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.


Māori Party call for coins to be bilingual
The Māori Party wants New Zealand coins to have both Māori and English on them.

New $5 and $10 bank notes are expected to be distributed in October this year that will have more Te Reo Māori on them, with $20, $50 and $100 notes to follow suit next year.

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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Karl du Fresne: So much for the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme ...

The house I live in was built in 1916. My wife and I plan a party next year to celebrate its centenary. Of all the houses we’ve owned (this is number seven), it’s the one in which I've felt most at home.
It was built in what architectural historians call the transitional villa style, an intermediate stage between the traditional villa of the late 19th century and the Californian bungalow that became fashionable after World War I.

Brian Arrandale: The Future Structure of Local Government Needs Radical Change

The future of Local Government is destined to change due to the Government empowering the Local Government Commission to push for fewer local bodies - using the pretext that amalgamation will bring the desired changes. But will it? 

Certainly it brought forth changes in Auckland that have been extremely costly, and have resulted in an increase in the governing bureaucracy of that Super City. It is however a global trend in our present “Cosmetic Age”, as opposed to previous ones such as the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason which have contributed to real progress and the advancement of mankind.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Frank Newman: Interest rates and changes to local councils

As expected, last week the Reserve Bank cut the official cash rate (OCR) a quarter of a percent to 3%. This follows a reduction of the same amount six weeks ago.

Floating mortgage rates adjusted immediately. Kiwibank and the ANZ reduced their floating rates by 0.25% to 6.15% and 6.24% respectively. The other major banks are expected to follow suit shortly.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Savaged by goldfish - again

As I fully expected, I came under attack yesterday from some of my fellow journalists over my criticism of Nicky Hager’s claim to be an investigative journalist.

The usual suspects were represented among the comments posted on the Kiwi Journalists’ Association Facebook page. The sleazy socialist journalism academic Martin Hirst popped up like an unwelcome recurring pimple – the first time I’ve encountered his odious presence since he left the Auckland University of Technology journalism school several years ago to return to his native Australia.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Richard Epstein from the US: Obama’s Disastrous Iran Deal

In his famous 1897 essay, “The Path of the Law,” Oliver Wendell Holmes said that to understand the law, it would be necessary to adopt the perspective of the famous “bad man,” the one “who cares only for the material consequences” of his actions, but “does not care two straws for the axioms or deductions” of natural law. Our bad man just wants “to know what the Massachusetts or English courts are likely to do in fact.”

Today, Holmes’s quintessential bad man is Iran, as it only cares about what happens if it gets caught,—caught, in this case, developing nuclear weapons.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Viv Forbes from Australia: Green Energy Steals from the Biosphere

Earth has only three significant sources of energy.

First is geothermal energy from Earth’s molten core and decaying radioactive minerals in Earth’s crust. This energy moves continents, powers volcanoes and its heat migrates towards the crust, warming the lithosphere and the deep oceans. It can be harvested successfully in favourable locations, and radioactive minerals can be extracted to provide large amounts of reliable heat for power generation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bryan Leyland: Things you know that ain't so - environmentalists have brought huge benefits in health and welfare

"Things you know that ain't so - environmentalists have brought huge benefits in health and welfare"

It is commonly believed that, overall, the environmental movement has had positive effects for health and welfare. The reality is that many of their beliefs and actions have had seriously negative effects.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frank Newman: Dairy prices, Greece, and Ruakaka

The prospects of an early revival in dairy prices have taken another hit. The Global Dairy Trade index was down 10.7% at last week’s auction, and the all-important whole milk powder price (which is responsible for about 75% of Fonterra's farmgate milk price) was down 13.1% to US$1,848, the largest fall in 12 months.

The whole milk powder price is now at its lowest level in six years, down 65% from its peak of US$5,245 in April 2013, and a long way from Fonterra's forecast price of US$3,500 a tonne.

Karl du Fresne: The New Puritans and their vision of Utopia

New Zealanders are under siege, bombarded almost weekly with warnings that we’re killing ourselves, either by drinking too much, eating the wrong food or being too fond of sugar.

Last week a coterie of academics from Otago, Auckland and Oxford universities called for special taxes on fatty and salty foods and government subsidies on fruit and vegetables. Luckily for them, they wouldn’t have to work out the nightmarish regulatory details such a proposal would entail, nor pay for the army of public servants that would be required to administer it. Not their problem.

Richard Epstein from the US: The Folly Of "Fair" Housing

This past week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a long and convoluted final rule, entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (Final Rule). This rule sets out the new terms and conditions which all local governments will be required to meet if they receive federal funds to advance their local housing programs.

These obligations are not made out of whole cloth, but were explicitly set out in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA), which has two separate parts.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Viv Forbes: Climate Concern is Mis-directed.

“Climate” is sometimes defined as the thirty year “average” of weather. Climate is what we expect, on average – weather is what we actually get.

It is true that atmospheric conditions (dust, smoke, smog, aerosols, aircraft contrails, clouds and trace gases) can affect Earth’s weather. But none of these minor atmospheric constituents can generate energy – they merely filter, block, reflect, transfer or redirect a portion of solar energy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Frank Newman: China's bubble has burst

While the Samoan rugby test dominated the news in New Zealand last week, the eyes of the world were on a remarkable economic event taking place in China.

Since the middle of June Chinese share prices have collapsed 30%. The response of the Chinese government has been to initiate a multi-trillion dollar bail-out to prevent an economic melt-down. The collapse comes after a year when stock prices rose 100%.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Matt Ridley: What the climate wars did to science

In June I published a lengthy essay in Quadrant magazine on the effect that the global warming debate is having on science itself:

For much of my life I have been a science writer. That means I eavesdrop on what’s going on in laboratories so I can tell interesting stories. It’s analogous to the way art critics write about art, but with a difference: we “science critics” rarely criticise. If we think a scientific paper is dumb, we just ignore it. There’s too much good stuff coming out of science to waste time knocking the bad stuff.

Michael Coote: Counterpunching Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Pugnacious former New Zealand prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon proudly defined himself as a “counterpuncher”.

In Sir Robert’s official biography, author Barry Gustafson expands on the term by writing, “He developed a deserved reputation as a counterpuncher who saw attack as the best means of defence, and who believed that he should always retaliate if anyone attacked him.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mike Butler: Insulation, alarms latest kneejerk

Housing Minister Nick Smith’s announcement today that insulation and smoke alarms will become legally required in rental properties comes with the news that the government has taken the idiotic rental property warrant of fitness proposal off the table. (1)

This is the latest of a line of apparent National Party crackdowns on property owners that included a mini capital gains tax on properties sold within two years, and loan-to-value requirements on banks to reduce lending to property investors.

Dr Michael Gousmett: Taxing Non-related Large-scale Trading by Charities - correcting an unintended consequence

Recent letters to the Press have asked the question, why do trading operations undertaken by Ngai Tahu have charitable status, therefore are exempt from income tax?  As a charity specialist I always reply to such letters but the Press in exercising its editorial discretion does not always see fit for whatever reason to publish my informed responses. 

The latest letter, on 25 June by John Burn, pointed out that no doubt property developers and agricultural commercial rivals would be aggrieved at the fact that Ngai Tahu pays no income tax on its trading activities, the basis of which are public assets gifted by the government which now allows Ngai Tahu to build a huge corpus.  Mr Burn is quite right about the growth of Ngai Tahu’s trading activities and my response to the Press explained how that growth is occurring.