Labour, protest, trade

Labour mostly kept a distance from the TPPA protests in Auckland yesterday. They have also tried to keep a distance between anti-TPPA and anti-trade. But not everyone in Labour is on the same page.

Andrew Little and Labour dabbled with the TPPA signing and protests but from a distance. They tried to portray their anti-TPPA stance as a principled stand on sovereignty in the same league as New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance:

On this day in 1985 the then Labour Government stood up for the rights of New Zealanders. It refused entry to the USS Buchanan after the US Government would neither confirm nor deny the warship had nuclear capability. Fast forward 31 years and today the Labour Opposition is again standing up for New Zealand sovereignty which the TPPA undermines.

LabourTPPAAgainst

I’m not sure they are onto a winner with this approach, it’s just one of many mixed and muddled messages on the TPPA and is unlikely to get much traction with the TPPA protest movement, nor those who see trade agreements as a necessity.

Little also put out a media release: TPP signing highlights divisions in NZ

The stage-managed signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at a casino in Auckland today highlights the divisions National’s handling of the deal has caused in New Zealand, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“The Government’s whole management of the agreement has been botched, from the total secrecy to ramming it down people’s throats.

“This has caused a deep divide, and inviting international leaders to sign it just two days before Waitangi – our national day – has added salt to that wound.

“Labour is a pro-free trade party but the TPP goes further than other agreements in undermining our democracy. We shouldn’t need a permission slip from foreign corporations to pass our own laws. That’s why Labour cannot support the agreement in its current form.

“Other countries such as Australia and Malaysia are able to ban foreigners from buying their homes. New Zealand cannot under this deal. That’s just not right.

“Open and transparent debate is crucial to a healthy democracy but the TPP process and John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed has damaged that.

“Today’s protests are a public sign of the deep discomfort many New Zealanders feel about what is happening in this country. The Government must now seek ways to heal that wound,” Andrew Little says.

This is odd from Little, in particular “John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed”. The TPPA was only signed yesterday, about the same time this statement seems to have been posted, so dissing Key’s post-signing handling is unjustified.

Litle also did a live chat about the TPPA on Stuff.

If Labour opposes the TPPA why wasn’t the Labour Party more involved with the anti-TPPA protest today?

We’re opposed to the TPPA in its current form because compromises to New Zealand’s sovereignty are not justified by the meagre economic gains. A number of Labour people are involved in today’s protests, including MPs who’ve spoken at rallies around the country.

But Labour involvement with the protest was low profile, especially with Labour’s front bench MPs.

Grant Robertson was at the Wellington protest but wasn’t prominent in Stuff’s: Protesters in Wellington join calls against TPPA signing

Opposition politicians and union members were among those in attendance, with several sharing their concerns about the deal.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the TPPA was not a normal trade agreement and required New Zealand to sacrifice too much.

“This is an agreement [where] New Zealand is having to give away the right to make laws and policies in our interests, and that is wrong and we cannot accept that.”

Robertson said the issue was “far from over”, and Kiwis opposed to the deal needed to continue their protests.

“This is not over: as New Zealanders, we have to stand together [and] stand up for our rights to make laws in our own interests.”

Standard Labour talking points on the TPPA. Nothing from Robertson about it on his Facebook page.

Jacinda Ardern seems to have kept her distance from the Auckland protest, and obviously Phil Goff and David Shearer would not be seen supporting the protest.

Meka Whaitiri was there, interesting for Labour’s Associate Primary Industries Spokesperson to be against a trade agreement that will benefit primary industries.

Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark doesn’t seem to have associated with any protests.

Phil Twyford was at the Auckland protest as this photo with Whaitiri on his Facebook page shows.

TPPATwyfordWhaitiri

Note the US branded jacket with a Labour logo
– with a ‘Corporate Traitor’ sign in the background (hat tip Iceberg)

As Spokesperson for Auckland Issues and Associate Spokesperson for Transport (Auckland and Ports) Twyford could be out of step with Auckland business and export interests there.

Sue Moroney showed her and Labour’s presence via Facebook:

TPPAMoroney

Duncan Garner spotted David Cunliffe:

Cunliffe also posted on his Facebook page with some loyal party lines:

Today, I joined thousands of Kiwis in protest against provisions in the TPPA that would undermine our sovereignty. Great to see people from all walks of life engaged and expressing their views peacefully and thoughtfully.

The New Zealand Labour Party has always stood for free trade and always will – just not at the expense of our sovereignty.

TPPACunliffe

Miriam Bookman Hi David,

I am very disappointed in seeing Labour supporters marching alongside an anti semitic banner, and that you think it appropriate to re-post this image. This is not the Labour I wish to support.

It may be hard to choose your neighbours in a protest march but choice of publicity photos can be an issue.

‪#‎TPPANoWay‬ March down Queen Street Auckland .

Taranaki would presumably cover New Plymouth where Andrew Little has stood twice for Parliament (unsuccessfully, he’s a List MP).

Taranaki-King Country Labour flew a flag for their party:

TPPATaranakiTrade1

The sign in the background appears to be welcoming, but it’s the opposite, as Taranaki-King Country Labour show in another shot.

TPPATaranakiTrade2

That may not be a problem, the Trade Ministers of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, USA or Vietnam may never need to deal with Taranaki-King Country Labour.

 

TPPA signing and protests

Two things are certain – the signing will go ahead, and the protests will go ahead.

Apart from that after all the build up and rhetoric it’s impossible to know how the day will pan out.

I won’t be able to post during the day on the Trans Pacific Partnership signing and protests. I’ll catch up on what has happened later in the day.

The organisers of the main anti-TPPA events are stressing they will be a family friendly and non-violent, and there’s no reason to doubt their peaceful intent. Any threat of violence would deter some from taking part and they want as many as possible to give a show of force by numbers.

But there have been some provocative suggestions and urgings from the fringes, plus a media who love big news to report which will provide a spotlight for the over-exuberant and the unhinged.

So anything could happen today.

It will be a national expression of:

  • anti-TPPA
  • anti-John Key
  • anti-government
  • anti-USA
  • anti-international trade
  • anti-globalisation
  • anti-corporations

And it will be a historic day for New Zealand internationally.

Pride in the TPPA

John Key says that New Zealanders should feel proud of being a part of the TPPA we have been one of the primary forces behind the deal).

NZ Herald: TPP Signing: Historic signing gives Kiwis a chance to feel proud – Key

New Zealanders should feel immensely proud of being part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Prime Minister John Key said ahead of today’s historic signing in Auckland by 12 countries.

Mr Key said people had opposed the China free trade agreement in 2008 and the closer economic relations (CER) agreement with Australia in the 1980s and opponents of both had been proven totally wrong.

“In the end, for all the bluff and bluster and misinformation, TPP is no more than a free trade agreement with the first and third largest economies in the world,” he said, referring to the United States and Japan.

“I think people should feel immensely proud of TPP and actually excited by the opportunity it presents.”

Today’s programme

 9am Ministers welcomed to SkyCity with mihi whakatau (cut-down powhiri with no karanga)
 9.30am Ministers meet privately, chaired by NZ Trade Minister Todd McClay
 11.30am Signing of TPP documents 
• Noon Press conference.

The Herald editorial also promotes the pride angle: NZ can take pride in TPP deal on trade

Looking back, it is hard to recall a greater diplomatic achievement than the comprehensive trade and investment agreement that will be signed by representatives of 12 countries in Auckland today. The post-war creation of the United Nations in which New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser played a role may be as proud for those who remember it. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is directly in that tradition.

It represents another advance on the principles of the World Trade Organisation, formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) that was one of the multi-lateral institutions formed by nations seeking world peace and prosperity after two devastating wars.

The TPP became hard work once the United States was in and, more recently Japan. New Zealand’s hopes that agricultural tariffs and subsidies might be swept away in a “gold standard” agreement were dashed in dealing between the big two, along with Canada’s protection of its farmers.

But the fears of many in New Zealand that pharmaceutical purchasing and ICT innovation would be sacrificed for a deal did not eventuate.

The protesters who will be out in force today ought to acknowledge this even if they really think the US will be able to impose unacceptable conditions before the deal is ratified.

The protesters are protesters, not balanced evaluators.

Their over-riding concern remains that the TPP gives investors the right to sue governments for damages before international tribunals. But this is not a one-way street. New Zealand companies would have the same rights against capricious government actions in countries whose politics are a lot less reliable for investment than New Zealand’s. The rights are designed to encourage the international investment that spreads wealth in the world

The deal being signed in Auckland today embraces 40 per cent of the global economy and covers much more than trade. It covers the range of business rules and governing principles that the WTO has been trying to establish.

It is an agreement of historic global significance and New Zealand is hosting the signing in recognition of the role it has played. It might also bid to host a permanent secretariat if one is established. The drive for global prosperity could not be in better care.

It is an agreement of historic global significance, with New Zealand the current focal point.

 

Colour to be changed on flag

It has been confirmed that the Lockwood flag flying on Auckland Harbour bridge has the wrong colour blue due to printing problems and , as I suspected, weight of fabric. The flag will be replaced as soon as possible.

NZ Herald: Confirmed: Wrong colour on potential new flag flying on Auckland Harbour Bridge

Officials have confirmed the potential new flag waving atop the Auckland Harbour Bridge is the wrong colour and will be replaced.

“The fabric weight and printing technique used to produce the alternative flag flying on the Auckland Harbour Bridge has resulted in a lighter blue than the silver fern flag eligible voters will consider in the final referendum,” a NZ flag consideration project spokeswoman said this evening.

“The NZ Transport Agency is currently producing one in a different fabric to resolve this. It is being produced as quickly as possible and will be installed next week.”

She said the panel and the agency were “committed to ensuring best colour representation, as well as meeting the exacting conditions for flying on the bridge to ensure traffic safety at all times.”

It will be good to have the correct blue hue flying.

Currently:

0FlagsOnBridge

How it should look:

CBB 1904 govt.nz 750x202 Ref Two

State of the Auckland speech

John Key is clearly targeted Auckland with his State of the Nation speech today. The major spending initiatives were in Auckland, with the city rail link and a motorway link.

Better transport in Auckland will enable people to commute from home to work faster so that have more time to earn enough money to pay for their mortgages.

Key’s SPEECH TO AUCKLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

So I can today confirm the Government will work with the Council to bring forward the business plan and formalise our funding commitment from 2020.

The Council has indicated this would allow construction of the Rail Link’s main works to start in 2018 – at least two years earlier than currently envisaged.

I guess that means the Council will pay for the first two years banking on a Government promise to pick up the tab from 2020.

What is actually new in this?

Key also mentioned some regional stuff but that seems to have been token as it was things that had been announced before.

Some regions have been doing well but that’s not with much help from Government.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen: I sought election as Prime Minister because I believed New Zealand could do better as a country – much better.

I wanted us to become a more prosperous, more ambitious and more confident nation; a successful country comfortable in its own skin.

I also believed that if we set a course of considered and sensible reform year after year, we could again be one of the world’s best places to live and work.

We’re making good progress in a world full of challenges.

Our households and businesses are more resilient and more outward looking.

We’re grasping the many opportunities opening up on our doorstep in Asia and the Pacific.

And we’re providing more of our young people with opportunities to raise their families here instead of heading overseas.

But the job is far from finished.

Our challenge over the next few years is to stay on course and build on the good momentum we’re now seeing.

My Government is motivated to continue working hard for all New Zealanders.

Providing we stick with a plan that’s working, I know we can deliver the opportunities New Zealanders and their families deserve.

Conclusion: more of the same with an eye to Auckland votes for next year.

Nothing ‘wow’ about it.

TPPA meeting – live blog

If the live streaming works ok I’ll do some live blogging of the TPPA meeting in Auckland tonight. Looks set to roll.

TPPA Don’t Sign! Washington-based expert analyst Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, and University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey will discuss recent assessments of the impacts of the TPPA for New Zealand. A political panel will also tell us why they oppose the signing of the TPPA: Grant Robertson, Labour; Metiria Turie, Greens; Marama Fox, Maori Party; and Fletcher Tabuteau, NZ First.

TPPALiveAuckland

Looks to be quite full.

Waiting here, and also waiting in Orewa:

Peters’ state of the nation awaits, the audience (Orewa Rotary Club) expected him an hour ago, still a no show.

Possibly to try and counter this series of meetings and social media where all sorts of claims have been made MFAT released this today: Trans-Pacific Partnership National Interest Analysis (PDF)

Starting with Maori welcome stuff. Joe Hawke.

Now a sort of song in English – “time to put your hands up”.

“Is there anything good about the TPPA? Yes, it’s brought us all together”. Can’t see who is talking. I think it’s Moana Jackson.

Introducing all the speakers.

“We’re the little people with the big vision”.

Welcoming Lori Wallach. Obviously very anti-TPPA.

‘Learning how we’re working together to stop the TPPA.’

The US Congress has the exclusive right to allow or block the TPPA.

Claims it’s opposition that held up the agreement for four years. It took a long time to negotiate it.

Here’s the deal. Only 28 Democrats voted to allow fast tracking the TPPA. And she claims Republicans are ‘peeling off’.

She claims the agreement is worse than all the agreements George Bush made.

I’m sure all this can be found online, it’s getting boring. I’m more interested in what the New Zealand MPs say.

She says the tobacco exception is one thing in the agreement that works.

She claims various groups in the US will only support the TPPA if changes are made.

Bottom line in the US – TPPA is in big trouble. No presidential candidate polling over 5% is for the TPPA. Claiming the TPPA is toxic for re-election.

One window to vote for the TPPA before the election, probably won’t be used.

“This has very little upside for you and a lot of downside”.

“Your Government is trying to run you towards a cliff”.

This is far from a done deal.

“Go New Zealand. No TPPA.”

Now Jane Kelsey.

“Five long years we have fought this battle”.

“This is an ideological, and egotistical, an arrogant Government that says it doesn’t want to listen”.

Referring to the NIA “simply an expansion of the so-called fact sheets”. Lies.

“Devoid of any independent insight. Nothing more than a propaganda exercise. ”

“They cannot get away with peddling the kinds of lies that have got away with to date.”

This agreement doesn’t come into force until all twelve countries have agreed on it.

She claims our laws will be done to the US interpretations of the agreement.

The US has a veto.

“The Government will be bending over backwards” to do what the US wants.

Further leverage to change agreement.

“Government is not going to do independent analysis” so they have done their expert papers – but can hardly be seen as independent.

“This is how shonky the modelling has been”.

“Driven by overseas investments”.

“This is not about trade. It’s about our ability to decide our future”.

Commenting on the various expert papers, she’s also getting boring.

Meds “isn’t as bad as it could have been but could get worse”.

Robert Reid from First Union next. They were listed as a sponsor but he’s up asking for donations. Buckets going around “a wee bit like church”. They also have EFTPOS machines. A handful of hands raised in response. They also have an 0900 number – 0900 68776 – $5 will go into the campaign – “do it several times”.

Fourth way to contribute, a signed copy of a book by Jane Kelsey “the Fire Economy” is being auctioned. $200.

The MP panel is next. Eight minutes each, maximum. Four MPs, 32 minutes.

First is Metiria Turei.

“The Green Party is against the TPPA. Let’s be clear. We have been the loudest voice all along.”

“This is a bad deal. It is an investors agreement, not a trade agreement”.

Metiria is a good speaker, especially compared to the preceding two, very good in a friendly relaxed environment.

The whole point of the TPPA is to take power away from a democratically elected Government and give it to the corporations.”

“All reference to climate change has completely disappeared” from the agreement.

“This agreement is bad for the climate and bad for the environment”.

Jane was one of Metiria’s lecturers and the only reason she hung on in law.

“We have the power to make sure New Zealand does not proceed with this agreement”.

Next is Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“This time it is about an agenda to force on us the undermining of our sovereignty”.

Proud of a Labour party that has signed trade agreements.

Heritage of standing up for New Zealand and New Zealanders inn the world.

The Agreement was driven by ‘the galactic ego of Tom Groser’. Disses him.

Claims the China FTA was done properly. Claims the Treaty of Waitangi clause was due to how they did that but it pre-dates the Chinese FTA.

“They are admitting themselves they are going to prevent future Governments” to act in the public interest.

“You cannot put a price on our democratic right to create our own law”.

“We cannot undermine our sovereignty”.

“There are people out there who have supported previous agreements who don’t support this one”.

Robertson closes without being clear that Labour will fully oppose the TPPA or not.

Next Marama Fox of the Maori Party.

“Fear sovereign rights ripped away from you – welcome to our world”.

“We have said right from the beginning that anything that impinges on the rights of our people we cannot support it”.

Opposed to anything that removes our sovereign rights.

“We have been fighting this fight for 175 years”.

“We must stand up for our rights. When we stand up for the sovereign rights of Maori we stand up for the rights of the whole country”.

Marama is also a good speaker and has been an impressive first term MP.

The Waitangi clause has been in all agreements but this one is different because of it’s complexity.

The live streaming has been very good quality, TV quality.

Final MP speaker is Fletcher Tabuteau of NZ First.

“We know what’s in this trade deal and it’s an atrocious waste of Parliament’s time.”

Claims Winston has been the loudest voice in opposition to the TPPA for five years.

“Listen, listen to the people of New Zealand because we know right now this Government is not listening right now”

“Speaking with forked tongues”.

“The worst trade agreement that this country has ever seen”.

“It will undermine New Zealand business”.

“I’m proud to be a vocal opponent of this deal”.

He is a trained economist.

“This is a terrible terrible deal”. “It’s a farce”.

“New Zealanders will lose jobs and inequality will get worse”.

He is also a good speaker. And seems to be well informed about the TPPA, business and finance.

He claims international corporations will undermine New Zealand business.

He says it will be a farce in Parliament “National and their lackeys have a majority”.

NZ First has been consistent in opposition.

“The signing is a farce and an insult to Maori and all New Zealanders”.

Makes it very clear NZ First is strongly opposed and “we should not be a part of it”.

He’s a good prospect for NZ First. Comes across much better than some of their more prominent MPs.

And that’s the end of the guest speeches.

Then organiser Barry Coates asks who wants to join the campaign against the signing. Lukewarm response.

He claims John Key is setting up a trap with the signing.

Claims majority opposition from a 3 News Reid Research poll.

In the 3 News poll we asked, ‘do you support the TPPA?’. The majority – 52 percent – said no, we don’t support it.  Only 34 percent said yes, and the rest didn’t know.
http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/kiwis-still-to-be-convinced-on-tpp-2015112017#ixzz3yKr7m4Tn

That’s from early November, just after the agreement was finalised.

Tries to talk up the campaign against the TPPA. Seems to be some heckling. That throws him a bit.

Not great with the crowd.

Coates is next in line to get into Parliament from the Green list if a vacancy comes up.

Then Jane Kelsey closes with a plea for more donations. They have to travel to Wellington, Christchurch and then Dunedin over the next three days.

The meeting closes with a Waiata from Jackson. Good singing voice. Lyrics ordinary.

Housing headlines

Housing in Auckland in the headlines. At NZ Herald.

Auckland has the fifth least-affordable houses in the world

Auckland’s housing affordability has worsened, with the city climbing from the world’s ninth most expensive city to fifth in a year.

The annual Demographia survey, released today, compares prices to incomes in 367 cities. Auckland is one of the worst in the world due to extremely high house prices coupled with moderate wages.

With a median price of $748,700, and a $77,500 median income, Auckland has a house price-wage multiple of of 9.7. Any more than 3 is classified as unaffordable by the report’s authors.

Liam Dann:

It’s time to think radically

We’re going to have to build up, we’re going to have to build out and we are going to have to start thinking more radically about how we change the housing dynamic in Auckland.

The affordability issue can no longer be ring-fenced as a problem only for a younger generation with unrealistic expectations.

If we continue to exclude a generation of Aucklanders from home ownership then we are creating problems that will ripple right through our economy. The most obvious is the inequality gap that soaring house prices is creating.

The current state of the economy – most Western economies in fact – is one of low inflation, low growth and low interest rates.

In this country the glaring exception to this trend is house prices. It makes for a pretty good scenario if you already have a house. But if you are trying to get in to the market it is a disaster.

If middle-income earners can’t afford to live in the city then it is going to face a constrained labour supply and the costs of living in Auckland will rise further still.

This is only sustainable while immigration remains strong.

Should that trend reverse, Auckland’s economy may find itself dangerously exposed.

It’s past time to think about what to do, but what’s radical about housing solutions? You need land and you need builders.

And also covered in their editorial: Soaring house prices forcing hard decisions:

Rapid house price inflation is not new in New Zealand. Auckland, in particular, has had regular booms since the 1980s, to the point the city is now home to some 61 suburbs with a median house price of $1 million or more.

But what makes the most recent surge so extreme is it comes during a period of low inflation for almost everything else in the economy – including wages. Data last week showed consumer price inflation was just 0.1 per cent in 2015.

Aucklanders need to think hard about the kind of city in which they want to live. Should we build out or build up? We’ll probably need to do both. Central suburbs full of lovingly restored villas add character and charm. But if we want an inclusive city that can accommodate the next generation of New Zealanders, tough calls will need to be made.

Markets have ways of working themselves out, to an extent.

Anecdotally, there are signs of an exodus of working age homeowners from Auckland. For those with employment prospects in the regions, the lure of being mortgage-free with a big backyard is proving too good to ignore. This is reflected in rising house prices in Tauranga, Hamilton and Dunedin.

If Auckland City doesn’t keep up with demand the demand will shift elsewhere.

Misleading on ‘least affordable housing’ in NZ

Affordability of housing in Auckland, Queenstown and some other parts of New Zealand is a serious issue. But there’s much more to New Zealand than a few high priced locations, and there’s a lot of far more affordable housing in other parts of the country.

Fitch are reported as saying New Zealand is the least affordable country for housing.

Greens are promoting this:

housing-afforability

But the headlines mislead by lumping all of New Zealand into the shock horror of housing affordability.

NZ tops world in Fitch house price comparison

New Zealand has been described as the most expensive country in the world to buy property by a global ratings agency.

Fitch has released its global housing and mortgage outlook report for this year and rates New Zealand’s houses as the priciest compared to incomes.

Despite the misleading headline and lead comments at least this report acknowledges the country beyond Auckland:

Property commentator Olly Newland said Auckland house prices were unsustainable and should not rise any further.

But he said if Auckland’s price movement were taken out of the calculations, New Zealand would not be expensive by international standards.

Radio NZ: NZ house prices a ‘catastrophic regulatory failure’

Buying a house in Auckland will soon be unattainable for the average New Zealand family if house prices continue to climb, the Property Council says.

The council said it was shocked by a new global housing report that shows how extremely expensive New Zealand’s homes are in relation to people’s incomes.

The Fitch Ratings report shows house prices in New Zealand may have reached the absolute limit of affordability.

When linked to income, New Zealand’s houses were the least affordable of the 22 countries analysed in the report.

The council’s chief executive Connal Townsend was shocked by the report, saying New Zealand’s housing market was “infinitely the worst”.

“It’s a catastrophic regulatory failure.

Apart from the overstatements and generalisations “infinitely the worst” is a stupid claim.

And Fitch Ratings suggests house price growth will decline:

Fitch: House Price Growth to Slow Significantly in Australia, NZ

The pace of house-price growth should decelerate particularly sharply in Australia and New Zealand this year; while the decrease should continue in Singapore, with prices dropping by a further 5% from last year.

Fitch forecasts nominal house-price growth to decline to 2% in Australia and 4% in New Zealand

In New Zealand, a supply shortage will continue to drive growth in Auckland, but this will be offset by recent restrictions on low-deposit lending by the central bank and rising unaffordability for owner occupiers. In regions outside Auckland, Fitch expects low-to-static growth in house prices.

So they manage to differentiate between Auckland and other regions in the country.

In places like Dunedin it’s possible to buy very reasonably priced houses. There’s a sub-$200k market and a lot of choices in the $200-300k range suitable for first home buyers and affordable for many who can come up with a deposit.

 

Another call for bridge flag comparison

Today’s Herald editorial adds a call for the fern flag to fly alongside the current flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Let’s see fern flag on harbour bridge

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

We also need to give it a test of time. A design that is striking at first sight, and even at subsequent sightings for a week or two, can lose its appeal later. A new national flag would need to hold our affection for a lifetime. We need to test it for as long as possible before we face the decision. That’s why this request is urgent.

They say that the Government has sent “samples of the alternative flags to individuals and organisations that had two flagpoles and undertook to fly both of them as directed” – has anyone seen both flags flying together?

People cannot be expected to go looking for them. On the harbour bridge, the Government’s transport agency has the most visible poles in the country. Why are they not being used for this important exercise?

Surely a decision need not await John Key’s return. Better that he not be involved. Put the flag up there, please.

There’s a petition running asking the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, to Fly the Silver Fern Flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We the, people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag, ask that the “alternative” flag flown from the Auckland Harbour bridge. Starting immediately and flown until the end of the second flag referendum.

I support that but I think they have made a mistake (as well as the misplaced comma) referring to “people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag” – anyone who supports a good democratic contest in the referendum should consider supporting having both flag options flying together wherever possible.

 

Dunedin campaign to attract Aucklanders

Enterprise Dunedin is launching a campaign to try to attract people to move from Auckland to Dunedin to live, work,  get high class education and enjoy a great lifestyle.

Otago Daily Times reported yesterday – Drive to lure Aucklanders to move here.

Dunedin is about to begin an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at getting Aucklanders to up sticks and move south.

The effort comes as the latest data from QV’s house price index shows the average house price in Auckland has reached $931,807, more than three times the average in Dunedin City of $306,614.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the ‘‘big marketing push” involved running a substantial supplement in The New Zealand Herald in the next couple of weeks highlighting the benefits of the Dunedin lifestyle.

‘‘We think we have got a pretty compelling proposition when you look at the cost of housing, the time it takes to drive to work and the educational opportunities …” Mr Christie said.

Apart from aiming to get Aucklanders to make a permanent move south, the campaign would highlight the study and holiday opportunities in the city.

It’s not surprising to see support from real estate interests:

Southern Wide Real Estate is among the companies to advertise in the supplement. Its managing director, John Faulks, said the ‘‘huge gap” between house prices in Auckland and Dunedin meant it was the right time to encourage people to move south.

‘‘You are not held up in traffic, you have a lot easier access to good schools for your kids and a great medical facility.‘‘Dunedin’s infrastructure for the size of the city is outstanding,” Mr Faulks said.

Interest was growing from Aucklanders keen to either move to Dunedin or invest in property in the city, he said.

It also has business interest:

Software company ADInstruments is another local firm that is advertising in the supplement. Its chief marketing officer, Julie Curphey, said the company was keen to push the idea there were opportunities for careers with internationally renowned technology firms in Dunedin.

‘‘You don’t have to be based in Auckland to have those opportunities,” Ms Curphey said.

She hoped the overall advertising push would show highly-skilled Aucklanders they would not be harming their careers by moving to the city, she said.

This support has meant it’s a relatively low cost promotion:

Mr Christie said the supplement, expected to be about 32 pages, had cost Enterprise Dunedin, a Dunedin City Council entity, ‘‘relatively little” and was made possible because of strong support from local businesses, which had helped pay for it by buying advertising.

Reasons why I like living in Dunedin:

  • Family connections.
  • Work – with substantial Internet and travel options it’s possible to work around the country and internationally based in Dunedin.
  • Commuting – I live with a rural outlook plus harbour views only ten minutes (fifteen  in the worst traffic) from work and the centre city.
  • Cost of housing is very reasonable relative to other major centres, particularly Auckland and the Southern Lakes areas.
  • Amenities – Dunedin is a small city with very good amenities including art gallery and museums.
  • Beaches – a choice of a wide variety of beaches within a half hour drive. I can count about fifteen beaches from small an wild to kilometres long and sedate, many with wildlife including seals, sea lions and penguins.
  • Wildlife – seals, sea lions and penguins plus iconic royal albatross plus many other birds. Some can be seen via commercial enterprises and the Orokanui Ecosanctuary, many you can just go and see.
  • Walking, tramping, biking – there are a wide range of walking trails from beach to bush to mountain.
  • Plenty of cafes, restaurants and boutique bars and breweries in a range of locations including urban, beach and harbour.
  • Proximity to many tourist and holiday destinations around southern New Zealand including the Catlins, Fiordland and Milford Sound, Central Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown, multiple skifields, North Otago, the Mackenzie Country, Mount Cook which are all within an easy half day drive. Stewart Island requires a boat trip.
  • The weather – it doesn’t often get too hot nor too cold, plenty of variety (sometimes same day), in the main it’s a very good working climate. And we occasionally get to enjoy some snow, once or twice every year or two.
  • Seasonal variety – we get to enjoy clear differences between spring, summer, autumn and winter.
  • It’s cheaper to live in Dunedin and occasionally fly to events in Auckland and elsewhere including Australia that we don’t have here.

It would be good to have more people enjoying a Dunedin, Otago and southern lifestyle, but not too many.

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