Word of the day

July 31, 2013

Bloggbävning – blog quake; the process by which a topic explodes in the blogosphere and is then picked up by more mainstream media outlets.


50 shades of red

July 31, 2013

Fire fighters in London are blaming Fifty Shades of Grey for an increase in the number of call-outs to release people trapped in handcuffs:

It is emergency calls that firemen are expected to answer, not embarrassing ones.

But thanks to the popularity of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, they are increasingly being called out to free people handcuffed to beds.

London Fire Brigade said it had turned out to 79 such incidents – and nine instances of men with rings stuck on their penises – and urged people ‘always keep the keys handy’.

Third officer Dave Brown, said: ‘Some of the incidents our firefighters are called out to could be prevented with a little common sense. 

‘I don’t know whether it’s the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up.

‘I’m sure most people will be fifty shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them.’

There’s smouldering passion and burning with desire but I don’t think needing the fire brigade is the outcome intended when someone says, come on baby light my fire.

Rural round-up

July 31, 2013

Fonterra’s ‘overdraft clearing forecast’ for 2013/14:

A milk price of $7.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS), now being forecast by Fonterra Cooperative Group for the 2013/14 season, is an ‘overdraft clearer’. Federated Farmers believes farmers will look to pay back credit lines extended to them during the drought.

“This increase in the payout forecast from $7 to $7.50 kg/MS comes off a very strong balance sheet,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman.

“Obviously this and an advance payout of $5.50 kg/MS, is great news after a disappointing back end to the last season. Given this time last year payout forecast were being paired back, seeing it go up is a huge relief. . . .

Increased forecast milk price, advance payout evidence of Fonterra’s strength: Brown:

A 50 cent increase in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price and advance for the 2013/14 season is reflection of the Co-operative’s strength said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.50 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, including a $5.50 advance, and an estimated dividend of 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This outcome is evidence of a strong organisation that has moved appropriately for the benefit of its supplier Shareholders. . .

Latest water quality trends ‘red letter day’ for farming:

Good environmental farm management is starting to show through in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) latest River condition indicator.  This shows that over a decade at 90 percent of the sites tested, most of the MfE’s key indicators were either stable or improving.

“Improved management of the land and water resource by everyone may be starting to show up in these water quality results,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“In broad brush terms New Zealand’s water quality is steadily improving.

“In recent years, farmers and communities have really stepped up their efforts but we know we can and must do better. This latest report shows we are heading in the right direction and we need to take this as encouragement to further step up our collective efforts. . .

AgResearch Plans Its Future Footprint:

The country’s largest Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, has released further details of its plans to reinvest $100 million into its campus facilities and resources.

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says the proposal is now with staff for consultation and involves a major reconfiguration and reinvestment of AgResearch’s campus and farm infrastructure to create a vital agricultural research institute for the next 50 years.

“We will be modernising our science facilities, co-locating our capability wherever possible, and participating in large agriculture innovation hubs, all of which will generate greater returns across the pastoral sector.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to put AgResearch in the best possible long-term position to do more quality science more effectively and efficiently, and to make a much bigger difference to the agricultural sector’s productivity and profitability,” he says. . . .

New on-line weather forecast service:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today launched a new online mountain weather forecast service that will improve the enjoyment and safety of trampers, hunters, mountain bikers, skiers and fishers using New Zealand’s National and Forest Parks.

“New Zealand’s mountain environment can quickly turn from warm and calm to treacherous. We can improve the safety and enjoyment of users by providing more frequent and detailed weather forecasts on the internet,” Dr Smith says.

“We lose about six people per year in our mountains and often these deaths are weather related. We also have about 150 mountain search and rescue callouts a year. This improved weather service will reduce risk and save lives.

“The new online mountain weather forecast service will provide standardised five day forecasts updated every day for 24 mountain locations across eight of New Zealand’s most popular parks. This compares to a previous service of eight locations with a mix of forecast lengths from two to five days and from a frequency of twice daily to weekly. . .

Speech to Horticulture New Zealand annual conference – Nathan Guy:

Today I want to talk to you about my priorities for the primary sector, of which horticulture is a major part. In particular I want to talk about the two goals that the Ministry for Primary Industries has – to grow and protect New Zealand’s economy.

As you all know, the primary sector is the powerhouse of our economy. It is worth around $30 billion a year to the New Zealand economy and makes up around 72 per cent of our exports.

Your industry is a major part of this equation, with New Zealand’s horticultural exports earned $3.6 billion in the year ended 31 March 2013. The total value of horticultural products produced is around $6.6 billion. . .

Farm Environment Awards Motivate Northland Farmers to Lift Game:

Participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards inspired Ken and Janine Hames to step up environmental work on their Northland farm.

Ken says they entered the awards to benchmark themselves against other farmers and “to see where we were at” in terms of environmental sustainability.

He and Janine, a vet at Ruawai, first entered the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2010 and were thrilled to win two category awards.

“I guess it showed we were on the right track,” says Ken, who runs an intensive bull finishing operation on 400ha at Paparoa, southeast of Dargaville. . .


Milk payout up

July 31, 2013

Analysts had been a predicting an increase in Fonterra’s payout and they were right.

The company has announced a 50 cent increase in the payout and a 32 cent increase in the dividend, bringing the total forecast up to $7.82.

Chairman John Wilson said the higher Forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the new season reflected continuing strong international prices for dairy.
 
“At the beginning of this season, our forecast was that dairy commodity prices would continue at or near current levels until the fourth quarter of 2013.  However, supply constraints in Europe and China during the Northern Hemisphere spring have contributed to an increase in dairy prices of 3 per cent over the past two months.  In addition, the NZ dollar has weakened against the US dollar.  These factors have contributed to our updated forecast,” said Mr Wilson. 
 
The Co-operative also confirmed a further increase to the advance rate schedule, starting from $5.50 per kilo of milk solids which is very good for farmers’ cash flows.
 
“A higher Advance Rate provides our farmer shareholders a strong start to the season and the opportunity to grow their own farming businesses.” 
 
Commenting on the forecast dividend for FY14, Mr Wilson said Fonterra’s Board has amended the Co-operative’s dividend policy. 
 
“The Board has approved a new policy that aims to deliver a sustainable dividend from FY14 onwards.  When setting the dividend, the Board will take into account short and medium term earnings to deliver a dividend per share of between 65–75 per cent of adjusted Net Profit after Tax over a period of time. The dividend remains at the Board’s discretion, and subject to market conditions and Fonterra’s financial position.
 
“Additionally, from FY14 we are adopting a qualitative earnings guidance approach, rather than the previous quantitative earnings per share guidance.  
 
“The changes mean we will provide more market commentary – but will no longer put numbers around future earnings per share.  This new policy will enable the business to provide a longer term view on any potential volatility in earnings,” said Mr Wilson.  
 
Chief Executive Theo Spierings said international dairy trade growth is currently being led by strong demand for powders (combined whole milk and skim).
 
“This trend, relative to prices for cheese and casein, currently would have a short term negative influence on product mix returns during the first half of FY14.
 
“As we drive for growth in our consumer businesses, during the first half of FY14 we are likely to have to absorb some of the expected substantial increases in the cost of goods arising from current high commodity prices, and this could have an impact on margins.
 
“Taking into account the headwinds we face and current market volatility, the FY14 estimated dividend of 32 cents per share may be outside the 65-75 per cent range.
 
Fonterra’s offer of a fixed $7 price was oversubscribed. 
 
Those who took it won’t be upset that their requests were scaled back.
 
They’ll have to accept that in insuring against a fall in the payout they were also taking the risk of not being able to take advantage of an increase.
 
But it might put people off the offer should it be made again next year.
 
The increase is welcome but it is very unlikely to be anywhere near this good next season.
 
In a newsletter to shareholders Wilson warns that the market is still very volatile and farmers should be very careful with budgets.
 
Production in other countries is likely to increase and unless there’s adverse weather conditions which impact production the supply will go up.

Test on idiots

July 31, 2013

Quote of the day:

“If it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it.” John Banks.

He was commenting on testing party pills on animals.

Banks was the only MP to vote against legislation which would allow animal testing. However, Associate Health Minister Todd McLay shares his concerns.

“Many New Zealanders have raised concerns around the possibility of animal testing for psychoactive products, and I am one of them.

“I have today clarified with the Ministry of Health that no licences to test psychoactive substances are to be issued before the Expert Advisory Committee has completed its consideration of what constitutes a low risk of harm and the appropriateness of all aspects of a testing regime,” says Mr McClay.

“New Zealand has a policy of replacing, refining and reducing any testing involving animals and I have made it clear that it is my expectation we will set an example in this area. Within days of receiving my ministerial warrant I inserted Clause 12 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 ruling out any animal testing where an alternative exists.

“Last week I had a positive meeting with animal welfare representatives to discuss how we can together work towards a regime that will exclude animal tests. I welcome their input as I am sure this will add to the effective and practical implementation of the Act in the months ahead,” says Mr McClay.

The Psychoactive Substances Act removed legal highs from hundreds of retailers around New Zealand and will ensure that only low risk products are available in the future. The Government’s overriding objective with the legislation is the health and welfare of young people, and the Act is already having a positive effect for those most vulnerable.

Countries around the world continue to struggle with how to deal with these products and New Zealand is leading the world in addressing these completely new substances.

“There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge before any testing regime is finalised and I look forward to working with interested parties, including those involved in today’s marches, on this issue in the weeks ahead,” says Mr McClay.

I am not against animal testing on drugs which could do a lot of good but party pills definitely don’t fall into that category.

 


Free trade is only real fair trade

July 31, 2013

Fair Trade – that’s got to be good, hasn’t it?

No.

Over at Anti Dismal, Paul Walker discusses an article in The Economist by Amrita Narlikar and Dan Kim which argues that like a lot of other ideas that sound good in theory,  it does more harm than good in practice:

Despite the claims of its champions, the fair-trade movement doesn’t help alleviate poverty in developing countries. Even worse, it is just another direct farm subsidy of the kind most conscientious consumers despise. In the long term, the world needs free trade, not fair trade. . .

The stated purpose of the fair-trade movement is to give economic security to producers in developing countries — often of unprocessed commodities such as fruits, live animals, and minerals — by requiring companies and consumers to pay a premium on the market price.

Until now, any questioning of the fair-trade movement has been limited to the micro level. The movement has faced repeated criticisms, for example, for the relatively expensive fees that producers must pay to get a fair-trade label, which make it ineffective for many poor farmers. Another area of concern is just how lucrative the process is for middlemen and retailers. Finally, several studies show that very little of the premium that consumers pay actually reaches needy producers. Consumers might be surprised to learn that only one or two percent of the retail price of an expensive cup of “ethical” coffee goes directly to poor farmers.

The adverse effects of fair trade are even more worrying at the macro level. First, fair trade deflects attention from real, long-term solutions to rural poverty in developing countries; and second, it has the potential to fragment the world agricultural market and depress wages for non-fair-trade farm workers. . .

Walker points out in spite of the marketing which tries to convince consumers that Fair Trade is good for producers, they get only a tiny percentage of the money made:

An interesting statistic is that in 2010, retail sales of fair-trade-labelled products totalled about $5.5 billion, with about $66 million premium — or about 1.2 percent of total retail sales — reaching the participating producers. There has to be a better way of helping poor farmers. Having only 1.2 cents out of every dollar spent on fair-trade products reach the target farmers is a hugely inefficient way of helping these people. If people wish to help these farmers there has to be charities out there that can transfer more than 1.2 cents per dollar to them.

Also a more efficient and straightforward way to help poor farmers is to remove the massive OECD subsidies and tariffs we see on agricultural products. In other words, a move towards free trade is needed.

Fair Trade has a powerful brand but it’s not one which really helps producers.

They, and consumers, would have much more to gain from free trade, which is the only real fair trade.


Submissions on independent constitutional review close today

July 31, 2013

Submissions on the independent constitutional review close today.

The New Zealand Centre for Political research has a submission form which covers most areas of discussion.

My view:

The parliamentary term should be four years and fixed.

Three years leads to short-term thinking and governing, hampers productivity, is more expensive for the state and increases the costs and workloads of volunteers in political parties.

A fixed term would prevent governments playing politics with the election date, and provide certainty for planning and administration.

The number of electorates should increase and the population tolerance increase from 5% to 10%.

Provincial electorates already cover far too great an area. Retaining the same number of MPs as the population increases or reducing the number would make that worse.

The number of South Island seats should be increased by at least one to reduce the geographic size. That would then lead to more North Island seats to retain a similar number of people in each electorate.

The population tolerance should increase from 5% to 10% to allow more flexibility over communities of interest. Adding another couple of thousand people to a city electorate would have little impact but could reduce the size of a rural electorate significantly.

The Maori electoral option and seats should be abolished.

They provide poorer representation owing to the large geographical area they cover.

MMP helps address diversity and Maori are more than capable of being elected in general seats.

Treaty breaches should be addressed and compensation made but the Treaty should not be enshrined in the constitution.

Property rights should be included in the Bill of Rights.

Our current flexible constitutional arrangements should remain.

A written constitution is not necessary.

Constitutional changes should require a public mandate through a referendum with a majority of at least 75% or a parliamentary vote with a similar level of support.

Constitutional matters should not be changed by bare majorities.


30% of HortNZ levies used to counter councils

July 31, 2013

While Horticulture New Zealand, holds its national conference to celebrate industry growth on one side of Wellington, across town in the High Court it is battling against decisions which could stop the industry in its tracks.

 HortNZ uses 30% of the levy funding it raises from all commercial fruit and vegetable growers to represent grower interests in regional and district council planning across the country.

At the end of 2012 HortNZ was working on 43 different actions with councils. By the middle of this year that number had risen to around 50, at an estimated cost of $750,000 last year alone. 

What a waste of energy, money and time.

This is an indictment on the planning system and a strong argument for continuing reform of local government and the Resource Management Act.

Officials in the Ministry for the Environment are also predicting a significant increase in plan changes between 2016 and 2020, giving even more cause for concern.

The High Court case this week is to hear an appeal against the Environment Court’s decisions on the Horizons Regional Council’s ‘One Plan’.

“What has happened in Horizons is just the tip of an enormous iceberg of misunderstanding, misinformation and misguided old school thinking,” HortNZ president Andrew Fenton said in his speech to the conference this morning.

“The case is being run to try and prevent these mistakes repeating around the country through other councils, affecting growers and the commercial viability of their horticulture businesses.

“Setting a precedent through the courts has become an accepted method of managing rights and interests, and this is unacceptably dangerous for growers and business certainty.

“This means you can’t just say ‘hey, that’s not my region, it doesn’t matter’ because eventually, it will matter, for all of us.”

The One Plan, as it now stands, will impose excessively harsh restrictions on horticulture and have a negative economic impact on the region’s jobs, communities and the price of food production in New Zealand.

Producers and consumers all over the country should be grateful that HortNZ is fighting this battle.

The outcome of their case will have implications for all other councils that will determine how and where agriculture and horticulture businesses operate.


July 31 in history

July 31, 2013

30 BC  Battle of Alexandria: Mark Antony achieved a minor victory over Octavian’s forces, but most of his army subsequently deserted, leading to his suicide.

781 The oldest recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji.

904 Thessalonica fell to the Arabs, who destroyed the city.

1009  Pope Sergius IV became the 142nd pope, succeeding Pope John XVIII.

1200 Attempted usurpation of John Komnenos the Fat.

1423  Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Cravant – the French army was defeated at Cravant.

1451  Jacques Cœur was arrested by order of Charles VII of France.

1492 Jews were expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree took effect.

1498 On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.

1658 Aurangzeb was proclaimed Moghul emperor of India.

1667   Treaty of Breda ended the second Anglo-Dutch War.

1703  Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but was pelted with flowers.

1741  Charles Albert of Bavaria invaded Upper Austria and Bohemia.

1777 Pedro Ignacio de Castro Barros, Argentine statesman and priest, was born (d. 1849).

1777 The U.S. Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that the services of Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”

1790  First U.S. patent was issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

1800 Friedrich Wöhler, German chemist and founder of organic chemistry, was born (d. 1882).

1803 John Ericsson, Swedish inventor and engineer, was born (d. 1889).

1856  Christchurch, New Zealand, was chartered as a city.

1860 Mary Vaux Walcott, American artist and naturalist, was born (d. 1940).

1865 The first narrow gauge mainline railway in the world opened at Grandchester, Australia.

1895  The Basque Nationalist Party (Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco) was founded by Basque nationalist leader Sabino Arana.

1909  Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Austrian writer and polyglot, was born (d. 1999).

1912  Milton Friedman, American economist, Nobel laureate (d. 2006).

1913 The Balkan States signed an armistice at Bucharest.

1919 German national assembly adopted the Weimar constitution.

1921 Peter Benenson, British founder of Amnesty International, was born (d. 2005).

1930  The radio mystery programme The Shadow  aired for the first time.

1932  The NSDAP won more than 38% of the vote in German elections.

1936  The International Olympic Committee announced that the 1940 Summer Olympics would be held in Tokyo. However, the games were given back to the IOC after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, and are eventually cancelled altogether because of World War II.

1938 Bulgaria signed a non-aggression pact with Greece and other states of Balkan Antanti (Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia).

1938 Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius in Persepolis.

1940 A doodlebug train in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio collided with a multi-car freight train heading in the opposite direction, killing 43 people.

1941  Holocaust: under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.”

1943 Lobo, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1944  Geraldine Chaplin, American actress, was born.

1944 – Jonathan Dimbleby, British journalist and television presenter.

1945  Pierre Laval, the fugitive former leader of Vichy France, surrendered to Allied soldiers in Austria.

1945  John K. Giles attempted to escape from Alcatraz prison.

1948  New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) was dedicated.

1951  Japan Airlines was established.

1954 First ascent of K2, by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.

1959  The Basque separatist organisation ETA was founded.

1964 Jim Corr, Irish singer and musician (The Corrs), was born.

1964  Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1970 Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

1972 – Operation Motorman: British troops moved into the no-go areas of Belfast and Derry. End of Free Derry.

1972 – Three car bombs detonated in Claudy, Northern Ireland, killing nine.

1973 A Delta Air Lines jetliner crashed while landing in fog at Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts killing 89.

1976 John Walker won gold in the 1500 metres at the Montreal Olympics.

John Walker wins gold in Montreal

1976 NASA released the  Face on Mars photo.

1978 Will Champion, English musician (Coldplay), was born.

1980 Mils Muliaina, New Zealand rugby union player, was born.

1980 Mikko Hirvonen, Finnish rally driver, was born.

1981 – General Omar Torrijos of Panama died in a plane crash.

1981 A total solar eclipse occured.

1987  A rare, class F4 tornado ripped through Edmonton, Alberta, killing 27 people and causing $330 million in damage.

1988  32 people died and 1,674 injured when a bridge at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal collapsed in Butterworth, Malaysia.

1991  The Medininkai Massacre in Lithuania. Soviet OMON attacked Lithuanian customs post in Medininkai, killing 7 officers and severely wounding one other.

1992  A Thai Airways Airbus A300-310 crashed into a mountain north of Kathmandu, Nepal killing 113.

1999  Lunar Prospector – NASA intentionally crashed the spacecraft into the Moon, ending its mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface.

2002  Hebrew University of Jerusalem was attacked when a bomb exploded in a cafeteria, killing 9.

2006  Fidel Castro handed over power temporarily to brother Raúl Castro.

2007 Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, ended.

2012 – Michael Phelps broke the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the greatest number of medals won at the Olympics.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Critical Mass

July 30, 2013

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

Ogooglebar’ … and 14 Other Swedish Words We Should Incorporate Into English Immediately

and

22 things journalists know to be true


Word of the day

July 30, 2013

Jettatura -  casting of, or curse by, the evil eye.


Rural round-up

July 30, 2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair -

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


More work to do on water

July 30, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the release of two environmental water reports paint an encouraging picture of our waterways but also underline the need for the Government’s freshwater reforms.

. . . The river condition indicator is based on data that was collected across more than 300 regional council and NIWA-monitored sites over a ten year period (2000-2010), out of the tens of thousands of waterways across New Zealand.

The report shows that overall concentrations of nutrients and bacteria are either stable or improving at most monitored sites, and that water quality is generally improving.

The swimming suitability indicator provides a summary of monitored swimming sites. It reflects a precautionary approach to managing public health risks, which means that even a very small risk will be flagged through a lower grading.

The report shows that many swimming spots are affected in wet weather as a result of stormwater runoff. At some sites, heavy rain and wind can churn up sediment from the bottom of the waterway, releasing pathogens back into the water.

Other common sources of water pollution are urban stormwater systems, livestock, fertilisers and dense populations of wildlife. . .

Dense populations of wildlife are a particular concern for us.

There’s a large colony of seagulls nesting in a canyon not far above the intake for the water scheme which supplies us.

That’s causing high levels of contamination but because some are a protected species their right to nest trumps our right to clean water.

Ms Adams says the Government’s freshwater reform programme is critical to improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

“Issues with our waterways have been building over a number of generations, and it is going to take a similarly long time to fully realise solutions for these issues.

“The key tenet of the Government’s proposals is that improving our water management system will require solutions that start now and build over the long-term. There is no quick fix.”

There are many contributors to poor water quality.

The impact of most has built up over years to decades.

Improvements are being made and more work is needed.

But the Minister rightly points out the problems didn’t happen overnight and it will take time for the solutions to make a difference.

The river condition report is here.

The swimming suitability report is here.


Lawyers major beneficiaries of Labour policy

July 30, 2013

Labour’s housing policy might win votes from fellow-xenophobes and the economically illiterate desperates who think banning a tiny number of people from purchasing property will make a difference to house prices.

But the only real beneficiaries of the policy will be lawyers:

Labour’s policy to restrict foreigners from purchasing a home will hit Kiwis in the pockets and will line lawyers’ wallets, ACT Leader John Banks said today.

On Radio New Zealand this morning, David Shearer confirmed that Labour’s policy would put the onus on conveyancing lawyers to determine whether those purchasing a home are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and are buying the home for themselves with their own money

“Housing is already unaffordable without Labour’s added proposition of more red tape and higher lawyers’ fees,” Mr Banks said.

“Under Labour’s policy, when any New Zealander buys a house, a lawyer is going to have to establish whether or not they are a foreigner.

“As there is no list of foreigners handy, every purchaser will have to be questioned by their lawyer and will have to prove their citizenship.

“Labour also expects lawyers to prove that the purchaser will be the beneficiary of the purchase and is not purchasing the home on behalf of someone else. But how would they know? Lawyers only know what they’re told by the purchaser.

“Labour’s dopey ban on foreigners purchasing housing is going to cost every New Zealander through increased legal fees and more red tape.

“It is recent immigrants to New Zealand who will sadly come under the most scrutiny from this policy that is not actually going to do anything to solve the problem of housing affordability.

“Instead of focusing on this kind of dog-whistle claptrap, Labour should be doing something about the real cause of the housing crisis – the lack of land supply for residential development,” Mr Banks said.

The policy will generate more work for lawyers as people seek to circumvent the restrictions by, for example,  setting up companies registered here with resident directors.

One of Labour’s other polices, the capital gains tax, will also provide opportunities for lawyers as people seek to find loopholes.

There will no doubt be other new or increased taxes under a future LabourGreen government.

They too will provide extra work for lawyers from people seeking to minimise their liability just as tax increases under the 1999-2008 Labour governments did.

Labour in its early days aimed to govern for the workers. These days its policy provides a lot more gains for lawyers.


Maori Party out-xenophobes the xenophobes

July 30, 2013

If Labour was trying to out-xenophobe the xenophobic New Zealand First and Green parties with its housing policy it has been trumped by the Maori Party.

The Maori Party has labelled Shearer’s new policy aimed at restricting foreigners from purchasing houses as ‘lip-service’, and has challenged the Labour Party to commit to real action to protect the assets of Aotearoa by extending their policies to prevent the sale of land and strategic assets into all and any foreign ownership.

“The Maori Party have a clear policy on land ownership, we must protect and preserve our land to keep it from falling into foreign ownership. The Labour Party’s housing policy, which would restrict foreigners from purchasing houses, is nonsensical as it discriminates against which foreigners it exempts and does nothing to protect the asset of true value to the people of Aotearoa – the land.”

“On one hand the Labour Party want to limit the purchase of residential property by overseas investors, but on the other they promote and support the free trade agenda which is entirely about easing rules for foreigners to do business, and invest in New Zealand assets.”

“There are other ways to do business with countries overseas which protect the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources. We think that both the Labour Party and the National Party have a duty to look at how we can protect our resources before they advance investment agreements such as the TPPA.” . . .

There are lots of ways to do business with other countries but if we want economic growth here, with the social development that fosters, we need investment.

Our poor savings record means we don’t have enough spare money ourselves which leaves us with two choices – we can borrow from other countries or welcome foreign investment.

Inwards investment should pose no more threat to the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources than investment from within.

Whoever owns our land or other assets is subject to the same laws which govern what they can do with them as everybody else regardless of where they come from.

Without foreign investment we’d go backwards.

That would hurt the poorest people, among whom are a disproportionate number of Maori, the most.


Does Labour have a research unit?

July 30, 2013

Political parties get public funding for parliamentary support services.

That could and usually does include researchers.

They’re the people whose duties ought to include looking carefully at policy proposals.

Does Labour have a research unit and if so was the xenophobic policy barring all foreigners except Australians from buying houses examined by it?

If so why didn’t they see two large fish hooks spotted by a journalist and a lawyer?

Not long after the policy was announced for Rob Hosking pointed out the numbers of non-resident “foreigners” owning houses David Shearer was quoting included ex-pat New Zealanders.

Shortly after that Stephen Franks pointed out the policy almost certainly breached the Free Trade Agreement with China:

. . . Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment)  all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal”  no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.

So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139. . .

. . . What would happen if Labour got the numbers to legislate such a policy irrespective of the FTA? Parliament can, after all, legislate contrary to international law.

There would be serious legal, economic and political ramifications. The Chinese government could invoke the dispute settlement procedures in the agreement.  NZ exporters may lose their benefits under the NZ China FTA. NZ’s international standing as a good treaty partner would suffer. . .

The FTA was signed by a Labour government , several members of which are still in the Labour caucus.

What did they have to say about the FTA and Labour’s xenophobic policy?

. . . Their Leader said this evening to NewsTalk ZB’s Susan Wood that his colleagues responsible for the China FTA tell him it was not meant to prevent NZ from barring investment it does not want.

If that was what they meant, it is not what they signed. . .

The sooo boring detail of deals that stitch us up may have eluded the politicians who actually signed them, but until they are properly understood Mr Shearer, stop digging.

Did his colleagues not understand what they signed, or did they understand but fail to explain the fine print to their leader?

Either way it reflects poorly on them.

It also raises questions about the party’s research unit. They’re the ones who are supposed to look at boring details.

Did anyone bother to run the policy past them?

If not why not?

And if so why did the researchers fail to spot the flaws uncovered so quickly by a journalist and a lawyer?

Could it be the research unit is as disillusioned and dysfunctional as the caucus?


July 30 in history

July 30, 2013

762  Baghdad was founded.

1419  First Defenestration of Prague.

1502 Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

1549 Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, was born (d. 1609).

1608  Samuel de Champlain shot and killed two Iroquois chiefs which set the tone for French-Iroquois relations for the next 100 years.

1619  The first representative assembly in the Americas, the House of Burgesses, convened for the first time.

1629  An earthquake in Naples killed 10,000 people.

1733  The first Masonic Grand Lodge in what became the United States was constituted in Massachusetts.

1756 Bartolomeo Rastrelli presented the newly-built Catherine Palace to Empress Elizabeth and her courtiers.

1811  Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, leader of the Mexican insurgency, was executed by the Spanish.

1818 Emily Brontë, English novelist, was born (d. 1848).

1825 Malden Island was discovered.

1859 First ascent of Grand Combin.

1863 Henry Ford, American industrialist, was born (d. 1947).

1863 Indian Wars: Chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe signed the Treaty of Box Elder, agreeing to stop the harassment of emigrant trails in southern Idaho and northern Utah.

1864 American Civil War: Battle of the Crater – Union forces attempt edto break Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia by exploding a large bomb under their trenches.

1866 New Orleans’s Democratic government ordered police to raid an integrated Republican Party meeting, killing 40 people and injuring 150.

1871  The Staten Island Ferry Westfield’s boiler exploded, killing over 85 people.

1893 Fatima Jinnah, Pakistani Mother of the Nation, was born (d. 1967).

1898 Henry Moore, English sculptor, was born (d. 1986).

1916  Black Tom Island explosion in Jersey City.

1925 Alexander Trocchi, Scottish writer, was born (d. 1984).

1926 Christine McGuire, American singer (The McGuire Sisters), was born.

1930  Uruguay won the first Football World Cup.

1932  Premiere of Walt Disney’s Flowers and Trees, the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award winning cartoon short.

1935 Ted Rogers, English comedian and game show host, was born (d. 2001).

1940 Sir Clive Sinclair, English entrepreneur and inventor (pocket calculator, home computer), was born.

1941 Paul Anka, Canadian singer and composer, was born.

1945   Japanese submarine I-58 sank the USS Indianapolis, killing 883 seamen.

1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian-born American actor and 38th Governor of California, was born.

1950 Frank Stallone, American singer and actor, was born.

1953  Rikidōzan held a ceremony announcing the establishment of the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance.

1956  A joint resolution of the U.S. Congress was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing In God We Trust as the U.S. national motto.

1958 Kate Bush, English singer/songwriter, was born.

1958 Daley Thompson, English decathlete, was born.

1965  US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid.

1969 Vietnam War: US President Richard M. Nixon made an unscheduled visit to South Vietnam and met  President Nguyen Van Thieu and U.S. military commanders.

1971  Apollo 15 Mission – David Scott and James Irwin on Apollo Lunar Module module, Falcon, landed with first Lunar Rover on the moon.

1971  An All Nippon Airways Boeing 727 and a Japanese Air Force F-86 collided over Morioka killing 162.

1974  Watergate Scandal: US President Richard M. Nixon released subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the United States Supreme Court.

1974  Six Royal Canadian Army Cadetswere  killed and fifty-four injured in an accidental grenade blast at CFB Valcartier Cadet Camp.

1975  Three members of the Miami Showband and two gunmen were killed during a botched paramilitary attack in Northern Ireland.

1978  The 730 (transport), Okinawa changed its traffic on the right-hand side of the road to the left-hand side.

1979 Carless days were introduced in New Zealand to combat the second oil shock.

Carless days introduced

1980 Vanuatu gained independence.

1980  Israel’s Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law

1997  Eighteen lives were lost in the Thredbo Landslide.

2003  In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line.

2006 World’s longest running music show Top of the Pops was broadcast for the last time on BBC Two after 42 years.

2006 Lebanon War: At least 28 civilians, including 16 children were killed by the Israeli Air Force in what Lebanese call the Second Qana massacre.

2009 A bomb exploded in Palma Nova, Mallorca, killing 2 police officers. Basque separatist group ETA was believed to be responsible.

2012 – A power grid failure left seven states in northern India without power, affecting 360 million people.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


Word of the day

July 29, 2013

Kummerspeck – (German):  literally grief bacon;  weight gained as a direct result from emotional overeating; added fat caused by stress-induced overeating.


Rural round-up

July 29, 2013

ZESPRI CEO can’t rule out more issues in China:

ZESPRI’s CEO Lain Jager told Q+A host Susan Wood he couldn’t rule out more trade issues in China because “what was accepted practice in China isn’t accepted practice any more. There is a real focus on corruption,” but he says the company is doing all it can to make sure it is fit for business.
 
Earlier this month, a ZESPRI subsidiary lost its appeal in China against a smuggling conviction for under declaring customs duties between 2008 and 2010 which saw the company fined nearly a million dollars.
 
Today on Q+A, Jager distanced ZESPRI from the actions of the importer there. . .

Minor fire in Synlait boiler – Alan Wood:

Synlait Milk says a fire in one of its boilers at its Dunsandel plant will not impact production plans.

The Canterbury milk nutrition products producer said it had a minor fire in one of its boilers the plant south of Christchurch yesterday evening.

The manufacturer today said all automated systems functioned properly and the fire brigade were alerted directly when the smoke sensor was activated in the boiler facility. Several fire appliances were at the scene on standby during the incident.

The company, which has recently raised capital, said no damage was suffered and the boiler was now fully operational. . .

Town girl aiming for life on land - Sally Rae:

Alena Schwartfeger may have had an urban upbringing but her heart is now firmly in the country.

Miss Schwartfeger (18) has been awarded the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Telford Agribusiness Scholarship for 2013, which contributes to the cost of tuition fees up to a maximum of $4000.

Originally from Hawera in Taranaki, she came to Telford last year and completed a certificate in agriculture and, this year, is studying towards a diploma in rural business. . .

Fertiliser price cut aids dairy – Tim Cronshaw:

Further price cuts to fertilisers will be welcomed by dairy farmers, but fertilisers are likely to be off the shopping list for money- tight sheep and beef farmers recovering from a tough drought.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is normally the first of the major fertiliser co-operatives to put out a new price list, but Ravensdown took the lead this week.

Ravensdown lowered the price of urea by $55 a tonne to $660/t and diammonium phosphate (DAP) by the same amount to $865/t. . .

Back to basics secret to successful farm – Tony Benny:

The farmer who topped the Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s profitability by 12 per cent says there’s no secret formula – it comes down to doing the basics well.

“There’re four or five real basic things but they’re quite hard to achieve,” said Mark Slee.

“It’s getting cows in good condition prior to calving and that’s one of the hardest things to keep doing year in, year out.” . . .

 

Four little lambs settle in – Jenna Lynch:

A busy Waikato mum has her work cut out for her after the sudden arrival of quadruplets this week.

Peter Bos’ ewe gave birth to four small woolly bundles of joy on Thursday night – amazingly, all happy and healthy.

As the ewe has only two teats, the chance of survival for all four lambs would normally be very minimal, said New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association president Ian Stevenson.

“If you’ve got bossy brothers, you mightn’t get too much to drink,” he said. . .


Clark part of Auckland housing problem

July 29, 2013

The imbalance between supply and demand for houses in Auckland which is the biggest factor behind swiftly rising prices there didn’t happen overnight.

It has been building for more than a decade and local and central governments should have been addressing the issue years ago before it got this bad.

Who was leading the government for nearly a decade as the prices soared?

Oh yes, Helen Clark and she’s part of the problem of houses owned by foreigners.

Rob Hosking points out:

It’s a mark of how bogus the housing debate has become that Labour’s figures about foreign owners of New Zealand houses almost certainly include former leader Helen Clark and her four houses. . .

Labour says more than 11,000 foreigners own houses here they don’t live in.

. . . What Mr Shearer didn’t say is the figure comes from “non-resident” taxpayers who pay tax on houses they own in New Zealand.

Most of those are ex-pat Kiwis who are renting out property they own here while working overseas.

How could Labour put out a policy so badly researched?

This conversation on twitter explains it:

 

  1. Shearer’s ‘foreign investor’ figures are mostly expat Kiwis – people like Helen Clark & her four houses [PAID] http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/shearers-foreign-investor-figures-are-mostly-expat-nzers-rh-p-143493 …

     
  2. .@robhosking This is frustrating. It took you less than a day to find the holes – why aren’t Labour peer reviewing before policy release?

     
  3. @MeganCampbellNZ Own arse. Both hands. Lack of a GPS navigational device not to mention basic hand/eye co-ordination.

But it gets worse – Labour’s policy is not only based on faulty figures, it also contravenes the Free Trade Agreement with China that was negotiated by the last Labour government.

  1. Lemme get this right. Labour’s housing ban stops expat Kiwis from buying homes here but the FTA lets Chinese buy, along with Aussies? WTF?

     
  2. @BillyRalston very slightly rushed out policy, you reckon?

     
  3. @toby_etc I think someone in Shearer’s office had a brain bypass.

     
  4. @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc C’mon you can’t put this FAIL on the ‘office’. Good politicians ask questions &understand own policy

     
  5. @MeganCampbellNZ @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc EXACTLY. Blaming minions is what Aaron Gilmores of this world do, not would-be PMs.

Oh dear, faulty figures based on incomplete understanding and no idea about the FTA a Labour government negotiated – is anyone in Labour thinking?

Hat tip: Keeping Stock

P.S. – in case you think I’m guilty of Clark derangement syndrome.The post is to show Labour’s shortcomings – in government for not recognising and acting on the growing imbalance between supply and demand of houses and now for this ill-thought out policy -  not to comment on her investment decisions about which I have no criticism.


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