Monday, August 19, 2013

My Submisson On SKY City Convention Bill

To the select committee,

I wish to make a submission on the New Zealand International Convention
Centre Bill.


The purpose of this bill is to expand the gambling license for Skycity, a
private Australian company operating in New Zealand. It seems that aside from
these extraordinary provisions, the bill does not have a reason to exist.
With this submission I join with a wide selection of groups urging the
committee to reject the provisions of the bill, which sells our  current
gambling laws for the project management of the International Convention
Centre.

Some reasons I oppose this bill:

* 200 more problem-gamblers - Bad for people

If this bill is enacted, it is estimated that 10 000 people will need to deal
with the adverse effects of problem-gambling. Regardless of any attempts
Skycity may make to mitigate this, gambling addictions lead to family and
relationship breakdowns, theft, domestic incidents and crime. Each of these
“adverse effects” can be life destroying.  The passing of this Bill has
the potential to be devastating to thousands of people.

* Minimal community returns - Bad for communities

There is a perception that gambling profits will return to benefit community
organisations, but the proportion given by Skycity in this way is alarmingly
small. Skycity returned only 2% of its gambling take, compared with more than
37% from other gambling operators like pubs. Research by BDO Kendalls shows
that more than half of all money stolen from non-profit community
organisations has been to stolen by gambling addicts - $180,000 per person
per theft on average. These figures in tandem cast the whole deal in a
greedy, immoral and ungenerous light. This bill does not benefit community
organisations.

* Contrary to existing gambling laws - Bad for rule of law

The main reason this bill exists is to reduce Skycity's responsibility under
the 2003 Gambling Act. The Gambling Act's first stated purpose is to control
the growth of gambling - but the New Zealand International Convention Centre
Bill exists to expand Skycity's gambling license. It sets a bad legal
precedent to allow the largest private gambling operator in NZ to buy
gambling laws. This bill contradicts the purpose of our gambling law.

* Poor business case - Bad for the economy

The potential economic benefits of the Skycity Convention Centre have not
been subjected to a proper challenge. The draft design of the convention
centre suggests that it will not benefit local businesses. The 10-day average
length of stay estimate by the Government is not supported by convincing
evidence available to the public. The employment estimates bear no relation
to the employee figures in comparable convention centres overseas. The Sydney
Convention Centre (which also has a capacity of 3500 people) employs only 200
full-time equivalent staff compared with the Government's figure of 800
expected jobs in Auckland's centre. The economics don't stack up.


I request that all provisions that allow expansion of this private company's
gambling operations to be removed before this bill proceeds.

As an Auckland ratepayers we do have options . I believe that a convention
centre  will be  of real benefit   However we could continue to. use the
Aotea centre and develop the St James theatre

.Under the Sky City proposal these council owned venues will ultimately lose
business to Sky City  and as rate payers we will have to pick up the cost.
This would be in the community and civic interest .The Sky City proposal is
not.



Thank you for hearing my submission.



Gerard Hill
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Martha's Corner Should Be Saved

 This blog was published as a letter in the New Zealand Herald today Thursday 15 August, 2013 


The buildings that surround Martha’s Corner should be saved.

Nothing less is unacceptable. We have lost too much of our built heritage and we are much poorer as a result. The ability to tell the important history and the stories of our city will be further diminished if these buildings are demolished . This will have a cultural and economic impact far beyond many folks’ thoughts as well as deprive future generations of their whakapapa and sense of place.
 
  Since the Christchurch and Wellington earthquakes the approach that many are taking that buildings have to be knocked down, has not been thought through thoroughly. Regrettably this view has been given a currency that in most cases is far from the public interest.

Recent decisions at government level have been helpful on the time frames in getting heritage buildings up to scratch and do serve the national interest.   This sentiment in the case of Martha’s Corner has not travelled over the Bombay Hills.
Another compelling factor was this council placed no penalties on the Chow Brothers for the Aurora Hotel demolition. Many developers may have taken this as a green light.

Failure to protect these buildings will be a developer’s charter.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Public Housing



If public health and safety is at risk Housing New Zealand is right to relocate tenants from the heritage art deco flats in Symonds Street. Warning bells are ringing with heritage advocates. Their concerns are real. If refurbishment costs are high then debate will occur over the merits of the building. 

A more important issue is the loss of income related rents for working people. The Herald reports that the building was built in 1948 for low income single people and couples without children
City industries and business are impacted on by  the shortage of affordable housing .

The fact that flats were built in the city sixty years ago indicate this is not a new issue.
It is now a question that we have to talk about and hopefully find some solutions. 

With the closure of institutions and the loss of boarding houses people with acute needs are now the folk who get preference for the declining resouse. They are fortunate to have advocates.
Their social needs should be to be met to. 

However we need to house low income workers who our city needs to keep the wheels of industry turning.
The local election campaign is time to discuss this.

ACC Has lost the Plot

  This blog is a letter published in the New Zealand Herald Tuesday 6  August 2013 

          The Herald is correct. ACC ought to accept full liability for gravest injuries.

ACC has lost the plot. It was originally designed by the Woodhouse Commission to be a universal no-fault scheme for all.

In return New Zealanders gave up their common law right to sue.
Mathew Purchase has been short-changed by their system. The decision by ACC to reduce his benefit to $ 95.37 is ungenerous, lacks compassion and goes against the spirit and intent of the original legislation.

Visitors and New Zealanders have found ACC to be mean-spirited. There have been high-profile public cases where the corporation has been found to be falling well short of its charter.  In one case the collateral damage was a ministerial resignation.

In my experience both as an employer and a consumer I have found that their focus has shifted from one of providing cover and rehabilitation, as the original act intended, to behaving like a private insurer intent on reducing exposure and managing costs.

The ACC board should undertake a comprehensive review of ACC. Their current model in the Purchase case damages our international reputation and falls well short of public entitlement to cover and the intent of our world class compensation system.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Warren Freer Memorial Service


This afternoon a couple of hundred people turned up for a wonderful celebration of the life of Warren Freer. Speakers included his sister-in-law Linsday Freer, Bob Tizard, Mt Albert MP David Shearer, Former Prime Minister Helen Clark and Niu Qingbao, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China.
Right Honourable Helen Clark.

The son of a Waihi miner, Warren Freer was a courageous man and knew from birth how hard the life of the working people is. He was first elected to parliament in 1947 and he was to make, in the dying days of his first Labour administration, some impact. In 1949, Prime Minister Peter Fraser called a referendum on peacetime conscription. Freer stood with the Watersiders and other people opposed to peacetime conscription, which was a courageous thing for an MP of 27. In 1955, as Niu Qingbao said, he became the first parliamentary representative to visit China. Qingbao in his speech acknowledged Michael Joseph Savage as the first leader of New Zealand to be friendly to the Chinese. Savage and the Labour Government abolished the Poll tax which Chinese had to pay to bring their relatives out. Many a married man was never to see their wives again and some of their lives ended up in the tragedy of opium addiction.
Lindsay Freer

Warren Freer continued in the line of the first Labour government and was internationalist and a visionary. He was responsible for forging export markets into China for New Zealand product. The Consul-General Qingbao then praised Norman Kirk for recognising the People's Republic of China, being the first western country to do so. He then praised Helen Clark for leading the way with Phil Goff for a comprehensive free-trade agreement with China which the Chinese believe is a model for people who have different government systems and different cultures to be able to trade together for the common good of their citizens.

David Shand, Dame Catherine Tizard and Bob Tizard.
His highest praise, however, was Helen Clark's formal apology for the discrimination, hardships and deprivations that they had suffered in New Zealand. He said that no other country had made this apology, and it is another reason why the New Zealand flag flies high in China. Recognition was given in a little film by George Andrews about Warren's Maximum Retail Price Scheme of the third Labour Government, which set the maximum price that goods could be sold for. This scheme, although scrapped by the National Muldoon Government, actually brought the first real competition and discounting into New Zealand. Bob Tizard, who was in parliament and also a cabinet minister wihin the third Labout government (The Kird-Rowling government), celebrated their friendship of more than 60 years.

Sadly, little was said of Warren's other achievements, including a contract with the major oil companies for the development of the Maui fields in the Taranaki basin. This was a time of the first oil shots, petroleum prices were going through the roof and despite these factors making a negotiation difficult, Warren successfully concluded an agreement that has worked in New Zealand's national interest for 40 years. He was also a very successful Minister of Trade and Industry, in the Kirk-Rowling government. He was a great New Zealander and a man of immense vision. Tribute was paid by Linsday Freer and Bob to his wives (he married twice) and the support they gave him throughout his life.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Local Hero Sleeps Rough

Hot off the press from the latest Ponsonby News. I knew they were doing a small story, and I am humbled by the size of the story and the photo, and I am so glad that Ponsonby News is promoting the Lifewise Big Sleep Out.

http://issuu.com/ponsonbynews/docs/pnewsaug13highres4web/118