Growth? What on earth is good about that?
Your editorial (ODT 21.11.23) speaks of "good news for Queenstown Lakes District as the fastest growing region in New Zealand with approx 6% overall GDP growth in the last quarter."
Just exactly what is good about that? Well, about 900 extra jobs in the hospitality sector and 300 more in retail. But in reality is that good?
There are plenty of downsides accompanying this growth. For starters, those jobs are primarily being filled by imported labour and not by ordinarily resident New Zealanders. A large number of those people cannot find anywhere affordable to live, having added to the already dire regional rental accommodation crisis.
The 8% population growth has also added to the local infrastructure overload, which the QLDC cannot afford to supply. Tourism numbers have comprised part of the growth, and we are fast returning to the tourism overload experienced pre-Covid.
Our "tourism product", and the environment , is being stretched beyond its sustainable capacity. Our QLDC annual Quality of Life survey of residents has for a number of years noted unhappiness with the recent past levels of regional growth.
Growth of itself is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the necessary reduction in gross carbon emissions which we have to achieve in order to prevent a climate catastrophe. Every additional resident, and tourist, brings with them a significant additional carbon footprint.
One has to not only significantly reduce the emissions of all the existing population and the industrial activities which underpin it (and we are tracking very badly on that score), but also we have to somehow make the consumptions of all the growth components totally carbon neutral. That is just not possible.
There is nothing inherently good about GDP growth, something that the current generation of economists, and the ODT editor, have failed to grasp. Quality of Life is a better aspiration, and definitely not tied to GDP growth. Carbon emission goals are vital, our very survival on this planet depends on it. Excess growth will almost certainly prevent us achieving them.
Cats and pests
As the number of children decreases and the number of elderly folk increases, the huge number of cats in society obtain more love and affection regardless of what they do in our gardens.
The solution is that all domestic cats are registered with the council, chipped and people can have no more than three a household. Their owners would pay an annual council fee exactly as is required by dog owners. With the number of cats in the city the cash flow into the council coffers would allow a substantial reduction in rates.
All unregistered cats would be classed as "feral pests" to be killed exactly like rabbits, rats, and possums as the country heads toward a pest-free nation by 2050.
Free, almost, at last
Further to your article in the ODT (15.11.23), the Dunedin branch of Amnesty International is delighted to celebrate the release of Philippines senator Leila de Lima, after seven years of incarceration without trial on trumped-up charges. As the ODT points out, de Lima has been a vocal critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody "war on drugs" campaign, in which thousands of users and dealers were murdered in extra-judicial killings. However, Senator de Lima has only been released on bail, as there remains one outstanding charge against her. Amnesty will continue to work to get this charge dismissed, so that this courageous defender of human rights can truly be, in her own words, "free at last".
Request to mayors: show ratepayers the money
In the local body reforms of the late 1980s one of the requirements of the reforms was that local government value their assets, access depreciation, and include that cost in their rate demands, and put aside that money for eventual renewal of those assets.
The concept of "Three Waters" although laudable, basically covered the ineptitude of local government to maintain the water assets of their community from the Depreciation Account. Perhaps Mayor Bryan Cadogan could explain to ratepayers what has happened to this money?
Where’s the off-ramp?
The world seems to be a mass of unsolvable conflicts in which no-one is looking for the off-ramp. This is not the case. Behind the click-bait, the partisan propaganda and the strident self interest, there are good and able people working to understand and stabilise the situation.
In spite of the way the United Nations seems to be powerless in the face of the great power veto and dependence on American money, the UN does work its way toward co-ordinating stabilising actions and pressuring belligerents toward negotiation. As part of this process, expert submissions are sought from many sources which often articulate potential actions that find their way into policy. The best submissions bring together the underlying groundswell of informed opinion and present a road map for resolution of conflicts. Prof Jeffrey Sachs recently did this in a submission to the UN in which he cut through all the obfuscation about the causes, effects and off-ramps for current, major destabilising, armed conflicts.
His presentation is worth a look and a listen if you feel that the world is "going to hell in a handcart".
Perennial issue one which is easily solved
Every year is the same. Students go home after a hardworking year. Letter writers, radio hosts and keen reporters relish the opportunity to photograph, and write stories about the messy streets and unruly students.
Sadly all students get branded as the same. It’s time to stop blaming these students and find the culprits.
At the end of each year excellent local landlords inspect their properties, and most are usually more than pleased to sign off the bond refund forms for their many student tenants. These students will have been instructed in the art of group living and cared for during the year. Mutual trust and respect will have developed, from the day of signing the leases until the day that the last tenants have left their clean and tidy flats.
Well, why is it that rubbish is strewn around outside certain flats in certain streets? The reason is clear. Absentee landlords and lazy, inexperienced or careless managers. Some landlords never see their properties or meet their tenants, during the year.
Most absentee landlords are paying managers well to choose new tenants, complete arranged insurance inspections, maintain properties in an excellent state and ensure that flats are cleaned thoroughly at the end of each lease.
Now is the time for DCC workers to walk along each messy street with a clip board and a camera. If each messy area or flat was listed it would be a simple matter to locate the owners and tell each to clean up his/her act. Surely these absentee landlords would then be asking their managers a few questions and hopefully managers would begin to do the work for which they are being paid.
The results should be evident with happy student tenants, landlords, local residents and more especially the DCC workers. This would be a win-win situation.
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