This is one for the books: Tourism NZ spent $918,000 on a video of Rod Stewart singing a song for America’s Cup fans in order to, apparently, showcase New Zealand.

The video features Sir Rod singing on a boat in front of the London Bridge, along with a Zoom interview between Sir Rod and (checks notes) Clarke Gayford. The two celebrities discuss how gorgeous Prime Minister’s smile is.

As I told Stuff, taxpayers got shafted. It’s the kind of unbelievable waste that erodes New Zealanders’ faith in bureaucracies.

I repeated that message on Newstalk ZB, while Jordan flew the flag for taxpayers on Magic Talk and TVNZ’s Te Karere: The news even had a writer from The Spinoff (a left-wing opinion site) saying “Sign me up for the Taxpayers’ Union”!

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash needs to front up and explain why he thinks it’s OK to spend a million bucks piping in a celebrity from Britain. Saying ‘I Don’t Want to Talk About It’ isn’t good enough.

Team NZ victory is a taxpayer victory  🥳Americas_Cup_Win

The Rod Stewart blowout comes in the context of an even larger hole in taxpayers’ wallets: in total, around $250 million in public funds were spent on the Cup defence and associated infrastructure (some of which wasn’t even built in time).

Team New Zealand’s victory was fantastic, but let’s acknowledge the contribution of taxpayers. If Peter Burling and co hadn’t pulled off the win, we might have seen a taxpayer revolt!

In an incredibly cynical move, the Prime Minister sent out a press release the moment Team NZ crossed the finish line, announcing she would continue taxpayer support. You might say she timed it to take exploit taxpayers’ lowered inhibitions.

Have you had your say on the Climate Commission’s radical plan? 

We’ve had an incredible response to our call for submissions on the draft recommendations of the Climate Change Commission. If you missed Jordan’s message about this on Friday, I strongly recommend you read it here.

In short, the Climate Change Commission has a radical plan to reshape the economy with costly regulations, even though according to their own analysis, we’re already on track to meet the ‘zero emissions’ target using existing tools (namely the Emissions Trading Scheme).The key question is this: should politicians be planning who can emit what and when, or should they just set the overall cap and let New Zealanders figure out where emissions can be most efficiently cut through the ETS? We’ve released a tool making it easy for New Zealanders to have their say here.

Capital Gains Tax: Do we really have to go over this again? 

🤦‍♀️Last week the Green Party announced a policy to extend the “bright line” test indefinitely. Now, the NZ Herald is reporting that Grant Robertson could announce a similar policy tomorrow.

Perhaps Grant Robertson has forgotten the promise he made to taxpayers: Click here to hear Grant Robertson’s conflicting statements on the bright line test

An extended bright line test is a de facto capital gains tax, with the same fatal flaws as Michael Cullen’s failed proposal. ‘Family homes’ would be excluded, which would limit any beneficial effects of the tax and provide a loophole for investors to designate properties as the ‘family home’ of a spouse or child.

Even worse, investors would get around an extended bright line test by simply holding their properties for longer. Even if the tax is extended indefinitely, investors who bought a house before the implementation of the new rule will just hold on to their investment until retirement, rather than selling and re-investing, which would trigger the tax.This situation would be terrible for home buyers, because it would mean fewer properties put on the market.New Zealanders don’t want a capital gains tax. The Prime Minister has promised not to introduce one. If the Government breaks this promise, taxpayers won’t be forgiving.

And we thought the SkyPath debacle couldn’t get any worse  SkyPath

The Harbour Bridge “SkyPath” cycleway was originally pitched to Aucklanders as a self-funding, private project. Then Auckland Council got involved, and next the Government, with the projected cost blowing out to $67 million, and then to $360 million – paid for by taxpayers from Kaitaia to the Bluff.

Now, the Government is close to admitting that the entire concept is a pipe-dream, with the bridge unable to take any more steel.

You’d think that would be the end of it, but the Government says it’s still committed to a walking and cycling connection over the harbour. An obvious option, pushed by local cycling lobbyists, is to close a lane on the bridge. But that would go down like a cup of cold sick with Auckland commuters, and the Transport Minister is already ruling it out. That leaves one possibility: a separate bridge, just for cyclists and pedestrians.

If you thought $360 million for a cycleway was expensive, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

GDP drops as cost of lockdowns bites 
Last week saw a surprise one percent drop in GDP. On a per capita basis, Kiwis are earning five percent less than a year ago.We need an economic strategy to grow our way out of this recession and the huge debt brought on by Covid-19.

The only way to pay down the debt is through economic growth, and the best pathway for that is tax relief. We can’t continue to have Wellington borrow, spend, and hope. It’s time the Government left more money in householders’ pockets to fuel the economic recovery.

No, councillors do not need more more childcare perks Cr Thomson

Hamilton City Councillor Sarah Thomson, who is paid $92,000, wants an extra $6,000 a year to pay her mother to look after her child – and the Mayor likes the idea.

Our Executive Director, Jordan Williams, was raised by a mother who sat on both a regional and a district council. Here’s his response: A councillor paid $92,000 does not need a top-up for childcare. When the Remuneration Authority approved childcare allowances in 2019, we urged councils to reject the idea, warning that it would expand. We’re now seeing this as a self-entitled Councillor tries to argue she needs it to pay a relative to look after her kid. The left-wing unionists are also eyeing up the allowance for wider council staff.How many private sector employers would stump up $6,000 for a childcare package? This is the kind ‘generosity’ that you’d only see from an organisation spending other people’s money. The idea that ratepayers should be responsible for hiring a nanny is nonsense. Cr Thomson needs to reign in her extraordinary entitlement.

Using KiwiBuild money to block new housing is absurd 
🤯 Newshub has revealed that the Government used KiwiBuild funds to purchase the disputed land at Ihumātao. In other words, taxpayer money meant for building houses was used to stop houses from being built.It’s little wonder house prices keep leaping up when politicians are actively intervening with taxpayer money to make things worse.

It appears that the Government spent KiwiBuild funding outside of the scope for which Parliament approved it. Aside from being undemocratic, this opens the Government to the risk of a costly legal challenge. National has asked the Auditor-General to investigate.The result of the Government’s land deal is fewer houses at Ihumātao, built more slowly. The land purchase has also emboldened protestors across New Zealand to use occupation as a tactic to block new housing – we’re already seeing this at Shelly Bay in Wellington and Opua in Northland.

Introducing our new Chair, Ashley Church Ashley_Church

Last week we officially welcomed Ashley Church as our new Chairman.Ashley is the former CEO of the Property Institute of New Zealand and the Newmarket Business Association and a current director of the Israel Institute of NZ. He was a Napier City Councillor for three terms in the 1990s, and is a well-known columnist and media commentator on property and politics.

Ashley says: I’ve been an observer and supporter of the work of the Taxpayers’ Union for a number of years and had no hesitation in accepting an invitation to join the Board of the Union in 2020. The Union’s mission of lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency closely aligns with my own values and I’m now looking forward to taking a more direct role in its work. Given the challenges of COVID I don’t think there has ever been a time when holding the public sector to account and championing the interests of taxpayers has been more relevant or important.

Ashley replaces Barrie Saunders, who has stepped down after three years in the role.As Jordan put it:I’d like to personally thank Barrie for his leadership of the organisation but also his personal mentoring and support of the staff, myself included. One of the best features of the Taxpayers’ Union is the smart, young staff who come through our student intern programme and more often than not end up staying on as permanent staff. I know Barrie’s regular visits to the office as Chair have been a highlight for staff and Barrie alike.

Have a great week.
Louis circle
Louis Houlbrooke
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union