Taxpayers Union
The ‘public sector pay cut’ needs to go much, much further

A week ago, we welcomed the Prime Minister’s six-month 20% pay cut for government ministers and public sector CEOs.

However, the announcement came with fine print: the CEO pay cut only applies to the minority of agencies defined as ‘core public service’. This means most taxpayer-funded CEOs are exempt, and the announcement saves only a fraction of the money it should.

Here are examples of the top bureaucrats who get to keep their full salary packet (figures from 2019):

  • CEO of the Super Fund, $1,065,000
  • CEO of ACC, $841,000.
  • Reserve Bank Governor, $825,000
  • CEO of Housing New Zealand, $791,000
  • Auckland University Vice-Chancellor, $760,000
  • Police Commissioner, $709,000

Also protected: all District Health Board CEOs, six of whom earn more than Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who IS taking a pay cut!

MagicTalk’s Peter Williams wasn’t fooled by the Prime Minster’s decision either:

Peter Williams: The Prime Minister’s pay cut wasn’t a display of leadership

[…] Leadership from the Prime Minister would have been joining that trend two weeks ago, not yesterday, and not after constant badgering from the media and the Taxpayers’ Union.

Over the weekend we wrote to the full list of taxpayer-funded CEOs, and CEOs of local councils, to ask if they’ll be following the prime minister’s lead in taking a voluntary pay cut – and if they’ll extend that pay cut to their leadership teams.

We also asked if they’ll freeze pay for ALL non-frontline staff until the economy recovers.

Public sector pay cuts should apply across the public sector, and save enough money to do justice for struggling taxpayers. As the responses come back in, we’ll be publishing a dashboard to monitor which agencies are coming to the table.

Winston’s court case spectacularly fails; costs taxpayers a million!

The Deputy Prime Minister has failed in his attempt to sue former National [Party] Ministers for the leak of details of how he claimed too much in superannuation.

Make no mistake, this court case cost taxpayers millions of dollars, all for the sake of Mr Peters’s vanity. Frankly, we say that it was right all along for the public know that a leading political figure was for seven years illegally receiving the single person’s pension despite having a partner.

You might have heard Jordan on Magic Talk yesterday calling on Crown Law to seek an uplift in costs. He had followed the case closely and predicted last year it was going blow up in Mr Peters’ face. With attack the best form of defence, Mr Peters used this privacy case as a distraction – but at enormous cost to Crown Law (i.e. the taxpayer) who had to defend the accused public servants and ex-Ministers.

The question of how hard to push for solicitor-client costs is a major test for the Government’s lawyers, who are meant to be politically neutral. They need to fight for taxpayers here.

Meanwhile, let’s remember the rorts Mr Peters would rather we forgot: why is the Deputy Prime Minister, who is already paid more than $340,000 by taxpayers, claiming the cherry-on-the-top pension in the first place? And when will his party pay back the $158,000 they illegally spent in the 2005 election? That bill is overdue…

Auckland Council rages against salary transparency

Our Auckland sister group, the Ratepayers’ Alliance, has raised Auckland Council’s hackles with its plan to release a ‘Town Hall Rich List’ that exposes the salaries, names, and photographs of the 85 Council employees who are paid more than $250,000.

Despite the list being compiled from public information sources (and some clever internet searches), the Council is refusing to verify the accuracy of the information. The CEO says he objects to the entire project!

No wonder: when we compare Auckland Council to councils of equivalent size in Britain, the number paid more than quarter of a million dollars is shocking.

Ultimately, we’d like to replicate this ‘Rich List’ for every council in the country, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Politicians and commentators prey on wounded taxpayers

You might have seen the Green Party using COVID-19 as an excuse to spend more of your money on cycleways and electric trains.

On the flip side of that same agenda, some commentators are using COVID-19 to campaign for higher taxes.

One recent Stuff article makes the case for higher income taxes, a new wealth tax, an extra tax on emissions, a tax on pensioners, and even the return of the failed capital gains tax proposal! As if taxpayers weren’t struggling enough.

The point is that this is a dangerous time. The COVID-19 crisis will look like an opportunity to many policymakers with a pro-tax agenda. Our job is to expose and fight off those who circle around wounded taxpayers like vultures.

Donations to Jacinda Ardern to spend more of your money?

Finally this week, we’ve got good news for the pro-tax lobby who often claim they’d be happy to pay more tax.

After some enquiries from your humble Taxpayers’ Union, Treasury has helpfully set up a bank account for New Zealanders to make a donation to the Government coffers at any time: the details are here.

So next you see or hear someone say they love paying tax, make sure you give them the details and ask them to donate.

Have a great week,

Louis Houlbroke Louis Houlbrooke
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

PS. If, like us, you’re not so sure Jacinda Ardern and her government are any better than you at spending your money, consider donating to the pressure group that opposes ever more spending on pet projects like electric buses, cycleways, and trams. 

PPS. We’ve released another two episodes of our ‘Taxpayer Talk’ podcast, discussing the markets’ response to COVID-19, and the tricky question of how to value human life. They’re both linked on KiwiBlog here. You can find all our episodes on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Media coverage:

Newshub  Peter Williams: The Prime Minister’s pay cut wasn’t a display of leadership

Politik  Avoiding the depression

KiwiBlog  Peter Williams says leadership isn’t being a late follower

RNZ  Nationwide rates freezes, deferrals petition launched by councillor

KiwiBlog  Taxpayer Talk: In the market, with Bevan Wallace and Can you put a value on life?

SunLive  Nationwide rates freeze petition gathers support

The Bob Dey Property Report  Council submits 73 projects for Government’s “shovel-ready” list

Stuff  Top-earning Auckland officials targeted in lobby group’s name-and-shame

Bay of Plenty Times  Tauranga City Council’s wage cost rise ‘alarming’

Stuff  Employers get extra three months to pay $900 million in ACC levies

Stuff  Construction resumes but water restricted in Auckland under Alert Level 3

Bay of Plenty Times  Bay of Plenty politicians support pay cuts announced by Prime Minister

Stuff  Aucklanders may face a wait to learn Covid-19 impact on council’s financial position

The NBR  Govt bosses take 10% annual pay cut

KiwiBlog  A good start

Northern Advocate  Northland councils looking at rates options

Newstalk ZB  Taxpayers Union defends taking wage subsidy

Stuff  What is Fortress New Zealand going to look like?

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Inc. · 117 Lambton Quay, Level 4, Wellington 6011, New Zealand

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