Word of the day

April 30, 2014

Cosmogyral – whirling or travelling around the universe.


Losing and keeping friends

April 30, 2014

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

* Time magazine’s list of 10 ways to lose friends

and

Kevin Roberts’ much more positive 10 ways to keep your friends

 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2014

PM turns first sod on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Prime Minister John Key today turned the first sod of the $375 million Central Plains Irrigation Scheme near Hororata in Canterbury.

First conceived in 2001, Stage 1 of the 60,000 ha scheme is expected to deliver water to 20,000 ha of Central Canterbury in September next year.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that the first major work on the $140m first stage, comprising the 17km-long headrace canal and bridges, will commence immediately, with construction of the 130km-long pipeline network picking up momentum mid-year.

“We expect to have up to 150 contractors working on a number of sites in the near future and to this end we are heartened by the experience of our two major contractors, Fulton Hogan/John Holland JV on the headrace canal and Downers, supported by subcontractors Aquaduct NZ Ltd, for the pipe network. . .

Construction begins on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of construction on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury, which has the potential to create up to $1.4 billion in new economic activity.

“This is a proud day for the Canterbury region, with major benefits both economically and environmentally.

“When fully completed the scheme will irrigate about 60,000ha in the central Canterbury area, bounded by the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, and the foothills and State Highway 1.

“It’s estimated there will be additional economic activity of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion created, an export boost of $300 million per year, and around 1,100 new fulltime equivalent jobs. . .

Sheep and beef farm profits forecast to increase 35 per cent:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s latest forecast, released today, tells a positive story for farmers and the wider industry.

The organisation’s Mid-Season Update predicts better pricing and strong demand for sheepmeat and beef products from key markets.

The report outlined improved product prices which are expected to drive average sheep and beef farm profit up by 35 per cent on the drought-affected level of last season. The Mid-Season Update estimates that farm profit before tax for the 2013-14 season will rise to an average of $113,700 per farm.

B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says total gross farm revenue is expected to increase 9.2 per cent to $460,200, reflecting a 12 per cent increase in sheep revenue. Total farm expenditure is estimated to be up 2.8 per cent, to $346,500, on the back of increases in repairs and maintenance expenditures. Interest expenditure dropped by 2.6 per cent, thanks to a slight decrease in farm debt and lower interest rates. . .

The full report is here.

Agricultural footprint risks getting out of balance – Allan Barber:

While not exactly a new or revolutionary call for action, Fish and Game’s call last week for an independent review of water use and leaching into waterways was another bit of pressure on the future development of New Zealand farming. The organisation has long been agitating for such a review, but the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways has provided it with further ammunition.

Inevitably dairy is cited as the main culprit for the increase in pollution because stocking rates are higher and there is more runoff into rivers and waterways from dairy than from sheep and beef. Fonterra says it has collected nutrient data from nearly 4000 farms which will provide information on how to mitigate the impact of nutrients; in addition fencing of waterways is now an obligatory condition of milk collection, although Fish and Game questions how rigorously this is being audited.

According to modelling by NIWA and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, by 2020 a further 400,000 hectares of sheep and beef farm land will have been converted to dairy. There will be a large increase in nitrogen runoff in most regions including Canterbury, Southland, Otago and Wellington. . .

Kiwi and Korean deer farmers to work together:

The deer industry plans to work with Korean deer farmers to further build demand for New Zealand deer antler velvet in South Korea, its largest market.

“The Korean Deer Breeders Association used to be opposed to velvet imports, but they now accept that by working together we can grow the pie for their farmers, as well as ours,” says Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup.

Long part of the allure of deer farming, with an Asian medical pedigree going back thousands of years, velvet has recently stepped into the modern era.

“In South Korea there is growing demand among affluent consumers for health foods and tonics based on traditional ingredients like velvet and ginseng. Because of New Zealand’s reputation for natural, safe and quality-assured product, respected Korean food companies see us as the ideal source of velvet,” Mr Coup says. . . .

Fonterra takes sustainable dairy farming to YouTube:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is putting dairy farm water and environmental conservation in the spotlight with the launch of a series of YouTube videos focusing on responsible dairying initiatives taking place on New Zealand farms.

Entitled Farm Focus, the series begins today and will feature one farm every Wednesday for four weeks on Fonterra’s YouTube channel. The videos will also be posted on Fonterra’s Facebook and Twitter pages under the hashtag #farmfocus.

The four farms featured are from the central and eastern North Island of New Zealand. Each video accounts for one farm and the activities undertaken to protect waterways and natural resources while enhancing the economic viability of a farm. . . .

Birds are on the menu once more:

The 2014 Gamebird Food Festival is opening this Saturday with restaurants from Kerikeri to Invercargill opening their kitchens to cook either this year’s catch of duck, pheasant and quail, or commercially sourced birds.

So far 13 restaurants have confirmed they are taking part in this year’s Gamebird Food Festival to celebrate the hunting season, which opens on Saturday (3 May).

The aim of Fish & Game New Zealand’s Festival is to promote game birds as a delicious, free-range food source: Hunters can take their own birds into participating restaurants to have them prepared by professional chefs, or non-hunters can choose commercially sourced duck, pheasant or quail from the menu. . .

Yealands Family Wines wins ‘Green Company of the Year’ in leading global sustainability awards:

Yealands Estate has been selected as the “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business.

The Green Awards are the world’s largest programme in the drinks trade raising awareness of green issues and recognising those leading the way in sustainability and environmental practice.

Founder of Yealands Family Wines, Peter Yealands, says this global recognition is another welcome endorsement of their philosophy, culture and focus on continual environmental improvement. . .


Highest March trade surplus

April 30, 2014

The value of exports increased again in the March quarter:

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods rose 2.1 percent to $13.6 billion in the March 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows rises in the previous two quarters.

“Meat and fruit led the increase in seasonally adjusted exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “This is the second consecutive quarter that both values and quantities for these two commodities have risen.”

Seasonally adjusted meat values rose 8.7 percent in the March quarter, and quantities rose 6.8 percent. Fruit values rose 27 percent, and quantities rose 20 percent.

The rise in meat and fruit was offset slightly by a fall in milk powder, butter, and cheese, down 2.4 percent. The fall in dairy follows 26 percent increases in both the September and December 2013 quarters. Despite the small fall this quarter, dairy remains at high levels and is the leading contributor (31 percent) to total exports.

Imports rose 1.5 percent to $12.5 billion in the March 2014 quarter. The increase was led by a rise in capital goods.

The seasonally adjusted trade balance for the March 2014 quarter was a surplus of $1.1 billion. This follows a surplus of $986 million in the December 2013 quarter.

Monthly exports pass $5 billion for the first time

Exports rose $671 million in the March month, to $5.1 billion. Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the rise in exports, up $474 million (45 percent) compared with March 2013.

“This is the first time monthly exports have exceeded $5 billion, and annual exports have exceeded $50 billion,” Mr Attewell said. “Record dairy exports pushed the values past these thresholds.”

Imports rose $483 million (13 percent) to $4.2 billion, which was influenced by a one-off large capital item. The trade surplus was $920 million. This is the highest recorded surplus for a March month. . .

These figures underline once again the importance of primary production, and dairying in particular.

The increase in value has happened in spite of the high value of the New Zealand dollar.


Crime rate lowest since ’78

April 30, 2014

New Zealand’s crime rate is at the lowest level since 1978.

Justice Minister Judith Collins explains some of the initiatives which have helped that:

The Prime Minister mentioned the approach the Government took from 2008 – strengthening penalties for the worst offenders; focusing on the underlying drivers of crime and better rehabilitating offenders; and ensuring the justice system better helped those people who were victims of crime. 

There has been a vast amount of legislative change. We have, for example, strengthened bail laws; given police greater powers to tackle serious crime; and brought in alcohol reforms that give local communities the option of having tailored alcohol regulations that tackle local alcohol related issues.

But there has been just as much practical, operational, and even attitudinal change. 

The Government introduced Better Public Services, or BPS, targets in 2012 for key public services that would make a real difference for New Zealanders. They were also used to drive a sectoral approach to issues that require broader, long-term and multi-agency responses.

The Justice sector – the main agencies being the Ministry of Justice, NZ Police and the Department of Corrections – set ambitious targets for reducing the rates of total crime, violent crime, youth crime, and reoffending by 2017.

This focus is supported by a justice sector fund – an innovation for this government – that allows justice agencies to collectively share savings and put money where it will have the best effect.

The sector produced a results plan that included 60 new actions as well as building on major initiatives already underway. The plan is being updated this year, and I’m sure there will be some ideas from today that will be incorporated.

The actions range from the big – like ‘Policing Excellence’ with its emphasis on crime prevention, and expanding the range of training and rehabilitation programmes on offer to prisoners – through to smaller initiatives like trialling New Zealand’s first drug and alcohol courts, and providing a range of government, justice and community services starting in the Hutt Valley, from a mobile office in a van.

All of our initiatives however are about reducing crime and improving frontline results and services for people.

A fantastic example of this is the Hutt Valley Innovation Project, which targets local issues by improving the co-ordination of frontline services across the agencies in the area. During 2013, while this project was in its trial period, violent crime in the Hutt Valley dropped by a remarkable 10 per cent. That model is now being rolled out to three other areas. 

As for results, yesterday I announced the latest BPS results – to December 2013. Our target was to see a 15% reduction in the overall crime rate by 2017. As at December, it was down 14% – we’re almost there and with 3 years to go! As well as this, the violent crime rate was down 10 per cent, overall re-offending down by 11.7 per cent and the youth crime rate has reduced by 27 per cent.

To put real numbers around this, remembering New Zealand’s population is about 4.5 million, the results mean New Zealanders are now experiencing around 56,000 fewer crimes annually than in 2011. 

This is a lot less people becoming victims of crime.

This is a huge achievement.

Setting Better Public Service goals provides a real target against which success or failure can be measured.

A 14% reduction in the crime rate by the end of 2013 is well on the way to the target of a 15% reduction by 2017.

 

Photo: National will keep working to reduce crime and stand up for victims. http://bit.ly/1nYt6dG


Own steam

April 30, 2014

National stresses the importance of economic growth not for its own sake but for the opportunities it provides.

Only through economic growth can we have sustainable improvements to employment rates and wages, social services, infrastructure and the environment.

The government has a role to play in that through policies which promote growth and by careful management of its own finances to take pressure off interest rates.

Good governments don’t, as those on the left are wont to, take more from people through tax to give some of it back in ways which encourage dependence.

Good governments foster independence, helping people to get ahead under their own steam.
<Photo


Labour no longer champion of poor

April 30, 2014

Labour once claimed to be the champion of the poor.

The monetary policy announced by its Finance spokesman David Parker yesterday is further proof that it has strayed far from that because it would hit the  poor hardest.

Labour’s plan to use New Zealanders’ retirement savings as a monetary policy tool would hit low and middle-income New Zealanders hardest, and not achieve what Labour thinks it would, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“This idea mixes up people’s own retirement savings – which require certainty over a long period – with the Government’s monetary policy, which the Reserve Bank reviews and can change every six weeks. The two are completely different and should stay that way.

“Labour’s approach will force people to save at least 9 per cent of their wages, plus more when the Government decides to up the contribution rate. This cut in take-home pay would hit hardest those low and middle-income families who are unable to save much, or who are focusing on paying their mortgages.

“Our current monetary policy settings are considered world-best practice. In the last few years we’ve come through a domestic recession and a global financial crisis and now have sustained economic growth, increasing wages and jobs and interest rates are just coming off 50-year lows.

“Labour’s ‘tool’ is a confusing solution looking for a problem. This is wishful thinking and there is no evidence it would actually work. Even if it did it would  require Kiwi families to accept a higher cost of living and higher compulsory savings at the same time, which would be a double squeeze on them.

“Labour has a recent history of over-spending in government. It should commit to spending less itself, rather than forcing householders to do the hard work for it.

“Low and middle-income earners would be paying the price for Labour’s lack of discipline,” Mr English says.

Compulsory savings isn’t going to appeal to people who have little or no spare money to save.

Compulsory savings with a variable rate which means you could be forced to save even more of the money you don’t have to spare will have even less appeal.

The idea behind the proposal is to give the Reserve bank and alternative tool to interest rates for fighting inflation.

No-one with borrowed money welcomes interest rate rises but at least most people have some control over how much they borrow and how quickly they repay it.

When interest rates go up they could choose to reduce their debt.

With compulsory savings they would have no choice about how much they pay, and no choice about reducing the amount they had to pay.

Increases in compulsory savings rate will hit everyone but interest rate rises affect  a relatively small number of people directly: *

Only  26% of single families and 55% of couples have mortgages.

Then there’s the impact on wages.

Labour’s compulsory scheme would require greater contributions from employers over time.

When working out what they can afford to pay staff it’s the total cost not where the money goes that matters so a greater contribution to KiwiSaver accounts will leave employers with less for wage increases.

Rob Hosking explains why Labour’s big tool won’t work:

. . . The  entire policy rests on the assumption a lower interest rate will also lead to a lower exchange rate. This is by no means a given. . .

The second issue is more political.

Forcing people to save more is not a costless move for them. Someone on an average income who suddenly has another chunk of their cashflow taken out of their weekly income is going to feel the pinch. . .

Forcing people to give up something is going to be fraught with political difficulty.

When it to implementation you can expect a wave of applications for exemptions, and this can be expected to lead to an administrative catscradle  and a political tangle. . .

BusinessNZ  chief executive Phil Oreilly has concerns about the workability of the policy:

. . . The proposed policy would ‘mix the targets’, he said. Instead of a sole focus on inflation, the Reserve Bank would also have to focus on achieving a positive balance of payments, stable economic growth and stable employment. This raises the risk of not achieving some or all targets.

“New Zealand’s external balance is a result of a number of factors, including over-consumption, over-regulation and inefficient government spending. It’s hard to see how the Reserve Bank can be particularly influential in changing these.”

Mr O’Reilly said there was potential for uncertainty and confusion from having different levers over interest rates and KiwiSaver rates.

“While the Reserve Bank would apparently retain control over its existing interest rate lever, it would probably need to go to the Government for the power to use the KiwiSaver savings lever each time it sought to do so. This would not only slow down the Reserve Bank’s decision-making ability, but would undoubtedly introduce politics into the decision making process. All of this would potentially add a great deal of political uncertainty to New Zealand’s macroeconomic settings.

 “New Zealand’s current Reserve Bank system is scrupulously apolitical. That is why other countries have followed our lead in monetary policy.

“Labour’s policy brings the risk of a future government politicising what has until now been an apolitical process.

“Can you imagine a future Government agreeing to a Reserve Bank recommendation to raise KiwiSaver rates three months before an election? “ Mr O’Reilly asked.

He said restricting immigration numbers as a way to reduce house prices could have negative consequences, potentially leading to wage inflation and constraints on firms unable to gain the skills they need.

“The policy announced today makes little mention of the key role played by other government policies in reducing house prices and making our economy more competitive. We note for example the recent Productivity Commission report on housing affordability which pointed to the key role played by land supply constriction in increasing house prices. ”

There would also be more uncertainty about incomes as a result of the proposed policy, he said.

“Income earners would be uncertain as to whether or not their KiwiSaver or their mortgage rates might rise, or both. This would have impact on private sector wage setting. . . “

So the policy won’t necessarily achieve it’s aim which is to reduce the exchange rate.

It would threaten the political neutrality of the Reserve Bank.

It would also leave people with less money to spend and it would leave them with no certainty over how much they would have.

Even the best budgeters are used to unexpected expenses but in the normal course of events we can all expect certainty over income.

With Labour’s proposed Variable Savings Rates, we won’t have any certainty.

It would be like being subject to possible changes in tax rates every six weeks and it’s the poorer people whom Labour used to champion who will be hurt most by that.

* Hat tip Lindsay Mitchell

 


April 30 in history

April 30, 2014

313  Roman emperor Licinius unified the entire Eastern Roman Empire under his rule.

1006  Supernova SN 1006, the brightest supernova in recorded history, appeared in the constellation Lupus.

1315 Enguerrand de Marigny was hanged on the public gallows at Montfaucon.

1492 Spain gave Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.

1513 Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, was executed on the orders of Henry VIII.

1651 Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, French educational reformer, Catholic saint, was born (d. 1719).

1662 Queen Mary II of England was born (d. 1694).

1671  Petar Zrinski, the Croatian Ban from the Zrinski family, was executed.

1789  George Washington took the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.

1794  The Battle of Boulou was fought, in which French forces defeated the Spanish under General Union.

1803  Louisiana Purchase: The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation.

1838  Nicaragua declared independence from the Central American Federation.

1864  Pai Marire warriors were defeated at Sentry Hill.

Pai Marire defeated at Sentry Hill Taranaki

1865 ex-Governor Robert Fitzroy committed suicide.

Ex-Governor FitzRoy commits suicide

1871 The Camp Grant Massacre took place in Arizona Territory.

1894 Coxey’s Army reached Washington, D.C. to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893.

1900 Hawaii became a territory of the United States, with Sanford B. Dole as governor.

1900  Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

1904 The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair opened in St. Louis, Missouri.

1907  Honolulu, Hawaii became an independent city.

1909  Queen Juliana of the Netherlands,  was born (d. 2004).

1925 Dodge Brothers, Inc was sold to Dillon, Read & Company for $146 million plus $50 million for charity.

1927  The Federal Industrial Institute for Women, opened in Alderson, West Virginia, as the first women’s federal prison in the United States.

1927 – Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford became the first celebrities to leave their footprints in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

1933 Willie Nelson, American musician, was born.

1937  The Philippines held a plebiscite for Filipino women on whether they should be extended the right to suffrage; more than 90% voted in the affirmative.

1938  The animated cartoon short Porky’s Hare Hunt debuted in movie theatres, introducing Happy Rabbit.

1938 The first televised FA Cup Final took place between Huddersfield Town and Preston North End.

1939  The 1939-40 New York World’s Fair opened

1939  NBC inaugurated its regularly scheduled television service in New York City, broadcasting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s World’s Fair opening day ceremonial address.

1943  World War II: Operation Mincemeat: The submarine HMS Seraph surfaced in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain to deposit a dead man planted with false invasion plans and dressed as a British military intelligence officer.

1945 World War II: Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide after being married for one day. Soviet soldiers raised the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building.

1946 King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, was born.

1947 The Boulder Dam was renamed Hoover Dam a second time.

1948 The Organization of American States was established.

1949 António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, was born.

1953  In Warner Robins, Georgia, an F4 tornado killed 18 people.

1953 Merrill Osmond, American musician (The Osmonds), was born.

1954 Jane Campion, New Zealand film director, was born.

1956 Former Vice President and Senator Alben Barkley died during a speech in Virginia. He collapsed after proclaiming “I would rather be a servant in the house of the lord than sit in the seats of the mighty.”

1959 Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, was born.

1973  Watergate Scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announced that top White House aids H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and others had resigned.

1975 Fall of Saigon: Communist forces gained control of Saigon. The Vietnam War formally ended with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

1980 Accession of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

1988 Queen Elizabeth II officially opened World Expo ’88 in Brisbane, Australia.

1993  CERN announced World Wide Web protocols would be free.

1993 Virgin Radio broadcast for the first time in the United Kingdom.

1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton became the first President to visit Northern Ireland.

1999 Cambodia joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bringing the number of members to 10.

2004 U.S. media release graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

2008  Two skeletal remains found near Ekaterinburg, Russia were confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia and one of his sisters Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna.

2009 Chrysler  filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

2009 – Seven people were killed and 17 injured at a Queen’s Day parade in Apeldoorn, Netherlands in an attempted assassination on Queen Beatrix.

2010 – Hailed as the largest World’s Fair in history, Expo 2010 opened in Shangai.

2013 – A powerful explosion occurred in an office building in Prague, Czech Republic, believed to have been caused by natural gas, injures 43 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

April 29, 2014
Aliment – food; nourishment, nutriment, sustenance; maintenance; alimony.

Rural round-up

April 29, 2014

Bad weather in south destroys crops - Kloe Palmer:

Wintry weather has hit the South Island and is moving up the country.

Drivers on the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka were caught out by snow this morning, and heavy rain is forecast for much of the country for the next 24 hours. That is bad news for crop farmers in Canterbury.

As rain pours down, Federated Farmers say an unseasonably wet two months has made harvesting nearly impossible. The crop is too damp and the ground too soggy for the machinery.

“It’s just frustrating, a huge frustration, and there will be a massive economical hit for some of those farmers, but it can’t be quantified yet,” says Chris Allen of Federated Farmers. . .

Little impact seen on Synlait, a2, Fonterra fund from tighter Chinese infant formula rules – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s listed dairy companies, Synlait Milk, a2 Milk Co and Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, probably won’t face much disruption from tighter rules on infant formula in China, the nation’s biggest market for milk products, investors say.

A2, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, led the three dairy companies lower on the NZX today, after saying it is monitoring and responding to China’s new requirements, which include demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer, and a new form of registration from May 1.

China telegraphed its new requirements to the government last week by releasing an audit of a sample of New Zealand manufacturers conducted in March. That left officials and companies scrambling to interpret the changes in time for the registration deadline this week. The government says manufacturers who control 90 percent of the nation’s infant formula exports are working through the registration process but the remaining 10 percent face a tougher job to comply. . .

Whangarei market generating $10m of activity – Hugh Stringleman:

The weekly Whangarei Growers Market generates nearly $10 million annually of direct sales and flow-on economic activity for Northland, a social and economic impact study shows.

It employs 90 people, mainly stall-holders on Saturday mornings.

The study was commissioned by the market company and was done by a team from the Northtec business management faculty, supervised by Dr Warren Hughes, an Auckland researcher and academic.

The team found the market turnover last year was $3.66m and additional economic activity was $5.84m. . .

Setting the standard in poultry vaccine - Tim Fulton:

The low-slung office of Pacificvet in Christchurch suburb Hornby stood up strongly to the earthquakes.

That’s just as well, because the company has a stock of especially sensitive vaccine.

A lot of Pacificvet’s practical know-how comes from the owners, Bruce Graham and Kent Deitemeyer.

They are proud of their modern diagnostics laboratory at the Innovation Park near Templeton, southwest of Christchurch. . .

Applications open for Rural Women/Access Homehealth health scholarship:

Applications are now open for Rural Women NZ & Access Homehealth scholarship 2014.

“This $3000 scholarship will be awarded to a health professional to help further his or her studies,” says Rural Women New Zealand National President, Wendy McGowan.

We encourage health professionals, especially those studying at a post-graduate level, to apply before the closing date of 1 July. . .

 More support needed in rural communities as legal highs withdrawn – Rural Women NZ:

Rural Women NZ welcomes news that the Government is tackling the issue of legal highs, following reports from our members of a surge in anti-social and threatening behaviour in rural townships, apparently stemming from their use.

However Rural Women NZ says the withdrawal of supply from shops must be coupled with more resources in rural areas for those suffering from the effects of drug addiction, and their families.

“There is real concern in rural communities about the lack of access to specialist services,” says Rural Women NZ health spokesperson, Margaret Pittaway.

“Distance to treatment services and support for families can be a real barrier to getting the help required to overcome addiction, or deal with its results.” . . .


Is the third R rubbish?

April 29, 2014

My parents were small g greenies.

Waste not, want not was their mantra, the result of Presbyterian upbringings in both senses of the word and living through the depression.

They didn’t buy it if they didn’t need it.

If they bought it they used it until it could be used no longer or they found another use or another home for it.

Reducing and reusing were second nature to them. Mum even washed and reused plastic wrap. Dad took what his family regarded as unfortunate pride in wearing clothes until they were well and truly worn out and only then allowed to be put in the rag bag to be used as a duster.

Their example has shaped my behaviour.

I can’t claim to be quite as good at reducing and reusing as they were but I do follow their good example.

It’s the third R of the environmental cause – recycling, with which I struggle because I wonder if recycling is garbage?

If you follow the link you’ll read the story of school children collecting rubbish for recycling.

. . .  Miss Aponte finished emptying the last bag. “We’ve been learning about the need to reduce, reuse and recycle,” she said, and pointed at the pile. “How does all this make you feel?”

“Baaaad,” the students moaned.

Miss Aponte separated out two bottles, the only items in the pile that could be recycled. She asked what lesson the students had learned. The class sentiment was summarized by Lily Finn, the student who had been so determined to save the half folder: “People shouldn’t throw away paper or anything. They should recycle it. And they shouldn’t eat candy in school.”

Lily’s judgment about candy sounded reasonable, but the conclusion about recycling seemed to be contradicted by the data on the floor. The pile of garbage included the equipment used by the children in the litter hunt: a dozen plastic bags and two dozen pairs of plastic gloves. The cost of this recycling equipment obviously exceeded the value of the recyclable items recovered. The equipment also seemed to be a greater burden on the environment, because the bags and gloves would occupy more space in a landfill than the two bottles.

Without realizing it, the third graders had beautifully reproduced the results of a grand national experiment begun in 1987 — the year they were born, back when the Three R’s had nothing to do with garbage. That year a barge named the Mobro 4000 wandered thousands of miles trying to unload its cargo of Long Islanders’ trash, and its journey had a strange effect on America. The citizens of the richest society in the history of the planet suddenly became obsessed with personally handling their own waste.

Believing that there was no more room in landfills, Americans concluded that recycling was their only option. Their intentions were good and their conclusions seemed plausible. Recycling does sometimes makes sense — for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environmentally safe landfill. And since there’s no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there’s no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren’t good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups — politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations — while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources. . .

Good intentions have paved the way to the view that recycling is good and dumping rubbish is bad.

Sometimes that is right.

Sometimes it’s not and another example is one covered by the ODT  (to which I can’t find a link) which recounted the awful water and air pollution from plastic recycling in China and the lung disease the workers who processed it suffered.

The story was written several years ago.

It’s possible recycling has improved since then and that the total net impact on the environment of collecting, transporting and recycling plastic is now positive.

It’s possible that it’s not yet but could be.

But how do we know that it is and that recycling is better than careful disposal in sealed landfills?

If, as in the cases above, recycling is wasting time, money, human and natural resources, and causing pollution, the third r is not recycling but rubbish.

Hat tip: AEIdeas


Political meddling won’t help meat industry

April 29, 2014

Labour’s primary sector policy is likely to include meddling with the meat industry:

A capital gains tax on farmland, stringent environmental practices and a revamp of the meat sector are up for consideration as the Labour Party makes a play for the rural vote.

Their policy position is still in development but the party’s primary industries spokesman, Damien O’Connor, was in Hamilton yesterday to gauge reaction on proposals in two days of meetings with sector groups and party faithful in Waikato and Coromandel.

He said farmers would be opposed to a capital gains tax at first but it was necessary to halt “rampant” price increases and to keep land productive.

“People buying farmland should do so on the basis of its productive-return capacity, not on some expectation of a capital gain that effectively makes it more difficult for the next farmer to make a living,” he said. . .

Productive return should govern prices but how will imposing a CGT which increases the price influence that?

It hasn’t worked anywhere else.

In Argentina, for example, it reduces farm sales and increases absentee ownership.

The meat industry was in deep trouble, he said, and needed to be transformed to offer more security to farm workers, businesses and freezing workers. “At the moment there is so much uncertainty, a shrinking base of the number of sheep.. .

The meat industry does have problems but they’re not insurmountable and they won’t be solved by political meddling.

It’s not Labour’s industry, it’s is a collection of private businesses and co-operatives and it’s up to them to sort it out.

Primary Industry Minister Nathan Guy has the right approach:

. . . The best way to put a sector into a downward spiral is to consistently talk doom and gloom. It is not true that the meat industry is on the way out. This industry is capable of truly leading the world in its innovative and profitable approach to selling high quality meat.

I will continue to back this sector and I will continue to acknowledge the great success stories. We need to hear even more pride and passion from everyone involved. . .

My role as Minister is to listen to, to act on behalf of, and to support, this sector.

So I now publicly reiterate statements that I have made in a variety of forums. If a significant portion of the sector, and this means across the whole sector come together with a solution of how they want to better the industry, my door is open. I will listen and I will do what I can to support the sector.

Any substantial change needs to come with a very clear and very broad level of support. I am not prepared to interfere in the structure of a sector without the support of that sector. The Government doesn’t own the industry – you do.

I doubt that anyone in this room wants the heavy hand of government dreaming up bureaucratic solutions that haven’t come from the ground up. . .

The heavy hand of government is what Labour is threatening.

That and the CGT are two very good reasons why they’ll be struggling for the rural vote again.


A month with nothing to lose

April 29, 2014

Retiring isn’t a word that fits Shane Jones and in the wake of  his retirement from parliament he’s being anything but retiring.

Take a look at the list of stories on Jones and Labour in Dr Bryce Edwards’ Politics Daily.

Shane Jones and the Labour Party

Dave Armstrong (Stuff): Jones departure deals a painful blow to Labour

Michael Fox (Stuff): Labour reels in Jones’ wake

Tim Watkin (Pundit): Time running out for Labour

Vernon Small (Stuff): Church collapsed? Buy a house

John Armstrong: Labour’s brutal week reveals Achilles heel

Claire Trevett (Herald): Keeping up without Jones

TVNZ: Shane Jones reflects on life as a Labour MP

TVNZ: Labour strongest it’s been in a long time – party president

Jonathan Milne (Herald): Jones: ‘The right man in the wrong party’

Herald: Editorial: Labouring under false impressions

Deborah Mahuta-Coyle (Herald): Maori votes worth courting

Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): Labour hopes money policy will deflect focus from Jones

NBR: Labour Party President says the Party is strongest it’s been ‘in a long time’

Rodney Hide (Herald): Reverse racism fails to raise ire

Ross Henderson (Stuff): Jones sells out to the capitalists

Taranaki Daily Times: Editorial – Labour treads water as Jones jumps ship

Michele Hewitson (Herald): Interview: Jacinda Ardern 

ODT: Editorial – Narrowing focus for Labour

NBR: Shane Jones farewells Labour, rejects ‘Green Gospel’

David Farrar (Kiwiblog):Jones says Greens are anti-industry

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Labour’s woes

Fundamentally useless: Only Robertson can go to the centre

The Standard: The strength of the left: working together…

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Why Shane Jones won’t matter on September 20th and why Labour need to start talking about their first 100 days

John Sargeant (Stuff): Forget Jones, remember Jesus

Michael Cummings (Stuff): Editorial: Lessons from Jones’ departure

Nelson Mail: Editorial: Flawed MP leaves Labour in a pickle

Radio NZ: PSA sees political interference in Jones’ appointment

Isaac Davison (Herald): Parting shot undignified way to exit, says Turei

Jane Patterson (Radio NZ): Power play

Stephen Franks: The loss of Shane Jones is real for all of us

Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): The Beatification of St Jonesy

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Whare of Cards – It’s a shame that Shane sold out to keep up with the Joneses

Claire Trevett (Herald): Revealed: Shane Jones’ secret fear

Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): This is treason, sirs!

Toby Manhire (Herald): RE: Shane – tsunami in the parliamentary pond

Josie Pagani (Pundit): Here’s what a real bloke sounds like

Tim Selwyn (Tumeke): Shane Jones Nationalised

Jane Clifton (Listener): Mr Untouchable

Ben Clark (The Standard): Politics bruises even Shane Jones

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Jones cites Greens influence as factor in departure

Herald: Turei: Jones ‘won’t be missed’

No Right Turn: An FPP politician in an MMP world

Matthew Dallas (Stuff): Jones’ kiss-off leaves sour taste

Newstalk ZB: Turei shrugs off Jones’ criticism

Claire Trevett (Herald): Cunning McCully’s king hit neutralises Jones

Greg Presland (The Standard): Labour and the working class

Radio NZ: ‘Harder job’ after Jones’ departure

Simon Prast (Daily Blog): A Big Hole

Rachel Morton (TV3): Shane Jones: Greens are anti-industry

NBR Staff (NBR): Greens too anti-industry — Shane Jones

Corazon Millar (Newstalk ZB): Greens take the high road over insults

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Whare of Cards – It’s a shame that Shane sold out to keep up with the Joneses

Sparrowhawk: ANZAC day, Shane and Māori leadership: do we really need another bloody hero?

Pete George (Your NZ): Poll pall for Labour after Jones exit

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Guest Post: Shane Jones, “Heretic Hunting” and Waitakere Man

Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Toxic Greens drove Jones from Labour

Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Toxic Greens don’t like their reality check

It’s a very long list.

Few if any of those stories reflect well on Labour and none focuses on what matters to voters.

Jones is going, but neither immediately nor quietly..

He’s got a month with nothing to lose and he’s going to make the most of it.

Whether it’s utu, pride or sheer bloody mindedness he’s going to keep on talking and whatever that does for him it will do nothing at all for his party.

While Jones has nothing to lose, Labour has plenty – its chances of winning the election.


Marry or else – church

April 29, 2014

A Gore church has given one of its members an ultimatum to marry her de facto partner or leave him:

A 72-year old Southland woman has had her 30-year church membership revoked because she lives in a de facto relationship.

The Calvin Community Church, a Presbyterian church in Gore, has revoked the membership of one of its long-term members because her relationship with a man she lives with was “at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church”.

The woman said she was told “out of the blue” she had to either marry her long-term partner, leave him, or no longer be a church member.

She was still able to attend the church, but she has declined to do so because “they have discussed my private life around the table”. . .

The woman and her partner, who have both been married previously, have been together for eight years and have been living together in Gore for three years.

As a Christian, she said she would prefer to be married to align with her beliefs.

But her partner was not ready and it was not anyone’s place to force someone into marriage, she said.

“There is only one judge and that is God. Why break up a happy relationship. I’m very happy living with him, I’m too late in life to go through a relationship upset.”

“I’ve thought about it and prayed about it and I’m happy with my relationship.”

Elders at the Gore church disagreed.

In a letter to the distraught woman, senior pastor Keith Hooker said those who wished to be counted as members were responsible for upholding the church’s standards in accordance with scripture.

It was the church’s view living unmarried with a long-term partner did not meet those requirements.

“You have said that your partner is not willing to marry you. Although being married is outside of your control it is, however, your decision to remain in the relationship,” his letter says.

“While we respect your right to live in a de facto relationship, it is quite clearly at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church.” . .

Cohabitating without a marriage certificate used to be called living in sin.

This church still believes it is.

She’s still welcome to worship but not be a member.

It’s the church’s right to do that – is it right to do it?

 

 

 

 


April 29 in history

April 29, 2014

711  Islamic conquest of Hispania: Moorish troops led by Tariq ibn-Ziyad landed at Gibraltar to begin their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus).

1429 Joan of Arc arrived to relieve the Siege of Orleans.

1483 Gran Canaria, the main of the Canary Islands was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile, an important step in the expansion of Spain.

1624 Cardinal Richelieu became Prime Minister of Louis XIII.

1672 Franco-Dutch War: Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands.

1707  Scotland and England unified in United Kingdom of Great Britain.

1770 James Cook arrived at and named Botany Bay, Australia.

1832 Évariste Galois released from prison.

1861 American Civil War: Maryland’s House of Delegates voted not to secede from the Union.

1863 William Randolph Hearst, American publisher, was born (d. 1951).

1864 – The British attacked the Ngāi Te Rangi stronghold of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) with the heaviest artillery bombardment and one of the largest forces used in the New Zealand Wars.

1864 The Theta Xi fraternity was founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

1881 – The steamer Tararua, en route from Port Chalmers to Melbourne, struck a reef at Waipapa Point, Southland. Of the 151 passengers and crew on board, 131 were lost including 12 women and 14 children.

1882  The “Elektromote” – forerunner of the trolleybus – was tested by Ernst Werner von Siemens in Berlin.

1899 Duke Ellington, American jazz pianist and bandleader, was born (d. 1974).

1901 Hirohito, Emperor of Japan, was born (d. 1989).

1903 A 30 million cubic-metre landslide killed 70 in Frank, Alberta.

1915 Donald Mills, American singer (Mills Brothers), was born (d. 1999).

1916 World War I: The British 6th Indian Division surrendered to Ottoman Forces at Kt in one of the largest surrenders of British forces up to that point.

1916 Easter Rebellion: Martial law in Ireland was lifted and the rebellion was officially over with the surrender of Irish nationalists to British authorities in Dublin.

1933 Rod McKuen, American poet and composer, was born.

1934 Otis Rush, American musician, was born.

1938 Bernard Madoff, American convict, who was a financier and Chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange., was born.

1945 World War II: The German Army in Italy unconditionally surrendered to the Allies.

1945 World War II: Start of Operation Manna.

1945 World War II – Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler married his long-time partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designated Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor.

1945 – The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by United States troops.

1945 – The Italian commune of Fornovo di Taro was liberated from German forces by Brazilian forces.

1946  Former Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo and 28 former Japanese leaders were indicted for war crimes.

1952 Anzus came into force.

ANZUS comes into force

1953 The first U.S. experimental 3D-TV broadcast showed an episode of Space Patrol on Los Angeles ABC affiliate KECA-TV.

1954 Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian, was born.

1957 – Daniel Day-Lewis, British-Irish actor, was born.

1958 Michelle Pfeiffer, American actress, was born.

1958 Eve Plumb, American actress, was born.

1965 Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) successfully launched its seventh rocket in its Rehber series.

1967 After refusing induction into the United States Army the day before (citing religious reasons), Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing title.

1968  The controversial musical Hair opened on Broadway.

1970 Andre Agassi, American tennis player, was born.

1970 Vietnam War: United States and South Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia to hunt Viet Cong.

1974 President Richard Nixon announced the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings related to the Watergate  scandal.

1975 Vietnam War: Operation Frequent Wind: The U.S. began to evacuate U.S. citizens from Saigon prior to an expected North Vietnamese takeover. U.S. involvement in the war ended.

1979  Jo O’Meara, British singer (S Club), was born.

1980 Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. was founded.

1980 Kian Egan, Irish singer (Westlife), was born.

1986 Roger Clemens then of the Boston Red Sox set a major league baseball record with 20 strikeouts in nine innings against the Seattle Mariners.

1986 A fire at the Central library of the City of Los Angeles Public Library damaged or destroyed 400,000 books and other items.

1991 A cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds of around 155 mph, killing at least 138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million homeless.

1992  Riots in Los Angeles  following the acquittal of police officers charged with excessive force in the beating of Rodney King. Over the next three days 53 people were killed and hundreds of buildings were destroyed.

1997 The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 enters into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories.

1999 The Avala TV Tower near Belgrade was destroyed in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

2002 The United States was re-elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, one year after losing the seat that it had held for 50 years.

2004 Dick Cheney and George W. Bush testified before the 9/11 Commission in a closed, unrecorded hearing in the Oval Office.

2004  Oldsmobile built its final car ending 107 years of production.

2005 Syria completed withdrawal from Lebanon, ending 29 years of occupation.

2005 – New Zealand’s first civil union took place.

2011 – Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton.

2013 – A powerful explosion occured in an office building in Prague, Czech Republic, believed to have been caused by natural gas, injures 43 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


Word of the day

April 28, 2014

Ludibrious –  sportive; wanton; ridiculous.


Rural round-up

April 28, 2014

Onwards and upwards for millers - Sally Rae:

When Griffins Foods signed a contract to source flour from South Canterbury-based Farmers Mill, it was a leap of faith in a group of arable farmers.

At that stage, Farmers Mill did not have a mill, let alone the ability to supply a sample. Nor was there a track record in flour production.

”It’s a great story in the sense that Griffins bought into the idea without a mill and no product,” Farmers Mill chairman and South Canterbury farmer Murray Turley reflected.

He attributed the biscuit and snack food company’s confidence in the yet-to-be opened mill to the security of the raw material and knowing the source of it. . .

Recovery but still fragile:

RECENT RAIN IN Waikato and South Auckland has set farmers on the road to recovery from the drought but the situation remains fragile for some, a meeting of farming leaders and central and local Government officials has heard.

The teleconference attended by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and other farming groups, the Rural Support Trust, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato Regional Council was told there had been good rain in the two regions over the past week.

There was general agreement that the drought had been “broken” by the rain but rainfall totals still weren’t that much in some places, some pasture was still brown and that more rain was needed over coming weeks to ensure that recovery continued. . .

Fish & Game calls for public enquiry into the future of farming:

Fish & Game NZ is calling for a public enquiry “to examine the future of agriculture in New Zealand”.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson suggested the move in a presentation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today where he was invited to discuss the future of farming following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways.

In his submission Mr Johnson explained the impact intensive agriculture is having on waterways.

“Two recent public polls confirm the wider public is clearly engaged in the issue now – and the overwhelming majority want the dairy sector to adopt a different way of operating in the future,” he says. . .

Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi:

James Davidson is the last Grand Finalist to be named in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after earning top spot at the Aorangi Regional Final Monday 21 April in Fairlie.

Crowds packed the Mackenzie Showgrounds as the eight Young Farmers demonstrated their skills, strength and stamina in the practical challenges including constructing drafting gates, digger operation and carving a wood sculpture using a chainsaw. Later in the evening the Mackenzie Community Centre was abuzz for the evening show and quiz round.

It was Mr Davidson’s first attempt at the regional level and admitted he was quite shocked after winning what he says was a rather difficult competition. . .

Rural broadband initiative milestone –  Leeana Tamati :

The sight of Netta Wilton sitting in the middle of a paddock with a laptop would probably seem odd to passersby, but it was a common scene last year.

Mrs Wilton, who lives in Scotts Gap with her husband Karl and three children, had such slow broadband

she would need to sit in a paddock to get any kind of reliable speed to do her online banking.

Mrs Wilton and her household can now successfully watch videos, play games and do the banking online, thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

The RBI is a partnership between Vodafone and the government aiming to upgrade 387 existing cell towers and build 154 new towers around the country in a bid to give rural residents access to fast broadband. . .

Faster scanner at Invermay :

A new CT scanner at Invermay will provide South Island sheep and deer farmers with faster and more accurate carcass measurements.

The scanner, which uses X-ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, has been provided by Innervision, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch.

It replaces an older scanner that has been in operation for 18 years. . . .

 

Get a taste for training:

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre is holding a four day Taster course on the Wairarapa campus 28 April – 1 May.

The Taster programme is an opportunity for anyone thinking about getting involved in agricultural training to have a ‘taste’ of what Taratahi training and campus life is all about.   

Taster students will stay at the Wairarapa campus for four nights in student accommodation and enjoy three hearty meals a day.  The days are jam-packed with modules on quad bikes, chainsaws, fencing, stock movement and lots more.

During the four days Taster students will also discover all the study options available at Taratahi and most taster students get an idea early on if they are interested in specialising in sheep or dairy. . . .


Equality, equity, fairness

April 28, 2014

For true equality everyone needs differing support to achieve the same goal, Mick

I’d have used equity or fairness rather than justice.

Regardless of that, this could be seen as supporting the case for equality of outcome which isn’t necessarily fair or attainable.

It could also be seen as accepting that some people need less support and others need more because of circumstances beyond their control.

That’s targeting rather than universality which could be treating people fairly though not necessarily equally.

But fair isn’t always equal and equal isn’t always fair.


Lies or politics

April 28, 2014

Labour has been tricky about another of its policy releases.

Last week it announced its veteran’s policy which would extend the Veteran’s pension to all veterans, whether or not they were impaired.

That sounds very generous but Matthew Beveridge covers an exchange on Twitter between Labour MP Clare Curran and Graeme Edgeler which shows that yet again Labour hasn’t given the full story.

The veteran’s pension is the same as national superannuation so week to week war veterans will be no better off with Labour’s policy.

Some would call that tricky, some would call it lying by omission.

Either way it’s just like the bumbled announcement of the baby bribe which omitted to let people know that it would kick in only after paid parental leave finished.

Then there’s getting facts wrong which is at best a very poor reflection on politics:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3’s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

“This is an appalling number of errors for someone who would seek to run New Zealand’s economy. This number of errors surely can’t have been made by accident,” Mr Joyce says.

“Mr Parker’s attempts to describe the New Zealand economy sound much more like the situation this government inherited from Labour in 2008 than anything we are seeing in 2014.

“He must have been thinking of 2008 when he talked of ridiculously high interest rates, a poor balance of trade, and the poor performance of the export sector. All were pretty sick back then and all are in much better shape today as a result of this government’s careful stewardship of the economy.”

Mr Joyce says there are two possible conclusions. “Either Labour is deliberately fudging the facts to fabricate the need for their radical economic policy prescription, or they have truly woken up in 2014 for the election without observing anything that has happened in the last five years. The latter would at least fit their regular denials of the impacts of the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

“New Zealanders know that this country today is doing better than most other developed countries, and in 2008 we were doing worse than most, in fact entering our own recession before the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“It might be an idea for Labour to look at the steady improvements that are occurring in the New Zealand economy before they start trying to write up their policy ideas.”

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Getting these facts wrong by accident is incompetence.

Getting them wrong deliberately is worse.

Either way, Labour is trying to talk down the economy which is doing well in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes and because of good management by the National-led government.

That the economy is growing doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

But the chances of improvement for everyone are far greater under this government than they would have been had Labour been in power and continued with the tax and spend policies which put the country into recession before the GFC hit the rest of the world.

The chances of improvement will be far greater with another National-led government than with the alternative prescription a Labour Green government would impose on us.

 


Experiment didn’t work

April 28, 2014

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has announced that  the government will introduce and pass under urgency legislation removing from sale all remaining so called ‘legal highs’.

“While there has been a substantial reduction in the number of these products available and the number of outlets from which they can be sold, reports of severe adverse reactions continue to be received by the National Poisons Centre and Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring” says Mr Dunne.

It has been impossible to attribute these adverse effects to any particular products and in the absence of that ministers accepted my recommendation at cabinet last Tuesday to end the transitional period, taking all products with interim approval off the market.

“I will bring to parliament amending legislation to put this measure in place, to be introduced and passed through all stages under urgency on 8 May and come into force the day after receiving the Royal Assent” says Mr Dunne.

When the legislation was introduced the 41 products which were permitted to be sold were thought to be safe. They aren’t.

The ODT shows the dangers they pose:

Nathan Belcher and Aaron Macahan started using legal highs because that was what everyone else was doing.

But by the time they realised how it badly it was affecting them, it was too late.

The pair could ”easily” smoke four or five bags a day – each.

At $25 a packet, they estimate they spent $7000 on the products just this year.

Their lives followed a pattern of eating, using legal highs and sleeping.  . .

Legalising these drugs was an experiment which hasn’t worked.

Making them illegal won’t get rid of them completely but it will make them much harder to get and get rid of the mistaken perception that they are harmless.


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