Taxpayer Update: Parker's planning power grab gets worse 🏘️⚖️ | MBIE's rocketing expenses 🚀💸 | David Farrar on New Zealand media bias 📰📺
It has been another busy week in politics. While the Prime Minister has been away in China, his Ministers have continued to cause him problems at home. Having already lost three Ministers in the last few months, he will have been relieved to hear that the Privileges Committee found Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, not guilty of contempt of Parliament. Instead it found that her incorrect statement to the House on the publication of school attendance data was simply due to "a high degree of negligence". Well that's ok then!
Parker's planning power grab gets even worse 🏘️⚖️
On Tuesday, the Environment Select Committee dropped its reports on the two bills with which the Government proposes to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA). The reports setting out the Committee's recommended amendments total a staggering 1,377 pages – longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy!
While we are still working through the detail of these reports, from what we've seen, this revised version of the bills is even worse than the original. With hundreds of amendments to work through and just two months left before Parliament rises, it is simply inexcusable to seek to rush through such a fundamental and radical change to the planning system. We called on the Government to go back out to consultation, but David Parker told Heather du Plessis-Allan he had no intention of doing so.
In better news, our campaign to raise awareness about these reforms seems to be having an impact. Taxpayers’ Union – Curia polling undertaken last month showed strong public opposition. 48% of respondents believed that planning rules should be set by local councils compared with just 26% who preferred that these rules be set by the proposed regional planning committees. 26% of respondents were unsure.
As with Three Waters, our roadshow tour has strengthened the positions of opposition parties. After previously only having committed to amend any replacement to the RMA that the Government might pass before the election, this week the National Party joined ACT in committing to repeal. The Greens also dissented in the Select Committee report, which is why Labour wants to ram this through before it loses its majority at the election. To help us put a stop to that, chip in to the fighting fund here.
Houston, we have a problem: MBIE's rocketing expenses 🚀💸
The search for the purpose of the New Zealand Space Agency continues, and most recently, it took the form of a sky-high junket for two staff members in the USA.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) treated some of New Zealand's Space Agency staff to business-class flights to Washington DC, costing $31,000. They attended the 25th Annual Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference (no, we don't know it either).
But the trip wasn't just about the conference itself. Oh no, MBIE officials decided to extend their stay for a leisurely five days. The conference itself lasted only two days. The officials enjoyed the luxurious Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel, incurring a bill exceeding $5,500. Nice 'work' if you can get it!
MBIE defended the business-class tickets and the length of trip, claiming they were "in line with policy." Seems like a very tone-deaf policy during a cost-of-living crisis.
We say it's time MBIE focused on its actual responsibilities instead of squandering our hard-earned cash on justifying the existence of our Space Agency.
David Farrar examines media bias in New Zealand 📰📺
On the Common Room this week, our Co-founder, David Farrar, discussed media bias in New Zealand.
The makeup of New Zealand's media landscape with very few centre-right media outlets is causing New Zealanders to lose trust in media. We know from research and scientific polling that journalists who classify their political ideology as left-leaning outnumber those who classify themselves as right-leaning by 5 to 1 – a stark contrast to the New Zealand population.
David also examines the controversial Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF). While media outlets receiving taxpayer funds are keen to stress that this does not bias their reporting, our public polling shows that most New Zealanders believe government funding undermines media independence – something that is in itself harmful even if the funding has no real influence at all.
As the fund is wrapping up (although some projects will remain funded until 2026) we have created a list of the top recipients of the PIJF since its inception.
High-tax campaigners' hypocrisy exposed 🖋️🤑
You might remember the open letter from last month signed by various wealthy people, celebrities, and former civil servants that called for higher taxes. The letter began with "We write as people who are frustrated with how much tax we pay. We want to pay more".
We were concerned with how distressing not paying enough tax must be for these individuals so your humble Taxpayers’ Union kindly wrote to them with details on how they could make an additional contribution to the Government's coffers by making a donation into the Crown Treasury bank account.
A month on, we checked in with Treasury to see how many millions had been generously deposited by these virtuous benefactors. We were shocked to discover that not a single person who said they wanted to pay more had made a contribution. Not even one.
These champagne socialists clearly weren't prepared to put their money where their mouths were. As we said at the time, we all agree that good public services are important, but there is so much Government waste that needs to be cut back, that tax rises are simply unjustifiable.
Today's quadruple-whammy tax hikes 🧾🔺
I hope you managed to catch our advert in yesterday's New Zealand Herald on Grant Robertson's latest action to clean out your wallet. As of today, the Government hikes petrol tax by 29 cents/L, Road User Charges by (at least) 55%, alcohol taxes by 6.6%, and the ute tax by up to $1,725.
The cost of living crisis has been driven by the cost of government crisis. Government spending is out of control and has forced the Reserve Bank to hike interest rates, which will compound the pain for families needing to renew their mortgages.
This unnecessary cash grab will be used to fund nice-to-haves such as fancy new Teslas for the already well off, loss-making railways, and barely used cycleways. Hardworking families, farmers and tradies are being forced to subsidize the lifestyles of better-off city residents.
These tax hikes are completely avoidable if the Government can bring itself to stop wasting other people’s hard-earned money.
Thank you for your support.
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