House deposits too high
It seems to me that in many cases the demand for a substantial deposit before buying a house is unfair.
If a working person or family managing to pay a rent of say $300 to $700-plus per week is also expected to be able to save a house deposit then that is unjust. Surely evidence of paying a big rent without fault for a long period, a year or more, should be acceptable proof that the same person or family can meet mortgage payments in a similar range.
Council loses more than $1 million
Earlier this year I wrote about how councils around New Zealand were wasting billions of dollars on interest rate swaps (a financial derivative councils use to fix interest rates on loans). At that time I suggested it might be a good time to review, or even repeal this council policy, but my comments fell on deaf ears.
So no surprises that at the Whanganui District Council meeting on October 27 it was announced yet another $1.39 million was lost on interest rate swaps. Adding that to previous years, and ratepayers have now lost over $12 million over the last decade or so.
Strangely, our councillors were prepared to vigorously debate a new $1m dog pound in meeting after meeting for months and months, but at this latest meeting there was next to no debate on this financial matter. To his credit, councillor Rob Vinsen raised the issue of swap losses but his question was quickly explained away by council finance staff. Every council in New Zealand does it so they all feel safe continuing the practice. But even after taking expert financial advice, most years our council gets it wrong, yet they continue with this policy when all they have to do it accept a floating interest rate.
Our council management would argue that swaps are like insurance and we all have to pay an insurance premium, even if our house doesn't burn down. The difference here is that this insurance is looking rather expensive and it's not an actual asset they are insuring. They are gambling that they know better and unfortunately, our councillors do not have the financial expertise to hold them to account and ask the right question.
Sewage not good for the oceans
As a retired biology teacher, I should point out that Garth Scown is mistaken when he says that "plankton in our oceans play a very large part in producing our oxygen stocks". This widely held misconception ignores the fact that most of the oxygen produced in photosynthesis by phytoplankton is used in respiration by non-photosythetic organisms in the ocean (zooplankton, fish, and bacteria).
Garth also makes a significant error in saying that "sewage free of rubbish probably does more good than harm to the oceans, it feeds the plankton and plenty of plankton means plenty of fish".
Yes, sewage is rich in organic matter, and when it decays, it releases the minerals that "feed" the phytoplankton. But the bacteria that bring about this decay use up oxygen in their respiration. The resulting oxygen depletion can cause the notorious "dead zones" in which fish cannot survive. Such zones were first recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, but now extend to both sides of the offshore Atlantic.