Friday, August 28, 2015

Brian Gaynor: Overseas investment a key part of our story

The overseas ownership of New Zealand was back in the headlines with the release of KPMG’s Foreign Direct Investment in New Zealand: Trends and Insights.

The report dispels a widely held belief that New Zealand is being gobbled up by Chinese buyers as Chinese interests accounted for only 14 per cent of the country’s overseas investments in the January 2013 to December 2014 period.

Stephen Franks: Leave Fonterra to sort itself (or not)

The amalgamation/monolith structure of Fonterra was a mistake. But it is what we have and pulling it to bits now could compound the mistake.

The Fonterra monopoly came from a conjunction of  dairy politics with the instincts of a leftist Clarke Cabinet, at a time when they needed to rebuild trust with business. The Fonterra ‘capture the value chain’ slogans appealed to a Cabinet nurtured on coop=good/big battalions/commanding heights socialism. So they legislatively outflanked the Commerce Commission, relegated official reservations, and created the monolith.

Karl du Fresne: No one's forced to eat junk food

When I think of Otago, I’m inclined to think of it as a place of solid, practical people – people like Henry Shacklock, who made cast-iron coal ranges, the original Sir James Fletcher, founder of the construction company that bears his name, and Bendix Hallenstein, a 19th century businessman whose name lives on in a national menswear chain.
Dunedin today still has an aura of Presbyterian sturdiness and self-reliance (although Hallenstein, of course, was Jewish). The Otago Daily Times is the last of the traditional New Zealand daily newspapers, still family-owned, still concentrating on what it does best – which is local news, delivered on paper – and faring pretty well compared with digitally focused papers elsewhere.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Paul Verdon: Could there be a less befitting symbol of nationalism and pride of performance?

It’s likely that, in future years, the great majority of New Zealanders will look back on the Ka Mate haka with a good deal of embarrassment at the naivety and sheer historical ignorance displayed by government, officials and the participants.

The All Blacks, as they have done for many years, have performed this haka before several of their tests this year.

Mike Butler: Tribes compete in Auckland claim

It was only a matter of time that some tribe would claim the city of Auckland. Then, lo and behold, when the frail, intellectually challenged Maori king did just that on Friday, a second claim for the City of Sails was revealed.

First, Maori king Tuheitia told more than 500 people at his annual speech at Turanagwaewae Marae that he was determined to launch a claim for greater Auckland.(1)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Frank Newman: Tourism shines in nervous times

It's been a tough week internationally and these are nervous times for those with their life savings in the sharemarket. The main problem is China.

Last month I wrote China's bubble has burst. Share prices had collapsed 30% in a matter of weeks and the Chinese authorities had imposed a raft of regulations to restrict supply and poured in billions of dollars to boost demand for shares. It had an immediate effect but prices are now back where they were last month and threatening to go lower. The problem for the Chinese government is that while they are putting bucket loads of money into the share market to support prices, high net worth individuals and foreigners are reducing their risk exposure by taking it out.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stephen Franks: Cunning RMA move is Constitutionally dodgy

Every young Aucklander unable to afford a house should applaud the Hon Nick Smith’s cunning scheme to force planners to take that cost into account. If Dr Smith uses his plan boldly enough he may gut the paralysing Auckland PAUP and negate the Hon Peter Dunne’s veto on RMA reform.

The scheme also highlights the constitutional barbarism lurking in last year’s Supreme Court “King Salmon” decision.

Brian Gaynor: Why India will blossom into globe’s next growth engine

It is important for investors to keep a close eye on long-term trends as well as short-term developments. With this in mind, recently released long-term population predictions are essential reading for investors even though most of them are almost totally focused on the June year profit announcements at present.

The United Nations Population Division’s long-term population projections, which are summarised in the accompanying table, received considerable international media attention this week. These figures clearly show why emerging economies have become more important in recent years.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lindsay Mitchell: Drilling down DPB numbers

In Parliament this week the Prime Minister said:

"... through a strong economy and the welfare reform measures this Government has undertaken, we now have the lowest number of people on the equivalent of the old DPB since 1988."
Strictly speaking this is true and surely very good news?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: The great filter

The search for another world that can sustain life is getting warmer. We now know of 1,879 planets outside the solar system. 

A few weeks ago, we (the planetary we, that is: no thanks to me) found Earth’s twin, a planet of similar size and a habitable distance from its sun, but 1,400 light years from here. Last week we found a rocky planet close to a star just 21 light years away, which means if anybody lives there and tunes in to us, they could be watching the first episode of Friends.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Must TV cameras intrude on private grief?

When I joined the now-defunct New Zealand Journalists’ Association in 1968 (union membership in those days being compulsory), I automatically signed up to the journalists’ code of ethics.
One of the rules in that code was that journalists should accept no compulsion to intrude on private grief. In other words if my boss asked me to seek an interview with a family that had just lost someone in a car accident, I was entitled to say no, and the union would back me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mike Butler: De-amalgamation is difficult

Ratepayers in Auckland, Queensland, and Canada have a message for Hawke’s Bay people facing a decision in two weeks on replacing our five councils – it is really difficult to de-amalgamate.

A poll suggesting most people in northern Rodney, north of Auckland, want to break away from the Auckland Council the latest in a list of communities that want out of a costly and disappointing amalgamation experience.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mike Butler: Treaty negotiator pay update

A new list published today of amounts paid to treaty negotiators that Winston Peters got from Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson may be compared with a similar list from 2013 to see differences, gaps, with one amount being less than two years ago.

Finlayson provided a breakdown of the amounts paid to Government-appointed Crown negotiators for each year since 2008, in response to a Parliamentary written question from Peters.

Frank Newman: Dairy by the numbers

The latest fall in dairy prices has raised the level of concern about the sector and more generally about the economy.  The easiest way to cut through the media sensation is to let the numbers do the talking. 

Here they are for the dairy industry.
  • 11,500 farmers supply Fonterra.
  • $3.85 per kg of milksolids, Fonterra's revised farmgate milk price forecast.
  • $8.40 was the payout in the 2013/14 season (the peak).
  • $5.40 is the milk price the average farmer needs to break even (including debt repayment costs).

Lindsay Mitchell: Treasury releasing OIA request responses - all govt depts should follow suit

Announced yesterday:
The Treasury is trialling the publication of its responses to selected Official Information Act (OIA) requests. 
Responses to selected OIA requests received by the Treasury are published here soon after the requestor has received their response from the Treasury. The reply letter from the Treasury to the requestor explains what information, if any, has been withheld under the OIA and under which grounds. The requestor's name and address have been removed.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mike Butler: Couple blow treaty cash

Two Tauranga marae trustees admitted stealing at least $20,000 of treaty settlement cash and blowing some of it at casinos - but no-one told police, according to a report in the Sunday Star Times.
The couple have admitted spending the money, meant for renovations at the Waimapu Marae in Tauranga, at SkyCity Casino in Auckland, Riverside Casino in Hamilton and bars around Tauranga.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Brian Anderson: Wood Burning - where are we?


40 years ago Christchurch had winter air that was as foul and unhealthy as one could find. The combination of a naturally cold and damp climate, frequent temperature inversions, and the almost universal use of open fires, (the majority using coal) covered the city in a brown sulphurous blanket for much of the winter.

Dr Michael Gousmett:Ngai Tahu Distributions and Tax

An article in the Christchurch Press of 1 August about Ngai Tahu claims that some profits from the iwi’s operations go to the tribal members in annual distributions and that the exemption from income tax benefits iwi members and not Ngai Tahu Property.  

I beg to differ, as an analysis of the annual returns filed by the Ngai Tahu Charitable Group on the Charities Register tell a different story. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: The Paris Climate Summit

The first council of Nicea, held 1,690 years ago this summer, decided upon a consensus about the nature of God, namely that the son had been “begotten not made, being of one substance with the father”, as Athanasius argued, and not created out of nothing, as Arius argued. Phew. Glad they settled that.

The 21st conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as the “11th session of the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto protocol”, in Paris this December, will be scarcely less theological.

Richard Rahn from the Cato Institute: Promoting Very Unsettled Science

If you have been to the beach at Treasure Island, Florida (adjoining St. Petersburg), you will notice something very odd. The hotels (many of which were built in the 1950s and ‘60s) and the seawall are very far from the water in the Gulf of Mexico — giving an extraordinarily wide beach. It was not always that way. 

When the hotels and seawall were built, they were set back from the high tide a normal hundred yards or so; but over the years, there was a natural but unforeseen accretion to the beach — which, having grown up in the area, I observed. (It can be seen on Google Earth.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bryan Leyland: Things you know that ain't so - coral atolls are disappearing

Things you know that ain't so - coral atolls are disappearing beneath rising oceans”

No they are not. The fact that atolls exist proves that they can cope with rapidly rising sea levels.

The world came out of the last ice age about 16,000 - 12,000 years ago. During this period sea levels rose at up to 3 m per century – 30 mm per year! If coral growth had not been able to keep up with this, the atolls would not exist. And that is all you need to know!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Frank Newman: Changes to development contributions

Last year parliament made an amendment to the Local Government Act that has forced local councils to make changes to the way they charge development contributions. This is good news for commercial developers, but the benefits are less clear for those developing residential property.

Development contributions are a charge imposed by a council to recover some of the capital costs incurred by the council when providing infrastructure services for the development.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Pagan gods, nature spirits, totem animals and the secular State

Karl du Fresne’s piquant little piece of last month about stingrays and traditional Maori beliefs struck a chord with me as the subject matter intersects with a social phenomenon I have long been interested in – the resurgence of pagan beliefs in modern society.

The word ‘pagan’ is of uncertain etymology – one theory is that it is a corruption of ‘pai gens’ which is mediaeval French for ‘country folk’. 

Matt Ridley: Iceland's lesson for Europe

I spent part of last week in Iceland, the antithesis of Greece. It’s been a hard winter and a cold spring up there, but despite the stiff northerly breeze off the Arctic ocean, economically speaking Iceland is basking in real warmth, while Greece shivers in financial winter. 

Iceland teaches a very acute lesson for Greece, Britain, Europe and the world: independence works.