Editorials 18 May 2010

The Herald focuses on leaky homes:

Many homeowners will now see their bill for repairs effectively halved – a quarter paid by taxpayers, a quarter paid by ratepayers – and the rest of the money made available through Government-guaranteed bank loans. That will be a relief to them, and who could argue with the need to help resolve the horror that has afflicted lives and families?

A horror that was dismissed by Helen Clark as a beat up by the Herald.

Some will find the Government contribution overly generous, as a Court of Appeal ruling found the Crown had no liability because its flawed building department did not have sufficient “proximity” to the actual house leaks. We have argued here before that local authorities so poorly regulated and managed the building practices that they should take more responsibility than central government. Yet their exposure has stayed around a quarter of the cost, while the negotiations leading to this package have seen the Crown up its contribution from a proposed 10 to 25 per cent.

It is generous, but sadly necessary.

National inherited this mess from a Labour Government which did not act swiftly or comprehensively to protect the rights of afflicted citizens. Yesterday’s package is the first time the Crown has put serious money on the table and committed councils to do the same. But in truth it addresses just two-thirds of the problem.

Better than zero thirds!

The Press talks community:

Too many residents of New Zealand cities believe that good fences make good neighbours. This fortress mentality might be thought to be inevitable as cities grow and become more impersonal, with neighbours not knowing each other.

But in several Christchurch suburbs there are now promising signs that this trend is being reversed and that a greater sense of community or an urban village approach is developing.

I was lucky. I grew up on Melbourne Road, Island Bay, where there was a great sense of community. All the kids on our section of the road knew each other and on any day we would be at any of the homes.

Only an extreme idealist could believe that New Zealand society could turn back the clock completely and return to those halcyon years when, it was said, everyone in a street knew each other by name and residents did not bother locking their front doors when they went out.

Not sure about the wisdom of not locking the front door, but I see no reason why one shouldn’t know all your neighbours – it is just a matter of knocking on doors and introducing yourself.

The Dom Post deals with the Rugby Union apology:

The Rugby Union apology to Maori players excluded from three All Black tours to South Africa bears the unmistakable stamp of a grudging public relations exercise. As recently as last month, Wayne Peters, the chairman of the union’s Maori Rugby Board, was dismissing calls for an apology as “simplistic”. To say sorry would be to show a lack of respect for past administrators of Maori rugby, he said. …

The exclusion of the likes of George Nepia, considered by some the greatest All Black, and Johnny Smith from All Black touring sides because of their race is a shameful episode in rugby’s history. The union should never have allowed another country to determine who should represent New Zealand.


The ODT critiques science funding:

By the same token, years of indifference to adequately fund scientific innovation for the longer term – at least 10 or 20 years – has seen New Zealand gradually fall behind its competitors in the intellectual markets in which we compete for skilled thinkers, researchers and inventors.

There was some progress during the Clark government’s term in office, with its research and development tax credit and the $700 million Fast Forward Fund, and Labour has grounds for criticising the National-led Government’s announcement last week as not being sufficient or early enough.

The Government’s Primary Growth Partnership has, Labour says, not paid one dollar to its intended recipients and, further, business has received nothing from the Government for research and development for the 18 months the Government has been in office.

Still, even a few crumbs is better than nothing at all, and of the $321 million earmarked by the Government over the next four years, $225 million is “new” funding.

There are aspects of the arrangements which look promising, including a trial scheme to establish links between private companies and publicly-funded research organisations such as universities and Crown research institutes.

It would always be nice to be more, but again we are still borrowing $240 million a week.

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