NZ

Council Economist tells it like it is

So, Auckland Council’s own Chief Economist gets it but the rest of Council is going to continue to act like a bunch of stubborn old stooges, and stick with the impossible dream of a building a compact city.

Auckland Council’s plans for higher density housing cannot succeed unless the city also expands further into the countryside, says the council’s chief economist.

Chris Parker said the only way to contain Auckland’s runaway house inflation – up $70,000 last month to $820,000 on a median price house – was to open up more rural land to relieve price pressure on a “dysfunctional” urban land market.

The council’s flagship compact city plan, based on more people living in apartments, terraced houses and townhouses within city limits, was necessary but unable to work by itself.

“Intensification won’t do it – not alone, it’s got to be part of a package,” Mr Parker told the Herald in an interview for the Home Truths series.

“Intensification increases the opportunities for what can be done on each piece of land and it increases the value of land underneath. The hope is that you can spread more houses on top of it, but the problem is we’re in a race we can’t win.   Read more »

Mental Health Break

Public Service Announcement: Help sponsor a KidsCan child

A first-hand account of what it’s really like for families living in hardship in New Zealand as they send their kids back to school.

KidsCan visited the Waikato with Tristram Clayton and saw Kihikihi School, which is waiting for their support. Mum, Renee Hei Hei, and School Principal, Andy Morgan, talked about the challenges of hungry tummies and making a little money stretch a long way for their kids. They also visited a current KidsCan partner school, Waihi Central School, and spoke with the principal about how KidsCan is helping the school and their kids focus on the important stuff – their education.   Read more »

A land tax in name but not in substance will achieve sweet Fanny Adams

A land tax is an annual levy based on the value of the land owned. In its 2010 report the Tax Working Group advocated for a land tax to make the system fairer, i.e. a way to broaden the tax burden away from income, but the option it presented was to apply the tax in New Zealand.

The disadvantages of a land tax, as outlined in the report, are that any tax levied on a piece of land automatically decreases the value of that land and it disadvantages groups likely to own large land masses, for example farmers and Māori authorities, and groups with fixed incomes.

In short, constituents the government would not want to mess with – its traditional farming base, homeowners in leafy suburbs enjoying the benefits of high house prices and the growing number of ageing New Zealanders moving onto a pension.

But that is never going to be a problem for Mr Key because he has no intention of levying the tax on anyone living here, in fact he has also talked about exempting New Zealanders who have moved overseas and still own a home here.

A tax on non-resident, non-New Zealanders is going to present a very narrow target.  Keeping in mind that the intention is to take the heat out of the property market, will it have any practical effect beyond the government being seen to be doing something?   Read more »

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Adults make better decisions on diet, so dairies close to schools need to be banned

That’s the gist of the argument put forward by the Morgan Foundation:

The Morgan Foundation, started by Gareth Morgan and his family, has made the call in a submission to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is reviewing its code for advertising to children.

Many other submitters are also worried about children being targeted in or around their school environment.

A study released on Wednesday showed schools were surrounded by take-away and convenience stores.

Many of them were decked out in the colours and logos of ice-cream or soft drink brands.

Morgan Foundation general manager Geoff Simmons said that sort of branding should not be near primary schools, nor should billboards advertising junk food.

It was time for the advertising code to be broadened to reflect the way children are bombarded with marketing from many sources, he said.

“In the past we have tended to take a very narrow view of what constitutes junk food marketing to children.

“When we look at the sort of marketing that children actually see it is much broader than the narrow definition of advertising.” Read more »

Green taliban co-leader James Shaw attempts to scare investors out of fossil fuels

" Don't shoot "

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said Finance Minister Bill English needed to open his eyes to climate change or risk being hit by the “perfect financial storm”.

The Greens are calling on the government to require all public fund managers to disclose their exposure to climate risks, following Dr [Jan] Wright’s report.

“Publicly managed funds in New Zealand have significant investments in the fossil fuel industry, in assets that could lose value rapidly as major economies like China and the EU shift to cleaner energy,” Mr Shaw said.

“New Zealanders, who have money tied up in these funds, should be aware of how much of their savings are exposed if the value of the fossil fuel industry declines.”

I don’t even know where to start.

The clean non-oil energy storm has been predicted for nearly half a century now.   Any change is hardly going to be rapid, and investors are hardly going to get caught overnight. Read more »

Where are all the benefit babies born?

Lindsay Mitchell has been doing some research on where all the benefit babies are being born.

Unsurprisingly bludgers beget bludgers…and it’s growing.

Every year I track how many benefit babies there are relative to the total births. Being a ‘benefit baby’ means relying on a parent or caregiver’s benefit  by the the end of their birth year. Most will become reliant nearer to their birth date rather than first birthday. Many will go on to experience long-term deprivation.

This year I asked for a  breakdown by Work and Income Service Centre. That was provided. Then I asked the Ministry of Health for District Health Board birth data for 2015. They very quickly obliged without an OIA. Credit to them.

It was then straight forward to place each service centre in a DHB  and calculate the percentage of babies in each district that would be benefit-dependent before their first birthday.

Where the benefit babies are born

Read more »

Cartoon of the Week

Credit:  SonovaMin

Credit: SonovaMin

And yet Charter schools do it on decile 3 funding

As a perfect example of how out of touch unions and the opposition are on education witness this:

School fees and donations are rising at almost 10 times the rate of inflation, new figures reveal.

The latest figures from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) show a rise of 3.7 per cent in what schools are asking parents to pay – more than nine times the overall inflation rate of 0.4 per cent.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) tracks changes in primary and secondary school fees and donations each year.

Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said education costs have really “started to bite” in the last year and a half.

“We know that parents are being asked more and more to put their hands in their pockets to help fund the costs of their kids’ education,” he said.

“We’re seeing a transfer of costs from schools onto parents.”

Hipkins said more money should be put into education. Funding shortages had “moved far beyond the days of sausage sizzles and cake stalls”.

Read more »

Media bias on environmental reporting

There are reasons almost every day to believe the media are biased and only really interested in sensationalism, controversy and negativity.

Here is an example.

A few weeks ago The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report that included some criticisms of farming and its effects on rivers.  It was negatively slanted and demanded greater action.  There were a couple of articles that followed that repeated the criticisms and together they got extensive coverage in all media with readers chipping in with negative comments.

Yesterday the Sustainable Dairying Group released a factual report on how things were going down on the farm – progress on making our waterways even cleaner than they are now.  It is useful to remember that a few years ago the OECD tested 90 rivers in its member countries and New Zealand had three rivers in the top four for cleanliness – the Waikato, Waitaki and Clutha – all in intensive dairying areas.

The latest report should have been headlines in every media outlet.  Why?  Because of the vast number of improvements achieved, because of past criticisms that got headlines and because it is a great story of Kiwi effort and innovation.

Here are a few compelling stats:    Read more »

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