Post-election horse trading costs another $30m

August 24, 2018

Jo Moir has uncovered another $30 million we’re paying for Winston’s dowry:

New Zealand First’s loyalty to the racing industry has galloped beyond tax breaks for good-looking race horses to include several all-weather race tracks for the industry.

Racing Minister Winston Peters secured a tax change in the Budget this year to allow new investors to claim deductions for the cost of horses based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

It’s now been revealed $30 million of contingency funding in the Provincial Growth Fund has been earmarked for the coalition government pet projects and the racing industry is set to benefit. . . 

National’s economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said his party supports the racing industry but the lines are blurred when a project gets the green light simply because a coalition partner likes the sound of it.

“They should be able to make their case clear, and open and rigourous, and if it stacks up, it stacks up.

“The problem that we’ve got here is that the whole system is opaque and murky so it’s hard to disentangle the arguments, and in that area they’re not even making an argument, they’re just saying we’re going to do it,” Mr Goldsmith said.

Mr Goldsmith described the provincial growth fund criteria as being “as loose and as billowing as the deep blue sea”.

“Well what we’ve seen is that it’s an all-purpose political slush fund and you can fit anything into it,” he said. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union says this horse barrel politics sets a new low:

. . .“This sets a new low for coalition back room deals, clearly designed to benefit an industry with known links to NZ First, with the tab picked up by hard working taxpayers – most of whom don’t own race horses,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“I think we could call it the worst of ‘horse-barrel politics’. The barrel is so large even race tracks fit into it.”

“And why are we finding this out only now? Why isn’t Winston’s Dowry open to the public? Was this part of the coalition agreement’s missing five pages? It’s almost as if the Government doesn’t want the public to be able to judge how much it cost to get Mr Peters’ support.”

A friend who has a share in a race horse got a letter before the election asking him to contribute to a donation that had been made to NZ First because, as the advertisement placed by the Hogan’s said, :

To all those eligible to vote – breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, administrators, punters and the many businesses that are financially supported by the industry – this is an enormous opportunity to support New Zealand First’s initiative to have 100 per cent what we’ve been asking for.  

Post-election horse trading is one of the expensive downsides of MMP.

Pre-election policies and promises to the public come a very distant second to the demands a party holding the balance of power can make during coalition negotiations.

There’s no chance that negotiations will be public but coalition agreements could and should be.

If we’re paying the price of government we have a right to know the cost and to have some light shone on the links between party funders and government policy.


Dowry update

July 4, 2018

The Taxpayers’ Union says Winston’s dowry continues to grow:

It was revealed last week, that the tax break for racing industry bloodstock is expected to cost significantly more than previously anticipated. The tax breaks for the racing industry have faced ridicule as the only tax cut in Budget 2018. 

That’s not surprising: the racing industry has historically been a strong supporter of New Zealand First. The Electoral Commission recently found that Sir Patrick Hogan was in breach of the Electoral Act when he funded a full page ad in support of the party prior to the General Election last year. 

At Budget 2018, the cost of the tax break was expected to equal $4.8 million over the next four years, however IRD officials expect the tax break will cost up to $40 million – a 733% increase in the cost of the policy. That means taxpayers will be on the line for an additional $35.2 million over the next four years, which is all added onto Winston’s Dowry!

Winston’s Dowry as at 2 July: $5.168 billion ($2989 per household)

The total cost so far is $5.168 billion – or $2989 for the average New Zealand household, although if officials continue to increase the expected cost of policies, this figure will grow. 

“The Dowry” to date:

  • Provincial Growth Fund: $3 billion or $1735 per household
  • Additional funding for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: $1.144 billion or $661 per household
  • Additional funding for the Ministry of Defence: $426 million or $246 per household
  • Additional funding for learning support: $272.8 million or $157 per household
  • Additional funding for Oranga Tamariki: $269.9 million or $156 per household 
  • Adjusted ‘Hot horses’ tax break, the new Forestry Hub, and a rename for the Ministry of Children: $55.4 million or $32.05 per household

Some of that spend could be necessary and provide value for money.

But hot-horse tax breaks? Neigh!


Winston’s dowry

June 21, 2018

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched a policy cost-tracker Winston’s Dowry:

With Winston Peters now the Prime Minister, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is launching a new policy cost tracking project – to calculate the cost of Mr Peters and his Party in forming the coalition Government.

“Marriage can be expensive, but normally the guests aren’t given a bill at the end of the ceremony,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“In a political marriage, the cost of attendance can be significant. ‘Winston’s Dowry‘ calculates the total cost to taxpayers from the demands of two-time coalition divorcée, Winston Peters.“

“Our economic staff will be updating the Dowry regularly as new vanity projects, and pork-laden policies are announced.”

“So far, Winston’s Dowry includes the Provincial Growth Fund, significant increases in spending for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Defence, a vanity project re-branding of the Ministry for Children, and a tax credit for hot horses, among other initiatives.”

“As it stands, Winston’s Dowry is already $5.1 billion – or $2960 per New Zealand household.  With Mr Peters’ now the Prime Minister the figure could grow significantly in coming weeks. Taxpayers had better hold on tight.”

Details of Winston’s Dowry are available at www.winstonsdowry.nz.


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