Waste tax starting at wrong end

29/11/2019

Yet another proposed tax from the government that said no new taxes:

Eugenie Sage’s proposed six-fold increase in the levy rate for landfills will not only cost households more but lead to more illegal dumping, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

The plan was a key policy in the Government’s Waste Discussion Document released today.

“The proposal will have perverse outcomes on both the environment and New Zealanders’ back pockets,” Mr Simpson says.

“Fly tipping is already a huge problem in New Zealand, and knee jerk price hikes like this will only make it worse.

“Sadly people will realise it’s cheaper and easier to dump their rubbish over a bank or into the bush rather than paying the exorbitant fee to use their local tip.

Most mornings I walk along roads bordering our farm and each time I come across odd bits of rubbish – usually bottles and food wrapping – that has been thrown from car windows. Fortunately there are no banks or bush on my usual route to encourage fly-tipping but every now and then I venture further afield and it’s not unusual to find rubbish that ought to have been taken to a tip.

“People in some parts of the country are already paying close to $200 per tonne at their landfill. This will only drive the price even higher.

“Meanwhile expanding the number of landfills to which the levy applies is a belated follow-through on plans National had already announced in Government.

“Eugenie Sage should be investigating practical ways of addressing our waste problem like waste to energy systems used in other countries. Instead she seems happy to indulge her ideological preferences and hit the tax button.”

The Taxpayers’ Union points out this tax will hit the poor hardest:

. . .Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Like any levy, this will be a regressive tax hike, with a disproportionate impact on the budgets of large households in the country’s poorest suburbs. If it brings in the forecast $220 million, that’s a tax hike of $120 per Kiwi household, per year.”
 
“This is yet another painful tax hike that betrays the Government’s claims of compassion for the poor.”
 
“Meanwhile, the beneficiaries of this proposal will be the businesses taking handouts from the poorly managed Waste Minimisation Fund, and the local councils that get a revenue boost. No wonder they’re supporting it.”
 
Earlier this year the Tax Working Group pointed out that increasing the rubbish tax will cause a spike in illegal dumping. Even the Green Party should agree that it’s better for old mattresses to end up in the tip than dumped on the road or riverside.”

Waste to energy systems would be a much better idea than another tax, especially as this one is starting at the wrong end of the problem – hitting the people who have to get rid of rubbish rather than those who create waste in the first place.

Take bananas as a small example – they grown in bunches with their own protective covering. Why do supermarkets find it necessary to put them in plastic bags? It’s the businesses that put them in bags who cause the problem, not the people who buy the fruit and are left with the unwanted bags.


How much to change whole Ministry?

12/12/2017

The Taxpayers’ Union says government name calling doesn’t help vulnerable kids.

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Government for wasting $418,000 of taxpayers’ money, meant to help the country’s most vulnerable kids, on a ‘rebranding’ of the Ministry of Vulnerable Children to Oranga Tamariki.

“This is a shameful waste of money and precisely the sort of Wellington nonsense which gets up the nose of taxpayers,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“No one resents paying taxes to help those most in need, but wasting nearly half a million dollars of money earmarked for helping vulnerable kids on marketing experts, logo designers, and sign writers, is disgraceful.”

Changing the name might widen the scope of the Ministry. If it does it will take the focus off those who need help.

If it doesn’t then it’s a name change for change’s sake and an expensive one at that.

If it costs $480,000 to change the name, It will be eye-wateringly more to change not just the name of the Ministry for Primary Industries but create, set up and staff the separate ministries which will replace it.

It’s little wonder the Minister, Damien O’Connor, is refusing to disclose just how much it will cost.


Tax Freedom Day

02/06/2015

Today is Tax Freedom Day:

Today marks the first working day New Zealanders stop working for the Government and take home what they earn. According to the OECD, New Zealand’s government outlays as a percentage of GDP is 41.4% this year, making the 2015 ‘Tax Freedom Day’ fall on Queens Birthday Monday. Last year Tax Freedom Day was four days later, on 4 June.

Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman, Ben Craven, says:

“Today is the day where taxpayers begin working for themselves rather than working to support the burden of Government.”

“While 2015 Tax Freedom Day for New Zealand is earlier than it was in 2014, total Government outlays as a percentage of GDP remain higher than the OECD average.”

“Despite the positive trend, there is still a long way to go before this Government returns to the earlier Tax Freedom Days enjoyed under the last Labour Government. We should be aiming to have paid off all of our taxes by April, not having to slave away for politicians into June.”

“While the Government is doing a reasonable job of managing the books, the growth of local government spending appears to be squandering most of the efforts to trim back the tax burden.”

OECD data on government outlays as a percentage of GDP can be found here (Annex Table 25). . .

Four days earlier than last year – we’re going in the right direction but need to keep moving that way and moving faster.


CGT death duty in drag

04/09/2014

Larry Williams interviewed David Cunliffe on Labour’s capital gains tax yesterday and established that it will be complicated and arbitrary.

One example of that is managed funds.

KiwiSaver managed funds will be exempt but anyone owning exactly the same shares in a managed fund will be taxed.

The Taxpayers’ Union highlights another aspect that Labour has not – a CGT will be a death duty in drag:

Responding to confirmation that under Labour’s capital gains tax policy children would have to pay the tax if they sold a family home after both parents have passed, Ben Craven, Spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union, says:

“Labour’s capital gains tax is looking more and more like a death duty in drag. The vast majority of estates are liquidated, even where the family home is in a trust to the children.”

“The last time death duty existed in New Zealand was 1992. It appears that Labour are looking to reintroduce it but under another name with far more complexity. When children lose their parents they should be encouraged to put the inheritance to good use. Instead, Labour’s policy would whack them with a tax bill.”

“If Mr Cunliffe’s comments to media are correct, his policy will create a cruel tax incentive to quickly sell the family home while parents are still on their death beds. Mr Cunliffe’s statements to the media must be mistaken, or Labour really haven’t thought this one through.”

The tax won’t be levied if the house is sold in 30 days but few estates are settled and houses sold that quickly.

CGT wouldn’t be imposed if a family member lives in the house but that doesn’t happen very often.

When it does, unless it’s an only child, it’s usual for only one beneficiary to buy the shares of other family members and those gains would be taxed.

 


Bribe-O-Meter update

01/09/2014

The Taxpayers’ Union has updated its Bribe-O-Meter to include four of the wee parties:

The Taxpayers’ Union have added the Green, ACT, United Future and Conservative Parties to the ‘Bribe-O-Meter’ hosted at taxpayers.org.nz.  Excluding ACT and New Zealand First, the total election ‘bribes’ – that is new spending not already in the budget covering the next parliamentary term, equals $12.7 billion, or $7,486 per household.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, says, “The Bribe-O-Meter is enabling Kiwis to judge for themselves the various bribes this election. With the addition of the minor parties voters can assess which political parties are offering taxpayers value for money.”

“As of the end of last week, National’s election promises add up to $329 per household. The equivalent figure for Labour is $2,776, the Greens $2,893, United Future $1,253, and the Conservatives $236. ACT is in the negative, committing to cut spending by $6,876 per household.”

A lack of detail in New Zealand First’s policy documents has made it impossible for the Union’s independent expert, Dr Michael Dunn, to calculate credible figures for the Party’s inclusion in the Bribe-O-Meter.  Public and private requests to New Zealand First have, to date, not resulted in amelioration. 

If someone who used to do social policy costing for IRD can’t figure out NZ First’s costs, the problem is with the party and its policies.

Mr Williams says, “While National, Labour, the Greens, Conservatives, ACT, and United Future have provided the Union with sufficient policy and financial material to estimate the cost of their election manifestos, New Zealand First apparently just doesn’t have the information for our expert. It appears that Mr Peters makes promises to all and sundry, but no one at his office is adding up the cost.”

“We are delighted that in the last week, parties have come to us to test our expert’s assumptions and the Bribe-O-Meter’s methodology. On the basis of new information that parties have provided we’ve updated our figures and are able to provide more transparency to the voting public on precisely what parties are promising.” . .

The Bribe-O-Meter is here.

bribeometer

 

This puts the lie to claims by Labour and the Green Party that they will be fiscally responsible.

National’s promises amount to a total of $558 billion which is  $328.81 a household.

Labour’s total is $4,707 billion – $2,775.68 per household.

Green Party’s total is the highest – at $4.707 $4.906 billion, a cost of $2,893.03 a household.

The Act Party would reduce costs by $11,660 billion – a reduction of $6,875.60 per household.

United Future’s total is $2.124 billion –  $1,252.51 per household.

The Conservative Party’s total costs amount to $$0.400 billion – $235.88 a household.

NZ Firsts costs are a like its leaders utterings – whatever he thinks it is.

Labour and Green Party policies are already at 7482.68 billion.

That doesn’t take account of the cost NZ First and Internet Mana would require for their support.

Nor does it take into count the added costs of higher taxes, higher interest rates, higher inflation, more welfare and a stalled economy.


Bribe-O-Meter

13/08/2014

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched an election campaign  Bribe-o-meter:

As political parties announce their policies in the weeks leading up to the General Election, we’ll be crunching the numbers and showing you just how much all the promises cost.

This week we’re launching with the total cost of the policies announced by the two main parties, up to Monday 11 August 2014.

And the results are:

National Party’s total cost of announced promises: $2,770.37 per New Zealand household (or $4.698 billion)

Labour Party’s total cost of announced promises: $4,081.85 per New Zealand household (or $6.922 billion) . . .

The Taxpayers’ Union has commissioned Dr Michael Dunn of Economic and Fiscal Consulting Ltd to independently calculate the data for the Bribe-o-meter. Michael is politically independent and has extensive experience in the field of economics, including as a Manager within IRD’s Forecasting and Analysis unit for 12 years. . .

The Bribe-o-meter compiles the political promises of each of the main political parties and places them within the major spending portfolios.

It assumes that the government elected on 20 September will last for a full three-year term and oversee Budgets 2015/2016 to 2017/2018.  Policies announced that do not come into effect during the next Parliament will not be included in the figures.

Our analysis includes spending pledges announced between 2011 and now. Given that the purpose of the Bribe-o-meter is to track spending pledges announced by politicians, it does not model the effect of tax cuts or tax increases and the effect they have on households.

Tax credits and rebates have been considered as constituting new spending.

Our cost tables do not include the provisions for future budget spending that have been made by each party.  For the next three budgets (2015, 2016 and 2017) National propose additional spending of $9.1 billion, and Labour $6.9 billion.  In addition, Labour plan to contribute $3.9 billion to the NZSF over the 3 year period.. . .

The quantity of money spent is only one factor, the quality of the spend – where and how effective it is –  is more important.

Spending is only one side of the ledger.

The other side – revenue the government gets in from taxpayers, user-pays and other charges – and the impact of policies on economic growth and the tax take are also important.

Though as a general rule of thumb, when it comes to government spending, less is often more and almost always better.


Politics Daily

07/06/2014

John Key in the Pacific

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – Key’s Pacific visit an election entrée

John Banks

Brook Sabin – PM to consider refusing Banks’ vote

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Don Brash on John Banks

Liz Banas @ RadioNZ – Power Play

Fran O’Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Act needs to move on and Banks needs to do the decent thing

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Farcical options for Banks

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Move along please, sir.

IMP

Matthew Beveridge – The Internet Party candidates on Twitter

Internet Party – Internet Party candidate shortlist

Ian Apperley – Mana and Internet Party unholy alliance is an insult to all NZ ICT workers

Election

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour candidate seeking a poor person

Taxpayers’ Union – Election funding for satire no joke

Abbie Napier @ The Press – Electoral commission grant to ‘fun’ political party criticised

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Broadcasting allocations

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald – Right-left jockeying real news of the week

Verity Johnson @ NZ Herald – Make politics sexy

Other

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR – TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Sledge of the day 7 June 2014

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Saturday, June 7

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Can you name the politician?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A bit of a history lesson

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter Stats : 6 June


Tax Freedom Day

04/06/2014

Happy Tax Freedom Day:

Congratulations New Zealand, as at 10.04am today you are working for yourself. However, the fact the Government accounts for all the money earned until today means it is unlikely New Zealanders will be celebrating. The government has effectively sucked up all of our earnings for the first 154 days of the year.

OECD figures put the current burden of government in New Zealand as 42.2% of GDP. This is larger than the 30% recently quoted by Finance Minister Bill English because it also takes into account crown entities, such as SOEs as well as local government.

At 42.2% this year, the burden of government is even larger than when National took office in 2008. While core government expenditure has gone down, the wider crown portfolio and particularly local government has exploded.

We need to aspire to countries like South Korea, Switzerland and Australia. Tax Freedom day this year fell on 21 April in South Korea, 2 May in Switzerland and 11 May in Australia.

Tax Freedom Day is a day for New Zealanders to consider the egregious amount of tax foisted upon us by successive governments. Tax should be used to deliver the key functions of government in the most efficient way possible.

We should be aiming to start working for ourselves in April, not still working for politicians in June. The only way to do that is to reduce the high tax burden on New Zealanders.

We want to keep working to make sure next year’s Tax Freedom Day is earlier. Help us do it, by joining, or supporting, the Taxpayers’ Union.

This is something to keep in mind when voting.

All of the parties on the left have policies for more and higher taxes.


Green bank risks putting us in the red

14/05/2014

The Green Party wants to establish a Green Investment Bank.

The Green Party will establish a Green Investment Bank as a first step in accelerating New Zealand’s transition to a smarter greener economy, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman announced today.

The Green Investment Bank will be an enduring, government-owned, for-profit bank partnering with the private sector to fund new projects ranging from renewable energy and biofuel production to new clean technologies.

“Like Kiwibank before it, the Green Investment Bank will combine the best of the public and private sectors to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a smarter, greener economy,” said Dr Norman. . .

Like Kiwibank this would be a bank subsidised by taxpayers in competition with private businesses.

As the Taxpayers’ Unions asks – what could go wrong?

The Taxpayers’ Union is disappointed that the Green Party have announced plans to risk $120 million of taxpayers’ money on a so called ‘green investment bank’.

“Despite successive failure, why do politicians think that they can manage a bank better than the experts?” asks Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union. “The Green Party claims that their bank will be ‘for profit’ but if green technologies were so profitable, what’s stopped commercial banks getting in on the action?”

“The Green Party have a history of incorrectly forecasting high returns in green technologies. In 2001 the Party trumpeted its superannuation fund investing in a wind farm company. Since then, the shares have lost 96% of their value.”

“Does Russel Norman really think that bureaucrats will make profitable decisions with $120 million of taxpayer money, when the Green’s can’t even get it right with their own?”

“We all support developing green energy, but people should pick winners with their own money not be forced to risk nearly $70 per household taken via the tax system.”

The Green plan is to raise the money for the bank by doubling the tax on oil companies.

. . .The party would raise the overall tax take on oil companies to 70 percent from 46 percent, something it says will bring New Zealand in line with the international average. The bank would be expected to cover operational costs from investment returns. The bank will have to be financially self-sufficient, achieving a target rate of return at or above the government’s bond rate, the paper said. . .

Fuel taxes are already high and they impact on everyone directly or indirectly.

Have they thought what the resulting increase in fuel costs would do to motorists and the transport industry?

All investment carries risk.

If people want to risk their own money in investments, green or otherwise, that’s up to them.

If the business case stacked up existing banks would be happy to back them without the need for taxpayer intervention and higher taxes on oil companies which would hit us all and hit the poor hardest.

That would be much better than a government-owned bank which would risk putting us in the red.

 


Conspiracy theories

03/03/2014

Yesterday the NZ Herald started a story headlined  Green MP’s 800km taxpayer-funded trip questioned by saying:

Questions are being asked about a taxpayer-funded trip for deaf MP Mojo Mathers to be interviewed on a small provincial radio station.

The Green MP says the 800km trip on the taxpayer dollar was essential, but a taxpayer group queries whether it was fiscally and environmentally responsible. . .

That sounds like the taxpayer group prompted the story by asking the question.

The story continues:

On Friday, Parliament’s only deaf MP flew from Christchurch to Wellington, then drove to Masterton, to participate in ArrowFM’s Wheels on Fire programme for people with disabilities.

ArrowFM is one of 12 Community Access Radio stations in New Zealand, and the only community station in Wairarapa. Its audience is not known, but its Facebook page has 132 “likes”.

Last night Ms Mathers said the journey was a necessary expense because it was “almost impossible for me to do live interviews over the phone”.

 She needed to be face-to-face with the interviewer in order to lip read, she said, especially for a one-hour show.

“As the only disabled Member of Parliament it is really important I represent disabled New Zealanders, which make up one in five New Zealanders,” she said.

“MPs do have to fly a fair bit to get out to our communities. All Green MPs offset our air travel and try to minimise it as much as possible.

“I consider all requests to meet very carefully, including this one, and I felt it was really important to take this opportunity to speak to disabled New Zealanders living in rural communities.”

She did not know the cost of the trip, she said, but it would be declared as part of her expenses, and was planned in line with other work she had to undertake in Wellington.

Planned in line with other work in Wellington means the cost of the airfare wasn’t just for the trip to Masterton, so the extra expense was just the rental car.

But still:

The Taxpayers Union questioned whether it was value for money.

“It’s amazing that she has so little to do with her time to actually travel to a community radio that probably has as many listeners as you can count on your hand,” director Jordan Williams said. . .

That, with the headline and first paragraph strongly suggest this story came at the instigation of the Taxpayers Union. But it didn’t.

This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers’ Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers’ Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday’s call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I’ve made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. Seehttp://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers’_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

I too wondered if the interview could have been done on Skype but Ms Mathers tweeted that the quality wasn’t high enough for lip reading.

The story looked like an attack on Ms Mathers instigated by the Taxpayers’ Union which was petty to start with and even more so when you take into account the information she planned the trip around other work.

The explanation provided later by the TU shows it was merely responding to a question and it looks like it didn’t have the information that the trip was planned round other activities.

Here’s the conspiracy theory – was the story a set up to discredit the TU?

The group was set up as a counter to all the left wing groups which are continually asking for more money, regardless of whether or not it gives value.

The TU by contrast:

We stand for value for money for government spending

We want our politicians spending money as if they’d worked as hard as us for it and believe that new taxes should only be introduced when there are equal decreases in other taxes.  We believe in a fair and efficient tax system.  We are not a political party, or aligned to any.

We promote sensible restraint of government expenditure by:

  • Scrutinising government spending;
  • Publicising government waste;
  • Arguing for an end to corporate and union welfare; and
  • Promoting an efficient tax system.

 We are independent and incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 to pursue the following objectives:

  • To give taxpayers a voice in the corridors of power;
  • To educate New Zealanders against excessive and wasteful government spending;
  • To scrutinise government spending;
  • To publicise government waste;
  • To promote an efficient tax system;
  • To promote discussion on the balance of activities best undertaken by the private sector and the public sector;
  • To promote public policies to advance New Zealanders’ prosperity;
  • To identify, research and monitor issues affecting these objects;
  • To co-operate or join with other associations or bodies having similar objects; and
  • Generally to do all such things as would help to attain or further the Taxpayers’ Union’s objects.

The aims of the Taxpayers’ Union are:

  • To reduce wasteful spending by central and local government;
  • To increase transparency and accountability of government spending;
  • To increase institutional checks on government spending;
  • To enable New Zealanders to easily scrutinise government spending;
  • To lower the tax burden on New Zealanders; and
  • To promote evidence based public policy.

If getting attention for wasteful spending is any gauge the TU has already been successful – and contrary to accusations it’s biased towards the government, is hasn’t been partisan in identifying and publicising waste.

It has been critical of the government.

That should alert all politicians and bureaucrats, in central and local government, to the risk that wasteful spending will be outed.

Those on the left will have greater cause for concern than those on the right who usually, but not always, have greater regard for careful use of other people’s money.

That gets me back to the conspiracy theory.

The Herald headlined and opened the story with the assertion questions were being asked about the trip and quotes only the TU.

It doesn’t say who asked the initial question, nor who told the reporter about the trip and the paper could well use the right to not divulge its sources to keep that in confidence.

But it does leave a question over whether the aim of the story was really to discredit the TU.

If so, while it is justified at feeling aggrieved by a set-up, it could take that as a compliment that it is worrying people and parties who don’t have its regard for the necessity for fiscal prudence.

In the interests of transparency – I have made a donation to the TU.


Is “big food” science or politics?

17/02/2014

Obesity isn’t healthy and it can be costly to the individual and the public because of the costs of treating it and associated problems.

There is evidence it’s a growing problem and it’s getting a lot of attention from researchers.

That would be good if the research resulted in evidenced based solutions, but is this science of politics?

Health advocates are drawing battle lines against “Big Food”, claiming drastic intervention is needed to stave off a diabetes crisis in New Zealand.

As adult obesity nears a third of the population, individual responsibility for diet and exercise is clearly not enough, said Dr Gabrielle Jenkin, an Otago University of Wellington health academic who is co-ordinating a seminar today in Wellington.

Government policymakers were reluctant to legislate against “Big Food” – industry powers such as Fonterra, Coca-Cola, Heinz Wattie’s, fast food chains and Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets, she said. Many so-called nutrition research bodies were sponsored by Big Food, she said. Dietitians New Zealand, for instance, stated on its website that it is backed by Unilever and Nestle.

Jenkin said “tainted” research was presented at select committees as unbiased fact. “They’re corrupting science.”

She claimed Big Food was more powerful than Big Tobacco, and likely to be more aggressive if policy turned against it.

The industry put the onus on individuals to fight obesity, so governments tended to promote diet and exercise rather than legislating against unhealthy food, she said. . .

Big Food is a statement based on emotion and politics not science.

The theory of weight gain or loss is simple – just get the balance between energy in and energy out correct.

The practice as anyone who has tried to gain or lose weight will attest, is far more difficult.

Food is different from other substances like alcohol or tobacco, we need it to survive and any particular food isn’t good or bad in itself.

Some is more nutritious and some has little if any nutritional value.

But anything in moderation isn’t going to cause weight gain and legislation elsewhere hasn’t worked:

 . . . Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:

“Denmark’s tax on saturated fat, introduced in 2011, was an economic disaster. The Danish tax was abandoned 15 months later and did little, if anything, to reduce harmful consumption. Worse, it was estimated to have cost 1,300 jobs. Why would New Zealand want to repeat this mistake?”

“Taxing the Kiwi tradition of a warm pie and can of coke won’t reduce obesity. The overseas experience is that fat taxes merely lead to compensatory purchasing and brand switching.” . .

Obesity is a serious problem and it needs serious, evidence0based solutions not emotion and politics.

 

 

 


Taxpayers’ Union hits nerve

27/11/2013

The Taxpayers’ union has only been operating for a few weeks but it’s already hit a nerve:

The Taxpayers’ Union appears to have hit a raw nerve in Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s office.

Further to the startling admission that despite responses to the contrary, the Mayor did travel to China in January 2013, now the Mayor’s Chief of Staff is cautioning the Taxpayers’ Union for asking legitimate questions about spending on the trip.

In an email to the Taxpayers’ Union’s Executive Director Jordan Williams, Phil Wilson writes, “The person you claim to have provided the Taxpayers Union [sic] with information about the mayor travelling with someone and/or about that (nonexistent) person using a credit card inappropriately is either seriously mistaken or outright lying. As such, related statements are being monitored and reviewed through legal channels.” . . .

“Unfortunately Mr Wilson has failed to answer the key question,” says Williams. “Why did the Council mislead us about the existence of the trip?”

“The very reason we asked for the information via the official process was so that we could verify the information we had received from a member of the public. To threaten us for asking more questions, when we know that the previous response from Council officials was misleading, is disturbing.”

Two weeks ago, the Taxpayers’ Union went to the Ombudsman with evidence that suggests Council officials breached official information laws possibly under instruction from the Mayor’s office.

“This sort of bullying behaviour makes us more suspicious that there is a culture of dishonesty in Auckland Council that would alarm all ratepayers. The Ombudsman must step in to ensure that official information laws are complied with and ratepayers have transparency.”

There’s more on this and the full text of the email at the Taxpayers’ Union.


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