'Buying NZ Property – Download the free sample readings!

NZ presents some of the most alluring property in the Western World; particularly given the greater easy of residency, the low cost of property, and the liveability of the country. In addition, there is no capital gains tax, transfer taxes, VAT/GST or wealth taxes in NZ, so rest assured that NZ property is tax-effective! Learn more now!

New Zealand Property Report 2010 - Download the table of contents or buy this 180-page report at our online store for just $US19.95.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unjust speeding tickets legislation in NZ and Australia

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I have some strong views against the punitive speeding tickets, parking fines legislation stretching over several countries.
My concern is:
1. The punitive nature of the action - often there is no intent to speed, and it can hardly be construed as 'negligence' to wonder over the limit if the conditions justify it.
2. The lack of effective recourse - who wants to waste time going to court to save $150
3. The arbitrariness of the legislation, ie. In Australia I was fined for speeding going up a steep hill, when the steep limit is the same going down the other side. The limit was artificially low.
4. The arbitrariness of cameras - particularly in Australia - I was caught driving out of a town at 70kmph when the conditions were excellent, i.e. up hill, good clearance, fine weather, good road
5. The lack of scientific validity for the claims made, ie. Where is the evidence that 'speed kills'. I would argue this legislation is an over-simplification used by govts to raise taxes. NZ is going the same way as Australia. I can't live there any more. Its like living in police state.
6. Externalities - After I was caught for speeding, I was driving a further 5 hours in a state of stress. What about the sudden braking in response to 'natural' fears about a speeding camera. or the paranoia about police cars everywhere. Everyone's driving ability is different. If there is no scientific basis for the legislation, there will be harmful externalities. Another is my loss of confidence in government, the political system. The accountability that society has is under-funded, arbitrary, and loop holing.
7. Unfairness - The way this legislation attacks people of principle and the poor, as opposed to pragmatic & wealthy souls who give it no mind. Yes, we want more mindless people in society, and we want fewer critical thinkers because we live in such a workers paradise. Some people can't afford the cost of living in a police state.
8. The disparity in application - The police drive with impunity. Years ago I went on a skiing trip in Australia with police recruits. They were drinking whiskey whilst driving 100kmph on a back country road. In northern NSW, a local policeman warned drinkers in a pub that he would be watching a certain road on Melbourne Cup day. Meanwhile, outside Taree NSW, a local policeman patrols the highway because he does not want the discomfort of catching locals and potential friends. Justice is hardly served by either practice - cameras or no cameras. Give the policeman a clever answer and you escape punitive damages.
Perhaps you were thinking that these 'unmeasured' externalities are worth it. Think again. The fall in the road toll is not because of compliance with speed limits, it is because of the gradual improvement in roads as we straighten precarious highways, upgrade to dual-carriage ways, adopt road partitions to stop head on collisions, which have more to do with distraction and tiredness than anything else. A group that is less responsible are drinkers, particularly teen drinkers. Clearly there is a problem with this group, who don't care about the legislation anyway. This group needs special attention, but I would argue their 'rebellious' attitudes are more a response to the 'arbitrary' and punitive nature of our justice and policing system.

I do want to look at this issue in more detail - here is the statistics for NZ.

This legislation is poorly targeted and needs changing. The Consumer NZ non-profit group needs your support, and I suggest providing your insights to marc@consumer.org.nz.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The problem in NZ politics - ok Western democracy

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This instance highlights the lack of integrity in the Maori Party, but most particularly the parliamentary process since this behaviour is typical of politicians. Tariana Turia is the co-leader of the Maori Party. But she is also a minister in the NZ coalition with the National Party. In a recent parliamentary vote she was obliged to depart from her party position (which she supported) in order to vote with the government (ie. National Party).
The issue was the policy initiative of the National Party to limit assistance to single mothers I think to dependents less than 6 years of age. The stupidity of the system is that this is actually encouraged, and worse still because it is deemed acceptable.

Do we have any hope of good policy when:
1. Ministers are more loyal to the Cabinet than their own principles
2. Ministers sacrifice the interests of one group for the sake of another
3. Policy issues are decided by votes (i.e. numbers) rather than reasons or principles (concepts)
4. Minister self-interest is about retaining one's career.

The implication is that the system actually rewards such displays of disloyalty. This is the problem with the system and it needs to change. I don't know why people are so proud of our democracy. Any idiot should be able to see how rediculous the system is. It actually rewards bad behaviour.

96% anti-mining, but not 100% pure NZ

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A Wanaka geologist has come out arguing that the government's numbers are overstated as to the mineral potential of NZ, or at least the potential of Stewart Island. This does not surprise me at all. The reason I think the government is pushing for mining has less to do with the desire to see mining in these areas, and more to do with the desire to encourage exploration so that the government actually knows if there are minerals in the country.
Most particularly, the government needs to encourage more energy exploration. What happens on land is actually less important than at sea. NZ needs energy - particularly gas, and it needs to substitute imports with local product. I think the government purely wants to convey that it is pro-mining, after all who wants to explore in a country which is so anti-mining.

The idea that 100% NZ was always a brand which was intended to attract tourists. The reality is that whilst NZ has some terrific landscapes, the urban areas of NZ are very untidy. There is lot of rubbish in NZ. People discard there rubbish indulgently. I often see people throwing rubbish from cars, kids coming home from the pub or friends leave bottles in the street, or worse break them on the pathways. There is a lot of this, though of course some areas are worse than others.
I don't see this in Australia, which I truly think is 96% pure.....if you excuse the mass clearing of trees on the tablelands 100 years ago.
But consider this about Australia:
1. Half of Tasmania is a national park or wilderness
2. Half the coast of NSW is national park
3. Most of the ACT is national park
4. The bulk of the Snowy Mountains is national park
5. The Great Barrier Reef is national park
6. Sydney Harbour is a national park - you can readily eat the fish caught in it
7. Sydney is surrounded by national park - almost completely surrounding it. You can view for 30-40km in some directions its so big
8. Cape York - 'the dog ears' of Australia is national park

In NZ, they have dairy effluent going into the rivers. The forest is really only confined to the ranges whilst all the flats are farming land. The only place where there is really unmodified land use is the West Coast, Alpine areas, Fiordland, and some of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. It is a smaller country, but is the "100% pure NZ" reputation justified based on the facts. Of course it makes clever marketing.

In fairness NZ is a very beautiful country...perhaps the country can do with fewer puritans. I prefer Australian nature in many respects because the walking trails are actually shorter and better suited for tourists. In NZ it is all a bit undeveloped and walking trails tend to be for the overnight hikers. I'd like to see more of NZ opened up for the tourist to actually enjoy it rather than simply drive by. Of course if tourists are so utterly inconsiderate of other tourists, maybe such plans need to await a better quality of human being.

The paradox is that Australia produces so much mineral wealth from mining, but it utilises less than 3% of its area for mining, and thats just based on mining title, not actual mining area. Despite that it has such large tracts of wilderness. The country is so large you would likely never see a mine site. The bad news is that its all so spread out. NZ, you can drive around and see it all in two weeks. You'd never see a mine there either. Why the worry? Well its mostly government hype because they want to encoureage exploration. It was probably an electoral promise. Now they can take the campaign contributions with a clear conscience.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mining in NZ

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A big issue in the press this week which highlight the problems the government is encountering reforming the economy. The issues is mining in national reserves. NZ has vast areas of protected reserves. Conservation groups have ensured that historically these areas were not open to mining. The purists among them will tolerate no mining. The reality is that leaving open the prospect of mining actually ensures that mining companies explore, otherwise if mining is precluded, no company will explore. The problem is these people know nothing about mining, and fears are actually exaggerated. A number of factors to consider: The size type of mining, the jobs created, the likely local spending, provisions for spending in the economy, e.g. wages, taxation, etc. There is a large open cut gold mine in Waihi, in the Coromandel which some oppose. This mine comprises a huge whole in the ground. Despite being adjacent to the town, the only sign of mining is likely to be extra trucks on the road, vibration from the two (2 x 2 minutes) rounds of blasting each day. Perhaps the biggest issue is likely to be dust in the air as blasted and crushed rock is hauled around and stockpiled. Undercover drawing from stockpiles and covered conveyors can reduce this, as well as spraying of roads. Visually there will be a big hole in the ground, however this is not visible on flat land. An open cut into the side of a mountain might be visible from the road, but often miners plant trees to hide them, or the pit is obscured by mountains, poor access, etc. Most mines are remote from urban development and you would never know they are there unless you are one of the few who fly around at low altitude. There are impacts to groundwater sometimes, as mining does not remove all the ore, only the commercially viable material. Peripheral ore remaining will leach, potentially into streams or the groundwater, so remedial work is required to limit this, which can be hard.
The land area affected by mining is small. The biggest threat posed to NZ is coal mining on the West Coast of NZ, and places like Otago. Coal mining effects large areas, so is likely to pose the greatest change to land. If I was a NZ'er, I would be more worried about damming rivers for hydroelectricity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Researching property online in NZ

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Need help buying property in NZ?
If you are researching property in NZ here is a useful tool for reviewing population, income, education and other particulars for the households in each district. Its old data but it provides a useful guide. Refer to this blog entry. These are particular useful tools for foreigners with little knowledge of NZ.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Australians retiring or moving to NZ

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I have been living in NZ now for a year. In the process of being here we have bought a home in a rural regional town with a complete range of services. I am 40yo, and have a Filipino partner with me, and we find the place rather idyllic. I am a writer, my partner does online product marketing. There is no question in my mind that if you are an income-earner, the best place to live is Australia; at least if you are earning money from the usual form of salaried employment. Those people earning foreign exchange (say USD abroad), then NZ makes a lot of sense because of the weak NZD, and the 4-year tax concession the NZ tax office gives to new immigrants with offshore income. I have written all about this in my NZ Property Guide. You can learn more by reading my property blogs, however the book offers a more comprehensive and detailed guide.

The biggest factors for retirees is finding the right climate. The big factors compared to Australia is the climate. The rainfall here is generally far greater than Australia so its mostly green, except where there is rain shadow effects. The biggest concern for some I think will be the hours of sunshine each year and the wind factor. If it is sunny it can still be miserably cold in NZ if it is windy. For this reason avoid places with too much wind unless you like being indoors. I also suggest buying a house with a sunroom for this reason. There are a lot of wind farms in NZ for a reason - and its not because they get huge tax concessions. In fact there are none. The wind here is reliably constant in places. So make sure you chose your retirement destination wisely.

It is not simply a place to retire. You can invest here of course. Just make sure you buy wisely and transfer money at the most opportune time. I am telling you this because you are about to get the best opportunity to buy property in NZ. People will rightly be concerned about the high prices for property in NZ. The fundamentals which have driven up property prices in Australia are the same for NZ. The difference is that NZ has less population growth and less growth in national income. For this reason, you need to target certain areas until property prices bottom. Another solution is to transfer money to NZ at the opportunity time. You can hedge your bets by buying certain stocks in NZ with favourable exchange rate exposure, e.g. Pike River Coal (PRC.ASX or PRC.NZX) exports premium metallurgical coal to Asia. It benefits from a weak NZD, so even if you move your money here, you can still hedge your bets by profiting from an increase in a non-NZD revenue stream. This stock happens to be at lows after start-up issues. see my discussion of this stock, but I suggest looking at other commodities related stocks in NZ.

'Buying NZ Property – Download the free sample readings!

NZ presents some of the most alluring property in the Western World; particularly given the greater easy of residency, the low cost of property, and the liveability of the country. In addition, there is no capital gains tax, transfer taxes, VAT/GST or wealth taxes in NZ, so rest assured that NZ property is tax-effective! Learn more now!

New Zealand Property Report 2010 - Download the table of contents or buy this 180-page report at our online store for just $US19.95.

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