Stormclouds forming over SkyPath 2.0? 🚴🌧️
Our petition to withdraw taxpayer funding for the proposed $685 million cycle and pedestrian bridge has now reached 56,000 signatures. That's incredible, and it shows the depth of public opposition to such a brazenly wasteful vanity project.
Our "Stop SkyPath" billboards are currently hammering the message in Auckland and thanks to a few hundred supporters chipping in we've got some more going up next week.
The fundraising effort has also allowed us to commission a professional pollster to get a measure of public opinion. We're releasing the data over the weekend, but I can already tell you it does not look good for the bridge.
Thanks again to all of you who have chipped in to make this effort possible. We've got more billboard sites lined up in other parts of the country, so watch this space.
Here's how the numbers (don't) stack up 🧮
Meanwhile, the Government was today forced to reveal that the benefit-cost-ratio for this project is 0.4–0.6 to one. That means that for every taxpayer dollar spent, the Transport Ministry expects to see just 40 to 60c of value created.
As ACT's David Seymour put it, Michael Woods is basically throwing your money away.
And even that figure seems wildly optimistic. It doesn't take into account likely cost blowouts. And the Ministry's calculations are based on 2,700 cyclists taking the trip across the bridge every day.
Assuming the cost of capital for the $685 million bridge is six percent, that equals a cost of $41.1 million per year, or $113,000 per day. Divided by 2,700 cyclists, that works out as a $41 subsidy for every individual trip!
In other words, a cyclist who uses the bridge to get to the city each day gets a taxpayer-funded handout of $15,000 per year!
Labour's car tax breaks a promise and whacks working New Zealanders 🚗💸
Grant Robertson's "no new taxes" promise is well and truly out the window.
First, it was new taxes on landlords, then it was a levy on wages to fund unemployment insurance, and now there's a new tax on petrol vehicles:
The car tax unfairly hits tradies, farmers, and large families, in favour of wealthy urban elites 🥂 buying Teslas who will get a fat taxpayer-funded subsidy. Robin Hood would be turning in his grave.
Twenty thousand have signed so far.
We've also received over a thousand orders for our "Stop Labour's Car Tax" bumper stickers. Click here to order a sticker.
After you enter your address, you'll be taken to a donation page. You're not obliged to donate, but if you'd like to, $2.50 covers the cost of the sticker and postage. Anything extra will be used to extend the reach of the Car Tax campaign.
Fact check: The car tax won't even "drive down emissions" 😡
The car tax does zip for saving overall emissions due to transport already being in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Transport Minister Michael Woods claims that up to 9.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be ‘prevented’ by 2050. But land transport is already covered by our cap-and-trade emissions scheme. That means that every emission ‘saved’ frees up credits to make emissions cheaper elsewhere. It’s called the ‘waterbed effect’ and is precisely why the UN recommends against the sort of direct political intervention the Government is pursuing.
Michael Woods either doesn’t understand the ETS or is lying about environmental benefits of this scheme.
A tax on petrol vehicles simply makes motorists (who already pay ETS levies on fuel) pay even more. It's a double tax.
Taxpayers are set to pay for Hollywood propaganda 🎥
Taxpayers could fork out millions in subsidies for a new film about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the Christchurch mosque shootings.
It's been reported that the production team intends to apply for a Screen Production Grant from the New Zealand Film Commission.
If Jacinda Ardern gets the Hollywood treatment while she’s still an active politician, that looks suspiciously like propaganda. Taxpayers should not be forced to fund it.
We say the Film Commission needs to update its processes to ensure that party-political films aren’t eligible for funding.
In fact, if the film is screening during the 2023 election period, it may cross the line into election advertising. Remember the infamous ‘Aroha’ posters? Our friend Eric Crampton at the NZ Initiative think tank has a good article on these issues here.
There are other good reasons for the Government to distance itself from this film. Families affected by the shootings have understandably denounced the film as exploitative. Taxpayers shouldn’t be made complicit in a production that profits from a community’s grief.
In case you missed it: 2021 Ratepayers’ Report now available 🧾✨
This week we published the 2021 edition of our popular local government league tables: Ratepayers' Report.
Ratepayers' Report gathers over two thousand data points to allow you to compare your local council with others on key metrics such as rates, liabilities, and staff salaries.
—> Click here to see how your local council compares <—
The major point of interest in the Ratepayers’ Report has always been our leaders' table for average residential rates, which uses a standardised formula to include all residential rates, local taxes, and levies.
Highest average residential rates:
1. Carterton District Council: $3,639
2. Auckland Council: $3,599
3. Whakatāne District Council: $3,314
4. Tasman District Council: $3,228
5. Manawatū District Council: $3,176
Lowest average residential rates:
1. Buller District Council: $1,815
2. Ōtorohanga District Council: $1,855
3. Mackenzie District Council: $1,893
4. Southland District Council: $1,976
5. Waimate District Council: $2,075
Good news: taxpayers save $99 million ⛵🥳
Team New Zealand has rejected the Government’s taxpayer-funded $99 million offer to host the America’s Cup in New Zealand.
This is sad news for America’s Cup fans, but good news for taxpayers and Auckland ratepayers. It means we've saved $99 million. That money can now go to more deserving causes: Pharmac, Police, nurses, roads, reining in debt, or even tax relief that puts food on the tables of hard-working New Zealanders.
Explained: the Climate Change Commission's costly agenda 🚩
In today’s Herald, Matthew Hooton does fantastic job of explaining how the Climate Change Commission has overstepped its mandate to promote a “far left utopia” – an approach that would actually be less effective at reducing emissions than our existing Emissions Trading Scheme.
The article is paywalled, but here are the key lines:
It has become clear that the commission is not primarily or even mainly concerned with New Zealand reducing global emissions.
By far the biggest contribution New Zealand can make to reducing climate change is funding projects in developing economies to reduce their emissions and prevent clear-felling of rainforests. Such projects cost less than $20 to remove the equivalent of one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2e tonne) from the atmosphere.
But despite the commission believing climate change is a global crisis, it doesn't want New Zealand to do this. Instead, it wants New Zealand to achieve net zero when measured almost entirely by activity within our borders. Even then, it says we could achieve net zero for around $50 per CO2e tonne … But the commission doesn't want to do that either.
Instead, Carr explicitly rejects New Zealand achieving the biggest possible reduction in CO2e emissions for the least cost. He says he wants to use climate change to radically transform every aspect of how we live our lives.
This includes how we work and make money, but Carr and his commission's ambitions are much bigger, including what amounts to constitutional change. This is the commission pursuing a wider agenda at the expense of its first statutory purpose, to mitigate climate change.
Taxpayer victory: MSD commits to scrutinising eligibility of wage subsidy recipients 🙌
The Ministry of Social Development has confirmed that wage subsidy recipients will face renewed scrutiny and potential prosecution if they are found to have been ineligible.
This is exactly what we called for in the wake of the Auditor-General’s damning criticism of ‘verbal audits’ for wage subsidy recipients. Taxpayers deserve to know that the $14 billion was actually paid to businesses who met the criteria.
We’d like to see the Prime Minister back this action with a clear message from the Beehive: "If you took money for which you weren’t eligible, expect to be found out. Cough up now or face serious penalties."
With $722 million already repaid, there is a good chance we’ll see hundreds of millions more flood back, so long as the Government demonstrates it's taking enforcement seriously.
Have a great weekend,
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union
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