Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: AirBnb rates hike ire sums up Auckland housing, health minister accused of cronyism, and calls to change Hamilton’s name.
To start the week, we’re going to put the spotlight on an issue that is a microcosm for a lot of Auckland’s housing issues. Auckland homeowners who rent properties on AirBnb and the like are concerned about the massive rates hike they’re being whacked with, reports the NZ Herald. It’s got to the point where some are saying they might have to sell their homes at a discount.
The concerns are being pushed by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, who have criticised the rates for AirBnb owners on a few occasions now – here’s one from last month on the NZ Herald, for example. The revenue from the new rates will go towards ATEED, where it will be spent to market the city to tourists and promote events.
The rollout of the new rate has been mired in problems, writes Stuff’s Todd Niall. Many households that should be paying it can’t be found, while others who may not need to pay might have been caught up, after failing to respond to a mailout to say they’re not being used as short term accomodation. The Council didn’t have a clear idea of how many properties who meet the criteria when it was first proposed – it is now understood there are about 3800 properties that could be affected.
One important point to make here though is that AirBnb type services could have had a distorting effect on rental markets since arriving in New Zealand, as outlined in this feature from Stuff earlier in the year. They’ve certainly had an inflationary effect on housing and rental markets in the USA, as this Atlantic feature outlines, so it stands to reason that the effect here is similar. The potential income from putting a home on AirBnb is enormous compared to that of putting a house up for a standard rental tenancy.
And with that in mind, it makes perfect sense that a lot of homeowners would follow the logic of the market and take their property off the regular rental market. But tens of thousands of homes in Auckland are regularly empty. House prices remain unaffordable for many, and rents keep rising. And Auckland Council needs money. A big rates hike here would be a stick to whack the housing market back into some sort of balance – not that it is being described by Council like that, but it could have that effect. But as the regular news stories show, it’ll be politically very difficult to sell, and make some people very angry along the way.
That seems like a reasonable way to sum up a whole lot of Auckland’s issues right now – entrenched interests are coming up against how the city probably needs to develop in future. And as the example of resource consent being denied to a Dominion Road housing development showed, the city might not currently have the right planning system to untie that Gordian knot.
Health minister David Clark is being accused of cronyism, after appointing former Labour minister Steve Maharey to be chair of Pharmac, reports Newsroom. The story comes off OIA documents wrangled by the writer behind No Right Turn, which show it was basically a shoulder-tap, rather than an appointment process, and went against State Services Commission guidelines. Minister Clark himself says the appointment “followed a standard process for board chairs,” was signed off by cabinet, and that Mr Maharey was more than qualified for the job.
The Waikato Times this morning is leading with a call from a historian to change Hamilton’s name to Kirikiriroa-Hamilton. Kirikiri
Mental health number Lifeline is missing one in four calls that come in, amid a squeeze from funding pressure, reports the NZ Herald this morning. They bid unsuccessfully for government funding back in 2015, and there is a fully government service called Need to Talk, but Lifeline still gets around four times as many calls.
Here’s an interesting angle on flagging business confidence from the Point of Order blog. It notes that the sharemarket is currently in a ‘bull run’ (that’s the good one, where things are going up) and gaining momentum, and despite some high profile companies having shockers recently, a lot of companies are reporting very healthy returns. That’s in contrast to the headline business confidence figure, in which the vast majority of those surveyed predict the economy is heading for a downturn.
Employment minister Willie Jackson has outlined his targets to reduce unemployment, and particularly Māori unemployment, reports Newshub. He says there will need to be targeted funding in the budget for that second goal, as currently, the Māori unemployment rate is far higher than the national average.
The sporting world is looking askance at proposals to outsource the TAB’s activities overseas, reports Newshub. That’s because a portion of money wagered (lost) at the TAB on a particular sports ends up being paid back to the organising authority of the sport – so bets on the NBA end up helping to fund Basketball NZ, for example. They say the Messara review of the racing industry, in which the proposals were made, fails to take into account the increasing popularity of sports betting.
From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.
Right now on The Spinoff: Madeleine Chapman takes a first look at one of the new Kiwibuild houses, and gives it some ratings. Qiane Matata-Sipu talks to some Māori businesses that are leading the way on the zero waste movement. And Alex Casey looks back five years to the closure of short-lived youth TV channel TVNZ U.
A lot of writing about gangs isn’t particularly good, from a journalistic standpoint. It’s certainly not universal, but it’s pretty routine for gangs to be reported on without anyone ever hearing what the gangs themselves have to say, simply taking the police’s word for it regarding their motivations, or relying on experts to act as balancing comment. This is not to say that I’m a fan of what some gangs get up to necessarily, but it’s hard to imagine these sort of standards flying for other subjects – particularly as gang members are often described in what are pretty defamatory terms.
Fortunately, some writers have looked deeper into the phenomenon, and I want to highlight one of those pieces today. Writing on Māui Street, Morgan Godfery argues that blanket statements about ‘the gangs’ completely miss the point about operational differences, motivations, and activities. As well as that, he argues that the ‘war on gangs’ – that is often politically convenient to stoke – misunderstands the nature of why gangs exist. Here’s an excerpt:
“For Māori – the people who make up a majority of this country’s street gangs – this isn’t news. The gang members and prospects we know are more likely users than dealers. Very few members are living large off drug profits. Instead the typical member is out of work or working an insecure job, living in a cold, damp home, and their children are more likely to drop out of school than their peers. The pad tells a similar story too, the portraits on the wall suggesting few gang members make it past 60. This is what gang life is like on the ground, and it’s scarcely recognisable from the headlines.
There’s no glamour or glory to be had. And many gang members and prospects want out. But the problem with a war on drugs, and an ensuing war on gangs, is the weaker side adopts a siege mentality, closing itself off from the outside world.”
The Warriors have found a new and novel way to make life difficult for themselves, finishing 8th on the NRL ladder. Astonishingly, two more wins and they would have been guaranteed the Minor Premiership. In any case, they’ll head to Sydney this weekend for a must win match against Penrith.
A consensus if forming on the footballing abilities of sprinter Usain Bolt, who’s currently trialling for A-League team Central Coast Mariners. Stuff reported comments from their coach Mike Mulvey, after he had 20 minutes in a pre-season friendly, with Mulvey saying he wasn’t fit enough to play A-League football. There are some rather dubiously named highlights of his efforts on the A-League website, in which Bolt mainly fails to take advantage of relatively low standard defending.
And finally, England have closed out the test series against India 3-1 overnight, with one still to play. Moeen Ali, back in the side as an all-rounder, picked up 9 wickets over the match for England to rout India’s lower order twice.
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