Is anything of note happening here?

March 10, 2013

Many years ago a British TV programme lampooned New Zealand television for the items carried in the news.

I’m a little vague on the details but I think something to do with the theft of a few sheep had been a leading story at the time.

The implication was we were just a quaint little country where nothing of note happened.

Anyone whose been looking for serious current affairs on television could be forgiven for thinking this still applies.

Seven Sharp didn’t promise to be serious and has failed anyway.

I’d hoped for much better from TV3’s 3rd Degree. It promised much but delivered so little I stopped watching after a very few minutes.

I take it from several reviews, including One Guy too Many from Cactus Kate and why TV3 should hang its head in shame over ’3rd Degree’ and why I suspect Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner would agree with me from Brian Edwards, that I was wise to do so.

There’s one last chance for television this morning. Q & A starts at 9am.

A media release from TVNZ says:

We speak to the Government’s Mr Fix It, Steven Joyce, about the deals with Novopay and SkyCity, and question how committed the government is to creating new jobs.

Also on the programme, should marriage be solely between a man and woman; we hear from a gay couple who question why they’re being treated as second class citizens. We debate the same-sex marriage bill with Labour MP Louisa Wall and Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig, and ask if gay couples should be able to adopt.

On the panel this week is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, publisher Ian Wishart, and former Labour party candidate Josie Pagani.

Join host Susan Wood and political editor Corin Dann on Q+A at 9am this Sunday on TV One.

I probably won’t be. I have other things on my agenda this morning – as do most other people at 9am on Sunday. But I will try to catch up with what happened on MySky later in the hope that maybe one little corner of television thinks there is something happening in New Zealand which people ought to know about.


Greens want to rob Peter to pay Paul

January 29, 2013

Year after year remits at National Party conferences sought to ensure fuel taxes and road user charges went in to roaring roading and not the consolidated fund.

The AA and other organisations with an interest in transport lobbied in support of that too.

Eventually they succeeded.

Fuel taxes and road user charges have been directed at roads and not treated as a general tax since 2008.

Now the Green Party wants to go back to the bad old days:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Green Party Finance Spokesman Russel Norman’s plan to raid the National Land Transport Fund to pay for his “Rent to Buy Housing Scheme”, shows a complete lack of knowledge of public finance in New Zealand.

“Mr Norman seems unaware that roading funding is collected from road users through fuel taxes, user charges and fees. That money is then dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund, to pay for road policing, public transport and road maintenance.

“This dedicated funding or ‘full hypothecation’ was introduced in 2008.

“The Greens can’t have it both ways – paying for houses from road taxes would cause serious problems for the funding of core transport services such as public transport.

“The lack of investment in new roading projects would create long term bottlenecks in our transport system and create congestion, leading to greater fossil fuel use.

“”First it was crank up the photocopiers to print money, now its let’s rob Peter to pay Paul.” said Mr Brownlee.

Cactus Kate found the Green Party housing policy is aimed at people suffering from entitilitis:

Sharissa Naidoo, 25, and her partner have been renting together for four years and say they are desperate to buy their first home.

“The concern is if we’re wanting to start a family and move into a house that’s more than one bedroom, we can’t afford that,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Sociology.

She is now sick of renting and expects the net taxpayer (you) to underwrite a home for her to live in with her “partner” (hate that word) of four years.

All of this, not even one year after her graduation ceremony in May 2012. . .

Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding people’s wants and taxes collected from road users should stay in the transport fund.


2012 in review

January 1, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 300,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 5 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

The top referring sites were:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. kiwiblog.co.nz
  3. nzconservative.blogspot.co.nz
  4. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  5. asianinvasion2006.blogspot.co.nz (Cactus Kate)

The post which got the most comments (51) was water quality concern for all.

The people who made the most comments were:

Robert Guyton # 1 and # 5 is the same person, I think he gets two spots because some comments are linked to his blog and others aren’t.

Thank you all for visiting, those who link and hat tip from their blogs and those who join the conversation.

I appreciate your comments, whether or not I agree with them. A conversation among several is far more interesting than a one-woman diatribe.

I especially appreciate that almost everyone debates the topic and critiques arguments rather than resorting to personal criticism.

I think I had to delete only one comment last year and only rarely had to take a deep breath.

And thanks to WordPress for the blogging platform and excellent service on the very rare occasions I’ve needed help.

Click here to see the complete report.


Spot the contradiction

November 19, 2012

Labour says it wants to make housing more affordable.

It’s even prepared to put public money into building basic houses for first home buyers.

* KiwiBuild: a 10 year programme to build 100,000 basic homes for first home buyers (less than $300,000). In partnership with the private sector and community housing groups.

* Two thirds of the homes built in the first 5 years will be in Auckland. Others will be in other ‘unaffordable’ centres such as Christchurch, Tauranga, Nelson, Wellington and Queenstown.

* Cost: a one-off $1.5 billion initial investment, to be recouped as homes are sold. Will also sell ‘housing affordability bonds.’

Though as Kiwiblog points out that $1.5 billion doesn’t take in into account the cost of interest.

Cactus Kate points out it doesn’t appear to be means tested.

That would, like several of the bribes from the last Labour government, mean help for those who don’t necessarily need it.

Another flaw in this policy is the contradiction between this attempt to make housing more affordable and the commitment to a capital gains tax which would make property more expensive.

It’s not the only contradiction from Labour’s weekend conference. The party also voted to reduce the voting age to 18 16 although it wanted to increase the purchase age for alcohol to 20.


Is affordable or wantable the problem?

July 20, 2012

When I first left flatting there wasn’t a great deal of difference between the house I lived in and my parents’ home.

The flat wasn’t as well built and the home was a bit bigger but it was just an ordinary three bedroom, one bathroom houses with few bells and whistles, as most houses were back then.

I was only renting but had I been looking at buying that’s the sort of house I’d have been looking at too.

Now the difference between what many young people are used to in their parents’ houses and what they can afford to buy as a first home is much greater.

Their parents probably started in modest houses, and only after saving a good proportion of the price for a deposit. Then by dint of hard work and saving upgraded to something  bigger and better.

It’s so much easier to go up than down and it’s understandable that people accustomed to designer kitchens, multiple bathrooms and other domestic comforts don’t want to do without them.

But it’s unrealistic for most young people to expect to start out where their parents finished.

Cactus Kate points out:

Until my generation (X) and younger realise that they cannot afford to live in the sort of homes in their 20’s and 30’s as their parents do in their 50’s and 60’s then housing affordability will always ultimately cause disappointment because somewhere and somehow we all want to own or rent a bigger home in a nicer area that we are stretched to afford.

Don Brash has a point about the supply of land on which to build impacting on prices .

Some towns and cities do have a land supply problem which pushes up the price.

But buyer expectations are also part of the problem.

If would-be home owners lowered their sights a bit and a little less demanding in defining what’s a wantable house they might find it’s a more affordable one.


Is cost of children public responsibility?

April 11, 2012

My mother was a tutor sister.*

She loved her job and was very good at it but when she married she gave it up while my father worked full-time as a carpenter and built their house in his spare time.

Looking back years later, she said it was ridiculous that she didn’t carry on working but that was something very few married women contemplated in the 1950s.

When we married nearly three decades later almost all women continued to work after marriage, though most gave up when they had children, at least until the youngest was at pre-school.

That has gradually changed and now it is not uncommon for women to return to work much sooner after having children.

Some do it by choice, some to keep up professional qualifications, some because they need/want the money.

There are both costs and benefits to taking time off to have children and continuing working.

The benefits of uninterrupted time for bonding and breast-feeding aren’t disputed.

Juggling the care of a baby and the tiredness that goes with it with paid work is demanding.

Women brought up to believe they can do anything can find full-time parenting very challenging.

The loss of a full or part-time income can strain family budgets.

But is it the public’s responsibility to compensate for that?

Proponents of paid parental leave think so and are delighted that Labour’s Members’ Bill to extend PPL to six months has been drawn from the ballot.

There’s been a range of views on whether or not it is affordable given high government debt and the need to return to surplus as soon as possible without threatening essential services.

I’ve yet to read or hear anyone questioning the need for PPL at all and whether the cost of children should be a public responsibility.

PPL is a benefit, paid for from taxes. Like ACC it gives more to those who earn more – at least up to $458.82 per week or the equivalent of $23,858 –   but unlike ACC the beneficiaries have not been levied for it.

Unlike any other non-contributory benefit, except superannuation, it isn’t means tested. A woman, or her partner, earning thousands of dollars a week has the same entitlement to PPL as someone on the minimum wage.

Is that right or fair?

I’m not convinced it is on principle and absolutely sure it isn’t in the current economic environment.

I might accept a case if it was means tested. But paying the equivalent of pocket money to high earners when the country is seriously indebted and the only increased spending in this year’s Budget will be for health and education – paid for by savings elsewhere – is a luxury not a necessity.

Lindsay Mitchell argues the economic case against the extension here.

Cactus Kate writes on parental pay madness.

Lucia Maria thinks PPL just grows the state.

* Tutor sister doesn’t exist anymore – that was a senior nurse who taught the junior ones in training hospitals.


Who else would they vote for?

March 7, 2012

The Sunday Star Times was excited by the 100 emails Prime Minister John Key received from people opposed to the sale of the Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin, calling it a heartland backlash.

One farmer said he had been a National supporter for 45 years but the agreement to sell the farms to Chinese interests ahead of New Zealanders was the “final nail in the coffin”.

Key received more than 100 emails or letters opposed to the sale, most within days of the announcement of the deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

“For many years I have voted for National and I believe in the philosophies. I am utterly disappointed at the decision to sell the farms to a foreign buyer … 2011 will be the last time I vote for National,” one said.

Another wrote: “We have always supported you, and National, but we aren’t with you on this. We have to let you know how strongly we feel about this.”

One wonders how much these people understand about the National Party’s philosophy and principles because there is nothing there that would restrict the freedom of people to sell their own land to the highest bidder nor is there anything that would support xenophobia.

Regardless of that, 100 emails isn’t many on a hot-button issue.

“Pretty much on any issue in New Zealand I’ll get 100 emails,      and sometimes I get 10,000 emails if it’s a significant      issue. So there’s a mixture of views, no doubt about that,”      he told TV One’s Breakfast show.   

Mr Key said the Crafar farms sale was not the main issue farmers raised with him.   

“Certainly I’ve been around a lot of rural events – the      Waimumu Field Days, the Golden Shears on Saturday night – and that’s not really the issue they’re coming up and talking  about,” he said.   

“Some farmers come up to me and say `Look, I own the farm, it’s my property right and I should be able to sell it to      whoever I like.’ Others say they don’t want the farmland going overseas. There’s definitely a range of views but I don’t see it hurting National support.”  

People who change allegiance on a single issue aren’t strong supporters to start with, and any farmers who think they’re not happy with National only need to look at yesterday’s debate on changes to pastoral lease rentals to see how much worse off they’d be with a Labour-led government:

The Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill will replace the land valuation basis for setting rents on  pastoral leases (on mainly high country farms) with a system based on the income earning potential of the  farm land.

Labour MP Raymond Huo said his party was opposing the bill because it was subsidising some high country farmers and did not reflect the real worth of the Crown owned land.

Agriculture Minister David Carter accused Labour of the politics of jealousy and envy and said their policies in Government had shown a “lack of care for the most fragile farming environment’’ in the country.

He said former prime minister Helen Clark had attempted to “drive’’ the farmers off the land and turn it into part of the conservation estate.

The Government now wanted to allow farmers to pay a rent based on the income they could take off the land while maintaining it for future generations. The Crown, he said, had proven to be a poor caretaker of the high country land.

The loss of tussock at the top of the Lindis Pass is a sad reminder of what happens when the Crown tries to replace the high country farmers who have looked after pastoral lease land for generations.

Another example of how poorly Labour understands farming was last year’s beat-up on how much tax they pay.

As Cactus Kate asks, if farmers aren’t going to vote for National, who would they support?

. . .  Labour who will tax the sale on their farm at 15% who along with the Greens will make them pay for their pollution and treat them as the rich pricks they deserve to be treated as?  NZ First…hehe…..

The small number of farmers who have their noses in a knot over the farm sales are shooting the wrong target.

I have nothing against the sale of the farms to foreigners but those who do should be directing the ire at the receivers who insisted on selling the farms as a job lot rather than individually.  That would have opened up a far larger number of would-be buyers and made it much easier for locals to make realistic offers.


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