26 thoughts on “General debate, March 3, 2013

  1. Anyone who bought a home before 2002 is probably able to live well enough on less than $70,000 – and WFF would help those with children.

    Others at this point would struggle to ever own a home and thus end up on Super getting AS to afford to rent their residence. Given we cannot afford to pay 33-50% of the people AS in retirement this is a worry.

  2. Wow, then primary teachers get more than I do – I’ve been a tertiary teacher for a couple of decades, at the top level for the last five years and haven’t reached the magic $70,000 yet. I’m not bothered though – we are very comfortable. I’m just surprised.

    Anyway, whatever they are earning (and believe me, teachers earn their money!) not being paid is very stressful. Not good for our kids.

  3. photonz “I could live extraordinarily comfortably on what you call a “derisory” wage.”

    Greenfly asks “Could you expand on your claim, photonz1?”

    The average teacher halfway through their working life is going to be on around $70,000 + $4000 for each unit they earn. In fact you can be on that in just seven years from graduation.

    If we ran our house on a $70,000+ salary we’d be spending a few hundred dollars more than we do now, EVERY WEEK.

    That would make things extraordinarily comfortable.

    Instead, we live on significantly less than that (more like a starting teacher), but still very comfortably, which means in years that we have a second income, we don’t actually need it. 100% of it can be invested.

    It’s simply a matter of not buying loads of things you don’t need – like the vast majority of people do.

  4. “What’s really bizarre about this is the ideological statements from the DOC worker.”

    Thanks @Sam. I think I’d grudgingly find a way to put up with it (even if I disagreed) if DoC were to reason something like “We need to save money and have a higher profit margin to put towards funding important conservation activities. We can do so by consolidating our nationwide purchasing to a single provider so that all our visitor centres will sell identical junk. Consequently we need a provider that can mass-produce cheaply, and an overseas bid was the front runner in this regard.”

    If it wasn’t just a shortcoming with the requirements given in a tender, I’d expect it’s something along those lines, but instead DoC’s spokesperson came out with a wacky line to do with international treaties and trade agreements!

  5. “Their approach appears to involve saying the right things but then cutting back the funding and reducing the capacity of special education support. The Government’s approach to reorganising Christchurch schools, their willingness to bail out Wanganui Collegiate and their determination to introduce Charter Schools show that money and private interests are the key drivers for educational change rather than children’s needs.”

    I found sprouts link very good and as he was given 2 negative ticks for it I’m re-linking :)

    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2013/03/breaking-promises-to-children.html

  6. land banking at the fringe will and does only occur when the supply is restricted (enough).

    True dat. Thing is that the supply is also going to be “restricted” by the physical difficulty of the commute where sufficient mass transit capacity/frequency does not exist. Auckland commute from Papakura and points south is what now?

    I don’t actually know but that commute will at some price of petrol, keep the land-bankers in business unless they are otherwise dealt with. The government, when it put in the absolutely INSANELY stupid negative gearing legislation, did us all dirt. We’re eating it now. I do not care who did it either. Aussies did it too

  7. “Is there some treaty reason that DOC can’t include in its requirements that responses attempt to actively educate about New Zealand conservation management through their manufacturing process as much as their cuddly appearance?”

    Nope, government procurement provisions of trade treaties might require equal treatment of foreign and local providers, but these are clearly not ‘equal’ products. There is no requirement for DOC to accept a lower bid from an overseas supplier if the products aren’t the same.

    What’s really bizarre about this is the ideological statements from the DOC worker. Since when has the public agreed to fund DOC staff to publicly preach neo-liberal ideologies? Imagine the outcry if a DOC worker put out a statement praising socialism or Marxism as a reason for carrying out a course of action.

  8. Ok bjchip – we’re on the same page, fundamentally. It’s *forced” densification I have a problem with – not “willful” densifcation.

    Er, land banking at the fringe will and does only occur when the supply is restricted (enough). Otherwise the competitive supply response overwhelms the game and land is driven back to rural values on the fringe. This is why you only get this practice in highly restricted markets.

  9. I agree that houses should cost a fraction of what they do. I don’t have a great problem that the city expands. It will. I am not arguing that the way we deal with land, councils, consents and the rest is correct, it isn’t.

    However, the “densification” is not optional for Auckland and pushing the boundaries of the city outward does not solve most of the problems with council or consents or inspections.

    Any plan for Auckland that doesn’t greatly improve and rely on its mass transit, is simply not going to work.

    Auckland can ONLY go North and South… and it has just one harbour crossing… so the distances to travel and the traffic density both grow much faster than they do in Houston. It is a poor comparison to use on that basis, as I have pointed out before.

    Densification of the city is not wrong. I’ve lived in a lot of cities. The most liveable of them were VERY dense… the least were spread out over hundreds of square miles of small houses on smaller patches of land.

    Expansion of the city is not wrong. It realistically cannot be expected to grow in no direction at all. In some ways the linearity of Auckland development prospects is an advantage to building mass transit infrastructure… but that has to be done, not ignored.

    People who blame the cost of houses on just this one thing, the council’s overcontrol of land, have lost the larger picture.

    There is no point to fixing land availability if the people who are going to buy the land and develop it are going to continue, and they WILL continue, to buy up all the land and bank it and build half-million-dollar houses when they deign to do so at all.

    The monetary advantages of the owners, and the developers and the folks with the bankers ear, are quite excessive. Their ability to deduct mortgage expenses and ignore/sidestep capital gains as they collect rent led them to be willing to pay more for a house than the live-in-owner, and the way the bubble worked I recall QUITE directly, going to view houses in the Wellington region in 2004 and being the only person in the place not trying to buy an “investment” in terms of the negative gearing available. Having an accountant with a pre-printed glossy package explaining how I would profit from becoming a landlord… even if I lived in a rental myself.

    You want to discuss distortions you’d better include ALL of them, because someone who can get the mortgage paid through a combination of rent and tax advantages and reaps a capital gain that isn’t taxed (bought it as a rental after all), is going to be able to bid “whatever it takes to get the house” – and the bank will go along with it too as they are making more money on that larger mortgage, while the owner-occupier is limited to what his income can support.

    Which is no longer a house.

    You can’t actually fix this without savaging the people who bought at the top either.

    It is not as simple as just one thing. Never.

  10. bjchip:

    It is simple. Houses should cost a fraction of what they do on the fringe, and as cities expand out most of the new travel demand localises to the fringe. And as the houses move out, so does the infrastructure and jobs. This is how our cities have grown and for the last 150 years – and as Hugh Pavletich rightly says…”and now all of a sudden it’s become a great big deal”.

    btw: Houston commute times hardly look traumatic (average 28 mins), and this does not need to be a great problem regardless. Force-densifying Auckland will make traffic more congested (as it has).

  11. Houston doesn’t have a mass transit strategy though. It has no answer but this…

    http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/01-10-13-houstons-horrible-commute-is-recognized-ranked-second-worst-only-behind-notorious-atlanta/

    …the same sort of answer was made in LA, where people moved to the “Inland Empire” to get cheaper houses and the commutes stretched out further and further. The changes are real enough….

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2125507/American-suburbs-turning-ghost-towns-How-homeowners-ditching-town-areas-live-big-cities.html

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/30/business/la-fi-hemet30-2010mar30

    I’ll accept quite readily that the structure of our building process, the absurdity of our unresponsive councils and their position in the land-building cycle is wrong as it gets. I don’t accept that the answer is Houston. One thing you can notice about Houston is its location…

    https://maps.google.co.nz/maps?q=houston+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x8640b8b4488d8501:0xca0d02def365053b,Houston,+TX,+USA&gl=nz&ei=Ar4yUY2nDuuYmQXK_4GwBg&ved=0CDAQ8gEwAA

    Notice that it is able to expand in an unlimited way almost all around the circumference of the city. Auckland on the other hand, can go only North and South. Which makes commutes longer for similar density functions.

    I agree that we have to do something about the way consents and councils and liabilities are arranged. The advantages handed to the landed gentry here (and elsewhere) are immense, and often enough untaxed. Changing the basis used for business of New Zealand is one of our primary tasks given the way the economic system is programmed to zorch the environment.

    It isn’t however, as simple as you want it to be.

  12. I read this morning that the Department of Conservation is ditching a New Zealand manufacturer for soft fluffy toys in exchange for imports from China.

    I get that this is something that happens from time to time, but DOC’s commercial channel manager reasons it as meeting “New Zealand’s obligations under international treaties and trade agreements”.

    Huh? Presumably DOC put out an RFP saying “we need soft cuddly toys” and went with the lowest bidder for the specs, as government is traditionally required to do so as to assure fairness, and ensure DOC makes maximum profit by paying minimal supply costs and charging maximum demand costs. But to me it seems like a screw-up with the requirements stated in the RFP.

    Is there some treaty reason that DOC can’t include in its requirements that responses attempt to actively educate about New Zealand conservation management through their manufacturing process as much as their cuddly appearance? The whole NZ possum pest fur thing seems very relevant and beneficial for DOC for far more reasons than its practicality, and it sucks that it’s been lost.

  13. I want to comment on another topical issue to that of Andrew, above. A couple of weeks ago I saw a helicopter aerial spraying herbicide on swathes of private land through the Buller. I rang the comoany up to find out what the herbicie was – I was replied to with abuse about being a troublemaker but no herbicide name forthcoming. When I looked on Google at where he had been spraying, areas mostly larger than 1 hectare, it all looks like indigenous forest and wetland, and i know at least one of those areas would be without resource consent. Never mind, when the latest lot of RMA changes come through these guys will get rewarded for defying the consenting requirements for removal of indigenous vegetation on private land.

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