts or screwing the scrum in favour of Video Ezy when Netflix came about, we shouldn’t accept them for private media either. If the Minister wants to make it easier for private media to operate, he should consider privatising the state-owned media companies while they are still worth something to ensure a level playing field where no media is backed by a Government giant."

Taxpayers’ Union shatters Window & Glass Association’s protectionist drivel

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming today’s comments from Window and Glass Association NZ whinging about the opening up of their sector to much-needed competition.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Only a special interest industry group could complain about reducing building costs during a housing crisis. Their superficial arguments are nothing more than window dressing.

“It’s no surprise the Window and Glass Association supports the broken window fallacy, but the cracks in their argument are there for all to see.

“Forcing people to pay more than they otherwise would in an open market simply takes money away from consumers that would have been spent elsewhere, in effect costing jobs and punishing businesses in other sectors of the economy.

“Crocodile tears of concerns around the quality of products or the ease of getting replacement parts simply don’t hold up. Every day people make tradeoffs in the products they buy and ultimately make what they believe to be the best choice for themselves. We see it with those who opt to purchase a Japanese car over a European one due to the relative ease of getting replacement parts, trusting consumers to make their own decisions is nothing new.

“The industry should be welcoming competition, seeing it as an opportunity to prove they are the best in the world, kick innovation into gear and allow New Zealand’s entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. Instead, we are seeing another case of business leaders preaching ‘free market for thee but not for me’.

Revealed: Health Quality and Safety Commission continues rebrand madness, blowing nearly $365,000

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the Health Quality and Safety Commission have spent $363,745 on a rebrand including $316,250 on a new website and $47,495 on a logo change (including GST).

These changes occurred during 2022 and 2023 which, according to the Commission ‘reflect how we see ourselves’.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager Connor Molloy commented:

“Somehow the commission and others have missed the memo of moving towards the standardised government branding and continued moving to new identities. Government agencies don’t need bespoke brands, by definition they aren’t competing with anyone.

“Taxpayers should rightly be mad that during peak inflation government agencies continued to splash around cash on virtue-signalling pet projects rather than sense-check every dollar spent that was first ripped out of the hands of struggling families.

“Taxpayers simply cannot afford flashy rebrands of all of our government departments every couple of years. The Government should require agencies to revert to standardised branding and stay that way – forever. We again offer up our support in redesigning these logos free of charge.”

Ratepayer Victory! Wellington pulls out of $32 million corporate handout

Commenting on the news that Wellington City Council have decided to not go ahead with the $32 million Reading Cinema deal, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:
 
“Whatever spin the mayor tried to put on it, it was clear from the get-go that shoving $32 million into the pockets of Reading’s multinational owners was a horrifically raw deal for ratepayers.
 
“It shouldn’t have taken 18 months for someone to cotton on to the fact that throwing tens of millions down the drain whilst pipes leak and community services are slashed possibly wasn’t prudent. But at least they got there in the end.
 
“Wellingtonians would be wise to remember which councillors came out to bat for them and which were happy to put corporate interests ahead of the city’s needs.”

Taxpayer Update: 18 months to assess whether water tank = fire risk 🤦‍♂️ | Tauranga's grifters lobby to stay on gravy train 🚂 | Labour's 182 questions about the Taxpayers' Union 🤨

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The geniuses at MBIE take 18 months to officially decide that a water tank is not a fire risk 💦 🔥

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) took 18 long months of umming and ahing to come to the bold conclusion that a water tank on a Kāinga Ora development did not – in fact – present a fire risk.

Peter Hird, MBIE's Principle Advisor eventually made an official determination that:

 "[It is] very unlikely a fire could occur in the tank given that the plastic tank would contain water and air"

No .... Sherlock!

Remember too that these are the same people who are desperately trying to justify their own bureaucrats. I mean, without them, how would we know water tanks are 'very unlikely' to burst into flames?

Sticky government-driven inflation is still punishing Kiwis 📈 😳

Stats NZ have published the latest inflation figures showing that prices have increased by 4% in the last year – making it now 34 months since it was last inside the Government's target range of 1 to 3%.

While the rate of price increases is slowing a bit, domestic inflation – the inflation that is driven up by the huge increases in Government spending – is still running red hot. The latest figure of 5.8% is just as bad as it was last quarter.

The difference between "tradable" inflation (i.e. what we get in from the rest of the world) and "non-tradables" (domestic) suggests that while the rest of the world will start to lower interests rates, New Zealand is in for a longer hangover. That's not good.

Those living paycheck to paycheck – especially those facing higher mortgage repayments – will feel it. We say Nicola Willis needs to go much further and faster to tighten the Government's own belt in next month's budget to get domestic inflation back under control.

Misinformation on public service 'cuts' continues 📰 🔄

Speaking of belt tightening, the reporting on the Government's Public Service 'cuts' through Wellington-tinted lenses continues to be one-sided.

From the wilful misinterpretation of back-office savings as 'stabbing at the heart of front-line'  to the unquestioning regurgitation of public sector union talking points, most of the reporting on the Public Service reductions fails to put the savings in context. 

Let's be very clear – it's not nice to lose your job and most of these public servants are in this position through no fault of their own.

But let's get the story straight.

The Government's 'cuts' to the bureaucracy are not drastic. In, fact, they are small fry when compared with the astronomical staffing increases we saw under six years of Labour.

👆Mr Luxon is miles off his pre-election promise to cut 14,000 bureaucrats👆

And the Government knows it. In the run up to the election, Christopher Luxon and National were banging on about how we had seen very little in return for an extra 14,000 (now 18,000) bureaucrats since 2017.

"We're spending a billion more each and every week, when you think we've added 14,000 more bureaucrats to Wellington and yet on the economy, on health, on housing, on crime and on education everything is going backwards, the outcomes are going backwards." (Luxon 2022)

But on current plans Luxon isn't dismissing anywhere near that.

In fact, on current projections, the Public Service won't event be stripped back beyond what it was at the election back in October.

Sign the petition: Save the money, sack the bureaucrats 🖊 ✖️🧑‍💼️

The Government was elected to take a chainsaw to the bloated back-office bureaucracy. Instead, the Mr Luxon's barely applied a bonsai pruner.

Sack the Bureaucratic

If you agree that Luxon needs to stick to his promise and sack the 14,000 extra bureaucrats that were hired under Labour's last minute hiring bonanza, take 30 seconds to sign our petition calling on the Government to go further and faster with their staffing reductions to cut the waste and balance the books.

👉 Sign the petition calling on Luxon and his Government to sack Labour's 14,000 extra public servants 👈

Labour tackling the real issue on voters' minds: the Taxpayers' Union 🧐

After a slow start from the now opposition Labour Party, we're happy to report that its MPs are making good use of Parliamentary written questions to Ministers. Written questions are the primary way MPs hold the Government to account and elicit detailed information out of Ministers and their officials.

But, it seems Labour's political radar about what New Zealanders are most worried about right now is a little off. Cost of living crisis? Tax relief? Budget deficits? Infrastructure? Government debt? No, no, no, the real issue deserving His Majesty's Loyal Opposition's attention is none other than the Taxpayers' Union!

No less than sixteen Labour MPs have taken the time to file 182 questions about the Taxpayers' Union since they've been in opposition. That's more than one question about the Taxpayers' Union every day since the election! 

While we're flattered that Chris Hipkins and Labour are taking so much interest in the work we do, we do have to ask ... 

Next time, save the money, pick up the phone 📞 

We know Chris Hipkins' staff read our emails (hi, Chris! 👋) so next time, rather than waste hundreds of hours of officials' time, just ask us for the information! What we say to Ministers is no different to what we say publicly (our "secret agenda" is no secret: Lower Taxes, Less Waste, More Accountability) and we'll be more than happy to provide any information you like!

With Labour so interested in our work, (and wanting to see every communication our supporters have with Ministers) your humble Taxpayers' Union has decided to cut out the middle man and will now copy Labour into our advocacy emails sent to Ministers.

In fact, we've starting doing it already. Willie Jackson wanted to know what we've been saying to Melissa Lee about media bailouts, hoping to 'catch us out'. Well, we've copied him into the 7,000+ emails sent by our supporters to Melissa Lee on the subject. You're welcome, Willie! 💁‍♂️ 

Unelected Commissioners use ratepayer money to lobby for postponement of democracy (and keep cushy jobs!) 🙄

Earlier this month, we slammed Tauranga City Council Commission Chair, Anne Tolley for some disturbing comments she made on an interview with Mike Hosking, where she warned against going back to a democratically elected council as it would bring back the 'old guard' and make the city go 'backwards.'

Apparently the good people of Tauranga might vote for the wrong people! 😱

Anne Tolley also said she would 'personally'  prefer a 'hybrid model' of democracy, where the council would be made up of elected representatives and unelected commissioners (i.e. her!).

Her reasoning: because "at times [democracy] fails."

Yes – you read that right.

But it turns out that wasn't even just her 'personal' wish. In fact, according to a letter sent by the Commission to the Local Government Minister late last year, all four unelected commissioners have been pushing hard to make this hybrid version of democracy a reality.

In that letter they even refer to a report they commissionedwhich cost local ratepayers $32,817that advocates a hybrid model with a 60/40 split for the next two elections, prolonging the return to a fully elected council until 2028!

What rubbish. There is no such thing as a hybrid democracy. You either have democracy, or you don't. Tauranga residents have waited long enough for a return to accountability and they shouldn't have to wait any longer.

Anne Tolley's $1,800-a-day gravy train needs to be derailed 🚂

While Anne 'unelected' Tolley might still be drinking Nanaia Mahuta's 'anything-but-democracy' cool-aide (and savouring the $1800-a-day she's being paid), we were delighted to see one of Tauranga's local National MPs Tom Rutherford rule out Tolley's ridiculous proposal.

Tauranga-based ACT MP, Cameron Luxton, has also previously called for the commissioners powers to be limited in the run up to July's election. It's not too late, Simeon...

2024 student interns: applications now open  🧑‍💻️ 🆕

Rhys Budge

Do you know any bright young students based in Wellington who might be interested escaping the left-wing groupthink that are our universities?

We're looking for our next intake of part-time student interns.

The internships  are varied as we like to play to people's strengths and interests. On any given day, our interns:

🔸 File information requests with government departments to expose wasteful spending

🔸 Help draft media releases for our spokespeople on breaking news stories;

🔸 Write briefing papers or short reports on public policy issues;

🔸 Create video and other content for our social media platforms;

🔸 Man our stands at grassroots events such as Fieldays and A&P shows

If you know someone with a keen interest in politics, public policy, or economics who wants to gain some valuable experience working in New Zealand's best union, send them our way.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth with Mike Butterick 🎙 🧈

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with newly elected National MP, Mike Butterick

Mike, a farmer and farming advocate, was elected as the MP for Wairarapa in the 2023 General Election. He has previously been involved with Federated Farmers and was the spokesperson for 50 Shades of Green, a lobby group addressing forestry encroachment on farmland. Mike is also active in community organisations, including serving as a director of Wings over Wairarapa. Passionate about education, his constituents, and the rural sector, Mike advocates strongly for local, community-led solutions to various issues.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Donate

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,

Callum

Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

 

Media Mentions:

Democracy Project Bryce Edwards: Will politicians let democracy die in the darkness?

Kiwiblog Fire and Emergency costs blowout

1News A thousand govt jobs cut in 'black day' for public service

Newsroom New Zealand’s crisis of confidence

Chris Lynch Media RNZ spends $71,000 on Facebook ads while supporting bill to regulate digital giants

Telegraph UK What New Zealand’s U-turn on smoking ban could mean for Rishi Sunak

Hawke’s Bay App Taxpayers’ Union slams eye-watering Hastings rates hike

The Listener Danyl McLauchlan: Politicians may not like the daily news media, but they’ll miss them when they’re gone

RNZ Political commentators Dale Husband and Liam Hehir (10:35)

Press Releases:

NEW POLL: Strong support for inflation adjustment of tax brackets to end the stealth tax

Government spending still driving cost of living skyward

REVEALED: RNZ’s Hypocrisy Over Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill

Christchurch City Council's stadium obsession needs to stop

Taxpayers’ Union Slams Eye-Watering Hastings Rates Hike

Rates Increase Shocker – Gore Residents Face Rates Hike Of 21.4%

RMA Changes Welcome, But Must Go Further

RMA changes welcome, but must go further

Responding to the Government’s announcement of changes to resource management laws, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, said:

“These changes are a step in the right direction in terms of removing ideological and unworkable red tape but they don’t go far enough.

“While we welcome the removal of the requirement on consent applicants to demonstrate compliance with the Te Mana o te Wai hierarchy of obligations, the Government must go further and remove all references to Te Mana o te Wai altogether.

“Te Mana o te Wai is vague and ill-defined, going so far as to mean different things in different parts of the country, depending on the local iwi or hāpu. We have serious concerns about councils continuing to waste money on work to uphold Te Mana o te Wai, even it it is not required by law. We are writing to Minister Bishop seeking clarification on a number of issues related to this and urge his Government to issue a direction to councils halting all work on this issue."

Rates Increase Shocker – Gore residents face rates hike of 21.4%

Responding to reports that Gore District Council is proposing to hike rates by 21.4%, Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson, Sam Warren, said:

“Clearly something is very broken for councils across New Zealand.

“A culture of historic wasteful spending throughout local government, combined with soaring costs, has resulted in an proposed average increase of 15 percent across the county. Sadly, Gore residents are well above this average.

“The chickens are coming home to roost, and as always, it is ratepayers having to foot the bill.  The council must now take a ruthless approach to cutting spending, eliminating any expenditure that is not on core services in order to protect ratepayers from an unaffordable rates hike in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.”

MPs in Depth: Mike Butterick

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Connor sat down with National Party MP, Mike Butterick. 

Mike, a farmer and farming advocate, was elected as the MP for Wairarapa in the 2023 General Election. He has previously been involved with Federated Farmers and was the spokesperson for 50 Shades of Green, a lobby group addressing forestry encroachment on farmland. Mike is also active in community organisations, including serving as a director of Wings over Wairarapa. Passionate about education, his constituents, and the rural sector, Mike advocates strongly for local, community-led solutions to various issues.

Mike's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow Mike on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

MPs in Depth: Andrew Hoggard

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Connor sat down with ACT Party MP, Andrew Hoggard. 

Andrew is a Manawatu farmer, has an Agricultural Economics degree and, prior to entering Parliament, was the President of Federated Farmers. Andrew has stepped straight into the role as Minister for both Biosecurity and Food Safety along with a number of associate portfolios. In this interview, Andrew discusses his life before politics, the issues he sees facing rural New Zealand and an insight into his experiences working in Canada where the dairy sector operates very differently with significant government control and intervention. 

Andrew's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow Andrew on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

Taxpayers’ Union slams eye-watering Hastings rates hike

Responding to reports that Hastings District Council is set to hike rates by 25 percent, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“We get that cyclone recovery and investing in resilient infrastructure will obviously be front of mind but the Council must ensure that it does not make the process more painful than it needs to be by using the cyclone as a shield to justify eye-watering rates hikes when there is still plenty of fat to trim.

“Many families are still dealing with the effects of the cyclone too. Hiking rates by an eye-watering 25% is simply unthinkable. With the council spending $9 million more on staff salaries compared to 2019 and more than a quarter of its staff earning above $100,000 per year, there is plenty of room for back office savings rather than heaping extra costs onto struggling ratepayers.

“After doing everything possible to cut back the size of the rates hike, the council must ensure that every cent goes into core service delivery, rather than expensive vanity projects like its recent $70,000 logo redesign.

Christchurch City Council's stadium obsession needs to stop

Christchurch City Council's stadium obsession needs to stop

Responding to Christchurch City Council’s dilemma on what to do about their $34.2m stadium streets project, given that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have not confirmed whether they will provide $13m in funding for the project, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Alexander Murphy said:

“This stadium has already burdened Christchurch ratepayers enough, with its ridiculous delays and enormous budget blowouts. These extra nice-to-haves are clearly unaffordable, and represent nothing more than just wasteful gold-plating.

“Christchurch ratepayers have only just been slapped with a double–digit rates hike and are being warned of more to come. Any responsible Council should be focussed on getting that figure down by any means necessary – including scrapping needless vanity projects like this.”

“This upgrade is clearly not a priority for NZTA, who aren’t even convinced they’ll be able to hold up their side of the bargain come July, so why should it be a priority for the Council? Potentially opening up ratepayers to further costs going forward by ploughing ahead here would be ludicrously irresponsible.”

REVEALED: RNZ’s hypocrisy over Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Radio New Zealand (RNZ) spent $71,842.53 on Facebook advertising over the past 12 months, despite earlier this year coming out in support of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, which would force the likes of Facebook to pay media companies when users share links to domestic news content.

Responding to these revelations, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“RNZ cannot simultaneously argue that the sharing of their content online is bad for business while at the same time seeing so much benefit in social media promotion of their content that they spend tens of thousands of dollars on paid promotion. This blatant contradiction shows their calls for government intervention are nothing more than a shameless money grab.

“RNZ’s endorsement of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill suggests they think platforms like Facebook and Google exploit New Zealand’s media landscape. RNZ’s Facebook ad spending shows they know that just isn’t true.

“It appears what RNZ are really upset about is the fact that we are now in the 21st century, so New Zealanders can access news from almost anywhere in the world. Kiwis are turning away from a Government-owned media that they simply don’t enjoy or trust anymore.

“This rort would just lead to a re-run of the farce in Canada where social media sites pulled access to news. Scrambling for handouts and bailouts isn’t the answer to RNZ’s unwillingness to innovate.”

Government spending still driving cost of living skyward

Responding to today’s release of the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Domestic inflation is still punishing Kiwis, with non-tradeable inflation – the aspect most affected by reckless and inflationary government overspending – still sitting stubbornly high at 5.8%.

“Public spending has risen 84% in six years, and you only need to look at your bills at the end of the week to see the effect this has had on the price of household essentials.

“This is proof if ever she needed it that Nicola Willis must go further and faster in reining in the waste in Wellington. Struggling families need to see serious cuts to spending in the Budget next month, and it's long past time the 18,000 extra bureaucrats had their bubble burst.”

NEW POLL: Strong support for inflation adjustment of tax brackets to end the stealth tax

NEW POLL: Strong support for inflation adjustment of tax brackets to end the stealth tax

A new Taxpayers’ Union — Curia poll has revealed that New Zealanders – at a ratio of five to one – support inflation adjustment of income tax brackets. 67% of respondents supported inflation adjustments while just 13% were opposed. The remainder were unsure.
 
There was majority support across every demographic (gender, age, area, economic status, and preferred political party) with the exception of Te Pāti Māori voters, where there was still a plurality of support.
 
Voters were asked: “As welfare benefits automatically increase with inflation, would you support or oppose a law so that income tax thresholds also adjust for inflation, so that someone whose income increases in line with inflation doesn’t end up paying proportionally more income tax than previously?”
 
The full polling report can be found here.
 
Commenting on the poll, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:
 
“Despite stagnant real wages, bracket creep is dragging New Zealanders into higher and higher tax brackets. This inflation tax reaches deeper into working Kiwis’ pockets, doubling down on the impact inflation is already having on the cost of living.
 
“With indexation supported by a majority across all demographics, it’s evident that it’s only politicians standing in the way of common-sense tax reform.
 
“While benefits, student loan living costs, and superannuation are adjusted for inflation – along with many other taxes that bolster the government coffers – politicians are far less inclined to take the same approach if it means putting an end to the inflation-driven gravy train.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:
The scientific poll was conducted by Curia Market Research and commissioned by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. As is well known, but for full disclosure, David Farrar co-founded the Taxpayers' Union and previously served on its board. He is also a Director of Curia Market Research Ltd.
 
The Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll was conducted from Tuesday 02 April to Thursday 04 April 2024. The median response was collected on Wednesday 3 April 2024. The sample size was 1,000 eligible New Zealand voters: 800 by phone and 200 by online panel. The sample selection for the phone panel is from those who are contactable on a landline or mobile phone selected at random from 15,000 nationwide phone numbers plus a random selection from an online panel (that complies with ESOMAR guidelines for online research). The results are weighted to reflect the overall voting adult population in terms of gender, age, and area. Based on this sample of 1,000 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50%) is +/- 3.1%, at the 95% confidence level. Results for sub-groups such as age and area will have a much higher margin of error and not seen as precise.

Taxpayer Update: MPs set to get monster pay hike🍾👯‍♂️ | New Report: Up in Smoke 😱 | Luxon gets into spat with trade unions ✊

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It's been another busy week. More complaints from the media of "public service cuts" without giving the context that growth in recent years has been many times more, the team has exposed yet another expensive government rebrand, and we expose the tax hike on insurance most people have never heard of.

Remuneration body set to whack up MPs' pay 🥸

Backbench MPs look set to pocket thousands more dollars this year if media speculation on the soon-to-be-announced determination by the Remuneration Authority proves correct.

Late last year, we wrote to (and met with) the Remuneration Authority to make the case for freezing MPs' pay until cost-of-living crisis has ended with inflation and government spending back under control.

With three times the median wage already the 'base' salary for the lowest ranking MPs (many most of us have never heard of), it will come as a slap in the face to those struggling to make ends meet. Contrary to what they'll have you believe, our MPs are actually already well paid compared to overseas legislators, especially when you take into account our relative decline in GDP per capita.

Throw in all the extra perks like free accommodation, tax-free allowances, and taxpayer-funded meals, and a backbench MP is earning being paid more than $200,000 as it is.

When most households are being forced to cut back on the nice-to-haves, why should our political class be any different?

Sign the petition: Freeze MPs pay 🖊 🧊 💰

More than 16,000 taxpayers have signed our petition against a tone-deaf increase in MPs' pay. 

👉 Sign our petition against MP pay hikes here 👈

🦸 A Taxpayer Hero? Nicola Willis says she doesn't want pay rise 🚫 💰 ⬆️ 

Blue Chris and Red Chris are both dodging the question on whether MPs deserve a pay raise – saying it should be left up to the independent Remuneration Authority (they know what's coming!)

But Finance Minister, Nicola Willis, has nailed her colours to the mast, saying she "does not want" a pay rise, and would feel "really, really, really uncomfortable" if she was offered one. She's not the only one.

As the Minister holding the purse strings, she more than anyone knows that a big bump in MPs' salaries now would be completely unjustified. We hope are sure that when the Remuneration Authority makes its decision, she will do the right thing and refuse to take the increase. 

Callaghan Innovation's $173,000 website makeover 💅 💸

The Taxpayers' Union has uncovered yet another rebranding splurge this time from one of the Government's R&D (and corporate welfare) funding agencies.

They spent a cool $173,000 on a website and logo makeover and, as far as we can tell, the only difference between the old and new website is a different font, a few new pictures and a slightly different shade of green!

Oh, and it's become much harder to find how they've spent your money and who they've given taxpayer-funded grants to...

And this rebrand happened was signed off just as the new Government was being sworn into office and before it had a chance to implement its cost-saving targets. Hmm... 🤔

TRUTH REVEALED: Public Service staffing savings are a drop in the ocean 🤏 

From the media's doomsday reporting on the Government's Public Service savings, you'd think these poor departments were being stripped to the bone.

In fact, when you compare the proposed staffing cuts so far to the enormous hiring spree we saw under the last government, taxpayers should instead be asking why the new Government's savings are so small.

☝️Some missing context behind the Government's "heartless" public service cuts☝️

Since 2017, the number of public servants has grown by a staggering 39%, or an extra 18,477 full-time roles. And, in just the final 6 months of last year, it grew by 2,582.

Yet according to RNZ's calculations, the total number of jobs expected to be culled is just 1,648.

That won't even get numbers back down to what they were just a few months ago! Wellington's 'day of reckoning' is yet to come...

Junior staff hung out to dry as executives scramble to save themselves🕴💰

Meanwhile, we're also hearing that managers at the Public Service are saving their own skins by selling out their junior employees.

Make no mistake, bureaucrats in all roles desperately need stripping back. But if there is one area that needs an overhaul more than any other – it's bloated management.

Just take a look at the figures 👇

Public Service departments have hired an extra 2,725 managers since June 2017. That’s a 51% increase in just 6 years! For context, the NZ population only grew roughly 8.8% in size over that same period.

That means the Government's core departments have been hiring managers at nearly six times the rate of the population increase.

As we've said time and again, if the Government wants to ensure that these savings are made in the right places, then Ministers must lead the charge themselves and not abdicate responsibility to the very chief executives responsible for the hiring bonanza. 

NEW REPORT: Fire and Emergency levy hikes are unjustified 🔥 💵

Taxpayers' Union Economist, Ray Deacon, has taken Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to task with an explosive new report revealing significant failings within FENZ and questioning the need for a 12.8% hike to levies on insurance used to fund it.

Taxpayers were promised extensive benefits and savings from a fire service mega-merger but Ray's analysis shows that the promised savings have gone up in smoke. His key findings are:

🔥 Expenses have continued to increase significantly with the promised savings and efficiencies non existent. Total costs have blown out from $496.3 million in 2017/18 to $737.3 million in 2022/23 

🔥 Spending on consultants and professional fees has blown out. Since establishment, FENZ has exceeded its budget by, on average, 24% per year.

🔥 The 12.8% levy increase from 1 July 2024 is easily avoided, if FENZ got its costs under control.

🔥 No independent post-implementation review of the actual costs and benefits of the merger has occurred.

Ray and I have met with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Brooke van Velden, to share the report's findings and have called on her to stop the 1 July levy increase and commission an independent review into FENZ.

You can read Ray's full report here.

Luxon squares up against public-servant-loving trade unions 💥🥊

The Prime Minister came out swinging this week against both the Public Service Association (PSA) and the Cartel Council of Trade Unions (CTU) saying they "didn't seem to care about working New Zealanders anymore".

“If the PSA, or the CTU for that matter, actually cared about low- and middle-income workers, they would’ve come out in support of our tax relief plans that we’ve been talking about for the last two years"

We say the PM is bang on.

The CTU and the PSA consistently argue against tax relief that will benefit hundreds of thousands of working New Zealanders in favour of protecting a few hundred public servants in Wellington. 

Well, here at New Zealand's largest union, we stand with the PM. Delivering tax relief and culling the bloated Public Service bureaucracy is the morally right thing to do.

Even Paddy Gower doesn't think the media shouldn't get a bailout 🚫🗞💵

A new Auckland University of Technology report reveals that just one third of Kiwis still trust the news.

It's a sobering statistic, but not a surprising one. Many New Zealanders feel that news coverage doesn't tell all sides of the stories and is seen through a Wellington-centric lens. The fact that many media companies are still getting taxpayer funding through the Public Interest Journalism Fund doesn't help the perception. 

But TV3's Paddy Gower doesn't agree. When asked by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB what he thought of people who had concerns about the political neutrality of the media, he said they were just a bunch of "Facebook keyboard warriors" who should "get stuffed".

However, he did have one moment of clarity:

"The media doesn't need a bailout. So, if anyone's talking about some sort of cash bailout, we don't need that. The media does need to survive commercially."

Much in the same way that the Government would never have been expected to prop up the DVD market when the internet became a much more accessible alternative, we shouldn't expect terrestrial media to be kept alive by taxpayers. 

We're hearing the Government is still looking at options to help out the likes of Newshub to keep them afloat. If you agree with Paddy that the Government should tell those wanting another media bailout to "get stuffed" (in more polite terms) click here to send Minister for Media and Communications an email.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth with Andrew Hoggard 🎙🐗

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with newly elected ACT MP, Andrew Hoggard.

Andrew is a Manawatu farmer, has an Agricultural Economics degree and, prior to entering Parliament, was the President of Federated Farmers. Andrew has stepped straight into the role as Minister for both Biosecurity and Food Safety along with a number of associate portfolios. In this interview, Andrew discusses his life before politics, the issues he sees facing rural New Zealand and gives some insight into his experiences working in Canada where the dairy sector operates very differently with significant government control and intervention. 

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,

Callum

Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

Donate

 

Media Mentions:

NBR 
Callaghan Innovation spends $173,000 on rebranding as 30 jobs cut

The Post 
As Luxon struggles for connection, he should break out the compassion

Bassett, Brash and Hide 
PETER WILLIAMS: How can media survive?

The Post 
The political art of saving the media, or not

NZ Herald 
Exclusive poll: Who do Aucklanders fancy as their next mayor? Have your say

NZ Herald 
New poll finds majority of voters still want tax cuts

NZ Herald 
Winston Peters-Antony Blinken statement proves New Zealand is in the middle of a seismic foreign policy shift - Audrey Young

RNZ 
The week in politics: Targets, truants and MPs' pay pickle

Tova 
An Exclusive Interview with ScoMo

NewstalkZB
 The Huddle: Could Shortland Street be the latest program facing cuts?

The Platform 
What Do Kiwis Think of a Taxpayer-Backed Media Bailout?

Waatea News 
Claudette Hauiti | Radio Waatea Parliamentary Press Gallery Reporter

StuffAnatomy of a political misfire: How the PM’s accommodation supplement saga unfolded

Newstalk ZB 
Barry Soper: ZB senior political correspondent on the Green Party's bump in the polls

Whaakata Maori 
Support for new coalition government drops - new poll

NewstalkZB News Fix 
Afternoon Edition: 09 April 2024

NZ Herald 
Lobby group claims Tauranga’s commission ‘trampling over local democracy’

Press Releases:
More Competition, Not Less, The Solution To Failing Councils

NEW POLL: Kiwis Want Nicola Willis To Hold Firm On Tax Relief

NEW POLL: New Zealanders Oppose Taxpayer-Funded Bailouts For Private Media Companies

Sky-High Interest Rates Show Kiwi Families Need Government To Show Some Fiscal Responsibility

Government Must Clamp Down Harder On Managerial Class With Public Service Cuts

NEW POLL: More Bad News For Centre-Right As Government Parties Drop In Support

MPs Must Not Take Pay Hike While Kiwis Go Backwards

Government KPIs Show Progress But Lack Ambition

Revealed: Callaghan Innovation Wastes Over $170,000 On Rebrand As Staff Call Out Job Cuts

New Report: Fire And Emergency Levy Increase Unjustified, Performance Review Needed

More competition, not less, the solution to failing councils

Responding to comments from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on the prospect of Supercity-like deals in New Zealand, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Where there are savings to be found, councils should of course work together on service delivery to find efficiencies. But councils sitting in a big circle singing kumbaya isn’t going to stop the rot facing local government in New Zealand.

“Competition drives efficiency and progress. Councils need to be competing more on offering the best possible service at the best possible cost to their ratepayers.

“Bigger does not always equal better. Whilst New Zealanders across the country are still being slapped with double-digit rates hikes year after year, now is certainly not the time to be talking about removing councils’ incentives to improve.”

NEW POLL: Kiwis want Nicola Willis to hold firm on tax relief

A new Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll has revealed that 53% of New Zealanders believe that the Government should continue to deliver the tax relief that was promised by the National Party during the election campaign. 29% of respondents thought that the tax relief should not proceed while 18% were unsure. 

There is majority or plurality of support for this proposal across all gender, age and area demographics. Supporters of the governing parties are strongly in favour of continuing with tax relief while Green voters are the most strongly opposed. 

Voters were asked: “The National Party's tax policy at the election promised to shift tax bracket thresholds to partially compensate for the effect of inflation. This would reduce the tax on full time workers from between $24 and $51 a fortnight depending on income. Proponents of the tax cuts say they will provide relief to families, while opponents say they are unaffordable. Do you think the Government should deliver the tax cuts that were in National's election policy?” The full polling report can be found here.

Commenting on the poll results, Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said: 

“Contrary to the prevailing narrative among the political commentariat, this poll demonstrates that Kiwis are strongly of the view that Nicola Willis should hold firm on the tax relief commitments National made during the election.

“Government spending has increased by 84 per cent since 2017 yet the quality of services continues to decline across the public sector. It’s the worst of both worlds: New Zealanders are paying more and getting less.

“Not only have Kiwis not had a tax break for 14 years but the failure to adjust income tax brackets for inflation has forced them to pay more and more of their wages in tax each year. The Government must deliver on its tax relief promises while going further and faster to cut back the bureaucratic bloat in Wellington.”

MEDIA SUMMARY STATEMENT:

Any media or other organisation that reports on this poll should include the following summary statement:

The poll was conducted by Curia Market Research Ltd for the NZ Taxpayers’ Union. It is a random poll of 1,000 adult New Zealanders and is weighted to the overall adult population. It was conducted by phone (landlines and mobile) and online between 2 April and 4 April 2024, has a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1% and 5.6% were undecided on the party vote question. The full results are at www.taxpayers.org.nz/taxreliefpoll 
 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The scientific poll was conducted by Curia Market Research and commissioned by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. As is well known, but for full disclosure, David Farrar co-founded the Taxpayers' Union and previously served on its board. He is also a Director of Curia Market Research Ltd.

The Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll was conducted from Tuesday 02 April to Thursday 04 April 2024. The median response was collected on Wednesday 3 April 2024. The sample size was 1,000 eligible New Zealand voters: 800 by phone and 200 by online panel. The sample selection for the phone panel is from those who are contactable on a landline or mobile phone selected at random from 15,000 nationwide phone numbers plus a random selection from an online panel (that complies with ESOMAR guidelines for online research). 

The results are weighted to reflect the overall voting adult population in terms of gender, age, and area. Based on this sample of 1,000 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50%) is +/- 3.1%, at the 95% confidence level. Results for sub-groups such as age and area will have a much higher margin of error and not seen as precise. 

The range for the reduction in tax paid by full time workers of between $24 and $51 a fortnight depending on income is taken from ‘Appendix C: Income Relief Tables’ on page 24 of National’s Back Pocket Boost policy document available here, which was confirmed as part of the coalition agreements with the ACT and NZ First parties. 

This poll should be formally referred to as the “Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll”.

NEW POll: New Zealanders oppose taxpayer-funded bailouts for private media companies

A Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll has revealed that 55% of New Zealanders are opposed to taxpayer money being used to fund struggling private media companies, with just 29% in support.

Labour voters were the only demographic in support of media bailouts (+7% net support), while those aged under 40 were split evenly. A majority or plurality in every other demographic opposed taxpayer-funded media bailouts.

Voters were asked “You may have heard reports about the proposed closure of Newshub. Would you support or oppose taxpayer money being used to fund struggling private media companies?” The full polling report can be found here.

Commenting on the poll, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“It comes as no surprise that taxpayers are unwilling to reach into their own pockets to fund media organisations that they are increasingly becoming disillusioned with.

“We know from our previous polling that taxpayer-funding of private media undermines perceptions of independence. With trust in the media already in free-fall, the worst thing the government could do is step in with taxpayer money to bail them out.
 
“All businesses must deliver a service of value to get money from their customers. If the government stumps up with taxpayer-money there is no incentive for these companies to change their business model into something consumers trust and value more.
 
“We should allow those companies that aren’t providing a service people want to fail so that new companies who do create value can take their place.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The scientific poll was conducted by Curia Market Research and commissioned by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. As is well known, but for full disclosure, David Farrar co-founded the Taxpayers' Union and previously served on its board. He is also a Director of Curia Market Research Ltd.

The Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll was conducted from Tuesday 02 April to Thursday 04 April 2024. The median response was collected on Wednesday 3 April 2024. The sample size was 1,000 eligible New Zealand voters: 800 by phone and 200 by online panel. The sample selection for the phone panel is from those who are contactable on a landline or mobile phone selected at random from 15,000 nationwide phone numbers plus a random selection from an online panel (that complies with ESOMAR guidelines for online research). The results are weighted to reflect the overall voting adult population in terms of gender, age, and area. Based on this sample of 1,000 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50%) is +/- 3.1%, at the 95% confidence level. Results for sub-groups such as age and area will have a much higher margin of error and not seen as precise.

Sky-high interest rates show Kiwi families need Government to show some fiscal responsibility

Responding to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s decision to hold the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.5%, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“High interest rates stifle growth and punish Kiwi families. They’re being punished for runaway inflation driven by reckless overspending by a previous Government which had no concern for the effects its policies would have on hardworking people.

“Inflation has now been outside the target range for 34 consecutive months. The last Government fuelled the fire with wasteful spending for far too long, and the time to start getting the books back in the black has long since past.

“Unless this Government stops dragging its feet and starts getting serious about trimming back the fat in Wellington, Kiwi families are going to be doing it tough under both high inflation and crippling interest rates for many months to come.”

Government must clamp down harder on managerial class with Public Service cuts

Responding to concerns from public servants that managers seem to be ‘immune’ from staffing cuts, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman, Alex Murphy, said:

"The whole point of the Government's spending cuts was to axe the back-office bureaucracy and prioritise frontline delivery, but by letting department heads put forward their own proposals on how these savings will play out, the executive class will no doubt continue to protect their own by hanging the junior staffers out to dry.

"But a simple look at the figures shows the problem doesn't just lie with the low-hanging fruit. In just the last 6 years, the number of managers across the Government's core departments has grown by a staggering 51% – that's almost twice the rate of social, health, and education workers and more than virtually every other job type. Instead of quietly shifting themselves away from the knife, Management should be first on the chopping block.

“As we've said time and again, letting department chief executives find and make these savings is like letting the foxes guard the hen house. If Ministers want to ensure that their cuts are being made in the right areas, then they should be the one's finding where to make them – it's as simple as that."

MPs in Depth: Carl Bates

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Jordan sat down with National Party MP for Whanganui, Carl Bates. 

Carl joined the Young Nats aged just 12 and less than 30 years later was elected to Parliament as a National MP. Prior to entering politics, Carl had an interesting and successful career from an incredibly young age. Aged just 18, he was appointed as an independent director at an aged care facility and at 22 was appointed as the acting chief executive of Quality Health New Zealand, managing to turn the failing organisation around. Carl is a chartered accountant, he also started his own professional services firm and served on a director and chairman on a range of small and large companies both in New Zealand and internationally.

Carl's maiden speech can be watched here. Follow Carl on Facebook here.

To support Taxpayer Talk, click here

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email [email protected] 

You can also listen to Taxpayer Talk on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and all good podcast apps. 

NEW POLL: More bad news for Centre-Right as Government parties drop in support

National is down on last month to 37.1% (-0.3 points) while Labour is up slightly to 25.7% (+0.4 points). The Greens take third place on 14.6% (+3.3 points) while ACT drops back to 7.2% (-2.8 points).

The smaller parties are NZ First on 6.3% (-1.1 points) and Te Pāti Māori on 4.6% (+2.1 points). 

For the minor parties, TOP is on 1.6%, Outdoors and Freedom is on 1.5%, Democracy NZ is on 0.3%, Vision NZ is on 0.2%, New Conservatives are on 0.2%, and the others combined were on 0.8%

This month's results are compared to the last month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll.

National is down one seat on last month to 47 while Labour is steady on 32. The Greens continue to rise, now on 18 seats (up three), while ACT has fallen to 9 seats (down four). NZ First is down one seat to 8 while Te Pāti Māori is unchanged on 6 seats. 

The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 64 seats is down six from last month while the Centre-Left has increased by three to 56 seats. 

On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. Given the higher vote for Te Pāti Māori in this poll, Parliament would have no overhang seats.

Christopher Luxon’s net favourability is down 2 points on last month to -7% while Chris Hipkins’s score is down 8 points to -6%. This is the first time a Labour leader has had a negative net favourability in the Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll. David Seymour is down 3 points to -11% while Winston Peters is down 6 points to -18%. 

More detailed results, including voters' top three issues, as well as National's lead over Labour on key voting topics are available on our website.

Taxpayer Update: Centre right down in new poll 📊 | Tax relief under threat? 😱 | Luxon's new action plan ✅

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NEW POLL: Bad news for centre-right parties in in latest poll 📊

Christopher Luxon's coalition partners won't be overjoyed with their results in this month's hot-off-the-press Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll. Meanwhile, a boost for the centre-left comes mainly from increased support for the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, with Labour gaining no extra brownie points following Chris Hipkins's "everything on the table" announcement on tax policy.

Compared with last month's poll, National is down slightly to 37.1% (-0.3 points) while Labour is up slightly to 25.7% (+0.4 points). The Greens take third place on 14.6% (+3.3 points) while ACT is on less than half that, dropping back to 7.2% (-2.8 points), NZ First on 6.3% (-1.1 points), and Te Pāti Māori on 4.6% (+2.1 points). 

For the minor parties, our poll has TOP is on 2.1%, Outdoors and Freedom on 1.3%, Vision NZ on 0.8%, Democracy NZ is on 0.4%, and the rest combined is 1.5%.

Here is how these results would translate to seats in Parliament:

National is down one seat on last month to 47 while Labour is steady on 32. The Greens continue to rise with today's result translating to 18 seats (up three) while ACT has fallen to 9 seats (down four). NZ First is down one seat to 8 while Te Pāti Māori is unchanged on six seats. 

The combined projected seats for the centre-right of 64 seats is down six from last month. The combined seats for the centre-left has increased by three to 56 seats. On these numbers, National and ACT would require the support of NZ First to form a government. This assumes that all electorate seats are held. Given the higher support for Te Pāti Māori in this poll, Parliament would have no overhang seats. 

For favourability ratings, major voting issues, party best at dealing with particular issues, and to find out how to get access to our full polling reports (including geographic breakdowns), head over to our website.

Tax relief under threat? 😠

Just seven months ago, New Zealanders overwhelmingly voted for a Government that would cut wasteful spending and deliver meaningful tax relief for Kiwis. 

So far, despite a few wobbles, Christopher Luxon and his team have largely stuck to the mandate. However, with the centre-left and media commentariat ramping up the rhetoric that "now is not the time to cut taxes",  some are predicting the Government will drop (or water down) Nicola Willis's promised tax relief package.

☝️The establishment doesn't want Kiwis catching a break from tax hikes ☝️

We say the 'pundits' need to get out more. Outside of Wellington's bubble, households are struggling, and 14 years of finance ministers not adjusting income tax thresholds for inflation now sees even those on minimum wage working 40 hours a week paying the 30% marginal income tax rate. How is that "kind" or fair? The Taxpayers' Union seems to be the only ones standing up for New Zealanders and injecting some balance into the debate. I made the case that we can – and must – have both responsible spending and tax relief in a column in The Post last week. Kiwis cannot afford for the Government to U-turn on this election promise for the sake of the "lanyard class" clutching their pearls at the idea of job losses in Wellington.

Economic and political gas lighting 🔥

The supposedly 'unbiased' pundits in the media will tell you that National's tax cuts are 'inflationary' and 'irresponsible'. The inflationary spending is coming from Wellington, not you! To blame inflation for not giving households a break only makes sense if you live in an ivory tower.

You may have seen Jordan's email yesterday that spells out exactly why it is so critical that the Government holds firm on tax relief. With the media hammering every effort being made to tackle waste, we think it time to remind Nicola Willis that the public is behind her.

If you haven't already, take just 30 seconds to email Nicola Willis telling her to hang in there and deliver her tax relief in the May budget.

>> Tell Ms Willis to stand firm and deliver tax relief <<

What gets measured, gets done ☑️

The Government has released the sequel to its "hundred day plan" – a 36-point "action plan" setting out its objectives for the next 3 months in office. Some say it's a gimmick, but if it works, who cares? We think it’s a pretty good list.

The main positive takeaways are that the Government is re-committing to deliver its personal income tax relief – for now at least (see above). It also plans to deliver a budget that cuts wasteful spending, slashes red tape, and sets better targets for improving our public services.

There's a few fishhooks buried in the detail, like its plan to introduce rego and fuel tax hikes, but overall, it looks like the coalition partners have largely got their heads in the right place.

Local democracy restored on Māori wards 🗳️

Also this week, in a big win for democracy, the Government announced it would repeal Labour's law that prevented local communities from having their democratic say on Māori wards on local councils.  

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we think it is wrong for politicians to decide the rules for how they are elected. The only people who should set these rules are the people they are elected to represent – the voters. The restoration of the ability for local communities to petition for a referendum provides an important safeguard against self-interested politicians screwing the scrum for their own political purposes.

But this shouldn't just apply to Māori wards. Voters should get to have their say on things like rural wards or new-fangled voting systems such as the Single Transferable Votes.

Wasteful councils think the solution to their spending problem is... more spending! 🤦‍♂️

Completely lost in the news cycle this week (there's a surprise!), big city councils Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, and Hamilton, have been lobbying the Government to borrow even more! Apparently capping their net debt levels at 285% of their annual revenues wasn't high enough!

The very same politicians that are looking to hike rates up by as much us 20% this year claim that the only reason why they are pushing up against that debt cap, is because it isn't high enough.

But a quick look at the figures tells the real story.

The Infrastructure Commission noted in their briefing to the incoming minister earlier this year that plenty of public money is being spent. It's just not being spent very wisely:

"New Zealand currently spends around 5.5% of GDP on public infrastructure –  higher than Australia and the median OECD country. However, New Zealand ranks near the bottom 10% of high-income countries for the efficiency of that spend. New Zealand’s biggest infrastructure challenge is one of investment efficiency."

Maybe, just maybe, these councils' inability to deliver sufficient infrastructure doesn't have anything to do with a lack of funding, but instead a lack of prudent financial management?

Who's to say that even if the debt ratio gets raised, these same councils won't be coming back and asking for more. Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate, for example, doesn't even think that being able to borrow three times council revenue would be enough:

“We think there could be some movement in the debt ceiling. But even if we lifted it up to 300 percent, it really wouldn’t solve all our issues. We’re talking about a much bigger challenge.”

But then Southgate also thinks it is perfectly appropriate for her to spend $10,000 on an ANZAC day junket to Belgium at a time when she's asking ratepayers to cough up 19.9% more in rates, so perhaps she isn't the best person to ask when it comes to quality of spending?

More false choices thrown around by desperate public servants

If you've opened a newspaper over the past month, you might have seen the chatterati going berserk over hundreds of poor public servants losing their jobs thanks to the new Government's 'cruel' and 'heartless' cuts.

This week, the latest media meltdown occurred when a leaked document showed that department heads at the Ministry of Health chose to disestablish 135 roles over cutting executives' payhow dare they!

We agree – Executives at the Health Ministry should have their pay docked, or at least frozen to cut down on unnecessary spending, but that doesn't mean those extra jobs shouldn't be axed as well.

Recent figures from the Public Service Commission show that the Ministry of Health was hiring like crazy at the back end of last year – adding an extra full-time 78 roles to their roster in just 6 months!

No wonder most of those public servants don't want to go – they just got here.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth Series: Carl Bates 🎧🎙️

Carl Bates Pod

This week on Taxpayer Talk is another episode in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Jordan sat down with National Party MP for Whanganui, Carl Bates. 

Carl joined the Young Nats aged just 12 and less than 30 years later was elected to Parliament as a National MP. Prior to entering politics, Carl had an interesting and successful career from an incredibly young age. Aged just 18, he was appointed as an independent director at an aged care facility and at 22 was appointed as the acting chief executive of Quality Health New Zealand, managing to turn the failing organisation around. Carl is a chartered accountant, he also started his own professional services firm and served on a director and chairman on a range of small and large companies both in New Zealand and internationally.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,

Callum Callum Signature Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 

Donate

 

Media Mentions:

The Post
Government needs to hold steady on cuts to public service and taxes

Kiwiblog
Its wrong when they do it, but not me

Hawkes' Bay App
Hastings District Council salary costs are just under $40m

Newstalk ZB News Fix: Afternoon Edition – Public spending [1:30]

SunLive Commission 'trampling over democracy' – lobby group

NZ Herald It's time Luxon led like a CEO

NBR Callaghan Innovation spends $173,000 on rebranding as 30 jobs cut

NZ Herald Lobby group claims Tauranga’s commission ‘trampling over local democracy

Press Releases:

Government puts an end to Labour's hijack on democracy

Ratepayers need competent councils, not more debt

Taxpayers' Union welcomes Government's new action plan

Ratepayers, not unaccountable bureaucrats, should be responsible for heritage listings

MP expense information leaked to the Taxpayers' Union – will be made public tomorrow (April fools)

Unelected commissioners need to learn their place
 

New Report: Fire And Emergency Levy Increase Unjustified, Performance Review Needed

Revealed: Callaghan Innovation Wastes Over $170,000 On Rebrand As Staff Call Out Job Cuts

Government KPIs Show Progress But Lack Ambition

MPs Must Not Take Pay Hike While Kiwis Go Backwards

MPs must not take pay hike while Kiwis go backwards

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on MPs to put their money where their mouths are and implement a pay freeze rather than accept a taxpayer-funded pay hike at a time when many families are going backwards.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Every year, politicians reach deeper and deeper into New Zealanders’ pockets as inflation pushes people into higher tax brackets. This year, the money pulled out will be getting stuffed straight into the pockets of politicians.

“With the economy in recession, New Zealanders are quite literally getting poorer as there is less and less pie to be shared among more and more people. It is completely unjustified to accept a pay rise at a time when the economy is doing so poorly, government spending is out of control, and inflation is persistently high.

“Jacinda Ardern, to her credit, showed leadership when introducing a pay freeze for MPs in 2018 and actually cut MP pay during the pandemic. This Government must lead from the front when it comes to reducing spending, and a good first step would be to follow Ardern’s example and tighten their own personal belts.

“It’ll be a lot harder to get the public service on board with spending reductions if they see MPs continuing to ride the gravy train. When David Seymour points out that thousands-upon-thousands of bureaucrats are earning more than MPs, the answer should be to cut the number of overpaid execs rather than hiking MPs’ salaries.

“If politicians want more money in their own pockets, they should cut wasteful spending to deliver more tax relief that benefits all workers, including MPs.”

Government KPIs show progress but lack ambition

Responding to the release of nine Government key performance targets to be achieved by 2030, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Kiwis won’t need reminding that despite public spending jumping 84% since 2017, just about everything has got worse. Outcomes in Education, health, and law and order have all declined, not to mention our roads which are more pothole than tarseal.

“But the Government kicking the can down the road isn’t going to deliver the reform we need now. 2030 is two general elections away, which gives far too much time for the targets to slip out of sight. Kiwis can’t afford 6 more years of failing services.

“A tenth target seems to have slipped off Mr Luxon’s list. Grant Robertson’s Wellbeing Budget set a public spending target of 28.8% of GDP. With that figure now standing at 33.4%, National have no excuse not to harden up, show some ambition and hit at least the same target.”

Revealed: Callaghan Innovation wastes over $170,000 on rebrand as staff call out job cuts

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Callaghan Innovation has blown $170,000 on a rebranding exercise at a time when taxpayer-funded agencies were being told to curb spending. Information obtained under the Official Information Act reveals that Callaghan Innovation - the body largely responsible for providing corporate welfare by picking winners - has spent $173,000 on website and logo changes.

The revelations come on the same day that staff are finding out about a wave of job cuts across the organisation.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Waste is embedded into Callaghan Innovation’s DNA with corporate welfare being a core tenet of their mission. It’s sadly no surprise to see them spending money like there’s no tomorrow.

“The rebrand includes a staggering $15,440 on t-shirts and more than $15,000 on just the logo. Taxpayers will continue to be stung with an ongoing annual $67,000 in website licensing fees.

“Chief Executive Stefan Korn must front up to taxpayers and explain why he’s wasting money on such an expensive rebrand at a time when agencies are being told to find savings. To make matters worse, the redesign is completely at odds with the Government’s public service guidelines that tell agencies to return to standardised government branding, not expensive makeovers every few years.

“Callaghan Innovation has always been one of the most wasteful taxpayer-funded organisations, sucking money away from productive sectors of the economy and having a punt on businesses that are otherwise unwilling or unable to attract private investment. The Government should cease all taxpayer funding for Callaghan Innovation and require it to fund itself by making commercial returns on its investment – if it can’t do that, it should be shut down.”

New Report: Fire and Emergency levy increase unjustified, performance review needed

New Report: Fire and Emergency levy increase unjustified, performance review needed

The Taxpayers’ Union is today releasing a report highlighting the significant failure of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to realise the expected efficiency gains following the 2017 mega-merger of fire services. The report concludes that the Minister of Internal Affairs should stop the 1 July levy increase and perform an independent examination into the operation, management and governance of FENZ.

Key findings of the report include:

> The efficiency gains, expected by the 2016 Cabinet, have not materialised;

> Expenses have continued to increase very significantly; and

> Spending on consultants and professional fees have grown substantially.

The report’s author, Ray Deacon, said:

“It has become clear across multiple Taxpayers’ Union reports that Fire and Emergency has failed to deliver on its promises and extracting an additional $85 million in levies from the domestic and commercial sectors of the economy across each of the next two years is simply unjustified, as this report explains.

“A demand for a further 5.2% increase lacks credibility.  Minister van Velden is right to question the need for this.  But the Minister needs to go much further.

> The 12.8% levy increase from 1 July 2024 needs to be stopped.

> A full and comprehensive independent post-implementation review of the actual costs and benefits of the merger needs to be undertaken.

“It is difficult to believe that Cabinet would have approved the merger if the actual expenditure was known.”

The full report, Up in Smoke: Is There a Failure of Governance by the Board of Fire & Emergency New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs?, can be read here. 

The Taxpayers’ Union has previously reported on our concerns with the merger and subsequent performance of Fire and Emergency New Zealand:

Government puts an end to Labour’s hijack on local democracy

Responding to the Government’s decision to restore binding referenda for local councils in determining whether or not to establish Māori wards, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager Connor Molloy, said:

“It is a fundamental right of voters to have the final say on the design of their electoral systems. Changing this without gaining the consent of the public via referendum undermines New Zealand’s proud history of democracy.

“Electors should be able to vote on, and veto, fundamental changes to their local voting system. It’s refreshing to see the new Government restoring this necessary democratic convention.

“While this is an important first step to restoring democratic decision-making, the Government must take steps to ensure that ratepayer funds are not used to screw the scrum one way or another. The voting system is a decision for voters and voters alone.”

Unelected commissioners need to learn their place

Responding to an interview from Anne Tolley on Newstalk ZB this morning, where the Tauranga City Council Commission Chair warned against going back to elected councillors as it would bring back the “old guard” and make the city go “backwards”, Alex Murphy, Spokesman for the Taxpayers' Union, said:

“It’s no surprise that an unelected official with the ability to make massively influential decisions doesn’t want there to be another election, but to suggest that Tauranga ratepayers would be better off without elected councillors is an absolute disgrace.

“Ratepayers have had to put up with over three years of unelected bureaucrats managing their money without any way of voting them out. This isn’t about whether the commissioners are doing a better job than their dysfunctional elected predecessors, this is about ensuring that democracy is upheld, and the people of Tauranga get their rightful say.

“If Anne Tolley and the other commissioners believe they are running the city well, they should stand for election and put their case to the voters rather than trampling over local democracy.”

Ratepayers need competent councils, not more debt

Responding to calls by councils including Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga for their debt caps to be raised, Taxpayers’ Union Policy and Public Affairs Manager, James Ross, said:

“Sometimes it makes sense to use debt to spread the cost of an investment over time. But neither blown-out staff budgets nor wasting hundreds of millions on unwanted vanity projects like the Wellington Town Hall justify raising the debt ceiling.

“The argument that ratepayers need to be lumbered with more debt to tackle the infrastructure deficit just doesn’t hold water. Despite spending more than the OECD median on infrastructure, New Zealand is near the bottom 10% in terms of the bang-for-buck we get from every dollar spent.

“The issue isn’t lack of money, it’s lack of competence. Bureaucracy and red tape get in the way of upgrading our infrastructure, and councils serious about future-proofing need to pull out the big scissors and cut these obstacles out the way.”

Taxpayers’ Union welcomes Government’s new action plan

Taxpayers’ Union welcomes Government’s new action plan

Responding to the Government’s 36-point action plan for the second quarter, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman, Alex Murphy, said:

“It's refreshing to see the Coalition sticking to their guns on the issues Kiwis voted them in on, like delivering tax relief, cutting wasteful spending, and setting objective targets for improving our public services.

"And there's some other big wins too, like slashing red tape on the rental market, reversing the ban on offshore mining, and finally taking steps to give Chris Hipkins' wasteful pet project, Te Pūkenga, the boot.

"The new GPS is also a step in the right direction, focussing on roads maintenance and investment over walking and cycling, but the Government can go further here to stop the need for rego hikes and new fuel taxes from 2026.

"There's still a few hairy bits, like adding even more regulation to sale of vapes, but all in all, this new quarterly outlook is largely a step in the right direction." 


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