Richard Briers 1934 – 2013

February 19, 2013

English actor Richard Briers has died.

 


Word of the day

February 19, 2013

Exculpate – to clear from a charge of guilt or fault; free from blame; vindicate.


Critical Mass

February 19, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* A sign that civilisation as we know it is crumbling – Anne of Green Gables has been changed from a skinny red-head to a buxom blonde with come hither eyes. Hat tip: Beattie’s Book Blog.,

* Plain English explanations of 18 scientific occupations.

* 40 things to say before you die (hat tip: Amanda Morrall).


AG clears SkyCity deal

February 19, 2013

The Auditor General has cleared the Government in its dealings with SkyCity in neegotiations over the building of  a convention centre in Auckland.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today welcomed the release of the report by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) into the expressions of interest process for an international convention centre in Auckland.

“The report dismisses the Greens’ claim that SkyCity was given an unfair advantage in the bidding process. The OAG makes it clear it has seen nothing to suggest the final decision to negotiate with SkyCity was influenced by any inappropriate considerations,” Mr Joyce says.

“Labour’s accusation the Government misled the public on the costs of the negotiations is also without substance as the report states it is inevitable that there will be costs involved in properly negotiating a complex commercial arrangement of this kind.”

The report examines all three stages of the process to date and concludes that the initial stage (feasibility and exploratory) and the third stage (current negotiations) are appropriate. It raises procedural issues with the second stage, particularly in relation to officials seeking a clear understanding from SkyCity in regards to the parameters of a possible arrangement before making a recommendation to Ministers.

“However the report accepts that a great deal of careful work was carried out by officials to understand the market, and that officials were acting in good faith. The report stresses that the issues were procedural rather than about the substance of what was being considered,” Mr Joyce says.

While the report concludes the EOI process run by Government officials did not meet all Government procurement practices; it notes the unique proposition in which SkyCity would fund the entire capital costs of building a convention centre.

“It makes the point that submitters understood in 2010 that Government finances were constrained and that no other submitter appeared to have been likely to be able to adapt their proposal to enable them to fund the full construction costs,” Mr Joyce says.

“Furthermore the OAG states it has not heard any comment to suggest submitters couldn’t understand the reasons why the Government might prefer SkyCity’s proposal.

“In reality, SkyCity’s bid provided the best location – close to CBD, accommodation and transport – they had experience running a convention centre, and had the most developed plan with the greatest benefit for taxpayers over the four other bidders.

“An international convention centre in Auckland will be a major asset for New Zealand and will generate significant spin-off benefits including a $90 million annual injection into the economy; an estimated 1000 jobs during construction; and 800 jobs once it is up and running.

“Government officials are working hard to conclude negotiations with SkyCity and will ensure any deal done is in the best interests of New Zealanders.

“Officials will carefully evaluate the report and incorporate its conclusions both in future procurement processes, and as part of the procurement policy work now being developed across Government.”

Another Green conspiracy theory bites the dust.


Rural round-up

February 19, 2013

Better Lake Rotorua = Farmers + Community + Councils:

A “third way” to better water quality is the promise of the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective signed between Federated Farmers, Te Arawa and councils.
“The positive reaction has been pretty amazing,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president.

“This is the application of a Land and Water Partnership type approach at a local level.

“Despite one academic taking a pot shot, most Kiwis will see farmers and landowners working hard with regulators to improve what is our lake too. . .

A telling quote about co-ops – Milking on the Moove:

“There seemed little room for entrepreneurial creativity; virtually every decision was politicized.  The most politically active members controlled the co-op with the own personal agendas, and much more energy was focused on deciding which companies to boycott than on how to improve the quality of products and services for customers.  I thought I could create a better store than any of the co-ops I belonged to, and decided to become an entrepreneur to prove it.”

This  quote is from Whole Foods CEO John Mckey. The quote is from his recent book Conscious Capitalism and Forbes has run an article about John and his book, which I found interesting.

John was a hippy in the 60s and 70s and was involved in a commune and various food co-ops.

It appears he became disillusioned with the co-ops and started his own natural food store which grew to be the now famous Whole Foods Market. . .

Failure a huge spur as record-breaking shearer faces biggest challenge -

Tackling the biggest job of your life might not be the best time to talk about failures.

But that’s not the way for Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia who on Tuesday tackles possibly the greatest shearing record of them all, hoping to shear more than 721 strongwool ewes in nine hours in a remote a King Country woolshed.

The record has not been tried by any other shearer in the six years since it was set by Southern Hawke’s Bay shearing ironman Rodney Sutton.

Tuesday’s bid will be a at Te Hape B, east of Benneydale on SH30 between Te Kuiti and Taupo, and will start at 5am and end at 5pm, including meal and smoko breaks). . .

Gang of four rips through record – Terri Russell:

A lively crowd of about 800 people cheered as four shearers, two from Southland, set a world shearing record near Mossburn yesterday.

Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, Ohai’s Eru Weeds – who battled on despite being injured – and North Island shearers John Kirkpatrick and James Mack, shore 2556 sheep in eight hours.

The gang set the record in the previously unattempted Heiniger four-stand crossbred lamb eight-hour event. They shore the sheep in four two-hour runs.

The final countdown was heated, as the crowd screamed and shearers sweated it out. Some members of the crowd also performed a surprise haka to the shearers when they finished shearing. . . .

‘Wiggy’ working to better his skills – Sally Rae:

Meet Wiggy from Wales.

Paul ”Wiggy” Davies has been in North Otago working for shearing contractor Owen Rowland, having met Mr Rowland when he was over shearing in Wales.

Mr Davies (27), who had been shearing with former Oamaru man Grant Rowland, now living in Wales, wanted to improve his shearing. . .

Downright ‘grumpy’ over schedule - Rob Tipa:

NEW Zealand meat companies really should listen to their suppliers, because there are some very frustrated, disillusioned and downright grumpy sheep farmers out there.

And with good reason. Those who have withstood the financial pressures experienced by the meat industry in recent years are survivors who deserve a medal for their enduring loyalty to their respective meat processors.

They have listened patiently to promises of greater co-operation between meat companies in one meat industry review after another going back decades.

When the tide turned on low sheepmeat prices in the last couple of seasons, farmers were rewarded for their loyalty with record returns of an average $117 a head for lambs in 2010/11 and $113 a head in 2011/12. . .

Rabobank strengthens NZ research division – new animal proteins analyst appointed:

Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory division has announced the appointment of its new animal proteins analyst for New Zealand, Matt Costello.

Rabobank’s head of Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory Luke Chandler said Mr Costello – who has strong experience as a researcher in the meat industry – was an excellent addition to the bank’s New Zealand food and agribusiness research team, joining senior analyst Hayley Moynihan, who specialises in the dairy sector.

“We’re pleased to welcome Matt into our team here at Rabobank and I am confident his strong background in the animal proteins sector will be a great asset to help further support our clients in this industry in New Zealand,” Mr Chandler said. . .


Business prefers four year term

February 19, 2013

An NBR poll of subscribers shows strong support for a four year parliamentary term.

A decisive majority – 88% were in favour of an extra year between elections and only 12% were against the proposal.

That’s not surprising.

NBR subscribers are likely to be involved in business and business doesn’t like uncertainty that comes in election year.

But it’s not only businesses who get frustrated.

A friend who manages a trust which gets public funding to provide social services says the election year hiatus is very frustrating, disrupts services and stalls progress.


Free Trade made simple

February 19, 2013

Immeasurable amounts of time, effort and money go into free trade negotiations but Tim Worstall shows it doesn’t have to be difficult:

Exports are simply the dreary drudge work we do in order to be able to afford those lovely imports. So, for the EU to “negotiate” a free trade area with the US is very simple. Just stop taxing EU citizens who purchase American goods by imposing tariffs upon them. Similarly, for the US to have free trade with the EU just means lifting those portions of the US Customs code that tax imports from Europe. There, all done. Extraordinarily simple, easy to achieve and yes, it would make us all richer to boot.

Sadly, the economically deluded, the protectionists and others who make money from trade barriers won’t take the simple solution.


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