Taxpayers Union receives funding from British American Tobacco

Written By: - Date published: 7:36 am, January 25th, 2019 - 39 comments
Categories: accountability, drugs, Media, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

I don’t know what it is about the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union) but they really annoy.

Perhaps it is the use of the word “Union”. You can imagine Jordan Williams, David Farrar and various other doyens of the right sitting around a table having a few beers and talking about what they could do to really annoy the left. Like pretend to be a Union.

Perhaps it is the intimate relationship between the union and Dirty Politics operatives. Who can ever forget Jordan’s frankly misogynist statements in private messages that he clearly thought would never see the light of day.

Perhaps it is because it is clear to us that the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union)is there to push neoliberal right wing ideas, basically government is bad and private enterprise is more efficient and that it seems that any chance they have to ridicule a collective they do so.

But, at least for me, the most annoying thing about them is their pretension. That they are there to represent our (taxpayer’s) interests and to make sure that the powerful do not inappropriately use too many resources.

And their lack of transparency has always been disturbing. They manage, thanks to obviously large resources, to maintain a rather significant office and a large media presence that left wing organisations would die for.

And so the truth has emerged. It appears that the Taxpayers Union (*not a real union) is nothing more than a sock puppet for industry interests, and some of the worst industry interests like British American Tobacco.

From Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom:

A right-wing lobbying group which has railed against cigarette tax increases and plain packaging laws in New Zealand counts a tobacco giant among its corporate funders.

The NZ Taxpayers’ Union has not disclosed its financial support from tobacco companies in its reports or press releases, with one public health academic calling on it to be more transparent about its donors.

The Guardian identified the relationship between the Taxpayers’ Union and British American Tobacco as part of its series on “the huge damage of the tobacco epidemic … and the industry behind it”.

In an investigation into the ties between “free-market thinktanks” and the tobacco industry, the Taxpayers’ Union was identified as being supported by multinational firm British American Tobacco.

A British American Tobacco spokesman told Newsroom the company had been financially supporting the Taxpayers’ Union for three years, paying “a standard annual corporate membership fee”.

“We, like many other companies, support like-minded organisations on issues that are important to us and our consumers,” the spokesman said.

The company did not disclose the size of the fee it paid.

Perhaps in the interests of transparency the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union) should disclose how much it received from BAT. And who its other funders are.

The funny thing is the strong relationship between BAT and the National Party. Chris Bishop served his apprenticeship at BAT before entering Parliament. Todd Barclay (remember him?) did the same. What is the link between wanting to work for a corporate dedicated to selling a product that causes misery and shortens peoples’ life expectancy and wanting to represent a party whose ethos, blind support of the free market, comes up with a not dissimilar result?

And it is pretty chilling that the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union), which has major claims to occupation of the moral high ground, should apparently be working as a glove puppet for an international organisation dedicated to the selling of cancer sticks, and not the proper representation of us taxpayers.

And if you need proof have a look at this:

And the report itself reads like the typical high quality PR spin report that takes significant resources to produce.

So here is some free advice to the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union) if they wish to rescue what is left of their reputation.

  • Stop occupying the moral high ground.
  • Stop calling yourself a union.
  • And tell us who you are really funded by.

Until this happens they should be ignored.

39 comments on “Taxpayers Union receives funding from British American Tobacco”

  1. Nick 1

    Assholes Union.

    • soddenleaf 1.1

      Psuedo Libertarians, they claim a love of freedom, yet their corporate backers money tells us the truth about their framing. Taxing the wealthy would mean most will have to pay less, which would in turn shrink the wealth gap and stop the whinging about how the wealthy pay the lion share of tax, since as most become wealthier we would inevitablyhave more taxable items. Contrary, lowering taxes on the wealthy makes them richer and so burdens them with a greater share of govt taxation. Any tax union would want greater taxes on wealth

  2. Hooch 2

    It’s worth noting a similar outfit in the UK. The taxpayers alliance. Basically the same formula just formed earlier. Hardly surprising some bright spark suggested doing it here given the links with the Tory’s/national/Crosby textor etc.

    • soddenleaf 2.1

      Conservists who dant stomach democracy to cheat and rig pirot victories, since weaken democracy and capitalism is the result.

  3. One Two 3

    Nothing unusual about conflicts of interest…not a surprise…

    The World Bank guy, whose now the RBNZ Govenor…

    +/- 100% of MPs along with other public and private industry ‘professionals’, will be conflicted…

    Name the sector…

    Revolving doors…

  4. greywarshark 4

    No-Tax-Payers Union. There FIFY.
    They’re BATty.

  5. Gosman 5

    And the problem with this is what exactly? If you think Tobacco companies should not be allowed to give money to other gorups in society then pass a law. Until such time they aren’t doing anything wrong and it also doesn’t mean the Taxpayer Union is somehow invalid because it gets money from them. It gets money from all sorts of sources. It would be like claiming the Labour party is tainted with it’s association with Trade Unions.

    • Robert Guyton 5.1

      Trade Unions are “selling a product that causes misery and shortens peoples’ life expectancy “??
      I didn’t know that!!

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        Some people could argue they cause long term misery 😉

        However it is irrelevant. Tobacco companies are a legitimate business. The vast majority of people are well aware of the negative health implications of Tobacco smoking and they don’t seem to want to dispute these facts anymore. Unless you want them to not be able to fund stuff then what they are doing is completely okay.

        • Nic the NZer 5.1.1.1

          “Some people could argue they cause long term misery ”

          But in making such an argument they would say more about themselves than about any Union.

          “Unless you want them to not be able to fund stuff then what they are doing is completely okay.”

          All business agree to a corporate charter when they incorporate. This can and in many cases does and should place limitations on what the company may do.

    • Robert Guyton 5.2

      ” it also doesn’t mean the Taxpayer Union is somehow invalid because it gets money from them”
      I’d say, I does

      • Gosman 5.2.1

        But that is because YOU are left wing and YOU most likely thought they were invalid even BEFORE this information came out.

    • Adrian Thornton 5.3

      Yes Gosman of course you don’t see a problem, and why would you?
      As you have quite forcefully, clearly and proudly made a point of showing to everyone who will read you on this site (your 70+ comments on Venezuela yesterday will stand testament to this!) that you have absolutely no moral compass whatsoever and make no bones about it, and good on you for not apologizing for that, and standing steadfastly by your twisted regressive ideology.
      But so now that we all know this in no uncertain terms, I guess that’s the end of the story… I can’t see what else you could possibly add….unless you are quite happy to just keep on saying the same old shit over and over and over and over….

      • Gosman 5.3.1

        A number of left leaning people backed me on the Venezuelan issue. In fact one left leaning person commented they were disturbed by the hard left opposition to my views were making my opinions seem logical and rational. 🙂

        • Siobhan 5.3.1.1

          People who ‘lean Left’ are slouchers and layabouts. Either that, or they are, infact, Centrists, so their support is hardly a surprise.

  6. Tricledrown 6

    Drug Dealer’s Tobacco an addictive Drug that kills 5,000 New Zealanders a year every year! cost’s the economy $6 billion a year every year! in lost productivity. Kills 10 times more people than alcohol a 100 times more than all illicit Drugs combined, I thought Tobacco companies were banned from all sponsorship. The taxpayers Union ie ACT propaganda dept should be prosecuted. Or Jordan Williams made to smoke sponsors product continuously until they stop taking funding. If this was an illegal Drug Williams would be doing serious time for corruption in accepting bribes from a Drug dealing gang.

  7. Sanctuary 7

    Pretty sad that it took a report in a foreign newspaper to reveal something that should have been low hanging fruit for any half curious reporter here, given the high profile of the taxpayer onion.

    • Bearded Git 7.1

      my thoughts exactly Sanc….where are the journalists in this country?..(actually I’m in Nicaragua at the moment…but you get the drift).

      p.s. deviation here ….walked around the lovely peaceful main plaza in Leon Nicaragua at sunset today and not an extranjero in sight…2 years ago you couldnt move for gringos….Trump and other governments have stuffed this lovely country with their stupid “travel advisories”

  8. NZJester 8

    I have always said it is not the fact they call themselves a union that is the biggest lie in their name but the part of the name that says “Taxpayers”
    They are not a union of taxpayers, they are a Union of Taxdodgers.

    • Gosman 8.1

      Why is it a lie? Just because you think it is a lie doesn’t make it one.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        He explained his position and he’s right.

        • In Vino 8.1.1.1

          Gosman, if you really need it spelt out, they earn huge amounts of money, but hide most of it away from personal income, and avoid paying the same proportion of their income as tax in the way we normal salaried people have to. They are legalised tax-cheats, and we normal salaried people are probably not the only ones sick and tired of a corrupt system that you so often defend with obfuscatory, diversionary and disputatious questions. OK?

    • Bearded Git 8.2

      ha ha +1 million

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Perhaps in the interests of transparency the Taxpayer’s Union (*not a real union) should disclose how much it received from BAT. And who its other funders are.

    IMO, every single political organisation should operate under the same rules about funding as political parties. They may not be running for office but they’re trying to influence the populace and so the populace needs to know who they represent.

    • Wensleydale 9.1

      Come on, Draco. How can you be expected to play dirty, disingenuous, double-dealing games with the lives of the populace you ostensibly represent if some annoying pleb keeps insisting you do so with a great big spotlight being shone on your iniquitous activities? If people knew everything there was to know about the inner workings of the Taxpayer’s Onion, Jordan Williams and friends would likely be driven into the sea by an angry mob waving pitchforks and torches. What fucks me off is the media’s insistence on shoving a microphone under the nose of Williams whenever someone’s caught being a little too free and easy with the public purse. I know they’re lazy and the Taxpayer’s Onion is a convenient port of call when you’re desperately craving some faux righteous indignation, but for fuck’s sake… a little variety would be nice.

  10. Brutus Iscariot 10

    Weird article. The Taxpayers Union are not a political party, they’re a lobby group with a well known political slant.

    The notion of “transparency” is pretty much irrelevant.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      No, transparency isn’t irrelevant. It’s essential in a democracy so that people can make informed decisions.

      And, yes, that means being able to make informed decisions about a political lobby group.

    • arkie 10.2

      The landing page of the Taxpayers Union:
      LOWER TAXES
      LESS WASTE
      MORE TRANSPARENCY

      …so more transparency just not about who pays them to lobby.

      https://www.taxpayers.org.nz/

  11. Kevin 11

    So this ‘Taxpayers Union’ is nothing more than foreign corporation ‘Front’ organisations. It is BRT & ACT/Libertarianz in a new guise. Remember before ACT recast itself as a political party it was the ‘Association Of Consumers & Taxpayers’ which too similarly was occupying the same ground/role as ‘TU’ today. I imagine we’llsee after Seymour disappears & ACT folds TU will recast itself as a political party with ‘new ideas’ but actually pushing more of the same old trickle down neoliberal/neo con shit.

  12. The Taxpayers Onion.

    Whose mission statement , supporters and leader are as shonky as this…

    Benny Hill – Hospital Hi-Jinx w/Closing Chase (1986) – YouTube

  13. Richard McGrath 13

    Er, it is a union, as per the following definition: “a society or association formed by people with a common interest or purpose.” For instance a trade union or credit union.

    • McFlock 13.1

      A definition so useful it includes marriage. But it is not a taxpayer’s “marriage”, nor is it a taxpayers’ “union” in a more precise sense.

      • Gosman 13.1.1

        Why do you think that is more precise? I don’t see the NZRFU on that list. Does that mean it isn’t a Union either?

        • McFlock 13.1.1.1

          In the imprecise sense, they are.

          The register drops 200,000-odd married couples from the previous definition, sadly also drops one or two sports unions and maybe credit unions.

          So it’s still more precise, even if we all pretended that’s why the fuckers chose the name, that they wanted to be viewed as a sporting code.

        • te reo putake 13.1.1.2

          Er, the fact that the NZRFU doesn’t exist anymore means it’s not a union. However, I think the current entity, which trades as NZ Rugby, may still have union in its name somewhere. However, if it does, that is likely to be a reference to the game (Rugby Union) rather than its actual governance structure.

          I guess the point of taking the piss out of the taxpayer’s onion is that they are likely to have chosen that name as an in joke at real unions’ expense. They’re not a union in any real sense; just a paid PR front for big business. They’re no more a union than Steve Jobs’ company Apple was a fruit shop.

          • Gosman 13.1.1.2.1

            Ummm… The NZRFU DOES exist. The organisation is a affiliationbof it’s member Union’s (e.g Wellington RFU). Just because it has rebranded does not mean it is different. Also where are the individualbprocincial Unions on that list?

            You may well be correct about the reason for them to select the term but then you have fallen in to their trap. Trade Unions do not hold a patent on the use of the word Union and to get upset about others using it displays a large degree of preciousness and arrogance.

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