Editorials 14 May 2010

The NZ Herald talks Super City:

Who should lead Auckland? By a surprising margin, residents seem to favour the lesser-known of the two declared candidates for the Super City mayoralty. …

It could be that today’s survey reflects a view from across six of the seven territorial-council areas that a vote for Mr Banks represents a central Auckland takeover of their cities. An anyone-but-Auckland-City mentality would make a tough campaign for the Banks team.

He may be copping the backlash over the Government’s poor handling of the Super City reform, which is unfair as he has voiced concerns over several aspects of that process.

And The Press on rugby:

The inclusion of Argentina in what will be, from 2012, a southern hemisphere four-nations rugby tournament is obviously great news for supporters of the Pumas.

For many years the South American nation has been starved of regular top-flight tests due to the club commitments of its leading players in Europe, notably in France, but that will now change, with a rule change agreed by the International Rugby Board (IRB) this week. Finally, it seems, Argentina will be playing in a high-profile annual test rugby competition.

And the Dom Post on Greece:

As Bill English prepares to deliver his second Budget on Thursday a spectre hovers at his shoulder. The spectre is Greece.

The land of retsina, olives and sun-drenched beaches is about to become the land of wage cuts, job losses and higher prices, thanks to the profligacy of successive Greek governments.

Greece’s predicament is a cautionary tale for governments and peoples everywhere. Keep spending more than you earn and one day the debt collector will come calling.

A lesson lost on Labour it seems as they keep calling for the Government to increase spending and borrowing.

New Zealand, fortunately, is far from Greece’s situation. Public debt is at present about 13 per cent of the size of the economy – a fraction of the 120 per cent Greece is tipped to reach this year – but Government spending is forecast to exceed revenue for the next six years and debt levels are rising.

What some may forget though is that fiscal settings inherited from Labour had spending always remaining greater than revenue, and debt indeed increasing over the long-term to Greece type levels. Without the changes made by National in the 2009 budget, net crown debt was forecast to exceed 60% of GDP within around a decade.

And Labour opposed pretty much every one of those changes that reduced the debt track.

So far John Key’s Government has struck a sensible balance. It has borrowed enough to keep the economy ticking over and to insulate New Zealanders from the worst effects of the global financial crisis but reduced the rate at which debt was forecast to grow when it took office.

It should continue to take a long-term view of New Zealand’s interests. Mr English must continue to keep a tight rein on spending, not just in 2010 but next year – election year – as well.

Spending restraint needs to be maintained until, at the earliest, the OBERAC is back in surplus, and large enough to cover NZSF contributions.

The ODT looks at classroom attacks:

Thus it is in the case of the 13-year-old year 9 Te Puke High School boy who attacked his teacher with a 10cm kitchen knife, stabbing him in the neck and shoulders several times.

A centimetre or two either way, it must be supposed, and the injuries could have been fatal.

The attack has been met with anger at the perpetrator, sympathy for the teacher, incredulity that it could have happened at all, and revelations of just how common classroom assaults are becoming.

In 2008, 238 pupils were stood down for assaulting teachers; 442 teachers needed treatment after assaults at school in 2008 and 2009 at a cost of $413,000. …

The question is, why? Why did the boy have a knife at school? Whatever possessed him to make this apparently unprovoked attack? Was he, is he, prone to violent outbursts or physical aggression? If he had an issue or a grievance, why did he not first attempt to resolve them otherwise? Perhaps he did, and perhaps more of the background to this terrible episode will yet emerge, but it will not diminish either the viciousness of the assault, nor the level of accountability to which the assailant must be held – regardless of his age.

All good questions.

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