The union-backed pro-CGT campaign is fake grassroots

Source: Taxpayers Union

8 APRIL 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Responding to the launch of new campaign to promote Michael Cullen’s capital gains tax, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “This campaign is not a grassroots movement – it’s more like astroturf. The campaign group is a union-funded front for New Zealand’s usual left-wing agitators. They are funded by the same people who bankroll the Labour Party’s campaigns and even include the Labour Party’s recent General Secretary in their steering committee.” “The group’s key message – claiming that ‘most’ New Zealanders support a capital gains tax – is false. Public polling consistently shows Kiwis want the Government to axe Dr Cullen’s unfair tax.” “Despite extensive media coverage of their campaign ‘launch’, the front organisation has attracted just a few hundred signatures on their pro-CGT petition. That will be embarassing for the union cronies when more than 3,000 New Zealanders have used the Taxpayers’ Union’s email tool to tell Jacinda Ardern to axe this tax.” “If the Government is too afraid to promote Michael Cullen’s unfair tax itself, it should scrap the proposal, instead of palming off the politics to a front group for the Labour Party.” “Anyone with big-union money can hold a press conference in Wellington and set up a website with American stock images, but until this group can show that typical New Zealanders are engaged in its campaign, it shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

MIL OSI

Ken Shirley joins Taxpayers’ Union board of directors

Source: Taxpayers Union

5 APRIL 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Former Cabinet Minister and Land Transport Forum CEO Ken Shirley has joined the Board of Directors at the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. Taxpayers’ Union Chairman Barrie Saunders says, “Ken’s background as a Minister, an MP in two political parties, and a chief executive of four different industry sector organisations equips him superbly to fight for lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency.” Mr Shirley (pictured) says, “I have always supported organisations promoting excellence in public policy and am appalled by the senseless wastage that remains too prevalent in both local and central government.” More information about the Taxpayers’ Union team is available here: www.taxpayers.org.nz/our_team 

MIL OSI

Groundbreaking study shows how to protect a third of our oceans by 2030

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

A scientific report released today has mapped out how to protect over a third of the world’s oceans in the next ten years – a target scientists say is crucial in order to safeguard wildlife and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

As governments meet at the UN this week to negotiate towards an historic Global Ocean Treaty, the report shows how this ambitious target could be achieved, through a network of ocean sanctuaries across the planet.

The report, titled 30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection, is the result of a year-long collaboration between leading academics at the University of York, University of Oxford, and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner, Jessica Desmond, says as an island nation with  the fourth largest EEZ on the planet, it’s vital New Zealand gets behind the Global Ocean Treaty.

“The strongest possible Global Oceans Treaty would include a global body to designate, monitor and implement marine sanctuaries internationally,” she says.

“As yet the New Zealand delegation has not fully committed to this approach, but if we leave it up to regional bodies to do this we will get the haphazard ‘status-quo’ of oceans protection, which has failed so far.”

The historic report explains how healthy global oceans, full of marine life and able to perform their vital climate regulation role, benefit all life on Earth, including coastal communities everywhere.

In one of the largest ever studies of its kind, researchers broke down the global oceans – which cover almost half the planet – into 25,000 squares of 100×100 kilometres, and mapped the distribution of 458 different conservation features, including wildlife, habitats and key oceanographic features, generating hundreds of scenarios for what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity, could look like.

Professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York and one of the report’s authors, says the speed at which the high seas have been depleted of some of their most spectacular and iconic wildlife has taken the world by surprise.

“Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system that governments at the United Nations must urgently fix,” he says.

“This report shows how protected areas could be rolled out across international waters to create a net of protection that will help save species from extinction and help them survive in our fast-changing world.”

Negotiations at the UN towards a Global Ocean Treaty could pave the way for the protection of oceans outside of national borders, that cover 230 million square kilometres. This research explores what it would mean to fully protect 30% and 50% of the global oceans, both widely discussed ambitions for conservation targets.

Various scenarios for protection, as well as wildlife hotspots and threats to the ocean, can be explored using this interactive map.

ENDS

30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection Report:

Executive Summary here.

Full report.

Interactive Map here.

Photo and video:

For a free-to-use collection of ocean photo and video, see here.

Contacts:

Jessica Desmond, Greenpeace NZ Oceans campaigner: +64 21 065 1914

Ellie Hooper, Greenpeace NZ communications and media: +64 22 561 1340

Luke Massey, Greenpeace International communications and media luke.massey@greenpeace.org, +44 (0) 7973 873 155

MIL OSI

Home truths about the tricky In-Work Tax Credit

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

There I was, Sole Parent Beneficiary, lolling on the couch with my low-quality beverage, savouring the luxury of my state-funded holiday, when I found out that simply by securing four to six extra hours of paid work, I could increase my family’s weekly income by $72 (on top of the income earned), through the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC). Well, I was instantly jolted from my listless apathy into that fixed-term, casual job compatible with my current working and childcare arrangements that I’d been avoiding for weeks!

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I’m not sure which theoretical model is used to legitimise the policy practice of incentivising work through offering financial rewards, but I’m picking it involves rats and switches. Yet the idea that work has to be made more financially attractive is important, because it’s the argument used to justify the existing disadvantage between the children of working parents and kids of beneficiaries. In 2008 the Human Rights Review Tribunal found the IWTC discriminatory but it was justified then – and again in the 2013 High Court Appeal – because of the “legitimate objective” of incentivising beneficiaries into work. That disadvantage manifests as material hardship for some of our most vulnerable population. And that’s somehow ok, because it’s the government’s job to entice parents into paid work by making it more financially rewarding? I can’t see there being any arguments that could justify children’s material hardship, but I don’t believe that the IWTC is an incentive at all, let alone one that legitimates discrimination.

It’s a bit silly

The premise that the lure of additional income suffices as motivation is, well, exactly the same premise you use when you’re looking for a job. As a beneficiary, I was actively seeking work. As far as incentives go, the IWTC is a bit like extra fries.

Is it an incentive or a supplement?

If the income from work is not in itself an incentive, and needs to be topped up by the government to make it worth the effort, then that raises another question. If work isn’t enough on its own, then isn’t the IWTC functioning as a tool to ensure income adequacy? I hope not, because if it is, that means we’re discriminating against children whose income is already below an adequate level.

There’s a counter-incentive at work

If the primary justification for IRD rewarding families in paid work is that it creates an incentive then what is WINZ up to? If IRD is dangling this tantalising treat before your eyes, then WINZ must be hovering nearby like the waiter who clears your glass before you’ve finished your drink. When you’re on a benefit the more you work, the less your payments are. If extra financial reward for work is considered an incentive by IRD, then isn’t WINZ’s abatement scheme a deterrent? Time for a game of incentive-off. Let’s say you’re offered 20 hours a week of ongoing casual work. From a purely motivational point of view, you could take it, so IRD will reward you with fries and a few hours of tinny Split Enz on hold. But there’s a catch. You need to come off the benefit to receive the IWTC. That means that in the weeks you don’t get 20 hours of work (like when your kids are sick) there’s no help from IRD or WINZ support. The other option is just to have your work-free WINZ burger, saving you the scramble to find 20 hours of casual, subsidised childcare at short notice (which, by the way, you’re not eligible for until you’ve been guaranteed the work that you can’t commit to until you arrange the childcare).

There’s an assumption that you don’t want to work (or don’t work already)

One of the problems with the incentive-scenario above is that the main difference between those two weeks was the availability of work. The incentive (carrot/stick) rationale sits within the weary old narrative of “welfare dependency” that National has been doling out since the 1990s. It’s a tenacious story, perhaps because it so neatly packages complex, systemic factors into a simple cause and effect story, ie. lazy people need to get off the dole. It justifies sanctions and incentives to correct individual outcomes. There is no justification, or evidence, to support the assumption that every person receiving welfare support will continue to do so. Yet the incentive is applied across the board. The assumption was that I needed an incentive. I didn’t. I needed a job. In the meantime, my kids missed out, even though they were in no way responsible for a local shortage in permanent positions.

It’s simplistic

There are many complex, intersecting factors that contribute to a need for temporary or long-term income support – disability, childcare, transportation infrastructure, change in relationship status, local labour markets, mental health, addiction, early offending, geography, education, specialised careers. I had casual part-time work as a disability support worker with an awesome little girl who I had been supporting for four years. I was looking for permanent work but I’d just come off the Student Allowance, it was the summer school holidays (I have two kids with a shared care arrangement) and there wasn’t a single role related to my recent qualification for months.

The criteria for the incentive is hard to meet

Even if finding another part-time, flexible role had been possible, it would have been too much to risk coming off the benefit for casual work, which might fall below the 20-hour threshold.

All those extenuating factors that come into play when you’re a beneficiary with casual, part-time employment – which happens to be pretty much the only work you’ll be lucky enough to get while you are actively seeking permanent employment, or have children in your care – make it hard to continually meet that 20 hour per week target. Casual work is by its nature unreliable, and coming off the benefit leaves you without a safety net in the weeks that you can’t work 20 hours. It only took until March for me to find permanent part-time employment. I then had the choice of staying on the benefit, or moving off it to then qualify for the IWTC, which I did. It wasn’t an incentive – I already had the job – it was a bonus that came with a job that had regular hours.

It reinforces the nuclear family model

If I’d still been married, I would have received the IWTC, because between the two parents, we would have made it to the 30 hour threshold. Instead the kids’ dad received it, because he worked 20 hours, and I didn’t, because I couldn’t.

We don’t really know if it works

The “success” of the IWTC hasn’t been measured qualitatively, by any observed change in people’s willingness to take the work-bait, but instead quantitatively, by how many people left the benefit for paid work.

The argument is weak, the evidence is poor, and yet here we are, busily stocking the supply-end of the labour market while penalising the kids whose parents can’t find work right now. Our welfare should be based on justice, fairness, equality. It isn’t, as long as we have the discriminatory policy of the IWTC. We need to change this. It’s not the kids’ fault.

MIL OSI

Major campaign launched to beat unfair capital gains tax

Source: Taxpayers Union

Lower Taxes, Less Waste, More Transparency
Championing Value For Money From Every Tax Dollar
The Taxpayers’ Union is 100 per cent politically independent. We are not affiliated with any political party and will never become a political party.  We work with all parties, MPs or candidates that share our objectives.  We work with any and all political parties and other organisations to expose government waste and low-quality government spending.  Individual members have their own political involvements, but as an organisation the Taxpayers’ Union is vigorously independent in promoting the interests of New Zealand taxpayers. 

MIL OSI

The response to global hunger is tragically inadequate

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

The “Global Report on Food Crises”, released today by the Food Security Information Network, says that more than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced acute hunger and required urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in 2018.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam France’s Executive Director Cécile Duflot, said:

“We live in a world of plenty, yet one in nine people are hungry, more than 110 million women, men and children require urgent humanitarian assistance, and two global food price crises in a little over ten years pushed 44 million people into povertyThis is a human-made crisis caused by conflict, climate change, and a broken global food system.

Decades of bad policy making have led to the corporate takeover of our food and agricultural systems where ensuring a decent income for farmers or a sustainable food supply comes a poor second to securing shareholder returns.

 

At the same time, governments have failed to invest in, or provide development aid for, smallholder agriculture – even though smallholder farmers, many of which are women, play a critical role in feeding hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

 

“Governments in rich and poor countries alike have promised bold reforms, but delivered little. That must change. Governments and aid donors must do far more to support women by promoting gender equality in agriculture to unleash their huge potential to help end hunger. They also must invest primarily in small-holder agriculture, where growth has been proven to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than in any other sector.”

 

Notes:

  • Oxfam’s new report “Ten Years after the Global Food Crisis, Rural Women Still Bear the Brunt of Poverty and Hunger” analyses the reforms implemented since the food price crisis in 2007-2008, and highlights why they will not be enough to prevent another crisis or end hunger.
  • The 2019 “Global Report on Food Crises” forecasts that conflict and insecurity will remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2019, together with extreme climate events like Cyclone Idai and the drought in southern Africa, which will undermine the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in the region.
  • Women play a crucial role in agriculture, feeding hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Yet, they face systemic discrimination – for instance when it comes to the right to own land or access to credit. However, the 2019 food crises report highlights that women are more likely to be food-insecure than men in every region of the world, and that they are disproportionately affected by climate change, conflict and displacement. In several countries, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia, the situation of women worsened in 2018, and they are more affected by acute malnutrition than a year before.
  • The report also underlines the need for more and better data on how emergencies impact hunger and food insecurity of women. This could help to better understand the root causes of malnutrition, and to fight them effectively.
  • The price of food commodities rose by 83% between early 2007 and May 2008. A similar spike in food prices happened again between 2010 and 2011. These spikes were driven by a range of factors, including food price speculation, increased global demand for biofuels, decreasing food stocks, the diversion of food for livestock, and extreme weather events linked to climate change. Structural problems which also contributed to the spike in food prices include the liberalization of agricultural trade, the concentration of distribution and input supply in the hands of a few corporations, the marginalization of smallholder farmers, declining public investment in agriculture and decreasing development aid to small-holder agriculture.
  • Reforms and increased investment in agriculture pledged in the aftermath of the crisis have been inadequate. According to UN estimates, there is an investment gap in developing-country agriculture of USD 260 billion annually.
  • Oxfam analyzed project data for EU development aid to the agricultural sector and found that, contrary to what it promised, only 2-3 percent of EU funding promoted gender equality in agriculture.
  • In a 2008 report, the World Bank states that growth in small-scale agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing in hunger and poverty than growth in any other sector.

MIL OSI

New Child Poverty statistics will provide a sound baseline for reduction targets

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is pleased to see Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) has been able to produce some sound baselines against which the Government can measure its progress in reducing Child Poverty.  ​

As CPAG has noted previously, the 2018 Household Economic Survey (HES) data was too limited a sample, and had other problems which has meant the Ministry of Social Development has not had confidence in the reported Child Poverty figures for the past two years. The new data has been compiled from a combination of the Household Economic Survey (HES) and administrative data (Integrated Data Infrastructure – IDI).

While this overcomes some of the problems it still needs to be recognised that the data is likely to underestimate the problem.

“The data based on the Household Economic Survey only captures those households who have a fixed address,” [1] says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics spokesperson.

“The depth of the problem may be better understood if it incorporated more information about transient families who have been without a secure home.”

The first primary measure in the Child Poverty Reduction Act is the number of children living in households that have 50% of the equivalised median household income before housing costs (BHC). The new data show that 183,000 or 16.5% of all children live in households under this poverty line.

The second primary measure in the Act is the 50% After Housing Costs (AHC) fixed line measure which takes into consideration the huge impact housing costs have on low-income households. Using this measure, 254,000 children – nearly one-fifth of all children in Aotearoa – live in poverty.

Using the supplementary measures in the Act, 30% of all children lived in households that have less than 60% of the AHC equivalised median income, a total of 341,000 children. “Most worrying is that over half of these children – 174,000 – are living in very low-income situations, with household income falling below the 40% AHC line,” says St John.

The new statistics will provide the baseline for measuring changes over the next ten years that will test whether the Government’s Child Poverty Reduction targets are met. The targets include reducing the proportion of children in low income households (using the 50% BHC measure) from 16% of all children to 5%, reducing the number of children living with income under the 50% AHC measure from 23% to 10%, and those living in material hardship from 13% to 7%.

“The baseline poverty data does not include the impact of the Families Package implemented last year, as it is based on data collected from July 2017 to June 2018. The survey now in the field for 2018-19 will pick up some of the effects of increased spending on families and that will be reported on later this year. The full impact of the package won’t be clear until later in 2020,” says St John.  

“We urge the Government not to wait but to look more broadly at what the data is telling us now. Children living under the 40% AHC poverty line are likely to be living in families earning very low incomes from paid work or whose primary income is from a welfare benefit. These children are not helped nearly enough by the Families Package.”

CPAG reported on the impact of the Families Package and whether it would be sufficient to lift the worst-off children out of poverty in a 2018 paper.

“Because we know that the Families Package won’t lift the children under the 40% line up far enough, a broad range of other welfare changes is needed to help them, and we are looking to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group for their recommendations to improve these children’s lives,” says St John.

“We need an urgent response for these children and the opportunity to make their lives better is now.”

————————————————————–

[1]  The target population for the HES is New Zealand resident private households living in permanent dwellings. This means, for example, that those in institutions and those in non-permanent dwellings are not included. (https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/household-income-report/2018/2018-household-incomes-in-new-zealand-report.doc)

MIL OSI

Does Stars and Stripes pull-out mean taxpayers are saved from inflated Emirates Team NZ subsidy?

Source: Taxpayers Union

Does Stars and Stripes pull-out mean taxpayers are saved from inflated Emirates Team NZ subsidy?
2 APRIL 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Taxpayers’ Union is asking questions of Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Economic Development Minister David Parker prior to tomorrow’s deadlines under the Government’s agreements with Emirates Team New Zealand which could slash the $209 million of combined taxpayer and ratepayer money agreed to subsidise the team and event. “We understand the Hosting Fees Agreement and other funding arrangements depend on Emirates Team New Zealand having a minimum number of challengers” says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams. “A source tells us that Stars and Stripes Team USA has informed Emirates Team New Zealand that it will no longer be participating, which we understand has significant financial implications for tomorrow’s deadline under the agreements.” “We have tried to get answers from the Government prior to the liabilities to taxpayers’ crystallising tomorrow. Unusually, David Parker’s office won’t talk to us or even return our calls on this matter. It would be a moral outrage if Team New Zealand were to sneak through funding prior to Stars and Stripes Team USA’s decision becoming public.” “Mr Parker needs to front up and explain what is going on.” The Taxpayers’ Union will also be writing to the Minister to ensure that verification of the number of teams still participating is made by the Government and that taxpayers’ are not stuck with a bill bigger than it ought to be.

MIL OSI

Taxpayers’ Union launch major campaign to beat unfair capital gains tax proposal

Source: Taxpayers Union

2 APRIL 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union today formally launches a major campaign to fight the unfair capital gains tax, proposed by Dr Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group. The Union is encouraging New Zealanders to go to axethistax.nz and use the email tool to tell Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters how the tax will hit their family.Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says “The capital gains tax proposed by Dr Cullen and the Tax Working Group would be the least fair and most punitive in the world, and would apply to small businesses, farms, shares, and property. We are calling on the Government to Axe this Tax by rejecting the Working Group’s recommendations outright.”“Our role in this campaign is to make it easier for taxpayers to navigate the Wellington bureaucracy to ensure politicians hear from those who will be personally affected by the tax. That’s why as a first step of the campaign we’re providing taxpayers with a tool to tell Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters to reject the capital gains tax.” “This is also a public education campaign to increase awareness of the scope of the proposed tax. With the support of our thousands of donors, we have full page newspaper adverts running across the country and a major digital campaign launching today.” “While Dr Cullen is trying to convince the public that this is a tax on the wealthy, most New Zealanders will be hit by the tax at some point in their life. If you own your own home but have flatmates, live on a lifestyle block, have a small business, have a rental property for retirement, or have a KiwiSaver account, you will be targeted under Dr Cullen’s proposals.” More information on the Taxpayers’ Union’s campaign to Axe this Tax can be found at the campaign website www.axethistax.nz.

MIL OSI

Embargoed: Taxpayers’ Union launch major campaign to beat unfair capital gains tax proposal

Source: Taxpayers Union

EMBARGOED FOR 6:00 AM 2 APRIL 2019
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union today formally launches a major campaign to fight the unfair capital gains tax, proposed by Dr Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group. The Union is encouraging New Zealanders to go to axethistax.nz and use the email tool to tell Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters how the tax will hit their family.Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says “The capital gains tax proposed by Dr Cullen and the Tax Working Group would be the least fair and most punitive in the world, and would apply to small businesses, farms, shares, and property. We are calling on the Government to Axe this Tax by rejecting the Working Group’s recommendations outright.”“Our role in this campaign is to make it easier for taxpayers to navigate the Wellington bureaucracy to ensure politicians hear from those who will be personally affected by the tax. That’s why as a first step of the campaign we’re providing taxpayers with a tool to tell Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters to reject the capital gains tax.” “This is also a public education campaign to increase awareness of the scope of the proposed tax. With the support of our thousands of donors, we have full page newspaper adverts running across the country and a major digital campaign launching today.” “While Dr Cullen is trying to convince the public that this is a tax on the wealthy, most New Zealanders will be hit by the tax at some point in their life. If you own your own home but have flatmates, live on a lifestyle block, have a small business, have a rental property for retirement, or have a KiwiSaver account, you will be targeted under Dr Cullen’s proposals.” More information on the Taxpayers’ Union’s campaign to Axe this Tax can be found at the campaign website www.axethistax.nz.

MIL OSI