Taxpayer Update: Stop Central Planning 📰 ☭ | Future of Local Government 📜 | Tax Hikes 🛑
Three Waters 2.0: Our ad in the Herald exposing David Parker's central planning "reforms"
With the support of hundreds of supporters like you, we managed to secure a four-page lift-out in the NZ Herald this week to coincide with the final day on our 'Hands Off Our Homes: Stop Central Planning Committees' roadshow.
David Parker's reforms would strip democratic control over resource allocation and planning decisions from local councils and place them in the hands of unelected, co-governed central planning committees.
The Government has learnt its lesson from Three Waters and isn't spending millions of taxpayer dollars on TV adverts (or otherwise talking about what they are doing) this time. Our main objective with the nationwide roadshow tour was to raise awareness about these reforms and explain to New Zealanders what these radical changes will mean for them.
Over the coming weeks we will continue to expose Minister Parker's Soviet-style central planning committees for what they are and make it a major political thorn in the Government's side as we head towards October's election.
We can only force this matter onto the political agenda with people power. If you haven't already, please take a moment to add your name to the petition opposing these undemocratic reforms.
🔍 Future of Local Government 👩🏻💼👨🏻💼🔺
Not content with ripping away democratic control of water infrastructure and planning powers from local councils, a Government-appointed panel this week released their final report into the future of local government.
As we predicted, the report advocates for even more centralisation and removal of local voice and democratic accountability from decision making. The report recommends reorganizing local government with "the resource management reform boundaries as a starting point for discussions". 😳
This would amount to a mass amalgamation of New Zealand's councils further reducing the ratepayers' ability to engage in the democratic process.
New Zealand is one of the most highly centralized countries in the world. Just a tenth of government expenditure is delivered through our councils. And those councils are extremely large by international comparisons. Auckland's Super City is a prime example of bigger not being better – rather than save money it's led to more managers, more layers of bureaucracy, and much higher rates.
This Review presented a great opportunity to fix the issues in local councils and put power closer to the people, Instead it has focussed on identity politics and public sector gimmicks like citizens’ assemblies and "participatory budgeting". And the only structural reforms it proposes would likely see more centralizations and a further undermining of democratic accountability.
New Zealanders aren’t interested in nebulous concepts like embedding a wellbeing focus in local government – they want to see high quality services delivered at a local level for the lowest rates possible. That means small, democratically accountable, powerful local councils where local people have the opportunity every three years to kick out politicians who aren’t performing.
Hold on to your wallets: Tax hikes are coming
At the end of this month, in the middle of a cost of living crisis, taxpayers up and down New Zealand will be slapped with four new tax increases, so get ready as Grant Robertson is coming for your wallet.
On 1 July, the following taxes are increasing:
🛑 Petrol excise by 29 cents/litre (including GST)
🛑 Road user charges by 56%
🛑 Ute tax by up to $1,725
🛑 Alcohol tax by 6.6%
Worse still, all four tax increases will have a disproportionately large impact on rural and poorer households.
Cost of living crisis? What cost of living crisis?
The fuel excise and diesel road user charge increases will punish those who often don't have any other choice but to drive either due to where they live or the nature of their work.
Similarly, the ute tax will slam hard-working farmers and tradies who simply don't have any other option but to drive a ute – for them, they are tools of the trade. This increase is particularly cruel for those who lost vehicles in the recent flooding and will now have to pay up to $6,900 in tax just to replace a damaged work vehicle.
And where does this money go? To subsidize those in the cities (where public transport is an option) so they can buy themselves a new Tesla.
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have already signed our petition calling for the ute tax to be scrapped. You can sign the petition here.
After all those tax hikes, you may need a beer or two to relax but, after a 6.9% alcohol excise hike last year, it's going up a further 6.6% this year too! Cheers.
Tax Preferences Principles Bill – David Parker trying to screw the scrum
David Parker’s Tax Principles Bill faced scrutiny at Select Committee last week, and of course your humble Taxpayers’ Union was there to give them a piece of taxpayers’ minds.
Scores of interested parties turned up to rip holes in this bill, which if nothing else shows one thing: Despite David Parker’s protestations that his 7 ‘principles’ were universally agreed upon fact, clearly they are little more than the preferences of one man and his lackeys.
For instance, take the Government’s attempt to enshrine in law the idea that tax systems must be progressive. Our economist, Ray Deacon, made the point that “there is no reason why a flat tax applied across all income levels, with an appropriately structured system of transfer payments, cannot achieve the goals that a progressive tax system is aiming for.” As it happens, even the Inland Revenue Department agrees with us!
Many of these "principles" would screw the scrum by shutting down democratic debate on our tax system by claiming Labour's opinions are objective fact and handing the power to dictate tax policy to an unelected Commissioner. If these principles are universal, Minister Parker must live in a different universe to us.
Ray also suggested that it would be more appropriate to rename the proposal as the Tax Preferences Bill. At least then the Government would be honest in their intentions. You can watch our submission here.
Taxpayer Victory: Michael Wood Resigns
In our last update, we called for Michael Wood's resignation over his failure to appropriately manage his conflict of interest as Minister of Transport while owning shares in Auckland Airport. Our petition has since gathered thousands of signatures.
It subsequently emerged that Wood had undeclared financial interest in a number of other areas that conflicted with his Ministerial responsibilities. It was also revealed that Minister Wood was contacted 16 times by the Cabinet Office to sell his shares, not just the 12 times that had previously been stated. For multiple breaches of disclosure requirements as bad as this, Prime Minister Hipkins shouldn't have given Wood the opportunity to resign and should have sacked him instead!
This is a significant victory for taxpayers and one we care deeply about – accountability is one of the three key pillars of our mission. All taxpayers are entitled to expect that Ministers appropriately manage conflicts of interest and are, well, honest. Democracies can only function properly when the public has confidence that Ministers' personal financial interests aren't influencing decisions.
When Ministers fail to uphold high standards of transparency and accountability, public trust in Government is eroded and it lowers the bar for what is considered acceptable conduct by future Ministers. Hipkins has yet to rule out Wood's return to the Cabinet table in a future Government. We say this should be the end of Mr Wood's political career.
We welcome the announcement that work is underway to improve Cabinet's systems for managing conflicts of interest, we can only hope that this yields more accountability rather than just another box-ticking exercise.
Thank you for your support.
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