Further streamlining for RMA

November 2, 2011

National has announced plans for further  and much-needed improvements to the Resource Management Act.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the first round of reforms are working well and the focus now is on getting better performance for medium-sized notified applications by requiring that decisions be made within six months.

“It is unacceptable that many of the 1800 notified consents covering new factories, commercial buildings, subdivisions and regional infrastructure take much longer than a year to resolve.  These delays cost jobs, impose significant holding costs and cause frustration for all concerned.  It is nonsensical that projects take longer to consent than they actually take to build.”

Entrepreneurs and business people know that time is money, too many council staff involved in the processing of consents don’t appear to understand that.

The Prime Minister and Dr Smith announced National’s Resource Management policy at the site of a $15 million new four-level building by Major Property Tauranga Ltd that took nearly two years to get a resource consent.  The project is now going ahead with the first tower cranes in Tauranga in five years.

“Our concern is not the final decisions from the RMA but the time it takes for a decision to be made.  We can’t have bureaucratic processes holding up these sorts of developments when we have the building industry holding out for more work,” Dr Smith said.

“Our next phase of reforms will also address problems identified from the Christchurch earthquakes over natural hazard management.  It is unsatisfactory that new subdivisions were approved in Christchurch without any consideration of known liquefaction risks.  A new requirement will be for councils to consider natural hazard risks like earthquakes.

“We also want to simplify the plan making process as it is too slow and cumbersome.  Auckland
will not prosper if, as predicted under the current Act, it takes 15 years to complete a new Unitary Resource Management Plan for the city.  . . .”

Planned changes include simplifying the planning processes of the Resource Management, Land Transport and Local Government Acts as well as tighter timeframes for plan making.

“Our  plans for a second substantive phase of changes to the Resource Management Act  contrast with Labour who has no ideas for reform and accepts the status quo as acceptable.  New Zealand
cannot afford to ignore the real problems the RMA causes for those wanting to  invest and create jobs.”

The Resource Management is  generally good in theory but it can lead to prolonged and unnecessary delays in practice.

The implementation of these improvements would reduce the time and money wasted as applications wend their way through the consent process.

Simplifying and speeding up the planning and consent process will contribute to productivity which is one of the ingredients in improving economic growth.


6/10

November 2, 2011

6/10 in NZ History Online’s quiz.


Commodity prices falling but still high

November 2, 2011

A small fall, 1.2%,  in the trade weighted index in GlobalDairyTrade’s latest auction follows the trend for other commodities.

The price of whole milk powder dropped  0.8% to US$3,487/MT; skim milk powder was up .2% to US$3,292/MT; anhydrous milk fat was down 9.3% to US$3,309/MT; butter milk powder was down 2.2% to US$2,934/MT; rennet casein was up 35.3% to US$9,182/MT; milk protein was down 10.7% to US$5,608/MT and cheese was down 3.2% to US$3,406/MT.

The ANZ Commodity Index recorded a 3.5% fall last month but prices are still above long term averages and the outlook from lamb marketers is optimistic.

Whoops – Colin has pointed out that link is old news. But demand is high and prices firm at the moment and are expected to stay that way.


Occupiers going nowhere

November 2, 2011

The Dunedin City Council has had enough of the occupation of the Octagon and issued a trespass notice giving the occupiers until 8:00 last night to move.

When I passed through the city at about 8.30 they were going nowhere.

Their tents were still pitched and a small crowd was listening to speakers who were high on emotion and low on facts.

“We’re here for the old people and the children,” the woman with the microphone told the crowd as I took this photo.

They’d do a lot more for the old people and children if they were gainfully employed, supporting themselves and paying taxes as most of the capitalists at whom they are supposedly directing their protest do.


Resetting expectations – updated

November 2, 2011

A minority of people requiring state assistance will be on a benefit for the medium to long term or permanently. Most should be on it for the short term.

Responsible people accept help when they need it and do the best to become independent as soon as they are able to.

As Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said in announcing proposed changes to benefits:

“It’s not socially or financially sustainable to continue to spend eight billion dollars a year to pay benefits to 12 per cent of working age New Zealanders.”

There are clear links between welfare, poverty and poor health. Evidence shows children are better off when their parents are in work, not on welfare.

“We have greater aspirations for New Zealanders and their children, which are achieved through work, not welfare,” says Ms Bennett.

The proposal includes replacing unemployment, sickness, widows and women alone benefits with a new Jobseeker Support benefit. People on the DPB with children aged 14 or older will also be on the new benefit.

The name change is not just cosmetic, it signals a change in expectation, that those who can work should work.

Changes announced include:

• A new work-focused benefit called Jobseeker Support
• A part-time work expectation for sole parents with children over 5 years
• A full-time work expectation for sole parents with children over 14 years
• The new Sole Parent Support to replace DPB
• The new Supported Living Payment to replace Invalid’s Benefit and DPB care of sick and infirm
• An investment-based approach to the benefit system.

The investment based approach will tailor support to beneficiaries based on their likelihood of becoming long-term welfare dependent.

Expectations will centre on each individual’s capacity to work rather than ‘entitlements,’ shifting the focus to what people can do, not what they can’t.

Individuals receiving Jobseeker Support will have work expectations set depending on their capacity – full time, part time or temporarily exempt.

“Jobseeker Support will include those capable of work and those who are temporarily exempt, but will soon be able to work,” says Ms Bennett.

“Sole parents will be expected to be available for part-time work when their youngest is school-age and available for full-time work when their youngest turns 14, and like most New Zealanders, I think that’s absolutely reasonable.”

. . .  Those currently on the Sickness Benefit will be included in Jobseeker Support and, according to work capability, will have a part-time or full-time work expectation or a temporary exemption until they are work-ready.

“The Sickness Benefit should be temporary but 40 per cent have been on it as long as four years, so these changes reset expectations of a return to work.”

A compassionate society looks after those who can’t look after themselves.

It doesn’t have a responsibility to support those who could and should be supporting themselves, although it may have to help them help themselves.

That help could include education and assistance with childcare.

The Supported Living Payment replaces the Invalid’s Benefit for those who are permanently and severely disabled, severely mentally ill or terminally ill.

“This benefit is for those who’re unable to work at all and the name change reflects the fact the term ‘invalid’ for many, is offensive and outdated.”

An investment approach guides how support is tailored to get the best results based on an individual’s likelihood of becoming long-term welfare dependent.

“For example, it makes sense to put more resources and support into helping a teen parent with no education, than to help a university graduate who is between jobs,” says Ms Bennett.

“Underpinning the investment based approach is a focus on the long-term social and financial cost of welfare dependency, not just on numbers.”

“170,000 New Zealanders spent the majority of the past decade on benefits, that’s bad for children, families, individuals and the economy,” says Ms Bennett.

Behind the numbers are people, many of whom have become trapped in welfare which isn’t good for them, the economy or society.

This policy aims to change that for the good of those on benefits, their dependents and the rest of us who support them.

A fact sheet Q & A on the policy is here.

UPDATE

Welfare Working Group chair Paula Rebstock says she’s encouraged by the scope of the policy:

Ms Rebstock says it’s encouraging the policy also commits $130 million a year towards reforms in areas including child care and training.

She says the National Party seems prepared to invest and look at the range of initiatives needed.

“There is no simple answer and there is no silver bullet”, she says.

Complex problems don’t have simple solutions. Resetting expectations so those on benefits who could work know they will be expected to and helping with training and child care so they can work will help.


November 2 in history

November 2, 2011

1410 The Peace of Bicêtre between the Armagnac and Burgundian factions was signed.

1570 A tidal wave in the North Sea devastates the coast from Holland to Jutland, killing more than 1,000 people.

1755 – Marie Antoinette, Queen of France was born (d. 1793).

1783  US General George Washington gave his “Farewell Address to the Army”.

1795 The French Directory succeeded the French National Convention as the government of Revolutionary France.

1861  American Civil War: Western Department Union General John C. Fremont was relieved of command and replaced by David Hunter.

1868  New Zealand officially adopted a standard time to be observed nationally

1882 Oulu, Finland was decimated by the Great Oulu Fire of 1882.

1889  North and South Dakota were admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states.

1895  The first gasoline-powered race in the United States. First prize: $2,000

1898 Cheerleading started at the University of Minnesota with Johnny Campbell leading the crowd in cheering on the football team.

1899 The Boers began their 118 day siege of British held Ladysmith during the Second Boer War.

1913  Burt Lancaster, American actor, was born (d. 1994).

1914 Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

1917 The Balfour Declaration proclaimed British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” with the clear understanding “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”

1920 KDKA of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania started broadcasting as the first commercial radio station. The first broadcast was the result of the U.S. presidential election, 1920.

1930 Haile Selassie was crowned emperor of Ethiopia.

1936  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was established.

1936 – Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proclaimed the Rome-Berlin Axis, establishing the alliance of the Axis Powers.

1936 – The British Broadcasting Corporation initiated the BBC Television Service, the world’s first regular, high-definition (then defined as at least 200 lines) service.

1938 – Queen Sofia of Spain was born.

1941 Bruce Welch, English musician and songwriter (The Shadows), was born.

1942 At El Alamein in Egypt, the 2nd New Zealand Division opened the way for British armour, allowing the Allies to force a breakthrough and send the Axis forces into retreat.

NZ Division helps Allies break through at El Alamein

1944  Keith Emerson, British keyboardist and composer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), was born.

1947  Howard Hughes performed the maiden (and only) flight of the Spruce Goose; the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built.

1957 The Levelland UFO Case in Levelland, Texas, generated national publicity.

1959 Quiz show scandals: Twenty One game show contestant Charles Van Doren admitted to a Congressional committee that he had been given questions and answers in advance.

1959  The first section of the M1 motorway, the first inter-urban motorway in the United Kingdom, was opened.

1960  Penguin Books was found not guilty of obscenity in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover case.

1961  k.d. lang, Canadian musician, was born.

1963  South Vietnamese President Ngô Ðình Diệm is assassinated following a military coup.

1964 King Saud of Saudi Arabia was deposed by a family coup, and replaced by his half-brother King Faisal.

1965  Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker, set himself on fire in front of the river entrance to the Pentagon to protest the use of napalm in the Vietnam war.

1966  The Cuban Adjustment Act entered force, allowing 123,000 Cubans the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in the United States.

1974  78 died when the Time Go-Go Club in Seoul burned down.

1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

1984  Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the United States since 1962.

1988 The Morris worm, the first internet-distributed computer worm to gain significant mainstream media attention, was launched from MIT.

1995 Former South African defence minister General Magnus Malan and 10 other former senior military officers were arrested and charged with murdering 13 black people in 1987.

2000 – The first resident crew to the ISS docked on the Soyuz TM-31.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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