Covid-19 New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union to return $60,000 from wage subsidy

CHRIS McKEEN/STUFF
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces Flexi wage extension.

A public spending watchdog will pay back thousands of dollars it received from the government.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (NZTU) announced on Tuesday it will return $60,437 it received through the government's wage subsidy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group will repay the money in monthly payments over the next 24 months, and is calling on other unions and political groups to do the same.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams says he supported the government's wage subsidy to help businesses hurt by Covid-19, but now it’s time to pay it back.
cameron burnell/Stuff
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams says he supported the government's wage subsidy to help businesses hurt by Covid-19, but now it’s time to pay it back.

Executive director Jordan Williams said New Zealand’s economic bounce back has left many entities in a position to repay the subsidy.

READ MORE:
* Companies repay $536m of the Covid-19 wage subsidy
* Alliance Group to repay $34 million in wage subsidy
* Cash-rich firms need to find their 'moral compass' and pay wage subsidy back, accounting professor says

"Unlike other unions we are almost totally funded by donations and that saw our revenue particularly hard-hit by the lockdowns,” he said.

"But we are in a better position now, and we are confident that over the coming months we’ll be able to pay it back and return to our default position of not being government funded."

The wage subsidy was made available for employers and self-employed people who would otherwise have had to lay off staff or reduce their hours due to Covid-19.

NZTU is challenging other unions to repay funds accessed through the wage subsidy as “no union should profit from a pandemic”.

“The Government’s trade union partners such as First Union and E Tū received hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money, despite having steady revenue streams from member dues,” Williams said.

Williams said a “handful of local councils” also received the wage subsidy and he encouraged them to pay it back.

NZTU raised $6500 in donations for a campaign opposing the introduction of Māori wards at local government level last week.

The group spent $12,000 publishing the identities and estimated salaries of more than 80 top-earning executives in the Auckland Council group in May 2020.

Stuff