Blog

Who's paying for pollution?

Dairy farming in New Zealand is synonymous with environmental degradation. A lot of the time, the criticism farmers receive is warranted considering the sheer scale of the industry and the impact it has on our environment. However, they are not the only ones who should shoulder the blame. In terms of water quality, the worst damage is often concentrated in urban areas, far away from the pastures that support our biggest export industry. It’s a problem that exists across the board, and it is the tax payer who ends up fronting the bill for the environmental damage resulting from production. It’s now forestry’s turn to put the spot light over this massive gap that exists in our environmental regulation.

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Cracks Beginning To Appear For Kiwibuild.

When the Kiwibuild program was first announced we wrote that there was a chance it may simply crowd out private sector building.  We were not alone in harbouring this doubt as various industry commentators have shared similar views. It appears this, along with other concerns such as the lack of capacity, cost blow outs and affordability problems, have led quietly to a change of scope. The official documentation now states Kiwibuild will “facilitate the delivery” of the planned 100,000 homes, rather than “build”. It may seem minor, and arguing about semantics is never very productive, but it does further expose Labour’s flagship policy to criticism. Analysis from economic modeling firm Infometrics showed that the policy could see as few as 9,200 additional properties added to the dwelling stock over the next four years, representing less than one-third of the program that is penciled in for that period.

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Promising more, spending less

The health system was the big winner from the recent Budget announcement which saw a much needed increase in capital funding. This was one area that had been starved by the previous government’s insistence to pay down debt and as a result was left drastically underfunded. It’s symptomatic of the infrastructure crisis we face across the country, where public transport, schools, and housing services are teetering on the brink. Even so, Treasury’s 2018 Investment Statement estimated that DHBs required $14 billion of spending over the next 10 years; the $850 million allocated to capital spending in this budget is a start, but it falls well short of requirements.

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Petulance & Policy Paralysis

One can only hope Sir John was out hitting golf balls and Mr. English stomping round in the mud. Such was the embarrassing nature of Simon Bridges’ speech on budget day, the former leaders would have been shocked to see the extent the leadership capabilities of their former party had fallen. Bridges was supported of course by a cast of sneering MP’s just as culpable in behavior that would not be tolerated in a primary school class room.  While the Prime Minister, relentlessly positive as always, managed to retain the moral high ground, in the most part, the scenes of red and blue in their trenches jeering across the room left no surprise as to why the faith and engagement in our democracy is dwindling.

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Spending Our Way Out Of Trouble

The recent funding model proposed for the new Auckland rail developments, along with last week’s budget announcement shows the impacts of the Budget Responsibility Rules committed to by Labour before the election.  

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Weak Analyses Plus Political Bias: Failure Inevitable for the Tax Working Group?

The TWG has been set an impossible mission – improve the tax regime, make it more efficient and fair, but don’t recommend any changes to the tax treatment of owner occupied housing. And another – make the tax system fairer but don’t deal with the interface between tax rates and welfare (which is just negative tax after all).

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Cannabis use and Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine and cannabis are illegal drugs that have their supply chains controlled by gangs. While both cause harm, they exist at separate ends of the spectrum. The stigma surrounding the use of cannabis is steadily eroding, and while there are laggards, namely of the political kind, the general consensus is that we should overhaul the current laws that govern its use. They are after all, almost half a century old and with 40% of adults having used the drug, have demonstrably failed.

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Hats Off To David Parker

One of the biggest frustrations with partisan politics is that very rarely do we see good ideas acknowledged as good ideas. Every now and then we get a policy announcement that simply makes sense. Environment Minister David Parker’s recent comments regarding changes to the RMA, specifically relating to the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm is one such policy.

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New Zealand: A living breathing example of Dr Seuss's The Lorax

Our land 2018, a recent report released  by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, has found we are damaging and losing our soils and our native plants and animals.

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A Critique of "Cutting with both arms of the scissors.

The economic and political case for restrictive supply-side climate policies". Fergus Green & Richard Denniss, Climatic Change*

Gareth Morgan, April 2018

Greenpeace New Zealand CEO Russell Norman has kindly sent me an academic paper that supports the implementation of supply reducing policies on fossil fuels, as an effective weapon for combating climate change. I thank Russell for that, the following is my critique of that paper and why the conclusions it draws are simply wrong, except in the most unlikely scenario where significant global supply of fossil fuels is withdrawn.

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