Bloody Rainbow Warriors

So our local councillors decided to vote for the new Rainbow Advisory Panel at Auckland Council (yes, that’s right, another sodding advisory panel). That’s around $150,000 of wasted ratepayers money (around $120k of that being annual opex). We’re supposed to have ‘no money’ and this is unbudgeted (not to mention a freakin’ waste of time). This is exactly what’s gone wrong with our society and council: people, regardless of their ‘identity’, are…wait for it…people. They can form their own groups, if they so wish, but to have a lobby created which ‘represents’ you is both absurd and, to be honest, not democratic. I’m white, I’m British (less than 3 weeks to go before I’m eligible for NZ citizenship, woohoo!!!),  I’m heterosexual, and I’m a man, but I don’t want to be ‘represented’ by other white, British, heterosexual men. I’d like the opportunity to, I don’t know, vote in ordinary elections like everyone else? Freaky idea, eh?

On that basis, I have to say that councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker need to be voted out at the next election. They have continued to ‘work with council’, when that council are a bunch of numpties and they now have directly voted in favour of wasting $150k of ratepayers money. This is patently absurd and something which needs to be dealt with. Enough is enough.

Last I checked, the purpose of having councils are to look after things such as:

* Roads

* Footpaths

* Town water supplies

* Parks

* Beaches

* Civic Amenities (in this, I think things like libraries and pools can be private, but public squares and so forth do need to be maintained).

I can show, just around Orewa, that they’re failing in their public tasks, but seem hell bent on all sorts of ‘great ideas’ that are well beyond their remit.

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GST on online transactions

The Herald reports:

‘The Prime Minister has warned New Zealanders they could soon be paying GST on online purchases as small as a song download from iTunes.

Mr Key said it was inevitable that the cost of online shopping would go up as GST was charged to more goods and services.

GST is not currently charged on imported digital products such as music and film downloaded from services including iTunes.’

DPF at Kiwiblog posts:

‘The only real solution is for the major economies to agree that a company resident in one country will register for GST type taxes in each country it sells to. But if even one major economy doesn’t become part of such an agreement, then it won’t work. The OECD does have a work programme for this.’

Even the OECD can’t solve this. You’ll just set up shop outside of OECD jurisdiction. And you’ll end up with how many registrations to do business in the US?

While GST is a reasonably straight forward tax for goods and services shipped or performed in NZ, it simply won’t work on online sales (particularly digital downloads).

It gets further complicated by things like streaming and so forth (so I load something onto my OneDrive, stream it back to my PC, and that counts as a ‘transaction’ for NZ purposes?). Worse, I could set up a VM outside of NZ, download whatever I want (including outside of OECD jurisdiction), then load it back to my cloud storage, and then stream it back to NZ. Heck, I could watch it through the VM via a remote connexion. No actual files would be transmitted, no storage would occur in NZ, all I’d have is a view to the outside world. Who’s going to make up this tax law and implement it?

Politicians don’t seem to grasp the complexity here and that they will lose because the internet provides a highly adaptive organism. Long may the revolution continue.

Auckland Council Services

I recently put in a LGOIMA request (around local board subdivision rates and expenditure from the Hibiscus Coast) and, around 9 work days after the request, was rung by someone from Auckland Council about how the information wasn’t available at the subdivision level, but it was available a the local board (covering East Coast Bays as well).

Now, this information isn’t as useful as what I requested (I’ll now need to approximate my original purpose based on available census data, to get a rougher idea), but what I found really interesting is that when I contacted council (22 working days post my original request), I was informed that the 20 working days applies from the date of my refinement, which is a ‘new request’. This wasn’t conveyed in the subsequent letter, but more particularly, isn’t how I read the LGOIMA requirement (and I can see this being open to very serious abuse, as they could, in effect, perpetually delay a request through constant ‘refinement’, with the threat of declining the request because the data ‘isn’t easily available’).

A very odd situation, but one which shows how Auckland Council seems to operate on a ‘pretty legal’ basis, and which I can imagine isn’t particularly supported, but which would require a test case to force the point. Good to see ‘Democracy Services’ is leaving such a wonderful feeling about ‘democracy’ (at Auckland Council) and ‘services’ (I’m not feeling those either). Great job.

Alternative energy

I’m somewhat bewildered by comments from Simon Bridges around NZ being ‘EV ready’. People seem to have started jumping up and down (on both sides of the argument), with a particular emphasis from ‘anti-luddites’ (people who think it’s their job to evangelise about technology, rather than people who actually view technical progress as a never ending journey) who think we can achieve a switch to electric vehicles quite easily.

Now, here we go with the hard truths of life:

1) New Zealand consumed around 64.4PJs of ‘renewable’ energy in 2013. This includes ‘renewable’ sources which are problematic (such as biogas and wood, which are renewable, but not what people think of when they start spouting about hydro, geothermal, and wind). 2) New Zealand’s oil-based energy consumption was 249.1PJs in 2013.

Now, we may have lots more rivers to dam, we may want to kill every bird in the sky and blot every landscape with wind farms, but we simply aren’t going to replace 249.1PJs with an EV fleet and expect it to come from renewable energy sources. We can’t expect that the massive change and expansion of electricity infrastructure that this would take is going to be easy or ‘transition free’ (it’ll cost billions). But hey, let’s make statements about the future and how all these things will come to pass.

I love technology and I think the world is actually becoming a better place (for all of the stupid things that happen). But I also believe our downfall is and will be our lack of history teaching anymore (for all that we get pompous gits talking about ‘history’ – in the communist sense of the term). Technology improves in creative and unknown ways. It isn’t something which can easily be predicted, otherwise it wouldn’t make people super rich.

Thinking that you know the answer is fantastic. Go put your own money into it. If you’re right, you’ll probably end up rich. But please, OH PLEASE, leave the rest of us alone in the process. Don’t tell me the solution is concrete and will only be achieved through government coercion. If that’s the case, you really don’t know your history.

p.s. Numbers are from Wikipedia