Home' Greymouth Star : January 31st 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
10 - Friday, January 31, 2014
Tens of thousands of dollars
to send ministers to the
America's Cup, pricey rental
and chau eur-driven cars
during overseas trips and the
robbery of one of Steven Joyce's
sta in China were revealed in
ministerial credit card records
Minister Mr Joyce received
Cabinet approval for $35,510 in
expenditure to send him and a
sta member to San Francisco
to attend the regatta for 11 days
in September, the records show.
But the trip came in under
budget at $29,628 with ights
costing $22,000 and credit-card
spending, including $7000 on
Amy Adams had $45,000
approved to travel with a sta
member to the United States
for meetings in Washington
and to attend the cup for four
days. A spokesman was last
night unable to say exactly how
much the trip cost, but said Ms
Adams' total travel bill for the
year was $39,000.
While in San Francisco she
spent $6438 on her ministerial
credit card on accommodation
and transport, including $1242
on a car and driver for one day.
e spokesman said Ms Adams
attended eight meetings around
San Francisco that day including
one in San Jose, a return trip of
about 160km. As Ms Adams
was preparing for the meetings,
hiring the car and driver made
more sense than a self-drive hire
car or taxis.
Maori A airs Minister
Pita Sharples was also in San
Francisco for part of the regatta,
but no credit-card expenses from
him were published yesterday
and his o ce was unable to
provide information about the
Foreign Minister Murray
McCully stopped over in San
Francisco during the racing en
route to meetings elsewhere,
but his records associated with
that trip would be published in
the next release, a spokeswoman
Labour MP Trevor Mallard
also attended the regatta but
paid his own airfares, albeit
subsidised by the taxpayer,
and arranged his own
Minister Gerry Brownlee was
in San Francisco shortly after
the America's Cup ended
for meetings with insurance
industry experts. He also hired
a car and driver for a day, for
A spokesman said the car was
"not a particularly luxurious
vehicle" which picked up Mr
Brownlee, three others and their
luggage from San Francisco
Airport before taking them to
"valuable" meetings in Oakland
and Silicon Valley, then taking
them back to the airport that
Social Development Minister
Paula Bennett hired a pricey car
while in Croatia in July. e car
from rifty cost $1989 for four
"We arrived as Croatia joined
the European Union," Ms
Bennett said. "Zagreb was
packed with ... visitors for the
celebrations. Rental cars were
scarce and at a premium but
rifty was the best option."
Mr Joyce's credit-card records
show $3116 was spent at Shi
Bo De Co ee in Shanghai.
A spokesman said one of Mr
Joyce's sta had their o ce
ministerial credit card "forcibly
taken o them". e card was
then used to withdraw money.
" e sta member went to
police straight away and the
money was recovered." ---
APNZ-New Zealand Herald
ousands of State and private tenants
behind in their rent will soon be under
more pressure, claim critics of a new system
designed to cut the time taken to resolve
Housing Minister Nick Smith today
announced changes to Ministry of Justice
Tenancy Tribunal processes, reducing
landlords' wait for rent dispute resolutions
from about 12 days to two.
A spokesman said that would help tenants
and landlords locked in rent disputes, did not
favour one party over the other and instead
of having to wait for mediation, resolution
could be via a con rmation conversation.
But some fear Fast Track could mean the
burgeoning numbers of struggling tenants
come under increased pressure, as rents rise in
all 30 Auckland suburbs surveyed by property
managers Crockers over the past four years.
Margaret O'Neill, a volunteer at the Tenants
Protection Association in Auckland, said Fast
Track would not give tenants enough time to
dispute issues and many might not even have
time to receive noti cations. ey might have
good reasons for not paying the rent on time
and the system would discriminate against
them, she said.
"Sometimes the mail goes astray and
they do not even get a (rent arrears) notice.
Sometimes they do not have enough money
on their phones and do not respond to a text
or they might have a million and one other
problems and other debts," she said.
Initially only certain landlords will have
access to the system --- big real estate
agencies with huge property management
divisions and Housing New Zealand. ose
organisations are responsible for the majority
of rent arrears demands.
However, the service will eventually become
available for applicants.
A spokesman for Dr Smith said Fast Track
will be rolled out from Saturday following a
successful Ministry of Business, Innovation
and Employment trial.
e trial was tested on three high volume
Auckland clients. One landlord said that
included Barfoot and ompson.
"We sought to test that applicants and
parties who had a repayment agreement in
place about their rent arrears could formalise
their agreement with an order within 48
hours and without the need for mediation,"
the ministry said.
"Test results showed that 90% of those
Fast Track applications had an order back
to applicants within 48 hours. e trial
proved that quicker results could be gained
for parties in arrears cases and our mediators
could be freed up for dealing with more
genuine dispute situations." Landlords
and property managers praised the system,
saying it was cheaper than the old one.
Time was saved on scheduling, paperwork,
phone conversations and there was a
minimum involvement of other government
agencies, the feedback said. "In our opinion
the Fast Track process would be a very
valuable addition of a government ser vice
and moving with the times of customers
needing more exibility utilising all avenues
of technology," the ministry said.
Dr Smith said Fasttrack predicted
widespread bene ts for all.
"Once fully implemented, there will
be widespread bene ts for tenants and
landlords from a more e cient and e ective
tenancy dispute resolution process."
Tenancy tribunal processes will
add more pressure to tenants
New Zealand researchers have helped to
shatter a common assumption about how
trees grow, nding that larger, older trees keep
bulking up and can be 'star players' at sucking
carbon from the atmosphere.
e global study, published in leading journal
Nature, has found for the rst time that trees'
growth does not slow as they get older and
larger --- instead, it keeps accelerating.
Forests are major components of the global
carbon cycle and the ndings are held to have
big implications for our understanding of the
role of trees in greenhouse gas concentrations.
A team of 38 international researchers
compiled the growth measurements of more
than 673,000 trees belonging to 403 species
in di erent temperature regions across six
continents, including more than 45,000 trees
across 22 species in New Zealand.
e results showed that for most tree species,
mass growth rate increases continuously with
tree size --- in some cases, large trees appear
to be adding the carbon mass equivalent of an
entire smaller tree each year.
As was seen in other parts of the world, the
proportion of large old trees measured in New
Zealand which were found to have a high
increasing mass growth rate was more than
Stand-out New Zealand species included
the rimu, kamahi, the silver beech, southern
rata and Hall's totara.
"In human terms, it is as if our growth just
keeps accelerating after adolescence, instead
of slowing down," said the study's lead author,
Nate Stephenson, a forest ecologist with the
United States Geological Survey.
"By that measure, humans could weigh half
a tonne by middle age, and well over a tonne
at retirement." e continuously increasing
growth rate also meant that on an individual
basis, large, old trees are better at absorbing
carbon from the atmosphere.
But the researchers were careful to note
that the rapid absorption rate of individual
trees did not necessarily translate into a net
increase in carbon storage for an entire forest.
Ecologists argue that young forests are
better at tackling climate change, the mass of
new trees collectively taking more carbon out
of the air than the fewer older trees in mature
Dr Susan Wiser of Landcare Research
provided the New Zealand ecological
perspective to the study.
e NZ results were taken from the
National Vegetation Survey Databank,
the world's sixth largest such resource.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Forest giants star in carbon-sucking stakes
Tourists are arriving in record
numbers but the high New Zealand
dollar is crimping spending.
Arrivals in December hit a monthly
record of 364,200 and passed
2.7 million last year, the highest total
Tourism leaders have welcomed
the strong growth, but one industry
group warns the high New Zealand
dollar is pushing down spending here.
Tourist Industry Association policy
and research manager Simon Wallace
said that although numbers were
strong, spending per visitor was down
3% in 2013 compared with the year
Statistics New Zealand gures show
the average visitor spent $2750 and
the industry's focus was on increasing
spending per person. e high New
Zealand dollar made activities more
"From what we hear in the industry
people are still coming but spending a
bit less on activities."
While the New Zealand dollar's
very strong run against its Australian
counterpart was relatively recent and
had not appeared to deter visitors
from across the Tasman, it could be
a problem if the cross-rate remained
high during the coming year.
Tourism employs about one in 10 of
the New Zealand workforce, or about
180,000 people directly and indirectly.
Tourism Holdings chief executive
Grant Webster said it was great to see
volume returning to the market. His
camper van rental business was being
a ected by the high dollar.
"With the exchange rate where it is,
clearly people have got the con dence
to travel but they're spending less
than they did in the past. For us in
particular we see that in the trading
down of brands. Our cheaper brands
are de nitely performing extremely
well, the premium brands are
performing well but not in line with
the others," Mr Webster said.
" e sheer fact that you've got
volume back makes such a di erence
to the industry where you've got xed
cost infrastructure and you just want
the numbers coming through.
" ere's a very strong sentiment that
we're running into another purple
Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin
Bowler said that throughout the year
traditional long-staying markets, and
biggest visitor market Australia, had
performed particularly strongly, up
61,000 to 1357, 408. Arrivals from
the United States were up 21.3% to
201,000, and from Germany up 9.4%
Total arrivals from China were
up 16.2% for the year to 229,000;
however, December monthly arrivals
continued to show the impact of
the China Travel Law introduced in
October last year, with numbers down
10.6% to 18,500 compared with the
same month a year earlier.
"What is becoming clear is how the
new China Travel Law is supporting
our strategy to accelerate the trend
towards higher-quality itineraries
with better experiences," Bowler
is was "very positive" for the
Chinese New Year celebration starting
today, historically China's busiest
A recent sur vey found that Auckland
was one of the most expensive cities in
the world for buying a range of items.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Record numbers of tourists, but spending less
Rory McIlroy has con rmed he is
back on top form with a stunning 63 as
the rst round of the $3 million Dubai
Desert Classic got under way with a
barrage of birdies.
Firing seven birdies and an eagle, the
24-year-old from Northern Ireland
continued his storming start to the
season which saw him take second
place at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago,
his rst tournament since winning the
Australian Open in early December.
It was a awless display of golf that
left playing partner Tiger Woods in the
shade, although the world number one
was happy to settle for a four-under 68
in what is also his second tournament
of the year.
His opener last week at Torrey Pines,
San Diego ended in him ring a 79 on
Saturday to miss the secondary cut at
the Farmers Insurance Open.
e third member of the group,
defending champion Stephen Gallacher
of Scotland, was also high up the early
leaderboard with a 66.
McIlroy said that the round and score
was one of his nest for a while.
"De nitely up there. Controlled my
irons a little better (than at Abu Dhabi),
distance control was better. Wedges are
still not where I want them to be but
it's getting close. It was good."
With playing conditions ideal at
the par-72 Majlis Course, hosting
the 25th anniversary of a tournament
which blazed new paths for the
European Tour and put the Gulf region
on to the gol ng map, scoring was
Playing down the easier back nine
to start with, McIlroy, on the rebound
after a frustrating
2013, had ve
birdies in seven
holes from the
12th to brie y
take the lead at
Quesne pitched a
sand wedge into
the 17th green
from 105 yards
and it spun back
into the hole for
eagle which put
him at six under.
But a birdie at
the second and
a 10-foot putt
for eagle at the
third saw McIlroy
back on the pace.
He then sank
a 15-footer at
seventh to get
to nine under
and only Quesne
was within three
strokes of his
parred his way in from there, coming
up just short with a 15-footer for
birdie at the last. It was his rst 63 in
tournament play since the rst round of
the Hong Kong Open in 2010
Woods, meanwhile, started well with
four birdies down the back nine and
while he struggled for accuracy o the
tee on the way in, his short game was
good enough to avoid any bogeys.
"Overall it was a pretty good score.
Maybe could have gotten two more out
of it," said Woods.
"I hit a lot of good putts which was
nice. Last week I didn't do it. It was
nice to actually play well again."
Quesne was rock solid till the
ninth, his last, when he went into
the water and took a double
bogey to card a ne 66.
Late in the day Italian Ryder Cup
player Edoardo Molinari came in with
a 65 to be solo in second place two
shots behind McIlroy.
A shot further back level with Quesne
and Gallacher were South African
Richard Sterne, Ireland's Damien
McGrane and Matthew Baldwin of
England. --- AFP
lights up Dubai
PICTURE: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Tiger Woods of the USA shake hands on the 9th green
during the rst round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
New Zealand Open boss Michael
Glading is hopeful two of the
tournament's star players will
rebound from injuries to play in
Arrowtown next month.
Former US Open runner-up
Rocco Mediate and talented
Australian Brendan Jones have
both been battling ailments in the
lead-up to the tournament at e
Hills and Millbrook.
Of the two, Mediate appears the
most likely to play, and that will
be a boost for New Zealand Open
organisers seeking to make the
most of his pro le.
Mediate has a history of back and
hip issues, and last week withdrew
from the Farmers Insurance Open,
a PGA Tour event, with a sore left
"I probably shouldn't have played,"
Mediate later told the media.
Glading has been in touch with
Mediate's wife, Jessica, and has been
assured the 51-year-old golfer will
be on the plane to New Zealand.
"She says it's just a small hip
injury and there is nothing major
wrong," Glading said.
"I certainly didn't get a feeling
from her that it was anything really
e Mediates got married just
before last week's tournament at
Torrey Pines, where Rocco Mediate
nearly upstaged a limping Tiger
Woods in an incredible playo at
the 2008 United States Open.
Mediate is now a regular on the
Champions Tour, where he has
Jones was one of six Australians
representing the Japan Tour to be
con rmed in the New Zealand
Open eld this week.
But the Canberra-based golfer
looks in signi cant doubt to make
Jones, winner of 13 tournaments
on the Japan Tour, has recently
had major wrist surgery, and his
personal website on Tuesday said
he was targeting an April return
and his participation in the New
Zealand Open looked "less and less
Glading, however, is not giving up
hope the world No 154 will play in
"Brendan has booked his ights
and he's been keeping in touch with
us," Glading said.
"It's not a little issue he's been
dealing with. It was a reasonably
major operation and it's been a
di cult time for him.
"But he's going to start chipping,
and he's told us he is odds-on to
play. We'll have our ngers crossed."
--- APNZ-Otago Daily Times
Mediate hopeful for NZ Open
A multimillion-dollar New York
City drug and prostitution ring
has been busted, law enforcement
o cials said overnight, as they
warned Super Bowl fans to steer
clear of the city's sex and narcotics
Ring leaders o ered high-
yer clients 'party packs' of drugs
and prostitutes in three separate
operations aggressively pushing
both sex and cocaine, New York
attorney general Eric Schneiderman
told a news conference.
"Once the 'john' (customer) was
high or impaired on drugs, they
would call in other prostitutes
and repeatedly charge the john's
credit cards, in excess of $10,000,
in some cases, for one evening,"
e 11-month probe by
Schneiderman's organised crime
task force, in co-ordination with
the NY Police Department's vice
squad, netted more than $3 million
in credit card charges over the past
year, he said.
"Keep in mind that most johns pay
cash, so that's a staggering number
for an enterprise like this."
e investigation began when two
convicted madams who were caught
on wiretaps discussing a woman
named 'Beige' as one of the biggest
players on the market.
Hyun Ok 'Beige' Yoon, 41, was
arrested along with 17 other
members of the ring's suspected
management, said NYPD chief
of department Phillip Banks III.
ey were charged with conspiracy
and underlying charges of money
laundering, narcotics sales and
e alleged ring is suspected of
laundering their proceeds through
phony virtual companies, including
clothing, wig and beauty supply
wholesalers as well as a limousine
Schneiderman said investigators
had seen a sharp 'uptick' in ads ahead
of the Super Bowl, when hundreds
of thousands of visitors are expected
in New York and New Jersey for the
He warned anyone considering
coming to New York this weekend
for prostitutes and drugs to stay
"Better to get yourself in front of
a tv, watch the game, have a couple
of beers, and stay out of trouble," he
said. --- Reuters
Super Bowl fans warned to stay
clear of NY underworld
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