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Taxpayer Update: $800,000 taxpayer-funded Jacinda Blockbuster💰🎥 | Longer wait for interest deductibility ↩️ | Australia cut border taxes! 💥


COMING SOON: Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Kind 🎬


Not content with paying for feature-length documentaries about Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, the creative minds at the NZ Film Commission have decided in their infinite wisdom to funnel $800,000 of taxpayer money to prop up the production of a new documentary about former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Your humble Taxpayers' Union has, of course, called the Commission out.

The Film Commission is not reading the room with its ridiculous decision to pile in $800k of taxpayer money into a hero worship film about Dame Jacinda Ardern says the Taxpayers’ Union.

A spokesman for the Union, Jordan Williams, said, “On the one hand, the Film Commission says the film has market confidence and will likely be a commercial success, but then on the other they give it taxpayer money anyway.”
“From a taxpayer’s perspective, any funding of films about politicians is questionable. Most countries call it propaganda.”

This is why public funding of media usually comes with requirements to be balanced or non-partisan. The Film Commission just don't seem to care. They are abusing their position – responsible for spending our money, but using it to promote elected representatives from only one side of the political spectrum. 

 “‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Kind’ funding during a cost-of-living crisis confirms what we already know: the Film Commission is nothing but a leftie love-in and ignores any pretence of being politically neutral. It should be focused on the arts, not politics.”
“And it’s not the first time the Film Commission’s been to the left-wing blockbuster rodeo. This is the same outfit that pumped taxpayer money into a puff piece on Chlöe Swarbrick. This Commission lacks self-awareness and professionalism.”
“The Commission needs to be culled to fund real arts or balanced current affairs content. Tax take is crumbling, families are struggling, and the fourth estate is dying. There are far higher priorities than funding an adoring film on a politician.” 
In December 2021, NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission allocated NZ$200,000 and NZ$20,000 to a feature-length documentary focusing on the political career of Chlöe Swarbrick called Being Chlöe.

And we've since found another to add to the list: In addition to Chlöe, back in 2018, Stuff reported on taxpayer funded events promoting "My Year With Helen" [Clark] – a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the former PM's job at the UN – which, you guessed it, got $870,000 in taxpayer-funding.

ST🛑P taxpayer funding of political propaganda 🪧

We say enough is enough when it comes to arts funding being highjacked for politics. We will be submitting to Parliament before the next financial review of the Film Commission asking for a change to the quango's governing legislation that would prevent taxpayer–funded film grants being used for political propaganda.

If you agree that the Film Commission’s purview should be restricted to the arts, not politics, please take 30 seconds to add your name to the petition.

✍️ Sign the petition here ✍️

Australia abolishes c.500 tariffs, should we follow suit? ✁🦘

Sometimes our Australian cousins get it right. Last week, Australia's Labor Government announced it is doing what our own Government is too scared to do: abolishing import tariffs on nearly 500 products to help fight their cost-of-living crisis.

Tariffs are taxes on products entering the country and are a failed economic tool. New Zealand is mostly tariff free thanks to our free trade deals, but there are still a number of select products from certain countries that face import taxes of five or ten percent. These include school uniforms, sunscreen, makeup, and even ambulances! 🚑

We say New Zealand should stand with Australia and called on Christopher Luxon to do the same so New Zealanders could reap the benefits of lower prices, more competition, and so consumers can avoid the costs of self-imposed tariffs. 

Our Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, joined the AM Show to discuss the merits of the idea.

Remember too, that the costs of tariffs aren't just the tariff itself. Imposing even small tariffs justifies more bureaucracy at the border and enormous compliance costs. In fact, New Zealand's remaining tariffs likely cost more in administration and economic costs than they generate in revenue! Governments of all stripes crow about the benefits of free trade. Let's do it then!

Interest deductibility pushed back: another unfriendly U-turn? 📝↩️

We've had dozens of emails from mum and dad landlords who are feeling very disappointed that the Government is delaying the return of interest deductibility for residential landlords. As is usually the case in politics, the devil is in the detail.

Yes the Government should be applauded for the fulfilment of pre-election promises to bring property investment into line with every other investment and business class (whereby interest is a legitimate business expense able to be deducted from taxable income).

But on the other hand, it's more than a bit sneaky for the Government to push the implementation back despite it being explicitly clear in November's coalition agreements (refer page 4) that the deduction would be available for the current 2023/2024 tax year. Bundled into last week's announcement was the detail that taxpayers must wait another year – tax year starting 1 April – for the policy to come into place.

As we've seen with

❌ the App Tax, which National campaigned to scrap, yet now have all but adopted;

❌ National's income tax threshold indexation policy, which will no longer look to provide ongoing income tax brackets adjustments for inflation; and

❌ the Trust Tax hike, which the now Revenue-Minister spoke vehemently against and warned of the unintended consequences of just 10 months ago.

Instead of taking the tough (but necessary) spending decisions to reduce government spending as the Government receives bad financial news, they are tending to take a "Labour-lite approach" and deliver less for taxpayers.

Here at the Taxpayers' Union, our role is to help give the Government – which campaigned so strongly against the very policies they are now championing – some backbone. Times are tough, tax revenue is weaker than forecast, and we know Wellington has a spending crisis. But with tough economic times ahead, we say the Government ought to be tougher to crack down on wasteful spending, rather than underdeliver on the promises for tax relief to help kickstart the economy and provide much-needed relief for households.

The next test will be the so-called Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, which looks like it may go ahead, despite Minister Melissa Lee calling it a 'shakedown'. If it goes through, we can expect to see New Zealand news gone from the major social media platforms (as has happened in Australia and Canada).

Taxpayer Talk – MPs in Depth Series: Catherine Wedd🎙

This week on Taxpayer Talk, Ollie sat down with National Party MP for Tukituki, Catherine Wedd.

Catherine speaks about how, as a kid, she wanted to be a lawyer, journalist and a politician, something she now describes as "perhaps the three most unpopular professions of this century" – but at the election last year was able to fill the third leg of that dream. Catherine has also worked in horticulture and been a director on the New Zealand Apples and Pears Board.

Along with discussing her career before politics, Ollie and Catherine discuss her political ideology, the Public Interest Journalism Fund and which Labour Party policy she secretly admires. 

Listen to the episode on our website | Apple | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Other News in Brief ⏰

> We also commented on the revelation that Masterton District Council made a secret payout to Health New Zealand over a dispute relating to building defects at Wairarapa hospital while ratepayers face the prospect of a 10.6% rates hike. Information we uncovered also revealed that Health New Zealand's legal costs alone cost taxpayers a staggering $3.5 million.

> We voiced our opposition to mammoth rates hikes in Tauranga, Dunedin and the Greater Wellington Region.

> National announced that they would be reintroducing performance targets in the health sector to ensure taxpayers are seeing value for money. We welcomed the announcement here. 

> We called out the Department of Conservation for crying for more money, despite their staff headcount increasing by 28.2% since 2017, including an additional 134 managers and at least 319 other additional staff in back-office roles.

> National are ploughing ahead with their Trust Tax hike with only a $10,000 threshold before the 39% tax kicks in. We slammed this pathetically low value and pointed out the many farmers and other groups that would be still overtaxed by this hike. 

> The Climate Change Commission released its latest round of woke advice that appears insistent on making it as expensive as possible to reduce emissions. We called on them to use evidence-based policy and common sense. 

> Wellington did something sensible for a change so we welcomed their vote to slash bureaucratic red tape holding back the development of housing. 

That's it for this week, 

Yours aye,


Callum Signature
Callum Purves
Head of Campaigns

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union 


Media Mentions:

NZ Herald
 Latest poll: Christopher Luxon’s popularity crashes after allowance blunder, now trails Chris Hipkins

Newshub Christopher Luxon's favourability tanks; Labour's support lowest since 2021 in new Taxpayers' Union-Curia poll

Newstalk ZB Afternoon Edition: 08 March 2024 – Poll (01:58)

The Post Masterton council settles with Health NZ over $90 million hospital claim

Otago Daily Times Rate hikes unaffordable – advocate

interest.co.nz The Coalition Government has delivered on its 100 day promises but faces much bigger challenges ahead

Newshub New Zealand Film Commission to spend $800k on new Dame Jacinda Ardern documentary

Newstalk ZB Chloe Swarbrick sets out her first moves in new Green Party co-leader role (05:37)

The Platform Mayor of Westland Helen Lash on Hydro Power & the Fast-track Bill – Poll

Newstalk ZB Nicola Willis: Finance Minister addresses the problems in New Zealand's media sector – Poll (05:51)

POLITIK Luxon’s brave climate change promise

Newshub Taxpayers' Union says Government should 'follow Australia's lead' in abolishing tariffs

Gisborne Herald No justification for funding ‘Jacindamania’ doco 

Stuff Chris Hipkins pushes ‘slow and steady’ message to Labour caucus

The Post Labour starts planning for a tough three years

Waikato Times Ruapehu bailout ‘corporate welfare’ says Taxpayers Union

Te Ao Māori News Fifth cash injection keeps Ruapehu Alpine Lifts in business

NZ Herald Green Party’s horror run continues with MP Darleen Tana’s suspension - Audrey Young

RNZ The Week in Politics: Landlords and tenants, the police and the minister

The Platform Inside the new $3.2million Jacinda Ardern documentary critics say is dangerously close to taxpayer-funded propaganda

Press Releases

15.8% Rates Hike Shows Tauranga Long Term Plan Must Be Delayed Until After Democracy Returns

Dunedin City Council’s 17.4% Rates Hike Unacceptable

Sorely Needed Targeting On The Way For Ailing Health Sector

Film Commission Confirms Status As Taxpayer Funded Leftie Love-In

Department Of Conservation Must Conserve Taxpayer Money

National’s Changes To Labour Trust Tax Bill Pathetic And Kicks Farmers

Taxpayers’ Union Slams Unbelievable Rates Hike From Greater Wellington Regional Council

New Zealand Should Follow Australia’s Lead And Abolish Tariffs

Climate Change Commission Insistent On Making Emissions Reduction Expensive

Ruapehu Bailout Throwing Good Money After Bad, After Bad, After Bad, After Bad

Taxpayers’ Union Celebrates Slashing Of Housing Red Tape In Wellington

Taxpayers’ Union Welcomes New Bill To Remove Unfair Union Privileges

Expedia’s Exit From Market Shows App Tax Will Reduce Competition And Raise Prices

Kāpiti Council Living Wage Will Do More Harm Than Good

Grant Robertson Interview Demonstrates Why He Should Never Have Been Finance Minister

Showing 1 reaction

  • Callum Purves
    published this page in News 2024-03-21 10:47:10 +1300

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