31 July, 2007

One Auckland

This idea has emerged from the woodwork again. This time there is even a Royal Commission of Inquiry in the the idea.

For those of you outside the Auckand region this is probably a bit of a perplexing idea. Auckland is Auckland after all so why should there be more than one council?

Not so. Currently there are eight councils in the Auckland Region.
The rather toothless Auckland Regional Council (ARC),
Auckland City (that is what Dick Hubbard is currently mayor of)
Manukau City
North Shore City
Waitakere City
Rodney District
Franklin District and
Papakura District

That is greatly reduced from 20 years ago when there were over 20 different local bodies each with their own mayor. They were all mashed into just seven and the Auckland Regional Authority became the ARC. This a loss of local identity that the locals are still struggling with.

In some cases the difference is geographical. North Shore is only joined to the rest by a pair of bridges, ferry services and Rodney to the north and bisected by a motorway. Waiheke Island is only linked to Auckland City by its ferries.
In other cases it is the urban/rural divide. The three districts are increasingly urban but still have large rural areas. The rural land within the city boundaries has almost all gone, except when you are an island.

The needs are quite different. Auckland City has huge problems with aging storm water pipes, sewers and gridlock caused by daily commuters from the other areas. North Shore doesn't want to spend any money on trains that don't cross the harbour bridge and none do. Manukau has problems with unrelenting growth and a large low socio-economic population. Rodney has problems with an incomplete motorway and lack of urban facilities, Waitakere has Westies and the list goes on.

Should all these groups be crunched into three or just one or not crunched at all?
Cost savings have been used to promote positive opinions of the idea but we have been down that road before and never saw the promised savings.

What the rest of the country has to think about is:
Do you really want one third of the country governed by a single local body?

That is the size of the issue.

Satire Rulz

This is the sort of publicity the New Zealand Government could do without.

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml and look for the clip titled America to the Rescue.

They even made an effort to pronounce Waitangi and Whangarei correctly and almost succeeded.


28 July, 2007

The absolute futility of tinkering with the exchange rate

The headlines are screaming New Zealand Dollar In Free Fall less that 2 days after Bollard and Co. raised the official cash rate again. The rate increase should have pushed the dollar even further up into the stratosphere but instead it falls.

That just goes to show how futile trying to control our tiny floating currency is. Something happens with the US dollar or the Yen and up or down she goes almost totally independent of what in happening here where Kiwi dollars pay workers and buy groceries.

While my secretary keeps buying the nice catfood instead of that cheap stuff I am not worried about it. So long as it isn't that toxic stuff imported from China that caused such a fuss (and dead cats!) over in the USA that is. No worries about the exchange rate if it is made in NZ after all.

27 July, 2007

David Benson-Pope, GBL

Well, well, well, (3 holes in the ground).

Helen Clarke has had enough and David Benson-Pope really was Gone By Lunchtime.
Yeah OK he resigned his ministerial position but we all know is was either that or be sacked.

Now it is up to his electorate committee in Dunedin South to decide his parliamentary future.

26 July, 2007

Bollard's Game part 3

Up the rates go for the fourth time this year. Was anyone surprised?

Still a hint was dropped indicating that this may be the end of it. Just about everybody with a mortgage fixed for less than 5 years has now been hit with interest rate increases. Some may even be facing round 2 of the rate hikes that have occured over the last 3 years.

Oh well, such is life.

25 July, 2007

For Sale - one used airport.

Auckland airport, or rather 60% of its shares, is for sale and Dubai Aerospace Enterprises wants to buy.

The average kiwi doesn't like the idea, much to the surprise of Dubai Aerospace Enterprises. It seems we are a little concerned about the idea of some foreign investor owning our biggest international airport. Not that we have many international airports.

Now it seems that Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is preparing an offer as well.

Auckland and Manukau City ratepayers are going to have to put their money where their mouths are to stop a sale going ahead. It's their local councils doing the bulk of the selling.

NZ Dollar = sky rocket in flight

I am starting to feel sorry for Alan Bollard, reserve bank governor. The exporters are screaming, Cullen is dropping reminders in the form of spin, economists are jumping every which way and using a great number of words while doing so and mortgagees are whimpering.

Why? Because the dollar rocketed up not only over 80c US but over 81c US.

If you have a yen to buy some US dollars now is the time to do so. If you don't fancy that buy some Yen. Japanese grandmothers seem to by exchanging yen for NZ and AUS dollars by the truck load.

The worring thing is that there is next to nothing Alan Bollard or the New Zealand government can do about it without causing a crash.

Well at least it is keeping the price of petrol down.

I supose you are wondering about my silence on David Benson-Pope

It seems that his office made a phone call questioning the recent employment of the partner of John Key's chief press secretary. As a result the poor woman is now looking for another job.

Quite frankly I have said nothing because David Benson-Pope is quite capable of digging his own grave without any help from anybody else. He even seems to be holding the shovel the right way up this time.

Of course now the Prime Minister is giving him a hand so it seems he might not be GBL - gone by lunchtime, quite yet. Come the next election however.........

20 July, 2007

OCR - Will he or won't he?

Speculation is rife.

Will Alan Bollard, reserve bank governor, raise the OCR yet again because of high fuel prices, a big Fonterra payout and the gradually slowing housing market. Or will he leave it as is for the time being or, as some pundits are suggesting, even lower it in order to clip the wings of the New Zealand dollar?

Better still, will Micheal Cullen, minister of finance, step in with a little known section of the reserve bank act and reverse the change if Bollard raises it as he has threatened to do?

Place your bets.
All will be revealed on Thursday 26 July 2007.

That's right, we have another week of speculation to put up with yet.

One thing to note though is that the kiwi dollar is only doing sky rocket impersonations against the US dollar. Its rise against other currencies is much slower or almost unchanging.
What does that say about the US economy? and how long will it take for the average American to work that out?

19 July, 2007

Youth Justice - Do the judges get the point?

"Judge Andrew Becroft told a parliamentary committee yesterday that NZ First MP Ron Mark's Young Offenders (Serious Crimes) Bill would abolish the Youth Court and end family group conferences.
"It would effectively end our current youth justice system ... Whatever have been the intentions, it is clear that this bill is profoundly poorly drafted ... One could even say it is abysmally drafted."

Ever wondered why so many judges have opinions that are so different to those held by the general public? Many of whom are parents?

Why is it that judges in the youth justice system fail to see that many of the sentences and family conferences they hand down are treated with the contempt normally reserved for wet bus tickets by the public, victims and offenders alike?

Stories of young people being used by older criminals to commit crimes simply because they just get a slap on the wrist if caught abound. This isn't urban legend. Newspaper clippings about the recent sentencing of a local family of bag snatchers and their modus operandi are taped to the window of a shop up the road from me right now.

No matter how you look at it real crime deserves real punishment.

The consequences must fit the actions otherwise the young and morally bent will continue to get away with everything just short of murder.

18 July, 2007

Powerless on the 'Shore

Power cuts are nothing new, they are quite a regular occurrence in my neck of suburbia so when the lights started flicking 8 days ago in bad weather I didn't bat an eyelid.

The odd thing about this blow is that it didn't come from the west. It came from the east.

Maybe they don't prune the trees as well over that way or maybe some of those poles needed looking at but it seems a few power lines got knocked down. That's okay though, the power company promised to fix it by noon the next day. And the day after that.
And the day after that.
And yet again the day after that.
And... well you get the idea.
There were some homes still without power after 7 days.

Now if this was a working class area we wouldn't hear too much about it. If this was a rural area we wouldn't hear much about it either. But it wasn't. It was isolated parts of Takapuna, East Coast Bays and Silverdale. They are griping big time. Still the power companies could have been a bit more up front with their repair estimates.

It was only seven days without power, no flooding or other damage so I've got to ask:

How would these people cope in a civil defence emergency?

15 July, 2007

New dinosaur found, and it's Sir Robert Jones

Sir Robert Jones or Bob Jones, as he used to be known, doesn't like the new home of the department of conservation. Basically because Conservation House is a Green Party's wet dream.

It is energy efficient in lots of clever yet simple ways, uses water caught on the roof for non drinking purposes, encourages recycling and even has a big bike rack and a shower for cyclists.

Sir Robert claims that it is all a crock. New Zealand doesn't have a shortage of water or electricity. Worse still this building is very open plan and, in his opinion, people prefer to have their own offices.

What rock has he been living under?
Just over the hill in Wairarapa there have been hose bans and in numerous other places as well. As for electricity - if it isn't in short supply why is it so expensive? And back in the real world how many people have their own offices? Not many from what I have seen.

Sir Robert also of the opinion that only a suicidal lemming would want to ride a bicycle in Wellington.
He may have a point.
But I am fairly certain he doesn't think twice about filling up his car with petrol or start muttering under his breath went the price of a tankful goes up above his budget.

Now I am not a fan of the Green Party but you don't have to be a greenie to see the point of this building.

It saves dollars and that makes good sense to me.

10 July, 2007

Parliamentery Press Rules - part 2

I notice that parliament is rethinking the new rules to restrict what images of them in the house can be shown.
It seems that this was a response to 4 TV companies announcing that they would be ignoring the new restriction.

Media-1 Parliament-0

Back down or flip flop - you choose. I guess we now have some idea who really runs this country.

Viva la free press.

05 July, 2007

Packaging Heaven, or should that be Hell?

It's the school holidays and one of the kids just had a birthday.

What has that to do with packaging?

Lovely amounts of coloured paper and foil to chase (Yippee!), plastic bags to crackle (Oh Joy!), lots of fun for frisky cats but, to quote the cat in the hat, "that is not all, oh no, that is not all."

Have you ever tried to get a kid's toy out of the packaging?

The excess packaging around toys seems to have escaped the attentions of the reduce waste movement and various tree huggers. One thing for sure is that no kid can rip into their new toy unaided or even armed with scissors. Premoulded plastic, cardboard, wires, thread, clear rubber bands, tape and glue abound. It is well beyond what is required to deter shop lifters.

The only reason I can think of that some MP hasn't spoken out about this is that they have never had to spend 30 minutes with scissors and side cutters trying to unpack an impatient girl's new Bratz doll and no dolphin, sea lion or hapless duck could get caught up in the snipped up remains.

02 July, 2007

An old cat's guide to scaring your human

I must thank my elderly house mate, Smudge, for this piece of late night entertainment.

  1. Make sure you are last seen near the cat door after dark on a cold night.

  2. Do not reappear in your favourite night time spot at the usual time.

  3. Do not respond to being called.

  4. Do not investigate people walking around the house and section with torches and cat treats calling you by name.

  5. Stay silent and hidden in your chosen spot all night, no matter how many times your owners get up and turn the lights on.

  6. Reappear a little later than is your custom for breakfast. For best effect do this from a room that they have searched 4 times already.