Unseasonably seaonable for Guy Fawkes

November 5, 2012

Slate spring/early summer isn’t the right time of year to celebrate Guy Fawkes, especially with daylight saving.

It’s nearly 9pm as I type this and still not dark enough for fireworks.

this time of year is often hot and dry too which increases the risk of fire.

However, we’ve had lots of rain over the last couple of months and it’s chilly – I don’t think we got to double figures at all today.

So while it is still too light, it feels cold enough to make it unseasonably seasonable for what should be a late autumn/early winter celebration.


Pike River report

November 5, 2012

The Royal Commission into the Pike River mine tragedy lays most of the blame on management.

But it also found faults in the regulatory environment.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“I speak on behalf of the Government when I say I regret deeply what has happened, in terms of the lives lost and suffering caused.

“The Royal Commission made it very clear that much of the fault for the tragedy lies with Pike River Coal Ltd. Because it did not follow good management and best practice principles, its health and safety systems were inadequate.

“However, the Royal Commission also says the regulatory environment was not effective over a long period of time.

“On behalf of the Government, I apologise to the families, friends and loved ones of the deceased men for the role this lack of regulatory effectiveness played in the tragedy.

“Following the findings of the Royal Commission, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has tendered her resignation from that portfolio.

“Ms Wilkinson’s decision to resign is a personal decision in response to the magnitude of the tragedy. It is the honourable thing to do.

I considered it proper for me to accept her resignation from the Labour portfolio.

Chris Finlayson has taken over the Labour portfolio.

The Government broadly accepts all 16 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations that cover administrative reform, stronger regulation, changes to mining legislation, improving workplace health and safety, and emergency management.

“I believe it is our duty to the 29 miners who died and their families to oversee the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations,” Mr Finlayson says.

The Royal Commission’s report is here.


MMP report tabled

November 5, 2012

Justice Minister Judith Collins has tabled the Electoral Commission’s final report on MMP in parliament.

It recommends several changes including:

  • lowering the party threshold to 4 per cent – but that this be statutorily reviewed by the Commission after three General Elections
  • abolishing the one electorate seat threshold
  • abolishing the provision for overhang seats, and
  • that Parliament consider fixing the percentage ratio of electorate to list seats at 60:40.

I don’t favour MMP because it gives too much power to parties at the expense of poorer representation for people because electorates are too big.

These recommendations make no significant changes to that.


Melbourne Cup field, form & favourites

November 5, 2012

The Melbourne Cup field has been announced.

The Victoria Racing Club has details on the field and form.

Racenet lists the favourites.

I will be studying all this to determine the likely winner of tomorrow’s race based on the not very foolproof method using a combination of the appeal of the horses’ names and the jockeys’ colours.


Rural round-up

November 5, 2012

Fonterra: land of milk and money – The Economist:

ALTHOUGH New Zealand still has seven times as many sheep as people, cows drive its economy these days. Dairy products are a quarter of the country’s exports, giving it a third of the world’s dairy trade. Large tracts of sheep pasture and forest are being converted to churn out more milk, or “white gold”.

Bestriding the local market with a share of over 90% is Fonterra, a co-operative formed in 2001 as a national champion, from two smaller entities and the former New Zealand Dairy Board. The only truly global Kiwi company, with annual revenue of almost NZ$20 billion ($16.4 billion), Fonterra operates in 100 countries and has 10,500 farmer-owners. Rabobank of the Netherlands ranks it the world’s fourth-largest dairy company. . .

‘Grand career’ but concerns for future – Sally Rae:

Professor Frank Griffin sums up his lengthy career in animal science with a simple comment – “it’s grand”.

For three decades, Prof Griffin has led a University of Otago-based research team devoted to solving animal health problems in the deer industry.

That work has included developing diagnostic tests for the detection of two major bacterial diseases of New Zealand deer – bovine tuberculosis and Johne’s disease – and a vaccine for the prevention of yersiniosis.

Widely respected in the industry, he was recently one of 11 researchers and scholars elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand. . .

Farm Environment Ambassadors Go On Tour to Promote Sustainability

‘Good things take time’, was the key message delivered by the National Winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Blair and Jane Smith, to some of the nation’s leading politicians.

In October, the North Otago farmers addressed the Primary Production Select Committee in their role as ambassadors for good environmental practice.

The address to the multi-party parliamentary committee was part of a six-day tour organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . .

Working towards water standards – Groping Towards Bethlehem:

Various colleagues and I have been trying for years to get research funded on the preferences of New Zealanders regarding the environment. Bits and pieces of work get done — notably, the public perception work by Huey, Cullen, and Kerr from Lincoln University (here’s a summary conference paper (pdf)). We have grander ambitions, though. We want to understand the rank ordering of different environmental attributes amongst different subpopulations, and the economic value of those attributes in comparison to other things of value. Methodologically, it wouldn’t break much new ground. That’s actually a strength. If we end up squabbling over method, that’s taking away from the content of the findings.

Why? Isn’t it obvious that we want clear air and clean water and biodiversity? Well, yes, it is. We also want health care and tertiary education and public transportation and wi-fi and rainbows and unicorns. Maybe not unicorns. But you get the drift. . .

2013 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award Launched 80th Anniversary Commemorated:

Māori sheep and beef farmers who compete in the 2013 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award this year will be part of the competitions 80th anniversary commemorations.

Entry for the competition is now open following its launch by the Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples at the Federation of Māori Authorities conference in Taupo on Saturday November 3th 2012.

The Minister also launched the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee/Cadet competition, the first for young Maori sheep and beef farmers. This award was introduced last year for young Maori dairy farmers. . .

Search for the 2013 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Sheep and Beef Trainee/Cadet of the Year begins:

The search is on for the 2013 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Trainee/Cadet of the Year. On Saturday 3 November the competition was officially launched by the Minister of Māori Affairs Hon Dr Pita Sharples at the Federation of Māori Authorities conference in Taupo.

This is the first year the competition has targeted young Māori sheep and beef farmers. . .

MPI backs awards for Maori farming excellence:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today announced it is a gold sponsor of the 2013 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award.

The competition was launched at the Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) conference in Taupo on Saturday (3 November).

Ben Dalton, Deputy Director General Maori Primary Sector Partnerships, said MPI had increased its sponsorship to build on a longstanding involvement with the competition.

“MPI is committed to working with Maori to enable the sustainable growth of their primary sector assets and this competition fits well with our objectives,” Mr Dalton said.

“Maori agribusiness has a significant part to play in lifting the primary sector contribution to New Zealand’s economy. By increasing Maori primary sector productivity, we increase the wealth of New Zealand as a whole. . .

High Level Of Interest In Maori Agribusiness Funding Round:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reporting a high level of interest from groups seeking to promote sustainable resource use in Maori agribusiness.

MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) provides co-funding for small to medium-scale applied research and extension projects.

In August 2012, MPI held a special SFF round for Maori agribusiness, offering approximately $1 million of co-investment funding.

MPI has committed to undertake activities that specifically foster opportunities for Maori agribusiness. . .

Both Sides of the Fence:

A resource for teachers and children from Walking Access NZ.


Abuse is always wrong

November 5, 2012

The SPCA says it’s annual list of shame mirrors New Zealand’s violent society.

“Violence towards animals both co-occurs and is a predictor of violence towards humans”, says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA. “The sheer level of violence meted out on animals by some of the perpetrators in the cases in this year’s List of Shame is shocking, and underlying of wider issues in New Zealand.”

The Royal New Zealand SPCA, in partnership with Women’s Refuge, recently released research into the strong link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence in New Zealand. This study, ‘Pets as Pawns’, showed that 50% of women interviewed had witnessed animal cruelty as part of their experience of domestic violence and 25% said their children had witnessed violence against animals. The research also revealed that one in three women surveyed reported delaying leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets and other animals would be killed or tortured. . .

Abuse is always wrong be it to people or animals and the list is truly shameful.

You can download the list here if you’ve the stomach for sickening reading.

 

 


Shale be right?

November 5, 2012

Untapped shale resources could bring enormous economic benefits to Britain:

The amount is bigger than previously thought and would potentially bring energy price stability and independence from imports for decades.

Although only about ten per cent  of the gas is in unpopulated areas suitable for extraction, it would still be worth £150 billion.

But there is a but:

But critics say the environmental cost is too high for ‘fracking’ – or hydraulic fracturing, the controversial method of extracting gas by forcing water, sand and chemicals at high pressure 6,000ft underground.

Fracking is controversial but Houston’s Chimera Energy Corporation has announced that they are licensing a new method for extracting oil and gas from shale fields that doesn’t contaminate ground water resources because it uses exothermic reactions instead of water to fracture shale.

The potential to make £150 billion would justify more research although that won’t please fracking opponents.


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