DPF’s Himalayan adventure

David Farrar runs one of the most widely read and respected (and hated) political forums – Kiwiblog. He doesn’t stick to politics, he often posts about what he does, he reviews arts and he reports on his frequent travels. He gets some friendly criticism for this but they can be a good diversion from hard core politics.

He is currently trekking in the Himalayas and has posted a series of accounts with numerous photos. It’s a very interesting look at something very different to New Zealand politics.

A lot of the trekking is at 4,000-5,000 meters, with a peak of 5360 metres going over the Chola Pass. Mt Aoraki/Cook is 3,724 metres.

DPF described this as “Just to prove I was here” but he’s been known to use Photoshop.

The region of the trek (from Google Maps)

Sagarmatha

The trek went was past the Gyoko lakes that can be seen just above and below the text “Sagarmatha National Park” beside the glacier.

On the eleventh day…

A view of Everest.

Internet Party polling

Stuff have reported on poll support for the Internet Party in Media man takes on role with Dotcom:, quoting party media advisor Jim Tucker:

At the moment the party was polling at 2.6 per cent, he said.

David Farrar has queried this in Gamekeeper turned poacher:

So here’s my question to any of those journalists who were trained by Jim Tucker. Considering that the Internet Party hasn’t registered above 0.1% in any published poll, should a Jim Tucker trained journalist just report such an assertion without challenge, knowing that gullible members of the public may read it and assume it to be true?

Or would a Jim Tucker trained journalist ask the person making the claim to substantiate it?

As one commenter said, it’s up to Tucker to promote the party he’s now working for. It’s up to the media reporting on this to provide details of the polling – perhaps Helen Harvey should look at the just published Research Association Code of Practice which suggests:

Polling Best Practice Guidelines for Media

  1. If possible, get a copy of the full poll report and do not rely on a media release.
  2. The story should include the name of the company which conducted the poll, and the client the poll was done for, and the dates it was done.
  3. The story should include , or make available, the sample size, sampling method, population sampled, if the sample is weighted, the maximum margin of error and the level of undecided voters.
  4. If you think any questions may have impacted the answers to the principal voting behaviour question, mention this in the story.

I asked Internet Party Chief Executive Vikram Kumar about poll details.  He said:

The figure is from independent polling commissioned by and for the Internet Party.

It’s impossible to judge the poll from that. Kumar then said  they won’t give out polling details, and points out that other parties don’t either (they don’t, although the sometimes mention favourable results).

The Internet Party is happy for people to make up their own mind about its polling numbers via public, widely accepted results that are likely to show a rapidly increasing level of support in time

We’ll have to see over the next month whether public polls start to reflect similar support. Obviously publicity around the possible Mana co-operation and their launch this Thursday could make a difference.

One thing in their favour is that the media will give them a chance to boost their profile, although their main target is younger demographics via social media. Tucker in the Stuff article:

“The target demographic is 18 to 35, people who are disaffected with politics, people who have never voted, who are looking for something different. That’s a good reason not to plant ourselves right or left or whatever. There’s a strong feeling about not ruling out anyone along the spectrum.”

It will be a challenge getting accurate poll results from that demographic, let alone party members and votes.

Mathers story seems odd

Just about everything about the story about the Mojo Mathers seems odd – see Taxpayer Union versus Mojo Mathers (the story has developed since then).

Summary

There was an article in the Herald on Sunday by Patrice Dougan about deaf Green MP Mojo Mathers that asked more questions than it answered.

Mathers is a very unlikely and unwise target for a petty political attack regarding MP travel when many questions could be asked about use and possible misuse of travel.

Jordan Williams of the Taxpayers’ Union poorly answered questions put to him by the HoS but he denies initiating the issue and he went into damage control quickly.

David Farrar, also involved with the Taxpayers’ Union, had no apparent involvement until making a late comment on Facebook, and posted nothing on Kiwiblog.

Through the day a number of Greens, including co-leader Russel Norman and communications director Andrew Campbell, kept trying to link John Key and National to the attack on Mathers.

Blogger Danyl Maclachlan (who’s partner works in the Green communication team) posts twice making serious accusations about funding of the Taxpayers’ Union and links with the TU and National and reacts aggressively when confronted.

There was no apparent involvement of Labour with no post and from what I can see no mention of this at all on The Standard (very unusual for something like this). Grant Robertson jumped on the bandwagon late yesterday.

The first question asked by the Herald remains unanswered – who asked it in the first place?

The Article

It started with an article in the Herald on Sunday this morning. It was odd. It was by Patrice Dougan – not a name commonly seen associated with political stories. It began:

Questions are being asked about a taxpayer-funded trip for deaf MP Mojo Mathers to be interviewed on a small provincial radio station.

It then detailed Mathers’ trip to Masterton, and quoted her explanation. It then said she “did not know the cost of the trip” but then provided a detailed cost estimate.

It then closed with:

The Taxpayers Union questioned whether it was value for money.

“It’s amazing that she has so little to do with her time to actually travel to a community radio that probably has as many listeners as you can count on your hand,” director Jordan Williams said.

“The only silver lining is that the time spent travelling to go on the station in the middle of nowhere is less time spent dreaming up new ways to spend tax payers money.”

Much criticism of Williams and the Taxpayers’ Union ensued. But Williams later claimed that he didn’t initiate the story or ask any questions, the Herald cam to him and asked him for comment.

Back to the opening sentence – “Questions are being asked about…” – who asked questions? That wasn’t answered, but it was implied that it had been the Taxpayers Union.

Green indignation

Social media was buzzing with Green indignation and criticism through the day. Much of it was the usual sort of quick reactions common when something controversial and potentially damaging politically.

But there were some unusual Green reactions as well.

@RusselNorman
The National Party’s ally doesn’t want Mojo speaking at a rural disability event. Seriously?

John Hart@farmgeek 
If you had any doubt the @TaxpayersUnion is a right-wing attack organ…

@RusselNorman
Whaleoil, Kiwiblog, Taxpayers Union, John Key. The four legs of the National Party attack dog.

Except Whale Oil and Kiwiblog do not appear to have been involved in this story. Slater reacted late in the morning – he is likely to break stories he is involved with. And Farrar was away on a walk for most of the day and still hasn’t posted on Kiwiblog about it (he covered it on his Facebook page late this afternoon).

@louise_bee
@RusselNorman
Interesting that they’re going after the Greens so much. They must consider you a bigger threat than Labour.

It’s common to see Greens talking up their importance like this when a scandal breaks, there was a lot of it during the Turei jacket episode.

@Andr3wCampbell 

Really glad @mojomathers gets out to rural communities to talk to people with disabilities. National’s attack petty.

@nzheraldnznews are people with disabilities in rural communities questioning the trip? Or just a @NZNationalParty aligned operative?

in actual news @JordNZ, here is a real story on tax payer spending @NZGreens uncovered whole you were chasing $500.

I think Andrew Geddis sums up the National Party attack on @mojomathers pretty well here http://pundit.co.nz/content/lets-all-pick-on-the-deaf-girl …

Andrew is “Aotearoa New Zealand Green Party Communications Director”.

Repeatedly linking National to the story and to the Taxpayers’ Union.

Support act

Danyl Mclauclan used to be an accomplished satirist at his Dim-Post blog, but he has evolved into a usually occasional political commentator/activist. Unusually he posted twice today, both on this topic.

Another question for the Taxpayer Union

Here’s my question for the Taxpayer’s Union and the journalists who run their copy. How much of the revenue of the various companies, consultancies and law firms run by the founders and directors of this ‘union’ is taxpayer funded? Given the individuals involved – eg Jordan Williams, David Farrar – I’d be shocked if the taxpayers were paying less than a million dollars a year to the people involved in this organisation who run around planting attack stories against opposition parties.

And:

Slightly more thoughts on the Taxpayers’ Union

Here’s how I’m guessing this works. The (taxpayer funded) opposition researchers in the National Party find a smear story they like. They pitch it to an editor at the Herald and – because they can’t provide comment themselves for obvious reasons, such as John Key’s taxpayer funded golf game – they say, ‘Call Jordan Williams at the Taxpayers’ Union and he’ll give you comment.’

So, that’s sort-of how political media works.

That sounds odd too, as if he is trying pin something on an opponent. Danyls insists he isn’t a Green but has been open about the fact that his partner works in the Green communications team.

I suggested to him on Twitter that “As much chance that #NZGreens could be playing this game as easily as @NZNationalParty are? Party and surrogates could be spinning?”

He usually ignores me but this time responded:

When is the last time you saw me quoted in a media story, vegetable?

And to a tweet from someone else:

Where did you get the idea that I was a member of the Green Party or shared their values? Fuck off lick-spittles.

That’s uncharacteristic and could suggest some sensitivity.

Labour’s involvement

What’s most notable about Labour’s involvement was the absence of any. The Standard didn’t post on it and remarkably there seems to be absolutely no comment on the most talked about political issue of the day.

Grant Robertson joined the issue very late, 8.36 pm last night, with a single tweet.

@grantrobertson1
Lets be clear Jordan Williams and his so called Taxpayers Union are simply a right wing political front. They should be reported as such.

Labour to have been right out of this loop

National’s involvement

Tau Henare tweeted early in support of Mathers…

@tauhenare
@mojomathers
Dear Mojo, tell these self serving pricks to go find something else to do. You are doing your job. #Endofstory

…and reacted to accusations later:

@Andr3wCampbell So which Nat MP supports the outrageous attack on a fellow MP?

@iamjordanking @JudithCollinsMP Ok bro so there are NO #NatMPs involved as far as we know. Just tell the truth FGS

@Andr3wCampbell And where’s the answer to my question. What MPs belong to #TPU? Answer the blinking question!

This is the face of the @NZGreens Coms Director. 1 He said #NatMPs were involved in the #TPU Debacle. Nope 2. dear #TPU, thanks for nothing.

The @NZGreens Coms Director. 1 He said #NatMPs were involved in the #TPU Debacle. Nope,Liar pic.twitter.com/W7eFU7SNcI

@iamjordanking @JudithCollinsMP Shutup you backed the greens Coms director, he said it, you tried to support him! U got caught, you deny it

@iamjordanking @JudithCollinsMP and BTW don’t woah me. Your supposition isn’t the point. There are no MPs and it’s not Nat party apparatus.

@iamjordanking @JudithCollinsMP I have no raw nerves, your mates lied and you over cooked it. Our MPs wld be outrAged at #TPU stupidity.

Judith Collins was only briefly drawn into it.

@JudithCollinsMP

@tauhenare: @Andr3wCampbell So which Nat MP supports the outrageous attack on a fellow MP?”Tau, you can’t expect the Left to tell the truth

Where does this leave it?

I’ve seen many attempted political hit jobs in media and online and this looks quite different to normal. There’s no sign David Farrar was involved and Jordan Williams did not appear to be pushing the story, to the contrary, he tried to retreat from it. He said it was “a hard lesson learned.”

It looks like a job done by people who are not practiced in the dark arts of politics.

While it’s possible it was opportunist reaction to the story Green leadership and their communications team were actively pushing a wider story, trying to taint the Taxpayers’ Union and also trying to smear National and Act.

But this currently left where it started in the Herald article – “Questions are being asked about …” – what questions? And who asked them?

We know who kept asking questions through the day, but we can’t be sure who put the question to the Herald in the first place.

The Herald is based in Auckland. It reported on a minor trip to Masterton by a Christchurch MP with a low profile. And it’s primary question seems to have deliberately implied something mischievous without answering the question.

There is something very odd about this story.

Herald on bloggers – odd man out

Jonanathan Milne has done a profile of bloggers in NZ Herald – In bed with the bloggers. He looks at the biggest and the worst of bloggers and blogging but doesn’t look at the blogging scene in any real depth.

But is there a softer side to these abrasive, divisive voices? Nah, naff off.

He focusses mainly on the extremes, Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury, and misses the diversity of the blogosphere.

The leading bloggers trade on one core asset: the power of personality. They are loud, they are brash and they are, ahem, manufactured. The top ones admit creating personas that are more in-your-face than the real person.

David Farrar is mentioned but otherwise omitted – he is one of the “top ones”, one of the best established political bloggers. His knowledgeable and well-informed political commentary is widely respected. And he isn’t manufactured.

His Kiwiblog is his personal soapbox – he recently posted a series on a Tongariro tramp, he has just posted about Fringe Festival performances.

Sure, there’s plenty of load, brash and manufactered (and plenty more) in the comments section, but that isn’t Farrar’s domain.

Russell Brown only gets mentioned in a quote…

Slater wins.

He accepts the yellow trophy, and asks: “Is Russell Brown here? Any of you leftie suckholes who think I’m irrelevant? F*** off.”

…but has been around that long you can probably find him with Alta Vista, and seems to be his slightly snobby self. His political leanings are clear but far more subtle than the brash Bomber and way over the top Whale.

But the biggest odd man out in Milne’s lineup:

Public Address blogger Graeme Edgeler filed a submission with Parliament’s regulatory review committee demanding a change to draconian Teachers Council suppression rules.

Graeme Edgeler filed a submission! Demanding! How evil is that? Graeme pops up all over the blogosphere, always non-partisan, reasonable and willing to give advice on legal matters to anyone who asks. And in this case he was trying to improve the way we do our politics based on sound, sensible principles.

Graeme is one of the most respected and influential participants in the political blogosphere. It was good of Milne to mention him, but remiss of him for not differentiating the Edge from the loud and brash.

Back to the other side, the Herald headliners.

Whale Oil is well known for saying politics is a nasty business and he works hard to keep it that way. I disagree and have confronted him on this, we continue to disagree.

Bradbury leans forward on his elbows at the cafe table: “The old rules are gone,” he grins. “This election is going to be incredibly vicious.”

Maybe vicious is all Bradbury has got left, he lost a lot of credibility over his involvement with Dotcom’s Internet Party after party hopping from a paid position with Mana.

I don’t think the old rules are gone. Dirty politics just has a new forum, a new means of being nasty, smearing, trying to manipulate politics and power.

But it doesn’t have to be all dirty and vicious. There are some who are the opposite, like Edgeler. I’m also strongly opposed to dirty politics and to abusiveness on blogs, and often challenge and confront it. I often get abused for doing it, but that makes more determined to keep pushing for better standards.

There are other quiet achievers scattered across the blogosphere. They stand out for their sense and reason, if you care to look for it.

And there are signs of more political decency emerging,  with the establishment of Politicheck:

Politicheck.org.nz’s goal is to analyse all statements made during the election by all parties and say whether or not, based on evidence available, they are telling the truth. The website looks to operate in a similar way to the US political fact checking website Politifact.com - although we have no affiliation with that website.

It is in the interest of all New Zealanders that we hold our politicians accountable for what they say, or print- they are the voice of this nation chosen to represent us. All fact checking will be shown through a transparent process, open to the public, and ready for scrutiny.

There’s certainly loud, brash and vicious prominent in the blogosphere, but promoting facts and truth in politics is something that has been long called for and will be popular.

Politics must be strongly debated. But it can be done with decency. Social media can become a powerful force for promoting honesty and decency in Parliament.

Whale Oil and Bomber Bradbury are a new incarnation of old school politics, old boy dirty dealing, attack and destroy tactics.

The strength of the blogosphere can be accessibility and transparency. It is as easy to confront crap as it is to spew it. If enough people push for a far better – and more effective – political forum then we will get it. Political thugs will remain and will be loud, but it can be made much better.

And then more women might get involved more openly – most of half of our population can’t be bothered with the crap, or venture into the blogosphere with caution and usually under cover.

If enough people get involved and stand up to the loud and vicious and dishonest the old school bullies will become odd men out.

And our democracy will be the better for it. And if that’s something the Herald would like to see perhaps they will give more sides to their story.

Labour’s worst week leading to an omni-shambles?

The TVNZ/Shane Taurima issue looks like being a major embarrassment to Labour. While there is virtual silence on it at The Standard it is the hot topic of the day at Kiwiblog where David Farrar blogs: An appalling breach of neutrality at TVNZ

 

And it’s not the only embarrassment – Labour is looking very vulnerable with disaster after cock-up occurring,

Farrar also posts: A day of horrors for Labour

Monday started off badly enough for Labour with the weekend poll showing them 17% behind National.

Then they veered towards the ridiculous with David Cunliffe saying that he thinks the National Party may be paying people to follow MPs about.

It got worse when Cunliffe attacked John Key for living in a $10 million mansion, as this shifted focus on the fact he lived in a $2.5 million mansion himself.

Then the news broke that TVNZ had been hosting Labour Party campaign meetings, and that a senior TVNZ manager has resigned after hosting a hui which David Cunliffe attended.

A disaster of a day for Labour. No political management. And just to make it worse, the Taranaki Daily News reports that a young photographer was asked by David Cunliffe to delete a photo she took of him.

And in the comments section davidp rates the Labour’s worst weeks.

Third worst week in politics, any where, any time: A few weeks ago when Labour lied about the Baby Bribe. Their leader was clueless about the policy. They wanted to ban Facebook and then changed their mind. They announced a neonatal policy that was identical to the government’s current scheme. And Cunliffe didn’t know how to spell Lorde’s name.

Second worst week in politics, any where, any time: Norman and Peters both sold out NZ’s justice system in return for political favours. Peters lied about his secret meetings. Curran and Ardern had secret meetings too. And most of Labour, NZ First, and the Greens dressed themselves in tinfoil hats when they alleged GCSB were monitoring Winston Peters, when the “super secret” information they were concerned about was already in Whaleoil and the Herald.

First worst week in politics, any where, any time: Cunliffe climbs on to the Moonbat Express when he implies that GCSB must be Whaleoil’s source, rather than a small army of irregularly paid and disgruntled Dotcom staff. And it turns out that the Labour Party have taken over TVNZ and run it for corrupt purposes. AND it is only Monday.

The Labour – Greens – NZ First coalition is the reason Malcolm Tucker invented the word “omni-shambles”. Just when you think they can’t get any more corrupt, any more hopeless, or any more deranged… they pull out all the stops and take themselves to a whole new level of failure.

It’s not an omni-shambles yet, but it’s only Tuesday.

There has to be a major turnaround to prevent a Labour shambles at least (if it’s not too late). If Labour bomb out in the election it will be an omni-shambles because they will ruined Greens’ best chance yet to have a taste of power in Government , and it will keep Mana on the sideline.

And if it result’s in Winston Peters enabling a continuation of National in Government that could well lead to an omni-shambles.

Public meeting for Act leadership contenders

John Boscawen is organising a public meeting for Act leadership contenders:

7.30 pm Thursday 30 January

Somervell Presbyterian Church, 497 Remuera Road 

@JohnBoscawennz

I am organising a public meeting this Thursday in the Epsom electorate. Jamie Whyte and David Seymour have been invited

It will be in the Somervell Presbyterian Church, 497 Remuera Road 7.30 pm Thursday 30 January.

I am proposing a similar structure to recent Labour Party leadership meetings where the press can come for speeches, but not questiontime.

David Seymour has advised will speak at the Somervell Church meeting Jan 30. Public meeting and media are welcome for entire event.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog gives his thoughts on Epsom and the ACT Leadership.

National and NZ First

David Farrar looks at the benefits and pitfalls in National signalling whether they would consider working with Winston peters or not – Why John Key should rule Winston Peters out again.

I think it comes down to a simple consideration.

The last two elections Key has ruled out dealing with Peters. What has changed? There’s no way of knowing what the outcome of the election will be so it’s necessary to judge what has changed with Winston First.

Has Peters changed? Is he looking any better than in previous election years? He answers for himself.

Key should say the same about any possibility of a coalition with NZ First.

Who does Harawira represent?

Hone Harawira has claimed that the country got good value for money paying for his trip to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela memorial events. He went as far as claiming that he was better value than the official John Key led delegation.

On Firstline this morning Harawira defends taxpayer-funded trip.

“I hope we represented the people of New Zealand as well as they would have expected us to do,” he told One News.

“They got more value from me and Hilda attending than the others because we’ve been staunch anti-apartheid activists from long ago.”

He says he went representing all Maori.

He says he went representing all New Zealanders because he led an anti-tour group in 1981.

He didn’t.

Harawira went because he wanted to go. He had the support of some people. But he can’t claim to represent all Maori and all New Zealanders. I’m sure many people would not want to be represented by him.

John Key brought up the question of representing people in the House of Representatives, where Harawira is known more for his absences than for his contribution.

Prime Minister John Key says he shouldn’t have used taxpayer funds and had no role at the funeral.

“This is a guy who has barely turned up in parliament in 2013, went to South Africa on a jolly and shouldn’t be billing the taxpayer for it,” he told reporters.

Harawira spends more on travel than most MPs – he seems to spend more time tripping around than he does attending Parliament. David Farrar gives some details in Hone and Parliament.

Hone has asked a total of three written questions in 2013. yes, just three. A disgrace. Three out of almost 17,000 asked by opposition MPs.

His contributions in the debating chamber have been almost non-existent.  In the last year his contributions have been:

  • Six oral questions (these are allocated so no issue there)
  • Spoke on the Budget debate, the financial review debate, the PM’s statement, two general debates, one urgent debate, one obituary, one local bill and one Treaty settlement. On average that is one speech ever six weeks!

So Hone Harawira has spoken on two bills in 2013. In the past year 145 bills passed into law, 57 had a first reading and 67 a second reading meaning 269 bills that he could have spoken on.

Hone Harawira has no interest or ability to be a parliamentarian. He is a very effective activist and protester. But he is a failure as a Member of Parliament.

Harawira’s trip to South Africa seems to be more a self motivated celebration of his protester role than as a representative of his electorate or his country.

John Key of Firstline:

This is the guy who loves doing everything except his job.

Ultimately it’s up to Harawira’s electorate to judge whether he provides the sort of representation they want, but there is no way he can claim any country wide representation.

What does Harawira actually do with all his time and travel?

Why Greens dumped David Hay

There has been a general lack of willingness by Greens to explain why David Hay was dumped as a potential candidate, but an explanation has been offered by ‘toad’ in a comment at Kiwiblog:

The recommendation to refuse hay’s entry to the candidate pool was made in September. His leadership bid was in response to that, not the other way around as you suggest DPF.

In short, what Hay did in 2011 was attempt to campaign for the electorate vote in Epsom, despite a clearly articulated nationwide party strategy to campaign for only the party vote. This was particularly important in Epsom, where many Greens were holding their noses and voting for National’s Paul Goldsmith in order to try to stop the odious John banks from taking the electorate.

David Farrar had commented in the Kiwiblog post:

To ban a member from being a candidate is a drastic step. National’s Board uses it very very rarely, and basically only uses it for people who are “mad” or “bad”.

The Greens could leave it up to individual electorates as to whether or not to have David Hay as a candidate. They could have left it up to their membership where to rank him as a candidate. But the party bosses have struck him down. 

This does seem a drastic step taken by the Green executive. Why would they exclude Hay altogether for disobeying directives?

Were they worried the party members may place Hay too high on the party list so are cutting off any chance of that happening?

Party discipline is important – but so is the need to be seen to be as democratic as you claim to be. The Green hierarchy is showing worrying signs of straight jacketing  the party.

To progress in Greens the signs are that you have grease like Marama Davidson.

And it could be asked why Greens stand candidates in electorates when they are banned from campaigning for electorate votes.

Taxpayer’s Union launched

An interesting launch today of the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union.

A group of New Zealanders is establishing the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union to give Kiwi taxpayers a strong voice in the corridors of power.  The Taxpayers’ Union begins operations today.

The Taxpayers’ Union is a politically independent grassroots campaign to lower New Zealanders’ tax burden 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 says “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 value for that money.  Our aims aren’t just to cut government spending, but to make public spending work better.”

Website: http://taxpayers.org.nz/

Twitter: @TaxpayersUnion

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nztaxpayers

You can find out more about on the what we stand for and a Q&A pages.

Kiwiblog post and discussion: The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union:

Setting up a union for hardworking New Zealand taxpayers has been an aim of mine for over seven years. There are thousands of lobby groups out there who demand more spending by taxpayers on their pet causes, and there hasn’t been a voice dedicated to representing the interests of those who have to fund all the spending – taxpayers and ratepayers. It has been my belief that the political environment in New Zealand will be better by having a lobby group that can contribute to the debate on what should and should not be funded by taxpayers.

We are ambitious for the Taxpayers’ Union. Our aim is to become the largest union in New Zealand, achieving over 50,000 members and supporters. We can only achieve this with your help. Please go to our website, like our facebook page, follow us on Twitter. You can subscribe to our newsletter, join as a member and perhaps most importantly donate to us. We are reliant 100% on membership fees and donations from supporters. We do not get any Government funding, and never will.

Some of our initial projects will include:

  • 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;
  • Identify and expose the most flagrant examples of government waste;
  • A campaign against taxpayer funded corporate and union welfare;
  • 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
  • Promote legislation strengthening the Official Information Act.

A brief history of how the Taxpayers’ Union was formed.

This has been a huge labour of love for us. I’ve put in countless hours, and it’s great to have finally launched. We hope to make a real difference.

The genesis of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union started 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. 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 a friend of mine, Jordan Williams who had also met Matthew Elliot at an IYDU event and was struck by the 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.

Along the way Gabrielle O’Brien joined the board, bring her business and marketing skills. And we gained a focus of administrative discipline from John Bishop who not only joined the Board, but 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 union. Not all taxpayers will support our work, but we hope all of them will benefit from it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 184 other followers