Good Luck with That Trade Deal, Winston

Winston Peters, our Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, travels to Washington again this week to try to secure a trade deal with the US, particularly over steel tariffs.

Winston was talking up his chances of pulling off a deal, seeming confident that he will manage it this time.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is heading to the US to meet with senior Trump administration officials for the second time in just over six months.
Peters will again meet Secretary of State Michael Pompeo during his Washington visit this week.
But, unlike the last time he was in the US, Peters will not meet US Vice-President Mike Pence.
In a statement, Peters said he was looking forward to advancing New Zealand’s political and economic relationship with the US, “as well as the Coalition Government’s commitment to religious freedom, and to countering violent extremism worldwide”.

I’m not sure whether that last statement was intended as a slight towards President Trump or not. It could certainly be seen that way, and if so, it was unwise of the DPM to be making such statements while going cap in hand to the US for a trade deal.

He is scheduled to deliver a speech in Washington which will focus on the importance of the two countries’ bilateral relationship.
It would also be an opportunity to “further strengthen trade and economic co-operation between New Zealand and the United States,” he said.

A Newspaper.
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More Bad News for Landlords

If you thought compulsory insulation, compulsory kitchen and bathroom fans and compulsory fixed heaters were enough, you are going to be disappointed. More than a year ago, the government announced that rental losses were going to be ringfenced. This has now passed into law… not that you would know about it. I have looked everywhere and, unless you are used to reading legislation, or IRD policy (and the website has not yet been updated, even though the ringfence is already law), you wouldn’t know about it. Seriously. We are being kept in the dark.

The Allocation of Deductions for Excess Rental Land Expenditure was passed into law last week and applies to all rental properties with effect from 1st April 2019. Section 51C New Subpart EL deals with this. (Here is the reference if you want to read the legislation)

Here is what is happening. Owners of rental properties will not be able to claim rental losses in the year in which they are incurred. Instead, they will be carried forward (ringfenced) to be offset against future rental profits. You will not lose the rental losses altogether, but you will not be able to offset rental losses against other income, including tax paid salaries.

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A Little Bit Racist?

I watched the first part of TVNZ’s series ‘That’s a Bit Racist’, and it was the most biased, one-sided and in itself racist programme that I had ever seen. It was brought about, of course, by the dreadful Christchurch massacre, but that was the first mistake. The mosque shootings were perpetrated by a non-New Zealander, who identified as an ‘eco-fascist’ and targeted Muslims because of their birth rate. Islam is a religion, not a race, and so the attacks, dreadful as they were, were not racially motivated.

The programme missed the point altogether that inherently, everyone is racist. I lived in Hong Kong for a while and the local Chinese, 98% of the population, clearly thought that they were the superior race. I didn’t blame them for thinking that because I thought I belonged to the superior race too. None of us is right or wrong. It is all just a matter of personal opinion.

This programme detailed a number of incidents where people felt they had been racially profiled, and they might be right, but they might equally be wrong.

Columnist and comedian Oscar Kightley – who, if we’re honest, is a national treasure – revealed the reason why his comedy troupe The Naked Samoans don’t go to Christchurch. You guessed it, racism.
Despite being a group of household names and national icons, Kightley says they were subjected to not one but two shocking instances of racist prejudice when performing there. They arrived to perform and the stage security wouldn’t let them into the dressing room in case they stole something, he recalls. After the show, a bartender refused to serve them unless they could prove they had money.

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Will Roading Be the Big Election Issue?

With a rapidly growing population and an infrastructure that has not kept up, the humble motor vehicle is still the transport mode of choice for most people. No matter how much the government tries to tell us otherwise, most of us will not bike to work. It is simply not practical, unless you are one of those fortunate people who never takes anything to work with you and never has to do anything, such as pick up groceries, or the kids, on the way home. For everyone else, the car is the only method of transport that works.

So the car is here to stay, whether or not the government, and city councils, want to accept it. Most don’t; certainly in Wellington, the council is doing everything possible to keep cars out of the central city, but all it is doing is killing off the lucrative retail and hospitality sectors, and the consequences of this will come home to roost sooner or later.

Heather du Plessis-Allan thinks the time is now.

I almost bought a house in Pukekohe the other day.
It’s a fair way out of town, for someone who works in the city. But the drive is worth it, I told myself.

Traffic. That was, in the end, the thing that made me fall out of love with the idea of living in Pukekohe again.

It’s 35 minutes door to door on a good day.

But how much longer will we have good days? I’ve been driving from Pukekohe to the city for 20 years and it’s noticeable how much worse the traffic has got in that time. Fifteen years ago you’d get to Papakura before striking the red tail lights. Now, you can barely get off the Drury onramp.
So how much longer before rush hour is an all-day problem?

My recent experience driving through Auckland on a Friday afternoon suggests that we are already there. 2.30 in the afternoon and all lanes were completely choked. It was a horrible drive and when we got to our destination, all we were told was – “It’s Friday”. Obviously this was quite normal.

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Simon Bridges’ Big Call on Winston Peters

What does Simon Bridges do about finding a coalition partner? Does he do what John Key did and refuse to deal with NZ First? Or does he offer NZ First an olive branch? Perhaps he does what he is doing at the moment, which is sitting on the fence, undecided as to what exactly he should do, a year out from the next election?

From my perspective, Winston appears to be making any overtures from National almost impossible. Every time I see Winston on TV, he is denigrating, if not overtly insulting, the National party, and Simon Bridges in particular. I am aware that coalition negotiations go on behind closed doors, but it is hard to imagine that Winston was genuinely negotiating with Bill English after the last election when he was quietly working on suing most of the senior National party members. Since then, his disdain for anything in blue has been out there for all to see. Why would anyone think that Winston might be prepared to do a deal with National?

It seems that Matthew Hooton does.

A year before the election campaign, it’s odds-on that when all’s said and done, NZ First will again choose the Prime Minister.
This would be a first. Since the advent of MMP, no small party has broken the 5 per cent threshold after joining a coalition. This time, both NZ First and the Greens are on track to make it.

Not so fast, Matthew Hooton. NZ First has struggled in the polls and popping their head above the 5% threshold on the first poll taken after the Christchurch massacre is not a guarantee of anything. I am not writing them off completely, and Winston is the ultimate survivor, but this might be the end for NZ First. This time, they made promises they did not keep, and their voters are going to hold them to account.

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Climate Change our WWII Moment?

We have students wagging school. We have councils and even whole countries declaring climate emergencies when, for the most part, the weather is still behaving pretty much as it normally does. I mean – it is winter, so it is cold, right? Yes, it is. Jacinda claimed that climate change was her generation’s ‘nuclear moment’, without even a touch of irony, as that ‘nuclear moment’ never actually happened, and there has not been a nuclear attack since World War II.

Speaking of World War II:

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has declared climate change “our generation’s WWII” in her defence of proposed car price hikes.

Genter, also Minister for Women, made the declaration on Twitter while defending the Government’s proposed fees for cars being imported that don’t meet a ‘clean car’ policy tipped for 2021.

Vehicles that emit over 250 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) would be considered heavy polluters so importing those vehicles would come with a financial penalty of up to $3000.

“The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. It’s our generation’s WWII. We are the first generation to feel its impacts,” Genter said.

What an absolute disgrace. I don’t know where to begin with this.

“New Zealand was too small to win WWII. But that didn’t stop many of our forebears from putting their hand up. They put their lives on hold, and travelled far away, to be part of a larger effort, because it was the right thing to do.”

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Why Does Jacinda Want to Keep Her Holiday a Secret? * UPDATED

*The rumours about the 757 were not true

Something weird is going on. Politicians take holidays all the time, and no one bats an eyelid. Everyone is entitled to take time out with their families. July is a common time for politicians to take a break. It is the middle of the year, parliament is in recess and it is also school holidays. If Jacinda wants to go on holiday now, no one should care.

But why does she want to keep it a secret?

Under normal circumstances where the Prime Minister goes on holiday should be of little interest to anyone, although our leaders have in the past been quite open about where they’re off to.
Helen Clark was forever off to the Andes to climb some mountain or other, or scaling the Southern Alps with her hubby Peter Davis.
John Key made no secret of his many jaunts to his holiday house in Hawaii when he was leading the country and few raised an eyebrow.

Jacinda Ardern climbed on a plane at the beginning of this week but no one was saying where this Prime Minister, who promised to be the most transparent in the history of the world, was going.
The only thing we were told was that Winston Peters was the acting Prime Minister and even he claims he didn’t know where she was off to. Inquiries to the Prime Minister’s office were met with a “we’re not saying where she’s going”.

Whyever not? All this celebrity status has gone to her head. The media that she courts so slavishly, the photo opportunities that she so avidly seeks… all are left behind as she takes a holiday in Rarotonga and refuses to tell anyone where she is, or why.

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The PM is Having a Well-Deserved Holiday…

… courtesy of the military…

Jacinda, Clarke and Neve took off on holiday together on Monday, heading away for a well earned break from all the stresses and struggles of running a country and visiting schools and kindergartens. They arrived in Rarotonga, where Clarke will use the time to film some shots for his TV programme, ‘Fish of the Day’.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the Rarotonga International Airport. Ardern is pictured with Akaiti Puna, the wife of prime minister Henry Puna, and baby Neve.

OK… nothing to report so far. Politicians commonly go on holiday at this time of year. John Key used to go to his holiday home in Hawaii. Remember how the media used to try to use it against him… and definitely used it against his son, Max; trying to make him out to be some spoiled little rich kid who didn’t deserve a holiday because he didn’t do anything.

There was, however, a marked difference between John Key’s holidays in Hawaii and Jacinda’s trip to Rarotonga. John Key flew in a commercial plane.

It would appear that Jacinda, Clarke and Neve travelled to Rarotonga on an RNZAF 757.

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Tax the Van, Discount the Tesla

Do you remember when Jacinda promised no more taxes at the 2017 election? Now we have additional fuel taxes, tourist levies and an extended Bright Line test, just to mention a few.

Well, it is not over yet.

The Government is signalling its intention to slash the price of imported electric and hybrid vehicles by up to $8000 in a bid to make greener cars cheaper for Kiwis.
But it is also planning to slap a new fee of up to $3000 on the import of vehicles with the highest greenhouse gas emissions.
The Government has today opened a six-week consultation period before it introduces new legislation in Parliament later this year.
The plan, according to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, will get more Kiwis into cleaner vehicles by reducing some of the cost burden.

So they are proposing discounts for people who buy EVs or hybrids, even though those people are generally better off and more likely to be able to afford the full price. This is just more middle class welfare as far as I can see.

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Overregulation is the Problem in the Building Industry

The Coalition of Losers campaigned on solving the housing crisis, claiming that they would build 10,000 houses a year for 10 years. It took 18 months for them to fail spectacularly, but many people, both inside and outside of the construction industry knew perfectly well that they would never come anywhere near to achieving their promises. That is because Labour, whilst shouting their promises from the rooftops, had no idea of the issues involved in the construction sector these days.

They have no excuse for not knowing; previous Labour governments have been partly responsible for the regulations that hamstring the construction industry today. But they were either too stupid, too arrogant or too naive to worry about details. They thought that the previous government was simply dragging its heels and that housing problems could easily be fixed.

Now they know differently.

Belief is powerful. It can also be beautiful; the way a child has complete trust in their parents or the unfailing certainty of Warriors fans that next year is our year.

It is also resistant to reason; something that becomes self-evident to anyone who has spoken to a New Zealand First voter.

For many, a blind adherence to an outdated idea, like astrology or the gender pay gap, is harmless.

When combined with political power it can cause problems. We are seeing this in the unravelling of KiwiBuild.

Labour believes that capitalism is to blame for the lack of affordable accommodation. Because the magic capitalist economic machine thing didn’t make enough houses Labour convinced themselves that what was needed was government intervention.

In 1974 we cranked out nearly forty thousand consents for new homes. Sadly, it was also during this period that central and local governments began to exert a growing micromanagement in the sector, culminating with the New Zealand Town and Country Planning Act 1977.
Housing has never recovered. Now it is impossible to build anything without complying with the Resource Management Act, Building Act, local land use rules and a local council consent process that is designed to drive builders into insolvency.

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