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Those who I mix with in the academic world know much about the biased appointments that have been made to civil service positions related to the execution of economic policy in NZ. Those appointments have been biased in terms of choosing a particular type of person who has a strong political leaning that favors the ideology of Labour. These last five years have seen an overt filling-of-positions-based-on-ideology, not competency, on a scale not witnessed before in the history of this country.

Folks like me and several of my colleagues have given up applying for any prominent public service position, since we've been rejected out-of-hand in the past and know we wouldn't ever get one in a billion years, regardless of qualifications and experience.

Funnily enough, I was just speaking to a Kiwi who is a former Governor of a Central Bank, with vast experience at the IMF and globally - he was rejected when enquiring about being a member of the Reserve Bank of NZ's Monetary Policy Committee, even though he's in a different league from the existing members of the MPC. The views he expressed on Central Banking made the reason obvious to me - he's not an ideological fit for Labour.

We all know the game. It's an open secret. The more politically loyal you are to Labour's partisan cause the better - that will help you pull off a top civil service job. Once you get it, lie low, shut up with public commentary & start pretending you're politically neutral and unbiased in the execution of your duties, even though you're not.

For State Services & the PM to pretend top civil servants have been selected in a non-partisan way as part of a genuine search to find the best person for the job, regardless of other considerations, and have been faithfully executing that job without fear nor favor to any political party, beggars belief to me in terms of appointments related to economics.

The government's position that has emerged these past days has become ludicrous. What is it? It doesn't matter how much you were chosen based on past political affiliation and how much you've been bending things Labour's way these past five years, just don't tweet it, put it on Linked In, Facebook, Blog it, or write about it in the news. Hide it.

Wasting taxpayers money on consulting fees has featured in National Party Leader Luxon's "State of the Nation" speech. He's got a point. There is an example out today. It relates to the Herald's front page headline saying, "Government Commissioned Survey Suggests Replacing Fuel Tax With Wealth Tax and People Love It".

It turns out that this survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and carried out by University of Auckland researchers. It gives no indication as to what Kiwis "love", since it was not based on a random sample. Aside from that issue, what takes me aback is the wording of the survey "statement" that gave rise to the Herald headline.

When asked about various funding options, the survey asked whether or not participants agreed with the following:

"Introduce a wealth tax, to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share & fund public / active transport".

Over 60% said yes, hence the Herald story. It would be hard to come up with a line that revealed more contempt for wealthy & successful people. Psychologists have proved that when you "prime" people with questions built around ugly biases in wording, then respondents are led down a path to give the answer they think you want to hear. The bias renders the responses meaningless.

In the present case, once one designs a survey statement whose wording refers to an unpleasant group of people living in our country called the "ultra rich", preying off the poor by not paying their "fair share", then the response of survey participants is pre-determined.

Why is the Ministry of Transport wasting tax payers money to hear answers that have been fixed? By the way, the vast majority of taxes in this country are paid by upper income folks. They are the ones funding our existing transport, education and health systems.

Families with children earning average & below average incomes pay little income taxes due to the "Working for Families" tax-credit scheme. Should they be asked to pay their fair share since they use the roads as much as anyone?


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Robert MacCulloch

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