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A new Taxpayers Union – Curia poll in the Tāmaki electorate shows ACT’s Brooke van Velden mounting a strong challenge to incumbent National MP, Simon O’Connor.
The two major candidates for the seat are locked in a statistical tie with 35% of respondents indicating they will vote for Simon O’Conner and 33% opting for Brooke van Velden. 12% said they would vote for Labour’s Fesaitu Solomone while others pledged their support for parties without local electorate candidates: 4% for the Greens, 2% for Te Pāti Māori, and 1% for NZ First. 1% refused to answer while 13% were unsure – much lower than in other electorates polled.
Removing undecideds and refusals, gives a decided vote of 40% for Simon O’Connor – down 13 points on the last election – and 38% for Brooke van Velden – up 33 points on 2020. Labour is on 14%, the Greens on 4%, Te Pāti Māori on 2%, and NZ First on 1%.
The full results – including candidate name recognition, MP approval rating, and most important local issues – are available here.
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:
“Tāmaki has been a National stronghold for decades since former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon won the seat back at the 1960 general election, but it can no longer be considered a safe blue seat. Simon O’Connor outpolled the National party vote by 15 points in 2020, but today’s poll suggests there has been a massive turnaround.
“O’Connor and Brooke van Velden are in a statistical tie for the electorate with a massive increase in support for the ACT Party. With the difference between the two top candidates being within the margin of error for this poll, either candidate could be ahead in this contest that is likely to go right down to the wire.”
A new Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll found that New Zealanders preferred Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis (46% of respondents) to Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson (37%) as the most trusted team to deal with the cost of living crisis. 17% of respondents were unsure.
This month’s regular Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll showed that the cost of living was the most important issue to voters ahead of the election on 36% followed by the economy more generally on 14%.
Taxpayers’ Union Head of Campaigns, Callum Purves, said:
“People across New Zealand are doing it tough as a result of the cost of living crisis and this poll suggests that they want to see a new team take responsibility for tackling it.
“Rampant inflation – fuelled, in part, by the Government’s wasteful spending – has meant Kiwis’ dollars can buy less and less at the supermarket while the Government continues to take a higher share of their wages in tax as a result of bracket creep.
“Canny New Zealanders clearly aren’t swayed by Labour’s lollies such as GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and free dental care, but National needs to go further on its current pledges to cut back wasteful spending and commit to ongoing annual tax bracket indexation or the cost of living crisis won’t be over for a long time to come.”
A new Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll in the Northland Electorate has National’s Grant McCallum reclaiming the seat with 43% of the electorate vote. Labour's incumbent Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime is currently on 18%, while New Zealand First's Shane Jones makes up 13%.
Among the other parties’ candidates, Matt King of Democracy NZ and Reina Penney for the Green party sit at 4%, ACT's Mark Cameron is sitting at 2% of the electorate vote as is Te Pāti Māori despite the party not standing a Northland candidate. 12% of voters are still undecided or refused to answer.
As a proportion of the decided votes the breakdown is as follows:
The poll of 400 respondents was conducted on Sunday, 10 September, 2023. The full results, including the most important local issues for voters, are available here.
Taxpayers' Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, says:
"This poll again shows another sharp swing away from Labour, after they unexpectedly won this seat at the last election from the then National Party MP, Matt King. This doesn't necessarily spell bad news for electorate MP Willow-Jean Prime who will likely make it back into Parliament with a high list position but a swing this significant will definitely be a wakeup call for incumbent Labour MPs around the country.
“Compared to previous electorate polling, each of the three top-name recognized candidates has just points between them in one of the most geographically spread electorates in New Zealand, with all three top-polling candidates having over 40% visibility within the electorate.
“With just under three weeks until early voting opens, this seat looks to be safely making its return to National. Even if all of the 11% undecided vote goes to Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime, that won’t be enough to keep Northland red after Election Day.”
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
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
Exclusively for our supporters like you, here are the results of May's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll:
National drops one point this month to be on 36% but retakes the lead over Labour which falls back three points to 34%. ACT is up three to 13% while the Greens are unchanged on 7%.
Of the smaller parties, the Māori Party is on 3.7% (+0.8 points), NZ First on 2.6% (nc), TOP on 1.7% (+0.9 points), New Conservatives on 1.6% (-0.1 points), and Democracy NZ 0.3% (-1.3 points).’
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the 120 seat Parliament, assuming all electorate seats are held:
Labour is down four seats on last month to 44 while National is down one seat to 46. ACT is up four seats to 16 while the Greens are unchanged on 9 seats. The Māori Party is up one seat to 5.
On these numbers, the Centre-Right bloc would be in a position to form government with a combined total of 62 seats, which is up three on last month. The combined total for the Centre Left drops four seats to 53.
Chris Hipkins's net favourability score of +22% is six points lower than last month and down 11 points on his March peak of +33%.
Christopher Luxon’s score of -7% (-1 point) is at its lowest level since he became National Party leader in November 2021 while David Seymour is on -11% (-5 points).
Chris Hipkins has a slight positive net favourability rating with National voters +7% while Christopher Luxon has a score of -56% with Labour voters.
In another worrying sign for Christopher Luxon, among undecided voters, Chris Hipkins has a positive net favourability of +30% while Christopher Luxon is on -26%. David Seymour is on -32%.
Visit our website for more information and details of how to get access to the full polling report (which includes favourability figures for the two MPs in the centre of the Green Party's 'cry baby' text scandal: Chlöe Swarbrick and Elizabeth Kerekere).
They say ‘less is more’, but the Human Rights Commission (HRC) took it a bit too literally when its website redesign amounted to little more than a change of colour scheme and a new tool to 'help' New Zealanders appreciate the HRC and its work. Our Investigations Co-ordinator, Ollie Bryan, revealed earlier this week that HRC has spent $417,962 on the new site.
One of the few changes is a new tab on their home page called ‘Take a Moment’. We pointed out that all this button did was take you to a plain blue screen and a pulsing HRC logo... and nothing else.
Soon after our story was covered in the media, the HRC quickly updated this page. The page now includes relaxing music, soothing bird song and calming animations. I'm not sure they quite understood the point we were making...
With so many pressing needs in our society – the cost of living, healthcare and education in crisis, and infrastructure falling apart – these sort of vanity projects really make us wonder whether the Human Rights Commission itself needs to 'take a moment'...
With high inflation, bracket creep means that workers' taxes are being hiked without a single vote having been cast in Parliament. If politicians want more of our money, they should have to make the case to Parliament – and the public.
There is a simply solution: Linking the thresholds at which different rates of income tax kick in to inflation.
A Taxpayers' Union – Curia Poll last month showed that 65% of New Zealanders favoured automatically increasing income tax thresholds in line with inflation as is already the case for welfare benefits. 19% of those polled were against while 17% were unsure.
Many countries already adjust tax brackets for inflation and it is not a difficult policy to implement. Here in New Zealand, there are already inflation adjustments for welfare benefits and superannuation payments. Why should working New Zealanders be punished with stealthy tax hikes when they are not actually earning more?
Last year, the New Zealand Film Commission sent two employees to Hollywood to attend the Academy Awards in Hollywood. Despite the ceremony only lasting a few hours, the two employees managed to bag themselves a ten-day extended trip. Their extravagant jaunt cost taxpayers like you a staggering $58,000 including more than $5,000 on wine at one event and $1,223 on spirits, beer, wine, and bar snacks at another.
Well, not this year!
It seems our pointing out this waste of taxpayer dollars put the Film Commission off from sending a representative again. A recent Official Information Act response confirmed that your hard-earned money was not squandered on a lavish Hollywood trip this year.
The Taxpayers' Union will continue to hold government departments and agencies like the Film Commission to account on their spending. We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether any New Zealand public servants rock up to the Cannes Film Festival later in the year...
Thank you for your support.
Available exclusively to supporters like you, we can reveal the results of our April Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll.
Labour is up one point to 37% and National is up two points to 37%. ACT is up one point to 10% while the Greens are also up one point to 7%.
The smaller parties were Māori Party 2.9% (+1.5 points), NZ First on 2.6% (-1.6 points), New Conservatives on 1.7% (-0.8 points), Democracy NZ 1.6% (+1.1 points), and TOP on 0.8% (-0.9 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in Parliament, assuming all electorate seats are held:
Both Labour and National are down one seat each to 48 and 47, respectively. ACT is also down one seat to 12 while the Greens are up one on nine seats. The Māori Party is up two seats to four.
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 59 seats is down two on last month but remains marginally ahead of the combined total for the Centre-Left of 57 seats (no change).
For the first time since August 2022, the Centre-Right cannot form government on its own and neither bloc has a majority. This means that the Māori Party holds the balance of power.
Chris Hipkins has a net favourability of +28% (-5 points). Both Christopher Luxon (-4 points) and David Seymour are on -6% (-7 points).
Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has a net favourability of -8% while Environment Minister, David Parker, has a net favourability of -21%.
Chris Hipkins also now has a negative net favourability rating with National voters of -5% down 18 points from +13% last month.
You may not have heard about the Government’s latest power-grab: It has hardly been covered in the media, but it poses a significant threat to the rule of law and democracy. The Government has seized the opportunity of the recent cyclone devastation to grant its Ministers extensive powers, many of which are unrelated to cyclone response or recovery and could remain in place until 2028.
The Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Act allows Ministers to sweep aside and rewrite a whole laundry list of laws if they can point to even tentative links to the recent weather events, economic development, or disaster recovery. The 'emergency legislation' allows individual ministers to ignore or change the Local Government Act, Resource Management Act, Immigration Act, Land Transport Act (and others) without having to even ask Parliament. What's worse is this 'emergency' regime applies until 2028!
This kind of law is often referred to as Henry VIII powers because it is similar to the autocratic lawmaking style of Henry VIII who preferred to make laws by Royal Proclamation rather than through Parliament.
Submitters on this new legislation were given less than a day to write their submissions. Not even the most experienced constitutional law experts were able to apply proper scrutiny in this short timeframe and many important aspects will be overlooked.
Our friends at the New Zealand Initiative think tank have rightly criticised MPs for a "shamblolic" process despite the extraordinary scope of the bill. You can listen to the NZ Initiative's Executive Director Oliver Hartwich talking to Mike Hosking here.
As Oliver puts it, “This is the kind of Bill that requires great scrutiny because the power it confers to the Government are enormous.” To give submitters a matter of hours to consider the Bill is, frankly, a disgrace. It is not an exaggeration to say that both this law and the process used to pass it are totally inconsistent with liberal democracy.
Despite following Parliament closely, the first we heard about the Bill was just two hours before written submissions closed! We hastily put together a submission – which you can read here – but it was difficult to make substantive recommendations on this far reaching bill in such a short space of time.
Jordan made our views clear to the Select Committee in an oral submission, but less than a week later Labour has rushed this legislation through all its stages in Parliament with the extremely disappointing support of the National Party. To their credit, ACT, the Greens and the Māori Party all opposed this blatant power grab.
While we all want to see the areas affected given by the floods given the support they need – and quickly – it is not acceptable to use this crisis to undermine parliamentary democracy and give ministers unprecedented levels of executive power. We only need to look at the COVID-19 slush fund where ministers spent taxpayer dollars on projects totally unrelated to the pandemic to see how such powers can be abused.
The Taxpayers' Union will be monitoring decisions taken under this legislation very closely and urge the Government – and the National Party – to allow an immediate post-legislative review of this new law with proper public consultation.
Following the sacking of Stuart Nash from his remaining ministerial portfolios after it was revealed he had given confidential cabinet information to Labour Party donors, the Prime Minister announced a review into the lobbying sector.
In a democracy, it is important that different groups can make representations to politicians to help shape policy, but these activities also need to be carried out in an open and transparent manner. The Taxpayers' Union will engage with any consultation on how best to strike this balance.
One of the biggest problems is the revolving door between the Beehive and the lobbying sector. Kris Faafoi, for example, was able to lobby his former ministerial colleagues just months after leaving Cabinet. We urgently need to see a cooling-off period introduced to put an end to these murky practices.
But Chris Hipkins's announcement of money for a voluntary code of conduct is not the answer. In fact, it's a complete waste of taxpayer money (he is offering up officials to "help" the lobbying sector) and simply a way for the government to look like it is doing something. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for an unenforceable attempt to get commercial lobbyists to play by rules they set themselves.
The Stuart Nash saga has also renewed calls for a review into the Official Information Act (OIA). As New Zealand's largest user of the OIA, the Taxpayers' Union agrees. A review is long overdue, but the focus should not just be on the Beehive: The Parliamentary Service is explicitly excluded from the from the OIA.
This means that the public has no way of knowing what its elected representatives are claiming taxpayer funds to cover. We know that some are MPs are already spending taxpayer money in ways that are potentially inappropriate but have no real way to get more information because of this exclusion.
For a country that considers itself to have one of the most open governments in the world, MPs’ taxpayer-funded expenses are surprisingly opaque compared to countries we traditionally compare ourselves to.
The Taxpayers’ Union wants to see an end to this transparency carve out. We would also support the introduction of a searchable database of every MP expense claim similar to that published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in the United Kingdom.
This week on Taxpayer Talk, I sit down with Wellington City Councillor, Ray Chung, to discuss Wellington’s shocking 12.3% rates rise and why this is being driven by inefficient, wasteful spending at the Council.
Councillor Chung was elected just last year as the representative for Wharangi / Onslow-Western Ward. He's one of the few fiscal conservatives on the Council and is able to provide some interesting insight into its inner workings and explains why it is so hard – and expensive – to get anything done. We also get to hear why Councillor Chung is a vocal opponent of Three Waters and co-governance along with discussing potential solutions for the Council's severe infrastructure deficit.
Later in the podcast, for our War on Waste segment, Taxpayers’ Union Deputy Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, analyses the growth of managers in the public service and investigates whether the growth in the public service is driven by the core frontline workforce or simply a ballooning of the backroom bureaucracy of managers and consultants.
Thank you for your support.
RNZ The Pre-Panel with Julie Woods and David Farrar
Newstalk ZB The Huddle: Is the Chris Hipkins honeymoon already over?
NZ Herald Political Roundup: Victory for transparency in lobbying reforms
Newstalk ZB Midday Edition: 04 April 2023 – Lobbying Review (02:05)
Exclusive to supporters like you, we can reveal the results of this month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia Poll and it’s a big one. On these numbers, October’s election is set to be a close one.
For the first time in a year, Labour has taken the lead on 35.5% up 1.1 points on last month while National is on 34.8% up 0.4 points on last month.
ACT is down 2.4 points to 9.3% while the Greens have dropped 2.1 points to 5.7%. This is perilously close to the 5% threshold for getting seats in Parliament (unless Chlöe Swarbrick can hold onto her Auckland Central electorate).
New Zealand First, on the other hand, sees a boost of 1.3 points to the party to 4.2% – within striking distance of re-entering Parliament. The Māori Party is on 1.4 per cent – down 0.7 points – and will again have to rely on holding at least one electorate to get any list seats.
Other smaller parties were the New Conservatives on 2.5% (+1.7 points), TOP on 1.7% (-0.3 points), Vision NZ on 0.8% (+0.6 points) and Democracy NZ on 0.5% (-0.4 points).
Assuming all current electorates are held, this would mean 49 seats for Labour (up 3 seats on last month), 48 seats for National (up 2), 13 for ACT (down 2), 8 for the Greens (down 2), and 2 for the Māori Party (down 1).
This means that the Centre-Right bloc could just form a government on 61 seats while the Centre-Left pick up 1 seat to be on 57.
Chris Hipkins's net favourability rating continues to soar and now sits at +33% up 6 points from last month's poll. The prime minister also now has a positive net favourability rating with National voters of +13% up 17 points from -4% last month.
Christopher Luxon’s net favourability has increased by 3 points from -5% to -2%. ACT leader, David Seymour, sees a 12-point bounce to +1%.
This week it was revealed that the board managing the TVNZ/RNZ merger was still operating – despite the merger having been scrapped in the Prime Minister's policy bonfire weeks ago. Reports suggest that this board costs a staggering $8,000 a day and will continue to to meet until the end of March to complete a final report.
Jordan spoke to Newstalk ZB earlier this week about quite how ridiculous this situation is that the taxpayer is continuing to have to stump up thousands of dollars a day for a board whose only responsibility now is to turn the lights out on their way out of their $1.19 million-per-year offices (the lease for which doesn't expire until May).
While the Government has had the good sense to abandon the merger, after already wasting $19 million before ditching it, we say the Government should stop pouring more money down the drain.
Last October, the then Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, made the trek down south to see, first-hand, the inner workings of our Scott Base Research Centre in Antarctica. While no one would begrudge her taking three staffers to support her with official business, Clarke Gayford also happened to tag along for the ride.
It is not uncommon for the spouses to accompany heads of government on trips overseas where there is an element of diplomacy, but given that there are no foreign heads of government or diplomats to meet in the Ross Dependency, it is difficult to see the justification for Mr Gayford's attendance. Ms Ardern was hardly there to meet the King or Queen!
Thanks to work by our investigations team and the Official Information Act, we can reveal that the trip cost over $11,000 in taxpayer dollars. This included $8500 for a helicopter, $1500 on accommodation, $1000 on Haglunds travel, and an eyebrow-raising $500 on thermal underwear – the likes of which could have been purchased for half that at most retail stores.
Bear in mind too that when then Prime Minister Sir John Key made his trip to Scott base, all expenses for his wife Bronagh were covered personally.
Call us frugal, but taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for friends and family to tag along for a jolly. Ms Ardern and Mr Gayford should follow John Key's lead and pay back the money.
Here at the Taxpayers' Union, we love having smart young people contribute to the mission. If you joined us for one of the events during last year's "Stop Three Waters" Roadshow, you may have met one of them, our part-time researcher Connor Molloy.
Connor has had the last few months off for an internship at the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna. While there he wrote an opinion piece explaining how the abolition of agricultural subsidies in 1985 forced New Zealand farmers to innovate, adapt and become much more productive. It was a painful transition, but as a result, our farmers are now among the most efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly primary producers in the world. New Zealand is one of only a few countries to have abolished its agricultural subsidies.
Connor is now back in New Zealand, finishing his degree in Wellington and returned to the office working for the Taxpayers' Union part time. You can read Connor’s blogpost here.
On this episode of Taxpayer Talk, Peter Williams speaks with former Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Chair, Rob Campbell, to discuss political neutrality within the public service.
Mr Campbell was publicly sacked from his high-profile position in the public service after making controversial comments about the National Party's Three Waters policy on his LinkedIn account. Campbell has doubled down on his comments and feels he should be free to give his opinion on controversial issues. Since recording this podcast, he has also been dismissed from his role at the Environmental Protection Authority but remains unremorseful.
Throughout this episode, Peter and Rob dive deep into the responsibilities of public servants, where professional responsibility ends and where personal opinion begins.
Later in the episode we are joined by Taxpayers' Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, to hear his perspective on the state of political neutrality within the public service.
Also this week, we hear from our War on Waste team who have uncovered a million dollar truancy awareness campaign. But will it get kids to go to school?
Thank you for your support.
NEW POLL: Kiwis still trust Luxon/Willis marginally over Hipkins/Robertson on economy
A new Taxpayers' Union – Curia poll found that New Zealanders narrowly preferred Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis (43% of respondents) to Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson (39%) as the most trusted team to manage the economy. 18% of respondents were unsure.
This result comes after the regular Taxpayers' Union – Curia monthly poll released earlier this month found that economic issues continue to be at the forefront of voters’ minds with the cost of living being the most important issue to them when voting on 35% followed by the economy more generally on 13%.
Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, said:
“Which prime minister and finance minister pairing that voters most trust to manage the economy is often a strong indicator of how they will vote in an election. While National’s top team is marginally ahead, this poll confirms that the general election in October is set to be close."
“This result is similar to what it was back in December when Jacinda Ardern was still in post. While the new prime minister and his policy ‘refocus’ seem to have given Labour a bounce in voting intention, it seems the party still has work to do to demonstrate it can be trusted to manage the economy."
“A good place to start would be by ruling out any new taxes to fund the cyclone clean up and restoration works and instead focus on getting wasteful government spending under control.”
First and foremost, our thoughts are with those who are facing yet more severe weather across the North Island with Cyclone Gabrielle.
Last week was a big week for the Taxpayers' Union with multiple policy victories announced by the Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins: The jobs tax was put on ice, the RNZ/TVNZ merger was scrapped, and tax relief for motorists was extended for a third time. None of this would have been possible without supporters like you. Thank you for fuelling our work and forcing Wellington to respond.
The new Prime Minister has said he wants to focus on bread and butter politics, including tackling the cost of living. The results of our first poll since Chris Hipkins took office reveal what effect this is having on how New Zealanders plan to vote in October's election.
Exclusive to supporters like you, we can reveal the results of this month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia Poll.
The two largest parties are tied at 34% – Labour is up two points on last month while National is down three points. ACT is up one point to 12% while the Greens are down three points to 8%.
The smaller parties are NZ First on 2.9%, Māori Party on 2.1%, TOP on 2.0%, NZ Outdoors & Freedom on 1.0%, Democracy NZ on 0.9%, New Conservative on 0.8%, and Vision NZ on just 0.2%.
The two biggest parties are on 46 seats each with Labour up five seats on last month and National down three. ACT is up one seat to 15 while the Greens are down four to 10. The Māori Party is up one seat to 3.
As with other recent public polls, Labour has clearly seen a bounce under Chris Hipkins's leadership, but based on this poll, the increase in support has primarily come at the expense of the Greens.
The means only a slight uptick in the combined total for the Centre-Left to 56 seats – up one from last month. While the Centre-Right dips to 61 seats – down two seats – but still has just enough to form a government.
Voters seem to be willing to give the new Prime Minister a chance – Chris Hipkins debuts in our poll with a net favourability rating (the percentage of voters with a 'favourable' opinion less those with an 'unfavourable' opinion) of +27%. This is 28 points higher than Jacinda Ardern's final score as PM.
Christopher Luxon’s net favourability has decreased four points from -1% last month to -5% while ACT leader David Seymour dips seven points from -4% to -11%.
Last week was a great week for taxpayers! The Government was forced to drop its expensive plans to merge TVNZ and RNZ on which it planned to spend $3 million on rebranding alone.
The Taxpayers' Union has been at the forefront of the campaign against the merger. Far from creating a more diverse media landscape, the merger would have served to concentrate power, and erode diversity and trust in media sources.
Our former Chairman, a former TVNZ board member, Barrie Saunders was among the first to ask the fundamental question about what problem the proposed merger intended to solve, and point out the disgraceful process in which this reform was hatched.
While one of our Board Members and former TVNZ presenter, Peter Williams, called out the merger for being a waste of money, saying: "The question I've had right from the time of the idea of merging TVNZ and Radio NZ was first mooted is 'just what problem are you trying to fix?' Is there not a better use of $370 million?"
Now TVNZ and RNZ can get back to the day job of good public service broadcasting. That means a rejection of polarization and striving to serve a wider audience rather than creating a safe space for the intellectual or metropolitan elite.
Another taxpayer victory last week was the decision to scrap plans to introduce an unemployment insurance scheme during this parliamentary term. This proposed jobs tax would have cost the median worker more than $800 a year at a time when people are already struggling with the cost of living.
But it isn’t just the wrong time to bring in the policy. It’s the wrong policy too. Paying 80% of someone’s salary not to work for six months would have created terrible incentives for people to stay unemployed for longer, been open to abuse (by making redundancy more attractive than resigning), and would have failed to address skill shortages for sectors that are struggling to find employees. We say Labour shouldn't just delay this policy, it should be consigned to the scrap heap.
While Chris Hipkins is undoubtedly getting rid of unpopular policies to boost Labour's re-election prospects, the work of the Taxpayers' Union – supported by hardworking Kiwis like you – has been vital to ensure that voters are aware of just how bad Jacinda Ardern's policies were.
While last week's bonfire of policies was a step in the right direction, we still await an announcement about Three Waters. Chris Hipkins has said his Government plans to 'refocus' the reforms – whatever that means.
Any changes must ensure that the property rights of councils are respected and that those making decisions on water infrastructure remain accountable to ratepayers. The biggest risk, however, is that the Government makes some changes that might seem big on the surface but fail to meet these key criteria.
With the support of thousands, we have made Three Waters an albatross around the Government's neck, but we need to keep up the pressure to make it clear that cosmetic changes – such as renaming 'co-governace' to 'mahi tahi' – will not be enough. Our new 'Scrap Three Waters' banners have been doing just that with supporters across the country putting them up in recent weeks. You can get yours here.
While we await the Government's amendments, stay tuned for a big announcement about the next step in our Scrap Three Waters campaign in the coming weeks.
In the latest edition of Taxpayer Talk, host Peter Williams talks with Federated Farmers’ Paul Melville and Mark Hooper about the proposed new planning and environmental legislation to replace the Resource Management Act.
While there is almost unanimous agreement the much maligned RMA needs to be updated and changed, Federated Farmers have serious doubts the new Natural and Built Environments Bill and its companion Spatial Planning Bill is the way forward.
Also in this edition, a new segment called War on Waste where a member of the Taxpayers' Union staff exposes profligate spending by government or local authorities. This time researcher Alex Murphy has Auckland Council in his sights.
Thank you for your support.
NZ Herald PM Chris Hipkins’ bonfire of the policies - refocus sees RNZ/TVNZ merger gone, income insurance scheme to change
Newstalk ZB PM's policy bonfire- what you need to know
NZ Herald Chris Hipkins’ ‘policy bonfire’: Government cops criticism for refocus with more changes to come
NZ Herald Damien Venuto: The slow, painful death of the TVNZ-RNZ merger leaves media vulnerable
The Front Page Why does housing remain such a problem in New Zealand?
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