New Zealand Taxpayers' Union launches, calls for 'armchair auditors'
Today is the launch day for the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. The official release is:
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.”
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 cansubscribe 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.
Over the break, is 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.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.