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Taxpayer Update: Time to get rid of TVNZ 📺💰 | Hipkins caught telling porkies 🤥🐷

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Happy Friday,

Lots to cover this week so let's get straight into it...

1News isn't even pretending to be impartial anymore

1News political editor, Maiki Sherman, could barely hold back her excitement on Monday night when she announced the results of the latest 1News Verian poll, which showed the centre-right dropping a few points in support and handing Te Pāti Māori the balance of power. 

According to Sherman, ACT's score of 7% (down just 1.6 points since the election) somehow meant the party's support was in "free fall" and, with New Zealand First polling less than 5% (the threshold to get into Parliament), the poll result "could be mayday for the coalition".

Can someone please tell Maiki the next election is two-and-a-half years away? 🤣

She also described the Government's savings as "austerity in absolute overdrive". She needs to get a grip. The measures the Government has taken to stem out of control spending don't even wind back the increases to the levels they were in June last year! Is Maiki really so out of touch with the reality of the Government's books, or did Grant Robertson hack her tele prompter?

When a lobby group presents polling with less spin than the state-owned media company, maybe there's a problem...

We know a little bit about the presentation of polling. After all, our monthly Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll is both more regular and was more accurate in predicting the last election result than TVNZ's effort. As we say in our office, "a poll is a poll" – it speaks for itself. Our poll results regularly upset National, and Labour (as you'd expect). You don't need to gleefully add commentary which undermines the very objectivity that a professional/scientific third-party poll is supposed to be all about.

It should (but probably doesn't) concern TVNZ's board, that the Taxpayers' Union reports its poll with less sensationalism than our impartial state broadcaster.

A bad habit of dodgy poll reporting

But as "the best pollster in New Zealand" (as described by Sir John Key), David Farrar, pointed out, Maiki Sherman's gleefulness wasn't an isolated incident. TVNZ's news outfit also put out two other polls this week with the same slanted framing.

On Tuesday, TVNZ reported under the headline: A "slim majority agree with public sector cuts". Here's the tweet of the same story:

TVNZ Tweeting Flake News

Bzzzzzt. Wrong. 

According to the poll, 52% of people said the public sector cuts were "about right" or "didn't go far enough", as opposed to just 35% who thought it went "too far".  Slim, apparently...

Even former Labour MP Stuart Nash has labelled the recent reporting "absolutely shocking".

Doubling down on the trend, on Wednesday, TVNZ did even better, releasing a third poll, this time on support for the Fast–Track Approvals Bill. The poll found a statistically even split of 40% of voters in favour, and 41% against.

But you wouldn't have known that from the headline which, (colour me surprised) made out that most people didn't support the bill: claiming Just 40% support, and combining the 'don't knows' with the actual 'noes'! 🤦‍♂️

1News Tweet

Maiki's gleeful reporting on Monday night was bad enough, but the persistency of anti-government framing suggests that TVNZ's newsroom has lost its way, and is either ignorant, or ignoring, the tradition of state-owned media avoiding 'taking a side'.

What's the point in owning TVNZ anyway?

TVNZ is up front that it doesn’t do a public broadcaster-style “strictly news” approach, nor does it even ensure its John Campbell-type highly paid “opinion” contributors are balanced with even just a single conservative. Its only hard news shows (Sunday and Fair Go) are being axed, and Breakfast and Seven Sharp are so journalistically shallow that companies and causes can pay to be in them!

Now, even 1News political polls aren't being presented without an agenda.

So the obvious question is, why should TVNZ remain owned by taxpayers?

TVNZ doesn't want to be public broadcaster any more: Sign the petition to sell it

Proponents of state media say that it is important in a democracy to have impartial sources of news, but TVNZ and 1News have given up all pretence of being impartial. 

We say that they can't have it both ways. Either they are a commercial player (and should be covering their cost of capital and paying a dividend back to taxpayers) or they are an impartial public service news service. Right now, they are a subsidised propaganda outlet.

The Government has a debt problem. If we're lucky, TVNZ might still be worth something. Selling off TVNZ now could be a 'two birds, one stone' solution..

A private TVNZ would likely be more balanced and diverse than what it offers currently. It would be more incentivised to cater to an audience underserved by the current selection of media.

It's time the Government took action and sold off TVNZ while it's still worth something.

If TVNZ is sold off and left to sink or swim on entirely the merits of its programming, then it would be forced to try harder harder to build trust with Kiwis. If you agree, sign the petition to sell TVNZ.

>>> Sign the petition ✍️ <<<

Slew of secret judges' perks finally exposed 👨‍⚖️ 

For years we've been trying to get the secret list of judges' perks from the Ministry of Justice, which have – until now – effectively been a state secret. Props to Andrea Vance and the Sunday Star Times for their dogged determination in pursuing this that has finally resulted in a breakthrough.

And no wonder the judiciary wanted to keep their entitlements behind bars. It's nothing short of a courtroom rort.

Here's a breakdown of just some of the many perks judges receive (they're not all public, yet...):

🤑 5,360 km per year for each judge (and a plus one!) on any non-work-related plane rides.

🤑 Free limo rides to and from court outside normal working hours “when transport by taxi or other means is difficult or inconvenient”.

🤑 A $20,000 housing allowance for judges who regularly sit in Wellington but live outside the capital.

🤑 $500 towards a new pen and briefcase.

🤑 One year's sabbatical for each 10 years of service.

🤑 On retirement, a month's paid leave for every year of service (discounting the sabbatical).

In what other job does your employer pay for you to swan around the country with virtually unlimited plane rides for you and your partner!?

We say Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann needs to front up and explain why these allowances are necessary, particularly when many Kiwis can barely afford their weekly groceries, let alone the luxuries that are being provided to those already on half-a-million a year salaries.

New Zealanders slammed with third-highest tax hike in the OECD 🔝

According to new figures from the OECDthe average single income earner in New Zealand saw their effective tax rate increase by 4.5% from 2022 to 2023 – more than almost every other country in the developed world.

While politicians didn't announce income tax hikes, thanks to inflation, it's happened anyway. It's called 'fiscal drag' or 'bracket creep'.

Thanks to high inflation, earners have been bumped up into higher tax brackets and are paying a bigger share of their wages in taxes despite being no better off. 

To put this in perspective: a minimum wage worker doing 40 hours is now paying the third (30 cents on the dollar) marginal tax rate!

But one-off tax relief is only a temporary fix. Unless tax brackets are automatically adjusted for inflation each year, tax relief is only a partial return of stolen income, attached to a promise to keep on stealing. 

A Kiwi on the average income of $66,196 is paying $2,556 more in tax each year because of successive Governments' failure to adjust income tax brackets for inflation since they were last reset in 2010.

We look forward to Nicola Willis sorting this out on 30 May when she delivers her first budget. 😉🙏💰

Seeing straight through the Window & Glass Association's patch-protection 🪟

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, as a group on the side of taxpayers and consumers, we take pride in calling out the hundreds of special interest lobbies, even if they're on the side of "business".

This week, the Window and Glass Association tried it on: whinging about the Government opening up the building sector to [check notes] overseas competition. 🤔

Goodness, we can't allow that. Windows?! Built overseas? Perish the thought. 😱

The Window and Glass Association claims overseas products "won't be fit for purpose" and consumers won't be able to access replacement parts and warranties.

But those crocodile tears simply don't stand up to scrutiny. Every day people make tradeoffs in the products they buy and ultimately make what they believe is the best choice for themselves. We see it with those who buy a Japanese car over a European one so it's easier to get replacement parts. Trusting consumers to make their own decisions is nothing new.

The group also argued that restricting foreign competition and forcing people to pay more for building products 
would "support local manufacturers". But artificially forcing people to pay more for one product simply means they have less money to spend elsewhere, in effect harming other local businesses. Ironically, economists call arguments like those made by the Association a "broken window fallacy".

👆 The Association's broken window fallacy in a nutshell 👆

As a part time DIY'er (or so he says), my colleague Connor told Radio NZ, "Only a special interest industry group could complain about reducing building costs during a housing crisis."

RNZ Building Concerns

Chris Hipkins caught red-handed fibbing about public sector statistics 🤥

Chris Hipkins isn't letting the facts get in the way of his defence of his public sector union mates. His latest ploy to skew the narrative on the back-office bureaucracy problem is to pretend there isn't one and fib about the numbers.

In an interview on Newshub earlier this week, Chris Hipkins said that the the number of public sector employees as a proportion of the total NZ workforce was smaller now than when he first took over:

"The size of the public sector workforce relative to the overall size of the workforce is actually slightly less than it was when we first became the government."

Bzzzzt. Wrong.

Data from the Public Service Commission shows that the total number of employees in the public sector as a proportion of the total NZ workforce actually increased under Labour's watch from 17.9% in 2017 to 18.7% in 2023.

(Here's the link for the benefit of any journalists wanting to factcheck Mr. Hipkins)

To make things worse, Hipkins is trying to pull the wool over New Zealanders' eyes by using public sector figures (which include nurses, teachers, etc) rather than public service figures (ie the bureaucrats), which is where the real bloat is at.

In fact, the number of pen-pushers in Wellington grew at more than three times the rate of education workers during the Labour Government!

If only Hipkins had been Minister of Education. Oh wait.

And it's not like Mr. Hipkins would know the difference between the public sector and public service and is in full knowledge that he's comparing apples with oranges. It's not like he's been Minister for the Public Service or anything...

Government departments cheating with their staffing cuts 🥸

When is a 'cut' a cut? It appears departments across the Public Service have been playing games with their job cut figures too.

Government departments have been overcooking the scale of the job reductions by including roles that don't currently have anyone in them!

For instance, the Department of Internal Affairs just last week told staff that they would be cutting 59 roles. Cue the outrage by the likes of Maiki the public sector unions. But of the 59, 42 are already vacant!

And the Ministry of Education, which claimed to be getting rid of more roles than any other department, at 565, is only really sacking 340 bureaucrats, because the rest are already empty!

This is what happens when Ministers delegate control of savings decisions to public sector bosses, rather than taking the hard decisions themselves.

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth with James Meager

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with newly elected National MP, James Meager.

James was elected as the MP for Rangitata at the 2023 General Election, reclaiming the seat from Labour with a significant majority. James is a lawyer and also has a Bachelor of Arts. James made national headlines following his maiden speech where he spoke of his early life growing up as a Māori boy in a state house house with a single mother before going on to be head boy and dux of Timaru Boys' High School. At university, he says he was a libertarian. Now he is more of a classical liberal – advocating for limited, rather than minimal, government. 

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

That's it for this week,

Yours aye,


Callum Signature

Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 



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Showing 1 reaction

  • Jordan Williams
    published this page in News 2024-05-03 13:31:56 +1200

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