Taxpayer Update: Our exclusive new poll | Taxpayer-funded political parties | Bike bridge $$
New Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll released: Labour & Greens down, National & ACT up 📊
Exclusive to members and supporters like you, we commissioned another Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll that shows support for National and ACT is up, while Labour and the Greens are down. ACT is at a record high for our polling company.
Our expert pollster (and Taxpayers’ Union Co-founder) David Farrar has advised numerous Prime Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition. On election night in 2014, John Key described David as “New Zealand’s best pollster”.
David and our Executive Director Jordan Williams have just recorded a podcast where they delve into the numbers, what they mean, and the advice David would be giving Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern reading this report. You can listen to the Taxpayer Talk episode here (the episode will also appear on Apple Podcasts, and Spotify in the next few hours).
The Government has announced a review of electoral laws that will consider, among other things, taxpayer funding for political parties.
We will be fighting this for four key reasons:
Morally wrong: Taxpayers should not be forced to fund political parties that they find reprehensible. We expect our money to be spent on services, not party political propaganda.
Corrupted process: Kris Faafoi says he will be reaching out to political parties for ideas on this review. But elected political parties – the very same ones who will vote on this reform – have a vested interest in cementing their place in Parliament and maximising their revenue. Of course politicians on the left and right will jump at the chance of getting taxpayer money, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
Entrenches power: Elected political parties already have a massive advantage over political outsiders thanks to their Parliamentary funding. Giving money to the private wings of these parties will only serve to further disadvantage outside voices during elections.
Erodes grassroots democracy: If political parties are given taxpayer money, they will be less dependent on membership dues and cake stall fundraisers, reducing the incentive to act according to their members’ values. That’s a disaster for democracy. Guaranteed taxpayer funding for political parties will result in a less accountable, Wellington-centric political environment.
In short, we can't trust politicians to lead these reforms. Perhaps we need to nominate a taxpayer representiative for the review board. Watch this space...
The NZ Herald reports that the Prime Minister's department has awarded Shaun Hendy and Siouxie Wiles's modelling group $6 million in contracts to forecast COVID-19.
For perspective, Treasury has commissioned its own pandemic modelling from an independent advisory firm costing a mere $30,000.
Here's what Jordan had to say:
Te Punaha Matatini (TPM) appears to be acting as the ‘single source of truth’ for this Government, and is getting paid like a greedy monopolist. Given the wild inaccuracies of pandemic modelling around the world, our leaders should be getting advice from multiple agencies and experts, not betting the house on friends of the Government.
It stinks of arrogance by the Prime Minister’s Department to refuse to answer questions posed by the NZ Herald about the procurement rules followed in awarding the TPM contract. That raises very real questions about this contract, and quite what it was for.
LGNZ must stop its Three Waters sock puppetry 🎭
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is the ratepayer-funded lobby group meant to represent the interests of local councils.
But they missed the memo on Nanaia Mahuta's Three Waters reform, a multi-billion dollar asset grab that is opposed by the vast majority of local councils.
In fact, LGNZ has literally sold out its position to the Government, signing a "Heads of Agreement" which sees the group getting taxpayer funding in exchange for "build[ing] support within the local government sector for the Three Waters Reform Programme".
This week LGNZ President Stuart Crosby wrote an opinion piece for Stuff in a labourious attempt to quell dissent from councils. He complains about "wilfully ill-informed keyboard warriors on social media" and makes the extraordinary claim that "we have tended to stay on the sidelines of public debate about Three Waters reforms".
He fails to disclose the fact that LGNZ is explicitly paid to advance the reform agenda! Nor did Stuff's editors note this obvious conflict of interest.
LGNZ is broken, misleading the public, and totally unaccountable to ratepayers. In fact, due to a legislative mistake, LGNZ is exempt from official information laws despite being a publicly-funded body. We're glad to see local councils waking up to the LGNZ's failures.
The Government is still burning money on the cancelled Auckland bike bridge 🚴 🚒
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the Government's decision to scrap its $785 million cycle bridge across the Waitemata Harbour. That move came after 59,000 New Zealanders signed our petition on the issue, backed by our billboard campaign.
But now the NZ Herald reports the Government is still paying a consortium of contractors to complete designs of Auckland’s scrapped cycle bridge.
$51 million has already been thrown at this scrapped project, with shovels never even touching ground.
And now we're still spending, just to get some pretty pictures. This is the kind of waste that only happens when you’re dealing with ‘other people’s money’.
It’s time to end this rort and move on. Tell the engineers and consultants to put down their pencils and find work on projects New Zealanders actually want.
Emissions reduction plan will create costs without reducing emissions 🍂
Yesterday the Government unveiled a new 140-page Emissions Reduction Plan setting forth a raft of new restrictions on our economy and lifestyles. Here are some of the proposals:
A 20 percent target reduction on vehicle kilometres travelled by 2035
A 25 percent target reduction from freight transport by 2035
A target to have 30 percent zero emissions vehicles by 2035
Increase public transport subsidies
A vehicle scrappage scheme to incentivise low-income New Zealanders to shift to low-emissions transport
Investigate how the tax system should be used to push low-emissions transport options
Set a maximum CO2 limit for individual light petrol vehicle imports to tackle the highest emitting vehicles
Introduce measures to limit imports of high-emitting vehicles rejected by other countries
Limit additional highway and road capacity in line with climate change targets
Use congestion pricing to discourage driving
End the expansion of gas pipeline infrastructure and eliminate "fossil" gas in all buildings as recommended by the Climate Change Commission
Investigate a mandatory energy performance certificate for commercial and public buildings
But there's a massive elephant in the room: none of these proposals will actually reduce New Zealand's total emissions, because these emissions are already set by the Emissions Trading Scheme.
In short, when the Government uses regulation to cut emissions from a source already covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme – say, transport – carbon credits are simply freed up making it more affordable to produce emissions in other ways. That is why the UN advises countries against regulatory interventions when cap-and-trade schemes are in place.
Even if the laundry list of new regulations did succeed in reducing total emissions, a Government-knows-best approach inevitably means blunt measures with higher costs than a carbon pricing system. The particular circumstances of some businesses will mean switching to electric heating or electric vehicles, for example, will involve inordinate cost.
Ignoring the ETS and using a hundred different regulations to whack unfashionable sectors is divisive, costly, and cynical politicking.
Our members and supporters made up the largest group of submitters to the Climate Change Commission on the same plan, sending twice as many submissions as the next largest group (Forest and Bird). You can read our submission here.
Our response to the OCR hike 🏦
Last week the Reserve Bank increased the Official Cash Rate for the first time in seven years. Here's what Jordan told the media:
Today’s OCR hike – which will see households squeezed with higher mortgage payments – is a direct result of the Government’s reckless spending over the last 18 months. Even worse, with COVID’s economic shock now coming, it comes at the very worst time for households.
The Government needs to do all it can to focus on quality, not quantity, of spending. Its programme of money-printing and borrowing for political purposes has pumped up inflation to unacceptable levels and left future generations of taxpayers with a debt monster. Higher interest rates will increase the financial pain caused by that debt.
All the best,
NZ Herald Three Waters: Minister Nanaia Mahuta defends Māori involvement after councillors criticise 'asset grab'
Democracy Project Graham Adams: The debate over the $55 million media fund erupts again
Indian Weekender World Health Organisation could learn from NZ's stance on vaping
Stuff Elimination has been abandoned - or not. The PM isn't clear
NZ Adviser Industry slams government for OCR announcement
Newsroom Three Waters: The 7 mayors pushing back against a tide of effluent
The Country Councils buckling under Three Waters pressure from 'ill-informed' community, mayor says
Homepaddock Interest rates rising
Kiwiblog 110 additional taxpayer funded journalists
Kiwiblog Guest Post: In defence of James Shaw
Stuff There's a case for water reform - but not this undemocratic asset grab
Homepaddock Pravda Project at work
RNZ More time, consultation needed for Three Waters reform - Whakatāne District Council
Stuff 'It's just a bloody nuisance': Southland Mayor on Three Waters email bombardment
Stuff Why we should be concerned that public service neutrality is eroding
Parliament Simon Bridges on the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill
Newsroom Timaru secedes from NZ councils in Three Waters fight against Government
Te Awamutu Courier Time up for Three Waters decision
Gisborne Herald Polling message to both major parties
RNZ Political commentator Ben Thomas on National Party poll drop
The Daily Blog TVNZ Poll – The rise of ACT
NZ Herald Claire Trevett: Covid lockdown poll slump a warning to PM that patience is wearing thin; and things get worse for Judith Collins
Indian Weekender National will struggle to win back lost ground without a convincing Covid plan
NZ Herald 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll: National, Labour down; Judith Collins crashes to 5% as preferred PM
NZ Herald Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Claire Trevett - is Sir John Key's comments a bigger headache for Judith Collins or Jacinda Ardern?
Stuff Covid-19: The Prime Minister continuing to use the term 'elimination' is disingenuous
NZ Herald Judith Collins doubles down on her future as National Party leader
Hawkes Bay Today The Outsider Insider: Awful week for the National Party