June 18, 2018 Print

Transparency is key to establishing trust between voters and elected officials. In 2014, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (NZTU), an Atlas Network partner that represents the interests of New Zealand taxpayers, launched the Bribe-O-Meter.

This tool increases transparency by tracking the costs of promises across New Zealand’s political parties. The Bribe-O-Meter was created for the 2014 election but has continued to receive updates for subsequent elections. Now, thanks to NZTU’s initiative, the government plans to establish a new independent institution that would provide the public with assessments of the costs of party policies and government spending.

“From our perspective this win shows the advantage of striving to be nonpartisan in achieving our mission of ‘Lower Taxes, Less Waste, More Transparency,’” said Jordan Williams, executive director of NZTU. “While a centre-left government is unlikely to back the first two, it is rewarding to get this win for our third principle, thanks to the left-wing Green Party.”

Following the 2017 election, the Labour Party, New Zealand First Party, and the Green Party established a governing coalition. The cost-monitoring institution, originally a Green Party proposal, will be an independent financial institution (IFI). New Zealand is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Currently, 26 of the 35 OECD countries have IFIs, so the establishment of an IFI in New Zealand is not without precedent.

Furthering government transparency is only one of the ways that NZTU advocates for responsible political spending and taxation. Through other campaigns including Waste Watch, the Ratepayers’ Report, and an anonymous tip line, NZTU is giving New Zealand taxpayers the tools and information they
need to bolster their political voice.