Sunday, August 17, 2014

Frank Newman: Revitalising the CBD

Central Business Districts (CBDs) are facing the challenges of change. People are changing the way they go about their lives and in particular how they spend their money. Many CBD’s are struggling to remain relevant against competition from big box retailers and as offices move to the cloud.  As a result the CBD is evolving as a place for small footprint boutique retailers, cafes, bars, restaurants and inner city apartment living.  That evolution is taking some time (decades) to work through but some provincial towns are taking the initiative by taking action now.

One I visited recently had just removed parking meters from its CBD. They have made parking free, with a three hour time limit.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Viv Forbes from Australia: Blowing Our Dollars in the Wind.

Wind energy produces costly, intermittent, unpredictable electricity. But Government subsidies and mandates have encouraged a massive gamble on wind investments in Australia - over $7 billion has already been spent and another $30 billion is proposed. This expenditure is justified by the claim that by using wind energy there will be less carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere which will help to prevent dangerous global warming.

Incredibly, this claim is not supported by any credible cost-benefit analysis - a searching enquiry is well overdue. Here is a summary of things that should be included in the enquiry.

Matt Ridley from the UK: This epidemic is not under control

As you may know by now, I am a serial debunker of alarm and it usually serves me in good stead. On the threat posed by diseases, I’ve been resolutely sceptical of exaggerated scares about bird flu and I once won a bet that mad cow disease would never claim more than 100 human lives a year when some “experts” were forecasting tens of thousands (it peaked at 28 in 2000). I’ve drawn attention to the steadily falling mortality from malaria and Aids.
Well, this time, about ebola, I am worried. Not for Britain, Europe or America or any other developed country and not for the human race as a whole.

Karl du Fresne: Is this the most bizarre campaign ever?

This election is shaping up to be the strangest in my lifetime. There’s a cacophony of minor parties scrambling for attention and a frenzied political bidding war in which there seems to be no limit on the extravagance of the promises made. 
We’ve had an outbreak of thinly disguised xenophobia over the sale of a farm, a sideshow over the use of the phrase “Sugar Daddy”, and a blatant appeal to the emotions of voters who imagine New Zealand can raise the drawbridge and retreat into a cosy and safe economic fortress, 1970s-style.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matt Ridley from the UK: Priorities and goals for aid

In September next year, the United Nations plans to choose a list of development goals for the world to meet by the year 2030. What aspirations should it set for this global campaign to improve the lot of the poor, and how should it choose them?
In answering that question, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers are confronted with a task that they often avoid: setting priorities. It is no good saying that we would like peace and prosperity to reach every corner of the world. And it is no good listing hundreds of targets. Money for foreign aid, though munificent, is limited. What are the things that matter most, and what would be nice to achieve but matter less?

Viv Forbes from Australia: Water rules the Weather - Carbon Dioxide is a Climate Pygmy

Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is blamed for every weather emergency, but as a weather maker, water is far more important.

Without water, Earth’s weather would be dramatically different. We would have no clouds, no rain or snow, no rain or hail storms, no hurricanes, no seas, rivers, lakes or ice sheets – just cold, cloudless nights and hot, clear days with dry winds and fierce dust storms; a dead planet like Mars.

Frank Newman: Leadership

Last Thursday TV One’s Seven Sharp had an interesting segment about unemployment, or more accurately the way it is being confronted in Balclutha. The region has been hit hard in recent times. 150 people had just lost their jobs with company closures, including three sawmills. That’s 150 family incomes lost.

Fortunately the Clutha District (Pop 17,000) has a Mayor called Bryan Cadogan. There was a time when he was unemployed, so he knows being unemployed is not a nice place to be. His goal is zero unemployment for youth in his district. He put it this way; “zero is only a number, but it’s the only one that has not got an individual behind it”.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mike Butler: $80m for river woes, $30m for ?

Some tribes associated with the Whanganui River will receive more than $80-million to settle their river claims while a further $30-million fund will be set up for river-related tribes to apply for grants out of, according to an agreement signed this week.

The claims relate to use of the river and ownership of the riverbed, the latter of which has been thoroughly investigated, rejected, and brought back to life when claims back to 1840 were allowed. The signing took place at Ranana Marae, 60km up the river, on Tuesday, August 5.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The Kings and Chiefs of Old Calabar and Old NZ

Treaties have been around for a very long time. There’s a boundary treaty inscribed on stone between the city-states of Lagash and Umma dating back over 4,000 years. The Egyptians and Hittites concluded a comprehensive treaty concerning territorial demarcation and defence around 3,000 years ago. 

Winding the clock forward, one of my favourites is the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 when the Pope carved the world up into two halves by drawing a line running down the middle of the Atlantic – the Spanish were to take one half, the Portuguese the other. It didn’t quite work out that way!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Karl du Fresne: What I could do with a machine gun

I am aware that what I am about to write will result in me being branded a cantankerous misanthrope, and possibly even a bit mad. What the heck.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed myself developing a visceral aversion to noise. Not all noise; just certain noises. Some sudden, intrusive sounds provoke what I can only describe as an involuntary, irrational rage. I swear, for example, that if I had a machine gun, no boy racer would be safe. In my wilder flights of fancy I picture myself lying in wait to ambush them. I would shoot first and worry about the consequences later.

Mike Butler: Jamie Whyte and treaty settlements

Act Party leader Jamie Whyte is only partly correct to say that the reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are recognition of property rights. After his excellent analysis of the place of race in law delivered in a speech at Waikato this week, he could subject treaty settlements to his incisive accurate thought.

To what extent are treaty settlements to do with property rights? Working for the Waitangi Tribunal, historian Professor Alan Ward analysed the 650 or so historical claims lodged between 1985 and 1997, and, sorted them to match the tribunal’s interpretation of the treaty and the 1986 treaty principles.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mike Butler: Maori Party objects to 1law4all

1Law4All gained registration as a political party last week, the fourth new party to be registered in New Zealand this year. The Maori Party objected to the 1Law4All logo saying:
Our objection to this logo is that it is offensive to both Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders who respect the Treaty of Waitangi, because it is based on a political ideology which falsely proposes the abrogation of the law that relates to indigenous rights and property.

Mike Butler: Sharples and permanent dependence

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples bowed out of Parliament on Thursday. His great vision that includes an Upper Treaty Senate, a Whanau Ora superministry, a Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations, a network of Maori statutory boards all around the country, Maori spoken by all and Whare Oranga Ake rehabilitation units to replace prisons, confirms what critics have been saying for years.

Here is what Sharples said:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Matt Ridley from the UK: Atheists and Anglicans could unite against intolerance

Mike Butler: Waitemata DHB twists treaty

Here’s how the Waitemata District Health Board twists the Treaty of Waitangi to justify the race-based provision of health services. In its Maori Plan 2014-15, the board cites the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 as requiring DHBs to establish and maintain processes to enable Maori to participate in strategies to improve Maori health outcomes.

“Te Tiriti o Waitangi serves as a conceptual and consistent framework for Maori health gain across the health sector”, the board says, and goes on interpret the treaty thus:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mike Butler: ‘Maori economy’ underperforms

Financial commentator Bernard Hickey puts his political correctness on show in his article titled “New Zealand's Maori economy: a powerful force in the Kiwi success story” that is posted on the ANZ website.(1) This promotional piece of advertorial writing from Hickey marks a seasonal event, the Maori New Year, by lauding the Waikato-Tainui announcement that they had assets worth $1-billion.

Hickey cites a 2010 study by Business and Economic Research Ltd for the government's Maori department, Te Puni Kokiri, that estimated the asset base of the Maori economy at $36.9-billion, up 18 per cent from 2006.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

David Round: Democracy!

Colin Craig, the leader of the Conservative Party, recently announced that a bottom line in any coalition agreement with the National Party after the general election would be National’s agreement to introduce binding referendums as part of our constitutional arrangements. These referendums would, presumably, be ones initiated by citizens themselves, such as we already have here in non-binding form. (In some countries governments themselves can propose referendums, to run their ideas past the people.) 

Binding referendums are familiar to us from overseas; in California, for example, citizens vote on “propositions’, put forward by a certain minimum number of voters, at the same time they cast their ballots in general elections. The resulting decision of the voters automatically acquires legal effect.

Ron Smith: Tania Billingsley and the Vienna Convention

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides the essential conditions for diplomats to perform their function, ‘without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country’. At the heart of this is the notion of immunity from the laws of the host country, which applies both to the persons of accredited diplomats and to the official property of the accredited state. 

Since the principle was first accepted in 1815, at Vienna, it has had a remarkable degree of respect and observance, and in the most difficult of circumstances. That is why the occupation in 1979 of the American Embassy in Tehran, and the incarceration of American diplomats, by Iranian revolutionaries, was such a shock to the international community.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Viv Forbes from Australia: Death by Delay

“The difference between taking a part of my life,
and taking my whole life, is just a matter of degree.” 

There was a time, before the baby-boom generation took over, when we took pride in the achievements of our builders, producers and innovators. There was always great celebration when settler families got a phone, a tractor, a bitumen road or electric power. 
An oil strike or a gold discovery made headlines, and people welcomed new businesses, new railways and new inventions. 

Karl du Fresne: The ruthless logic that drives Hamas

There is a ruthless, cynical logic in what Hamas is doing in the Gaza Strip.
The constant rocket attacks on Israel are largely futile in the sense that they do minimal damage. But Hamas knows that as long as the attacks continue, Israel is bound to retaliate. It can hardly allow its territory and people to remain under constant threat.