Kapi-Mana News : September 4th 2012
11 KAPI-MANA NEWS, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012 OPINION What about a fairer society? TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL Two elements in how New Zea- landers like to see themselves -- that we re all in this together, and that this is a great place to bring up kids -- took a hammering last week. First, Inland Revenue fig- ures showed that slightly more than half of 250 individuals in this country with wealth estimated in excess of $50 million, are able to arrange their finances so that they can legally claim to be earn- ing less than $70,000 a year. This means avoiding the top rate of tax, which currently kicks in at 33 cents in the dollar. Ironically, one of the main argu- ments used in the past to justify lowering the top tax rate from 39 cents in the dollar to 33 cents had been that this would reduce the incentive to avoid tax. Clearly not. Most wage and salary earners are not so fortunate, or -- perhaps -- so unscrupulous. To critics, this IRD evidence underlined the need for a robust capital gains tax, so that all of this country s wealthy citizens pay their proper share of tax. Even the government s Tax Working Group in 2010 had expressed concerns about the rich avoiding the top tax rate through income sheltering devices such as family trusts. So far, the government has done nothing about it. At the other end of the social scale, it appears to be just as para- lysed by the extent of child pov- erty in New Zealand. Even though definitions of pov- erty can vary, a report last week from an expert panel appointed by the Children s Commission indic- ated that 270,000 New Zealand children are living in poverty. In response, the report recom- mended either a universal child benefit for under-6s that would peak at birth when costs were highest and then gradually reduce; or a system of tax credits for parents. The report also urged a war- rant of fitness for rental proper- ties in terms of warmth and insulation; a wider food in schools programme; and the creation of a Child Poverty Act with annual targets to ensure the government of the day remained focussed on the need to reduce child poverty. Fat chance. The government s immediate response could hardly have been less encouraging. Prime Minister John Key called the suggestion of a universal child payment a dopey idea. He added: We went away from that some years ago in New Zealand. We have a very targeted system through Working for Families. It s highly proportional to your income, so we make much larger payments to lower income families. What Key seemed unable to grasp was that children in beneficiary families -- who bear the brunt of child poverty -- do not receive any relief from Working for Families, because their par- ents are excluded from it. It was precisely because such children are falling through the cracks that the Children Com- mission report had recommended a universal child benefit in the first place. If anyone was being dopey here, they seemed to be situated on the ninth floor of the Beehive. To all outward signs, the gov- ernment appears incapable of a credible response on either front. A wide-ranging capital gains tax or a universal child benefit may, or may not, be dumb ideas. Yet having no ideas at all to offer about tax avoidance or child poverty made the government look even dumber. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM Page 10 LETTERS GUIDE The Kapi-Mana News welcomes letters from readers. Letters will be published at the editor's discretion. Please keep correspondence to 250 words or less. We reserve the right to edit for brevity and sense. Pen names are not acceptable. If you feel there is a good reason you can't put your name to your letter, phone the editor. For identification not publication, please include an address not a box number and if possible a daytime contact phone number. Send letters to The Editor, PO Box 50 012, Porirua, phone 237 8118, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. challenges as they arose during the game. Many of our parents commented extremely positively following our match on several examples of Jeff s (and his fellow coaching team and in fact the Norths supporters) conduct both before, during and after the game. In an era where people can be quick to highlight the negative, we feel it s worth acknowledging those who are truly making a positive influence on our game and the development of its players. Please pass on my congratulations to Jeff and his coaching team and I look forward to many more enjoyable and keenly contested matches between our teams in the coming years. LEO BARBER, Kapiti Coast. Idea rubbish Editor, Porirua ratepayers can breathe a sigh of relief that Wellington City Council, at least for now, are not keen to progress our council s grandiose combined Porirua and Wellington rubbish collection adventure. Rubbish has three components -- collection, disposal and these days, recycling. Wellington and Porirua already have a joint venture with disposal, our local tip. So how could Porirua ratepayers benefit from joint collection? They can t. The only collection economies are from market domination in scale, street by street. Collection costs decrease the greater the percentage of residents in a street using a particular collection company. Obviously it s cheaper for the company (and council) if 100 per cent of a street s residents use the same company. But unless PCC is planning to go back in time to Muldoon-style management, residents have freedom of choice, so that won t happen. Otherwise, the cost of collection is determined by factors like terrain, street width, turning and access, which determines collections per hour (productivity). Who has the wider and more accessible streets? If Porirua has the better streets for refuse collection, which city s ratepayers will end up paying more? Thank you Wellington for deciding not to have Porirua ratepayers subsidise Wellington s rubbish collection. Or perhaps they had low confidence in PCC s ability to manage and negotiate such a contract. Justified? Despite running a high-cost recycling operation, subsidised by ratepayers in multiple ways, PCC signed a contract for the tip management which allows fees to increase annually, but not reduce, due to less waste/more recycling, as has occurred for the last five years. How does PCC rate in other measures of efficiency and professionalism? Do you have to ask many times for the true cost of a project, because PCC discounts costs if partly funded from reserves and other cash sources? Do PCC repeatedly claim in the LTP that spending on roads is sufficient to re-surface them all in a 15-year timeframe, despite knowing this to be untrue? Do PCC require planning applications to be supported by technical product specifications, sometimes running to hundreds of pages, which must all be printed out by the applicant from the manufacturers websites, and which are then scanned back into electronic format by PCC? Councillors and senior management, please stick to your core business in Porirua. Concentrate on improving PCC productivity before planning yet more adventures with ratepayers money. ANDREW WELLUM, Camborne. COMMENTS ONLINE: Titahi Bay theatre condemned Nicky: This is a massive blow to everyone who lives in Porirua City, the shows they have at PLT are top class. Bay Resident: ...Ifthis historical building is to face the bulldozers, they, the council, would probably have a huge battle from residents of The Bay. This link with The Bay s past needs to be saved for future generations, irrespective of what state it is in. Supermarket price spies' trespassed Angel: I have a pretty standard shopping list that I print off copies of and cross off the things I don t need this time around. It was in order of the way they had things in the aisles. Then Porirua New World rearranged their shop, so I wanted to reorder my list so I could get in and out in the most efficient way. I got stopped by their undercover shopper dude and he asked what I was up to... made me feel like a criminal for actually wanting to shop in their store. MDR: All of which proves that supermarkets really hate genuine competition -- drives the profits down, after all. Look at the reaction of both Progressive and Foodstuffs a few years ago when The Warehouse made noises about selling fresh produce -- anyone remember that?
August 28th 2012
September 11th 2012