Queensland and Victoria join New South Wales on medical cannabis trials

ABC news reports that medical cannabis trials are being supported by three states in Australia.

The Queensland and Victorian state governments have joined forces with New South Wales to take part in medicinal cannabis clinical trials.

The NSW Government introduced the scientific trials last year to help treat patients with drug-resistant and uncontrollable epilepsy.

The new agreement means Victorians and Queenslanders suffering terminal or life-threatening conditions can take part in the NSW clinical trials.

The three trials will be conducted by the NSW Government and will examine the use of cannabis in providing relief for patients.

Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy…

…said the first trial would be open to children with severe, drug resistant epilepsy, due to start mid next year.

“There’s a series of experts that oversee the eligibility for who gets to partake and we’ll be doing all we can to support Victorian families and Victorian kids who meet that eligibility criteria to participate in the trial,” she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk…

…said the focus of the trial would be for families whose children suffer from life-threatening seizures.

Sometimes they’re happening on a weekly and a daily basis, being rushed to hospital and this medical cannabis oil, there’s scientific research which says that it can alleviate the pain that these young children are going through,” she said.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick…

…says the clinical trials will set a framework to explore the possibility of regulated medical cannabis in the state, but the trials are dependant on the advice of medical researchers.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ)…

…said it supported scientific trials into the use of medicinal cannabis.

AMAQ president Dr Shaun Rudd said the trials would determine if it was safe.

“We think it’s a great idea – we’ve always wanted to get further evidence to see if this is something that we can use, medically or not,” he said.

“Hopefully with the trials we’ll find out what components of the cannabis itself is the useful ones for medical treatment.”

Meanwhile New Zealand under a National led government continues to do nothing.

One News Colmar Brunton poll

A One News poll from Colmar Brunton suggests nothing much has changed in party support despite the the drubbing National suffered in Northland.

  • National 49%
  • Labour 31 %
  • Greens 9% (down 1)
  • NZ First 7% (up 1)
  • Conservatives 2%
  • Maori Party 1% (down 1)
  • ACT 1%
  • Mana Party 1% (up 1)

Preferred leader has also changed little.

  • John key 42% (up 1)
  • Andrew Little 11% (down 1)

So National don’t look to have suffered at all with both the party and Key holding their support.

And Labour’s recovery has halted, give or take a bit of margin of error.

Link to website.

The hottest start to a year on record

NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency agree that the past three months have been the hottest start to a year.

There’s plenty to debate about climate change, what to do, if anything can be done and how to deal with possible effects. And there will be debate for decades.

But there seems little doubt that at the moment data is fitting warming predictions.

Bloomberg Business reports:

March was the hottest month on record, and the past three months were the warmest start to a year on record, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s a continuation of trends that made 2014 the most blistering year for the surface of the planet, in to records going back to 1880.

Results from the world’s top monitoring agencies vary slightly. NOAA and the Japan Meteorological Agency both had March as the hottest month on record. NASA had it as the third-hottest. All three agencies agree that the past three months have been the hottest start to a year.

The heat was experienced differently across the world. People in the U.S. and Canadian Northeast had an unusually cool March. But vast swaths of unusually warm weather covered much of the globe, and records were broken from California to Australia.

Source: NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center

Cause for concern.

Bloomberg: Global Temperature Records Just Got Crushed Again

Hickey’s housing slant

The official description of ‘Bernard Hickey’s Opinion’ column says that  ‘Bernard is an economics columnist for the NZ Herald’.

In his column today, Use that power, renters, Hickey has strong words about Auckland’s housing problems

Finally, Auckland’s Generation Rent has found someone who is talking about the elephant in the room – rampant speculative demand for housing by landlords.

Everyone worried about Auckland’s astonishing house prices should read Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer’s speech.

He spelt out in the plainest language yet that property investors are taking advantage of tax incentives to use cheap debt to buy as many houses as they can.

The Reserve Bank has exhausted its toolkit, having put up interest rates and set limits on high loan-to-value ratio (LVR) lending. It is looking to increase capital requirements for landlords’ mortgages, but it knows it’s not enough.

Exasperated, the Reserve Bank has asked for help to control the risks to New Zealand’s banking system, which relies on house values to back 60 per cent of its loans.

Spencer called for the Government to revisit the tax incentives for landlords.

Fair enough listening to and quoting the Reserve Bank Governor.

The Government’s top economic adviser has said landlords’ tax incentives should be reduced and central Auckland apartments should be built in defiance of the Nimbys controlling Auckland politics.

Council and Government politicians are refusing to take that advice.

What I find interesting about this is the apparent one-sidedness of Hickey’s column. It seems that he has used the Reserve Bank Governor to support a hobby horse.

Now this column may have been written before yesterday morning.

But at 9 am yesterday Hickey participated on a Twitter discussion for The Nation about their interview with Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf who has different views on housing than the Reserve Bank Governor.

Join our Twitter panel and at now!

Those alternatives weren’t mentioned at all in Hickey’s column – and he should have been well aware of them before listening to the Makhlouf interview.

On the panel Hickey displayed what looked like a pre-decided slant. He has a clear preference to Reserve Bank advice to Treasury Advice.

Here’s another view on China for ‘s Gabs Makhlouf to read after

He tries to educate Makhlouf on his angle.

Big gap there between @nztreasury & @ReserveBankofNZ. Gabs Makhlouf sceptical about CGT just 3 days after bank called for debate.

But Hickey doesn’t seem \want debate, he wants to promote his views which happen to side with the Reserve Bank advice.

Got a feeling the @ReserveBankofNZ would have liked a bit more support from @nztreasury on housing taxation than that.

Ok, he has ‘a feeling’ he and the reserve Bank are right.

In Muldoon era it was the @nztreasury offering the freest and frankest and most critical advice. Now it’s the @ReserveBankofNZ

Is that because it’s the freest and frankest? Or because it’s ‘most critical advice’ that happens to fit his opinion?

For #nationTV3 viewers wanting an alternative housing view, here’s the speech from @ReserveBankofNZ’s Grant Spencer http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research_and_publications/speeches/2015/action-needed-to-reduce-housing-imbalances.html … …

Diverting viewers to something he prefers to the Nation interview.

Another example here of how NZ’s leaders today are pushing the costs of current consumption onto their kids/grandkids http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11433784

He’s not discussing the Makhlouf interview at all, he dismissed it and is linking to alternatives he agrees with.

Counter-factual for a CGT is what happened to Auckland house prices post-election after buyers realised no CGT. Up 20%

Has Hickey got any evidence supporting that ‘counter-factual ‘? House prices almost certainly didn’t go up 20% solely because the election result meant no wider Capital Gains Tax. Did it have any effect at all?

Unless Hickey can produce facts I will remain very dubious about that claim.

And I’m very disappointed he simply dismissed Makhlouf  and made no attempt to lead any discussion. In his The Nation panel tweets and in his Herald column he looks more like an economic activist than a balanced economic columnist.

Hager reveals spying on China

The latest in a series of spying revelations from Nicky Hager focuses on How NZ and US agents plotted to spy on China.

A plot to spy on China is the most damning revelation from the Snowden documents.

I guess that’s relating to New Zealand. We’ve plotted to spy on China? I’m not very shocked. I’d have been shocked if it was revealed we’d never spied on China.

The files show how, under the John Key National Government, spying has been prioritised against China, New Zealand’s largest and most important trading partner.

A 2013 NSA document placed “collection on China” first on a list of targets monitored by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) on behalf of the NSA.

And not surprising that keeping an eye on China is a major priority.

Sure, revelations like this can cause some diplomatic embarrassment. But will they do any more than that?

China is known to be a major perpetrator of espionage on the global stage, and the US Government has repeatedly accused it of hacking into American computer networks.

Last year, China was linked to a hacking attack on a powerful New Zealand supercomputer operated by Niwa, used to conduct weather and climate research.

Wow, China do it too.

But the Snowden documents have shown countries in the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance – which includes New Zealand, the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia – are just as heavily involved in cyber spying and hacking.

Yeah. Shocking.

Thomas Beagle, Council for Civil Liberties chairman, said the leak of the documents was an important democratic step to allow a level of involvement by the people being governed. “We need to know these things because we can’t practice our diplomatic oversight without it. If we don’t know these things are happening it’s out of the realm of democracy.”

When it comes to ‘spying’ – foreign intelligence – there does need to be some transparency and scrutiny, but there also needs to be some secrecy.

He said other countries used a panel of trusted citizens as the oversight mechanism for intelligence agencies.

Which other countries? How effective is it? Without any details this is meaningless, it says nothing more than ‘New Zealand bad, other countries good’.

What needs to be asked is whether all these drip fed revelations are for the greater good or whether they are potentially damaging to New Zealand.

Hager and Beagle are unlikely to answer that.

The spy wolf is being cried quite a bit. Would we know if something truly concerning is revealed? The Government will be able to bat it off with “that’s just more Hager’.

Treasury Secretary – ” the right place with immigration levels”

In an interview on The Nation the Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said that “I think we’re probably in more or less the right place with immigration levels”.

Immigration levels are often talked about in relation to housing issues. The simple fact is that if as a country we want growth in New Zealand then we need immigration. And a growing population needs more housing.

But the thing is people see immigration at high levels, they see house prices going up, they see the need for more schools — those are the things that they see.
Sure, and we need immigration because we need the sort of— our businesses need particular types of skills that we haven’t got right now, so I think that plays a big part. We need immigration for just the generation of ideas. Don’t forget that currently some of the net immigration numbers are as much about New Zealanders not leaving the country and some of them returning from Australia.

So do we need to keep growing, then, do you think?
I think we absolutely need to keep growing as a country.

But more immigration?
Well, I think we need to— We’ve got currently— The OECD, when it last looked at our immigration settings said they were broadly right. We have to keep looking to make sure they’re actually meeting our needs, and I think it’s something you keep under constant review, because we also want to develop— we want our education system to be developing the skills that we feel we need for our people, so I think immigration meets a gap, but I mean we can, sort of, fill that gap ourselves by making sure the education system delivers.

So do you think we’re in a sweet spot with immigration levels, or can we and should we be bringing more people in?
No, no, I think we’re probably in more or less the right place with immigration levels. As I said, I mean, the current numbers are as much about people not leaving New Zealand or returning from Australia, and we need to take account of the impact of those numbers, so we do need to build new schools; we do need to critically build new houses.

A lot of those migrants come to Auckland, and you have said that you believe that Auckland should be the focus of growth, and you’re happy to see it get bigger, then?
Am I happy to see Auckland grow?

Yeah, see Auckland grow even more.
In general, I’m happy to see Auckland grow. I think what we’ve learnt from history, and certainly what we’re learning at the moment from around the world, is agglomeration — the bringing together of activities in a large urban area, like Auckland — makes a massive difference to the overall— ultimately the overall living standards of a country as a whole. It needs to be managed growth. It absolutely needs to be managed growth, but the trend — you know, over the last hundred years; New Zealand’s rural population has basically stayed stable. It’s the urban areas that have been growing, and that trend is going to continue.

Immigration is used as a political football, often with particular groups of immigrants getting the kicking.

The number of immigrants can’t just be turned off and on at the whim of opposition politicians. Rules and quotas are used and while they can be tweaked it would be poor practice to keep making major changes. If we want to encourage good immigrants we need to have clear and consistent rules and requirements.

And a major factor that can’t be controlled is New Zealanders leaving, and New Zealanders returning. We are free to come and go as we please.

There’s currently a surge in net migration into New Zealand because the flow to Australia has dropped significantly and the flow of returning Kiwis has increased significantly. That has changed in a relatively short time and will change again if the Australian economy picks up again.

If we want growth we need to maintain immigration numbers at approximately the current levels and increase housing to cater for them.

Video: Interview: Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf

Full transcript (Scoop): Lisa Owen interviews Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf

Treasury Secretary – Capital Gains Tax won’t help Auckland

The Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf was interviewed on The Nation yesterday and said he doubted a capital gains tax would help the escalation in property prices in Auckland.

A CGT isn’t a quick fix and it won’t address the current problems.

Well, just this week the Deputy Reserve Bank Governor, Grant Spencer, is calling for a capital gains tax, or some kind of tax on investment. What do you make of that?

Well, I think what Grant Spencer was talking about was the need for us to address the housing issues in Auckland, and at the heart of the housing issue in Auckland is that we’re not building enough houses, and the Productivity Commission said a few years ago when it looked at this issue that building more houses is the answer. Looking really carefully at our planning regulations is the single biggest thing that will make a difference to how we build— how many houses we build in Auckland.

So you don’t think a capital gains tax or a tax like that is part of the solution?

I’m quite sceptical. If the issue that people are talking about is house prices, London and Sydney have got capital gains taxes and they’ve got similar issues as us. This is a phenomenon that’s actually playing out in large urban areas which are successful, right? And New Zealand is successful, Auckland is successful, so one of the consequences of that, as in Sydney and London and in Vancouver, is the current phenomenon, house prices. But we need to build more houses to actually meet the needs that we’ve got.

So in your view, it’s a supply side problem, then?

That’s the principal issue, is the supply side problem. And it’s not just my view; it’s the Productivity Commission’s view as well.

A Capital Gains Tax would do little or nothing to address the soaring property prices in Auckland.

A CGT (as proposed by Labour last term):

  • It would phase in very gradually so would have little immediate impact
  • It would not tax capital gains already realised
  • It would affect the whole country, not just Auckland
  • It has proven to not limit property inflation in other countries

So it’s a solution to a different problem, the broadening of the tax take. That’s a different debate with varying views on it’s worth.

Capital gains are already taxed on property speculation – where property is bought and sold with the aim of capital gain (according to IRD rules). Capital gains on share trading is also taxable.

Makhlouf is correct saying “building more houses is the answer” – building more houses in Auckland where the biggest demand is. For this to happen more land must be made available more easily. It’s land inflation that’s the problem, and that’s happening due to a shortage of supply and too many restrictions on higher density use.

Video: Interview: Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf

Full transcript (Scoop): Lisa Owen interviews Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf

Open Forum – Sunday

19 April 2015

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Curious reporting on appointment of Mike Sabin

Ex-Northland MP Mike Sabin has apparently been appointed to a new job, but there are a few curious aspects.

On Thursday a number of reports were that he had been appointed chief executive of a luxury resort in Northland. Stuff:

Former MP Mike Sabin lands new job at luxury resort

Mike Sabin, the former National MP who quit earlier this year, has been appointed as the general manager of a luxury resort in Northland.

A spokeswoman for Peppers Carrington Estate confirmed that Sabin would be chief executive of Peppers Carrington Resort. It is part of a 3000-acre estate on the Karikari Peninsula in Northland, which boasts an 18-hole golf course, located on “four breathtaking kilometres of secluded white sand coastline”.

While she had not seen Sabin on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said she understood the appointment was effective immediately.

That seems as far as most media went but NBR amended their coverage on Thursday.

Sabin-linked luxury resort goes to ground over new CEO

Former National MP Mike Sabin has been appointed as chief executive officer of Magnificent Jade, which oversees the New Zealand-based assets of Chinese real estate developer Shanghai CRED.

In 2013, Shanghai CRED bought Northland’s luxurious Peppers Carrington Resort for a sum understood to be almost $29 million. It was reported on NBR ONLINE and other media earlier this week that Mr Sabin had been appointed chief executive officer of the resort.

However, the Mantra Group, which operates the resort under the Peppers luxury resort brand, has since confirmed that Mr Sabin has not or is not an employee of Peppers, and that Peppers was not consulted on the appointment.

It’s curious that a widely reported story has changed significantly.

More curious is Sabin’s appointment as chief executive officer of Magnificent Jade, a company that “oversees the New Zealand-based assets of Chinese real estate developer Shanghai CRED” (which owns Peppers Carrington Resort).

Sabin’s background:

  • Employed as a Seaman Officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy in the 1980s.
  • Worked in the dairy industry.
  • Became a police officer in the 1990s.
  • In 2006 he founded MethCon Group, a company that supplies drug education. Sold company in 2010.
  • In 2011 he was selected as a candidate by National for the (then) safe seat of Northland as was elected.
  • Resigned as an MP in January 2014 citing ‘family matters best dealt with outside Parliament’.

Why would a Chinese real estate development company and owner of a luxury Northland lodge see Sabin as suitably experienced to be their chief executive? A curious appointment.

Flag irony

The Press/Stuff has a detailed and mainly anti-change article on the proposed referendums on whether New Zealand changes out flag or not, in Flags of political convenience.

The RSA CEO David Moger is quoted, he is campaigning against a change. The usual arguments are raised. Including the insensitivity of timing, with significant steps in the process coinciding with the ANZAC Day period this year and next year.

A point is made with a degree of irony:

White crosses in Cranmer Square, Christchurch, represent men who died in World War I. Is it “insensitive” to talk about changing the flag now?

Each of those crosses would appear to have a fern on them. No sign of a union jack flag.

Like on the headstones of my Grandfather’s and my uncle’s war graves.

ewgrave2Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch

Faenza War CemeteryFaenza War Cemetery (WW2), Italy

See Silver fern is NZ history.

We can’t ignore the significant connection between the fern and our military – see Silver fern emblem used in Boer War  – and non-military past.

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