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.

The NZ political consensus

Liam Hehir writes:

Despite occasional appearances to the contrary, we enjoy something of a consensus about our political arrangements in New Zealand.

There is really no dispute that we should have a representative democracy, the rule of law and a market economy coupled with a welfare state. There is unlikely to be a single member of Parliament who would disagree with any of that.

I suspect Sue Bradford and Keith Locke would have disagreed with a market economy but as of today that is probably right.

There is debate within those broad parameters, of course. We argue about how generous welfare should be and how it should be operated. National tends to be concerned about ensuring the system is not a drag on the productivity sustaining it. Labour tends to want the system to be as generous as possible.

That debate is heated at times. However, there is really no fundamental disagreement on the question of what kind of society we want to be.

By coincidence this was a point the PM made the other day also. That NZ had avoided the extremism in other countries because we do accept a role in looking after people from cradle to grave – free maternity care, paid parental leave, free pre-tertiary education, almost free healthcare for kids, welfare if not working and a generous superannuation scheme where retired people’s real income keeps rising.

Strictly speaking, however, a lot of what gets called “socialism” in this country should instead be called “welfarism”. The welfare state redistributes some resources from rich to poor to boost the consumption of those who need help – such as those unable to work because of age, disability or bad luck.

This is entirely compatible with the idea of a market economy and so it should be no surprise that many of the countries with advanced welfare states also have high levels of free enterprise.

Nevertheless, it seldom ceases to surprise many on the Left when they see just how flagrantly capitalist countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark really are. The socialist state, on the other hand, actually assumes control of the productive parts of the economy.

Such as taking over the building of new homes!

Having commandeered the means of production, the government can then ration goods and services as it sees fit. It’s not about helping the vulnerable to survive in a market society, but replacing the market with political control.

For obvious reasons, this form of government is generally not compatible with the existence of private enterprise. Where a welfare state might respond to rising food prices by increasing benefits (and taxation), the socialist response would be to take control of the nation’s farms and supermarkets. There is a world of difference between the two modes of government.

We see this in Venezuela.

With swollen revenues, the government financed state-owned grocery outlets to sell food at a fraction of its market price. It also embarked on an ambitious programme of nationalisations and price controls to prevent “speculators” from profiting at the expense of the people.

Unfortunately, Venezuela’s bold experiment in socialism has turned out no differently than previous attempts did in the Soviet Union, the pre-reform People’s Republic of China or neighbouring Cuba.

In other words, shortages, hunger and general decay are now the order of the day. The government has even decreed that, in order to ward off famine, citizens will be forced to report to the fields to grow food for the state – essentially adding the reintroduction of agricultural slavery to the woes of the poor, benighted country.

The left used to be against slavery – but in the last few decades slavery pretty much always occurs in socialist countries!

One thing we seem to have no shortage of is activists who claim Labour and National have devastated our country with successive “neoliberal” governments in the past 30 years. But the alternative to neoliberalism isn’t Norway, Denmark or Sweden. It’s Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I know where I would rather live.

We are not neoliberal or socialist. We’re a market economy with a welfare state as Hehir states. But many on the left thing neoliberalism is anything they disagree with.

An interesting candidate

Stuff reports:

Drug dealers of Rotorua beware, Mayoral candidate John Rakei-Clark has you in his sights.

Rakei-Clark has thrown his hat into the ring for the Mayoralty and tackling Rotorua’s drug problem is a key plank of his somewhat unorthodox manifesto.

“A Class drugs are a nationwide epidemic that is tearing apart our communities, it is stealing our young, causing crime to accelerate and causing our children to live in these environments,” he said.

While the extent of Mayoral powers to tackle crime remains a moot point, Rakei-Clark said he would embark on the biggest illegal drug crackdown New Zealand has ever seen.

He said convicted dealers would have all their personal property confiscated, would be deemed internal terrorists and denied residence in Rotorua.

Last time I read the Local Government Act Mayors don’t have the power to confiscate property, designate terrorists or deny residence.

Yay – pizza delivery drones are nearly here

The Herald reports:

Aerial pizza delivery may sound futuristic but Domino’s has been given the green light to test New Zealand pizza delivery via drones.

The fast food chain has partnered with drone business Flirtey to launch the first commercial drone delivery service in the world, starting later this year.

Domino’s Group chief executive and managing director, Don Meij said the company had been investigating innovative and new delivery methods as business had grown.

This included looking at robotic delivery, which the government is still considering. …

New aviation rules which came into force on August 1 last year allowing and control the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) for recreational and commercial purposes in New Zealand.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the government was continuing to review the laws to ensure New Zealand was at the forefront of the industry.

“As Transport Minister I have been actively promoting New Zealand as a test bed for new transport technology trials,” Bridges said. “Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment to trial all forms of technology.”

“The trial is also a valuable opportunity for the Civil Aviation Authority, who are making sure that appropriate safety precautions are taken,” he said.

According to Meij, the company had been investigating delivery options for a while, saying that it didn’t make sense to have a two tonne machine delivering a two kilogram order.

He said the use of drones offered a faster and safer option as well as removing barriers such as traffic and distance, meaning they could deliver further afield and faster in urban areas.

I normally order from Hell but I’d order from Dominos just for the fun of having it delivered by drone!

WCC candidates on light rail

Stuff reports:

Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan has ruled out any chance of a light rail comeback if she becomes mayor, labelling the idea “wasteful expenditure” that would become a “white elephant” for Wellington.

She and fellow candidates Nicola Young and Nick Leggett have said they will not advocate for light rail in Wellington if elected, but the remaining candidates are still open to the idea.

Their comments come as the debate over whether Wellington should invest in a light rail network has reignited ahead of October’s election.

This makes it easier. Vote for Jo, Nicola or Nick if you don’t want to waste hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Wellington Public Transport Spine Study evaluated the following benefits and costs for three public transport options for Wellington:

  • Bus priority – $35 million of benefits for $59 million of one off costs and $88 million operating costs annually
  • Bus rapid transit – $95 million of benefits for $207 million of one off costs $83 million operating costs
  • Light rail – $56 million of benefits for $940 million of one off costs and $89 million of operating costs

The BCRs for each are:

  • Bus priority 0.57 to 0.67
  • Bus rapid transit 0.87 to 1.55
  • Light rail 0.05 to 0.10

So anyone who says light rail should be planned for is saying we should plan to waste $900 million of your money. The gap between Bus rapid transit and light rail is not a close one. It is like the gap between Usain Bolt and Jon Minnoch.

Coughlan said light rail would cost a huge amount of money, and would end up being a white elephant within a few years.

Wellington needed a more practical transport solution, and she would be focusing on improving the road network, by fixing choke-points at the Mt Victoria and Terrace tunnels, as well as backing electric buses.

“The future is electric,” she said. “Light rail is electric, but it is confined to expensive rails on a set route. Electric cars, buses and bikes are also electric, however they have far more flexibility on where they can travel. People want that flexibility.”

Coughlan said she would also help facilitate infrastructure that supported the move to electric vehicles.

“This is clearly accelerating and I want to ensure this trend continues,” she said. “It is certainly not clear there is a place for light rail in this future and I will not be irresponsible as mayor in supporting what is obviously wasteful expenditure.”

Go Jo!

Justin Lester said light rail was a realistic option for the city in 10 to 12 years’ time. His short-term priority would be on protecting a route for light rail and pushing to make buses fully electric.

“[Light rail] should be considered if it’s in the best interests of the city, and it’s affordable.”

It is not a realistic option and you know it isn’t affordable. How can you advocate we should plan for something that returns a benefit of $50 for ever $1,000 of spending?

Young said she would not advocate for light rail if elected mayor, preferring instead to focus on improving the quality, frequency and reliability of the city’s buses, while also reducing fares.

With so many technological advances on the horizon involving autonomous vehicles and fully electric buses, it would be more prudent to see what that technology could do for the city’s transport before fully committing to light rail, she said.

Yes. There is a dim future for transport modes that can only travel on a pre-defined route.

Leggett said his priority as mayor would be on better roads, cycleways, pedestrian links and a bus rapid transit network rather than pushing for light rail. But he was happy to protect a future route for such a network.

“We would all like light rail, but it comes down to whether or not it’s feasible, and at the moment, it isn’t.”

Andy Foster said he would advocate for light rail planning to begin under his mayoralty, although he figured it would take about a decade to get a network up and running.

“We should be investigating it. We shouldn’t be ruling it out.”

It has been investigated!! Thoroughly.

Slightly saner Easter trading law passed

Stuff reports:

It’s now over to councils to decide whether shops can open on Easter Sunday after controversial legislation passed into law amidst heated debate.

That is despite public calls from New Zealand sporting greats David Tua and Michael Jones for Pacific MPs to oppose the change.

Tua flew to Wellington to speak to media shortly before the final vote, flanked by Labour’s Pacific MPs.

“I think Easter Sunday needs to be protected. As a young boy growing up in South Auckland Easter Sunday, you looked forward to it – to spending it with your family, you go to church, and you have a good lunch,” Tua said.

National’s Pacific MPs needed to be “courageous” and defy their party and vote down the law change “for our families”, the boxer said.

Last week rugby great Michael Jones – a devout Christian who has links to the National Party – also went public with a similar call.

However, all National Party members voted for the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which will allow councils to pass bylaws to allow trading on Easter Sunday and passed its third and final reading by 62 to 59 personal votes today.

Great to see Parliament vote for slightly saner shop trading hours.

The current law is a farce. Queenstown and Taupo could open but not Rotorua and Wanaka. How can anyone defend the status quo? You either need all areas to be open, none to be open or have a procedure (which we now have) where each area can decide for itself.

It is also worth noting that many shops already can legally open on Easter Sunday anyway. Dairies, service stations, souvenir shops, duty free shops, fast food outlets, public transport terminal stores, and pharmacies can all open.

The new law also explicitly states no employee can be forced to work on Easter Sunday, and can refuse without having to give a reason. This protects employees far more than the current law where employees who did work in one of the exempted category or exempted areas could be forced to work.

So it is a small step towards a saner shop trading hour regime.

What will be interesting now is to see what each territorial authority decides. I am sure areas such as Wanaka and Rotorua (who have wanted this for a long time) will decide to allow Easter Sunday trading. What will Wellington decide? Tauranga?