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Archive for 15 June 2013

Project Loon…

15 June 2013 3 comments

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Balloons above Canterbury to beam down wireless internet

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Balloons above Canterbury to beam down wireless internet

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John Key…

Project Loon

Appropriate.

Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters…
Radio NZ has an annual budget of $31,816,000. Which, by the way, has not changed since 2009 – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/02/28/talkback-radio-public-radio-and-related-matters/#sthash.4AIrT7hd.dpuf

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Shafting our own children’s future? Hell yeah, why not!

15 June 2013 6 comments

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student debt

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We’ve all seen the headlines; heard and seen the media stories; house prices in New Zealand are going through the roof and becoming more expensive with each passing day. A recent Herald story stated,

Experts say there is no sign of the market slowing soon, and one commentator forecasts the average price in Auckland could hit $1 million within three to four years.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – House prices soar as average forecast to hit $1m

Aside from being a total failure of the so-called “free” market, what else is causing prices to skyrocket?

National says that local bodies are holding up consents.

Some blame it on immigration and/or overseas investors buying up houses and pushing up prices.

Others blame it on investors and speculators exploiting the lack of a Capital Gains Tax to buy up properties, which reduces availability, and pushes up prices.

Others blame central government for not investing enough in tradespeople, to build new houses.

This blogger will add one more component into the ‘mix’; easy availability of capital.

Prior to 1984, housing prices were contained by limited, local availability of funds which banks could on-lend to house buyers. New Zealanders’ savings were poor pre-1984, and Muldoon’s scrapping of Labour’s compulsory super fund in 1975 did not help matters.

As the graph below shows, housing prices up till 1972 were steady. People usually had 10% deposit; borrowed perhaps 60% to 70% as a first mortage from a friendly bank manager; and the balance was financed by what was known then as “Vendor’s Finance” – the seller agreed to 20% to 30% as a Second Mortgage for the buyer. The latter incurred much higher interest rates.

Overall house prices were therefore ‘capped’ by the limited availability of  money, from banks and vendors. Banks acquired their funding from local depositors.

In  1972 and 1980, two international oil shocks resulted in massive inflaton inflation in the country, sending house prices surging.

Post 1984, Roger Douglas de-regulated the country’s financial laws and banks were able to borrow vast amounts from overseas lenders. There was no longer a shortage of funds for mortgages. The concept of  “Vendor’s Finance” and second mortgages disappeared almost over-night.

Purchasers could now borrow 80%, 90%, even 100% to buy a house.

As money became easily available, peoples’ expectations for bigger and bigger returns also rose. If Buyer X could borrow $200,000 to buy a house that Vendor Y had purchased last year for only $150,000, then there was nothing stopping the vendor from demanding the top dollar; $200,000. Maybe more, if Buyer Z could afford to service a $300,000 price.

The sky was literally the limit.

And as the graph shows, that is where house prices were going; skyward.

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Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz

This has created big problems for us.

Firstly, housing prices are no longer affordable for young New Zealanders. As more and more properties are locked up by their parents’ generation (often referred to as  “Baby Boomers”), the availability of new and existing houses becomes less and less.

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Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz

Secondly, as we borrow more and more money from overseas to invest in ever-increasing priced housing – our private debt is now approaching Greece-like proportions.

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nz-overseas-debt-1993-to-2010

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So we have fewer houses, being sought by more buyers, for higher prices, creating more overseas debt…

Anything wrong with that picture?!

Yes, plenty.

For the past fourty years, this country has borrowed vast sums – billions – to finance our property speculation. Every time a vendor made a tax-free profit, it was financed by borrowing money from other countries. We were – and still are borrowing our way to “wealth”.

It is neither sustainable nor common sense. And very soon, the bubble will burst; politicians will blame but themselves; and the public -as usual – will be left wondering what the hell went wrong.

Labour has proposed a Capital Gains Tax on housing (except for the family home) as part of  the solution. National – in a display of unmitigated stupidity – opposes any such tax.

The Reserve Bank has come up with their own “solution”,

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Mortgage rule move will force buyers out

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post –  Mortgage rule move will force buyers out

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The Reserve Bank’s suggestion of limiting lending to 80% of a property’s value is wrong for two reasons;

1. House buyer’s will simply return to the days of second mortgages from lenders other than banks (usually through lawyers or secondary finance companies). The second mortgage will have a highrer interest rate. Home buyers will simply end up paying more in outgoings to service not one, but two, mortages.

This will not help first home buyers.

2. Unless they are part of the privileged few – the One Percenters – first home buyers will find it next to impossible to pay rent and save for a deposit on a house. Factor in other financial burdens such as student loan repayments, and life just got immeasureably harder for young New Zealanders.

The upshot of the Reserve Banks “solution” is that it does not address the problem of rising house prices.

It merely penalises young New zealanders.

Meanwhile, the Baby Boomer generation buys and sells properties, tax free, pocketing big gains, financed by offshore borrowings.

This is madness, and make no mistake – we will end up paying for this insanity in a big way.

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Radio NZ’s new CEO is announced…

… and it is Paul Thompson, replacing outgoing CEO, Peter Cavanagh.

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Paul Thompson.

Paul Thompson.

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The appointment of Paul Thompson was (is still?) a bit of a worry.  His background, as Radio NZ disclosed in a Scoop.co.nz press relelease is firmly rooted in the world of commercial media,

Paul Thompson is currently the Group Executive Editor of Fairfax Media in New Zealand and a former award winning editor of the Christchurch Press and the Nelson Mail.

Peter Cavanagh

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Appointment of Radio NZ Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief

Why is this of concern?

This report, in the NZ Herald, five months ago, for starters;

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Radio NZ on the hunt for next chief executive

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Radio NZ on the hunt for next chief executive

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Note the references made  by Herald reporter, John Drinnan,

However, a source said the board was expected to appoint a new chief executive more amenable to change, particularly over sponsorship income…

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… Critics say that has been at the expense of innovation and by resisting Government calls for new funding sources.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Radio NZ is one of the few state entities that earns very little income (if any); makes no profit; and requires constant  funding by the government of the day.

It is anathema to a right-wing party such as National – which instead prefers to lavish tax-payer funded largese on private corporation such as Warner Bros.

As such, Radio NZ’s annual budget of $31,816,000 has not changed since 2009, after National’s election to power the previous year.

Despite a successful Save Radio New Zealand Facebook campaign in February 2010, there is still considerable apprehension that National has a dark, neo-liberal agenda for Radio NZ. The Nats want Radio NZ commercialised. Commercialisation would ‘gut’ the broadcaster and turn it into a radio-version of TVNZ.

And we all know what TVNZ serves up to it’s audience…

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Pressure is also coming from right-wing bloggers and “columnists”, such as this piece of propaganda BS from conservative Karl Du Fresne, RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled. (Du Fresne’s allegations of “left wing bias” is strange, considering that he and  several other right wing commentators are often guests on various Radio NZ programmes, such as Jim Mora’s 4-5 Panel.  See previous related blogpost: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session)

The commercialisation of Radio NZ  can only be achieved if, at first, the broadcaster’s leadership is changed, and someone more ‘amenable’ to National’s destructive monetarist ideology, is appointed.

Paul Thompson would seem to fit that bill perfectly.

However, there is a glimmer of hope that the last bastion of non-commercialised public broadcasting will not be corrupted by a National Party stooge. If Paul Thompson is being straight up with us, and his comments can be taken at face value, then he is no stooge of this shabby, incompetant  government,

I think any form of commercialisation of any of the stations or the content would be a bad thing.

The funding is what the funding is, and lets hope in future at some stage that changes. In the mean time I’m sure that we can continue to do a very good job.”

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Incoming RNZ head rules out sponsorship

For more on Paul Thompson’s comments on this issue, Listen to Paul Thompson on Morning Report

Let’s hope Mr Thompson is a man of his word. I think it is no exageration to say that the fate of one of New Zealand’s best known iconic institutions lies in his hands.

Don’t stuff it up please, Mr Thompson.

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Related blogpost

Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters

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The fabulously talented Kim Hill…

15 June 2013 1 comment

… has ended her two week stint as co-presenter on Radio NZ’s Morning Report.

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07wgnhill

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I think more than a few folk will miss her considerable presence on the Morning Report segment of Radio NZ’s programming. Her no-nonsense, commanding  style of interview delves past the BS, and  demands answers to questions which we, the public, are entitled to know, but unable to put to those in positions of authority. (And when we do put questions to those in Authority, our efforts are “rewarded” with fob-offs; bullshit, or ignored entirely.)

Kim is one of the best interviewers we are currently blessed with, with more talent in one finger than a regiment of reporters.

Note: Kim Hill will still have her own segment on Saturday Mornings.

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Categories: Media Tags: ,

Is Labour snatching defeat from the jaws of Victorysaurus?

15 June 2013 5 comments

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184mupp

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Electors unimpressed with Finance Minister Bill English’s Fifth Budget as National Party 41% (down 3%) now well behind Labour/ Greens 47% (up 3%)

This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 1,057 electors from May 13-26, 2013. Of all electors surveyed 5% (unchanged) didn’t name a party.

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a big fall in support for Prime Minister John Key’s National Party to 41% (down 3% since April 29-May 12, 2013). Support for Key’s Coalition partners is slightly down overall with the Maori Party 2% (unchanged), ACT NZ 0.5% (down 1%) and United Future 0.5% (unchanged).

Support for Labour is 35% (up 3%); Greens are 12% (unchanged), New Zealand First 4.5% (down 0.5%), Mana Party 0.5% (down 0.5%), Conservative Party of NZ 2.5% (up 1%) and Others 1.5% (up 1%).

If a National Election were held now the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows an Opposition Labour/ Greens Coalition would win.

Acknowledgment: Roy Morgan

That was the poll result for Roy Morgan, at the end of May this year.  Only two weeks ago. As polls go, Roy Morgan is one of the more accurate ones.  It is also the only one known to phone respondants on both landlines and cellphones – making it more representative of the electorate at large.

So things are looking up for a new, progressive government, post-2014 (if not earlier).

But only if Labour doesn’t keep f*****g things up like this incident last week,

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Key slams Labour for SkyCity hospitality

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Key slams Labour for SkyCity hospitality

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After slamming the dodgy nature of  Key’s dealings with Skycity Casino, which will see an upward spike  in numbers of  dangerous, addictive   “pokies”, Labour had set itself on a moral high-ground. This is a community problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) and Labour was firmly on the side of communities around the country

It was a position that most New Zealanders probably felt a considerable degree of  sympathy with.

Unfortunately, in a brainfart of Jupiter-sized proportions, four senior, long-term Labour MPs then accepted hospitality from Skycity to attend a rugby match at Mt Eden – at Skycity’s corporate box.

The staggering hypocritical nature of Labour’s presence at Skycity’s corporate box cannot be under-stated. In this respect, criticism from Key; newspaper editorials; columnists, right-wing bloggers, et al, is absolutely warranted.

This was a major mis-step by expereienced MPs who should have known better.

What on Earth were they thinking?

Did they think that no one would notice?

Did they think that no one would tip-off media or right-wing bloggers?

Is there no one at the Labour Parliamentary Office who paused; pondered; and presaged that this was not a terribly flash  idea?

This has more than the a whiff of hypocrisy; this reinforces public perceptions that politicians are “all the same”. Incidents like this put people off from participating in the democratic process. After all, why should people be bothered to get out and  vote if, really, there’s bugger-all difference between government and opposition parties?!

In case any Labour MPs are reading this, I leave him/her with these three points to ponder,

  1. This election is yours to lose. And if you’re that dead-keen to lose it, feel free to keep behaving like this.
  2. Unlike National voters, centre-left voters have alternatives to choose from. Note that the Greens and Mana are options clearly printed on the Ballot paper. Capicé?
  3. In this instance, right wing blogs are fully justified in their criticism of such stupid  decisions. More power to their arms, on this issue, because by the gods, those Labour MPs thouroughly deserve a bollicking over this.

I think I speak for many other progressive bloggers when I say to Labour; lift your game, dammit!

Muppets.

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