Media Enquiries: 04 2820302 (24hr)

Lower Taxes, Less Waste,
More Transparency

Championing Value For Money From Every Tax Dollar

Fiscal rules

Readers will be aware that Australia is facing huge deficits, despite the promise of the previous Government to get into surplus.

As a response to this, the Centre for Independent Studies has proposed some fiscal rules to bind future Governments.

They are:

  1. require the federal fiscal balance to be maintained within a range of +2% to -2% of GDP on both an actual and forecast basis
  2. limit the net debt to GDP ratio to 10%
  3. cap the federal revenue and expenditure shares of GDP to 25%
  4. capping real growth in federal spending at 2% per annum

Fiscal rules are not new for Australia. The Labor Hawke/Keating Government set rules being:

  1. Not to raise tax revenue as a share of GDP
  2. Not to raise government expenditure as a share of GDP
  3. To reduce the budget deficit in absolute terms and relative to GDP

Anyway what I like most of all is their mechanism to encourage Governments to keep to the fiscal limits or rules. They propose:

This would involve cutting federal politicians’ overall remuneration by 1% for every percentage point breach of each fiscal rule for the duration of the breach.

Now that appeals!

NB: This post also appears on my personal blog kiwiblog.co.nzPlease feel free to comment on the post there.

Newstalk ZB on funding for yacht race that never happened

Government won't seek repayment from axed yacht race Newstalk ZB - 16/1/2014

The Government has no intention of making the organisers of an axed yacht race repay $100,000 in taxpayer funding.

The inaugural Auckland to Bluff race - scheduled for next month - was cancelled due to a lack of entrants, but not before receiving a quarter of its $400,000 government grant.

The Taxpayers' Union says organisers should be made to pay it back.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says organisers have already spent the money and he doesn't expect them to find another $100,000 to pay it back. 

Business NZ finally responds to allegations of cosy deal

Stuff has just reported:

BusinessNZ rejects training scheme attacks

Business NZ has hit back at ACC Minister Judith Collins over her attacks on an ACC-funded health and safety training programme run by Business NZ, the Council Of Trade Unions and a private provider.

ACC announced this week that the $1.5 million a year programme would be canned at the end of of 2014 because it was not providing value for money.

Collins had joined criticism of the scheme, which has run since 2003, describing it as a cosy arrangement that had the hallmarks of a scam and a rort.

Business NZ today broke its silence on the issue, with a press release quoting its chief executive, Phil O'Reilly.

"For the record, Business NZ utterly rejects mistaken allegations made by lobbyist Jordan Williams since repeated by the ACC minister," O'Reilly said.

"The BusinessNZ family's involvement has been completely ethical at all times, and I am confident that this is also the case with the involvement of the CTU and Impac Services."

The CTU has also strongly rejected the criticisms by Collins and Williams.

O'Reilly said it was "unfortunate that important debate on workplace safety has been undermined by intemperate media comment".

Media reporting of uninformed assumptions by Williams appeared to have led to the minister's comments, O'Reilly said. continue reading...

Why is the Government picking losers?

Yesterday Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced research and development grants that are set to cost taxpayers $140million over three years. The Herald reports:

More than $140 million has been earmarked to go to 31 New Zealand tech companies in research and development grants.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce yesterday named companies awarded R&D growth grants from Callaghan Innovation, the Government's high-tech development body set up in 2012.
Recipients include NZX-listed companies Rakon, Scott Technology and a company owned by Wynyard Group.
The grants provide a 20 per cent contribution to a firm's annual R&D spend, capped at $5 million a year.
PTo qualify for the grants, businesses need to commit to spend at least $300,000 and 1.5 per cent of revenue on New Zealand research & development.
The grants last for three years and after two years of receiving funding, a firm can apply for a two-year extension to the assistance.

$19m wasted on health and safety training with 84c per dollar wasted

Health and safety training 'a waste of time' ONE News - 14/1/2014 

The ACC Minister is promising to scrap a Government-funded health and safety training scheme.

Judith Collins agrees with a taxpayers' lobby group, the Taxpayers' Union, that the 10-year-old scheme has been a waste of money.

Click here or the image below for video on demand.

TVNZ screenshot

ACC dumps workplace training scheme 3 News - 15/1/2014

Click here or the image below for video on demand.

 

ACC to can programme after $19m spent NZ Herald - 14/1/2014

The Accident Compensation Corporation will end a health and safety training programme it said today after activist group the Taxpayers Union highlighted almost $20 million in spending on the training which generated few benefits.

The union today released documents detailing the corporation's spending since 2003 on the programme to train employees in health and safety practices.

Beginning in 2003, the money was paid to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), employers' group Business NZ and private training provider Impac Services.

However the documents showed the $19 million spent "did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents", Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said.

The documents released under the Official Information Act showed reviews of the programme showed its net effect in reducing injuries were "small in size and were inconsistent in direction to be considered effective".

ACC analysis found that over the time the programme was working there was a reduction in claims even in workplaces where no safety or workplace activity has occurred.

The analysis suggested that even if the training was responsible for half of the reduction in accidents, at best only 16c in every $1 spent did any good, or in other words, 84c in every $1 was being wasted.

The documents reveal that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

"Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves", said Mr Williams.

"It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash."

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville today said the corporation decided late last year "that the training programme wouldn't be continued past its current contract".

"While the training programme did provide some value, it did not meet our level of expectations, nor deliver value for money."

Click here to continue reading.

ACC cuts $1.5m in health, safety training stuff.co.nz - 14/1/2014

Accident prevention training may end Otago Daily Times - 15/1/2014

Lucrative training programmes which the Taxpayers Union says has cost ACC levy-payers $19 million since 2003 may be close to ending.

The union released documents yesterday which showed ACC knew millions of dollars paid to BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

The documents were obtained under the Official Information Act.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the documents showed BusinessNZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture. Doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

''BusinessNZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. It's a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash.''

ACC axing union health and safety partnership Newstalk ZB - 14/1/2014

ACC admits programme poor value Radio NZ - 14/1/2014

Click here to listen to item on Checkpoint ( 2' 39'' )

ACC programme a cosy deal, says minister Radio NZ - 15/1/2014

Click here to listen to Judith Collins on Summer Report ( 7' 08'' )

BusinessNZ rejects training scheme attacks stuff.co.nz - 16/1/2014

Business NZ has hit back at ACC Minister Judith Collins over her attacks on an ACC-funded health and safety training programme run by Business NZ, the Council Of Trade Unions and a private provider.

ACC announced this week that the $1.5 million a year programme would be canned at the end of of 2014 because it was not providing value for money.

Collins had joined criticism of the scheme, which has run since 2003, describing it as a cosy arrangement that had the hallmarks of a scam and a rort.

Business NZ today broke its silence on the issue, with a press release quoting its chief executive, Phil O'Reilly.

Continue reading.

Minister softens over claims of rort in ACC workplace safety training NZ Herald - 17/1/2014

Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA
Judith Collins said the programme had 'all the hallmarks of a rort' which 'added very little for the money'. Photo / NZPA

... Ms Collins had spoken to CTU Secretary Peter Conway and while she wouldn't apologise "she said she will no longer use the word rort".

Ms Collins last night confirmed she had spoken with Mr Conway and had agreed to try "not to use those words".

However she maintained the scheme had been "a complete waste of money and a disgrace". Read more.

ACC cans useless scheme publicly, but extended the contract within the last month

Yesterday it looked like the Taxpayers' Union struck up it's first win, with ACC announcing that it would scrap the health and safety training scheme which has cost levy holders $19million to date, with 84 cents per dollar being wasted (even with optimistic assumptions).

ONE News3 Newsthe HeraldStuffRadio NZ, and Newstalk ZB all reported that ACC had decided to scrap the programme late last year.

ACC wastes millions on a cosy deal with Business NZ and the CTU

ACC has a cozy deal with Business NZ and the CTU despite knowing 84 cents per dollar wasted

Material released by the Taxpayers’ Union show a cosy deal between Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions ("CTU") and ACC has cost ACC-levy payers $19 million since 2003.

The documents, available and summarised below show ACC knew that millions paid to Business NZ and the CTU to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

Cr Young on Wellington City Council's living wage

Cr Nicola Young, whose motion to consult before Wellington implemented the living wage was defeated 8 votes to 5, writes in today's Dominion Post.

Wellington City Council has lit a fuse leading to a bomb of unknown size, with its vote to implement a "living wage" for its employees from January 1.

Councillors often stress the need for evidence-based, reasoned and clear decisions; correct process; and the need to avoid writing blank cheques but there was little - if any - consultation and analysis of the impact this wages policy would have on Wellington households and businesses. Ironic, considering the council has also committed to the capital being "open for business".

This is key. As we've pointed out before, the study by Auckland Council, and advice from the Treasury on the question of whether a living wage policy is a good tool to reduce poverty is damning.

Mayor Celia Wade- Brown has defended this Alice in Wonderland approach by pointing out the council didn't consult on the chief executive's salary either. The reality is that the CEO is paid the going rate in a competitive international market, whereas the "living wage" is an artificial intervention to boost incomes of lower paid workers who happen to work at the council.

The "living wage" proposed by the Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign, is higher (relative to GDP per capita) than the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Incredibly, ours is higher than London's; the 18th most expensive city in the world (Wellington is ranked at 74th in Mercer's Cost of Living survey).

This is incredible.  Wellington Council want low income Wellintonians to pay more in rates to fund a 'living wage' higher than London's!  

The piece doesn't mention the hypocrisy of some Wellington Councillors voting to implement a living wage despite not paying it to their own staff.

We're all for higher wages, but taxing more in rates to artificially pay some more is not the way to get there.

Click here to read the rest of Cr Young's piece on the Dominion Post's website.

Oops - looks like DoC isn't the only 'supporter' of the AAE caught unaware

Further to my discovery and blog post earlier today that DoC is in fact not supporting the Australian Antarctic Expedition ("AAE") - despite being listed as such on the AAE website, the Australian blog "Watts Up With That" reports that the Australasian Antarctic Devision (i.e. a division of the Australian Department of the Environment) has also been caught on the hop as an unknown 'supporter' of the AAE trip to the ice.  The Ministry has made an effort to disassociate itself on Australian radio ABC.

Australian Antarctic Division head Tony Fleming says they’ll make efforts to recover the cost of #spiritofmawson rescue

From radio 666 ABC in Canberra, Australia, full audio follows.

Tony Fleming, director of the Australian Antarctic Division tells Louise Maher the AAD wasn’t linked to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition despite an implication by the expedition head that he had an “official stamp of approval”.

The expedition was brought to a halt when its ship became trapped in ice, stranding the 52 tourists and scientists on board.

A Chinese ice-breaker which went to its rescue of the Russian ship also became stuck in the ice. The ship’s passengers were airlifted to an Australian ice breaker Aurora Australis – which is due to reach Hobart in about a fortnight.

Tony Fleming says the AAD will make efforts to recover the cost of the rescue which set back their own missions.

Listen to the audio:

 

Also, since this morning's post one of our volunteers has  pointed out the following on the AAE website:

That would appear inconsistent with what DoC told us yesterday, i.e. that no support was being provided.

 

So what's going on? Are the Australian scientists or DoC fibbing? Or it is a case of the right hand of DoC not being aware of the left is up to? Is it just a coincidence that the Australian equivalent of the Ministry for the Environment was mistakenly included as a 'supporter' with our own DoC?

I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Join Us

Joining the Taxpayers' Union costs only $25 and entitles you to attend our annual conference, AGM and other events.

Donate

With your support we can make the Taxpayers' Union a strong voice exposing waste and standing up for Kiwi taxpayers.

Tip Line

Often the best information comes from those inside the public service or local government. We guarantee your anonymity and your privacy.