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News Worthy - 16 June 2006

News Worthy

16 June 2006 - No. 75

A nation packed with criminals

National constantly points out that the present Government is soft on crime. The classic illustration is that the rapist jailed for nine years is eligible for parole after three.

The Government asserts that our imprisonment is "shamefully high".

Along comes Jamie Whyte in an article in the NZ Herald which makes a number of good points including:
* New Zealand is a very criminal country. We have 100 crimes each year for every 1000 citizens. This compares to 90 in England, 24 in Spain and 20 in Ireland.
* As a percentage of crimes committed, we imprison very few people. We have 18 prisoners per 1000 crimes, compared to 13 in England, 33 in Ireland and 48 in Spain.
* High rates of imprisonment correlate with low crime rates. Spain and Ireland have high imprisonment rates and low crime rates. New Zealand and Britain have low imprisonment rates and high crime rates.

Australia/New Zealand tax rates comparison


Current tax thresholds income range (AUD) / Tax rate % / New tax thresholds from / 1 July 2006 income range (AUD) / Tax rate %

0 - 6000 / 0 / 0 - 6000 / 0

6,001 - 21,600 / 15 / 6,001 - 25,000 / 15

21,601 - 63,000 / 30 / 25,001 - 75,000 / 30

63,001 - 95,000 / 42 / 75,000 - 150,000 / 40

95,001+ / 47 / 150,000 + / 45

New Zealand

Current tax thresholds income range (NZD) / Tax rate % / Tax thresholds from 1 April 2008 income range (NZD) / Tax rate %

0 - 9,500 / 15 / 0 - 10,081 / 15

9,500 - 38,000 / 21 / 10,082 - 40,324 / 21

38,001 - 60,000 / 33 / 40,325 - 63,672 / 33

60,000+ / 39 / 63,673+ / 39

Local Authority rates

Federated Farmers have recently completed an analysis of 83 city, district and regional draft long-term Council plans.

On a nationwide basis, rates revenue will increase by 7.7 percent in 2006/07, 8.3 percent in 2007/08 and 7.4 percent in 2008/09. The increases are well in excess of both inflation and population growth and coincide with an economic downturn.

For the coming year, 30 of the 85 councils intend to increase their rates revenue by more than 10 percent, with 6 of the 30 set to increase by more than 20 percent.

Councils blame the rates increases on inflation in the construction sector pushing up infrastructure costs and central government imposing new responsibilities and additional compliance costs. While they have a point, some are also choosing to increase 'soft' spending on largely urban-based social and cultural activities.

Clearly there needs to be urgent changes to the way local government is funded and we also need to review the so-called power of "general competence" which has allowed local authorities to move away from the provision of core services.

Auckland infrastructure

The Prime Minister famously remarked in her opening statement to Parliament this year:

"We need to remove the infrastructure constraints which hold back world class performance in Auckland, our only city of international scale, while ensuring our regions continue to thrive."
The reality is of course that after seven years in government minimal effort has been made to improve the infrastructure of Auckland and the relationship between the various local authority entities in Auckland and central government is stretched to breaking point.

The extended power cut on Monday was wholly unacceptable and the costs (both direct and indirect) of the power failure are significant.

But more importantly, Auckland faces more power blackouts because the transmission system is old and stretched.

The grid is so overworked that some lines cannot be taken out for servicing. As the Chief Executive of Meridian Energy has commented, "such a circumstance is unheard of in the western world".

There is an expectation when we travel by air that the risk of an air crash is zero. Power systems should similarly be designed to have 100% reliable supply with the consequence that there need to be redundant elements that come into play to avoid blackouts when mechanical failures occur. Such is not the case in Auckland.

Political Quote of the Week

"For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Richard Worth

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