Waging War on Waste
“Our business model is a bit different than the traditional think tank. We like to think of ourselves as the battle tank,” quipped Jordan Williams, CEO and co-founder of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
Jordan’s team advocates for better use of taxpayer dollars through reducing government spending and bloat, a mission that has a broad base of support among New Zealanders. One in 18 adults in the island country currently subscribe to the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union email list, where they’re equipped with the tools to lower taxes, reduce waste, and increase accountability in government.
Plan of Attack
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union engages directly with their nation’s taxpayers to build public support for lasting change. Their arsenal includes petitions, publicity stunts poking fun at government waste, and events hosted across the country.
“We want to be backed with good ideas and ensure that our research is very solid, but we will do just about anything to convince mom and pop at home of this radical idea that you and they spend their money better than town hall or Parliament in Wellington,” Jordan said.
If that requires a New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union staffer climbing into a giant pig costume, so be it. The organization’s mascot, Porky the Waste-hater, is known for handing out annual awards recognizing the worst in government waste.
“We do it because it garners attention to the underlying message. What’s unique about the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is that we are willing to laugh at ourselves,” Jordan added.
Currently serving as President of the World Taxpayers Associations, Jordan has even helped taxpayer groups in other countries adopt Porky the Waste-hater as their own.
Coupled with in-depth research, the organization also gathers intel through their Tip Line, which allows individuals to anonymously report cases of government overreach or excessive taxation. These tips enable the Taxpayers’ Union to be at the forefront of the tax, spending, and government accountability problems facing New Zealanders.
Fuel for the Fight
The size and cost of government has grown in New Zealand in recent years, consuming nearly a third of the income the people produce annually. The inflation that has followed has made life in an already-expensive country even more costly.
“We’re battling inflation for the same reason the freedom movement battled it in the 70s and 80s. It disproportionately hurts those on fixed incomes and those that can least afford it,” Jordan said.
But an opportunity has recently emerged for Jordan’s team that can help their battle tank lead the charge towards reduced inflation and increased freedom. Forthcoming elections stand to change the balance of power in the country and open the door to more pro-taxpayer policies.
“We’ve literally got draft legislation ready to go, but also the campaigns that support it. We’re taking the public with us so the politicians will inevitably join,” Jordan said.
His pitch to organize taxpayers for this opportunity earned the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union a place as one of Atlas Network’s 2023 Smart Bets partners, a class of high-achieving organizations who receive additional grants, training, and mentorships to help their team carry out ambitious plans to advance liberty in their countries.
“I can hand on heart say we would not be where we are today had it not been for the incredible professional development and mentoring opportunities that Atlas Network has provided. What Smart Bets has done is just take us up to that next level,” Jordan said.
“We're hungrier, we’re doing a better job, and ultimately we’re providing more value to our members and supporters to wave the flag of liberty and achieve policy victories.”
Fortifications for the Future
While the New Zealand Taxpayers Union has built a strong network of supporters, Jordan says their mission for a more prosperous New Zealand is far from finished.
“New Zealand’s best and brightest are currently leaving for Australia, because you can often earn a third more,” Jordan said.
“The country has so much to offer. We don’t need to compromise and be poor. What gets me up in the morning is [the thought of] a New Zealand where we have a first world economy, where we’re not loading our children with mountains of debt, and where we return New Zealand to being one of the most prosperous countries in the world.”