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News Worthy - 20 Jan 2006

News Worthy
20 January 2006 - No. 57

"It's The Economy, Stupid"

During 1992 Bill Clinton and George Bush were fighting for the presidency of the United States. Bill Clinton was barely holding on to his place in the opinion polls. George Bush was pushing ahead drawing on his stature as an experienced world leader.
James Carville, one of Bill Clinton's top advisers decided that their push for presidency needed focussing. Drawing on the research he had conducted he came up with a simple focus for their campaign. Every opportunity he had James Carville wrote four words - 'It's the economy, stupid' - on a whiteboard for Bill Clinton to see every time he went out to speak.

Results from NZIER's Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion for the December 2005 quarter (released on 17 January 2006) show firms are the most pessimistic they have been since 1986. When the data are adjusted for the usual pattern of seasonal variation, firms are the most despondent they have been for 35 years.

Business confidence has slumped to its lowest level since March 1986. A net 61% of firms expect business conditions to deteriorate over the next six months compared with 32% in its previous survey. After adjustment for seasonal variation, a net 71% of firms are despondent compared with 34% in the September survey.

The King of Thailand

This year one of the daughters of the King of Thailand , Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, is visiting New Zealand as a guest of Government. On 5 December 2005, Thailand celebrated the 78th birthday of its King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is the world’s longest reigning living monarch.

His many talents include the invention of an aerator for waste water treatment and the design of small sailing boats which were later used in international competitions (the King himself was a successful competitive sailor). The King is also a gifted musician, both as player and an internationally renowned composer of jazz/blues music. In 1964 he was chosen as an honorary member of the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. He was the 23rd member and the first Asian to be so honoured for his music. His composition Blue Night featured in a Broadway production in the 1950’s and 1970’s.

Minimum apartment floor areas

One of the commitments which I have made as Member of Parliament is to seek the setting of minimum standards for apartments following the disastrous legacy of inner city developers in Auckland.

Some progress has been made but it is slow. The Auckland City Council has held three workshops and has recommended standards which include:

- Minimum apartment floor areas – for a studio the minimum area is 35 square metres

- Minimum floor to ceiling height of 2.4 metres for habitable rooms and 2.3 metres for all other rooms

- Minimum corridor width of 1.5 metres, increased to 2.7 metres adjacent to lift lobby areas

- Minimum clear glazing area of an exterior wall for bedrooms and living/dining rooms

- Provision for through natural ventilation, including for air-conditioned apartments

In the interim the Council is seeking to control building development by incorporating these standards in to the Central Area Plan. That raises an interesting and tricky issue of the interface of the Resource Management Act and the Building Code.

Alice in Wonderland

Owen McShane has much to say of value on the limitations of the Resource Management Act. One of his most dramatic examples of gross short comings in the way the legislation works is the situation in the rural zone at Matakana and Point Wells, Omaha Flats.

Those seeking a resource consent have to consider the following planning documents:

- Plan One. The Transitional Operative District Plan, including Operative Plan Change 62 – Financial Contributions.

- Plan Two. The Operative Plan Change 55, for the rules relating to their rural zone.

- Plan Three. The Proposed Plan 2000 (for the whole District), which has just completed hearings, but is not yet operative.

- Plan Four: The operative National Coastal Policy Statement, if they are near the coast

- Plan Five: The ARC’s operative Auckland Regional Policy Statement, which includes the Regional Growth Strategy.

- Plan Six: The ARC’s operative Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal.

- Plan Seven: The ARC’s Proposed Air, Land and Water Plan.

- Plan Eight: The ARC’s Proposed Policy Change 6 which directs and controls land use over the whole region.

- Plan Nine: The ARC Proposed Variation 22, which directs Rodney District to make the changes to its Proposed Plan 2000 now required by Proposed Policy Change 6.

- Plan Ten: The operative Auckland Regional Plan: Sediment Control, if they are implementing major earthworks etc.

- Plan Eleven: The operative Auckland Regional Plan: Farm Dairy Discharges (only if they are changing their dairy farm activities.)

- Plan Twelve: The proposed Policy Change 8 – Landscape and Volcanic Cones, insofar as it impacts on the whole coastline of the these two areas.

- Plan Thirteen: The ARC proposed Policy Change 10 – Natural Hazards, especially potential flooding and tsunami, near their coastlines.

Fruit Falls Foul Of Sugar Guidelines

A new set of draft rules for the advertising of food says apples and pears can not be marketed as healthy products.

The assessment of nutritional heath and related claims is intended to make it easier for consumers to pick better food.

Under the draft rules anything above a set sugar level, which includes apples and pears, cannot be marketed as healthy.

The association which makes the rules, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, says it was not intended for this to happen and it is looking at ways to get around it.

So it should.

A journalist's lament on indifference to defence

Sir Max Hastings is a well known journalist and was the editor in chief of the Daily Telegraph.

In the October 2005 RUSI Journal he colourfully writes on the growing indifference which the public has to defence issues and the dangers of that indifference.

Although the comments are British based they are clearly relevant to New Zealand at a time when the Armed Forces are being asked to do more and more with less and less.

He argues that public and media ignorance of defence is a condition that very well suits governments in general. Ministers are prepared to go to any lengths to ensure that senior officers do not commit the sin of talking “off-message”.

The article contains the following purple passage “Members of any halfway decent armed service are trained and conditioned towards operating in an ethos of discipline, obedience and sacrifice. Journalists exist in a world of disorder, self-indulgence and the ruthless pursuit of self-interest. Whoever heard of a decent reporter who did what he was told?”

Political Quote of the Week

“There are those who never stretch out the hand for fear it will be bitten. But those who never stretch out the hand will never feel it clasped in friendship.” - Michael Heseltine – British Conservative Politician - 1987

Richard Worth

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