Word of the day

December 4, 2012

Diktat – a harsh, unilaterally imposed settlement with a defeated party; an authoritative or dogmatic order, statement or decree.


Luck, skill, crisis and laughter

December 4, 2012

Discussion with Finlay MacDonald on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

In poker and elsewhere is it luck or skill that counts?

Apes suffer mid-life ciris too.

Laughter as a form of exercise.

 


Horan expelled from NZ First

December 4, 2012

Brendan Horan has been expelled from New Zealand First because Winston Peters no longer has confidence in him.

Peters told MPs in a statement to the House that he had recently received “substantial’’ evidence and while it was “deeply regrettable’’, he no longer had confidence in Horan and he would be expelled from the NZ First caucus.

Peters said he believed Horan should now resign from Parliament and because of the nature of the allegations he intended making no further comment on the affair.

Peters has known about the allegations for some time but has covered himself by saying he has recently received ‘substantial evidence’.

Horan’s Queen’s Council has released a statement:

1. As a result of the death of Mr Horan’s mother various issues have arisen concerning the administration of her estate. Those matters are private and personal to the family. Unfortunately some persons, for their own reasons, have chosen to make them public.

2. Mr Horan has been the subject of unwarranted and unfair publicity which has implied that he is dishonest and has stolen from his mother. There can be no other interpretation of that publicity.

3. Mr Horan completely denies any suggestion that he has stolen from his mother or misappropriated her money or assets. He regrets that a private and personal family matter has been made public and his only wish is that the issues concerning his mother’s estate are resolved quickly and properly. He invites any investigation into his mother’s affairs and is confident that any proper investigation will exonerate him entirely.

4. Mr Horan will make no personal comment at all on these matters but has instructed that this release be made on his behalf. As far as Mr Horan is concerned the sooner these matters are resolved the better as he will then be able to return to his work as a Member of Parliament to concentrate on fulfilling his duties without the distraction of false and unjustified allegations.

Paul Mabey QC

If my understanding of MMP is correct, expulsion from the party doesn’t mean Horan has to leave parliament and NZ First won’t get a replacement MP until, and unless, he does.


Rural round-up

December 4, 2012

Strong growth and sophistication of the hospitality sector helps Neat Meat transform product offerings with unique pasture-based products, and build exports based on that success –  Andrew Patterson:

Not all meats are created equal, particularly if the Gisborne born Eriksen brothers are involved.

The three siblings Simon, William and Tim along with two other founding shareholders have been slowly redefining the meat category over the past decade with high end product offerings designed to cater to an increasingly sophisticated palate.

Their Neat Meat retail shops along with their Harmony and Angus brands and their Chefs Series range have given customers access to high quality cuts of meat in a variety of forms that were previously only the domain of exporters and high end restaurants. . . .

Dairy export volumes show large increase:

In the September 2012 quarter, seasonally adjusted dairy export volumes rose 32 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. Milk powder was the largest contributor to this rise.

Dairy products made the largest contribution to a 9.7 percent rise in seasonally adjusted export volumes. Meat export volumes rose 15 percent. Import volumes rose 0.7 percent, led by intermediate and capital goods.

“Dairy export volumes are at record levels, after adjusting for seasonal effects,” prices manager Chris Pike said. “Dairy values remain at high levels, even though export prices have fallen for five consecutive quarters.” . . .

Primary Growth Partnership tops $650M:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter has welcomed the announcement of another successful Primary Growth Partnership bid which lifts the total invested to more than $650 million.

The Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is to fund half of an $87 million innovation programme proposed by leading meat exporter ANZCO.

“ANZCO’s proposal to generate more value from the beef carcase with its Foodplus programme is bold and innovative. This is exactly what PGP is about – transforming great ideas into tangible R&D programmes focussed on results,” says Mr Carter. . .

Central Otago’s Trophy Triumphs:

2012 will go down as the year Central Otago firmly established its reputation as a producer of fine New Zealand wines, if the recent Trophy count is anything to go by.

Almost every winegrowing district within the Central Otago region has brought home a Trophy in the last six months – from Bendigo, to Alexandra, to Gibbston, to Wanaka, to Bannockburn – confirming every district within the region produces outstanding wines. . .

The Artisan Winegrowers of Central Otago:

In a more that signals the changing and evolving climate of the New Zealand wine industry, six modest growers from Central Otago – the eponymous “Artisans” – have banded together and formed their own group under a unified flag. The Artisan Winegrowers of Central Otago (AWCO) comprise Auburn Wines, Ellero, Georgetown Vineyard, Lindis River, Lowburn Ferry and TOSQ . . .

More than 400 Earlybirds in Dairy Awards

A record 158 entries received last week in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards has pushed the number of entrants eligible for the earlybird entry prize draw to 428.

“It was an amazing week,” National convenor Chris Keeping says. “We had a record 158 entries and on the last day for people to enter and be eligible for the earlybird entry prize draw we had 49 entries alone!”

Mrs Keeping says the number is up from 381 at the same time last year. . .

And for your entertainment (hat tip: Whaleoil) click on the video at GEA Farm Technologies  for jiving cows.


Protest or progress

December 4, 2012

Quite how people who think they care about the poor can protest against free trade escapes me, but there they were outside the venue for the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

. . . protesters say these negotiations are too secretive and are being driven by large US corporations.

As the talks at Sky City began this morning, protesters made themselves heard outside. . .

However, there is another view:

. . . the Government says a deal could be a billion-dollar boost for our economy.

“It’s going to be big,” says Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser. “It’s going to be significant and it’s going to help New Zealanders find well-paid jobs.”

That view is shared by the people who will provide some of those jobs:

More than 50 business leaders from some of New Zealand’s largest and most successful companies and business organisations have expressed their support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations currently underway between eleven APEC economies.

In an open letter to Prime Minister John Key, the business leaders underlined the importance of international trade and investment for New Zealand. “The signatories to the open letter represent a cross section across all major export sectors in New Zealand, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, horticulture, wine, manufacturing, technology and Maori business. Together they either directly employ, or their members employ, an enormous number of Kiwis,” said Chairman of the New Zealand International Business Forum, Sir Graeme Harrison.

“These business leaders welcome the TPP round taking place in Auckland this week and commend negotiators from the TPP economies for their efforts to conclude a future agreement which should bring benefits for all member economies”.

 “The group is aware the negotiation poses challenges for New Zealand policy settings in a number of areas and that the negotiation is complex. We have confidence that Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials will seek solutions that meet New Zealand’s national interests.”

“We see great advantages for New Zealand arising from a future agreement that is high quality, comprehensive and ambitious, one that eliminates trade barriers, lowers the cost of doing business and makes improvements to the way regional supply chains can link producers and consumers in the region.” The open letter coincides with the launch of a new business-led initiative, Trade Works, a website (www.tradeworks.org.nz) to help Kiwis better understand the benefits of trade and investment for New Zealand, and understand the potential benefits of TPP. Funding for the website has been provided by the NZ US Council and the website has been built with the support of thirteen business organisations representing the main export sectors.

“The Council and its partners see value from an effort to create a TPP which meets business and wider needs and reflects the way business is being done today and will be done in the future. This will assist economic growth and job creation in New Zealand. Our new website signals that we are also ready to participate with other members of civil society in a dialogue about how TPP can contribute to what it is best for New Zealand,” said Chairman of the NZ US Council, Rt Hon James Bolger.

The protesters want to take us back to the bad old days when inefficient producers were protected and everyone else paid more because of that.

The business people want progress and fair trade and the only way to get that is to have free trade.


Student loan repayments up 11%

December 4, 2012

The latest Student Loan Scheme annual report shows an 11 per cent increase in repayments and a decrease in the overall cost of the scheme, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“The Government remains committed to interest-free student loans, but it is important the scheme is affordable for students and taxpayers, and sustainable for the country,” Mr Joyce says.

“The write-down on student loan lending reached 47 cents for each dollar lent in 2008/2009. We have now reduced that to 39 cents in the dollar, and are working to reduce the cost further.

“The Government has been getting more young people through higher levels of tertiary education, and student loans are a key means to help with that goal. Our recent policy changes have focussed student loans more on people who are likely to achieve qualifications and then earn enough to pay back their loan in a reasonable time.”

“While we have seen some success in reducing the cost of the student loan scheme to taxpayers, it still remains high. The Government is working to improve the compliance of overseas based borrowers, and that initiative together with policy changes made in Budget 2012 will both tighten lending criteria and increase the speed of repayments.

Labour’s 2005 election bribe was expensive enough, that it did little or nothing to ensure people repaid their loans made it worse.

Every dollar not repaid by those who owe it is a dollar more the country has to borrow and a dollar further away from a return to surplus.

The report’s findings include:

  • The cost of lending has fallen 17.5% over the last three years. The cost fell from 47 cents per dollar in the 2009 valuation, to 39 cents per dollar in the current year.
  • Repayments increased by 11% to $767 million in 2011/2012
  • The median repayment time is 6.7 years and it reduces to 5.5 years for those who remain in New Zealand until repayment
  • The valuation of the loan scheme increased by $286 million in 2011/2012
  • The loans uptake rate by students was 74%, up from 73% in 2010/2011
  • Inland Revenue is chasing borrowers overseas who aren’t meeting their repayment obligations. So far, they have gained $19.4 million, which is $12 for each dollar spent on the project.

The full report is here.


Minimum rationality

December 4, 2012

Quote of the day:

“I have advised my Cabinet, literally I’ve said to them, `assume minimum rationally will prevail,'” Groser said.

The Climate Change Minister was referring to the Doha talks on climate change.

Given the inconsistencies and stupidities that came out of Kyoto his view may well be an optimistic one.


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