Brian Rudman: City can do housing without the bullying

5:30 AM Monday Oct 7, 2013

The Government’s accord with Auckland Council means all the abuse and threats were strictly gratuitous.

Nick Smith ranted unnecessarily about overriding the powers of local councils. Photo / Dean Purcell

Nick Smith ranted unnecessarily about overriding the powers of local councils. Photo / Dean Purcell

It was all sweetness and light last week when Housing Minister Nick Smith joined Mayor Len Brown on a paddock in darkest Weymouth to announce plans for 300 new “affordable” houses.

For a minister on the back foot over housing supply, and a mayor in full election mode, it was a great photo opportunity. Not a time for reminding the minister of all the unnecessary bullying that preceded it.

For Mayor Brown, it was a great campaign opportunity to announce affordable housing would be a “key priority” if re-elected. It was also a curtain-raiser to a follow-up statement this Wednesday when he is expected to announce details of another 11 or so special housing areas.

These are understood to be greenfields sites, owned by developers who have been queuing at Auckland Council’s door, keen to take advantage of the fast-track planning advantages the new Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act offers them.

All of which begs the question of why the minister needed to rant and rave in recent months about overriding the powers of local councils if they failed to do his bidding and open up land for housing redevelopment. As recently as early September, in introducing the third reading of the Housing Accords Bill, he was still at it, colourfully complaining, “we’ve got a constipated planning system bogging down new residential construction and this bill is a laxative to get new houses flowing”.

Auckland, he said, “has got just 1300 sections available for housing – a third of what there was a decade ago – and we need 13,000 a year just to keep up with population growth”.

“The Government’s strong preference is to get this work done in partnership … but this bill also provides for the Government to get on with the job if councils stand in the way of delivering an increased supply of affordable housing.”

But, as he admitted, at that stage he’d already signed up to a housing accord with Auckland along the very lines outlined in the bill.

In other words, all the abuse and threats at local councils – in particular Auckland Council – was strictly gratuitous.

After the act was passed on September 10, Dr Smith said it was now back in Auckland’s hands. “It’s up to Auckland where it wants to grow. What this accord does is support them to get some momentum around building the least contentious 39,000 of the 400,000 homes identified in the draft Unitary Plan that Auckland needs to keep up with population growth over the next 30 years.”

“The accord will remain in place for three years and is an interim measure until Auckland’s Unitary Plan becomes fully operative.”

What he didn’t mention is the big stick still buried in the legislation, which Auckland Council tried and failed to have removed. The accord remains in place for three years, unless “either party” gives six months’ notice it’s pulling out. In other words, if Auckland doesn’t keep him happy, central Government can still pounce.

Not that, at this stage of the political cycle, either party would be wanting to attract the negative publicity of such a move. But this bully-clause remains in the legislation, another reminder to local politicians of what the central parliamentarians really think of them.

If Mr Brown is re-elected – which seems inevitable – it will be interesting to see whether he can honour his pledge to “ensure that a percentage of housing developed under the accord will be required to be affordable and specifically targeted at first-time home buyers and those who do not have the means to purchase a home at market rates”.

This goes further than the accord, which rather vaguely requires developers only “to give consideration to the provisions of affordable housing and/or first home buyer purchase”. It will be interesting to see if the developers go running to Mr Smith to complain.

Mr Brown also highlights that Auckland’s first-time buyers, “tend to be borrowers with low deposits” [and] “are not the causing of housing unaffordability”.

He refers to the Reserve Bank’s new policy requiring most home loan borrowers to have a 20 per cent deposit – up from 10 per cent. This draws attention to the big flaw in Dr Smith’s housing policy, that is that opening all the land in fringe Auckland up to housing is of no use to those at the bottom of the market, if they can’t conjure up a large lump sum deposit.


The New Zealand Herald

Editorial: Stay awake: it’s time to make your vote count

5:30 AM Monday Oct 7, 2013

Local body elections billboards in Auckland City. Photo / Richard Robinson

Local body elections billboards in Auckland City. Photo / Richard Robinson

Local democracy has a delicate life at more risk of suffering from neglect than abuse. When most of its eligible voters ignore its debates and cast an unthinking vote, if they vote at all, they are at risk of handing power to an unrepresentative minority. In Auckland the risk is already apparent.

In the absence of a strong mayoral candidate against incumbent Len Brown, the contest is between the leftish mayor and challengers who are further left. Rivals such as John Minto do not seriously expect to be elected, they are standing to draw the debate left and they are succeeding.

Last week they moved the mayor’s position on the union campaign for the “living wage”. Having previously said he would wait for a report on paying council workers an $18.40 hourly minimum, Mr Brown now endorses the proposition.

The living wage is a fine principle but its adoption by the council needs to be carefully considered in all its implications for Auckland employers and ratepayers, not approved under pressure from election rivals. At this rate Mr Minto’s promises of free public transport, construction of 20,000 council rental houses and income-related rates, may be only weeks away from a mayoral endorsement.

It is hard to take much interest in an election where the hottest issue might be whether or not citizens should be expected to mow their strip of lawn on the street outside their property. This has never been in question for three-quarters of the city where the council has not previously mown the berm. But the former Auckland City Council used to cut the grass on the isthmus.

The new Auckland Council’s decision to save the cost could be expected to appeal to the right and offend the left, but the reverse has occurred. John Palino, the most active mayoral candidate on the right, has noticed that the grass is getting long and promises, if elected, to give local boards the chance to reinstate council mowing.

How that promise might be received in Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore remains to be seen, though offered the service residents there would accept it too. This is how the scale and cost of government constantly grow. On this issue, Mr Brown is defending the public purse, pointing out that it would cost $12 million to $15 million a year to mow all the berms, adding 1 per cent to rates.

Yet Mr Palino is promising to keep rate increases level with inflation, rightly challenging the mayor’s notion that local government has to accept costs rising above general inflation. A “council rate” of inflation is largely a result of soft contracting and it is up to voters to stop it.

Only one mayoral candidate, Stephen Berry, would go further, reducing rates across the board. Mr Berry also advocates selling shares in Ports of Auckland and the airport to finance the inner city rail link, which he opposes but accepts will go ahead. He favours the city’s spread as well as intensification and would allow the port to reclaim more of the Waitemata.

His is a lonely voice in the public debates but possibly not so lonely among those who do not make their voices heard and possibly will not vote. Of the many who do not vote in local body elections, most say it is because they do not know enough about the candidates. Many others say they intend to vote but do not get around to it. Not many say they are not interested.

It would be odd to be uninterested in decisions that may affect your house and its value, your street, water supply, drains, traffic and transport services, the parks and trees and most of the amenities that make a residential area pleasant, or not. Those complacent about these things cannot afford to leave the election to a few activists. It pays to stay awake.


The New Zealand Herald

One dead in Rotorua crash

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One person is dead after a car crash on the outskirts of Rotorua.

Emergency services were called to the accident, on Hamurana Road, Okere Falls at 4.35am.

The car had left the road and hit a tree, police said.

Hamurana Road between Te Waerenga Road and SH33 is closed to traffic in both directions.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating.


– © Fairfax NZ News 

I did it for my children, arsonist says

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A man who set fire to his ex-partner’s home, killing the family cat and causing nearly $500,000 in damage, said he did it for his children’s health.

Randall Leon Rodney Ure, 38, of Porirua, was sentenced in Wellington District Court to three years and eight months’ jail on arson, burglary and excess breath alcohol charges on Friday.

Ure had separated from his 41-year-old partner when he went back to their Doncaster Tce home on June 5 and set three fires inside the house – after checking nobody was home and removing some of the family’s prized possessions.

The pair have two children together, aged 4 and 2, and Ure took photos of them along with family keepsakes, a laptop and a camera from the house before setting it alight. Ure also took gifts belonging to the 2-year-old, who had celebrated her birthday a few days before, wrapped them in a red cloth and left them on the front lawn.

The fires were starved of oxygen before they took hold, but smoke and heat caused about $380,000 damage to the house; possessions worth $110,000 were also lost in the fire.

Ure called his ex-partner a week later, admitted what he had done and said he was sorry the cat had died in the fire. He then called police, told them where he was staying and made the arresting officer a cup of coffee before being taken for processing.

Defence lawyer Paul Surridge said Ure’s actions were not the “nasty, pernicious acts of a jealous husband” but were motivated by concern for his children’s health.

The family had been renting the home from Ure’s ex-partner’s mother, and Ure had complained it was leaky. Despite attempts to fix it up it was so damp it landed his children in hospital with respiratory problems, Surridge said.

When his partner refused to leave the home there was “discord” and Ure was asked to leave, he said.

“It was a house that affected his children, nothing had been done about it, nothing would’ve been done about it and that’s what motivated him to do this stupid act.”

Crown prosecutor Stephanie Bishop argued Ure should be sentenced to at least six years’ imprisonment because of the crime’s seriousness.

There was a significant element of premeditation and the damage to the home, the death of the family cat, the loss of rental income for the mother-in-law, the risk to neighbours and firefighters and the trauma caused to his ex-partner should all be considered.

Judge Phil Gittos said Ure’s decision to set three fires, ensure no-one was home and remove possessions showed he had wanted the house to be destroyed and the fact that he didn’t succeed in that act did not lessen his intentions.

Judge Gittos said despite Ure’s concern for his children his initial interview with police revealed he was frustrated and angry with his ex-partner over access to the children and it must have been part of his motive.

“You must have known it would be a threatening and disturbing thing for her to confront,” said the judge.

Ure was also disqualified from driving.

                                  – © Fairfax NZ News  

Nápoles se acerca

Nápoles se acerca

Nápoles goleó 4-0 al Livorno (12º), en la 7ª fecha de la Serie A del ‘calcio’, y con 19 puntos quedó a 2 del líder AS Roma, que el sábado venció 3-0 al Inter en San Siro.

En el estadio de San Paolo, para los dirigidos por el español ‘Rafa’ Benítez anotaron el macedonio Goran Pandev de manera tempranera (3), lo siguió el suizo Gökhan Inler (26), y en el segundo tiempo completaron el abultado marcador el español José Callejón (54) y el eslovaco Marek Hamsik, ya sobre el final del partido (83).

Además, el Udinese (7º) derrotó por 2-0 al Cagliari (14º), y el Hellas Verona ganó por 4-1 como visitante en Bolonia (18º) y se ubicó en el 5º lugar.

Cerrando la fecha, la ‘Juve’ (3º) recibe al alicaído AC Milan (12º) en Turín, y en caso de victoria se pondría a la par del Nápoles en puntos, mientras que el Lazio (7º) recibe a la Fiorentina (6º) en el estadio Olímpico de la capital.

Si la ‘Viola’ logra un buen resultado puede superar al Inter o ponerse en igualdad de unidades en la tabla.

El Atlético desafía a la historia

El Atlético desafía a la historia


Una nueva victoria en el pleno del Atlético de Madrid en esta Liga prolongó el impecable inicio del conjunto rojiblanco, que aguantó el ritmo en la cima de la clasificación del Barcelona con un triunfo con inquietud final frente al Celta (2-1), al que controló más de una hora, pero con el que sufrió en el último tramo.

Todo había sido plácido para el equipo madrileño hasta entonces. Una ventaja de dos goles, ambos con la firma del brasileño Diego Costa, uno compartido con el uruguayo Diego Godín y otro con una acción individual, le daban cierta seguridad hasta que Nolito transformó el choque en una lucha contrarreloj para el Atlético.

La superó el equipo rojiblanco, que festejó su octava victoria en otras tantas jornadas, que agrandó su mejor inicio de Liga de la historia y que sólo sintió alivio cuando el árbitro decretó el final del partido ante el acecho del Celta, que no creyó en sumar un resultado positivo en el Calderón hasta los últimos 20 minutos y que se acercó al empate en una falta despejada por Thibaut Courtois.

“Este equipo no se relaja nunca”, decía Gabi, el capitán del conjunto rojiblanco. Es así. El Atlético no baja el ritmo y siempre propone una intensidad altísima a cada momento del juego. De la misma forma comenzó hoy el encuentro ante el Celta, al que arrinconó por fuerza y presión, pero también con posesión de balón.

Nadie se esconde en las tareas defensivas. Ni siquiera los hombres de perfil más de ataque, con más talento, como Koke o el turco Arda Turan, que corren tras la pelota, se lanzan al suelo y roban balones como el que más, dentro de una estructura de esfuerzo que agrupa a todo el colectivo en busca de un mismo fin: el triunfo.

Puso el Atlético contra las cuerdas al Celta durante una hora. Tuvo ocasiones, se plantó en el área rival con constancia, por las bandas, por el centro, con envíos laterales, con pases interiores… pero sin recompensa hasta el minuto 41. Incluso malgastó un penal, parada por Yoel a un lanzamiento fallido de Diego Costa.

Un arquero que es una maravilla
No marcó antes el Atlético por el magnífico repertorio de intervenciones del guardameta celeste. Él acaparó el protagonismo en su equipo. Además de la pena máxima, respondió al empuje rojiblanco con dos estiradas ante David Villa, a un remate de Diego Costa, a un tiro lejano de Mario Suárez, a un mano a mano frente al brasileño…

En el minuto 41, ya no tuvo opción. Una jugada de Filipe desbordó a la defensa del Celta. Su pase de gol, inalcanzable para Yoel, a la entrada de Diego Costa y el uruguayo Diego Godín, lo impulsaron entre uno y otro a la red. El central señaló al atacante como el autor del tanto en la celebración posterior del 1-0.

Nada cambió para la reanudación. El partido siguió en poder del Atlético, que aumentó la renta en los primeros minutos del segundo tiempo. Antes perdonó Villa el segundo. Controló la pelota solo, sin oposición, a pase de Diego Costa, pero ajustó tanto su tiro que salió fuera. Instantes después, se retiró ‘tocado’ en un tobillo entre la ovación unánime de los más de 50.000 espectadores.

No falló Diego Costa en la siguiente oportunidad. Está a tope el atacante, con una potencia y velocidad imparable por momentos para sus oponentes, como demostró en la acción del 2-0, en la que aguantó el cuerpo a cuerpo con su marcador para plantarse ante Yoel, batirle con la izquierda y asumir el liderato en solitario de la tabla de goleadores de esta temporada de Liga, ya por delante de Messi.

Todo parecía resuelto para el Atlético con media hora por delante. Nadie contaba con la reacción del Celta hasta que acertó en su primera ocasión del duelo, un golazo de Nolito, que picó el balón ante la salida del belga Thibaut Courtois, ilusionó de nuevo al equipo vigués y transformó la calma rojiblanca en mucha inquietud.

Porque fue el Celta el que encaró el tramo final del choque con más y mejores ideas, infinitamente más valiente y convencido de lo que había demostrado en la anterior hora y diez minutos de partido, pero que chocó con una parada de Thibaut Courtois en los instantes finales ante un Atlético que también sabe ganar con sufrimiento.

Bordeaux retrouve des couleurs

Bordeaux retrouve des couleurs


Bordeaux, en proie au doute depuis des semaines, a retrouvé des couleurs en s’imposant facilement devant Sochaux (4-1), dimanche, dans un choc de bas de tableau maitrisé lors de la 9e journée de L1.

Les hommes de Francis Gillot qui attendaient un véritable déclic dans un début de saison morose ont rétabli une situation plutôt critique, se retrouvant grâce à cette victoire méritée à seulement trois points de Saint-Etienne, 7e.

Sochaux, lui, n’a pas confirmé son sursaut valenciennois. Il a sombré corps et âmes, après pourtant avoir fait douter son hôte, et se retrouve toujours englué dans la zone rouge, en attendant l’arrivée d’un nouveau coach dans les heures à venir.

Ce n’était pas gagné pour les Girondins, surtout après le premier quart d’heure où ils ont vacillé défensivement, sous les inspirations de Guerbert ou Roudet.

Bakambu, auteur d’un raté surprenant seul à 5 mètres de Carrasso (5), puis Dias, sur un coup-franc excentré direct sur la barre de Carrasso surpris (11), auraient pu être les premiers bourreaux d’une équipe en souffrance.

C’est finalement Contout d’une reprise terrible sous la barre qui se chargea de déflorer le tableau d’affichage (17) sans qu’il n’y ait grand chose à redire.

Collectivement au point, les joueurs d’Omar Daf, qui vivait sa deuxième et dernière pige à la tête des Lionceaux, semblaient bien partis pour faire perdurer la crise bordelaise.

Rolan enfin décisif
Malmenés par leur public, les Girondins, plus mauvais élèves de L1 cette saison à domicile, ont surtout eu la chance de ne pas douter très longtemps.

A peine trois minutes, le temps pour Diabaté, bien lancé en profondeur par Mariano, d’obtenir un penalty pour une faute de Pouplin, transformé par Saivet (1-1, 21).

Cette égalisation libérait les locaux, plus fringants, avec un jeu direct vers Diabaté semant régulièrement la panique dans l’arrière garde doubienne qui craquait une deuxième fois, Corchia, à la lutte avec Jussiê, trompant son gardien suite à un centre de Mariano (38).

Ce n’était que justice pour les Bordelais qui avaient vu précédemment deux pieds sochaliens sauver Pouplin sur des tentatives de Jussiê et Diabaté (37).

La domination des Girondins se poursuivait au retour des vestiaires mais il fallait attendre l’entrée en jeu de Rolan pour voir le score gonfler.

L’attaquant uruguayen, aux stats vierges jusque-là en L1 depuis son arrivée en février dernier, offrait deux passes décisives à Diabaté -reprise imparable (70), petit lob astucieux (89)- enfin récompensé de son labeur à la pointe d’une attaque qui n’avait marqué qu’un but cette saison au Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Guangzhou Evergrandes claim Chinese league title

Guangzhou claim Chinese league title


Marcello Lippi’s free-scoring Guangzhou Evergrande took their first step to a domestic and Asian treble Sunday, clinching the Chinese Super League with a 4-2 win at second-placed Shandong Luneng.

The former FIFA World Cup™ winning coach looks set to seal a dream first full season in charge, with the AFC Champions League final and domestic cup semi-finals looming.

The mega-rich outfit sealed their third domestic league title in a row courtesy of goals from Zhao Xuri, Rong Hao, Gao Lin and Zheng Zhi. Zhao scored in the sixth minute, but the teams were level soon after when Gilberto Macena drew level for Shandong.

Rong and Gao reclaimed the lead for Guangzhou with goals either side of half time, before Zheng scored midway through the second half. Shandong’s Roda Antar scored a consolation for the hosts with 12 minutes remaining.

Guangzhou, who have lost only once this season, claimed the title with four games to go. Lippi’s men have been in sizzling form in recent weeks, bagging 20 goals in their last five games in both domestic and Asian competition.

The Guangdong outfit have a plus-53 goal difference in the league, 33 ahead of their nearest competitor.

Key players for the side this season include Brazilian aces Muriqui and Elkeson, and Argentine Dario Conca. Elkeson is the league’s top scorer with 23 goals. Lippi has rotated his squad in recent weeks, particularly for the league games, in a bid to ease pressure on players in the face of increasing fixture congestion.

Guangzhou recently became the first Chinese team to reach the Asian final since it was revamped as the AFC Champions League in 2003. Dalian were the last Chinese side to get this far, in the 1998 Asian Club Championship, and China has not had a regional winner since Liaoning in 1990.

Chelsea sink Norwich, Arsenal draw

Chelsea sink Norwich, Arsenal draw


Eden Hazard and close-season signing Willian came off the bench to score decisive goals as Chelsea won 3-1 at Norwich City to climb to third place.

The visitors took a fourth-minute lead when Oscar drilled home from Demba Ba’s lay-off, but Norwich gradually took the upper hand and equalised in the 68th minute.

Martin Olsson’s deep left-wing cross was headed back across goal by Ricky van Wolfswinkel andAnthony Pilkington ghosted in behind David Luiz to glance a deft header past Petr Cech.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reacted by sending on Hazard and Willian, and it proved a masterstroke.

Hazard completed an 85th-minute counter-attack with a low shot that squirmed beneath John Ruddy to put Chelsea ahead before Willian curled home a glorious left-foot shot a minute later to claim his first goal for the club.

The two late goals elevated Chelsea to third place, two points beneath Arsenal and Liverpool, while results later in the day saw Norwich slip into the relegation zone.

Jack Wilshere sent Arsenal back to the top of the English Premier League table with a second-half equaliser in an entertaining 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Bidding to follow up last weekend’s shock victory at Manchester United, West Brom took a 42nd-minute lead at The Hawthorns when Claudio Yacob converted Morgan Amalfitano’s right-wing cross with a near-post header.

Former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka spurned two glorious opportunities to double the hosts’ lead, fluffing his lines from Saido Berahino’s low cross and then curling wide with only Wojciech Szczesny to beat.

He was made to pay for his profligacy in the 63rd minute when Wilshere met Tomas Rosicky’s lay-off with a crisp drive that took a deflection off Jonas Olsson and flashed past goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.

Myhill prevented Olivier Giroud from claiming a late winner, but the draw was enough to take Arsene Wenger’s side above Liverpool on goals scored, while Steve Clarke’s West Brom remain 12th.

Hammers sink Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur could have moved level on points with the leaders, but they were dealt a stunning 3-0 home defeat by London rivals West Ham United.

After a quiet first half, Spurs appeared to be hitting their stride in the second period when Winston Reid put West Ham ahead in the 66th minute, smashing home after Kevin Nolan had inadvertently blocked his header.

Ricardo Vaz Te added a second goal six minutes later, the ball ricocheting off his thigh and into the net after Hugo Lloris blocked his initial attempt, before Ravel Morrison completed the scoring with a fine solo goal.

The result leaves Spurs in sixth place, three points below Arsenal and Liverpool, while West Ham leap out of the bottom three to 13th.

Southampton continued their fine start to the season by winning 2-0 at home to Swansea City, which sent Mauricio Pochettino’s side to the dizzying heights of fourth place.

Saints captain Adam Lallana broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when he polished off a fine pass from Steven Davis.

Goalkeeper Artur Boruc thwarted Swansea on several occasions as the visitors pushed for an equaliser, before Jay Rodriguez made the game safe with seven minutes remaining.