The shape of things to come in Auckland I see the NZ Herald is reserving the story/article equivalent of someone offering last month’s “fresh” pies, rewarmed and bundled up as … Continue reading Herald serves Rewarmed Pies as Stories Again
23rd of this Month means 3.6% Rates Rise?
It seems the debate and Water-Cooler chatter is at full steam ahead at the moment with Auckland Council discussing and deliberating the Draft Long Term Plan (2012-2022). At the heart of this often heated debate is the fact Auckland could be facing an average 3.6% rates rise this year and a few more years to come. Now to be fair I’ll provide the RANGE of the rates movement across Auckland as the 3.6% rise is an AVERAGE (I love statistics and playing with statistics). The actual rates range movement is quite LARGE ranging from a 5.6% DECREASE in one’s rates bill to a 10% INCREASE in one’s rates bill – and in rates I mean RESIDENTIAL rates, not business rates (haven’t even looked there yet; VOAKL is looking for a business owner who has a view on where their rates are going. Contact admin if you would like to guest post about your view on your rates).
Sorry for the caps there, I am just emphasising points that people or the MSM might (well MSM usually does) miss here to keep the debate waters nice and clear.
However one can see the large residential rates differences happening here depending on where you live.
I have been advised not to however as the Internet is a great record keeper and to be straight up with readers now and in the future (I don’t like the Hide behind the cloak mantra here) I am one of those who face a rates DECREASE in July. Does the rates decrease influence my support for the Mayor? In this instance NO it does not; while I am pleased to have a rates decrease (most people would be) – in the wider scheme of things with the way average rates rises are moving, I am not pleased out of genuine concern to my fellow ratepayers and bad financing by Auckland Council.
Needless to say debate has been quite stirring over the proposed rates rises on the way. Embedded below is some of the debate on my own and Councillor George Wood’s Facebook pages. Please note I only upload Facebook conversation that were marked PUBLIC which means everyone can see it regardless. VOAKL does not upload Facebook conversations that were marked Private, Custom, or Friends.
Interesting times ahead – and remember: Be Warned Auckland Council
The Half Weekly Round up from our Aussie Cousins – at Macro Business
I am going to trial a twice weekly round-up of some tidbits from Macro Business Super Blog. The round-up would be posted every Wednesday and Sunday (time of day dependent on work and days off) here at VOAKL with the index also updated at the same time for more full length commentary from the respective bloggers over there. Hopefully the round-up gives some brief complimentary material to what gets reported in The NZ Business Herald and The National Business Review.
Here we go with the first round-up:
Are bulk commodities approaching the end of their golden run seen over the last decade. If prices for these essential commodities do fall out and take a one way trip down; the political, economic and social consequences in Australia could get pretty bad (especially all that money from the mining boom drys up). This also translates here to NZ; if our biggest trading partner falls into bad health, we are going to be taken along for the ride also downwards. I do wonder though, kiwis going to Aussie for “better opportunities” are going to get whacked super hard and limp back home to NZ when it gets real tough over the ditch. Remember nothing lasts and the good times always come to an end. 10 years worth of Kiwi exodus might just come back home to NZ – and that is going to hurt us with a flood of people and labour supply.
Removal of CGT discount for non-residents
The Government will remove the 50 per cent capital gains tax (CGT) discount for non-residents on capital gains accrued after 7:30pm (AEST) 8 May 2012. The CGT discount will continue to be available for capital gains accrued prior to this time where non-residents can then choose to obtain a market valuation for assets as at 8 May 2012.
This rule will largely impact non-residents individuals holding interests in Australian real property.
I wonder which of our NZ political parties would do that here first. Ouch for Melbourne who already suffered from a buggered housing market.
Hey do we get that kind of commentary here and lots of pretty graphs? Interesting morning read up though on the international economy.
In short; shit if this does a Subprime on us and go tits up. The consequences to that would really nail the USA still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis ongoing from 2008. While the Shale Gas, Oil and Coal boom in the USA is all go and giving the US a nice recovery situation – hell if that goes bust to which no Democrat or Republican president would be able to cope with. From Global Financial Crisis to Gas Fracking Crisis, it will hurt (and hurt the Australians too):
The following is by Yves Smith and is cross-posted from Naked Capitalism. It has some important implications for Australia’s own gas boom, not all of them bad.
If my RSS reader is any guide, most of the press about shale gas has focused on two issues. First, shale gas is in considerable supply, cheap to produce, and burns far cleaner than other fossil fuels. Second, shale gas does not look so hot environmentally, all in. Fracking can pollute ground water (and potable water is our most scarce resource) and releases enough methane to make shale gas as detrimental as coal. Still, it has been treated as the Great Hope for America’s energy woes, a way to turn the US into an exporter, and maybe it will cure cancer too. Obama touted 100 years of shale gas reserves, and manufacturers envision an American revival based on cheap fuel.
The problem is that the good part of this story is largely wrong. Shale gas supplies are overestimated, and it is not as cheap as it has been touted to be. The big reason is that shale gas wells, unlike oil wells, peter out really quickly. The result is that the viability of shale gas as a solution to America’s high energy consumption level is only on an interim basis. Shale gas is more likely to be a stopgap, a 25 year solution rather than a 100 one.
As with the housing bubble, analysts and journalists who understand the economics are giving clear warnings, but they don’t seem to be getting much of an audience. For instance, Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone wrote in March:
You can read the rest at Macro Business Super Blog
And for some bad news on Liquid Natural Gas projects in Australia. Seems cost over runs and over-expectations are hitting a few LNG investments in QLD. What is more the rock bottom prices enjoyed from LNG of recent could be on a one way trip – UP! This would be of particular bad news New Zealand on a few fronts:
First being we are looking at build a nice big LNG terminal somewhere in NZ with the aim of building a virtual pipe line of LNG Tankers (boats), terminals and feeder pipelines across the land to capitalise on cheap QLD and Indonesian Natural Gas (our native supplies are running low at the moment). However if cost over runs seen in QLD are anything to go by, OR that the price of LNG goes up as it predicted to do (and the Shale Gas saga I mentioned above does not inspire confidence right about errr now) – well that was one arsed piece of investment we in NZ just made. Thank goodness for our 300-1000 year supply of coal that can be turned readily into: petrol, synthetic natural gas, kerosene for aircraft, diesel, heating oil and electricity – with bugger all effects to the environment. Now just need Solid Energy to get bloody proactive and build those synthetic plants I have been calling for since oh 2008?
And now for your Australian Budget Round-Up
And our government gets accused of borrowing and hoping. Seems our Aussie Cousins are not better:
Last night Wayne Swan handed down his fifth Australian federal Budget. You can find his speech here. It was very much a labor Budget with the focus on middle and low income earners, but framed in the context of a push for surplus in one year from a deficit position of over $40 billion. If you have a spare week or two the full Budget documentation is available here.
The Budget forecasts a very sharp turn around in the deficit position from $44.4bn ($3.0% of GDP) for 2011-12, to a very small surplus of $1.5bn for 2012-13. This prediction is based on overall growth and household expenditure returning to “normal”. Back in November the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook the deficit was forecast at $37.1 billion however there continues to be weaker than expected revenues based on a number of factors. These include:
- a large amount of capital losses dampening Capital Gain Tax receipts;
- Weaker GST receipts due to “disleveraging” consumers and the high AUD
- Mining capital expenditure writeoffs and a weak non-mining economy which has lowered company tax receipts.
Sounds more ambitious than NZ Government Finance Minister Bill English’s aspirations of returning us to surplus by 2014-2015. Although “household expenditure returning to “normal;”” I think consumers paying down debt both here and in Aussie is going to be happening for a little while longer yet folks as we finally learn to “Live within our means.” So Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan is really hoping on some (private) borrowing.
To put it aptly:
Well it didn’t take long, the Federal Budget has only just been released (it’s 9.00pm Tuesday as I write this post), and already the Housing Industry Association (HIA) is complaining that the Government didn’t offer incentives aimed at reinvigorating Australia’s ailing home building market:
You can read the rest at Macro Business Super Blog.
However boo-bloody-who to the HIA, shesh from reading the post over at MB they sound like that guy from Westfield NZ having a whine to Auckland Council about their rates (and some of us having a crack at their crap land use and management policy). However the Aussies seem to be having the same debate we are over Housing Policy including taxation and CGT.
Needless to say as Leith put it vested interests in Australia, just like we have vested interests here when it comes to the: Auckland, Long Term, and Unitary Plans. Least the Aussie budget did not bow over to the HIA where as ours is yet to be seen or desired.
Well that is the first Macro Business Round Up here at VOAKL. The next round up will be on this Sunday evening.
From the Executive Editor of New Geography [dot-com], we get an interesting insight to the true engine room of economic growth in the USA – small cities.
The conventional wisdom is that the world’s largest cities are going to be the primary drivers of economic growth and innovation. Even slums, according to a fawning article inNational Geographic, represent “examples of urban vitality, not blight.” In America, it is commonly maintained by pundits that “megaregions” anchored by dense urban cores will dominate the future.
Such conceits are, not surprisingly, popular among big city developers and the media in places like New York, which command the national debate by blaring the biggest horn. However, a less fevered analysis of recent trends suggests a very different reality: When it comes to growth, economic and demographic, opportunity increasingly is to be found in smaller, and often remote, places.
Hmm with the government rolling out the Ultra Fast Broadband Network, and with a bit a luck a private consortium building the second Trans-Pacific fibre optic cable soon; what is happening in America will happen here. That is over-emphasis on Auckland as the primary engine room, and under emphasis on our regions and small centres being the engine rooms to New Zealand.
This year’s edition of Forbes’ Best Cities For Jobs survey, compiled with Pepperdine University’s Michael Shires, found that small and midsized metropolitan areas, with populations of 1 million or less, accounted for 27 of the 30 urban regions in the country that are adding jobs at the fastest rate. The three largest metropolitan statistical areas that made the top 30 — Austin, Houston and Salt Lake City — are themselves highly dispersed with sprawling employment sheds.
Rather than the products of “smart growth” and intense densification, almost all of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas — including larger ones like Silicon Valley and Raleigh — tend to be dominated by suburban-style, single-family homes and utterly dependent on the greatest scourge of the urbanist creed: the private car. But many of the smaller are
The Best Cities for Jobs was an interesting read in its own right, however of note is the quoted section I have placed in bold.as also punch above their weight in myriad ways, spanning a host of industries. Another red cross and fail to smart growth? And I see Houston got mentioned again after I did a scoop piece on the city with its Municipal Utility Districts last week on VOAKL. Although I do sense to the editor’s auto-centric views coming across here where I am a tad more balanced than that (always need a mix).
Among the 398 MSAs we ranked for the list, energy towns dominate the top of the table: Odessa, Texas (100,000), took first place; followed by Midland, Texas (population: 111,000), in second place; Lafayette, La. (fourth, 114,000); Corpus Christi, Texas (sixth, 287,000); San Angelo, Texas (seventh, 92,000); Casper, Wyo. (10th, 54,000); and Bismarck, N.D. (21st, 61,000). These cities’ economies have expanded steadily over the last few years, beneficiaries of a great boom in fossil fuels that, unless derailed by regulators, will continue for the foreseeable future.
Now ironically David Farrar has just written a piece on similar stuff here in New Zealand at his Kiwi Blog site, at the same time I am also reading on the Fossil-Fuel Neo Boom in the USA and Australia is about to get a bit ugly with the Shale Gas industry due to go tits up like the housing market did after the Sub-Prime mortgage collapse in the USA. Commentary on shale gas will be run at a later date through the new International Scope page here at VOAKL.
But some of the other best cities for jobs make their livings in different ways, such as No. 12 Glens Falls, N.Y., riding growth in business services and tourism; and No. 15 Columbia, Mo., which is primarily a college and government town. Several smaller communities have bounced back strongly with the recovery of manufacturing, including No. 3 Columbus Ind., No. 11 Williamsport, Pa., and No. 19 Holland-Grand Haven, Mich.
Just a quick bit there that it’s not all about the hydrocarbons with small city engine room growth.
We see is a very different reality than that often promoted by big city boosters. Large, dense urban regions clearly possess some great advantages: hub airports, big labor markets, concentrations of hospitals, schools, cultural amenities and specific industrial expertise. Yet despite these advantages, they still lag in the job creation race to unheralded, smaller communities.
Why are the stronger smaller cities growing faster than most larger ones? The keys may lie in many mundane factors that are often too prosaic for urban theorists. They include things such as strong community institutions like churches and shorter commutes than can be had in New York, L.A., Boston or the Bay Area (except for those willing to pay sky-high prices to live in a box near downtown). Young families might be attracted to better schools in some areas — notably the Great Plains — and the access to natural amenities common in many of these smaller communities
Basically both the big city and the small city have advantages and disadvantages to them – depending on one’s needs at the given time. At the moment, the big city (Auckland) is where I live due to employment, civic and lifestyle opportunities that the city offers in compared to our smaller cities like Wellington and Hamilton (that is the benefits outweigh the costs at the moment)
This trend towards smaller communities — unthinkable among big city planners and urban land speculators — is likely to continue for several reasons. For one thing, new telecommunications technology serves to even the playing field for companies in smaller cities. You can now operate a sophisticated global business from Fargo, N.D., or Shreveport, La., in ways inconceivable a decade or two ago.
I just mentioned above that the roll out of the Ultra Fast Broadband network will open up opportunities in New Zealand, well the USA proves that it can and will as it has done for its smaller cities over here. Telecommuting could even help cut down on some of our traffic congestion here in Auckland. Although telecommuting is not the magic bullet for crap urban/transport planning/design/management that we have here in Auckland (as sectors like Manufacturing can’t use telecommuting per se).
Another key element is the predilections of two key expanding demographic groups: boomers and their offspring, the millennials. Aging boomers are not, in large part, hankering for dense city life, as is often asserted. If anything, if they choose to move, they tend toward less dense and even rural areas. Young families and many better-educated workers also seem to be moving generally to less dense and affordable places.
I wonder if Auckland Council has done a demographic study for the next fifty years to see population and socio-economic trends that would have a major influence on our urban and transport planning. Be one expensive bugger if we planned and built the city that caters for the wrong city-wide demographic…
What does this mean for investors, companies and individuals in the coming decades? For one thing, Wall Street, which tends to obsess over a handful of high-cost, dense, urban markets, may seek out new opportunities in faster-growing smaller cities. Prices tend to be lower and competition for prime space less intense, and the demographic wind is at their backs. Companies looking to expand may find not only a welcome mat from the locals, but also an expanding workforce in these generally more affordable places
Could not sum up the conclusion any better. Although we need to address a few things at Central Government level as well in helping rolling out the welcome mat.
No surprises there folks after I posted two commentary pieces recently on similar news. Just last week I ran a commentary piece; “BUSINESSES APPALLED BY NEW AUCKLAND RATES?” on how businesses were appalled at the NEW business rates. I also commented on the recent rooting that the Centre-Left got at state and local government level in Queensland – with a warning to Auckland Council. Well it seems the Herald (haven’t looked at the NBR yet) ran a nice bit this morning on the Super City bumming out in the latest MYOB Business survey.
Auckland Super City has scored the lowest grades of any local government in the country’s main centres, a new survey of business owners reports.
Over 1000 small to medium enterprise business owners were asked in a national survey if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their local council and regional authorities’ performance in helping their business over the last six months.
The MYOB Business Monitor found 44 per cent of businesses were dissatisfied, compared to a mere 14 per cent who were satisfied.
Auckland’s regional authority rated third from the bottom overall, and the worst of main centres, with 49 per cent dissatisfied with the council’s performance, and only 10 per cent satisfied.
That is much of a surprise as this damn disaster over at Transport Blog with Snapper being the gift that keeps on giving.
I also see on Facebook today, the Mayor of Newmarket – Councillor Cameron Brewer “commenting” on business rates not going down well with businesses and Council being unfriendly towards them as well.
And it seems the attacks are continuing with Michael Barnett – the head of Auckland Chamber of Commerce issuing a seething broadside against our resident Prude (The Mayor (Len that is not Cameron)) on due process and the public hearing process being all but ignored in regards to public (and business) input to the Draft Long Term Plan.
From Mr Barnett:
What is the Mayor thinking? That the Chamber and many other submitters who made submissions on what the Council has agreed is the most difficult and controversial issue the new Council will grapple with did so just for fun and knowing it was a waste of time and effort?
“For Auckland’s sake, I hope not. Our contributions were made in the spirit and knowledge that the ultimate goal is, as Government has put into the Auckland legislation ‘a single rating system across the region,’ Mr Barnett responded. “I suggest he is abusing that task.”
Well I get that feeling to, especially with that C- grade Auckland Plan and now this Long Term Plan. I hate to think what it’s going to be like Unitary Plan process and the Review of Port of Auckland is going to be like.
So the Super City bums out with businesses on a few fronts here – not looking good for Auckland Council is it? Shall a send that warning again – which would be the tenth time that I have done that. Lets – as one I got one piece of vindication last night when I called something out a little while ago, might get some more HERE now and again in 2013!
Now I have one for Council Finances and Debt – but it was not covering business rates when I submitted to the Long Term Plan. I am going to need to knuckle down and do some homework on business rates before I can draw up an alternative to what we are seeing currently. Least I am knuckling down and doing my homework – as someone wasn’t in the Mayor’s Office.
Just a quick side note, I had asked to speak at the next Auckland Council Strategy and Finance Committee Meeting; expanding on my submission to the LTP as the forum I was in was inadequate to fully air my submission to Councillors. Sadly I can not as I would be breaching Council Standing Orders as noted in red here:
Ben, the Draft LTP is due to be adopted on the 28 June. We will not be accepting any requests to speak in public input on the draft LTP under standing order (note (ii) in red)3.21.3 Subjects of public input
Public Input is not to be used to speak to a matter:
(i) that has already been considered and determined
(ii) for which there is a separate public hearings process
(iii) which is being dealt with through a quasi-judicial process
(iv) which is outside the terms of reference of that meeting or outside the functions of the Auckland Council.
Fair point but a bit of a bugger with my submission more suited to a traditional hearing that lobbyists and big businesses got. Ah well, Auckland democracy in action.
So – Be Warned Auckland Council – 2013 is not far away
View of Auckland is Expanding its Scope
Yes, yes I know folks, VOAKL has only just come through one set of upgrades only to go through another so quickly.
I keep regular tabs on Macro Business Super Blog and New Geography with their excellent commentary in international business, economic, political and urban design/development affairs. Often those two sites provide backgrounds to some of the articles I write here in VOAKL and share with others across the internet.
NewGeography.com is a joint venture of Joel Kotkin and Praxis Strategy Group based out of the USA that provides commentary and analyse on demographics, geography, business, politics and all things urban/transport design/development/management.
Check out the ABOUT page to find out more about New Geography dot com
Macro Business is a affectionately known as super blog site with several bloggers commenting and providing analysis that the NZ Herald Business Section and The NBR don’t quite do well here in NZ. I can safely say to our Business Herald and NBR readers that Macro Business is a perfect supplement for your business, economic and political news from Australia and around the world (especially for those keeping an eye on China). Most often stuff that happens in Australia and is mentioned at Macro Business will have a direct translation here in NZ. Well worth a read – and you get to comment with others too.
However I’ll let you read the ABOUT page and find out for yourself.
So over the next week I will be doing some minor changes to VOAKL as I add in some new pages and features that will include titbits from these two sites for your reading pleasure.
VOAKL – Views of an average ratepayer in Auckland – now expanding his scope and vision to the world around him
The upgrade and expansion is complete with dual indexes covering New Geography and Macro Business. What I am also going to do is trial a twice weekly Round-Up style post of some articles at Macro-Business here at VOAKL. This trial is looking seeing whether I expand the scope of VOAKL or undertake a new venture with the Blog and cover a range of issues rather than Auckland Council and everything that stems out of it.
Basically I am looking at extending VOAKL’s scope from Auckland Council, Planning and Transport affairs and issues to a more global scope in; governance, economics, planning (urban and transport), and design (urban and again transport). With myself drawing on international pieces to provide commentary and comparison on “issues of an average Auckland Ratepayer about Auckland (itself)” (a.k.a Auckland urban/transport planning/design/management/governance and finances), I thought it would be time to widen the scope somewhat and look at international commentary and analysis on similar issues. However if the trial is deemed unsuccessful VOAKL will revert back to its founding focus on just “issues on Auckland.”
Will see how it goes at the end of the month shall we?
Lesson from Local Government Elections in Queensland From Australian Elections: A Comeback for Pro-growth Policy? by Ross Elliott The latest local government elections in Queensland, along with the by-election for former … Continue reading Be Warned Auckland Council
The Age – Australia reports on those Residential Glossy Brochures Remind me not to have a whine about Auckland’s planning after taking a look at Melbourne. Artist’s impressions of … Continue reading Good on Paper mean Good in Reality?
Someone wants the Speed Limit Dropped – I say No!
Last night I commented in the “Is reducing speed limits to save lives “nuts”?” that: 1) Speed Limit should be increased to 60km/h on some arterials; 2) You get run over because you committed an illegal act of jaywalking (or mainly crossing within 20 metres of a controlled cross, or crossing at a traffic light controlled intersection against that solid red man on the post) you “deserve it” – mainly because you willingly and knowingly put yourself through carelessness in that hazardous position and oops, the car that had right of way collected you. Now there are cases of “accidents” that are as the English language says are accidents to which will have my sympathies for, but those who commit an illegal act and get whacked for it – yeah well…
However it seems my rather libertarian comments have stirred up the hard-leftist lot with their comments pointed at me rather than the debate. They have seemed to have missed the point on both the illegal act and why I support 60km/h on some roads – more to the point they most likely refuse to see it because it goes everything against they “believe” in. Now apart from lugging the odd insult right back, you can see my reasoning behind my two points to which I stand by – we have roads that can support 60km/h easy with no increased risk to other users. Now our road engineering has much to be desired at times but Auckland can do this – we just need to stop cotton wooling people as those in that thread are basically doing.
Look if I can walk and cross a rural road that is called State Highway Two at Maramarua without getting killed (and that road is 100km/h) then I think pedestrians can cope with a 4-lane road doing 60km/h with a nice refuge island, pedestrian crossing, grass median strip, or traffic control signals without too much of a problem…
This is what Wiki has to say on Refuge Islands:
A refuge island, also known as a pedestrian refuge or pedestrian island, is a small section of pavement or sidewalk, completely surrounded by asphalt or other road materials, where pedestrians can stop before finishing crossing a road. It is typically used when a street is very wide, as the pedestrian crossing can be too long for some individuals to cross in one traffic light cycle.
It is also often used when no light exists, and pedestrians need safe harbour after managing one direction of traffic, before taking on the next. This significantly improves the amenity for pedestrians trying to cross busy streets, as they are much more likely to find two small gaps in traffic rather than one situation in which gaps for both directions coincide. Since this reduces their average waiting time, it also improves safety – with impatient pedestrians less likely to use gaps that turn out to be too short for safe crossing.
The  link will take you to the: Pedestrian planning and design guide – Land Transport New Zealand, 2007, Page 6-16 which was an interesting read.
Car-centric – I am not, anti-car – no I am not, anti-pedestrian – no I am not (I walk down some pretty busy roads such as the Great South Road and Manukau Station Road and have never been run over because I committed an illegal act when crossing those roads), balanced approach to both forms of traffic – that I am and as can be seen.
What you think – we cotton wool our citizens? Do pedestrians need to take responsibility if they commit an illegal act and put themselves in harms way willingly? Or am I being a bull in a China Shop?
An interesting piece from City Journal on historic preservation and how at times it can be a detriment to every evolving cities.
I highly recommend those on Auckland Council and Local Boards to read this as it gives a brief insight on what the Americans face – as it can be translated to here quite literally.
My view is that cities are evolving constantly and are fluid – like Earth is itself. Nothing lasts and change over time continues to shape (as well as history) our present and future. Why humans constantly think we can act as if we can “snapshot” a particular moment in time and hang on to it forever baffles me. As I just said: Nothing lasts and change over time continues to shape (as well as history) our present and future. Then again I suppose the liberal nature in me allows for “change” to flow through as life would naturally flow through me and constantly change/adapt to the ever changing environment. Preserving our history is good and noble – but not at the cost of allowing the city to evolve and change, as well as keeping the city affordable for our residents and businesses.
There are considerations to weigh up when preserving our historic places – but at what cost to our future generations. A debate Council constantly gets into a bind over regularly – that is for sure.