10/20

August 31, 2013

Oh dear, only 10/20 in the bad science quiz designed to test if you know the difference between real science and gobbledygook.


Word of the day

August 31, 2013

Fissiparous – tending to break up into parts or break away from a main body; tending to break into factions; factious; divisive tendencies in a political party; inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups; reproducing by biological fission.

Hat tip: Rob Hosking in dissection of the Labour Party and its three leadership aspirants in the print edition of the NBR.


Labour like Labor

August 31, 2013

Kevin Rudd’s opinion of himself as Labor’s, and Australia’s, great hope is not shared by voters.

With just a week to go until election day in Australia, Labor is almost certainly heading for a landslide defeat.

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Gay Alcorn writes:

. . . I have been around too long to predict election outcomes, but it is looking as though September 7 will be a day of reckoning for a party that has come close to destroying itself. Labor seems so hollowed out that perhaps it had no choice but to grasp onto an American-style campaign centred around one man, Kevin Rudd, the man who more than any other contributed to the party’s predicament.

Perhaps Rudd’s elevation will mean that Labor will avoid the ”catastrophic defeat” it faced under Gillard, and it will console itself with that. But there is so much heaviness in Labor’s campaign, weighed down as it is by bad memories and bad blood. . .

Put a u in Labor, change the leader’s name and this could have been written about the Labour Party here.

It too is hollowed out, weighed down by bad memories and bad blood.

It will have a new leader in a couple of weeks but it won’t have a new culture.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock


Rural round-up

August 31, 2013

Fonterra Leadership to Visit China Next Week:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson and CEO Theo Spierings will lead a Board of Directors visit to China next week to meet with Fonterra management and key stakeholders.

Mr Wilson said the Co-operative’s Board had already planned to visit China in early September for Directors to meet with Fonterra staff and stakeholders, and view progress on Fonterra’s farming hub in Yutian.

“Now that it has been confirmed that there was no Clostridium botulinum in our whey protein concentrate, we need to address any remaining concerns our stakeholders in China might have. . .

Fonterra’s false alarm shows danger of ‘crying wolf’:

Victoria and Otago Marketing academics provide expert comment on the Fonterra crisis:

Although it is good news that Fonterra received the ‘all clear’ from the Ministry for Primary Industries yesterday, a lot more needs to be done to restore New Zealand’s reputation, say academics from Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago.

Dr Hongzhi Gao, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Victoria Business School and Senior Research Fellow of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, says the New Zealand government and business communities still have a big job ahead to ensure the official findings filter through to the global market.

“Negativity was so widely spread overseas that a proper public relations campaign needs to be planned and implemented in key dairy export markets, including China. If it is done well, the crisis may be turned into an opportunity for New Zealand’s brand,” says Dr Gao. . .

PGG Wrightson sells Heartland stake for $11.3 million to reduce debt – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services company controlled by China’s Agria Corp, sold its stake in Heartland New Zealand for $11.3 million to reduce debt.

Christchurch-based Wrightson sold 13.18 million shares in Heartland, the parent of the country’s newest bank, through a brokerage yesterday at 84 cents a share, a 3.4 percent discount to the 87 cent share price Heartland was trading at immediately prior to the sale. Wrightson acquired the stake as part of the sale of its finance arm to Heartland.

“It wasn’t a strategic holding for us, it’s not our core business,” said company secretary Julian Daly. The stock price “was at a level that we were satisfied with.” . . .

Yashili Granted Consent for Infant Forumla Plant in Pokeno:

Independent commissioner Michael Savage has granted land use consent to Chinese company Yashili NZ Dairy Co Ltd to construct and run a $220 million infant formula plant in Pokeno.

This follows a three day hearing which took place on Wednesday 31 July – Friday 2 August at the Waikato District Council Chambers in Ngaruawahia.

The Council’s Regulatory Committee appointed Michael Savage as the independent Commissioner to hear the application, which received 27 submissions with five submitters heard at the hearing. . .

Synlait Milk will process more milk than forecast in FY14:

Synlait Milk will process more milk than forecast following a decision to take a significant allocation of milk under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act in the financial year to 31 July 2014.

The decision was made after further planning and a small investment in plant and equipment resulted in an opportunity to increase production capacity of its ingredient products without impacting the forecast infant formula and nutritional products business.

The extra milk will result in an increase to the forecast milk supply and production volumes of its ingredient products as stated in the prospective financial information (“PFI”) of its prospectus issued in June 2013. While early in the season the additional total production provides the Company with increased confidence in achieving its forecast financial result for FY2014. . .

Westland Milk Products joins the ‘good news club’:

Federated Farmers West Coast says New Zealand’s second largest dairy cooperative, Westland Milk Products, has now joined the ‘good news club.’ The cooperative has revised its 2013/14 forecast payout to a range of $7.60-8.00 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS), with a new advance rate of $5 kg/MS.

“It has been one hell of an August. I even saw someone at Federated Farmers head office tag it as dairying’s ‘mensis horribilis’,” says Richard Reynolds, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy chairperson.

“Frankly, West Coast farmers like me are counting down to 20 September when we get the advance. After the rare West Coast drought this year, we’ve got more than an overdraft to start clearing. . .


Saturday’s smiles

August 31, 2013

A doctor was giving a woman a check-up and asked her about her physical activity level.

The woman said she spent three days a week, every week, exercising outside.

When asked for a description of what she did on those days, she replied, “Well, yesterday afternoon was typical; I took a five-hour walk, about seven miles, through some pretty rough terrain. I waded along the edge of a lake. I pushed my way through two miles of gorse and broom. I ran away from an irate ram, and then ran away from an angry dog.

“I was shattered at the end of it.”

Amazed by the story, the doctor said, “You must be a very enthusiastic tramper.”

“No,” the woman replied, “I’m just a really, really bad golfer.”


What do the members think?

August 31, 2013

Labour’s three leadership aspirants have a spending limit of $30,000 for their campaigns.

It seems a lot of money as one of the contenders, Shane Jones, says:

“If any bugger can raise $30,000 for a 15-friggin’-day contest then the 30-odd members of the bloody Labour caucus can go out there and raise a million to fight John Key, for God’s sake.”

When Labour came to its members to help repay the taxpayers’ money it illegally spent on its pledge card, they weren’t impressed.

One said few members were wealthy and most worked hard to raise money for the party by doing a lot of small fundraisers – raffles, catering . . .

The members had had no say in spending the money and were not impressed they were being asked to help pay it back when those who had the say were in a much better position to do so.

I am sure that members won’t be impressed with the thought that up to $90,000 could be spent on this campaign when the party is short of money and they will be working so hard for the one that matters – next year’s election.

Jones is regarded as the underdog but his comment shows he’s in tune with what members think.


Can’t run itself, can’t run country

August 31, 2013

Quote of the day:

If Labour cannot run itself, it must be assumed it cannot run the country. ODT

The ODT is not alone in this opinion. John Armstrong writes:

. . . Regardless, the new rules have been symptomatic of an increasingly toxic relationship between the bulk of the caucus and factions within the wider party. . .

In Parliament, with the outgoing leader on leave, his deputy consumed with getting the top job and the rest of the caucus viewing the race with trepidation, Labour drifts leaderless and rudderless for two weeks. Labour is the Mary Celeste of Parliament.

Labour’s new rules make it even less stable than it was.

On top of that the party has failed to learn from the mistakes National made after its 1999 election loss and the necessary changes it made after the 2002 defeat.

Losing parties have to get rid of the dead wood.

They also have to demonstrate they are able to run themselves properly with unity in and between the caucus and wider membership if they’re to convince voters they’re fit to run the country.


US ag lobbies back TPP

August 31, 2013

The fight for free trade has taken a leap forward:

The fight for open access for New Zealand farm exports into the United States has taken a big step forward, with key American agricultural lobbies giving their backing to a comprehensive Pacific Rim trade deal with no exclusions for agriculture.

Thirty-seven of the US’s peak agricultural and farming lobbies have written to their government pledging support for the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade talks, which aim to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade between 12 countries.

In a letter sent to new US Trade Representative Mike Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, the industry groups gave their backing to US negotiators to pursue a comprehensive deal, with no exclusions for agriculture in any country involved in the talks.

“There must be no product or sector exclusions, including in agriculture. Exclusions would limit opportunities in each of the member countries to reach new markets, grow business and generate economic growth and jobs,” it said.

Importantly the letter was signed by the US Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Council.

Both groups have in the past been sceptical about the US joining the TPP and have highlighted the threat to American farmers from opening their domestic market to competition from NZ exports. . .

This is very good news.

Agriculture has been one of the major sticking points for US support of the TPP.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said the backing from the US dairy industry could be critical in getting a deal past American lawmakers that included agriculture and therefore was beneficial to NZ.

“The political game here is pretty obvious. The way Congress works is through these sorts of letters and people add up the number of lobbies for and add up the number against and that is the political process under way,” Groser said. . . 

Fonterra, with assistance from the NZ Government, is leading efforts to get industry groups in other TPP countries to send a similar letter to their governments.

Other countries in the talks include Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

If all countries agree to cut tariffs to zero the benefits to the NZ economy have been estimated to be as high as $2.1b by 2025.

We have a lot to gain from the TPP but so do producers and consumers in other countries.

Trade protection ultimately benefits the few at the expense of many and the few it benefits are principally politicians who buy votes with it and bureaucrats who are employed because of it.

There is still a lot of work to be done but the support of the powerful US agricultural lobbies is a very big step towards the goal.


Mind the gap

August 31, 2013

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need wage subsidies to ensure people in full time work earn more than those on benefits.

But the world isn’t ideal and paying a top-up to low waged people is better than letting them languish on the dole.

The Child Poverty Action Group thinks this discriminates against the children of beneficiaries. They took the issue to court and lost.

. . . The Court of Appeal found that the off-benefit rule, on its face, subjected beneficiaries to different treatment that amounted to a material disadvantage but the rule ultimately did not breach the Bill of Rights.

“This is because the in-work tax credit deliberately created an earnings gap between people on a benefit and people who are working. The objective was to incentivise people into work and improve incomes for families with children,” the Court of Appeal judges said in their decision released today.

“CPAG accepted this objective was important enough to justify limiting the right to freedom from discrimination but argued that the off-benefit rule was disproportionate to the objectives to be achieved.”

The Court of Appeal said the discriminatory impact of the off-benefit rule was not out of proportion to the goal of incentivising people into work and “the evidence established that it only impairs the right to be free from discrimination to the minimum extent necessary to achieve the objective”. . .

Children of beneficiaries are, generally, worse off than those in families where at least one parent works.

Being worse off isn’t just financial, those in families dependent on benefits tend to have poorer health, achieve less at school and a more likely to be victims of or commit crimes than those on the same income when it comes from work.

Benefits have a place in helping those who are unable to support themselves. A few of those will always be dependent but most, given the right help, will be able to help themselves.

If there was no gap between the income of those in work on those on benefits the welfare trap would deepen.

TV3’s documentary Mind The Gap focussed on the issue of the gap between rich and poor.

That gap won’t be bridged by disincentivising work which is why the financial gap between those in work and on welfare must be maintained.

 


Saturday soapbox

August 31, 2013

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.
:) kindest, Boris


August 31 in history

August 31, 2013

12 Gaius Caligula, Roman Emperor, was born (d. 41).

1218 Al-Kamil became Sultan of Egypt, Syria and northern Mesopotamia on the death of his father Al-Adil.

1422  Henry VI became King of England at the age of 9 months.

1803 Lewis and Clark started their expedition to the west.

1841 – The brig Sophia Pate, was wrecked on a sandbar at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour with the loss of 21 lives.

1870 Maria Montessori, Italian educator, was born (d. 1952).

1876 Ottoman sultan Murat V was deposed and succeeded by his brother Abd-ul-Hamid II.

1880 Wilhelmina I of the Netherlands, was born (d. 1962).

1886 An earthquake killed 100 in Charleston, South Carolina.

1888  Mary Ann Nichols was murdered, the first of Jack the Ripper’s known victims.

1894 The new Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration (IC&A) Act, a flagship policy of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government, made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration. There were no major strikes for 11 years and wages and conditions generally improved.

Arbitration Act becomes law

1894 Albert Facey, Australian writer, was born (d. 1982).

1897  Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

1907 Count Alexander Izvolsky and Sir Arthur Nicolson signed the St. Petersburg Convention, which resulted in the Triple Entente alliance.

1918 Alan Jay Lerner, American lyricist, was born (d. 1986).

1920 Polish-Bolshevik War: A decisive Polish victory in the Battle of Komarów.

1940 Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia. The CAB investigation of the accident was the first investigation to be conducted under the Bureau of Air Commerce act of 1938.

1940 Jack Thompson, Australian actor, was born.

1943  The USS Harmon, the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a black person, was commissioned.

1945 The Liberal Party of Australia was founded by Robert Menzies.

1945 Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician, was born.

1949 The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat in mountain Grammos marked the end of the Greek Civil War.

1949 Richard Gere, American actor, was born.

1957 The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1958 A parcel bomb sent by Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, failed to kill Sihanouk of Cambodia.

1958 Serge Blanco, French rugby union footballer, was born.

1962  Trinidad and Tobago became independent.

1965 Willie Watson, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1965  The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy aircraft made its first flight.

1974 Leader of the Labour Party since 1965 and Prime Minister from late 1972, Norman Kirk, ’Big Norm’, died suddenly at the age of 51. He was the fifth New Zealand PM to die in office.

Death of Norman Kirk

1978 William and Emily Harris, founders of the Symbionese Liberation Army, pleaded guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of

1986 Aeroméxico Flight 498 collided with a Piper PA-28 over Cerritos, California, killing 67 in the air and 15 on the ground.

1986 The Soviet passenger liner Admiral Nakhimov sank in the Black Sea after colliding with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev, killing 423.

1991  Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992  Pascal Lissouba was inaugurated as the President of the Republic of the Congo .

1993  HMS Mercury, shore establishment of the Royal Navy,  closed after 52 years in commission.

1994 The Provisional Irish Republican Army declared a ceasefire.

1997 Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul died in a car crash in Paris.

1998 North Korea reportedly launches Kwangmyongsong, its first satellite.

1999 The first of a series of bombings in Moscow, killing one person and wounding 40 others.

1999 – A LAPA Boeing 737-200 crashed during takeoff from Jorge Newbury Airport in Buenos Aires, killing 65, including 2 on the ground.

2005  A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad killed 1,199 people.

2006 Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, which was stolen on August 22, 2004, was recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

August 30, 2013

Bodacious -excellent, admirable, or attractive; remarkable; prodigious; audacious; gutsy;  bold or brazen; sexy; voluptuous.


Pen-y-bryn Qualmark Luxury Lodge

August 30, 2013

Oamaru’s historic Pen-y-bryn Lodge has been named Qualmark’s second ‘New Zealand Luxury Lodge’ in a new quality assurance category launched earlier this year in conjunction with Luxury Lodges of New Zealand.

Pen-y-bryn has joined the ranks of lodges that have earned this distinction through membership of a handful of international luxury hotel groups.

To achieve its latest distinction, Pen-y-bryn Lodge was visited by two Qualmark assessors who spent a night at the property, enjoying the full lodge experience including a gourmet dinner and guest activities.

Built in 1889 for Oamaru businessman John Bulleid, who gave the building its Welsh name meaning ‘On Top of the Hill’, the exclusive property features five ensuite guest rooms overlooking historic Oamaru and the coast.

Co-owner and Pen-y-bryn Lodge host James Glucksman said he and co-owner James Boussy were “delighted” to receive the New Zealand Luxury Lodge Qualmark rating, rewarding them for their commitment to the historic Victorian mansion and the service they offer.

“We’re proud and honoured to have won this distinction, which we feel not only acknowledges the ongoing efforts we’ve made to upgrade the lodge since we took it over in 2010, but also the unique charms of our historic property and of the surrounding township of Oamaru.”

The Qualmark assessors enjoyed the full lodge experience, including a gourmet dinner, a croissant baking class led by James Glucksman, a Chinese tea degustation and a visit to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.

The two ‘Jameses’ said they made a point to have the assessors experience activities in and out of the lodge.

“That reflects the fact that we actively encourage all our guests to make the most of their time in Oamaru, which has so many things for visitors to do, while also recognising that many of our guests arrive at Pen-y-bryn and don’t want to leave,” said Mr Boussy.

“We ensured they experienced the comfort and exclusivity of our hilltop location, sampled our excellent menu, and enjoyed activities out of the lodge,” he said.

“When we moved here we immersed ourselves in this community and fell in love with everything it has to offer, and with this in mind we encourage our guests to experience the tranquil charm of the township. Combined with a stay in our historic, warm and welcoming lodge, we feel this is a captivating combination.” . . .

 Oamaru used to be just another town people drove through to get somewhere else.

Gradually, recognition and restoration of its historic buildings, the tourist potential of the little blue penguins, its artists and artisans and other attractions have turned it into a destination in its own right.

Some people come to visit, others like the Jameses have made it their home and made a major contribution to the economic, cultural, culinary and social fabric of the town.

You can find out more about Pen-y-bryn  here.

 

 


Rural round-up

August 30, 2013

Land use pressure for farmers – Tony Benny:

Farmer predicts proposed new land use rules will jam the brakes on agricultural development in Canterbury.

Federated Farmers’ South Island Grain and Seed vice-chairman David Clark claims that the proposals for rules limiting changes of land use recommended for inclusion in the proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan will put more pressure on arable farmers and stop further expansion of dairy farming.

“The proposals that have been put forward would make it extremely hard to change land use with any degree of intensification.

“The big issue and the big concern is around nutrient management rules that are coming in, that would severely constrict land use modification.” . .

Key holds fire on botulism blame - Hannah Lynch:

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to point the finger of blame at who is responsible for the Fonterra botulism fiasco until all inquires in to what turned out to be a false alarm are completed.

In a shock announcement yesterday, the Primary Industries Ministry said there was no contamination linked to botulism in Fonterra whey protein product at the centre of an international food safety alert. 

The ministry’s independent testing contradicted the results of tests done by Fonterra or on its behalf by state owned AgResearch. 

The alert earlier this month caused product recalls, a trade backlash and tarnished New Zealand’s “clean green” brand. . .

Deer farmers urged to fight for Invermay - Annette Scott:

The Invermay deer programme has led the development of the New Zealand deer industry for the past 35 years and is recognised as world leading, former Invermay Agricultural Centre director Dr Jock Allison says.

Allison opposes AgResearch’s proposal to focus South Island agricultural research on a single hub in Lincoln, describing it as schizophrenic behaviour.   

In a letter to deer farmers Allison, Dr Ken Drew, a leader of Invermay deer research for 25 years, and Otago University Professor Frank Griffin urged the industry to voice its concern.

“It is our view that only through concerted industry efforts will the deer research programme be retained at Invermay,” Allison said. . .

European manufacturer commits to New Zealand:

The current strength and strong outlook for the future of New Zealand agriculture has led Europe’s major tractor manufacturer, SAME Deutz-Fahr, to commit itself to our market.

The Vice Chairman of the company, Francesco Carozza, (pictured) who was in New Zealand recently, says the future of world agriculture is very strong, and New Zealand is well positioned to capitalise on that potential.

“Globally speaking, food demand is going to double over the next 40 years, so the market is going to increase big time – and so are the opportunities for New Zealand agriculture,” he says. . .

Primary Industry Training Organisation cements first successful year with fresh new brand:

On 1 October 2012, Agriculture ITO and Horticulture ITO merged to form the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO). Primary ITO is also responsible for Water Industry Training, Equine Industry Training and NZ Sports Turf ITO, making it one of the largest ITOs in New Zealand.

“Agriculture ITO and Horticulture ITO made the proactive move to join together because we shared a natural affinity and a common vision. We recognised that we could deliver better outcomes for our industries by having an organisation with a larger critical mass and shared resources,” says Primary ITO Chief Executive Kevin Bryant.

Since the launch of Primary ITO, the organisation has continued to operate under the five existing brands. . .

Conservation and management of NZ whitebait speciesJane Goodman:

New Zealand’s whitebait fishery consists of the young of five migratory galaxiid species – inanga (Galaxias maculatus), koaro (Galaxias brevipinnis), banded kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus), giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) and shortjaw kokopu (Galaxias postvectis). Smelt (Retropinna retropinna) are also present in catches from some rivers along with the young of other fish species such as eels and bullies. (See Amber McEwan’s earlier blog.)

Four of the five galaxiid whitebait species (inanga, koaro, giant kokopu and shortjaw kokopu are ranked in the New Zealand Threat Classification System (Townsend et al. 2008) as ‘at risk – declining’; banded kokopu are listed as not threatened (Allibone et al. 2010).

A2 shares record-high as investors buy into growth story:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Corp shares touched a record high 77 cents in trading today after the company boosted sales 51 percent and improved its underlying earnings.

The Sydney-based company, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, lifted sales to $94.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30 from $62.5 million, and more than doubled operating earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation to $10.6 million.

Net profit slipped 6.5 percent to $4.12 million, as the company wore losses associated with setting up its British joint venture and year earlier gains from a tax asset and legal settlement rolled off. . .


Pretending to be unified

August 30, 2013

One of the reasons I subscribe to The Listener is for a weekly dose of Jane Clifton’s wit.

This week she’s turned her attention to Labour’s leadership selection:

. . . Robertson’s support base is mostly drawn from the caucus A-team: the MPs who are either talented and appealing and on their way up, or who have at least built themselves a reasonably useful profile through diligence or longevity. Cunliffe’s are mostly from the B-team: MPs who have failed to distinguish themselves, but who, all too humanly, believe they have been unjustifiably passed over, and who trust Cunliffe to recognise their true worth in return for their support. There is also, as in any workplace, a fair amount of deeply personal enmity flowing from various individuals to various others . 

These are long and deeply forged ley lines, and can’t just be overridden with a public chorus of Kumbaya. . .

For the foreseeable future, Labour MPs will only be pretending to be unified. That goes also for the party at large, as evidenced by the hand grenades of hostility from the delegates at the last conference, all directed toward the MPs. . .

Winning the selection will be relatively easy – there are only two other candidates to beat.

Uniting the caucus and the party with their multiple and competing factions will be much harder.


Friday’s answers

August 30, 2013

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said, Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.?

2. Which book by which author won the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards which was announced last night?

3. It’s bibliothèque in French, biblioteca in Italian and Spanish,  and whare pukapuka in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Benjamin Franklin, Mao Zedong, Lewis Carroll, Philip Larkin and Golda  Meir shared a common job, what was it?

5. Which is the last book you read and which is the last New Zealand book you read?

Points for answers:

Willdwan gets four.

Alwyn gets three and a bonus for correcting my spelling and provoking a grin at the answer about the NZ book.

Answers:

1. Helen Keller.

2. The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn.

3. Library.

4. Librarian.

5. There was no correct answer for this, but the last book I read was Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer and the last NZ books was The Writing Class by Stephanie Johnson.


Loyal or hopeful?

August 30, 2013

Labour’s giving up on Invercargill but there’s still the odd loyalist down there who’s not giving up on the party:

soper

This is former MP and candidate, Lesley Soper,  who’s saying since there’s no leadership meeting scheduled for Invercargill she’s hoping to have a video of the candidates’ speeches from one of the meetings elsewhere at a local meeting.

Is she being loyal to the party which has shown no loyalty to her, or is she hopeful a change of leader will bring a change for the better in her list ranking?


The Green retreat begins

August 30, 2013

Green Party  co-leader, Russel Norman, has been very keen to be Finance Minister and just this week he was also suggesting that he and the party’s other co-leader could share the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

But now he’s saying policy gains are more important than positions.

“What we really want most of all are policy gains – that’s why we got into the business,” says Dr Norman.

“We want a smarter, greener, more compassionate New Zealand, and a smarter, greener, more compassionate government. If we can get those policy gains, that’s the key thing for us.”

But he concedes that those gains will be easier to come by if they can get their MPs appointed to high-ranking positions, such as Minister of Finance or even Deputy Prime Minister.

“Having ministerial positions gives you influence and the ability to get the policy changes that you want, so they’re both on the table,” says Dr Norman. . .

This is the beginning of the Green retreat.

The party has made hay while Labour’s been in the shadows under David Shearer.

But whichever of the three amigos, David Cunliffe, Shane Jones or Grant Robertson,  wins the leadership selection, he will be stronger, more articulate and determined to win back the party’s left flank.

The biggest loser from that will be the Green Party and this softening stance from Norman suggests he knows it.


More praise for Bill

August 30, 2013

Scott Sumner at the Money Illusion on a recent trip to Australia:

. . .  I was particularly impressed with the talk given by the representative from the New Zealand government (Bill English) but will admit to knowing little about that place, other than that their people live in Hobbit-style dwellings. . .

About which, Matt Nolan opines:

. . . Whether you agree with the policies of the National party, or the specific things that Bill English has pushed through as Finance Minister, you have to admit that he has done an incredibly good job over the past five years – during an incredibly difficult time.

 This is not the first time I’ve heard people overseas sing Bill English’s praises (it is probably in double-digits now) – over here we have a Finance Minister who understands the issues, and tries to communicate them clearly.

Sure it makes it easier for me to say good things about Bill English since he doesn’t seem to be directly involved with any of National’s policies I’ve strongly disagreed with (this has been more the social welfare area) – but even if my prior beliefs were different, the fact that English has been transparent and straight up when discussing issues, and the fact he seems to strongly work to understand and work with broad expert advice about fiscal issues from around the world, tells me he has done an excellent job.

Often Finance Ministers are judged solely on the luck they faced given their time in change, so lets be honest here and admit that during a tough time Bill English and his team have done a good job.  I know this post will be particularly unpopular with a section of the readers here, but it has to be said!

I’m completely apolitical – but having a Finance Minister that doesn’t make the role about themselves, and who gives an honest appraisal of the trade-offs faced from the broad thrust of government fiscal policy, is exactly the sort of person you want. . .

It’s good to know it’s not just those of us with a blue bias who admire Bill and what he’s managed to do in very trying times.


Absent with leave

August 30, 2013

Trevor Mallard scored an own-goal when trying to distract attention from Labour’s leadership contenders using taxpayers’ money to fly round the country campaigning.

It provided Gerry Brownlee with the opportunity to ask whether David Shearer should be collecting the leader’s pay while taking three weeks leave to lick his wounds.

But Shearer isn’t the only Labour MP who’s going to be on full pay while absent from parliament:

Next week all three contenders will be absent from the House as they go on a roadshow as part of the leadership contest which winds up with an election on September 15.

That means we’re not only paying for David Cunliffe, Shane Jones and Grant Robertson to fly around the country, we’re paying them to campaign instead of attending to their duties as MPs in the House.

They might have leave from their whip to be absent but in what other job could they take off to further their own ambitions on full pay?


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