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Taxpayer Update: Hipkins' 3 Waters confession 💦 | Min of Ed staff bonanza 💥 | Climate disinformation 🚨

📺 WATCH: Chris Hipkins let's slip Three Waters truth bomb 💣💦

After two-and-a-half-years of Labour politicians lying about Three Waters stripping local water assets from local communities and councils, poor old Chris Hipkins let slip a truth bomb this week...

The statement came as Hipkins was being grilled about where the last Government's $200 million in bribes ‘better off funding' given to councils had gone and why that money was spent on things like climate change promotion and rugby park floodlights rather than water infrastructure.

In attempting to justify why the money had not been ring-fenced, Hipkins said that the funding was “compensation” for the fact Three Waters was taking assets from Councils. Can someone check on Nanaia Mahuta?

Billions wasted and nothing to show 🤨

Chris Hipkins' Government poured $500 million taxpayer dollars into the Three Waters bureaucracy alone. That money could have been spent fixing pipes and on ensuring our water is clean and safe to drink. But instead, it was used to drive through an unpopular, divisive, and undemocratic piece of legislation that would have only led to higher water costs and poorer service delivery. A further $45 million has already been committed through contracts that can’t be avoided including almost $4 million on building and office spaces. 

We warned back in 2021 that Three Waters would be a costly and bureaucratic boondoggle, but the Government refused to listen. Now we have sadly been vindicated and that money belonging to taxpayers will never be seen again. 

Our team is working incredibly hard to push the new Government to implement our draft Three Waters replacement bill that would ensure cost-effective and efficient delivery of water services while maintaining local ownership and control. 

Ministry of Education needs a first-grade lesson in budgeting 🧮

Earlier this week, you may have heard another classic take from the Chris Hipkins spin machine: that the Government’s cuts to the Ministry of Education are putting tax cuts ahead of building classrooms for kids. This comes after the Ministry of Education claimed to only be able to reduce its staffing levels by two percent before it would have to cut it's school property bill.

However, a simple glance at the growing bureaucracy in the Ministry will tell you it's the staff rooms – not the classrooms – which desperately need to be stripped down.

In the last five years, according to Public Service Commission workforce data, the number of full-time-equivalent staff at the Ministry of Education has increased by a whopping 48%. There's now 65% more managers, 46% more policy analysts, and 53% more information professionals – all of which work out of the back-office.

And...the average FTE salary at the Ministry is now $103,800, up 17% from $85,600 in 2018.

The simple fact is that the last Government lost control of public spending, and now the hives of bureaucrats are circling the wagons trying to protect their mates by fear-mongering the prospect of major cuts to core operations.

There is absolutely no need to cut frontline services to find savings. When you hear stories like this in the media, we’d all do well to remember that it is the back-office officials in Wellington drawing up the cost-cutting plans, and often their jobs depend on making cuts look as painful as possible.

New poll finds majority of Kiwis in favour of extending scope of freedom of information laws 🔎

Your humble Taxpayers' Union is the largest user of the Official Information Act and its local government equivalent. In fact, despite our small size, we ask more questions of government agencies about where taxpayer money is being spent than the total number of OIAs lodged by opposition MPs!

While the freedom of information laws cover most government agencies, there is a growing black hole of spending: not-for-profit groups and public-private entities that aren't currently subject to the legislation, but in many cases are 100% funded by taxpayers.

We say that if you're spending taxpayer money, it's reasonable to have to answer questions about where it is going. So as part of last month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll, our pollsters asked 1,200 voters whether they thought the scope of freedom of information laws should be expanded to cover non-governmental, but majority taxpayer funded, groups. According to the poll, the majority of Kiwis agreed that these taxpayer-funded 'quango organisations' should be subject to the transparency – with 56% of respondents supporting the proposal, 23% unsure, and just 18% opposed.

Respondents from across regions, age, gender, and party lines, were strongly in favour of the proposal to provide better transparency around the way public funds are used. You can read the full results of the poll, and question wording here.

REVEALED: Electric car lobby group continue to lie greenwash about impact of Clean Car Discount 🤑

Regular readers will recall our spat last year with the electric car lobby group Better NZ Trust, where we called out the taxpayer-funded organisation for spreading misinformation through a six-figure anti-National campaign they ran across the election period. Their campaign claimed – falsely – that the removal of EV subsidies would increase New Zealand’s emissions and harm the climate.

But being experts in climate policy, they surely know that thanks to the Emissions Trading Scheme every electric car that reduces transport emissions just frees up carbon credits for polluters in other sectors of the economy to use those same credits more cheaply. No matter how many Teslas were bought under the Clean Car Discount, not one will make a shred of difference to New Zealand's net emissions thanks to the ETS's fixed cap.

And while it might be painfully obvious to informed Taxpayer Update readers that the advertisements represented nothing more than self-interested industry-funded propaganda, the potential for these advertisements to misinform voters meant that we brought this to the attention of the Electoral Commission

Lying in advertising is not illegal in general, but is an offence under section 199A of the Electoral Act to publish false statements to influence voters in the days leading up to an election. Frankly, when an industry sock-puppet group is running a misinformation campaign to to protect their precious Clean Car Discount subsidy, it needs to be called out.

Kathryn TrounsonThe Commission took up our complaint and have provided us with the Trust's bizarre response. In defending its position the Trust say the ETS is irrelevant to its claims that the Clean Car Discount subsidy "helps fight climate change".

Apparently, if you pay car companies for more electric cars meaning more emissions can be made elsewhere in the economy, the climate is still better off. Only a sock-puppet industry group could say it with a straight face. 👉

Ignoring the ETS to promote self-interested climate change propaganda is classic green washing. The media are all too willing to call out 'climate change denial' but are crickets on those who actively spread misinformation about the effects of climate change policy. Here the organisation responsible for misinformation has a government agency listed as one of their major sponsors.

We recognise the Emission Trading Scheme is not well understood, but when so-called 'climate experts' compound the misunderstanding, the public is not well served.

So, your humble Taxpayers' Union is sending a friendly invitation to Kathryn Trounson (pictured) and the Better NZ Trust to join us on the Taxpayer Talk podcast to give them a right of reply and explain their position. We'll let you know if they take up the offer.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth series: Dr Vanessa Weenink 🎙️

And this week on Taxpayer Talk, Ollie sat down with newly elected National Party MP, Dr Vanessa Weenink. 

Vanessa details her life before politics including her time working as a doctor, being in the Army for more than 20 years, and even previously being a Labour Party member and helping with a local campaign.

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

That's it for today, 

Yours aye,


Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union


In the media: 

Rates levied by local governments have been flat for a century, even as central government taxation has more than tripled, according to S&P Global Ratings

RNZ $2m surge in election campaign spending by third-party groups

Checkpoint: Lobby groups spent 13 times more campaign cash compared to 2020

The Post You don’t need to be a real estate expert to see the flaws in city council plan

Newstalk ZB The Huddle: What is Stuart Nash trying to prove?

Kiwiblog The Atlas conspiracy theory continues

RNZ PM Luxon claiming $52,000 accommodation supplement

Media releases:

Wellington Council’s $5 Million Spin Doctor Spend Papering Over The Cracks

Christchurch City Council’s New Monstrous Rates Hike Unacceptable

Potential Changes to Trust Tax Hike shows Government is Lawmaking on the Hoof

OCR Shows National Need to Get Serious About Slashing Waste

Newshub Closure Puts Democracy At Risk

Taxpayers’ Union Slams Let’s Get Wellington Moving Zombie Bureaucracy

Reading Cinema Handout Will Cost Ratepayers Millions

Punishing Rates Hike From Environment Canterbury Unjustified

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  • Nztu Media
    published this page in News 2024-03-01 17:04:20 +1300

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