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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Had a Hobbit-full of Air NZ?

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NZ is going all-out with its tourist dollar - here is another successful promotion - this time from Air NZ. This one has a 'Hobbit' scheme. At the point of writing, this video had 9.5 million hits on YouTube. Even if NZ'ers account for a third of these hits, that's still a lot of promotion abroad. Nice one! I hope however they will not fall for the mistake of giving their country a single dimension. NZ is a long way to go for a 'diamond' with just a few 'facets'.

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Well done NZ!

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This is probably going to sound a little patronising coming from Australian. Not to worry - its fully intended. 
I meant to write this a few months ago; but I was awaiting the result of a final undertaking in NZ, the sale of my car, and I never got around to it.
During Sept 2012 I travelled from Queenstown to Auckland in 10 days. The purpose of the trip was to move some possessions and to sell the car. During this trip, I would have to say that I met some lovely, generous people. 
Arriving in Queenstown..ok there was a little bit of suspicion when I arrived with just a small backpack. Clearly they thought I was running some drugs. Nope; just moving house. Anyway, on to Christchurch where my car was in storage. The people at A1 Storage were very generous. They helped me kickstart the car after 3 months of non-use; and they gave me flexible access until I confirmed by WOF, which had already expired. Fortunately, I only needed a new tire, and the guy who did that was wonderful as well, because he found me a prospective buyer for my car as well. No money? Fine, generous spirits all round.
I received great service from a motel in Christchurch; though fortunately I could rely on my Filipino partner in the Philippines to make the booking for me because the entire city is booked out due to the 'earthquake rebuild'. This period is a goldmine for motel owners. They were unsurprisingly generous with their service too. Perhaps that is the great news about hardships like earthquakes insofar as the turnaround is destined to be a great confidence builder...with all that spending. 
It was a rush up to Picton, and a ferry ride across to Wellington. During this part of the trip I was looking for some car repair work to cut out some rust and repaint. I found a guy in Palmerston North, and stayed in a local motel. Before I could fix the car I went to my NZ base of Wanganui. I absolutely love this town. It has a prison and some delinquent people, but there are some wonderful people there as well, and the town has a wonderful feel, and some lovely parks. Perhaps not as impressive as Taranaki, 2hours up the road, but special to me. Returning to Palmerston, these guys really worked hard to finish my car in time. It was a big ask, and I was pleased they were able to stick to their commitment. I had to board a flight on Saturday afternoon to Sydney, and I still needed to sell the car. They allowed me to drive up to Auckland to offer my car at auction. 
My original intent was to sell my car at auction with Turners. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the service I got from Turners in Purnell, Auckland. The service was far fairer and generous in Palmerston North, where they even drove me to the bus stop, and allowed me to set the reserve price at auction. In Auckland, I was told that there was an oversupply of cars, so they can only give me a very low price. I knew my van was worth $4500-6500 to an end-user, but clearly I was in a hurry to buy. They would not allow me to place my own price like before, so I rejected their $2500. An auto mechanic team up the road gave me $3000, and generously allowed me to sell through them. I decided to just give them any upside, since they did me a great favour, so I accepted their $3000 cash. I also just wanted to leave NZ freely; and also I worry with very generous people if its all a ploy to take advantage of your trust. I trusted him because of the positive sentiments of his staff, and because he was a business owner. It was a little hard though to trust as I felt vulnerable leaving the country. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. 
Thank you NZ. There are some tragic sentiments in the country; but I only saw the best of you on this trip. Rest assured, you will be akin to Arab oil sheikhs when the country discovers more oil & gas in coming years. Very beautiful country...lovely place to drive. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The economics of NZ renewable energy

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Wind and solar power generating options are falling in price; though you might wonder at what point these options will become viable. Well, in the realm of 'green ideology' that decision-point might be reached soon. i.e. The commercial viability of solar and wind turbine systems might soon be at hand. The question is whether you should participate; or defer that decision. I say that it depends - and here is why....

You can buy a low-capacity system to meet your low-capacity needs, but consider several points:
1. Your system is not necessarily an asset because it might not meet your future needs like it might meet your present needs. i.e. If you in future have an electric car, then your small household system will not be satisfactory to meet the high-demand of your car. You'll be back on the grid. The clumsy or gorky system of old will probably not be compatible with your future system. 

In the next 10 years, I fully expect some very compelling developments in the fields of energy economics. One of the biggest developments will be in the realm of battery devices. I expect this innovation to come from carbon nanotubes as a form of heat storage or thermal as opposed to electrochemical battery. I fully expect that we will advance material science to a point where will be storing heat on an atom-scale. The materials are already known; its just a matter of engineering a scalable solution. These solutions will be very cheap as well. Carbon and silicon are widely available. 

These are exciting times; though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you listen to the tragic greenies. The sad point is that these 'parasites' are destined to sabotage the real progress that science is capable of. The non-thinkers will get in the way of progress. Under our political system, we are looking at another dark ages despite the developments in science. You might wonder how that is possible. The reason will be apparent in 20 years time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What the frack? Coal seam gas development in NZ

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NZ oil & gas producer Todd Energy has responded to criticisms that its fracking process used to extract coal-seam methane is a threat to life. ‘Fracking’ or hydraulic fracturing has emerged as a controversial process on the basis of claims made from mature producing basins around the world. Todd Energy argues that its operations are at “great depth and away from freshwater aquifers”. You can view the company’s 177-page submission to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, who is due to report by year-end. It is important to acknowledge that the legitimate concerns to fracking need to focus upon the particular application of the user. Broad generalisations cannot be made. For instance, Todd Energy is drilling to a depth of 3.5km (see presentation), so there is little prospect of any waters at these depths contaminating human ‘surface’ activity. Having said that, it would be preferable to avoid any contamination by:
1. Minimising the use of chemicals which can contaminate
2. Using chemicals which have a benign impact on the environment, or which otherwise are so chemically unstable that they breakdown in the natural environment
The problem is that Todd’s approach is conventional oil & gas exploration; even if it uses fracking methods to increase recover. The problem is that relatively shallow methods have a different impact because:
1. Their impact has an effect on the near-surface hydrological system
2. Their chemicals are coming into contact with near-surface fluids
3. The number of holes being drilled is far different
4. The amount of water released into surface runoff
The implication is that it’s really a ‘straw argument’ to package all fracking as ‘akin to Todd’s’, just as its inappropriate for the green movement to castigate the use of all fracking. Sadly, there appears to be a propensity for vested interests to polarise the debate. In fairness to Todd; they do make the disclosure that their position will differ from other users of fracking technique. We might expect them to distance themselves from practices and practitioners which they would regard as ‘unsafe’ for legal reasons.

There are several different applications of near-surface fracking:
1. Methane extraction from shallow coal measures
2. Hydrocarbon extraction from shallow oil shale deposits

The Todd suggests that the industry is in the process of developing ‘non-toxic alternatives’ that will have a benign impact on the environment. That would have to strike people as entirely unsatisfactory because these chemicals might be retained in groundwater. It matters little whether they account for 1% or 10% of the water used; if they are toxic, then they need to be better assessed before they are used in the environment.
The arguments that fracking can cause earthquakes is a moot point because any such ‘stimulation’ could only have averted a bigger event; and for that reason, any ‘dubious impact’ is more likely to be beneficial rather than adverse, since it would be entail releasing energy build up prematurely. 
The argument by Todd that “oil and gas explorers seek to avoid seismic faults, partly because they could lose hydrocarbons they are targeting into such faults”, strikes me as a dubious argument when explorers generally have a poor understanding of the location of fault structures, as the Canterbury earthquake recently demonstrated. This is not to say that major faults cannot be identified; but that methods of detecting faults rests largely on the application of geophysical seismic surveys, and such surveys will only detect faults where there is a significant offset indicated by offsetting ‘reflector beds’ in survey profiles. 
Attacks upon critics as ‘vested interests’ is silly because the oil & gas industry is just as ‘vested’; and as I have shown, their lack of critical, objective thinking upon their own arguments is a testament to their ‘shared’ lack of respect for facts, along with opponents in the green movement. We cannot under-estimate the significance of fracking in terms of boosting the oil and gas extraction from existing fields. This however is not reason to contaminate areas if there are alternative options. Clearly conventional exploration at 3,000-4,000m doesn’t present an immediate threat, but neither is it a compelling argument for contamination. In the defence of these companies, the 1-3% chemical mix will be further diluted at depth. It might be prudent however to avoid contaminating these deeper reservoirs, for are they not the intended destination for future CO2? The implication is that rupture of these deep reservoirs due to CO2 emplacement for global warming mitigation might result in these contaminated waters coming to the surface. We need to know the toxicity of these chemicals. My own view at this time is that there is a lack of compelling evidence for significant anthropogenic global warming at this time; so carbon sequestration is not justified. Matters might change in future.
The fact that well-casings fracture and release their contents into the environment is reason for concern. The question is – is it significant. We must acknowledge that oil & gas producers don’t want pressure loss; so one would expect them to fix any leakage. The question is whether they tolerate leakage. We might well argue that Todd’s activities are more dangerous because there is the possibility of its casing failing over a longer distance, and might the stresses be greater upon casings at 1500-2000m as opposed to 300m. The secrecy with respect to drilling fluids is also a reason for concern; though it may simply reflect the extortive influence that the green movement has over industry. Todd argues that deep fracking has not resulted in any evidence of groundwater contamination in the last 20 years. It strikes me as likely that no one is looking for such contamination, so such empirical evidence is misleading. The question is whether it drilled any holes in the 300m near-surface environment to attempt to detect contamination. I doubt it because it had no reason to look. i.e. No motive to hold itself accountable. In fairness, the contamination may or may not be there, and need only be explored, if in fact a casing ruptured and released large amounts of drilling fluids. I wonder at which point these fracking chemicals are added? Have they demonstrated that the well retains integrity before they add the chemicals?
We might want to consider the following news given the fact that coal seam gas industry is a huge business in the USA, accounting for about 12% of the nation’s gas production. That is a lot of holes. The USA has mature experience with fracking and the nation has a large population; so the muted and belated criticism of the industry might speak to the safety of contemporary practices. Doesn't the sourcing of domestic water supplies from groundwater not raise a safety concern; both now and in the future? In man Are US pastures contaminated by the chemicals used in drilling fluids? This should be the first question given the size of the US industry. 
If there is ever a nuclear war which poisons all surface water with nuclear fall-out; the spectre of deep pure water might be a compelling value proposition....do we really want to contaminate it today because we cannot find a current application for that water. The world changes; and we need foresight to anticipate the implications of our actions. I'm just as worried by the green arguments as the corporate arguments.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Working holiday visa for NZ and Philippines

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Wow, big news for Filipinos and New Zealanders! I can't help feeling John Key reads my blogs given my postings over the last year, as well as comments I've made in the Wanganui Chronicle. Well, perhaps a little arrogant to think I'm the only one with a brain in NZ. Anyway, let me put your mind at ease....I'm not currently in NZ. 

Ground breaking news for New Zealanders and Filipinos looking for business and holiday opportunities. These two countries have committed themselves to a working holiday scheme. The reason it’s a big deal is because:
1. For NZ, it is a possible precursor to a more relaxed program to employ Filipinos
2. For Filipinos, it’s a possible precursor to other developing nations adopting a similar scheme. Now, if I was a Filipino, I would be looking for a similar scheme from Japan in the next few years because they will want to place downward pressure on wages, and they will want to address an aging population, so they will want more carers. Japanese people will also love to stay in Cebu and learn English, though they might snub the working opportunity, unless they are able to work in an upmarket Japanese restaurant for a Japanese clientele.
Back to the current topics of this conversation – the Philippines and NZ. Its easy to get excited about this scheme, however it is highly restrictive or limiting in many respects. Consider that:
1. Employability in NZ is not a gateway to permanent residency, however it might be a gateway to a sexy girl for NZ men, prostitution, employment scams,
2. It’s not an invitation to do business in the Philippines for young NZ’ers who could plausibly market Filipino skills in Australia & NZ in particular.
If we were being cynical, we might ask, who does this scheme really benefit? Well, aside from the promise of more, particularly for Filipinos, we might say:
1. It gives NZ farmers access to cheap and plentiful supplies of labour on their bee, dairy, and various other farm enterprises…places where NZ’ers don’t want to work.
2. It does not preclude Filipinos seeking a working visa after the 1year working holiday visa; but this is only likely I suspect if you have good skills training…in which case, you might be better applying straight away for that.
3. It’s a scheme to encourage Filipinos to spend money in NZ; and the ‘key money’ to enter the country will be priced to keep out the poor, i.e. You need $US6,000. So this is a scheme for astute prostitutes or Filipinos with family already in a Western country.
My problem with this scheme is that it does not go far enough. Both these countries have an unemployment problem; a problem which largely results from govt interference and a wage price disequilibrium. A skilled Filipino gets $NZ850 compared to $NZ3000 per month. So you’d at least expect these countries to be trying to:
1. Encourage NZ businesses to be investing in Philippine farming
2. Filipinos encouraged to get skills and permanently settle in NZ
This would of course facilitate investment in both countries. Instead; both countries are solely interested in ‘consumption’ – whether its Filipinos spending holidays in NZ, or NZ’ers going to the Philippines for surfing holidays I guess. My concern is that 18-30yo New Zealanders going to the Philippines without a care in the world, might be inclined to pick up some sexually transmitted or other infections, and take them back to NZ. They need to be careful about the place in that respect. Teens are not accustomed to thinking about the long term implications of today’s decisions. Suddenly they can afford too much.
There is also the prospect of scamming. The youths are allowed to work, study and stay in the host country for 12 months, but for no more than any 3 months for any given employer. The problem is that there is likely to be scamming in this area. You might expect little work for Kiwis in the Philippines.
The cream of the Filipino working community are going to have a big impact on NZ. Personally, given their education, I think NZ’ers will undervalue the workmanship of these Filipinos. No doubt it will be a wake-up call to NZ. The problem of course is that most of these 3mth jobs will only arise in cafes and temporary work on dairy and bee farms. Hardly a workplace to roadshow the Filipino skills. So why would a skilled Filipino from a wealthy family engage in that? Well, there is still the cafĂ© jobs. The problem is that no one is spending in NZ. One wonders if this scheme will achieve much since it seems too restrictive. Might Filipinos be better off going to HK or Singapore? No question; but it might suit some looking for som skills and English fluency before they enter these markets. The minimum wage in NZ is $NZ13/hr, or $US10/hr, and it’s a “no tips” culture. There is work in NZ in the cities. I know a Filipino with a great attitude who has 3 jobs to support his wife & 3 kids.
This is hardly a scheme to encourage NZ business investment in the Philippines, though President Aquino has made progress curtailing corruption. One has to question however the appeal of strategies which encourage Filipinos to go abroad; whilst NZ is hardly seeking terms which encourage investment in ‘high growth’ Philippines, i.e. Why not progress to allow foreigners to buy property in the Philippines, to raise local living standards, investment opportunities and create jobs. Instead, the brightest Filipinos are being lured overseas. This means a steady stream of remittances and of course the persistence of old-style political oligarchs.
At the end of the day, NZ needs to build its population since it seems compelled to sabotage growth. Constraining people to just work subsistence-level wages results in little skills development.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NZ tourist - right strategy - but is NZ ready?

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NZ still needs to do some work if it wants to develop a sustainable tourism industry. This by necessity includes some investment, not in more welfare, but in the infrastructure which supports its export businesses, and that includes:
1. Roads - Here is a story of people dying in a road accident. In fairness to NZ, its plausible that the scenery was so compelling that these tourists took their eye away from the road. And of course there is a price to be paid for laying 3-lane highways everywhere - not just in financial terms, but in terms of the scenic experience itself. This commentary therefore has to be a warning for tourists to take it easy on the roads. i.e. You might think in 'quiet NZ' you are alone on the road, and can pull over anywhere for a photo, or that you can afford to take your focus off the road, but at an inopportune time, a car can appear from around a corner, or a car can seek to overtake you at 110kmph...ambivalent about your 'photo moment'. My greatest concern with NZ roads is that they are a poorly laid legacy of old roadworks. They have not be regraded to offer better contouring; just resurfaced. So they are not well-engineered for remote, single-carriage roads. Incidentally, tourist trails are even worse in terms of signage. NZ is already working on these issues, but it will take time. The Wanganui-National Park highway section is almost finished. Yes, it's a highway. But spare a thought for minor back roads.
2. Racism - I see that NZ Tourism is promoting NZ to Asia. This is fine. The problem is the high level of anti-Asian sentiment in NZ. This is going to be an obstacle, both because of its entrenched presence, and because of recession. Might I note that the country of the moment is Indonesia. How is NZ going to handle a lot of 'towel heads' ('Muslims') coming to NZ? Are they going to welcome them, or persecute them under some notion of payback. This is not to say all NZ'ers are like this. Its a 50/50 split. You get those who will go out of their way to be kind; and then you get the other extreme. These are the people who will undermine the tourism industry. To their credit, the tourism industry appears to have been working with the media industry to downplay this negativity. I've seen a number of examples lately of NZ portraying Asians in a positive light, i.e. A Japanese/NZ couple transforming the fashion market; a Korean NZ'ers who won the junior golf championships.

NZ has a lot to offer...it would be a shame to cause Asians to spurn it as a tourist or immigration destination. The government does seem to have moved in the right direction. The tourist agency has a good strategy. The question is whether NZ is 'with them'. Do NZ'ers appreciate its tourist industries? These are not the easiest times to attract tourists. Most Asians are staying and travelling within Asia. Its a recession and the Australian and NZ currencies are high.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Living with banks in NZ

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I have had 2 reasons for dealing with ANZ in New Zealand recently, and I must say that the service suxs. The bad news is that its not just ANZ, its probably all banks around the world. Why are they so privileged; when they sux worse that most people. Here are the issues:
1. ANZ Cheque cancellation: A bank cheque does lost in the mail. I presumptuously went to the bank thinking that they would be able to track down the cheque within a minute. Because they did not actually track cheques, offered no reference on the bank statement, it took 30 minutes for the branch attendant to realise that she can't help me without a receipt. I gave up, deciding to look for a receipt. The bank did not have records online for more than 3months. So I went to another branch. This time armed with the exact date I drew the cheque. She found the branch; the details were not online. The branch finally called back with a cheque number; at which point we were referred to the wrong person, then the right person. On Gmail I can find my details in seconds going back 5 years. These mega-corporations with immense resources cannot track down a bank cheque within a minute....it takes them 90 minutes....and 4 staff. Unbelievable! 
2. ANZ Withdrawal: My partner and I were overseas and we had $709 withdrawn from our account. We could not account for the missing funds, so we contacted the bank. They could give us no information for a day. Once again, there was no information...just withdrawal 05464463535333. Suddenly the funds appeared the next day. It seems the funds were withdrawn without explanation. 
3. ASB Automatic withdrawals: I had a previous experience with ASB Bank as well, owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Now, I have a long history of problems with CBA in Australia, principally related to the stunted individual who was charged with sexual harassment in their securities division COMSEC. I was initially impressed by how quickly they were able to set up a bank account for me. The problem arose because an automatic payment placed by account in arears, and I received a sequence of default fees which reoccurred, and the bank manager was not there to fix the problem. She was the only one who could resolve the issue. 
4. Commonwealth Bank - The owners of ASB in NZ. I have a separate blog for describing my experiences with them. In fairness to this bank, they offer pretty progress services in their main banking division, and have lead the rest of the industry in new initiatives. From an operations perspective however, they really suxed in their COMSEC division. 

I know one of these banking executives. There is nothing special about them. They might have good memories....the one I'm thinking of is the son of former banking executive. So self-important, so deficient in self-worth, so arrogant....yep, give then million-dollar salaries....that will make it a better world. If anyone thinks this society is designed to reward 'achievers' think again. My experience is that achievers are spurned and marginalised. Change the political system - its the key!

I had hopes that the class action against the banks would put them in their place. Sadly, the judge took a 'letter of the law' interpretation of the law, as opposed to a contextual approach. Oh well, life drags on. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Turnaround in NZ values?

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NZ has had a lot of positive news for foreign immigrants in recent times. This news includes:
1. Korean women junior golf player who won a Canadian contest
2. A Japanese-NZ couple who are winning accolades with their edgy men's and women's fashion in Christchurch. 

Immigrants have had a bad deal in NZ over the years; however there are signs that at least the media is trying to change perceptions; and they have been supported by a number of positive stories. There are of course a great many unpublicised stories; whether its your store owner who sells you Indian food or a Turkish kebab, or the Thai panel beater servicing your car. Not a bum attitude among them as far as I can see. NZ does need to appreciate it that these are the developing world's finest, who have the luxury and courage to travel overseas and set up in a new country. I personally think NZ would be a better place if NZ'ers travelled overseas for a broader perspective. I recommend:
1. Japan - if you can teach English, develop a retail biz
2. Philippines - same
3. Australia - too familiar but there are many opportunities there, and it might make more sense for some activities
Old NZ town, Arrowtown, Otago - Queenstown - has one of the most diverse communities in NZ

It takes time for attitudes to change. It is however good to see the NZ government or media taking measures to change attitudes. After all, Chinese people are changing as well. I recall the Japanese governments taking steps in the 1960s to 'civilise' their people, who had a negative perception in global markets. The Japanese government launched an education campaign to change those perceptions. Today, the Japanese have Hollywood-style romantic notions of love, civility and respect. Whilst they don't convey the deeper significance of those values; its fair to say they have grown whilst Westerners have declined. The same trend can be expected for the Chinese. I've seen news of similar programs in China. No doubt they will prosecute spitting, etc, just as they did in Singapore. Travellers to China will experience even old ladies spitting in the streets. Not the most pleasant of habits in over-populated cities. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tourist safety a concern in New Zealand

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Most people would expect NZ to be a safe country. We come to expect small, rural based economies to be safe. But consider the statistics and you might think otherwise. Living in NZ I have as a matter of routine come to hear about injury to tourists, whether its sexual assault, murder or a bashing. The performance of tourist operator organisations strikes me as just as pitiful. There seems to be a litany of stories about:
1. Kayakers drowning
2. Planes crashing
3. Bungy jumpers dying

It made me reflect on this recent statistic. The story is that there are currently 15,000 arrest warrants outstanding in NZ. That struck me as a very high number. So high in fact that I wondered what was typical. I could not find statistics for Australia, but I did for Britain. In Britain, a country with 12x more people, there are just 30,000 outstanding arrest warrants. So the fact that NZ has 15,000 arrest warrants is a little concerning. 
The reason this is concerning is because it suggests that 0.36% of the population is 'at large' in NZ compared with just 0.06% in Britain. The implication is that there are more threatening people around you, who are:
1. More likely to be anxious
2. More likely to be hostile
3. More likely to seize your motor vehicle & and possibly apprehend you
4. More likely to  raise the stakes and threaten your physical well-being, as well as your psychological comfort, by escaping from capture.

In a nation, where tourist campervans predominate, one might expect these people to be particularly at threat. Tourists are also appealing targets for theft and crimes against person. Asian tourists who are often perceived as submissive, are an even greater target for such people. The flipside is that tourists will stay in certain 'safe' places, whilst others will expose themselves unknowingly. It is not reason not to go to NZ; but it is a reason for risk management. Moreover its a reason for the NZ government to do more to lower this statistic. Of course there are both short term and long term threats:
1. Short term - they need to start taking more proactive steps to apprehend these people
2. Long term - They need to increase the fairness of the justice system; our legislative framework, and they need to address the grievances of those people, so they are less likely to escalate grievances to crime.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Zealand: Where the hell are you?

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NZ is in the midst of a tourist 'recession' like a great many other places in the world. Going against the trend is a difficult task when:
1. Your dollar is relatively strong because of high commodity prices
2. Your country is relatively isolated
3. Your economy is so small; that no one knows you

Basically, if you ask an Asian who hasn't had some reason for going to NZ, what and where is NZ, they will not know little about the country. There is just nothing to get NZ press coverage. Asia is US-centric, if not partially British-EU interested, its hard to get on the radar. Even Australia struggles in this respect, but Australia has a bigger immigration program with Asia, and its prosperity is well-understood. 
So back to NZ. Given the context, Air Zealand is focusing its attention on the Australian market. Good strategy. First off the bat, I must say that Air NZ is an excellent airline. I don't bother flying them for trans-Pacific flights because of their higher price, but I might fly with them if I was taking a long-haul flight. There is a big difference in service between them and the discount Australian/Singaporean/Malaysian airlines. i.e. Jetstar, Pacific Blue, Tiger Airways. Having said that, Scoot is impressive at its current entry prices...though its at a marketing stage, so get those discount prices whilst they last, as they will double eventually. 

NZ is currently attacking criticism of NZ head-on with its current campaign 'Kiwi Sceptics'. You have to question such a campaign because it actually gives credence to the view that NZ is a boring uncultured place to holiday. They actually make the point themselves - as a criticism they are intent on changing. The question is: Is this the way to turn around such an argument? 
Because Air NZ is positing that a 'thumbs up' for NZ from five recognised Australians is going to countenance the generalised view of thousands that NZ is the 'arse end of the world'; that it lacks culture. If you were going to change perceptions, would you launch that type of campaign? I wouldn't. First thing I would do is actually make a substantive change. NZ (or Air NZ) has not done that, so what is going to make a difference. Oh, the change is to blame the customer. That's right Australia. You're not going to NZ because you are ignorant hicks. That's the way to sell tourism in NZ. It is no secret that NZ Tourism has come under a lot of criticism. These government agencies are often criticised for their advertising campaigns; sometimes which fall flat on their feet, i.e. NZ Pure is a celebrated example; Australia's 'Where the Hell Are You' was a brush fire that ran out of control. 
The problem as I see it is that NZ is a great place to visit for a holiday; the problem is that its problematic when you attempt to live there. Why? Well, unless you live on the cold South Island or Millionairesville in Auckland, then you are going to experience crime or a lack of culture, if not both. This does not stop Air NZ from flying high-profile people over to NZ and cherry-picking the best spots. Yes, if you have thousands of dollars for a tour package or a great deal of NZ knowledge, then you can have a great holiday experience. But the negativity arising from NZ I suggest comes from the people who are living there; not the high-end tourists who stay for a week, who don't see any lack of depth to the market, because they don't spend enough time there. NZ seriously lacks demand, it has huge social problems, and a government lacking skills to deal with them. i.e. economic rationalists or repressed Conservatives. 

NZ has culture; it just does not have the depth of culture and population to make the place a dynamic cultural market. Its akin to looking for needles in a haystack. Yep, you get excited when you find the diamond, but you lament the futile search in between.

My solution is to change the government; for government to change, then placing a sign at Auckland and Christchurch saying "Under new management". Other than that, maybe you just accept you only had a 1-2 week fly-n-drive in you....and move to Australia yourself. No shame in that! All it takes in an apology.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

They say 'crime doesn't pay'

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The adage that 'crime doesn't pay' is a popular one for movie sets; but what if 'crime is the only thing that pays' for a person living in a country with no opportunities. What if the country is NZ - a western country with no growth prospects - at least not until someone reforms autocratic government or discovers oil.
Consider the fate of Michael Thomas Feeney, of Waverley, New Zealand. I don't know Michael; I do not know the full context of his life, nor even a lot of it. But living in small-town Waverley strikes me as the best place to be if you want to position yourself for political reform or the discovery of oil (with existing oil & gas fields) up the road. 
Michael escaped a gaol sentence for break & enter. The judge said of him that, despite his 85-odd convictions over his life, that he had a good work ethic. That is important. But more important is to ask whether he had any prospects for anything else under this political system. A political system which:
1. Spurns investment by placing high costs upon business and undermines investment.
2. Spurns population growth because it does not want to redefine the nation's values; which are changing anyway because the government cannot stop the brain drain. 
3. Has allowed extortion to dominate economic activity because when there is no growth, pretty soon people  start eating the carcasses of their neighbours. Not exactly what Jesus meant by 'Love Thy Neighbour', but hell, Jesus got a lot of things wrong, so lets not speak of him any more. 
4. Facilitates and legitimatises taxation or the theft of wealth, for its political masters and aligned interests. Is not this government (along with its 'counterparts', who are fully complicit in sanctioning such slavery, except the ACT Party)....are they not a bad role model?

Did Michael take an easy path? I think so...if stealing wealth is 'easy'. But since when is hardship a value. This is of course a Christian 'virtue', i.e. That notion that there is nobility or heroism in sacrifice. I don't think so. Life is supposed to be easy; and the challenge for any life is to make it easy in the long run. I use my education to make more money than you can, faster than you can. I've made 3200% in 3 years on one stock; almost made 6800% in 3 months on another stock (if the company disclosed properly). The paradigm of struggling for wealth is a paradigm borne out of British subjugation. Life should be easy, and its only hard because of the extortionists in power who make it hard. Our zero growth will not sustain lives, so in a system that systematically mistreats people and perverts people, I expect people to struggle. I do not expect heroism from Michael, because I think the conditions of his life have not allowed him to be anything more than he is. I do not expect him to succeed because the conditions for life need to be conducive for survival, and in high-cost NZ, they are scarcely that. 

I am pleased that Judge David Cameron in the Wanganui District Court gave him the empathetic sentence that he did. Unfortunately, unless such judges are willing to challenge the system, then we are not going to see any change. We need judges to challenge the system, then not fall on their sword. i.e. Judge David Harvey recently stepped down from his role as a judge after making accusations against the United States government. Apparently there is implied bias in having a certain view about the USA. This is silly! Silly that he was sanctioned by some, silly if he chose to step down, or was asked to. The judiciary should be about evidence, and not appearances. Most people would accept that the USA does inappropriate things. Why should a judge reproach himself from making judgements; as that is what judges are deemed specialists at doing. I personally would like to see judges more critical of governments....and I think we are starting to see that. 
Unless judges or others are prepared to, or able to intellectually engage with these people, then there is no hope of anyone changing, Michael included. Perhaps Michael might apply his mind more if he lived in a social  system with actually validated intellectual discourse. Read the comments on Wanganui Chronicle, and you will find intellectual capacity sadly scarce. Why? Well, that is a reflection of the education system. From the National Party and ACT, we are likely to see a charter school system. The problem is that its a recipe for a change in ownership with no expectation of greater intellectual standards. The focus is on ownership or 'opportunity', not upon the mind. The notion that opportunity springs eternal from privatisation strikes me as 'causeless' or 'baseless' hoping. Even if private enterprise gets it 'right', that will only mean that its better than the public school system. It does not need to be so good as to be exceptional; just better than a bad system. i.e. Economic relativism; a close cousin of moral relativism, except prices are equated at the margin. These private schools don't even have to be good, they will create jobs and profits just by creating the illusion of better education. i.e. Employers will employ you because you went to a private school; because they are impressed by your grander sporting facilities. All the time, forgetting the mind. Why? Because the other 96% of schools certainly don't celebrate intellectual capacity. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Immigrating to New Zealand

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I have dealt with a lot of Asians over the years; had relationships with them, met them on planes, in their own countries, had relationships with them. A great number of them want to travel abroad. A great number of them are ignorant about the journey upon which they will embark. Their ignorance stems from the fact:
1. They have little knowledge of Western society - the failings of their schools perhaps, or simply because there are many countries, and assumptions are likely about countries and opportunities.
2. They are misled by migration agents/brokers and friends, whose context is often very different. We all want to offer encouragement, but sometimes we do it in half-measure, so people leave for a foreign nation, and end up disappointed. Migration agents make money by placing you in other countries, after which point, they have been paid, and you are poorly positioned to take legal action against them. They might not be well-regulated, because governments have protected themselves, and they care little about you.
3. Their qualifications not reecognised. A great many Asians have qualifications in their own country which are not recognised. This places them in a difficult situation in their host country. If you are Japanese or Korean, maybe you can get a job in the host country's major cities because there are many tourists from your home country. Otherwise, without high English standards or local degree, you will surely struggle to find job. Do you want to end up in a dead-end job selling trickets to tourists. You can do that in the developing world. 
4. Learning English - It is expensive to study in the West; they charge you a premium as a foreigner to get a 'gold plate' accredited degree, and then yon need to study a vocational course. Why bother? You are starting from behind, with a Western debt legacy. 
5. Find a partner - Maybe you hope to meet a Western guy/girl. The problem is that you will encounter a great many insincere partners who just want to have sex. A cultural distinction can be a point of interest however, but the question is whether the partners have identified the fundamental differences in their values. Soon they might be confronting an inter-racial custody battle for children, and you are at a disadvantage in a legal system you cannot afford, understand, or count upon for support. 
6. Finding a job - It can take years to find a job. Unless your vocation is in demand, it can take years, and even they they might prejudicially give you the low-challenge jobs, or maybe your education is not recognised or as good. So from the start, you seem to struggling with challenges that no one else has to contend with.
7. Support for immigrants is often lacking. The welfare system was not designed for you; you don't have the same support as 'locals', even though you pay taxes. Having said this, many Asian communities have community groups to support their local migrant population, and they are a great source of support. If they are strong, they can aid to ensure government policy is fair. 
8. Expensive services in the West. You will pay high rent in the West; with little hope of ever being able to afford a house given that they are sold at 10x annual earnings; and with your poor English, maybe it will take you 30 years to get a house, and you will pay 50% of your income in rent. Schooling is expensive, and maybe you need to support family at home. 

There is another element with NZ. Immigration is hard...but its harder in NZ because:
1. Levels of prejudice are high. NZ polls suggest that most NZ'ers do not want immigration. The reason is that they are sensitive to seeing their cultural values change. They likely their traditional English values. They were always an illusion; since they dishonestly kept the details of their dubious Christian lives from others, so we never knew the worst of it. This is not always bad. The fact that NZ'ers are prejudicial means that some go out of their way to show they are different, i.e. They will recommend you for jobs, whether you deserve it or not, and sometimes because you deserve it, and they want to try hard to accommodate you. Sometimes its because they pragmatically want more population in NZ. 
2. Low growth. In NZ there are not so many jobs, incomes are low by Western standards, and the population is small and isolated. People are asset-rich but income poor; particularly in those depopulating rural towns. The inflow of immigrants is scarcely high enough to offset the outflow of migrants each year, and some of those migrants are people who have migrated to NZ, and decided that matters in NZ are so bad that they want to go home. Surprisingly, its actually the people who are doing best in NZ who are the ones going abroad; usually to Australia, but often to their home countries, Singapore or the USA, where some also have relatives. Life is too hard in NZ; particularly if you have children. Crime is relatively high on the North Island, and property prices is high too. You might end up being a slave for another person's dream. Choose well! A late change of plans is expensive. Do you want to pay a 2nd set of costs to move again, and then have to make new friends, buy new furniture, start your career again; another set of visa application fees, twice has high as NZ (at least in Australia). You will come to feel like an economic slave. Think well before migrating. Many people go back home, losing a great deal of money on forex rates, currency conversion, opportunity costs, shipping. 

We all have a bitter taste about our own countries; their decline in values. Anywhere in the world looks better than our own place. Sometimes you need to fight for what you believe where your message is strongest - in your own country - making use of existing relationships. The most important things in life are best achieved in your home country:
1. Career
2. Relationships
3. Internal (housing) environment
4. External environment 
Only this last one is better in the West because of the legacy of prosperity. But the most important elements are best in your own country. If you want the best, find the best in your country; don't migrate to the ends of the earth; its a false dream; migrate to somewhere where you will be appreciated. i.e. Your big cities are rich in culture and prosperity, and they will rapidly emerge. Within a few decades you will be able to holiday in the West, and you might not even want to. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NZ has no problem - its the tourists fault

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A report into the state of the NZ tourist market has emphasised the 'irrelevance' of NZ as a tourist market. Understandably so when you consider:
1. NZ just suffered an earthquake which destroyed most of the iconic infrastructure in the city. The implication being that it will be a construction zone for the next 4 years at least, and with a lack of basic services and attractions.
2. NZD is fairly high against most currencies because of strong commodity prices.
3. NZ is getting some bad press over issues like racism, high crime, death of tourists because of crimes against person, or negligent tourist operators.
4. NZ service is not the best in the world - far from it
5. The global consumer confidence is not very strong at the moment. Give tourists another 5 months and their sentiments will change, starting with Australians. Theie economy grew 4% last quarter. 

It is not all bad news however. Perhaps the strongest aspect of local tourist trade is the local tourist tourist organisers who see the opportunity and are working to resolve issues. This is a source of hope. The other two favourable developments is the litany of MTB and walking trails under development in NZ. Finally, the last positive aspect is the potential to boost economic development in future by spending on earthquake restoration and the hope for a big oil strike to help fund future development.
Well, I'm hoping anyway. There are too many people suffering in NZ. The country needs a big oil strike to restore confidence and prosperity, and to stop the exodus of people. Until they have that strike, and NZ'ers become sheikhs; then people will be flowing the wrong way at Auckland airport. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Prospects for telco competition evaporate

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If the latest rumours are true, the prospects for telecommunications competition in NZ are about to evaporate. There are rumours that Vodafone in NZ are in talks to buy-out Telstraclear, the NZ subsidiary of Australia's Telstra. Telstraclear has in recent times been offering the most competitive telco packages, so it strikes me as probable that Vodafone will be looking to unhinge its competitor before it poses a risk to its margins. NZ is of course a stagnant market; so its understandable why Telstra is leaving. The question is why they ever entered the market in the first place....if not just to 'extort' a buy-out from one of the majors by selling its customer base. Entering the market at the very least would have given it a better understanding of the market and its competitors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Campervan for sale for $4000 NZ, free delivery from CHCH to Auckland

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We are looking to sell a nice vehicle well-suited to campervanning. We used this vehicle for campervanning as well as mountain biking. Its a really good vehicle for these purposes because:
1. Short wheel base
2. Handles really well
3. Good size for camper and off-road
4. Not a conspicuous camper
5. Its a relatively new model (2001) - with low 145,000kms
6. Hanging points - you can easily fit the vehicle out - we will tell you where to go. 

This vehicle has around 145,000kms at present; its a manual 5-transmission, it goes really well mechanically. It has a lot of rust in the 'hood' over the drivers compartment. This is not a problem for obtaining the warranty of fitness because it is classed as an accessory which can be removed. WOF scheduled 8/22/2012. The car is almost due for new tyres, and that will be about $380-400, so we have discounted it as much. 

I am travelling to Asia in the next few days so I am looking to sell this Holden Combo. Its currently at Christchurch, however I intend to move some homeware to my house on the North Island. Ultimately we will likely fly out of Auckland Airport, however we have still to book flights. 
Anyone flying into Christchurch or Auckland looking for a campervan could not be happier than with this vehicle for several reasons. It is not as conspicuous as a camper - because it's a delivery van. Its a 1600cc engine, so low petrol consumption. Its short wheel base makes it suitable for off-road use. i.e. We take it off-road for MTB trails. The vehicle comes with a roof-rack as well.
We are looking for $4000 for the vehicle, or $4500 with new tyres (negotiable). If we cannot sell the vehicle we will look at selling it through Turners. We would however prefer to give a discount to a direct buyer than a commission to Turners. We can deliver the vehicle to a person at Queenstown or Auckland airport. Auckland is preferred, as we need to take our bikes to the North Island. Email us at shouganai1 at gmail.com.

or Call 027 916 0128 (NZ) camper van for sale

I'll deliver from Christchurch up to Auckland. Let me know.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Long term interest rates outlook - NZ

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NZ - read this and learn - inflation rates will be down for 30-40 years so go out and buy a home, or float your interest rate. There is going to be a rise in rental yields, so you may as well do it now. We are not going to see inflation because China, India and others are resulting in a global oversupply of labour. Unions will probably disappear; but we will need to see land reform to avoid hardship in future. Hopefully the anti-intellectuals will not drive up into civil war.

NZ is of course strongly reliant on overseas savings, however the international rate will remain low.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Racism in NZ

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Racism is rife in NZ. Interestingly however it does not preclude you from surviving in this country. There are a number of strategies for avoiding it:
1. Don't walk on sidewalks; as you stand a greater risk of copping a beer bottle in the back of your head.
2. Deal in business through a local who gives you credibility. They will however extort a value from you, i.e. You pay them $80/hour to act as an agent for you, when they collect $130/hour...simply to facilitate the trade with a racist client.
3. Don't live or holiday where racists prevail or dominate. i.e. Anywhere from Wanaka to Christchurch is a problem, as well as the North Shore of Auckland, and I suspect Napier and Nelson areas, but that's just a guesstimate based on my analysis.

More interesting is how people are dealing with it. I see today that TV One News has released a story of how New Zealanders are now miraculously less racist today because of the earthquake. This strikes me as political correctness more than an actual shift in values. The attitude seems to be that - since racism is a taboo - if we convey a story that racism is not present and legitimate - then we can drive the racism underground. It just might work.

I guess you have to praise their efforts; but it makes you wonder whether the motivation is really just to protect those tourist dollars. I note that a different headline advances the argument that racism is getting as bad as Australia. This moral relativism perhaps betrays the moral commitment of some Kiwis because racism is far more prevalent in NZ than Australia; though of course much depends on where you live. I've lived and been in most places in both countries; and always with Asians...and I might also place this all in perspective...there is plenty of racism in Asia...that does not justify it.

The problem of racism arises for several different reasons:
1. The expectation that people accept your cultural edicts - and their unwillingness to do so
2. The attribution of certain value judgements to certain people
3. The collective persecution of certain people for not accepting or adopting your values
4. The attribution or correlation of certain negative consequences with immigrants. i.e. Usually economic consequences like the prospect of your neighbourhood becoming a ghetto, or overcrowded, lots of litter, unemployment (i.e. you can't geta job because of immigration).
5. The lack of connection with these people; or superficial exposure, that precludes people from appreciating their context

These factors constituent reasons why people might feel compelled to display racist sentiments. The flip-side is that Westerners feel more open and vocal in their right to express racial sentiments, so racism is more apparent in the West. The effect is the opposite. In the Philippines, people will travel 20kms to meet me because they think they can get some money out of me....because all foreigners are wealthy right? Or freely dispense visas. There is such a lack of awareness in the West as well. Not all Asian immigrants are factory workers; or retired prostitutes. A great many of them have more university qualifications and entrepreneurial zeal than yourself. Surely the best way to cure racism is to sentence offenders to 1 year of living in a foreign 'Asian' country. When I was in Japan 10 years ago, the 'truckie' father of an English teacher came over to stay with him; he was cured in 3 weeks. Over that time I witnessed a transformation in his personal expression and mode of engagement.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Report card for National Party

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Ok, here is my report card for NZ's National Party....I got a bit bored going through this list....but it gives them something to start on.
See this policy list from the National Party - reading this I am inclined to think that there is a lot being done. What is wrong with it? Firstly I am inclined to say that the National Party is not doing a very good job at getting its message out to the public. This is a document that needs to be dispersed. But it really is so anti-intellectual in the realm of welfare policy, education. It simply resorts to paying off the Maoris; as if that will advance welfare. There are huge opportunity costs by not acting.
1. Future fund – good stuff
2. Road development – why does the govt need to develop ‘new’ roads; or is this merely ‘justified’ maintenance.
3. Road arteries – why does the country need to invest in new arterial roads when oil prices are high and the population is static. Is there any return on this investment?
4. Regional road infrastructure – probably justified
5. Regional rail infrastructure – probably justified
6. Regional infrastructure – probably justified
7. Regional rail infrastructure – justified in the context of higher oil prices
8. Auckland rail infrastructure – justified in the context of growing population and higher oil prices
9. Inter-island terminal – they are studying the value of a terminal at Clifford Bay. This would avoid the mountains around Blenheim and Kaikoura. Container terminal on the south island might make sense, but is this a govt project? And its already fairly close to Christchurch. The market appeal could only be for local trade? Why not a connection to Australia?
10. Broadband – worthy spending
11. Rural broadband – not a priority beyond the major towns; at least not off main trunk lines and towns under 40,000.
12. Digital switchover – fine
13. Network for learning – fine
14. National grid – fine, the network is not terribly stable, so needs upgrading, though they need to fix the pricing model for electricity.
15. Home insulation – sensible intent, the problem is the subsidy just forces up the installers fee. I would also add that it contradicts global warming. Insulate houses and people start heating homes, stop wearing woolen garments. i.e. they buy cheaper Chinese cotton, stop buying expensive NZ wool.
16. Upgrade state housing – better still fix the economy so they can buy the home, and given them incentives to do so.
17. Health expenditure – There is an expectation of the latest medical technology; this requires more spending in this area. Popular policy; but priority beyond immediate maintenance? Maybe it makes more sense to send people over to Australia? I wonder if shared infrastructure with Australia is a better model?
18. Schools upgrade – Probably justified, but the problem is that the biggest issue is school ‘content’ not infrastructure. Kids don’t learn to think at school. So this is a very anti-intellectual policy…typical of a pragmatic govt.
19. Earthquake Recovery – Fair enough
20. Sports stadium – not sure why this is policy. Popular…but it doesn’t make money.
21. Resource consents – this is very important policy – reasonable expectations
22. RMA streamlining – this is very important policy – reasonable expectations
23. RMA council punitive fines – this means the rate payer pays right? Well, I guess they get the investment, and can spurn council?
24. RMA streamlining – fine
25. Natural hazards – RMA consideration of natural hazards. Really? This is new?
26. Fresh water policy – fine, but is it a priority?
27. Simpler plans – sometimes simple is not the issue.
28. Trial employment – I don’t agree..employers will just pay staff to leave earlier, so its just a cost. You can’t legislate common sense.
29. Personal grievance reform – This is probably the way to deal with last issue. Not compulsory labour costs
30. Holiday Reform – This is ok
31. Hobbit law – yep, keep the film industry happy
32. Youth wage – yep, kids need every opportunity to save money to leave the country.
33. Collective bargaining – End collective bargaining, its extortion; though you do have to offer people a union-based channel to take grievances to some objective employment court; or ‘grievance’ system (see #29)
34. Constructive dismissal – this ought to be part of #29.
35. Flexible worker terms – I understand worker needs for fixed roster, as well as corporate desirability for flexibility. i.e. Is this so hard?
36. Ban of lights & thermal power – There is no need for a ban on thermal power plant, as no one is going to build one now. Light bulbs issue; non issue.
37. State assets – selling power stations is not going to make them more competitive; in fact, you can expect greater extortion, as is happening by most of the larger businesses because there is no population growth, and inadequate regulation.
38. Utility competition – Making it easier for consumers to shift utility does not address the costs built into the system; that’s economic rationalism, but it does serve govts with an eye on asset sales.
39. Hedge market – sensible
40. Consumer compensation – sensible
41. Less regulation – cut bureaucracy but don’t abandon regulation
42. ACC funding – yep, needs to be sustainably
43. ACC ratings – yep
44. Employee levies – yep
45. Employer levies – yep
46. ACC choice – Any sign its over-priced? It might add to cost
47. ACC choice – Any sign its over-priced? It might add to cost
48. Mobile telecom termination – fine, but what about data??
49. Telco competition – fine
50. Productivity Commission – so late? Should have been done 2 decades ago…assuming that anyone will listen to it.
51. Mining & energy safety – good idea – 2 decades too late! Oh that’s right, Labour ditched it in 1993.
52. Fishing regulation – fine
53. Fast track building consents – good stuff
54. DIY reform – good stuff
55. Leaky homes – Drop this as installers just take the subsidy.
56. Building sector accountability – fine, but what about the extortion in hardware sector.
57. Financial sector reform of regulation – yeh, good one….you will never do it really. Or you will do it, then in 5-10 years you will undo it.
58. Financial service regulation – training is not the issue; ethics and responsibility are the issues, but you’ve spurned education, so toss that idea.
59. Kiwisaver investor – fine
60. Regulation of securities - fine
83. Water storage – yep, don’t build levy banks in Wanganui, build a river diversion scheme and generate more power.
84. Petroleum exploration – great stuff! You are listening to me. Personally, I’d be spending $100mil, not $40mil.
85. Environmental regulation – fine
86. Petroleum permits – fine, but retain a good state royalty; don’t give away all the ‘resource’ as you will end up with immensely rich people who did not earn it (all), and then the ghost of Helen Clark or Gillard (or you) will expropriate it.
103. Convention Centre – don’t use gambling to finance a convention centre. How silly is that. If it does not stand up on its merits, then don’t finance by appealing to ‘vices’. This is silly policy.
104. Air transport – What about air transport to Australia – open it up guys! I want to fly Wanganui to Newcastle or Byron Bay, not to Sydney.

This leaves me wondering what is missing – I would add the following:
1. Improve biosecurity – NZ food output is important, and so is Australia’s, so less please them to get greater access to the Australian market place.
2. Adopt ANZAC liberalization – open up deregulation of pan-Australian flights
3. Sell Air New Zealand – the enterprise is well-run, it will never be worth more than in a few years when the market recovers.
4. Adult education – What about intellectual literary and parenting literacy??
5. Local government reform - I don't see this on the list, but I understand some constraints are being placed on local govt...Good stuff.
6. Gas industry

Now, if we were going to be entirely honest, the National Party would also say that:
121. Prison construction - they are building more prisons because the economy is going to the dogs.
122. Taxation - they are building a $1 billion super computer to tax people better. i.e. More more pernicious form of enslavement because they don't know how to encourage people 'voluntarily', they feel compelled to tell us how its done.

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