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Taxpayer Update: Labour's app tax 📱🧾 | Why Rob Campbell had to go 🪑❌ | Taxpayer-funded fringe activism 🎭💵

No new taxes? Say hello to the Government's 'app tax'📱🧾

For a Government that committed not to introduce new taxes, they seem to be doing a good job of coming up with innovative ideas for how to pinch more of your hard earned dollars.

Remember the furore last year about plans to introduce GST on KiwiSaver fund managers that was dropped within 24 hours? Turns out the parliamentary bill that was set to bring that in had another tax hidden within it.

On Thursday, the Financial and Expenditure Select Committee reported back to Parliament on the Government's latest Taxation Bill. National's minority report (opposing the Bill) highlights the proposal to change the rules for GST on digital services.

At the moment, if a sole trader or business makes less than $60,000 a year, they do not have to register for and charge GST on their services. The bill proposes to remove this threshold and charge GST on any and all services provided on or though a digital platform. It's not a new tax on the foreign-own corporations such as Uber or Airbnb – it's a tax grab from the small business owners who occasionally rent out a spare bedroom through an online app, or those who drive part-time for a ride share service.

So what does this mean for you? Well, your Uber driver, your takeaway delivery person or your Airbnb provider will now have charge 15 percent GST and this will push up the price you pay for all of these services.

This 'app tax' would mean a $20 Uber fare would cost $23 while an Airbnb stay that currently costs $300 will now cost $345. Across the year, these increases will add up.

The Government tax take has continued to increase in recent years while Kiwis have been squeezed as a result of record levels of inflation. This app tax will simply make the situation worse.

Chris Hipkins said that he would keep to the Labour's commitments on tax. If he really means that, he should drop this 'app tax' immediately. 

Public service neutrality: Why Rob Campbell had to go 🪑

Here at the Taxpayers' Union we believe public service neutrality is important. We need to be able to trust the civil service machine to act impartially and deliver on the policies of whichever party is in office regardless of their own personal political beliefs. Officials are accountable to democratically elected politicians, and it should never be the other way around.

Countries such as the United States allow incoming presidents and governments to sack incumbent officials and put their own trusted advisors into the senior positions of government agencies. But, in general, New Zealand governments do not have the power to remove senior public servants, thus the need for neutrality.

Unfortunately over the last few decades, the public service has becoming less and less neutral. On cultural issues in particular, many of the positions departments and ministries take are overtly political. Wellington is something of a woke bubble, an echo chamber of employees who all agree with each other but who can become detached from wider public opinion. In the UK, we refer to this ‘the blob’.

As soon as we became aware of the Rob Campbell social media rant, we wrote to the Public Service Commissioner asking him to investigate the remarks as a likely breach of the Public Service Commission's Code of Conduct. We can't think of a more blatant breach of political neutrality in recent history – the leader of the Government's health department abusing the Leader of the Opposition and accusing him of 'dog whistle' politics on a matter that is subject to intense political debate (co-governance and the delivery of public services).

Credit where credit is due, the decisions taken by the Ministers of Heath and the Environment (apparently encouraged by the Prime Minister's office) were the rights ones. 

On Thursday, Rob Campbell defended his outburst in an interview with Peter Williams on Taxpayer Talk. You can listen to that podcast interview here.

Fancies of murdering James Cook: Your taxes funding fringe activism 🎭💵

James Cook Poem

This week it was revealed that a stage show called ‘The Savage Coloniser’ received $107,280 in Creative NZ and Foundation North funding. The play is based on a book of poems of the same name, which includes a poem for the 250th anniversary of James Cook's arrival in New Zealand.

You can read an extract above and, if you are struggling to grasp the beauty of the piece, The Spinoff – also taxpayer funded – have put together a helpful 'How to read a poem' guide to explain what you should think and feel when reading it. 👀

New Zealanders will have different views on the value of arts funding. You can make a case for it being used to widen access to the arts or support cultural projects that might not otherwise be viable.

What it shouldn’t be used for is to fund fringe activism that arguably promotes racial hatred and violence.

With a shortage of ICU nurses, and communities still cut off due to Cyclone Gabrielle, we say there is better things to fund than a stage show about murdering James Cook and other white people.

Some have criticised those of us who have called out the funding, questioning our commitment to free speech and arguing that the withdrawal of funding would amount to censorship. 

There are two problems with this argument. First, Creative NZ appear to only ever fund Left-wing projects. When was the last time you saw them fund a play about the benefits of capitalism, freedom, or free trade? Given the funding decisions are brazenly political (remember the gushing documentaries about Chlöe Swarbrick?), the blob can't claim this is purely about art. 

Secondly, the Taxpayers' Union is a staunch defender of free speech. We are certainly not suggesting the poem or the show should be banned. The point is that if people want to go and see a show like this, that's up to them, but we shouldn't all be forced to pay for it.

Why the rush? The dangers of passing new laws too quickly ⚖️💨

In this parliamentary term, 21 urgency motions have been used. This is three times more than the last term and a staggering nine times more than the one before that.

Urgency motions are used to speed up the process of passing legislation through Parliament. It can be used to expedite or cut out stages of the legislative process, including eliminating the opportunity for public consultation.

While urgency is appropriate in times of crisis when fast action is required, it should not be used for day-to-day legislation. This increasing trend of reducing parliamentary and public scrutiny of new laws is dangerous.

One of our student interns Alex Murphy looks into this issue in more detail and considers the implications of urgency motions for our democracy. You can read Alex's blogpost here.

Taxpayer Talk with Peter Williams: Nick Stewart on the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle 🎙️

Taxpayer Talk – Nick Stewart

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Peter Williams sits down with Nick Stewart to discuss the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle. The recent cyclone devastated many parts of the country, particularly Hawke's Bay and Gisborne on the East Coast of the North Island. Along with claiming lives and livelihoods, the cyclone exposed serious problems with the adequacy of our infrastructure.

Nick is the Chief Executive of Stewart Group, a Hawke's Bay based financial services firm. Being from the area, Nick is understandably interested in the effects this event will have on the region, and country, over many years to come. He shares his perspective and insights as to how we can recover and different ways this rebuild could be paid for. 

Also in this podcast, our War on Waste team target exorbitant spending by government departments on catering.

Listen to the episode | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Thank you for your support.

Yours aye,


Callum Signature
Callum Purves
Campaigns Manager

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union


Media coverage:

Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ chair Rob Campbell unrepentant after claims comments breached political impartiality

The consensus for a Three Waters model

More trust National's leaders on the economy - Taxpayers' Union Curia Poll

Newstalk ZB Afternoon Edition: 28 February 2023 – Economy Poll

Newstalk ZB
Barry Soper: ZB senior political correspondent on the Taxpayers Union/Curia poll saying National is more trusted on the economy

The Working Group with Matthew Hooton, Brooke Van Veldon and Damien Grant

Stuff MP labels environment ministry outrageous and hypocritical over flight use

NBR Campbell's sacking, National's policy, cyclone recovery

Showing 1 reaction

  • Callum Purves
    published this page in News 2023-03-04 12:52:18 +1300

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