Friday, October 9, 2015

Karl du Fresne: The strangely liberating experience of receiving money you haven't earned

I recently passed a personal milestone. I became a superannuitant. This entitles me to a Super Gold card and all the public transport perks that go with it.
A friend of mine, obviously with far too much time on his hands, worked out that I could travel from my home in the Wairarapa to Waiheke Island for $49. This would involve catching an off-peak train to Wellington, getting on a bus to Wellington Airport – all for nothing – then catching a cheap Jetstar flight to Auckland.

Mole News

Crown accused of sidelining Māori in TPP
The announcement of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) shows a complete lack of understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi's principles, a lawyer says.

The Waitangi Tribunal has granted a group of claimants challenging the deal an urgent hearing, which is expected to take place in January.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Frank Newman: Loopy rules

Local Government Minister, Paula Bennett, is tackling what she calls loopy rules and has set up a Rules Reduction Taskforce to look into the matter. It's appropriate that a review into loopy rules should be led by the Minister of Local Government, given it seems to be the source of many dumber than  dumb rules.

Here's a case in point, as reported by the Nelson Mail. It involves the Nelson City Council and a fence building property owner. To most people the fence looks like an ordinary fence, about 1.8 metres high with wooden palings, the sort you buy from your local DIY store.

Michael Gousmett: Ngai Tahu’s Charitable Status as a Land-Dealing Property Developer

The Press of 3 October carried yet another story on Ngai Tahu’s continuing successes, this time focussing on its property developments at Wigram Skies, the former air force base. 

The CEO of Ngai Tahu Property Limited, Tony Sewell, in responding to people who criticise Ngai Tahu’s income tax exempt status as a charity, stated that he thinks that Maori in New Zealand are easy to criticise for being successful, and in so doing misses the point altogether.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Richard Rahn from the Cato institute: A Nation Worth Emulating

Zurich, Switzerland — When you think of Switzerland what comes to mind? Beautiful lakes surrounded by the Alps; a rich country with happy people; the home of milk chocolate, expensive watches and discrete bankers; a peaceful country that has not been at war in more than two centuries?

All that is true, and even more. Switzerland is at or near the top of almost every measure of a successful country, including the just released Human Freedom Index complied by the Cato and Fraser Institutes, and others.

Matt Ridley: Genetics is good for you

Fifteen years after the first sequencing of the human genome, the genetic engineering of human beings is getting closer. Will that mean designer babies and the rich winning life’s lotteries from the start? And will we ever stop this slither down the slippery slope to playing God? My answers are: no, and I hope not. 

Despite dire predictions, almost nothing but good has come from genetic technology so far, and we’ve proved that we don’t slip down such slopes: we tread carefully.  The current excitement is over gene editing. A precise way of doing this, called CRISPR-cas9, is all the rage among the white-coated pipette-users. 

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Polygamy’s prospects in Western society

One of the ‘slippery slope’ arguments often put forward by people opposed to same-sex marriage is that it will open the floodgates to other unorthodox marriage practices. “First, same-sex marriage; next, polygamy” is a dire warning we have all come across (probably many times). 

But what is the connection between the two? Frankly, there isn’t one.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guy Steward: The Symbolism of the Current NZ Flag

There is a diversionary aspect to the present flag debate. It’s not always easy to know what our attention is being diverted from though. An atmosphere of general bewilderment and indifference is emerging while our politicians try to outdo each other in their flag-changing frenzy. The semantics fly while the country is being divided. The political debate, we are told, is “won in the centre”, but the rhetoric comes from the extremes.

A university publication I read recently states that “Burning and other forms of dishonouring the flag are against the law and therefore a popular form of protest.”[i] Comments like these have the feel of legitimatising such actions and square with the whole move to dump what we have for something else.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Brian Gaynor: NZ strength slows the Tasman drift

The performance of the Australian and New Zealand economies has an important impact on a number of areas, particularly the labour sector and our red hot housing market.

There is usually a large net migration flow from New Zealand to Australia when the Australian economy outperforms us. This normally reduces the demand for New Zealand residential property.

Bryan Leyland: “Things you know that ain't so - our electricity market is efficient and benefits consumers”

Things you know that ain't so - our electricity market is efficient and benefits the consumer”

When you look at it closely, the electricity market and the associated reforms are riddled with problems that have massively increased costs to consumers.

The first problem is the belief that a market selling kWh on the spot market is efficient.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Royalist, no; monarchist, yes

There are royalists and there are monarchists. Some people might dismiss this as an artificial distinction, but for my purposes it’s a useful one.

Royalists love the glamour and pageantry associated with the Queen and her family. They devour every sycophantic magazine article about them and turn out in their thousands to cheer and wave whenever a royal visits New Zealand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mike Butler: How the Opera House was devalued

Incomplete advice from engineers plus council indecision has destroyed of the value of the Hawke’s Bay Opera House.

Accounting manager Joanne Guildford told the Hastings District Council’s finance committee that a further $3.738-million “impairment” in the value of the buildings needed to be recorded for 2014/15.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Frank Newman: Amalgamation, RTA changes and earthquakes

The good people of the Hawke's Bay have delivered the final blow to amalgamation agenda of the Local Government Commission (LGC). A referendum of residents has rejected amalgamation by a margin of two to one. In doing so they also delivered a slap in the face of Hastings Mayor and Chairman of the Local Government trade union, Lawrence Yule, and a thoroughly deserved boot up the bum to Basil Morrison, the former chairman of the LGC, who in my view is the epitome of arrogance and disrespect for public opinion.

The victory in the Hawke's Bay reminds me of the expression, people power is stronger than people in power. It's just a shame that people power is so difficult to achieve.

Dr David Whitehouse from the UK: Met Office Shows How To Simplify, Then Exaggerate

A new Met Office report: Big changes underway in the climate system? released this week, is a textbook example of poor science communication.

The report is described as new research. It isn’t. It pretends to be an even-handed assessment of current science, but in reality ties itself up in contradictions whilst trying to imply it knows more than it actually does. It presents a patina of confidence in its ability to advise on what may happen in the future, but can’t bring itself to state clearly the obvious conclusion of the science it surveys. That is, no one knows what will happen to global temperatures in the near future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jock Anderson: What Happens When Politicians Listen to The People

Pondering a tsunami of political disbelief in Britain and the United States, freelance journalist Jock Anderson asks: "What Happens When Politicians Listen to The People?"

Political analysts, commentators and news media appear to be struggling to come to grips with a groundswell of electoral uprising on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mike Butler: Domestic terrorism at Kaitaia

The hotheads who threatened travellers, blocked flights, and started fires at the Kaitaia airport last week were not protesting, they were repossessing their land, according to Ngati Kahu treaty settlement negotiator Margaret Mutu.(1)

A 28-hour occupation of Kaitaia Airport by Ngati Kahu, which began just before lunchtime on Tuesday, ended at 3pm on Wednesday in a blaze of tyres and five arrests.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Matt Ridley: Demography does not explain the migration crisis

Even the most compassionate of European liberals must wonder at times whether this year’s migration crisis is just the beginning of a 21st- century surge of poor people that will overwhelm the rich countries of our continent. 

With African populations growing fastest, are we glimpsing a future in which the scenes we saw on the Macedonian border, or on Kos or in the seas around Sicily last week will seem tame?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Jock Anderson: New Zealand Gun Laws Among Best In The World

Freelance journalist and commentator Jock Anderson says rogue shooting is no reason to toughen gun laws.

Calls by the disarmament lobby for tougher gun laws ignore the reality that New Zealand gun 
laws are widely regarded as among the best in 
the world.

Karl du Fresne: ACC and the law of unintended consequences

A letter in last week’s Listener magazine offered an interesting slant on the workplace safety debate.

The writer was a New Zealand geologist who had worked in Australia. He had gone there convinced, as most of us probably are, of the virtues of our no-fault accident compensation system.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Michael Gousmett: Waikato-Tainui’s Privileged Income Tax Status

The existing legislation should be amended to provide that profits from trading derived directly or indirectly by charitable organisations and dividends derived from any company substantially owned by such organisations are assessable for income tax at normal rates.
Taxation Review Committee, 1967

The competitive advantage a charity could gain through the ability to accumulate tax-free profits [enables] a faster accumulation of funds [which would allow it] to expand more rapidly than its competitors.  [This was] the real competitive advantage that trading activities owned by charities have over their competitors.  Trading operations owned by charities would be subject to tax in the same way as other businesses.
Tax and Charities, IRD, June 2001