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.


Issues that matter

January 28, 2014

He’s referring to Labour MP David Clark’s suggestion that the government bans Facebook.

Perhaps Andrei is right and Labour is trying to throw the election.

 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2014

Farm sales up, confidence strong – Laura Walters:

The number of farm sales rose by more than 20 per cent last year, reflecting strong confidence in the rural sector, the Real Estate Institute says.

More than 1700 farms were sold in 2013, the largest number of sales a year since 2009.

Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) today showed 292 more farms were sold in the three months to December compared to the same period the previous year, an increase of 20.1 per cent.

Overall, there were 554 farm sales in the three months to the end of December 2013, compared to 414 farm sales for the three months ended November 2013, an increase of 33.8 per cent. . .

Good, not spectacular, arable harvest ahead – Annette Scott:

Crops are looking good but the harvest is not going to be a “bin buster”, industry leaders say.

As the combines roll out many farmers, particularly in Mid Canterbury, are counting the losses after wind and hail played havoc with crops in recent months.

All on top of a wet winter that has created more disease than usual.

“We are really just getting started with the harvest,” Mid Canterbury arable farmer and Federated Farmers South Island grain and seed vice-chairman David Clark said.

“So far the vining peas have been quite disappointing. Autumn cereals, having endured some very wet weather, are not expected to be too exciting. Some ryegrasses have been good and some, due to a variety of ills, quite disappointing. . .

Farmers act as water guardians -

Farmers have been helping Environment Canterbury by providing practical onfarm knowledge and expertise on water quality.

They are members of the Guardians of Fork/Hakatere Stream.

The group was in the process of completing a funding application to help develop and restore an area of land adjacent to the stream.

This would include an educational amenity with green space and interpretive panels next to the stream on Braemar Road. . .

Apple exports a sweet success – Esther Ashby-Coventry:

The growing American demand for the honeycrisp apple has prompted Waipopo Orchards to encourage other local growers to join its export market.

Honeycrisp out-earns any other export apple grown in New Zealand. In the US it sells for about US$50 (NZ$61) a box, compared with other varieties, which are about US$20 a box.

Honeycrisp is the most popular apple in the US, with demand increasing 20 to 30 per cent each year since Waipopo’s first export of 50 tonnes in 2011.

Waipopo co-director Peter Bennett said that along with growers in Central Otago a total of 1300 tonnes, which was double the volume shipped in 2013, would be exported this year. Waipopo will produce about 1100 tonnes, which is 85 per cent of the market. . . .

Missing foal feared stolen - Nicole Mathewson:

A Central Otago couple are baffled after their foal disappeared. 

Horse trainers Bill and Rosanne Keeler were shocked to find their three-week striking black colt was missing from its paddock on January 15.

Bill Keeler said he believed the male foal went missing about two days earlier, because his mother’s milk had already dried up.

The paddock – located in Millers Flat, just south of Roxburgh – was surrounded by high fencing and there were no holes it could have escaped through. None of the other horses in the paddock had disappeared. 

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Keeler said. . . .

Hawke’s Bay iwi want Mayor’s resignation – Adam Ray:

A Hawke’s Bay Iwi says local Mayor Peter Butler should resign after suggesting their opposition to a proposed dam means they should be banned from any jobs it creates.

Mr Butler singled out the chair of Ngati Kahungunu for criticism in an email to other councillors.

He says parched pastures will be transformed with irrigation from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

“We’re sick of the negativity of the people trying to stop the dam,” he says.  

Among those in his sights are local iwi Ngati Kahungunu and its chair Ngahiwi Tomoana. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 17, 2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


So much for the south

September 27, 2013

Labour’s abandonment of the provinces is particularly noticeable in the South Island and the dearth of representation has been highlighted by the party’s reshuffle.

The first South Island MP in the line-up is list MP Clayton Cosgrove at number 7.

The next is another list MP Maryan Street at 12 and then West Coast Tasman MP Damien O’Connor at 19.

The party has only two MPs south of Christchurch. One of those, David Clark who is supposed to be well regarded in and outside parliament, has been demoted to 20.

Megan Woods is 24 and the other South Islanders, Ruth Dyson, Clare Curran, and Rino Tirikatene are unranked.

The ODT says that new deputy, and another list MP,  David Parker’s links give Labour south cover.

David Parker pledged his loyalty to the South after his election yesterday as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

The election of Mr Parker – a list MP who has a house in Dunedin, visits the city two weekends out of three and still calls the city his base – provides Labour with South coverage to complement Mr Cunliffe’s coverage of the North as MP for New Lynn.

The prime reason for those visits will be to keep contact with his children. That is his business but shouldn’t be confused with political representation.

He might have pledged his loyalty to the south but his actions don’t match his words. He chose to leave Dunedin and stand for Epsom at the last election.

The one before that, 2008, he was the candidate for Waitaki but showed his lack of commitment to that when he conceded the seat at a public meeting a couple of weeks before the election, for which local party members still haven’t forgiven him.

If it gets into government, the party’s anti-growth policies will hit the regions hard and the lack of representation in the senior ranks of the party will make it more difficult for the concerns of the south to be heard.


Tweet spotlights division

September 10, 2013

Labour’s two Dunedin MPs Clare Curran and David Clark came out in support of Grant Robertson before the leadership meeting in the city on Sunday.

A couple of polls have shown their candidate is well behind and yesterday Curran tweeted:

“The “NZ’s not ready for a gay PM” is prob the biggest dog whistle I’ve ever heard. Extraordinary that it’s also coming from within the Party.”

And that tweet is not prob(ably) but definitely an illustration that Labour’s big problem is lack of unity compounded by MPs’ ability to keep their thoughts on internal problems internal.
A leadership race like this always had the potential to expose divisions in the party and this tweet has shone a spotlight on at least one of them.

Rural round-up

September 6, 2013

Record number of Rural Women members step up as candidates in local elections 2013:

A record number of Rural Women NZ members are standing in this year’s local elections, motivated by the need for better understanding by councils and District Health Boards of the challenges facing rural communities.

At least 14 Rural Women NZ members are standing around the country, with three already certain of their seats, being unopposed.

Rural rates are a hot issue, particularly the disproportionate share of rates being shouldered by farmers, which is a top priority for many.

Sharyn Price, a Kauru Hill Rural Women member standing for the Corriedale Ward of Waitaki District Council, says, “Rates fairness and value for money are utterly essential. Rural ratepayers have seen much larger percentage increases in rates than council’s averages, thanks to farm development increasing capital values, while town values fail to keep pace. Paying ever more for a shrinking share of services is not reasonable.” . .

$25m invested in new forestry technologies:

The Government is investing $2.5 million over a maximum of five years to support research that will increase the productivity of the forestry industry, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

The funding will support the development of new technologies that can be used by pine tree breeders to reduce the time it takes to breed and plant new improved trees by 15 years.

The Radiata Pine Breeding Company, which has formed a partnership between 16 forestry organisations, Scion and the University of Canterbury, is researching and developing the new technologies. . .

RMA reform bill third reading ‘a reform entrée’:

 Federated Farmers is welcoming some parts of the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012, which recently passed its third reading in the Parliament. 

 “While some parts of the Bill relate to Auckland, other parts are an economic and environmental appetizer for farmers,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment Spokesperson.

 “There are some aspects we welcome, some we have reservations about and some we do not think go far enough.

 “A few environmental activists have irrationally fought tooth and nail against having a robust cost benefit analysis in the RMA.  Without one, however, the RMA was increasingly trending towards perfection as a benchmark and that is as unaffordable as it is unobtainable. . .

Hoorah for Rotorua lake water quality!:

Federated Farmers applauds a recent Bay of Plenty Regional Council report showing water quality improvement in the Rotorua Lakes catchment has improved significantly.

“This gives a good, accurate illustration on the state of water quality within Rotorua Lakes,” says Neil Heather, past provincial president Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo.

“It highlights all the good work done through collaborative partnerships with landowners and the community undertaken to improve the lakes’ water quality. Federated Farmers supports the regional council’s use of the Trophic Level Index (TLI), which has undoubtedly led to an overall increase in water quality of the lakes catchment.

“A major impact on these results was the decision to apply alum dosing, which is key for algal growth meaning there are now less favourable conditions for weed growth and algal blooms. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers Appoints New CEO, Terry Copeland:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to announce the appointment of the new CEO, Terry Copeland. After twelve years of service to NZYF as CEO, Richard Fitzgerald is stepping down.

Mr Copeland, comes to Young Farmers with an arsenal of experience from management, sales and marketing and supply chain management to tertiary teaching, journalism and being a brand ambassador.

His latest post was with Treasury Wine Estates, the second largest wine company globally. He led the export strategy and the supply chain team for four years. . .

MPI To Work with Farmers On Blackgrass Biosecurity Response:

Federated Farmers is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and other stakeholders to ensure that blackgrass is not established in New Zealand, following the news of a potential blackgrass incursion in mid-Canterbury.

“The seed was spilt between Ashburton and a seed dressing plant in the Methven area and is a serious threat to arable farming in New Zealand,” says David Clark, Federated Farmers mid-Canterbury Grains Chairperson.

“We have just one chance to get this right and we commend MPI for identifying and informing us of this restricted weeds presence.

“Federated Farmers is firmly committed to working collaboratively with MPI and the Foundation of Arable Research to mount a credible response. . .

Synlait joins the ‘Good News Club’

Federated Farmers is thrilled that Synlait has increased their forecast milk price of $8 per kilogram of milk solids.

“Synlait has joined the ‘Good News Club’ at a time when dairy farmers needed some reassurance in the strength of the market,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“It has been a tumultuous time for the dairy industry this past month, but it is clear from Fonterra, Westland and Synlait that the demand for New Zealand milk is stronger than ever. . .

Wool Prices Continue to Rise:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the 9,400 bales of North Island wool on offer this week saw a 98 percent clearance and significant price lifts in some sectors compared to the last sale in the South Island on 29th August.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies lifted by 1.05 percent, however resurgence in wool prices in other markets coupled with limited supply locally, bypassed any currency impact with the market lifting between 3 and 10 percent.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were 3 to 6 percent dearer. Good Style Coarse Full Fleece were 5 to 6 percent stronger with poorer styles lifting by 7 to 10 percent. . .

Rural Equities annual profit slides 31% on property revaluations, drought; lifts dividend:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group controlled by the Cushing family, reported a 31 percent drop in annual profit as property revaluations lagged behind those from a year earlier, and as the North Island’s worst drought in seven years ate into operating earnings.

Net profit fell to $10.9 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $15.8 million a year earlier, the Hastings-based company said in a statement. Profit included a gain in the 27-farm property portfolio of $4.9 million, smaller than the $14.3 million revaluation in 2012. Operating earnings declined to $2.1 million from $2.9 million as the drought increased the cost of feed, and the farms received lower prices for milk, sheep and wool. . .

 Eastpack Celebrates 30 Years of Packing Kiwifruit:

Leading kiwifruit post harvest supplier, EastPack has celebrated 30 seasons of packing kiwifruit. EastPack, which began in Edgecumbe and was originally called Rangitaiki Fruitpackers Co-operative, is now New Zealand’s largest post harvest kiwifruit operator, following its merger earlier this year with Satara.

Chief Executive Tony Hawken has led the company through 30 years of continuous growth.

“From day one, we have always had, and continue to have, a reputation for looking after our growers no matter how challenging the circumstances,” Mr Hawken said.

“As a grower-owned company, EastPack growers share in the company’s financial success. We consistently deliver industry-leading orchard gate returns (OGR) through our operational efficiencies, inventory management and our grower-owned structure.” . . .

Sacred Hill scores high in Gimblett Gravels Vintage Selection:

Hawkes Bay’s Gimblett Gravels has selected its top wines from an outstanding 2011 line up and Sacred Hill Vineyards is the only producer to have two wines make the grade in the prestigious Annual Vintage Selection (AVS), recording the highest scoring wines in two categories.

The selection of wines from the 2011 vintage was made this week following a tasting by one of the world’s most highly respected Masters of Wine, Andrew Caillard of Australia.

Gimblett Gravels producers were allowed to put forward no more than three wines each for the tasting with a maximum of two from any winery eligible for the final selection of 12 wines. Only wines scoring 93 points out of 100 or more were selected. . .


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