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Lower Taxes, Less Waste,
More Transparency

Championing Value For Money From Every Tax Dollar

Taxpayers’ Union has attacked National more often than any other party

Since the Taxpayers’ Union launched a number of left wing critics have claimed that we are just a front for the National Party, and are biased in its favour. The critics are wrong and their politically motivated criticisms are just nonsense.

We have always maintained that our stand is against waste and inefficiency and against bad policy wherever we find it, and that has always included the current government.

As Chairman I ensure that our Board and staff know that we are our own vehicle, with our own purposes, and don’t do other people’s bidding. Of course, we work with other groups (for example we partnered with Age Concern, Consumer NZ and the Financial Services Council for the Fair Tax for Savers campaign) where our objectives align.

An analysis of our media releases shows that we have criticised the National led government more often than any other party or entity.

Of the 192 media releases made by the Taxpayers’ Union since we started operations in October 2013, 121 media statements have been about central government of which 67 have criticised some aspect of the National Government’s policy and just 12 statements have supported a policy stance.    

The figures for Labour are 9 statements against and one in favour; for the Greens it is four against and two in favour.

We backed Winston Peters on the Interislander issue, and criticised a NZF candidate for double dipping and commended another NZF candidate, Ron Mark, for promising not to do so. We have issued only three statements about the Mana Party all critical of some aspect of their policy.

63 statements have been about local government. Most of these, 60 out of the 63 were about specific councils; 31 were about the Auckland Council alone.

Three were to do with our local government report which detailed the financial position of all councils, and a second report setting out 101 ways councils could save money.

We have criticised the current government on nine separate occasions for its continued use of taxpayers’ money in grants and handouts to so called growth companies. We called these ‘corporate welfare’ and in turn we have been attacked by Minister Stephen Joyce for doing so.

And we went after government Minister Todd McLay for getting a government grant to back a tourism project in his own electorate. The “stench of pork barrel politics in Rotorua” was our headline.

We have upset Business New Zealand as well as the Council of Trade Unions for revealing government funding to a joint venture those two bodies had for health and safety training. The ACC’s audit of the training labelled it a waste of time, and the government withdrew the funding.

We have also campaigned against the government’s decision to make passports valid for only five years, and we claim some credit in forcing a rethink which has put ten year passports back on the agenda.

These figures speak louder than the cries of our critics. Their claims of our being a National Party front organisation is empty rhetoric without any factual substance.

We have been genuine in our efforts to hold the government to account and to promote better policy and more effective spending.  We will continue to do that regardless of the outcome of the election.

After the flip is our raw data.

Minor parties added to Bribe-O-Meter

We've added the Green, ACT, United Future and Conservative Parties to the ‘Bribe-O-Meter’ election costing page launched last month.  Excluding ACT and New Zealand First, the total election ‘bribes’ - that is new spending not already in the budget covering the next parliamentary term, equals $12.7 billion, or $7,486 per household.

We're delighted that the Bribe-O-Meter is enabling Kiwis to judge for themselves the various bribes this election. With the addition of the minor parties voters can assess which political parties are offering taxpayers value for money.

Currently National's election promises add up to $329 per household. The equivalent figure for Labour is $2,776, the Greens $2,893, United Future $1,253, and the Conservatives $236. ACT is in the negative, committing to cut spending by $6,876 per household.

A lack of detail in New Zealand First’s policy documents has made it impossible for the Union's independent expert, Dr Michael Dunn, to calculate credible figures for the Party’s inclusion in the Bribe-O-Meter.  Public and private requests to New Zealand First have, to date, not resulted in amelioration. New Zealand First apparently just doesn’t have the information. It appears that Mr Peters makes promises to all and sundry, but no one at his office is adding up the cost.

Click here to view the Bribe-O-Meter.


Inciting violence, but @peace with taxpayers’ money

Music has always been a tool of free expression. Particularly from the 1960s onwards, artists began politicising their messages through music, voicing their opinions about war, famine and other hardships. The Beatles, Bob Geldof, The Exploited and Pussy Riot music has not just been a tool of expression, but a call to action.

Yesterday saw the release of a track by New Zealand hip-hop act @peace, grimly titled “Kill the PM”.

Fairfax reports:

An Auckland hip-hop crew slammed for releasing a song with lyrics that apparently include a threat to kill Prime Minister John Key are urging young people to enrol to vote.

Kill The PM, by @peace, depicts a golfing, luxury car-driving Key, and says he should die - "ain't doin' nothin' so I'm gonna kill the prime minister".

It continues: "I been tryin' to get a job but they got none/so I instead I got a sawnoff shotgun/and 'pop'."”

It soon came to our attention that @peace had been in receipt of taxpayer-funded grants from NZ On Air for previous tracks.

According to the NZ On Air website, the group has received $32,000 since late 2011. $6,000 of which was received to make a music video for one of their songs last month.

So far NZ On Air has refused to denounce @peace for their hateful track, nor have they pledged to refuse the group taxpayer-funded grants in the future.

We have written to NZ On Air to outline our concerns and request assurance from the Chief Executive that no further taxpayer-funded grants will be made to any group espousing hate-speech.

Letter is uploaded here:

Dunedin City Council Loses 152 Cars!

The Taxpayers' Union is calling for Dunedin City Council to disclose more details after it was revealed 152 Council vehicles have been sold without the Council recouping a cent. It is estimated that the Council is out of pocket to the tune of $1.5 million.

Dunedin City Council criticised over missing 150 fleet cars Newstalk ZB - 23/08/2014

Dunedin City Council is being criticised for failing ratepayers, by refusing to explain how it managed to lose more than 150 fleet cars.

The Council has confirmed it has complained to police over the alleged fraud which has cost the city more than 1.5 million dollars.

The information was released by way of a video comment from the Mayor and the Council's CEO no one's been available to answer questions.

Taxpayers Union spokesman Jordan Williams says people are right to feel aggrieved at the lack of information.

He says the Council should be explaining more about the complaint it's made to police.

Click here for the full news report.

Taxpayers' Union launch 2014 Bribe-o-meter

This morning we launched our 2014 election costing project to calculate the total cost of promises politicians make in the lead up to the 2014 General Election. The “Bribe-o-meter” allows Kiwis to judge for themselves the political bribes as parties vie for votes.

The Bribe-o-meter will hold the politicians and political parties to account for how much their pork barrel bribes will cost New Zealand households. For too long politicians have got away with plucking numbers out of thin air when announcing policy.

The Bribe-o-meter is about transparency. We will be updating the figures weekly, allowing potential voters to assess which political parties are offering taxpayers value for money.

As of Monday, National's promises add up to $2,770 per household. For Labour it's $4,082.

We've engaged Dr Michael Dunn to undertake the economic research for the project. Dr Dunn will provide the Taxpayers' Union independent figures and analysis. Dr Dunn is a former Principal Economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and led the team of financial analysts at the Inland Revenue Department that forecast government tax revenues, and costed social policy through thirty Budget, Half Year and pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Updates. While at IRD, Mr Dunn served under numerous ministers and treasurers under National and Labour lead governments.

In the coming weeks we will be updating the Bribe-o-meter tables, asking Dr Dunn to provide an expert review of parties' cost estimates and adding the costs of further announced policies. We'll also be adding the estimated costs of policies proposed by the minor parties.”

Click here to view the Bribe-o-meter.

Porky presents troughing award to CEO of Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs

Introducing Porky, our new mascot and aspiring list MP!

Porky loves identifying troughing MPs and bureaucrats. The crème de la crème, he surprises with an awards ceremony. After all, when you’ve turned troughing on the taxpayer into an art, it would be rude to get no recognition!

This morning Porky issues his first award having read the Dominion Post's coverage of Pauline Winter, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and her $30,000 expense bill , including weekend trips for her and an assistant to fly to Auckland most weekends.

Taxpayers are stumping up for Pacific Island Affairs boss Pauline Winter to travel between Wellington and Auckland most weekends.

Winter has a home in Westmere, but her $240,000-a-year job is based in the capital.

Her expense records show that over the last year she flew between the two cities almost every weekend. Between July 2013 and 2014, her expenditure totalled more than $30,000, most of which went on airfares, taxis and rental car hire in Wellington and Auckland.

Taxpayers fork out $270,000 per year for this Chief Executive and she is refusing to take calls from the media. The Taxpayers' Union called on Ms Winter to front up, or resign.

This afternoon Porky visited the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, hoping to present Ms Winter with a “Troughing Award” to acknowledge her endeavours with taxpayers’ money.

 Unfortunately Ms Winter's didn’t front. Porky was devastated. Executive Director Jordan Williams recounts:

"For Ms Winter's gallant efforts to rip off New Zealand taxpayers with publicly funded weekend trips to the exotic capital of the South Pacific known as Auckland, Porky and I visited the Ministry’s offices to present her with the first of our 'Troughing Awards’."

“Ms Winters was in the office but refused to front-up or speak to media."

"Despite Ms Winter's expenses being more than $30,000 she chose to hide in her office and send a spin doctor to accept the award on her behalf."

“Ms Winter's refusal to justify her expense bill is the epitome of arrogance. She should front up, justify her extravagance on the taxpayer purse, or resign.”

Porky’s quest will continue - in fact you can expect to see him out and about where ever wasteful bureaucrats, politicians and taxpayer funded groups are wasting hard earned tax dollars.

Fair Tax for Savers

This afternoon in partnership with Age Concern, Consumer NZ and the Financial Services Council, we launched the 'Fair Tax for Savers' campaign in Wellington.


Campaign supporters

What is the Fair Tax for Savers Campaign asking for?

We're calling on politicians to remove the over-taxation of long term savings, specifically:

  • the effective tax rate paid on KiwiSaver funds to be the same as the marginal income tax rates KiwiSavers would pay on their other income; and 

  • term deposits to be taxed only on the real interest rate (actual interest rate less the rate of inflation) rather than the nominal interest rate (the actual interest you receive) as the compensation for inflation is not really economic income. 

The campaign involves inserting more than 120,000 post cards in print media for readers to complete and send to MPs. The first insertions were made this morning.

Support the campaign

Please take a few moments to visit and email a postcard to your local MP asking for fairer taxes on savings.

NZ Herald on patronizing brochures

Backlash over costly brochure Herald on Sunday - 27/07/2014

The Herald on Sunday included comments from Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams in coverage of the recent "No car? No problem!" brochure from the Office for Senior Citizens which cost approximately $37,000 excluding staff time. 

"A brochure telling senior citizens they can walk or catch the bus when they're no longer able to drive has been slammed as patronising and a waste of public money."

The brochure, which was first printed in 2005 with an updated version this year, has cost about $37,000, excluding staff time.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the money could have been better used.

"Our seniors weren't born yesterday - spending taxpayers' money to produce patronising brochures explaining to them the existence of taxis and public transport is insulting.

"The Government is throwing money away at brochures that parrot what is surely common sense."

Read the full article here

Ministry of Health's Taxi Spending Raises Eyebrows

Ministry says walk's silly, we'd rather take a cab - 27/07/2014

When it comes to walking the talk, it seems Ministry of Health staff would rather just take a cab.

Last year ministry staff took more than 1000 taxi rides for less than $10 - at the same time as officially advocating walking as a way to increase New Zealand's low levels of physical activity.

The ministry has internal advice for staff on nutrition and physical activity that includes walking short trips, and using stairs rather than lifts.

The taxis were an unacceptable use of taxpayer money by a ministry responsible for promoting physical activity, according to the Taxpayers' Union. "It is sadly ironic that while the Ministry of Health spends taxpayer money to promote active living, officials are getting taxis a few hundred metres down the road," said Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers' Union.

Click here for the full story.

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