Herald on journalists and politics

May 14th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

But if these misuses of company property had not occurred, Taurima’s position would still have been untenable. He not only joined the Labour Party while working in news and current affairs, he made an unsuccessful bid to be Labour’s candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year. Strangely, after missing the selection, he was able to return to his position at TVNZ. There, his continuing Labour activities reached a level that, the report says, “would plainly be deeply embarrassing to TVNZ if it came to light”.

He must have known that would be so. It is elementary to journalists that joining a political party is not an option unless they plan to make their career in the party’s publications. Those who want to be credible reporters of news and politics for a mass audience cannot belong to a party. If they did, they would have to declare their affiliation, and their audience would rightly question the reliability of everything they reported.

The Public Service Association seems not to understand this. It thinks a recommendation to ban reporters, content producers and editors from political activity is a draconian and unnecessary breach of their rights as citizens. It believes the State Services Commission guidelines for public servants are sufficient for the state broadcaster and that TVNZ will set “a dangerous precedent for other public servants”.

Public servants serve the Government of the day. They can belong to a political party and take part in its activities after hours because the primary audience for their professional work is ministers and other politicians understand their code. State-owned media such as TVNZ and Maori Television are different. Their primary audience must know their reporters, producers and editors are not a member of any party in their spare time.

I thought the PSA position was appalling. They should be defending neutrality – but they were effectively arguing that political journalists for state television should be able to be party activists.

The Herald does not allow its editorial staff to participate in community or political activities that could compromise their work. This means not only membership of political parties but taking part in public campaigns that they could have to cover. Preserving this distance from politics is not an onerous restriction for those whose credibility is paramount. They have the privilege of observing, reporting and commenting on public affairs. Once they cross the line to partisan participation, there is no coming back.

Well stated.

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Herald on $3k to Christchurch

May 8th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It is almost 35 years since Norman Tebbit infamously told the unemployed of Britain to get “on yer bike”. The Employment Secretary was frustrated that, unlike his father in an earlier time, people out of work were not prepared to take to the road to find work. His plea for a less static workforce fell on deaf ears, however, not least because jobs were thin on the ground in the early years of the Thatcher Government.

No such problem exists these days in Christchurch, however. The rebuilding of the city has created plenty of opportunities. Any initiative that makes it easier for beneficiaries to move to this work is, therefore, welcome. …

As well as helping the beneficiaries, the scheme will, obviously, aid the rebuilding of the city. The need for more workers is evident in Canterbury’s 3.4 per cent unemployment rate, which is much lower than the 6 per cent national rate. According to the Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, work is available not only in the construction sector, which has increased its workforce by 90 per cent since the earthquakes, but in hospitality, retail and many other industries. If the pressure on housing in Christchurch could cause a problem or two, that is hardly a reason to scrap the scheme, given its potential value.

All up, the initiative will cost, at most, $3.5 million. That is an insignificant sum for something that could be a life-changing experience for those who seize the opportunity during its 12-month span.

There should be no shortage of applicants. About 19,000 beneficiaries are required to be available for part-time or fulltime work in the 18-to-24 age bracket alone. Some of that number may be loath to leave the relative comforts of home and family. But rather than being disinclined, they should heed the “need work, will travel” mindset that has become common worldwide. Take, for example, the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and others from central Europe who have moved thousands of kilometres to become part of the British workforce. …

Most beneficiaries also want to be doing meaningful work. Helping to rebuild a shattered city surely fits that bill. Nor are beneficiaries being asked to travel to another country and culture like the Poles and Czechs in Britain, or, indeed, the many people from overseas who have come to work in Christchurch. There is every reason for them to grasp the opportunity.

Hopefully they will.

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9/10 in 49 seconds

April 5th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald quiz here.

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Herald on Mana Dotcom plans

March 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

That scenario was confirmed yesterday by Mr Harawira’s press secretary, who said the two parties would not merge but would share a list. The outcome, said Jevan Goulter on Facebook, could be two or three Mana MPs, “and we remain our own party”. It is almost superfluous to say that this would represent a new low in the defilement of MMP.

Two parties with little in common aside from an antipathy to John Key and covert surveillance would be guilty of a new level of cynicism based solely on mutual benefit. For Mana, there would be the prospect of boosted funding and a higher profile during the election campaign; for the Internet Party, a representation in Parliament that it could never achieve on its own.

One has to be careful about gaming the system too much. For example over the years several have suggested National split into two parties – one that stands list only and one electorate only, wit the outcome being National gets an overhang of around 40 seats and Government. But that has never been seriously contemplated as voters would backlash against such a manipulation.

The basic incompatibility of the two has been enunciated by Sue Bradford, the former Green MP who joined Mana in 2011 on the basis that it stood for self-determination and for all people on low or no incomes. She said she found it astonishing that the idea was even being considered. What Kim Dotcom stood for, said Ms Bradford, was “the antithesis of what Mana is about to me”. In her view, some people within Mana were looking for a shortcut to build the party, “but there aren’t any shortcuts to building a credible party or movement”.

Maybe if Hone turned up to Parliament more often, they’d get more publicity and profile?

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8/10 in 46 seconds

March 22nd, 2014 at 6:50 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald quiz here.

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Herald on revealing CVs

March 11th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The law is not always an ass but it can produce an absurdity. The decision of the Human Rights Review Tribunal to make a company disclose to a failed job applicant the CVs and reference checks of others going for a job is an example.

The aggrieved party complained to the tribunal that he was discriminated against on the basis of age. He wants to see the credentials of others who applied or succeeded in the process. Under the court system’s rules of “discovery”, which the tribunal adopts, all information pertinent to an action needs to be handed over from the defendant to the plaintiff. The tribunal has dismissed an application from the company involved, Alpine Energy, to block that discovery under a section of the Evidence Act which covers confidentiality.

So Alpine and its recruitment agency must give the man the information it has on the successful candidate and those who contested and lost. This would include not only names, applications and CVs (although the tribunal and the failed job-seeker have agreed it need not include addresses and contact details) but also reference and perhaps security checks.

A pretty appalling decision. You apply in confidence for a job. Revealing that you applied could endanger your current job. Also very unappealing forcing a company to justify why it didn’t employ someone. Employment decisions are often somewhat subjective – how well they interviewed, whether or not they would fit into the team culture, whether their CV had typos in it etc.

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10/10 in 33 seconds

March 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald quiz here.

And well done to the Herald for finally making it compatible with Chrome!

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Views on McCarten

February 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

The New Zealand Left suddenly finds itself in the position of the dog who caught the car. For years, slagging off the Labour Party as a bunch of neoliberal sell-outs has been one of the Left’s favourite pub and parlour games. But now, with one of this country’s most effective left-wing campaigners just one door down from the Leader of the Labour Opposition, the Left, like the bewildered pooch for whom the fun was always in the chase, has finally got what it wanted and must decide what to do with it.

Yes, it is a huge victory for the far left.

If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail, the Right of the Labour Party and their fellow travellers in the broader labour movement (all the people who worked so hard to prevent Cunliffe rising to the leadership) will say:

 “Well, you got your wish. You elected a leader pledged to take Labour to the Left. And just look what happened. Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key and Labour ended up with a Party Vote even more pitiful than National’s in 2002! So don’t you dare try peddling that ‘If we build a left-wing Labour Party they will come’ line ever again! You did – and they didn’t.”
 
Be in no doubt that this will happen – just as it did in the years after the British Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the general election of 1983. The Labour Right called Labour’s socialist manifesto “the longest suicide note in history” and the long-march towards Blairism and the re-writing of Clause Four began.
Not sure comparison to Michael Foot are helpful to Labour.
The Dom Post:

So the dinosaurs are back. Richard Prebble returns to run ACT’s election campaign. Matt McCarten returns to become Labour leader David Cunliffe’s chief of staff. The ironies are multiple. These two were the chief brawlers in the brutal and byzantine ruckus within Labour over Auckland Central in the 1980s.

A generation later the two will once again be on opposite sides of the political war. 

Not opposite sides. Prebble is campaign manager for ACT, not National. McCarten is chief of staff for Labour.

Mr McCarten is a similarly divisive figure, and already his old comrade Mr Anderton has said he won’t work for Labour this year, apparently because of Mr McCarten. Labour is billing Mr McCarten’s return as a symbolic healing of the rifts in the Left-wing family, but clearly the rifts do not heal easily.

What was interesting is that Cunliffe said he was sure Jim would still be supporting Labour, and then Jim said he won’t be while McCarten is there. What is surprising isn’t Anderton’s views, but that no one spoke to him in advance and hence Cunliffe said something that was contradicted an hour later.

The Herald:

But that presumes Labour’s existing voter base also favours a move to policies aimed at attracting the lost tribes of the left. There is a risk surely that some working, non-unionised, moderate social democrats will see a Labour Party raising taxes, advancing union interests, expanding the state and redirecting wealth to support beneficiaries and the poor as altogether less appealing.

Most non voters are proportionally under 30. I’m not sure a return to 1970s policies will be appealing to them.

Labour’s result in 2011 was its worst for generations. Its poll rating now, under Mr Cunliffe, has not increased much at all from its early-30s standings under David Shearer, despite promising expanded paid parental leave and a baby bonus for all those earning up to $150,000 a year. 

In August 2013 when Shearer was Leader, Labour’s average poll rating was 32.4%. In February 2014 their average poll rating is 32.2%.

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Housing Warrant of Fitness

February 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial says:

At a first glance, Housing Minister Nick Smith’s announcement of a warrant-of-fitness scheme on state homes seemed like a step forward that was as significant as it was welcome.  …

On closer examination, however, there was much less reason for applause. The final words of Dr Smith’s announcement made it clear that the Government had not decided to apply the warrant of fitness to the private rental market or other social housing providers. Urgency on this issue is clearly not high on its agenda.

I think urgency and haste could backfire.

Dr Smith excused this inactivity on the basis that the Government should get its own housing stock in order first, and that the trial of 500 of its homes would show how a warrant of fitness could work. But there is little reason new rules for all rental housing could not be readily introduced.

I wonder if the writer of the editorial has ever been a landlord?

The trial includes a comprehensive 49-point checklist that means homes must be insulated and dry, safe and secure, and contain essential amenities such as bathroom and kitchen facilities. Each home will have to pass this checklist to get a warrant every three years. Any snags in this arrangement should quickly become apparent and be easily remedied. In only a matter of months, it should be possible to roll out the scheme to the private market. The Government, however, is unwilling to even signal that intention.

I think the person writing this has no idea about how demanding such a WOF would be. They think you can roll it out untested, and just makes any fixes as you go along. They think that one can suddenly have an army of house inspectors.

It could well be that there is merit in eventually rolling out the WOF scheme to private sector rental housing, but the history of Government is that of unforeseen consequences. If getting an WOF is too much of a hassle, or too costly to comply with, then it may lead to fewer houses being available to rent – which would push rental prices up for all tenants.

It is time to place some obligations on those offering homes for rent. Already, they benefit from tax breaks and untaxed capital gains. 

The Government has actually got rid of the tax breaks by eliminating the ability to claim depreciation on (most) investment properties. So I am unsure what this tax break is that the editorial refers to. And yes the capital gain is generally untaxed, but that is not derived from renting the property out.

I purchased a new apartment in 2011, and looked at keeping my old one and turning it into a rental investment property. I decided not to, as the potential return from renting it was so low after you account for rates, body corporate fees and maintenance, that it wouldn’t even cover the interest on the mortgage.

There are potentially benefits from a WOF scheme for rental housing, but the last thing you want is to have Government impose a mandatory new requirement on landlords without knowing how costly it would be, and how it might impact on supply and rental prices. Many things sound great on paper, but turn into disasters when they hit the real world.

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Latest Herald tax is only 0.09% of revenue

February 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

As readers will known both APN and Fairfax editorials have stated certain companies do not pay enough tax in comparison to their revenue.

I believe tax should be on profit, not revenue. But the editorials of the Herald and Dom Post do not seem to agree. It is for their benefit I have proposed a living tax campaign of 15% of revenue as a fairer tax system.

APN announced their full year results today. They are:

  • Revenue $817m
  • Profit $2.6m
  • Tax (at 28% of profit) $728,000

Now this means they are paying tax at a rate of only 0.09% of revenue. This is appalling by their own editorial’s standard. At a 15% living tax rate, they should pay $123 million in tax. I look forward to their voluntary payment in line with their editorial stance.

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10/10 in 34 seconds

February 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A gentle quiz this week.

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NZ Herald on Sallies report

February 13th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Salvation Army has earned high credibility in social work for the practical, non-political way that it goes about its mission. It deserves the same credit for social research on the strength of its annual state of the nation report. The latest, featured in the Herald yesterday, offers a more balanced snapshot of our society than we get from research that sets out to find something going wrong.

The Sallies’ report suggests a great deal is going right. Educational disparities are narrowing. Gaps between passing rates from rich and poor schools, and Maori and non-Maori, are not as wide as they used to be. A higher proportion of Maori and Pacific children are enrolled in pre-school education. More school leavers are working or getting a qualification.

Fewer teenage girls are getting pregnant. While the number giving birth has been falling for many years, more recently the number having abortions has been falling too.

That is good news, as is the decline in infant mortality, especially for Maori. We were even drinking and gambling a little less.

Employment is increasing, not only among the young (up 9.4 per cent for those aged 15-24 last year), but the proportion of the over-65 population who are working has leaped from 15 per cent to 21 per cent in the past five years. That means more than a fifth of national superannuitants with super gold cards have not retired. Most of them will be in the 65-70 age bracket and could support themselves if the qualifying age for superannuation was raised.

All but a few hard core opponents have to concede that overall most things are heading in the right direction. And yes of course the age of eligibility should increase.

Incomes rose 2.6 per cent on average last year while the cost of living rose 1.6 per cent. Employees, with an average rise of 3.1 per cent, did better than the self-employed. 

All good.

The report shows that affording a house in Auckland and Christchurch has become even harder than it was at the height of the last boom. The median Auckland house price now exceeds 10 years of the average gross weekly wage. Household debt is rising again as economic growth gathers pace. The average household owes $121,200, giving a ratio of debt to earnings not quite as bad as five years ago but still nearly 150 per cent of the average household’s annual income.

Housing costs and some other adverse trends leave plenty of problems for social policy but it is important to acknowledge progress too.

Yep, overall a pretty fair and balanced report.

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NZ Herald on Buy Australia

February 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

A buy-Australian campaign in two Australian supermarket chains is a sobering lesson for the Green Party and anyone else in New Zealand who advocates the same thing here. The unfairness to suppliers from this country is exactly the effect a buy-New Zealand campaign has in other countries, though the scale of our market diminishes the impact on most of them and increases the damage to us.

Exactly. Its hypocritical to relentlessly claim we should only purchase from NZ suppliers, and then complain when Australian supermarkets promote Australian food over NZ food.

The best thing we can do is to focus on quality of product and price, not country of origin.

Ultimately the best response of excluded suppliers is to make their products doubly attractive and competitive on the same market. Quality, taste, price and brand reputations can trump the country of origin in consumers’ decisions. But it takes a sustained marketing effort, preferably before a threat of this sort comes along.

You can’t take export markets for granted.

The campaign will pass, of course. As soon as the supermarkets sense consumers going elsewhere for familiar items they no longer stock, the non-Australian brands will be quietly restored. But the lessons should not be forgotten when we are urged to buy on country-of-origin labels. Compulsory labelling is a fine principle of consumer information but if the labels are used for an exclusive purpose, fair competitors somewhere will suffer.

Also correct me if I am wrong, but the Australian supermarkets have not banned any NZ food. They have made a decision to only use Australian sourced food for their in-house brands. There is a considerable difference.

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Quote of the Week

February 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Key also ruled out any chance that a coalition with NZ First could result in its leader Winston Peters becoming prime minister for a portion of the term if he did stand down.

“To paraphrase a lovely turn of phrase I read in the paper yesterday, about as much chance as Amanda Knox holidaying in Italy. Zero.”

I love it.

This is now the third story from the Herald that has mentioned this fantasy scenario. I am awaiting the stories where they ask the Prime Minister to rule out genocide in Invercargill, if that is demanded as a coalition condition. They are equally credible.

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8/10 in 39 seconds

February 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One tricky question this week. Quiz here.

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Herald on baby bribe

January 31st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

David Cunliffe delivered one indisputably accurate comment during his State of the Nation address this week. “We need,” he said, “to put our resources where they will do the most good.” The Labour Party leader was referring to the requirement of any government to focus on children, but his comment was appropriate for any spending of taxpayer money. Why, then, does he propose paying families earning up to $150,000 a sum of $60 a week for each newborn baby until the child’s first birthday? Clearly, most people earning anywhere near the top of that range and many middle-income earners have no need for such money. Government resources would, therefore, be being put where they do the least good.

It’s an attempt to buy votes, but one that I think will fail. Most families that are better off would rather receive tax cuts than welfare. Better to pay less tax in the first place, than to be over-taxed and then have the Government hand back to you some of your own tax money as welfare.

 

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Drug use spreads at the Herald

January 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald continues with the fantasy that there in a parallel universe in which National might agree to make Winston Peters Prime Minister.

Audrey Young writes:

John Key this morning scoffed at speculation that National might consider any power-sharing arrangement with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as though it were complete fantasy.

Scoffed? This is the equivalent of asking if there are little green men on the moon. It is complete fantasy.

But the notion is not that off-the-planet that is hasn’t been contemplated. Here’s some of the context.

Back in 1996, at the final stages of coalition negotiations, NZ First asked Labour for a power sharing arrangement in which Peters would be Prime Minister for some of the term and Helen Clark the other.

I’m sure Winston did ask for it in 1996, or someone on his behalf did. He may have asked for the Crown Jewels also. The issue isn’t that of course Winston wants to be PM. The issue is whether a party that gets 5% of the vote would ever get their leader made PM.

It was instantly rejected by Labour.

Of course it was. So what makes anyone think that if a party on 28% of the vote instantly rejected making the leader of a party that got 13% of the vote Prime Minister, that a party looking to get 45% of the vote would make the leader of a party that gets say 5% of the vote prime minister?

Herald correspondent John Armstrong raised the power-sharing issue at the weekend in his political column following Key’s decision last week to lift his ban on working with NZ First post-election.

In light of John’s column, I asked the Prime Minister this morning if he would rule out a power-sharing deal and he said “that’s not on the table.”

Pressed further, he said ”No, Winston Peters won’t become Prime Minister.”

ZB’s Barry Soper asked him if it were put on the table, would he consider it, and Key said No.

I look forward to the Herald asking the leaders of National and Labour if they would agree to declare war on Australia, if NZ First ask for it. Also ask them if they would agree to sacrifice their eldest child to Lord Xenu, and become Scientologists if NZ First asked for it. All there scenarios are equally likely – ie zero.

Now I’m quite happy to stand by my certainty. The odds of Elvis being alive are 1000 to 1. I’m happy to offer the same odds against National ever making Winston Peters Prime Minister – 1000 to 1. The only criteria are you must pledge at least $500 (so I would pay out $500,000) and you must pay the $500 immediately to me, and I will pay the $500,000 on the day Peters is sworn in as Prime Minister, backed by National.

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NZ Herald on boat building contract

January 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The local boat-building industry says it is outraged that it was not awarded a government contract to build a ferry which will link the New Zealand territory of Tokelau to Samoa. On almost every level, its anger is odd.

The 43-metre vessel will be built in Bangladesh for $8 million. According to this country’s Marine Industry Association, the cheapest price for building it here would have been $14 million to $15 million. Awarding the contract to a New Zealand company would, therefore, have involved what amounts to a substantial handout to that boat-builder. In such circumstances, it is puzzling that the local industry feels even the slightest bit annoyed.

Yet Labour is also outraged that taxpayers did not pay three times as much for the boat.

Clearly, the Government was mindful of the pluses that would come from building the ferry locally. It indicated there was some room for manoeuvre by telling a Nelson boat-builder that its quote would need to be in the region of $9.5 million to $10 million. But the lowest bid from a New Zealand company, according to the Government, was about $23 million. That is almost three times the price of building the ferry in Bangladesh. For all the talk of the gains from buying New Zealand-made and of a new Government procurement policy that aims to create more incentives for local manufacturers, this was simply too wide a gap.

You go local when the prices are close to each other, not when one is three times the other.

Other criticisms of the awarding of the contract are similarly misplaced. Chief among these is the perception that any ferry built in Bangladesh will not be up to the task of making the often dangerous voyage across the Pacific. This disregards the fact that Bangladesh has a long tradition of boat-building. While best known more recently for breaking up ships, it has now become a major constructor of small ocean-going vessels as Asia’s traditional builders, such as South Korea and China, focus on larger container ships and tankers.

Western Marine Shipyard, which will construct the Tokelau ferry, is one of its most successful ship-builders.

I think the editorial is right that there was an inherent belief by some people that a Bangladeshi company can’t possibly be any good.

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Herald hypocrisy

January 13th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Many firms that practice tax avoidance probably do feel wretched about it. But they owe it to their shareholders to pay no more tax than their lawyers and accountants say they must, and they transfer the blame to the legislators who leave loopholes for them, or who set taxes too high or spend the revenue unwisely. With the company tax rate at 28 per cent in New Zealand, lower than the top personal income rate, it is hard to justify corporate avoidance here.

A NZX filing by APN which owns the Herald in 2013:

APN News & Media [ASX, NZX: APN] today announced an update in relation to a tax dispute following a report received today from the Adjudication Unit of the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (‘IRD’).

As stated in the Company’s 2011 Annual Report and the 2012 Preliminary Final Report lodged yesterday, the Company is involved in a dispute with the IRD regarding certain financing transactions.

The Company is satisfied that its treatment of the financing transactions is consistent with all relevant legislation and that no tax will become payable.

The dispute involves tax of NZ$48 million for the period up to 31 December 2012. The IRD is seeking to impose penalties of 50% of the tax in dispute and interest in addition to the tax claimed. In the event the Company is unsuccessful in the dispute the Company has tax losses available to offset any amount of tax payable to the extent of NZ$32 million.

These wouldn’t be financing transactions that resulted in a lower tax bill and hence was tax avoidance?

So does the Herald feel wretched about its own tax avoidance?

Will they apply their own moral standards to themselves and pay up the $48 million they owe the taxpayers of New Zealand, according to the IRD?

I look forward to both RNZ Mediawatch and the Herald own’s media column highlighting this flagrant case of total hypocrisy.

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Brewer’s trip was declared to the Council

December 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Cameron Brewer facebooked:

Auckland Council Electoral Officer and Public Information Officer Bruce Thomas has confirmed with Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer today that while he did not file a full “Register of Members’ Interests” annual statement by 30 June 2012, Brewer’s much criticised four-day sponsored trip to Australia was in fact declared by the Councillor for Orakei at the time and was subsequently in the Council gift register all along. 

In a surprise turn, Mr Thomas advised Mr Brewer in an email today that “You did however declare the Port Douglas trip and this was included in the gift register. A copy of the gift register was given to the Ernst Young Inquiry.”

In an email to Mr Thomas from Mr Brewer on 8 September 2011, Mr Brewer wrote “Bruce, please declare… 1 trip to Port Douglas courtesy of Mediaworks, Four nights in august. Value approximately 2k. Secondly, my partner and I are in SkyCity box for opening night and game tomorrow. Cost unknown. Please let me know what further information you require. Thanks Cameron” 

Mr Brewer was responding to an email by Mr Thomas titled ‘Code of Conduct – Declaration of Gifts’ he had sent to all elected representatives the day before on Wednesday 7 September 2011. 

The email read: “Dear Councillors and Local Board Members, with the Rugby World Cup about to start, I thought it prudent to remind you of your obligation to declare gifts in excess of $300. Some of the ticket and hospitality packages that you (and your partner) may be offered by a third party are likely to exceed $300. If you suspect this to be the case then you should advise myself and we will log it and ensure it is recorded as part of you declaration on 30 June 2012.”

Mr Brewer said he is very pleased to learn that he did in fact formally advise the council of the trip soon after his return, and that it was subsequently officially declared in the gift register. 

While procedurally Cameron still erred in not also doing the formal annual declaration, the substance is that he did disclose the gift to the Council.

What will be interesting is if it is revealed who informed the media (incorrectly) that the gift had not been disclosed? My money is on one of the six ratepayer funded spin doctors working for Len Brown.

The Herald reports:

“Given this information was put on the council gift register and was actually part of the Ernst Young review, I’m very disappointed that council staff didn’t give me and the media the correct information last week.”

Will the Herald now retract their editorial and story on Brewer?

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10/10 in 34 seconds

December 21st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

An easy one for year end. Quiz here.

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Herald politics quiz wrong again

December 14th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Last week they had a wrong answer, and this week they have repeated the answers for one question for the following one (Q9). So I got 9/9 in 40 seconds,

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8/10 in 46 seconds

December 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald quiz is here. I got 8/10 in 46 seconds but I think it should be 9/10 as they have the wrong answer to Q6 in my opinion!

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Herald on the need to improve education

December 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

When bad news is delivered, there is always a temptation to shoot the messenger. Thankfully, that, by and large, has not been the case with this country’s sharp drop in international education rankings in an OECD survey that assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old pupils in mathematics, reading and science in 65 countries. In maths, New Zealand dropped from 13th three years ago to 23rd, while in science the fall was from seventh to 18th. In reading, where this country also ranked seventh in 2009, there was a slide to 13th.

To her credit, the Education Minister, Hekia Parata, did not attempt to discredit the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings. She chose instead to depict them as confirmation of the challenge ahead. It fell to think-tank the New Zealand Initiative to underline the rankings’ serious implications. This “Pisa shock” should, it said, be a catalyst to change education for the better. The institute pointed to the example provided by Germany, which in little more than a decade had achieved the sort of improvement that must now be sought by this country.

Hopefully those who resist change will now concede there is a need for change.

Broadly, the Pisa assessment identifies the lifting of teacher quality as the key to such a turnaround. The best-performing countries, it says, put a special emphasis on teacher selection, training, career incentives, and innovative teaching. When deciding where to invest, they prioritise the quality of teachers over classroom sizes.

Crucial.

The importance of excellent teaching comes as no surprise. People have become increasingly aware of this, and are keen to see high-quality teachers acknowledged and rewarded appropriately. Ms Parata has proposed the development of a new teacher appraisal system, a requirement for all trainee teachers to have a postgraduate qualification and, potentially, performance pay. The latest Pisa rankings confirm all would be welcome. It can be no coincidence that in world-leading Shanghai, performance-related pay for teachers is normal.

The time has come for it. Top teachers should be able to earn over $100,000 a year, just for being great teachers.

But implementing their findings on what works will require political will. The teacher unions will resist any change to a national bargaining system that rewards experience rather than excellence. 

The first thing that should go is the national bargaining system. Let each school pay its teachers what they want to. Let them compete for the best teachers!

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Beware the regulation

December 2nd, 2013 at 7:43 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

In themselves, the Government’s proposed amendments to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act contain a reasonable degree of common sense. What can be wrong with changes that aim to reduce the risk of children drowning? And if the new law would mean even portable or inflatable pools need to be fenced off, isn’t it right to encourage parents to adopt best practice and empty them after each use?

The only problem is that the proposal is a further sign of a Government regulatory itch that is now of eczematous proportion.

A fair point.

Regulation appeals to governments because it is the easiest response to a problem. But each affects people’s freedom in some way. At their worst, regulations can also skew patterns of investment and the use of economic resources. That is why any government is right to question whether a planned restriction is strictly necessary. And if one is implemented, it should watch it in practice, not least for unintended consequences, and continue to ask if it is justified.

The Government should, therefore, be asking if changes to the swimming pool legislation are necessary when the most stringent fencing will not save young children from all potential water hazards. Many pools are, after all, not far from beaches or lakes, which cannot be barricaded in the way that private pools are meant to be.

Kids can drown in baths. Maybe we should require baths to be fenced off. Also maybe Councils should have to fence off all streams, rivers and lakes. And kids have been known to fall down drains, so perhaps we need to fence off all drains as well.

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