Police appreciated in Cleveland

July 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

CLEVELAND — Sometimes they approach cautiously, other times full of confidence, with a smile and an outstretched hand.

“Thank you!”

“Thanks for your service.”

“We appreciate you.”

Despite their overwhelming numbers on the streets, police patrolling around the Republican National Convention here are being treated less like an occupying force and more like respected members of the community, no matter where they’re from. More than 2,000 officers from more than a dozen states are working in Cleveland this week, alongside local officers.

“I appreciate the work they do. Their lives are on the line at all times,” said 7-Eleven clerk Eddie Vernon, after shaking an officer’s hand near Public Square. “The officers really do appreciate it. They will almost break your hand shaking it, they appreciate it so much.”

Vernon, who is black, says he goes out of his way to show respect and appreciation for police officers. He’s all-too-aware of how many members of the black community feel about cops these days, he says.

Nice to see most protesters treating the officers who are doing their job with respect.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said visitors — and even many protesters — have been thanking officers, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“The mood is good,’’ Williams said. “They are taking pictures with people. It’s been good.’’

Great.

And Wednesday afternoon, as officers broke up a flag-burning protest and pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk, several Republican delegates and their guests loudly thanked the officers and broke out into “America The Beautiful.” That clash, which police say started when a flag burner accidentally lit himself on fire, turned chaotic as a total of 17 people were arrested and two officers suffered minor injuries.

Heh I’m sorry, but that is sort of funny.

Bryan Hambley, an organizer for the Stand Against Trump group, credited police with transforming the anxiety-ridden preparations for the convention into a largely peaceful convening so far, involving demonstrators of all stripes.

“The police are doing a great job, and the protesters are doing a great job,’’ Hambley said.

Protests are good. Protests that break the law are not. Those in Cleveland are doing it the right way.

 

Silent cheering

July 23rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

CLAPPING has been banned at a Sydney primary school which has introduced “silent cheering”, “pulling excited faces” and “punching the air” to respect students who are “sensitive to noise”.

The school now only allows its pupils “to conduct a silent cheer” when prompted by teachers and says the practice “reduces fidgeting”.

Elanora Heights Public School, which is on Sydney’s northern beaches, announced its new “silent cheer” policy in its latest school newsletter.

The latest example of a political correctness outbreak in Australian schools, which have banned hugging, singing Christmas carols, celebrating Australia Day and singing the word “black” in the nursery rhyme “baa baa black sheep”.

The ban on clapping at Elanora Heights Primary School emerged on the same day that an exclusive girls school banned teachers from calling “ladies” or “women” in favour of “gender-neutral” terms.

More PC madness.

If you ban clapping because some people are sensitive to noise, do you ban speaking also?

In April, hugging was banned at a Geelong primary school and children were told to find other ways to show affection.

St Patricks Primary School principal John Grant said “nothing in particular” had caused hugging to be replaced by high fiving or “a knuckle handshake”.

“But in this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious,” Mr Grant said.

He said he had spoken to teachers about his decision to ban hugging and then the teachers had spoken to classes, instructing the children on different methods of showing affection. He had not sent any correspondence home to parents but said there would now be a letter going home on Monday.

“There’s a range of methods including a high five or a particular knuckle handshake where they clunk knuckles as a simple way of saying ‘well done’,” Mr Grant said. “There are also verbal affirmations and acknowledgments.”

Children at the school have been enthusiastic huggers, he said, with hugs given out to teachers and other children.

“We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space,” Mr Grant said. “It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”

And some people are not comfortable with bright colours, so lets ban all clothing that isn’t black.

Herald optimism misplaced

July 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan and Kate Nicholls write:

As students of comparative civil-military relations, we were surprised to read theHerald’s editorial, “Coup’s failure hopeful sign for democracy.” We see no positives resulting from the aborted coup. Instead we foresee the death throes of a painstakingly crafted secular, albeit imperfect, democracy, that has been under siege since the election of Recep Erdogan as Prime Minister in 2003 and President in 2014.

The cornerstones of Turkish democracy were an apolitical professional military, an independent secular judiciary, and a multiparty electoral system characterised by a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches.

Granted, Kemal Ataturk’s nationalism, which bound the country together in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, often worked to stifle free speech and repress ethnic minorities, notably the Kurds. Turkish democracy has also always been “guarded”, meaning that the military has on occasion acted as unelected veto-player. Yet since the rise of Erdogan to power 16 years ago, things have gotten incrementally but steadily worse.

Since he assumed office, Erdogan has undermined the judiciary by appointing ideological cronies and firing or arresting independent-minded jurists; sacked hundreds of senior military officers and replaced them with loyalists; introduced mandatory Islamic Studies into military curricula; censored, banned and/or arrested non-supplicant media outlets and reporters; rigged electoral rules in favour of his own party; and instituted constitutional amendments designed to perpetrate his rule and re-impose Sharia precepts on public institutions (something not seen since the days of the Ottomans).

Erdogan’s response to the coup makes me somewhat regret it didn’t succeed.

He has alleged it is the work of some exile in the US. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to back this up. But on the basis of this allegation, he has purged judges, police, civil servants and academics. He’s even banned academics from overseas travel without permission.

I fear elections will be the next to go.

Young principal turns school around

July 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A young principal has been given the ticket to move a lower decile school away from close Government monitoring.

Reviewers from the Education Review Office (ERO) were visiting Glenavon School every one to two years.

But the Blockhouse Bay school will now likely have its next review in four to five years, according to its latest ERO review.

The report “identifies Glenavon School as a high performing school”.

Principal Phil Toomer, now 31, arrived at the school in 2014, when he was just 28-years-old.

He came from Redoubt North School in Manukau where he was a teacher, deputy principal and acting principal over seven years.

Back then, he had planned to build the Glenavon School in all areas, with student achievement a big focus.

“There is no excuse just because a school is low decile to underachieve,” Toomer says.

And with an attitude like that, he has succeeded.

The school has children of many ethnicities, with Pacifica students making up more than 60 per cent of the school’s roll and Maori students numbering 18 per cent of pupils.

“Our community around us is changing and so is the culture of the school,” Toomer says.

And 78% of students are now at or above the national standard in reading, 74% for writing and 84% for maths.

What is impressive is that when they get year 1 students only 45% are at the national standard for reading so they make a real difference. The proportion of students reaching the national standard increased 10 percentage points from 2013 to 2014.

General Debate 23 July 2016

July 23rd, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

May destroys Corbyn

July 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

Asked a question by the Labour leader about “job security”, Mrs May ripped into Mr Corbyn for ignoring the clamour from his own MPs for him to resign, being forced to ask his few loyal MPs to take on multiple jobs and managing to change the party rules to allow him to contest the upcoming leadership contest.

“I’m interested that he refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity and potentially unscrupulous bosses,” she quipped. “I suspect that there are many members on the opposition benches who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss.

“A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers.

“A boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload.

“And maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career.”

Pausing for dramatic effect she leaned across the despatch box and added: “Remind him of anybody?”

Superb. Look at the video on the link. Devastating.

Mrs May also used the occasion to attack Labour for the party’s record on woman leaders.

In a devastating assault on Mr Corbyn, she said: “In my years here in this House I’ve long heard the Labour Party asking what the Conservatives party does for women.

“It just keeps making us Prime Minister.”

Heh.

1st Air NZ safety video I’ve hated

July 22nd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Most of the Air NZ safety videos I have loved. The Men in Black one is great as was their original All Blacks one. The surfing one I loved watching and the LOTR ones were also really good (but got a bit tiring after a while).

Some have been merely okay (Richard Simmons) but overall pretty good.

But this latest one I really don’t like (even though I love Rhys Darby generally). It’s just not very interesting or funny. Watching is once is enough, let alone multiple times.

I note it has been viewed only 32,000 times which is small compared to others. Here’s how the others have gone:

  • The Hobbit (Epic) 15.7 million views
  • The Hobbit (Unexpected) 12.7 million
  • Safety in Paradise 7.0 million
  • Men in Black 3.7 million
  • Middle Earth 3.1 million
  • Richard Simmons 3.0 million
  • Betty White 2.5 million
  • Bear Essentials 2.4 million
  • Ed & Mel 1.3 million

Trump’s acceptance speech

July 22nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post has Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.

It is very powerful and damning of the status quo. And this is the challenge for Clinton – she is the status quo candidate at a time when 70% of Americans think their country is heading in the wrong direction.

Trump may have few specific policies, but he is effective in pointing out the failings of the US both domestically and internationally.

Is a federal UK how best to keep it together?

July 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph:

The all-party Constitutional Reform Group (CRG) has just published proposals for a new Act of Union that would effectively turn the county into a federation, with four self-standing national units voluntarily pooling their sovereignty to a central administration. At its most radical, the plan would see an English Parliament and the replacement of the House of Lords with a new second chamber drawn from the four parts of the UK.

The proposals “start from the position that each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a unit that both can and should determine its own affairs to the extent that it considers it should; but that each unit should also be free to choose to share, through an efficient and effective United Kingdom, functions which are more effectively exercised on a shared basis”. 

Common UK functions might include the constitutional monarch as head of state, national security, foreign affairs and defence, human rights, immigration, the supreme court, the currency, a central bank, some taxation powers, and the civil service. Everything else would be controlled by the nations and regions

This is a complete reversal of what happens now, where a central government devolves power to the periphery as it sees it fit.

This is the model which I think will best preserve the UK. Four national parliaments and one UK Parliament that has a limited role.

How to fix the Auckland housing crisis

July 22nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Donal Curtin has an elegant and effective fix for the Auckland housing crisis:

The Auckland Housing Enablement Bill, 2016

1. The purpose of this bill is to accelerate and increase the supply of well-built housing in the Auckland area.

2. Any house up to two storeys in height may be built anywhere within the Metropolitan Urban Limit without further planning approval, provided that the construction

  • is carried out by, or supervised by, a Registered Master Builder or New Zealand Certified Builder, and

  • the quality of construction is signed off in writing by two, arm’s length, full members of either the New Zealand Institute of Architects or the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand

Would greatly reduce the development costs also.

Net migration still climbing

July 22nd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

migrationjun16

Net migration has almost hit 69,000, a huge turnaround from 2011 and 2012 when net migration was in fact negative.

Most people think it would be good to reduce this while infrastructure catches up, but the nature of net migration makes this challenging.

  • People leaving NZ have dropped by around 32,000 a year from 88,000 to 56,000
  • NZers returning to NZ have increased by around 9,000 from 22,000 to 31,000
  • Australians moving here have doubled from 5,000 to 10,000 a year

So around 46,000 of the increase in net migration is beyond government control and is a good thing – more Kiwis wanting to live in NZ, and Aussies moving here.

The other factor is arrivals (non NZ/Aus) have increased by 28,000 from 62,000 to 95,000. This is around 30% of the overall change in net migrations.

The increase in “foreign” arrivals is not in residency visas but almost equally (14,000 each) in student visas and work visas.

International students studying in NZ increase GDP by billions of dollars. Studying here does not grant residency. They do increase the strain on infrastructure, but if you turn down qualified applicants, you’ll impact economic growth. Most students visas are to students from India, China and the Phillipines.

The work visas have also increased by 14,000 since around 2012. There may be more room to tighten up eligibility here. But skill shortages could be a consequence. Also the majority of those on work visas are not from third world countries. The most common countries for those on work visas are:

  1. UK 17%
  2. France 9%
  3. Germany 8%
  4. Australia 8%
  5. US 5%
  6. Philippines 5%
  7. China 4%
  8. South Africa 4%
  9. Canada 4%
  10. Japan 3%

Are the Sky negotiations being used as a pretext to save money?

July 22nd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

The New Zealand Herald has withdrawn its reporting team from the Rio Olympics after failing to secure an agreement with Sky Television over use of Games footage on its news website.

NZME Managing Editor Shayne Currie today confirmed the Herald has informed the New Zealand Olympic Committee of its decision which follows similar action taken by Fairfax Media last night. Neither organisation will now send reporters, photographers and videographers to Rio but will still cover the Games.

Currie said “unduly restrictive” conditions imposed by Sky, who have purchased New Zealand broadcasting rights for the Games from the International Olympic Committee, had driven the decision.

“This has been a difficult decision but ultimately we cannot accept what we view as unduly restrictive and unnecessary News Access Rules as proposed by the New Zealand rights holder, Sky Television,” Currie said. “These do not allow for fair-use of copyright material in accordance with the New Zealand Copyright Act and have the potential to impact heavily on our ability to cover the Games in a fair and meaningful way.

“We also believe that they run counter to the Olympic charter. As a result, NZME Publishing – publisher of New Zealand’s biggest newspaper, the NZ Herald; one of the two largest New Zealand news websites, nzherald.co.nz; and five regional daily newspapers – will no longer be sending a team of journalists to Rio.

“Through our syndicated agencies and partnerships, plus with our award-winning sports journalists in New Zealand, we will be doing our utmost to provide the best Games coverage possible.”

Fairfax confirmed a similar position with executive editor Sinead Boucher saying the conditions Sky had sought to impose around Games footage were “unprecedented”.

I feel sorry for the Fairfax and NZME sports journalists who won’t now get to cover the Olympics from Rio. The cynical side of me wonders if the Sky negotiations were used as a pretext so the soon to be combined company could save on the costs of having 20 journalists travel over there?

We don’t need another portfolio!

July 22nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens announced:

Greens will establish a Minister for Manufacturing in Government

The Green Party announced today that it will establish a Minister for Manufacturing in Cabinet, to better represent the interests of manufacturers and ensure they thrive.

The Minister will be inside Cabinet and have responsibility for the long-term interests of the manufacturing sector.

The last thing we need is another portfolio created.

This is almost as bad as having a Minister for Racing.

Shall we also have a Minister for Retailers? A Minister for Wholesalers? A Minister for Importers? A Minister for Service Industries?

My view is we need fewer portfolios, not more. In April 2011 I blogged:

My future would be:

  1. Ministry of Internal Security – Crown Law, Corrections, SIS, Justice, SFO, Police
  2. Ministry for Environment – Environment, EPA, Conservation, Biosecurity
  3. Dept of Administrative Affairs – DIA, LINZ, Building & Housing, Customs, Stats
  4. Ministry for Economic Development – Labour, MAF, MED, Fisheries, MORST, Transport
  5. DPMC – DPMC, SSC
  6. Education – Education, ERO, TEC
  7. Ministry of External Relations & Security – GCSB, Defence, MFAT,  NZDF
  8. Treasury – Treasury
  9. Incomes – IRD, WINZ
  10. Culture – Culture & Heritage, Nat Lib, Archives, NZ on Air
  11. Health – Health
  12. Social Policy – Pacific Island Affairs, MSD, CYF, Youth Development, Community Sector, Senior Citizens, Families, Women’s Affairs, TPK
  13. Parliament – Parl Serv, Min Serv, Office of Clerk, PCO

This means you could have a cabinet of 12. The Speaker looks after Parliament, and one Minister per major agency.

Left politicians seem to think having a new ministerial portfolio is necessary to actually do stuff. Hence they think a Minister for Children will reduce child abuse etc.

The Government doesn’t (for example) have a Minister for Open Data, yet it has done some great things in opening up Government data, led by Bill English. Rather than create a portfolio, he’s just got on and done it.

Trans-Tasman on the China trade beatup story

July 22nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman reports:

Is China dumping steel in NZ, and has it issued threats of trade retaliation? The flurry of newspaper reports this week aroused much concern among NZ exporters but in the wash-up were found to have little substance. The Chinese ambassador in NZ Wang Lutong has given an assurance to the Govt there will be no trade retaliation if an inquiry into a complaint of alleged dumping of Chinese steel goes ahead. This followed the original newspaper report China has threatened “retaliatory measures” against NZ trade, warning it will slow the flow of dairy, wool and kiwifruit imports.

It turns out the original story, as they say in the trade, was a “beat-up,” based on a comment from a Zespri employee in Shanghai. Kiwifruit marketer Zespri says reports it was called to a meeting in Beijing or has been pressured by the Chinese Govt over a potential inquiry into the dumping of Chinese steel are “false.” It says two weeks ago local staff had received unsubstantiated information from an industry body in China on purported industry consultations related to the importation of NZ agricultural products. This information was passed on to NZ embassy officials in China as part of normal business.

Amusingly Fairfax is still trying to run the story hard, despite the fact most media have all but ignored it now the truth has come out. The Dom Post editorial has jumped the shark even further and has said Todd McClay should be ashamed of himself and should be sacked for some reason. The only part of the editorial I’d agree with is this:

Truth is the first casualty of war, as the phrase goes. This also seems to apply to trade wars.

Indeed truth is the casualty here, as Fairfax continue to insist there is a trade war when there isn’t.

Once again, this is why trust in media is at an all time low.

The 1st Secretary General straw poll

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:44 am by David Farrar

The results of the 15 member security council straw poll for Secretary General appears to be:

  1. Antonio Guterres (Portugal) 12-3-0
  2. Danilo Turk (Slovenia) 11-2-2
  3. Irina Bokova (Bulgaria) 9-2-4
  4. Vuk Jeremic (Serbia) 9-1-5
  5. Srgjan Kerim (Macedonia) 9-1-5
  6. Helen Clark (New Zealand) 8-2-5
  7. Susanna Malcorra (Argentina) 7-?-?
  8. Christiana Figueres (Costa Rica) 5-5-5
  9. Natalia Gherman (Moldova)
  10. Igor Luksic (Montenegro)
  11. Vesna Pucic (Croatia) ?-?-11

This is not a great result for Clark, but good enough to stay in the race. To some degree what is more important is how the P5 countries voted as they all have a veto. Clark is reported to have received a number of discourage votes. If one of them is from a P5 member, that is pretty fatal.

UPDATE: More voting figures known and added. Clark’s 5 discourage votes is quite high and her chances now appear diminished.

If Guterres was from Eastern Europe he’d be picked as he had no discourages. The highest placed Eastern European is Turk but we don’t know if one of his two discourages was from a P5 member. Russia was unhappy with the outcome of the straw poll it seems so they may be one of them.

 

General Debate 22 July 2016

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Latest poll

July 21st, 2016 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curia the results of the latest Roy Morgan poll.

After a month of headlines of the Government in crisis and how Labour has them on the ropes and this is a turning point, the poll shows a massive 10% vote shift for National.

National has gone from 43% to …

53%!

A few pundits may be regretting their columns.

Now as I commented on Twitter I don’t think there has been a 10% increase in support for National in one month, which would be 250,000 more New Zealanders suddenly deciding they will vote National. Roy Morgan is known as a yo-yo poll as it does tend to have fairly regular large increases and decreases. So it is probably the case that either their June poll was too low for National or the July poll too high – or both.

But regardless of how large the movement has been, it is beyond doubt that in a month of relentless negativity in the media, National has gone up in the Roy Morgan poll. I’ve done an analysis of how likely each party movement’s is genuine, rather than just sampling margin of error.

  • National up 10% – 99.8% likely to have gone up
  • Labour down 2.5% – 83.3% likely to have gone down
  • Greens down 3.0% – 95.2% likely to have gone down
  • NZ First down 2.0% – 92.2% likely to have gone down

Labour at 25.5% is 5.5% lower than they were three years ago in the same poll. And if you compare it to how National were doing in Labour’s third term, well National in July 2007 was at 49%!

US Navy to visit

July 21st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The United States Navy will send a ship to New Zealand this year, ending a 33-year absence from our ports because of the anti-nuclear rift.

US Vice-President Joe Biden will formally accept the invitation today when he meets Prime Minister John Key in Auckland.

Biden arrived in Auckland last night and in a speech was effusive in his comments about New Zealand and its shared history with the US, particularly around defence.

He did not mention the rift of the past, nor the hugely symbolic gesture of the US Navy’s return.

New Zealand and the United States shared the same values, the same commitment to freedom and equity, and the same fierce independence, Biden said.

“You nor we never bend. We never bow. We know who we are. We mean what we say. We say it in slightly different ways but it is the same.”

The US is one of 30 foreign navies invited to attend the 75th birthday celebrations of the NZ Navy.

It has been mulling the invitation for the past 18 months and the matter is understood to have gone right to the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama.

If correct, this is very good news. The US is an important ally and friend and it would be a shame to not have them attend.

He mentioned the work the two nations did together in the Antarctic, in the Ross Sea and at the United Nations Security Council.

There was deep history of partnership including in World War II when troops were stationed in New Zealand.

The US will be very pleased that we have announced a ship is being built that will be able to service Scott Base and McMurdo in Antarctica. We have been totally dependent on the US Navy to get supplies in by sea, so having a RNZN ship capable of getting to Antarctica makes it a more equal partnership down there.

There is probably no area the two countries work more closely together than in Antarctica.

UPDATE: It is confirmed.

Benefit levels on an eight year low

July 21st, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Jo Goodhew announced:

Acting Social Development Minister Jo Goodhew says the number of people receiving a main benefit has continued to fall year on year, with the latest figures the lowest for any June quarter since 2008.

“The number of people receiving a main benefit has fallen by 5,172 (or 1.8 per cent) in the last 12 months, with those on Sole Parent Support continuing to drive the strong downward trend,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“This is the first quarter since the $790 million Child Hardship Package came into effect, raising benefit rates by $25 a week after tax for those with dependent children, and increasing obligations for sole parents.

“Sole Parents have shown they are willing and able to move into independence, with a reduction of 965 in the last quarter, or 3,818 in the last year in the numbers receiving Sole Parent Support.

This is good. We want a supportive welfare system to help people temporarily (unless incapacitated) while they have tough times, but we know that on average a welfare dependent household leads to far far worse outcomes for children growing up in them.

The changes in benefit levels for the last five years are:

  • All main benefits down 14.5%
  • Under 25s on welfare down 22.9%
  • Work ready job seekers down 21.6%
  • Job seekers on welfare for over a year down 17.7%
  • Sole parents benefits down 26.5%
  • Under 25 sole parent benefits down 34.3%

The under 25 reductions are especially pleasing as data shows the longer a teen stays on welfare the more likely they’ll remain there and have far worse life outcomes than if they get into the workforce.

What some political staffers will do for their bosses!

July 21st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

The SBS special Pauline Hanson: Please Explain, which airs later this month, includes a range of surprising revelations, including her first sexual encounter with former colleague David Oldfield.

On the night of her infamous maiden speech in 1996, Oldfield — who was a Liberal staffer for Tony Abbott at the time — made contact with Hanson and arranged a meeting at a Canberra pub.

“He just said his name was David, he wouldn’t tell me his last name for reasons who he worked for,” she in the documentary. “He came over to the motel I was staying in, we had dinner and he stayed the night. He left the next morning.”

But Oldfield bluntly insists “there was no romance in that sex” and cryptically said he was “doing what I had to do for Tony”.

He had sex with Pauline Hanson, for Tony.

Glad the MPs I worked for never required that of me 🙂

ANZ Chief warns of housing bubble

July 21st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A strong op ed by David Hisco, the CEO of ANZ. He warns of the problems the housing bubble may cause.

He proposes a number of actions:

Heavily increase LVR limits for property investors. The Reserve Bank wants most property investors around the country to have 40 percent deposits in future. We think they should go harder and ask for 60 percent. Almost half of house sales in Auckland are to property investors. Taking them out of the market will be unpopular amongst investors but it may end up doing them a favour. Of course this would mean less business for us banks but right now the solution calls for everyone to adjust.

He could well be right that more than 40% is needed. But I think see the impact of the 40% requirement before deciding if it needs to increase to 50% or 60%.

Weaken the New Zealand dollar. The Reserve Bank should look to weaken the dollar, making our export industries more competitive. That’s good for employment and our balance of trade in the long run. The Reserve Bank in Australia are already examining unconventional measures to do this. The longer our dollar is out of step with the rest of the world we will slowly drift towards being uncompetitive. Rising unemployment and rising house prices can’t co-exist.

Here I disagree. The role of the Reserve Bank is not to set the currency rate, but to keep inflation low. Plus the level of our currency is set mainly be external factors such as Brexit, Australian economy etc.

And as it happens the real TWI is currently at 72, down from a peak of 82 in 2014. It hasn’t been below 70 consistently since the 2009 recession so I don’t think it is a major issue.

Voluntary tightening of lending criteria by banks. Since the GFC banks have been more conservative than ever on lending. But the current situation will see ANZ implement even tougher criteria for investment loans as house price inflation spreads from Auckland to other regions.

Great.

Review immigration policies. Immigration has been great for New Zealand. We are a harmonious, diverse and inclusive society. But Auckland’s housing, roads, public transport and schools are struggling to cope. Let’s have an honest and sensible debate about immigration using facts rather than prejudice to see if we should push the pause button.

I agree and have been saying this for some time. However we need to be aware that the level of residency visas has remained constant, so the Government doesn’t have a lot of latitude to impact net migration. However I do agree it should look to do so until the infrastructure has caught up.

Have a strong focus on infrastructure build, particularly in the growth regions.We always seem to play catch up in this country relying on bureaucratic formula to work out demand. There are smart ways to fund infrastructure that can spread cost across the generations if we choose to go that way.

Again I agree but would say this Government has done more infrastructure investment than any other. But definitely more to be done.

Treasury says decriminalising cannabis would save $550 million a year

July 21st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Decriminalising cannabis would generate money for the Government and ease pressure on New Zealand’s courts according to an informal Treasury report.

The documents obtained under the Official Information Act by Nelson lawyer Sue Grey came from an internal forum at the Treasury “designed to test policy thinking on a range of issues in the public domain,” Finance Minister Bill English said.

The documents reveal Government spends about $400 million annually enforcing prohibition whereas decriminalisation would generate about $150m in revenue from taxing cannabis.

Moreover it said reforming drug policies would “save money, ease pressure on the justice sector, and lead to fewer criminal convictions for youth and Maori”.

Drug prohibition as it is in New Zealand disproportionately affects males, Maori and youth – in 2001 Maori made up 14.5 per cent of the population but received 43 per cent of the convictions for cannabis use.

It also pointed out that “drug reform isn’t a particularly radical idea these days”.

“It’s supported by The Economist and the Global Commission on Drug Policy, as well as reports by our Health Select Committee and the Law Commission,” the report said.

According to Treasury about 6 per cent of cannabis users are caught by police but 95 per cent of those who are continue to use cannabis.

It isn’t official Treasury advice but still very welcome information to have in the public domain.

Several US states have legalised cannabis, and over the next couple of years we will have very robust data on whether doing so leads to increased harms from drug use. If the evidence is it doesn’t, then we should follow on from them.

Does Goff have any policies?

July 21st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Phil Goff, a Labour MP and former Housing Minister, offered little in the way of solutions for poor people affected by the city’s housing crisis at a mayoral debate in South Auckland last night.

Gordon Myer, of the CAB in Manurewa, said every day he saw the misery of people who cannot find a home.

“What, if anything, can council do to make God’s Own really God’s Own?” Myer asked four mayoral candidates, Goff, Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and John Palino.

Goff expressed sympathy for the problem, told a couple of stories about people sleeping rough in cars and threw in a few numbers about the housing shortage. His only hint of a solution was working in partnership with the Government to deliver on basic needs for human beings.

It is understood Goff, a leading contender to replace Len Brown who is stepping down at October’s local body elections, will issue a housing policy next month.

A policy would be a nice thing. So far Goff has made no specific commitments on pretty much anything.

Phil Twyford has said Labour’s policy is to abolish the MUB (formerly the RUB). However the only people who can do this are the Auckland Council. Will Phil Goff specify that as Mayor he would propose and vote for abolishing the MUB?

That is the one thing that more than anything else would reduce house inflation in Auckland.

Phil Twyford gets it. Will Goff?

Beards at school

July 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A group of Kapiti College students have attracted international support for a petition to allow year 13s at the school to grow tidy facial hair.

Anthony McEwen and four other students started the petition as a social studies assignment, expecting it to attract only 20 or 30 signatures from family and friends.

But it has so far received 281 signatures online, from as far afield as Auckland, Christchurch, Australia and Britain.

“They were all saying stuff like ‘What you’re doing is a great change’,” McEwen said. 

So support from people not part of the school community.

“At the end of the day, 99.9 per cent of the comments are positive.” 

Year 13 students were allowed to wear mufti to school, and to use makeup, he said. But if a student turns up with facial hair, he is taken from class and instructed to shave with provided equipment.

That did not fit with the rest of the dress code, McEwen said. “It’s facial hair. It’s not like everyone is staring at you.

“I don’t see, when we’re allowed to express ourselves through clothes, why we can’t express ourselves through facial hair.”

I can think of at least one reason.

Teenagers mature at different rates, and some need to start shaving at a quite young age, and others not until later in their teens. Most schools already have a high degree of peer pressure and/or bullying. Having some students turn up with beards etc could lead to hassling of other students for not being mature enough yet to have grown facial hair.

I don’t care too strongly either way – up to a school to decide its own policy. But there are sound reasons why a school might not want to.

Staffer labels WCC as toxic

July 21st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A leaked email sent to Wellington city councillors paints a picture of an organisation in chaos, and a “toxic culture” in which personal ambitions reign supreme.

The email, provided to Stuff, is from Pete Whiting, who was hired from Australia as a transport engagement officer to advise on cycleways.

He quit late last month after only four months, saying council power brokers largely ignored his experience and ideas

In an email sent on July 11, after his resignation, he lambasted councillors and senior management, saying he had never before encountered a council that would “bury its head in the sand over transport and future transport issues”. 

He accused them of turning the Island Bay cycleway “into a political mess”, to the point “where the project completely stalled”, leaving him with virtually nothing to do.

“You should all be ashamed of yourselves in the way you treat each other and the issue,” Whiting wrote, in reference to the cycleway.

He said councillors divided the community and polarised the cycleway “just for some cheap support”, and he was dumbfounded by the council’s disconnected structure.

“I am just disgusted at the toxic culture I witnessed.

“I also found the lack of teamwork, cohesion, vision and unity of council astounding. I expect this in the community, not in council.”

He claimed authorities for whom he had worked in Siberia and Kazakhstan had better engagement with the public than Wellington did.

He concluded: “Please get your act together for Wellington’s sake.”

If there had been proper public engagement from the beginning on the Island Bay cycleway, it would not have become so toxic.

Councillor Simon Woolf also said Whiting had some fair points. “He’s a credible person. He’s got the goods … I felt he was the real deal.”

Woolf, the council’s community engagement portfolio leader, said Whiting arrived at a bad time, with the cycleway melee scuppering his chances.

“I certainly felt for him. He’s really a good guy, and very capable.”

Councillor Paul Eagle, a staunch critic of the cycleway design and consultation process, said Whiting was a “breath of fresh air”, but had been set up to fail.

“I thought, we’ve finally got a person who understands engagement, not consultation, and he had that Aussie bluntness,” Eagle said. 

It was “a real shame” Whiting had left. “We needed that expertise.”

Very clear that the status quo is not acceptable at the Council.