Taxpayer Update: NEW POLL Big boost for ACT 🟡📈 | Taxpayer funding of suspected militants paused ⏸️💰 | Wellington in chaos ✂️
In this week's Taxpayer Update, we celebrate another Taxpayer Victory that ensures your money isn't being spent on creating conflict and reveal, yet again, more issues at Wellington City Council.
But first, after a post-election Summer break, our exclusive Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll is back!
NEW POLL: Big boost for ACT sees Nats and ACT able to govern alone 🟡📈
February's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll was conducted over the period including Waitangi Day. ACT's proposed Treaty Principles Bill might have been receiving a lot of heat in the media, but it doesn't seem to have done the party any harm in the polls. In fact, these results suggest the opposite.
National is up 2.6 points on our last poll in November 2023 to 39.6% while Labour drops marginally to 27.9% (-0.4 points). ACT is up significantly to 13.7% (+5.6%) while the Greens are down substantially to 9.0% (-4.8 points).
The smaller parties are NZ First on 5.0% (-1.0 points), Te Pāti Māori on 2.3% (-1.1% points), and others combined were on 2.5%.
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the Parliament:
National is up 3 seats on November 2023 to 49 while Labour is unchanged on 35 seats. ACT has jumped up 7 seats to 17 while the Greens are down 6 seats to 11. NZ First is down 2 seats to 6 while Te Pāti Māori is unchanged also on 6 seats. Parliament would have 123 seats as it does now due to an overhang created by the Māori electorates.
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 72 seats is up 8 from November 2023 while the Centre-Left is down 7 seats. This is the biggest gap between blocs since Sep 2021 when the Centre-Left led by 27 seats.
Victory for the taxpayer: NZ Government pauses funding for UN agency linked to terrorism in Gaza ⏸️💰
Last week saw a quick taxpayer victory following a fast response campaign from the Taxpayers' Union after news broke that UNRWA employees are not just implicated in the 7th October massacres in Israel, but – according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal – 10% of UNRWA employees are linked to terrorist groups including Hamas.
While minds may differ on the Gaza conflict, when an agency we as taxpayers are funding is being accused of funding terrorism, it's certainly right to hit pause and take a proper look! The Government agreed. Within a day of our campaign, the Government announced it was pausing taxpayer funding for UNRWA until it can be confident that the relief agency's staff are not linked to terror activity.
The New Zealand Government now joins Australia, Canada, Britain, the EU and others in looking to divert funding away from UNRWA to organisations like the Red Cross and World Food Programme.
Thanks to those who added their voice, wrote to Ministers, and reminded the Government that Kiwis expect our foreign aid budget to be spent working for humanitarian relief, not fuelling the conflict.
More Chaos in Wellington City Council ✂️
Last week, Wellington City Council proposed a number of cost-saving measures to free up funds for its ailing water infrastructure.
Unfortunately, it seems the Council is going after core services people value such as the libraries before the glaringly obvious vanity projects are put on the chopping block.
Wellington City Council has decided to replace its parking meter system at a cost it will not disclose, despite paying $1.5 million to install a new sensor network as recently as 2016.
The new pay-by-plate meters that went live this month are a paperless system that uses a vehicle licence plate number, rather than a numbered car park, to record parking time and payment.
The meters also offer the choice of English or te reo Māori instructions, which the council says supports its commitment to Pōneke becoming a bilingual city.
Your humble Taxpayers' Union has had to use the new meters (they are right outside out office). The 'new' meters are clunky, and clearly a step down from the old ones. Instead of an off-the-shelf solution, the boffins at the City Council had these custom build so that you can pay your parking taxes using te reo prompts. Strangely, we're yet to meet a Wellington ratepayer saying ka pai! 👏
And Wellington Water can’t be trusted either… 🚰
At about the same time, a scathing report into Wellington Water’s operational performance shambles was released. It shows Wellington Water is incapable of delivering its services efficiently, failing to sufficiently report on the quality of its operations, failing to meet key contract obligations with Wellington City Council. Despite spending 71% more on maintenance year on year, the quality is getting no better!
It’s now evident that the water provider needs a complete overhaul to get its priorities straight and spend its money efficiently.
And the Council secrecy continues… 🤐
Long time readers will recall the endless tales of cloak and dagger with Wellington City Council, where Council officials have hidden critical reports and key information from elected officials. True to form, officials tried to bury the bad news and refused provide a copy of the draft Wellington Water report to councillors who had previously only been shown parts of it on a screen during a closed workshop.
To state the obvious, how can we expect good governance at local town halls, when those who are supposed to be in charge (and accountable to ratepayers at the ballot box) are being drip fed information. Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we are working with some of New Zealand's most respected councillors to give elected officials more rights to go round their CEOs and access information (even if it isn't welcome news). More to come on this...
Nearly 15,000 Signatures on Petition for Media to Return Taxpayer Funding 📝
With the pandemic over, and most media companies back in the black, we say they should do the right thing and return their Public Interest Journalism Funding (PIJF) to protect their independence and the public's trust.
While people hold a range of views as to whether this funding undermined the actual independence of newsrooms, what is undeniable is that the perception of independence was certainly eroded.
Our petition calling for the media to help restore public trust and confidence in their profession by paying back all taxpayer funding has almost hit 15,000 signatures. If you haven't already signed, add your name here so we can get it over the line.
MPs in Depth: National MP Greg Flemming🎙️
The latest episode of Taxpayer Talk is another edition in our MPs in Depth podcast series where we get to know Parliament's new MPs. In this episode, Jordan sat down with newly elected National Party MP, Greg Fleming.
Greg tells us about his journey into politics and how he formed his political ideology, starting with an egg business at age nine and eventually leading to his founding of the Maxim Institute think tank.
This podcast gives a fascinating insight into what makes Greg tick and is well worth a listen.
Other News in Brief ⏰
- We challenged the Government to go further and faster in reducing the size of the public service to help get inflation and interest rates under control. We also slammed them for asking department CEO's – the same people responsible for staff numbers ballooning by up to 50% – to identify cost savings rather than having Ministers going through with a fine tooth comb to identify those wasteful projects that the CEOs don't want cut.
- ACT called for a simpler and flatter tax system with fewer income tax brackets. We responded by urging them to be more aspirational and aim for a flat tax instead which would be simple, fair and encourage productivity while allowing people to keep more of their own money.
- Nicola Willis's app tax was dealt a blow when it was revealed that she had not read a joint letter from the large app-based service providers requesting an urgent meeting to discuss how unworkable the new tax will be. We told National to focus on cutting waste, rather than hiking taxes on summer holiday Airbnbs.
That's it for this week.
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NewstalkZB The Huddle: Why haven't MFAT pulled their funding from NRWA?
Kiwiblog Taxpayer funded conspiracy theories
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Newsroom Nats’ summer slumber lets ‘rabid dog’ run amok
NZ Herald Napier City Council indicates possible record rates rise for Napier
Wairarapa Times-Age Lobby group's wages war
Newstalk ZB Morning Edition: 02 February 2024 – Selwyn proposed rate hikes (02:27)
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Newstalk ZB The Huddle: What else can we expect ahead of Waitangi Day
NZ Herald Act launches Treaty principles referendum campaign to twist National’s arm
NZ Herald Treaty of Waitangi: Christopher Luxon cannot stop voters having their say on Act’s bill
Waikato Times Hamilton rate hikes set to ‘crush’ whānau, MP warns
Taxpayers’ Union Calls On Public Service Cuts To Go Further, Faster
Income Tax System Should be Flat, not ‘Flatter’
Taxpayers’ Union calls on NZ Government to follow international counterparts and pull UNRWA funding
Wellington Ratepayers Reliant on Leaks for Info on Leaky Pipes
New Zealanders elected a Government to cut waste, not have Ministers take lazy route and delegate to CEOs
Taxpayers’ Union Welcomes New Zealand Joining EU & International Partners in Pausing UNRWA Funding
National Party U-Turn Robbing Kiwis of a Summer Holiday
Double-Digit Rate Hikes Across Councils Cannot Become The Norm
New Zealand Must Advocate For Tobacco Harm Reduction At COP10
Government Could Reduce Prices With The Stroke Of A Pen
Red Tape Won’t Keep Rooves Over Wellingtonians’ Heads
Hamilton City Council’s Never-Ending Rate Hikes Are Unjustifiable