More poor NZ First maths

Some very questionable NZ First spokesperson maths were highlighted recently – see Predator Free would cost ‘trillions’.

In Question Time in Parliament yesterday NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark also indicated he may be challenged by numbers.

2. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Ron Mark: Does he stand by his statement that “every region of New Zealand is crucial to our growth and progress”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, in the context I made it.

Ron Mark: Why has the Government, then, given only $12 million over 4 years to councils for tourism infrastructure such as public toilets, when the Government took $630 million net surplus from GST on international visitor spending?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think the member is wrong; the number is higher than that for GST. The Government has been investing very heavily in the tourism sector. It is one of the reasons why it is such an important part of the economy, and we saw 3.3 million international tourists come to New Zealand. What the Government is doing is—for the first time—providing that sort of support for councils. They are free to put in an application, and, I think, from the feedback that I have been getting both as Prime Minister and as Minister of Tourism, a lot of them are going to do that and be grateful. But to argue that that is the only thing that we are doing in terms of supporting tourists is a bit farcical. It includes the $140 million – odd every year we put into marketing. It includes the work we have done around black spots for mobile phones, ultra-fast broadband, and tourist facilities.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically quoted the figure $12 million over 4 years to councils in respect of tourism infrastructure—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I have the point of order, please.

Ron Mark: My question is that he has not answered—I ask you to ask the Prime Minister to answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, there is absolutely no doubt that the answer addressed the question that was asked.

First, on the claim of “$630 million net surplus from GST on international visitor spending“. As Key suggests, the value of GST on visitor spending is higher than that.

The latest numbers from MBIE show that in the year to June 2016 visitor spending was $10,276 million. Presuming that is GST inclusive the GST portion of that is over twice the $630 million Mark claimed – $1,340 million. That’s an increase from $1,139 million in the year to June 2015, which is still nearly double Mark’s claim.

But Mark didn’t specify what period his GST number applied to, but tried to compare it to four years of expenditure. GST on visitor spending over the next four years is on track to be well in excess of $5 billion, which is quite different to $630 million.

Kudos to Key for recognising this discrepancy on the fly. A fail mark for Mark on visitor GST.

The second point Key made is on the claim that “given only $12 million over 4 years to councils for tourism infrastructure such as public toilets“.

Mark has mentioned expenditure on only one small tourism policy. Key mentions other areas of spending on tourism.

This MBIE page details these spending announcements from this year’s budget.

  • A new Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund of $12 million over four years will be established for smaller scale infrastructure projects that deliver tourism-related facilities(that’s what Mark referred to).
  • Budget 2016 also contributes an extra $8 million over four years for Tourism New Zealand to target key growth markets so New Zealand continues to diversify our visitor base.
  • There will be new funding of $25 million over four years that will enable the, enhancement and extension of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

This is just additional spending – clearly headlined as a ‘further boost’

Key was a bit off with his estimate of the “$140 million – odd every year we put into marketing”.  From Tourism New Zealand’s 3 year marketing strategy document:

Tourism New Zealand’s budget will increase $29.5m, from $83.8m to $113.4m, for the financial years FY14 and FY15, increasing to $115.8m in FY16 and FY17, enabling significant expansion on Tourism New Zealand’s current activity.

But he was in the vicinity (off the top of his head), and again this is just a part of what the Government contributes to tourism.

Another thing – it would be ridiculous to use all of the GST gathered from visitors’ spending on tourism.

We don’t reinvest all of the GST on other sectors back into those sectors. If that was how things were done there would be little money for New Zealand First to employ researchers (via Parliamentary Services) – but perhaps they don’t use researchers now.

If NZ First want to gain some credibility as being able to hold a crucial role in the next Government then they need to stop making claims that are easily ridiculed.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  25th August 2016

    The Greens have been succesfully making stuff up since their inception safe in the knowledge that no one in the media will challenge them, Ron is just following that winning formula.
    If any money needs to be spent the first place they need to start is Auckland Airport as its a shocking first impression.

    • Really? I don’t mind the incoming at all. I think outgoing is a bit sterile.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  25th August 2016

        It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I think that I’d remember if it was that bad.

        The worst would have to be the old LA holding pen-it made prison visiting rooms look like luxury hotel lounges.

  2. Mark is intellectually challenged imho. To be fair though, most of his colleagues at NZF would be good company for him.

    • Corky

       /  25th August 2016

      Richard Prosser is no mug. Writes well in my opinion. Pity he booked a one way flight to Woggastan. He won’t be returning.

  3. Pete Kane

     /  25th August 2016

    He’s certainly a surly little fellow. Despite all the bluster, I have the feeling he may favour supporting National rather than Labour/Green.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  25th August 2016

    Another figure that I feel is misleading is the number needing state houses, which tends to be used in a way that makes it sound as if that number of state houses are needed. I would have thought that if the number of people needing one was, for argument’s sake, 2000, that would mean that the number of houses needed would be about 1/3 of that at most. Most of these people would be families, I imagine. .

    • Quite. Being a heartless,raving rightie, I’m of the mindset that if you are old enough to choose to breed, (the sexual act itself being a conscious choice, as I know it) it is your duty and responsibility to attend to the repercussions – aka children). Expecting neighbours, fellow countrymen to pick up most of your life-sustaining and social tabs, while said neighbours attend also to their own obligations is irresponsible and an unfair burden on society. It is the balance of this I’d like to see addressed.

      Boats – float, boats – lift, fish – teach.

  5. Gezza

     /  25th August 2016

    Having just this minute completed my annual evaluation of all New Zealand sitting members of Parliament on my Good Things About NZ’s MPs checklist, I am extremely disappointed to find that, out of a total of 121 MPs, not a single one has yet received a tick in the boxes for:

    28. Not a bullshitter
    29. Not an idiot
    30. Not an asshole


  6. Pete – while prima facie Mark would appear to be wrong, don’t forget some GST is rebated by the government on tourist spending so Mark could be close to the right number


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