Ardern ditches weekly Hosking interview
This week Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking revealed that the Prime Minister has withdrawn from her weekly interview slot.
This diminishes the Government’s claims of transparency and accountability. Love him or hate him, Mike Hosking’s breakfast radio show is the highest rating show in our largest city. It gives nearly half a million people across the country the chance to hear the Prime Minister answer hard questions live and unedited. The weekly slot dates back to 2ZB and David Lange.
While the Twitter mob are celebrating the decision, the PM’s snub of one of the sole remaining centre-right media platforms only serves to drive an ever more polarised media and political environment.
The Prime Minister says she is ‘changing’, not ‘reducing’, her media commitments, but that doesn’t stack up. Giving priority to friendly interviewers with smaller audiences will mean a lower level of accountability to New Zealanders.
Taxpayer victory: Ashley Bloomfield apologises for accepting cricket perk
This week it was revealed that Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield accepted free VIP tickets to the Black Caps. At the game, cricket bosses lobbied him to give vaccine priority to international cricketers.
We copped some flack from his fans by criticising him, arguing that by accepting the tickets he put himself in a potential “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.
The next day, he apologised and committed to donating the ticket value to charities.
Good on him. His public apology echoes almost exactly the point we raised: it’s vital that our public servants decline any perks that could create a conflict of interest, or even just a perception of one.
Dr Bloomfield’s turnaround on this issue should set a precedent. We’ll be watching to ensure other public sector leaders follow his lead.
Conversion of buses to electric will cost $1000 per household
The government wants New Zealand’s entire public bus fleet to be electric by 2035 – and they want
ratepayers you to pay for it.
The Ministry of Transport will fork out $50 million to help local councils convert their buses, but the full cost of converting 2600 buses is around $2 billion, or two thousand million. That’s $1000 for every New Zealand household!
Each new bus has a price tag of $750,000 compared to $420,000 for their diesel counterparts.
This is central government forcing the cost of its EV policies onto local government, and then offering them a pittance to deal with the issue.
Ratepayers are already staring down unprecedented rates increases in the coming years. How are electric buses a priority when councils in major centres are struggling to keep sewage below ground?!
Councils forecasting unbelievable rate hikes
Soon we’ll be releasing our 2021 rates dashboard, which tracks the proposed rate hike at every local council, along with links and deadlines for ratepayers to have their say.
Councils are blaming COVID-19 for pressure on revenue. But this is a way of dodging difficult questions around wasted spending and costly pet projects.
There is also a troubling trend prioritising eye watering levels of expenditure on highly visible projects – like cycleways – but significantly underinvesting in important infrastructure.
Underground pipes may not be glitzy, but as Wellingtonians will be able to tell you, it turns out they are kind of important.
When ratepayers see the “nice to haves” occurring, and then are hit with a rates hike because councils find themselves in a financial hole, or in urgent need to improve or fix infrastructure, they are understandably left frustrated.
However, councils often fail to take any responsibility for wasteful or badly prioritised spending, instead simply finding ways to justify it.
Productivity Commission pivots toward social justice
The Government has appointed a new head of the Productivity Commission – Ganesh Nana, formerly of Labour’s pet economic consultancy BERL.
In Dr Nana’s first public statement, he says “I see productivity as the way we utilise, maintain, and apply our taonga to deliver wellbeing.” In the words of one commentator, that is utter drivel.
In the Herald on Sunday, Taxpayers’ Union member Damien Grant explains why productivity is the most important contributor to the prosperity we enjoy today – and why Labour’s new appointment misses the mark:
The point of a body like the Productivity Commission is to articulate the hard reality that drives economic growth. Nana clearly has an agenda focused on social justice.
All the best,
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union