Hide against the people going to court

Rodney Hide on Morning Report this morning has nailed his colours to the mast . He has come out for restricting the rights of ordinary citizens to appeal decisions of consent panels. Here’s what he said:

Allowing just any Tom Dick and Harry to appeal something [to the environment court] is a recipe for endless debate and dispute by people that are just anti-progress and anti-development.

Well Act and its developer constituents might not like it but some of us care about the physical environment and don’t want every developer to be able to build every abomination they can fund.

Many environmentally destructive developments get given the nod by compliant councils and the Environment Court is the last hope for many community groups and regular citizens (yes those Tom Dick and Harrys that Rodney disparages).

And in a society governed by rule of law, the citizens should be able to appeal the decisions of council hearing panels to the courts. But I guess all Act’s talk about ‘rule of law’ is only when it suits them not when it might stand in the way of making a buck at the expense of the environment.

105 thoughts on “Hide against the people going to court

  1. BJ

    Shame on you for saying “You’re right… it is in the government’s interest to keep those valuations rising so that the local body can pull in more rates….” I’m sure you know that councils do budgets first and then divide them by the total rateable value of their geography!

    Quotable Value is a government agency that was established to move the rate burden from rich-prick to business to farmer and back again as governments move along the left-right continuum.!

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Looking at the land ‘ownership’ issue, and particularly the use of ocean and sea fishing ‘quotas’ as an analogy for the way we should avoid land ownership, made me laugh sh hard I burst a blood vessel on my cheek! No fishing boat invests in the water it is allowed to fish. it simply goes there and takes a natural bounty. However, to use land, for housing, farming, sport or any other purpose, requires an investment. Can’t you just see it. I get given the ‘right’ to ‘use’ 1000 sq mtrs of land in Churton Park. I invest $2,000 per sq mtr in a single story 300 sq mtr house and a further $20,000 on landscaping. I enjoy this home for three years and there’s an election, after which three down and outs who got their mates to elect them decide that my ‘right to use’ has expired and it’s their turn! Yeah right!

    In such a scenario there would be NO HOUSING in NZ, just tents pitched on temporary use land!

  2. Although councils dont “set” the standards, they do impose/inspect/verify/police them.

    In my view one of the major causes of the leaky house syndrome is that councils did not do a good job of that inspection process.

    What is the purpose of having council permits and inpections, if it’s not for the reasons of ending up with a sound dwelling?

    Those compliance costs (ineffective as it turns out) are one of the major hurdles to achieving adequate housing for families.

    In my view, an adequate house for a young family does not need to be a $200,000 house. Especially if one cannot trust the overseeing authorities to do a good job of ensuring work quality.

    The requirement to spend such a sum to build a house can be crippling for some families, and their entire lives might be better off if they were given the opportunity to build themselves a small home-built dwelling like the quintessential NZ bach.

    The RMA should be used to prevent undesirable types of change/progress, but not used to stifle productivity, especially when families could benefit.

    I think Rodney Hide is wrong – making life better for the individual should be the cornerstone of the RMA.

    We should not elevate corporates and developers to the level of the divine. Let their efforts serve us, not control us.

    Too many baby boomers have decided to give up “real” work and get themselves into positions of “regulation” where they can control and over-regulate the lives of others, and clip the ticket on the way through to guarantee their own wages.

    Loosening up the RMA may be a good way of releasing those shackles, but in doing so we need to enhance the rights and opportunities of individuals rather than just creating an unrestrained free-for-all for wealthy developers and an income stream for councils.

  3. greengeek Says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    > The “rubber-stamping” attitude that created the current leaky housing debacle shows how little we can value council “standards”.

    they’re not council standards. The standards are set by central government, and in the 1990s the buildings were certified as meeting the standards by independent ‘building certifiers’, selected by the builders. I’m not sure what role the councils played, other than rubber-stamping, but it wasn’t much. I suspect the certification of shoddy buildings was partly due to the perverse incentives caused by the certifiers being chosen by the builders.

    > I want to see us return to a time where young families can build a house (themselves, by hand) in the style of the shacks built by New Zealand pioneers.

    that would probably work okay. However, the problem comes when speculators pose as people building houses for themselves, and then sell them off. You need standards to deal with that situation, because they don’t have the same incentives to take care as people who are really building houses for themselves.

  4. I’m of the view that a tremendous dis-service has been done to society by the efforts of local body councils over the last 15 years, in regard to housing standards.

    The “rubber-stamping” attitude that created the current leaky housing debacle shows how little we can value council “standards”.

    Why then should we have any council imposed “standards” on homes?

    I want to see us return to a time where young families can build a house (themselves, by hand) in the style of the shacks built by New Zealand pioneers.

    Or even in the style of the original Maori raupo/ponga huts.

    The recent “gateway” policy National promised during the election is a (small) step in the right direction, but should go further. Labour suggested allowing people to build on Crown land.

    These are both good concepts that should be expanded (and building regulations eased) to encourage the vitality that comes from having the opportunity to construct an affordable future for ones family.

    No better time than the present economic climate.

  5. Rates are determined by how much money needs to be collected and only apportioned through the govenment valuations. If all GVs went up 10%, equally, nobody’s rates would change. If you want to blame the government for rate increases, look at how much the government costs the local councils in compliance costs, GST, etc.

    The GVs are reevaluated every 3 years (or so) Your GV increase is just catching up with several years of rising prices. It is largely based on house prices over a period of time so it hasn’t fully caught up with the current drop.

    Trevor.

  6. Gerrit

    You’re right… it is in the government’s interest to keep those valuations rising so that the local body can pull in more rates….

    Which may be an important causative factor – the mechanism by which it translates into national policy setting isn’t as clear as the mechanism that of banker’s control of government and profits from making mortgage loans, but it is definitely not to be discounted. Like the movement of heat in thermodynamics… the money will find its way around all obstacles, through all insulations.

    As usual you add to the discussion. Thanks

    BJ

  7. “(yeah, I know capitalist pig)”

    No ones calling you Capitalist Pig Gerrit, but on the other hand there’s this type
    http://www.dolfderoos.com/books/52h52w.php

    We often touch on the Property Rights argument and a lack of property rights stymies economic growth in Africa etc. I doubt the system of incentives are destroyed by a system of “conditional private property in land”. As for price signals it is easier to value land than improvements due to basic physical (and aesthetic?) characteristics. In addition the rate that income tax is set at is an arbitrary percentage so all systems have their disadvantages?

  8. BJ,

    You left out one very important part of the housing jigsaw.

    Quotable government valuations.

    Both my own home plus my rental (yeah, I know capitalist pig) have had a massive increase in government valuation even in this year where the housing pricing is supposed to be falling.

    Where do these valuations come from? They are certainly not from reality.

    Problem as a land owner (yeah, another anti socialist) is that local rates are based on government valuations and ALWAYS going up.

    This reflects back into how much we charge for rent.

    So bring out realistic valuations and banks may be more inclinded to lend you money if the theoretical earnings to household outgoings is better balanced.

  9. IceBaby

    Cap Gains, LAQC, Mortgage Interest Deductions, low interest liar loans, assistance with down payments… the situation in Britain is not, by a long long way, comparable to the situation here, and here is not Australia and the USA is different from the rest.

    Each country has made policy around housing that is complex, stupid and in the end result, inflationary to the price of the houses. Comparing any ONE piece of policy with the same policy applied in a different country is simply not useful. All the markets are distorted differently.

    Right now the market distortion HERE is that taxpayers who are NOT in the housing investments are paying interest and other expenses for the “investors”… largely to Australian owned banks. End the distortion. This is outright theft without even a hint of a justifiable benefit to the society..

    The “artificial scarcity” you mention is a real enough problem. IT IS NOT THE ONLY PROBLEM!!! I have seen 2 different countries fnck up different ways entirely, but the result is the same and the beneficiaries are the same class of owners. This could be accidental… but the result is the same in England by your report and the chances of it being an accident grow smaller.

    Not one government policy or proposal that I have seen has EVER actually addressed the issue of making the house prices come into line with the incomes of the people who’d be expected to be in that market. They all address the issue by pumping MORE tax money into the pursuit of stupid prices for shoddy houses.

    Not acceptable.

    BJ

  10. Icebaby…if you say that a capital gains tax would inflate land prices, then can you see any effective method of discouraging investors from buying and selling land as a means of increasing their wealth?

    I want to see one of two things:

    1) Immigration/population restriction such that young families have a chance of purchasing somewhere to live – on the basis that demand remains below supply. (ie: move away from the growth strategy that has driven the western economy for the last 50 years – and it’s effect on land prices)

    2) Some artificial means of preventing a finite resource (land) becoming an investment item. I have always believed a capital gains tax would go a long way to achieving that, but if not a CGT then there must be other options.

    It makes no sense to have the price of such a critical commodity continually driven up by the hoarding instincts of the few who can afford to lock it up.

    I don’t want to see communism, but I do want our governments to avoid the situation that is developing where successive generations are locked out of opportunities to build a life for themselves.

    Imagine if we roped off large areas of our fishing grounds and said “One family is going to own this area in perpetuity”. We don’t permit private ownership to apply to our fishing grounds, so why do we allow private ownership to apply to our other precious resource: land.

    Although private land ownership will be virtually impossible to reverse, we at least need to reverse the abilities for landowners to use it as a retirement fund strategy.

    We need productivity and turnover in this country, not inflated capital value.

  11. “IT WAS one of the most pernicious of the myths peddled during the 2007 federal election campaign – that state Labor governments were largely to blame for the record low levels of housing affordability and all they needed to do to ease the problem was to release more land.

    “Data compiled by The Age in 2007 showed that, rather than there being a shortage of land, big developers were swimming in it and the top six listed players were aggressively acquiring it. Their land banks – the number of lots on their books – had risen nearly 20% in a year. Some of the biggest players, such as Stockland, had more than tripled in the previous five years.

    The analysis found up to mid-2007 Australia’s six largest publicly listed developers acquired 38,000 more lots of land than they sold. The accuracy of those figures, based on the company’s own filings, was never queried.

    Of course, the Costello/IPA “argument” to release more land, would be great for developers, which could stake a claim on great swathes of Melbourne’s paddocks and the outskirts of Australia’s other big cities”
    http://business.theage.com.au/business/land-release-not-the-house-price-problem-20081103-5h1g.html?page=2

  12. While Rodney and the Property Council (developers, property investors) fire their shell at the RMA the Greens should develop a Land Tax Reform Cruise Missile*.

    Moari may be persuaded to see that there is sense in a common ownership and when you look at it you’ll see how the roots of many conflicts go back to land (eg peasants in Palestine had no title… eons of usufruct and land was sold to rich Jewish people)

  13. Capital gains doesn’t bring down the price of houses, it increases them. It’s just another cost that gets passed on. Look no further than the UK for proof.

    The elephant in the room is artificial scarcity.

  14. IceBaby

    The housing mess has more legs than most centipedes.

    The property investors WANT the prices to stay high.

    The government retains the LAQC and the Capital Gains exemptions for the property investors.

    The developers on the other hand, see the problem in terms of available land and excessive regulation. Which means that when THEY get a patch of land they will not build an affordable house on it. They do have a point however… the councils seem to regard houses as liabilities (which to a council, they apparently are, because the stuff that gets built is such utter cr@p and councils are the inspectors rather than having 3rd party inspections).

    The banks WANT the prices to stay high. High prices mean bigger mortgages and more interest income over longer periods.

    The folks who take it in the neck are the first-home-buyers. Labour didn’t do anything about this when they could have. Cullen had a phobia about touching the problems. English has publicly IIRC, already voiced opposition to cap-gains on the housing-investor class.

    Most solutions I have seen have been geared towards making it possible for us to borrow more, and pay more for the house… at the expense of other taxpayers.

    As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter whether Labour or National was in power, neither wanted anything to do with actually FIXING this mess.

    respectfully
    BJ

  15. “They are more productive than the locals, and use fewer services. ”

    That is based on some Govt research which doesn’t consider age (many locals are elderly)
    An economist from Waikato (?) University presented research showing that the benefits are “overstated” (many drive taxis or etc) but Cunliffe just dismissed that as wrong.
    Let’s face it The Property Council members are salivating at the thought of more immigrants and wily real estate entrepreneurs are dingo like prowling our coastal sites etc. The benefits flow in at the top and at the other end all people get is over development, traffic,concrete, paling fences.
    Now what the Greens need to look at is land tax reform to ensure that incentives reflect community values and the benefits flow to the whole population rather than the greedy few.

  16. >>The logic is simple.

    It’s simplistic.

    The problem is supply, and that’s mostly because of RMA and council regulation. The reality is we have a lot of land. Immigrants bring and create value, which helps our economy. They are more productive than the locals, and use fewer services.

    The real pressure is not coming from immigration levels. It’s coming from the regulators. Suits me fine, but I don’t think it’s particularly good for NZ.

  17. # IceBaby Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Makes you wonder why the government insists on creating artificial scarcity, then. We’re hardly short of land.
    ………………..
    Let’s have a reality check;

    From The Landlord Says:

    Meanwhile the National Party released its immigration policy. You may wonder what this means for the property market. It is clear from research that immigration is one of the key drivers of house price growth.

    The logic is simple. If you import more people into the country, then you need more houses. Supply and demand means that prices are then pushed up, this is particularly so in Auckland.

    While the latest immigration numbers show the number of people coming into New Zealand is starting to rise, the Nat’s policy looks like it wants to increase immigration levels even further. (Although it is unclear what sort of number they are targeting.)
    This policy is, arguably, a plus for people who want house prices to rise. (But may be not so good for first home owners wanting to buy.)

    My guess has always been that property investors lean heavily towards the right rather than the left. (This was made clear in an email newsletter I saw from one developer this week*.)

    * that would have been an interesting newsletter ,no?

  18. Dave S
    I understand your frustration when you say a NIMBY type of action causes delays etc.

    As you will know, most decisions under the RMA are non notified and are finalised uncontested by council officials applying the district/regional plans. These can be reviewed by the High Court, as we discussed earlier. However, the costs associated with reviewing of decisions do not make this an every day occurence – in fact have a look at the court records and you will note that typically these decisions are taken on review by large companies such as the Progressive Enterprises case as well as the Discount Brands case (obviously this is not always the case, “concerned citizens” for not for profit associations and club together to review decisions”). The point is that taking council decisions on review is not a regular or easy exercise and it does not occur that often.

    I suggest that under the current version of the RMA there are options when large projects that have national significance are considered. Until recently the socalled “call in” provisions were only used for the Whangamata marina decision, but the minister may easily use them for any large scale project that needs to be removed a decision making body that considers purely local considerations such as councils, for example it is possible (and from what I am told likely) that the case regarding a proposed windfarm that you are alluding to may be “called in”. This can be achieved without any large scale amendments.

    Your thoughts on this?

  19. >>he one asset that most needs to be distributed

    Makes you wonder why the government insists on creating artificial scarcity, then. We’re hardly short of land.

  20. A similar “system of incentives” (greed) drives the property sector and motivates their anti environmental beliefs.

    Good quote. It has always struck me as odd that in NZ (a country that traditionally prided itself on “egalitarianism”) we are one of the few places where it is encouraged to make your living, your fortune, and your retirement fund from racking up the value of land – the one asset that most needs to be distributed according to an egalitarian model.

  21. The End
    by Michael Lewis December 2008 Issue
    The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.

    “Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism. For instance, he knew that the big Wall Street investment banks took huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, threw them into a trust, carved the trust into tranches, and wound up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA.

    But he couldn’t figure out exactly how the rating agencies justified turning BBB loans into AAA-rated bonds. “I didn’t understand how they were turning all this garbage into gold,” he says.
    He brought some of the bond people from Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and UBS over for a visit. “We always asked the same question,” says Eisman. “Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.” He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S&P couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. “They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,” Eisman says.

    The one thing Steve always says,” Daniel explains, “is you must assume they are lying to you. They will always lie to you.”

    He thought the cause of the financial crisis was “simple. Greed on both sides—greed of investors and the greed of the bankers.” I thought it was more complicated. Greed on Wall Street was a given—almost an obligation. The problem was the system of incentives that channeled the greed.”

    http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom

    A similar “system of incentives” (greed) drives the property sector and motivates their anti environmental beliefs. :wink:

  22. Greengeek
    You are right, I am not advocating development that is regrettable and/or unmanageable, but I am advocating a situation in which 200 people in a suburb 30 klicks away from a proposed wind farm can EACH – for a basically small fee – make a submission against the development of that wind farm AND THEN lodge an appeal against the decision to proceed with it anyway. This would not be a regrettable decision, it would be a sensible one, but a NIMBY organiser, with a few grand to play with, can make this type of thing happen. THIS is the type of ‘tweaking’ that I believe should take place. The alternative is adding a few more oil or coal generators here and there where they are already ensconced – not Gaia desirable.

  23. Author: PhilBest
    Comment:
    Go, Rodney Hide and Own McShane. Time to restore some moral order to our regard for humans versus trees and snails.

    Good on ya, IceBaby and Dave S, nice to see some other sensible people out there taking the battle to these anti-human eco-Nazis.
    ……………………………….
    “These guys lied to infinity. What I learned from that experience was that Wall Street didn’t give a shit what it sold.”

    . Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism. For instance, he knew that the big Wall Street investment banks took huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, threw them into a trust, carved the trust into tranches, and wound up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA.

    He thought the cause of the financial crisis was “simple. Greed on both sides—greed of investors and the greed of the bankers.” I thought it was more complicated. Greed on Wall Street was a given—almost an obligation. The problem was the system of incentives that channeled the greed.

    http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom

    And that also applies to the system of incentives that channel the activities of property investors and developers.

  24. Dave S Says:
    You can achieve balance and still achieve speed of decision making. If the only value to having old uncle tom cobbley and all able to appeal a decision that has nothing to do with them is to slow things down, then there is no value in it at all!

    Dave, you’re old enough to know better. There is never any way of making speed your first priority, yet still guaranteeing adequate balance.

    Balance has to be the first priority. The speed of process can only follow if adequately resourced.

    Locking out individual input is an unacceptable way to speed up the process. (Unless our shores are being invaded and you need authority to mobilise the army for example)

    There is no way to know ahead of time whether or not: 1) Uncle Tom has a valid interest and 2) Whether or not his motivation is only to slow the process down.

    Anyway, sometimes slowing a process down is a valid action. Good examples might be the passing of S59 repeal, or perhaps the passing of the EFA. Hastiness is often foolish.

    In any case, what I’m suggesting is that any slowing down of the development process should only be in an attempt to “slow down change to a level that is manageable and unregrettable”

    Surely you are not advocating development that is regrettable and/or unmanageable?

  25. Dave S Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    The grey economy has always existed and will continue to.
    ………….
    However the immigration agent, developer, real estate agent etc has clipped the ticket so who cares if “needed skills” is a bit of a lie. Who cares if the problems associated with growth aren’t shared.

    “The reality is that our existence depends on spending as much as or less than we earn. For years now we have not done that, and we are facing bankruptcy as a country. ”

    That is a separate issue (as I see it) two wrongs don’t make a right, but isn’t it obvious which side of the argument drove the Hummer, encouraged conspicuous consumption and is prone to denying global warming etc Who build the unsustainable houses, who hates public transport?

    “We need tourism to grow as it brings in earnings. We need increase population to grow our domestic market to a size that will sustain domestic manufacturing that can subsequently be leveraged to exports.”

    Tourism is fickle; other countries such as Chile are starting adventure tourism. Peak oil hasn’t gone away. the IEA has done a field by field assessment and has “radically changed its assessment” of when oil supplies might peak. Experience elsewhere (UK) shows that we never get to a point where population is enough. There is a business driven ideology that migration must continue. We can’t all be like Japan; we have a unique set of comparative advantages and the idea that we are better off with 16million (+ nuclear power stations?) so the profits keep flowing to the Property Council members is bunk (IMHO). At some stage we have to bite the bullet and develop a sustainable economy and that will necessarily be an eglatarian one with access to the Big Freebie: beeches, waterways, outdoors and a different,(kinder) set of values.

  26. Greengeek

    “It’s all about balance and I think the major value of the RMA is to slow down change to a level that is manageable and unregrettable (sic)”

    Speed and balance are not synonyms. You can achieve balance and still achieve speed of decision making. If the only value to having old uncle tom cobbley and all able to appeal a decision that has nothing to do with them is to slow things down, then there is no value in it at all!

  27. jh

    To paraphrase and change!!

    Take a look around my local Farmers’ Market now and you will see an increasing number of stalls where the operators avoid any government charges (including income tax and gst) selling ‘home grown’ fruit and veggies for cash!

    The grey economny has always existed and will continue to.

  28. jh

    The reality is that our existence depends on spending as much as or less than we earn. For years now we have not done that, and we are facing bankruptcy as a country. To see the way this ‘overspend’ accumulates just look out for the ‘balance of payments’ statistics each month. Any time it is negative (like always it now seems,) we spent more than we earned.

    We need tourism to grow as it brings in earnings. We need increase population to grow our domestic market to a size that will sustain domestic manufacturing that can subsequently be leveraged to exports.

    A population of 16 million will not knock a dent in the available land. If most of them were down in Southland it wouldn’t do much damage to the environment either. After all, isn’t Invercargill half empty? ;-)

  29. Dave S Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 6:45 am

    jh

    if you want to see
    “a seething mass of cars and people, topped off by a cacophony of helicopters”

    head off to Sydney, Orlando, Paris, London and a host of others, and they planned for their growth. We need tourist dollars to at least knock the cannon of Balance of Payments down to a mortar, otherwise we, as a country, go bankrupt!
    ………..
    Our growth is based on migration providing a temporary economic stimulus (building houses for them). You seem to assume tourism can keep on growing and growing. If our increasing population don’t have meaningful jobs many people will be hanging around hotels trying to arrange things like in Bali. Take a look around Queenstown now and you will see an increasing number of rental vans where the operators avoid any government charges (except gst)…. a race to the bottom.

  30. Should “Progressive” Enterprises have been permitted to use the RMA to stall the new Pak’n’Save in Glenfield?

    (“Progressive”…now theres a Tui billboard)

    The Pak’n’save is already totally built, and virtually ready to go. It must have been that way for a couple of years now I think. Did it get built without council consents? I doubt it.

    So how can the RMA be used by a large corporate to hold joe public to ransom in this way??

    There is definitely something wrong with the RMA for this to happen, but it’s still not a reason to chuck the baby out with the bathwater.

    Fine tuning! Thats all that is required, and the lowly average joe NZ still needs the opportunity for input.

  31. Dave S Says: We need tourist dollars to at least knock the cannon of Balance of Payments down to a mortar, otherwise we, as a country, go bankrupt!

    Fair point.

    In the light of this thread being about the ordinary bloke having input into decisions around growth and development, what do you think tourists most come to NZ to see?

    My guess is that most of them expect a healthy dose of undeveloped beauty.

    I suspect that the type of New Zealander who might use the RMA to restrict/limit development is more likely than development-minded individuals to maintain that unspoilt beauty (status quo).

    On the other side of the ledger, some of our tourists come here to visit a casino, and some for the thrill of bungying over a scenic river, so it’s obvious we don’t want the RMA to drive us toward living like the Amish.

    It’s all about balance and I think the major value of the RMA is to slow down change to a level that is manageable and unregrettable. Build a casino on top of a pristine waterfall and the view is gone for ever. We dont want to permit development that destroys the character of valuable natural assets.

  32. jh

    if you want to see

    “a seething mass of cars and people, topped off by a cacophony of helicopters”

    head off to Sydney, Orlando, Paris, London and a host of others, and they planned for their growth. We need tourist dollars to at least knock the cannon of Balance of Payments down to a mortar, otherwise we, as a country, go bankrupt!

  33. PhilBest, I read George Reisman “Environmentalism Refuted” as you suggested. Reisman does seem to know economic theory inside out but his knowleged of “nature” suggests that science wasn’t his best subject at high school. Perhaps if he knew a bit more about why E=MCsquared he might have included the Law of Diminishing Returns and/or the Learning Curve in his assessment.

    When these two non-linear laws meet with the non-linear laws of physics, particularly those that dictate the pressure and temperature gradients in the Earth’s crust and oceans, Reisman’s conclusions become untenable or, at the very least, wonderfully optomistic:
    “Namely, not only does man create the goods- character of natural resources—by obtaining knowledge of their useful properties and then creating their useability and accessibility by virtue of establishing the necessary command over them—but he also has the ability to go on indefinitely increasing the supply of natural resources possessing goods-character. He enlarges the supply of useable, accessible natural resources—that is, natural resources possessing goods-character—as he expands his knowledge of and physical power over nature.”

    Now, the effect that these laws have is not to make indefinite increase impossible but to make to make indefinite increase happen increasingly slowly. The examples you give of the changing dominant energy sources illustrate this perfectly. When water wheel powered bellows allowed mass production of iron it led to a dramatic increase in wood consumption each smelter. Thus they had to source their fuel from ever further away till it reached the point where coals higher energy density (more energy per ton) outweighed it’s higher extraction costs. The shift to petroleum as a source of chemical base and transport fuel was driven by both lower transport costs because of it has an even higher energy density then coal and by it’s lower extraction costs, at least initially. The big problem with having to go deeper or into less hospitable places is that the energy cost of extracting the oil has increased much faster than technological innovation can reduce those costs. The best example is US domestic oil production which used the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil to deliver 100 barrels to the consumer in the 1930s when almost all the production wells were in shallow on-shore fields in the lower 49 states. Today, with most domestic oil originating in Alaska and the Gulf the industry is using the energy equivalent of ten barrels to deliver 100 barrels. The reason that the industry considers that only 2% of the Bakken Field reserves are recoverable is because of the extremely low viscosity of it’s bituminous oils, which the laws of physics currently dictate can only be made to flow by adding more energy than is contained in the oil. There actually is one feasible way of releasing the oil by using geothermal energy but it is cheaper and easier to use the geothermal energy directly to generate electricty than to use it indirectly to release oil from the Bakken Field.

    Anyway, all of this is why I concluded that our only options are to either forever decrease the actual amount of energy used or start using a whole lot more free energy, eg wind, solar, geothermal.

    Geothermal, especially the newer hot-rock and low-temp, have the major advantage of being accessible using existing oil drilling technology and being available in vast quantities on every continent. The potential improvement in geopolitical stability may be as urgent as the economic neccesity of moving to yet another new “cheap” energy source.

    A few weeks ago I provided a link to an economics research paper which concluded that the major factor in improved economic productivity in the US up till the mid-70s was electricity replacing less efficient coal and oil in stationary energy uses. I dare say if that study could be extended back in time and widened to include earlier industrialised nations it would support what you and Reisman have said. I’m not sure that we are yet in the position to electrify transport but that could happen in the forseeable future provided that major new sources of electricity generation are made available. Geothermal is ready and able to do that. Being largely underground and closed loop systems it avoids all the NIMBY objections of air pollution and visual pollution.

  34. Over development is in the eye of the beholder. Bill English and his developer mates can’t see it but:

    “Up the road in Queenstown, nature is in full flight.

    Queenstown advertises itself as “The Adventure Capital of the World,” where you can bungy jump, heli-ski, jet-boat, or sky-dive. The confines of the modest town can no longer accommodate the throng of thrill-seekers. Soaring mountains still fringe the lake, but condos are creeping along the shore, a snake of traffic clogs the road into town, and Louis Vuitton has set up shop along with Global Culture, a clothes store.

    If your idea of a holiday is a seething mass of cars and people, topped off by a cacophony of helicopters, Queenstown may be for you. Otherwise, it serves only as a warning of the perils of overdevelopment.”

    http://www.boston.com/travel/articles/2004/11/07/new_zealand_at_a_crossroads/?page=2

    Some of those apartments could be used for car parking as Queenstown has a head cold full of automobiles.

    http://www.destinationrecovery.com/destinationlifecycle.html

  35. Anyone looked at a relief map of NZ a lot of it is mountainous

    Yeah
    The big range is called the Southern Alps, should have been the southern pennines though, about the same size.

  36. When Gareth Morgan Speaks people listen.; If Gareth Morgan says the government uses migration as an economic tool (kind cheating) that’s good enough for me:

    Labour (and Nationals) Third World Solution
    http://nbr.infometrics.co.nz/printcol.php?id=409

    Author: Dave S
    Comment:
    On a land mass greater than England, Scotland and Wales, we have a population about equal to Greater Manchester.

    We are hardly over-developed. Paradise has not been paved. If we were to add to the population of the South Island that of Auckland, and spread them evenly they would still need a telephone to talk to their neighbour!
    ……..

    There’s a dead fly in my stew (but only 1.5%) of it.
    Anyone looked at a relief map of NZ a lot of it is mountainous. Here’s a more useful figure > $14Billion those are the combined assets of the Property Council (investors and developers) funders NZ First (just kidding) and employers of many a PR operative (no doubt).

  37. Johan

    as you say
    “The decision to notify or not by the local authority is reviewable by the High Court ”
    this can be initiated by anyone, and so the whole thing is ‘unrestricted’. Having designed, with a dozen others, the business process to take an application from go to whoa, I can assure you that local authority workers have no confidence in the entire system.

  38. Oops, typos, I meant to say
    In my view the following is important to keep in mind:
    (A) It is estimated that ninety-five percent of all resource consents are deemed non-notifiable by local authorities, only approximately 5 percent are notified.
    (B) The right of appeal is restricted to those decisions where the applications had been notified. Only the applicant and objectors may appeal, not every one as has been stated – see section 120.
    (C) The decision to notify or not by the local authority is reviewable by the High Court and there are some important Supreme Court decisions on when a local authority may come to the decision that it can dispense with notification. Generally the local authority has to be satisfied, based on sufficient info, that the effects would be more than minor.

  39. Oops, typos, I meant to say
    In my view the following is important to keep in mind:
    (A) It is estimated that ninety-five percent of all resource consents are deemed non-notifiable by local authorities, only approximately 5 percent are notified.
    (B) The right of appeal is restricted to those decisions where the applications had been notified. Only the applicant and objectors may appeal, not every one as has been stated – see section 120.
    (C) The decision to notify or not by the local authority is reviewable by the High Court and there are some important Supreme Court decisions on when a local authority may come to the decision that it can dispense with notification. Generally the local authority has to be satisfied, based on sufficient info, that the effects would be minor.

  40. Just to provide some info to inform the debate on the notification and appeal provisions of the Resource Management Act 1991:

    Section 93 When public notification of consent applications is required
    (1) A consent authority must notify an application for a resource consent unless—
    (a) the application is for a controlled activity; or
    (b) the consent authority is satisfied that the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor.

    (2) If subsection (1) applies, the consent authority must notify the application by—
    (a) publicly notifying it in the prescribed form; and
    (b) serving notice of it on every person prescribed in regulations.

    Section 94A Forming opinion as to whether adverse effects are minor or more than minor
    When forming an opinion, for the purpose of section 93, as to whether the adverse effects of an activity on the environment will be minor or more than minor, a consent authority—
    (a) may disregard an adverse effect of the activity on the environment if the plan permits an activity with that effect; and
    (b) for a restricted discretionary activity, must disregard an adverse effect of the activity on the environment that does not relate to a matter specified in the plan or proposed plan as a matter for which discretion is restricted for the activity; and
    (c) must disregard any effect on a person who has given written approval to the application.

    94D Adversely affected
    A person—
    (a) may be treated as not being adversely affected if, in relation to the adverse effects of the activity on the person, the plan permits an activity with that effect; or
    (b) in relation to a controlled or restricted discretionary activity, must not be treated as being adversely affected if the adverse effects of the activity on the environment do not relate to a matter specified in the plan or proposed plan as a matter for which—
    (i) control is reserved for the activity; or
    (ii) discretion is restricted for the activity; or
    (c) must not be treated as being adversely affected if it is unreasonable in the circumstances to seek the written approval of that person.

    120
    Right to appeal
    (1) Any one or more of the following persons may appeal to the Environment Court in accordance with section 121 against the whole or any part of a decision of a consent authority, except a decision of the Minister of Conservation under section 119, on an application for a resource consent, or an application for a change of consent conditions, or on a review of consent conditions:
    (a) The applicant or consent holder:
    (b) Any person who made a submission on the application or review of consent conditions.

    (2) This section is in addition to the rights provided for in sections 357A, 357C, and 357D (which provide for objections to the consent authority).

    In my view the following is important to keep in mind:
    (A) It is estimated that ninety-five percent of all resource consents are deemed non-notifiable by local authorities, only approximately 5 percent are notified.
    (B) The right of appeal is restricted in decisions where the applications to only the applicant and objectors, not every one as has been stated – see section 120.
    (C) The decision to notify or not by the local authority is reviewable by the High Court and there are some important Supreme Court decisions on when a local authority may come to the decision that it can dispense with notification. Generally the local authority has to be satisfied, based on sufficient info, that the affects would be minor.

  41. Greenfly
    Not democracy by any stretch of the imagination!

    Pronunciation: \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos + -kratia -cracy
    Date: 1576
    1 a: government by the people ; especially : rule of the majority
    b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people
    and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of
    representation usually involving periodically held free elections

    In a democracy we have our elected representatives who govern and who make decisions, such as on the allowability of an applicatin under the RMA. Democratic societies do not have annoying little lobby groups (best known by the collective noun NIMBYs) who will cuase a fellow citizen, a thousand miles away, significant extra cost to defend a democratically made decision.

    A good Tweaking, so that only people directly affected, can invoke the court system, would certainly fit the bill in my mind.

    Penny pinching causes me no discomfort at all thank goodness :-) it is a trait I wish our state and local government employees would adopt ;-)

  42. Dave – ‘there are no restrictions on who can appeal an RMA decision’
    smells like democracy to me.
    There are problems around vexatious appealants of course, just as there are problems in any aspect of democracy, but to jettison the basic clause because of vexations .. I don’t know … tweaking sounds a better option than abandoning ship.

    the phrase ‘penny pincher’ must cause you some discomfort then :-)

  43. the are no restrictions on who can appeal an RMA decision, though councils can restrict who has input into the original decision.

    :-)

  44. the reality is that a decision under the RMA can be appealed by anyone who wants to go to court, there are no restrictions. When it comes to the way the initial assessment is done, local authorities can “notify” which means inviting comment from anyone, or not which means they only ask adjacent landowners their opinion. Irrespective of notification, an appeal against you being allowed to put, for instance, a log burner in your house can be made by me (and I have no idea where you live :-)

    My typos are usually few and far between, but the are also usually doozies ;-) not as bad as when my daughter types penis instead of pennies in the sentence ‘mommy put daddy’s pennies in her pocket for later’. :-)

  45. And I do take your point also Dave. Are there restrictions on who can and can’t appeal? I believed there were, as I’ve been involved with decisions over land sales where those invited to comment were adjacent landowners only.
    btw – your typo has become one of my collectable favourites!
    clkarify for clarify is a classic, given the meaning of word involved (and I mean that in a nice way :-)

  46. Dave S – nice example of ambiguity there! I suspect that ANYBODY isn’t able to appeal ANY decision made under the RMA. EVERYBODY wouldn’t be ABLE to.

  47. RE
    >
    The central issue is how to streamline judicial processes in this country.
    >
    by Greengeek.

    I’ve addressed this separately, as I believe it is a different topic entirely.

    As a tax-payer I am dismayed at the hours our justices and judges have to sit in their courts. I mean to say, on an average day they might spend a whole five hours there! (OK enough sarcasm)

    The buildings are available 24 hours a day. THere are more than enough lawyers to go around, I don’t hear of a shortage, or of any of them turning down significant work either for that matter.

    We should double the number of judges/justices and run the court system from 8 am to 8 pm with two 15 minute breaks and one half hour break per 6 hour sitting session. (Don’t want to make those guys sit for more than their 5 hour days, we might end up with piles of them claiming ACC for hemorrhoids.)

    That way we could get accused people into trial in less than the 12 months it seems to take today, and plaintiffs in civil suits through in less than the Years and Years it currently takes to attain a judgement.

  48. Greengeek
    Re
    >
    That is the whole point of the RMA – to allow interested parties an opportunity to be heard.
    >

    I’m OK with that as long as the term “interested parties” is defined to mean ‘someone who will be directly themselves, or who has a direct physical engagement with another entity that does”.

    The fact that someone in Invercargill doesn’t like the idea of domestic wind turbines should not axiomatically make them an interested party in what I do in my backyard.

  49. greenfly

    read the question again. I did not suggest NOBODY should be able to appeal, I said I did not think that ANYONE should be able to appeal ANY decision. If you don’t see my house or live within a couple of klick of it, why should you be given the right to cause me excessive expense if I want to put a wind-power electricity generator in my back yard?

  50. Kevyn says: Take those away and you are left with a collapsed pyramid selling scheme.

    Yes, I think you’re right. I think our economies (particularly but not exclusively in the west) are having to confront the whole “house of cards/pyramid scheme” structure of our financial system.

    Surely our expectations of what our retirement wealth should be will have to tumble?

    Surely we can’t expect it to go on forever that each of us will have 10 newborns to milk for our own financial gain??

    Of course there are those who will never give up that concept…how do we stop them becoming our overlords???

    Seems to me people like Hide and Douglas are the epitome of those soul-less users of others. Caring nothing for the impact of their great schemes on others.

    Hmmm…

  51. Dave S Says:
    Do you agree than ANYONE should be able to appeal ANY decision made under the RMA, Yes or No?

    Definitely YES. That is the whole point of the RMA – to allow interested parties an opportunity to be heard.

    The question is : how long should delays be permitted, and why.

    There is a lot of good in the RMA. It just needs to be finetuned so that public good is served.

    Public good, of course, sometimes requires the triumph of the individual.

    The central issue is how to streamline judicial processes in this country.

    That issue affects the justice system as well.

  52. PhilBest Says: What you are talking about at root, is that humans do not matter, or that we should stop breeding.

    I guess that is where I differ from some others.

    I DO want us to confront the idea of stopping breeding (or at least: to stop increasing population)

    I think 6 billion is plenty for the world. (maybe too many)

    I think 4 million is ok for NZ. If we want to go higher than that, lets do it in an organised manner, when we have enough green energy sources to support it.

    Lets do it when we can be assured that any new communities will have a sufficiently high “average” standard of lifesyle that grafitti and other symptoms of antisocial behaviour are minimised.

    The “growth” phenomenon suits those already in the money chain who can clip the ticket on growth related activities.

    It doesnt usually (but does sometimes) benefit the masses.

    Would you be happy with me building a ten story tenement house next door to you?? Be honest now.

    Those who support endless growth only do so as long as they have a bolt-hole that allows them to avoid living next to such a monstrosity.

    Quality of life IS a very important consideration.

    Those who don’t think so can go live in Shanghai. (but they won’t of course)

  53. “He (Hide) has come out for restricting the rights of ordinary citizens to appeal decisions of consent panels”
    No appeals to the Environment Court, Dave? (hark! tis the pitiful sound of democracy being smothered..)

  54. Somehow this has got onto the vary basics of the green movement. Let’s get it back on track again

    Do you agree than ANYONE should be able to appeal ANY decision made under the RMA, Yes or No?

    To start, my vote is NO

  55. wat – do you inhabit a world where there is no starvation, no catastrophic environmental degradation and no commonsense. You ditzy claim that,
    ‘contempt for humanity is a thread that runs throughout the green movement’
    is a steaming plateful of that dish so popular with red-necks of a past era.

  56. baseless tripe – a very popular dish served up to good ol’ hard-working New Zealand men in the early half of last century and in some isolated communities even today. Goes well with spuds, but never with rice or couscous.

  57. That green nutter would be Paul Ehrlich, the person who first discovered there is a lucrative living to be made from green doom-mongering – the stupider the better:- “giving society cheap abundant energy at this point. would be equivalent to giving an idiot child a machine gun”.

    Such contempt for humanity is a thread that runs throughout the green movement.

    He is most famous for his wildly inaccurate predictions: “[In 1967] Ehrlich wrote that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over … In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich also stated, “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980,” and “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” These specific predictions did not actually come to pass…” [wikipedia]
    He’s famous also for losing a bet with economist Julian Simon about the long term trend for commodity prices.

    Of course, being so spectacularly wrong has not made Ehrlich any less a hero amongst greens, because his predictions were what they wanted to hear.

    You’ll perhaps notice a strong similarity in his pioneering green doom-mongering and the equally baseless tripe which regularly gets posted on green blogs.

  58. Kevyn: read George Reisman “Environmentalism Refuted”.

    Basically, the wealthier mankind gets, the more gets invested in the development and usage of capital equipment. We extract more and more resources both more and more efficiently and from more and more remote, less accessible places and at greater and greater depths and heights. And we discover new resources and new uses for resources.

    Had our ancestors decided to carefully conserve the use of wood, mankind might have been still stuck in the age of bronze and slavery and perpetual conflict. But we progressed to coal, oil, gas, and nuclear, and prosperity and wellbeing that unfortunately too many activists on the Green Left end of the spectrum are ungrateful for. We wouldn’t HAVE “free” energy at all if our ancestors had turned off the wealth/capital/development process a century or two or three ago. Had we not progressed, through accumulation of capital and development, to later forms of energy, the supply of wood certainly would have been threatened. It is the same with fossil fuels now.

    Reisman points out that we have scarcely begun to prospect the total land area of the earth and the floors of the oceans. Nevertheless, the history of development has involved that mankind has ceased to over-use any given resource long before it “ran out”, simply because better alternatives were developed.

    One suspects that Deep Green ideologues are actually more interested in derailing the process of development than of saving the environment per se. Note that all the deforestation is taking place in undeveloped cultures that have not progressed to the point where they could, like us, just put huge areas under conservation orders without thereby depriving half the population of the necessities of life.

    I forget which famous Green nutter said it, but his greatest fear was that greedy, consumerist mankind would discover an incredibly low cost form of energy, just as the battle was being won to force people to stop using it…..!

  59. Greengeek said And one last point…the boomers may not have had a DESIRE to make life harder for everyone else, but their strategy of locking up housing for their own retirement wealth has definitely caused problems in this country.

    The 20th century idyl of a comfortable retirement only works in practice because of the miracle of compound interest. Never ending compound growth requires never ending economic growth and/or never ending improvements in economic productivity. Take those away and you are left with a collapsed pyramid selling scheme. Since the whole house of cards has been built on ever decreasing energy costs then future comfortable retirements become absolutely dependent on adapting to the shift from the ever decreasing price of fuel that occured in the last few centuries to a new reality of needing to forever decrease the actual amount of energy used or start using a whole lot more free energy, eg wind, solar, geothermal.

  60. Greengeek, NZ is 1.6% built on. England is 15% built on. Germany is also 15% built on. England is anti-development and an average house costs 6 times average household income. Germany is pro-development and an average house costs 3 times average household income.

    What you are talking about at root, is that humans do not matter, or that we should stop breeding.

    And in any case, your best intentions about quality of life and resource conservation and emissions, are tending to go awry. Read “The Costs of Utopia” by Alain Bertaud.

  61. Let us be clear.
    The proposed reform is to re-introduce the common law of “Standing”.
    This was in the old Town and Country Planning Act.
    To participate in the process (which allows people to limit the property rights of others) you must be able to demonstrate having “an interest greater than the general public”.
    Naturally this will vary from case to case. So if the issue is the height of your carport only those immediately adjoining the property have standing. If it is about the diversion of a river then anyone in the region has standing and even a national society of canoists would have standing.
    The reason standing was dropped from the RMA was the drafters believed this was the end of zoning and land use planning (the words zone and planning are nowhere to be found in the Act) and that the Act would focus on soil water and air and genuine environmental issues. They were wrong and the act is now used to restrain my human right to live where I chose provided I do no harm. The incumbents now claim the right to determine where newcomers may live and claim this right through consultation. The problem is that no one consults with the newcomers waiting in the wings. The only people who represent the newcomers are developers and we know that they are evil greedy rapacious people who for some reason have been responsible for building all the great cities of the world. Planners on the other hand give us Moscow, Brasilia and the English New Towns.

  62. PhilBest Says: …I doubt very much that the boomer generation ever intended to create the current housing bubble or enrich itself at the expense of less affluent families and generations to come……..”

    Go, Rodney Hide and Own McShane. Time to restore some moral order to our regard for humans versus trees and snails.
    Good on ya, IceBaby and Dave S, nice to see some other sensible people out there taking the battle to these anti-human eco-Nazis.

    Phil, your post is confusing. On one hand you seem to be acknowledging that housing becomes impossible to afford when an area gets so full that no more housing is available, but then seem to applaud the idea of growth causing ever more demand.

    Or did I miss your point?

    It seems to me that we in NZ are in a good position to learn from the mistakes made around the rest of the world – why hang our hats on a growth strategy when it is a foregone conclusion that it creates predictably insatiable demand for energy, arable land and liveable land.

    All three of those combine to reduce wilderness land, and how much of that do we have left that we really want to lose?

    It is a myth to see New Zealand as having plenty of wide open spaces just waiting for young families to tame and build their homes.

    What would you see as the population New Zealand could comfortably support? We have already run out of hydro so presumably there is no way we could emulate Great Britains population climb. And in any case that would necessitate us going nuke, or at least having several coalfired stations.

    I say no to those who want to keep despoiling and paving over (looking only at the value a growth strategy brings to their own bottom line) but also no to those councils and bureaucrats who want to use things like the RMA to stifle true progress, to the benefit of their own jobs.

    The question is: how to define true progress and how to define “progress” that sells out our future quality of life. That is why the RMA needs a bit of tinkering, but not scrapping.

    Hands up all those who want NZ to become like England. Not me. They can keep their overpopulated slums and treeless fields.

    And one last point…the boomers may not have had a DESIRE to make life harder for everyone else, but their strategy of locking up housing for their own retirement wealth has definitely caused problems in this country.

    It should have been outlawed long ago.

    What kind of equity can you have in a society where one generation milks future generations as if they were cows??

    Once the boomers give up their second and third homes we will be able to sustain a growing population, without eating up unnecessary land.

    If they aren’t paying for the retirement lifestyles of the boomers our young talented hardworking families will be able to have an extra kid or two, without having to go to Aussie.

  63. “Remind us what percentage of New Zealand is paved” bp

    Remind us what percentage of New Zealand is in native forest :-)

  64. Go, Rodney Hide and Own McShane. Time to restore some moral order to our regard for humans versus trees and snails.

    Good on ya, IceBaby and Dave S, nice to see some other sensible people out there taking the battle to these anti-human eco-Nazis.

  65. So, there we have it.

    The Left, including the “Green” Left, wrings its hands over decreasing social mobility and increases in inequality, and calls for more compensatory “income redistribution; meanwhile the number one reason for the problem having got so much worse in ther first place, is their wonderful ideal of “democratically empowering” “the community” regarding development.

    “……These land use regulations and real estate tax policies have made possible, at least in certain highly regulated markets, one of the greatest transfers of wealth in American history (NB: same goes for NZ). The primary beneficiaries have been existing landowners including a very large percentage of affluent boomers. The ones who have paid have been less affluent renters, younger people and all future generations of prospective homeowners….”

  66. from “The Housing Bubble and the Boomer Generation” by Robert Bruegmann

    “……starting about 1970, there was an explosion in regulations on the use of land including tighter zoning and building codes, regulations governing environmental matters, historic preservation and land conservation, growth and building caps and growth management schemes. It became harder to build at the urban edge because of the environmental rules and efforts to limit “sprawl.” It also became harder to build at the center because of substantial down-zoning and other regulations to “preserve neighborhood character,” particularly in affluent neighborhoods. This aspect of the 1960s progressive agenda has led to grumbling about NIMBYism but has otherwise generated surprisingly little negative commentary.

    Nevertheless, this movement has created one of the most paradoxical legacies of the 1960s as programs justified in the language and logic of “rights,” have turned into bulwarks for the status quo and a mechanism to transfer wealth from younger families of modest income to more affluent older families…..

    “……. Starting in the 1970s, though, particularly in some of the most desirable markets in the country, the same people who most benefited from the developments of the early postwar years turned against those development practices. They advocated regulations for many things that most people, then as now, would agree were desirable – conserving scenic areas and wetlands, protecting coastlines and animal habitats and preserving open space, historic buildings and neighborhood character.

    Yet the net effect of all of these regulations was to limit severely the supply of land for urban uses. Even more important, existing homeowners, what I have elsewhere called the “Incumbents’ Club,” created a political system that allowed them to dictate how much growth and what kind of growth would be permitted in their cities.

    This shift of decision-making about development from private developers and individual property owners to public planning bodies, almost always controlled by homeowners, was hailed by many observers as a triumph of democratic process. The community rather than the developers, so this line of thinking went, would henceforth dictate the growth of the community. The problem with this equation was that it failed to consider who was speaking for the community and whose voices were not heard or to calculate the costs and benefits of these policies.

    For existing homeowners in affluent communities like Boulder Colorado, or Nantucket Island or San Francisco, this regulatory rush turned existing land ownership into pure gold. By limiting the supply of land for development and driving up the costs of development where the land was available, it pushed up the perceived value of all houses, including their own…..

    “……These land use regulations and real estate tax policies have made possible, at least in certain highly regulated markets, one of the greatest transfers of wealth in American history. The primary beneficiaries have been existing landowners including a very large percentage of affluent boomers. The ones who have paid have been less affluent renters, younger people and all future generations of prospective homeowners.

    The existing homeowner in the Bay Area could watch the value of his house soar from a few hundred thousand dollars up into the millions without lifting a finger. Meanwhile the dramatic rise in land prices, because it has not been accompanied by a corresponding increase in salaries, has devastated the prospects of young couples, many of whom were forced to either leave the area or obliged to take on huge mortgage debt just to afford an entry level house. These same people are now bearing the brunt of the steep decline in housing prices and the wave of foreclosures washing over the country.

    One of the most remarkable things about this enormous transfer of wealth has been how little most people were aware that it was happening or what caused it……

    “……This leads us to the great challenge we face now keeping families in their homes. The sad truth is that in areas where housing prices have vastly outstripped incomes there may no easy way to do this. In many markets either housing prices will need to fall quite a bit further or income will have to rise substantially, and there is little likelihood – particularly with this weak economy – of the latter happening any time in the near future.

    One good thing that might come out of the current crisis, though, is a recognition that regulations, however well-intentioned, can come at a price, sometimes a high one, for some parts of society. I doubt very much that the boomer generation ever intended to create the current housing bubble or enrich itself at the expense of less affluent families and generations to come……..”

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/00452-the-housing-bubble-and-boomer-generation

  67. On a land mass greater than England, Scotland and Wales, we have a population about equal to Greater Manchester.

    We are hardly over-developed. Paradise has not been paved. If we were to add to the population of the South Island that of Auckland, and spread them evenly they would still need a telephone to talk to their neighbour!

    Get real people. If there is insufficient demand to make domestic production of something viable it has to be imported. That, and the RMA processing cost, is why the cost of building a ‘middle of the road quality’ house in Brisbane is $700 per metre against $2,000 in Wellington.

    Hypothesis, we create more greenhouse gasses moving things here for our comfort and convenience than our animals do creating our food. Any takers?

  68. “Paved paradise, put up a parking lot” …won’t get Concrete Man….

    Remind us what percentage of New Zealand is paved?

    Perhaps some people have lost all sense of perspective….perhaps during the 60s…..

  69. I’m sure there are faults with the resource management Act but my feeling is that Rodney Hide (and Bill English… John Key??) are the developers men.

  70. “Paved paradise, put up a parking lot”

    Great campaign slogan bj (won’t get Concrete Man … aka Ice Baby’s Vote)

  71. Tough, Greens.

    Anti-development loons have taken the p*ss for years, objecting to anything that might involve, say, hurting an eels feelings, so glad the pendulum is swinging back. Looks like we’ll get a few infrastructure projects built now.

    Great stuff!

  72. Many on this blog assume I work for developers interests etc and I suppose I do if you regard the ordinary family or individual a developer because they try to do something on their land “to enable them to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing and their health and safety while safeguarding the environment.”
    Some of you also seem to think that all is well with the administration and implementation of the RMA. Two of my present clients suggest this is not so. In one case I act for a historical society trying to build a small museum. They are close to throwing in the towel because of obstruction and excessive charges etc.
    But read this one – and tell me there is no need for reform:

    Dear [CEO],
    It seems that Council has succeeded in preventing Ms Y continuing to nurse her seriously ill husband at home, and she will now have to abandon her proposals – and write off the time, money and effort she has spent to date.
    Ms Y has advised me that she telephoned Ms Z on the 9th December, to ask what was holding up the 223 and 224 certificates for the proposed subdivision to create a title around the proposed “nursing unit” on the property.
    In response, Ms Z was adamant in advising Ms Y that the 224 certificate would not be issued until the roading contribution had been paid.
    Ms Z further insisted that the building must also be completed and valued so it can be properly assessed for the reserve contribution due (including the value of the existing sleepout) and that the consequent reserve contribution must also be paid before the 224c certificate for the subdivision can be issued.
    The Ys never intended to subdivide when they first applied to build the second “dwelling”, or indeed when Ms Y more recently applied for the additions to the inadequate sleep-out. Ms Y has only now had to apply for a subdivision because, since the crash in property values, she no longer has the “head-room” to borrow sufficient funds to finance the construction.
    So Council has now thrown the perfect roadblock in her path.
    Ms Y needs full legal title to finance the construction, but Council will not issue a 224c certificate until the construction is complete and valued, and until both the increased reserve contribution and the full roading contribution have been paid.
    I have no idea why Council is so determined to stop Ms Y looking after her terminally ill husband at home but it now seems to have found the perfect formula to do so.

    Ms Y advised me that Ms Z said Ms Y’s problems were all my fault because I had tried to reduce her costs.
    And of course I have. Mr Bollard today pleaded with us all to keep costs to a minimum – including local authorities.
    I do not see why the Ys should be paying any reserve contribution, or any roading contribution. After all, during the time they have been applying for the land-use and subdivision consents their demands on the roading network and on parks and reserves has reduced rather than increased.
    Mr Y was once an active veterinarian and sportsman and is now totally bedridden. Hence, by Council’s own legal advice, there has been no “development” which can justify the roading contribution.
    Similarly, chapters 13 and 11 of the Operative District Plan make it clear that Council has total discretion both as to whether a reserve contribution is required at all, and to the quantum of the contribution up to the maximum provided in the Plan. The Plan is clear that a reserve contribution “may” be required, as opposed to “must” be required. Ms Y has already paid a reserve contribution of $750 (based on the estimate provided with the application for building consent) which is more than adequate given that the proposal creates no extra demand for reserves.
    In my letter of 31 October, I asked to be able to attend the Council meeting at which the decision was to be made on roading contributions, and when I wrote to council asking if the Y application was to be considered along with the [4 room Motel] application I was told that it was not on the agenda.
    And yet I find that the Y submission was considered at the same time, according to this email from [the admin officer], which reads:
    “While its gives me no pleasure to inform you, the relevant part of the recommendation which I think the council adopted was:
    “That Mr and Mrs Duffy, Mrs May and Mr Westlake be advised that they are liable to pay a development contribution for Otamatea roading; and
    “With the benefit of legal advice, my understanding is that there is no scope under the development contributions policy as it is currently written to waive its imposition on compassionate grounds. The policy does however give the opportunity for the timing of payment to be deferred to building consent time rather than land use consent time, but I don’t expect this to provide much solace to your client. Payment will need to be paid before the code compliance certificate is issued for the building project.”

    However, Ms Z is now insisting that the roading contribution be paid prior to the issue of the 224c certificate rather than before the compliance certificate for the building project, as proposed by the admin officer in the email above.
    This change in Council’s position, which, I presume has been duly authorized, means Ms Y must now abandon the project.
    For the record, while compassion was one of the grounds submitted for waiving the roading contribution, the letter in which I sought to be heard by Council summarized the arguments as follows:
    “Conclusion
    In my opinion, council should waive the roading contribution because:
    • the documented history of the application process which began in 2004, demonstrates that Council played a major role in the delays which now mean this consent has been granted after the adoption of the roading contribution policy, rather than before.
    • the tragic family circumstances have caused enough financial distress without Council imposing this additional burden.
    • Council should be doing what it can to minimize the family’s costs, if only because Mrs Y’s home care of her seriously ill husband is reducing the financial burden on the health system.
    • since occupying the property at K Road, the Y’s loading on the network has decreased rather than increased, and completing the nursing facilities required in the sleep-out will not increase the loading on the road network.
    I would like to have the opportunity to attend the Council meeting at which this request is considered, to answer any questions that might arise during the discussion.
    Sadly, I was not invited to attend the Council meeting, and indeed was advised that Ms Y’s application was not on the agenda. It would appear that Council made this decision to require the roading contribution without considering the particular merits of the case but has simply made a group decision according to the general argument presented by Council’s legal advisers.
    Even though I checked every stage of the process, and sought confirmation of Council’s decisions and interpretations at every stage, these recent decisions on the timing of the payments mean that this whole process has been a total waste of time and money for the Ys.
    Council of course has received a reserve contribution of $750 and $2,333.27 fees for processing the application.
    I trust Council is satisfied with the outcome.
    Yours sincerely
    Me – (representing the greedy developers of this world.)?

  73. The “Paved paradise, put up a parking lot” mob will win until population control is practiced by the species as a whole.

    Altogether too late.

    BJ

  74. Hendos hole will hopefully become a duck pond. This is what people are saying on migration discussion forums:

    “atiejay
    11th September 2007, 09:43 PM
    Queenstown is being sooo over-developed it will be unrecognisable soon. ……There’s also a brand new development going in (called Remarkables Park or something) that is going to be huge, and includes hospitals and retail parks etc. Sorry, but I do think Queenstown and its attractions are slowly being suffocated.

    Exactly! We got the impression there’s no real thought going in to the planning of the many developments going on – just cram flats in wherever you can, kind of thing – the whole place looked like a building site when we visited in March (I expect it’s beautiful all covered in snow and without the cranes everywhere in winter!). I noticed the start of it at Lake Tekapo, too – an absolutely beautiful spot now, but I wonder what it will be like when the housing development overlooking the lake is finished. Don’t do it NZ – you can’t undo it – when it’s gone it’s gone! :no”

  75. Someone is taking on the Property Council in Os:

    “Property Council population-growth propaganda now a regular feature in Canberra Times

    Once again the regular Canberra Times column by Catherine Carter (executive director of the property council of Australia (ACT)) is full of propaganda for population growth. It appears in the “Sunday Property” section of The Canberra Times. (2 November 2008).

    Titled, “Population target must guide future”, it rehearses 4 arguments:

    1. “Firstly a small, sparsely distributed population carries extra costs for the economy and the environment….”
    2. “We could achieve greater cost efficiencies if we increase the population in key areas….”
    3. “Canberrans are entitled to housing and lifestyle choices… But the simple reality is that a bigger population creates a greater range of housing types and locations to choose from.”
    4. “Finally, land is one of the Territory’s very few assets — and its value rises with the potential amount of development it can hold. Taller buildings in some locations can mean additional sales revenue for the ACT government as well as increased rates and land tax revenues.”

    [etc]
    (Mark O’Connor is the author, with Bill Lines, of Overloading Australia, Enviro Books, due out late 2008.)
    http://candobetter.org/node/885

    The Property Council of NZ also seems to think we will have an ever expanding economy and that we can’t retrain enough New Zealanders [it's not about bums in houses!]:

    Population and Skills Policy
    8.1. Advocate for the development of a national population and skills policy, which sets targets for net population growth
    (achieved through natural increases and immigration), which will meet the future demands of the labour market.
    8.2. Support a skills policy, which links the natural population increase to the future demands of the labour market. This
    policy correlation should provide for appropriate changes to New Zealand’s Immigration and Settlement policy to ensure
    that the barriers to entry will be relaxed from time to time in order to guarantee a suitable pool of skilled workers, who
    can add value to New Zealand’s economy.

    And they are aware we are straining infrastructure and need new energy sources:

    Energy
    14.1. New Zealand’s energy supply demands are increasing and the future wellbeing of New Zealand is dependant on
    maintaining adequate generating capacity to meet the future needs of industry (and residential households).
    14.2. It is recognised that various energy options (hydro, gas, geothermal, coal, wind, etc) need to be considered for the
    future. However, the Property Council believes that demand could outstrip supply within the next 10 to 15 years and
    New Zealand could be faced with power shortages unless immediate action is taken (at a national level) to identify the
    appropriate options and to implement acceptable strategies to ensure there is an adequate and continuity of supply for
    the future.
    14.3. The transmission network in parts of the country has reached or is nearing capacity. Immediate investment in the
    transmission network is essential if the adequacy of supply is to be maintained.
    14.4. The Property Council supports changes to the Resource Management Act that will allow Councils to ‘fast track’ major
    energy projects or refer applications to a national committee or board for ensuring that the necessary Resource
    Consents can be obtained in an efficient and timely manner.
    14.5. Property Council supports those initiatives that encourage greater energy efficiency in the design and construction of
    new buildings.

    [and what is the message from the Greens? The left detest population issues]
    :mrgreen:

  76. jh…yes, looks like Five Mile is still a hole. And likely to be so for some time to come.

    Maybe the contractors will be able to get back to work once the bailout comes on stream??

  77. Hide’s desire to stifle the right of Joe average to be heard in court is rather reminiscent of what the Labour party did with the foreshore and seabed issue.

    May they both rot in hell.

  78. JH

    and??

    If the 3 metre strip is not there, then there is a claim at law and a civil suit (or perhaps even a criminal one for breach of statute regarding the QC) should be pursued. I would try the police first as their funds for prosecution are the greater. However, I don’t see what this has to do with my comment that you quoted!

    The frustration I, and I am sure many others, have is in the basics of the RMA and many of the so called ‘greenies’. For instance, sustainable energy production from wind farming. Every green knows that one of the most sustainable resources available is the weather, and in most of New Zealand we have an abundance of wind due to our being a small set of islands at the confluence of two oceans and a sea. Hence the significant opportunity to convert wind into power through wind-farming. However, whenever there is a proposal for a wind-farm, it is the very people who claim to have a desire for sustainability AND live in the area where the farm is proposed that become leaders of the NAMBY movement and raise petitions, initiate law suits and lead protests to try to stop the development.

    These people do not, in my view, have greater rights to determination of what is in the local interest than the people elected to make those determinations, and should not have the right to appeal decisions made through due process. If they can find a legal issue with the process followed, then by all means they should have the right to challenge, but not simply because they do not like the decision that has been made.

    Only MHO, but as valid as anyone else’s I hope ;-)

  79. fwwog, fwwog, are you there fwwog,
    don’t you noticed yet
    RMA is changing next week fwwog,
    we are sick of the notion that your neighbour owns your destiny,
    its crap fwwog,
    you are in opposition for ten years or maybe forever fwwog,
    wake up fwwog,
    put you feet up yous dead

  80. Dave S Says:
    “We have a process that says anyone can appeal any decision on land use that they don’t agree with even though they are not principals in the issue, with the consequential delay and cost associated with it.”
    …………
    The women fighting the Steamer Wharf development in Queenstown were threatend with a lawsuit for holding up the development.

    “In August 1991 agreement was made between NZRC and private developers for the sale of 3390 square metres of surplus Government property. This was beside the wharf used by the historic steam ship TSS Earnslaw. Marginal strips are required to be established when government land is disposed of. There was a condition of purchase by Steamer Wharf Village Development Ltd. that NZRC obtain the Minister of Conservation’s consent to a reduction of the width from the normal twenty metres to three metres.”

    ” There is immense pressure for public open space in Queenstown, particularly along the lake shore. ”

    “In April this year PANZ asked the Minister of Conservation if a marginal strip exists at the Queenstown site, and if so where it is. Mr. Marshall replied that there is a three metre marginal strip at the Steamer Wharf (Otago Daily Times, April 14, 1995). PANZ believes that Mr. Marshall was wrong then, and that a marginal strip still does not exist.”

    http://www.recreationaccess.org.nz/files/queens_chain.html#anchor364438

  81. I think we have some wonderful processes for consultation in New Zealand. We have notified land use applications. We have the ability to have independent commissioners make determinations under the RMA. We have the right of The People, through their elected representatives, to appeal against any decision those representatives disagree with. We also have the ability to have any of the aforementioned decisions appealed on legal grounds.

    However, we have some stupid processes as well. We have a process that says anyone can appeal any decision on land use that they don’t agree with even though they are not principals in the issue, with the consequential delay and cost associated with it. A process that can, and usually does, add huge percentages to the ultimate cost of what is (if finally approved) done. Ask a builder how much of the cost of a house or housing development is attributable to these processes.

    As a political party, it would seem appropriate for the Greens to promote the responsibility of duly elected representatives to act on behalf of their constituents in these matters, rather than pursue them separately. However, that would mean conformity, something the Party seems to want from others (see earlier posts here this week for examples) but not from its supporters.

    Sometimes the Law is an ass, this ability to constantly challenge legitimately made decisions is one of those situations!

  82. The Property Council (Property Investors and Developers) let this out through the PR screen:

    We need strong leaders at the political level who are prepared to make hard decisions and get on with investing in
    infrastructure rather than continually debating the issues.
    [Party funding etc]

    1.2. Members of Property Council New Zealand can significantly influence change to the built environment and should work closely with local government to effect better outcomes.
    [the invisible elephant at the local Council]

    We should never give up thinking about how the system works and in whose interests it works.
    :mrgreen:

  83. # big bro Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 10:49 am

    > I have just read the maiden speech of Kennedy Graham, I have only one question.

    > Has Mr Graham found Nandor’s secret stash?

    > That man is clearly mad.

    have you got a link to his speech? I’d like to read it.

  84. # big bro Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I have just read the maiden speech of Kennedy Graham, I have only one question.

    Has Mr Graham found Nandor’s secret stash?

    That man is clearly mad.
    =======

    ” Kennedy Graham, a new Green Party MP and brother of former cabinet minister Sir Douglas Graham, dealt with environmental sustainability.

    “We are drawing down on Earth’s natural resources, borrowing forward on the human heritage, irretrievably encroaching on our children’s right to inherit the Earth in a natural and sustainable state,” he said.

    “It is the uniquely dubious fate of our generation to have broken the eternal promise of inter-generational justice.”

    Dr Graham said a change in mindset was needed.

    “That requires a new world-view, a transformational change in individual lifestyle, a refashioned approach to governmental management.

    “It is time we measured national success not through mindless material growth but through genuine progress in human well-being.””
    ……………
    One of You is wrong BB and it isn’t him.

  85. big bro – you love the term ‘ram through’ when talking about legislation. You’re a very lucky man! You’ll have ample opportunity to employ your favourite phrase over and over again between now and Christmas!

  86. Didn’t catch the interview this morning.

    But I am worried about national’s policy to introduce ‘security for costs’ to the environment court process. This will mean that Tom, Dick and Harry could have to post a bond equal to the costs of the other party before they can have their day in the environment court.
    Obviously if they’re taking on a large corporation with deep pockets the bond could be substantial. If it’s too much for them to raise it will deny them access to the court.

  87. outinfront

    Is that real democracy or the type of “democracy” the Greens favour?

    You do know what I am talking about don’t you, the Green “democracy” is where you ram through a piece of legislation that 87% of the people DO NOT WANT.

  88. Owen McShane: Hide did not limit his exclusion of the voting public to invalid arguments. Hide wants to exclude ALL arguments. The context is irrelevant in the case of a blanket ban on any unput – valid or not. Arrogant dismissal of due process by the previous government would have been howled down by yourself and others. Yet this new government has already scheduled for its first few weeks a program that is breathtakingly arrogant and undemocratic compared to anything we have seen since 1999.

    Try to be consistent.

  89. I have just read the maiden speech of Kennedy Graham, I have only one question.

    Has Mr Graham found Nandor’s secret stash?

    That man is clearly mad.

  90. HIs comment was in relation to major infrastructure projects.
    Most countries limit appeal rights in relation to matters of national importance.
    Fair reporting is central to fair debate.

  91. Russel: the last four articles remind me of one comment, not made for public consumption.
    Sotto Voce: “Psst, wait til we’re in power, then we can do what we like”
    Sound familiar?

Comments are closed.