365 days of gratitude

September 19, 2018

They’re nutritious – rich in vitamins C, K and E, folate and potassium, full of anti-oxidants and a good source of fibre.

They look good and taste better.

They’re kiwifruit and I’m enjoying them for breakfast on grainy taste like Burgens or Vogel’s, topped with cottage cheese; for a snack during the day and for an after dinner sweet treat.

Tonight I’m grateful for kiwifruit.


Word of the day

September 19, 2018

Suffrage – the right to vote in political elections; a vote given in deciding a controverted question or electing a person for an office or trust; the intercessory petitions pronounced by a priest in the Litany; a prayer, especially a short intercessory prayer or petition.


Rural round-up

September 19, 2018

North Island farmers lose 100,000 lambs after spring storm –  Gerard Hutching:

Farmers have suffered “devastating” lamb losses in eastern and central North Island over the last two weeks with an estimated toll of about 100,000.

At current prices of $144 per mature lamb, the economic hit could be $14.4 million.

By contrast Otago and Southland farmers are expected to escape lightly from the impact of snow that has fallen on Monday.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said lambing would not begin in the areas where most snow had fallen until the beginning of October. . .

NZ maple syrup industry ‘possible and promising’ – Will Harvie:

Canada produces 71 per cent of world’s maple syrup and 91 per cent of that originates from the province of Quebec. But a clutch of New Zealand academics think this country could have a maple syrup industry, despite a mild climate and no sugar maple forests.

Their preliminary research has “determined that a plantation of maple saplings for use in commercial production of maple syrup is a possible and a promising endeavour in New Zealand”, according to a presentation to be given at a chemical engineering conference in Queenstown on October 1.

The most promising places for maple syrup production are roughly Molesworth Station and inland from Westport, both in the South Island, according to their paper.   . .

Local contract a big arable win :

A big multi-year supply contract to Countdown supermarkets for local wheat and grain is regarded by the arable industry as a breakthrough.

Until this year the in-house bakeries of the more than 180 Countdown supermarkets used premixed ingredients produced here and imported from Australia.

But in a deal Christchurch-based Champion Flour Milling business innovation manager Garth Gillam said is the culmination of years of effort, the supermarkets’ bakeries have switched entirely to premixes made using locally-grown products for all in-store baking of loaves, rolls, buns and scones. . .

Rembering your purpose – the big picture – Hugh Norris:

Farmers have told us that one thing that has helped them cope better with the ups and downs of farming, is to remember why they got into farming in the first place and to think about the contribution they make to their wider community.

Keeping the bigger picture of life in mind, and not just being caught up in the endless day-to-day tasks of farming, can be protection against burnout and loss of physical and mental health.

Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life has been shown in many scientific studies to be better for our mental and physical health and even help us live longer. . .

Deer milk brand gets two food award nods – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pioneering deer milk industry has received a further boost by being named a finalist in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Pamu, the brand for Landcorp Farming, is a finalist in both the primary sector award and the novel food and beverage award.

Earlier this year, Pamu deer milk won the Grassroots Innovation award at the national field days at Mystery Creek. . .

M. bovis highlights need to improve, not scrap, rural Adverse Events Scheme

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) highlights that a scheme deferring tax on income from forced livestock sales should be improved not scrapped, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) says.

“Ditching Inland Revenue’s Adverse Events Scheme would remove a valuable tool that farmers and rural businesses can use to smooth out the ups and downs of their income and expenditure after an adverse event,” said CA ANZ New Zealand Tax and Financial Services Leader, John Cuthbertson. . . 


125 years of women’s suffrage

September 19, 2018

When and where did you first vote?

I turned 18 in an election year and was working as a kitchen hand in Omarama during university holidays when I cast my first vote.

I take no pride in saying I did it with little real understanding of the issues or even my own political philosophy.

I doubt if I gave any thought to the idea that voting, and voting freely, is a right not universally available in other countries either. And I knew little of the work that led to New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world to grant the vote to women.

Today the 125th anniversary of that milestone is being celebrated.

. . .On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote.  As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. . .

Artist Kate Hursthouse is marking the celebration with Our Wahine , celebrating 125 extraordinary women.


$1 in 3 wastefullly spent by govt

September 19, 2018

The New Zealand Initiative’s Fit for Purpose? Are Kiwis getting the government they pay for? shows we’re not getting value for money.

Dr Bryce Wilkinson explains:

Taxes in New Zealand have risen four times faster than incomes in the 20th century. Taxes now take more of our income than in almost any country outside Europe. We have become a high tax country.

We, the public, need the government to spend our tax money well.

Government is a dominant provider of many activities, including health and education. Poor performance here would harm current and future New Zealanders.

Government also dictates much resource use through ownership and regulation. It is a major landowner, and there are 50 times more Parliamentary Acts now than in 1908.

It should aim to get the best possible outcomes for New Zealanders from its assets. It should also regulate wisely and administer those regulations well.

The report’s focus on value for money is not ideological. Who would not want to see government doing the best possible job for New Zealanders?

This shouldn’t be ideological or partisan, but the left does too often mistakenly equate more spending with better spending.

How well is government spending our tax money?
The quality of much government spending is poor. The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into public sector productivity showed why. Public sector agencies are not focused on productivity. Measures are too often lacking or neglected.

A 2013 report published by a Canadian think tank, the Fraser Institute, assessed outcomes compared to spending in 192 countries. South Korea came out on top. Its government was spending 27% of GDP to achieve a performance score of 7.5. In New Zealand, government was spending 38% of GDP for a score of 5.5.

Perhaps, one-third of New Zealand government spending is wasteful. That represents around 13% of GDP, or $20,000 per household, annually.

Every cent not wasted is a cent more to spend on something we need, or to leave in taxpayers’ pockets.

Imagine the positive impact of that money being spent where it has a positive impact instead of being wasted and/or of each household keeping more of what they earn.

A 2009 OECD report similarly assessed spending efficiency in school education. The indicated level of waste in New Zealand spending on education was one dollar in six.

Less waste would mean more money to improve outcomes. Currently, around 17% of 15-year-olds can barely read. The government has likely spent more than $130,000 on each of their schooling. Few would regard this as an acceptable outcome.

Nearly a fifth of children getting through school unable to read and write is appalling. There will be many reasons for this failure and wasting a sixth of the budget will be one of them.

That extra dollar in six spent well could improve pay and conditions for teachers and support staff, provide extra help for pupils who need it and/or do away with at least some activity fees and fundraising.

In health, even official reports acknowledge a lack of focus on productivity. The OECD has also assessed the efficiency of health spending across member countries. A 2010 report indicated that New Zealand could spend 2.5% of GDP less a year for similar outcomes. Of the order of one dollar spent in four looks like waste.

One dollar in four wasted – that’s 25% of health spending that’s not getting spent where it should be.

Such findings from international comparisons are only motivational. They do not show what New Zealand would need to change or whether such changes are plausible. Their value is in inviting us to learn from countries that seem to be doing better.

In some cases, government providers would be more focused on productivity if users had more choice of providers. Government providers can fail to give value for money when users are captive. Users will be more empowered if they have a wide choice of providers and if state funding follows them. The funding of pre-school education has this feature.

Choice tends to improve competitiveness and performance but this government isn’t keen on it.

How well is the government doing as a regulator?
The Crown’s performance as a lawmaker and regulator is flawed. There is widespread dissatisfaction among regulators with the quality of the law they have to administer. The statute book has become too prescriptive and too detailed. Parliament cannot hope to keep it up to date and fit for purpose.

It needs to be easier for lawmakers to resist the pressures to legislate poorly. Greater reliance on simpler laws of a more general nature is desirable. Prescriptive law quickly becomes out of date. Change is unlikely as matters stand.

Bad law leads to added costs and unexpected consequences.

What about our high international rankings?
Many international agencies assess countries’ outcomes for aspects of wellbeing and economic performance. New Zealand enjoys top-tier world rankings in many of these measures.

Does this mean government is doing a great job? Yes, and no.

We rank among the best for many but not all aspects. The report identifies 20–30 government-dominated areas of weakness. Some are no surprise. These include overseas investment and aspects of labour market laws. Infrastructure quality is another weakness.

Labour law changes on the table now are going to make matters worse and the redirecting of fuel taxes from roads to public transport and cycleways will too.

More surprising is the weakness in our legal system. We rank poorly in the ease of enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency and the quality of judicial processes.

There is no excuse for our 54th ranking by the World Bank for the quality of our judicial processes. Gallingly, Australia is ranked first.

The bottom line is there is compelling evidence of much government waste. It is occurring for many reasons, but a major symptom is a lack of focus on efficiency.

Were the state to do a better job, it could use the savings to raise wellbeing by:
• maintaining government outputs, while cutting tax revenues; and/or
• increasing government outputs from unchanged government spending.

Those options are outside the scope of this report. The first task is to achieve the savings.

National managed to get some improvement in some areas during the GFC – requiring the public service to do more with less.

Under Bill English’s social investment regime the government focused on treating causes, acknowledging that sometimes you have to spend more in the short term to get savings later.

It also set measurable targets and reported on progress towards them.

But all parties need to focus on getting better value for taxpayers’ dollars.

It would help if all of them acknowledged that the government isn’t always the bet option for providing services; that governments aren’t good at picking winners and that the quality of their spend is far more important than the quantity.

It would also help if more of us didn’t think of the government as the first or only source of support.


Quote of the day

September 19, 2018

I never let prejudice stop me from what I wanted to do in this lifeSarah Louise Delaney who was born on this day in 1889.


September 19 in history

September 19, 2018

335  Dalmatius was raised to the rank of Caesar by his uncle Constantine I.

1356  In the Battle of Poitiers, the English defeated the French.

1676 Jamestown was burned to the ground by the forces of Nathaniel Bacon during Bacon’s Rebellion.

1692 Giles Corey was pressed to death after refusing to plead in the Salem witch trials.

1777  First Battle of Saratoga/Battle of Freeman’s Farm/Battle of Bemis Heights.

1796 George Washington’s farewell address was printed across America as an open letter to the public.

1862 American Civil War: Battle of Luka – Union troops under General William Rosecrans defeated a Confederate force commanded by General Sterling Price.

1863  American Civil War: Battle of Chickamauga.

1870 Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Paris began.

1881 President James A. Garfield died of wounds suffered in a July 2 shooting.

1882 Christopher Stone, first disc jockey in the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1965).

1889 – Sarah Louise Delany, American physician and author, was born (d. 1999).

1893 The Governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Women win the right to vote

1911 Sir William Golding, English writer, Nobel Prize laureate, was born (d. 1993).

1927 Nick Massi, American singer and guitarist (The Four Seasons), was born (d. 2000).

1930 – Derek Nimmo, English actor, was born (d. 1999).

1933 – David McCallum, Scottish actor, was born.

1934 Brian Epstein, English musical group manager (The Beatles) (d. 1967).

1934  – Austin Mitchell, English academic and politician, was born.

1940 – Zandra Rhodes, English fashion designer, founded the Fashion and Textile Museum, was born.

1940 Bill Medley, American singer and songwriter (The Righteous Brothers), was born.

1940 – Paul Williams, American singer-songwriter and actor, was born.

1940 Witold Pilecki was voluntarily captured and sent to Auschwitz in order to smuggle out information and start a resistance.

1940 – Paul Williams, American composer, was born.

1941 Mama Cass Elliot, American musician, was born (d. 1974).

1944  Armistice between Finland and Soviet Union was signed ending theContinuation War.

1944  – Edmund Joensen, Faroese politician, 9th Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, was born.

1945  – Kate Adie, English journalist and author, was born.

1945  Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) was sentenced to death in London.

1946 The Council of Europe was founded following a speech by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich.

1948  – Jeremy Irons, English actor, was born.

1949 Twiggy, English model, was born.

1952  The United States barred Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country after a trip to England.

1957  First American underground nuclear bomb test.

1959  Nikita Khrushchev was barred from visiting Disneyland.

1961  Betty and Barney Hill claimed  they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that it tried to abduct them.

1970  The first Glastonbury Festival was held at Michael Eavis’s farm.

1970  Kostas Georgakis, a Greek student of Geology, set himself ablaze in Matteotti Square in Genoa, as a protest against the dictatorial regime of Georgios Papadopoulos.

1971 Montagnard troops of South Vietnam revolted against the rule of Nguyen Khanh, killing 70 ethnic Vietnamese soldiers.

1972 Matt Cockbain, Australian rugby player, was born.

1972 A parcel bomb sent to Israeli Embassy in London killed one diplomat.

1973 Investiture of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

1974 – Jimmy Fallon, American comedian and talk show host, was born.

1976 Turkish Airlines Boeing 727 hit the Taurus Mountains killing all 155 passengers and crew.

1982 Scott Fahlman posted the first documented emoticons :-) and :-(on the Carnegie Mellon University Bulletin Board System.

1983  Saint Kitts and Nevis gained  independence.

1985 An earthquake killed thousands and destroyed about 400 buildings in Mexico City.

1985  Tipper Gore and other political wives formed the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testified at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.

1989  A terrorist bomb exploded on UTA Flight 772 in mid-air above the Tùnùrù Desert, Niger, killing 171.

1991  Ötzi the Iceman was discovered by German tourists.

1995 The Washington Post and The New York Times published the Unabomber’s manifesto.

1997  Guelb El-Kebir massacre in Algeria; 53 killed.

2006  Thai military staged a coup in Bangkok; the  Constitution was revoked and martial law declared.

2010 – The leaking oil well in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was sealed.

2011 – Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees surpassed Trevor Hoffman to become Major League Baseball’s all time saves leader with 602.

2013 – Disney closed 3 of its MMO games, Toontown OnlinePirates of the Caribbean Online, and Pixie Hollow Online.

2016 – In the wake of a manhunt, the suspect in a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey was apprehended after a shootout with police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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