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.


Test on idiots

July 31, 2013

Quote of the day:

“If it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it.” John Banks.

He was commenting on testing party pills on animals.

Banks was the only MP to vote against legislation which would allow animal testing. However, Associate Health Minister Todd McLay shares his concerns.

“Many New Zealanders have raised concerns around the possibility of animal testing for psychoactive products, and I am one of them.

“I have today clarified with the Ministry of Health that no licences to test psychoactive substances are to be issued before the Expert Advisory Committee has completed its consideration of what constitutes a low risk of harm and the appropriateness of all aspects of a testing regime,” says Mr McClay.

“New Zealand has a policy of replacing, refining and reducing any testing involving animals and I have made it clear that it is my expectation we will set an example in this area. Within days of receiving my ministerial warrant I inserted Clause 12 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 ruling out any animal testing where an alternative exists.

“Last week I had a positive meeting with animal welfare representatives to discuss how we can together work towards a regime that will exclude animal tests. I welcome their input as I am sure this will add to the effective and practical implementation of the Act in the months ahead,” says Mr McClay.

The Psychoactive Substances Act removed legal highs from hundreds of retailers around New Zealand and will ensure that only low risk products are available in the future. The Government’s overriding objective with the legislation is the health and welfare of young people, and the Act is already having a positive effect for those most vulnerable.

Countries around the world continue to struggle with how to deal with these products and New Zealand is leading the world in addressing these completely new substances.

“There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge before any testing regime is finalised and I look forward to working with interested parties, including those involved in today’s marches, on this issue in the weeks ahead,” says Mr McClay.

I am not against animal testing on drugs which could do a lot of good but party pills definitely don’t fall into that category.

 


Lotto or K2?

June 12, 2013

New Zealand Lotteries is asking all its retailers to remove from sale of all synthetic cannabis and party pills.

The move has the support of Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain and Associate Minister of Health Todd McClay.

NZ Lotteries has written to six hundred independently owned retailers with Lotto outlets advising them not to sell synthetic cannabis and similar products from 1 July 2013.

“The sooner psychoactive substances are out of shops the better. New Zealanders are extremely concerned about what these products are doing to the health of our young people. This is a community issue and I am pleased to see Lotto making a firm stand on it,” says Mr Tremain.

“Selling these substances is not compatible with the sale of lotteries products. Profits from NZ Lotteries are returned to the community to help fund recreation, arts, community projects and sports. K2 and party pills have been linked to serious health effects and anti-social behaviour, including crime and violent offending.”

“It is important to protect vulnerable people in our communities. The Psychoactive Substances Bill is currently before the Health Select Committee which is due to report back shortly. I hope to see the Bill progress quickly through the house,” says Mr McClay.

Those who oppose any form of gambling might not see the difference between one potentially addictive habit and another.

But most people buy the odd scratchy or lotto ticket without harming anyone.

The danger of users of K2 and its kind harming themselves and, more particularly, endangering others is much greater.

The return from sales is also pretty high – I wonder if it’s higher than returns from selling scratchies and lotto tickets and if so some outlets would prefer to lose the lottery sales?


McLay new minister

June 10, 2013

Rotorua MP Todd McLay will  be appointed as a new Minister outside Cabinet, becoming Revenue Minister and Associate Health Minister.

These are two of the portfolios held by Peter Dunne until he resigned on Friday.

The third, associate conservation, will be discontinued and the responsibilities will be picked up by Conservation Minister  Nick Smith.

Dunne had an interest in that area from the hunting,s hooting, fishing perspective of the Outdoor Recreation Party which is one of the many wee parties which have been absorbed into United Future.


Powering back to socialist 70s

April 19, 2013

BusinessNZ calls the Labour/Green plan to nationalise electricity wholesalers economic vandalism.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the proposal would destroy a functioning market and replace it with heavy-handed bureaucracy.

“Inserting an army of bureaucrats between power generators and retailers would destroy price signals, so prices would not reflect the cost of generation.

“In that situation, the taxpayer would continue to pay ever higher subsidies of the electricity system. This is not sustainable.

“The Electricity Authority said only yesterday that the electricity market is as competitive as it has ever been. It can always be improved, and this is where the focus should be.

“It’s only competition that can drive prices down. Governments can’t do this, not without subsidising the sector from taxes.

“A state-controlled sector as envisaged by Labour would drive out private investment. Why would the private sector invest in generators when the state can determine the prices they can charge, while subsidising state-owned competitors?

“The private sector power companies would have to seriously consider their future in the market. Those who have invested heavily would basically find their profits confiscated.

“Interfering in the market in this way would send a signal to the rest of the world that it is not safe to invest anywhere in New Zealand. The knock-on impact from that, on jobs and growth, would dwarf any short-term benefit from artificially reduced electricity prices,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says the Labour-Greens power plan is incoherent and will kill competition in the electricity market.

“Under the previous Government, electricity prices increased by 72 per cent. It has taken the National-led Government’s reforms to arrest these ridiculously steep increases on New Zealand households,” says Mr Bridges.

“The 2010 electricity market restructure is working. The market now has more players and much more competition than it ever had under Labour.

“New Zealanders are increasingly taking advantage of greater competition and are switching companies for a better deal – in some cases, saving up to several hundred dollars a year.

Since the Electricity Authority’s What’s My Number? campaign began in May 2011, there have been almost 700,000 consumer switches.

“Why scrap the whole electricity market when consumers can already save more than the economically illiterate promises the Opposition is making?

“These types of policies have been considered in the past and rejected for very good reasons. Consumers should be very afraid of them. They may look simple but all they will ultimately bring is higher costs to households,” Mr Bridges says.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce calls it a a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalisation “plan”:

“This is truly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman and Shearer,” Mr Joyce says.

“Their crazy idea to have both a single national purchaser of electricity and to exempt Government-owned companies from both company tax and dividends would effectively demolish private investment in the electricity industry overnight. It would also raise real questions as to why any individual or company would want to invest in businesses in New Zealand.

“Even the idea of it is economic vandalism of the highest order, with the timing designed to try and disrupt the mixed-ownership company floats. What we are seeing here is a desperate Opposition that is prepared to sacrifice economic development in New Zealand on the altar of political opportunism.

“The sad truth is that Labour has no idea how to operate a competitive market that keeps downward pressure on prices. Labour made a number of reforms to the electricity market in the early 2000s and the result was power prices rising 72 per cent over nine years.

“This Government’s reforms have halved price increases while maintaining investment in generation and transmission. Labour’s suggestion today is no more than a belated apology for their mismanagement, with a back-to-the-70s solution that would only make things worse.

“You seriously have to question the quality of economic advice the Labour Party is getting. They really need to get a lot more serious if they are ever to be considered fit to manage the New Zealand economy.”

It’s not just the government questioning the policy.

Colin Espiner asks has Labour actually gone insane? As in stark, raving, Monster Loony Party mad?

I’m assuming the answer is yes, judging by today’s incredulity-creating announcement that, if elected next year, Labour will essentially nationalise the electricity industry. . .

The Opposition says it’s going to create a single buyer, NZ Power, that will buy all the country’s electricity generation “at a fair price” and then onsell it to consumers. 

It’ll pretty much give away a 300KW bloc to every household and then charge for additional units. 

At a stroke, Labour is proposing to dismantle the electricity market, ruin Contact Energy and Mighty River Power and decimate the Government’s share float plans for both MRP and Meridian. 

Oh, and sell thousands of mum and dad investors down the Mighty River, since MRP’s share price would almost certainly plummet if the company was forced to retail only through a government department at whatever price it deemed to be fair. 

Already Contact shares dipped 3 per cent on the news, and that’s just a taste of what would come if this policy was ever implemented.

I’m no fan of high power prices – and I don’t own any Contact or MRP shares – but what Labour is proposing is essentially nationalisation a la Brazil or Argentina. This is Third World, funny-money stuff. Goodness knows what the financial markets will make of it. And what message does it send to overseas investors? . . .

It’s extremely rare that I agree completely with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, but his comment today that the plan was “a return to the 1970s-style monopoly provision of electricity…Only North Korea and Venezuela did not think such ideas are nuts” is pretty much spot on.

I agree with Joyce that Labour is virtually sabotaging the economy. 

It is, in my view, also an indication that Labour does not believe it has any hope of winning the next election. In my experience, only political parties that know they have no realistic hope of winning an election propose things they know they will never have to try to implement. . .

There is no virtually about the economic sabotage this policy would inflict.

I was in parliament for Question Time yesterday.

The Government benches were enjoying themselves and Ministers made the most of the opportunity Labour and the Green Party gifted them:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Electricity Authority yesterday released its review of the electricity market in 2012. The report showed 18 percent of customers, around 32,000 people a month, voted with their feet by switching electricity providers in 2012, presumably for lower prices. For the benefit of the Opposition, that is called “competition”. Since November 2008 annual electricity price increases have halved from the 8 percent year-on-year increases suffered by hard-working New Zealanders during the previous 9 years. This follows a number of pro-competitive reforms by this Government, which apparently the Opposition is not aware of. We have reconfigured State owned enterprise assets to increase competition, created the Electricity Authority and made it responsible for promoting competition, allowed line businesses to compete in the retail space, and funded promotion of consumer switching through the What’s My Number campaign.

Todd McClay: Has the Minister seen any other proposals to try to lower electricity prices?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, weirdly, yes, I have. Just before lunch today I received one report, which I believe came from the “North Korean School of Economics”. Apparently, the suggestion there was that nationalising the entire electricity industry would somehow lead to lower power prices. . .

That got a point of order call from Winston Peters to which the Minister responded:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: If I could perhaps clarify my answer, I should clarify that I received a report from the local branch of the “North Korean School of Economics”.

I’d like to believe Espiner’s theory that this is the policy of parties which know they’ll lose the next election and therefore never have to implement it.

The only other explanation is that the people promoting them are so economically illiterate they don’t understand what they’re talking about.

Either way, it shows they haven’t learned from history because these policies would power us back to the socialist seventies and it would be all downhill from there.


Govt is doing something

February 21, 2013

The opposition keeps calling on the government to do something.

The announcement of a small improvement in the operating deficit before gains and losses in the last half of last year shows it is doing something and it’s doing it right.

It’s being very careful with public finances which is what it’s supposed to do.

. . . both Core Crown tax revenue and Core Crown revenue were slightly lower (0.1%) than forecast, but Core Crown expenses came in $273 million lower (0.8%) than expected, helping reduce the OBEGAL deficit by $158 million to $3.2 billion.

“These figures confirm that the Government’s determination to control its spending and get better value from taxpayers’ money is paying off,” Mr English says.

Careful and responsible stewardship doesn’t get headlines, but it does get results:

Todd McClay: What steps has the Government taken to manage its finances and get back to surplus?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Government has put spending and revenue initiatives in place to balance the books. On the spending side, we have delivered two consecutive Budgets showing zero net new expenditure, while maintaining increases in health and education spending. We have launched the Better Public Services programme and reprioritised $4.4 billion over 4 years to ensure New Zealanders will see better results without new resources. On the revenue side, the Government has increased income while improving the fairness of the tax system by shutting down loopholes. These things include tightening the tax treatment of property, increasing GST, making it harder for people to avoid paying tax through trusts, and making resources available for the Inland Revenue Department to target tax avoidance.

All of which is far better than any alternatives being proposed.

Todd McClay: What alternative proposals has he seen for managing the Government’s finances?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have seen any number of alternative proposals. These measures include putting a capital gains tax on every productive business and farm, encouraging tax avoidance by increasing the gap between the top personal income and company tax rates, discouraging all sorts of private investment in the New Zealand economy, printing money, and so on. That is the Greens-Labour prescription for the New Zealand economy.

And that is a prescription for economic woe not economic growth.


Diplomacy in words

January 14, 2013

It’s far too early to award the diplomatic line of the year award, but this from Rotorua MP Todd McLay has to be a contender:

I don’t think anybody could do Tim Groser’s job but I would love an opportunity to do more in an area I have done a bit of work in before.

He was replying to Audrey Young who asked him if he would like Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser’s job.

 

 


Not racist, just not partial to people in patches

August 20, 2012

Quote of the day:

“These are people who are murderers, who are drug dealers, who are rapists. Now individually they may be nice people but when they put patch on and get together they are horrible, they’re a blight upon our society. . .” Todd McLay

He was responding to Hone Harawira who had accused him of racism for promoting a Bill to make the wearing of gang insignia illegal in Government buildings.


Will there be a snap debate on this too?

August 16, 2012

On Tuesday parliament had a snap debate on the sale of what were the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

It was called by the Opposition who, for reasons which are based far more on emotion than reason, are opposed to selling farm land to foreigners.

Last night Russel Norman’s Bill to restrict the sale of land greater in area than 5 hectares was defeated.

The bill was defeated by 61 to 59 with National, United Future and ACT opposed.

Quite why the Opposition have such an attachment to farmland when their policies show they have little understanding of farming or interest in its success escapes me.

I also don’t understand why farmland engenders such emotion when sales of companies like this go unremarked:

Foley Family Wines, owned by the California-based billionaire Bill Foley, will take control of New Zealand Wine Company, adding the Grove Mill, Sanctuary and Frog Haven brands to its suite of local wines.

NZ Wine Co shareholders approved the merger at a special general meeting in Blenheim today, with about 99 percent of votes cast in favour, the company said in a statement. 

The merger, which will see Foley take an 80 percent stake in the Marlborough-based company, has not yet been approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

Foley already owns the luxurious Wairarapa Wharekauhau estate and is chairman of two Fortune 500 companies, insurance firm Fidelity National and banking and payments technology company, Fidelity National Information Services.

He also owns the Vavasour, Goldwater, Clifford Bay and Dashwood wine brands.

NZ Wines shares are listed on the NZX alternative market and last traded at 92 cents.

I have no problem with this investment or foreign investment in general. Bill English explained earlier this week the country has a lot to gain from foreign capital.

But if the control of farm land and its produce by foreign owners exercises the opposition, why aren’t they equally concerned by what looks like a significant investment in another primary industry?

Could it be it’s not foreign investment per se but the nationality of the investors which is at the root of the opposition to the Crafar farms by the Opposition?

Contributions to Tuesday’s debate included speeches from Maurice WilliamsonTodd Mclay, Jonathan Coleman, and David Bennett.

And yesterday’s debate on Noramn’s Bill included this speech from Jonathan Coleman who had to withdraw the comment daconomics but introduced the term yokelnomics:


Party (conference) central

July 17, 2010

Well, here we are at Party C0nference Central in central Auckland, the city whose new motto is, the decision’s maybe and that’s final.

Candidates College met yesterday morning – and if that’s the face of National’s future, the outlook for the parliamentary wing of the party is bright.

Pre-conference entertainment last night was a debate with the moot that women MPs deserve more.

The affirmative team, Nikki Kaye, Denise  L’Estrange Corbet and Amy Adams argued that women MPs deserve more and that men MPs already had more than enough.

The negative team, Maurice Williamson, Robbie Rakete and Todd McLay argued that women already had too much.

The judge, David Farrar, had been bribed with champagne and chocolate and declared the women’s team the winners.

He declared Maurice best speaker. With lines like, why is there only one Monopolies Commission? he deserved it.


MPs missed chance to let law reflect reality

December 10, 2009

It wasn’t about religion.

It wasn’t about families.

Todd McLay’s Easter Trading bill was simply going to mean the law reflects reality in places like Wanaka and Rotorua.

Our Easter Trading law is a dog’s breakfast.

Shops in Queenstown and Taupo, which are judged to be tourist destinations are allowed to trade,  neighbouring towns like Wanaka and Rotorua which have with similar appeal to travellers, are not.

But changes in retail make the law even more absurd. Service stations are allowed to open and sell magazines but a book shop isn’t.

Year after year I’ve seen retailers in Wanaka ignore the law and open. Year after year the Department of Labour stalks them and lays some charges to make an example of them. Last time a Wanaka retailer appeared in court the judge said the law was a nonsense.

Yesterday MPs had a chance to sort out the nonsense.

The bill wasn’t going to unleash commercial mayhem and tear families apart. It was merely going to give local authorities the power to decide if shops could open in their area.

It would have let Queenstown Lakes and Rotorua councils fix local problems but  it was defeated 62-59.

No-one would have been forced to open a business, no-one would have been forced to work in it, no-one would have been forced to patronise it.

It would have just meant the law reflected reality in a few places where retailers choose to open, their staff have the right to work or not and people have the ability to patronise them or not.

Next year the bi-annual Warbirds over Wanaka will bring more than 20,000 people to the town. There will be stalls at the airport where the show takes place, there will be stalls on Pembroke park at the Sunday market, petrol stations, tourist shops and pharmacies will be open and selling things legally. Shops in town will also be open and selling similar, or event he same, things and breaking the law by doing so.

MPs lost an opportunity to back a very moderate Bill which would have meant the law reflects reality.

Instead of which it will be ignored and a law which is regularly ignored in this way is very bad law.


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