Last year our Prime Minister boldly announced to the United Nations that New Zealand was going to create one of the world’s largest ocean sanctuaries. It was intended to establish our sustainability credentials on the biggest international stage.
The Kermadecs lie six hundred or so miles to the north of the rest of New Zealand. The main island, Raoul Island, is our country’s northernmost inhabited outpost. The islands are all reserves, administered by the Department of Conservation, and the only inhabitants are Conservation Department staff and volunteers.
The recent political debate over the shortage of housing has been more heat than light. The real issue that needs addressing is the policy framework that’s preventing the housing market from operating properly and meeting the growing demand for houses - especially those in the lower and medium price brackets.
The headlines are relentless about homelessness and the cost of housing. Nowadays $2,500 a square metre is not unusual even for a relatively straight forward build. Given the average home is about 200m2, the building cost alone is likely to be +$500k (plus land cost). So why does it cost so much to build a house? There are many reasons, but mostly the cause ends up at the doorstep of local and central government.
Public policy has a major impact on our lives; that goes without saying. If the assumptions upon which policy is based are sound, there is a good chance that the resulting laws and regulations will have a positive influence on the country. But when the assumptions are driven by ideology instead of reason, the outcomes can be detrimental.
Many articles in the Herald have emphasised the dangers of man-made global warming and warned us that extreme measures are needed to save us from this imminent climatic disaster. Almost without exception, the authors have assumed that man-made carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming, rapid sea level rise and more floods, droughts, cyclones and so on.
‘Green’ ideology is responsible for many of the public policy failures that are evident in New Zealand today. The green way is to create a moral panic to put public pressure on decision-makers to force change. As a result, through green pressure and soft public opinion, politicians will often implement policies that do more harm than good.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for the government. Two developments have been causing headaches. The first, the leaking of documents that raised concerns that New Zealand might be being used as a tax haven. The second was the news that high profile Maori leaders were joining the fight against the Kermadec Islands Ocean Sanctuary.
Last Saturday, National launched their controversial water discussion document at a Party conference at Lake Tekapo. By announcing the major reform of the country’s system of freshwater management at a remote location on a weekend, National will have ensured that that most New Zealanders are unaware that a public consultation and submission process is now underway.