Taxpayer Update: Planning Power Grab 🏠🛑 | Wellington must stop hoarding taxes 💰⚠️ | Avatar producers should pay back subsidies 🎥💸
Time to stop Parker's planning power grab 🏠🛑
Last week, we blew the whistle on the Government's planning reforms, which seek to replace the awful Resource Management Act with something even worse. It takes all the worst elements of Three Waters – like seizing powers from councils and introducing unelected decision makers – and applies them to your house, your business or your farm, but on a much bigger scale.
Like many, when the 891 pages of legislation were published, we were scratching our heads thinking 'this can't possibly be right'. What David Parker has proposed is so complicated and so convoluted, it could only have been designed by bureaucrats in Wellington.
Below, we sketch out what the new Regional Planning Committee might look like using Canterbury as an example.
But because the bill leaves so much to negotiation between councils, iwi and the minister, it is difficult to know exactly where things will end up. The likely answer is in the courts.
But the courts aren't too happy either. In a very unusual move, the Chief Justice made a submission on the Natural and Built Environment Bill. She warned that many of the provisions contained within the proposed legislation were things that were likely to be challenged in the courts. This means that the true implications of David Parker's bills are very uncertain and these court battles will be expensive.
In an even more staggering intervention, however, the Chief Justice raised concerns about the role of the proposed new National Māori Entity. She said that the bill as currently drafted includes the Environment Court as an entity whose decisions would be independently monitored by the National Māori Entity and would be required to respond to their reports.
The Chief Justice said that such a set up "would be inconsistent with New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements" and that "Court decisions are appropriately challenged by way of appeal, not by way of review by a statutory entity". She was so surprised by this that she said that the Supreme Court "assume[d] this is an error in drafting or an oversight."
This is bigger than Three Waters but so many people still don't know about it. In the coming weeks, we will be launching our campaign to put a stop to these radical reforms.
Kiwis want Wellington to stop hoarding taxes 💰⚠️
Councils often struggle to pay for essential infrastructure in our local communities such as roads and water pipes. While many don't help by funding vanity projects and white elephants, one of the biggest drivers of this problem is that when new developments are built, almost all of the tax revenue generated goes straight to central government in Wellington.
This means local councils are often reluctant to support development, such as new housing or suburbs. But the solution is simple: Let some of the taxes collected from new houses and businesses stay in the communities where they are generated. This would ensure that the money would be directed exactly to where new infrastructure is needed and would empower councils to make sensible decisions about local development.
This is not a new idea and has been promoted by our friends at the New Zealand Initiative (a Wellington-based think tank) for many years. Now it seems the idea has widespread public support. In this month's Taxpayers' Union – Curia Poll, our pollsters asked a representative sample of Kiwi voters if they supported such a proposal and an overwhelming 70% were in favour while just 15% were opposed and 15% were unsure.
ACT deputy lead and housing spokesperson, Brooke van Velden has been championing this idea in Parliament for some time and has tabled the Housing Infrastructure (GST-sharing) Bill that would give councils half of the GST raised on new houses in their area. National and the Greens have already pledged to support it at first reading, but it will need Labour votes to progress any further.
We say it's time for Wellington to stop their development money grab and urge the Government to support this bill that is desperately needed to improve local infrastructure.
Central District Field Days 🚜🐄
We always enjoy getting outside the Wellington bubble and meeting our supporters. Speaking to people across New Zealand just highlights how detached the public service machine is from the concerns and priorities of hard working Kiwis.
For the past couple of days we have been at the Central District Field Days in Feilding and it has been great to meet with so many of you and hear your thoughts on Three Waters and the Resource Management Act reforms. The event continues until 4 p.m. today so if you are in the area, do pop by and say hello.
Later this month, we will be at the South Island Agricultural Field Days in Kirwee from Wednesday 29th to Friday, 31st March. If you are in Canterbury, we would love to see you there.
Avatar producers rake in massive profits as Kiwis pick up the tab 🎥💸
This week, Wētā FX won an Oscar at the Academy Awards for their work on Avatar: The Way of Water. It is great to see a Kiwi firm having such great success on the international stage, but that achievement is somewhat tainted by the millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies that the Avatar franchise has received.
Taxpayers like you have been made to fork out over $140 million in subsidies for the Avatar sequels, but the first sequel has grossed over $3.7 billion. Between 2021 and 2026, New Zealanders will have given more than $1 billion to wealthy film production companies, including one owned by Jeff Bezos – the world’s third richest man.
Why should taxpayers be made to subsidize these extremely profitable films? Every dollar taxed to fund these subsidies is a dollar that could have been spent improving public services or reducing the tax burden on families.
This week, we called on the producers of Avatar to express their gratitude to New Zealanders by paying back the generous subsidies that have been provided by taxpayers over the years. We aren't holding our breath.
Hon. John Boscawen joins Taxpayers' Union Board
Last week saw a new addition to the Taxpayers' Union Board in the form of businessman and former ACT MP, the Hon. John Boscawen. John served as Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Commerce in the John Key Government.
John has been a long-time supporter of the Taxpayers’ Union. With his experience in business and politics, John brings with him great knowledge and insights to the organisation. We are delighted to be able to work with him to champion lower taxes, less waste and more accountability.
All of our board members are not just volunteers, but financially support the work of the Taxpayers' Union. As we get stuck into the important work this election year, we are grateful to all of them for their commitment to making New Zealand a more prosperous society with an efficient, transparent and democratically accountable government.
Thank you for your support.
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