Editorials 18 May 2010

May 18th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on :

Many homeowners will now see their bill for repairs effectively halved – a quarter paid by taxpayers, a quarter paid by ratepayers – and the rest of the money made available through Government-guaranteed bank loans. That will be a relief to them, and who could argue with the need to help resolve the horror that has afflicted lives and families?

A horror that was dismissed by Helen Clark as a beat up by the Herald.

Some will find the Government contribution overly generous, as a Court of Appeal ruling found the Crown had no liability because its flawed building department did not have sufficient “proximity” to the actual house leaks. We have argued here before that local authorities so poorly regulated and managed the building practices that they should take more responsibility than central government. Yet their exposure has stayed around a quarter of the cost, while the negotiations leading to this package have seen the Crown up its contribution from a proposed 10 to 25 per cent.

It is generous, but sadly necessary.

National inherited this mess from a Labour Government which did not act swiftly or comprehensively to protect the rights of afflicted citizens. Yesterday’s package is the first time the Crown has put serious money on the table and committed councils to do the same. But in truth it addresses just two-thirds of the problem.

Better than zero thirds!

The Press talks community:

Too many residents of New Zealand cities believe that good fences make good neighbours. This fortress mentality might be thought to be inevitable as cities grow and become more impersonal, with neighbours not knowing each other.

But in several Christchurch suburbs there are now promising signs that this trend is being reversed and that a greater sense of community or an urban village approach is developing.

I was lucky. I grew up on Melbourne Road, Island Bay, where there was a great sense of community. All the kids on our section of the road knew each other and on any day we would be at any of the homes.

Only an extreme idealist could believe that New Zealand society could turn back the clock completely and return to those halcyon years when, it was said, everyone in a street knew each other by name and residents did not bother locking their front doors when they went out.

Not sure about the wisdom of not locking the front door, but I see no reason why one shouldn’t know all your neighbours – it is just a matter of knocking on doors and introducing yourself.

The Dom Post deals with the Union apology:

The Rugby Union apology to Maori players excluded from three All Black tours to South Africa bears the unmistakable stamp of a grudging public relations exercise. As recently as last month, Wayne Peters, the chairman of the union’s Maori Rugby Board, was dismissing calls for an apology as “simplistic”. To say sorry would be to show a lack of respect for past administrators of Maori rugby, he said. …

The exclusion of the likes of George Nepia, considered by some the greatest All Black, and Johnny Smith from All Black touring sides because of their race is a shameful episode in rugby’s history. The union should never have allowed another country to determine who should represent New Zealand.

Absolutely.

The critiques science funding:

By the same token, years of indifference to adequately fund scientific innovation for the longer term – at least 10 or 20 years – has seen New Zealand gradually fall behind its competitors in the intellectual markets in which we compete for skilled thinkers, researchers and inventors.

There was some progress during the Clark government’s term in office, with its research and development tax credit and the $700 million Fast Forward Fund, and Labour has grounds for criticising the National-led Government’s announcement last week as not being sufficient or early enough.

The Government’s Primary Growth Partnership has, Labour says, not paid one dollar to its intended recipients and, further, business has received nothing from the Government for research and development for the 18 months the Government has been in office.

Still, even a few crumbs is better than nothing at all, and of the $321 million earmarked by the Government over the next four years, $225 million is “new” funding.

There are aspects of the arrangements which look promising, including a trial scheme to establish links between private companies and publicly-funded research organisations such as universities and Crown research institutes.

It would always be nice to be more, but again we are still borrowing $240 million a week.

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25 Responses to “Editorials 18 May 2010”

  1. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    It would always be nice to be more, but again we are still borrowing $240 million a week.

    Not we, the National govt, on our behalf, but not with our confidence.

    How much is being repaid each week?

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  2. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    DFP..I was lucky. I grew up on Melbourne Road, Island Bay, where there was a great sense of community. All the kids on our section of the road knew each other and on any day we would be at any of the homes.

    Ahh.. those were the days…. today the nighbours kids just steal from your home..

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  3. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    In terms of the 50% repair bills I think a lot of homeowners will find that comes out as a pretty handy amount as compared with the Leaky Homes Disputes Resolution carry on. I have been involved in a few and would have to say repair claims are ruthlessly beaten down by depreciation, maintainance and betterment. So whilst it might cost $25,000 to, say, repaint the house it would be argued that a house has to be repainted every 10 years in any event (bollocks but that’s what the paint people say) and the house is 8 years old at the time so the contribution is actually $5,000 and also the paint 8 years down the track is much more advanced so the position of the home owner is improved so make it $3,000. (Numbers only used for effect).

    Taking into account legal fees, stress and delay I suspect that a lot of homeowners will bit the bullet and move on with this scheme.

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  4. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    If that $240 million a week was going instead into science and innovation r & d – now then we’d be talking!

    If that was matched by NZers investing on the local sharemarket – whether through a pension scheme or shorter term investments, then companies could have access to the venture capital necessary to really innovate and get great ideas to market. The flow on to quality jobs and higher incomes would be the shot in the arm the export economy needs to lift us higher on the OECD rankings. It beats just hopin’ and diggin’ holes in conservation estate.

    we are only going that way with baby steps though – it would be nice to see National make a more positive shift in the incentives to encourage people to invest in businesses rather than property, and to save rather than spend. I dont think this years budget goes far enough. Time will tell.

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  5. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Supplementary questions – why IS the govt still borrowing 240 mil a week and yet think that tax cuts are needed? Are they unable to find savings to reduce or eliminate this borrowing? just what DO they do all day?

    How are we going on closing the gap with Oz? How much do THEY borrow a day?

    When’s the cycleway being built, and how much will need to be borrowed for that?

    Why is the man with the most exposure to, and experience of, capital markets twiddling his thumbs as minister for tourism instead of getting his hands dirty as finance minister/treasurer?

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  6. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    why IS the govt still borrowing 240 mil a week and yet think that tax cuts are needed? Are they unable to find savings to reduce or eliminate this borrowing?

    They’re raising GST and hitting depreciation on property ownership. Fiscally neutral apparently it will be.

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  7. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    fiscally neutral does not improve the cash balance. It does not reduce the need for borrowing. Why do tax changes need to be “fiscally neutral”?

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  8. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    fiscally neutral does not improve the cash balance. It does not reduce the need for borrowing. Why do tax changes need to be “fiscally neutral”?

    Well they’re cutting spending a wee bit too (or reprioritising, or both, can never remember). And well, since we’re on Kiwiblog I might as well just quote the Bloggeur for the last question (from the ‘Tax’ post today):

    Once again – the tax changes are not about redistribution. They are about changing the incentives so there are greater incentives to work, save and invest overall and less of an incentive to invest in property beyond your own home.

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  9. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    mavxp… If that $240 million a week was going instead into science and innovation r & d – now then we’d be talking!

    If we let Maori borrow the $240-50 million a week… we would never have to pay it back.

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  10. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Stephen, “…changing the incentives so there are greater incentives to work, save and invest overall and less of an incentive to invest in property beyond your own home.” is a convenient lie,

    To save or invest, you need surplus income, something that is pretty hard in a low wage economy, especially when GST is about to go up by 20%.

    No, this about making it easier for those already at the top of the table to grab more for themselves whilst denying the lower paid the opportunity to better themselves.

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  11. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    Under General Debate [which seems to have died at the moment] I wondered –
    How much more finance has been found in the leaky homes issue than the complete estimated allocation for settling all the Waitangi claims?

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  12. JC (956 comments) says:

    “The union should never have allowed another country to determine who should represent New Zealand.”

    Sorry, but that demonstation of the “memory hole” shows why the RFU should not apologise.

    From 1900-1970s the public, the NZRFU and the Govt were one.. an intertwined grouping that determined the make up of the ABs and the business of touring. Its simply not possible to pull out the NZRFU and say it was responsible for what the country determined was right or wrong about playing South Africa.

    Its history, and we would be better deployed apologising to the billions of people that we let down by not withdrawing from the UN when it appointed Libya, Iran and other monstrous regimes to head up Human Rights committees etc.

    JC

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  13. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    To save or invest, you need surplus income, something that is pretty hard in a low wage economy, especially when GST is about to go up by 20%.

    No, this about making it easier for those already at the top of the table to grab more for themselves whilst denying the lower paid the opportunity to better themselves

    20% sounds like an awful lot. If we’re working on these assumptions, then it should be noted that lower rates will be cut too.

    Saying ‘no it’s bad’ is fine, but i’d like to know why you think ‘balancing’ the economy this way is a bad thing.

    In any case, we don’t know what the exact tax changes will be, which is why i think it’s a bit rich for left and right to condemn this government for a budget which hasn’t even been released yet. Who knows, maybe they’ll cut WFF at the higher echelons to fund a lower taxes at the bottom.

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  14. Sean (301 comments) says:

    One nice thing about living in apartments in Asia is that I rarely have to see and never have to talk to the people that live next door. A neighbour is not the same thing as the people who happen to live on the same floor. If I wanted to make friends with neighbours, I would live in a small and isolated village.

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  15. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Wow LRO, I’m happy that you are sooooo concerned for the countries fiscal position…… BOUT FUCKEN TIME!!!!

    Now lets see you support:
    * Interest on Student Loans.
    * Cancellation of Government contributions to Kiwisaver.
    * Cancellation of the WFF bribery scheme.
    * 25% reduction in the Welfare budget.

    Cuts gotta come from somewhere – there is no such thing as the magic pixie fairy money tree.

    PS: Where the fuck was your concern when Labour were in Gov?

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  16. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Bevan, I opposed WFF from the moment it was announced. I have been consistent in my opposition to middle class welfare, something that National supporters don’t seem to be able to be.

    I do not support interest on student loans as I oppose student loans. Education should be free, not a market commodity.

    25% reduction in welfare bills sounds like a figure plucked from your arse, how about quantifying whjat you would cut and why? Or does thinking hurt so you can only argue in slogans?

    kiwisaver is a small measure of how we can close the gap with Oz. Yes, cut the government contribution, by all means, repalced it with the 12% employer contribution Oz has.

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  17. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    LRO: Bevan, I opposed WFF from the moment it was announced. I have been consistent in my opposition to middle class welfare, something that National supporters don’t seem to be able to be.

    LIAR!

    LRO: I do not support interest on student loans as I oppose student loans. Education should be free, not a market commodity.

    Why? You expect me to explain my Welfare target, so please explain why tertiary education should be free/

    LRO: 25% reduction in welfare bills sounds like a figure plucked from your arse, how about quantifying whjat you would cut and why? Or does thinking hurt so you can only argue in slogans?

    25% is a target. “Plucked out of my arse” is your term, but then I hardly expected intelligent debate from you – I should have know better. But I’ll play ball. Here is what I would do:
    – Have DPB set at a miximum of three kids, with the benefit paid for the third child greatly reduced.
    – Cut dole payments by 15% as an incentive for the recipient to look for work. I call this my “philu requirement”.
    – Set a limit of 6 months, then dole recepients have to reapply and prove they have been looking for work, and are keeping themselves fit for work. Any attempt to make themselves unemployable results in a two year ban from receiving any umemployment benefit.
    – Stand down period of 12 weeks if the benefot recipient is in breech.

    Also, one thing I would do is create a new benefit, a training allowance set at 150% of the current unemployment benefit if the individual is attending a defined training course for a required skill the country requires, not high paying things like for Doctors, Lawyers etc.. But for blue collar type work like foresty, labouring, road works, etc – TBH I’m not sure what would need to be taught, but something to help people get into that line of work if they want to. Obviously a list of appropriate training courses would need to be defined by the government of the day.
    With this training allowance I would set the following limitations:
    – Limit the training allowance to 6 months max.
    – Lump sum payment at successful completion to help get the individual get ready for work.
    – Unable to reapply for the training allowance without undertaking a period of paid work (6 months)in the chosen disapline.

    kiwisaver is a small measure of how we can close the gap with Oz. Yes, cut the government contribution, by all means, repalced it with the 12% employer contribution Oz has.

    Oz super is not currently set at 12%. Also, Oz and NZ are two different business environments.

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  18. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Bevan (2255) Says:

    May 18th, 2010 at 4:38 pm
    LRO: Bevan, I opposed WFF from the moment it was announced. I have been consistent in my opposition to middle class welfare, something that National supporters don’t seem to be able to be.

    LIAR!

    Proof, or an apology please. Otherwise I’ll file you with the junk like d4j and redstirbaiter.

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  19. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    LRO: Proof, or an apology please. Otherwise I’ll file you with the junk like d4j and redstirbaiter.

    OH NOES!!!! I might be filed….

    My opinion, yer a liar! Feel free to file anything you want – may I suggest a certain location.

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  20. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    (plink)

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  21. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Bevan, I like your policies but can you please include compulsory drug testing with benefits suspended for positive testing for illegal drugs?

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  22. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    yvette, it seems no one cares on this thread either…

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  23. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    (plink)

    Oh boo hoo hoo, boo hoo hoo!

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  24. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Rightnow: Bevan, I like your policies but can you please include compulsory drug testing with benefits suspended for positive testing for illegal drugs?

    Of course, we can call that one the philu2 requirement.

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