Home' The Wellingtonian : July 7th 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 7, 2011
Sideshows fill the news agenda
As business commentator
Rod Oram pointed out last
week, exports comprise
only nine per cent of Auckland s
economic activity -- with the rest
being devoted to meeting the con-
sumption needs of the city s 1.4
That s no way to run an econ-
omy, Oram argued, adding that
no-one can hope to build a world-
class city on the likes of serving
lattes to one s fellow citizens.
Adding value to exports just
doesn t seem to be our forte.
New Zealand s export trade, for
example, is still based on much
the same low-value agricultural
products as it was 100 years ago.
In any given week, such mur-
murings from the media sidelines
are routinely lost amid the round
of photo opportunities, sideshows
and Beehive announcements.
Last week s political agenda
was dominated by announcements
about the rebuild of Christchurch,
allegations about how menstru-
ation affects women s pro-
ductivity, and by the Prime
Minister s attempts to pursue a
trade pact with India -- which
included a visit to a Bollywood
film set and a photo opportunity
with his wife at the Taj Mahal.
At home, events of comparable
significance were unfolding
Without fanfare, Meridian
Energy -- which is being readied
for partial sale next year -- paid a
special $521 million dividend to
the Government, thanks to the
sale of its Lake Tekapo assets to
its fellow state-owned power com-
To finance this purchase, Gen-
esis borrowed $546 million from
banks and raised $275 million
from investors, paying Meridian
$821 million in all.
Despite the borrowing, the mar-
ket evaluation of Genesis rose
sharply thereafter -- and why?
As a Genesis spokesman told
reporters, the rise was partly
because of the company s long-
term view on wholesale electricity
In other words, the public looks
likely to be financing -- via higher
energy prices -- this exercise in
book-value wealth creation.
It is wealth generated not by
productive activity or by adding
value to the nation s export
earnings, but by a transfer of
wealth between state agencies,
and extracted (ultimately) from
As Oram has indicated, we
seem better at this sort of thing
than we are at adding value to our
Last week, media attention
focused again on New Zealand s
lack of a tax on capital gains, a tax
that most other developed
countries take for granted.
Not only would such a tax raise
revenue, but it would push invest-
ment down more productive
channels than the buying and sell-
ing of houses.
The argument mounted last
week was also one based on fair-
ness -- namely, that ordinary New
Zealanders have been priced out
of affording to buy a family home
by property investors allowed to
treat the gains from housing
speculation as pure profit.
Ordinary wage-earners must
pay tax, but are effectively
subsidising property investors
who pay no tax on wealth
accumulated via capital gain.
Precious little of this debate
filtered through into the week s
round of jousting between the two
main political parties.
Even during an election year,
the agenda of political activity
tends to devote little or no time to
considering the structural aspects
of the economy.
And that s despite the fact that,
arguably, those economic settings
impact more substantially on the
wellbeing of the public than the
passing parade of headline events.
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These seats have become electoral
anomalies that distort
proportional representation and
racialise our political system.
With the advent of MMP and
the establishment of the Maori
and Mana parties, the need for
race-based electorates has been
In the 2008 election, the Maori
Party won 46,894 votes -- 2.24 per
cent of the total party vote.
Clearly, a majority of Maori
preferred to place their party vote
elsewhere than the Maori party.
The seven Maori electorates
have today become an
anachronism and should be
legislated out of our
As our first Governor, William
Hobson, stated at the signing of
the Treaty of Waitangi, He iwi
tahi tatou (let us be one people).
Why men rape
If all females dressed modestly,
rape would go down significantly,
says H Westfold (June 23).
The way to confirm that would
be to do it. Not all females will, so
we have to interpret the
information we have.
My interpretation of the rise in
sexual convictions is that a slowly
improving social climate means
more women are reporting rapes
and seeing the legal process
through, and that before 1986 it
was legal for a man to rape his
Also an increase in alcohol
consumption by women means
more are being raped.
I don t need to have lived
through the whole period 1945 to
1975. I have talked to people who
Nowadays women dress
revealingly to go to bars, night
clubs and parties. Most rapes
outside the home occur at night
because that is safer for the
rapist. Time of day is the factor.
Rapists rape for different
reasons. They include power, sex,
avoiding feeling rejected (date
rape) or a combination.
H Westfold may think I m
young and scantily clad, but I m
middle-aged and have already
dressed as for the Antarctic.
Letters from H Westfold address
his points of view in a quite
concise and factual manner,
particularly his recent efforts
portraying women who dress to
attract maximum attention.
I have found that if someone
dresses like a goose, walks like a
goose, and squawks like a goose, it
is reasonable to assume that
person is, in fact, a goose.
I am of the belief that if I espy
a woman in a bodice that displays
a partial view of her nipples, a
frock or skirt so short it gives
fleeting glimpses of her panties,
the woman concerned should not
take umbrage if asked How
much? by those who can t help
but notice her promiscuity and
assume her intent. RON BLAIR
B Procter (June 30) stated that
statistics show that rape is
considerably lower in many
Muslim countries. Perhaps the
reason for the lower rape
statistics is that when thieves
commits theft in some of those
countries they have their hands
chopped off. DUNCAN McDONALD
I see (June 16) the Green Party
candidate for Ohariu, Gareth
Hughes, is encouraging people not
to vote for him as electorate MP,
but for the Labour candidate.
Hughes is interested only in
the party vote.
Fantastic: someone who doesn t
want to represent the people of
Ohariu is suggesting we vote for
someone who is not representative
of the people of Ohariu as he
doesn t live here.
The arrogance of Labour,
National and the Greens in
putting up candidates who are out
of the electorate and expect us to
vote for them really annoys me.
Readers of Shirley Najbert s
unfortunate experience with a
door-to-door vacuum cleaner
salesman (June 16) might be
interested to know of the rights
they have under The Door to Door
Sales Act. Consumers have
certain protections if they have
purchased goods or services under
some form of credit arrangement,
such as if a deposit is paid and the
balance is paid in instalments (a
credit sale agreement).
Under these agreements, the
purchaser must receive a right of
cancellation notice as part of the
agreement and the purchaser has
the right to cancel the contract
within seven days (starting from
the date of the signing of the
This is called the cooling off
period . The consumer does not
need to give a reason (to cancel).
It is important to note that the
Act does not apply any protection
to the purchaser who has paid the
full price at the time of the sale or
paid by credit card, as neither of
these transactions is considered a
credit sale agreement. N McLEOD
Citizens Advice Bureau
The item entitled Karori brought
to Life (June 23) has inspired me
to write to acknowledge the
magnificent effort made by the
joint editors of Karori and Its
People, Judith Burch and Jan
This is not one person s
authorship as suggested in your
profile of Mrs Burch. Rather, it is
a collective outcome.
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