Taxpayer Update: NEW POLL 📊💥 | $200k Golden Goodbye for CEO 💸 | Adrian Orr's Bonus 💰 | The change that is needed
Callum is taking a post election break this week (and he surely deserves it!), so I've taken the helm to fight for taxpayers as we wait and see what the new government will look like (and, more importantly, what pre-election promises are actually followed through on!).
In this week's edition, we have the first post-election poll (it seems New Zealanders are warming to the idea of "Prime Minister Christopher Luxon"), continue to tackle outright waste and lack of accountability in local government, and tackle the very thorny issue of vaping regulation vs the government's financial incentive to keep people addicted to smoking.
A $200k "golden goodbye" for CEO who got the job with a false CV
Last week the Taxpayers’ Union was contacted by The Press newspaper following up an old story about a former CEO of Christchurch City Holdings, Tim Boyd, having allegedly lied about his work history to get the job heading Christchurch City Council's investment arm.
It turns out that the former CEO received a $200,000 payout after just six months on the job, two months of which he was on leave! It is also alleged that he is wanted in the USA over unresolved drink driving charges.
The $200,000 payout, equivalent to the rates bill of 66 Christchurch ratepayers, appears more reminiscent of a lottery win than a disciplinary action for alleged dishonesty towards an employer.
Mr Boyd's short-lived tenure, earning a lofty annual salary of $430,000 despite the apparent circumstances raises serious questions about the CCO’s recruitment practices – especially with the string of resignations at the organisation last year it is clear that Councillors should be demanding answers.
Former CCHL CEO, Tim Boyd
We say that no public employee being paid more than a Cabinet Minister should be receiving a payout for what looks, on the face of it, a justified dismissal!
After the story was published, we were contacted by Tim Boyd who disputes the Stuff account in full (including that he’s been fraudulent or otherwise acted unethically). But he also says he is covered by a gag clause – despite the Council clearly briefing the media that Mr Boyd was shown the exit because of the honesty matter.
So which is it? A Council covering-up a wider agenda to get rid of a CEO? Or a CEO that should never have been hired in the first place? Either way, this is a terrible look for Christchurch City Council – and your humble Taxpayers' Union will keep digging...
Where is the accountability for failure? Inflation remains sky high, but Adrian Orr gets his bonus anyway! 📈 💥
If you or I missed our targets at work for more than two years, we’d be out the door quicker than a rat up a drainpipe, but we've discovered that the normal rules don’t apply at the Reserve Bank.
For 29 months, Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr, has failed to get inflation within the target rate set for him. The whole idea of the independent reserve bank is to avoid politicians manipulating the setting of the Official Cash Rate (which is the cost of borrowing for the banks, and therefore affect interest rates) so as not to 'overheat' the economy and run economic booms and busts around the electoral cycle.
But it doesn't take an expert in monetary policy to tell you that the current governor is the worst (and most outrageously political) governor of the Bank, in 40+ years.
Independence is one thing, but we face a situation where the governor is unwilling (or unable?) to do his job - we say it's time for Adrian Orr to move on.
Not only has Adrian Orr ballooned out inflation, he's keen for the Bank to work on everything else, but, well, their job.
Instead of speeches on monetary policy, Adrian Orr has been flying around the world to give speeches about climate change and comparing the financial sector to a forest with himself as Tāne Mahuta – the god of the forest (yes, seriously, you couldn't make this up).
And Grant Robertson's ol' mate Adrian shows no sign of changing tack: Last week, Orr gave a speech on inflation and how the Bank plans to get on top of New Zealand's cost of living crisis climate change at the 'Chapter Zero NZ' breakfast.
Despite disastrously failing to control prices and continuing to stray outside of his responsibility, Adrian Orr still managed to bag himself a $20,000 pay rise this year putting his salary now at a very nice $853,810 – almost 13 times the average New Zealand wage and nearly double that of the Prime Minister.
We say the next Minister of Finance needs to make clear: do your job Adrian or get a new one. New Zealand needs a boring, old school, inflation-busting central banker. A Don Brash, or Roderick Deane, not a Greta Thunberg.
NEW POLL: National/ACT/NZ First hold Governing position, Luxon shoots ahead to become easily the preferred PM
The first political poll since the election, is good news for Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon. Here are the headline results:
National is down slightly to 37% (-1.1 points) and Labour is up to 28.3% (+1.4 points) when compared with the election result. This is the fifth month in a row that Labour remains below 30%. ACT is down to 8.1% (-0.5 points), the the Greens are up to 13.8% (+2.2 points) while NZ First drops slightly to 6% (-0.1 points). The results for the smaller parties are over on our website.
On these results, National, ACT and NZ First are ahead by a slightly smaller margin than the election.
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the Parliament:
National is down 2 seats on the election result to 46 seats and Labour gain 1 to 35. ACT is down 1 to 10 seats while the Greens are up 2 to 17. New Zealand First and the Māori Party remain steady on 8 and 6 seats respectively.
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right (now including NZ First) of 64 seats is down 3 from the election result while the the combined seats for the Centre-Left bloc of 58 is up 3.
We now have a larger Parliament due to the two overhang seats created from the Māori electorates, but this result would still allow National/ACT/NZ First to form a government.
Good news for Luxon: shoots ahead as 'Preferred PM'
Christopher Luxon has risen in this month’s preferred PM measure to 33% (+4 points). Chris Hipkins dropped substantially to 18% (-9 points). David Seymour remains unchanged at 4% while 5.6% of people would still prefer Jacinda Ardern! (the preferred prime minister question is unprompted, so the pollsters note whatever name the participant says, rather than giving them options).
Chloë Swarbrick is up 0.2 points to 6.3%, Winston Peters is up 0.7 points to 5.0%, Nicola Willis drops 1.2 points to 1.3%, James Shaw is up 0.2 points to 1.4%, and Matt King has dropped 0.3 points to 0.4%. Marama Davidson has dropped 0.8 points to 0.4% while Chris Bishop has increased 0.5 points to 0.6%.
Congratulations Casey! 🎉
With special votes counted, we now officially know who the new entrants to Parliament will be (subject to the few recounts).
Included in the class of 2023 is our very own Casey Costello (pictured) who is a former chair of the Taxpayers' Union Board – we congratulate Casey on her success.
Parliament's "new kids on the block" 🏫👶
We have written to the latest intake of MPs offering our support in helping them advocate for Lower Taxes, Less Waste and More Accountability – no matter which political party they belong to. We will work with and support any MP on policy or members bills that furthers this mission.
We also reminded them (including Casey!) that we are here to hold them to account for the decisions they make about taxpayer money. So welcome to Wellington! 😉
"Fiddling won't cut it – Fundamental Reform is Required"
Those were the words of advice from Taxpayers' Union board member (and former Finance Minister) Ruth Richardson for the next Minister of Finance.
Now that a new Government is merely a matter of paperwork, we need real and comprehensive reform that sets New Zealand on a new path towards prosperity and growth. Under Helen Clark, John Key, and Jacinda Ardern the gap between New Zealand and Australia continued to widen.
We shouldn't settle for being the poor cousin to Australia – looking over the ditch at what they can (and we can't) afford. We say Mr Luxon needs to get us on a new path, and get to work and deliver on his mandate from voters to slash wasteful spending, cut red tape, and unwind the damage of big, dumb, high-cost government.
Along with scrapping Labour's expensive and undemocratic policies of the past three years, we also need comprehensive reform. That means slashing the size of the public service and reshaping it to be focused on delivery rather than serve the interests of the bureaucracy in Wellington.
With a 68% increase in Government spending since 2017 and nothing to show for it, it’s time to live within our means and force Wellington to embrace private enterprise, localism, and lean, efficient, accountable government. Only then can Nicola Willis balance the books, stop the Debt Clock, and get New Zealand 'back on track'.
Fighting back against World Health Organisation's campaign for Australian-style vape ban 💨
Later this month, thousands of bureaucrats from around the world (and a handful from New Zealand) will be meeting in Panama to discuss World Health Organisation proposals to all but outlaw vaping. Sounds noble, but it's another case of prioritising good intentions over real solutions.
New Zealand is one of the most successful counties in recent years at getting smokers to quit. How did we do it? Vaping.
But now the WHO and governments from around the world are trying to gang up and force Australian-style vaping bans regulations on all members.
We're beating Australia! But WHO wants us to copy them anyway! 😒🇺🇳
Compared to New Zealand, Australia has failed to slash smoking rates. Australia is one of the only countries with higher tobacco taxes than New Zealand, but unlike New Zealand their smoking rates remain high. That's because they, in effect, ban vaping – the companies that sell nicotine patches successfully lobbied for this, and the Australian Government is just as addicted to the huge revenue stream smokers generate.
An Australian-style ban on vaping would mean even more power and money to illegal criminal gangs, worse health outcomes for those trying to quit smoking and even more costs imposed on all taxpayers through increased crime as the black market for tobacco continues to grow. Already, one in eight cigarettes smoked in New Zealand is from the criminal market, imagine how many more smokers will be going to the gangs when the WHO slash the nicotine content of legal/regulated cigarettes while simultaneously making it harder to switch to the safer and cheaper alternative – vaping.
So taxpayer groups around the world are joining forces with independent smokefree groups to resist what the WHO is trying to do.
Vaping has already helped tens of thousands of New Zealanders successfully quit cigarettes and our smoking rate is now one of the lowest in the world putting us well on the pathway to our smoke-free goals: we should be selling the success story, not selling out to big tobacco!
In New Zealand, credit where credit is due. Helen Clark's anti-smoking group "ASH" has long pointed out that vaping is the most successful smoking cessation tool yet.
The WHO – despite the sea of evidence, and anti-smoking groups lining up with unlikely friends from the taxpayer movement – have failed to justify their claims when challenged. They have instead opted to cloak the conference in secrecy by limiting who can even see the conference agenda!
If you're a vaper (or smoker hoping to quit), we've created a simple email tool that allows you to email New Zealand’s WHO delegates and urge them to take an evidenced-based approach to tobacco harm-reduction rather than giving in to the pressure from WHO bureaucrats and countries who export tobacco plants. Use our fully-customisable email tool at www.NoVapeBan.nz
One more thing: although I am a huge fan of vaping for the reasons above, as a parent I worry too about kids taking up vaping. But the two aren't mutually exclusive. The short point is, do we want to force vaping underground as it is in Australia, or actually ensure the age restrictions are in place and enforced? (the government is clearly currently doing a terrible job at that!).
Taxpayer Talk: Dr Oliver Hartwich On How The Incoming Government Should Reform The Public Service
This week on Taxpayer Talk, I sat down with the Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative, Dr Oliver Hartwich, to discuss how the incoming Government should reform the public service. Despite a mandate for change and a desire to unwind many of the policies of the previous Government, the new National-led government may face challenges with navigating the complex and bloated bureaucracy of the public service – something that may prove to be a roadblock to much-needed reform.
In the podcast, Dr Hartwich discusses a range of potential ways to make the public service function better under the new Government ranging from bringing forward the retirement of the Public Service Commissioner, to bringing the Commissioner under direct ministerial oversight as part of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to establishing ministers' offices in the relevant government departments rather than in the Beehive.
Thank you for your support.
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Otago Daily Times Uni travel budget blows out
The Press Disgraced former CEO got a $200,000 ‘golden kiss goodbye’
The Conversation National drops 2 seats on NZ final results, and will need NZ First to form government
Stuff Inside the National caucus, MPs are frustrated and want a radical change
The Platform Wakey, wakey, mainstream media!
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New Parliament must deliver comprehensive reform for a more prosperous future
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