Monday, August 30, 2010

Waterfront loss for Auckland

Aucklanders are shocked by the decision to allow an oversize building on the Auckland waterfront.
Mayor john Banks could be leading a challenge with the Auckland Regional Council but remains silent .
The commissioners outrageous decision will be condemned by future citizens if it is permitted to stand.

The letter below was published in the New Zealand Herald today August 31

The decision by independent commissioners to allow Cooper and company to build towers of 55 meters on the Auckland is dumbfounding . Aucklanders have celebrated the retention of Shed 10 and increased public access to the waterfront.

Loosing part of the red fence to gain a tower 30 meters higher than existing buildings is not a victory for Auckland . It is a real loss .
The Auckland waterfront is beautiful with a mixture of public spaces, people fishing off some of the wharves and the bustle of a working commercial port. This mixture is celebrated in the leading port cities globally and is a wonderful site . Whether you walk down from Ponsonby or Parnell or come in from the north shore by vehicle or ferry, the vista is striking.

The Cooper Tower will ruin the existing building, destroy much of the pedestrian ambience and may well be the start of a new impersonal wall along Quay Street. In all our heritage precincts there are some developers who are intent on breaking the existing rules .Thousands will supporting Mike Lee and the Auckland regional council in their appeal to the Environment Court.

There is hardly a shortage of hotels and having a tower poking out of a heritage shell serves no purpose at all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Superannuation

Long overdue discussion is now taking place on superannuation. Predictable responses have come from employers and low paid employees of their inability to make a contribution. Low paid employees have yet to gain from government policy and have not received a tax cut. GST movement is a real concern.



Employers are concerned that they would be paying at the current Australian levels. This will not happen . As small employers we have encouraged all our staff to join Kiwisaver. To catch up with Australia in economic or in sovereign wealth terms, funds such as superannuation can only be an aspiration.

We lack the central labour and employer organisations that can make the commitment with their government that Australia enjoys. However, with some imagination, contributions could start at Kiwisaver levels and move progressively each year by a percentage point from each party. In economic times as these, rather than suspend payments, they could be made in half point movements .



The government should do the same with the Cullen fund and always contribute something. This will reassure the public that the government actually has a commitment to universal pensions.