New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced the Cabinet for his third term:


“There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs,” Mr Key says.

“The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent.

“A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas.”

Mr Key says a number of Ministers have been promoted either to the front bench, or further up the front bench, to reflect their strong performance in recent years and their promise for the future.

“Paula Bennett has been promoted to number five in the rankings, and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

“Dr Jonathan Coleman becomes Minister of Health, and also picks up the Sport and Recreation portfolio, which will link nicely together.

“Amy Adams and Simon Bridges are promoted to the front bench, both with significant new responsibilities. Ms Adams becomes Justice Minister and Mr Bridges Transport Minister.

“Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, while picking up significant new responsibilities in the intelligence area. He becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB, working closely with me in my new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

“In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Housing continues to be a key area of focus for the Government, and a Ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith has been assembled to lead that work. Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government’s social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector.

Other changes include:

Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety – a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio.

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Mr Key says, in announcing his new line up, three new Ministers will be appointed. Maggie Barry is to go straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens. Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

“Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples.

“Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National’s nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.

A number of Ministers continue largely in their current portfolio responsibilities. These include Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

“The support party Ministerial and Under Secretary roles have already been announced, but I want to acknowledge again their contribution to the formation of a strong, stable National-led Government.”

Mr Key says the National Caucus will meet tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.

 


Rural round-up

July 20, 2014

Back agriculture back our Roads:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement to increase investment in our deteriorating rural roads, but has concerns at whether it will be enough.

“A proposed increase of 4.3 percent per annum for local road improvements, and a 2.4 percent increase for local road maintenance, is long overdue but it remains to be seen whether it is enough.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government Spokesperson.

“To date, the investment in our rural roads has not kept up with inflation and it is evident in each pot hole and/or goat track that farmers, families, school buses and contractors navigate everyday.

“We are pleased this is now being addressed but is it a sufficient recognition of the importance of roading to an economy reliant on primary production, and in turn it’s long rural roads? . . .

More places earmarked for rural medical students:

Health Minister Tony Ryall has today announced there will be an additional 34 medical places for students next year at our two medical schools, including more positions earmarked for rural students.

Mr Ryall made the announcement at Taumarunui Hospital, a busy rural health facility in the King Country with around 100 staff. 

“Research shows that students who grew up in rural areas, such as Taumarunui, are more likely to go back and work in those areas. These extra places will help encourage more doctors to work in our rural communities,” says Mr Ryall.

“Since 2009 this government has now funded 170 extra medical school places. . . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Assures Australian Consumers that its Seafood is Sustainable:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) list of imported fish that it’s telling consumers to stay away from, sounds like an ‘underarm delivery’ to the New Zealand industry.

Seafood New Zealand’s Chairman George Clement says it seems that the AMCS is has just gone through a list of imported seafood to arbitrarily warn people against most of it.

“Species by species, as we go through them, we can see how misinformed the AMCS report is. They’ve provided no transparent criteria nor openness in their assessments. There’s no indication that they have actually challenged themselves to examine the facts when they’ve drawn up their list.” . . .

Seafood New Zealand welcomes community funding for seabird conservation work:

Seafood New Zealand today welcomed Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith’s announcement that the Government will provide $300,000 of funding to two community groups to support their work in protecting some of New Zealand’s special seabirds.

The seafood industry is one of the founding partners in the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust which has received $100,000 towards a seabird smart recreational fishing initiative that aims to reduce the number of birds accidentally caught by recreational fishers in the upper North Island. . . .

From the last will and testament of a farmer c1986 – Gravedodger:

To my Wife,  my bank overdraft. Maybe she has an explanation for it.

To my Banker, I bequeath my soul, he has the mortgage on it anyway.

To my nearest and dearest neighbor, my clown suit, he claims he is going to carry on farming.

To The Rural Bank, my grain silo and my Fertilizer Bin, he has them as chattel security anyway.

To the local scrap metal dealer, every item of crap machinery I have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep from his possession. . . .

Otago woman named NZ’s top young amenity horticulturist:

New Zealand’s top young amenity horticulturist has been found after an intense day of competition at the Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year event in Hamilton yesterday.

The annual competition is run by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and serves as the qualifier for the prestigious Horticulturist of the Year competition, which will be hosted in Auckland in November.

Otago woman Sarah Fenwick emerged as the judge’s choice after planning, planting and potting her way to victory. The 30-year-old former vet nurse narrowly beat second place getter Josh van der Hulst, from Kamo, to take out the prize. . . .

Tax officials to work with bloodstock breeding industry:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy and Revenue Minister Todd McClay have confirmed that Inland Revenue officials will work with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association on a number of tax issues raised by the industry.

The issues cover questions the NZTBA has over the application of tax rules for the industry and are expected to be dealt with as part of the normal consultative process between the private sector and tax officials.

“We are confident that the majority of the issues can be worked through, providing a positive result and greater certainty for what is an important industry to New Zealand,” Mr McClay says. . . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s largest A&P Show:

Show organisers for the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show are calling upon showing enthusiasts from throughout New Zealand to send in their entries and compete in the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show. For over 150 years, The Show has been attracting and showcasing New Zealand’s best animals and talented competitors. In addition to showing success, exhibitors will be competing for over $100,000 in prize money.

More than 3000 animals and close to 1000 competitors are expected to compete in 1700 classes including sections for horse and pony, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, alpaca, llama, wool, goat, dog trials, poultry, shearing and woolhandling, woodchopping and vintage machinery. Entries are also open for two of the feature competitions of The Show – the Mint Lamb Competition where New Zealand’s top lambs are put to a taste test, and the Young Auctioneers Competition where up-and-coming stock agents get to show off their skills. . . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2014

Tax relief for Northland flood affected farmers:

Revenue Minister Todd McClay has said that flood affected farmers in Northland will be offered assistance through Inland Revenue’s income equalisation discretion following the declaration of a medium scale adverse event by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning.

“The Government recognises that this will be a difficult time for many in Northland as they come to terms with the damage caused by recent severe weather events. This assistance from IRD will give greater certainty to affected farmers and is designed to make the coming months easier for them as they deal with the damage done to their farms,” Mr McClay says. . .

Scope to boost profits:

High levels of labour efficiency, low costs of production and plenty of potential to increase productivity with minimal investment are the good news stories from the 2013 Southern Beef Situation Analysis, commissioned by MLA.

The findings reinforced earlier work about the opportunities for southern beef producers.

The analysis found that average profits per hectare in beef production have lagged behind most alternative enterprises in the southern region, excluding wool, in the past 15 years.

However, it also showed that it would be better for southern beef producers with low profitability to improve efficiencies in their current business rather than switching to an alternative enterprise. . . .

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited reaches financial close on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (Crown Irrigation) today announced it has reached financial close on its first investment with Central Plains Water Limited.

Under the agreement, Crown Irrigation will provide $6.5 million of subordinated debt finance for a period of up to five years, to support the construction of excess capacity in the headrace to be built during Stage 1 that is needed for later stages of the irrigation scheme.

Following the agreement of a terms sheet in March 2014, the transaction has been subject to comprehensive due diligence by Crown Irrigation and all conditions precedent have been satisfied. . .

Molkerei Ammerland to offer Sweet Whey Powder (SWP) on GlobalDairyTrade:

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) announced today that Molkerei Ammerland will join the seven existing sellers on GlobalDairyTrade beginning September, 2014, offering Sweet Whey Powder for the first time on the world’s leading auction platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland’s participation as a seller on GDT marks yet another significant development in the world’s foremost online dairy commodity trading platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland, one of Europe’s leading dairy cooperatives, gathers milk from over 2000 farmers across northwest Germany, and through its state of the art production facilities it processes more than 1.5 billion kilograms of milk for sale to over 50 countries around the world. Molkerei Ammerland specialises in cheeses, butter, whey powders, milk powders and fresh dairy products, and has capitalised on over 125 years’ experience. . .

New film shows seafood industry and conservation groups working together to protect seabirds:

The New Zealand seafood industry congratulated Southern Seabird Solution Trust’s on its short film “Sharing Worlds, Seabirds and Fishing” which was launched today by the Hon Nick Smith, the Minister of Conservation at the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula.

The film highlights Otago fishing and conservation working together for the benefit of seabirds like the yellow-eyed penguin and sooty shearwater, also known as titi.

“The film is a tangible demonstration of how organisations, often with differing interests, can work together in a positive and proactive way,” says George Clement, Chair of Seafood New Zealand who was at the launch. . .

New CEO for primary industry alliance:

Andy Somerville has been appointed as the new chief executive officer for the Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA).

PICA is a collaboration between New Zealand Young Farmers; DairyNZ; Beef and Lamb NZ; PrimaryITO; Taratahi; Ministry for Primary Industries and Lincoln University, set up in 2012 to develop a capability strategy for the wider agricultural industry.

Chair of the Transition Board for PICA, Mark Paine, says Andy, originally from Otago, is a Lincoln University graduate who comes from a rural and commercial banking background. . . .


Fieldays good and bad

June 16, 2014

The National Agricultural Fieldays have come along way from its start in 1969 with a budget of $10,500 and 15,000 people attending.

Fieldays, billed as the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, has concluded after 900 exhibitors showed their wares to 120,000 visitors over four days. . .

The weather on Wednesday and Thrusday might have put some visitors off going but reports say sales were good and the economic impact spreads much wider than the site.

Accommodation in and around Hamilton was booked out months in advance.

We only made the decision to go last Tuesday and ended up staying in Auckland.

We can’t have been the only ones. When we returned the rental car with an apology for the dirt, the man receiving it laughed and said it was just one of many that showed signs of a visit to the Fieldays.

The mood among farmers and exhibitors was buoyant – and the response at this stand was very positive:

fieldays14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These four MPs, Scott Simpson, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Louise Upston and Todd McLay, and volunteers were very busy.

Labour has given up on farming, and as a consequence of that, the provinces. Farmers, the people who work for, service and supply them are seriously worried about the negative impacts a change of government will bring.

Organising an event as big as the Fieldays is a a major undertaking.

From the efficiency and friendliness of the ticket sellers at the entrance, the layout, range of exhibitors, quality and variety of food for sale, to the cleanliness of the loos – which is no small task with all those exhibitors and visitors – I have nothing but praise.

But I do have a major complaint about the traffic management.

We left Auckland at 6:30 on Friday morning. We got to a queue of vehicles 9 kilometres from the site at 8:30 and finally got to the car park at 11:40.

A couple of hours into the stop-start crawl I began to worry that I’d need a loo before we got there.

Eventually I started walking and came across a police officer at a round-about. He directed me to Regal Haulage a few hundred metres up the road where the receptionist greeted my plea for help with a smile and took me to their loo.

She turned down my offer to pay but I left a note anyway, telling her to shout herself a treat or give it to charity – it was worth every cent.

Our previous visit to the Fieldays was six years ago. We’d hit a long queue to the entrance on the Friday then too but put that down to leaving Auckland too late which is why we left so early.

But the problem wasn’t timing it was traffic management which requires a serious re-think.

If it’s not practical to close the road past the site to traffic going in the opposite direction they need to use cones to make two lanes going there in the morning and away in the afternoon and they need more entrances.

An alternative or addition to that would be to create parks some distance from the site and provide buses from there.

We’ll go back to the Fieldays in a few years but unless we can be sure of better traffic management we’re very unlikely to go back on a Friday.


Politics Daily

June 12, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break. I’m not pretending to be balanced. While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end. You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Claire Trevatt @ NZ Herald – NZ Game of Thrones – does Cunliffe dare to play?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Caucus can safely roll Cunliffe from next week

John Armstrong, Adam Bennett & Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald – Election 2014: Parties ready but are you?

CameronSlater @ Whale Oil – The magic “Seven reasons” that will drive this election

Pattrick Smellie @ Stuff – Early date a savvy move from PM

Vernon Small @ Stuff - Curious case of deal with Craig

David Farrar # Kiwiblog – National’s potential election deals

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Paranoid Winston Peters dumps candidate?

Nookin @ Keeping Stock – A guest post on a new Labour policy

Pete George  @ YourNZ – Civilian Party and United Future announce campaign deal

Beehive

Chris Finlayson - Agreement in Principle signed with the iwi and hapū of Te Wairoa

Chris Finlayson – Screen NZ formed to boost NZ’s profile on world stage

Todd McLay – Intergovernmental FATCA agreement signed

Tony Ryall – Health Minister opens $67m Whakatane Hospital

Steven Joyce – International education numbers set to grow

Gerry Brownlee - Performing arts precinct off to an exciting start

Hekia Parata – Pegasus School opens

OCR

Brian Fellow @ NZ Herald – Wheeler yanks the leash

Tony Field @ TV3 – OCR rise good for savers

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – OCR goes to 3.25%

Crime

Rachel Smalley – Labour politicising a terrible tragedy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smalley tears into Labour

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Violent crime

Education

Inventory 2 @ Why don’t they mention the PPTA?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour against paying the top teachers more

Other

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Misrepresenting the current abortion law

Cameron SLater @ Whale Oil – David Cunliffe upsets Chief District Court Judge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Fine tuning immigration to drop Auckland House prices? Reserve Bank says yeah… Nah

Pete George @ YourNZ – Labour vs Reserve Bank on immigration

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Trevor Mallard continues to show that for Labour, facts are optional

Matthew Beveridge – Compare and Contrast: Chris Tremain and Todd Barclay


Tough on tax evasion

April 12, 2014

One of the left’s complaints is that tax evaders are treated more leniently than those who abuse welfare.

That is not supported by the facts:

Speaking at the OECD Cash and Hidden Economy Conference today, Revenue Minister Todd McClay reiterated the Government’s commitment to clamping down on tax evasion and avoidance.

“This is an area the Government has invested heavily in and we are starting to see results,” says Mr McClay.

“In Budget 2010, we invested $120 million in going after tax non-compliance; another $78.4 million was further invested in Budget 2012.”

“Last year compliance activity for ‘hidden economy’ tax evasion gave a return of $45 million, $5.60 for every dollar spent. For non-compliance through property speculation, $53.8 million worth of discrepancies were found, a return of $8.42 for every dollar invested.”

“That is money we now have to invest in things like health, education and rebuilding Christchurch.”

“Our opponents claim that we are obsessed with welfare fraud while do nothing about tax dodging, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“Spending on Welfare Fraud has remained at exactly the same level as it was under the last Government, around $35 million a year, yet the management of debt and outstanding returns by IRD has gone up from $88 million to $125 million in Budget 2013.”

Overall last year, Inland Revenue collected around $4 billion worth of debt and outstanding returns.

“Prevention is always better than the cure, however.”

“Inland Revenue works hard to help people understand their obligations and is constantly finding ways to simplify and speed up compliance for taxpayers.”

“I encourage anyone who may be struggling to meet their obligations to contact Inland Revenue and work out a repayment plan.”

“It is easier for taxpayers if they comply on time than have Inland Revenue chase them up later,” says Mr McClay.

 

Photo: Since National's been in power, extra money has been spent to make sure everyone pays their fair share of tax. http://nzyn.at/1gRPkse


Connect for mental health

October 10, 2013

It’s Mental Health Week,  today is Mental Health Day and Associate Health Minister Todd McClay is urging people to connect:

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which started Monday 7 October and finishes on Friday 11 October is CONNECT.

“Supportive friends, families whānau and communities are an integral component of good mental health. It is a responsibility that falls on all of us to connect with those around us and ensure that they are supported,” says Mr McClay. . .

Mr McClay will be attending a community barbecue in his electorate, organised by Lifewise Rotorua, to celebrate the week. Lifewise Rotorua is a community service for people and their whānau experiencing difficulty with their mental health or addictions.

As Associate Minister of Health with responsibility for mental health and addiction and suicide prevention, Mr McClay stressed the importance of maintaining community networks and social bonds with those around you.

“Whether it’s extending a helping hand, inviting your neighbour over for a cup of tea or checking in with friends and family, a small gesture can make a big difference.”

For those who were struggling or wanted to talk to someone, New Zealand has a range of services available, including the depression.org.nz website, the 0800 111 757 depression helpline and the lowdown.org.nz website for young people.

“If you’ve got concerns about your health or someone else’s, then reach out and connect. Help is only a visit, a phone call or a text message away,” says Mr McClay. . .

Federated Farmers would like to emphasise the importance of talking about depression and removing the stigma around the issue.

“Federated Farmers’ ‘When Life’s a Bitch’ campaign really took the lid off the issue in rural communities and this week is a great time to reinforce just how important it is to be open and aware of the issue,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Mental Health Spokesperson.

“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, and we are rated 22nd out of 23 countries for social wellbeing, there is a serious need to stand up and pay attention.

“Whilst environmental pressures have dropped for some, not all farmers are in the clear and people struggling with depression are still slipping under the radar. On the surface farmers may seem like they have it together however, the hangover from the drought is still very much here.

“I am still talking to farmers around the country who are under severe financial pressure from the drought and other adverse weather events. It is important to understand that depression is not a problem that just comes and goes with the weather.

“Positive change comes from people talking and connecting with each other, we are stronger when we band together. Conversations build communities creating awareness and breaking down the barriers of isolation.

“For this week we are focusing on connecting with each other, and there are a few events on around the country that you can attend as well as an online wellbeing game that makes you the master of your own happiness.

“Whilst we can help ourselves by talking and connecting with others there is more that needs to be done. Federated Farmers and the Rural General Practice Network are calling for the Government to recognise the issue by providing specific funding for rural mental health,” concluded Mrs Maxwell.

If someone breaks a leg we can see the plaster and generally know how to help.

You can’t put plaster on a broken spirit.  We often don’t recognise mental health problems. If we do it’s harder to know what to do, although connecting – providing the practical support and emotional comfort we’d offer to someone with a physical illness is a good start.

There’s more information at the Mental Health Foundation.


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