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News Worthy

News Worthy

14 October 2005
No. 49


The case for a supercity in Auckland

The $1 billion spending bombshell predicted by North Shore City highlights the urgency of getting on with territorial authority amalgamations in Auckland.

These revelations of infrastructure expenditure blowouts over the next eight years on the North Shore underline the nonsense that arises from fragmentation of water and waste water services across the region and the toxic mess arising from the range of transport organisations involved.

Ever increasing rates bills are a huge worry to residents across the region not just on the North Shore. Some sanity could be brought to the process by bringing the financial and administrative clout of more powerful regional infrastructure bodies and fewer territorial councils to bear.

The first place to start is with water and waste water administration. It is a nonsense to have seven different companies involved across the region. The bulk supplier of these services, Watercare, is capable of handling what is required. Why, for example, isn't North Shore's Rosedale treatment plant integrated into the regional supply system? The answer lies in parochial attitudes that have no place in efficient administration aimed at minimising costs to ratepayers.

Concerns about monopoly powers can be handled by a regulatory pricing mechanism. There are plenty of models. Public ownership can be assured.

A first step toward better servicing the region's needs should entail a rationalisation of water and waste water services, along with storm water handling. The savings that can be achieved, including relief from the ever increasing spiral of charges on the community, would demonstrate the value of an early move towards territorial local authority amalgamations.

It is not a case of transferring infrastructure costs from one community to another but simply putting in place the blocks to build a more efficient regional local government administrative system that delivers results at less cost to all.

Log jams in the courts

The courts are under increasing pressure with substantial delays and administrative inefficiency. To pick up three straplines:
"The courts are open to everyone like the Ritz Hotel"
The reality is that the wealthy can afford access to justice; those of limited means are generally eligible for legal aid whilst those in the middle face major problems.

Major overhaul of the legal aid system is required.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant"
Name suppression in criminal cases should be scrapped.
"Justice delayed is justice denied"
There are very significant delays in the justice system with multiple adjournment of cases. For a range of reasons including the readiness of the judges to grant adjournments, lack of resourcing in key areas and unnecessary judicial involvement in administration.

Deficit

The current account deficit has reached an estimated 8 per cent of GDP, and a further deterioration to 10 per cent of GDP is possible in the coming year.

The $11.9 billion deficit can be split into several key components.

* The trade and services balances have traditionally been either a small deficit or small surplus. The trade balance has deteriorated into a $3 billion deficit, and recent trends in trade data suggest that a further deterioration lies ahead. New Zealand's popularity as a tourist destination enables the services account to run a small surplus of around $900 million.

* The largest contributor to the current account deficit is the $10.3 billion investment income deficit. A couple of years ago, it was closer to $7 billion.

* A small contribution from transfers.
Some of the investment income deficit is attributable to the profits earned by the large number of New Zealand companies that are owned offshore.

Another growing portion of the deficit is payment on debt, largely reflecting overseas borrowing by banks to fund households' insatiable demand for borrowing.

The size of the banking sector's offshore debt is astounding - it accounts for 63 per cent of New Zealand's net foreign debt.

New Zealand has a growing problem which cannot continue indefinitely.

New Zealand heroes - Part 1 of a continuing series

Alexander Aitken was the greatest mathematician of his era and possessed an astonishing computational brain that could complete challenges that today are reserved for the most complex computers.

As one of the most remarkable mathematical brains of all time, Aitken could recite Pi to 707 decimal places, multiply two nine digit numbers in his head in 30 seconds, and render fractions to 26 decimal places in under five seconds.

He was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on 1 April 1895 and spent most of his working life at Edinburgh University.

Aitken's phenomenal skill in mental arithmetic made him the greatest mental calculator for whom there is any reliable record. In psychological tests in Britain in the 1920s he took thirty seconds to multiply 987,654,321 by 123,456,789 and produce the correct answer: 121,932,631,112,635,269

Monaco and the Entrepreneur of the Year award

Villa Maria founder George Fistonich is the winner of the Ernst & Young 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year award. The four other finalists were:

* Paul Manning of Metromedia

* Katherine Corich of Sysdoc Group

* Ken Stevens of Glidepath

* Annah Stretton of Stretton's Clothing

The winner represents New Zealand at the Entrepreneur World Summit in Monte Carlo next June.

In the calendar of Monaco the Entrepreneur of the Year Award ranks alongside the Grand Prix in May, the Boat Show in September and the National Day on 19 November 2005 when Prince Albert II will be crowned.

Political Quote of the Week

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith" - Franklin D Roosevelt - US President


Upcoming Events

15 October
St Johns Thames Centennial
2005 Margaret Stevenson Memorial Dinner and Lecture
Alisun Concert 2005 in Takapuna
16 October - 1-10pm
Waitakere Diwali Celebrations - Trusts Stadium
18 October
Osteoporosis NZ "You Deserve a Medal" Awards ceremony in Wellington
19 October
Opening of 10th Italian Film Festival in NZ
20 October
Dinner for 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
25 October
60th anniversary of the United Nations reception in Wellington
28 October
40th anniversary of Wellington Samaritans.
29 October
Fundraising concert for Burmese refugees in Takapuna
30 October
Valley Road Independent Church Special "Celebration Sunday"
Auckland Diwali celebrations at Aotea Centre
2 November
AmCham-UPS Business Awards in Auckland
4 November
Epsom "Newsmakers" Breakfast with guest speaker Tim Groser
18 November
The last possible date for Parliament to sit following the 2005 election.
19 November
Monaco National Day
20 November
Toast Martinborough

Richard Worth

Visit my website for more information at: www.richardworth.co.nz

ENDS

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