44 thoughts on “General debate, June 16, 2013

  1. The abstract mentions electrolytes so I am guessing that this battery operates at low temperatures rather than at liquid sodium temperatures, but even solid sodium has its risks. Mind you, so does carrying 50 litres of volatile inflammable liquid.

    Sodium is significantly heavier than lithium and tin is much heavier again, so this battery will be at least several times heavier for the same energy storage as lithium batteries. I haven’t tried finding out what voltage this battery would operate at, and they only give charge rather than energy values, so it is hard to get a good feel for its energy density. They talk about using it for grid storage where mass and volume are less important. The other factor that isn’t mentioned is the cycle efficiency – how much of the energy that goes into charging the battery is available when you discharge it. Another factor that could affect some applications is the self-discharge rate – not such an issue for grid storage applications where the battery is likely to be discharged 6-18 hours after charging.

    Trevor.

  2. Well that WOULD be the first place I’d think they’d be useful. The ability to build batteries that are dirt cheap out of common materials trumps an awful lot of negatives in terms of mass and volume. One does think about the sodium and the wood together as a bit… risky if you just-add-water :-)

  3. But do we need to build Sodium-Tin batteries for grid storage? I am not sure we could export them cost-effectively, and they sound a bit scary and unsuitable for use in vehicles.

    Trevor.

  4. I believe the Christchurch porta-loo usage is only for a few red-zone houses whose occupants should be moving out in the next few weeks. The red zones are too unstable to rebuild on as is, and require land remediation, so it is not worth fixing the sewer pipes now as they will probably be destroyed again by the major works coming. My understanding is that these houses do have power, phone, cell phone coverage and running water, and chemical toilets are available, so the porta-loos are only being used by choice.

    The central city landscape is still changing, with more buildings being demolished, making the adjacent roads safe enough to reopen. The last roads to reopen should be reopening in the next few weeks, if they haven’t already reopened. Part of the delay is building owners having to decide whether to repair or demolish some buildings which appear to be repairable.

    Trevor.

  5. “”Hence my question. What goods do you think we could manufacture and sell at sufficient price:volume combinations to make a business worthwhile.””

    Sprout has given some answers above, but there are also service businesses which we can excel in.

    “(NOTE, our very-high volume, premium quality, low cost commodities, as in milk and wood products, have taken decades to build their market presence and share to a level that sustains the supply side of the market today. However, if we were to abandon all the high-volume-production mechanisms we currently employ, particularly in the milk products market, it is likely that we would price ourselves out of the world market and be truly in dire straights.”

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting abandoning farming as an export earner. However farming took decades of state support, and tax payer funded research and help, to become the big export earner it is today.
    We are currently all paying for irrigation for Canterbury dairy farmers.
    Successful exporters in Germany, South Korea, USA, Singapore and Finland had high levels of State support also.
    In NZ we expect everything else, but agriculture, to succeed by magic. Despite high exchange rates, interest rates higher than offshore competitors and being the only OECD country with no protection/priority for local industry..

    2.
    “Government should not starve essential services of funding, oversight and competent people.
    I agree o an extent, but as I am now a pensioner I can ask the following without being self-affected by the answer. The question is How much extra income tax are you prepared to pay (as a %age) in order to fund these essential services to a level you accept as appropriate, and what else should be considered an essential service?”

    Agreed that medium income PAYE tax payers pay too large a share. Financial transaction taxes, capital gains taxes, land taxes, progressive income tax rates in the same proportion as Australia, and other ways of evening out the tax burden, would be fairer.
    I would agree to paying a somewhat higher tax rate for better Government services, good infrastructure and welfare for those that are ill, injured, to old, to young or cannot get a job. Preferably as a GMI, because that has social benefits for all of us. I object to paying taxes for National’s overpriced consultants and financial bailouts for millionaires.
    (I am on the top tax rate so any tax rises definitely affect me. However, admission of self interest here, decent social welfare, such as WINZ actually paying the unemployed what the law says they should get, would cut the costs, to me, of the teenagers living in my basement.)

    However, given that the going rate for ships officers, geotechnical engineers, town planners, builders, structural engineers, and other people who know what they are talking about, is less than a third, to a 20th of the rate paid to the current failed politicians, ex taxi drivers and real estate agents who are put in charge of chair polishing, in organisations such as EQC and MNZ, making them work properly could well be cheaper.
    You can get at least 4 skilled and capable engineers for the price of one failed politician.
    How much did all the stuffing around over the Rena and Christchurch and the deaths at Pike river cost? The price of incompetence and a false economy..

    3.
    “Exactly what I do after taking over a ship

    May I ask how you convince the owners to give you an unlimited budget to correct any- and every- thing you deem to be ‘wrong’?”

    Owners have never refused me any safety equipment or repairs I have asked for. Note: Though, Apart from oil rigs, I have always worked for NZ or Ozzie companies. There are many foreign ship owners and management companies who I would not work for.
    I do have one major issue, but as MNZ’s “experts” claim it is OK, there is not much I can do about it, except register my objection..

  6. “Given our remoteness from major markets, and the consequential cost of delivery of physical goods to those markets, what type of product would you suggest we manufacture?”

    Dave, I’ll list a few I know of:
    -Stabi-Craft boats from Invercargill exports heaps to Australia http://www.stabicraft.com/History.aspx
    – Hamilton Jet boats http://www.hamjet.co.nz
    -Dynamic Controls designs and makes controls for wheel chairs and mobility scooters http://www.dynamiccontrols.com
    -Sgnopsys, an exporter of electronic signs http://www.signopsys.co.nz/news/
    -Fairbrother Industries ltd-exports farm machinery all round the globe http://www.fairbrotherind.com/aboutus/
    -AEC Electronics exports a range of electronic products for civilian and military purposes http://www.aec-electronics.co.nz
    -istart a world leader of equipment used to detonate old weapons http://www.istart.co.nz/index/HM20/PC0/PV23539/EX216392/AR213102
    -Douglas Pharmaceuticals exports products to 35 countries http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6270655/Douglas-Pharmaceuticals-expanding-exports

    How many more examples would you like? All are hurting because of the high dollar and do not lack markets or have difficulties with transportation.

  7. Apart from their not being ridiculous… the comparison made was valid, the fact is that even absent any comparison I find the response to Christchurch absurdly slow.

    Unfortunately it is not unexpectedly so now that I have been here a long enough to understand the absolute imperative that all New Zealanders feel for talking, meeting, convening, arguing, discussing, having commissions investigate, having investigations into the meetings, getting consultants to advise the commissions and just generally doing everything in their power to diffuse the responsibility for decisions so thoroughly that when the inevitable failure occurs the blame doesn’t fall on them.

    I am not sure why everyone is so damned scared to take a crack at a problem here. It is seriously off-putting, though I have learned that the willingness to blame people who point out and attempt to resolve problems is a big feature of New Zealand’s culture too… so there may be some explanation lurking… doesn’t matter.

    The repairs to clear away debris in the central city were one thing. Genuine hazards and engineering problems have to be respected, but the housing issue is and was different, and the response to that one remains almost completely out of touch with the reality on the ground. Housing is not as hard as New Zealanders make it… but if it were made easier the prices of houses would go down… a lot. At a guess the owners of government didn’t want any positive examples to raise expectations. :-)

  8. Kerry says “Photo is trotting out the excuses for our political masters fuckups.”

    I didn’t make any comment at all on how well or badly the Christchurch rebuild is being managed – just pointing out how ridiculous your comparisons were.

  9. Kerry
    re: !.
    Dave. remoteness from Markets does not stop the Fins exporting forklifts to Japan, or Germany container cranes and cars to Asia and the Pacific

    Absolutely true, however, the Finns sell high quality Forklifts in Europe and the Americas and the Germans sell sell high quality cars to the world, so their volume is high, and their quality creates high-end market demand. Both were built on “local” markets of about 300 million consumers (i.e. Europe). We have a very small local market, even counting Australia, cannot compete on manufactured price with China (because of high volume and low labour cost,) or Europe (because of large market and high quality premium).

    Hence my question. What goods do you think we could manufacture and sell at sufficient price:volume combinations to make a business worthwhile.

    (NOTE, our very-high volume, premium quality, low cost commodities, as in milk and wood products, have taken decades to build their market presence and share to a level that sustains the supply side of the market today. However, if we were to abandon all the high-volume-production mechanisms we currently employ, particularly in the milk products market, it is likely that we would price ourselves out of the world market and be truly in dire straights.

    2.
    Government should not starve essential services of funding, oversight and competent people.
    I agree o an extent, but as I am now a pensioner I can ask the following without being self-affected by the answer. The question is How much extra income tax are you prepared to pay (as a %age) in order to fund these essential services to a level you accept as appropriate, and what else should be considered an essential service?

    3.
    Exactly what I do after taking over a ship

    May I ask how you convince the owners to give you an unlimited budget to correct any- and every- thing you deem to be ‘wrong’?

  10. “It sounds as if a new Government must, in your view, undertake a detailed review of the IT, Operating systems and emergency preparedness of all government agencies immediately after the election,”.

    Exactly what I do after taking over a ship.

    Neither the ship owner, the regulatory authority nor a court of inquiry will accept the excuse that, “The last crew left it like that”.

  11. Dave. remoteness from Markets does not stop the Fins exporting forklifts to Japan, or Germany container cranes and cars to Asia and the Pacific.

    Or NZ high bulk dairy, logs and produce to Asia and Europe.
    Ever thought what the price of shipping as a percentage of selling price is, of low value, high volume commodities, such as meat and milk compared with high value manufactured goods.

    Shipping costs are such a small fraction of the costs of goods, at least until oil gets to $300 a barrel, (then we will really have to address import substitution), that this is a bullshit excuse.

  12. No Dave. Government should not starve essential services of funding, oversight and competent people.

    Short sighted cost cutting. promoting cronies and failing to listen, to those who actually know something about the subject, has been a fault of many successive Governments.

    It is a pity that politicians are not held to the same principle of strict liability, as ships Masters.

    There should have been a lot more heads rolling over Pike River, of both Labour and National politicians. As well as the board and managers. Controlling shareholders should have to take responsibility also.

  13. Sprout

    A stronger manufacturing sector would broaden our export base

    Given our remoteness from major markets, and the consequential cost of delivery of physical goods to those markets, what type of product would you suggest we manufacture?

    (NB This is a serious question, not a poke at your idea!)

  14. Photo is trotting out the excuses for our political masters fuckups

    Kerry, I just need to understand what you’re saying here. It sounds as if a new Government must, in your view, undertake a detailed review of the IT, Operating systems and emergency preparedness of all government agencies immediately after the election, and if they find anything that could be considered wrong, or even merely ill-advised, put it right with urgency.

    If that is what you are saying, it is interesting, as it will not be untill a third consecutive term that the Government will have the time or money to implementt anything new from their election platform. Let’s facee it, we all know there’s almost nothing right in the way government agencies currently operate!

  15. Just like the Rana. Photo is trotting out the excuses for our political masters fuckups.

    I have heard those sort of excuses often from the incompetent and lazy to justify their failures. It was “different”, “harder” “we couldn’t predict etc etc. Bullshit. It was their job to predict, and their job to make sure that procedures and equipment were available for wholly possible events. It is not as though a ship grounding, or an earthquake affecting a large city, were unlikely events.

    In Japan and Australia, after ANY of their disasters, they were not walking down to the end of the street to use portaloos, two years later.

    That, only happens in right wing paradises, like Haiti, New Orleans, and Christchurch.

  16. New Zealand desperately needs to develop a sustainable economy and the areas that are supporting the current recovery have obvious limitations. Investing more into high value exports would mean an increase in research and development and a growing demand for a skilled workforce. A stronger manufacturing sector would broaden our export base, leave us less reliant on one or two industries (the demise of one would be catastrophic). The resulting growth of a higher skilled workforce would raise living standards, increase government revenue and boost the domestic economy. http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/manufacturing-crisis-who-to-believe.html

  17. Duh! yourself Photonz – Kerry didn’t say Fukushima was of similar scale. Looking up the recent news articles about recoveries and Japan made the reference perfectly clear.

    “Fukushima” wasn’t in Kerry’s posts. Stop being argumentative when you clearly just misunderstood the referent. It’s not that big a deal, for the recent disaster does tend to wipe memory of most lesser ones… and the difference in scale was really the only clue that Kerry wasn’t referring to the Tsunami here.

    It WAS a lot more obvious after reading the article. Calling names before checking? Big deal. We can find something more real to disagree about I am VERY sure :-)

  18. bj says “If by Japan Kerry meant Kobe, which would be sensible given the relative scales and sizes and the article I linked and Kerry’s presumed South Island address… then the person who made the mistake and the invalid assumption would be you mate. Not him. Not me. ”

    That would be really dumb to assume Kobe when he’s comparing if things are back to normal after two years, when Kobe happened 18 years ago.

    BJ says “because it really IS NOT of a similar scale.”

    DUH!!!! Can you not read!!! Kerry said they were similar – I’ve made no such claim.

  19. If by Japan Kerry meant Kobe, which would be sensible given the relative scales and sizes and the article I linked and Kerry’s presumed South Island address… then the person who made the mistake and the invalid assumption would be you mate. Not him. Not me.

    Japan has LOTS of those big bad bumps in the dark and you if a claim is made about similar scale then it is up to you to work out that Fukushima isn’t the similar scale event being referred to, because it really IS NOT of a similar scale.

  20. bj says “Sorry Photonz, but Fukushima was nowhere NEAR the scale of anything that happened to Christchurch, it was a Tsunami and an earthquake, and AS USUAL you haven’t a clew… ”

    Put your reading glasses on BJ, and find out WHO made the claim “Japan and Brisbane after similar scale disasters are almost completely back to normal.”

    It was Kerry (who thinks a third of a million displaced people who will have to wait up to ten years to be re-housed is “almost completely back to normal”)

  21. EQC had decades to prepare IT systems, procedures and their general operational readiness. This doesn’t cost billions of dollars, just a few people working steadily for years, years that they had.

    Its clear now that EQC is managing their data on spreadsheets. So they certainly didn’t have IT readiness. Which makes me suspect that their other operation readiness status was also garbage.

    Which would explain why their abilities to deliver are clearly mixed.

  22. Just like the Rena, and Pike River. Lack of preparation and planning by those who were paid lots of money to do it, combined with short sighted cost cutting, and lack of oversight from ignorant politicians.

    Never mind. The magic of the market will provide. In about 50 years.

  23. Photo.
    Have you been to those three places recently?

    If you have you wouldn’t be so keen to excuse our Governments, and EQC’s incompetence.

    The first temporary houses were in place, in Japan, within two weeks.

    In Christchurch people are still using portaloos!

  24. Kerry makes up nonsense – “Japan and Brisbane after similar scale disasters are almost completely back to normal.”

    1/ The Brisbane flooding has an estimated repair bill of $1 billion. Christchurch is FORTY TIMES that.

    2/ Hundreds of thousand of Japaneses are still living in temporary houses. Japanese authorities recently said it will take another TEN YEARS to get everyone resettled.

    And you says things are “almost completely back to normal”

    How wrong you are – See
    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2013/03/recovery_slow_as_japan_marks_2.html

  25. This is distasteful and I apologise in advance.
    “Cameron Slater”.
    Sorry. to make it worse, “The Truth”.
    But there’s good news!
    Cameron Slater has killed The Truth.
    It’s like celebrating the discovery of half a grub in your partially-eaten apple.

  26. If the Government is serious about increasing the achievement of Maori and Pacifica students they should be addressing the causes. Poverty, breach of the social contract (Do well at school and you get a good job) and lack of funding for PROVEN interventions at schools.

    It need not take more money.
    Redirecting the spend on NACT non -standards, stop propping up failing private schools, stop forcing unresearched and expensive changes on schools, getting rid of US and UK “consultants” (Who are showing us how to repeat their failure), getting rid of the excessive bureaucracy that National use to “control” Teachers, and getting rid of fake competition, would free up a lot of funds.

  27. Dave Stringer at 2.29.

    EQC. Utter bullshit Dave. Japan and Brisbane after similar scale disasters are almost completely back to normal. Lyttelton has ONE new building.

    Housing. While their are whole families living in garages we have a housing crisis. When someone even in a rather high paying job cannot afford a house within 50 k’s of the job, we have a housing crisis.

    Feeding children. Welfare was deliberately set at below liveable levels in Ruth Richardson’s time. That has never been changed. It hasn’t even kept pace with headline inflation rates. Costs of most things poorer people buy has risen by much more than inflation (GST rises have not helped) Not to mention a minimum wage at less than it would cost to own a slave! Recent University research has proved that welfare is at less than liveable level.

    It is not a parental failure, it is a shameful societal failure.

    As usual you are talking fatuous nonsense. Ambitions to be Arana, perhaps!

  28. Following on…

    All those feminists insulting men by saying they are sexist, when they’re not? Now who are the real sexists? And all those feminists telling woman and blacks that they will be discriminated against unfairly, and putting them off investing in their career – on false grounds.

    Going by Thomas Sowell, it looks like these feminists need to focus on where the real problems are – the Middle East, Africa, and other parts of the third world. The West should be celebrated – not insulted.

  29. “This is a historic event. For the first time, we have half the parties in Parliament signing up to an alternative economic vision for New Zealand,” said Dr Norman. – See more at: http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/manufacturing-inquiry-shows-there-alternative#sthash.N2odRHJ9.dpuf

    Wow
    National + Labour + Green + NZ First + Mana + Maori + United Future (or independents – take your pick)
    Who are in the three and a half parties being referred to?

  30. SPROUT

    Don’t you mean that if this Government is really serious about their priority of lifting the achievement of Maori and Pasifika children and improving education delivery then they should just spend more money>

  31. SPROUT

    CRISIS:- an under-skilled and poorly staffed EQC,
    Answer:- If we staffed this organisation to be always able to cope with the effects of a once in two or three centuries event, we wouldn’t be able to afford Earth Quake insurance at all. There is nowhere in the world done a better job after such an event, unless you count the rebuillding of Britain after the 2nd world war, and the legislation and regulations put into place since then would make that job a 50 year challenge instead of the 20 year one it was. This is no crisis, it is the normal consequence of a catastrophic event.

    CRISIS:- housing crisis that needs attention
    Answer:- Exactly what is the crisis? There are houses for sale and people willing to pay the price. We need more houses that people on lower incomes can afford to live in, be it as renters or mortgage holders, but when the difference in cost between a house in Timaru and one in Auckland is the cost of the land and compliance with the regulations, it’s easy to see where the solution is, people need to stop protesting about the development of land for housing estates – AND – people on low incomes shouldn’t expect a five bedroom two lounge, 2 car-garage as their first home, they should do what my generation did and live a life-style to their needs. My family (DEFINATELY MIDDLE CLASS) lived in a two-up two-down terraced house in Liverpool after the war, we survived, enjoyed a community, lived well and went up the housing ladder as circumstances allowed. THIS IS NOT A CRISIS, it is an over-expectation on one part, and an unwillingness to allow growth on another.

    CRISIS:- we are urgently having to feed thousands of children arriving to school hungry.
    Answer:- remove the cost of the meal from the welfare payments to the parents. That way they will come to understand budgeting for food and eventually be better parents because of it. If current welfare is not enough to provide breakfast for all the children in the household, FIND OUT WHY and offer sold budget management counselling rather than more money and free meals. THIS is not a crisis, this is dependancy supported to go wild and have no accountability for family matters.

  32. bjchip, they have been forced to recognise the housing crisis and child poverty and their response in both cases is to shift responsibility away from themselves and to ensure that the private sector is a large part of the apparent solution. Government spending will be minimal and the responses will only scratch the surface.

  33. One might wonder what would happen if they actually recognized a REAL crisis.

    However, given their attitudes towards reality the rest of New Zealand will recognize the real crisis long before they do.

  34. Good point, bjchip, but I think one should also make a distinction between a real crisis like climate change and child poverty and a fabricated crisis like ACC or our supposedly failing education system.

  35. Yes – but if they can make it into a crisis they can ram it through under “urgency” – exactly per their “shock doctrine”.

  36. Too many decisions are now reactionary ones resulting from a crisis and a little bit of prior planning and prioritised investment would have avoided costly emergency measures. We see the human consequences of an under-skilled and poorly staffed EQC, we are seeing a $24 million blowout in costs related to Novopay, we are having a housing crisis that needs attention and we are urgently having to feed thousands of children arriving to school hungry. In each case the crisis could have been predicted and much of it averted if we had acted faster and were properly prepared. The biggest of all crises confronting us is climate change and again delaying action will only cost us dearly in the future.

    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/crisis-management-governance-failing.html

  37. This press release:
    http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/oecd-gives-thumbs-green-economic-direction
    leads to this OECD report:
    http://www.oecd.org/newzealand/new-zealand-2013.htm

    The most surprising thing on the front page is the claim:
    “Achieving sustained reductions in government debt will … tend to raise national saving rates …”
    [People should check that my elision is not misleading.]

    In the front page and overview, I have not found a reason to believe this about private savings, where most of the debt is. Does anyone think that there is good evidence for it, and want to point us toward it?

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