The normal course of events for government working groups is to do the work, submit a report and leave what happens next to the politicians.
That this government feels the need to keep the chair of the Tax Working Group, Sir Michael Cullen, on at $1000 a day to explain and defend the group’s recommendations is a sign the politicians don’t think they’re up to explaining and defending it themselves.
Paying a working group chair $1000 a day might be the going rate while he’s actually chairing for a day but continuing to pay him that to lobby is outrageous:
The Tax Working Group process has become blatantly politicised with the Government’s decision to pay Sir Michael Cullen to continue lobbying for a capital gains tax, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The advertised purpose of the Tax Working Group was to deliver an expert-driven appraisal of the tax system along with a series of recommendations. That advice has now been received, but Sir Michael is still being paid over $1000 a day to argue for higher taxes. Funding for expert advice is one thing, but taxpayer-funded public campaigning is outrageous.”
“If the National Party set up a Steven Joyce led Working Group and paid Mr Joyce to get on radio and attack the Labour Party and advocate for lower taxes, the political left would rightly get up in arms. It’s the same principle here: expert advice should not be politicised at taxpayers’ expense.”
“Grassroots organisations like the Taxpayers’ Union campaign using voluntary donations. Proponents of the capital gains tax should try to do the same.” . .
Paying Cullen is in effect a government vote of no-confidence in themselves and their ability.
Government MPs have had remarkable little to say on the TWG’s report, with the exception of James Shaw who asked if the government deserved to be re-elected if it didn’t introduce a capital gains tax (CGT).
That it needs to hire the group’s chair to speak for it, shows it doesn’t deserve to be re-elected anyway.