Nick Smith

CONCRETE CANCER COVER-UP, CTD: Mitre 10 caught up in mess

If there is one certain feature of a cover-up it is that once cracks start appearing in the façade, so-called friends will quickly head for the hills.

As I roll out this exclusive WOBH series exposing a concrete cancer cover-up within the $400m concrete industry, I wonder who will stick around, and who will try and do a runner.

I have exposed cement importing company Drymix as being at the center of the controversy. With the Cement and Concrete Association (CCANZ) hooking its wagon up to Drymix, questions are being asked about who else will be caught up in the scandal as Whaleoil unravels this mess.

One such company is Mitre 10 which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and passed the $1 billion sales mark for the first time.

Questions are being asked about the integrity of the 2014 Mitre 10 Awards, particularly when Drymix was recipient of its 2014 Mitre 10 Building Products Supplier and 2014 Innovation Award for our Super Easy Mix in The Bag Range.

Read more »

CONCRETE CANCER COVER-UP CTD: Golden Bay Cement deepens mystery over blending


The question doing the rounds in the $400 million New Zealand concrete market is whether cement importer Drymix is now trying to drag Golden Bay Cement into the concrete cancer cover-up.

Golden Bay Cement, 100% owned by Fletcher Building Limited, is currently in the middle of ‚Äėsupplying a special cement blend for use in precast, grouting and in situ items‚Äô for Auckland‚Äôs Waterview Connection.

Golden Bay Cement also happens to have the only large-scale cement blending facility in New Zealand, based on Plummer Street at the Ports of Auckland.

Why is this important? ¬† Read more »

State housing asset sale? Or stock rationalisation?

I fear National have thus far under estimated the left and the media’s ability to turn what is in fact a rationalisation of the Housing New Zealand stock, into something that looks like an asset sale by stealth.

Labour has produced documents¬†which it says proves the Government’s been quietly planning [the sale of 22,000] for 18 months.

The Government owns around 68,000 state homes and Finance Minister Bill English appears to have signed off the sale of thousands of them on Monday at the weekly Cabinet meeting of ministers.

One of the Prime Minister’s first moves after the election was to appoint Mr English in charge of the housing sell off.

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Auckland Council trickery

‚ÄčIts fairly obvious that Auckland Council is screwing the scrum on the housing accord.

Earlier this week the first annual report card was released with a miserable 8 houses delivered so far.

That’s not unexpected because property developments take years to yield the fruit of their labour.

But the question is whether Auckland Council really wants the Housing Accord to be successful? Does it want greenfield expansion?

The answer is emphatically no. And I make conjecture that they are really only playing lip service to the National government whilst behind closed doors they are doing everything to keep the compact city model on track.

Back a few years ago Auckland Council launched its Auckland Plan with waffly aspirations of a compact city that is built on a 70/40 ration (70% intensified). The critics slammed it with evidence that it was totally impossible to achieve. Not willing to concede defeat the Council planners worked on. But the introduction of the Housing Accord threw a spanner into the works. The National Government also believed that the compact city aspirations were horse manure and it quickly prepared law to make Auckland Council consent 39,000 sections and houses over a 3 year period. The first step is to tranche the land and Council has worked on this but it’s highly unlikely that most of the tranched land turned into housing because the developers imply cannot get Council to install the connecting sewer and storm water infrastructure required.

So how does this lead to the conclusion that Auckland Council is trying to screw the scrum?

Easy. ¬†¬† Read more »

Will National privatise the RMA process?


Somehow this slipped past the radar because most journos seems to be calling it in at the moment, but it just popped back on.  Corin Dann reports

The government wants to let other providers compete with local councils for the issuing of property consents.

The government blames council red tape for a lack of housing development. Read more »

More talk about Auckland’s housing problems

Nick Smith, housing, environment, building and construction minister, vowed Resource Management Act reform. Deputy major Penny Hulse revealed plans for a new Auckland Development Agency, understood to be a merger of council-controlled Auckland Council Property and Waterfront Auckland. They would become one new more powerful urban transformational unit. But she said she did not want to reveal details before the announcement.

[NZIER principal economist] Mr Eaqub said foreigners were not responsible for driving up prices and at maximum, only 8 per cent of house sales were to non-residents. New Zealand investors and movers dominated new house purchases, he said citing CoreLogic data showing investors made up 45 per cent of house purchases, first-home buyers only 19 per cent and movers 28 per cent.

There are a lot of misconceptions of who are the active participants in our housing market,” he said.

These three form the ‘expert’ panel. ¬†So far I’m underwhelmed. ¬† Read more »

Term 1: do nothing. Term 2: Asset sales. Term 3?

As right-of-National supporters, the best we’ve gotten out of the the last 6 years is stability and tighter fiscal control. ¬†Not that we should be ungrateful – under the dark shadow of the GFC and numerous earthquakes, it’s been good enough not to go backwards.

But there continues to be a feeling of opportunities missed.  Some of the evil social engineering care of Clark that needs undoing has remained sacrosanct.  And instead of being a National Party, National continue to gobble up Labour policy in a move to deny them oxygen.

Such is the price for pragmatism. ¬†We vote for National because ¬†at least it isn’t Labour. ¬†Lovely.

So what can we expect for the 3rd term?

With his third-term Cabinet sworn in, Prime Minister John Key is gearing up for a push on housing, education and employment laws.

The official swearing-in ceremony at Government House yesterday saw some new faces take the place of some old ones, such as Judith Collins, once National’s most powerful woman, now relegated to the back benches while Paula Bennett shoots into Key’s Cabinet top five.

Read more »

Now this is a game changer policy


Many politicians have claimed that this policy or¬†that policy or this person or that person is a “game changer”.

Yesterday National delivered up a definite game changer.

They have created two massive recreational fishing reserves and banned commercial operators in those zones.

This is a massive policy, one where John Key and Nick Smith have backed the hundreds and thousands of fishers vs the few companies that are commercial fishing in those areas.

It is pure realpolitik and middle New Zealand will rejoice.

Commercial fishing would be banned from the inner Hauraki gulf and the entire Marlborough Sounds if National creates new recreational fishing parks for those areas.

Prime Minister John Key announced the creation of the new parks while at Westhaven Marina in Auckland this afternoon. ¬† Read more »

Let’s talk policy: National announces help for struggling first home buyers


After Pam Corkery stole the lime light yesterday, you might be forgiven for forgetting:  the National Party also had an election launch.

Prime Minister John Key has kicked off National’s election campaign in South Auckland with a boost to Government assistance for low and middle income first-home buyers.

Grants under the Kiwisaver First home deposit Subsidy will be doubled, the house-price limits increased and scheme renamed as the Kiwisaver Homestart Grant.

At present eligible first-home buyers can get a grant of $3000 after three years in Kiwisaver, $4000 after four years and $5000 after five years.

Under the Homestart changes, those grants will be increased to $6000, $8000 and $10,000 respectively.

Mr Key said that was expected to double the number receiving a grant from 10,000 to 20,000.

The new package will cost $218 million over five years. Read more »

Nick, stop being a dick

Nick Smith is getting all pus-faced and threatening legal action.

It shows he has been got at…and very unbecoming of a minister to resort to throwing around threats of legal action.

You either sue or don’t sue, you don’t whine about thinking about suing.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has rejected allegations of political interference, after he was accused of “bullying” Fish and Game into pulling an advocacy campaign for cleaning up rivers and lakes.

Smith said he was considering legal action against Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes, who made the allegations.

Haynes said Smith was highly critical of Fish and Game over the course of a Fish and Game Council meeting, held in Wellington this month.

“Nick Smith is very good at talking at and over people I think, and he was wading into them and they sat very quietly and listened to what he was saying,” Haynes told Morning Report.

“From my perspective they were very clearly being castigated, it could be construed as political interference – this was about telling Fish and Game to wind their neck in.”

The allegations were centred on a series of billboards, which called for greater protections to keep rivers and lakes clean.

Fish and Game is an independent organisation, which collects its funding through fees for fishing and hunting licenses.

It has statutory obligations to oversee fish and game management and ensure effective management of the country’s sports fish and game resources.

[…] ¬†¬† Read more »