Tamaki shortlist

October 18, 2011

The National Party has announced the names of the five people on the shortlist for the Tamaki electorate candidate selection.

The five hoping to succeed retiring MP Allan Peachey are: Denise Krum, Toni Millar, Simon O’Connor, Seby Reeves and Mark Thomas.

Selection will take place next Wednesday, October 26.


October 18, 2011

11/15 in Stuff’s kids’ quiz – let down by lack of knowledge of sport and entertainment.

Nats to introduce auto enrolment for KiwiSaver

October 18, 2011

Finance Minister Bill English has announced that National will introduce automatic enrolment for KiwiSaver in 2014/15,  subject to returning to surplus.

“In the current environment, we need to be mindful of the fiscal costs of all programmes. So we will proceed with KiwiSaver auto-enrolment in the same fiscal year in which we return to surplus and start to repay debt,” he says.

“As signalled in the Budget, we believe there is merit in a one-off KiwiSaver auto-enrolment exercise, where people in the workforce not already in the scheme would be signed up with the ability to opt out.”

If National returns to government it will finalise details after considering submissions to a public discussion paper to be issued early next year.

This policy is part of the government’s plan to build genuine national savings. It complements other measures including a return to budget surplus by 2014/51; last year’s tax reductions on work and savings and the plan to provide investment opportunities through the mixed ownership model for state assets.

“These measures are pushing in the same direction households are already moving,” Mr English says.

“Having spent more than $1.10 for every dollar they earned three years ago, households will this year have a positive savings rate for the first time in more than a decade.”

The Government decided against introducing auto-enrolment before 2014/15 because its immediate focus remains on returning to budget surplus.  

“While we’re running deficits in the next two years, that’s money the Government would have to borrow. Borrowing more money to put into KiwiSaver accounts is not real savings – we are applying the same approach to resuming contributions to the Super Fund,” Mr English says.

Reduction of debt is real saving. Borrowing to invest isn’t just not real savings, it’s stupid.

“Depending on the uptake and design, officials estimate a KiwiSaver auto-enrolment could cost the Government up to $550 million over four years – including the one-off $1,000 kick start payments to new members and ongoing annual member tax credits. We intend to fund this from within existing budget allowances.”

This measure will catch people who haven’t got round to enrolling but stops short of compulsion.

The Government agrees with the Savings Working Group that a compulsory savings regime is not warranted, Mr English says.

“Many New Zealanders have already opted out of KiwiSaver because they have valid reasons for not saving for retirement right now – including paying off their mortgage or being members of private savings schemes.”

KiwiSaver is a very generous scheme. If you’re not enrolled now you either don’t need it, don’t understand it, haven’t got round to it or can’t afford it.

Auto-enrolment will catch all of these groups. Those who have better use for their money or cant’ afford it will opt out, but most of those who can’t understand the scheme or haven’t got around to joining will stay in which will help build national savings and ensure more people are providing for their own retirement.

Let’s all say something

October 18, 2011

Lindsay Mitchell posts on Mana’s welfare policy which includes:

Provide a one off hardship grant of $1,000 for everyone aged 18 and over who is on an income of $30,000 or less, whether on a benefit or in paid work, to be paid by Christmas 2011.

Lift benefits to at least pre-1991 equivalent levels, ensuring people have enough to live on without constantly going into

Extend the In Work Tax Credit to the children of beneficiary parents.

The economic, financial and social cost of this would be eye-watering.

Lindsay also points to the Electoral Commission’s website which says:

Any attempts at bribery and corruption have two participants – those who offer the bribe and those who accept it. Anyone who knows about the bribe but says nothing is also implicated.

Lindsay has said something, let’s all say something.


Quake no excuse for over regulation – Bollard

October 18, 2011

New Zealand needs to avoid a costly regulatory over-reaction to the Christchurch earthquakes, Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said.

But is he also warning us to expect an increase in the official cash rate?

It would be inappropriate, all things being equal, for monetary policy to be stimulatory during the reconstruction period . . .

Disaster preparedness was necessary and desirable, but not costless, he said.

Increases in safety standards, such as seismic strengthening, can result in significant costs for an economy that linger long after the risks they aim to address have occurred.  They can also create a complicated regulatory environment that may result in significant impediments for activity.

“The challenge here will be to avoid a costly regulatory over-reaction to a one-off event,” Bollard said. Consistent with the Policy Targets Agreement, monetary policy does not react to such short-term price changes.

The bank’s 50 basis point reduction in the official cash rate after the February earthquake was an insurance measure to avoid a significant and persistent deterioration in activity.

“We were conscious, however, that depending on wider economic conditions, this insurance would need to be removed as rebuilding, and a recovery in activity more generally, drew the economy’s resources into production.

That sounds like an intimation that the cash rate will be increased once the Christchurch rebuild kicks in.

He also said a substantial earthquake in Wellington might require Central bank intervention.

“A bad Wellington earthquake with an epicentre in the nation’s capital, could engender a more extreme financial market reaction, and it would be the Reserve Bank’s role to intervene to ensure an orderly foreign exchange market if that proved necessary.

“If the country’s political leadership and key administrative infrastructure were caught up in an earthquake, this could drive a bigger financial reaction, and make government policy responses much harder,” he said.

The full speech, Economic impacts of seismic risk: lessons for Wellington is here.

It includes lessons from Christchurch:

We have long known that this region is at risk from seismic events, and clearly we must prepare for potential disruptive events of any sort.  However, we must also consider what degree of preparedness is appropriate to ensure the survival of people, as well as organisational effectiveness.  Several factors are relevant in this regard.

  • Disaster preparedness is necessary and desirable, but not costless. Increases in safety standards (such as seismic strengthening) can result in significant costs for an economy that linger long after the risks they aim to address have occurred. They can also create a complicated regulatory environment that may result in significant impediments for activity.
  • A related consideration is the frequency of events. While it is possible to prepare for very low-frequency high-impact events, doing so may be constraining in terms of activity and prohibitive in terms of costs. The assessment of such risks in New Zealand is currently very complex and there is a lot of work currently going on to assess this.
  • We must also be conscious of New Zealand’s characteristics as a nation. In contrast to many other developed economies, we are geographically and economically isolated. If we face large challenges, we may do so with little external financial support.

He also said that institutions should focus on preparedness, competency, leadership, delegation and resilience rather than detailed plans for specific situations that may not repeat themselves.

It would be  a waste of time, energy and money to prepare for every event but general preparedness for any event is sensible.

Desperation or stupidity?

October 18, 2011

Is this desperation or stupidity?

A Queenstown mother has admitted making calls claiming to be a sexual health worker in a bid to damage the reputation of a teenage girl who was a rival to her daughter as both had applied to study at two Dunedin high schools. 

The woman has interim name suppression, which isn’t usually very effective in small towns where the grapevine is so efficient. But this is a case when I think suppression is justified, not for the defendent’s sake but that of her daughter.

People taking extreme steps to ensure their children get into a school didn’t used to be a problem in the provinces.

Increased zoning and concern over standards at some state schools could change that and influence property values. But hopefully it won’t prompt any more of the strange behaviour which has led to this court case.

Altogether too much weather

October 18, 2011

Federated Farmers alerted us to severe weather warnings for an extended period of heavy rain over Southland, Otago and South
Canterbury from Monday night until Wednesday.

We greeted it with mixed feelings.

We haven’t had a decent rain since early May and a good shower would be welcome.

But the warning prepared us to get too much.

Friends at Millers Flat reported 50 mls overnight but we had only 10.

The sky’s now dirty, it’s drizzling intermittently and the wind’s freezing.

That’s too little rain, too much wind and it’s too cold, altogether too much of the wrong weather.

Is it too much to ask for just enough rain, without the wind and low temperatures?

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