Union-backed astroturf: Tax Justice Aotearoa


The organisation behind the billboards is #taxjustice.nz. It was set up by two public servants. One is Louise Delany, a lecturer at the University of Otago in Wellington and a Project manager for MPI. She and Gerv Lawrie are spokespersons for the newly formed Tax Justice Network for Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the RNZ interview, Paul Barber tries very hard to dodge the question about who is funding the group. Paul is a Policy Adviser with the NZ Council of Christian Social Services. He was asked directly by the interviewer what the advertising budget was and he said he was “not aware of the budget” despite being a spokesperson for the group.

He talked instead about it being a community initiative where people donated their time and skills. The interviewer pointed out that donated time and skills don’t pay for billboards or ads in the paper. She also pointed out that even though he was a spokesperson for the group he didn’t know how it was being funded.

When pressed the only groups that he implied were helping them financially were the Public Health Association, his own organisation the NZ Council of Christian Social Services and the PSA union. He also referred in general to “other groups” that he did not name.

The Taxpayer’s union have pointed out that the Public Health Association is 84% taxpayer funded and that the PSA union represents the Government sector.

One of the key people from the Steering Committee named on the Tax Justice website is Mike Smith, who is a retired community, union and political organiser. His last job was the General Secretary of the Labour Party.

The following organisations are named on the website as “Campaign Partners”, but whether that means financial assistance or time and skills being donated, we have no way of knowing.

Paul Barber would not confirm in an upfront transparent way exactly which of the below groups are paying for the billboards and ads in the paper, so we can only make an educated guess based on which groups have the deepest pockets, who funds them and why they might want to support a government push for a Capital Gains Tax.

Of the nine groups listed, two are large unions. The rest are community groups with the exception of the taxpayer-funded Public Health Association.

This group is 84% funded by the taxpayer

United Community Action Network

Two organisations that have been mentioned as associated with the group that are not shown under the Campaign supporters heading are Community Aotearoa and UCAN (United Community Action Network).

None of the key people from the Tax Justice group appear to have any business experience. It is also possible that they are mainly (if not completely) bankrolled by two powerful unions with deep pockets and a taxpayer-funded organisation. quote.

A nationwide campaign pushing for a capital gains tax is being launched […] The campaign, […] is backed by advertising in major newspapers across the country, and on billboards and in bus shelters in Wellington.

[…] As well as a capital gains tax, the campaign calls for tax cuts for low to middle income-earners and hikes for the highest paid.

It also suggests reducing GST, pressuring multinationals to pay more tax in New Zealand and taking stronger tax action against polluters.

[…] An advertisement in today’s New Zealand Herald from the group said tax reform was good for the public good. end quote.

NewstalkZB


They know what’s best for us all. Fancy that. Their attitude reminds me of our current government. According to their charter, though, Tax Justice Aotearoa are an independent non-governmental organisation. quote.

[…] We represent a growing movement of people, groups, unions and
activists who want to see greater transparency, democratic oversight
and redistribution of wealth […] end quote.

Tax Justice Aotearoa Charter


Redistribution of wealth huh? If this group is not politically aligned to Marxist ideology I’ll eat my hat.

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