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Taxpayer Update: Taxpayer-funded, anti-National 'sock-puppet' campaign | Cost of living poll | Winston Peters' right of reply

With the final week of the election campaign nearly over, the race seems to be tightening. Two of this week's three major polls have the Centre Left bloc ahead of the Centre Right. So get your popcorn out; Saturday night could be a bumpy ride!

Exposing sock-puppet electric car industry campaigners spreading misinformation about the benefits of Tesla subsidies 🤫

This week, we blew the whistle on a taxpayer-funded 'charity' group that is actively campaigning against the National and ACT  parties and lobbying for expensive and ineffective electric vehicle (EV) subsidies.

We called out the Better NZ Trust for their deceptive six-figure campaign across social media and billboards claiming – falsely – that the removal of EV subsidies will ‘increase’ New Zealand’s emissions and harm the climate, despite knowing full well that vehicle emissions are covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Contrary to their misleading advertising, any reduced transport emissions from subsidies for Teslas, just makes emissions credits available (and cheaper) for other polluters. See explainer here.

Here are some of the misleading ads – which you may have seen online, or on billboards across the country.

Clean Car Discount Ad

Looking into the group further, we discovered that their founder is none other than Steve West who is also the founder, director and shareholder of ChargeNet NZ – the largest network of electric charge stations. In addition, the private company has received more than $7 million in corporate welfare from Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to subsidise their commercially operated charging stations.

We say it is time for the Charities Commission to step in and stop what is clearly a front group for industry misleading Kiwis for political (and financial gain).

By all means the likes of Steve West (and other members of the electric car/charging industry) can lobby and campaign – but using a taxpayer-funded 'charity' (meaning it's tax deductible) to mislead voters on an issue as important as climate change is plain wrong.

Oh, and one more thing. Not only has EECA funded the charging company, EECA is also listed as the primary sponsor of the Trust running the election ads! 

How are the EECA allowing an organisation which lists them as its primary sponsor to play politics and mislead New Zealanders in the very area the EECA are supposed to be experts on?

It's almost as if the climate officials want you to vote Labour to protect their jobs – surely not...

If you watch just one video about climate change policy, make it this! 🙌

The Better NZ Trust would do well to watch this video we released this week from our young Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy.

Connor tackles the poppycock politicians spout about spending billions of taxpayer dollars on so-called measures to tackle climate change. He explains why most of our climate change policies – including the Clean Car Discount – are a complete waste of money and don't reduce a single gram of New Zealand’s overall emissions.

If you care about climate change, make sure you watch Connor's video!


If you care about politicians not wasting money on climate change, make sure you watch Connor's video!

Connor ETS Video

We have been calling this nonsense out for years yet almost all politicians and media simply refuse to engage the inconvenient truth. The fact of the matter is that our Emissions Trading Scheme creates a limit on the maximum amount of net emissions (from things such as car exhausts minus removals from things like trees). Throwing taxpayer money at reducing emissions in one industry simply frees up carbon credits to be emitted in others. You'll never look at a clear car discount, or taxpayer funded 'climate' handout again.

Kiwis doing it tough under Government's cost of living crisis 🛒🏚️💸

As reported in Monday's edition of The Post, a new Taxpayers’ Union – Curia poll on the cost of living has revealed the true harm this Government’s policies are causing New Zealanders. 

The poll confirmed that the large majority of New Zealanders are struggling to make ends meet and this ought to be the real issue of this week's election. Whether it is struggling to afford essential groceries, petrol or other utilities, the poll demonstrates that Kiwis are tightening their belts to afford basic necessities while the Government continues to make the problem worse by spending recklessly.

An incredible 98% of those polled said that their food bills have increased in the past year, 90% said the same for petrol, 68% for utilities and 53% for rents and mortgage.

Cost of Living Poll

Out-of-control spending, profligate money printing, and eye-watering debt are not abstract economic ideas – this poll highlights the very real effects that the poor decisions made in Wellington have on those struggling to make ends meet.

79% of respondents believed that Government spending has contributed to the rise in the cost of living in some capacity and 94% want the Government to do more to address this problem. 

Kiwis are feeling the financial and emotional strain of this Government’s policies. It is now more important than ever that wasteful spending is cut right back, and tax relief is delivered to New Zealanders so that they can keep more of what they earn.

As Ruth Richardson put so well on Newshub Nation last weekend, the cost of living crisis has been driven by a cost of government crisis.

You can read the full results of the poll here.

Kiwi Performance Indicators: How is NZ performing? 🧐

Kiwi Performance Indicators

It isn't just the amount of public spending that is the problem, it is the poor quality of it too. Despite spending being up by 68% in just six years, delivery on key essential services has been dropping like a stone. Taxpayers deserve value for money, but how do you know what you’re actually getting?

Our friends at thefacts.nz have the answer and have just launched a new website called 'Kiwi Performance Indicators'. This new website meticulously compiles official government statistics alongside polling from IPSOS, Essential, and our very own Taxpayers’ Union – Curia polls. 

For the first time in a New Zealand election, voters have access to an objective dashboard of government performance before heading to the polls. Over time, the team hopes to expand the number of categories available, so make sure you keep checking back so that you have all the stats you need to hold government of all political hues to account. 

Head over to www.kpi.nz to check it out.

Mind the Gap: Public sector pay growth out of control 🚀

Public Sector HeadcountLast week, we also published our 2023 Public Sector Wage Gap Report by our researcher, Alex Murphy.  While the difference in average wages between the public and private sector has come down significantly over recent years, Alex's report shows the true extent of the massive staffing increases in our ballooning public sector.

The report reveals how managerial and other back office roles have been prioritised over frontline jobs. Just over the last 5 years, the number of managers and information professionals in the Public Service grew at nearly twice the rate of the uptick in frontline staff in social, education or health work.

Alex's paper also reveals the problem of additional sick leave in the public sector being taken compared to the private sector. If public sector employees took the same number of sick days as those in the private sector, the taxpayer would save $174 million every year.

You can read the full report here.

Public back ACT's proposed Treaty Principles Act 🗳️

ACT's Treaty Principles Act

As reported in yesterday's NZ Herald, New Zealanders overwhelmingly support ACT's proposal to clarify the definition of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in a new piece of legislation. Of those who expressed a view on the question, more than 3 to 1 supported the proposed principle definitions:

1. The New Zealand Government has the right to govern New Zealand.

2. The New Zealand Government will protect all New Zealanders’ authority over their land and other property.

3. All New Zealanders are equal under the law, with the same rights and duties.

This results suggest that a majority of New Zealanders share our concerns about the erosion of democratic accountability that has arisen from interpretations of the Treaty Principles being decided by the Courts and Public Service rather than by democratically elected representatives.

A fundamental principle of democracy is that of accountability: The ability to remove bad or ineffective decision makers from office. Some interpretations of the Treaty Principles – which have not been voted on by Parliament – erode this principle. This poll shows voters do not agree with the path these interpretations have taken.

What are the parties saying on tax? 🧾

ACT Party: ACT has by far the most taxpayer-friendly tax plan of all of the parties; however, it is still a long way off our ideal tax system. We would like to see a further simplification and lowering of taxes as fiscal conditions allow. The party plans to simplify the tax system down to 3 rates from the current 6 over the next couple of years (a watering down of their earlier policy due to worse than forecast government debt), return ETS revenue to households, abolish the bright-line test and reverse the Government's rental interest deductibility changes and get rid of the ute tax. 

National Party: National is offering a minor inflation adjustment to income tax brackets but this only adjusts for two years’ inflation and kicks in on July 1 2024. Ongoing adjustments will only occur every three years, and at the discretion of the minister. Other notable tax changes include the removal of the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and the ute tax.  The ability to depreciate commercial buildings will be scrapped, but residential rental properties will have full deductibility of interest expenses phased in by 1 April 2026. Foreign buyers of residential property will be allowed to purchase properties of $2 million or more upon paying a 15% tax on the purchase price. Legitimate concerns have been raised by economists over whether National’s foreign buyers tax figures add up, but National has not effectively addressed these concerns.

New Zealand First: The party pledges to introduce a tax-free threshold by 2027, and inflation adjust income tax brackets with the first adjustment occurring in 2027 and every 3 years after that. They want to look at taking GST off basic foods through a select committee inquiry, introduce subsidies for gaming and movie sectors, and a lower tax rate for select businesses. It is encouraging that NZ First wants to set a limit on government spending; however, the level that they have decided to set the cap at is higher than what we are currently spending now. 

Labour Party: The party's flagship policy is taking GST off unprocessed fruit and vegetables – you can read our report here about why this is a very bad idea. They also want regular increases of fuel excise duty over 3 years, totalling 14 c/L including GST, with an equivalent increase to road-user charges. And the party plans to remove tax-deductible depreciation expenses for non-residential buildings.

Green Party: They want a complete change to the income tax brackets and tax rates with a new tax-free rate up to $10,000 and a top tax rate of 45% for incomes over $180,000. The Greens also want to see a lift in the corporate tax rate from 28% to 33%, and new wealth taxes of 1.5% p.a. on the value of assets held in a private trust and 2.5% p.a. of net assets over $2 million for an individual.

Te Pāti Māori: This is the most radical proposal and not in a good way. The party wants to see GST removed from all food, an increase in the corporate tax rate from 28% to 33%, a $30,000 income tax free threshold, and a range of new tax rates on income as high as 48%. They are also campaigning on introducing wealth taxes as high as 8% per year, a tax on foreign companies, a 33% vacant land, and vacant house tax.

But tax relief funded by borrowing is illusionary 👻 

Of course, the only real tax cut is a spending cut – everything else is just timing.

So for all of these parties, the focus must be on cutting back wasteful spending in order for tax relief to be delivered, slowing down inflation, getting us back to meaningful growth and slaying the looming debt monster. 

Winston's right of reply 📺

We've been copping it from all sides by those who are pro and those anti-Winston Peters – and whether concerns that he could unexpectedly return the current government assuming the polls are right and NZ First holds the balance of power. 

It's not for us to tell you who to vote for – our role is to highlight and critique policies and hold the politicians to account.

Ruth Richardson made her concerns pretty clear earlier in the week, but we've had assurances from both Winston Peters and Casey Costello (a former Taxpayers' Union board chair, who is now #3 on the NZ First party list) that going with Labour for another term is out of the question.

Reasonable minds may differ on whether to trust Mr Peters. Recall he went with National's Jim Bolger in 1996 despite campaigning to "change the government" the same year. But on the other hand, (and as a right of reply to our earlier emails), Peters and his team couldn't be much clearer in a recently published campaign video:

Judge for yourself

Having fielded emails and calls from those annoyed with our emails questioning whether Peters can be trusted, we'll no doubt receive grumblings from our National and ACT party supporters now as a result of this email. 😳  So thank goodness for the privacy of the voting booth!

But, one this is for sure, {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}: the Taxpayers' Union will hold all parties to account for their promises, regardless of what the next Parliament looks like.

Have a great weekend. 


Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union


Media coverage:

NZ Herald
 Election 2023: Audrey Young - Labour MPs need basic lessons in campaign discipline

Stuff Tova – Left Turn (01:00:47)

NZ Herald Election 2023: NZ First shoots up in new poll, Luxon preferred PM over Hipkins

RNZ Winston Peters remains kingmaker in latest Taxpayers' Union-Curia poll

NewstalkZB Election Fix: 6 October 2023 – Poll

The Post 
Giant escape key destroyed after one day in New York

NewstalkZB Afternoon Edition: 06 October 2023 (00:22)

NewstalkZB Jason Walls: Newstalk ZB political editor on two new polls showing Chris Luxon will need Winston

Newsroom Luxon impresses in Taranaki, still doesn’t know Winston

NZ Herald On The Campaign: The minor parties make their case - can TOP join them in Parliament? (02:35, 18:42)

NewstalkZB Heather du Plessis-Allan: What has happened to David Seymour?

Newshub Election 2023: Winston Peters guards path to power as Hipkins resumes attacks on National's tax plan

NZ Herald Election 2023: New poll shows whether Kiwis believe Winston Peters’ Labour promise

The Post National, Labour turn up the sledging as polls show NZ First in decisive position

NZ City One week out from the election, and Winston Peters is eyeing up the kingmaker position again

Election 2023: Infamous 'Mother of all Budgets' curator, former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson accuses National and Labour of 'heroic assumptions'

Otago Daily Times Luxon remains focused on National-Act govt

Election 2023 poll: More than half of voters don't trust Winston Peters on ruling out Labour

The Post The last week: Cost of living still the main game

RNZ Election 2023: Labour, National renew attacks on each other's costings

Newstalk ZB 
Kerre Woodham: Misinformation and attack ads (2:53)

Newsroom Chlöe can’t count on cannabis this time

RNZ AK's Tamaki electorate coming down to ACT or National

Newstalk ZB John MacDonald: Attacks ads - Entertaining? Yes. Influential? No

Newstalk ZB 
The Huddle: Could National really lose the unlosable election?

NZ Herald Election 2023: Majority would support Act’s Treaty referendum, although voters unsure if they want to vote on it

NZ Herald Election 2023: Coalition options - can Winston Peters be trusted not to work with Labour?

The Daily Blog What would a National-ACT-NZ First Govt do for cannabis?

NZ Herald Election 2023: Haven’t voted? Undecided? Two divergent paths explained, and what you need to know to make a decision

Newsroom One vote for the media

1News Tāmaki - what the data shows about National-ACT battleground

Gisborne Herald Expect Peters to maximise leverage

Stuff Election 2023: The electorates that may decide the shape of the next government

Showing 1 reaction

  • Callum Purves
    published this page in News 2023-10-13 11:06:56 +1300

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