Taxpayers Union – concentrating on the banal and ignoring the big issues

Written By: - Date published: 1:56 pm, March 3rd, 2014 - 44 comments
Categories: greens, Media - Tags: , , ,

The Taxpayer’s Union is one of the first astroturfing organisations we have seen in Aotearoa. Nominally independent it has as its members the Government’s chief blogger, and is based in the law firm of Franks & Ogilvie whose partners include former ACT and National candidate Stephen Franks as well as Jordan Williams who has close links with National and in particular Simon Lusk.

The choice of the word “Union” in the title is no doubt an in joke.  I can confidently say that the movers and shakers behind this particular entity have no sympathy for the trade union movement.

The objects of the society include the giving of taxpayers a voice in the corridors of power, to educate New Zealand against excessive and wasteful spending, to scrutinise Government spending and to publicise Government waste, among other objectives.  Membership is limited to those persons who the board of the society approves and it would be interesting to see who has applied and if they were approved.

Recent campaigns have been run to get Len Brown pay for the investigation into his use of Council resources even though he neither authorised the investigation nor consented to it, the failure to seek repayment of $100,000 set aside for a yacht race that did not occur, and health and safety training paid for by ACC.  The latest to be criticised is Green MP Mojo Mathers for, well, travelling to do her job.

The attacks by the TU appear to be scattered and concentrate on targets that are not to do with the Government.  The one reported criticism of the Government that I can find was met with demands for a correction by Jordan Williams.  Obviously he was deeply concerned at the the impression that he had criticised Lockwood Smith.

But as pointed out by Danyl McLaughlan the TU are missing some rather big targets that should be subject to intense scrutiny.  Danyl has listed the following examples:

  • “The National government paying Paula Rebstock $290,000 for her failed inquiry
  • Gerry Brownlee spending $1500 to lease an SUV while watching the America’s Cup race in San Francisco.
  • Tim Groser and a private secretary spending over $8500 to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington for a week, during a month in which Groser spent $18,200.
  • John Key, DPS bodyguards and staffers flying down to Queenstown for the New Zealand golf open, at an as-yet unknown cost.”

Of course there are thousands of other examples that can be added, for instance the millions that have been spent on selling our assets at what looks more and more likely to be too cheaply.

The recent attack on Mojo Mathers is bizarre.  Mojo impresses me as being a highly dedicated MP who despite the difficulties caused by her hearing impediment gives the job everything she has.  She travelled last week to Masterton to be interviewed for a local station on disability issues.  She had to attend personally so that she could lip read, and, get this Williams, she was not able to conduct the interview on the phone.

In what looks like a leaked attack the Sunday Herald exposed details of the trip complete with a comment from Williams.  To quote from the article:

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.”

You have to wonder how the Herald discovered that the trip had been made.  I should attribute this concern to Pete George who has raised this issue on his blog.  He is right to say that how an Auckland paper learned about a Christchurch MP travelling to Masterton is suspicious.

On Facebook Williams has confirmed that the TU was tipped off about the trip, and that he was questioned about it by the Herald by phone.  No press release was prepared.  He also criticised the environmental damage caused by the trip!  When in a hole Jordan it is best that you stop digging.

44 comments on “Taxpayers Union – concentrating on the banal and ignoring the big issues”

  1. fambo 1

    If the name is the “Taxpayers Union” shouldn’t everyone who pays taxes be entitled to join? I’d love to see someone legally challenge the organisation on the basis that their membership application was rejected despite them being a taxpayer.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Hehe

      We could flood them with applications and express concern if the applications were not handled properly!

      • Well – you could. But more likely they’d just take your $5, because the members don’t matter. Over on Dimpost, Izogi made the following comment:

        “It’s more interesting to read the society’s rules, though.

        The Incorporated Society Act says that it has to have rules for becoming members — furthermore you can read its rules from the incorporation document, which say “membership” is open to any NZ citizen or permanent resident (rule 4.1). In rule 6, though, it defines the initial Board of Directors as three specific people (David Farrar, Jordan Williams and Gabrielle O’Brien), states that up to 15 board members can remain on the board until their 3 year term expires, and they become eligible for reappointment. The only way someone can get onto the Board is if the existing Board appoints them. Then they can’t be forcefully removed until their term expires, or if they miss too many meetings.

        And AGMs and SGMs which involve all those people who faithfully paid $5? Well, they’re to discuss… (rule 9.2)… “any business the board puts before it”. So members get to vote at an AGM or SGM — they just have no say in what to actually vote about. Nice for a company or a lobby group or most political parties. Hardly typical of a union or a society in my own [limited] experience.

        Changing the rules of the society? Requires two thirds of the board majority.

        So yes. It’s basically 3 people and their friends with total control between them, pretending to represent members with everything they say and do yet giving those members zero actual influence into the operation of the society, including an ability to choose their own representatives. More like a fan club than anything else.”

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          More like a fan club than anything else.

          No, more like another passive income stream for the board of directors.

        • mickysavage 1.1.1.2

          Thanks Andrew. So a self perpetuation elite supported by others with no say in what is happening. Sounds familiar!

        • Anne 1.1.1.3

          So yes. It’s basically 3 people and their friends with total control between them, pretending to represent members with everything they say and do…

          What is so tragic is that the MSM give them the time of the day.

          A few decades ago such bogus outfits would soon be exposed and their operators sent packing usually with a blood nose. But of course those were the days when the main stream media (which was all the media) had at least a modicum of integrity and fairness about them.

    • sweetd 1.2

      Fambo, the “taxpayers union’ is the name, not a summary of their terms and conditions, much in the same way as Labour is just a name and in no way concerned with working people.

      • Enough is Enough 1.2.1

        Nice analogy – very accurate

      • Molly 1.2.2

        You are right that it is just a name, but somehow it is used to give them credence in media reporting.

        “Blokes Talking About A Load of Bollocks” is also a name, but I doubt that they would be given the same supposed legitimacy if they had chosen it.

    • fender 1.3

      Can’t see them rejecting your membership fee or a government grant, just don’t expect them to investigate any Nact spending of taxpayers money.

    • and if they are called ‘the taxpayers’ union’..

      ..and claim to be working in the interests of the long-suffering taxpayer..

      ..with the aim of lessening the tax-burden of/on those long-suffering taxpayers..

      ..(such lofty-stated-aspirations..eh..?..all total bullshit..we all know..but never mind..i’ll play along..)

      ..so..if we accept all the above as being true..

      ..why is this taxpayers union not focusing on the $5 billion in criminally-avoided taxes each and every year..by..in the main..the richest/elites/corporates..rightwingers all..

      ..i would like to see mr williams asked that question..

      ..why he is focusing on such chump-change bullshit…and ignoring that $5 billion dollar elephant..in this ‘taxpayers’ union’ room..?

      (and as an aside..they must think we are all really fucken dumb as a sack of doorknobs..eh..?

      ..setting up a rightwing attack-machine..(with the anti-mmp pimp fronting it..and black-heart farrar lurking in the background/whispering instructions..)

      ..and claiming some sort of non-partisan status..?

      ..laughable–really..)

      phillip ure..

  2. fender 2

    Why aren’t these dorks honest enough to name their lobby group: “Only Right-Wingers Are Allowed To Spend Taxpayers Money Union”

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Taxpayers Union upset over Mojo story

    But after being contacted by 3 News following backlash on social media where the union have been likened to the National Front and American right-wing Tea Party, Mr Williams says his comments have been reported in a poor light.

    The poor dear. /sarc

    Considering his comments he obviously got reported in exactly the right light.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      On the one hand it’s good to hear Jordan whining at being correctly characterised on Facebook, on the other hand why is anything he says newsworthy? If his owners need to say something they should say it themselves.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        But then they wouldn’t be able to maintain the needed anonymity that allows Jordan to claim independence.

  4. Tracey 4

    with all that money and pr and legal advice, he… misspoke????? mr williams group, i assumed was an armslength dirt whisperer for ACT?

  5. Hayden 5

    “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.”

    Well, that’s a bit stupid, it’s not as if she was flying the plane (and I come up with lots of brilliant ideas while driving, most of which I forget immediately).

  6. Lanthanide 6

    The really sad thing, for the TU, not for us, is that when Labour are next in government, the TU will be all over up-and-down criticizing them for their spending.

    Except that their track record so far shows that they have not attacked this government over their spending, of which there clearly is some questionable.

    That means it will be very easy to label them as a partisan hack front, rather than any truly independent group, and they can simply be ignored.

    Pretty poor execution on their part.

  7. rhinocrates 7

    Let’s not forget Farrar’s involvement in this group, or that they specifically targeted a disabled person thinking that she’d be an easy target to marginalise. Despicable, bigoted, cowardly.

    • Anne 7.1

      Last week the target was Pete Hodgson who was in Papua New Guinea at the time the story on him broke so he didn’t get a chance to clear it up quickly. I think that’s what happened. Here’s Farrar’s take on the story….

      http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/02/editorials_on_gentlemens_agreement.html

      Hodgson was interviewed late last week by RNZ and cleared the matter up. It seems the Dunedin Council staff member(s) charged with the task of putting the OIA together stuffed up big time. Hodgson had copies of the appropriate documentation and faxed them to RNZ. Everything was in order and above board! STORY SANK.

      Any apology for Pete Hodgson? I doubt it.

      This week it’s Mojo Mathers.

      Who is it next week?

      It’s another filthy campaign by Nact to create an impression the Opposition Parties can’t be trusted, are dishonest and fraudsters. There’s a special expression for a person/people who transfer their own dishonesty and fraudulent/unlawful activity on to the shoulders of their victims. Can’t remember it offhand.

    • geoff 7.2

      And stupid!

      • rhinocrates 7.2.1

        And Farrar has set his dogs on children in the past to intimidate their mother. The scum.

        • geoff 7.2.1.1

          Argh, what a creep.

          • rhinocrates 7.2.1.1.1

            She later attempted suicide. He’d have had her blood on his hands if she’d succeeded. Thankfully she’s still alive, but she’s permanently scarred. Farrar or course just got another Nat paycheque and has probably forgotten it.

            That’s “formenting merry mischief” as he calls it.

    • Murray Olsen 7.3

      As far as I’m concerned, Farrar comes across as filthier and more despicable than WhaleSpew. In the days of empire, Farrar would have been the soft handed perfumed toff who signed warrants for the torture of colonials by the likes of Slater. Both were necessary for their filthy project, but the Farrars were closer to the real power.

  8. shorts 8

    There was a table of the number of press releases the Union had issued and on what (sorry can’t find it now)… the most releases were to do with Len Brown (11), nothing else garnered over 2 releases and if memory serves there were approx 22 in total – suggesting they are more a rate payers union, and Auckland one at that (representing no one)

    Still I sleep safe that expenditure of $500 approx is not too small for them to take a interest in…

  9. i imagine williams lurking around lab/grn offices..

    ..counting/re-counting pencils/checking waste-paper bins..

    ..re-bending paper-clips..

    ..ever vigilant..!

    ..phillip ure..

  10. TightyRighty 10

    did you pen the headline of this article Mickey? delicious irony

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      Here are the headlines from Mickey’s 4 most recent posts beside this one:
      The retirement age debate.
      National misleads on child poverty.
      The Genesis share float has problems.
      Labour’s new parliamentary chief of staff.

      If anyone is focussing on the banal, it’s you.

  11. karol 11

    Maybe we could start an Association of Creators of Wealth (AoCOW).

    The objective would be monitor what corporates do with the wealth produced by workers.

  12. captain hook 12

    Its worse than mean spirited. Its totally unconscionable and typical of the banal level of New Zealands poltical debate.
    The country is run by C grade students and poltroons and the thecommentariat and self apponted blatherers are on the same level.
    This sort of attack is infantile and needs to be condemmed by all parties immediately.

  13. RedBaronCV 13

    Maybe we need a new body called the taxpayers & ratepayers union, with similar rules that offers opposing comment. Should muddy the waters nicely.

  14. RedBaronCV 14

    That man has missed his best career option as a nit picking auditor.

  15. red blooded 15

    Of course, part of the irony is that these right wing ideologues don’t want to pay tax. Maybe we should set up an alternative group called Taxpayers United. Wonder if the media would ask for a rep to appear on The Nation and pontificate on behalf of those of us who believe in a progressive tax system to support societal structures that offer opportunities to all? Nah – probably not.

  16. Rob 16

    They are just a joke but unfortunately the MSM give them space and therefore enable them a degree of credibility
    Credibility is something Farrar Williams et al are not really entrusted with.

  17. Tigger 17

    Come on MSM, it’s time to do an in depth piece on this ‘union’ and ensure everyone knows what they really are – a far right shill.

  18. rhinocrates 18

    As I’ve suggested above, those arsewipes like Farrar, Slater and Hooton jerk themselves off imagining that they’re “players” in some exciting game, but they have real victims: ordinary people whose lives they casually ruin with every ejaculation.

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    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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