Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll: Labour down six points
The results of November's Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll, exclusive to our members and supporters like you, are available here.
Labour are down six points to 39%. The National Party up four to 26%. And that's not the only bad news for the Government with both Jacinda Ardern's popularity as Preferred Prime Minister sinking (but she is still well ahead) and – for the first time in more than a decade – more Kiwis saying the country is heading in the wrong direction than the right one.
Head over to our website to see the results.
Three Waters: We take to the skies in Wellington, and grill the Minister
Ministers and bureaucrats got a fright when they looked up yesterday. We organised for a Taxpayers' Union supporter to fly a "Stop Three Waters" banner across the city and over the Beehive.
This came the day after Nanaia Mahuta fronted up to us for a podcast interview, fielding a volley of questions submitted by Taxpayers' Union supporters.
Click here to listen to the full interview.
Here's the key takeaway from the interview:
We asked Mahuta very clearly whether Three Waters would result in the introduction of water royalties (i.e. payments to iwi for the right to use water). Mahuta ducked, dived, and ran up our limited interview time with standard talking points, but ultimately failed to rule out introducing water royalties.
Our petition against Three Waters has now reached 81,000 signatures. We're running ads against Three Waters on TV, radio, Facebook, and Youtube. And we commissioned a poll revealing that 56% of New Zealanders oppose the reforms, versus just 19% in support.
If you've not already, please take a moment to "share" our Say No to Three Waters television ad on Facebook.
The fact Nanaia Mahuta even agreed to the interview demonstrates that the Beehive is feeling the pain from this campaign. They know our Three Waters effort is resonating with New Zealanders, so that's why we're doubling down.
We're planning to put even more pressure on the Prime Minister to overrule Nanaia Mahuta so long as our supporters ensure we have the campaign funds available. If you've not yet chipped in, our crowd-funded campaign hasn't finished. Every dollar donated on this page will be used to fight Three Waters.
The next big economic problem for taxpayers
Inflation is becoming a real problem. Stats NZ has confirmed that prices have lifted 4.9% in the last year. Rising inflation is an indictment on the Government’s print, borrow, and spend economic strategy. But it's great for the Government's coffers – inflation pushes our wages up into higher tax brackets even when we’re no better off in real terms.
So far, the Government has refused to adjust tax thresholds to reflect the effect of inflation, even though it happily adjusts Super and benefits annually.
Already, due to inflation, the average worker is paying a marginal tax rate of 30%. Soon that will be 33%.
Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we've uncovered the Reserve Bank's proposed new bank notes which we expect to be in circulation by 2026...
PM's welfare package punishes the productive
At the Labour Party's big conference over the weekend, Jacinda Ardern announced a boost to Working for Families tax credits.
But in her enthusiasm to make the policy appear more generous, she has intensified the way that welfare traps New Zealanders in poverty.
She is offsetting the cost of higher payments by increasing the abatement rate for the Family Tax Credit from 25% to 27%. (Ten years ago it was just 20%.)
In other words, low-earning New Zealanders who choose to work harder, achieve a promotion, or take on a side-hustle will be whacked by even higher effective marginal tax rates. That reduces incentives to work, and sets the poverty trap.
The abatement rate is effectively a marginal income tax rate. The combination of income taxes and abatement rates on tax credits means some Kiwis are already paying effective marginal tax rates of more than 50%. We should be fixing this problem, but the Prime Minister is making it worse.
Government waste honoured at 2021 Jonesie Awards
We hosted the fourth annual Jonesie Waste Awards in the Beehive last week – our Oscars-style awards ceremony celebrating the best of the worst of local and central government waste from the last 12 months. Click here to find out who was nominated and who won.
To watch our (firmly tongue in cheek) event in full click here.
While the presentation of awards is designed to be ironic, it does serve a very serious purpose: the Jonesies remind those who squander public money that they risk public embarrassment. The awards give those who fleece the taxpayer the credit they so richly deserve.
You can't beat COVID with Māori Pokemon
Once again, we've delved into dodgy arts grants handed out in the guise of the COVID response.
This time it's not Creative NZ, but the parent agency – the Ministry for Culture and Heritage – which is splurging with a new $60 million COVID-19 "Innovation Fund".
Here's a small sample of the taxpayer-funded projects announced so far:
$585,000 to develop a te Reo Māori virtual reality game.
$20,000 on "a digital storytelling platform using the vaka [canoe] as medium for navigating and exploring Tokelauan heritage"
$2,110,000 for live music venues to increase diversity.
$290,000 to "an online game for rangatahi [youth] that imagines a Māori future".
$500,000 on a tool to give readers book recommendations that reflect intersectionality and gender diversity.
$328,405 to develop a Pokemon Go-style augmented reality game based on Te Ao Māori.
$1,323,000 on two productions of Māori performing arts.
It is hard to see how a Māori ripoff of Pokemon Go could be considered a COVID-19 response. Especially when our health system is crying out for more nurses and ICU beds.
The arts funding is an absolute lottery. We understand that even many artists are questioning handouts from this fund based on the incredible size of certain grants, and the lack of apparent logic behind the selection of recipients.
You can read more about these grants here.
Kiwis not keen on James Shaw's Glasgow junket
Climate Change Minister James Shaw has now touched down in Glasgow for the United Nations' big climate talkfest.
We commissioned independent Curia public polling on Shaw's decision to attend (along with 14 staff).
Just 30% of New Zealanders support the trip, versus 55% opposing. 15% are ‘unsure’.
We say the Glasgow junket flies in the face of New Zealanders’ sacrifices. Taxpayers currently denied opportunities to travel will foot the bill for the Minister and his staff’s flights, accommodation, and dinners. New Zealanders waiting for spots in MIQ have been shunted aside in favour of Shaw's entourage. And the emissions-heavy travel itinerary is, of course, a glaring case of climate hypocrisy.
You can read the full results (including a breakdown in views by political party) here.
Victory for taxpayers: Labour’s trade unions repay wage subsidies
The Taxpayers’ Union has revealed that the Labour Party’s trade unions – First Union and E Tū – have repaid the full $1.6 million they received in wage subsidies, as we called on them to do earlier this year.
E Tū admitted to Stuff that its repayment came after an audit by MSD found it didn’t qualify. First Union has not revealed whether it qualified in the first place.
As beneficiaries of steady revenue from membership dues, it was always questionable how these unions were ever eligible for the subsidy. The fact they could afford to spend money on campaigns to re-elect the Government last year suggests they were hardly strapped for cash.
The weird part is how secretive these unions have been about their decision to repay the subsidy. They could have announced it proudly and encouraged other unions to do the same. Instead, the repayment has only been made public thanks to an eagle-eyed Taxpayers’ Union researcher monitoring MSD records and confirming the repayment using the Official Information Act.
The incredible numbers behind Michael Wood's tram to Māngere
After ditching his doomed bike bridge, Transport Minister Michael Wood has unveiled a spending project that might be even dumber. His revamped Auckland tram proposal comes with a revamped price tag of $14.6 billion.
That number is almost too high to comprehend, so we've broken the cost down in terms that hopefully even Michael Wood can understand:
$608,000,000 per kilometre
$608,000 per metre
$6,080 per centimetre
- $608 per millimeter
$7,978 for every Kiwi household from Kaitaia to the Bluff
More than twice as much as Labour's original 2017 tram-to-airport proposal and five times higher than NZTA's 2016 tram-to-airport proposal
Equal to the estimated cost of a second Waitematā Harbour crossing
Enough to build four new Transmission Gully motorways
Enough to build ten new Dunedin Hospitals
Enough to build 21 Waitematā Harbour cycle bridges
Enough to conduct another 540 flag referenda
Enough to buy every house in Whanganui
Clearly, the cost has ballooned into lunacy before shovels have even touched ground. Every dollar thrown at this gold-plated transport project is a dollar that can't be used to ease financial pressures on Kiwi households dealing with the economic effects of a pandemic.
New episodes of Taxpayer Talk
In addition to our interview with Nanaia Mahuta, we've released four new episodes of our Taxpayer Talk podcast since my last Taxpayer Update.
Tina Nixon of Masterton District Council famously called the Government "A deceitful, lying pack of bastards" for their proposed Three Waters reforms. Join her and Jordan as they dive into the danger of this asset confiscation by central government. Listen here.
Nanaia Mahuta has announced that the government will mandate to seize Three Waters assets from councils. Jordan is joined by National's spokesperson for Local Government Christopher Luxon to discuss the implications, the flaws and what can be done about the government's plans. Listen here.
What's the secret to ACT's success? Why after years of campaigning are they opposing housing reforms? Who does David Seymour think should win the biggest government spending blowout award? Jordan and David discuss this and more. Listen here.
Jordan is joined by New Zealand Initiative Economist Matt Burgess for a detailed discussion about the Emissions Trading Scheme. They reflect on the government's long standing stance of ignoring the realities of the trading scheme, the inefficiency of climate change vanity projects and what we can do moving forward. Listen here.
All the best,
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union
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