Govt, Politicians and Taxpayer Funded Groups Put On Notice
Government, Politicians and Taxpayer Funded Groups Put On Notice
EMBARGOED UNTIL 1:00AM WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2013
A group of New Zealanders has established the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union to give Kiwi taxpayers a stronger voice in the corridors of power. The Taxpayers’ Union begins operations today.
The Taxpayers’ Union is a politically independent grassroots campaign to lower the tax burden on New Zealanders and reduce wasteful government spending.
Chairman John Bishop says, “we’ve come together to promote sensible fiscal management, to expose government waste and to promote policies to make public spending work better. Government, politicians and taxpayer funded groups are on notice that we are looking to expose waste or rorts.”
“We’re asking New Zealanders to join us and report government waste via a ‘tip line’ on our website.”
Executive Director Jordan Williams notes that “thousands of organisations and special interest groups lobby for more tax-and-spend. The Taxpayers’ Union will ensure that at least one group is looking after hard working Kiwis whose taxes pay for politicians’ promises.”
David Farrar, a member of the Union Board says “the concern for our members is that vast amounts of public money is being spent by government on our behalf and we don’t get enough value for that money. Our aims aren’t just to slow the growth of government spending, but to make public spending work better.”
NEW ZEALAND TAXPAYERS’ UNION Q&A
What does the Taxpayers' Union hope to achieve?
We want to become New Zealand’s largest and
most effective union. Our objectives and aims include:
• 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; and
• To increase transparency and accountability of government spending.
How will the Taxpayers’ Union achieve this?
Some of the initial projects of the
Taxpayers’ Union are to:
• Identify and expose the most flagrant examples of government waste;
• End taxpayer funded corporate and union welfare;
• Promote an ‘Armchair Auditors Act’, modelled on legislation enacted in some U.S. states, where all transactions over a de minimis amount are searchable on an online database;
• Expose and halt the significant public funding that lobby groups receive to campaign and lobby government for pet policy and law changes;
• Promote legislation requiring local referenda for any increase in real per capita rates; and
• Promote legislation strengthening the Official Information Act.
What does the Taxpayers’ Union hope to achieve with its ‘tip line’?
The Taxpayers’ Union is encouraging political and government insiders to ‘dob in’ examples of government waste and extravagance. Experience of taxpayer groups overseas suggests that many of the best tips come from within government, particularly bearcats frustrated with waste and inefficiency. We want to put the government – politicians, officials and taxpayer-funded groups on notice that taxpayer money should treated with care. The Taxpayers’ Union guarantees the anonymity of all members of the public who submit information via the tip line on www.taxpayers.org.nz.
Where did the idea of a “taxpayers union” come from?
The Taxpayers’ Union is modelled on the successful and effective United Kingdom Taxpayers’ Alliance (www.taxpayersalliance.com). The Taxpayers’ Alliance is an independent grassroots campaign that receives approximately 600 mentions per month in United Kingdom media, due to its relentless targeting of wasteful government expenditure. The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, launched last year is already gaining traction in the Australian political discourse.
OF THE NEW ZEALAND TAXPAYERS’
The genesis of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union was around a decade ago when I was on the Executive of the International Young Democrat Union. Through the IYDU I got to meet political activists and MPs from around the world, including the United Kingdom.
One of those I met was Matthew Elliott, who co-founded the UK Taxpayers’ Alliance (www.taxpayersalliance.com). Over the years I saw the Taxpayers’ Alliance go from being a volunteer effort to a major political force in the United Kingdom, vigorously attacking wasteful government spending, promoting greater transparency around spending and arguing for taxpayers to get to spend more of their own money.
It struck me how badly such a group is needed in New Zealand where there are thousands of lobby groups that argue for more spending on their pet causes, but no group that seeks to represent the views of those who have to fund all the spending – taxpayers.
So for several years I’d promoted the concept of a New Zealand taxpayers’ union, and found lots of people agreeing there was a need for such a group to balance the debate. But being rather busy myself, I had little spare time to make the idea a reality.
One day after the last election I was chatting with a friend, Jordan Williams who had also met Matthew Elliot at an IYDU event and was struck by the UK Taxpayers’ Alliance grassroots activist concept. Jordan not only supported the creating a similar group in New Zealand, but offered to help make it a reality.
So Jordan came on board, and things started to happen. We gained a constitution, we signed up members, we set up a bank account, we started recruiting supporters and slowly but surely the Taxpayers’ Union became a reality. In June this year, Jordan spent a week in Westminster based at the UK Taxpayers’ Alliance and met with many of the leading UK think tanks and lobby groups.
Along the way Gabrielle O’Brien joined the board, bringing her business and marketing skills. We gained a focus of administrative discipline from John Bishop who not only joined the Board, but also agreed to be the inaugural Chair. Under John’s leadership, with Jordan’s energy, Gabby’s focus and my ideas the Taxpayers’ Union took shape.
We approached friends, colleagues and acquaintances and asked them if they were willing to support a dedicated voice for taxpayers, and many of them said yes. With some modest seed funding, we appointed Jordan as the Executive Director, gained some office space and started the job of having staff and volunteers scrutinising central and local government spending.
We have big plans for the Taxpayers’ Union. We want it to become New Zealand’s largest and most effective union. We hope that all taxpayers will benefit from its work.