July 25, 2017 Print

Many voters do not know the cost of political parties’ promised spending policies. The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (NZTPU) is seeking to change that in the run-up to the New Zealand general election this September.

The NZTPU, an Atlas Network partner that represents the interests of hard-working taxpayers, created an innovative tool to track just how much current promises will cost across all political parties. The Bribe-O-Meter hopes to educate New Zealanders on how politicians plan to spend their tax dollars leading up to the 2017 general election.

According to Mac Mckenna, an economist with NZTPU, this is important because, “New Zealand is looking at large surpluses for years to come. … The center-left block of parties is now promising to spend these surpluses over the next political term, which is our very definition of a ‘bribe.’”

As of July 17, the Labour Party had promised $8.2 billion in new spending, or $4,742 per household. The new spending policies are $2.3 billion more than those declared by the Labour Party prior to the 2014 election, despite there still being two months left in the campaign. The most expensive election policy is the Labour Party’s “Families Package,” which includes an extra $3 billion over the next election cycle. By contrast, the National Party had committed $0.51 billion of taxpayer money on election promises — equivalent to $296 per household. During the 2014 election, the National Party pledged a total of $1.3 billion.

“It is unfair to expect each voter to estimate the affordability of a set of party policies,” Mckenna says. “We put together the Bribe-O-Meter to provide better information and transparency to voters.”

The tool is just one of the ways NZTPU advocates for responsible spending and taxation from politicians. Through campaigns including a Waste Watch and an anonymous tip line, NZTPU is scrutinizing government spending, publicizing government waste, educating New Zealanders against excessive and wasteful government spending, and giving taxpayers a voice in the corridors of power.