Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sideswipe

Bike security, London style.

By Ana Samways

How Google sees us: An experiment to see how the world's most-used search engine feeds the stereotypes (minus all the puff about being friendly to tourists). Entering the phrase "New Zealanders are known for" came up with these results in the top 10:

New Zealanders are known for the amount of time we spend in the "great outdoors".

New Zealanders are known for being incredibly understated. In fact, the word "exciting" is not part of the New Zealand vocabulary.

New Zealanders are known for their practical ingenuity and self-reliance emerging from their geographic isolation and pioneer stock.

New Zealanders are known for their entrepreneurial streak - but not for making money.

New Zealanders are known for cutting down successful compatriots in what is called the "tall poppy syndrome".

To make things a little interesting, a second search using the phrase "Maori are known for" was used. Here are those results:

Maori are known for age-old wisdom and curly hair.

Maori are known for having wooooooonderful singing voices.

Maori are known for their tattooing and work with greenstone.

Maori are known for a free-flowing style of rugby.

***

Who said business reports - in this case the BNZ business confidence survey - were dull and whining? "I work in the memorial headstone industry. Last month was an excellent month for sales. In fact, I have been busy since reopening in January after the Christmas holidays. I cannot at this stage see a slowdown with orders". Death, huh? It's a growth business.

***

As part of Oz tourism's "Where-the-bloody-hell-are-you?" campaign, Tourism Australia is bringing a season of arthouse flicks from the Lucky Country to the Rialto, Newmarket. And boy, don't they just make you want to head over the Tasman and chat up chicks in bikinis on deserted beaches? The mini-fest includes Crackerjack (a bowling club comedy that isn't very funny), Gallipoli (the powerful but misery-inducing war doco), Japanese Story (Toni Collette takes visiting Japanese engineer to the West Australian desert; he ends up dead), Rabbit Proof Fence (Aboriginal kids escape Government camp, walk home), Somersault (dysfunctional-relationship drama in a dowdy Aussie ski resort), Lantana (dysfunctional-relationship-cum-murder drama set in the Sydney 'burbs). Where the bloody hell are you? At another bloody cinema watching a movie that won't bloody depress us.

***

You are on to something with your comments about boy racers on suburban streets, says Nat. "On Sunday myself, husband and 3-year-old in buggy nearly got taken out by a maniac teenager and his mates who came speeding around a corner on Mountain Rd, totally lost control, fishtailed and skidded in our direction, just managed to correct and sped away leaving us shaking with fright and fury. I told my father and he said the exact same thing had happened to him on the corner of Mountain Rd and Khyber Pass Rd as he was walking. If this is really a new trend it is obviously only a matter of time before someone is injured or, very probably, worse."

***

Another reader had different concerns about the suburban boy racer story: "As a fellow Bollard Ave resident I am gravely concerned about today's Sideswipe article. Feeding nearly 3-year-olds fish 'n' chips? A very serious situation indeed." Rest assured, diet Nazi of Bollard Ave, the children in question are released from their cages only for fried foods and daycare. And as any local should know, the New Windsor Takeaway was nominated for best fish 'n' chip shop in 1995 - a fact they still publicise.

Editorial: Piercing the sound of silence

It would be unfortunate if the questions raised by an alleged Housing New Zealand gagging deal go no further than that agency's practices. Once the dust settles on this episode, thought needs to be given to the whole issue of whistleblowing. In particular, there should be an examination of how well legislation passed in 2000 is serving those who divulge serious wrongdoing in the public interest. Whether, indeed, the Housing NZ case confirms it is seriously flawed.

The Protected Disclosures Act promises protection for whistleblowers from victimisation and immunity from criminal or civil prosecution, but only if they act within a prescribed channel. Employees with serious concerns about activities in their organisations must seek, first, to have them dealt with internally.

What may happen, however, is that the very people accused of wrongdoing are involved in dealing with the would-be whistleblower's complaint. Their main concern may well be to keep the lid on matters by some means or other, rather than face serious embarrassment. In effect, the whistleblower becomes a catalyst for suppression. This the act seeks to address by directing thwarted complainants to an "appropriate authority", or, as a final recourse, to a Cabinet minister.

In large measure, the Housing NZ whistleblower followed this course in expressing his concern about alleged accounting irregularities. The upshot, he claims, was the offer from a senior executive of a $3000 final pay on condition that he did not approach any MP, minister or journalist about his worries, which Housing NZ said it would investigate. Further, the Minister of Housing's office has confirmed that the whistleblower telephoned it, but the minister was not told of the call.

The alleged hush agreement is to be the subject of an Auditor-General's report. If it confirms there was a gagging deal, the implications are clear. It is ethically and legally beyond the pale to bar any citizen from raising concerns with an MP or minister. The orchestrators of the deal, and the manager who approved it, could have no future at Housing NZ. If, as claimed, that includes the chief executive, Helen Fulcher, so be it.

In addition, what should not be overlooked is the way that the Protected Disclosures Act encourages such dealings. It directs whistleblowers along a channel populated by individuals with their own agendas and sensitivities. As such, it is hardly enhancing the chances of their concerns being heard, or acted upon. Indeed, whatever the eventual findings in the Housing New Zealand case, it is reasonable to ask if hush money has been paid, or similar dealings transacted, since the act was introduced.

Even if such is not the case, Parliament must act to forestall the possibility, and to ensure that whistleblowers are not thwarted by those eager to suppress their complaints. The best way to achieve this is by amending the legislation to protect them if they disclose information publicly.

The Housing NZ complainant did not require such protection because he left the agency last August. But others will. The danger, of course, is that this protection could be used maliciously by those with an axe to grind. Stringent penalties, in addition to the defamation laws, could curb that instinct. In any event, the benefits of the added freedom would far outweigh the potential danger. And, in the end, it would be up to the public to judge the significance of the revelations.

Above all else, whistleblowers must be free to voice their concerns. Their best intentions must not be waylaid by obstacles created by flawed legislation. They are too important for that.

Brian Rudman: Money won't right wrongs of aggrieved parents

Congratulations to the 32 families who have abandoned their claims of $90,000 apiece against Green Lane Hospital for keeping their dead babies' organs without consent. Three years ago, when a group of aggrieved parents declared their intention of suing the hospital, I suggested the only winners were going to be the lawyers, and my view hasn't changed.

I've never been able to see how dragging the public health system through the courts trying to extract $7.47 million in damages and compensation would solve anything.

The 32 are some of the 123 claimants who eventually filed a claim in the High Court in December 2004. Another 46 were reported in last weekend's Sunday Star-Times as "undecided" whether to battle on.

The remaining 45 are continuing the fight. But hopefully not for much longer.

How can the money they are seeking right any wrongs? That's already been done. The bad old system has long gone. All the payment of $7.4 million to the aggrieved parents would do - in the unlikely event they get it - is add to the perpetual funding shortages of Auckland public health.

Example? Well how about the news this week of a new rationing system for Auckland heart operation patients.

This follows last month's revelations that Auckland City Hospital did 22 per cent fewer heart-artery bypass operations last year than the year before and 13 per cent fewer artery-expanding angioplasties.

An inability to obtain and/or retain skilled nurses is said to be the reason.

As a result, in weeks to come, ailing heart patients will get either a letter saying they're likely to be operated on within six months or a Dear John letter saying they're on an "active" review list.

In other words, unless those scary chest pains get a lot worse, you're going to have to grin and bear it.

Getting back to the organ library: Perhaps if the enemy had been a bloated multinational drug company I might have said go for it. Take your anger and distress out on those foreign bastards. Make 'em pay.

But in suing Green Lane and its successors, the claimants are in effect suing themselves, together with you and me and everyone else in the community.

Yet all but a few of those working at Green Lane were totally unaware of how the body parts in the hospital museum were being acquired. We didn't even know there was a museum.

More than 1300 babies' organs - mainly hearts - were collected by the teaching hospital between 1950 and 2002. Consent had been obtained from parents in some cases but, for many, the first notification came in 2002 when Green Lane began owning up to parents.

However noble the reasons for creating the museum were, it seems impossible, in these consultative times, to imagine parents were not asked before their dead children's hearts were filed away for future study purposes. But for 50 years, our much-lauded pioneering surgeons did it.

As far as the law goes, the situation is far from clear. Wellington lawyer John Miller, who masterminded this group action, was reported last year as saying the law "isn't clear as to who has the right to do certain things to the deceased".

In another interview he said families whose body parts had been retained, even though Green Lane had asked and been refused permission to keep them, "may have a stronger case".

As far as winning is concerned, Mr Miller's successor as the claimants' lawyer, Roger Chapman, has written to them pointing out they're unlikely to win unless Green Lane's actions gave them a psychiatric illness.

Having to prove yourself mad to strike the jackpot raises all sorts of questions. It also enters the crazy American legal world where they sue each other for vast sums. This is the nightmare scenario our pioneering "no-fault" accident compensation system was designed to head off. It has served us well.

Over the years, the parent spokespeople have said monetary compensation is not the issue. So what is?

The health authorities have shown contrition and 180 hearts have been returned. There have been apologies and changes in procedure so this sort of thing won't happen again.

It leaves me at a loss to understand what more the parents want from us.

Fran O'Sullivan: Cullen's roars aren't going to serve him

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive," said C. S. Lewis.

C. S. Lewis may or may not be one of Michael Cullen's favourite authors. But I'm sure the Finance Minister - yet again up to his armpits tidying up other Cabinet ministers' messes and still dealing with the backwash from the Prime Minister's recent comments to the Listener on his future - would get some mental satisfaction from playing casting agent for one of Lewis' most famous tales: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Unfortunately for Cullen - who in his own mind may well see himself as that rather magnificent lion, Aslan, involved in a now somewhat uneasy partnership with Helen Clark (who does not usually play White Witch with this very senior of ministers) - his week from hell resulted in a rather serious gaffe, which has the capacity to substantially damage the Government's relationship with business on both sides of the Tasman.

The critical word is "capacity". Because its also within the Finance Minister's capacity to make an about-turn, to the benefit of New Zealand business and the overall Government relationship.

Cullen was caught short when National's John Key asked him last Thursday if he would be attending the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Auckland next month.

The forum is the third annual meeting of influential players from Government and the Opposition, as well as bureaucrats, businesspeople and opinion leaders to discuss transtasman issues.

It has focused on moves towards creating an Australasian single economic market, which Cullen himself considers vital to insulate our smaller economy from future shocks.

But even Key, who clearly plays by the parliamentary rule "don't ask questions for which you don't already know the answers", was surprised when, apart from confirming his non-attendance, Cullen went on to make disparaging comments that have been interpreted as a clear snub to the forum.

What is at issue is his criticism of participants at last year's Melbourne meeting as a "wailing wall of people pushing their own barrows as opposed to addressing the wider relationship".

He'd discussed the forum with Australian Treasurer Peter Costello. Neither was going.

In fact both ministers are in the final stages of preparing their Budgets, which will inevitably bring them more criticism from their respective business sectors for being too slow to move on tax reforms.

That's where Cullen's parliamentary comments should have gone and stayed gone.

But Cullen went on to rub salt into wounds by suggesting that, as a consequence of last year's forum, significant changes were occurring in the business leadership on both sides of the Tasman, while politicians such as himself and Costello were getting on with the real business of making things happen.

He didn't say so outright, but his words suggested the decision to replace Qantas chairwoman Margaret Jackson with Australian Insurance Group chairman James Strong, and the hunt for a replacement for New Zealand forum co-chair Kerry McDonald resulted from their failure to squash criticism in Melbourne and Wellington and their persistent push for policy changes that, at this stage, both ministers consider beyond their ability to deliver.

Cullen's comments also suggested a Government hand in changing the leadership of a forum that has been promoted as having a measure of independence.

It's true that last year's forum did strongly debate heated issues such as banking prudential supervision reform in a relatively self-interested way.

But that's because most of the major players - apart from Cullen, who the Prime Minister had asked to stay in New Zealand and mind the shop - were present. Costello, Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard, CEOs from various banks and regulators all had their bit to say in an illuminating way.

This could be interpreted as helping to reach common understandings over a controversial issue that was certainly damaging relations.

PricewaterhouseCoopers chairman John Shewan strongly promoted mutual recognition of franking or dividend imputation credits, which the forum recognised as a key issue that had to be addressed to ensure the proposed single market worked in a truly seamless fashion.

But Cullen said in Parliament: "To listen to Mr Shewan yet again say that the only issue is franking credits is not, in fact, a good use of my time."

What's not so widely known is that Cullen has, in fact, promoted just such reform behind the scenes to Costello and has run into an Aussie brick wall.

But hitting out at Shewan to release his own frustration is not the answer.

The forum provides a useful mechanism for Cullen to create new Australian business allies to pressure Canberra to address this long-term stumbling block.

Unlike Wellington, where the notion of businesses directly pressuring politicians in their own self-interest is seen as smacking of Muldoonism, Canberra is stacked full of Government relations people.

Canberra ministers are not shy of acting directly in their business' self-interest - they even got in a bit of lobbying with the Beehive on Telstra's behalf while in Wellington for the first forum.

Their businesspeople are tougher and more direct, compared with the more self-effacing manners displayed here. But the New Zealand contingent is rapidly lifting its own game.

Inevitably, Cullen's snub was interpreted on both sides of the Tasman as him thumbing his nose at the forum.

It has raised eyebrows in Canberra, where Cullen's throwaway lines confused those who rate him as the most effective New Zealand protagonist of a strong bilateral economic relationship - someone who has played his role as the junior partner to Costello with skill, gaining more results in the past few years than happened in the previous decade.

The irony is that, as a result, Cullen is held in high regard in Canberra. And not just by Costello, with whom I suspect he shares a waspish sense of humour and the type of insight a senior politician gains from playing one-step down from an all-embracing Prime Minister.

But he is also highly regarded by senior bureaucrats, who are now paying far more attention to New Zealand issues than they were in early 2003, when Cullen and Costello launched the single market agenda.

Inevitably, Cullen's comments will feed into wider speculation about his overall leadership of the finance area, which is unfortunate for him.

The forum has invited the Prime Minister to drop in.

But from a New Zealand perspective, business needs to get Cullen re-engaged, and the forum should do all in its power to get him along, if only for the economic session. It's not as if he is in complete stand-off mode.

It's not widely known what an integral role Cullen is playing in Auckland working with key business lobbyists and major businesses to get that city moving. Tomorrow he will meet those Auckland interests for a wide-ranging session.

He did initially display the courage to run against the tide in a relatively insular Cabinet when he first proposed the single economic market. He now needs to show courage and see it through.

The businesspeople I've spoken to on this are afraid of a reversion to the old Government business stand-off that dogged the Clark Administration's early months.

Personally, I don't think that's where this is going.

But the forum needs to make its best endeavours to keep champions of the relationship onside. The consequences of failure don't bear thinking about.

Graham Reid: Anyone fancy a gunpowder tea?

The most English of traditions is high tea - that peculiar institution whereby adults indulge themselves, child-like but politely of course, in sticky treats at a time of day when Continental Europe is resting up for a night on the town.

Yet high tea - layered platters of sandwiches and cakes, with a pot of tea on the side - is also a charmingly genteel occasion. Which is probably why I have never bothered with it.

But when in England ...

In fact, even when in England recently I still wouldn't have bothered, but one of my sons was working at the recently opened Tea Palace at Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill.

Near the Portobello Rd end of the street, the tasteful and comfortably minimalist Tea Palace enjoys a steady clientele from the famous market, but also from upmarket locals, among whom we note is Damon Albarn from the band Blur, who lives a couple of doors away and often drops in for a cuppa.

My son tells me that since the place opened for lunches and dinners he has served pots of exotic tea to the likes of Oasis' Noel Gallagher, a bevy of pale English actresses with names like Gwyneth, and others you think might be more likely to be sniffing it up with Kate Moss than trying to decide between a fruit infusion or an Oolong.

And then there was us, a party of four which included my wife's parents, who were thrilled at the thought of high tea in London on a Sunday afternoon. It was a cliche come true.

But the Tea Palace does more than serve a cup of tea: its dinner menu features seared tuna, duck breast, lamb and more, and you can also sample champagne with afternoon tea (a glass of rose champagne, finger sandwiches, scones with organic clotted cream and jam plus cakes, from £18 or $51).

It also sells 150 types of tea - from half a dozen Earl Grey blends to exotic mixtures which include mango, coconut, various herbal infusions and teas made with petals, almonds, pineapple, gunpowder and cherry.

And in an intelligent touch, alongside your tea you get a small dish with a sample of the tea in its raw, and frequently fragrant, state. It has proved a good business venture, as we, like many others, bought some packets to take to friends.

High tea at the Tea Palace - the trendiest of all the new tea places in London, according to Easyjet magazine - is an elegantly sophisticated affair.

After a couple of hours of delicious scones with clotted cream and jam, sandwiches so soft they dissolved in the mouth, and cups of aromatic, restorative tea, I think this one English tradition - like a curry and a pint, or Match of the Day on the telly - is well worth enjoying while in England.

* The Tea Palace is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB. Find it on the web at www.teapalace.co.uk

Tracey Barnett: Soft sell easy as ABC when corporates sponsor schools

It was like selling ice in the Amazon. "What would you think about inviting 10 of your friends for a sleepover party and you agree to show them some free products?"

My 11-year-old's eyes lit up. "Free? Can I do it?"

What 11-year-old wouldn't have sold her consumer innocence in a heartbeat for some free shampoo or videos? She didn't even know it was for sale.

She could have been a "secret agent" from the marketers at the Girl's Intelligence Agency or one of 250,000 teens solicited by word of mouth from Proctor & Gamble's Tremor division, who are asked to talk with their friends about new products, more commonly known as buzz marketing.

She stages the party; she gathers the information from 10 of their valuable target consumers. She helps to create the friends-telling-friends buzz, and gives the corporate suits all the marketing information gleaned from the evening. What does she get for casting the perfect marketer's fishing net? Not a cent. If my daughter had her way, they could have charged her for the honour.

New twist on an old salesman's story? Hardly. There is only one thing missing from sellers' stealth pursuit of saturating our children's personal lives - a stop sign.

Corporations are targeting our children in venues that were sacrosanct less than a decade ago.

Ask Barbara Barbieri McGrath, a former kindergarten teacher from Massachusetts who came up with the idea of using paper M&Ms to help her students learn to count. She sold the idea to publishers and today children can have their first learning experiences with The Oreo Counting Book or The Kellogg's Froot Loops Counting Book. The books have sold millions.

Who would have imagined 20 years ago that we would allow a junk food advertisement wrapped up as a learning tool to sit happily on our school library shelves?

What's more, how much would you expect marketers to pay publishers to have this kind of can't-buy-it publicity? You guessed it - not a cent.

McGrath has to pay them for the privilege of selling their wares. Today she pays the trademarks an initial fee, then more than half of her royalties depending on the deal. "The company generally makes more than the author or illustrator," she said.

My daughter doesn't have to peddle products for marketers at sleepover parties at home when she can now find them in never-before-acceptable venues at school.

She might be one of eight million American school children in almost 12,000 schools whose faculty have agreed to have their students watch Channel One: 10 minutes of daily news, features, and fluff, with two minutes of advertisements. Provided they watch it 90 per cent of the days that class is in session, the schools get free televisions, video recorders and satellite dishes. The kicker for a growing number of angry parents - researchers found 69 per cent of all advertising minutes on Channel One were for junk food.

Many cash-strapped school administrators argue that this commercialism is a necessary evil to combat skimpy budgets. It is a fiscal reality of many schools. The question remains, have education budgets in the past two decades decreased in the same proportion to the onslaught of acceptable branding that has slipped into our classrooms?

We are not talking about identifiable, separate ads found on the back pages of textbooks. We are talking about branding inside the curriculum.

New Zealand has not been immune to the pull of corporate dollars, especially in low-decile schools. McDonald's offers a school reading programme that will have your child doing a lesson that includes, "Everyone helped to hang up the balloons, Daniel put his favourite tape into the recorder, and Dad arrived with bags and bags of McDonald's goodies."

McDonald's has long been a big supporter of children's athletics in New Zealand in a bid to position themselves as guardians of children's health. It argues the reason for child obesity is a lack of physical activity in children, not consuming junk food. Its public relations strategy is that "we are not the problem, we're part of the solution".

In New Zealand school resource rooms today it is easy to find beautifully packaged corporate kitset teaching resources, complete with balloons, stickers and videos. Chelsea Sugar addresses "Sugar and its role in a healthy diet" and uses phrases like "Sugar is sometimes made out to be the 'baddie' in tooth decay".

A South Auckland primary school has even legally changed its name to include its corporate sponsor, Baird's Mainfreight Primary School. The school has painted its hall in red and blue, Mainfreight's company colours.

Can we blame emaciated school budgets solely for forcing us to choose textbooks that sell our children products? Surely it is not only financial constraints but concerted exposure that convinces our teachers to choose free corporate field trips and branded teaching resources?

Perhaps the line of acceptable selling to our children has shifted so far and so fast we simply shrug it off as part of our changing age.

Ask any parent if their child is for sale in any manner and they will read you the riot act.

Ask that same parent what they are doing individually or collectively to stop branding to their child in the classroom, or within their school curriculum, and the answer might be they didn't realise how much of it was there.

So the next time your daughter needs help with her maths - do your homework. It's easy, just start by teaching her the concept of product placement, brand blogging or buzz marketing - then take a gamble her teacher will cover the topic in tomorrow's kindergarten class.


* Tracey Barnett is an American journalist working in Auckland.

John Sinclair: Put galleries amid city action

The enthusiasm in the press for building a new art gallery on Wynyard Pt concerns me. Debate on how our city grows is a good thing (if nothing else, it shows that people are interested in the outcomes), but media commentators have a considerable influence on public opinion.

Because of this they have to demonstrate an informed and responsible position.

Typically, when public groups are asked to comment on land development, they promote either parks or "iconic" buildings.

The Western Reclamation is no exception. Groups appear to be competing as to who can offer the biggest park or the most spectacular building on the point.

Fair enough. But when columnists start promoting a concept - which, if it gains any public traction will be picked up by politicians - we should expect an informed point of view.

Promoting an art gallery or opera house on Wynyard Pt does not, in my view, demonstrate this. Sure, the Sydney Opera House is a spectacular building. So much so that it has, along with the harbour bridge, become a symbol of Sydney.

But the Sydney Events Centre or the many theatres, libraries and art galleries in Sydney do not occupy such spectacular positions. Come to think of it, there are few if any such buildings that do occupy a site that can be compared with Benelong Pt.

The main contribution these civic use buildings make to cities is to activate and give life and purpose to parts of the city - usually a square or public space.

Theatres, art galleries and concert halls are essential elements in the fabric of a city - not only for the physical presence the scale of such buildings brings, but also the life and action people using it contribute.

In this regard Sydney Opera House is an interesting example. For years the spaces around it did not work as people spaces.

Except for Sunday afternoons, the forecourt was a busy bus and taxi drop-off. People visiting the halls use either the front foyers which have limited views, or the harbourside ones that have spectacular views over the harbour - as long as it is daytime and there is something going on.

Neither areas contribute to the daily life of the city streets and public spaces.

While the architectural quality of the Aotea Centre may be a disappointment, at least you can see the life and action in the foyers.

And when patrons spill out into the square after shows, the space comes alive. It's like the Opera House and Symphony Hall in San Francisco; Covent Garden or The National Gallery in London, or La Scala in Milan.

We have our icons - Rangitoto, the harbour bridge, the Sky Tower - but we lack civic buildings and the spaces their uses give life to.

These need to be where the people are, not on extremities because we want to create more visual icons.

Of course they can and should be uplifting and superb architecture - their uses and people's expectations demand it.

However, keep the debate rolling as it provides valuable inputs to the design process.

And the design process will and must be professional, employing the best architects and urban designers available - who will be informed by the debate.

They will never satisfy everyone but the outcomes are too important, and the opportunities too great, not to get the best.

* John Sinclair is past president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

Thomas Pippos: Investors will love or hate it

You'll either love it or hate it.

At the love end of the continuum will be the New Zealand funds management industry. It has never had it so good from a tax standpoint since the days of tax relief for superannuation funds and contributions. The honeymoon period will shortly be over and the industry will have to face the huge task of managing the implementation of the new regime with effect from April 1 next year - without the benefit of detailed legislation.

At the hate end of the continuum are those New Zealanders who invest directly in overseas markets. They will get walloped by this new regime.

They are worse off than before and, no doubt, considering their next move given the change in the investment distortion paradigm.

Ultimately, many will choose to exit their international investments to relocate them to either Australia or NZ.

At the emotive end of the spectrum, it does nothing to retain or attract such individuals. Let's not lose sight of the fact that the considerable tax advantage enjoyed by these individuals has been to be taxed under a classical taxation model where actual income dividends are taxed - hardly a culpable act.

The debate will now move to the select committee, with the focus likely to be on additional carve-outs, like the one proposed for Australian-listed companies.

The tax paradigm for the future is now also different. There will be pressure on to extend the proposed measures to other forms of investment. It will just be a matter of time.

Overseas equities with low dividend yields are not the only investment that can yield low taxable income while still producing a higher economic return.

Other such investments can easily be stated as providing situations where investors are not paying a reasonable amount of tax.

What about the $100 million tax reduction? Surely that has to be good. The shine is somewhat taken off, given the winners and losers that flow from the Robin Hood principles of taxation. One would also have to be somewhat sceptical with such fiscal projections, given recent history regarding their accuracy.

At the end of the day, the quid pro quo for any considerable broadening of the tax base should be a widespread reduction in the tax rate.

* Thomas Pippos is managing tax partner at Deloitte.