Taxpayer Update: MPs' big pay rise 💰📈 | Health system failures 👩🏼⚕️🤢 | Proposed land grab 🏝️🤏
With both Callum and Jordan away today, the mantle of leading the fight on behalf of taxpayers has been left to me.
As we play the waiting game for coalition negotiations, the Taxpayers' Union is still hard at work exposing extravagant waste and demanding accountability.
In this week's edition, we highlight more failures in the health system following its centralisation, call out an attempted land grab from a local council, and provide an update on the Three Waters legal challenge.
MPs preparing to line their pockets with a hefty pay rise 💰📈
While you and I struggle with the costs of living, MPs look set to share the pain get a massive pay increase.
Back in 2018, the Government made a decision to freeze MPs' pay which was continued by the Remuneration Authority in 2020 due to the economic uncertainty arising from Covid-19.
But now, MPs are expected to get a hefty pay hike that will pay a premium to make up for all those years – at the very time when our economy is slowing and government debt is reaching eye-watering levels.
Our MPs are already among the most highly paid in the world, and when you add in their additional perks and spending allowances such as free travel (all of which are not subject to the Official Information Act 😠), taxpayers aren't getting a fair deal.
We say Christopher Luxon and his new government should follow Jacinda Ardern's lead and continue the pay freeze until the economy is in better shape and Kiwi familes aren't going without. Add your name to the petition here.
So what else are we doing about it?
We have also written to the Remuneration Authority (the agency responsible for deciding MP pay) urging them to consider their legal requirement to be fair to taxpayers and also to take into account the wider economic mess we are currently in. Next week, we will meet with the Authority to argue that now is simply not the right time for taxpayer-funded pay hikes.
Sadly, for too many in our Parliament, being an MP will be their best paid job in their lifetime. So much for service...
You may have seen our social media adverts campaigning against the pay hike. If you would like to help us get the ads in front of even more people, you can support the campaign here.
Chaos, confusion, and delays following health centralisation 👩🏼⚕️🤢
As many predicted when the last Government decided to centralise the health system (in the middle of a pandemic...), we are now seeing the result of more bureaucracy and worse health outcomes for people seeking medical treatment.
Two different reports published in the last week lambasted the new Public Health Authority and National Public Health Service (Te Whatu Ora) for the omnishambles that is the current health system.
It is damning, but not unsurprising. The reviews show a culture of chaos, confusion, and delays. Some of the things revealed in the report seem more like something from a political satire than about one of our key public services, but the sad reality is that this is the state of our health system.
The report provided examples of the bureaucratic mess that was created including an instance when 10 different groups were doing risk assessments on the same issue, and another where health agencies were arguing with each other over who was in charge during the recent measles outbreak.
Taking health matters out of residents' hands has proven to be a massive mistake. The previous government’s obsession with centralisation has only sapped vital resources from our health system, generated more bureaucracy, and resulted in higher costs over improved health outcomes.
The new Government must focus on delivering improved health outcomes rather than continuing down the same path of pouring money into the backroom bureaucracies and making life harder for doctors and nurses.
Proposed land grab in Western Bay of Plenty – is your property next? 🏝️🤏
The Taxpayers' Union found itself having to stand up against a ludicrous suggestion from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council that would see its residents' private property confiscated without any compensation. If you live near the coast, your property could be next.
The proposed scheme would see the Government legislate away your rights to ownership of your own property and then rent it back to you on a long-term lease. Even though the lease cost would be almost nothing, it would tank your property value and could potentially lead to further restrictions around what you can do on your own property.
The justification for the proposal was that climate change would soon make some areas unsuitable to live. We pointed out that these risks should be up to the property owners to decide, not for the Government to take control of the land by force. Land owners can take out insurance, sell the land, or move away – all of these decisions deal with the problem without any council or government involvement.
Some councillors slammed the idea, but unfortunately it was too late to change the submission given it had already been sent off to the Government. The Mayor appeared to justify this decision by saying that it had been raised with councillors in a workshop – you know, the secret meetings where decisions 'definitely are not made'.
Taxpayer Talk: Stephen Franks Provides an Update on the Three Waters Legal Challenge 🎙️🔊
This week on Taxpayer Talk, Jordan sat down with lawyer Stephen Franks to provide an update on the Three Waters legal challenge. Stephen is a founding director of the commercial and public law firm Franks Ogilvie, a former member of Parliament, and spokesperson for the Water Users' Group.
Stephen's law firm has been leading the legal challenge against Three Waters, attempting to force Nanaia Mahuta to release the legal advice backing up her claim that co-governance was required under the Treaty of Waitangi. Unfortunately, this challenge was unsuccessful and was appealed to the Court of Appeal where it was again dismissed. We have decided to drop the case in order to focus our resources and efforts on developing a repeal and replacement bill for Three Waters now that we have a new Government committed to its repeal.
The Local Water Infrastructure Bill that we have been developing addresses the infrastructure issues that were used as the justification for Three Waters but without the co-governance, seizure of local assets, and other numerous problems in the Three Waters legislation. You can read about our Local Water Infrastructure Bill here.
Thank you for your support.
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