Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Ryan Soares – New Zealand Taxpayers Union – Week 5

Ryan Soares

3 August 2016

Although my time working at the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has come an end, I can definitively say that I will be back to this beautiful country.

Additionally, everything that Jordan Williams and Ben Craven have taught me, from investigating local and federal government spending to effectively advocating and impacting political policies, will most definitely return home with me.

This week the Taxpayers’ Union had one of their biggest Council policy wins ever, with Auckland Council taking into consideration all the recommendations from the Taxpayers’ Union on the Taniwha Tax. Jordan mentioned the Taxpayers’ Union worked in a quick response manner. I am glad I had the chance to see what he meant, with media releases and social media responses happening almost immediately after the fact.

Having worked on half a dozen ongoing projects, this week I made sure that I left a clean and organised trail of my research, so that the office can easily pick up the projects again. With only a few remaining Councils to supply data for our Ratepayer’ Report, I got to work helping pitch the report to New Zealand’s biggest news publishers. Thankfully New Zealand is both a relatively small place, and Jordan is very well connected with the media. The report is expected to be published in September.

Throughout the week I got to see New Zealand Council spin-doctors produce their best work, with Auckland Council’s communication team justifying spending hundreds of thousands on Facebook advertising, and Wellington City Council saying that their higher rates are still lower than Auckland’s, therefore it must be ok!

This week I also uncovered some interesting transactions between Councils and a number of stationary stores owned by Councillors. It is a shame that OIA requests take close to 20 days, as it is a story I would have loved to have written.

As to be expected, on Friday night we celebrated with a few researchers from the New Zealand Initiative. It was great to meet some of the Initiative team and that the two organisations get along so well.

I made the most out of my last weekend in Wellington, going for an early morning Sunday run up to the beautiful Botanic Gardens and attending an extremely interesting tour at the Wellington Museum. The theme was Poison and Power, delving into some of history’s most interesting, sad and creative uses of poison in a struggle for power.

On Monday I will be heading down to the South Island for a week filled with bungee jumping, skydiving and helicopter rides!

I honestly can not thank Ron, Paul and everyone at Mannkal enough for this amazing opportunity to come to New Zealand. The team at the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union were an amazing group of people to work with and I will be sure to miss them.

I look forward to sharing my experience with everyone back in Perth.

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