NEW ZEALAND: Two Victories for Taxpayers: TVNZ/RadioNZ (RNZ) merger scrapped and the New Job Tax Postponed
18 March 2023 | New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union / New Zealand
Recently, New Zealand’s government was forced to drop its expensive plans to merge TVNZ and RNZ on which it planned to spend $3 million on rebranding alone.
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has been at the forefront of the campaign against the merger. Far from creating a more diverse media landscape, the merger would have served to concentrate power, and erode diversity and trust in media sources.
Taxpayers’ Union’ former Chairman and a former TVNZ board member, Barrie Saunders was among the first to ask the fundamental question about what problem the proposed merger intended to solve, and point out the disgraceful process in which this reform was hatched.
While one Taxpayers’ Union Board Member and former TVNZ presenter, Peter Williams, called out the merger for being a waste of money, saying: “The question I’ve had right from the time of the idea of merging TVNZ and Radio NZ was first mooted is ‘just what problem are you trying to fix?’ Is there not a better use of $370 million?”
Now TVNZ and RNZ can get back to the day job of good public service broadcasting. That means a rejection of polarization and striving to serve a wider audience rather than creating a safe space for the intellectual or metropolitan elite.
Jobs tax put on ice
Another taxpayer victory was the decision to scrap plans to introduce an unemployment insurance scheme during this parliamentary term. This proposed jobs tax would have cost the median worker more than $800 a year at a time when people are already struggling with the cost of living.
But it isn’t just the wrong time to bring in the policy. It’s the wrong policy too. Paying 80% of someone’s salary not to work for six months would have created terrible incentives for people to stay unemployed for longer, been open to abuse (by making redundancy more attractive than resigning), and would have failed to address skill shortages for sectors that are struggling to find employees. The Taxpayers’ Union pointed out that this policy shouldn’t just be delayed but it should be scraped.
While Chris Hipkins is undoubtedly getting rid of unpopular policies to boost Labour’s re-election prospects, the work of the Taxpayers’ Union – supported by hardworking Kiwis – has been vital to ensure that voters are aware of just how bad Jacinda Ardern’s policies were.