High Court – asset sales can go ahead

December 11, 2012

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Crown in the case over water ownership taken by the Maori Council.

Not surprisingly this verdict has been welcomed by Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Assets Minister Tony Ryall:

“The High Court decision confirms the Government can proceed to sell up to 49 per cent of shares in four state owned energy companies, in accordance with the legislation passed by Parliament earlier this year,” Mr English says.

“The Government is firmly of the view that the partial sale of shares does not in any way affect the Crown’s ability to recognise rights and interests in water, or to provide redress for genuine Treaty claims.”

Mr Ryall says the Government’s share offer programme remains on track.

“The Government remains committed to an initial public offering of Mighty River Power Shares in the first half of 2013,” he says. “If the High Court decision is appealed, we hope this can be heard as soon as possible.

“The Government’s partial sale of shares in state owned enterprises is good for taxpayers, because we expect to generate between $5 billion and $7 billion in proceeds, which we will use to control debt.

“It is also good for New Zealand’s capital markets and it will improve the performance of the companies in the share offer programme.

“The Government will invest these proceeds in new public assets like modern schools and hospitals – and that’s money we don’t have to borrow from overseas lenders.”

I suspect the motivation for the case was at least in part opposition to the partial sales of assets in general rather than just being about the issue of Maori water rights in particular.

But whatever the motivation, the case has been a waste of time and money.

Scoop has the judgement here.


Word of the day

December 11, 2012

Turbid – not clear or transparent because of stirred-up sediment or the like; clouded; opaque; obscured; heavy with smoke or mist; thick, dense; confused; disordered.


Dear Santa

December 11, 2012

Even Father Christmas has deadlines – and it’s this Friday for letters to him if the senders want a reply by Christmas.

Lots of little people have already penned epistles to the big man and New Zealand Post has some edited highlights from them:

Kiwi kids: Naughty or Nice

  • Dear Santa I am a good boy. I always am. It’s not true what you hear.
  • I have been a good girl most of the time. But sometimes I forget. But then I remember.
  • I have been a very good boy this year… I was a bit mean to my cat meow meow but I said sorry and gave her a kiss.
  • My sister Innocent has been naughty Santa.
  • I have been very good this year and promise to keep being good and stop whining.
  • as far as you’re concerned and as far as I want to remember, i have been a really good boy.
  • Ive been a good boy to my mum and my dad but not my sister cos she always makes my room messy.
  • I have been quite naughty this year, but I am going to be good now so I can get my Christmas presents.
  • If I turn my brain on and do good can i have presents at Christmas please. I think I have been good this year.
  • If I have been good then could you please give me 9,999,999 dolars for crismis.
  • I am sorry about being a little bit naughty for the last few years, this year I have been a very very very very very good boy. Apart from when i wasn’t. . . .

Kiwi kids share their thoughts on Santa and his impending visit:

  • I like Santa. Santa gives out lollies and he is squishy and red.
  • I hope you and the polar bears are doing well and getting lots of chocolate
  • I will leave you a treat Santa as I think you are getting too skinny. Don’t tell Mrs Claus.
  • Please sneek into my house and try not to wake me and don’t get too drunk on the beers, my Dad said I can only give you one of his. . .

Many Kiwi kids have quite modest wishes:

  • Could I please have a jar to put water in for pretend fish.
  • You can give me anything you want too except used chewing gum.
  • All I want for christmas is lots of bubbles
  • Please may i have a present. I would like a blue one.
  • I would like a lolly pop. Lolly pops are my favourite.
  • I would like something for Christmas that my brother wont steal.
  • For Christmas I would like some toys and some cuddles.
  • I would like a tree, and a tree and a tree and more tree and tree. And tree.
  • Im a boy and would like boy presents because im a boy. . . .

While some Kiwi kids are wishing for things which may be a bit harder to find:

  • Can I please have some chocolate that comes back when you eat it all.
  • I am five and half years old. I wish i am a bird can fly in the sky. I wish the flower I pick from the garden never die ever ever.
  • please could i have a skateboard for swimming
  • I would like a water pistol that never needs refilling, an aeroplane that you touch and it takes off, something that makes my brother smile, a picture you smile at and it smiles back, a paper dart that goes for 20 seconds then wheels come out of it when it lands, a jumping frog that can take people across the world
  • I would like to turn into a mermaid . .

Pets are, as always, a popular wish for many children:

  • Are you please able to get me a little puppy. I really want a small one which does not do any poos or wees so that I do not have to clean it.
  • This year can I please have a real tiger and a real dog. I promise I will look after the tiger and won’t let it eat my cats.
  • For Christmas I would like a penguin, they are awesome, I like the way they swim through the water. . . .

But Santa is willing to give consideration to any well argued case:

  • We would like 2 drum sets for me and my brother so we can play them at Christmas. My mummy doesn’t think this is a good idea, but we think it’s great.
  • Would you be able to make me a little chair so I can sit at a little table instead of the floor.
  • This year can I swap one of my annoying sisters for a really cool toy?
  • I haven’t been home for almost a year, so could you please give me a flying saucer or a plan ticket?
  • Please could I have a remote control helicopter for Christmas. I also wondered if you could do anything magical to get rid of my warts
  • If you don’t want me to have an iPad my second choise would be money.
  • For Christmas I would really like a claw machine. I know it was not your fault it got broken last year – you can not control turbulence in your sleigh – but I really want one and mum and dad are sick of hearing about it.
  • Please put some presents like an axe for slaying dragons under my tree. I’ve been a good kid.
  • My brother and i are great at clesning the chicken hut and cleaning the garage and I think we need a remote control car to keep up this progress.
  • I would like some of your magic… i would use the magic to make my own special doll . . .

And last but not least, one Kiwi kid’s wish that you definitely won’t have heard on Christmas Past:

  • Dear Santa, I love you. Can you please make me dance like the Gangnam guy, he is cool.

Rural round-up

December 11, 2012

Irrigation fund project given green light:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the go-ahead for the Wairarapa Water Use Project has the potential to irrigate an additional 30,000 to 50,000 hectares of land and boost the area’s GDP by $400 million.

Speaking at the launch of the Business Growth Agenda – Building Natural Resources progress report, Mr Carter welcomed today’s announcement of a $2.5 million pre-feasibility study to develop water storage and distribution in the Wairarapa.

The study is jointly funded by the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. . .

Meat and dairy products lead manufacturing rise:

Meat and dairy products dominated the rise in total manufacturing sales for the September 2012 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the value of total manufacturing sales rose 1.6 percent ($370 million), led by the 9.3 percent ($612 million) increase in meat and dairy product manufacturing.

When price changes are removed, the volume of manufacturing sales rose 2.6 percent, also led by meat and dairy product manufacturing, up 13 percent.

“The volume increase in meat and dairy manufacturing is reflected in the rise of export volumes for dairy and meat products, with increases of 32 percent in dairy, and 15 percent in meat,” industry and labour statistics manager Blair

Wider use of crossbred wools urged – Sally Rae:

Crossbred wool has a future – but its uses need to be diversified instead of just concentrating on carpets.

That is the belief of Arrowtown man Tom Murdoch, a former manager of the Alliance Textiles mill in Oamaru (now Summit Wool Spinners).

Mr Murdoch, who spent 28 years in Oamaru, has had a long involvement with the wool industry.

Before moving to Oamaru, he ran a factory in Mauritius which produced knitted Shetland garments. After leaving North Otago, he got involved in a spinning mill in Bangkok and then helped set up a dye-house. . .

Apathy problems for Wools of New Zealand - Gerald Piddock:

Wools of New Zealand chairman Mark Shadbolt hopes farmer apathy won’t derail the company’s $5 million capital raise following low turnouts at meetings nationwide.

One of the final meetings of the wool company’s nationwide roadshow in Waimate last week drew only about 20 farmers.

Overcoming the apathy shown by farmers was their biggest challenge. The small audience at Waimate was typical of the turnout at the meetings, Mr Shadbolt said.

The meetings are to promote Wools of New Zealand’s prospectus, asking wool growers to invest at least $5 million to buy shares in the company and to commit wool for deals to high-end users such as airlines, hotels, luxury apartments and cruise ships. . .

Two appointments made to Dairy Women’s Network Board:

The Dairy Women’s Network has welcomed two new trustees to its Board, Maree Crowley-Hughes from Thornbury and Robyn Judd from Oamaru.

A hands-on farmer and experienced business woman, Maree and husband Peter Hughes own seven farms in Southland and Otago, which collectively milk 5000 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milk solids per year. . .

Cardno said. . .

Knives Out For Former Meatworks:

The former AFFCO meat killing and processing plant at Taumarunui in the Central North Island has been placed on the market for sale – at less than five per cent of what it was once worth.

The 10,000 square metre plant – sitting on 5.5 hectares of land – was once valued at $18million during its peak production period in the 1980s and 1990s. The plant was made redundant in 2009 and has largely remained idle ever since.

The huge site adjacent to State Highway 4 is now being marketed for sale by Bayleys Hamilton at an auction being held on December 13. Jim McKinlay of Bayleys Hamilton said the vendor’s price expectations was upwards of $450,000. . .

And ACC Minister Judith Collins in ACC’s new milking shed safety apron:

milking apron


Review prompted by concerns with Bain report

December 11, 2012

Justice Minister Judith Collins says concerns with the report into David Bain’s claim for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment by former Canadian judge, Justice Ian Binnie show peer review is needed.

“After reviewing the report prepared by Justice Binnie in September, I was concerned with some aspects of it. With the consent of the Attorney-General, I received advice from the Solicitor-General on the report. Following this advice, I decided the report should be peer reviewed. I commissioned Hon Robert Fisher, QC to do this.

“My concerns are broadly that the report appeared to contain assumptions based on incorrect facts, and showed a misunderstanding of New Zealand law. It lacked a robustness of reasoning used to justify its conclusions.

“This was not a decision I made lightly, but one that was absolutely necessary. Put simply, it would not be acceptable to make a recommendation to Cabinet based on a report that would not withstand the considerable scrutiny it would attract.

“I am very disappointed this peer review is needed – I think we would all agree that a timely conclusion to this matter would be best for everyone. But justice must be done – a robust and proper process is the only way to ensure a certain and final conclusion to Mr Bain’s claim.

“When the Secretary for Justice and I met with Justice Binnie in September, I made it clear to Justice Binnie there were concerns with the report he provided, and it would be peer reviewed.

“I also advised Justice Binnie the report must remain confidential and it would be premature to release it until after Cabinet had made a decision on Mr Bain’s claim.
“Since then, I have received from Justice Binnie, unsolicited, two further versions of his report.

“I will receive Mr Fisher’s peer review in the next day or so, which will be forwarded to Justice Binnie for his comment. When I hear back from Justice Binnie, I will take a recommendation to Cabinet on the next steps.

“Ultimately, this review will not have an impact on Mr Bain’s claim, apart from causing an unfortunate delay to the decision Cabinet will make,” Ms Collins said. . .

This is indeed unfortunate.

The retrial found Bain not guilty. That is not the same as saying he is innocent but it does mean the jury could not say, beyond reasonable doubt, he was the murderer.

The review is adding time and cost to an already lengthy and expensive process, but if there are concerns about the initial report, peer review is required.


Milk in schools works

December 11, 2012

Not every school which was offered free milk from Fonterra has liked it.

But TV3 found a Waikato school where it is making a positive difference to the children’s learning.

It’s also making a difference to milk consumption out of school:

Northland kids have been drinking more milk – at school and at home – since the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme kicked into gear in early 2012, according to an independent evaluation by the University of Auckland.

Fonterra commissioned the report to understand the impacts of its school milk pilot on children’s consumption and attitudes to dairy.

Associate Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, who led the evaluation, says the results show a significant increase in children’s milk consumption following the adoption of the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme in Northland schools.

“A key highlight of the results is that the rise in consumption has happened both at school and at home – with the evaluation showing a 28 per cent increase in the number of students who reported drinking milk five or more days a week.”

In addition, the evaluation showed a clear increase in the number of children drinking milk at least twice a day – with students consuming milk twice or more each day increasing from 66 to 77 per cent.

“The evaluation provides evidence that Fonterra Milk for Schools is helping to increase children’s milk consumption not only during school time, but overall as well,” says Associate Professor Ni Mhurchu.

Carly Robinson, Fonterra General Manager Co-operative Social Responsibility, says the Co-operative is encouraged by the findings.

“Our goal with Fonterra Milk for Schools is to make a lasting difference to the health of New Zealand children. New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy products in the world, but at home, we’re not drinking as much milk as we used to. These findings show that this programme can help get Kiwi kids drinking more milk.”

116 Northland primary schools are participating in the Fonterra Milk for Schools pilot – making up 85 per cent of the region’s eligible schools.

“Each term we survey the schools and our latest results showed that around 90 per cent of schools that responded were either satisfied or very satisfied with the programme,” says Ms Robinson. . .

The milk is free to the schools but it costs the company and in turn its suppliers.

But if the programme is helping children and increasing milk consumption then it’s worth it.


Scarce resources can’t be scattered

December 11, 2012

The  Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group’s report “Solutions to Child Poverty” has led to inevitable calls for more welfare, but as Finance and Social development Ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett say, it’s not that simple.

 “The Government acknowledges that many families are finding times challenging, and I thank the group for its report, which feeds into a great deal of work that is already underway,” Mr English says.

 “This Government is tackling some difficult and complex issues including welfare reform and the White Paper on Vulnerable Children, while spending billions of dollars  to support those in most need.” 

Mrs Bennett says the Government welcomes  ideas and some of the report’s recommendations may get taken up  while some others have already been addressed. 

“For example, there is merit in the suggestion of community hubs and a warrant of fitness for homes. Meanwhile, we’re already ensuring beneficiary teen parents are in education.”

However, the Government would not support universal child payments.

“It is those on the lowest-incomes who are in the greatest need so any new spending needs to be tightly targeted,” she says.

Mr English said net core Crown debt had risen from $10 billion four years ago to more than $50 billion today and, in difficult financial times, the public expected policies to be costed and evidence-based.

“New programmes are worth funding only if they change people’s lives for the better.

“Too often, governments have, for political reasons, persisted with programmes that have been ineffective and expensive.

“But if the answer was simply to throw more money at the problem, it would have been solved years ago,” he says.

There’s never a good time to scatter money and now, when the government is already borrowing so much it’s an even worse time.

Limited resources must be directed where they will do most good.

The Government’s consistent approach has been to encourage people off welfare into work, while protecting vulnerable children, maintaining support for low-income households and strengthening the economy.

The Government has ensured more families have warmer, drier homes, better access to health services, better protection from abuse, and greater support to help people off welfare into work.

All state houses will be insulated by the end of 2013 and the $347 million Heat Smart scheme has already insulated 190,000 homes since 2009.

The $24 million Rheumatic Fever programme has targeted 44,000 children in the worst affected areas and funding for free doctor’s visits for under six year olds has gone up by 50 percent over three years.

The White Paper for Vulnerable Children contains more than 30 measures. Welfare reforms include extra childcare to help young parents remain in education, along with social obligations to ensure children get the education and health care they need. 

“We know children are better off in homes where at least one adult is working and long term, children who get the education and skills which lead to good jobs stand the best chance of breaking inter-generational hardship,” Mrs Bennett says.   

This is about not only helping families now but breaking the poverty cycle by equipping the children for work in the future.

It’s also about changing expectations.

Some people will never be able to be independent and a compassionate society must look after them. But those who can look after themselves must be encouraged to, for their own sakes, that of their children and the social and economic welfare of the country.


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