Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mike Butler: Taupo tribe loses $29m

“Bad investments and bailouts” have wiped almost half the value off Taupo tribe Tuwharetoa’s $66-million share of the “Treelord’s” treaty settlement, the Dominion Post reported today. (1) Ngati Tuwharetoa is the second tribe to admit to losing millions in settlement spoils. About a year ago, Taranaki's Ngati Tama reported it lost its $14.5-million payout it received in 2003, also in “bad investments”.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: UE 2014 – A Plug for Meritocracy

The meritocratic ideal is a prominent aspect of the mindset of a ‘conservative liberal’ like yours truly. Essentially this means that what people get out of life ought to depend firstly and foremostly on what they put into it – the ‘merit’ they acquire through their own efforts. Like all ideals, the notion does not square entirely with observed reality.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lindsay Mitchell: CPAG back in court - again

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is about to return to court for the third time arguing that the In Work Tax Credit should go to beneficiary families. The group has an opinion piece in today's DomPost: 
New Zealand continues to grapple with a poor track record for child poverty and particularly the rising inequality affecting our poorest children. More

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frank Newman: RMA a failure

The Resource management Act is about to get another makeover, the 21st since the legislation became law in 1991. The new changes are to be announced within the new few weeks and expected to take up to three years to put into effect. Twenty-one changes in 22 years is a clear admission that the Act is not working, and never has.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ron Smith: Cover-ups and scandals - another Watergate?

If I were to tell you about a state that was monitoring the telephones and emails of journalists and their families, and administratively harassing opposition activists, whilst denying any knowledge or responsibility for what was going on, where would you think that country was?  Africa maybe?  South America?  North central Asia?  (There is a very big country up there, with next-to-no tradition of democracy and plenty of reports of just this kind of activity). 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Matt Ridley: Too virulent to spread

Here we go again. A new bird-flu virus in China, the H7N9 strain, is spreading alarm. It has infected about 130 people and killed more than 30. Every time this happens, some journalists compete to foment fear, ably assisted by cautious but worried scientists, and then tell the world to keep calm. We need a new way to talk about the risk of a flu pandemic, because the overwhelming probability is that this virus will kill people, yes, but not in vast numbers.

Phil McDermott: The Unravelling of the Auckland Plan

Getting the housing equation wrong
The failure of the Auckland Plan to reflect the simple aspirations of Aucklanders for home ownership and predominantly low-rise suburban lifestyles and promote instead the lofty compact city vision held by its planners and policy-makers made its unravelling inevitable.  And now it’s started. Rationing land to squeeze the city upward was always going to create problems.

Stephen Franks: FTAs inevitable for loan-dependent NZ, but expect one way enforcement

I've just listened to Nathan Guy talking down concern about Chinese blocking of meat imports on Radio Live Drive, before Andrew Patterson interviewed me on the topic. My firm has paid particular attention recently to the way FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) can effectively over-ride Parliamentary sovereignty (our legal self determination).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Frank Newman: Budget 2013

This years Budget has good news, but not for those who are expecting a handout. The good news is the government’s books are on track to return to surplus. That’s a remarkable achievement given the dire state of many of our trading partners, and the billions of dollars the government has contributed towards the rebuild of Christchurch.

Lindsay Mitchell: 'Feed the kids' bill starts with a lie

Hone Harawira's bill, Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in School) Amendment Bill, starts with a lie. From the Explanatory note:
Growing levels of poverty in New Zealand have resulted in too many parents being unable to afford to provide their children with breakfast before school and/or lunch at school, or being unable to afford to provide their children with sufficiently nutritious meals before and during school.

Eric Crampton: Breakfast

A few months ago, Social Service Providers Aotearoa asked me to review the literature on school breakfast programmes and provide an assessment of whether public funding of school breakfast programmes offered value for money. I spoke on the issue in Wellington and in Christchurch in February. As the government seems to be looking at the Mana Party's proposals around food in schools, it seems worth posting things here as summary.

Karl du Fresne: The elimination of poverty will just have to wait

The team of Key and English may go down as one of the more effective political partnerships of modern times. John Key is the schmoozer, the salesman. His incorrigibly sunny disposition infuriates a lot of people, who see it as smarmy and ingratiating. But it’s hard to argue with his poll ratings, which have held up extraordinarily well after one and a half terms during which the government has had to grapple with one crisis after another.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Richard Epstein: The Way Forward in Bangladesh

Its hard-working people have suffered far too long under the weight of its bankrupt public institutions.

The death toll from the recent collapse of Rana Plaza, a garment factory in a suburb of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, is still climbing. The Rana Plaza catastrophe comes on the heels of a smaller Bangladesh tragedy at Tazreen Fashions that claimed the lives of 112 people in 2012.

Karl du Fresne: Confessions of a dinosaur

My wife reckons that if I had been alive in 1893, I probably would have opposed women getting the vote. Ouch. That’s a bit harsh. I would, of course, prefer to think it’s not true – but how can I be sure? It’s unknowable. I have never thought of myself as sexist; quite the reverse. The people I most admire and respect have been strong women. I have never identified with the Kiwi bloke culture that thinks women should be kept in their place, whether it be the kitchen or the bedroom.

Reuben Chapple: Gross Impudence

“In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King. And he that does not know his own history is at the mercy of every lying windbag.” – outgoing Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, in his 1922 farewell address

 New Zealand is increasingly being referred to in the public square as “Aotearoa” or “Aotearoa New Zealand.” This fiction deserves to be mercilessly deconstructed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mike Butler: State houses checked for WOF

A scheme to impose warrants of fitness on residential rentals is well under way with Housing New Zealand going through state-owned rentals to make sure they are up to scratch. Former Housing Minister Phil Heatley confirmed last August that he would go along with child poverty lobbyists’ demands for such a scheme, while the new Housing Minister, Nick Smith, who is known for his ready adoption of trendy causes, presides over the current scheme.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Karl du Fresne: Debasing Debate

Once again, Radio New Zealand has debased the word “debate”.

It’s currently broadcasting what it calls a series of “debates” on the current review of New Zealand’s constitution. But they are nothing of the sort.

Bryan Leyland: Auckland will be liveable only if it is affordable

The Auckland plan ignores the potential for modern technology to solve our transport and other problems and, instead, pushes expensive and inappropriate 19th and 20th century solutions. They plan to spend about $3 billion on a rail tunnel that, like all tunneling projects will cost much more and will demand huge subsidies for every passenger. The tunnel is needed only because the plan decrees that people and employment must be crowded into the city centre.