Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bruce Moon: Land War Petition – letters to Otorohanga College

The "King Country" has always been a somewhat mysterious part of New Zealand to most of us.  It is no less so today.  Suddenly, out of it has come a petition to Parliament, sponsored, so it is said, by the students of Otorohanga College for a day to commemorate the "Land Wars".

Well now, the term "Land Wars" is a recent serious misnomer for the hostilities of the mid-nineteenth century, correctly described as tribal rebellions. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mike Butler: Special water deal for iwi persists

A vague pivotal concept known as “Te Mana o te Wai” and a special deal for iwi featured in Environment Minister Nick Smith’s “Next steps for fresh water” presentation in Napier last night.

Dr Smith’s detailed presentation on environmental concerns about the economic use of, iwi rights and interests to, and the funding of fresh water improvement, ensured iwi representatives and treaty policy critics exercised restraint when asking questions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Matt Ridley from the UK: Protecting the Sea

Britain may no longer have an empire, but it still rules a heck of a lot of waves. One of the manifesto commitments of the Conservative party in the last election was to create a “blue belt” of marine protected zones around the 14 overseas territories that still belong to this country. It has started fulfilling the promise and is already protecting more of the sea than any other nation.

How best to conserve marine life? No-take zones, where all fishing is banned, are hard to police and generate little income for locals or to support enforcement of the protection. Yet exploitation of the seas risks causing great damage.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mike Butler: Waikato River clean-up awaited

A progress report, or should I say lack-of-progress report, on the much-vaunted project to clean up the Waikato River, released by the Waikato River Authority on March 22, 2016, gave the catchment a C+ rating.

Some may recall that the Waikato River Authority was set up six years as part of the Waikato River settlement. That deal involved a total of $422.8-million, with $212.8-million handed over to Waikato-Tainui, Te Arawa, Raukawa, Tuwharetoa, and Maniapoto, of which part of that amount was spread over 30 years.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Frank Newman: P for problem

Methamphetamine (P) is a problem. The media is reporting with increasing frequency tales of woe and financial misfortune. There is no doubt the P problem is growing and may have serious financial consequences for landlords, homeowners, and tenants.

It is reported that 279 Housing New Zealand (HNZ) rentals tested positive for meth in the nine months end December 2015. Five of the houses had to be demolished, and meth related remedial work is costing HNZ about $13 million a year. Some say meth contaminated homes could run into the thousands.

Brian Gaynor: Turmoil at top keeping Oz in our shadow

The latest economic statistics, including the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released this week, continue to show the New Zealand economy is outperforming Australia.

This largely explains why New Zealand is experiencing a strong net migration inflow and a buoyant residential property market.

Karl du Fresne: How identity politics has changed language

What a minefield language has become since it got mixed up with identity politics.

In her acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards last year, Viola Davis – named outstanding lead actress in a TV drama series for her performance in How to Get Away with Murder – talked of herself as a "woman of colour".

I wish we could make up our minds once and for all.

Michael Gousmett: Fixing an Anachronism - the Veterinary Services exemption from Income Tax


In 1955 the government of the day granted an exemption from income tax to veterinary services bodies in recognition of the importance of the work being undertaken by veterinary professionals in helping New Zealand’s post-war economy to develop.  

The exemption was backdated to 1951 and, 65 years later, remains in place. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mike Butler: A negotiator and a $308m bonanza

Land stolen from Maoris made our country wealthy and everyone who has benefited must help put it right, according to Rick Barker, a former Labour Government Minister who has reinvented himself as a treaty negotiator.

Barker, who leads negotiations for the Crown in the Wairarapa-Dannevirke area, wrote an article in the latest edition of Bay Buzz magazine, which is distributed around Hawke’s Bay, softening up Hawke’s Bay residents for a wave of treaty settlements coming down the pipeline.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Richard Rahn: Tyranny and Free Speech

Do you support free speech? How about free speech for climate change skeptics? For homophobes? For racists? For sexists? For white males? For even Donald Trump? 

Those who defend free speech, as did the American Founding Fathers, understand it is not about defending speech you agree with, but defending speech you disagree with. Without free speech, there is no liberty.

Karl du Fresne: I barely recognise my fellow New Zealanders

In his best-selling 1976 book The Passionless People, journalist Gordon McLauchlan famously called his fellow New Zealanders smiling zombies – basically decent, but smug and complacent.

I wonder what he makes of the extraordinary kerfuffle over the flag.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Frank Newman: Kiwimeter predicts no change to flag

On Thursday we will know whether we have a new flag. 

And we will know if NZ One's Kiwimeter is a reliable indicator of what New Zealand's think about being kiwi.

According to Kiwimeter 57% of New Zealander want to retain the existing flag. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Matt Ridley from the UK: The case against mercantilism

The late Sir George Martin created substantial British exports. Had the import of his music to America been banned to save the jobs of US musicians, Britain would have missed out on some revenue but the American consumer would have been the biggest loser, missing out on the music. Trade benefits the importing country: that’s why it happens.

Frankly, we might as well be living in the 17th century, so antiquated are our current debates over trade, both here over Brexit and in America over the presidential nominations. Many current assumptions about trade were debunked more than two hundred years ago and then tested to destruction in the mid-19th century.

Mike Butler: Submit against land wars day

Submissions are sought on whether to establish “a national day to commemorate those who lost their lives in the land wars, both Maori and colonial”. Although presented as the spontaneous idea of Otorohanga College pupils sparked by visiting the battle sites at Orakau and Rangiaowhia, the idea of including lives lost in New Zealand in memorials appeared in 2013, on the 150th commemoration of the start of armed conflict in Waikato.

As an initial observation, the sporadic armed conflict that accompanied the settlement of New Zealand from 1840 should be regarded as tribal rebellions instead of land wars. A “land wars day” would be a misnomer.

Frank Newman: Rating Maori land

The collection of rates on Maori land is a problem that local councils have been wrestling with for many years. The problem is a large amount of the rates due on Maori freehold land is never paid - estimated at $65 million nationwide. That's a $65 million hole other ratepayers must fill - otherwise worthy community projects that should happen, don't.

Maori freehold land is land classed as such by the Maori Land Court. It is subject to special rules around how the land can be sold, transferred or passed on to family members. Those rules are intended to retain the ownership of land by Maori.

Richard Epstein: The Rise of American Protectionism

The wedge issue of the 2016 primary campaign is the rising hostility to free trade—and, specifically, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

On the Republican side, establishment candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio have failed or fallen behind, while Donald Trump maintains a commanding lead going into Florida and Ohio thanks, in large part, to his protectionist rhetoric. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been veering leftward to fight off a determined challenge from Vermont’s democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, another unapologetic protectionist.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gerry Eckhoff: Dairying

The question posed by regular columnist Colin James (Otago Daily Times 15 March 2016) – ‘Is dairying too big to fail’ - is one of the more bizarre questions or comments written by a person described as a leading social and political commentator. 

To further suggest as James does, that a very junior Minister in Nathan Guy, commenting that he is hoping to see a doubling of primary exports by 2025, as a part cause of the current dairy downturn is an extraordinary claim. I would doubt that the dairy industry or indeed any other primary industry takes a blind bit of notice of a very junior minister talking up his portfolio.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Brian Gaynor: Bank pours fuel on the real estate fire

The Reserve Bank appears to have undergone a dramatic change in direction.

In recent years its elephant in the corner has been soaring residential property prices and the huge increase in household or personal debt. But Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler downplayed the housing market this week when outlining the reasons for the reduction in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 2.5 to 2.25 per cent.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Muriel Newman: Submissions on the RMA reform bill close today

Submissions on the RMA reform bill to introduce tribal co-governance of local authorities close today. If you haven't sent in a submission, please do so here:
Here is my submission so you can see the format etc, but please don't copy it - all submissions should be in your own words. Short and sweet is best!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Karl du Fresne: Perhaps not this time, but there will be a change of flag

Even as I opened the envelope containing the ballot papers for the flag referendum, I wasn’t sure which way I was going to vote. I surprised myself by seriously considering giving my tick to the status quo, despite being in favour of change.

That might seem perverse, but I reasoned that if we’re going to have a new flag, it should be one that the country is prepared to unite behind.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The European Court of Human Rights and the Italian civil unions bill – overstepping the mark?

In July last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rapped Italy across the knuckles for not having either marriage or registered civil partnerships (civil unions for short) available to same-sex couples, which it said was discriminatory as it denies such couples the opportunity to achieve legal recognition of their relationship. 

After a fractious debate that saw PM Matteo Renzi turning the issue into one of confidence in his government, the Italian Senate voted last week to introduce civil unions (hitherto not on the books at all) open to both ‘hetero’ and ‘homo’ couples. The lower house of parliament will assuredly follow suit.

Gerry Eckhoff: Of your own free will

The disturbing news that some candidates in Dunedin are likely to stand under the Labour Party banner at the local Government elections this year is of real concern to those who believe in true representative democracy. 

It is of little or no consequence as to the colour of the banner; whether the blue of National or red of Labour. What is of real importance however is that such candidates immediately loose their independence (real or perceived –it makes no difference) once a particular affiliation is made.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Phil McDermott: Planning to Fail - Wrong Assumptions, Wrong Policies

This article was first published on Phil's Cities Matter blog on Friday, November 27, 2015

A Complex and Contested Plan

Deficiencies in the vision for a compact city promoted in the Auckland Plan are apparent in the contested nature of the statutory document intended to implement it.  The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) has attracted 13,000 submissions and is subject to extensive hearings by an independent panel.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Richard Rahn: Using Tax Money to Raise Taxes

If a member of Congress told you that he was going to use some of your hard-earned tax dollars to support an international organization that demands that you pay higher taxes, what would you say? 

Unfortunately, the question is not hypothetical, because that is exactly what is now happening. Congress is giving more than $70 million a year to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has morphed over the last two decades from an organization that promoted trade and growth policies to an organization that pushes for higher taxes, which will reduce economic growth.

Brian Gaynor: NZ’s dairy giant deeper in debt

Monday’s announcement of a new $150 million Fonterra retail bond offering has shone the spotlight on the co-operative’s soaring debt levels.

The dairy giant’s total borrowings have swelled from $4.65 billion to $7.56 billion since the end of its July 2011 year while its net positive cash/overdraft position has deteriorated from $762 million to $303 million over the same period.

Lindsay Mitchell: The real cost of gangs

Earlier this week MSD released a report that found gang members had cost Work & Income and Child,Youth and Family $714 million in the 22 years between 1993 and 2014.

The annual cost of each gang member works out to $8,948 annually (3,627) - less than a superannuitant.