Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Privacy and the Public Interest

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  • Paul Rowe,

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 574 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    I'm cool with media having to withhold Slater material unless it's in the public interest. So long as they use Slater's own formula for determining public interest, y'know, the one he uses in real life, not the one somebody pays his QC to argue in court.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    I’m cool with media having to withhold Slater material unless it’s in the public interest

    They would never have published the personal stuff anyway - and he knows it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes, but a surprising number of people appear to think that it is in the public interest to protect and elect the National government by any means available.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    Yes, but a surprising number of people appear to think that it is in the public interest to protect and elect the National government by any means available.

    What do they think will happen if Key loses? That they'll lose their houses?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    That they’ll lose their houses?

    In a way, yes. I think that National are trying to convince people that a CGT will mean that the equity they have in their houses will go down. And given the over-obsession we have with owning a house in this country, any reduction in house prices will certainly hit households' balance sheets.

    There are a lot of people out there who can see no further than that, who cannot see the housing market is already too bubbly, or who cannot mentally treat their house as if it were a place to live rather than an asset to be valued in dollar terms only.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    There are a lot of people out there who can see no further than that, who cannot see the housing market is already too bubbly, or who cannot mentally treat their house as if it were a place to live rather than an asset to be valued in dollar terms only.

    In that case, it only reinforces my thoughts from a couple of years back that the housing bubble is NZ's equivalent of farm subsidies - crowding out the productive economy and in dire need of reform, but too many powerful vested interests are getting in the way. In the end I hope it doesn't have to take a Chernobyl-level crisis to make people realise that greed and corruption doesn't generate long-term wealth for them and NZ.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    There are a lot of people out there who can see no further than that, who cannot see the housing market is already too bubbly, or who cannot mentally treat their house as if it were a place to live rather than an asset to be valued in dollar terms only.

    Well, and there's a lot of people who can't see that their house won't be subject to CGT. They think it's something they have to pay. It's not. So to that end I don't think it's likely to really make much of a dent in prices.

    What it does do is make something fair which currently isn't, that people making capital gains don't pay tax on them. Considering that capital gains can be massive sources of growth in one's own wealth, and that this is very much disproportionately so the richer you get, it's unfair as hell that it's not even taxed at all, when the paper boy has to pay tax on his puny wages.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    What it does do is make something fair which currently isn’t, that people making capital gains don’t pay tax on them.

    This is undersold. Much of the dialogue around an increasing gap between rich and poor centres on ‘income’. As such it’s based on the data around taxable income.
    Which is mildly ridiculous as a measure of wealth, as pretty much anyone who’s wealthy knows. The whole point of paying a tax accountant is to minimise the (legal) amount you pay in tax. And that’s been ridiculously easy in NZ. Changes to the rules around rental housing make a small difference.
    But if you looked at people worth millions and compared that to their legally declared income for taxation purposes, I think you’d see how wildly out-of-wack the current taxation regime is.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to BenWilson,

    Well, and there’s a lot of people who can’t see that their house won’t be subject to CGT. They think it’s something they have to pay. It’s not. So to that end I don’t think it’s likely to really make much of a dent in prices.

    Not directly but given the exuberance in the housing market, it's quite possible that something that blows some of the froth from the top causes the whole soufflé to collapse.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    It might. I'd be surprised, though. There are many drivers of house price inflation, it's a real Hydra. Not surprising since it's an investment class worth more than everything else put together, several fold. Not sure how many fold. I guess we've got over a trillion dollars in houses, if the average prices are in the half million range and there's nearly 2 million houses. In the whole stock market there's only 100 billion or so. Of the other asset types, all the real estate that isn't dwellings is surely also a big chunk. We're talking about all the land under every farm, and every industrial and commercial building.

    It's mad money. And a really big proportion of that is just debt. Our national debt is almost as big as the stock market. I don't even know how to find out how much of that trillion in houses is debt. Scary to think of all that money, how little you'd have to charge in interest to make a huge profit, and then how much over the risk free rate banks actually do charge.

    I don't think taking a fair tax on capital gains will even make a blip. If property goes down, there won't be any capital gains to take. It only happens if they're going up. So I really don't think it's going to puncture anything.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t even know how to find out how much of that trillion in houses is debt.

    There’s a few places to look. There are surveys on household wealth and, of course, RBNZ data on residential mortgages. I’ll post some links later.

    I don’t think taking a fair tax on capital gains will even make a blip. If property goes down, there won’t be any capital gains to take. It only happens if they’re going up. So I really don’t think it’s going to puncture anything.

    The problem that has plagued markets since time immemorial is that it all depends on what the buyer and seller think it is worth. So it can be highly subjective. The direct effect of a CGT could be tiny but if it shifts sentiment just enough it can be self-reinforcing.

    In one sense we are “lucky” in that mortgages here are personal in that they follow the borrower regardless of the value of the house. Thus homeowners with mortgages are reluctant to walk away from a negative equity house, unlike the US situation not that long ago.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    The RBNZ's data on lending to households says housing related lending was running at $190 billion as of March this year. The value of the housing stock was $725 billion as of March.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    The main thing that makes me really think it's unlikely is that our non-CGT status is really quite unusual. Most of the developed world has it, and they've also had sustained property price inflation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to BenWilson,

    True and I'd add the the actual imposition of CGT was shrugged off in Australia. I'd also just say watch out for Black swans.

    And just to return to the OT (sorta), even when the evidence seems overwhelming, there are plenty of people who will still think differently.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    Back on Russell's original topic -- Russell said:

    Next month, when Slater's earlier privacy case comes back to court, it's likely that the prosecution will seek discovery of correspondence that rebutts his claim that he is a journalist, rather than someone who is paid to defame.

    And from Stuff today:

    Slater has won a High Court nod that he is a journalist and that his blog is a news medium. [--snip--] Justice Asher said it was clear the WhaleOil site had more visits than many provincial newspaper sites and he noted a number of news breaks scored by the site. He also noted that Slater had won a journalism award for his story on Brown. Justice Asher said Slater's reports contain genuine new information of interest over a wide range of topics.

    "The style of journalism may be criticised and can be dramatic and abusive, but the expression is vigorous and coherent, and there is no evidence provided to this Court of consistent inaccuracy or deceit (although there is evidence of consistent hyperbole)."

    Was the High Court able to consider Cameron Slater's leaked mailbox in this decision? It seems curious that Stuff's coverage, at least, makes no reference to the allegations that Cameron Slater spends much of his time regurgitating PR smear campaigns in exchange for payment, even if that wouldn't have changed the final decision.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    consistent inaccuracy and deceit

    sums up Whale Oil Beef Hooked. But I guess it wasn’t the role of the plaintiff to prove that? He got what he wanted: Slater forced to reveal his source.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    No way is the nationwide median house price $500k. It might be that in & around Auckland but not 'down country'.

    Not sure how much difference it will make to your figures, but I would hazard a nationwide median price of closer to $375k.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    BTW not arguing against a CGT as I think it is an excellent idea and long overdue.
    Public misconceptions about it are rife, and promulgated by National-aligned sources, but it is a bloody good impost against the current housing bubble.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to izogi,

    Was the High Court able to consider Cameron Slater’s leaked mailbox in this decision?

    Not unless it was introduced as evidence by either side.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    sums up Whale Oil Beef Hooked. But I guess it wasn’t the role of the plaintiff to prove that? He got what he wanted: Slater forced to reveal his source.

    It's a step in the right direction. And there's still hope with the criminal charges filed of perverting the course of justice.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to izogi,

    “The style of journalism may be criticised and can be dramatic and abusive, but the expression is vigorous and coherent, and there is no evidence provided to this Court of consistent inaccuracy or deceit (although there is evidence of consistent hyperbole).”

    I really couldn't quite believe that when I read it. I did have occasion in the past to go to his blog and from what I have seen there, facts and honesty were not highly visible. It just seemed like a lot of over-opinionated and hate-filled rhetoric.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    Perhaps there is inconsistent inaccuracy, occasionally right, sometimes wrong, sometimes WTF wrong.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    I really couldn't quite believe that when I read it. I did have occasion in the past to go to his blog and from what I have seen there, facts and honesty were not highly visible. It just seemed like a lot of over-opinionated and hate-filled rhetoric.

    If the Oily One really is a journalist, then he's a yellow journalist/paparazzo who wouldn't be out of place at the Daily Hate Mail or Fux News.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • UglyTruth,

    "Was the High Court able to consider Cameron Slater’s leaked mailbox in this decision?"

    Not unless it was introduced as evidence by either side.

    This is a good examnple of how the NZ legal system fails. At common law the jury is responisble for findings of fact, and originally this included investigation, not just relying on evidence from the contesting parties.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

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