Garner proposes Nick Leggett for Wellington Mayor

November 19th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

OK capital dwellers, here’s a tough trivia question for you.

What has Celia Wade-Brown achieved in two terms as mayor and decades on the Wellington City Council? Take your time, have a good think.

More cycleway campaigns, more ratepayer money for the arts and libraries and – maybe – a longer airport runway. That’s pretty much it after five years as mayor.

Now her council is embroiled in an unnecessary and expensive legal scrap over a ridiculous decision to pay a living wage to council contractors.

Simply put, the capital lacks leadership – and as a result is suffering from inertia.

Perhaps she was only ever an accidental mayor anyway, winning by just 176 votes in 2010 under the STV voting system.

Wade-Brown talks about projects still to come but hasn’t she had her time? Surely the city needs a fresh, dynamic leader. Consensus politics sounded like a nice idea but has proved a failure.

Wellington needs to come together, amalgamate the councils, and be more bold and ambitious.

The recent Local Government Commission proposal was probably  a step too far and drew strong opposition in Wairarapa and Hutt Valley. But Wellington, Porirua and maybe even Kapiti could easily amalgamate without unduly affecting communities.

And there’s already an heir apparent: Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett. The capital needs a shot of adrenaline – and this guy can work across party lines and he supports this kind of amalgamation.

Some very good sources tell me he is now seriously considering running in Wellington.

We do not need two mayors 20km apart. It’s ridiculous.

Leggett is popular in the northern suburbs, is a finalist in next week’s Wellingtonian of the Year awards, and boasts the biggest majority of any mayor in Porirua’s history.

Wellington can no longer wait for fresh leadership. The capital needs a unifying mayor, not a flake overseeing a stagnant pond.

Even Auckland Mayor Len Brown has finally come to the conclusion that it’s time to give up. Wade-Brown should follow suit.

I don’t think Wade-Brown will seek a third term, but time will tell.

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Reddell on housing in Wellington

November 16th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A great blog post by Michael Reddell who for his sins attended a consultation meeting by Wellington City Council. He writes:

Question 1 on the WCC consultation form says “Where should medium-density housing development happen in your suburb?”, which on the one hand presumes that people agree that such development should happen at all, and on the other leaves me scratching my head thinking “well, surely on any site where someone finds it worthwhile to do so”.   And then “what standards of design should the medium-density housing meet?”, and I’m thinking “whatever works best for developers and willing buyers”.   But I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the room last night thinking anything remotely along those lines. 

Alas such views will be unknown in any Council housing department.

Instead of a focus on facilitating landowner rights, consumer choice, and competition, the whole thing flow from a central planner’s identification that Island Bay is one of those places with a strong “town centre” and hence a candidate to promote medium-density dwelling.  I was trying to work out why Island Bay is identified and not, say Seatoun –  similar public transport, similar vintage houses –  and I can only conclude that it is because the latter lacks a supermarket, an anchor of the “town centre”.  It puzzles me what happens to the Council’s logic if the(small by modern standards) supermarket were to close

Maybe they’d then knock all the new houses and apartments down!

But part of the consultation is about preparing a “plan to guide development in Island Bay town centre”.  The so-called “town centre” is perhaps 15 private shops, in a higgledy-piggledy variety of styles, several of which are threatened by the Council/government earthquake-strengthening requirements.  But why do we need bureaucrats “planning” a “town centre” to “ensure coherency across different developments and help contribute to a more attractive and vibrant centre”?    At the meeting, the bureaucrats talked of checking to ensure that “we have located the town centre in  the right place” –  to which one response might be that the market already resolved that one more than 100 years ago. 

There’s a few shops down at the Esplanade end also. If over the next 20 years it becomes a seaside resort and ends up with 20 cafes and shops, then that’s great. We don’t need to plan where town centres and shops go.

Just like the IMF the other day, the Council is keen on only “high quality” housing, but why is that something for them to decide, rather than willing buyers and sellers?


So the Council staff were bad, but they met their match in the residents.  There was a strongly negative reaction to the notion that anyone outside Island Bay should have any say on the proposed changes – forcing staff to downplay the very suggestion.  There was a great deal of concern about protecting people’s house prices (up), but no apparent sense that allowing land to be used more intensively would, all else equal, make it more valuable not less.  There was concern about what sort of socially-undesirable people might move into these new dwellings (and this is one of the more left wing suburbs around), and so many demands for controls and restrictions that –  briefly – the Council staff were forced to defend the ideas of choice and private property rights.  One person was appalled at the idea of three storey dwellings – this is a suburb surrounded by, and partly built on, high hills.

Almost funny, if not so sad.

But the pressures to do so, and the sorts of vocal clashes I witnessed last night, arise largely because Councils are reluctant to see the physical size of the city grow.  Wellington might not have much flat land –  although most people probably don’t live on flat land in Wellington anyway –  but any time I fly in or out of the place I’m reminded that it is not short of land. 

Our city has huge amounts of land, and still close to the city centre.

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Chamber suing Council

November 9th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington City Council’s decision to pay its security contractors a living wage is headed to the High Court, and ratepayers could end up paying some of the legal bills.

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce announced on Friday that it would seek a judicial review of the council’s living wage policy.

The council, which has been paying its own staff a living wage since 2013, voted 9-6 in October to require its security services contractors do the same. …

But councillors were also warned by chief executive Kevin Lavery that the move could be illegal, as the council would effectively be paying 19 per cent more than the going rate for security services without seeing any “tangible” benefit.

The council’s lawyers believed it would lose if taken to court over the issue, as the Local Government Act prohibits councils from paying more than necessary for services without any corresponding benefit.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said it did not take any great delight in heading to court, but the council needed to be held to account.

“We are taking these proceedings because we believe this decision is not prudent stewardship or efficient and effective use of ratepayer resources, 47 per cent of which is contributed by Wellington businesses.”

Delighted to see the Chamber doing this. The Council were told by their CEO and lawyers that what they intended to do was probably unlawful and would fail a lawful challenge. But instead they went ahead with their social engineering.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester hit back and said the chamber was often silent when council spends hundreds of thousands on events like fireworks and the Santa Parade, yet it stomped its feet over a few extra dollars for workers.

The council has not considered whether it would take part in the judicial review as an interested party, or what the cost might be to ratepayers if it decided too, Lester said.

But any costs incurred would be as a result of having to respond to the chamber’s actions, he said. “It’s unfortunate.”

It’s unfortunate you ignored your own legal advice. Don’t complain when people go to court to try and ensure the Council acts within the law.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there was a clear benefit to be had from paying staff a living wage.

“Decent pay and good performance are connected.”

They’re not staff, they’re contractors. Now the staff of the contractor will be paid one wage level when doing jobs for Wellington City Council and another level for other Councils. It’s barmy.

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Peck retires

November 5th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Peck has announced on Facebook:

I have today informed Labour Party managers for the upcoming local body elections that I will not be seeking selection to contest the Lambton Ward, or any other ward for the Wellington City Council.

I have decided to clear the decks so that good candidates can emerge to put their hands up for selection.

I will complete my term and meet my responsibilities to the Council.

I want to thank all those who have supported me during this triennium.

By the time the term is over I will have completed fifteen years of public service and it is time to pull up stumps.

It is unusual to retire after just one term on a body. It will make Lambton Ward very interesting for 2016 to see who comes through.

There’s a lot I didn’t agree with Cr Peck on, but I did like his FB post just prior to this one:

I am interested in a discussion about the reform of councillor numbers in Wellington.

Do we need 15 on council (includes the Mayor) or multi member wards?

Downsizing to 7 or 9 councillors would save in salaries alone about $1.62m over the triennium. The reason for an odd number is to make it possible on most occasions for a majority to be achieved on any issue.

One councillor per ward makes accountability fairly obvious too.

There is a tonne of literature that the ideal size for a board or council for decision making purposes is around seven to nine, with 12 being probably as big as you want to go. So I support Peck in saying a smaller Council would be a good thing.

I also have long supported single Councillor wards. I think you would get better informed voting, and with smaller wards, have Councillors better in touch with their community.

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Swapping debt for building probably the best thing

October 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington ratepayers will never be repaid a cent of the $10 million they loaned wildlife sanctuary Zealandia for its new visitor centre.

Instead, the building will be sold to Wellington City Council for the loan amount under a proposal by Zealandia, leaving ratepayers with the keys and a multimillion-dollar debt for a centre that failed to pay for itself.

The council says the handover will not affect rates.

While Zealandia had balanced its books in recent years, it had not started to pay back the $10.38m interest-free loan as planned.

Karori Sanctuary Trust board chairwoman Denise Church said on Tuesday its small profits meant it would never be able to pay off the loan or cover its interest.

“We’re producing an operating surplus – in the last year $31,000, and the previous year $25,000. We have no capacity with those figures to pay interest on the loan or to pay it back.

“We’ve advised the council over the last two years that we don’t see that situation being likely.”

If the council took ownership of its building and exhibition space, opened in 2010, the sanctuary would lease it back, which would pay for ongoing maintenance costs.

It’s good that Zealandia has now mad a surplus for the last two years.

The visitor centre was a horribly expensive white elephant that should serve as a warning to the Council over other projects such as the airport runway, that a policy of build it and hope they come is flawed.

It is obvious Zealandia will never make enough surplus to pay back the loan. Hence the Council has three main options:

  • The status quo – loan never paid back
  • Close down Zealandia for unpaid debt
  • Swap the loan for the building

The last option seems the best (of a bad bunch).

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What the WCC CEO told Councillors

October 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve been sent a transcript of what the Chief Executive of Wellington City Council told Councillors before they voted to impose an extra $2.4 million of costs on ratepayers by mandating security contractors must pay their staff the so called living wage. It is unbelievable that a majority of them ignored this advice.

It seems that if the Council decision is found to be unlawful, the Local Government Act allows for Councillors to be deemed to have personal liability for the costs of the unlawful decision, if they were warned it was unlawful. This could come back to bite them in a very costly way.

Here’s the statement:

Your Worship and Councillors it is a privilege to be your CEO. This is a very special City. A CEO’s job has many highlights. One of the most enjoyable is visiting staff who deliver on the front line.  In recent times I have visited the Botanic Gardens, Kilbirnie Sports Centre, the Policy and Engagement Team, City Archives and the Highways team working on the various schemes in Johnsonville. My job has a few lowlights too. You can’t have everything! One of my more difficult jobs is, very occasionally, having to tell you not what you want to hear but what you need to hear. This is one of those moments.

I have consistently advised against adopting the Living Wage. Please do not take my discomfort as a lack of concern over low pay. Last year two lifeguards in Kilbirnie Sports Centre valiantly tried to save the life of an elderly swimmer who had a heart attack in the water. Sadly the lady died but the actions of the lifeguards were praised by the coroner.  They did everything they possibly could have done to save her life but their actions were in vain. Lifeguards have a vital public safety role and sometimes they make the difference between life and death. These are really important jobs – arguably more important than mine or yours. It did not make me feel proud to discover that those two lifeguards were on the minimum wage. That was not our finest moment as a City Council.

You know officers had reservations about the Living Wage.  I will not go through these here as they have been well aired.  Notwithstanding these reservations your officers found a way to adopt the Living Wage first for Council staff and now for CCO staff. Our solution was to apply the Living Wage for workforce reasons only based on training and enhanced productivity. I have to be clear it was for workforce  reasons not to promote social equality. The latter would be unlawful.

This is crucial. Applying a “living wage” to your own staff can be justified as a legal use of ratepayer money, as it can have benefits for your own workforce. But applying it to outside contractors does not have the same rationale.

We are the only council in New Zealand to adopt the Living Wage. And we are way ahead of any other public sector organisation in the country. It makes me a little nervous being at the ‘bleeding edge’ and so far ahead of everybody else. You too should be nervous.  As officers we have been clear and straight with you. But we have also respected your right to make a decision and direct us. And we have been flexible and creative in finding a solution that has a low risk of legal challenge.

I hope that our ‘can do’ approach will be taken into account when you consider our advice on applying the Living Wage to the security contract. I know that many of you will not like this advice. Just as I respect your right to make a decision and direct me, you need to acknowledge my right and duty to give you professional advice without fear or favour.

I have consistently said that applying the Living Wage to contractors would be difficult. Each case will be different due to the nature of the work, the marketplace and our ability to bring work in-house or not. I decided to refer decisions on applying the Living Wage to individual contracts back to Council. This is because you are directing me to implement something I have major reservations about. It is therefore right and proper that you take full responsibility for your decisions.

That responsibility may include personal liability if found to be unlawful.

My decision to make the legal advice public was not taken lightly.  It is an unusual step but has happened before.  The advice is very clear cut – there’s a high risk of losing a legal challenge.

A high risk. And they went ahead.

This is the complete opposite of adopting the Living Wage for Council and CCO staff. Moreover, I am aware that there is contrary advice in the public domain that may lead you to conclude that the risks are lower than they really are. Unlike the advice in the public domain the legal advice to the Council is very specific. It is not about contractors generically or generalised savings, costs and productivity levels. It is about the WCC security tender in 2015 in New Zealand based on the actual prices and service levels offered by the preferred supplier.

So they have specific advice about this specific contract and that it is highly likely to be illegal.

But there is another, more important reason for making the advice public. If in your wisdom you decide to direct me to implement the Living Wage for the security contract you are putting me in a very difficult position as CEO.  In essence, you are asking me to implement something that is potentially unlawful.

No Governors should ever do that.

Moreover, we can expect someone to seek a judicial review should you adopt the Living Wage for the security contract. I would never, ever direct any of my employees to implement something that I know to be potentially unlawful. I have a duty as a good employer and I take it very seriously. You have that same duty towards me.  It is not a good look to direct me in the face of such clear and unequivocal advice.

Basically the Council are instructing a staffer to do something that is probably unlawful. No good employer should do that.

This changes the issue away from the Living Wage to your duties as a good employer to me. Given the seriousness of this I have taken separate legal advice about my position with another legal firm. As CEO I take my responsibilities to operate within a safe environment and the law seriously. Like you I am bound by the Local Government Act and my contract of employment with you states that I have to act within the law. The strong legal opinion before you is merely an opinion. It is not the law. A sensible compromise is to wait for the outcome of the judicial review before implementing a direction should that be forthcoming or directing me to the High Court to secure a declaratory judgement.  An implementation date of 1 July 2016 would help to give me the time to clear the legal hurdles. This is something I have discussed with the Mayor.  The legal advice to me confirms that this is a reasonable approach. This follows the spirit of your direction, protects the Council’s interests and is the correct moral path for me personally.

A sensible suggestion that they seek a court ruling on whether it is legal, before implementing it.

So my advice is simple – adopting the Living Wage for the security contract is a step too far. There is compelling evidence that you would potentially fail to meet your fiduciary duty to ratepayers. There is a serious risk that you would be acting beyond your powers. You would be purchasing the service for 19% extra without any corresponding improvement in service levels or productivity. You could also set a precedent for other contracts which would cost the Council tens of millions annually.  You would also be failing in your duty to me as a good employer. And you run the risk of tarnishing your reputation.  Could a responsible public body really make a decision against clear legal and officer advice only to be directed by a Court to reverse its decision? There is also a very real risk that your enthusiasm for expanding the Living Wage could undermine the good progress achieved with our own workforce. Remember that the WCC Living Wage adopted for our own staff and CCO staff has not been tested in a court of law. A successful judicial review on the expansion of the Living Wage to contractors may encourage further challenges on its adoption for our own workforce. A defeat here would have very serious consequences as the decision has already been implemented.

So it isn’t just $2.4 million more for this one contract. It could lead to tens of millions of extra costs over all contracts.

Mayor and Councillors I stand before you reluctantly with a very serious and loud alarm bell. My advice is to take heed of it, be responsible and support the officer recommendation.

They didn’t.

And here is why those Councillors may be in real trouble:

Local Government Act 2002

44   Report by Auditor-General on loss incurred by local authority

(1) For the purposes of this section and sections 45 and 46, a local authority is to be regarded as having incurred a loss to the extent that any of the following actions and omissions has occurred and the local authority has not been fully compensated for the action or omission concerned:

(a)money belonging to, or administrable by, a local authority has been unlawfully expended; or

(b)an asset has been unlawfully sold or otherwise disposed of by the local authority; or

(c)a liability has been unlawfully incurred by the local authority; or

(d)a local authority has intentionally or negligently failed to enforce the collection of money it is lawfully entitled to receive.

(2) If the Auditor-General is satisfied that a local authority has incurred a loss, the Auditor-General may make a report on the loss to the local authority, and may include in the report any recommendations in relation to the recovery of the loss or the prevention of further loss that the Auditor-General thinks fit.

(3) The Auditor-General must send copies of the report to the Minister and every member of the local authority.

46   Members of local authority liable for loss

(1)If the Auditor-General has made a report on a loss to a local authority under section 44, then, without limiting any other person’s liability for the loss, the loss is recoverable as a debt due to the Crown from each member of the local authority jointly and severally.

(2)If the members of the local authority or any other person or persons do not pay the amount of the loss to the Crown or the local authority within a reasonable time, the Crown may commence proceedings to recover the loss from any or all of those members.

(3)Any amount recovered by the Crown under subsection (2), less all costs incurred by the Crown in respect of the recovery, must be paid by the Crown to the local authority concerned.

(4)It is a defence to any proceedings under subsection (2) if the defendant proves that the act or failure to act resulting in the loss occurred

(a)without the defendant’s knowledge; or

(b)with the defendant’s knowledge but against the defendant’s protest made at or before the time when the loss occurred; or

(c)contrary to the manner in which the defendant voted on the issue at a meeting of the local authority; or

(d)in circumstances where, although being a party to the act or failure to act, the defendant acted in good faith and in reliance on reports, statements, financial data, or other information prepared or supplied, or on professional or expert advice given, by any of the following persons:

(i)an employee of the local authority whom the defendant believed on reasonable grounds to be reliable and competent in relation to the matters concerned:

(ii)a professional adviser or expert in relation to matters that the defendant believed on reasonable grounds to be within the person’s professional or expert competence.

So the Councillors who voted against are okay. But the Councillors who voted for this policy could be in real trouble as they went against the advice of their chief executive and against legal advice so (i) and (ii) don’t apply. If a court finds this unlawful, I believe that there will be an attempt to seek the “loss” from individual councillors personally.

And having ignored their own Council’s legal advice, they can’t expect the Council to defend them in court. They’ll have to pay for their own lawyers, if the decision is found to be unlawful and they are pursued for the loss.

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Wellington City Council does the big FU to ratepayers

October 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington City Council is sticking to its guns on the living wage – a move that could cost it an extra $2.4 million and expose it to costly legal action.

The council, which has been paying its own staff a living wage since 2013, took the bold step on Wednesday of requiring contractors who provide its security services to do the same.

In doing so, it flew in the face of warnings from its own officers and chief executive Kevin Lavery that it would effectively be paying $2.4m, or 19 per cent, more than the going rate for guarding, noise control and cash collection services over the seven-year life of the security contract without seeing any extra benefit.

This is nuts. They’ve basically forcing ratepayers to fund their social engineering where an Anglican priest in the Hutt decides how much security contractors should be paid.

Lavery did not mince words at Wednesday’s council meeting.

He told councillors they were asking him to implement something the council’s lawyers felt was illegal, as the Local Government Act prohibits councils from paying more than they need too for services without any corresponding benefit.

There was a very real risk the council could be taken to court, and could lose, he said.

So the Councillors ignored the legal advice, because hey if they get taken to court they won’t have to pay – ratepayers will.

I hope the Chamber of Commerce does take the Council to court and seek a ruling they have acted illegally.


For: Celia Wade-Brown, Justin Lester, Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Helene Ritchie, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, David Lee, Paul Eagle, Mark Peck.

Against: Andy Foster, Jo Coughlan, Simon Woolf, Simon Marsh, Nicola Young, Malcolm Sparrow.

Remember the for names when you get your rates bill.

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Is the living wage illegal

October 28th, 2015 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce states:

Wellington Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Wellington City Council to drop its flawed Living Wage proposal after its own legal advice said the changes would not be within the law.

The council’s own advice says “the Council is at risk of being found to have acted outside of the purpose of local government as set out by sections 10 and 11 of Local Government Act” and that the changes would be unlawful because “the increased cost that arises as a consequence of the living wage should allow for a corresponding increase in the quality or effectiveness of the particular service being provided.”

Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford says the council must take heed of its own legal advice.

“The Chamber has said from the start that the council’s pursuit of the Living Wage is an ideologically driven decision. The council has a duty to ratepayers to deliver services in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses. This is their clear legal obligation under the Local Government Act.

If the Council doesn’t change its policy, then maybe the issue should be tested in court?

“The council’s own paper notes that for just the one security contract alone ‘requiring a living wage to be paid would create a significant cost to the Council. The increase is estimated to be more than $2.4 million across the life of the contract of seven years …and the cost to the Council is likely to be approximately a 19% increase on the total contract price.’

“Council needs to stop playing feel-good games with ratepayer funds and focus on the things that will actually deliver more jobs and opportunities for Wellington.

You have Councillors forcing ratepayers to pay a so called living wage, yet refusing to do so in their own business.

Plus it is daft to outsource your wages policy to an Anglican priest living in the Hutt. They’ve basically said they will pay their staff whatever he tells them they should pay! And even when he changes the methodology, they still go along!

“The decision to force third-party contractors to implement the so-called Living Wage or face losing the council’s business is most concerning. That not only puts Wellington jobs and businesses at risk, it goes well beyond the council’s authority.

“The Living Wage’s methodology has repeatedly been shown as flawed.

“Wage increases should be about performance and productivity. This is not what the Living Wage is based on. Real wage increases cannot be created by the stroke of a pen.


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Zoo doesn’t even want pandas

October 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Bringing pandas to the capital would be “playing with fire”, Wellington Zoo’s chief executive says.

Official documents reveal chief executive Karen Fifield suggested snow leopards were a safer option after a meeting with the chief executive at Taronga Zoo in Sydney left her uncomfortable with acquiring pandas. …

Fifield, in an email in March to Kaine Thompson, manager of the Wellington City Council’s chief executive office, wrote that her meeting in Sydney had resulted in a conversation she didn’t really want to hear.

“It was not a good story at all – without central government committing to lots of the ongoing costs, I think I am playing with fire with the zoo’s future if we proceed.” 

She said Taronga was not pushing ahead with getting pandas because of the financial risk beyond the first 18 months.

“They did their own feasibility study and talked to all the US zoos which hold giant pandas. In fact San Diego Zoo tried to give theirs back to China due to ever-increasing costs, but China refused to take them,” she wrote.

“Taronga predicts [capital expense] of $23m plus … and they predict they would be $2m per annum in the red for [operating expense] beyond 18 months.”

The Council should listen to the zoo chief executive and drop the idea.

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Shelly Bay open for housing

October 9th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sausalito here we come.

Wellington City councillors have voted to remove much of the red tape that could have held up efforts to reshape Shelly Bay into the capital’s version of San Francisco’s seaside town of Sausalito.

But not everyone on the council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee was thrilled about the plans, with some upset by the prospect of sacrificing Shelly Bay’s green space to residential developers.

Committee members voted by a majority of nine to six on Thursday to add a larger chunk of the prime waterfront site on Miramar Peninsula to the Wellington Housing Accord.

Doing so means a 2.8 hectare slice of Shelly Bay – including the former air force and naval buildings and the slopes overlooking the harbour – will become a special housing area, which allows for fast-tracked consents, no public notification and limited appeal rights.

Great to see some action after two decades of decay.

Shelly Bay could become some of the most desirable property in Wellington. Stunning views.

It is good news for property developer Ian Cassels and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust who have been vocal about their plans to model Shelly Bay on Sausalito – an artistic enclave that is a short ferry ride from San Francisco.

They have not revealed the specifics of their plans. But art galleries, restaurants, boutique shops, a craft brewery, a cable car and a regular ferry service from Wellington’s CBD are all in the mix.

Will be so good to replace the crumbling buildings currently there.

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Cycleways for Wellington

September 10th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

After plenty of big talk about changing the face of cycling in Wellington, the council has written a big cheque to match.

The Wellington City Council has agreed to spend $101 million on new cycle lanes across the capital over the next 20 years, with $30m being spent in the first three years to really get the programme going.

Wellington’s ‘Master Plan’ for cycling, which was approved by the council’s transport and urban development committee on Wednesday, identifies the CBD, eastern suburbs and the route between the railway station and Ngauranga as the first areas for development.

Cycling in Wellington at present is not massively different from playing Russian Roulette – albeit with slightly better odds.

Hutt Rd was the only real option for reaching Ngauranga, while Kent and Cambridge terraces, Tory St, Taranaki St, Victoria St, Cuba St, Karo Drive, Willis St and the waterfront would all feature in the CBD conversation, he said.

Please, please have the Hutt Road cycleway actually link all the way up to Petone, not stop 300 metres short as it currently does.


Looks a decent plan.

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Who’s right?

August 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A Wellington man watched in tears as Wellington City Council demolished his historic Owhiro Bay bach on Monday morning.

Duncan Mackay’s bach is one of five that have perched on the hill at Mestanes Bay, on the wild south coast of Wellington, near Red Rocks, for as long as 100 years.

He bought his Heritage New Zealand-listed Stevenson bach for $10,000 in March 2012, lived in it for two years, and was renovating it to live in and, one day, pass on to his 13-year-old daughter.

But on Friday, the council told him it was going to demolish the bach on Monday, claiming his $40,000 of renovations meant it was no longer entitled to be considered a heritage building.

On Monday morning, Mackay drove around the coast to see his bach being torn apart, the roof gone, men in high-vis jackets breaking down the interior.

“This is crushing me,” he said as he looked on, tears in his eyes.

“I wanted  to pass it down through the family … Now I’m homeless, I’m literally sleeping on a friend’s couch.”

You read this part of the story and you think the Council has acted appallingly. But you then read on:

Not much of the original materials of Stevenson’s bach remained, but Mackay said he had been in regular contact with Heritage NZ and was replacing everything so it looked “absolutely, totally the same”, down to its pine-green corrugated-iron exterior and the angle of the roof.

“I’ve done what I was told to do. I think this is council squashing the small guy and destroying a piece of south-coast heritage.”

But the council, which owns the land, said the work bore no resemblance to the heritage bach.

“He did have possession of a heritage bach on the site, and he demolished the heritage bach and now is illegally building a new bach on the site,” council spokesman Richard MacLean said.

“We are having it demolished because it’s on public land and we are the landowner, and he’s illegally building on public land…”

Mackay would not be compensated, MacLean confirmed.

The other Mestanes Bay bach owners, who had also made significant renovations, should not be concerned because the council still considered their properties “heritage baches”.

“They are still substantially original buildings ,” MacLean said. “He [Mackay] has demolished his bach, that’s what that big pile of broken wood is.”

He said Mackay was not homeless, as he lived elsewhere in Wellington. The bach was a building site and was uninhabitable anyway.

I’m not sure the Council is in the wrong here. There is a difference between renovation and replacement.


A smoke free waterfront

May 19th, 2015 at 2:15 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Smoking a cigarette while enjoying a beer outside one of Wellington’s waterfront bars could soon become a thing of the past.

A proposal to make the waterfront and Civic Square smokefree will be brought before Wellington City Council on Wednesday night, after the Public Health Association called on the council to show leadership on the matter.

If successful, the smoking ban could be in place by the end of the year.

But the owner of waterfront bar St Johns has condemned the move as discriminatory against smokers and businesses, and says if smoking is to be banned in one place, it should be banned everywhere.

Will it reduce smoking, or will it just mean smokers go to other bars?

The ban on smoking inside bars worked because it applied to every bar, and the justification was that staff and other patrons were being exposed to second hand smoke. I love the fact that I can now go to a bar and not be exposed to smoke. But this isn’t about protecting people from passive smoking.

But Trinity Group director Jeremy Smith, whose businesses include St Johns, called the move  “crazy” and “discriminatory”.

Smoke was not a problem on the waterfront, as outdoor areas were large and smoke was swiftly blown away. It was unfair to drive away people who chose to partake in a legal activity, he said.

I agree with Jeremy Smith. There are some bars whose outdoor areas are unpleasant as they are largely enclosed, and stink of smoke. But waterfront bars do not have that issue – I’ve never ever been affected by smoke in the outdoor areas of waterfront bars – because they are so open and large.

If a ban was to be introduced, it should be city-wide. “It’s just another nail in the bar/restaurant coffin in terms of driving people away from areas where they can socialise.”

It is unfair to have it apply to only those bars.

Asked what the impact on smokers at waterfront bars would be, Lester said: “They won’t be able to smoke.

“It’s a benefit, it’s a privilege, to operate a business down there … I don’t think it’s a big ask.”

A privilege? Don’t they pay rents and rates? Isn’t being able to operate a business a right, not a privilege someone gives you?

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Wellington City Councillor ratings

March 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Wellingtonian has had an 8 member panel of Wellingtonians rate the 15 Wellington City Councillors. They were rated on five areas, and also given an average overall rating. So who got top and bottom in each.

Note that these ratings are of course the opinions of the panelists only.

Overall Top

  1. Paul Eagle 80.7%
  2. Nicola Young 69.8%
  3. Justin Lester 69.4%

Overall Bottom

  1. Helen Ritchie 34.3%
  2. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 44.5%
  3. Jo Coughlan 46.5%

Top Accessibility

  1. Paul Eagle 84.3%
  2. Justin Lester 80.0%
  3. Celia Wade-Brown 78.1%

Bottom Accessibility

  1. Helene Ritchie 38.3%
  2. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 42.9%
  3. Malcolm Sparrow 51.0%

Top Effectiveness

  1. Paul Eagle 75.7%
  2. Iona Pannett 66.3%
  3. Nicola Young 63.1%

Bottom Effectiveness

  1. Helene Ritchie 30.0%
  2. Mark Peck 38.6%
  3. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 40.0%

Top Proactiveness

  1. Paul Eagle 77.1%
  2. Iona Pannett 68.1%
  3. Nicola Young 65.6%

Bottom Proactiveness

  1. Helene Ritchie 33.6%
  2. Sarah Free 35.8%
  3. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 37.1%

Top Work Ethic

  1. Celia Wade-Brown 90.0%
  2. Paul Eagle 87.9%
  3. Justin Lester 81.3%

Bottom Work Ethic

  1. Helene Ritchie 36.7%
  2. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 46.7%
  3. Jo Coughlan 48.8%

Top Wellington First

  1. Paul Eagle 80.7%
  2. Simon Woolf 75.7%
  3. Simon Marsh 70.0%

UPDATE: The panel were:

  • John Milford, Business Central CEO
  • Allan Probert, Khandallah Business Improvement District secretary & veterinarian
  • Lyndy McIntyre, Living Wage Wellington co-ordinator
  • John Dow, events, marketing & sports leader
  • Victoria Spackman, Gibson Group CEO & former chairman of Bats Theatre
  • John Sherwan, Adjunct professor at VUW/businessman
  • Jack Marshall, Wgton City Youth Council chairman
  • Ian Apperley, Strathmore Park blogger
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Peck vs his own Council

February 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Former Labour MP Mark Peck is a Wellington City Councillor. He is best known for voting to force the Council to pay a so called living wage to all Council employees, yet refusing to pay it to his own staff on the basis he can’t afford it.

Once again he seems to be conflicted between his role as a business (cafe) owner and a Councillor.

The Council has put in a temporary pop up on Bond Street.


This photo is from Blandforddaily, taken by AnnaB.

Looks pretty cool.

Cr Peck said on Facebook:

“Pop-up feel-good” unwelcome subsidy against hardworking business owners!

Wellington City Councillor Mark Peck says he has been contacted by some retailers who are angry that the “pop-up feel good” in Bond Street is an unwelcome attack on their ability to trade and discriminatory in the extreme.

Spending $100K of ratepayers’ money to temporarily enhance Bond Street with a pop-up display makes fish of them and fowl of the rest, he said. There is a strong call for everyone to be treated the same.

Using this logic, there would be no Cuba Mall developments, or basically anything at all that enhances a retail area.

Now Cr Peck owns a cafe just around the corner from Bond Street, in Dukes Arcade. Despite his disclaimer, it seems clear he is advocating on his own behalf, but using his role as a Councillor.

Comments on Facebook were not very supportive:

A real shame you’ve taken this angle Mark. I’ve been to the pop-up and it’s brilliant – I’ve never seen so many people on Bond Street. Great council initiative and clearly serving rate payers and visitors well.

Of course it’s Council’s job to get invo
lved, provide social spaces, beautify the CBD and, yes, help business development. There can’t be a popup over the entire city and a dark, dead end with a majority of small businesses (exception of the Mojo chain) is a great place to have it. To places like the Rockshop – what a shame they are on an already busy street which didn’t need a “pop-up”.

This inner city resident who has you as a councillor and helped run your campaign would be thrilled if you perhaps stood up for residents before businesses.

That’s a member of his own campaign team!

Our streetscapes should be as exciting and vibrant as our city aspires to be, and as it often achieves. It’s excellent to see spaces like Bond Street experiencing this treatment. …

So would you prefer full-time polkadots, or none at all? Both are absurd, and it’s clear you’d have preferred none at all. I’m not entirely sure what your post achieves other than making you appear as a bit of a grump. Wellington’s retail sector is doing terribly. Yeah, Bond St benefits. That’s great. Where in your post is a plan or advocacy for the other businesses you’re saying you’re representing? Where’s the recognition that the positive news, albeit made weird by Ritchie, translates to good national advertising as Wellington as a happening and exciting place? It seems to me that these events are an obvious strategy for our city, so if you were speaking on behalf of our businesses then shouldn’t your position be “more”, not “less”? …

They money is also spent now, Mark, so it would be a waste to take it down immediately. And just dumb. In all of your media release, there isn’t thought at all to the people of Wellington – and I’ve only heard positive comments so far from people about the pop up ideas. I haven’t been down to Bond Street yet but looks pretty fun to me. …

Firstly I love the look – and what it’s done to the dark, often forgotten little street. I remember around six years ago when Dale from Mojo and Ian McKinnon were first talking about making something happen – so the idea has been brewing – and needed for some time. Looking beyond Bond Street the new activity is helping pull people through to traders like Man to Man and others who also feel out on a limb sometimes, I felt proud when I walked down the street today and saw what was happening because it’s pretty damn cool the city has made this happen. …

A real own goal.

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$60 million too much for town hall upgrade

December 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Wellington faces a large earthquake-strengthening bill for many of its best-known buildings, none more so than the Town Hall.

Work on the ornate municipal building ground to a stop earlier this year after the projected cost ballooned to $60 million. When first mooted in 2011, it had been supposed to cost $34m. That hike saw some Wellington City Council leaders question whether saving the building was worth it.

We are a small city of just 75,000 ratepayers. The cost is likely to end up at around $1,000 per ratepayer. That is way too much.


WCC proposes 4.5% rates increases

December 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A $200 million war chest is being planned to fund Wellington’s big-ticket wish list over the next 10 years.

The stash of cash forms a key prong in mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s draft Long-Term Plan proposal, which she will present to councillors at a committee meeting next week.

The money – targeted for projects including the airport runway extension, a film museum and a new concert venue – would see an average rates increase of 3.9 per cent over the 10 years of the plan, compared with a 3.1 per cent rise if a status quo approach was taken instead.

Those increases would be “front loaded”, the mayor said – meaning ratepayers will feel the pinch immediately, with rises of about 4.5 per cent in each of the next three years.

Inflation is running at around 1%. A series of rates increases at four times the inflation rate is a Council with a spending problem.


A Councillor reports

November 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Wellington City Councillor Nicola Young has e-mailed out a report on her first year on Council. It’s a good summary of what she has done, and what she has opposed. I’d encourage other Councillors to do similar reports.

It’s one year since the voters of Lambton Ward elected me to the Wellington City Council. It‘s been an interesting year and I thought you might be interested in some of the things that have happened in the past 12 months. 

 Some of the big surprises were:

·                 The extent to which major issues are delegated to sub-committees with limited opportunity for the Council to intervene;
·                 The need to build shifting coalitions based on issues rather than left/right politics; and
·                 Councillors’ tendencies to make decisions without taking into account the full financial implications.

My committee responsibilities are:

Economic Growth & Arts;
Transport & Urban Development (with special responsibility for Central City Projects); and
Governance, Finance & Planning (a committee of all councillors).

Council life is often portrayed as a battle between the left and right; in practice, each issue brings about its own coalition of supporters so I have focused on building strong relationships to help me deliver on my promises and the projects that I value.

            1)            ‘Living Wage’: I led the fight against implementing this for the Council’s direct employees, because the Government is the main beneficiary; the most needy recipients would have their state benefits reduced.  We lost, but I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about my role as a new councillor leading this issue.  I note that the plan to roll out the so-called ‘living wage’ to council-controlled organisations and contractors has gone rather quiet; there now seems to be a better understanding of the real costs and lack of effect.

            2)            Bus Fares: Despite late (and tepid) support from fellow councillors, I won my fight with the Greater Wellington Regional Council over its proposed increase in bus fares, as passenger numbers are declining and Wellington’s fares are already the most expensive in New Zealand.  Affordable bus fares will encourage greater use of public transport, and (unlike the Living Wage) they’re a direct benefit to those on low incomes.

            3)            Island Bay Cycle Way: I opposed Stage One of the cycleway into the CBD, as the full cycle-way (the next three stages) have not yet been planned and there’s a real fiscal risk.  Already Stage One’s costs have increased from $1.3m to $1.9m. I organised a ‘Notice of Motion’ (supported by Southern Ward councillor, Paul Eagle) asking for the full Council to make the decision, rather than the Transport and Urban Design committee (which is top-heavy with Greens). Notices of Motion are rare, and even more unusual to be organised by a first year councillor; disappointingly, two councillors switched sides so we lost the Notice.

            4)            Building Numbers: I campaigned for the enforcement of the existing rules requiring that all buildings show street numbers.  Council officers have almost completed this work in the CBD – it’s particularly visible for anyone walking down Cuba Street!

            5)            Thorndon Village: Unrealistic expectations and local disagreements held back this planned upgrade for years. When chairing a meeting of residents and business owners, I made it clear it was the last chance to have any work done.  The work is now almost complete.

            6)            Erskine College & Chapel, Island Bay:  As a former head prefect, I know these buildings well so I re-ignited the campaign to save these wonderful buildings. A narrow special interest group (SECT) has been stalling the proposed strengthening and restoration, to the despair of the property owner.  I’m cautiously optimistic about the likely result and hope the owner can start the strengthening work in the New Year.

            7)            CBD Speed Limits: Council proposed making the official speed limit 30kph and spending $250,000 on signage,  when the mean speed is already 31kph. I led the successful charge to stop this money-wasting scheme.

            8)            Town Belt: During last year’s election campaign, I promised to protect this precious part of our city’s landscape. I voted against a proposal (led by Councillor Andy Foster and supported by the Mayor) to allow Council to sell pockets of this land and this lunacy was stopped.

            9)            Lane Upgrades: Inner city lanes can be a real feature, as seen in cities like Melbourne and London, so I campaigned for our lanes to be upgraded. Work will commence early next year on Mason’s Lane, Leeds, Eva and Bond streets; Cable Car Lane and Garratt Street may also be tackled.

     10)              CubaDupa: I campaigned for the return of the Cuba Street Carnival which brought enormous vitality to the central city. I am delighted about its successor ‘CubaDupa’, which will be held on March 28 & 29 next year. It’s being billed as “New Zealand’s biggest street party” and will offer something for all age groups.

We’re now one third of the way through the term. I am conscious of the need to ensure Council decisions have a positive cost benefit for ratepayers, and I will continue to oppose vanity projects. 

I love working for our city so I’m committed to getting things done, and I welcome hearing any ideas you may have for Wellington. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.

A good succinct report.

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Smart lights

August 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington wants to be the first city in the southern hemisphere with street lights that track runaway dogs, flash when someone is in danger and dim when there is no one around.

A city council committee will this week consider whether to upgrade the capital’s 18,000 street lights with brighter LED bulbs and digital technology that interacts with smartphones, tablet computers and GPS satellites.

They would also be fitted with infra-red sensors so they can dim to about 10 per cent of full power when no-one is around and illuminate whenever someone walks by.

Paul Glennie, the city council’s team leader of strategic planning, said all sorts of services could be delivered once the capital’s street lights were all “talking to each other” across a wireless connection.

Wellingtonians could use their smartphones or tablets to tap into the lights and track how far away a rubbish truck was or see which lamppost their microchipped dog was sniffing around.

Motorists could be directed to available parking spaces via their GPS devices.

City officials could also adjust light levels via their smart-devices or a text message whenever heavy rain or snow hit the city, or when emergency services required.

“It could be that street lights actually flash outside a property that has called for an ambulance,” Glennie said.

LED lights use less power but produce better light, and illuminate to 100 per cent without the need for a warm-up period.

That means there would be no danger to public safety but energy use could drop by up to 95 per cent, Glennie said.

“Currently we leave the lights on all night whether there’s people around or not. But if we can turn them down when no one is around then no one should really be affected.”

Creating the southern hemisphere’s first “smart” light network could cost between $10 million and $20m but save capital ratepayers about $2.1m each year in energy savings.

Sounds a good investment to me.


Wellington City Council must live within means also

July 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Higher rates rises over the next few years could be the price residents have to pay for Wellington City Council’s “eight big ideas”.

Councillors have been warned that projects such as the airport runway extension, the Hilton Hotel and conference centre, and a film museum would not be sustainable without increasing the number of ratepayers – and even then “slightly higher rates increases in the short term” might be needed.

A presentation from council staff working on budgets for the next 10 years looks at various funding possibilities, one of which could be a rates increase above 10 per cent in 2015-16.

Another scenario, spreading out costs across the decade, involves an increase of about 6 per cent for 2015-16.

In recent years, rates rises have been held to about 2.5 per cent.

Rates should not increase more than inflation. It is all too easy for Councillors to have a wishlist of ideas, but we’re the ones who to have to fund them.

Any contribution to the proposed airport runway extension should be minimal.


No to a roof

June 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

For years it has been labelled too expensive. Now Westpac Stadium is finally investigating getting a roof.

But if it goes ahead, it will require ratepayer money to get it over the line – and stadium chief executive Shane Harmon says the price tag would be in the “ballpark” of $60 million to $100m.

No, no and no.

Sure a roof would be nice. But no way should ratepayers be hit with $1,000 per household to pay for it.


Herald on ashes bylaw

June 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Now, the Auckland Council has ventured into this area. As part of a wider bylaw covering cemeteries and crematoriums, it wants to prevent people scattering ashes in any public place – including beaches and parks – unless they have written approval from the council or Wahi Tapu Maori Komiti, a Maori committee overseeing sacred areas. Even people wanting to scatter ashes in a public cemetery would need to fill in approval forms and pay an “applicable” fee to the council.

Predictably enough, the proposal has attracted a storm of protest.

That anger is justified on several grounds. The council documents on the issue provide no detailed background to suggest major problems are arising from the scattering of ashes, either in terms of health or other risk, cultural sensitivities, or the growing extent of the practice. While cremations have become more popular, there are still only about 3000 a year in Auckland, compared with 2200 burials. That is a long way from the situation in Britain, where problems have arisen from the 420,000 cremations annually.

This suggests that, in the main, the council is looking for a solution where no significant problem exists. 

Exactly. And if there is a problem in a couple of discrete areas, then all you need is a couple of signs there asking people not to spread ashes there. What you don’t need is a law requiring you to gain permission to spread ashes anywhere in Auckland – let alone pay a fee for it.

A funeral celebrant described the council’s proposals as “crass”. That is apt. On an issue that demanded subtlety, it has employed a sledgehammer. Its proposal warrants the most rapid of burials.

It seems Wellington City already has such a policy. It should also be scrapped. I imagine almost everyone just ignores it anyway.

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A waste of $60 million

February 14th, 2014 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Work to earthquake strengthen Wellington Town Hall has been halted in the face of a $17 million budget blowout.

Investigations into the 110-year-old building’s foundations have resulted in the cost soaring from $43.7m to somewhere in the region of $60m – prompting one councillor to suggest abandoning it in favour of a new building.

The extent of additional foundation work required was unearthed after staff were moved out and the town hall closed in November for the three-year strengthening programme. Work was halted after just three months as the council tried to figure out what to do about the additional costs of up to $17m. The delay is likely to push back the completion date of the project.

It was a marginal call at $43 million and a wasteful one at $60 million. And I suspect the costs would keep escalating.

To put this into perspective, there are 68,901 households in Wellington, so the Council is forcing each ratepayer to pay $871 (and growing) to strengthen the building. That’s a huge amount of money.


Nicola Young on living wage

January 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Wellington City Councillor Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:

Councillors often stress the need for evidence-based, reasoned and clear decisions; correct process; and the need to avoid writing blank cheques but there was little – if any – consultation and analysis of the impact this wages policy would have on Wellington households and businesses. Ironic, considering the council has also committed to the capital being “open for business”.

Mayor Celia Wade- Brown has defended this Alice in Wonderland approach by pointing out the council didn’t consult on the chief executive’s salary either. The reality is that the CEO is paid the going rate in a competitive international market, whereas the “living wage” is an artificial intervention to boost incomes of lower paid workers who happen to work at the council.

The “living wage” proposed by the Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign, is higher (relative to GDP per capita) than the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Incredibly, ours is higher than London’s; the 18th most expensive city in the world (Wellington is ranked at 74th in Mercer’s Cost of Living survey).

The Council voted to outsource their wages policy to Rev Waldegrave. Whatever he says they should pay, they will pay it. It is the opposite of evidence based policy.

A review of the research that produced the New Zealand rate of $18.40 by researcher Brian Scott concluded the rate is over-stated and questioned its method and data (as did Treasury). It also questioned whether conclusions reached from overseas research on productivity, morale and poverty could be safely applied to New Zealand’s situation.

Preliminary research by the Auckland Council came to the same conclusion. Not everyone would agree that Sky TV, pets, international travel and video games are “basic necessities”; some expenses – childcare costs, for example – are counted twice and money is allowed for building and mortgage insurance, despite the stated assumption that recipients are tenants.

Good to see politicians taking notice of the Scott analysis.

Wellington may be a comparatively wealthy city, but with an older population; much of the council’s largesse will be funded by pensioners struggling on fixed incomes, well below the “living wage”.

The “living wage” is a one-size-fits-all tool, based on a two-adult, two-child family.

The reality is that almost 80 per cent of those earning less than $18.40 have no children; many are students living at home.

The concept of a single living wage is fundamentally flawed. Each different household composition will have its own level of needed income. A family of four has different needs to a single 18 year old living at home.

Wage policies shouldn’t be based on emotional arguments; it should be based on careful analysis and facts. The lack of consultation, research and analysis of this policy is a failure of governance, and will damage our city’s economy and reputation as a place to do business. The “living wage” policy is a poor solution looking to solve a complex problem.

Well said.

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Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce on Living Wage

December 11th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Raewyn Bleakley writes in the Dom Post:

Wellington City councillors today will debate at committee whether to accept a proposal to pay the living wage to council workers. It’s a decision that could have far-reaching effects on the local economy.

Further, Treasury analysis, matched with earnings information from IRD, shows that almost 80 per cent of New Zealanders earning less than $18.40 an hour, including young people and students, don’t have children. In fact, two-parent two-children households make up just 6 per cent of families earning less than $18.40. And of those earning below that, one in five have family incomes of more than $80,000.

Anyone who votes for the living wage is voting for the most badly targeted policy in recent history. The living wage is a calculation for a two parent two child family, and as pointed out they represent just 6% of families earning less than $18.40 an hour. To apply that calculation to the other 94% of families is bizarre and daft.

Giving low-paid workers a 30 per cent increase without having a well-thought- out plan for how to create a corresponding lift in performance, and while doing nothing for other workers, is not the way to go. A business wouldn’t survive operating that way. Ratepayers deserve better management of public money from the council.

How many councillors will vote for ratepayers to fund a living wage, but don’t pay a living wage themselves? Bet you there are a few hypocrites out there.

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