Areas most likely to support a party

July 9th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Some very neat work by the Herald data team which has compared election results to the demographics of each meshblock and calculated which areas are most likely to vote for or not for a party.

This is based on the characteristics of a meshblock (often 200 or so houses) so is not the same as individual data, but is likely to be pretty accurate.

Here’s some interesting factors for each party:

Labour – more likely

  • Pasifika
  • No kids
  • Maori
  • No qualifications
  • Smokers
  • Doctorates

Labour – less likely

  • Europeans
  • Self-employed
  • FT employed
  • PT employed
  • State house tenants (counter intuitive, but this is voting in areas with high numbers of tenants – not necessairly the tenants themselves)
  • Couples
  • Home owners
  • FT students

National – more likely

  • Europeans
  • FT employed
  • Asians
  • Born in NZ
  • State house tenants

National – less likely

  • Pacifika
  • Maori
  • No kids
  • Smokers
  • No qualifications

Greens – more likely

  • Self-employed
  • No religion
  • No kids
  • Maori
  • European
  • Bachelors Degree
  • Student Allowance

Greens – less likely

  • Born in NZ
  • FT employed
  • Asian
  • Over 65s
  • Have children

NZ First – more likely

  • Maori
  • Europeans
  • No qualifications
  • Couples
  • Smokers

NZ First – less likely

  • Bachelors degree
  • Self-employed
  • Over 65s (again this is people in areas with lots of over 65s, not necessarily the over 65s)
  • FT employed

Herald calls for sale of Ports of Auckland

July 6th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The second reality that needs to be recognised by all concerned is that New Zealand does not need another port. The country already has too many.

If ports were run by the Government rather than local bodies, they would have been rationalised long ago. If port companies were answerable to private shareholders, the same thing would have happened, probably more efficiently than by government design. If Ports of Auckland was on the sharemarket, it would not be still enraging Aucklanders with these bids for more of the harbour. Its shareholders would have found it more worthwhile to co-operate with their nearest competitor, the Port of Tauranga.

Ports such as Tauranga are on the sharemarket and Tauranga has bought into Northport at Marsden Pt. With co-operation between Auckland, Tauranga and Northport, the need to ship goods into and out of this part of the country could surely be accommodated without further encroachment on the Waitemata – or dredging a $5 billion “super port” on the Manukau or the Firth. No such nonsense would be contemplated if the Auckland Council floated even part of its needlessly owned port. The city needs a council with the courage to do so.

The Council owning the Port has meant it is less responsive to the public.

Herald owners agree to pay $36 million of tax they dodged

June 30th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reported:

Australian publisher APN News & Media has reached a binding heads of agreement with the Inland Revenue Department to settle its alleged tax avoidance case and other disputed tax issues for $36.3 million.

Isn’t this curious.

The NZ Herald spends a lot of time and space highlighting how certain companies (which happen to compete with them) don’t pay much tax. Those companies have never ever been found to have illegally avoided or evaded tax.

However the Herald’s owners have admitted to underpaying their tax by $36 million, and now have to pay it back. Yet how much publicity does this get in the Herald?

Herald says abolish zoning

June 28th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Ironically, “the right to attend the nearest school” was the principle advanced by a previous Epsom MP, Christine Fletcher, to have zoning restored in a partial reversal of the competitive elements of the “Tomorrow’s Schools” reform. But withdrawing that right from future residents is only one possible solution Mr Seymour has proposed. Another, he suggests, would be to block students who lived in the zone without their parents. He says schools have told him of foreigners buying a house in the zone, staying just long enough to gain permanent residency and their child’s enrolment, then leave the child here with relatives or acquaintances.

His third and most obvious suggestion is to build more high schools in the area. The Ministry of Education bought land for a new school from the Auckland Trotting Club in 1999 but the school has not eventuated. It was opposed by residents who feared for their real estate values. The restoration of zoning has created a monster capable of defeating the ministry’s reasonable plans. Mr Seymour’s proposal to pull up the drawbridge against new arrivals may be the only political solution but it would be simpler to abolish zones and restore schools’ freedom to enrol aspirants from anywhere.

That is my preferred policy. You’d need a safeguard where the Ministry can direct a school to take a student if say they have not been accepted into any school within 5 kms (urban) and 50 kms (rural), but otherwise leave it to parents and schools.

The current zoning system gives choice only to those who can afford to buy a house in the zone foor the school they want.

Herald argues for oppressive values

June 16th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

One of those basic Western, liberal values is a tolerance of diverse views and open debate. Muslims who come here may arrive with distinctly non-Western values on the status of women and decency in dress and relationships. They justify their restrictive codes of dress and conduct on a sense of respect and self-respect that they find deficient in Western liberal values. Westerners find that sort of respect oppressive but it is good to have our attitudes challenged. To bar people because they do not share them would be the antithesis of basic Western, liberal values.

Not at all. Does the Herald editorial writer think for example we should welcome in members of the KKK because it is good to have our values challenged? How about neo-nazis from Europe? Would having more neo-nazis in NZ be good for our NZ as they will challenge our values? By the same basis, I don’t want people immigrating here who think gays should be stoned to death, that execution is the appropriate punishment for apostasy or that women are second class citizens.

Herald on Labour’s housing policy

May 23rd, 2016 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Labour Party surprised many people last week, and dismayed some of its own supporters, by advocating the complete abolition of boundaries on urban expansion.

Its housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, endorsed the Government’s view that boundaries imposed by the Auckland Council have been a major contributor to the escalation of house prices. His announcement was timed to get in ahead of an urban development directive to councils expected from the Government soon, possibly in the Budget on Thursday. But Labour’s proposal goes further than Mr Twyford believes the Government’s national policy statement is likely to go.

“What we are calling for is the abolition of the urban growth boundary, not softening it, not making it more flexible,” he says. “And not just doing what the Auckland Council advocates, which is periodically adding in more parcels of land zoned for development. All that does is feed the speculative land market.”

I hope the Auckland Council listens, but I fear they won’t. And Phil Goff is refusing to back the policy, which is a bad sign.

The main condition is that development on the urban fringe must pay the full cost of the additional infrastructure they need and the party has proposed an interesting method by which this could be financed. It wants the Auckland Council to be allowed to issue infrastructure bonds that would be repaid from rates levied on the newly developed properties.

Developers are already charged for the cost of connecting their subdivisions to a city’s services but Auckland planners have long opposed urban sprawl on the basis of its infrastructure costs, so clearly those costs have not been fully covered in developers’ contributions. Infrastructure bonds could fill the gap. In fact, they could permit more amenities to be built in these new communities than have usually been provided from development levies because bonds are effectively a loan to future residents whereas development levies are built into the upfront cost of houses. …

Infrastructure bonds would enable those savers to share the gains from housing the population boom without pushing up house prices. The bonds might also attract some housing investors, reducing their demand for houses and slowing the rise of prices. New Zealand offers few investments as safe as houses and has an unsatisfied demand for bonds as secure as these. Labour is thinking well.

I agree. I like their policy on bonds rather than developer contributions up front.

APN and Fairfax merger talks confirmed

May 11th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

APN News & Media has today confirmed plans to demerge NZME and revealed it is in discussions with Fairfax Media about a potential merger of their New Zealand businesses.

“If completed, the combined company will be a leading New Zealand media business, offering depth of news, sport and entertainment coverage across a diverse mix of channels including print, digital and radio,” an ASX announcement says.

The two entities have been in preliminary discussions about a potential merger, which will be subject to approval by both companies’ boards, shareholders and the Commerce Commission. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, subject to all necessary approvals.

I suspect Commerce Commission approval will take longer than six months.

Another NBR story reports:

A merger of New Zealand’s two largest media organisations could be approved on a counterfactual basis, despite competition concerns, a leading competition lawyer says. …

Competition lawyer Andy Matthews says while other countries have rules about media ownership to ensure a diversity of views in the media, “New Zealand’s never had that.”

“From a pure competition perspective, what’s going to happen if these guys don’t get together? Will they survive? It would be inappropriate to stop this because this is how industries respond to change,” he says. …

“It’s a highly fragmented market. I would have thought on the face of it a merger wouldn’t be anti-competitive. It’s an industry in crisis. Do you look at newspapers and online news separate or the same? Does the platform even matter anymore?” he asks.

The merger is undesirable, but the status quo may be even more undesirable as without it one or both companies could shrink significantly.

But the merger would also lead to huge job losses. Estimates I have seen suggest perhaps 1,000 or so.

One key issue for the Commerce Commission might be whether the Herald and Stuff websites would merge.On the print side there is almost no competition already. Radio has plenty of competition. But the websites may be the area where they have competition issues.

Also parliamentary reporting may suffer, as if the two offices merge, then you lose the competitive tension of each office trying to develop exclusive stories.

When will the Herald report on APN’s tax dodging?

March 29th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald has been running a series on multinationals, and the low level of tax they pay in NZ.

But there is one multinational they have ignored.

That is APN, which by coincidence owns the NZ Herald.

The Herald keeps looking at tax paid in relation to revenue, so we should do the same for APN. What are the stats?

  • Revenue – 2014 $843.1 m, 2015 $850.0 m
  • Tax paid – 2014 $9.2m, 2015 $19.8m
  • Tax as a percentage of revenue – 2014 1.1%, 2015 2.3%

But that isn’t the real shocker. Here’s the real hypocrisy.

The 20 companies being targeted by the Herald have all paid the amount of tax they are legally bound to pay. APN HAS NOT.

Look at their annual report:

The Company is involved in a dispute with the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (IRD) regarding certain financing transactions. The dispute involves tax of NZ$64 million for the period up to 31 December 2014. The IRD is seeking to impose penalties of between 10% and 50% of the tax in dispute in addition to the tax claimed. The Company has tax losses available to offset any amount of tax payable to the extent of NZ$48 million.

On 22 February 2013, the Adjudication Unit of the IRD advised that it agrees with the position taken by the IRD. Accordingly, the Company was issued with Notices of Assessment denying deductions in relation to interest claimed on certain financing transactions. In response to this step, the Company has commenced litigation in the High Court of New Zealand to defend its position in relation to this matter.

APN, the owners of the Herald, are tax dodgers. The IRD has pinged them for $64 million of tax, and penalties of up to 50% (which they generally only do if they think it is in bad faith). And APN are fighting this in court.

How on earth does the Herald have the gall to lecture other companies on the amount of tax they pay, when their own parent company has been found by the IRD Adjudication Unit to have illegally dodged $64 million of tax.

10/10 in 47 seconds

February 28th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald Politics quiz is back.  10/10 in 47 seconds.

Herald on Salvation Army report

February 19th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Salvation Army’s annual stocktake on New Zealand’s social health has earned high credibility. It owes this to its recognition of progress as well as problems.

Its latest “state of the nation” report notes continuing improvement in many of the country’s most persistent concerns. Child poverty, for example. It finds children in material hardship, as measured by an absence of some essentials, has dropped from 21 per cent at the peak of the 2008-09 recession to 14 per cent last year, the level it was before the recession. That trend is not evident in the more standard statistical measure of poverty – living on less than 60 per cent of the median household income – but that is because earned incomes have risen.

Average weekly earnings rose 3 per cent last year while the cost of living rose only 0.1 per cent. Half of the increase in earnings came from pay rises, the rest from working more hours. At the same time, unemployment dropped for a second year in succession, though the proportion of the population employed did not rise as much as it did in 2013 and 2014, the peak of the Christchurch rebuild.

The population grew again by 2 per cent, slightly greater than the growth in employment which suggests the numbers retiring exceed the increase in new workers and immigration.

Perhaps most heartening, the report says increases in the statutory minimum wage have helped lift the incomes of the lowest paid faster than the highest paid employment, in finance. The gap may be wide but, contrary to careless rhetoric, it is apparently not necessarily getting wider.

Beneficiaries and their children do not benefit from increases in the minimum wage. Their incomes are indexed to price inflation rather than wages. That ought to change. But at least basic benefit rates will be raised by $25 from April 1.

The Salvation Army estimates 16.4 per cent of children are in families dependent on benefits, the lowest proportion since the late 1980s. That figure is close to the 14 per cent found lacking some of life’s essentials, suggesting the true extent of child poverty is around 14 per cent, not the 25 per cent often quoted by academic researchers.

Perhaps the best news of all, the Salvation Army’s findings are in pre-school education, which is now reaching beyond children in better-off areas thanks to efforts to reach the poorest deciles. Last year, 92.5 per cent of pre-school children received early education. It is a remarkable figure even if the quality of the education is uneven.

So good progress on child poverty, weekly earnings, unemployment, benefit levels, minimum wage and reducing welfare dependency plus pre-school education.

Not everything is improving. House prices moved further out of reach of first home-seekers in the year to last September. While the rate of capital gain slowed in the year to December, reflecting new taxes and lending restrictions on rental property, rents are rising more sharply as a result.

A compassionate country will never succumb to complacency while any of its citizens are in poverty or distress, but it does no harm to acknowledge the success of concerted effort.

Definitely still more to be done.

Herald on Awaroa Beach

February 11th, 2016 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Labour leader Andrew Little thinks it would a good idea for the Government to chip in and support the social media campaign to buy a sliver of land in Golden Bay.

Which destroys the whole community spirit behind the bid. Forcing taxpayers to fund the purchase works against people donating their own money. I’m happy to voluntarily donate money to the bid but not happy for my taxes to be used on it.

At the 11th hour, Gareth Morgan entered the debate, offering to make up the difference between the amount raised by the social media exercise and the $2 million tender guidance. He promised to hand the beach over to DoC after his family had finished enjoying it. Unsurprisingly, the offer has been declined. Contributors to the fund would have been justifiably reluctant to subsidise anyone’s acquisition of a private beach.

Many donors said they would withdraw their pledges if this happened.

Meanwhile, the crowdfunding appeal for Awaroa Beach deserves to succeed. The owner may be asking more than DoC thinks it is worth, but its value is whatever a willing buyer is willing to pay. The appeal is a rare opportunity for the public to decide.

The fund now stands at $1.77 million with 28,515 backers.

Herald critical of Labour’s bribe

February 5th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

A universal entitlement to three years’ free tertiary education has overwhelming public appeal. Whether it is in the public interest is another question. The policy is expensive: $1.2 billion when fully implemented.

That is a considerable lump of public spending. As always when something of this magnitude is proposed, we should not look at its merits in isolation. Governments do not have infinite budgets and there is a limit to the taxation an economy can provide and remain healthy.

Labour needs to be asked, is this the most worthwhile use of $1.2 billion Is it even the most worthy use of funds allocated to education?

Many professionals (outside the tertiary sector at least) would say raising funding of pre-school education is more socially urgent and productive than relieving school-leavers of an obligation to contribute to the cost of their qualifications.

Most of the $1.2 billion will go to wealthy families who planned to go to university anyway.

University student associations have complained about course fees and loans to cover them since they were introduced. But many thousands of graduates have paid their fees and repaid their loans over the past 20 years.

Tertiary education has seen spectacular growth over that period, attracting foreign fee-paying students as well as meeting New Zealanders’ needs. Why change the funding system now?

Or to put it another way, what problem is this policy designed to fix? Labour’s leader presents it as an answer to the frequent and unpredictable career changes people will need in the workforce of the future. But this “future” has been present for many years now and there has been no sign the costs of retraining have become a problem.

The student loan scheme is effectively a temporary targeted tax on those who undertake tertiary study. Once you eanr above a certain level, you pay a 12% higher tax rate until the loan is paid off.

So what is fairer – those who get the benefits of tertiary study paying a temporary higher tax rate, or all New Zealanders paying a permanent higher tax rate?

The economy is strong in large part because public spending is under control. Expensive proposals that waste money purely for political gain could put the country’s prosperity in peril.

It’s the old tax and spend.

Herald and Hosking on TPP

February 4th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Looking back, it is hard to recall a greater diplomatic achievement than the comprehensive trade and investment agreement that will be signed by representatives of 12 countries in Auckland today. The post-war creation of the United Nations in which New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser played a role may be as proud for those who remember it. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is directly in that tradition.

It represents another advance on the principles of the World Trade Organisation, formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) that was one of the multi-lateral institutions formed by nations seeking world peace and prosperity after two devastating wars.

Even 70 years ago, it proved harder to unite the world on rules for international business and trade than to establish a World Health Organisation and UN agencies for the likes of education and science. The Gatt did not become the WTO until the 1990s when just about all countries in the long communist experiment finally turned to capitalism for the prosperity the West enjoyed.

Now we just need Labour, Greens and NZ First to embrace capitalism again!

Mike Hosking writes:

Good morning and welcome to TPP signing day.

I know, I know, I know. We’ve thrashed this thing to death, but here’s your reality: It’s a done deal.

It will get signed today, the legislation will be passed, and all there is left to do is sit back and basically sees who’s right.

Will it be like every other free trade deal and open new markets, bring new opportunities and boost our wealth? Or are the doom merchants right and we’re heading for corporate armageddon, where we spend the rest of our lives in court and have our sovereignty whipped out from under us?

The really big question not many people seemed to ask in this whole debate was: Why would our Government sign us up to all this so-called trouble?

What Government in its right mind would take us down a path of disaster, and with it the political fallout?

Further, why would 11 other Governments do exactly the same thing?

If this is such a dastardly deal, how is it possible that a dozen countries all got sucked in and put their name to the sort of trouble and political mayhem the placard wavers are proclaiming?

12 Governments have signed it because they all stand to gain more from it than they lose. Trade is not a zero sum gain.

Long term, here’s Labour’s potential nightmare: Assuming those of us who like trade deals are right, as the numbers roll in, as the sales get made, and if this deal is like every other deal, it actually produces way more than the paper work ever indicated, think the China deal which is many times better than was initially thought possible.

As that all happens, Labour is going to be backed into a corner explaining just what it was it couldn’t see that the rest of us could.

The benefits of the China FTA have been much much greater than projected, If TPP goes the same way, Labour are going to look very foolish for campaigning against it.

Herald backs Greens costing policy

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Amid the fanfare surrounding Labour’s education policy release at the weekend, it should also be acknowledged the Green Party has made a good start to the year, with a proposal that is reasonable, moderate and financially responsible.

The suggestion an independent unit should be set up within Treasury to provide costings of each party’s election policies is one the Government will find tough to turn down.

Much as it might like to, social policy initiatives from the Opposition can easily be dismissed as fearfully expensive without reliable figures – Labour’s free tertiary plan being a timely case in point.

Labour have a long history of under-estimating the costs of policies – interest free student loans and KiwiSaver ended up costing many times more than they originally said it would.

I support an independent costing agency, but one has to realise that there will always be assumptions which are debatable.

To cost Labour’s education policy, the first step is to work out what would be the cost if the Government paid all the tertairy fees for current students, instead of lending them money for them. That is quite easy to do, and uncontroversial.

The harder part is calculating how many more people will enrol if tertiary education is free. Labour say they think there will be a 15% increase. I think this is massively low. Tertiary providers will be able to earn $15,000 or so if they can sign up any adult who has never been to university (or other tertiary). They’ll be going through rest homes convincing retirees to enrol in courses.  It could well be a 100% increase.

An independent costing agency will have to try and make a “best guess”. This may be based on what has happened in other areas when something is made free – for example what increase has there been in public transport use by retirees since they got free travel. They may be able to look overseas. But even Treasury in the past has vastly under-estimated the cost of policies such as Kiwisaver and interest free loans. Humans respond massively to incentives, and this policy provides huge incentives to providers to sign people up.

The public would be best served if once a policy was submitted to the unit its findings were automatically made public.

Parties might not welcome the risk, and might withhold some proposals from an evaluation, but that would do nothing for their credibility.

The agency should be subject to the OIA.

 

Herald calls for fern flag to fly on bridge

January 11th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

I agree. Both the current flag and the alternative one offer should fly. Having New Zealanders seeing them on flagpoles will better allow for an informed vote.

Herald backs down on uninformed editorial

December 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

On Friday the NZ Herald editorial proclaimed:

Strange things started to happen rather quickly. Not enough subscribers were keen to switch to the more expensive connection, so Chorus raised the price of copper connections to $45 a month to make fibre more attractive.

An organisation of users protested. The Commerce Commission, which can regulate network pricing, stepped in and forced Chorus to lower its copper charge to $32.45. At that, Chorus appealed and the commission has spent the past three years reviewing its calculations.

The following Wednesday their editorial back downs:

Last Friday, our editorial expressed concern that the charge being set for telecommunications on the copper network was being artificially inflated to make the Government-inspired roll-out of fibre optic cable more competitive.

That view has been strongly contested and we need to reconsider a number of issues. Few costs in an economy are more important than the price of its vital infrastructure.

Chorus, the network provider, does not set its own charges. They are done entirely by the Commerce Commission. We have been assured the charge determined by the commission last week has nothing to do with the cost of fibre connections, the uptake of which is at 16.4 per cent of customers served so far.

Kudos to the Herald for admitting they got it wrong. Not so good they did an editorial in the first place they was so poorly researched.

Herald is right – leave it to Pharmac

December 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Theirs is an invidious task, never more so than this week when it had to tell us it would not fund a drug for melanoma, Keytruda, that is being hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of this cancer. Clinicians say it is the only treatment that seems to be effective against advanced inoperable melanoma. Chemotherapy and other regular cancer treatments are not.

Keytruda is state-funded in Australia and England but here Pharmac’s assessment committee has marked it low priority for funding, because of uncertainty about its benefits and extremely high cost. A course costs around $300,000, which anyone given a terminal diagnosis would pay if they could. Some can and do. But it is beyond the means of most and beyond Pharmac’s budget when it weighs up all the demands on its funds.

There was a hint yesterday that the Government could come to the rescue. “Watch this space,” said one of its MPs, Judith Collins, on breakfast television. She compared it to the breast cancer drug Herceptin, that was not accepted for funding by Pharmac but in 2008 the National Party promised to fund it if it came to power, and duly did so. Pharmac does “a great job”, said Ms Collins, “but every now and then something comes along and you’ve just go to say, something has to give on this”.

The Labour Party had been even quicker to take the decision out of Pharmac’s hands. “We would fund it,” said its health spokeswoman, Annette King. With politicians like these, who needs professionals to assess efficacy against costs?

If a Government provides additional funds to cover the costs of a particular drug, it does not upset the careful decisions that Pharmac has to make about the best use of its budget. But each time a Government does so, it reduces the integrity and fairness of the public health system. It is easy to make emotional decisions, especially where cancer is concerned. And of all cancers, melanoma may be the most scary.

I agree with the Herald. We set Pharmac up so medical and other professionals could assess which drugs provided the most benefit for their cost. This is the right way to do things with a limited budget, and MPs should not step in over them to fund additional drugs based on the success of a lobbying campaign.

Herald seems to blame security services for terror

November 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Governments will also be aware that each time public fears are heightened, the political climate becomes more difficult for some immigrant communities. In Australia, three-quarters of the population believes a large-scale terrorist attack is likely within the country and a quarter believe one is imminent, according to a poll at the weekend.

Australia has had two terrorist attacks in recent months, and several more attempted. So it is quite rational to believe more are likely.

New Zealand is not immune to these fears and tensions, or indeed the threat that causes them. But so far, our Government has not seen fit to raise the level of alarm. The Prime Minister says one or two of about 40 people under watch are under fulltime surveillance. No country should have cause for terror if its security services are doing their job.

I profoundly disagree with that sentence. It is blaming the security services of terrorist attacks succeed.

Think if one wrote

No country should have cause for fear of crime if its Police are doing their job

Just as the Police can not stop crime in advance, security services can not stop all terrorist attacks. It is impossible. Hopefully they stop most. But if one or more people are determined to kill unarmed members of the public, they will often succeed.

Herald on Goff

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

The Herald editorial:

Pointedly, Mr Goff offered to bring “a different personality” to the role in his announcement on Sunday. The pity was that he did not offer much else that was different, or indeed much at all. He promises to eliminate wasteful spending and needless bureaucracy. So do they all.

Can he point to any spending committed to by the current Council he does not support? If not, then why should people think rates won’t continue to skyrocket?

He aims for rate rises no higher than at present.

No higher than 10% per annum!!!

He supports higher density residential development and the central rail link. He will not allow the port to expand but he will not sell it, or even shares in it. He will not sell any “strategic assets”.

These are all off-the-shelf positions for a candidate from Mr Goff’s side of politics. Nothing he said on Sunday gave any sign he has been thinking deeply or originally about Auckland and the problems of the council, and what he might do with the sole executive powers of the mayor. Mr Goff has had a long time to consider these things.

It’s swapping one Labour Party Mayor for another.

 

Herald says Len should not go to Paris

November 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Many Aucklanders would have been open-mouthed with amazement at the announcement that Mayor Len Brown is going to the world climate change conference in Paris at the end of the month. The audacity of the discredited mayor never ceases to amaze. He ought to have resigned long ago but any credit he recovered with his decision last week not to stand for re-election next year probably evaporated with this announcement. What purpose can he serve at the climate change conference?

Sight seeing?

The conference is going to hear that his council has set a target of reducing Auckland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2040, and that it is preparing for the impacts of climate change such as severe weather events, floods and sea level rise.

The Council’s target is nonsense because the Council has almost no ability to impact the level of greenhouse gas emissions in Auckland.

National governments can impact the level of greenhouse gas emissions by imposing a charge on such emissions, determining energy sources etc. A local authority has no such power, so the 40% target is basically wankery.

NZ Herald implores people to donate to Labour

November 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The Labour Party’s financial deficit problems should be of concern to all New Zealanders. It is not necessary to be aligned with National or Labour to recognise that a healthy democracy needs two parties capable of providing sound government. …

The country will go to the next election with sensible alternatives on offer, to re-elect National for a fourth term or decide it’s time for a change. Three-term governments have usually been enough for New Zealand voters, but normally the mood for change is evident by this time. Labour may have to hang in for a longer haul and it needs help. It deserves a fair deal from those doing well in an economy that took two parties to put right.

So the NZ Herald is imploring people to donate money to the Labour Party. Good to know where they stand.

Tertiary fraud

November 16th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

A little over a year ago we learned a tertiary education provider, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, had given the players and staff of the New Zealand Warriors league club an 18-week tourism course in one day. An investigation into such funding irregularities resulted in the institution returning $5.9 million to the Tertiary Education Commission.

Since then, investigations into six tertiary institutions, from Southland to the Bay of Plenty, have identified more than $25 million in misappropriation. One of them, we reported this week, has been stripped of its registration.

Why is this happening on such a scale? And how is it that only one of these places has been deregistered? On the face of it, this is fraud with public funds.

This is a reasonable question. If the only sanction for shall we say creative accounting is that you have to pay the money back, then these issues are likely to continue.However if the sanction is deregistration, then tertiary providers should be far more cautious.

It is well past time that when found out, these places face much greater penalties than merely handing back the money if they can. The Serious Fraud Office needs to make an example of someone. A salutary prosecution could wake up the sector to take its social responsibility seriously. It needs to ensure no course is a waste of money and everyone’s time.

If we prosecute people for stealing $1,000 from the Government, shouldn’t we do it if they steal $25 million?

Herald says Len should have gone by now

November 10th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Mr Brown ought to have resigned a long time ago. He has done no good for Auckland by remaining in office once it had become obvious to all around him that he could not again be effective. For two years, the council has been drifting and fractious, lacking leadership in the position that was given more executive power than any other in New Zealand local government.

His decision not to seek re-election next year is the next best thing to an admission that he no longer should be there.

His main legacy will be the 9.9% rates increased after he promised 2.5%.

Herald targets Max Key

November 9th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday does a major story on inequality. And who do they decide to run not one, not two, but three photos of to illustrate their article? Max Key.

That’s appalling. Max Key is a 20 year old, just out of his teens. He is not a politician – his father is. You can argue about whether or not he gets a mention at all, but to run three photos of him is just targeting him because of his father. It’s very sad.

The Herald have a fixation with him. This article is possibly the lowlight, but in total they have had 52 articles that mention him in the last year. They should stop.

Herald backs Ardern

October 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Labour needs to project the image of a fresh, new potential government.

Ms Ardern can help project that image. Ms King cannot. The bigger problem for Mr Little may be that Ms Ardern probably projects that image better than he does, and the last thing he needs is a deputy whose promotion might cause her to be seen as a rival to himself. Ms Ardern no doubt would deny any wish to replace him, and mean it, but if her public reception was much better than his, she would be a contender.

That is the trouble. Ardern as Deputy Leader might soon overtake Little in the Preferred PM polls.

This time next year, if the polls have not improved for Labour, some in the party may well push for yet another change of leader. Having held two contests in the previous term of Parliament, it is running short of candidates. Grant Robertson, who stood in both unsuccessfully, has accepted he will not be the next leader. Ms Ardern, who was going to be Mr Robertson’s deputy had he succeeded, has not been tarnished by the result. She could be a credible candidate; all the more so if by then she has been deputy leader for a year.

That’s almost an endorsement of Ardern to be Leader!