Wellington Scoop

Taxpayers Union complains Andy Foster is disregarding the rules

Media release from NZ Taxpayers Union
The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster has made extensive use of ratepayer funded IT and communications resources as part of his efforts to stand for Parliament with New Zealand First.

“We’ve received several complaints, including from a concerned insider at the Council, for what appears to be a total disregard of the rules around using Council recourses for election campaigning,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“Earlier this week we wrote to the Council’s CEO, asking him to explain what is going on and how why the Council are effectively subsidising Cr Foster and his NZ First campaign.”

“It appears Cr Foster is totally disregarding the rules. Our members have even seen him use his ratepayer funded laptop at election meetings for NZ First business. That is simply not allowed.”

“In Hastings, the former Mayor, Lawrence Yule, who is standing for the National Party, had a separate laptop, email account and even a second vehicle to ensure ratepayers weren’t funding his campaign. Mr Foster has been a councillor for 25 years – why does he appear to think the rules don’t apply to him?”

Yesterday the Taxpayers’ Union called on Cr Foster to follow the lead of Councillors in much smaller centres who have resigned from their council roles to stand for Parliament.

Media release from NZ Taxpayers’ Union – August 17
Ratepayers should not be paying councillors for one job while they are out campaigning for another, says the Taxpayers’ Union. At least four candidates in the three main centres are still enjoying salaries over $90,000 while they campaign for seats in Parliament. The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on them to follow the lead of Lawrence Yule and Adrienne Pierce, who have stepped down from their locally elected positions in the lead up to the general election.

The Wellington City Council has two elected members running for Parliament –

Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle is running for Labour in Rongotai, while he is drawing on a salary of $111,000.

Cr Andy Foster is running in Wellington Central for NZ First, while continuing to receive a a salary of $91,000.

In Auckland, Cr Denise Lee is running for the National Party in Maungakiekie whilst drawing on a salary of $107,599. In Christchurch, Cr Raf Manji is contesting the Ilam seat whilst on a $102k salary.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director for the Taxpayers’ Union says, “Councillors are paid to be councillors and represent their local constituents, not campaign for a new job. Being a Councillor in a main centre is clearly a full-time job, and councillors are remunerated with large salaries to reflect that.”

“In the three main centres alone, ratepayers are up for more than a hundred thousand dollars paying for councillors who are away campaigning in the election regulated period,” says Mr Williams. “At a minimum all four should be on unpaid leave.”

“We commend the good example of Lawrence Yule and Adrienne Pierce, who both stepped down from their respective council roles for them to run for Parliament. Councillors in these main cities claim they can do both jobs – yet in Hastings, where being a councillor only takes a few days a week, a Councillor and the Mayor resigned. The question for the councillors who won’t step down is, what makes them so special? Take our money, but not do the job?”


  1. Neil Douglas, 18. August 2017, 9:56

    There is also the issue of council versus party policy.

    Andy Foster was in today’s Dom-Post as a WCC spokesperson advocating a second road tunnel, whilst making little mention of trolley buses or Light Rail. Whereas NZ First, for which he is now Wellington’s candidate, has a transport policy of investing in Wellington trolley buses and building LRT to the airport. Voters may be confused as to what Andy himself believes in.

  2. Esjay, 18. August 2017, 12:36

    Don’t overlook the fact that Andy is also a Director on the Board of Wellington International Airport Ltd.

  3. andy foster, 20. August 2017, 0:02

    Esjay – I do not receive the Directors Fee ($60,000 I think) for Wellington International Airport Ltd. That goes directly to the Council, and is used to subsidise a number of Council projects (mostly electric vehicle charging stations at the moment).

    Neil – I suggest you re-read my article, properly this time. There is roading in it but definitely more on public transport than roading, and both light rail and electric buses are mentioned. I am quite clear that we need more people using public transport, walking and cycling and urban form and other policies as part of an integrated package. I think you will find it fits very well with NZ First policy. Have a look at the party website.

    Regards, Andy

  4. Neil Douglas, 20. August 2017, 10:11

    Andy first of all, I thought Sarah Free and Chis Calvi Freeman had the public transport and transport strategy portfolios so it was interesting to see you ‘helping them out’ so close to the upcoming national election when the public are most interested in policies and candidates most interested in getting their names out to voters.

    I did read your article Andy but I couldn’t find any mention of trolley buses and only a passing reference to Light Rail.

    Compare and contrast with your fellow NZ First colleague Denis O’Rourke who has been far more definitive in what NZ First will do if they get elected: “We would retain the Wellington electric trolley bus service and would renew its electricity supply; and we want to see Auckland Airport served soon with a passenger heavy rail link through Puhinui, and the Wellington and Christchurch Airports served with light rail. There would be a long-term strategic plan for electrification of rail and public transport services.” Made in CILT Magazine June 2017.

    So can you answer the following two questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer Andy.

    1) I, Andy Foster support Denis O’Rourke and NZ First, in their policy to retain and investment in Wellington’s trolley buses? 1. Yes 2. No.

    2) I, Andy Foster support Denis O’Rourke and NZ First, and support building Light Rail to Wellington Airport? 1. Yes 2. No

    I look forward to your answers.

  5. Daryl Cockburn, 21. August 2017, 13:04

    Andy – we need leadership from knowledgeable leaders who are unlike Humpty Dumpty. Come down clearly on the non-car side. No economist’s talk; on one hand and on the other hand…..

  6. City Lad, 21. August 2017, 19:09

    Being 10th on the NZ First Party list requires Councillor Foster to quickly learn the difference between “Ayes” or “Nos” before entering Parliament. Meanwhile, he should be able to choose between “yes” or “no” on order to answer Neil Douglas.

  7. Glen Smith, 21. August 2017, 22:03

    Andy, I have to agree with Neil. Your DomPost article makes some positive comments about overall urban form, Transport Orientated Development, congestion pricing, and the need for more public transport/walking/cycling, but your position on trolley buses and across town rail seem at odds with your party’s stated position.
    The Transport Policy (from the website) states that that NZ First will ‘prioritise public transport vehicles and services in favour of electrification over liquid fuel powered vehicles…” and yet you, as a City Councillor, have failed to challenge the dismantling of Wellington’s electric bus system and apparently support the building of 228 new diesel buses. These buses will belch carbon and pollute Wellington for at least 9 years and more likely 15-20 years, and will be unable to be converted to electric should new superior battery technology evolve. In contrast, contracting Tranzit to build fully electric trolley buses (that can immediately incorporate new battery technology) using our existing network as the core of an ‘off wire’ trolley system, would achieve immediate full electrification of essentially all of Wellington’s bus system (but not the Hutt or Porirua’s). Can you explain why you are supporting a position that is at odds with your party’s policy?
    Similarly your Party’s website states that NZ First will ‘subject every major new urban roading project to a requirement that its transport objectives cannot better be achieved partly or wholly through an alternative public transport option…’. Yet, when correctly identifying the need to continue ‘..the long term plan to move traffic without a CBD destination around the city, not through it,” you only talk about road options and ignore alternative options for a high quality public transport spine that bypasses the CBD. The Regional Council’s new bus services from next July that you glowingly talk about will force all across town public transport commuters to travel along the most congested crowded streets in the city and all across town rail users to endure a 10 minute mode transfer penalty at the station. Again can you explain why you are supporting a position at odds with your party’s policy?