Hive News Friday: More Wellington evacuations and demolitions; Pay equity laws planned

Damage to Parliamentary buildings from the Kaikoura earthquake. Copyright Bernard Hickey / Hive News

I'll be moving out of Hive News' Parliamentary Press Gallery office today, along with Fairfax, RNZ, TVNZ, Mediaworks and NZME, who have all decided a yellow-stickered building with an overall rating of less than 35% and 15-20% in some places is not safe.

My experience is similar to thousands of Wellington office workers, with up to 40 buildings now evacuated pending structural checks, repairs or full demolition. The 61 Molesworth Street building is already being 'deconstructed' and Wellington City Council announced last night it would be demolishing two of its buildings in and around the Reading Cinema complex and car park plus a Karori church hall. The Asteron building housing 2,500 staff, including IRD staff, was also evacuated yesterday pending repairs that could take weeks. One in five Government workers in Wellington are now estimated to be without offices.

Hutt City Council also announced last night the Event Cinemas movie complex and part of the Queensgate Shopping Mall in Lower Hutt will have to be demolished and nearby buildings have also been cordoned off, including the New World supermarket.

The collateral damage from the Kaikoura earthquakes is spreading, and the likely cost of repair is rising too.

Infometrics estimated yesterday that the re-opening of the main road and rail connections through Kaikoura may not happen until next summer (2017/18) and could eventually cost NZ$2 billion over 10 years.

It also estimated Kaikoura could lose 16% of its population over the next 18 months because of the loss of tourism revenues alone, given over a quarter of the local workforce is directly involved in tourism and the sector generates NZ$100 million of revenues each year for the town.

In other economic and financial news...

Paula Bennett and Michael Woodhouse announced the Government had accepted the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity and would change the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act in line with those recommendations next year. The key area of interest will be around which comparable jobs will be used to set pay levels for those dominated by women. The joint working group could not agree on the comparable occupations, and the Government said it would be making supplementary recommendations on this issue, which may prove a point of contention.

ANZ increased its mortgage rates for periods of 2 years and beyond as the 'Trump thump' to long term interest rates globally is passed on to borrowers here. ANZ also increased its term deposit rates for periods of eight months and longer.

The Reserve Bank reported lending to owner occupiers and rental property investors slowed again in October, the first month of the new 40% deposit requirement for investors. Lending to first home buyers rose. New mortgage lending to investors has fallen to NZ$1.45 billion by October from NZ$2.6 billion in June, shortly before the Reserve Bank announced the new rule. Lending to first home buyers has risen from NZ$738 million in June to NZ$768 million in October and is up from NZ$672 million a year ago.

Quote of the day:

Esther Bushell in a letter to the editor of the New York Times after reading Donald Trump's comments in an interview with New York Times editors, columnists and reporters (which you can read more about below in Weekend Reads)

"I was an English teacher for 40 years. Donald Trump, in answering questions about global warming, white nationalism, water boarding and press freedoms, sounds exactly like my students who hadn't read the assignment and had to obfuscate the answers. Everyone in the classroom knew who hadn't done his homework and didn't understand the material."

Have a great weekend and enjoy the long reads below.

cheers

Bernard

25 November 2016