Road works and the financial year

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time you try to drive anywhere and have to go through two separate sets of roadworks, where a perfectly good road has been ripped up and is being replaced to use up the funding before the financial year closes.

I like that New Zealand spends a decent amount on roading maintenance. I’ve been in Ireland, driven over the potholes, seen how the cars don’t last long because of the bad surfaces, and New Zealand roads are just a class above. Well, most of them, Ireland does have some great 120kph motorways. And my Irish supervisor did remark when over here that he didn’t like NZ roads because of all the road works…

Sometimes our road works just go over the top. There are still many gravel roads that are major thoroughfares. Diverting a fraction of the maintenance budget from ripping up good roads to sealing gravel ones would be a major boost to rural areas. And reduce the number of car crashes, save fuel, increase property values etc.

But I presume the money to fix roads is in one bag (state highway maintenance), and the money to seal gravel roads in another (local councils), and the bureaucracy won’t allow it.

So we’ll continue to waste taxpayers money.

National undermines Working For Families

National’s economic package, including their proposed tax cuts, has been released. Overall it is fairly sensible stuff, a range of tax cuts across the board that is funded by tweaking Kiwisaver, and removing the tax credit for research and development – both policies can be criticised certainly, and I need to look more into the R&D issue before I can conclude this is ok, but remembering we are in tough economic times I think they are probably being reasonable.

But the policy also includes an “Independent Earner Rebate” for people not receiving Working For Families tax credits.

The package would cover those earning between $24,000 and $50,000 and would give workers $10 a week in the first year, eventually rising to $15 a week.

The whole point of Working For Families is to give extra help for families as opposed to single people. If you give similar tax rebates to single people as well, you destroy the entire point of having tax rebates in the first place. If they are going to treat everyone the same they may as well just ditch WFF and cut tax by an equivalent amount in a way that will benefit low-income earners. Far less paperwork, same result.

Furthermore, they are adding more bureaucracy and more central government expenditure around the tax system, when they claim to be trying to reduce bureaucracy. And instead of just working families being on a benefit, now pretty well everyone in the country would be on a benefit. This is actually more socialist than Labour’s policy.

This shows why we need a National-led government rather than a Labour-led one, because on the whole National should be better at managing the economy. But it also shows why we need National in coalition with minor parties, ideally The Family Party and Act, rather than ruling alone, to keep them on track and ensure they don’t have free reign to do whatever they like.

EDIT: They may be more cunning than I thought. If they canned WFF they may risk losing the election, but if they give an equivalent tax rebate to everyone they could get people used to this then propose in a few years canning both and introducing an equivalent tax cut, thus getting rid of WFF while retaining public support. Hmmm, in that case we really need The Family Party in there pushing for income splitting to ensure families aren’t forgotten about.

Nanny state gone nuts

Just saw on Campbell Live, a kindergarten is struggling with crazy regulations around gate latches:

  • The Council, according to the building code, requires a gate latch to be low enough to allow disabled access.
  • The Ministry of Education (and all sensible parents) require a latch to be high enough to prevent children escaping onto the road.

These laws are mutually exclusive. This is the craziness you get when you have overly detailed building codes – buildings made to satisfy the book, rather than built logically. We need fewer, sensible laws, rather than the current bureaucratic nightmare.