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Taxpayer Update: $104,000 to watch TV | Wanted posters | Bombing a city

Dear Supporter,

How to get paid a $104,000 salary while sitting on the couch 📺💰

Feet up

Sick of working hard? Want to take a six-month holiday on close to full pay, courtesy of the taxpayer? Good news: Grant Robertson has a policy for you.

Under the 'unemployment insurance' scheme announced this week, someone who's laid off from work will get 80% of their prior salary for six months.

You might be thinking, "surely the payments are capped?" They are, but the cap only kicks in for people who were previously paid $130,911 or more.

That means if you are working as a middle manager in say, the Government's Social Wellbeing Agency, you can collect the equivalent of a $104,000 salary for six months.

Of course, this policy is great for people who choose to spend as much time between jobs as possible. But economically, it's destructive: it wipes out the incentive to re-enter the workforce, and adds another tax on workers and employers.

The Government could have introduced unemployment insurance in a smart way, without destroying incentives for workers to be productive. It's been done overseas.

Next week we're publishing a research paper with an alternative to the Government's policy. Stay tuned.

Why we covered Wellington with 'Wanted' signs 🚓

Last week, public servants arrived in central Wellington to find the streets plastered with these posters:

Bloomfield poster

Confession: we put the posters up.

Like thousands of other businesses, we have been denied access to rapid antigen tests (RATs) after the Government decided to seize private orders.

We ordered RATs back in December, taking prudent steps to ensure our office could remain open for as long as possible. But because the Government failed to take those prudent steps itself, it is now thieving off employers who tried to do the right thing and prepare.

Incredibly, the Director-General of Health has claimed that instead of stealing or even "commandeering" tests, his department has simply "consolidated stock". This is pure Government spin that should be beneath the Director-General, who is paid a $500,000 salary to communicate facts to the public in an unbiased way.

We refuse to let Dr Bloomfield's spin go unchallenged.

What happened to neutrality in the public sector? ⚖️

"Political neutrality is the cornerstone of New Zealand’s Public Service," says Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes.

If only that were always true. We recently saw the Government's $3 million Three Waters propaganda campaign – the TV ads were only stopped after we called for intervention from the Commission.

And now the NZ Transport Agency has an ad campaign about lowering speed limits, which is geared more towards defending a Government policy than simply communicating changes to the public.

In fact, one NZTA ad running on Facebook promotes Campbell Barry, a controversial Labour-aligned Mayor standing in this year's local elections:

Barry ad

NZTA even appear to be targeting the ads at voters in his region!

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission is paying for ads fronted by a Labour-aligned mayoral candidate in Auckland, Efeso Collins:

Human Rights Commission ad

Government agencies should never stray into promoting active politicians. And yet here we have two promoting Labour-aligned local politicians in a council election year.

If this behaviour from the public sector becomes normalised, our democracy is threatened. We've written to the Public Service Commission to request an intervention. Watch this space.

The best way to destroy a city... short of bombing it 💣

Rent control

Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams says she is considering rent control as a response to the housing crisis.

Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck once called rent control ‘the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing’.

It's true that the rental market is in a dire spot. Our younger staff members are experiencing it firsthand, struggling to find flats in Wellington during the peak rental season.

One member of our team has been crashing on friends' couches and has now relocated to Auckland to stay with family. Another has seven days left on his lease and is now making 'jokes' about moving into our office.

It's not that they can't afford the asking price – the problem is that the rental shortage sees them competing with dozens of others at crowded flat viewings, turning housing into a lottery.

Rent control will make shortages even worse, by increasing demand for artificially-cheap rentals while at the same time driving landlords to withdraw properties from the market. This means more people living out of cars, on couches, and on the streets.

Rent controls would also see landlords resort to cost-cutting measures – neglecting basic maintenance and making rental properties less safe.

What we need is simple: more houses. (We're still waiting for David Parker to reform the Resource Management Act.)

Gangs benefit from Government's lending crackdown 🤑

Mobcash

The Government's attempt to crack down on "high-risk" loans is backfiring spectacularly, with countless news stories of Kiwis being rejected by banks terrified of falling afoul of the new rules.

But it gets worse. As the NZ Herald reports:

Low income New Zealanders are being rejected for loans as small as $50 because of strict new lending rules, despite having never missed payments.

They are instead turning to more dubious sources, including loan sharks and even gang-related lenders - exactly the type of practices which the Government's changes were meant to stamp out.

It's almost funny – until you imagine the consequences for someone who falls behind on payments to the Mongrel Mob.

Of course, this isn't the only government policy fueling gang activity. There was the $2.8 million funding for gang-run "rehab". And of course the massive taxes on tobacco, which allow gangs to profit from flogging off tax-free smokes, either smuggled or stolen in violent robberies.

Auckland's tram set to cost $1 million per metre! 📏

Light rail

Michael Wood says his tram to Māngere will cost $14.6 billion. That's $8,000 for every household from Kaitaia to the Bluff, and about 20 times more than the scrapped "Skypath" bike bridge.

But it gets worse. The officials who drafted the business case for the tram have warned in the fine print that the Government should prepare for budget blowouts that would bring the total bill to $24 billion.

The tram route from Wynyard Quarter to Māngere is about 24km long. That works out as $1 million *per metre*!

For comparison, the cost of Sydney's light rail worked out at around $250,000 per metre – and that was quite a scandal across the ditch.

One point that deserves more attention is the effect of all this spending on inflation. When the Government spends billions bidding up the costs of labour and materials, that flows through to higher living costs for Kiwi households.

Welcoming two new board members 👨‍💼

The Taxpayers' Union is governed by a board of volunteers. In my last newsletter I welcomed former National Party Finance Minister Hon Ruth Richardson.

Now we can confirm that Cr Chris Milne and Laurence Kubiak have come on board to offer their time, energies, and expertise to our mission of Lower Taxes, Less Waste, More Transparency.

Chris is a councillor at Hutt City Council, a trustee and former chair of the Nikau Foundation (Wellington's community foundation), a trustee of the Nga Manu Nature Reserve, and a business director. He is a former ACT Party Parliamentary Chief of Staff under Richard Prebble.

Chris

The Taxpayers' Union offers a constant reminder to both local and central government that they cannot spend money that they have not first taxed from productive workers and businesses, so the quality of their spending really matters for a prosperous New Zealand.
-Cr Chris Milne

Laurence is a former CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, current Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Trustees Executors Ltd, and Director of Northpower.

Laurie

I am delighted to be joining the Board of the Taxpayers Union. Government spending needs to create value for the New Zealand taxpayer, and robust, independent scrutiny is of vital importance in any healthy democracy. The work of the Union will never be more important than in the years ahead.
-Laurence Kubiak

You can find out about our full team here.

Have a great weekend,

Louis circle


Louis Houlbrooke
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union

Donate

Media coverage:

Newsroom  Robertson looks back to the future with income insurance scheme

Homepaddock  Worst time for new tax

Stuff  National attacks unemployment insurance proposal as 'job tax,' Greens say it creates 'two-tier' welfare system

Kiwiblog  Do you want to be hated by 50,000 public servants?

RNZ  Mills & Thomas on recent polls

RNZ  Covid-19: Labour drops, National rises in new poll

Homepaddock  Inflation is theft

NZ Herald  Political poll: National's Chris Luxon big winner, Jacinda Ardern's Labour slide - 1 News-Kantar poll

Stuff  New poll: National take support from ACT, Labour still ahead

Newstalk ZB  Christopher Luxon: National leader on poll bump, Labour and PM down

Interest.co.nz  When the tribe is imperilled, all eyes turn to the chief

The Daily Blog  New Poll: Labour up

Former NZIER CEO joins Taxpayers’ Union Board

Laurie

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming Laurence Kubiak as a board member.
 
Laurence has an extensive background in business and governance. He is a former CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, current Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Trustees Executors Ltd, and Director of Northpower.
 
Laurence says, “I am delighted to be joining the Board of the Taxpayers Union. Government spending needs to create value for the New Zealand taxpayer, and robust, independent scrutiny is of vital importance in any healthy democracy. The work of the Union will never be more important than in the years ahead.”
 
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Laurie’s deep experience and connections within both the private and Government sectors will be enormously valuable as we scale up our campaigns for lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency. His previous role with NZIER, regarded as one of New Zealand’s best economic consultancies, demonstrates his commitment to sensible public policy – a commitment we share at the Taxpayers’ Union.”
 
The announcement of Laurence as a board member follows the appointments of former National Party Minster of Finance Hon Ruth Richardson and former ACT Chief of Staff Cr Chris Milne. All Taxpayers’ Union board members are volunteers.

City councillor joins Taxpayers’ Union board

Chris

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming Chris Milne onto its board.

Chris Milne is a councillor at Hutt City Council, a trustee and former chair of the Nikau Foundation (Wellington's community foundation), a trustee of the Nga Manu Nature Reserve, and a part owner and director of the boutique small goods manufacturer Martinez Ltd.  He is a former ACT Party Parliamentary Chief of Staff.

Chris says, “I've had an interest in good public policy all my life and in local government, I've developed and implemented financial strategies to hold rates increases to inflation.  The Taxpayers' Union's focus on waste, efficiency and transparency occupies an important public niche and the organisation offers a constant reminder to both local and central government that they cannot spend money that they have not first taxed from productive workers and businesses, so the quality of their spending really matters for a prosperous New Zealand.”

Chris is known in Lower Hutt as a real battler for ratepayers, holding power to account as the council increases costs on residents. We’re lucky to have Chris volunteer his time and energy to now fight for ratepayers and taxpayers from Kaitaia to the Bluff.

Unemployment insurance — new tax grab?

 

This year the Government is set to announce more details about its proposed unemployment insurance scheme. Join Jordan and Dr Dennis Wesselbaum as they discuss why the scheme will result in more unemployment, higher taxes and ironically — lower societal wellbeing.

 

Subscribe to Taxpayer Talk podcast via Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and wherever good podcasts are sold.

 

 

 

Taxpayer Update: New poll | Bach tax | Hon Ruth Richardson | Media pay-off

Dear Supporter,

Welcome to the first Taxpayer Update of 2022!

First off, we have just published the results of this month's Taxpayers' Union Curia Poll. This is the first scientific political poll published by anyone this year.

Party vote trend

It appears that the summer break has lifted New Zealanders' moods, with more respondents saying the country is heading in the right direction. But interestingly, this has not translated to a bump in the Government's overall share of support.

And National has pulled well ahead of Labour on the measure of which party is seen as best at "the economy". Our pollster, David Farrar, says that this is critical in terms of National's ability to grow its vote.

Click here to browse the poll results.

A sight to behold

Over the summer, Taxpayers' Union supporters have covered the country with massive "Stop Three Waters" banners, ensuring that holidaying politicians and public servants are kept aware of public opposition to Nanaia Mahuta's asset grab.

There are now more than 200 of these on major highways up and down the country!

Sign collage

We still have a few of these banners available on our shop. Click here to get yours.

Alternatively, you can order one of our smaller coreflute yard signs here and here.

Watch this space...

If you have signed our petition to stop Three Waters, you will soon receive an important update on a plan to stop the Three Waters scheme in court by challenging the Government’s misrepresentation of its Treaty obligations in order to justify the asset grab. 

For the facts on Three Waters, take a quick look at the Stop Three Waters website here.

The taxman wants to know who's staying at your bach

David Parker

Back in 2020, the Government pushed tax changes for family trusts through Parliament under urgency. The rushed legislation meant there wasn't time for proper scrutiny, and now that Inland Revenue is beginning to enforce the rules, we're seeing some serious devil in the detail for bach owners.

In a paywalled NZ Herald article, Hamish Rutherford explains:

Where the holiday home is owned through a trust but has some income - such as family members paying enough for accommodation to cover the upkeep - any beneficiary who stays for free or even pays less than the market rate has to have their name, date of birth and IRD number recorded and provided to the IRD.

The rules also require the disclosure of the details of anyone who provides a settlement to the trust, meaning a friend who helped out by painting the bach for free while on holiday would need to have this "gift" recorded to the IRD.

These new rules are intrusive, absurdly bureaucratic, and completely out of sync with New Zealand's culture of easy-going hospitality.

The good news is that Revenue Minister David Parker has admitted the rules are more over-the-top than he intended. He says he may make a retrospective amendment to the law to remove the need for "minor and incidental non-cash distributions".

To be honest, we're not sure how this hare-brained law can be salvaged.

(In another case of unintended tax consequences, parents who help their children get a house deposit have found themselves triggering the Government's 'bright line' test, meaning they're liable for tax on the capital gain. Another nail in the coffin of Grant Robertson's "no new taxes" promise.)

Former Finance Minister joins the Taxpayers' Union Board

Ruth

This week we're pleased to welcome Hon Ruth Richardson as a Board Member of the Taxpayers' Union.

Ruth's direct experience in tackling bloated government from the inside will be a tremendous asset as she assists in guiding and championing our mission of Lower Taxes, Less Waste, More Transparency.

Ruth describes herself as a reformer, lifelong market liberal, activist and feminist. She was Minister of Finance in the fourth National Government, has been Chairman and Director of a range of private and public companies as well as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and coaches sovereign states seeking to transform their prospects.

Ruth says:

Governments make spending and regulatory choices, but not in an accountability vacuum. The Taxpayers’ Union gives well researched and often noisy voice on behalf of we who pay and suffer the consequences of ill-designed public policy. As a lifetime activist in these causes being a Director of the Taxpayers’ Union sits well with my DNA.

The quantity and quality of public expenditure again rears its head – it’s time to reapply the discipline of fiscal responsibility.

All our board members offer their invaluable time and insights as volunteers. Further board members will be announced in short order. The new members replace Rex Nichols and Barrie Saunders who recently retired from the board  thank you Rex and Barrie for all the wisdom you've shared with our team.

Revealed: Government's media pay-off for APEC puff pieces

Remember APEC, the online conference hosted last year that somehow cost taxpayers $76 million?

An official information response passed to the Taxpayers' Union reveals the Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid news outlets $93,000 to publish full-page ads and puff pieces about APEC in Stuff and the NZ Herald.

Here are some examples:

Virtual Host

This exemplifies the pointless, wasteful spending rife in New Zealand's diplomatic sector.

You'd think that a conference of global leaders on the scale of APEC is important enough to attract news interest on its own merits. If it isn't, then why is New Zealand participating, let alone spending $76 million hosting it?

The decision to buy positive media coverage doesn't just stink of self-promotion. It risks legitimising the illiberal collusion between media and state practiced by APEC's dodgiest banana republics, undermining New Zealand's moral authority on the world stage. We should be better than this.

Taxpayers still haunted by the ghost of Auckland's bike bridge

After we successfully campaigned to scrap Auckland's planned $785 million bike bridge, Transport Minister Michael Wood has now set aside $150 million for an alternative crossing plan – such as a ferry or shuttle bus.

However, more than $51 million of that will go down the drain to cover the planning costs sunk into the doomed bridge.

Michael Wood has shown he's willing to move heaven and earth to satisfy the demands of the Auckland lycra mafia, so we'll be watching closely to ensure his 'alternative' proposals actually stack up on a value-for-money basis.

Government slashes speed limits instead of fixing roads

You might think you pay road user charges to improve the quality of our roads. But the New Zealand Transport Agency has decided that instead of making our roads safer, it will simply slash speed limits, imposing a massive cumulative time cost on millions of motorists.

The latest example is the Napier-Taupo road. NZTA plans to cut the speed limit on the entire Eskdale to Rangitaiki section from 100km/h to 80km/h. Regular users of the road are fuming, and we've decided to support their cause with a petition for NZTA to scrap its plan and instead improve maintenance.

Napier-Taupo

Of course, lower speed limits also mean more Kiwis are pinged with speeding tickets, sending revenue straight to the Government's Consolidated Fund.

The petition has already hit almost 10,000 signatures. We'll be asking the local Labour MP Stuart Nash to accept this petition and intervene to stop the change. 

Click here to sign the petition to keep Napier-Taupo at 100km/hour

The sad case of Wellington's $570,000 roundabout

Roundabout1

As reported by the Dominion Post, we have revealed that the installation of a small mountable roundabout in Wellington has cost ratepayers $570,000.

In November, Wellington City Council crowed about the completion of works at the Hataitai intersection. The centrepiece is a 'bespoke roundabout' adorned with 'a circular design symbolising the tides and currents of the sea and the coiled-up tails of the taniwha'.

The artwork itself cost $16,500, and delayed the opening of the roundabout by 28 days while the design cured. But now after just a few months, the roundabout is badly scuffed by the buses that drive straight over the top.

Roundabout2

Roundabout3Photos taken by a Taxpayers' Union researcher this week.

The tire marks are more visible than the artwork itself! Meanwhile, bus users have complained about the jarring bump when mounting the roundabout.

The total cost, which includes adjustments to the surrounding pavement and pedestrian crossings, is $570,000 that's 203 years' worth of rates bills for the average Wellington ratepayer.

This is without taking into account the cost of regularly sending in contractors to control traffic and clean up the artwork, as we've seen with the famous 'rainbow crossing' on Cuba Street.

Cuba StThe Cuba St rainbow crossing's latest re-paint cost $17,500.

It's fitting that we were given this information in the same week that Wellington City Council unveiled its new $130,000 waterfront artwork: a giant "Wellington" sign that is intentionally misspelled:

Well_ngton

Imagine paying rates for 45 years and realising you still haven't covered the cost for this monstrosity.

Wellington City Council needs to dial down its urban beautification efforts and focus on the basics: sewage pipes that don't burst, buses that run on time, and rates that don't break the bank.

Have a great weekend,

Louis circle


Louis Houlbrooke
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union

Donate

Media coverage:

Dominion Post  $570,000 Wellington roundabout already damaged, two months after opening

NBR  Ruth Richardson joins Taxpayers' Union board

Stuff
  We Kiwis are a content lot, but trouble looms over the horizon

NZ Herald  
Jordan Williams responds to Simon Wilson

RNZ  Politics and the pandemic - another year of Covid-19

Stuff  Looking back on the big stories in South Canterbury in 2021 - March

Revealed: Government's media pay-off for APEC puff pieces

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union is condemning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's decision to pay media outlets $93,578 for 'sponsored content' about APEC 2021.

The spending information was made available in a response provided under the Official Information Act.

COVID-19 came with a silver lining for taxpayers as the Government was forced to cut back on its usual programme of international meet-and-greets. But somehow, New Zealand taxpayers still had to fork out $76 million to host APEC online.

The Government clearly felt the need to justify this extraordinary cost: MFAT paid news outlets $93,000 to publish full-page ads and puff pieces in Stuff and the NZ Herald about the online conference. We say this merely exemplifies the pointless, wasteful spending rife in New Zealand's diplomatic sector.

You'd think that a conference of global leaders on the scale of APEC is important enough to attract news interest on its own merits. If it isn't, then why is New Zealand participating, let alone spending $76 million hosting it?

As host of APEC, New Zealand had a rare opportunity to lead by example, demonstrating values of fiscal prudence and media independence. Instead, we blew $76 million on a glorified Zoom call and paid off the media to make the thing look worthwhile.

The decision to buy positive media coverage doesn't just stink of self-promotion. It risks legitimising the illiberal collusion between media and state practiced by APEC's dodgiest banana republics, undermining New Zealand's moral authority on the world stage. We should be better than this.

Examples of the 'sponsored content' can be viewed below.

  Virtual Host

 

Exposed: Wellington's 'bespoke' roundabout cost $570,000

Roundabout1

The installation of a mountable roundabout in Hataitai has cost Wellington ratepayers $570,000 – and the project's "bespoke artwork" is already badly scuffed, reveals the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.

In November, Wellington City Council crowed about the completion of works at the Hataitai intersection. The centrepiece is a 'bespoke roundabout' adorned with 'a circular design symbolising the tides and currents of the sea and the coiled-up tails of the taniwha'.

The artwork itself cost $16,500, and delayed the opening of the roundabout by 28 days while the design cured. But now after just a few months, the roundabout is badly scuffed by the buses that drive straight over the top.

Roundabout2

Roundabout3Photos taken by a Taxpayers' Union researcher this week.

The tire marks are more visible than the artwork itself! Meanwhile, bus users have complained about the jarring bump when mounting the roundabout. You have to wonder why the Council couldn't have just painted a circle.

The total cost, which includes adjustments to the surrounding pavement and pedestrian crossings, is $570,000 that's 203 years' worth of rates bills for the average Wellington ratepayer.

This is without taking into account the cost of regularly sending in contractors to control traffic and clean up the artwork, as we've seen with the famous 'rainbow crossing' on Cuba Street.

Cuba StThe Cuba St rainbow crossing's latest re-paint cost $17,500.

It's fitting that the Taxpayers' Union was given this information on the same date that Wellington City Council unveiled its new $130,000 waterfront artwork: a giant "Wellington" sign that is intentionally misspelled.

Well_ngton

Imagine paying rates for 45 years and realising you still haven't covered the cost for this monstrosity.

Wellington City Council needs to dial down its urban beautification efforts and focus on the basics: sewage pipes that don't burst, buses that run on time, and rates that don't break the bank.

Former Minister of Finance joins Taxpayers’ Union Board

Ruth

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming Hon Ruth Richardson onto its Board of Directors.

Taxpayers’ Union co-founder Jordan Williams says, “Few New Zealand politicians can claim to have tackled bloated government to the degree that Ruth Richardson has. Her experience and guidance will be of enormous value to the Taxpayers’ Union as a high-spending government challenges our mission of lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency.”

“The quantity and quality of public expenditure again rears its head – it’s time to reapply the discipline of fiscal responsibility.”
-Hon Ruth Richardson

Ruth describes herself as a reformer, lifelong market liberal, activist and feminist. She was Minister of Finance in the fourth National Government, has been Chairman and Director of a range of private and public companies as well as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and coaches sovereign states seeking to transform their prospects.

Ruth says, “Governments make spending and regulatory choices, but not in an accountability vacuum. The Taxpayers’ Union gives well researched and often noisy voice on behalf of we who pay and suffer the consequences of ill-designed public policy. As a lifetime activist in these causes being a Director of the Taxpayers’ Union sits well with my DNA.”

Three further new board members will be announced in the coming days. The new board members replace former Wellington City Councillor Rex Nichols and former journalist and lobbyist Barrie Saunders who recently retired from the board.

Jordan says, “Rex and Barrie have made invaluable contributions to the Taxpayers’ Union, championing our efforts and generously sharing their wisdom and institutional knowledge with our young team members. As Chairman, Barrie oversaw a four-year period that saw our number of subscribed supporters grow from 28,000 to more than 160,000. He has set us up very well for the challenges of 2022, 2023, and beyond.”

Taxpayer Update: What we've achieved | Hidden tax | War on geese

Dear Supporter,

Merry Christmas

This will be my last newsletter until the new year. Today the team is reflecting on a challenging but productive 2021.

A small sample of what you made possible this year

  • The Government froze pay for high-earning public servants after months of petitioning and lobbying from our supporters. (They're set to review this decision next year: we'll be ready.)

  • We successfully lobbied the Labour Party's trade union to repay their wage subsidies.

  • Our petition and billboard campaign protesting Auckland's $785 million bike bridge saw the project scrapped.

  • We attracted extraordinary media interest and public outrage over our investigation into DOC's absurd funeral and burial of a dead turtle.

  • We exposed examples of absurd and wasteful "COVID response" spending from Creative NZ, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and the "Public Interest Journalism Fund".

  • We alerted the public to how the Government is using taxpayer money to fund anti-dairy propaganda, dodgy health 'research', and left-wing blog sites.

  • Our Jonesie Awards celebrating the worst exampels of government waste were a great success, racking up tens of thousands of view on Facebook and Youtube.

  • Half the 15,000 submissions made to the Climate Change Commission on its big emissions plan came from Taxpayers' Union supporters.

  • The Taxpayer Talk podcast is now one of New Zealand's most-listened political podcasts. We even got Nanaia Mahuta to front up for an interview on Three Waters.

  • Taxpayers' Union supporters like you chipped into an ad campaign that ensured practically everyone in the country knows how the Government gave $2.75 million to Mongrel Mob affiliates.

  • Our bumper stickers to stop Labour's car tax are now a regular sight up and down the country.

  • And our Stop Three Waters campaign has seen 85,000 New Zealanders and 60 local councils unite against Nanaia Muhata's asset grab, spooking Cabinet to the point where they forced Nanaia Mahuta to delay the introduction of legislation until (at least) March next year.

Another development on Three Waters

On that last point, there's been another development: Nanaia Mahuta is now proposing that every local council will have the opportunity for representation on the new waters entities' "Representative Groups".

Of course, this doesn't fix the fundamental problems with Three Waters – the dodgy cost modelling, the four layers of bureaucracy, the co-governance, and the unfair distribution of costs but it's more evidence that Mahuta is starting to get desperate.

Mahuta knows that her reforms are unpopular and is attempting to polish the proverbial to win over councils. But Parliament is now likely to be debating the reforms at the same time as council election campaigns. We'll be working to ensure candidates up and down the country are vocal on their opposition to Three Waters.

Behind the scenes

In the meantime, watch out for our massive Stop Three Waters banners (and smaller yard signs) popping up on highways up and down the country this summer. You, and thousands like you, made this possible.

Grant Robertson exploits inflation for massive tax grab

Tax take

Last week I attended Treasury's presentation of the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update. The updated Government books include some good news for Grant Robertson that is also very bad news for taxpayers.

Despite the pandemic, Grant Robertson is set to increase his tax take by an extra $7 billion each year for the next five years. You'd think New Zealanders deserve some tax relief, but Robertson thinks that taking more and more is something to be proud of.

A major cause of Grant Robertson's revenue bonanza is inflation, which is now forecast to hit 5.6% next year. Inflation means a larger share of our incomes is pushed into higher tax brackets, even when we're no richer in real terms.

In fact, someone on the average salary ($58,836) is set to pay an extra $955 in income tax next year, assuming they're lucky enough to get an inflation-level pay rise. Of course, their real pre-tax buying power will be no higher, so either way everyone is left poorer.

Tax brackets haven't been adjusted for a decade. National and Labour might have thought taxpayers wouldn't notice slow, inflation-driven tax creep, but with inflation curving up, the elephant in the room is now impossible to ignore.

James Shaw raids ETS revenue to create new slush fund

James Shaw

The major spending announcement from last week's fiscal update was something that is becoming quite familiar: a new slush fund.

James Shaw is taking $4.5 billion in revenue from Emissions Trading Scheme levies to create a new 'climate emergency' fund for initiatives like cycle lanes, electric ferries, and urban beautification. To put that in perspective, $4.5 billion is $2,459 for every Kiwi household!

The point of the ETS is to impose market-driven prices on emissions that incentivise companies and households to cut emissions in cost-effective ways. It was never meant to be a revenue source for politicians.

The Government should simply return revenues from the ETS to taxpayers via a carbon dividend, as was done in Canada.

In fact, because our emissions are capped and traded under the ETS, spending projects from the new climate slush fund won't actually cut New Zealand's emissions. Any emissions reduction from, say, petrol vehicles, will simply free up credits to produce emissions in other parts of the economy. This is called the waterbed effect and it is well understood at Treasury and among ETS experts.

Do you follow us on Facebook?

If you don't "do" social media, I understand. It can be a pretty nasty place. But we're now reaching hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders per week on Facebook. You can help by liking our page and sharing our posts.

You'll also see memes and news items that don't make it into our newsletter, like this:

Facebook post

Kāpiti Coast District Council minimises waste with... salami

Followers of our newsletters may become disillusioned by the unending examples of wasteful government spending, but in the spirit of Christmas, we would like to highlight a positive story.

Geese memorial

In August this year, more than 107 Canadian geese were slain at the hands of Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Local resident Geoff Amos led the campaign to massacre the birds after they deposited more than 400kgs of poop per day into Awatea Lake and the surrounding park. Ratepayers were fed up with the birds' mess and aggressive behaviour.

The Council's campaign of avian annihilation may have been sad news for the geese, but there's a positive twist for ratepayers and waste-haters: the Council has confirmed to the Taxpayers' Union that these beautiful but foul-smelling birds were turned into sausages and salami.

Unfortunately, the meaty bounty was requisitioned for private consumption by individuals present for the shooting, not fed to the poor as advocated by anti-goose petitioner Geoff Amos, or fairly distributed among long-suffering ratepayers as advocated by your humble Taxpayers' Union. But on balance, we have to give praise to Kāpiti Coast District Council and the resourceful contractor for setting a rare example of waste minimisation in in local politics.

As you may have noticed, the Taxpayers' Union takes a special interest in the publicly-funded disposal of dead animals. If you're aware of any such stories at your local council, please let us know at [email protected].

Taxpayer Talk: A long chat with Simon Bridges

If you're looking for something to listen to over the summer break, I recommend Jordan's long-form interview with Simon Bridges, National's new Shadow Finance Minister. It covers policy issues but also delves into topics covered in Simon's recently-published book.

Have a very merry Christmas.

Louis circle


Louis Houlbrooke
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union

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Kāpiti Council praised for massacring geese, making salami

Geese memorialReaders of our regular newsletters may become disillusioned by the unending examples of wasteful government spending. But in the spirit of Christmas, we would like to highlight a positive story.

In August this year, more than 107 Canada geese were slain at the hands of Kāpiti Coast District Council after 1,497 local residents signed a petition to euthanise the birds.

Local resident Geoff Amos led the campaign to massacre the birds after they deposited more than 400kg worth of poop per day into Awatea Lake and the surrounding park. Kāpiti ratepayers were angered by the mess and intimidated by the aggressive behaviour of these unwelcome Canadian migrants.

The Council's campaign of avian annihilation may have been sad news for the geese, but there was a positive twist for ratepayers and waste-haters: the Council has confirmed to the Taxpayers' Union that these beautiful but foul-smelling birds were turned into sausages and salami.

Unfortunately, the meaty bounty was requisitioned for private consumption by individuals present for the shooting, not fed to the poor as advocated by anti-goose petitioner Geoff Amos or fairly distributed among long-suffering ratepayers as advocated by your humble Taxpayers' Union. But on balance, we have to give praise to Kāpiti Coast District Council and the resourceful contractor for setting a rare example of waste minimisation in in local politics. 

As you may have noticed, the Taxpayers' Union takes a special interest in the publicly-funded disposal of dead animals. If you're aware of any similar stories at your local council, please let us know at [email protected].


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