Labour student bribe on Monday?

October 11, 2008

The ODT’s front page story  says the government is putting $12.5m into the country’s first design institute which is to be established in Dunedin.

It also suggests Labour will offer another student bribe:

Miss Clark is scheduled to be in the city on Monday visiting the University of Otago, where she is expected to make a “significant” announcement about student funding.

. . . Students are expecting some help with either a universal student allowance or some adjustment to tertiary fees and the Otago University Students’ Association is tipping a packed common room of up to 500 students when Miss Clark speaks there on Monday.

The announcement of interest-free student loans trumped National on the eve of the last election.

The state of the nation’s books ought to preclude such tax-payer funded largesse this time, but the need to be responsible hasn’t stopped them before.


Selling snake oil

October 11, 2008

Speaking of prudence, I see Mr Surplus himself, that clever Dr Cullen, having spent the last few cents in the kitty just before the election – good heavens what wonderful timing! – is now with a straight face advising everbody who will listen that only Labour is the right party to guide the country through the grim years ahead.

Live would be dull it it wasn’t so packed with snake-oil salesmen selling certainties, wouldn’t it?  

From Civis in the ODT


Nats 7/10 Labour 5/10

October 11, 2008

Audrey Young gives Labour 5/10 as it fights to bury the third-term blues.

And Paula Oliver gives National 7/10 as it treads carefully to grasp the prize.


Price and value

October 11, 2008

Vernon Small has worked out the price of a vote:

About $9565 for each of the roughly 2.3 million people expected to vote on November 8, going by the two big political parties’ promises to date.

The price would rise if you added all the spending they both agreed was needed.

There is a difference between price and value, however, so we need to be asking not what the promises cost, but what they’re worth.


They can’t take it away

October 11, 2008

The Southland Times  is not impressed that:

The Government is spending $40 million to buy — sorry, “protect” — the mighty and magnificent St James Station . .

I’m not impressed either, but for different reasons. 

The paper’s concern is a fear of foreign ownership:

But the question should be screamed from these newly acquired mountaintops — why does the Overseas Investment Act not provide protection of a sort needed in this case?

The Overseas Investment Office confirms an overseas buyer could have bought the property, provided they met criteria including that the purchase benefit the country or a group of New Zealanders.

Wouldn’t it then have protections as part of the deal? The Stevenson family, who have owned the property since 1927 and by common consent have tended it well, would have us be aware that, as they saw it (and they’re vendors, remember), an owner other than the Crown could have had a very different set of priorities for the land.

They warn of scope for new owners to inhibit public access and develop the property more intensively for farming. Not everyone would throw up their hands at that latter scenario, but it is clearly one the family does not favour.

So now, thanks to $40 million of your money, the whole kit and caboodle is in public ownership. Elsewhere in the world, even in Pacific nations much smaller than New Zealand, ownership of the land is far more stringently protected.

It wouldn’t have made any difference whether it was an overseas buyer or New Zealanders who’d bought the property, once is was sold property rights apply. That includes the right to do what you want with your land within the law and that includes any restrictions imposed by District and Regional Plans,  none of which are affected by the nationality of the owners.

I don’t understand this aversion to foreign ownership because regardless of who owns it, they can’t take the land away and they can’t do anything more or less with it than New Zealanders can.

Restricting ownership of land to citizens limits investment opportunities and depresses the value, it doesn’t offer any more protection.

My concern is not who owns it but the on-going cost of owning it because the $40m purchase price is only the start.

I’ve tried to get the figures for management, repairs maintenance, weed and pest control and other on-going running costs of the other pastoral lease properties which have been bought by the taxpayer but haven’t succeeded.

However, I know what they are on our farms which cover a tiny percentage of the land area owned by the taxpayer. It’s a big number and at least it’s off-set by income, but the small amount DOC will get back from any charges they impose won’t even make a dent in the on-going expenses which will fall on us as taxpayers.


Losing the lot to finance company

October 11, 2008

A Southland couple  borrowed $43, 538 from an Auckland based company two years ago.

They’ve repaid that and an extra $5,200 but still owe almost $32,000, they’re paying 36% penalty interest and this week almost everything they own was taken by repossession agents.

These companies prey on the ignorant and vulnerable. As the world economic situation worsens  they will find more victims who don’t understand the difference between reasonable business practice and usury.


Protein tests the answer

October 11, 2008

Dr Allan Blackman, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Otago, explains the science behind the melamine milk poisoning in China and provides the answer – testing for protein not just nitrogen.


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