Monday, March 28, 2011

Owen McShane: Auckland Spatial Plan

The battle lines are being drawn.

The Government legislation that created the Auckland Council included a requirement for an “evidence-based” Spatial Plan as a general planning framework for the region to be governed by the new Auckland Council. Government has recently presented a set of position papers establishing its preferences for an approach based on rigorous analysis of existing patterns and trends rather than utopian and coercive visions. The position papers flag the reasonable position that Government will not ask the taxpayers to fund major projects focused on the Auckland CBD unless they are supported by rigorous analysis, including costs and benefits.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roger Kerr: Where Are The Jobs For Those On Benefits

When the Welfare Working Group’s report came out last month advocating more work-focused welfare arrangements, some critics asked, “Where are the jobs for beneficiaries to go to?”

Such responses are not new. In the 1980s, many argued against the removal of import protection and state-owned enterprise reform on the grounds that there were no jobs for displaced workers. Unemployment rose unnecessarily at that time because of opposition by unions and others to reforming the rigid labour market. When it was eventually freed up in 1991, New Zealand enjoyed the fastest employment growth in the OECD in the next five years and unemployment plummeted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ron Smith: Libya and Colonel Gaddafi: second thoughts

When I last wrote on this subject (4 March), the Libyan opposition was in full cry and making progress on all fronts. Colonel Gaddafi, on the other hand, was exhibiting panic and making incoherent speeches. His diplomatic representatives were deserting him and his airmen were defecting or, so it seemed, not always aiming well. The military forces of the leadership still had the potential to be decisive if they were used ruthlessly but the crucial factor of morale was all with the insurgents.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lindsay Mitchell: Methodist attack on WWG misguided

Media Release and Rebuttal:
Monday, March 21, 2011

The Christchurch Methodist Mission has published a misguided and unwarranted attack on the work of the government-established Welfare Working Group. Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said today that the four page pamphlet Facts about welfare in New Zealand is highly selective, contains inaccuracies and misleads.

"The Mission accuses the Welfare Working Group of 'misuse of data' and having 'manufactured a crisis that doesn't exist' and urges its members to write to newspapers and MPs to ' challenge ill-informed criticisms of beneficiaries and welfare support'. "

Monday, March 21, 2011

David Round: Customary rights claims lack validity

Canterbury University Lecturer in Law David Round believes the customary rights claims that underpin Chris Finlayson’s Marine and Coastal Area Bill have no validity in law. Here are his notes:
  • Finlayson's basic claim is that the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act overrules 164 years of common law development. This is not so. It is completely untrue that the law of New Zealand recognised these customary rights for 164 years.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Karl du Fresne: Free speech means putting up with exhibitionists

ONE OF the prices we pay for free speech is that we have to put up with people who use it to draw attention to themselves.

I include in this category the two Wanganui students who painted a sign saying Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Makes You Free” – the cruelly cynical slogan displayed above the gateway to Auschwitz – over the front door of their rented central city house.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tom Johnson: The Death of Democracy?

Democracy has many imperfections as a form of governance, but is still vastly superior to the alternatives- ask the Libyans or Egyptians. It seems almost inexplicable that the democratic principles of equality and freedom that are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law are being abandoned by the current National government for the political expediency of securing the support of the Maori Party, despite it representing only 2.5% of all voters. The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is not only ill-considered and dangerous as claimed by Columnist Chris Trotter, but it is blatantly racist. It confers on Maori New Zealanders special property rights (customary title) and new legal powers to enforce them that are denied 85% of the rest of New Zealanders. Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg and the point missed by the majority of New Zealanders in their apathy, is that it is just a small part of the whole racial or ethnicity debate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mike Butler: Tikanga in wonderland

Was ACT MP Hilary Calvert racist in calling “tikanga” an “Alice in Wonderland” word, or was she accurately showing the problem in how the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill takes into account Maori rights? According to the NZPA report, Calvert said that "Tikanga is an 'Alice in Wonderland' word. It means whatever the Queen - I think it was the Red or White Queen - said it would mean, no more and no less."

The Coastal Area Bill defines the word “tikanga” as meaning Maori customary values and practices, but offers no indication of what these are in relation to the foreshore and seabed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eric Crampton: Excess unemployment

Here's the data and program I've been using to generate measures of excess youth unemployment in New Zealand since the abolition of the differential youth minimum wage. [note - the files may still be coming up 404. Our new-and-consequently-worse-than-the-old server doesn't recognize odd file types like .dta and .do, but they're working on it.]

I've modified things a bit since the last time I wrote about it. As we have more and more quarters under the new regime, including those quarters' data in the estimation of parameters starts messing with the estimates if the point is figuring out what youth unemployment would look like if it had followed its prior trend relative to the adult rate.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Owen McShane: The Urban Reality

The simple reality is that the successful major cities of the Anglo-American world are decentralizing, and reducing overall urban area density, rather than centralizing and increasing density.

This dentralisation is driven by demographics, technology, and people’s personal preferences. These add up to a potent mix, and regulators have found that attempts to halt or reverse this trend have counterproductive outcomes. Auckland Mayor Len Brown may prefer a more compact city to more “urban sprawl” but the evidence suggests the Auckland residents may sprawl to the regional centres of Australia rather than be regulated into Smart Growth submission.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

David Round: Multiculturalism and Diversity - conclusion

Multiculturalism cannot work. Human beings, like other living things, like to live among their own kind. Circumstances may often require them to live with different peoples, but no-one will like it. It is co-existence, but it is not a society. Post-modernism is multiculturalism’s philosophical justification. Post-modernism is really the philosophical equivalent of extreme free market capitalism. It says that there is no society, only individuals and smaller groups, all pursuing their own selfish ends, and that that is the way things should be.

Roger Kerr: Privatisation Myths Need To Be Busted

There are an extraordinary number of myths about privatisation, more than can be busted in a single article. Some are perpetuated by supporters of the policy, not just opponents.
Myth#1 In a supportive article in the Dominion Post of February 23, Terry McLaughlin, chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, wrote, “privately owned businesses consistently outperform publicly owned businesses.”

This is clearly not the case: some private firms fail and some publicly owned ones perform well, at least for a time. The correct statement, supported by much economic research, is that, on average and over time, privately owned businesses outperform publicly owned ones.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Frank Newman: Where's Winston?

Winston Peters should have been the strongest advocate against the government’s Marine and Coastal Area Bill. He has instead remained largely silent. Why?

While Peters has stayed silent the grassroots movement that is the Coastal Coalition has filled the cavity of silence. It has come from nowhere to gain widespread support and sufficient funding to conduct a high profile awareness campaign. Their success is clearly evident in that they are the major participant in the debate and commentary on the issue rarely goes by without them getting a mention. Meanwhile Peters has been a non-starter and despite their best efforts, ACT has failed to get traction, being largely an appendage to the debate rather than a primary player.

Karl du Fresne: Who Knows What We Are Capable Of?

It’s perilously close to a cliché to say that we have seen New Zealand at its absolute best during the past nine days. The way in which people all over the country (and overseas too, for that matter) have rallied in support of quake-stricken Christchurch is inspirational. The city’s own courageous and resilient response, save for the actions of a few contemptible looters, inevitably evokes comparisons with London during the Blitz.

Friday, March 4, 2011

David Round: Multiculturalism and Diversity - part 7

Pansy Wong, New Zealand’s first Cabinet Minister of Asian descent, was not a Minister for long before she was obliged to resign, after revelations that her husband, travelling to China with her on a trip paid for by the taxpayer, had conducted private business at the taxpayer’s expense. I cannot remember now precisely what her excuses were; it would be hard to believe that an astute lady like her, a Member of Parliament for several terms, was actually ignorant of or had forgotten the rules; but no excuses are satisfactory. If stupidity is not the explanation, then the only other explanations are worse. Be that as it may, the Christchurch Press of the 20th of November 2010 contained an interesting letter to the editor from Ray Spring of Huntsbury Hill which made a very valid point. I observed several weeks ago that the understanding of most multiculturalists as to what culture actually is a shallow one. I am amazed at the number of times I have had offered to me, as a serious and major reason for the continuation of present policies, the utterly frivolous defence that immigration has given us an increasingly wide range of ethnic restaurants. ‘Culture’ seems to mean no more than exotic food and a few other splashes of colour for the jaded urban sophisticate; and as long as they can get really good fodder, who cares about anything else?

Owen McShane: Sustainable Cities, Liveable Cities or Resilient Cities

One outcome of the dreadful earthquake that has severely damaged so much of Central Christchurch, taken so many lives, and terrified so many residents of the whole urban area, is whether the Central Area should be rebuilt, abandoned for some other location, or seized on as an opportunity to set new standards in sustainability, urban design, energy efficiency, or whatever ideal urban form takes your fancy.

While some might think it is crass to even be pondering such matters, rather than focusing on saving lives and cleaning up the mess, many people in Christchurch are asking these kinds of questions about their urban area while many throughout the country are asking similar questions about the future of their own towns and cities.

Ron Smith: responsibility to protect?

It seems very clear now that Libya is on the cusp. Anti-Gaddafi Libyans have liberated substantial parts of the country, particularly in the east, but the preponderance of military power, especially the air force, still seems to be supporting the regime (although reports of specific actions do suggest a lack of enthusiasm, and there have been prominent defections). Clearly, though, they could be much more effective and, if the will was there, they could roll back the uprising and inflict major losses on those involved.