$22.5m for forestry

August 31, 2014

National’s Forestry Spokesperson, Jo Goodhew announced plans to invest invest $22.5 million over five years to further encourage and support the planting of new forests if the party is back in government:

Mrs Goodhew made the announcement at Knapdale Eco Lodge in Gisborne with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key, National’s Primary Industries spokesman, Nathan Guy, and local East Coast MP Anne Tolley.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) is a grant to help landowners to establish new forests of between five and 300 hectares.

“The previous AGS wound up last year. Through National’s responsible economic management we are able to commit to extending this worthwhile scheme for a further five years,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Our commitment to afforestation is another example of National’s long-term economic investment in regional New Zealand.

“Other examples are our recently announced $150 million investment in the Rural Broadband Initiative, our $212 million investment in new regional roading projects, the investment of $120 million into new irrigation projects, and initiatives like the recovery of windblown timber on the West Coast.

“Contrast that with Labour and the Greens – they would stifle the regions by bringing in a big new carbon tax, imposing large water resource levies, and introducing a capital gains tax on 100 per cent of productive businesses,  including farms.

“National backs the country’s regions to succeed.

“The start-up costs for forests can be a huge barrier, as forestry is a long-term game. It can be 25 to 30 years before forests are ready to be harvested and generate value. That’s why National wants to lower those cost barriers for regional New Zealand and make planting new forests easier,” says Mrs Goodhew.

The scheme will build on the success of the earlier AGS, but will be improved and simplified to make participation easier.

“We have looked at how the scheme could be further enhanced, to make it more accessible and flexible for applicants,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The scheme is projected to result in around 15,000 hectares of new forest being established. Much of this is expected to be on low-quality land not ideal for farming.”

The criteria for the new scheme will include:

Individual parcels of land between 5 and 300 hectares per grant application

Planting must be on land that is not already forestry land

A flat grant rate of $1300 per hectare from one funding pool for all applicants.

In return for a grant, grantees will forfeit carbon credits to the Crown for up to a decade.

“We expect the majority of people taking up this scheme will be farmers and other landowners wanting to diversify and better use marginal land,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The grant will go some way to alleviating the start-up costs of new planting, but we expect grant recipients to meet the long-term costs associated with developing and sustaining a forest.”

Forests have a number of environmental benefits. New planting will help property owners address soil erosion, water quality and biodiversity.

“The removal of carbon by forests plays an important role in helping New Zealand meet its long-term climate change commitments. Planting new forests contributes positively to reducing New Zealand’s net emissions.”

The Afforestation Grants scheme complements work already undertaken in this area, including the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, the Erosion Control Funding Programme on the East Coast and the Hill Country Erosion Fund.

 

National backs our regions to succeed. This announcement is another example of our long-term investment in regional New Zealand. ntnl.org.nz/1vTC2oO #Working4NZ

 

 


Collins resigns from cabinet

August 30, 2014

Judith Collins has resigned from cabinet but will continue to campaign for re-election in the  Papakura electorate which she holds with a solid majority.

Ms Collins resignation from cabinet followed the emergence of an email from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater to PR operative Carrick Graham and others.

The email implies that after (then) SFO boss Adam Feeley briefed Ms Collins, information was leake to Mr Slater then, via Mr Graham, was passed on to the subject of an SFO investigation.

Prime Minister John Key said he had accepted the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government,” Mr Key said.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office (see below).

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part,” he said. . .

Ms Collins released a statement at midday saying, “A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office,” she said in a statement.

“I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I strongly denied the claim and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.

“I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

“I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.” . . .

What someone says about someone else, in an email or anywhere else, is only hearsay and not proof of wrong-doing by them.

But the allegations are serious enough to justify an inquiry and it is appropriate that she resigns from cabinet while it is carried out.

 

 


Key dominates leaders’ index

August 30, 2014

The first of  iSentia’s weekly Leaders’ Indexes shows that Prime Minister John Key dominated the news in the mainstream and social media.

leaders1

This shows how much coverage each party leader gets, it doesn’t differentiate between good and bad coverage.

But when one of his new candidates is more recognisable than he is, David Cunliffe might be thinking that any more publicity, even if it’s negative, might be better than almost none.

When it comes to social media the Internet Mana Party’s two leaders are getting fewer mentions than either Act leader Jamie Whyte or Conservative leader Colin Craig.

Is that irony or just proof that the name is as fake as the partnership?


And the winner . . .

August 28, 2014

. .  of the award for being rude and interrupting goes to David Cunliffe in tonight’s TV1 leaders’ debate.

I wonder if Mike Hosking was too scared of being accused of bias to tell him to shut up?

The winner of the policy discussion was John Key.

The text poll gave the debate to the Prime Minister with 61%.

 


Decision still maybe

August 28, 2014

This afternoon’s Herald Digipoll has a different story from last night’s TV3 one:

New Zealand First, the Conservatives and Internet Mana are on the move up and Labour is still slipping, in the latest Herald DigiPoll survey.

That will be unwelcome news to Labour leader David Cunliffe as he prepares for his first face-off against Prime Minister John Key in the election campaign, at 7pm on One.

National is up fractionally and could still govern alone with 64 seats. Mr Key’s personal popularity is up 3 points to 67.8 per cent. . .

New Zealand First has broken the 5 per cent threshold and leader Winston Peters has leapt up the preferred Prime Minister stakes by 3.1 points to within striking distance of Mr Cunliffe, down 2.8 to 11.6 per cent.

Colin Craig’s Conservatives have risen 0.7 to 3.3 per cent and would not have MPs in Parliament at that level. . .

But the big mover in the DigiPoll survey is Internet Mana which is up by 1.3 to 3.4 per cent.

That would bring Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto into Parliament, assuming that leader Hone Harawira keeps his Te Tai Tokerau seat.

The Greens have fallen 2.3 point to 11.4 per cent although their support commonly fluctuates.

Labour appears to be on a steady decline from 30.5 per cent in June, 26.5 in July, 25.2 last week and to 24.1 in today’s poll.

If Labour mustered the support of New Zealand First, the Greens and Internet Mana, combined they would have 55 seats. . .

The full party vote results

(compared with last week)

National 50.7 (up 0.7)

Labour 24.1 (down 1.1)

Greens 11.4 (down 2.3)

NZ First 5 (up 0.7)

Maori Party 1 (up 0.3)

Internet Mana 3.4 (up 1.3)

Conservatives 3.3 (up 0.7)

Act 0.3 (down 0.3)

United Future 0.2 (down 0.2)

PREFERRED PRIME MINISTER

(compared with last week)

John Key 67.8 (up 3)

David Cunliffe 11.6 (down 2.8)

Winston Peters 8.2 (up 3.1)

Russel Norman 3.8 (up 0.3)

Both polls show the rise in support for NZ First, Conservatives and Internet Mana and continuing decline for Labour.

That combined with Cunliffe’s fall in popularity will put even more pressure on him in tonight’s leaders’ debate.

The difference in the polls indicates that for many people, the decision on who they’ll be voting for is still maybe.

 


Free trade fairest

August 28, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says free trade will lift kiwi incomes:

National today released a set of policies that reinforces the Party’s commitment to openness with the world as the path to lift New Zealanders’ incomes, in contrast with opposition parties that want to isolate us from the rest of the world.

“New Zealand’s economic prosperity relies on selling our goods and services to the rest of the world,” says National Party Leader John Key.  “The fewer barriers there are for our exporters, the better off New Zealanders will be.”

“That is why as Prime Minister I have been working hard on behalf of New Zealanders to crack open more doors to free trade, alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser.

“This includes pushing for a high-quality free trade agreement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes economic giants like the United States and Japan.

“The choice for voters in this area, like so many others, is stark.

“The Greens want to end free trade and Labour, riven by caucus division, is very confused about what it wants after previously being in favour of free trade.  The Dotcom party, of course, is totally opposed to free trade.

“There can be no doubt that this combination in government would damage the cause of New Zealand’s exporters and damage New Zealand’s economic prosperity.

“Raising barriers to the rest of the world and halting the momentum of trade agreements with key markets like the US, Japan and Korea, would be disastrous,” says Mr Key.

“Our policy to encourage free trade is one of the most important ways we can become more prosperous.

“Trade agreements allow New Zealand companies to access big international markets as if they were part of New Zealand’s domestic market.  For a small country they are hugely important.”

Mr Key made the comments at the opening of the New Zealand Winegrowers conference in Blenheim today as National released its Trade, Foreign Affairs and Tourism policies.

“The wine industry is a leading example of New Zealand companies thriving on the world stage,” says Mr Key.

“The policies we are releasing today show our commitment to remaining open to trade with the world, having an independent foreign policy, and encouraging and supporting our crucial tourism industry.

“Should National have the privilege of forming a government after the election, I would continue as Minister of Tourism, working hard to promote New Zealand as a tourism destination,” he says.

Mr Key also announced along with Education Minister Hekia Parata that the National Government has decided to create a $10 million fund over five years to increase the provision of Asian languages in schools.

“These policies together demonstrate National is committed to seeing New Zealand remaining open to the world, continuing to generate economic prosperity through good relations with other countries, and lowering barriers to trade.”

New Zealand would not be where it is economically or socially if it wasn’t for the free trade agreements negotiated by successive governments.

Until recently National and Labour have had a reasonable degree of consensus on the importance of free trade.

That is no longer the case.

Labour is back tracking on its commitment to open borders and it would be dragged further back if it needed the support of the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties to govern.

Only a National-led government will guarantee continuing focus on free trade and the economic and social benefits which come from that.

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2014

$150 million boost for Rural Broadband Initiative:

National’s Communications and Information Technology spokeswoman, Amy Adams, today announced a re-elected National-led Government will establish a new $150 million fund to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Ms Adams made the announcement in Greymouth with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key.

“The RBI is making an immense difference to the way our rural firms do business, the way our kids learn and the way our health services deliver to us as patients,” Ms Adams says.

“Already, nearly 250,000 households and businesses have access to faster broadband under the RBI. However, National wants to see more rural homes and businesses benefit from faster, more reliable internet. . .

New partnership a boost for sheep and beef farming:

Lincoln University officially launched its lower-North Island base for vocational training and demonstration in lamb and beef finishing systems at a function in the Rangitikei today.

The University, along with the newly-formed Lincoln-Westoe Trust, will operate the 400 hectare Westoe Farm north of Bulls as a training facility, offering land-based certificate programmes for students looking to enter into primary sector careers. The training will have a particular emphasis on sheep and beef farming, and a special focus on training youth from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa.

Over time, the Westoe Farm will also be developed as a demonstration farm for the finishing of lambs and the raising and finishing of beef cattle. This demonstration activity will be underpinned by objective scientific measurement of the farm’s performance, including its environmental footprint. Demonstration activity will be supported by commercial sponsors. . . .

A1 beta-casein a threat to dairy industry – Keith Woodford:

Evidence that A1 beta-casein might be a human health issue has been available for more than 15 years. However, the mainstream dairy industry has always fought against the notion that it might be important.

Back in 2007, I wrote a book called ‘Devil in the Milk’ which brought together the evidence at that time. The mainstream industry and even some elements within the Government were not impressed. They made it clear that this was an issue which New Zealand did not need to air publicly. The industry, with considerable help from the Food Safety Authority, was largely successful in dousing the public concerns, leaving just a few little puffs of smoke to remind those who were watching carefully that the fire might not be totally out. . . .

Landcorp, keen user of Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price, looks to reduce dairy exposure – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest corporate farmer, has been an enthusiastic participant in Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price scheme as it reduces exposure to volatile dairy prices, while looking at ways to reduce the dominance of dairy in its portfolio.

The state-owned farmer’s milk revenue soared 70 percent to $129 million in the year ended June 30, contributing to a more-than doubling of operating profit to $30 million. It won’t see a similar benefit from dairy prices in the current year, given dairy prices have tumbled this year from their highs in February.

“We’re making sure we don’t get too reliant on dairy income so the more volatile dairy sector doesn’t become too dominant in the portfolio,” chief executive Steven Carden told BusinessDesk. Landcorp’s strategy includes exploring fixed-price contracts, hedging and greater cooperation with customers across both dairy and meat, he said. . . .

Country of origin law rejected – report:

The Meat Industry Association is supporting the finding by a World Trade Organisation disputes panel that has ruled against the United States over a country of origin meat labelling law.

Canada and Mexico, backed by New Zealand and Australia, amongst others, opposed a new US rule that requires more information on labels about the origins of beef, pork and other meats.

They regard the country of origin law as a potential trade restriction. . . .

Conservation grant supports bird recovery:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is to receive a $90,000 grant from the Department of Conservation to put towards a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for birds and wildlife.

“New Zealand’s most challenging conservation issue is the decline in our native bird populations. We need to raise public awareness of the threat from pests like rats, stoats and possums that kill 25 million native birds each year. We need facilities like Wildbase Recovery to improve public understanding of our special birds and save those birds that are injured and can be rehabilitated back into the wild,” Dr Smith says.

Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is a charitable trust formed in partnership with local iwi, Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, Rotary and the Department of Conservation for the sole purpose of building, operating and maintaining the community-funded Wildbase Recovery. . .

Benefits from dairy demonstration farm New Zealand wide:

 A new demonstration dairy farm in the Waikato has a key role in helping New Zealand achieve the Government’s target of doubling revenue from primary industries by 2025.

This was a consistent theme from speakers at the launch of the St Peter’s – Lincoln University Dairy Demonstration farm in Cambridge on Thursday 14 August. 

The Demonstration Dairy Farm has set its sights on being in the top 3% of farms in the region for both profitability and environmental performance.  The overall aim of the farm is to promote the sustainable development of profitable dairying, principally in the Waikato but also the greater North Island.  This will be achieved through the implementation of proven scientific research, best practice farming coupled with scientific monitoring of impacts in a collaborative environment with farmers. . .

Akarua Purchases Vineyards on Felton Road

Akarua is delighted to announce a major vineyard purchase with the acquisition of vineyards located in Felton Road and Lowburn finalised on Friday 22 August 2014.

Akarua, established in 1996 by Sir Clifford Skeggs is the largest family owned vineyard in Central Otago with single estate holdings in Cairnmuir Road Bannockburn, this recent purchase will significantly boost their total vineyard area to 100 hectares in Central Otago.

David Skeggs, Managing Director of the Skeggs Group said that that the company had been actively looking at purchasing developed vineyard in Central Otago for the last 2 years. . . .

New Zealand organic pioneers place farming unit up for sale:

A sizeable landholding which is part of one of New Zealand’s oldest organic farming operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The farms just north of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast and trading under the brand Kiwi Organics, have been run by the Parker family for more than 50 years – the last 23 of those under ‘certified organic’ branding. Owners Mike and Bridget Parker are former winners of the Heinz Watties Organic Farmer of the Year title.

Kiwi Organics farm and manufacture primary products for customers throughout the Pacific Rim – including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia. The company’s products are Bio Gro Certified, USDA/NOP Certified, and EU Certified and Gluten Free. . .

 


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