Which British PM are you?

April 8, 2014

Which British PM are you?

I’m either Neville Chamberlain or William Pitt the Younger.


Word of the day

April 8, 2014

Ramage – boughs or branches; warbling of birds in trees; wild, untamed, unruly, violent.


Any publicity . . .

April 8, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been struggling to be heard above the noise of the Dotcomana dalliance but finally he’s got some attention:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has taken a swipe at John Key over the royal visit, suggesting the prime minister is milking the extra “facetime” with Prince William and his wife, compared with his own limited meetings.

He also described a possible visit to the White House as “pre-election PR from the prime minister ” who was “stage managing the calendar of the year as it suits him”.

But he conceded “it may not be the first time prime ministers have stage managed international visits”.

Cunliffe said it was very  important that the treatment of the royal visit was as even-handed as possible between the government and the opposition, and also that the visit was well-spaced from the election.

The split between the government and the opposition should be as even as possible – but it wasn’t, he said.

Labour was positive about the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and they were very welcome in New Zealand.

“We are not going to play politics with it,” Cunliffe said. He would  “leave it for New Zealanders to decide” if there was sufficient gap between their visit and the election.

Apart from a one-on-one meeting with Prince William, Labour would be part of only one other event, a trip to Blenheim on Wednesday.

Cunliffe repeated he would let the people of New Zealand draw their own conclusion if that was fair or if he was getting enough “facetime”.

Any publicity isn’t good publicity.

Cunliffe sounds like a child with his nose out of joint because an older sibling is getting more attention.

It also shows a warped view of what matters to and influences voters.

Key said that he would not be at the “vast, overwhelming” number of events on the royal visit schedule and did not believe he was milking the event.

“I don’t actually think anyone’s going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we’re seen standing next to the royals when they’re in New Zealand,” Key said.

“They vote on the economy, law and order, health and education. As soon as David Cunliffe starts talking about that and not this sort of rubbish, he might do a little bit better.”

Quite.

If Cunliffe really thinks someone who’s going to notice who’s spending time with the Duke and Duchess in April will let that influence their vote in September, he’s needs to get out more.

Political tragics might be interested in the election now but few others I’ve spoken to recently are remotely interested.

When, and if, they start thinking about it the royal visit is very unlikely to be a factor.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki –  Pam Jones:

Pam Jones travels a create-your-own wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley and gives the region top marks.

There is no formal wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley but it is not hard to create your own.

Take a trip from Omarama to Kurow and back to Oamaru and you will discover pinot noirs and aromatics that knock your socks off with their flavours and minerality.

Then add some gourmet treats or rustic farmers’ fare on the side.

It is a recipe for a wonderful day of wining and dining, or stay the night at places along the way to turn it into a multiday sojourn.

We start our loop at the Ladybird Hill Cafe, Restaurant and Winery in Omarama, tucked to the side at the southern entrance of the busy crossroads town. . .

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

Forestry biotech company ArborGen has expanded its stable of nurseries with the acquisition of Edendale Nursery in Southland.

ArborGen, in which NZX-listed Rubicon has a 31.67% stake, is the largest supplier of seedlings in New Zealand.

It sells up to 25 million trees annually, predominantly in the North Island, and owns five production nurseries, two seed orchards, and a manufacturing facility for the production of radiata varietal seedlings. . . .

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

When Sonja Dobbie entered the North Otago district final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, she did not expect to do well.

The competition was held at Totara Estate, near Oamaru, last November and members of her Five Forks club encouraged each other to enter to ensure good representation.

But Miss Dobbie (23), a first-time entrant, finished third behind Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers) and Steven Smit (Glenavy-Waimate), ensuring her a place in this month’s Aorangi regional final. . .

Sustainable, High-Performing Dairy Operation Collects Supreme Award In 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Okaihau dairy farmers Roger and Jane Hutchings are the Supreme winners of the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges described the Hutchings’ 680-cow business in the Bay Of Islands, Lodore Farm Ltd, as a very sustainable high-input system which is profitable across all aspects of the operation.

“There is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation and the environmental and social aspects.”  . . .

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed a Chairman and General Manager to run the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Former Landcorp CEO and Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly will chair the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Board and Graham Alder the former Genetics Business Manager of Zoetis, has been appointed General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The appointments follow the successful vote at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting to combine the organisation’s current genetics investments. This means Sheep Improvement Ltd (the national sheep genetic dataset), the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, come together with government funds to create the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. . .

More success for PGP programmes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming success by three Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes this week, including an award nomination for a revolutionary seafood programme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting Programme has been nominated for a KiwiNet Research & Business Partnership Award. This is fitting recognition for a programme that could revolutionise the global fishing industry.

“The programme is developing new sustainable fishing technology that will allow fish to be landed on fishing boats alive, and in perfect condition, while safely releasing small fish and other species.

“The potential economic and environmental benefits of this are huge, and it’s no surprise it is attracting so much attention. This is a $52 million project with funding coming from both industry and government.” .

Another PGP programme – Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) – has also reached a milestone in selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Telecom’s expanding mobile network connects locals in the Far North:

Locals and visitors to Houhora, Pukenui and the coastline north to Rarawa Bay may notice a boost in mobile coverage in the area, with Telecom announcing today that it has invested more than $175,000 on improved coverage to the region.

Telecom’s investment in the Houhora Central Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) site responds to the increasing demand for mobile coverage in the area and will give locals and visitors added access to voice, mobile broadband and text services over the Telecom mobile network, which has been built specifically for smart phones.

The improved mobile coverage is part of Telecom’s commitment to open up access to mobile data and applications for rural communities. . .

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has joined forces for the first time with China’s most popular business-to-consumer online shopping platform Tmall.com, to promote New Zealand seafood in a week-long campaign.

The promotion with Tmall.com will take place between 9-15 April, allowing Chinese shoppers to buy live seafood fresh from the sea in New Zealand, then have it packaged and air freighted to Shanghai within 36 hours. Within 72 hours, the seafood orders will be delivered to Chinese consumers across the country. The New Zealand products available for sale include paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters.

The ability to sell and deliver live seafood to Chinese consumers is a significant milestone. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers. . .

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

Yesterday I read the forecast for Northland and I used the “B” word. It’s now Autumn, and yet again we’re in a drought. So is the Waikato and things are looking rather grim where rainfall goes. I’m letting the Toyota crew there say the “B” word on my behalf, and the rest of the rural crew out there looking up at the skies and praying it rains and soon!


No room for spend-up

April 8, 2014

The need for continued spending restraint has been confirmed by another month of revenue running below forecast which has again pushed up the deficit, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“We remain committed to reaching surplus next year and Budget forecasts next month will confirm we are on track,” he says. “But today’s figures confirm what we have said repeatedly: It is a challenging task that will be achieved only if we remain disciplined.”

The Government’s financial statements for the eight months to 28 February  show the operating deficit before gains and losses at $1.4 billion, or $884 million more than expected, due mainly to lower than-forecast core Crown tax revenue.

Consistent with a growing economy, tax revenue was $1.9 billion (or 5 per cent) higher than at the same time last year – reflecting increases in source deductions, other persons’ tax and GST. However, tax revenue was $1.1 billion less than forecast in the Half-Year Update in December.

“While some of the variance is due to timing issues and is therefore likely to dissipate over coming months, corporate tax, GST, other individuals’ tax, source deductions and customs and excise duties were all below forecast,” Mr English says.

“These figures will be factored into next month’s Budget and reinforce the need for restraint in government spending. They also confirm that there will be no capacity for reckless spending promises ahead of the election later this year.”

Continuing strength in equity markets saw gains of $3.5 billion on financial instruments, which was $1.9 billion ahead of forecast. As a result, the Government’s operating surplus at $3.7 billion was $891 million higher than forecast.

National inherited a forecast decade of deficits before the global Financial Crisis and earthquakes.

That it’s on track to surplus next year in spite of those natural and financial disasters is a credit to careful management and restraint.

That’s the recipe which has got us through the recession without the slash and burn policies that would hurt the vulnerable.

It’s the recipe we must continue to follow to ensure the good times aren’t squandered and we’re well equipped to deal with the next challenges.


Can’t be too far from town

April 8, 2014

Plans for a rural retirement home are likely to be blocked by council staff who think it’s too far from town:

There are big plans for a secluded tract of land locked away in the hills of Wainui, near Silverdale. The owners want to turn it into Auckland’s first rural retirement village. But local bureaucrats say the elderly should not be living so far away from town.

“It’s nuts,” says farmer-developer Charles Wedd. “There is just absolutely no logic for it at all.”

Some say the council’s attitude is patronising to the elderly.

“I’ve lived in Dairy Flat for something like 50 years,” says local Bob Falloon. “Why wouldn’t I want to retire here?”

The Auckland Council says the elderly residents need access to medical facilities and shops, which they say the place does not have.

But how far is the closest town?

“It is a whole 12 minutes, so that’s probably closer than many places in the middle of Auckland,” says Mr Wedd. . .

When council staff say the elderly can’t be too far from town they mean they must be close.

Can’t be too far could also mean the further away the better.

A lot of people who like country life would agree with that and surely it’s their business not the council’s.

. . . The council says it does not have a policy to prevent the elderly living in the countryside. It says the report is a planner’s report from a planner looking at planning issues from a planner’s perspective. The council says one of its main aims is trying to protect rural areas like Wainui from urban development, even though some of New Zealand’s fastest urban growth is happening even closer than the shops. . .

A planner’s report form a planner looking at planning issues from a planner’s perspective.

Would it be too much to ask someone to take a human perspective which acknowledges some people like country living and would rather finish their days there than in town?


GE has place in NZ

April 8, 2014

The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.

. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch),  Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and  Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience.  Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.

Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .

Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .

He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.

Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”

“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said.  . .

If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?

New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.

But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.

That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.

 

 


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