What's wrong with a bit of DIY roadside berm beautification?

Mobility scooter users, those with failing eyesight, parents with prams - these are some of the people who want council rules on berm encroachments to get even tougher.

Geoff Benge, one of 180 or so mobility scooter users in Waikanae, is calling for urgent work in his part of the country. He's fed up with overgrown vegetation blocking his path, and branches that interfere with riding on pavements.

He saw the story on Fair Go two weeks back about a berm encroachment in New Plymouth, caused by a planter edging 60cm or so onto the Council berm. Geoff sympathised with the garden owner that it wasn't much of an encroachment, but felt strongly that if one person is allowed to break the rules, it will lead to others breaking them, and cause further problems for pavement users elsewhere.

Geoff is keen for the Kapiti Coast District Council to start taking action before there's an accident. The response of the council was that they would "investigate all complaints received about berm encroachments and take appropriate action where there are significant safety and accessibility issues".

They added that "when investigating complaints we aim to strike a balance between retaining the historical character of an area, safety and accessibility."

Another Fair Go viewer, David Baker, who is blind, also wants councils to take a harder line. He accused the New Plymouth council who featured in our original story of double standards.

In his view, the council put the spotlight on the encroaching planter because it was a hazard. Yet, they were happy for it to stay if the owner paid an annual fee. This raised a further question in David's mind, "if a blind person falls over and injures themselves with such an approved exempted obstacle will the council compensate them?”

It's a fair point so we asked the council for their response. They said that the fee was charged because the planter in question was "built on public land which does not belong to (the owners), and they have not asked for permission."

They added that "we don't believe there's a safety hazard, and we've looked for a compromise with (the owners) by asking them to pay an encroachment license". It doesn't strictly answer David's question, but highlights the fact that every council faces a balancing act. After all, beautification of an area with greenery is to be commended, but many feel  safety should come first. 

It’s not just councils that are going ape over guerrilla gardeners. Source: Fair Go



Jacinda Ardern says refugee quota gives NZ strength ahead of UN summit

Yesterday's refugee quota announcement, paired with the ban on oil and gas exploration announced in April, will give Jacinda Ardern more credibility and a stronger hand while attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, she said.

"Of course, doing your part adds to your weight that you're able to bring to the debate," she told 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay in a one-on-one interview today.

Climate change, big interviews and baby Neve were all on the agenda for the pair. Source: 1 NEWS

During what will be her first UN General Assembly meeting, the Prime Minister has been chosen to deliver a number of keynote addresses, including for the opening of UN Climate Week. In devising her strategy for the week, Ms Ardern said she turned to our past.

"Nuclear proliferation is a great example," she said. "New Zealand's always been looked to as an exemplar because we've always taken a firm stance and we've acted on it. On climate change I hope we'll be seen in the same way. But yes, the refugee quote is about us doing our bit in response to a humanitarian crisis."

Ms Ardern announced yesterday that starting in 2020 New Zealand will help resettle 1500 refugees here per year, 500 more than the current amount and double what it will have been just five years earlier. The move has been hailed by the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

Also during her week in New York, Ms Ardern will be appearing on the Today Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and will sit down for an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"It's hard for me really to know whether I'm getting any more or any less (attention) than other New Zealand leaders," she said as Mutch McKay pointed out they're pretty "big gigs".

"They are (big) but I'll be doing my best to make sure that they are in the best interest of New Zealanders as well," she said. "That I use those opportunities to promote New Zealand -- in some cases, as a destination, on others just promote our stance in issues of international significance.

"For me, it's about making sure I'm the best representative for New Zealand I can be while abroad."

The government say the move is to cut rising greenhouse emissions. Source: 1 NEWS

This week’s refugee quota announcement should give the PM a stronger hand in NYC, she told 1 NEWS journalist Jessica Mutch McKay. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Man who beat pensioner to death soon after release from mental health unit jailed at least 13 years

A man who stomped a pensioner to death shortly after being discharged from Auckland City Hospital's mental health unit has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.

Gabriel Yad-Elohim appeared at the High Court in Auckland today for sentencing for the murder of 69-year-old Michael Mulholland.

Mr Mulholland's daughter told the court that the pain of losing her father was immense.

She said her father was just an old man who enjoyed collecting National Geographic magazines and reading. He treasured gifts and letters from his children like diamonds.

Yad-Elohim had been out of Auckland City Hospital's Te Whetu Tawera for only three days when he killed Mr Mulholland in September last year.

His lawyers argued he had a disease of the mind, was hearing voices at the time and had no way of telling right from wrong.

The Crown said despite having schizophrenia, he knew right from wrong and killed Mr Mulholland for revenge after losing $200 in a methamphetamine deal.

rnz.co.nz

Gabriel Yad-Elohim at the High Court in Auckland today. (Claire Eastham-Farrelly) Source: rnz.co.nz

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Tax working group suggests two options for capital gains tax, change to tax brackets

Two ways of taxing capital have been proposed by the Tax Working Group, including extending the current income tax regime.

File image of $50 and $100 notes. Source: 1 NEWS

Tax Working Group has released an interim report proposing two options for taxing capital gain.

The group was established by the government to look at whether there should be any changes to the tax system, including a potential capital gains tax - excluding the family home.

The head of the working group, Sir Michael Cullen, has just presented the interim report.

The group has received about 6700 submissions and spoke with business and community groups in roadshows across the country.

The group is proposing two options for taxing capital gain: any gain from the sale of assets taxed at roughly the marginal income tax rate, and the second a regime under which a portion of the value of certain assets would be subject to tax, for example rental properties, to be paid each year.

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However, Sir Michael said neither of these options were actual recommendations.

The report found there was "significant scope" to use tax to "sustain and enhance" New Zealand's "natural capital", including options like a waste disposal levy, "strengthening" the Emissions Trading Scheme, and congestion charges.

It also proposed removing the tax on employer contributions to superannuation schemes for those earning less than $48,000 a year.

The working group made no final recommendations about income tax rates, but suggested a progressive approach would be to reduce rates for the lower threshold tax brackets.

Public feedback will now be sought before the working group releases its final report in February 2019.


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New Zealand's GDP rises one percent in June quarter

New Zealand's gross domestic product has increased one per cent in the June quarter.

It's the largest rise in two years, and makes for a 2.7 per cent gain over the June year, Stats NZ said.

Growth was delivered on the back of a bounce back in dairy production and meat processing, higher power generation, and forestry.

House building also lifted, as did activity in the services sector.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

New figures show GDP grew for the last quarter of 2015, political editor Corin Dann says.
Source: 1 NEWS