Don’t want wiffle waffle

April 7, 2014

Winston Peters says that the issue of foreign ownership of farms and residential property has always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.

“The reality is that’s always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.”

Read his lips – always has been is not quite the same as is now or will always be.

“We are making it very clear where we stand in this election. People out there don’t want wiffle waffle they want certainty. . .

He’s right we don’t want wiffle waffle.

But wiffle waffle is what we often get from him and it’s what we’re still getting on the question of which party New Zealand First would be prepared to support should he be in a position to do so after the election.

He continues to say it’s up to the voters, as it is. But voters who know if Winston and his sycophants would be prepared to enter a coalition with or give confidence and supply to, one party or another would be able to vote with their eyes open.

As it stands anyone silly enough to favour New Zealand First with a vote will be taking a stab in the dark.

If you can cope with the wiffle waffle, you can listen to the interview on Q & A.

 


The MP most likely . . .

March 28, 2014

Kim Dotcom is claiming a sitting MP will join his Internet Party.

. . . He repeated his claim that it would be represented in Parliament, whether or not it achieved the 5 per cent MMP threshold for list seats, because a sitting electorate MP would join.

He would not name the person or say which party he or she represented, because of a confidentiality agreement, but it was not Harawira. The MP’s name would be revealed in June. . .

He didn’t know how many MPs were in parliament when asked by Seven Sharp.

There are 121, 70 of whom hold seats.

Given the unity in National and the high probability all those running again will hold their seats any of its 42 MPs would be mad to leap from a rock to sinking sand.

John Banks is retiring and Peter Dunne would have lots to lose and nothing to gain by any dalliance with Dotcom.

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are also retiring. The third Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell would also have too much to lose by leaping from the steady waka into a dotbomb dinghy.

Dotcom says it’s not Harawira and we can take his word on that because while he’s the lone paddler in the Mana waka, he’s not stupid enough to tip it up.

That only leaves Labour.

A few of its MPs might feel uneasy in their seats and most will have some doubt about the probability of being in government after the election.

The prospect of power can do strange things to people but even unhappy Labour MPs wouldn’t be stupid enough to think they’d have a better chance of success by leaping into the unknown.

Who then is the MP most likely to join Dotcom?

Almost certainly someone in his dreams.


Apathy wins again

March 28, 2014

Farmers supported all the resolutions and remits put to them at Beef + Lamb NZ’s annual meeting, but so few bothered to vote apathy was the only winner:

. . . The number of farmers voting was 14.30%, being 2,451 valid votes received from 17,142 farmers on the B+LNZ voting register. The weighted voting percentage represents 24% of the potential total weighted vote based on sheep (30.9 million), beef (3.69 million) and dairy (6.44 million) livestock numbers at 30 June 2013, Electionz.com reported. . .

Just 14.3% of farmers and 24% of the total based on stock owned bothered to vote.

That’s an indictment on sheep and beef farmers and a very poor reflection on their interest in their industry.

It does however, reinforce the wisdom of Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy who says change must come from the sector, not government:

. . . 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 response to the Beef + Lamb resolutions and remits show that people on the ground aren’t particularly interested.

 


Not the workers’ friend

March 20, 2014

Kim Dotcom has taken court action to gag a former body guard.

. . . Dotcom made a successful application for an interim injunction against Wayne Tempero in the High Court at Auckland yesterday. The action came soon after the Herald reported that Tempero was set to release “secret revelations” about Dotcom’s “mindset and megalomania”. . .

That hasn’t stopped other staff talking to Whaleoil who has a story of slave wages, bullying, intimidation and the sheer effrontery of a man spending literally millions on himself but short-changing his most loyal staff.

Labour, the Green and Mana parties like to think they’re the workers’ friends.

They and New Zealand First have all been courting, or courted by, Dotcom in the hope he can help them defeat National.

The enemy of their enemy could be their friend but do they want to be friends with someone who appears to be anything but the workers’ friend?

And will the media which have given Dotcom a pretty easy ride, start asking some harder questions now?

P.S. Former Labour president Mike Williams, just said on RadioNZ National’s panel that he’s on Dotcom’s side with the gagging order.


Doocey for Waimakariri

March 17, 2014

The National Party has selected Matthew Doocey as its candidate for Waimakariri.

Mr Doocey was selected by a meeting of local party members tonight.

“Matthew proved himself an effective campaigner in the Christchurch East by-election, with a real passion for advancing and rebuilding Canterbury. He will be a strong, fresh, and energetic local MP if elected in September,” said Canterbury-Westland Regional Chair Roger Bridge.

“Kate Wilkinson has served the electorate well, winning the seat for National in 2011. However we are taking nothing for granted this election and will be running a strong campaign in Waimakariri.”

Mr Doocey said he was honoured to be selected and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“It’s an honour to be selected as National’s Waimakariri candidate,” says Mr Doocey.

“North Canterbury has been well-served by a Government which is making the rebuild a priority, investing in infrastructure, and backing rural communities.

“Having a strong local voice inside National has been crucial for Waimakariri. I will be working hard to carry that on if I have the privilege of being elected to serve these communities inside Parliament.”

Matthew Doocey – Biographical Notes

A born and bred Cantabrian, Matthew Doocey (41) lives in Redwood with Hungarian-born wife Viktoria and their new-born daughter Emily.

After pursuing opportunities in the UK, Mr Doocey decided to return home last year to give something back after the earthquakes.

He currently works at the Canterbury District Health Board as a manager in its surgical division.

Mr Doocey went to St Bedes College before studying counselling psychology at WelTec (Wellington). He has a Bsc (Hons) in Social Policy, an MA in Healthcare Management from Kingston University in London, and an MSc in Global Politics from Birkbeck College – University in London. He is also studying towards a Doctorate in Health by distance with Bath University in the UK.

Matthew Doocey has a long career in healthcare management including in the delivery of community health, mental health, and social care services both in voluntary and Government settings.

Kate Wilkinson won Waimakariri from Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove.

If proposed boundary changes are confirmed, the electorate will be a bit bluer than it was.


Rural round-up

March 17, 2014

Wild bee loss bad for breed:

Beekeepers are being warned to check the genetic diversity of their stock following the first stage of a nationwide survey that shows significant in-breeding.

The Sustainable Farming Fund project, administered by University of Otago associate professor Peter Dearden, has studied bees from all over New Zealand.

The early results show New Zealand’s bee population was much more diverse than previously thought but that many beekeepers have serious issues with inbreeding. . .

Farm manager shares love of ‘wicked’ industry -

The 2014 Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year, Jared Crawford, says he was ”shocked” when he heard his name announced during the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards regional final at the MLT Event Centre in Gore on Saturday.

He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region’s Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton. . .

Triallist just wants to get better – Sally Rae:

When Cody Pickles goes to the dog trials, he takes his Gin with him.

The young Otago shepherd also takes Dusty, another member of his eight-strong working dog team. Both dogs are heading dogs.

Mr Pickles (23), who is in his second season of ”having a go” at dog trialling, works at Waipori Station, a 12,000ha Landcorp Farming-owned property on the shores of Lake Mahinerangi. . . .

NZ supports Philippines farmers’ recovery from Typhoon:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that New Zealand will provide $2.5 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help farmers in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

“Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms in recent history and it is estimated that almost 6 million workers’ livelihoods were destroyed, lost or disrupted,” Ms Kaye says.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan New Zealand made around $5 million available to support the emergency response and relief effort and the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully indicated that we would consider further support aimed at helping the Philippines recover.

“New Zealand’s contribution will help to restore the livelihoods of 128,000 vulnerable households in rural areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. . .

Wind-up for the Woolless Wiltshires of Winchmore:

The final act of a 13 year-long AgResearch sheep breeding project designing low-maintenance sheep will take place at the Tinwald General Saleyards on Wednesday 12 March.

​The research project led by AgResearch scientist Dr David Scobie into easy-care and shedding sheep has finished.  As the two flocks, totalling approximately 300 sheep, are now surplus to requirements on the Winchmore Research Farm, AgResearch is holding a dispersal sale.

In 1997, AgResearch predicted that the cost of growing wool would exceed the value of the wool grown in what was then a foreseeable future. 

“We had two challenges,” says Dr Scobie.

“To develop a wool-less sheep and also to develop a low maintenance sheep.”

The Wiltshire flock were selected for decreased fleece weight for a period of 11 years.  . .

Farmer-friendly sheep don’t need sheering –  Annabelle Tukia:

It is the end of an era for AgResearch, who have put their 300 scientifically-bred sheep under the hammer.

For the past 13 years scientists have been experimentally breeding two different types of sheep with some very unique features.

A small but enthusiastic crowd flocked to the Tinwald sale yards. On sale were no stock-standard ewes. For the past 13 years AgResearch has been breeding a line that would appeal to farmers and lifestylers for their low maintenance.

The first is a breed that sheds its own wool and requires no shearing and the second a composite breed that does not need its tail docked and has far less wool in areas that would normally create dags. . . .

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage:

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title. . .


$100m foundation for environment & education

March 16, 2014

A $100 million philanthropic foundation to support and invest in high impact New Zealand-based environmental and education projects  has been launhed.

The NEXT Foundation is funded through the benefaction of New Zealanders Annette and Neal Plowman, who have already supported a number of significant philanthropic projects, including the Rotoroa Island Trust in the Hauraki Gulf, Project Janzsoon in the Abel Tasman National Park and Teach First NZ which aims to tackle educational inequality.

The Foundation will make commitments of approximately $5 – $15 million in up to three projects each year. Any individual or group with a high impact, well-structured idea in the areas of education or environment will be able to submit an Expression of Interest for funding consideration.

The Foundation has an Advisory Panel of notable New Zealanders who will help with project selection and a Board of Directors chaired by Chris Liddell.

Mr Liddell, also Chairman of Xero, and previously Vice Chairman of General Motors and CFO of Microsoft Corporation, says education and the environment have been chosen as the two categories for support and investment because they have the greatest potential to inspire and create lasting value for New Zealanders.

“We have a vision of creating a legacy of environmental and educational excellence for the benefit of future generations of New Zealanders,” he says.

“To achieve this vision we will make significant commitments to projects that are aspirational, ambitious and high impact. The Foundation will be a strategic investor in well-managed projects that deliver a meaningful and measurable return toward the education of New Zealanders and the protection of our unique landscape, flora and fauna.

“We admire the foresight of our benefactors,” said Mr Liddell, “and believe their generosity will have a profound impact on the future of our country.”

The Foundation was welcomed by the government:

“This new philanthropic foundation represents a huge commitment to New Zealand’s conservation and environmental challenges that Governments will never be able to fully fund. Its founders, through Project Janszoon and the Rotoroa Island Trust, have already shown a great commitment to New Zealand’s natural environment. This new foundation opens the door to other high impact conservation projects in other parts of our country,” Dr Smith says.

“This exciting development reinforces the merit of the Department of Conservation developing a new partnership approach to its work of protecting New Zealand’s flora, fauna and special places.”

“Education is the best investment New Zealand can make in its future. This new foundation will help drive innovation and excellence, and complement the work the Government is doing to raise standards and provide our children with a modern learning environment,” Ms Kaye says.

“We are committed to working with the NEXT Foundation to maximise the environment and educational gains from this incredible act of generosity towards New Zealand’s future,” the Ministers say.

This is an extraordinary act of generosity  which will make a positive difference for generations.


Word of the day

March 13, 2014

Baldric – a belt for a sword or other piece of equipment, worn over one shoulder and reaching down to the opposite hip; belt, usually of ornamented leather, worn across the chest to support a sword or bugle.


Thursday’s quiz

March 13, 2014

1. Who said: Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. I wish him well.?

2.  Who was New Zealand’s last Premier and who was our first Prime Minister?

3. Who was the first NZ labour Prime Minister and who was our first national Prime Minister?

4. What does a  psephologist study (and I’m seeking a better explanation than psephology).

5. What influences your vote?


Labour on sinking sand

March 12, 2014

Labour MPs trying to criticise National for price rises have very short memories:

Hon David Cunliffe: How does the Prime Minister expect everyday New Zealanders to keep up with the cost of living when many of them will be paying 7 or 8 percent more for their power and some face increases of up to 24 percent in this year alone?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: One of the hallmarks of this National-led Government that is in contrast to the previous Labour Government is that, in fact, wages have been going up faster than the price of inflation. It is worth remembering that in terms of electricity prices, they make up less than 4 percent of the CPI. So in overall terms, when one looks at the CPI, some things go up and some things go down. For example, car prices went down, clothing and footwear prices went down, and household contents went down. So in many categories lots of things went down; the odd things went up. Overall, most consumers have not actually faced power increases of that level.

When wages increase faster than inflation, as they have recently under National, people have more purchasing power.

When, as happened under Labour, inflation beats wages, people have less purchasing power and end up worse off,

Hon David Cunliffe: If that is all so rosy, why did the Prime Minister try to blame Transpower when Transpower’s charges make up less than 10 percent of electricity prices and Transpower stated that its increases are likely to be less than $1 a month on average; and is the truth of it not that the power price increases are going to the privatised companies and enriching the foreign buyers that he is in league with?

Hon Bill English: What a load of nonsense.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To quote the Deputy Prime Minister, what a load of nonsense. If you look at what has been driving up power prices insomuch as there have been rises at all for consumers, it has been a combination of Transpower increases and lines companies, if one looks at those two together. Interestingly enough, though, if we look at, say, for instance, the last 5 years of power price increases—

Dr David Clark: Out of touch—5 long years.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, 5 long years with half the power increases, because they have been 19.7 percent as opposed to 39.1 percent for the 5 years under Labour.

Increases of 19.7% might seem high but they’re about half the 39.1% increases that happened during Labour’s last term.

There’s no hope that they will be lower should Labour return to government when they’re ETS policy will add hundreds of dollars to power bills.

Louise Upston: Do official measures of the cost of living include electricity prices, and what does this tell us?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, a very good question. The electricity prices in the CPI differ slightly from those that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, but they tell the same story. Over the last 5 years, going back to December 2008, electricity prices in the CPI rose 19.7 percent, and in the 5 years before that they rose 39.1 percent. So it is no wonder people think that power prices are high—in 5 years under Labour, electricity prices went up by 40 percent. That is why you cannot trust Labour when it comes to power prices. . .

The only thing you can trust Labour with is that their policies will be costly for us all.

Hon David Cunliffe: When will the Prime Minister listen to New Zealanders who are facing median house prices that are up by 8.6 percent on last year, when first-home buyers are now being shut out of the market, which he has made safe for speculators?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: One of the things that the Government has been doing is working hard to ensure, actually, that first-home buyers can get into the market. There are a few ways of doing that. Firstly, the release of land will have a substantial impact. But let us just ask any first-home buyer we like what they would prefer to pay for their floating mortgage rate. Would they prefer to pay around 5 percent at the moment under a National-led Government, or 11 percent under Labour, which is what it was when we came into office?

Hon David Cunliffe: Speaking of interest rate rises, given that wholesale rates appear to be on their way from 5.75 percent to 8 percent, can he confirm that a household currently paying $500 a week in mortgage costs will face another $136 a week by the time that mortgage hits 8 percent?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: For a start off, it is likely—I think the interest rates will make a gradual return towards a slightly more normalised level, but it is worth understanding that we have interest rates that are on a 50-year low. Secondly, if we want to talk about individual consumers, I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition is worried about them at the moment, because he showed absolutely no worry about them when interest rates were at 11 percent. When the Government was putting so much pressure on spending, it was forcing up inflation and forcing the Reserve Bank to raise rates. In fact, let us just take that household that has a $200,000 mortgage. That household, in comparison, is paying $200 a week less today than when Labour left office. You see, when we go to the polls on 20 September and the voters ask themselves who they can trust with the economy, it certainly will not be Labour that will be the answer coming from their TV sets.

We can’t trust Labour to run themselves, they’re certainly not ready to be trusted with running the country.

Hon David Cunliffe: When the Prime Minister said in 2008 that New Zealanders should “not be fearful of their next bill”, why are so many people now fearful of their housing, power, and other bills, under this uncaring National Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: For a start off, the member is wrong. I did not make that statement, and he will never actually be able to demonstrate that I did. I was asked about the definition of poverty, and I said that the definition, at least of being well off, is that you are not fearful of a bill. But if it comes to bills, then I say this to New Zealanders. What would they rather have: a 19.7 percent increase in power prices under National, or a 40 percent increase under Labour over 5 years, and 72 percent? Would they rather have interest rates at about 5 and a bit percent, or would they rather have them at 11 percent? Would they rather have an economy under a National-led Government that is growing in excess of 3.5 to 4 percent, with 1,500 people a week coming off welfare and going to work?

Would they rather have an economy that most people around the world have envied? And would they rather have an economy that is actually going to be back into surplus?

Labour are standing on the sinking sand of their poor record in government compounded by expensive and impractical policies should they be returned.

That contrasts with National which can stand firm on its record for restrained spending, lower taxes and economic growth in spite of the financial and natural disasters it’s had to face.


Dutch trio take top cheese awards

March 5, 2014

 Dutch influences have made their mark on New Zealand cheese, with three supreme awards at the 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards directly related to a Dutch heritage.

A Dutch-style cheese made in Akaroa – Aged Gouda by Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese, has won the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award for large cheese producers.

Another Dutch-style cheese – Very Old Edam produced by Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese has won the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for smaller producers for the third year running.

Completing the Dutch trio is Jeanne Van Kuyk of Aroha Organic Goat Cheese who won the Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award. Her company also took out the Tuatara Brewing Champion Goat Cheese Award for its Aroha Raw Milk Rich Plain cheese. Emigrating from Holland, Van Kuyk now makes award-winning organic, specialty cheese from her own herd of goats on the family’s rural Waikato farm.

Over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses were entered in this year’s competition, with winners announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham, Auckland on Tuesday 4 March.

Twenty eight of New Zealand’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs made up the expert judging panel. They were led by one of Australasia’s most experienced international cheese judges and renowned cheese educationalist, Russell Smith.

“New Zealand cheese ranks with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world-class,” Smith said
“The diversity of flavour profiles, the quality of cheese making and high presentation of the majority of cheese was fantastic. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the bar being raised each year.

Each cheese was examined by a technical and an aesthetic judge as a duo, and strictly graded to pre-determined gold, silver and bronze standards.

This year saw a higher percentage of gold medals being awarded, which attests to the increasingly high quality of cheese being made in New Zealand and exhibited this year, Smith said.

Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese, which produces traditional hand-crafted cheese including cheddar, gouda and maasdam, is celebrating its first Champion of Champions title.

Smith described Barrys Bay Traditional Cheeses’ Aged Gouda as beautifully presented with a superb texture and tropical fruit flavours. “This is a great example of this style of cheese and was the popular choice of the judging panel,” he said.

Kerikeri-based family business, Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese, has pulled off an impressive hat trick by winning the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for the third year running.

Mahoe’s Very Old Edam was described by Smith as a superbly flavoursome cheese. “This cheese is so good that you don’t want to put anything else in your mouth for some time.”

Iconic Kiwi cheese brand Kapiti was also outstanding in their year’s NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. Kapiti cheeses scooped up more Champion awards than any other brand, taking home four major trophies. Kapiti Kikorangi once again proved New Zealanders’ affection towards blue cheese, claiming the New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award (voted for by the public) for the third year running.

“That our shoppers have once again chosen Kapiti Kikorangi must surely make this fine blue cheese a new New Zealand icon!,” Foodstuffs Delicatessen Sales & Operations Manager, Anthony Joseph, said.

New cheese company Dairyworks has marked its introduction to the awards with a win for its Dairyworks Kids Range in the Caspak Champion Cheese Packaging Award.

Smith said Dairyworks has done great job of encouraging kids to eat more cheese with its kids range. The use of story-telling and fun characters is a clever way to engage with young Kiwis. Judges noted the pack design is strong and production is consistent across every print process. . .

Delicious as these cheeses no doubt are, my champion is Whitestone Cheese, which has many awards to its credit, though it wasn’t among the winners this year.


What’s he offering?

March 4, 2014

Liam Dann asks a very good question:

What is David Cunliffe offering? A dramatic experiment with a winning formula? A worrying fix for something that isn’t broken?

He’s referring to Labour’s determination to follow Green Party policy to meddle with the Reserve Bank.

Labour’s embrace of Green Party policy to reform the Reserve Bank Act is a big stumbling block for the party if it wants mainstream acceptance from the business community.

It surely gains the party few fresh votes from the wide pool of mainstream voters who find monetary policy debate arcane.

Yet it makes Labour almost impossible to endorse for many of the nation’s most powerful and influential business leaders.

The monetary policy reformists are full of ideas about the magic a broader definition of the Reserve Bank Act might achieve. But they ignore the extent to which having one target – inflation – has worked. And just how fundamental controlling inflation is to creating a stable economy on which growth can be built.

Why, when the Act has just seen us through such an enormous global downturn so efficiently, would you change it. In the hope it might bring the dollar down?

Well, if you damage the economy the dollar will certainly fall. But it seems a brutal path to take.

And why, if you were going to make changes, would you loosen the shackles during the growth phase of the economic cycle – just when inflation starts to become a serious risk.

We should be grateful we don’t have to make radical changes to our economy. We’ve come through the downturn well, and while National can take some credit for steering the ship, so too can the last Labour Government for the healthy growth it oversaw.

Radical change is for those nations that have run out of options. Let’s leave it to the Greeks.

National has generally trod a cautious path, some would say too cautious. But it’s getting results.

The economy is growing, and other economic indicators like business confidence, investment intentions and employment are positive.

All of this would be at risk if inflation is let loose with the inevitable steep increase in interest rates that would follow.

In 2008, when Labour was last in power interest rates were about 11%.

Now they’re about half that and while they’re expected to rise providing inflation is kept under control, they shouldn’t get back to double figures.

But if a Labour/Green government starts meddling with the RBA, inflation will surge and interest rates will  too with the high cost that imposes on business and households.

If people are concerned about the affordability of houses and farms now, how much worse will it be when interest rates are twice the current rate, or higher?

That’s what Cunliffe is offering.


Word of the day

March 1, 2014

Mimp – pursing of the lips; to speak affectionately.


February 28 in history

February 28, 2014

20 BC coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty‘s rule over China.

870 The Fourth Council of Constantinople closed.

1261 Margaret of Scotland, queen of Norway, was born  (d. 1283).

1638 The Scottish National Covenant was signed in Edinburgh.

1710  In the Battle of Helsingborg, 14,000 Danish invaders under Jørgen Rantzau were decisively defeated by an equally sized Swedish force under Magnus Stenbock.

1784 John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church.

1787 The charter establishing the institution now known as the University of Pittsburgh was granted.

1824 Blondin, French tightrope walker, was born  (d. 1897).

1827  The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.

1838 Robert Nelson, leader of the Patriotes, proclaimed the independence of Lower Canada (today Québec).

1844 A gun on USS Princeton exploded while the boat was on a Potomac River cruise, killing eight people, including two United States Cabinet members.

1849 Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States began with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, 4 months 21 days after leaving New York Harbour.

1865 Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary, was born  (d. 1940).

1870 The Bulgarian Exarchate was established by decree of Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz of the Ottoman Empire.

1883 The first vaudeville theatre opened in Boston, Massachusetts.

1897 Queen Ranavalona III, the last monarch of Madagascar, was deposed by a French military force.

1900 The Second Boer War: The 118-day “Siege of Ladysmith” was lifted.

1912 Clara Petacci, Italian mistress of Benito Mussolini, was born  (d. 1945).

1914 The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was proclaimed in Gjirokastër, by the Greeks living in southern Albania.

1922 The United Kingdom accepted the independence of Egypt.

1925 Harry H Corbett, English actor, was born  (d. 1982).

1928  C.V. Raman discovered Raman effect.

1933 Gleichschaltung: The Reichstag Fire Decree was passed in Germany a day after the Reichstag fire.

1935 DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invented Nylon.

1939 The first issue of Serbian weekly magazine Politikin zabavnik was published.

1939 – The erroneous word “Dord” was discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation.

1942 Brian Jones, English musician (The Rolling Stones), was born  (d. 1969).

1942 The heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) was sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed.

1943 Charles Bernstein, American composer, was born.

1945 New Zealand soldier David Russell was executed by a Nazi firing squad in Italy.

Kiwi soldier faces Nazi firing squad

1946 Robin Cook, British politician, was born.

1947 228 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of 30,000 civilian lives.

1953 Paul Krugman, American economist, Nobel laureate, was born.

1957 Cindy Wilson, American singer (The B-52′s), was born.

1958 A school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunged down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork River. The driver and 26 children died in what remains the worst school bus accident in U.S. history.

1970 Daniel Handler, American writer, better known as Lemony Snicket, was born.

1972 The Asama-Sanso incident ended in Japan.

1972 The United States and People’s Republic of China signed the Shanghai Communiqué.

1974 Moana Mackey, New Zealand politician, was born.

1975 A major tube train crash at Moorgate station, London killed 43 people.

1985 The Provisional Irish Republican Army carried out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.

1986 Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden  was assassinated in Stockholm.

1991 The first Gulf War ended.

1993 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.

1995 Denver International Airport officially opened in Denver, Colorado to replace Stapleton International Airport

1997 – The North Hollywood shootout took place.

1998 – First flight of RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle certified to file its own flight plans and fly regularly in U.S. civilian airspace.

1998 – Kosovo War: Serbian police begin the offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo.

2001 – The Nisqually Earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale hits the Nisqually Valley and the Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia area of the U.S. state of Washington.

2001 – Six passengers and four railway staff are killed and a further 82 people suffer serious injuries in the Selby rail crash.

200 More than 1 million Taiwanese participating in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally formed a 500-kilometre (300-mile) long human chain to commemorate the 228 Incident in 1947.

2005 Lebanon‘s pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, resigned amid large anti-Syria street demonstrations in Beirut.

2005 A suicide bombing at a police recruiting centre in Al Hillah, Iraq killed 127.

2007  Jupiter flyby of the New Horizons Pluto-observer spacecraft.

2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigned as the pope of the Catholic Church becoming the first pope to do so since 1415.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


What’s WhatsApp?

February 22, 2014

Jan Koum has gone from surviving on food stamps to earning a fortune in 21 years.

He co-founded WhatsApp  in 2009 and this week signed a $19 billion deal with Facebook.

His is an inspirational story but it leaves me with a questions – what is WhatsApp?


Teachers who inspire

February 10, 2014

A new website aimed at acknowledging the life-long impact that teachers have on their students’ lives has been launched today by the Education Minister,  Hekia Parata.

“‘Inspired by U’ is a website designed to recognise and celebrate teachers and educators who have made a difference to their student’s lives,” Ms Parata says.

The website invites people to go online and write a virtual postcard to the teacher that inspired them most.  

Around 200 prominent New Zealanders, including Prime Minister John Key, have taken part and written to a former teacher telling them why they inspired them.

“I am very fortunate that I can remember a range of teachers who inspired me throughout all my years of education”, says Ms Parata.

“I’d like that to be the experience of every young New Zealander, and that’s why we have been investing in a programme of initiatives to raise the quality of teaching and leadership, and keep, grow, and attract the best in to the profession”.

“I think everyone can remember at least one teacher who had a real impact on their time at school and the ‘Inspired by U’ initiative is a great way of recognising those teachers,” says Ms Parata.

“Celebrating excellence in education is an important part of the Government’s commitment to raising the status of the teaching profession, and publicly acknowledging the powerful contribution the profession makes to lifting overall student achievement.

“Hosting the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March together with Festivals of Education in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, introducing the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, establishing the new professional body EDUCANZ, and the $359million investment into better career pathways, are all part of acknowledging the profession, raising its status, and recognising the critical contribution that quality education achievement makes to the future prosperity of New Zealand,” says Ms Parata. . .

The website is here and members of the public are invited to send a post card to teachers who inspired them.

The Prime Minister’s message is to Mr Hughes of Burnside High School.

I was inspired by you because you had a love, passion and great knowledge of economics. You added to my desire to make a difference to New Zealand. Kind Regards.

Hekia Parata acknowledges Mrs Fitzpatrick of Ngata Memorial College,

I was inspired by you because you encouraged my love of reading, broadened my taste in literature, bolstered my confidence when other kids thought it was pretty nerdy and you were big on “big words” (though not bureaucratic ones!!).

Nga mihi – Thanks!

Nikki Kaye pays tribute to Mrs Eadie of Corran School:

I was inspired by you because you are such a positive person. At school I really admired you and learned from your ability to be so positive and strong no matter how level the discussions were. I will be eternally grateful for the moment where you believed in me and told me to take the harder but better path when I could have gone the wrong way. Your belief in me gave me the confidence at a really important time on my life. I think life would be very different if that moment of belief had not of happened. I often reflect on that particularly when young people come to me for advice and help. Thank you.

Sir Peter Leitch thanks Mrs Main  of Wellington Tech:

Thanks for teaching outside the square – you gave me HOPE! It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, to go out into the workforce and have a go. Because of that I found the will to fight against the odds and created the Mad Butcher- so thank you for having faith in me.

Sir Michael Hill thanks Mr Green of  Whangarei Intermediate:

Whangarei Intermediate School was a very sporty school and you were the music teacher and played the violin very nicely. Even if you thought of playing the violin there – you were a sissy but I loved the sound of it and I used to sit outside your room while you played and decided to take it up. As a result, music has been with me all my life.

Julian Wilcox thanks Henare Kingi:

Henare Kingi is an elder statesman of the Ngāpuhi tribe, a founding broadcaster of New Zealand’s first Māori Radio station, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, and a recognised scholar of Te Reo Māori.

When I graduated from University, Henare stood to congratulate me, however, he chose to do so thus:

“E taku tamaiti, ahakoa he aha rawa tāu e whai ai i tēnei ao, kia mahara ake koe ki ēnei kupu ā tō matua: Whakaiti, whakaiti, whakaiti.”

“My child, no matter what you choose to do in this world, remember these words of your elder: through humility comes humanity.”

Whilst I have struggled at times to embody this lofty notion in an industry that encourages one to rise above one’s peers, it is a statement I have tried to cleave to, modeled by a man who continues to inspire me in all that I do.

Anna thanks Ms McKinnon of Iona College:

You created a great environment for learning. We all knew what was expected of us and what would happen if we fell short of your standards. As we became older and moved from social studies and into the individual classes of history and classics you fostered debate between young women and allowed us to voice our opinions and helped show us the road to self-education. Because of you I have a LOVE of history, so much it even became one of my University majors. Thank you.

Kate acknowledges Mr Whiteside of Taradale High:

Six weeks to go and I was on course to fail School Certificate mathematics. I had given up on myself. For some reason my homeroom/maths teacher (you) decided to save me. For six weeks you voluntarily tutored me after school – slowly and painstakingly teaching me, but most importantly, restoring my self-belief. Your patience and understated encouragement enabled me to pass – only two marks off an A grade! Thanks Mr Whiteside your a truly inspiring teacher.

Dallas thanks Mrs Hanna of Papatoetoe High:

You were my English teacher at Papatoetoe High School in 1968 and 1969. What made the difference? You cared! You cared about me not only as a learner but as a vulnerable teenage girl judged by most teachers at the school by the behaviour of my older brother. You took time to know me not only as a learner but as a person in my own world. The result – I LEARNED well in your class.

Esther thanks Sister Lidwina of St Joseph’s Catholic School, Morrinsville:

You were  my first teacher in New Zealand when I was nine years old.  I was incredibly lucky that you were able to speak some of my language but what made you really special was the time that you took to get to know my family.  You really helped us all to feel welcome and confident in our strange new country.

Clayton thanks Mrs Hedger of Opononi Area  School:

When I think of influential teachers in my life, you were one of them. You gave me a chance when I was naughty and you were always there. Thanks so much – I will always remember you.

There is more information about the Festivals of Education here and about Prime Minister’s Awards  here.


Aint no way to treat a lady

February 3, 2014

Labour now has two people seeking to be the party’s candidate in Invercargill:

. . . Michael Gibson will challenge Lesley Soper for the position, in what the party have dubbed ”democratic process”.

The two will need to pull together party member votes before a selection panel makes the final decision.

New Zealand Labour Party regional representative Glenda Alexander said contest was healthy for democracy.  

”We know people were looking for a change in the area, this is a chance for someone to front up and put their money where their mouth is,” Ms Alexander said. 

The uncharacteristic decision to reopen nominations could be perceived as a breach of the democratic process, she said. 

”We really wanted to make sure things were more transparent this time …we were criticised for rushing the nominations before Christmas.”   

Michael Gibson’s nomination was received on Thursday evening by Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett in the ”nick of time”, a spokesperson said. 

Mr Gibson said he had not considered nominating before the first round closed late last year, but after the only candidate was informally announced in early January, he thought he could offer something different. . .

Democracy and democratic principles are mentioned four times in 15 paragraphs of the story suggesting the party is on the defensive of a process which looks anything but democratic and is paying scant regard for democratic principles.

Labour bought itself an argument it didn’t need to have with its policy of a quota for female candidates.

It had one in Invercargill who had done the hard work of standing before but in an act which shows no regard for her re-opened nominations.

The message in that is they thought she was good enough to stand when she didn’t have a hope of winning against incumbent MP Eric Roy, but she’s not good enough  to contest the seat against a new candidate now he’s announced he’s retiring.

Helen Reddy might well sing, that ain’t no way to treat a lady.

It’s also not a good way to run a selection.

If Soper is selected she’ll handicapped with the reputation of the one the party didn’t think was good enough.

If Gibson wins, he’ll start from behind as not man enough to stand against Roy nor troubled by the ethics of trampling over someone who will be justified in feeling aggrieved at the way she’s been treated by a party not nearly as loyal to her as she is to it.

There is no doubt a popular local candidate like Roy attracts votes from people who wouldn’t vote for his party but National will be selecting a candidate by the truly democratic method of voting by members in the electorate.

He or she will start the campaign without the handicaps of internal party machinations.

S/he will have been selected without interference from the party hierarchy and with both the backing of the locals and the determination to do the hard work necessary to earn the votes to hold the seat for National.

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2014

Wairarapa Farmer wins NZ Rural Wetland Champion 2014 award:

Combining good farming practices with proactive steps to look after the wetlands on their beef and dairy farm, has earned the Donald family in the Wairarapa, the title of “National Rural Wetland Champion for 2014”.

To celebrate World Wetlands Day 2014 (Sunday February 2) the National Wetland Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) worked with regional councils around the country to find New Zealand’s most wetland-friendly farming families.

Wetlands are important to maintaining a healthy environment, playing a key role in water purification and flood control. Protecting wetlands and minimising the impact of farming on these ecosystems benefits everyone. . .

Tighter PKE screening welcomed:

Federated Farmers is pleased 4mm is being proposed as the minimum screening mesh for Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) entering New Zealand.

“From 21 April, when the screening is set to commence, confidence in PKE as an imported animal feed should improve,” says Bruce Wills, the President of Federated Farmers.

“PKE is a recycled waste by-product of Palm Oil production. It does not drive that industry’s demand, just as plastic recycling does not drive demand for petrochemicals.

“If PKE isn’t used as supplementary animal feed, it is otherwise composted, burnt as waste and even sold as fuel for furnaces. . . .

Minister marks World Wetlands Day:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today marked this year’s World Wetlands Day with the launch of a new stamp in the Game Bird Habitat Collection Series.

“The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme is aimed at raising funds to protect and enhance the habitat of our game birds. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to enable New Zealanders to give direct support to a great cause,” Dr Smith says.

The 2014 stamp features the pukeko, painted by landscape and wildlife artist Jeanette Blackburn, and the background habitat on the stamp is the Para Wetland in Marlborough. As well as the stamp, this year’s collection includes other related items such as a miniature sheet, first day cover and a limited edition signed Artist Print.

The items are sold through New Zealand Post to collectors and also used by Fish & Game to endorse hunting licences, with the funds raised going towards habitat conservation projects.  . . .

Inventor off to Cologne trade fair - Mark Price:

The Lake Hawea man who developed the what he branded the ”Slammertool” is taking it to what he calls the hand tool equivalent of the Olympics.

T. J. Irvin will attend the 142,000sq m international hardware fair Eisenwarenmesse in Cologne, Germany, from March 9-12.

”That No8 wire mentality New Zealand prides itself on – Eisenwarenmesse is the Olympics of that.”

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would rather be at the Winter Olympics in Sochi but could not turn down an invitation to put his multi-purpose Slammertool up against the world’s best new tools – even though the trip will cost him $44,000. . .

Synlait’s John Penno explains the company’s success – Jamie Ball:

In the first of a two-part NBR ONLINE interview, primary industries reporter Jamie Ball talks to Synlait’s John Penno on how and why it currently all seems to be going so right for the Dunsandel-based milk company.

Canterbury-based Synlait group was founded in 2000. In February 2013, Synlait Farms and Synlait Milk were separated. Synlait Milk floated last July and is now 39.12%-owned by Chinese company Bright Dairy, 8.4% by Japan’s Mitsui & Co, and 7.5% by Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina. Synlait Milk’s IPO offer price, announced in July, was $2.20. Earlier this week, shares were trading at $3.82, a gain of 74%, valuing the company at $560 million. On January 28, Synlait Milk announced an increase of its forecast milk price for the FY2014 season from $8.00 per kg/MS to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kg/MS.The company also lifted its advance rates for the season effective from January, to be paid February, from $5.00 per kg/MS to $6.40 per kg/MS. Synlait Milk anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July. . .

 

Synlait Milk joins board of leading industry body:

Canterbury dairy product manufacturer Synlait Milk has joined the Board of the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), allowing it to take a greater leadership role in industry issues.

INC, which represents 95% of the infant formula industry in New Zealand and Australia by volume, has welcomed Synlait to the new role and says the move will benefit both consumers and the industry.

“Synlait Milk is a fantastic New Zealand company, we are delighted to have them join our Board,” INC Chief Executive Jan Carey said.

“The Infant Nutrition Council is firmly committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of New Zealand’s infant formula industry. . .

 

Why Australians should support farmers during drought: NFF - Brent Finlay:

A recent editorial on drought assistance (Australian Financial Review 17 Jan 2014  “Don’t subsidise low rainfall”) raised the valid question – should Australians support farmers during drought?

In short, the answer has to be ‘yes’ if Australians want their high-quality food and fibre to continue to be produced on Australian soil.

A Productivity Commission report in 2009 concluded that the Interest Rate subsidies of the past did not necessarily reward farmers who were the best prepared for the droughts – an unavoidable feature of farming in Australia. As a result, it was the Gillard Labor Government, not Barnaby Joyce, as your editorial incorrectly suggested, that introduced concessional loans as a business restructuring support mechanism during severe downturns.

Additionally, it’s incorrect to say the Abbott Government ignored the PC report, or the need for fundamental shifts in the way drought support is structured, when extending this measure to cope with the rapidly deteriorating climatic conditions it faced upon election. . . .

US billionaire Foley may buy Martinborough Vineyard:

(BusinessDesk) – American billionaire Bill Foley may add to his wine interests in the Wairarapa region with the acquisition of pinot noir pioneer Martinborough Vineyard Estates.

Foley, through NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines, hasn’t yet gone through the due diligence process and isn’t at the stage of agreeing a price for the Martinborough vineyard, said chief executive Mark Turnbull. The parties are aiming to complete the transaction by March 31.

The business would add to the Te Kairanga Wines company, just down the road in the town of Martinborough that Foley acquired in 2011. Foley has been expanding his wine interests while building what Turnbull has called a vertical integration strategy which has included taking a 24.9 percent stake in celebrity chef Simon Gault’s Nourish Group restaurant chain. . .


Rural round-up

January 30, 2014

Major forest industry safety review launched:

An independent panel is to conduct a major review into the high number of serious and fatal injuries in the forest industry.

The panel members are business leader George Adams, employment health and safety lawyer Hazel Armstrong and business safety specialist Mike Cosman. Their appointment and their terms of reference have been endorsed by forest industry organisations, ACC, relevant government agencies, the NZ Council of Trade Unions and the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum.

The review, which is expected to take up to six months to complete, is being funded by the Forest Owners, Forest Industry Contractors and Farm Forestry Associations, with administrative support and other resources provided by the government’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe New Zealand.

Forest Owners past-president Bill McCallum says the forest industry makes an important contribution to New Zealand, providing jobs, export earnings and helping to lift economic growth. . .

Forest Contractors Welcome Expert Review Team:

Following the announcement earlier today of the start of the Forest Industry Workplace Safety Review process, the original architects of the review say they are pleased with the makeup of the review team.

“It was our executive board that first raised concerns with the corporate forest managers back in March 2013” says Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) spokesman John Stulen, “so we are pleased to see that a very strong and completely independent team of experienced safety professionals has been engaged to carry out the work.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Forest Owners Association and union leaders to ensure that a robust process was put in place.

The time we have taken to set up this up and ensure the review is impartial will give piece of mind to everyone.

All workers in our industry and their families can be assured they can speak frankly and openly and expect to have their concerns heard.” . . .

Industry-led forestry inquiry welcome:

Labour Minister Simon Bridges today welcomed the announcement of an industry-led inquiry into forestry safety, which will commence next month.

“I am pleased the forestry industry has taken ownership of the inquiry as enduring safety solutions in our forests cannot be made by government enforcement alone,” Mr Bridges says.

“The number of workplace deaths and injuries in forestry is too high and any action to reduce that toll deserves support.

“The Government’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe NZ, will make a significant contribution to the inquiry. It will provide secretariat and other support, and will also make a substantial submission. . .

Iwi seeks dam benefits:

Hawke’s Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu wants to know how it might benefit financially from a proposed dam, without becoming an investor.

It’s one of three iwi who have made an agreement with the regional council to talk about making changes to the Ruataniwha Dam plans.

Ngati Kahungunu runanga chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says discussions will take in to account the interest of the tribal people along the river.

The tribe has asked for all information on the dam so it can examine the data and reach its own conclusion on the benefits of any water storage scheme, he says. . . .

Maori trust to build East Coast dam:

A Maori organisation has won the right to build a dam on the East Coast.

Wi Pere Trust has got the tick of approval from Gisborne District Council to store water at Whatatutu.

Supplies will be taken from Waipaoa River and the dam will hold enough water to service tribal farmland, vineyards and orchards for 20 days during any drought. . . .

Contest to set speed fencing world record:

Speed and skill will be the key combination needed in Waikato this week to establish a world record for speed fencing.

The challenge, which involves putting battens on a fence, will be a feature of the Grasslandz Agricultural Machinery Expo, taking place at Ereka, between Morrinsville and Hamilton tomorrow and Friday.

It’s organised by Fairbrother Industries, a New Zealand company that makes post drivers and other fencing equipment for the local and export markets. . .   .

Sheep And Beef Sector Boost With Genetics Investment:

The announcement today that the Government will invest $15 million into sheep and beef genetics research over next five years has been welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen.

The Government has said it will contribute funding for genetic research to allow the sheep and beef sector to further improve genetic gain and the development of new traits that can be farmed on hill country.

Petersen said the Government’s funding commitment was a pleasing show of confidence in the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, with the potential to significantly boost farmer profitability and that of the New Zealand economy.

“This investment supports a whole range of research, identifying new breeding traits that will produce more efficient animals and those that meet consumer preferences in our valuable export markets. . .

Following the announcement earlier today of the start of the Forest Industry Workplace Safety Review process, the original architects of the review say they are pleased with the makeup of the review team.

“It was our executive board that first raised concerns with the corporate forest managers back in March 2013” says Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) spokesman John Stulen, “so we are pleased to see that a very strong and completely independent team of experienced safety professionals has been engaged to carry out the work.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Forest Owners Association and union leaders to ensure that a robust process was put in place.

The time we have taken to set up this up and ensure the review is impartial will give piece of mind to everyone.

All workers in our industry and their families can be assured they can speak frankly and openly and expect to have their concerns heard.”


Sound fiscal maangement must continue

January 24, 2014

The Government’s financial statements for the five months to 30 November reinforce the need to remain focused on disciplined fiscal and economic policy, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Lower core Crown tax revenue than forecast in the Half-Year Update last month left the operating deficit before gains and losses at $2.34 billion for the five months.

This was about $400 million larger than forecast, although the Treasury believes most of this revenue difference was due to timing issues and will reverse out in coming months.

“We remain on track to surplus in 2014/15, but, as we have said many times before, this remains quite a challenge,” Mr English says.

“In particular, we need to remain focused and disciplined and now is certainly not the time to get loose with spending and fiscal policy – as some political parties are advocating.”

The latest financial statements confirm core Crown expenses are close to forecast at $29.2 billion and net core Crown debt is slightly lower than forecast at $59.6 billion.

Continued strength in world sharemarkets generated gains on Crown financial instruments of $2.8 billion in the five months, which was $2 billion ahead of forecast. This left the operating surplus $1.6 billion larger than forecast at $2.3 billion.

“Overall, we are making good progress in putting the Government’s finances on a stronger footing and in getting back to surplus,” Mr English says. “It will require responsible fiscal management well beyond our return to surplus – something this Government is committed to delivering.”

Sound fiscal management must continue and Prime Minister John Key emphasised this in his state of the nation speech yesterday:

. . . But that doesn’t mean the job’s done – in fact it’s just begun.

It’s vitally important that over the next few years we continue to build on the hard-won gains we are making as a country.

That includes a huge improvement in managing the country’s finances.

We have made careful savings, been disciplined with spending, and run the public sector far more efficiently.

That’s a lot different than the previous government, which increased spending by 50 per cent in just five years. That spending helped push mortgage rates to almost 11 per cent and crippled the internationally competitive parts of the economy.

New Zealand can’t afford that approach again.

The Government will get back to running surpluses next year. At first they will be very small but they will build up over time. There might be some room for modest spending or revenue initiatives, but the top priority has to be getting our debt down.

The Government has borrowed – on behalf of New Zealanders – around $50 billion over six years to get the country safely through a recession, the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, and one of the most expensive natural disasters in history.

In better economic times we have to reduce that debt.

That will lift national savings, and help keep a lid on interest rate rises as the economy heats up.

We also have to lock in the improvements we are making to New Zealand’s economic settings. And we have to lock in the progress we are making in delivering better public services.

Those changes will continue to serve the country well.

New Zealand now has the opportunity to significantly improve its economic fortunes and provide a better future for New Zealand families.

We can achieve the long-term lift in economic performance that this country has aspired to for so long, providing we keep to our steady and responsible programme.

The alternative to locking in our programme of change is to go off into left field. And I really do mean left field. . . .

That’s the tax and spend left led by Labour and the Green Party.

Any utterances they’ve made show they’ve failed to learn from the failed policies of the last Labour-led government which put New Zealand into recession long before the financial and natural disasters the National-led government has had to handle.

We’re on track back to surplus but that’s only the beginning, Continuing careful management and debt reduction are necessary for the strong foundation the country needs.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,163 other followers

%d bloggers like this: