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News Worthy, 26 May 2006 - No. 74

News Worthy
26 May 2006 - No. 74

Immigration Part III

I have been sharply critical of our immigration policy in recent email newsletters (see for example 72 & 73) The Government has announced a review of the Immigration Act 1987 but the review is structural and fails to deal with policy rules.

The latest illustration of foolishness is the quest by Danish musician Michael Hardinger who has gone to Australia because he can not get a work permit to come to New Zealand.

About five years ago Hardinger had wanted to emigrate to New Zealand from his base in Los Angeles where he writes film scores but he was not eligible for entry in any category.

Those with exceptional talent in a declared field of arts, culture or sport can get a work visa or permit but they have to be sponsored by a nationally reputed New Zealand organisation and be 55 or under.

Hardinger has solo recordings with sales of more than six million and has written five film scores.

Capital Gains Tax on off-shore investments

GPG may have scored a five year delay on the Government's latest plans for a capital gains tax on other than Australian shares, but the Government sadly mistakes the number of New Zealanders who are affected by the changes.

ABN AMRO Craigs assess that the potential number of New Zealanders could be well in excess of 200,000.

Surely it should never be in doubt that New Zealanders who chose to make share investment choices for their retirement need to diversify their investments.

Two further points should also be obvious:

* That rather than pay the tax a significant number of New Zealanders will sell investments and repatriate funds to either New Zealand or Australia. This potentially increases the risk profile of their investment savings.

* A significant amount of money will be directed towards the Australian market, further strengthening Australian companies and making them look to the New Zealand market for companies to acquire

Waka hopping

The Government has been keen to re-enact the so-called "waka hopping' legislation contained in the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill. The legislation seeks to stop MPs changing parties.

The Justice & Electoral Select Committee may have stopped that proposal in its tracks by recommending that the Bill not proceed.

Our MMP system is modelled on the German system which does not have such a requirement. Indeed the provision would be unconstitutional under Germany's basic law. In Germany, all members, once elected, must be "representatives of the whole people" and should be able to act in accordance with their consciences".

The Justice & Electoral Select Committee said in part:

"There is simply no evidence to support a view that the passage of the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001 improved public confidence in the institution of Parliament. Effective remedies for untrustworthy conduct by Members of Parliament are already in the hands of voters quite apart from such legislation. In the MMP era, the voters have shown very little patience with MPs and political parties which have failed to keep faith with their electors. By far the most effective remedy for such behaviour lies with the voters".

A tale of two cities

There has been a fierce internet debate on urban sprawl versus the determination of the Auckland Regional Council to fix urban limits to growth.

Along comes an interesting speech by Bob Day of the Housing Institute of Australia, comparing Sydney where the medium house price is just over A$500,000 and Houston Texas, where the medium house price is a mere A$140,000.

In affordability terms that is an extraordinary difference and why might it be. Well Houston has no zoning.

Day cites the situation in Australian cities

"We have the ludicrous situation in Australian cities where urban growth boundaries cause land on one side of the boundary - residentially zoned land to sell at $100 a square metre while land outside the boundary zoned agricultural thereby prohibiting residential development, sells for $10 a square metre.

These absurd zoning practices drive land prices through the roof and worst of all, lock low and middle income earners out of the home ownership market".

Political Quote of the Week

"Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together." - Jesse Jackson - American Civil Rights Leader

Richard Worth

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