Government Should Stamp Out Taxpayer Funded Lobbying
The Taxpayers’ Union believes that questions need to asked about why a lobby group, working with the Maori Party on a political campaign around tobacco plain packaging, is largely taxpayer funded. This morning’s front page of the New Zealand Herald covers the latest efforts to build political pressure to introduce a plain packaging law.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says, “While civil servants operate under a duty of political neutrality, the Ministry of Health and others are awarding substantial sums of taxpayer money to health and environmental lobby groups to push particular political agendas."
“It is wrong for special interest groups such as ASH to be using taxpayer money for political campaigns. ASH's factual inaccuracies about the impact of plain packaging on smoking consumption in Australia suggests that they are operating outside any of the usual public sector control requiring balanced and evidenced based public statements.”
According to ASH’s most recent annual return filed with the Charities Register, more than 90% of ASH’s funding comes from the taxpayer.
Mr Williams says, “We all support funding for front line and addiction services such as Quitline. What we don’t support is funding to political organisations to operate campaigns with taxpayer money."
“Here a taxpayer funded group is working with a political party to promote one of its key policies. If the shoe was on the other foot and the Government was funding property groups to campaign for RMA reform, the Maori Party would be justifiably outraged. This is no different.”
"Taxpayer funded lobbying undermines democracy and should be stamped out.”