Drinnan on Poverty Porn

John Drinnan writes:

An article in the Guardian website recently reported on “New Zealand’s Shameful Secret” and the growing problems of poverty and homelessness in a country held up as the land of milk and honey. It was an important and timely article. But parts of read like Poverty Porn.

“Catch a bus or two from Britomart in central Auckland, and after an hour and a half and you will arrive in the urban slum of South Auckland. Here, houses are wooden, damp and mouldy and often hold in excess of 10 people. Young children walk the streets in mid-winter with no shoes and gummy eyes. Looming over polluted streams and rubbish-strewn parks is the vast Double Brown Beer Brewery. 

Elsewhere.

The (Auckland City) mission is located in busy central Auckland but the most deprived regions of this increasingly chaotic mega-city are in South Auckland, in the ghettoised suburbs of Otara, Papatoetoe and East Tamaki.

The theme of the article was strong.  It exposes a hardening of attitudes and darkening prospects for the poor. The Guardian’s Dunedin-based reporter Eleanor Ainge Roy has a good turn of phrase that makes for very readable copy. But the story was over-egged. South Auckland is not an urban slum. Otara, Papatoetoe and East Tamaki do have a lot of poor people and problems associated with low incomes. But they are not “ghettoised.”

Most South Auckland residents are proud of their homes and communities. They enjoy lives they have created there, and many have no wish to live in Ponsonby. They well be surprised to find they live in a ghetto or a slum.

I suspect the reporter in question has never been to South Auckland, or lived there.

Its one of the tendencies for middle class media that are discovering poverty in their midst. Papatoetoe is Port au Prince. Favona is a Favela.  …

Poverty is a story that media like. But it betrays the middle class background to the majority of journalists that see hardscrabble places as foreign and unsightly. I wonder if local truck stops even offer eggs benedict.

No eggs benedict. It’s a ghetto!

I was in Cannons Creek the other day. It is probably seen as the Wellington equivalent of South Auckland. I had not been there before so had a stereotypical view of what to expect. Far from being a ghetto or slum it was a tidy well maintained neighbourhood with a good shopping centre.

Crampton on Labour supporting regressive policies

Eric Crampton writes:

Chris has things entirely backwards here, in a way that has me not sure if he knows what the word regressive means, or whether he doesn’t know how the student loan repayment system works. Or maybe it’s just a fingers-in-the-ears “If I say right-wing enough times maybe nobody will read the report” thing – I was a bit surprised by the twitter traffic following Labour’s playbook on that one.

First off, we never assumed that the returns to education are entirely private. We noted that students currently cover 16-18% of their costs of study, but we didn’t say that should go to 100%. Reallocating some of the money currently spent on tertiary subsidies back into secondary schools, as we recommend, would increase the private contribution towards tertiary education a bit. If we thought it was entirely private benefit, we would have recommended scrapping the remaining tuition subsidies built into the system. We didn’t do that though.

The regressive part is at least as odd. We recommended taking something that’s currently universal and targeting the spending in highly progressive fashion. Means-tested funding can include debt forgiveness for hard-cases down the track, as the UK does when it wipes out student debt that has no chance of being recovered. The reallocation of spending toward secondary schools with poor track records of sending kids to tertiary would disproportionately go to schools serving poorer kids. And the benefits of better guidance counselling, which we also recommended as part of the package, would disproportionately go to kids whose families don’t know how to navigate NCEA and tertiary – again, not my family.

In my experience Labour MPs are very happy to support what they call regressive policies such as universal support instead of targeted policies that assist those most in need.

The reason for this is they wish to get as many voters as possible dependent on state support. The more voters who get cash from the government, the more who will vote for a party that promises more cash.

They put this political imperative ahead of using taxpayer dollars to do the most good by targeting those most in need.

And remember too that loan repayment under the income-contingent repayment scheme is highly progressive. On leaving study, student debtors are charged 12 cents on every dollar earned above $19,084 until the balance of the loan is paid off. So the marginal tax on every dollar above that threshold is 12%, but the average tax rate starts off very low and then rises. A person earning $19,085 pays 12% on the last dollar earned, but only pays $0.12 in loan repayment tax on $19,085 in earnings: a 0.0006% average tax rate. A person earning $119,084 on graduation pays 12% on the last dollar earned, but pays $12,000 in tax: a 10% average tax rate.

A tax schedule where the marginal tax rate is always above the average rate is the definition of a progressive tax. The income-contingent student loan repayment scheme is then rather progressive. If you take out $100,000 in loans and only ever earn $19,000 per year, you will never pay off your loan, but neither will you ever make a payment on your loan. The effective burden (on the debtor, but not the taxpayer) is zero, except in cases where the existence of the student debt makes accessing other credit more difficult. Those on the *lowest* incomes wind up paying nothing back.

I’d have thought that our policy proposal, which takes money that is currently given indiscriminately as interest rate subsidy to every person taking out a loan for tertiary study, regardless of their means, and targets it instead to poorer cohorts and poorer schools, was really rather strongly progressive. But Hipkins calls it ‘inequitable’.

Hipkins means it is politically inequitable in that it may not create enough Labour voters.

Homelessness in NZ

homeless

Jim Rose writes:

People living rough doubled under Labour! Fell under the National Party led government despite the global financial crisis and the return of neoliberal oppression.

That data comes from the census.

Scotland deficit almost 10% of GDP

The Guardian reports:

The gap between Scotland’s public spending and tax revenues has widened, with the crash in global oil prices leading to a deficit of nearly £15bn.

The latest official data shows that Scotland’s structural deficit was more than twice that of the UK last year, after its share of North Sea oil tax revenues collapsed, falling from £1.8bn in the previous year to £60m.

The government expenditure and revenue Scotland (Gers) figures show that in 2015-16, Scottish tax receipts were £400 less than the UK average, at £10,000, after several decades during which oil had pushed them above the UK level.

The Scottish and UK governments spent £1,200 a head more on public services inScotland, and on Scotland’s share of UK and overseas spending, while overall tax receipts fell by £400 a head.

This is why I support Scottish independence. Then they’ll have to fund everything themselves and face the reality of government. Too easy to blame the rest of the UK for everything.

If they went independent with a high spending high taxing Government, then you could compare how their standard of living goes compared to the rest of the UK.

Anti-flouride story unbalanced

The Press Council has found a story on Sunlive unbalanced:

It is true that where there are major matters of public controversy, with both sides taking an entrenched view, the Press Council has held previously that it is not necessary in every case to provide balance, because of the long-running nature of the debate. However, we see this situation as somewhat different and we do not accept the editor’s statement that this was merely an article to promote the public meeting with Professor Connett.

The headline gives the lie to that, with the statement ‘Focus on Fluoride Fears’. The other issue we have with the article is that a large part of it consists of quotes from the convenor of Fluoride Free New Zealand Tauranga, Ms Livingston. To be blunt, it reads like a regurgitated press release. Many of the portions of the article that are not direct quotes are attributed to this person.

Churnalism!

 

Let kids ride on footpaths

Stuff reports:

A Lower Hutt mum wants a law change to allow children under 14, and accompanying adults, to cycle on footpaths as a safer option than riding on the road.

Jo Clendon said is was legal across Australia for children up to 12 years old to bike ride on footpaths. Tasmania, Queensland and ACT allowed adults to bike on footpaths. …

Weaver said there were 1635 injuries between 2010 and 2014 to children up to 14 years old riding a bike, and only 4.9 per cent occurred on footpaths. 

“There was a total of 80 that occurred on footpaths,” she said. 

Kathleen Logan reminded the MPs “we have forgotten what it’s like to be a child”. 

Provoost and Logan surveyed school children aged seven to 15 at five schools in the North Island on whether children should be allowed to ride on footpaths. 

“We’re here to represent the 1.1 million children in New Zealand so that’s a quarter of our population. They are a significant user of our footpaths,” Provoost said. 

The survey found 70 per cent wanted to ride on the footpath, 86 per cent already rode on the footpath, and 71 per cent said they didn’t know it was illegal.

It is the sensible thing to do. Teach your kids that they be polite and considerate to pedestrians, but when they are young you don’t want them on the road more than they have to.

Goff on immigration

The Herald reports:

Immigration numbers should be reduced until Auckland’s housing and transport can cope with population growth, says Labour MP and mayoral candidate Phil Goff.

“Urgent and bold action is needed to stop the worsening housing crisis and restore the affordability and availability of housing,” Goff said at his campaign launch in West Auckland this afternoon.

He said Auckland was growing by a record 825 people a week, two thirds of whom are new migrants.

“Immigration is good for New Zealand – it brings skills and energy – but it needs to be at a rate transport and housing infrastructure can cope with.”

This is not an unreasonable stance. I broadly share it. I am very pro immigration but when immigration starts to strain infrastructure a reduction in the rate can be justified.

Goff’s housing policy calls for an easing of record migration numbers to allow infrastructure to catch up with population growth.

“This can be achieved by slowing the issuing of temporary work visas currently running at over 209,000 a year or by lifting the threshold for permanent residency,” Goff said.

The level of residency visas is pretty constant at 15,000. You might reduce it to 12,000 with a lifting in the threshold but this will be a pretty small impact.

Issuing fewer work visas would have a bigger impact. But if you did that, then employers would face skills shortages and economic growth would be reduced.

As mayor, Goff would institute an immediate review of council’s consenting process to make it faster and cheaper

Anyone can promise a review. Can he point to any specific change he would make that would reduce the cost or speed it up?

As mayor, Goff said he would advocate for policy changes by the Government which promote the interests of home buyers.

They include further increasing bank deposits for developers, extending the bright line test requiring tax to be paid on capital gains from two to five years, eliminating negative gearing and requiring foreign investors to build new units rather than buying existing ones.

Goff is not standing for Parliament. He is standing to be Mayor of Auckland. Is there a single specific policy he will implement that would actually reduce the cost of housing in Auckland? Just regurgitating Labour Party talking points as Mayor will not reduce house prices. But the Mayor of Auckland can reduce house prices by proposing policy changes to the Auckland Council. So what are the policies he would seek to implement apart from a review of consenting?

WCC Mayoral candidates on rates

Thanks to the candidates who have filled in the WCC Candidates Survey I blogged about.

We have responses from the six major Mayoral candidates, so over the next week I’ll blog their responses to the various questions.

After that I’ll start on the responses from the ward candidates.

We have responses from Nick Leggett, Nicola Young, Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie, Andy Foster and Jo Coughlan.

What is the maximum average annual rates increase, if any, you would vote for over the next three years?

  • Nick Leggett: 3.0% – for residential and commercial
  • Nicola Young: Freeze at inflation
  • Justin Lester: 3%
  • Helene Ritchie: Depends on the budget. Around 3 %. No reckless spending and silly promises aka “Big Ideas” and Pandas
  • Andy Foster: 3% and will work to reduce that if elected Mayor
  • Jo Coughlan: Align with Long Term Plan 2015-2025 as consulted: on average 3.9% for ten years. We still need to look at ways to reduce costs and this average increase.

So four candidates are at the 3% mark, one candidate at no more than inflation (currently 0.4%) and one candidate at 3.9%.

Peace for Colombia

The Herald reports:

After 52 years of fighting and nearly four years of grinding negotiations, the Colombian Government and the country’s Farc rebel group declared today that they had reached an agreement to end the longest-running armed conflict in the Americas.

The two sides made the announcement in Cuba, where negotiations began in 2012 and where Fidel Castro launched a Communist revolution that once inspired guerrilla insurgencies across the hemisphere. Colombia, a nation of 50 million that is one of the closest US allies in Latin America, is the one place where the war has yet to end.

“This is the final chapter of the Cold War in the hemisphere,” said Bernard Aronson, the US envoy to the peace talks, in an interview before the announcement.

More than 220,000 Colombians have been killed in fighting over the past half-century, and nearly seven million have been driven from their homes.

But one major obstacle remains for the peace deal to stick.

Colombian voters must ratify the accord at the ballot box in a vote, likely to take place in October, that is shaping up as a showdown between the country’s two most prominent political rivals.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who has staked his legacy on the peace accord, will be campaigning for Colombians to approve it. His nemesis, former President Álvaro Uribe, is leading the drive to sink the deal. He and other critics say it is too favourable to Farc leaders, whose guerrilla war tactics included kidnapping, drug trafficking and murder.

Just like the peace agreement with the IRA required swallowing some dead rats, almost everyone would say Ireland is far better off for today for having done a peace deal. I hope the peace deal is approved for Colombia.  220,000 dead is around 0.5% of their total population.

NZ Seniors Party

Stuff reports:

The New Zealand Government is being accused of taking money from superannuitants with an overseas pension.

Waikato man and expat-Brit Paul Norfolk is one of the estimated 170,000 Kiwis affected by an act of Parliament that sees their overseas pension entitlement being used to subsidise their New Zealand Superannuation.

“Its unfair, I have lived in this country for 34 years and have made a contribution to the New Zealand economy,” said Norfolk.

But where Norfolk has run foul is while living and working in Cambridge, he has also paid into the British National Insurance Scheme.

“I paid into the scheme, The British Government never contributed but because Section 70 of the NZ Social Security Act 1964 says people cannot be paid two pensions, I miss out.”

Norfolk said for every dollar a pensioner receives from an overseas pension, the New Zealand payment is reduced by a dollar. 

The idea is to stop double dipping – so that people don’t get two state subsidisied pensions.

But another way you could do this is simply pro-rata the NZ pension based on how many years someone lived in NZ. If 40 years, you get the full pension, if 30 years 75% etc.

“There needs to be some consistency, for example why is it politicians after three terms can collect a Parliamentary pension as well as New Zealand Super, and we can’t collect what we are entitled to,” he said.

They can’t. That scheme closed decades ago. Now MPs simply have a superannuation fund that reflects what is paid into it.

A good Iwi initiative

Stuff reports:

An iwi has launched a new project to make sure children starting primary school have the right stationery on their first day.

Top of the South iwi Ngati Apa ki te Ra To has funded free education starter packs for their 5-year-olds, and gave away the first three on Wednesday.

Marlborough woman Emma-Jaye King said the initiative made the process of her son Lennox starting school much less stressful.

“I think it’s awesome. It’s a great way to encourage them in a new beginning.”

The education starter packs included a back pack, a book folder, school books, pens and pencils, but varied depending on the stationery list issued by the pupil’s school.

Iwi trustee and education committee member Margaret Bond said the packs were a great way to show the children their iwi supported them in their education.

“For some families, finding the money for the stationery and other resources their children are required to have can be difficult, so this is another way that the iwi can help all our kids feel proud about who they are and where they are from, and take away any worries about the expense.”

What a cool initiative. Hopefully it catches on.

Banning burkinis not the answer

The Telegraph reports:

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, called for a full burkini ban in France on Thursday night as he warned that immigrants, minorities and the Left were threatening to destroy French identity.  

In the first big speech of his campaign to win back the office he lost in 2012, Mr Sarkozy stole many ideas of the far-Right Front National, promising to reclaim France “for the French”.

“I refuse to let the burkini impose itself at French beaches and swimming pools … there must be a law to ban it throughout the Republic’s territory,” he said to thunderous applause during a speech in Provence, a stronghold of the Front National.

I’m all against religious values being forced on others, but also against the state banning people from wearing religious outfits in public.

There is a case regarding the Niqab, as that goes to the heart of a society where you can identify whom you are interacting with. But the burkini is very different.

Mr Sarkozy went on to demand that all minorities and immigrants speak French and promised – for example – that he would never accept a France where men and women had separate timetables at public swimming baths.

That is a different issue, and one I agree on. In this case it is forcing religious values on everyone else.

The speech was received with horror on the Left, with commentators on social media observing that Mr Sarkozy sounded indistinguishable from Marine Le Pen, the Front National leader whom polls suggest could reach the second round run-off in the presidential election next year.

Hollande is toast. His approval rating was 12% in July. His disapproval were a massive 86%. Most polls shows Sarkozy would beat Le Pen in the final round of voting. But Le Pen would beat Hollande.

Balanced?

A lengthy article in Stuff on obesity resembles propaganda more than balanced journalism.

95% of the article just repeats assertions by public health activists who want a sugar tax, and no one with a different view is interviewed. A tiny section at the end quotes an alternative view, but in such a way it is totally disparaging.

No mention of the fact that sugary non-alcoholic drinks are only 1.6% of average calories and how a 10% reduction in such drinks would on average be just three fewer calories a day out of the recommended 2,000.

Why bother giving readers both sides of an argument? Far easier to just interview those who all agree with each other.

And the activists quoted pat the author on the head and say “You did us proud”.

Again journalists wonder why people have lost trust in the media.

How do you rack up a $1,000 taxi bill?

Stuff reports:

An Auckland man has been charged with deceptively taking 67 taxi rides worth $28,686. 

Elton John Taniora-Waitai appeared for the first time in the Manukau District Court on Wednesday, charged with five counts of obtaining a service by deception. 

Court documents alleged he racked up bills with Super Shuttles,  Auckland Co-op Taxi Society, South Auckland Taxi Association and Corporate Cabs in December last year and January and February 2016. 

On New Year’s Eve the 25-year-old was alleged to have taken two Corporate Cab rides worth $2117.75.

So each ride was around $1,000. They must have been 300 kms or so. I would have though for any ride of that distance the driver would want proof of payment!

Earlier that month he is alleged to have taken 27 taxi rides in just one week, racking up an alleged tab of $10,554.40 with South Auckland Taxi Association.  

In January he was alleged to have taken four shuttle rides, costing $3995, and 17 rides with Co-op costing more than $7000. 

In February it’s claimed he again took 17 taxi rides over a two week period with Corporate Cabs, to the value of $4916.30. 

I’m amazed he got away with it for so long. You’d think after one long trip in which he didn’t pay, his details would be alerted to all other drivers.

Corbyn’s fake train story

The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “hypocrisy” and “spin”  after CCTV footage revealed he had a seat on a train despite suggesting it was so “ram-packed” he was forced to sit on the floor.

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Trains and one of Britain’s best known entrepreneurs, took the remarkable step of releasing evidence to defend the company’s reputation. 

The footage showed the Labour leader walking past empty seats before sitting on the floor, where he filmed a video which was released last week in which he called for the renationalisation of the railways. 

So much for his man of the people moment.

Labour MPs said the footage, which was first published by The Telegraph, showed Mr Corbyn was a “charlatan” who was “pretending to be one thing when he is really quite another”. 

Chris Bryant, who served in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, said: “The biggest sin in politics is hypocrisy. I think a lot of people will feel led up the garden path by this.”

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn admitted that he had a seat for most of the journey but claimed he had initially sat on the floor because he could not find any that were unreserved, despite appearing to pass several in the footage.

Harriet Harman, the former acting Labour leader, said she was “baffled” by the incident, adding the best way to build the case for renationalisation was with “facts and figures” not “sitting outside a toilet in a railway carriage”. 

Tory MPs don’t even bother attacking him now. They want him to stay. Harman sums it up well.

Imagine if a National MP said this about a female Labour MP?

From Hansard:

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The reason I am not part of this inquiry is that I actually speak to people at the coalface and people who are suffering from this on a weekly basis. I do not need to go 18 months back in the programme of work that this Government is already doing. As the members themselves would say, what they need is action, and that is what the National Party and this Government are doing.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Minister, since when has the coalface been the local deli?

Winston is all class isn’t he.

EU President says borders are the worst invention ever

The Telegraph reports:

Theresa May has hit back at Jean-Claude Juncker’s claim that borders are the “worst invention” ever made by politicians. 

The European Commission President called for all of Europe’s borders to be opened to show solidarity with the growing numbers of refugees trying to move across the continent.  

His comments come as countries across Europe have been forced tointroduce tighter border controls to stem the flow of people. 

Speaking at Alpbach Media Academy Mr Juncker said: “Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians.” 

And this is why the British voted to Brexit.

Could vaping save one billion lives?

The Reason Foundation states:

Vaping is displacing smoking and has the potential to improve and extend the lives of “hundreds of millions” of people, according to a new Reason Foundation working paper that compares the health effects of vaping to smoking, examines the rate at which adult smokers have been switching to vaping and assesses the effect the availability of vape products has on rates of smoking.

“If product quality and diversity continue to increase, and costs continue to fall, within 20 years vaping could cut smoking rates by 50 percent or more. In 30 years, vaping might eliminate smoking altogether. If that were to happen, it would effectively save most of the billion lives – and perhaps eight of the 10 billion life-years – that might otherwise be lost to smoking,” the Reason Foundation working paper, The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom-Up Innovation Is Saving Lives, concludes.

Thank goodness the Government is finally moving to legalise the sale of nicotine for vaping in New Zealand. It should of course be regulated as it is not risk free, but the potential for it to do much reduced harm compared to smoking is immense.

Why do media keep reporting claims obviously false?

Newshub reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is stepping up his attack on the iwi which own public transport operator Go Bus, over claims it’s looking offshore for new workers instead of employing jobless locals.

Mr Peters says the company has asked for help from Immigration New Zealand to bring foreign workers into the country from Samoa and the Philippines.

It’s owned by Ngai Tahu and Waikato Tainui and operates buses in Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton, and a number of other regional cities.

“It’s advertising offshore for drivers. It’s not training and recruiting young Māori, no. It’s going offshore and getting people from the Philippines and elsewhere, including the Pacific,” says Mr Peters.

His source for this is a woman who popped into an office and said she’d heard it from someone. No, seriously.

The allegations are being rubbished by Go Bus managing director Calum Haslop, who says Winston Peters has the wrong end of the stick.

“Go Bus is not recruiting offshore at the moment. We’ve not advertised for any positions in the islands, we don’t have a policy to recruit from the islands, and we don’t have any intention of recruiting from the islands at this stage,” he says.

Mr Haslop has confirmed there were conversations with Immigration New Zealand about foreign recruitment but they never gained any traction due to a huge demand from jobless locals.

“We had a chat with Immigration New Zealand very early on in the piece for our Auckland recruitment and just looked at [foreign recruitment] as an option should we need it if we had a problem with local recruitment.

“But we’ve been delighted with the response to our local recruitment and haven’t needed to take it any further and don’t intend to,” he says.

Immigration New Zealand says there haven’t been any recent interactions with the company and there are no visa applications underway.

Wouldn’t it be nice if media asked for proof of his claims, before reporting them. Once there is a categorical denial from the company and Immigration NZ, then his claims should not be reported on unless he can provide proof.

Labour repeats the nonsense about 41,000 people homeless

Phil Twyford exclaims:

The finding by Otago University researcher Dr Kate Amore that most homeless people are in work or study is one of the most shocking aspects of the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“Social service agencies report many homeless people turning up looking for shelter are wage-earners. They just cannot find any affordable rental housing, and end up homeless or living in their cars or campgrounds.

“Now this has been confirmed by Dr Amore’s latest analysis of the 41,000 homeless in New Zealand which has found 52 per cent of all homeless adults are in employment or are studying.

“When most homeless people are in paid employment, you know something is completely out of whack under this National Government.

“It is a common misconception that the homeless are all people who suffer mental illness or addiction issues. What this report shows is that National’s housing crisis has pushed 20,000 of the working poor into homelessness.

“Dr Amore’s analysis of 2013 census data shows large numbers of young Kiwis are being put at risk by the meltdown of the housing market. The most common age to be homeless is 15-24 (27 per cent of the population). More disturbingly 24 per cent of the homeless population are people under the age of 15.

This is because Labour and Dr Amore are using a definition of homeless that is so wide it covers living with relatives or in a boarding house.

Of the 41,000 in the census data, 90% are living in houses, boarding houses, motels etc. That is not homeless as the average NZer regards it. Only 10% are living in the street, in cars, garages etc.

So 4,000 is 4,000 too many but to keep pretending we have 41,000 people homeless is idiotic. And it won’t work. NZers are too smart. People know that we don’t have 41,000 homeless people.

Tax law by fiat!

The Taxpayers Union have rung warning bells:

Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse’s proposed amendment to the Tax Administration Act, allowing tax law to be changed by Order in Council, is a constitutional disgrace, says Jordan Williams, a former constitutional lawyer and current Executive Director of the Taxpayers Union. The concerns are backed by tax expert, and former head of policy at the Inland Revenue, Robin Oliver.

Mr Oliver says, “The proposed law change allows the government to suspend and overrule provisions of the Tax Administration Act. This sounds as if it is about forms and processes. But in fact, that Act sets out most taxpayers rights such as the right to secrecy and the right to have your arguments considered and dealt with fairly. It also imposes up to five years in prison for the criminal offence of evasion. It seems astonishing that Parliament would delegate to the government the ability to overrule and suspend such vital legislation. A more considered approach is called for.”

Parliament should set the tax law, not orders-in-council.

“IRD’s Regulatory Impact Statement even states that changes could be retrospective in effect and unfavourable to taxpayers. In other words, the proposed law would allow the Minister to retrospectively impose duties or remove taxpayers’ rights.”

Ouch.

The SOP would allow the Minister to pass in Orders of Council (including retrospective changes to):
• processes around information protection, record keeping and tax returns;
• secrecy rules;
• disputes procedures;
• assessment processes and rules;
• the processes for binding rulings and determinations;
• the rules around the charging of interest and penalties;
• the process for challenging a tax assessment; and
• the rules for recovering and transferring tax.

Such changes may seem minor to the IRD but could have a huge impact on taxpayers.

25 Auckland Council candidates have signed the ratepayers protection pledge

The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has said:

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has released the list of candidates who have signed the Ratepayer Protection Pledge, which prevents those candidates from voting for any measures which increase the total average burden of rates, levies, and other compulsory Council charges, more than 2% per annum.

To date, 25 candidates have agreed to sign the pledge. Those who have agreed to keep levy or rate hikes under 2% include all Communities and Residents candidates, and four mayoral candidates.

Although Auckland Future candidates have confirmed that they will not be signing our pledge, they insist that their own pledge achieves the same outcomes. Albany candidate Lisa Whyte said their pledge is ‘complementary to yours’ and that they are ‘committed to the same values’. Whilst disappointed Auckland Future candidates are not signing, we anticipate them holding fast to their assurances that they will limit annual rates increases to an average of no more than 2% and honour their own pledge.

We are delighted with the response from Council candidates. The 25 candidates that have signed the Ratepayer Protection Pledge alongside Auckland Future’s 10 candidates is more than enough to fill the Council with candidates who have agreed to reset Auckland Council’s culture of waste and high rates.

So Aucklanders, you have the ability to control your own destiny. Simply only vote for the 35 candidates who have pledged not to increase rates beyond 2%, and your rates won’t increase by more than 2%. No more 10% rates increases. But if you vote for other candidates, well don’t be surprised when you get walloped with larger and larger rates increases.

List of candidates who are on board:

Mayoral

  • Mark Thomas
  • John Palino
  • Stan Martin
  • Binh Thanh Nguyen

Councillors

Albany Ward

  • John Watson
  • Wayne Walker

Albert-Eden-Roskill

  • Christine Fletcher
  • Benjamin Lee
  • Greg McKeown
  • Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor

Howick

  • Dick Quax
  • Sharon Stewart
  • Ian Colin Ireland

North Shore

  • Grant Gillon
  • John Hill

Orakei

  • Desley Simpson

Rodney

  • Greg Sayers
  • Steven Garner
  • Holly Southernwood

Waitakere

  • John Riddell
  • David Rankin

Waitematā and Gulf

  • Mike Lee
  • Bill Ralston
  • Rob Thomas

Whau

  • Anne Degia-Pala

  • Duncan MacDonald

As I understand it both Victoria Crone and Auckland Future candidates also have policy to not support rates increases of more than 2%, so they are also worth supporting.

So for Mayor you have four candidates who have signed the pledge (John Palino, Mark Thomas and two others) plus Victoria Crone has a policy of a maximum 2% average also and Phil Goff a policy of 2.5% maximum.

In some wards there are more candidates who have signed the pledge (or have a policy the same) than positions so to choose between them look at their other policies and track record.

But again if you want a Council that will not see ratepayers at a bottomless pit, then vote for candidates who are prepared to specify their maximum rates increase they’ll vote for.