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This month's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll sees National and ACT being able to form a Government by a more comfortable margin than last month. Labour continues to languish at a record low while New Zealand First fail to reach the threshold to enter Parliament in this poll.
Here are the headline results:
Both National and Labour are unchanged on last month at 35% and 27%, respectively. ACT is up 1 point to 14% and the Greens are also up to 1 point to 13%.
The smaller parties are NZ First on 3.9% (-1.9 points), the Māori Party on 2.9% (+0.4 points), TOP on 2.7% (+1.7 points), New Conservatives on 0.8% (+0.2 points), Vision NZ on 0.5% (-0.6 points), and the Outdoors & Freedom on 0.2%. (-0.3 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the Parliament:
National and Labour are both up 1 seat on last month to 45 and 35 seats respectively. ACT is up 2 seats to 19 while the Greens pick up 2 seats for a total of 17. The Māori Party is up 1 seat on last month to 4. NZ First would win no seats in Parliament (-7 seats).
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 64 seats is up 3 from last month and would allow National/ACT to form a government. The combined seats for the Centre-Left bloc of 56 is up 4.
Had NZ First hit the five percent threshold, the Centre-Right would still be able to form a government, but only just (61 seats).
Chris Hipkins has a net favourability of +16% (+7 points) while Christopher Luxon has a score -4% (+3 points) and David Seymour is on -13% (-5 points). James Shaw scores of -16%, Rawiri Waititi gets -23% and Winston Peters is on -38%.
Last election National ran on a policy to recalibrate the income tax system to account for inflation since John Key was Prime Minister. No such luck this time – despite Mr Luxon's repeated comments that the Government has wasted money, the tax relief being offered, only account for inflation (fiscal drag) back to 2021!
First the good. They committed to:
Scrapping App Tax. Labour slapped GST on all digital purchases even if the supplier is under the $60,000 threshold, pushing up the prices of Uber and Airbnb
Pausing Chris Hipkins' proposed fuel taxes hikes over the next three years
Dumping the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax – it hasn't even been used for the road infrastructure which had been promised!
Giving some of the money raised through the Emissions Trading Scheme carbon credit auctions back to New Zealanders in the form of a carbon dividend by reducing corporate welfare – but it still wants to keep the political slush fund (just make it smaller)
Dropping Labour’s GST carve out for fruit and vegetable that would increase the profits of supermarkets
Restoring interest deductibility on mortgage payments for landlords
Reducing the bright-line test back to two years – this is just a capital gains tax with another name. Rather than tinker with tax, the National Party should have scrapped it entirely and committed to actually fixing the regulatory taxes that continue to cause the lack of supply and unaffordable housing.
The party says its tax proposals will deliver up to $250 more per fortnight for an average-income family with children. It seeks to do this in two ways:
First, by expanding tax credits, introducing a new childcare tax credit, and increasing Working for Families tax credits. This is a more targeted measure of getting financial support to those on lower incomes compared with other policies such as removing GST of fruit and vegetables; and
Secondly, by adjusting tax brackets for the last two years of inflation.
While the headlines would mislead you, National has watered down its previous pledges to adjust tax brackets to account for inflation since Labour took office in 2017. Never mind since when the brackets were last set back in 2010!
Only adjusting tax brackets for the last two years means that those middle earners not benefiting from their expanded tax credits will still be paying much higher tax on average than they would have been had brackets kept pace with inflation.
The party also committed to review tax brackets every three years, but even that is a backdown from their earlier commitment to indexation.
We say tax brackets should be adjusted for inflation automatically every year, not just when the Finance Minister feels like it.
A policy that basically states 'we'll look at tax relief just prior to each election' is really no different to the status quo.
Despite Christopher Luxon having highlighted the shocking 68 per cent increase in Government spending since 2017 and calling out the Government for its excessive spending on consultants and contractors and other wasteful spending, the savings they have found are tiny.
The party has even had to pledge to introduce new revenue-raising mechanisms to fund its plans, including:
A new tax on foreigners wanting to buy a home in New Zealand. While Christopher Luxon says New Zealand needs foreign direct investment and become more like Ireland, he wants to welcome them with a new tax!
Removing commercial building depreciation. This is literally a Labour policy (to fund their own proposed GST fruit and vege carveout) which will make it less attractive to improve and develop buildings
Hiking the charges to the new immigrants that the National Party says they want to attract (in fairness, it is user-pays).
For those wanting to see something more than a "Labour-lite" economic vision to New Zealand "back on track", this is far from encouraging...
ACT announced its productivity policy this week with a bold target for New Zealand to be in the top 10 fastest growing economies in the OECD.
Under all of the Helen Clark, John Key/Bill English, and Jacinda Ardern/Chris Hipkins governments, New Zealand has continued to become less prosperous and productive than Australia.
Productivity is arguably the most important factor for our long-term prosperity. It is the ultimate driver of higher wages.
ACT's policy would explicitly require the Government to view policy decisions through a productivity lens. They say that it is only with higher incomes and more wealth can New Zealand afford to pay for high-quality public services. ACT reinforced its commitment to meaningful cuts to taxes and (unlike Mr Luxon) wasteful spending.
Our friends at the New Zealand Initiative think tank recently led a business delegation to Ireland where they learnt about that country's spectacular success in improving productivity, growing the economy (thanks, in particular to the country’s openness to foreign direct investment) and rocketing up the OECD economic and living standards league tables.
Ireland’s policies saw their per person income grow from 22% lower than New Zealand in 1979 to 78% higher today. The Initiative's report looks at how we could replicate the success in New Zealand. You can read the report here.
Amidst the whirlwind of the election campaign, you may have missed the Government’s announcement that they are introducing yet another new tax – a Digital Service Tax (DST).
And it isn't just us warning against a DST, even the Government’s own advisors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned the Government that New Zealand exporters could face $90 million in tariffs if we proceed on our own. When countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Turkey and India considered or indeed did implement a DST, the USA responded with tariffs or threats of tariffs unless the tax was withdrawn.
Another concerning aspect of this tax is that it applies to sales (i.e. revenue) rather than profit. Large tech companies such as Uber run at a loss for many years while they are in the initial stages of growing a company. Taxing them on revenue rather than profit could see tech companies such as Uber and Netflix pass these higher costs onto consumers (or even withdraw from New Zealand completely).
Whatever happened to that "no new taxes" promise?
From the desperate political bribes file, Labour have dusted off the old taxpayer-funded dental service.
While the policy sounds appealing on the surface, free dental is nothing to smile about. Just last month, Chris Hipkins said that “the system wouldn’t have the capacity to deal with it, and there would likely be significant investment required just in order to build capacity to meet the need for additional dental care” yet now he is willing to drive the Government’s books further into the red for the sake of buying a few votes!
If you think Chippy can deliver what the old-Chippy said would be too hard, we have 100,000 Kiwibuild houses to sell you.
You're humble Taxpayers' Union has a long memory – Labour appear to have forgotten that back in 2020, the Party promised to deliver an additional 20 mobile dental clinics, but only five have been ordered so far – and the first one hasn’t even arrived yet! So let’s not confuse the promise of more spending with the ability to deliver.
Universal dental is also a costly and unworkable policy that fails to target support at those who need it most. New Zealand only trains 60 dentists a year, and Labour's strict immigration rules make it difficult for more to come in.
Last week, Ollie, our Investigations Co-ordinator, brought to light that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has shelled out a staggering $5 million on private schooling for diplomats' children. What's particularly eye-opening are the amounts spent in countries such as the USA ($817,410.14), Australia ($74,776.98), and the UK ($158,006.02) – nations whose education systems are on par with, if not superior to, New Zealand!
Given the diplomats handsome compensation packages, one can't help but wonder: shouldn't well-compensated diplomats in some of the globe's most developed regions be covering their children’s education expenses?
We say the expenditure comes as a slap in the face to the Kiwi households grappling with financial challenges. You can listen to Ollie on Radio NZ's Morning Report here, or on Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking show here.
The Taxpayers' Union debate series hosted by The Working Group is in full swing. We held our party debate in Auckland on Tuesday evening that saw Willie Jackson, Paul Goldsmith, David Seymour, Ricardo Menéndez March, John Tamihere, and Jenny Marcroft battle it out over the economy, crime, the Treaty and the environment.
Kudos to those politicians – in particular Willie Jackson, whom we often spar with – for fronting up and getting stuck into what was the fieriest debate of the election so far. It was great fun although some were perhaps enjoying themselves a bit too much... Willie Jackson got a little too carried away by initially claiming that National and ACT would abolish the minimum wage and the Prime Minister was forced to clarify his comments.
On Tuesday, we head to Kerikeri for our Northland electorate debate. The details to buy tickets are here.
From gamekeeper to poacher? Casey Costello on why she has left the Taxpayers’ Union board to stand for Parliament🎙️🎧
Casey Costello has been on our board since 2019 (including 8 months as our Acting Chair) but recently stepped down to become a candidate for New Zealand First (the Taxpayers’ Union is, of course, non-partisan and not affiliated to any party).
Jordan asked Casey to join the podcast to discuss her work fighting for her political passions: accountability in government, and equality of civil rights. They also cover what drives Casey, and why she chose NZ First over ACT or National. You can listen to Casey’s exit interview here.
Thank you for your support.
Offsetting Behaviour Transport GPS
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The Daily Blog Taxpayers’ Union Napier Election debate hosted by The Working Group NOW WITH LABOUR CANDIDATE Mark Hutchinson
Hawke's Bay App National's Katie Nimon leading in race for Napier Seat, according to new poll
Newstalk ZB The Huddle: How low can Labour go before October?
The Post Public Service Watch: Rates dissatisfaction a growing storm
Stuff National leads polling in bellwether Napier, but 23 per cent of voters undecided
Interest.co.nz Cyclone & flood damaged homes exempt from bright-line test in voluntary buyout
Newstalk ZB The Huddle: Does David Seymour need to apologise? (00:38)
RNZ MFAT spends $5 million on sending diplomat's children to private schools
NewstalkZB Oliver Bryan: Taxpayers' Union reveals $5m of taxpayer dollars spent on private schooling for diplomats' children overseas
The Platform Taxpayers Union's Connor Molloy on extravagant public service -"Culture of waste"
NBR Air NZ revises capital plan, pays first dividend since 2019
Waikato Times Thames joins Innovating Streets project flops
The Press Cantabrians to be asked for stadium funding, may face levy on tickets
Chris Lynch Bill lowering voting age to 16 triggers alarm for Taxpayers' Union
Newstalk ZB Midday Edition: 29 August 2023
The Daily Blog Taxpayers’ Union Ilam Election debate hosted by The Working Group
BusinessDesk Ilam poll shows Raf Manji and TOP victory 'possible' but tough
NZ Herald Election 2023: National way ahead in Ilam, denting TOP’s chances of entering Parliament
Interest.co.nz A Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll shows The Opportunities Party leader Raf Manji trailing behind National in the Ilam electorate
Newshub The Opportunities Party polling third in Christchurch's Ilam, cutting off path to Parliament
RNZ Christchurch's Ilam electorate swings back to National, according to latest poll
Newstalk ZB The Huddle: What can we expect from National's tax policy?
The Press Ilam's candidates struggle to cut through with voters
Interest.co.nz Reaction pours in to the National Party tax plan, much of it critical but some of it in support
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RNZ The Panel with Julie Woods and Nick Leggett (Part 2) – Voting Age
The Press When mention of a crisis is booed, we have a problem
RNZ CTU taks out full page attack ad on National in NZ Herald
Otago Daily Times Nats call out Labour over 'most negative' campaign
Otago Daily Times Hipkins says National 'thin-skinned' over attack advert
Newshub Election 2023: Chris Hipkins calls National 'thin-skinned' for getting offended by union ads, shows examples of attacks on him
The Spinoff Is the CTU running psyops for the NationalParty?
Interest.co.nz National accuses rival Labour of mean spirited attacks over union billboard showing a scowling picture of Christopher Luxon
RNZ The Panel with Moata Tamaira and Mark Knoff-Thomas (Part 1) – Adverts
RNZ National cries foul over new union attack ad against Chris Luxon
Newstalk ZB 'They wouldn't be alone': Finance Minister defends CTU attack ad targeting opposition
RNZ National decries CTU attack ads targeting Christopher Luxon
Newstalk ZB The Front Bench: Attack ads already being published- could this be the most negative campaign yet?
NZ Herald Chris Hipkins plays down unions advert attacking Christopher Luxon, labels National ‘thin-skinned’
The Daily Blog Taxpayers’ Union Party Election debate hosted by The Working Group
NZ Herald Election 2023: Co-governance, Treaty, Māori health, crime and cost of living topics for tonight’s debate
Waatea News CTU attack ads get under National skin
NZ Herald Election 2023: Audrey Young - Christopher Luxon attack advertisement a timely distraction for National
NZ Herald Election 2023: Council of Trade Unions locks building and calls police after anti-Luxon ad generates ‘concerning’ flak
NZ Herald Taxpayers' Union debate
Newstalk ZB Jordan Williams: Taxpayers' Union executive director supports the creation of an Independent Costings Watchdog
Newshub Election 2023: Willie Jackson, David Seymour trade barbs over justice policies
Gisborne Herald Election campaign piquing interest
NBR Aviation sector calls out for collaboration on decarbonisation
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Pacific News Network News 06 September 2023 – Taxpayers' Union Debate 1
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Newshub Election 2023: Labour's Chris Hipkins says Willie Jackson made incorrect claim about National, ACT 'in heat of moment'
1News Hipkins defends MP's 'incorrect' minimum wage comments
BusinessDesk QLDC awards CEO with 8% salary boost, while rates rocket
Waatea News Seymour’s treaty act would overturn law
RNZ Hipkins to have a word with MPs after incorrect statements about National
Waatea News 6th Sept 2023 English News Bulletin 3:30pm – Taxpayers' Union Debate
Newstalk ZB Willie Jackson: Labour Minister maintains he's not deliberately disseminating misinformation after last night's debate
Pacific News Network News 06 September 2023 – Taxpayers' Union Debate 2
Te Karere TVNZ Willie Jackson addresses “most dangerous man in NZ” comments
Newsroom Reserve Bank chair’s ‘totally inappropriate’ work with National Party
Offsetting Behaviour Debating tax
CarbonNews Mixed reactions to Nats EV charger proposal
Newstalk ZB Beehive Buzz: Election 2023, attack ads and Trade Dispute with Canada
The Spinoff Everyone running in Ilam needs to win
Big newsletter today – we learn how the 'other half' (that is, those bureaucrats in Wellington) live. A new poll is bad news for the Government, but good news for Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters, plus Jordan sits down with expert pollster (and Taxpayers' Union Co-founder!) David Farrar to ask exactly how polls work, how the sample is selected, and why I'm never called! We also get to the bottom of that Green Party advertising we told you about last week.
But first up this week: It's been revealed that the Ministry for Pacific Peoples spent $39,262.22 on a lavish farewell party 'event' for its outgoing CEO, Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae.
Mr Leauanae – who was moving down the road to become CEO of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage – was showered with $7,500 worth of gifts, which included carvings and fine mats, with the Ministry spending $3,000 on “discretionary items” including photography, flowers and ceremonial drummers.
This comes not long after we exposed that the same Ministry had spent $260,000 on catering last year despite only having 127 staff members (in 2017, they had just 35!).
We say that it is stories like this that demonstrate how out of touch Wellington has become. While many New Zealanders are facing a cost of living crisis, those on the taxpayer dime are happy to continue to live it up.
As Jordan pointed out on the AM Show this morning, this is the Ministry that is supposed to be representing some of New Zealand's poorest communities. Clearly they have lost touch if they can spend forty grand on a party without anyone blinking an eyelid (until, that is, someone sends them an OIA). $40,000 is more than five years worth of tax for someone on the minimum wage!
It appears that there is a growing multi-billion dollar hole in the Government accounts caused by their reckless fiscal management and out-of-control spending that has significantly weakened the economy and plunged the tax take.
We will know for certain how much trouble the country is in when the Government opens the books in September for the pre-election economic and fiscal update. But one thing is clear: Even Grant Robertson is worried. Recently he called an emergency meeting with the chief executives of Government departments instructing them to stop increasing spending.
But restraint or 'freezing' isn’t enough. With Government debt reaching almost $79,000 per household, Grant Robertson needs to significantly slash the billions in wasteful spending to help get the books back in the black.
We are calling on Grant Robertson to slash his wasteful spending to get debt under control and begin to grow the economy. If you have 30 seconds, add your name in calling for the Government to cut wasteful spending.
This month's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll sees National and ACT able to form a Government on their own. But only just. The poll suggests yet another return to Parliament for Winston 'never-rule-him-out' Peters.
Based on this poll, just a small shift in these numbers could see Winston Peters holding the balance of power yet again – with Mr Luxon needing both ACT and NZ First to form a government.
Here are the headline results:
National increases 1.6 points on last month to 34.9% while Labour drops 4.0 points to 27.1%. ACT is down 0.2 points to 13.0% while the Greens are up 3.1 points to 12.0%.
The smaller parties are NZ First on 5.8% (+2.5 points), the Māori Party 2.5% (-2.5 points), Vision NZ on 1.1% (+1.1 points), TOP on 1.0% (+0.7 points), New Conservatives on 0.6% (+0.2 points), Outdoors and Freedom on 0.5% (+0.5 points), and Democracy NZ on 0.1% (-1.8 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the 120-seat Parliament:
National is up 1 seat on last month to 44 while Labour is down 7 seats to 34. ACT remains steady on 17 while the Greens pick up 3 seats to a total of 15. The Māori Party is down 4 seats on last month to 3. NZ First re-enters Parliament on these numbers with 7 seats.
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 61 seats is up 1 on last month and would allow them to form government. The combined seats for the Centre-Left bloc of 52 is down 8 on last month.
For preferred Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins is up 2 points on last month to 25% while Christopher Luxon is up 5 points to 25%. This is the first time the two have been tied in our poll. David Seymour is up 1 point to 7% while Winston Peters is also on 7% (up 3 points).
When we release our monthly poll, we get hundreds of questions about how the polling is done, who picks who is called, whether it's land line or cell phones, and whether the data can even be relied upon.
So we asked the guy Sir John Key said is "New Zealand's best pollster" to take us through how the polling works. Well before co-founding the Taxpayers' Union, David had established Curia Market Research and has developed a reputation for professional and insightful market analysis.
The National Party revealed their transport policy last week, proposing to scrap the $7.4 billion Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) project. Taxpayers will breathe a sigh of relief that the LGWM wasteful consultant-driven boondoggle is set for the scrapheap. Despite the name, every project to date has done anything but get the city moving.
Despite the lack of asphalt laid, consultant expenses have already exceeded $130 million, while the overall costs have ballooned from $2.3 billion in 2018 to $7.4 billion – that's $3,766 per Kiwi household, just for Wellington.
It comes as no surprise that the only project completed by the bureaucracy to date is a $2.4 million pedestrian crossing – so much for getting the city moving.
Some people have argued that because Mayor Tory Whanau was elected on a pro-LGWM platform, the project should continue. But there is a difference between central government running over the will of local communities who are spending their own money and central government deciding not to fund a wasteful project with money that comes from all taxpayers – not just those living in Wellington.
Amidst high inflation and living costs, families are suffering and more spending on LGWM will only require future taxes and rates to be increased even further. With Labour also hinting at withdrawing support for LGWM, it is instead time for the Council to deliver a no-nonsense transport plan that focuses on cost and efficiency rather than ideology.
Taxpayers fork out a lot of money to support political parties. In addition to the Parliamentary Services budget that goes well beyond advertising MPs' contact details and electorate work, each election cycle, we are made to foot the bill for broadcasting allocations. This year alone, taxpayers be contributing $4.1 million towards party political propaganda on our TV screens.
Such funding favours established parties while creating substantial barriers for new entrants. This is despite the major parties such as National, ACT and Labour amassing over $7.5 million in funds last year. One has to question the need for them to receive taxpayer subsidy. Taxpayers' Union – Curia polling suggests that 51% of New Zealanders oppose the broadcast allocation while 61% of Kiwis are against the direct funding of political parties.
Taxpayer funding for political parties risks tilting the scales of our democratic process, disproportionately benefiting long-standing political giants. For a robust democratic process, it's time that political parties embrace a shift towards private funding to bolster democracy, ensure parties actively seek and value the backing of their constituents and promote greater transparency.
In the last Taxpayer Update, we reported that Green Party local election adverts on Facebook had used Parliamentary Service (i.e. taxpayer funded) advertising account.
We were contacted by the Greens' Chief of Staff last week who has shown us evidence that the mistake was in fact by their advertising agency who had put the incorrect 'paid for by' disclaimer statement on the adverts. As such, no taxpayer money was used towards election advertising. We are delighted to be able to clarify this and appreciate the Greens being so forthcoming in showing us the documentation.
Until next time!
Whanganui Chronicle Whanganui District Council chief executive says $22 million spend on contractors and consultants most cost-effective option
NewstalkZB Morning Edition: 03 August 2023 – Ratepayers' Report (01:32)
Greymouth Star Coast residential rates 'some of the most affordable' [print only]
The Westport News BDC high earners top Coast [print only]
Newsroom Wairarapa communities light the way for new era of local council mergers
Wānaka App QLDC makes the podium for highest rates in New Zealand
Central App Mayor’s column: Context important when comparing rates
Kaikoura Star Kaikoura has 12th highest rates in the country [print only]
BusinessDesk Business of Government: Act wants to stop work, the cost of campaign promises, and more...
Northland Age FROM THE OTHER SIDE Democracy seems to be against the ropes in NZ [print only]
Te Awamutu News Council keeps mum on payments
AM Show Taxpayers' Union slams shortsighted Ministry for Pacific Peoples after $40k farewell party
RNZ Taxpayers Union on Ministry of Pacific Peoples $40,000 staff farewell
An investigation by the Taxpayers' Union has exposed that the Green Party used money meant for MPs constituency activities to pay for election ads for their local council candidates.
Our Investigations Co-ordinator, Oliver Bryan, uncovered that the Greens used taxpayer-funded Parliamentary resources to boost Facebook advertisements linking to a political website advertising Green Party candidates across the country – hitting 10,000 New Zealanders on one day alone.
The rules are clear: Parliamentary Service resources are not to be used for electioneering. While sometimes there are grey areas between what is party political and parliamentary advertising, this is a clear breach that is a violation of the rules.
One of the many adverts we have uncovered, was this:
But there is one small problem: the Greens didn't have any council candidates in Christchurch!
If they have not done so already, we say the Greens need to pay back back these misused taxpayer dollars. Parliamentary funding should not be used as a backdoor means for taxpayer funding of political parties. We've given the Party until the end of the week to confirm they've refunded the full amounts before we head to the Auditor General.
Update: Moments before this newsletter was sent, we got a response from the Greens - they claim that despite the "paid for" statement (meaning that the Parliamentary Service Facebook "Ad Account" and Business Manager were used), they still deny any inappropriate spending. More to come next week...
Just when you thought Labour's Three Waters 'reforms' couldn't get any worse, yet another painful fact turns up. This time it is the revelation that the Chief Executive Officers for the original four water service entities are being paid between $602,500 to $815,500 per year – a big jump up from what the Chief Executives of Watercare and Wellington Water were being paid.
The Department of Internal Affairs refused the NZ Herald's Official Information Requests on the grounds that revealing the salaries of the CEOs would breach privacy. But, once the entities have been created the information will be required to be disclosed – it is just officials trying to avoid political embarrassment.
Nania Mahuta sold Three Waters as a way to save money. But taking control away from local communities allows faceless bureaucrats to snub transparency and accountability with taxpayers paying more. This example is case in point.
Speaking of Three Waters, stay tuned for a big announcement from the Taxpayers' Union. We've been working on something for a while, and I can't wait to tell you all about it...
The Department of Conservation is paying staff bonuses of up to $3,500 a year for participation in Māori language courses. But when asked whether any of the roles in the Department required te reo proficiency, DoC admitted that it had no such roles.
At a time when DoC is scrambling around trying to find ways to dig itself out of a multi-million dollar black hole, we say it shouldn't be spending taxpayers’ money on skills that are not practical requirements of the job.
Coincidentally, since Callum arrived in New Zealand he's been attending te reo classes outside of work hours and for no bonus payment – why should it be any different for DoC staff? You can watch my comments on Te Ao Māori news here (skip to 27:16).
The Department of Internal Affairs recently closed its consultation on its so-called 'Safer Online Services and Media Platforms' discussion paper. In short, they want to 'protect you' from this newsletter.
I'm not kidding. The proposals are so far reaching, an undemocratic and unaccountable regulator would have the power to censor content that it deems to be 'harmful' or 'unsafe'. Even these newsletter updates from your humble Taxpayers' Union would be subject to the proposed suppression regulatory regime.
The Government argues that these proposals are necessary to reduce and remove harmful and unsafe content from the internet. But claiming words and political arguments are 'harmful' or 'unsafe' is a slippery slope that would likely lead to unpopular or contrarian opinions being silenced.
The Taxpayers’ Union is hosting a series of debates in key electorates and on finance and party policies in the run up to this year’s election. The debates will give candidates and parties the opportunity to set out their stall to voters in advance of the election.
We are teaming up again with our friends at The Working Group podcast. Hosts Martyn Bradbury and Damien Grant will moderate the debates. Like The Working Group, the debates will be streamed live on The Daily Blog, the Taxpayers’ Union website, Facebook, and Freeview Channel 200.
Prior to the electorate and finance debates, we will be releasing exclusive Taxpayers’ Union – Curia polling.
Rather than stuffy town halls, we're hosting the debates at pubs across the country. We hope to see many of you there. 🍻
More information will be released in the coming weeks at www.taxpayers.org.nz/debates
This week on Taxpayer Talk, Taxpayers' Union I sat down with National Party MP, Chris Bishop, to discuss the Government's proposed replacement to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and what National would do with resource management if elected.
Chris Bishop is National's spokesperson for RMA reform, Infrastructure and Housing and has been leading National's opposition to the contentious RMA reforms. In the podcast, Chris Bishop commits the National Party to repealing the Government's RMA replacement bills prior to Christmas if National is able to form a Government after the election. Chris makes the point that although the current RMA is bad, the proposed replacement is even worse and will make it even more difficult to build and develop.
As well as what's wrong with the proposed reforms, Chris discusses the principles National's alternative would be based on. They also cover a number of other policy areas, including indexation of tax brackets, the policies National would scrap are covered, plus, as campaign chair, how Chris believes National can win the election.
Thank you for your support.
The Platform Hipkins betrays Three Waters promise
The Platform Jim Rose on the threat the Greens' wealth tax poses to NZ
Te Ao Māori News DOC's te reo Māori proficiency bonuses (27:16)
Crux New Māori advisor for QLDC, but the salary is secret
Otago Daily Times University’s consultancy cost increase ‘exorbitant’ [paywalled]
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Te Ao Māori News National's proposed Minister for Hunting and Fishing (22:29)
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Scoop Election Podcast: Greens use parliamentary funds for local campaigns
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This week's slight dip in the inflation figures will not come as much consolation for families across New Zealand who are struggling with the cost of living. While the overall rate may have dropped, food price increases and domestic inflation both continue to remain stubbornly high despite the aggressive interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank.
The Government likes to talk tough on the cost of living, but fails to acknowledge that its own spending is one of the biggest drivers of the problem.
Even the International Monetary Fund said last month that Grant Robertson needs to rein in his excessive spending. If the Finance Minister really wants to bring down inflation, he needs to cut the waste.
Here are some places he could start...
This week, we revealed that taxpayer money is being used to reimburse animal welfare fines for farmers at our taxpayer-owned farming company, Pamū (formerly known as Landcorp).
Pamū states that they are ‘proud guardians of our land and animals' but the string of offences that taxpayers have been made to stump up for paint a very different picture.
You wouldn't expect your employer to pay a speeding ticket you received while working, would you? Well that's what is happening here. Taxpayers are being forced to subsidize the small minority of farmers who mistreat their stock. This isn't even the first time this has happened, the Taxpayers' Union called out exactly the same practice by what was then called Landcorp three years ago.
Allowing Pamū farmers to get off lightly is unfair on private sector farmers who work hard to maintain world-leading standards of care. It's certainly unfair on the animals who suffer. Having taxpayers cover the fines removes individual responsibility and weakens the deterrent effect that ensures Pamū farmers treat their animals with the care they deserve. If you would like to contact Pamū urging them to stop paying these fines, you can do so here.
What roundup of Government waste would be complete without a party for politicians and public servants?
Your humble Taxpayers' Union this week revealed that despite Labour opposing the Pūhoi to Warkworth highway (remember Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson labelling it the 'holiday highway'?), they couldn't give up an opportunity for a knees-up!
Having learnt nothing from the lavish Transmission Gully opening ceremony last year, Waka Kotahi – along with Auckland Transport this time – spent at least $44,380.74 on the opening ceremony for the Pūhoi to Warkworth highway.
And one has to question whether there was that much to celebrate. This vastly over budget $880 million road is already falling apart at the seams. Multiple internal reports made it clear that landslides were leading to cracked barriers and warped surfaces, and this has been happening regularly since at least 2019. Waka Kotahi had also only completed 8 of 117 tests at the time of opening.
Let's not forget that at the start of this month, the Government hiked taxes on petrol by 29 c/litre and road user charges by 56%. Motorists can rightly be annoyed that during a cost of living crisis, these tax hikes are paying for, well, parties.
It is time again to roll out the red carpet for another instalment of 'Reel Waste', brought to you by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC). Earlier this week, Taxpayers' Union Investigations Co-ordinator, Oliver Bryan, pulled back the curtain on their recent Cannes trip.
Four members of the NZFC's staff embarked on a jaunt to the French Riviera, courtesy of your hard-earned money, costing $73,000. They spent $31,000 on plane tickets, $24,000 on wining and dining in style, and hosting a series of events, including 'producer speed dating', and $17,000 on lavish accommodation.
And guess what? They arrived in Cannes five whole days before the festival officially kicked off and stayed for three days after it wrapped up! Now, call me a sceptic, but this sounds more of a holiday to me than a work trip. Something smells a bit off, and it isn't just the scent of croissants and escargot.
Chris Hipkins is trying to rule out introducing a capital gains tax or a wealth (i.e. asset) tax under his leadership. While he may have ended up with a few disgruntled caucus members, as the leader of a majority government, that is a promise he can make with reasonable certainty. If the Prime Minister does manage to hang on after the election, however, he will undoubtedly require the support of the Green Party who have very different ideas.
Pulling together the world’s leading economic research on the effects of asset taxes, the report finds that the Greens' proposals would be seriously damaging for our economy and would discourage savings, innovation and entrepreneurial growth.
David Parker's radical reforms to the Resource Management Act were back in Parliament this week. Despite the increasing public opposition to this 'Three Waters 2.0', Labour rammed the undemocratic proposals through their second reading just three weeks after the whopping 1,377 page select committee report was released. How many MPs do you think actually read, and fully understood, the recommendations in that time?
Our campaign against the Government’s proposed replacement to the Resource Management Act has been going strong with more and more people and politicians starting to take notice. Earlier this month, our Deputy Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, released a video outlining the problems with the proposed reforms and why they are destined to be a costly failure.
While proponents of centralization often make wild claims of efficiency gains through economies of scale and a more streamlined decision-making process, this is far from the reality. As Connor explains well, every time in recent history that a Government has tried to centralize power, we end up with higher costs, worse decision making and less accountability for those making bad decisions.
Resource management and urban planning is one of the key factors that will either stifle or power-up productivity and so it is fundamentally important that it is done well. You can help spread the word by taking a moment to share Connor’s video on Facebook so we can alert as many people as possible to what the Government is doing.
Thank you for your support.
NZ Herald New Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll delivers more bad news to Labour’s Chris Hipkins and National’s Chris Luxon, but a boost for Te Pāti Māori
Stuff Labour hit with second bad poll result in as many days
The Daily Blog BOOM: NEW POLL – HUNG PARLIAMENT
NewstalkZB Barry Soper: ZB senior political correspondent doubtful Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll will be reflected in election
NewstalkZB The Huddle: Did the Government think they could get away with a wealth tax in an election year?
NZ Herald Labour’s Chris Hipkins eyes new tax policy as poll struggles bite, rules out wealth, capital gains tax
NZ Herald Editorial: A tale of tax reform and two new polls
Newshub Election 2023: Political pundit Bryce Edwards says back-to-back bad poll results will have Labour 'very worried'
The Kaka by Bernard Hickey The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
NewstalkZB Afternoon Edition: 13 July 2023 (Poll)
Waatea News Support for Māori Party widens
The Listener Political week in review: Labour polling down as Chris Hipkins missing vision
Hawke's Bay Today Canny View: Don’t let tax creep get you down
RNZ Week in Politics: Hipkins makes a captain's call as Labour slides in the polls
Gisborne Herald Wealth tax call a high-risk strategy
NZ Herald Poll of polls: Race tightens with National only just ahead of Labour
NewstalkZB The Huddle: Are the Commonwealth Games worth preserving?
The Post The risk the Greens’ wealth tax poses to our economy
Exclusively for our supporters like you, here are the results of July's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll:
National drops 2.4 points on last month to 33.3% while Labour drops 1.8 points to 31.1%. ACT is up 0.5 points to 13.2% while the Greens are down 0.8 points to 8.9%.
The smaller parties are the Māori Party 5.0% (+1.5 points), NZ First on 3.3% (+1.7 points), Democracy NZ on 1.9% (+1 point), New Conservatives on 0.4% (-0.9 points), and TOP on 0.3% (-0.5 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the 120-seat Parliament:
National is down 3 seats on last month to 43 while Labour is down 1 seat to 41. ACT is up 1 seat to 17 while the Greens are unchanged on last month at 12 seats. The Māori Party is up 3 seats on last month to 7.
The combined projected seats for the Centre Right of 60 seats is down 2 on last month while the combined total for the Centre Left is up 2 seats to 60. On these results it would be a hung parliament – meaning neither bloc could command a majority in the House of Representatives.
Just 22.1% (-2.7 points on last month) of New Zealanders think the country is heading in the right direction while 64.5% (+7.1 points) think the country is heading in the wrong direction. This results in a new record low for the net country direction of -42.4% (-9.8 points).
The Prime Minister today announced that he is ruling out a wealth or capital gains tax despite having asked officials to give the Government advice for consideration of introducing a wealth tax as part of the budget process earlier this year.
The Taxpayers' Union has been calling on the PM to commit to this for some time, but it seems another poll earlier this week that had Labour at its lowest level of support for many years may have bounced him into making this announcement. He understands that such proposals are politically toxic. But these aren't just politically bad, they are economically ruinous too.
No country has ever taxed itself into prosperity. Mr Hipkins shouldn't just be ruling out these two taxes, but ruling out any new taxes while he is Prime Minister – including extending or raising existing taxes. Only by doing this can we look to make New Zealand a high-growth, high productivity country where people want to live, work and invest.
A word of caution. We cheered when Jacinda Ardern made a commitment to rule out "any new taxes", but she broke her word – repeatedly – despite the Labour majority. Since the 2020 campaign, we have seen:
> Continued tax hikes by stealth through bracket creep
> Introduction of the ute tax
> Annual tax increases to alcohol and tobacco
> The extension of the bright line test
> Stopping interest deductibility for rental properties
> Increasing the trust tax rate
Plus, today's poll confirms that any Government Chris Hipkins leads post-election would have to involve the Greens and the Māori Party who both want nothing less than exorbitant tax hikes and new asset taxes.
The Government has established as new 'Grocery Commissioner', which it says will tackle New Zealand’s excessive grocery prices. But while it likes bashing the supermarket companies, the real issues behind paying too make for groceries lies in over-regulation.
The grocery duopoly is propped up by restrictions on both foreign competition and land use. High corporate taxes and the ban on foreign companies owning land make New Zealand an unattractive market for international discount chains to invest in.
And the Government has doubled down with the Grocery Industry Competition Bill’s ridiculous requirement for potential future competitors to supply their competition (i.e. the two big established players) with produce at wholesale prices.
Restrictions under the Resource Management Act (RMA) prevent would-be competitors from setting up shop, resulting in localized monopolies and price gouging. David Parker’s RMA reforms are only going to make this worse.
And all of this is before the Government continues to drive inflation through its reckless overspending. It is little wonder food price inflation of 12.5% is causing families to feel the pain.
Instead of fixing the drivers of high food costs, the Government appears to be trying to shift the blame. Adding more bureaucracy isn’t going to reduce barriers to entry and cut grocery costs.
As if the census earlier this year was not disastrous enough with its poor return rate, your humble Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that up to $2 million was budgeted for handing out support vouchers to get non-responding individuals and households to complete the census.
From that $2 million budget, $1 million went to communities nationwide and the other half went to households in Auckland. Across both streams of work, vouchers were given out at up to $100 dollars in value. As of 18 May, the total spend on food and fuel vouchers was $176,090.
Taxpayers' Union Researcher Alex Murphy looks into this issue in more detail in a blogpost and asks whether it is really the right approach to offer those who refuse to fill out their census forms a free meal. The scheme leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth.
Thank you for your support.
NZ Herald Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown sets record for the Super City’s highest rates increase ever
Business Desk Queenstown adds $30m to ratepayer bill to pay debt
The Post How the Government is propping up our excessive grocery prices
It has been another busy week in politics. While the Prime Minister has been away in China, his Ministers have continued to cause him problems at home. Having already lost three Ministers in the last few months, he will have been relieved to hear that the Privileges Committee found Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, not guilty of contempt of Parliament. Instead it found that her incorrect statement to the House on the publication of school attendance data was simply due to "a high degree of negligence". Well that's ok then!
On Tuesday, the Environment Select Committee dropped its reports on the two bills with which the Government proposes to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA). The reports setting out the Committee's recommended amendments total a staggering 1,377 pages – longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy!
While we are still working through the detail of these reports, from what we've seen, this revised version of the bills is even worse than the original. With hundreds of amendments to work through and just two months left before Parliament rises, it is simply inexcusable to seek to rush through such a fundamental and radical change to the planning system. We called on the Government to go back out to consultation, but David Parker told Heather du Plessis-Allan he had no intention of doing so.
In better news, our campaign to raise awareness about these reforms seems to be having an impact. Taxpayers’ Union – Curia polling undertaken last month showed strong public opposition. 48% of respondents believed that planning rules should be set by local councils compared with just 26% who preferred that these rules be set by the proposed regional planning committees. 26% of respondents were unsure.
As with Three Waters, our roadshow tour has strengthened the positions of opposition parties. After previously only having committed to amend any replacement to the RMA that the Government might pass before the election, this week the National Party joined ACT in committing to repeal. The Greens also dissented in the Select Committee report, which is why Labour wants to ram this through before it loses its majority at the election. To help us put a stop to that, chip in to the fighting fund here.
The search for the purpose of the New Zealand Space Agency continues, and most recently, it took the form of a sky-high junket for two staff members in the USA.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) treated some of New Zealand's Space Agency staff to business-class flights to Washington DC, costing $31,000. They attended the 25th Annual Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference (no, we don't know it either).
But the trip wasn't just about the conference itself. Oh no, MBIE officials decided to extend their stay for a leisurely five days. The conference itself lasted only two days. The officials enjoyed the luxurious Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel, incurring a bill exceeding $5,500. Nice 'work' if you can get it!
MBIE defended the business-class tickets and the length of trip, claiming they were "in line with policy." Seems like a very tone-deaf policy during a cost-of-living crisis.
We say it's time MBIE focused on its actual responsibilities instead of squandering our hard-earned cash on justifying the existence of our Space Agency.
On the Common Room this week, our Co-founder, David Farrar, discussed media bias in New Zealand.
The makeup of New Zealand's media landscape with very few centre-right media outlets is causing New Zealanders to lose trust in media. We know from research and scientific polling that journalists who classify their political ideology as left-leaning outnumber those who classify themselves as right-leaning by 5 to 1 – a stark contrast to the New Zealand population.
David also examines the controversial Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF). While media outlets receiving taxpayer funds are keen to stress that this does not bias their reporting, our public polling shows that most New Zealanders believe government funding undermines media independence – something that is in itself harmful even if the funding has no real influence at all.
As the fund is wrapping up (although some projects will remain funded until 2026) we have created a list of the top recipients of the PIJF since its inception.
You might remember the open letter from last month signed by various wealthy people, celebrities, and former civil servants that called for higher taxes. The letter began with "We write as people who are frustrated with how much tax we pay. We want to pay more".
We were concerned with how distressing not paying enough tax must be for these individuals so your humble Taxpayers’ Union kindly wrote to them with details on how they could make an additional contribution to the Government's coffers by making a donation into the Crown Treasury bank account.
A month on, we checked in with Treasury to see how many millions had been generously deposited by these virtuous benefactors. We were shocked to discover that not a single person who said they wanted to pay more had made a contribution. Not even one.
These champagne socialists clearly weren't prepared to put their money where their mouths were. As we said at the time, we all agree that good public services are important, but there is so much Government waste that needs to be cut back, that tax rises are simply unjustifiable.
I hope you managed to catch our advert in yesterday's New Zealand Herald on Grant Robertson's latest action to clean out your wallet. As of today, the Government hikes petrol tax by 29 cents/L, Road User Charges by (at least) 55%, alcohol taxes by 6.6%, and the ute tax by up to $1,725.
The cost of living crisis has been driven by the cost of government crisis. Government spending is out of control and has forced the Reserve Bank to hike interest rates, which will compound the pain for families needing to renew their mortgages.
This unnecessary cash grab will be used to fund nice-to-haves such as fancy new Teslas for the already well off, loss-making railways, and barely used cycleways. Hardworking families, farmers and tradies are being forced to subsidize the lifestyles of better-off city residents.
These tax hikes are completely avoidable if the Government can bring itself to stop wasting other people’s hard-earned money.
Thank you for your support.
Newshub Indefensible, or necessary? The tool to solve health inequities that turned into a political football
Stuff David Farrar: Labour's spending 60% more on health for longer waiting times and fewer surgeries
Fed Talks Restoring Farmer Confidence: Feds' General Election Platform 2023 (17:52)
Rural News Farmers need less red tape, not handouts
With the support of hundreds of supporters like you, we managed to secure a four-page lift-out in the NZ Herald this week to coincide with the final day on our 'Hands Off Our Homes: Stop Central Planning Committees' roadshow.
David Parker's reforms would strip democratic control over resource allocation and planning decisions from local councils and place them in the hands of unelected, co-governed central planning committees.
The Government has learnt its lesson from Three Waters and isn't spending millions of taxpayer dollars on TV adverts (or otherwise talking about what they are doing) this time. Our main objective with the nationwide roadshow tour was to raise awareness about these reforms and explain to New Zealanders what these radical changes will mean for them.
Over the coming weeks we will continue to expose Minister Parker's Soviet-style central planning committees for what they are and make it a major political thorn in the Government's side as we head towards October's election.
We can only force this matter onto the political agenda with people power. If you haven't already, please take a moment to add your name to the petition opposing these undemocratic reforms.
Not content with ripping away democratic control of water infrastructure and planning powers from local councils, a Government-appointed panel this week released their final report into the future of local government.
As we predicted, the report advocates for even more centralisation and removal of local voice and democratic accountability from decision making. The report recommends reorganizing local government with "the resource management reform boundaries as a starting point for discussions". 😳
This would amount to a mass amalgamation of New Zealand's councils further reducing the ratepayers' ability to engage in the democratic process.
New Zealand is one of the most highly centralized countries in the world. Just a tenth of government expenditure is delivered through our councils. And those councils are extremely large by international comparisons. Auckland's Super City is a prime example of bigger not being better – rather than save money it's led to more managers, more layers of bureaucracy, and much higher rates.
This Review presented a great opportunity to fix the issues in local councils and put power closer to the people, Instead it has focussed on identity politics and public sector gimmicks like citizens’ assemblies and "participatory budgeting". And the only structural reforms it proposes would likely see more centralizations and a further undermining of democratic accountability.
New Zealanders aren’t interested in nebulous concepts like embedding a wellbeing focus in local government – they want to see high quality services delivered at a local level for the lowest rates possible. That means small, democratically accountable, powerful local councils where local people have the opportunity every three years to kick out politicians who aren’t performing.
At the end of this month, in the middle of a cost of living crisis, taxpayers up and down New Zealand will be slapped with four new tax increases, so get ready as Grant Robertson is coming for your wallet.
On 1 July, the following taxes are increasing:
🛑 Petrol excise by 29 cents/litre (including GST)
🛑 Road user charges by 56%
🛑 Ute tax by up to $1,725
🛑 Alcohol tax by 6.6%
Worse still, all four tax increases will have a disproportionately large impact on rural and poorer households.
Cost of living crisis? What cost of living crisis?
The fuel excise and diesel road user charge increases will punish those who often don't have any other choice but to drive either due to where they live or the nature of their work.
Similarly, the ute tax will slam hard-working farmers and tradies who simply don't have any other option but to drive a ute – for them, they are tools of the trade. This increase is particularly cruel for those who lost vehicles in the recent flooding and will now have to pay up to $6,900 in tax just to replace a damaged work vehicle.
And where does this money go? To subsidize those in the cities (where public transport is an option) so they can buy themselves a new Tesla.
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have already signed our petition calling for the ute tax to be scrapped. You can sign the petition here.
After all those tax hikes, you may need a beer or two to relax but, after a 6.9% alcohol excise hike last year, it's going up a further 6.6% this year too! Cheers.
David Parker’s Tax Principles Bill faced scrutiny at Select Committee last week, and of course your humble Taxpayers’ Union was there to give them a piece of taxpayers’ minds.
Scores of interested parties turned up to rip holes in this bill, which if nothing else shows one thing: Despite David Parker’s protestations that his 7 ‘principles’ were universally agreed upon fact, clearly they are little more than the preferences of one man and his lackeys.
For instance, take the Government’s attempt to enshrine in law the idea that tax systems must be progressive. Our economist, Ray Deacon, made the point that “there is no reason why a flat tax applied across all income levels, with an appropriately structured system of transfer payments, cannot achieve the goals that a progressive tax system is aiming for.” As it happens, even the Inland Revenue Department agrees with us!
Many of these "principles" would screw the scrum by shutting down democratic debate on our tax system by claiming Labour's opinions are objective fact and handing the power to dictate tax policy to an unelected Commissioner. If these principles are universal, Minister Parker must live in a different universe to us.
Ray also suggested that it would be more appropriate to rename the proposal as the Tax Preferences Bill. At least then the Government would be honest in their intentions. You can watch our submission here.
In our last update, we called for Michael Wood's resignation over his failure to appropriately manage his conflict of interest as Minister of Transport while owning shares in Auckland Airport. Our petition has since gathered thousands of signatures.
It subsequently emerged that Wood had undeclared financial interest in a number of other areas that conflicted with his Ministerial responsibilities. It was also revealed that Minister Wood was contacted 16 times by the Cabinet Office to sell his shares, not just the 12 times that had previously been stated. For multiple breaches of disclosure requirements as bad as this, Prime Minister Hipkins shouldn't have given Wood the opportunity to resign and should have sacked him instead!
This is a significant victory for taxpayers and one we care deeply about – accountability is one of the three key pillars of our mission. All taxpayers are entitled to expect that Ministers appropriately manage conflicts of interest and are, well, honest. Democracies can only function properly when the public has confidence that Ministers' personal financial interests aren't influencing decisions.
When Ministers fail to uphold high standards of transparency and accountability, public trust in Government is eroded and it lowers the bar for what is considered acceptable conduct by future Ministers. Hipkins has yet to rule out Wood's return to the Cabinet table in a future Government. We say this should be the end of Mr Wood's political career.
We welcome the announcement that work is underway to improve Cabinet's systems for managing conflicts of interest, we can only hope that this yields more accountability rather than just another box-ticking exercise.
Thank you for your support.
The Spinoff New poll points to National-Act government despite bump for Greens
NZ Herald Political poll: National, Act could form Government
Stuff National and ACT could form government, according to latest poll
RNZ New poll shows National, ACT keeping edge ahead of Labour
Politik Collins paves the way
The Working Group with David Farrar, Raf Manji and Damien Grant
Newstalk ZB Afternoon Edition: 14 June 2023 (02:08)
NZ Herald Te Pāti Māori coalition a drag on Labour - poll
Otago Daily Times Council won't pay for statue: mayor
Newstalk ZB THE RE-WRAP: Gang Gaslighting Continues (07:09)
NZ Herald Will a recession lose Labour the election? PM Chris Hipkins, Grant Robertson respond
Otago Daily Times Poll: mayor should stay, not chief exec
The Press Govt told capital gains tax is not a ‘universally accepted’ taxation principle
NZ Local Government Magazine Reactions to Local Government Review report
The Platform David Farrar on the DIA making unauthorised changes to the Three Waters bill
interest.co.nz A super-majority of voters want to fix tax bracket creep but only two political parties agree
Exclusively for our supporters like you, here are the results of June's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll:
National is unchanged from last month on 36% while Labour drops 1 point to 33%. ACT is also unchanged on 13% while the Greens are up 3 points to 10%.
The smaller parties are the Māori Party 3.5% (-0.2 points), NZ First on 1.6% (-1 point), New Conservatives on 1.3% (-0.3 points), Democracy NZ on 0.9% (+0.6 points), and TOP on 0.8% (-0.9 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the 120-seat Parliament, assuming all electorate seats are held:
National is unchanged on last month on 46 seats while Labour is down 2 seats to 42. ACT remains constant on 16 seats while the Greens pick up 3 seats to a total of 12. The Māori Party is down 1 seat on last month to 4.
The combined projected seats for the Centre Right of 62 seats is unchanged on last month and would allow them to form a government.
Following National's decision to rule out working with the Māori Party, we are now including their seats in the Centre-Left bloc. Given that the Green gains have come at the expense of Labour and the Māori Party, the Centre Left's total is unchanged on last month at 58 seats.
Net favourability is a measure of the number people who have a favourable view of a politician minus those who have an unfavourable view. A positive score means more people have a favourable view of someone than unfavourable while a negative rating means the reverse.
Chris Hipkins drops 3 points to a net favourability of +19%. While still some way behind the Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon jumps 5 points for a net favourability rating of -2%.
David Seymour has a net favourability of -4% (+7 points) while Māori Party co-leaders, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, have net favourability ratings of -26% and -27%, respectively.
Among undecided voters, it is now an effective tie in the net favourability stakes between the two candidates for Prime Minister as Chris Hipkins drops 36 points to -6% while Christopher Luxon increases 19 points to -7%. David Seymour has the highest net favourability among undecided voters of those politicians we included of +5%.
Our Hands Off Our Homes: Stop Central Planning Committees roadshow is well under way. We’re traversing the length and breadth of the country from Invercargill to Whangārei to raise awareness about the Government's latest power grab. By increasing the profile of this issue, we are putting pressure on the Government to scrap these undemocratic reforms.
And we have already made some progress.
We invited all Members of Parliament, mayors and councillors to come along and listen to voters' concerns about these reforms and give their own view about the proposals. On the very first day of our roadshow, I received an email from Minister Parker where he refused to attend one of our events as they were, apparently, "political grandstanding".
While he clearly wasn't interested in hearing what New Zealanders think, he did confirm a Government back down.
Under his original plans, these reforms would have given the new National Māori Entity the ability to monitor and issue directions to the Minister and all bodies acting under these new laws, including the Environment Court. This prompted an unprecedented intervention from the Chief Justice, Dame Helen Winkelmann, who said such an approach was "inconsistent with New Zealand's constitutional arrangements".
In his email, Minister Parker announced that the Government would remove National Māori Entity oversight of the Environment Court. This simply goes to show that our efforts are already making a difference. Everyone who signs and shares our petition, or comes along to one of our roadshow events, or buys a banner or yard sign, is applying pressure on the Government.
It is a small step in the right direction, but we will continue to ramp up our campaign. These planning reforms are so bad that they must be withdrawn and the Government must go back to the drawing board.
Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we believe that excessive regulation is holding New Zealand back. Red tape hampers productivity and growth by putting costly and unnecessary barriers in the way of working, operating a business, or making improvements to your property.
But unlike tax and spend policies, the introduction of new regulations often receives little scrutiny. The current lack of careful analysis often leads to the implementation of unworkable rules, which in turn produce unintended consequences. In many cases, the costs associated with such regulations far outweigh any potential benefits they may bring.
Last weekend, ACT announced a policy to create a new Ministry for Regulation run by a minister responsible for subjecting proposals for new regulations to the same level of scrutiny we give to public spending. The Minister would also have the responsibility of reviewing existing regulations to see whether those that are unnecessarily burdensome can be scrapped.
We are generally cautious of proposals to create a new Ministry – there are far too many already – but we believe that this may be one of the few exceptions. Too often cost/benefit analyses can be a tick-box exercise, but having a Minister specifically charged with casting a critical eye over new and existing regulations will ensure that preventing and reducing unnecessary red tape will be given the priority it requires.
At the time of writing, Michael Wood remains a Minister and has only been temporarily relieved of his transport portfolio. In the unlikely event that you missed it, Michael Woodhouse failed to declare his financial conflict of interest in Auckland Airport despite being the minister responsible for rules around aviation and the wasteful Auckland Light Rail to the airport.
While the story is news to the public, it apparently isn't to Michael Wood. Two-and-a-half years ago, he was instructed by the Cabinet Office to sell his shares to ensure that his financial interest would not influence his decision making. Despite assurances that he would do so, Minister Wood only just sold his shares this week after the story appeared on the front page of the NZ Herald.
And this wasn't just a case of the Minister being careless and forgetting to sell the shares after a single reminder. The Cabinet Office told him to sell the shares not once, not twice, but a staggering twelve times. On at least one occasion, the Minister actually told the Jacinda Ardern's office that the shares had been sold despite this being demonstrably false. In addition, we now know that Minister Wood mislead the media, in response to a question from Newsroom about the accuracy of his interests register decorations.
Call us old fashioned, but we remember when Labour Ministers were sacked (or forced to quit) for lying to the media, let alone, the Prime Minister. Just ask Lianne Dalziel...
We say it is simply untenable for Michael Wood to remain a Minister. Chris Hipkins should have taken swift action to remove Wood from office immediately to send a clear signal that this type of conduct is unacceptable. This demonstrates a lack of respect to New Zealanders who expect our MPs – and Ministers especially – to be transparent (and honest).
As the Prime Minister isn't taking decisive action, we have set up a petition calling on Michael Wood to do the honourable thing and resign. You can add your name here.
Thank you for your support.
NZ Herald On the Tiles: Episode 54 – The challenges facing National pre-election (01:51)
Stuff Where is the Green Party at for the upcoming election campaign?
TVNZ Donations, voting age: Panel recommends sweeping election changes
Wairarapa Times-Age Groups link up to oppose RMA plan
whatsoninvers.nz Huge Response In Southland To Hands Off Homes Roadshow
Otago Daily Times Mayor's comments on media funding labelled ignorant
The News Addressing the people
Southland Times Gore District Council chief executive breaks his silence on bullying claims
On Monday, we kicked off our nationwide tour to Stop Central Planning Committees in Christchurch and the team are currently working their way down the South Island – tonight we are jointly hosting an event with Federated Farmers at 6pm at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club (details of all the events are on our website here).
Make no mistake, David Parker's replacement to the Resource Management Act will make resource consenting even harder. While Three Waters was about taking control of community assets — to put into centralized, co-governed entities — these bills are about taking control of planning laws and what you can do with your home, your property, or your farm — taking the control away from democratically elected councils to put them in 15 centralized, co-governed, so-called 'Regional Planning Committees'.
The effects will be dramatic. As a voter, you will no longer be able to hold to account the decision makers who will determine what you can produce on your farm, build on your property, or how your community is planned. The Federated Farmers and the Taxpayers' Union are no fans of the current Resource Management Act, but David Parker's new regime will make getting a resource consent much, much harder.
Unlike Three Waters, the Government isn't talking about these bills or making the public aware of what it is doing. That's why we've taken to the road.
Thanks to everyone who has come along to our events so far. Check out this video from Star News to see what we have been up to.
You can learn more about the proposed reforms at www.HandsOffOurHomes.nz
You can find our full itinerary at www.taxpayers.org.nz/roadshow
We look forward to meeting you on the road.
To be fair to David Parker, he has certainly been keeping busy (and keeping us busy!). Not content with trying to ram through undemocratic planning laws to replace the RMA, he's also been continuing his long-standing campaign to radically change our tax system.
His pet project report that was published several weeks ago used an extremely wide definition of economic income – including things like unrealized capital gains – to suggest that wealthier New Zealanders were not paying their fair share of tax and make the case for higher taxes. Despite the Prime Minister quickly ruling out a capital gains tax or wealth tax in this term, David Parker got his way with the trustee tax rate.
In the budget, Grant Robertson announced that the rate would rise from 33 to 39 percent from 1 April next year. This won't just affect the wealthiest David Parker says he is targeting. There are around 400,000 trusts in New Zealand, but only 9,000 have an income of more than $180,000 and they may be able to pay the 28 percent rate by leaving more money in company structures.
This will be yet another tax hike on families who legitimately use trusts to protect assets such as their homes and small businesses. On average, each trust will pay an extra $1,260 each year. So much for 'no new taxes'...
The budget was also a bitter disappointment for people across New Zealand who are struggling with the cost of living. The increased deficit will drive inflation further and forced the Reserve Bank to hike interest rates yet again, which will be felt be those looking to renew their mortgages.
And what did Kiwis get in return? Not a lot. The removal of the $5 prescription charge, 'free' childcare for 2-year-olds while not addressing the lack of staff, and a large subsidy for the gaming industry. What people really desperately need is some tax relief.
And it seems most New Zealanders agree. A new poll out on Sunday encouragingly showed that more than half of voters think that now is the right time to introduce tax cuts.
Chris Hipkins protests that tax cuts now would be inflationary while conveniently ignoring the inflationary effects of Grant Robertson's larger deficit. Tax cuts would only drive inflation if not matched by spending cuts. Scrapping the $2.8 million campaign to tell us to take shorter showers would be a good place to start...
For all the talk of focussing on the cost of living and supporting those who are struggling, Labour's congress last weekend announced anything but. Despite previously acknowledging that the retirement age of 65 is unaffordable, Labour committed to keep it in place and the so-called 'winter energy payment'.
The Universal Winter Energy Payment for retirees isn't even that popular. A Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll from earlier this month found that 58 percent of New Zealanders supported targeting the payments to those superannuitants on lower incomes. Only 30 percent opposed targeting.
Making handouts universal means working class taxpayers pay more for the better off to heat their pools. New Zealanders can see through the spin and understand that this is not a good use of taxpayer money. Support should be targeted to those people who are most in need.
Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we believe that decisions are best made as close to the people they affect as possible. More often than not that means getting the Government to stop interfering with our lives full stop, but sometimes it means taking decisions in our communities rather than letting them be taken by politicians in Wellington.
The problem is that too often the real power in our councils doesn't rest with mayors and councillors but instead is in the hands of unelected officials. We have seen these problems come into sharp focus in Gore where a longstanding council chief executive seems to be unwilling to work with their new democratically elected mayor.
I faced similar challenge serving as a councillor in Scotland where unelected officials would use all manner of ways to obstruct the wishes of democratically elected representatives and, ultimately, of the voters. Writing in the Otago Daily Times, I explain why this issue is such a problem for our local democracy.
Thank you for your support.
Rural News Expensive pet food!
NZ City Latest polling has National's support once again overtaking Labour's
NZ Herald Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll: National and Act could govern alone; Labour down but Hipkins more popular than Luxon
Stuff National and Act could form government, new Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll suggests
The Spinoff National moves ahead of Labour in new poll
RNZ Taxpayers Union-Curia poll points towards National-ACT government
RNZ The Panel with Ali Jones and Jeremy Elwood (Part One) (11:44)
Te Ao Māori News Poll: National + Act coalition could fly
The Daily Blog BREAKING: New Taxpayers Union Poll – ACT soar to victory while Greens stall!
Newstalk ZB Barry Soper: ZB senior political correspondent on Chris Luxon ruling out working with Te Pāti Māori after the general election
The Working Group with David Seymour, Matthew Hooton & Damien Grant
Newstalk ZB David Seymour: Act leader says a vote for Act prevents a National govt that campaigns from the right and governs from the left
Newstalk ZB Aaron Dahmen: Te Pāti Māori's glee has been palpable over the last few days
NZ Herald Herald’s poll of polls shows Christopher Luxon’s big gamble
NBR Political jockeying, budget pressures, election race
Kiwiblog Bet you none of them have paid additional tax?
Gisborne Herald Sentiment might be shifting again
Gone by Lunchtime Coalitions, coronations and chaos
Newstalk ZB Friday Faceoff: Josie Pagani and Peter Dunne (24:16)
RNZ Week in Politics: Te Pāti Māori in spotlight as Luxon paints a picture of 'chaos'
Indian Newslink Labour and National stay in close fight, not their leaders
The Press It's time to drop the 5% MMP threshold and let more smaller parties into Parliament
Rotorua Now New political poll: Main parties in a tight race
Newstalk ZB Kerre Woodham: I don't think it's unreasonable to have a co-analysis of any government programme
InfraNews Campaign launched against ‘undemocratic’ RMA reform
The Post Callum Purves: If the Government really wants to tackle cost of living, it needs to kick its spending habit
The Spinoff Free prescriptions an ‘important step forward’ – Greens
Indian Newslink Labour’s populist budget of relief brings a few surprises
Stuff Trustee tax increase 'is response to spike in trust use to avoid tax'
RNZ Political opponents take aim at Budget 2023: 'Blowout', 'broke', 'Budget for the rich'
Stuff The no frills, higher bills Budget
Feds News Federated Farmers launches nine-stop RMA rural roadshow
The Spinoff Five very similar polls, three very different results
NZ Herald On the Tiles: Episode 54 – Post-Budget, post-polls, and post-housing u-turns (02:51)
Stuff Janet Wilson: National should be doing better in the polls, but it's not happening
Otago Daily Times Callum Purves: Spotlight on power imbalance
Star News Taxpayers Union trying to halt RMA reforms
whatsoninvers.nz Taxpayers' Union Launches Nationwide Hands Off Our Homes! Roadshow
The Working Group with Ruth Richardson, Bernard Hickey and Damien Grant
The Common Room NZ "Co-governance for your deck!"
Callum and I are just out of the Beehive bunker where we’ve spent the morning poring over Grant Robertson’s sixth budget with media and analysts before it is delivered in Parliament.
Summary: nothing big bang spending wise other than free ECE for 2-year-olds. Tax hikes for those with trusts, and at the fuel pump. The economic news is better than had been previously forecast, but the government debt figures are getting much worse.
There’s nothing game changing or visionary in this year’s budget. Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins have taken a scatter gun approach to this year’s new spending. Dobs of cash here, there and everywhere, but no major initiatives that are likely to shift the electoral dial.
The first half of this email lists initiatives the Government wants you (and the media) to focus on. The second part is what we’ve found, and they don’t want you to know.
Here are the things the spin doctors in the Beehive are highlighting:
This is the closest thing this year’s budget has to an electoral sugar hit. For those with young families and working, it’s a boost to get back to work. A less expensive way of bringing down childcare costs would be to bring staff to child ratios in line with other OECD countries.
The Government argues that this will relieve pressure on the health and care system by ensuring more people collect their prescriptions and fewer have to go into hospital.
Children under 13 will get buses, ferries, and trains for free with under 25s getting half-price.
As expected, there is large capital expenditure allocated to Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle recovery. The Government has also announced a “National Resilience Plan”.
This is a mix of community, Māori, and temporary (cyclone related) housing.
Populist policies such as reducing class sizes haven’t been shown to have much of an impact on attainment and paying teachers more is all well and good is they are high performing, but it means the bad teachers get paid more too.
It is usual in budgets to be crammed full of headline-grabbing gimmicks to oil the political squeaky wheels. This year’s budget is sadly no different:
The Government is expanding the “Warmer Kiwi Homes Programme” to provide 100,000 new heating and insulation installations, 7,500 hot-water heat pumps and 5 million LCD light bulbs. That’s nearly one each!
The Government is picking winners by announcing it’s doing to video games what it does already for international movie studios: Competing against Australia for economically dubious ‘rebate’ subsidies.
Yet again, the Government repeats the claim that increasing the use of electric vehicles “reduces emissions”. Of course, that’s not true. Any decrease in transport emissions are simply made available under our fixed cap emissions trading scheme for other areas to use. These subsides simply make climate change mitigation more expensive that it need be.
As part of Ruth Richardson’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, since 1993 Treasury has been required to prepare independent fiscal and economic forecasts twice a year (and just prior to an election).
So the first thing we do when we get into the Budget lockup is to check the headline forecasts against the half-year update back in December.
The numbers don’t lie
Despite better GDP and employment forecasts, gross debt forecasts are skyrocketing.
The debt figures are starting to look ugly. Grant Robertson’s speech would have you believe that the Government books are rosy. Yes, Treasury are no longer forecasting a recession, and unemployment is now forecast to peak less at 5.3 percent next year (compared to December’s forecast of 5.5 percent), but that makes the debt situation even more questionable.
Back in December, Treasury forecast gross debt to be $193 billion ($98,229 per household) or 39.9% of GDP by 2027. Just six months later, the same officials are now forecasting gross debt to be $214.5 billion ($109,171 per household) or 44.3% of GDP. That is an alarming change for just six months given the economy is not expected to be as bad between now and then.
Do you have a family trust? So much for Chris Hipkins’ ‘no tax hikes’ promise. Tax hikes for 1 April 2024 ⬆️
Yesterday, Mr Hipkins was saying that today’s Budget would not be putting up taxes. Maybe Grant didn’t tell him, but today’s Budget puts up the trust rate from 33 cents in the dollar to 39 cents.
In his comments to media, David Parker tried to frame it in context of his recent ‘Nosey Parker’ report into the country’s uber wealthy. In reality, it will hit SME-business owners who own their family business via a family trust. For the uber wealthy, this change will incentivise keeping capital within companies (which will soon be paying a considerably lower company rate of 28%).
Do you own a car? Tax hikes for you in six weeks’ time 🚗⛽️💸
The Budget locks in tax hikes for motorists. From 1 July, fuel tax will be increasing 29 cents per litre. That will return to a situation where for many (in particular, Aucklanders) pay more than half of the amount paid at the pump will be tax!
And for all the talk of helping those most in need, fuel taxes disproportionately hit the poor (who can’t afford electric vehicles), or live in rural areas.
For all of Grant Robertson’s recent show of promoting himself as some sort of fiscal hawk, the “Savings and Reprioritisation” section of his 154-page Budget Document amounts to half a page – and all of it has already been announced.
And of the $4billion, a big chunk of it (c.$850m) is thanks to efforts of your humble Taxpayers’ Union: the dropping of TVNZ/RNZ merger, and the “re-focusing” (i.e. delaying) of Three Waters. You’re welcome, Mr Robertson!
The Government is making a lot out of the projection that it will return New Zealand to surplus in 2024/25. But the economists we spoke to in the lock up agree that this is very optimistic. It’s forecast to be just a surplus and assumes no more shocks (such as weather events). It also assumed that, like every year’s budget, future governments will spend less on new initiatives going forward. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.
In a few hours, our Chairman (former CEO of the NZ Institute of Economic Research) Laurence Kubiak, and I will be joining Eric Crampton and Oliver Hartwich from the NZ Initiative Think Thank to discuss the Budget and economic data released. To listen in, head over to our Facebook or YouTube page at 7pm.
Until then, we will have our head down continuing to work through the material. Our comments to media on the budget and individual initiatives are linked below.
Thank you for your support. For those interested, you can read the full documentation on the Treasury website here.
BUDGET 2023 — MEDIA RELEASES:
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