Taxpayer Update: More $$ for media | New Chair for the Taxpayers' Union | New poll shows a tie
Our lastest Taxpayers' Union Curia poll has just been released. We summarise the results at the end of this update – and what would happen if this poll was reflected in an election and we ended up with a hung Parliament.
More taxpayer funding for the media: Will this affect election coverage?
The Government has doled out another $4 million to media from the 'Public Interest' Journalism Fund this week.
The latest announcement includes $1.2 million for Allied Press, $374,245 for iwi news, $160,000 for The Spinoff to write about the 2022 local body elections and $39,380 to Metro Media Group to write a four-part series on how the arts get funded, and $800,000 for a programme introducing young people to journalism as a "viable career".
In his last blog post for the Taxpayers' Union, Louis explained how this funding damages media independence, no matter how much the journalists deny it:
Significant funds have been allocated for struggling outlets to train and employ new journalists. But with the $55 million soon set to run dry, the Government will face immense pressure from the media to top up the funding, lest they have to lay off their new young journos.
New Zealand media bosses and editors are protective of and loyal to their staff, and financially invested in keeping their outlets afloat. This presents an obvious conflict of interest in next year's general election campaign: media figures have a personal and financial interest in electing a Government that will protect their funding. New Zealanders will rightly view their election coverage with this in mind.
Only a week left to have your say on Three Waters
Time flies: it's now just one week until Parliament stops accepting written submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill (a.k.a Three Waters).
Alternatively, you can spend a bit more time making a submission through Parliament's webpage.
Already, 16,000 New Zealanders have made submissions through our website. That's a stunning effort. And thousands of you have requested to have your submission heard orally – this is crucial to delaying the legislation, and we know that each day the Three Waters debate drags on, the more the Government suffers politically.
Waiting an Adernity: When will taxpayers see housing at Ihumātao?
Eighteen months after the Government forked out $30 million in housing funds to purchase the paddocks of Ihumātao, there is still no sign of progress towards construction.
In fact, the group of iwi and government representatives meant to make decisions about the land have only had one meeting with Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson, who has given them another three and a half years to just to stump up a plan for housing on the land.
The ACT Party has described the amount of time it's taking to get houses build at Ihumatao as an 'Ardernity' – a label that could just as easily be applied to the wait for 100,000 KiwiBuild homes, or progress on Auckland light rail...
New Taxpayers' Union Chair
We're delighted to have Laurence Kubiak appointed as the new Chair of the Taxpayers’ Union Board.
Laurence is a high tech entrepreneur, a recent Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and former CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.
Here's what he told media:
I’m delighted to have been asked to chair New Zealand’s leading voice for government transparency and fiscal prudence.
The Union stands for public spending that is efficient, transparent, and subject to appropriate accountability: values that are the heart of any robust system of governance. The Taxpayers’ Union gives a public voice to these values, a voice that will become stronger and even more important as we chart our course through these unsettled times.
I'd like to thank Casey Costello, our Acting Chair since the launch of our ‘Stop Three Waters’ campaign late last year. Anyone who saw her speech against co-governance at our town hall event in Auckland will know she's a star.
New poll: Labour/National-blocks neck and neck
Our latest Taxpayers' Union Curia Poll was released just a few moments ago.
While there are no significant shifts in support for the major parties, a boost for the Māori Party means that this month's result would likely translate to a tie on election day.
National and ACT win 60 seats, Labour and the Greens win 55, and the Māori Party nets 5 seats.
You can read more on the poll's findings on our website. But we better answer the obvious question...
Hung Parliament – What happens in a tie?
It’s election night 2023. The centre-left bloc of Labour and the Greens, joined by the Māori Party, has won 60 seats. National and ACT have also won 60 seats. In a 120-seat Parliament, neither side has the majority required to form a government. What happens?
Josh Van Veen (a member of the Taxpayers' Union team and a part-time political historian) lays out potential scenarios:
Scenario 1: Labour and National could put aside their ideological differences to form a ‘grand coalition’. There is precedent. In Germany, under Chancellor Angela Merkel, the centre-right Christian Democrats governed with the centre-left Social Democrats on three separate occasions. Back home, we can see parallels with the United-Reform Coalition that governed New Zealand between 1931 and 1935. The Coalition eventually led to the formation of the modern National Party. What about a NatLab Government?
If this seems far-fetched, remember that Jacinda Ardern once personally picked Christopher Luxon to chair her business advisory council!
Scenario 2: Labour and National could agree that the party with the most seats should govern. This would mean that the ‘loser’ abstains on confidence and supply while otherwise fulfilling the duties of Opposition. But such an arrangement would leave a "lame duck" Government unable to pass any laws without consent from the Opposition. On the other hand, New Zealanders might welcome this kind of consensual politics as a positive and constructive innovation.
Scenario 3: To make Scenario 2 work for the full three-year term, Labour and National could agree to govern on a ‘rotational’ basis. Christopher Luxon would serve 18 months as prime minister before handing back power to Jacinda Ardern (or another Labour leader) to see out the Parliamentary term. The arrangement would require both parties make significant policy concessions and perhaps sign up to a joint legislation programme. Scenario 3 is a grand coalition in all but name.
Scenario 4: Of course, National could dispense with Labour and attempt to win over the Māori Party. This would likely see National abandon its stance on co-governance and might complicate relations with ACT. But if he pulled it off, Christopher Luxon could go down in history as our wokest prime minister – changing the country’s name and perhaps establishing a separate Māori parliament or upper house.
Scenario 5: If the first four options are ruled out that leaves only one alternative: a new election. This scenario regularly plays our in Israel, where four general elections were held between 2019 and 2021. With Jacinda Ardern cast in the role of Benjamin Netanyahu, she would remain Prime Minister through the new election. And so on. While it could be the tidiest option, it is the most expensive. In 2020, it cost $160 million to run the election (though this included two referenda).
Re-doing an entire election might sound like banana republic stuff, but frankly it seems more realistic than the alternatives.
Thank you for your support,
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