Taxpayer Update: NEW POLL Māori Party holds balance of power 📊 | Henry VIII power grab ⚖️💥 | Time to end Beehive's lobbying revolving door 💼💰
NEW POLL: Māori Party holds the balance of power 📊
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.
Labour/National supermajority rams through Henry VIII power grab with farce of a Parliamentary process ⚖️💥
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.
"Shambles of a process" – just 20 hours for public submissions
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.
Lobbying review must put an end to the Beehive's revolving door 💼💰
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.
Time to open the books for MPs' expenses 📒💸
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.
Taxpayer Talk: Councillor Ray Chung 🎙️
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)