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Taxpayers’ Union Launch Election ‘Bribe-O-Meter’

Taxpayers’ Union Launch Election ‘Bribe-O-Meter’

13 August 2014

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has launched an election costing project to calculate the total cost of promises politicians make in the lead up to the 2014 General Election. The “Bribe-o-meter” allows Kiwis to judge for themselves the political bribes as parties vie for votes.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, says, “The Bribe-o-meter will hold the politicians and political parties to account for how much their pork barrel bribes will cost New Zealand households. For too long politicians have got away with plucking numbers out of thin air when announcing policy.”

“The Bribe-o-meter is about transparency. We will be updating the figures weekly, allowing potential voters to assess which political parties are offering taxpayers value for money.”

“In election year politicians are often quick to trumpet that they will spend millions of dollars on their pet cause. All too often they neglect to remember that it’s voters’ pockets that get lighter to fund these political bribes.”

"As of Monday, National's promises add up to $2,770 per household. For Labour it's $4,082."

Dr Michael Dunn has been engaged to undertake the economic research and will provide the Taxpayers' Union independent figures and analysis. Dr Dunn is a former Principal Economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and led the team of financial analysts at the Inland Revenue Department that forecast government tax revenues, and costed social policy through thirty Budget, Half Year and pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Updates. While at IRD, Dr Dunn served under numerous ministers and treasurers under National and Labour lead governments.

Dr Dunn says, "The figures released today at taxpayers.org.nz, are estimates of the total cost of the polices announced to date by National and Labour, and mostly use National’s and Labour's own numbers. We have made adjustments to policy cost estimates to remove some offsetting benefits, and have added in cost estimates for 'borrowed' policies and other public promises."

"In the coming weeks we will be updating these tables, reviewing the cost estimates and adding the costs of further announced policies, and adding estimates for costs policies proposed by the other parties.”

The Bribe-o-meter figures for National and Labour are now online at taxpayers.org.nz.

Q & A:

What is the Bribe-o-meter?
The Bribe-o-meter sheds light on the total cost of political bribes offered by each party and shows the per household cost.

The information released today is based on policy announcements from National and Labour up to Monday 11 August 2014.

In the coming weeks, the Bribe-o-meter will be updated to include:
• the minor parties;
• the costs of alternative government arraignments; and
• peer reviews by Michael Dunn on selected party costings.

How has the Taxpayers' Union obtained the data?
The Taxpayers’ Union has commissioned Michael Dunn to independently calculate the data for the Bribe-o-meter. Michael is politically independent and has extensive experience in the field of economics, including as a Manager within IRD’s Forecasting and Analysis unit for 12 years. Further information about Michael and his background can be found here.

What is the methodology and how is the information displayed?
The Bribe-o-meter compiles the political promises of each of the main political parties and places them within the major spending portfolios.

It assumes that the government elected on 20 September will last for a full three-year term and oversee Budgets 2015/2016 to 2017/2018. Policies announced that do not come into effect during the next Parliament will not be included in the figures.

Our analysis includes spending pledges announced between 2011 and now. Given that the purpose of the Bribe-o-meter is to track spending pledges announced by politicians, it does not model the effect of tax cuts or tax increases and the effect they have on households.

Tax credits and rebates have been considered as constituting new spending.

Will you work with political parties to correct or refine the numbers?
Absolutely! We want to provide the public and media with as much information as possible. If there are errors or a party disagrees with Mr Dunn’s expert assessment of their costings, we hope that the Bribe-o-meter will encourage the parties to provide the public with more information and transparency.

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is a non-partisan activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power. It’s here to fight government waste and make sure New Zealanders get value for money from their tax dollar.


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