Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

60 fewer managers for Christchurch City Council?

August 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christchurch city council staff are “upset” and “shocked” by news they stand to lose their jobs, their union says. 

Sixty jobs will go under a major Christchurch City Council restructure announced on Thursday.

Chief executive Karleen Edwards said the changes would start with those “at the top”.

Nearly half of the axed roles are management positions. Edwards said the intention was to improve customer service, not to save money.  

The changes mean:

– 175 roles will be disestablished and 115 new roles created.

– Executive leadership team positions would drop from seven to five.

– 79 of the disestablished roles are management positions, 15 are communications roles and 12 are marketing roles. 

So of the jobs going half are managers and a sixth are comms or marketing. Looks like a good restructure.

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Pester power

August 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cameron Sigmund, 5, is playing checkout.

He packs a teeny-tiny Pump sipper-bottle, mini-Energizer battery pack and finger-width Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo into a shopping trolley, before swiping his customer’s Fly Buys card and ringing it through his New World plastic register.

As mum brandishes a plastic-wrapped Domino Star from Countdown, a fight breaks out between the pint-sized cashier and his pig-tailed 1-year-old sister Ashley over who’s going to open it.

Screams ensue. The packet is opened. Disappointed faces all round: the Sigmunds already have Nemo.

The family, from the northern Wellington suburb of Paparangi, have religiously collected the little giveaways from New World and Countdown since the stores started the promotions in 2013.

The marketing manager who came up with the idea of the miniatures is an evil genius who has probably earned two year’s annual leave for it.

Free collectable toys are nothing new: from little Hamburglars in our McDonald’s Happy Meals, to Christian Cullen All Blacks cards in our 1990s Weet-Bix boxes.

But since New World, owned by Foodstuffs, launched its extraordinary Little Shop range of mini-branded supermarket products in September 2013 – and Countdown responded with its wildly successful collector cards and dominos – collectables have had a tsunami-like comeback, spawning school swap-meets and inflated Trade Me auctions.

Sigmund is the first to admit collecting the New World Little Shop and Little Kitchen products and Countdown Animal Cards and Domino Stars is great fun. She’s got two full sets of each, one for each child.

But she’s already swapped supermarkets four times just to follow the promotions, and after the Domino Stars set is complete, she’s done, she says.

Why these ones work so well, is they are not making you shop more often, they are just making you choose a particular brand, to keep your kids happy.

And as a result of its “Little” promotions, New World has gained nearly one percentage point of market share in the highly contested market, Bayliss says.

Responding to claims the supermarket is using “pester-power” to hook young consumers, Bayliss says it has not found parents are pressured to spend more at the supermarket.

“Instead what we have noticed is shoppers who may not be loyal to one supermarket brand become committed to shopping at New World during the promotion period.

Yep.

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Unsafe to release

August 29th, 2015 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Alfred Vincent has been in prison since just after the Wahine sank. At 78, he is frail and hard of hearing. But the Parole Board has decided yet again that he is not fit to be released. DEIDRE MUSSEN reports on the case of New Zealand’s longest-serving prisoner.

He looks as if he belongs in a rest home. A trembling smile fills his wrinkled face, a nervous expression appears in his only eye, and fresh batteries are in his hearing aids.

So why has he not been released?

The 78-year-old takes a seat beside his long-time lawyer, Michael Starling, at his latest parole hearing at Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch, and faces the panel of four.

After brief introductions, Starling admits there is no release proposal on the table, despite three years passing since Vincent, who grew up in Kaiapoi in Canterbury, last saw the board.

The reason is two-fold: unhealthy sexual desires and poor health.

“According to psychologist reports, despite his elderly age, he has a strong and persistent pattern of highly sexualised behavior,” panel convener and former High Court judge Marion Frater says.

“He is still sexualised to a high degree,” Starling confirms.

A silent Vincent nods.

“So age hasn’t been a mitigating factor?” Frater asks.

“He’s become less discriminatory,” Starling replies.

When new inmates arrive at his unit, Vincent becomes inappropriately excited.

“We did have him in the garden nursery, but the issue was the other younger prisoners. He got a bit enthusiastic,” his unit manager adds.

That sounds like a euphemism.

Old age makes many offenders safer, but not all. Sadly it looks like Mr Vincent will never be safe to release, and die in prison. That’s sad, but not as sad as releasing him and having a child sexually assaulted by him.

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Hotel WiFi in NZ very bad

August 28th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Blayne Slabbert at Stuff writes:

When staying at a hotel would you rather have Sky TV or free wi-fi? What about a bath big enough for three or free wi-fi?

I would definitely opt for the free wi-fi and I expect I’m not alone. Not only do I want it for free, I want it to be a decent speed.

I think 95% of customers would prefer wi-fi to television. And while nothing is free, the question is whether it should be included in the room charge.

I think it should be. Making you pay extra for Internet is like having a charge for water.  And even worse some of the charges are so high you pay more per day in a hotel than your normal monthly cost.

But many top hotels in New Zealand and around the world still charge for wi-fi and a lot have internet speeds that would be classified as dial-up.

During a recent stay at an international hotel chain, the staff at the front desk told me that it charged $8 an hour to access the internet.

Like being back in 1996!

A website, hotelwifitest.com, helps people find good wi-fi at hotels around the world.

It ranks hotels, including those in New Zealand, getting users to submit speed tests and then ranks them according a star rating.

Great.

But according to a survey by management consultants Accenture, free in-room Internet access was ranked the second most important factor after room cost in choosing a hotel.

In NZ I tether my laptop to my phone so not such an issue. But when picking where to stay overseas, wifi cost is a major factor.

Still, I’m hopeful wi-fi will be free and fast in all hotels within a few years and we’ll look back and laugh at the concept of paying extra to access the internet.

I wonder if once upon a time hotels charged you for the electricity you consumed?

It is getting better though. I note that Sky City no longer charges for Internet but has free wireless through the complex. It’s great to be able to just use it without even needing a login. And it is fast – faster than the old paid wifi you used to have.

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Stupid Porirua City Council

August 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new bylaw has been passed banning Porirua residents from washing their cars in their driveways or in the street.

The council wants people to dob in their neighbours if they catch them flouting the law – but already many are vowing to defy it.

As they should. Washing your car in your driveway is not an unreasonable thing to do.

The stormwater bylaw was passed at a council meeting on Wednesday. It aims to improve water quality by stopping detergent and car wax running into stormwater drains, and eventually into Porirua Harbour.

I’m sorry, but there is a better solution than banning car washing on drive ways.

Residents will be forced to wash their cars over grass, or pay to use commercial car washes, which are connected to wastewater systems.

Oh, get real.

Porirua hoped other councils in the region would follow its lead. Iona Pannett, chairwoman of Wellington City Council’s environment committee, said the changes had “a lot of merit” and Wellington could one day do the same.

I hope Iona campaigns on banning car washing in your own driveway!

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Alcohol sachet ban rejected

August 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Auckland community group concerned with keeping Eden Park secure has had its calls for a ban on alcohol sachets rejected by the Government.

Good. They are banned at Eden Park, as is the right of Eden Park. But it would be dramatic overkill to ban them through out New Zealand, in an attempt to stop them being used at Eden Park.

The small pouches contain 20 per cent alcohol and can be hidden in a hand, pocket or wallet. They are cheap, with six sachets costing about $10. According to one manufacturers’ website, this amount of alcohol “certainly packs more punch than your average RTD.”

And cost a lot more. I did the calculations in July:

This is for the equivalent of four standard drinks:

  • 1 litre of 5% beer – $4.40
  • 350 mls of 14% wine – $4.67
  • 700 mls of 7% RTD – $4.82
  • 140 mls of 37.5% spirits – $4.62
  • 250 mls of 20% Cheeky – $20

So in fact they cost four to five times more than other drinks.

 

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Kids in state care

August 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In 2013-14 there were 117 children in the custody of CYF reported to be abused; 88 were in the care of a CYF caregiver, 25 were formally placed with their parents but still officially in CYF custody, and five were abused while living with an unapproved caregiver or in an unapproved placement.

That’s very sad. Generally kids are in state care because they have been abused already by their parents, so to have it continue just makes it so much worse.

However it is worth noting that there were 5,000 kids in care so the rate of abuse in state care is 2.3%.

Only 20 per cent of children in state care achieve NCEA level 2 compared to a national average of 70 per cent.

That needs to be much higher. It will never reach the average due to what has already happened to them, but it certainly can be better than that.

Nearly a third of 14 to 16-year-olds in state care were charged with a criminal offence.

The real problem – a cycle of abuse and crime that repeats with the next generation. If we can intervene successfully to break that cycle, then we’re all the better off.

 

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Great tech ideas from Air NZ

August 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Regan Schoultz reports:

An app will allow travellers to check in, receive flight information, order coffees and enter flight lounges using their Apple watch.

Okay that’s just a watch version of their smartphone app (which is great).

The self-service baggage drop will allow passengers to process and drop off their own baggage manually.

The service will use a biometric camera – the same technology that immigration staff use at the Smart Gate – which will match biometric information, contained inside a passport, with the person’s physical identity to verify they are the same person.

A customer will then be able to weigh and load their luggage on to the belt themselves.

This process is at present carried out by airline staff at a baggage drop-off counter.

 

That’s pretty cool.

A permanent tag attached to luggage will display bag information and a barcode for any flight.

Passengers input their details using Bluetooth technology which will update the barcode and flight information on the tag.

Also cool.

The airline is also looking to create electronic departure cards that can be filled out by passengers on their mobile phone or home computers before checking in.

The online service will remember personal details of someone if they have previously flown and will automatically fill those out on the departure card.

This is the one that really excites me. I hate filling out those stupid forms, and have often said that surely the airline could provide you with one filled in when you check in, as they have all your details.  So all you’ll really need to do is check it, and sign it.

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But did his grades improve?

August 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The tribunal heard the teacher had sex with the pupil several times late last year, both at his house during the day and on school grounds.

She offered sexual rewards as motivation on Facebook messages, offering to “do a bit of learning of the techniques other than simile then do it with no notes… if you do you can have a special request tomorrow… haha pretty much do anything you want any way but you can have that as your motivation if it’ll help.”

She rightfully got struck off.

But I do wonder whether the student’s grades improved with the incentive on offer?

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A service or intimidation

August 27th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A violent attack on a motorist who refused to have his windscreen washed at a South Auckland intersection has generated renewed calls for the controversial practice to be outlawed.

Does anyone ever find this a useful service, or it is just intimidation?

As you can wash your windscreen for free at any service station, I think it is a business model that operates on intimidation rather than providing a service people want.

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Top 40 classic NZ TV shows

August 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ on Screen has done a collection of what they call the top 40 NZ TV shows from the 1960s on.

The ones I have fond memories of are:

  • It’s In the Bag
  • Play School
  • Telethon
  • Ready to Roll
  • On the Mat
  • Nice One
  • Top Town
  • Fair Go
  • A Dog’s Show
  • It is I Count Homogenized
  • Gliding On
  • After School
  • Under the Mountain
  • Radio with Pictures
  • Gloss
  • Billy T
  • Holmes
  • Shortland Street
  • Nightline
  • Outraegous Fortune

Which ones are your favourites from the top 40?

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The future of farming?

August 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Watch this video shot from a drone in Wairarapa? They spot a sheep in trouble with the drone, and then actually use the drone to help right the sheep, so it can get away.

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NZ Ashley Madison addresses

August 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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Danyl McL blogs:

I downloaded the dump files and took a look at the breakdown of top level addresses. It seems a little unfair that teachers account for about 0.2% of the addresses but close to 100% of the breathless coverage.

Many of the .co addresses are just private email addresses (xtra.co.nz, yahoo.co.nz) so you could claim that the focus is on teachers and public servants because they were stupid enough to use work addresses. But there are also literally thousands of work addresses included in that .co category including, amusingly enough, many from the media companies running these stories about dirty teachers and public servants. If these journos want to know why someone would sign up to one of these sites they should go ask their executives. Why are the teachers ‘exposed’ and not everyone else?

I think that the media have gone way over the top hunting down people who were registered on the site, just because they are a teacher or used a work address.

Unless there is gross hypocrisy involved (ie someone is a family values crusader), then there is no public interest in publishing stories about people who registered for the site.

As Danyl notes, some users are from media companies. Are they going to start doing exposes on their own staff?

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Facial tattoos have consequences

August 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An artist was refused entry to a bar because of his facial tattoos, despite offering to hide them with makeup.

Jesse Wright said he felt “degraded” by his treatment. He is considering making a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

A tattoo is a choice. You can’t complain to the Human Rights Commission that you have been discriminated against because of your tattoos.

Wright has hundreds of tattoos covering about 50 per cent of his body, including his eyelids.

Those on his face meant the most, he said. Several were linked to his family.

Wright said he had never been refused entry to a bar in Christchurch because of his tattoos.

“I find it highly offensive. You don’t judge a book by its cover,” he said.

When people don’t know you as an individual, they will judge you by what they can see.

I’m not anti tattoo. I was around 20 years ago, but now I appreciate good artwork on people. But bars do have the right to have policies around appearance such as standard of clothing – and visible tattoos.

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Buy a lunch to give a lunch

August 24th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A cool little initiative at Eat My Lunch.

You can order a lunch online to be delivered to your school or workplace. They’re fresh and different. And if you order lunches through them, they also will donate a lunch to a child in need.

I love seeing private sector stepping up to help those who need some assistance, rather than just demanding the Government do everything.

The lunches are just $8 each, and it is free delivery to schools and just $2 to workplaces.

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High demand for Teach First

August 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A controversial on-the-job teacher training programme has become so popular it is receiving 15 applicants for each available place.

Teach First NZ, which sees high-flying graduates placed in low-decile high schools, is hoping to increase the number of participants it can take next year, in light of the success.

The programme had about 300 applications for its 20 places for next year.

It was previously labelled a “crash course” by critics, with some saying the graduates wouldn’t stick around after course completion, but instead move on to higher things.

However, Teach First NZ chief executive Shaun Sutton says that of the 15 inaugural alumni from its 2012 class, 13 have stayed in New Zealand, and all of those are continuing to teach.

More than half remained in low-decile schools. Where they have moved out of poorer communities it was largely due to a lack of teaching positions at those schools because of falling rolls.

 

The overseas versions of this initiative have been very successful, so it is good to see the NZ one off to a good start.

Alfriston College principal Robert Solomone said his school was one of the first to get the programme, and was reaping the benefits.

“They have picked some very high calibre young people who would otherwise not have thought about getting into the teaching business,” Mr Solomone said.

“They are already highly qualified and are showing a real passion for the job. They want to try new things and are doing it well.”

All strength to them.

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Maybe he should have paid his tax?

August 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Khalid Mehmood didn’t believe in paying $1 million tax – but the government didn’t have much sympathy and sent him to prison

Now, the restaurateur says jail itself is against his religion: he isn’t fed a Halal diet, he can’t pray because the other inmates are too noisy, and he doesn’t have access to an Imam. 

Again, authorities are unsympathetic. This week, the Court of Appeal upheld his three-year sentence in Northland Region Corrections Facility.

Good.

Mehmood’s appeal failed after judges found no records of the prison receiving his complaints, and noted he had since moved to a newly-built prison in South Auckland where he was able to observe his duties. 

So he was using his religion as an excuse to try and get a lighter sentence.

He appealed the sentence, claiming it was “disproportionately severe” because it prevented him from observing daily religious protocols. He argued it was a hardship not generally suffered by other prisoners. 

By that argument, atheists should get longer prison sentences than people of faith.

The Court of Appeal noted Mehmood had since been moved to a new facility where he had his own cell, could shower four times a day, had access to an Imam, was provided a Halal or vegetarian diet, and was given his two meals at 5pm everyday so he could eat after sunset and before sunrise.   

Sounds lovely!

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The top 10 most liveable cities

August 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Economist has done its list of the 10 best cities in the world to live. This year they are:

  1. Melbourne 97.5
  2. Vienna 97.4
  3. Vancouver 97.3
  4. Toronto 97.2
  5. Calgary 96.6
  6. Adelaide 96.6
  7. Sydney 96.1
  8. Perth 95.9
  9. Auckland 95.7
  10. Helsinki 95.6
    Zurich 95.6

The cities are ranked on 39 criteria such as safety, education, hygiene, health care, culture, environment, recreation, stability and transport.

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Car Sharing

August 23rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington Deputy Mayor Justin Lester has urged council to support a car sharing business, which he believes could be the next Xero or TradeMe.

Wellington peer-to-peer car-sharing company Roam will allow car owners to hire out their own vehicle to other people through an online booking system and keyless car entry software on their mobile.

The business plans to market the software and device to car-sharing platforms overseas – either selling or partnering with car manufacturers and car rental companies.

Wellington City Council needed to support export growth potential businesses like Roam, Lester said.

Our cars sit unused for around 95% of the week. I think car sharing will be part of the future, along with driverless cars.

Good to see Justin Lester wanting the Council to be supportive of innovative companies in this space.

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Auckland needs the Wellington way

August 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Residents of two narrow Auckland streets are furious that council parking wardens fined 27 of them in a 2am blitz on cars with two wheels on the curb.

They say if they had parked correctly access would be obscured for emergency services vehicles, rubbish trucks and other large vehicles and likely result in damage to cars.

Residents on Orakei’s Apihai and Tautari streets woke on Thursday morning to find $40 fines on their windscreens.

A 2 am blitz. That is just outrageous revenue gathering.

A Fire Service spokesman said as residents were parked on the kerb, staff had not experienced issues of blocked streets in Orakei.

“If they were forced to start parking on the road, like it sounds like they will be now, it’s only now that we might start seeing this.”

A St John spokeswoman said the residents’ concerns were justified, but there were no recorded incidents of paramedics not being able to access a patient due to a narrow road.

“St John’s preference is for streets to be wide enough for comfortable ambulance access in order to get to patients as quickly and safely as possible.”

Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said it was important narrow streets were kept clear for emergency services to use.

Auckland Transport should be told by the Council to pull its head in.

In Wellington, the City Council takes a flexible approach to street parking. They even refer to it in a brochure as “The Wellington Way” which is to ignore technical breaches of the regulation that says don’t park on foot paths, because forcing people not to do so would be more hazardous.

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Lock him up

August 22nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A 27-year-old West Coast man has admitted filming while a cat was set alight and killed.

Jason Dale Rowling says he was under the influence of drugs when the cat was killed at a Greymouth beach in May last year.

He admitted the charged of wilfully ill-treating the cat by burning it, causing it to die, at an appearance before Judge Jane McMeeken in the Christchurch District Court today.

The incident took place between May 1 and May 15 when Rowling visited associates.

During the visit, an associate discussed killing a cat by burning it, police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Simcox told the court.

He said the group then drove to a beach where a cage containing a cat was taken out of the boot.

Petrol was poured on the cat and it was set on fire. The cage was opened and the cat ran for a time before dying, said Sergeant Simcox.

Anyone involved with that should go to jail. Animal torture is often an indicator for sociopath behaviour.

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Smart kids

August 22nd, 2015 at 6:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The pair managed to leave the centre’s playground through the fire exit gates into the car park.

They then crossed Pioneer Highway, a four-lane road, before being found in the car park of a shopping centre 300 metres down the road.

In a letter sent to parents, centre owners Simon and Jane Pervan said the children opened the gates by one child unlatching the ground bolts and the other child getting a leg-up on the perspex to reach the two bolts at the top.

Smart kids, working out how to do that by working together. I wonder how old they were? Amazing how inventive some kids can be.

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Another month of net migration from Australia

August 21st, 2015 at 12:02 pm by David Farrar

migrationjul15

For the fourth month in a row, we have had net migration from Australia. On the 12 month rolling data shown above, you can see how close we are to being the very rare case of having net migration from a larger country to a smaller country.

Some stats:

  • Number of NZers returning (from anywhere) at all time high of 30,000 a year
  • Number of NZers leaving (to anywhere) at all time low 35,000 a year
  • Departures to Australia at 12 year low of 25,000 a year
  • Arrivals from Australia at all time high of 25,000 a year
  • Nine years ago NZers had net outwards migration of 24,000 a year, now down to 5,000
  • Nine years ago net migration to Australia was 21,000 a year, now down to 720
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You can eat yourself to death

August 21st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At the time of his death, the 37-year-old was living at a supported living home with three others. The accommodation was provided by IDEAS Service, one of our biggest accommodation and support providers for the intellectually disabled.

On April 7, he managed to steal keys, allowing him access to IDEA Services’ food stores, where he gorged himself on at least three loaves of bread, eight buns and 24 muesli bars.

He had Prader Willi Syndrome, symptoms including learning difficulties, and obsessive eating. So it is very sad his care was not better.

I’m amazed that anyone could actually eat that much food. That’s at least 4,500 from the bread, 1,000 from the buns and 5,000 calories from the muesli bars. So he managed to eat five times the recommended daily limit in one session.

An average dinner is around 600 calories, so 10,500 calories is around 17 dinners!

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110 km/hr is sensible for good roads

August 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Drivers’ appetite for a 110kmh speed limit is ramping up.

An AA report on attitudes to speed found the number of members who want to increase the open road speed limit to 110kmh has reached a strong majority.

Support for increasing the speed limit on top-rated motorways has risen steadily since 2013, from 44 per cent of members to 71 per cent.

The report was compiled from a number of AA member surveys and polls over the past four years.

A 110kmh limit has been considered for more than a year for motorways built as part of the Government’s Roads of National Significance programme.

The roads that could qualify would be flat, straight, have at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space.

They seem like sensible criteria.

The proposed 110kmh speed limit was about as fast as many people could imagine themselves driving, the report found.

AA asked members how fast they would go if there were no speed limits. Men would go as fast as 115kmh, while woman peaked at 105kmh. 

Depends. On a good road with a good car, I find 120 km/hr is a pretty good speed

 

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