Posts by Russell Brown

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  • Hard News: Music: The Noisy Library…, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Coincidentally, I have just received a request to re-work my AC piece on the Pretty Things for a book collection..

    Oh, that's great to hear!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Noisy Library…, in reply to Doug Hood,

    You can never have too much guitar, especially Bathgate’s


    So is that your recording from the desk, Doug? I'm never quite sure how, but your desk tapes over the years seem to have ended up in a lot of willing hands :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Noisy Library…, in reply to Andrew G,

    was the Marlon gig seated downstairs on Saturday? I went on Friday and it was standing only

    Oh, I didn’t realise that.

    Yes, it was all seated – which might explain the relative quiet for Julia.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…,

    Tweeted this earlier, so should also include it here:

    People have understandably been talking about compensation and legal actions as a consequence of the “meth contamination” shambles. I think there are some hurdles there.

    Right or wrong, Housing NZ had a “zero-tolerance for illicit drug use” policy in place. (In my opinion, it was wrong, unenforceable and mostly for show.) I’m not sure whether that was in the tenancy agreements, but tenants evicted for “contamination” may be out of luck if use was shown.

    That’s not so in all cases, and there were some manifestly unjust rulings, including tenants who were not directly responsible for traces, others told to destroy their belongings(!) etc. And those huge Tenancy Tribunal awards for “damage” look very dicey now.

    Because if Housing NZ was claiming costs for expensive remediation work that we know was unnecessary, whose responsibility is that? I gather it is not legally possible to make claims against the Tribunal, which spurned contrary advice in making its findings?

    Private property owners who were needlessly told by testing and remediation firms to spend tens of thousands of dollars and/or destroy their belongings might have an easier road to compensation.

    Property owners bullied (by estate and letting agents) into paying for tests showing irrelevant historical traces that needlessly took tens of thousands off the value of their assets might have a case too.

    As things stand, I think the government responding to HNZ tenants’ experiences on a case-by-case basis – even one that doesn’t involve admitting liability – would be a decent thing to do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…, in reply to Michael Meyers,

    I was watching the interview with Judith Collins from Breakfast this morning (from this article) where she is saying that the Minister couldn’t possibly question the HNZ experts and this is exactly what I was thinking.

    Most of what she’s saying there is bullshit. What Paula Bennett said was not conveying any official advice. There was no such advice – just a poorly-written guideline for meth lab cleanups. Jack Tame keeps asking who the experts were who advised the minister and she can't say.

    I think it suited them to have villains – and subsequently they got worried because it turned out to be costing tens of millions of dollars.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Banks and mortgage companies who almost certainly were getting kickbacks, real estate agents (why anyone believes anything a real estate agent says is beyond me), testing companies, remediation companies and so on. People who knew damn well they were selling snake oil but took money from people anyway. And yes there must have been politicians who were taking kickbacks here as well in some form or another.

    I know there have been testing companies under the same roof as cleanup companies, and presumably other arrangements of mutual benefit.

    But in general the reality is likely much more mundane than politicians taking kickbacks. There is, as already noted in this thread, a general risk-averseness in the public sector – and appearing to stand up for druggies is generally fairly risky when your political masters are busy stigmatising them.

    I have been told that the Ministry of Health was livid at the way its 2010 guideline was being used by Housing NZ, but it kept things pretty bloody quiet if that was the case. From my Matters of Substance story:

    From the Ministry of Health’s point of view, there was no need for such guidance. Public Health Engineer Paul Prendergast told Matters of Substance that the 2010 guidelines are “self-explanatory, and there are also industry training courses available recognised by NZQA to help with training and interpretation”.

    He added that the Ministry has engaged an overseas-based toxicologist to review the guidelines and make any recommendations for changes if applicable. “The toxicologist has specifically been asked to address health risks posed by buildings contaminated by meth that occurred just from recreational smoking (as against manufacture).”

    The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), which co-ordinates the efforts of several agencies under the Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan, says any clarification is not its responsibility either.

    “DPMC does not have a role in providing advice to other agencies. However, it does co-ordinate reporting across the agencies that work together to address the harm caused by methamphetamine, including contamination,” a spokesperson said.

    “Other agencies have responsibility for implementing the Action Plan, and the Ministry of Health has responsibility where it relates to the guidelines.”

    Lots and lots of ducking for cover, while Housing NZ and the Tenancy Tribunal were creating havoc in people's lives.

    It's also worth noting that the original 2010 MoH guideline is a pretty poor document in itself. It's far too long – largely because it's stuffed with a lot of copy-pasta, much of it not even cited. There's a lot of mediocrity in this story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…,

    Here’s what Miles Stratford is sending out on the MethSolutions mailing list.

    Note the attempt to reframe this as just being a part of looking after your investment, getting a better class of tenant etc. And following the CSA's recommendations on testing thresholds "will take the spotlight off meth users and their behaviour". Wait, I thought it was about terrible risks to human health?

    Office of Prime Minister Chief Scientific Advisor Meth Contamination Report Advice to Real Estate Professionals


    As you can imagine yesterday’s report caused some disruption and a great deal of our day was spent answering questions from the media. Today we turn our focus to the interests of our valued clients.

    We recognise that it is unlikely too many of your clients will consider the dubiousness of a report from ‘trusted’ sources, that matches exactly with the long-standing socio-political agenda of a government minister, which he articulated while in opposition. It’s more likely that many will be wondering, and asking you, why they are spending money on meth testing.

    Many among you recognise the risk meth users present to an investment proposition and are smart enough to know that it makes sense to do so. The notes below are provided so that you can have a good conversation with your owners and they can make informed choices about how their investments get managed.

    If you have any questions regarding this, please contact our team on 0800 6384 522.

    Managing meth risk is done so that meth users are discouraged from choosing that property to rent in the first place.

    Adopting a proactive approach to meth use or manufacture in an investment property has never been about making sure that the contamination they leave behind is limited to whatever a Guideline or Standard might suggest is acceptable.

    Meth management of a property is about mitigating risk – the risk to your clients, the risk to their investment, and the risk to your staff – in many areas over and above health. Implementing a meth management strategy improves investment returns and demonstrates an understanding of the need to help owners manage and mitigate a risk that can seriously compromise their investment. When things go wrong with an investment property, it is always the property manager’s fault. Things are far more likely to go wrong when tenants are meth users.

    Meth management improves tenant quality and investment returns

    By adopting a proactive approach to MethManagement investors can attract better quality tenants who:

    • Want nothing to do with meth
    • Look after the property better – reducing repair and maintenance costs
    • Stay longer because they have found a ‘safe place’ in communities that are often rife with meth use and related behaviour

    Meth management reduces risk

    While some industry pundits lack the wit to understand risk management, fortunately many property management and real estate business owners do.

    A Government study showed 32% of long-term users had a go at manufacturing meth – in the absence of a meth management programme, how will you deter these people from renting your property?

    Meth labs are mobile. Meth users secure drugs by allowing mobile meth labs to set up in ‘their’ home – in the absence of a meth management programme, how will you prevent this from happening?

    Violence and unpredictable behaviour are a feature of meth users – in the absence of a meth management programme, how will you reduce the risk meth users present to your staff?

    Every day, a meth user has to choose whether to feed the meth pipe, feed the kids, feed the electricity meter or pay the rent. All too often, the pipe wins – how much time do your staff have for chasing missing rent payments? And how will you communicate this to your clients?

    Standard property management practices have limited effect on reducing meth risk

    As you know, the ability of standard property management practices to weed out and deter people who choose to use meth are limited. Our stats suggest that systems and processes that are specifically targeting meth-related behaviour can reduce the risk of meth activity in a home by about 20% when compared to base levels within your region.

    Again, when things go wrong with an investment property, it is always the property manager’s fault. Things are far more likely to go wrong when tenants are meth users.

    RTA obligations are not altered by this new advice

    While Minister Twyford has sent a signal to Housing New Zealand tenants that they have carte blanche to use meth in HNZ properties, investment property owners would be wise to avoid doing so.

    In the absence of a meth test at the beginning and end of a tenancy, you cannot confirm what the meth status of a property is.

    Using, as the report recommends, an ‘Instant Answer’ Kit that only shows a positive above 15µg will take the spotlight off meth users and their behaviour. It also means an owner won’t be able to hold a tenant accountable and increases the risk that tenants will find themselves in a property where meth residues exceed the levels in this report. Owners will still need to abate rent AND run the real risk of paying tenants back, even where the tenants themselves are responsible.

    Wants versus Needs

    MethSolutions has consistently provided property managers and investors with advice they need in order to protect their businesses and property assets from meth criminals. To be clear, we don’t stand to make money from positive results and we don’t clip the ticket on decontamination of properties. We appreciate that this report is what many people will want to hear. We also believe it is important that you ensure owners receive balanced advice, such that they make informed decisions.

    Just because the goal posts appear to have shifted does not mean that New Zealanders will put down the meth pipe. The risks from meth users remain. Where this latest advice is followed, costs associated with managing contamination from meth will be reduced. But, it is the actions of the self-oriented people who choose to use meth that place your business and your clients’ investments at risk.

    We will continue to offer support to those people who recognise the need to manage meth risk. For those who want to believe meth does not present a risk, good luck.

    Miles Stratford

    CEO MethSolutions

    PS. If you have clients who lease to HNZ, they would be wise to double check what implications this policy shift has for their investments.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…, in reply to Shaun Scott,

    Russell’s work on this has been a big part of it – some of gluckman’s comments on tv3 tonight seemed almost word for word what I read in Russell’s piece 2 years ago.

    You can imagine how I felt reading the report. I had a bit of an emotional moment, tbh.

    If you can, do support this site- this has been a really obvious and public demonstration of the value it has, and the great work of so many contributors.

    Aw, thanks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…, in reply to Simon Lyall,

    The article (in a blog for a drug-rehab centre) tell us how bad Ritalin really is.

    Lol, remind me not to get advice from your friend: meth isn't "used in Ritalin", they're completely different chemicals which produce somewhat similar effects through quite different actions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We are, at last, navigating…, in reply to Clarke,

    I think the answer is much more likely to be in the entrenched risk aversion of the Wellington bureaucracy rather than in any nefarious scheme.

    Agreed. I think it shows up the flaws in business-as-usual rather than any real conspiracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22536 posts Report Reply

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