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Taxpayer Update: NZTA's "App to zero" 📲 | Abandon ship: Time to sell Interislander? ⚓️ | Councillors behaving badly justify recall elections 🗳️

EXPOSED: NZTA blows $5.2 million on unusable app 🤳

From the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ folder this week, our research team have uncovered a classic Wellington wasteful doozie, this time by The-Organisation-Formerly-Known-As-Waka-Kotahi.

While roads across the country are looking like Swiss cheese, the geniuses at the New Zealand Transport Agency, decided the best use of their time (and our money!) would be developing a $5.2 million (and counting) mobile phone app designed to function as a digital driver licence.

Sounds sensible enough, right?

The problem? NZTA didn’t bother to check whether the Ministry of Transport and the Police would (or could) actually accept a digital driver licence!

So your humble Taxpayers' Union did check. And, digital versions of driver licences can't be used under existing traffic or identification laws.

Put another way, for the app ever to be used for this purpose, Parliament will need to change the law and no one noticed!  🤦

Officials commissioned a $5.2 million mobile "app" that can't legally be used the very purpose of the app.


You can read a breakdown of the spending (and our comments given to media) over on our website.

Only the bureaucratic forces of government could make such a monumental screw-up. But this is all too familiar at NZTA, the same agency that spent millions of dollars on their Road to Zero speed limit reduction propaganda campaign when the most dangerous thing was the state of the roads they are responsible for maintaining.

If you feel like you need a drink to calm down after reading this one, just make sure to take your real ID because the NZTA digital licence app can’t legally be used for alcohol age verification either. 🤦🤦🤦

Time to abandon ship? Sign the petition to end Government ownership of the Interislander 🚢

Last week, Kiwirail demonstrated, yet again, their extraordinary level of incompetence when one of their Interislander ferries lost control of its steering and ran aground. Oops... (thank goodness the steering wasn't lost in a storm or in the middle of Cook Straight!)


This isn't the first time Kiwirail's poor governance and management has been exposed. The cost for replacement ferries and terminals was revealed last year to have blown out from a promised $750 million to an eye-watering $3.2 billion – that's $1,597 for every household in the country!

The problems with Kiwirail and the Interislander raise much bigger questions though. Like, why on Earth do taxpayers need to own a ferry service?

We say government should be focused at doing well those functions only government can do. Clearly running a ferry service isn't one of them.

With Bluebridge successfully operating a private fleet of eight different ferries since 1992 (and managing to replace them successfully before they break down!), it's clearly possible to run a ferry service without taxpayer funding.

Sell the Interislander

Kiwirail has proven it is not able to run a safe, reliable or efficient ferry service, that’s why we’re calling on the Government to sell the ferry to a private operator and use the money to either pay down debt or reinvest in infrastructure only the government can provide.

This Government was elected to make the tough but necessary decisions to sort out the country’s finances. Here is a perfect opportunity! Recycle capital, deliver a better/safer/affordable service for consumers, and reinvest the money in infrastructure only the government can deliver (such as better roads). It's a win, win, win.

 Promising to do the same but "manage it better" doesn't fix the problem.

✍️ Sign the petition ✍️

Policy Victory! 🥳 Government increases funding for medicines 💊

This week, we had a significant victory in our campaign calling on the Government to increase funding for life-saving and life-extending medicines like cancer drugs – an area most would agree where the Government should be spending more money.

Pharmac Funding

The huge $604 million funding boost is a welcome one, but with the government books in crisis and the national debt clock running red hot, we say the right way to fund this is cutting out some of the billions of dollars in wasteful spending still happening under the new Government.

We've given the Government a laundry list of options, such as axing the hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare that is handed out to Hollywood bigwigs and video game companies.

Unfortunately, they opted to instead continue Grant Robertson’s AfterPay ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ style of spending and kick it into the long grass with no clarity where the money will come from except to say it is a “pre-commitment against next year’s Budget”.

Translation: “She’ll be right, we’ll worry about that later."

Yes, it’s great these drugs are funded. But a Government for these tough times needs to lead a public conversation on finding savings to pay for it. If announcing funding for desperately needed new drugs isn't the right time to explain what needs to be cut to pay for it, when is?

NEW POLL: Kiwis back relaxation of Easter Trading laws 🐣🛍️☕️

The ACT Party are arguing that New Zealand's Easter trading laws are long overdue for an overhaul. They argue that Wellington shouldn't be banning people from working, doing business, or shopping due to a religious day they may or may not observe? ACT MP Cameron Luxton's member's bill to liberalise Easter trading has been drawn from the ballot and will likely be debated next month.

Easter Trading Poll

We've released a new Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll that showed the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders agree on this issue. 64% of respondents were in support of giving shops the choice to open, while just 27% were opposed. 9% of respondents were unsure.

Retailers have argued that Easter trading laws are unnecessarily burdensome and are driving up the cost of doing business during an already challenging economic environment. The rules also prevent many part time and casual workers from the extra day's pay, and the proposed law change would allow shops to open, but also prevent workers from being forced to work on the traditionally sacred days.

Interestingly, the poll suggests that a majority of supporters for every political party back the law change – even those who support the 'conservative' parties of NZ First and National. You can read the detailed polling breakdowns here.

While political parties are likely to let their MPs vote on their individual conscience (rather than vote as party blocs), in the last few days, the PM has swung behind the Bill, dramatically increasing the likelihood of it passing into law.

But don’t go celebrating just yet...

Even if you are able to buy a tipple next Easter, you'll paying more for the privilege.

Beer Tax Hike 2024

The Government's latest dive into your wallet comes into force at midnight today, with a hike in the alcohol tax. From Monday...

  • Kiwis planning on enjoying a cold Speights or two will be paying almost 40 percent tax on every can. 

  • If your tipple of choice is a Steinlager, that’s knocking on 45 percent tax. 

  • But hoity-toity champagne drinkers who are planning on popping a cork will be paying only a 20 percent tax on the bottle.

The law strictly prevents us from encouraging you to stock up in advance of tomorrow's alcohol duty rise so we will refrain from doing so. But maybe it's time for a wider debate about whether continuing to hike nanny-state taxes while households are doing it tough has had its day?

But with higher tax on booze, comes relief at the pump (at least for Aucklanders): Labour's regional fuel tax ends tonight ⛽️

Regional Fuel Tax

Credit where credit is due  – Auckland motorists will be cheering on the Government when it comes to the scrapping of the Regional Fuel Tax. From tomorrow, the 11.5 cents/litre Super City fuel tax will be history. For those motorists who like to fill up the tank on Sunday night, we suggest waiting til tomorrow and save $5-$7 of tax at the pump.

Should voters be able to "Kick the B*stards Out" with council recall elections? 🗳️✗

Meanwhile, in local councils up and down the country...

Our local mayors and councillors have been getting themselves into hot water with some of their antics. Invercargill Mayor, Nobby Clark, has come under fire for his comments to the United Fire Brigades' Association that have resulted in receiving a censure from his council colleagues. 

While Hamilton Councillor, Andrew Bydder, made, errr, pejorative comments in a submission to the wrong council...  

Cr Bydder is reported as writing to a neighbouring district's mayor, "What the f**k are you r******d s*****c c**ts doing?"

[His words are far too impolite, even for this newsletter!]

Given the antics in town halls up and down the country, we thought it was about time that we dusted off our plans for local government recall elections, which would give voters the right to remove elected officials in whom they have lost confidence if they behave badly or are simply incompetent.

Recall Elections

The threat of recall election would incentivise higher standards by elected officials throughout the terms served – and not just during election periods. At the same time, recall elections could avoid democratic catastrophes like what we have seen in Tauranga over the last four years, ushering in a suite of unelected commissioners totally unaccountable to the very people they are supposed to represent.

Taxpayer Talk: MPs in Depth with Ryan Hamilton 🎙️

Taxpayer Talk: Ryan Hamilton

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Connor sat down with the new National Party MP for Hamilton East, Ryan Hamilton. 

Prior to entering Parliament, Ryan was a Hamilton City Councillor, and small business owner and had involvement in a number of community organisations. Ryan gives us an insight into his upbringing, the struggles of starting his own business, his experiences in local government, and areas he thinks are in need of reform. Ryan also discusses the values that drive him and what he wants to achieve in central government politics. 

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

Have a great week.

Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union


Media Mentions:

The Southland Times Taxpayers’ Union renews push for recall elections to remove underperforming councillors

Newshub Taxpayers' Union poll shows strong support for Fast-track Approvals Bill

RNZ Fast Track bill has more supporters than opponents - Taxpayers Union-Curia poll

NewstalkZB Morning Edition: 22 June 2024 – Recall Elections (01:46)

NewstalkZB Midday Edition: 22 June 2024 – Fast-Track Legislation Poll (01:45)

The Post New Zealand to the back of the queue for new Cook Strait ferries

Stuff Letters – A Recommendation from Chris

Newshub Jacinda Ardern documentary being made by award-winning US filmmakers

Bassett, Brash & Hyde JORDAN WILLIAMS: More ridiculous wastage of taxpayer money

NewstalkZB Full Show Podcast: 24 June 2024 – Marsden Fund Grants (1:30:41)

NZ City The majority of New Zealanders in a new poll want Easter trading laws to change

Greymouth Star Coast rates among highest in NZ [print only]

NZ Herald Māori wards bill: Parliament Select Committee says law change should go ahead

NewstalkZB The Huddle: How necessary is a second Covid inquiry?

Greymouth Star Westland council silent as record 18% increase approved

NewstalkZB The Country 26/06/24: Christopher Luxon talks to Rowena Duncum – Easter Trading (04:07)

The Spinoff What might Judith Collins’ abrupt shutdown of one small agency mean for NZ business?

The Platform ACT's Cameron Luxton on the Easter Trading Bill & the Poll Supporting It

The Westport News Grim councillors accept 14% rates hikes [print only]

Showing 1 reaction

  • Jordan Williams
    published this page in News 2024-06-30 14:32:41 +1200

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