Rural round-up

25/02/2021

The rewards of good data – Peter Burke:

New Zealand’s primary sector is our equivalent of the USA’s Silicon Valley of excellence.

That’s the view of one of the country’s illustrious agricultural economists, Rob Davison, who recently received an award for his outstanding contribution to the primary sector.

The award goes alongside the ONZM he received in 2016 for his services to NZ’s sheep and beef sector.

This latest award is well deserved for a person who has helped build and shape one of the most respected economic institutions in the country. Davison has been with Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service for more than 40 years, much of that time as its executive director. . . 

Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’ – Shawn McAvinue:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a “range of reasons” such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of “tough time”.

“I have no doubt we make a difference.”

After Covid hit, a “desperate” farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols. . . 

Recommendations ‘ambitious and challenging’ – Peter Burke:

Initial reaction to the Climate Change Commission report has been generally muted, but there are some concerns in the agricultural sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims the commission’s draft advice, released earlier this month, sets out an ‘achievable blueprint’ for New Zealand. She says the report demonstrates NZ has the tools to achieve our target but calls on us to accelerate our work.

“As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry,” Ardern says. . .  . . 

North Otago chicken farm sharpens its focus – Shawn McAvinue:

Anna Craig knew it was the right time to get cracking and launch a new brand to market the free-range eggs produced on her family’s farm in North Otago.

The Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing student said she was “torn” about how to spend her summer break.

She could spend it working on her family’s 450ha farm in Herbert, about 20km south of Oamaru, or seek work elsewhere, which might look better on her CV.

She returned to the farm and set herself a goal of launching a new brand to sell some of the eggs laid by about 30,000 free range shaver chickens there. . . 

Strengthen your farming system by leveraging your #1 asset – people:

“Over the years of working with people in many different sized teams, we discovered that it mattered how we were behaving and acting with our team,” says Rebecca Miller of MilkIQ.

Dairy Women’s Network knows that putting people first drives a healthy business and will be running a series of workshops focused on this. They want to ensure that farmers attract and retain talent, and continue to grow the people in the industry.

The free workshops are funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy and align with Commitment #5 of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy: Building great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce.

It does not always require big changes to build a great workplace, but small changes that make a difference. The workshops will provide an overview of how to be a good employee or employer and the steps each can take. . . 

 

Handheld breath test device for pregnant cattle to move to industry trials – Joshua Becker:

A device that could change the way farmers preg test cattle is a step closer to commercialisation.

The federal government has offered $600,000 to help a company adapt advances in medicine for use in the grazing industry.

The prototype works by simply putting a device over the cow’s nose while it is in the crush and testing its breath.

Bronwyn Darlington, a farmer at Carwoola in southern NSW and the founder and CEO of Agscent, said the device worked by applying nanotechnologies to what was called breathomics. . . 

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

25/02/2021


Building for future

25/02/2021

Housing price increases have been outpacing wages for 20 years:

If nothing significant changes now that will get worse:

If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative.

In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand, Research Assistant Leonard Hong modelled 36 scenarios and found that New Zealand’s population gets older and larger by 2038.

Hong calculated that the number of additional dwellings needed would reach between 26,246 and 34,556 annually under the most plausible scenarios. This excludes the annual housing replacement and demolition rate, and the current 40,000 undersupply calculated by Informetrics. 

“Historical data tells us that only 21,445 new houses have been built in New Zealand annually since 1992. This is nowhere near enough to accommodate our growing population,” says Hong.

For the next 20 years, even with zero net migration, we still need to build close to 20,000 dwellings annually to keep up with population changes.

“Policymakers should stop blaming the housing crisis on land banking investment and speculation and find policy solutions to drastically expand housing supply to keep up with demographic changes.”

Demographic changes will also have adverse effects on our prospects for fiscal prudence. The report demonstrates that the number of those over 65 years will be up by at least 23% in 2060.

This means fewer future taxpayers and more pressure on working-age New Zealanders to fund public services such as health care and education.

“Our future is an older and larger New Zealand and we must start preparing for it,” says Leonard Hong.

“We need to make a growing and ageing New Zealand a liveable place for New Zealanders, and this starts by building more houses now. Otherwise, future generations will have to deal with terrible housing affordability prospects.”

“This report should be a wake-up call for the government,” concludes Leonard Hong.

The full report is here.

 

It is no use tinkering with policies that attempt to reduce demand. The shortfall in supply is too great for that to make any significant difference.

The only solution is to build a lot more houses and start doing that now.

The government is frightened of the fallout should house prices decrease. It won’t have the courage to say that building more houses is a much higher priority than safeguarding the equity of existing home owners with big mortgages.

But the demand for housing is such to mitigate a lot of that risk.

Even if it didn’t, the financial and social costs of not addressing the housing crisis are a much greater problem that needs urgent action to enable a lot more houses to be built much sooner than any existing policies will do.


Word of the day

24/02/2021

Tantrups – ill-humoured disturbances.

 

 


Oh dear

24/02/2021

Anyone with a heart would have sympathy for someone who flew to Mexico to visit family members with terminal illnesses even if official advice on the government’s SafeTravel website urges all New Zealanders to remain in the country.

But Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March opened himself up to criticism when he tried to get early entry to MIQ on his return and the case for criticism has got stronger:

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March tried not once, but twice, to get an emergency spot in managed isolation, the first time as a “critical health service” and the second time as “required for national security”. 

In a written parliamentary response to National MP Chris Bishop, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed that both applications for an emergency spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) were declined.  . . 

As they should have been.

The written response from Hipkins shows Menéndez March first applied for an emergency spot in MIQ on January 13 under category 2b. 

It’s reserved for people whose entry to New Zealand is time-critical for the purpose of delivering specialist health services required to prevent serious illness, injury or death; or the maintenance of essential health infrastructure. 

He then applied for a second time on January 15, under category 2d, for New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens, where urgent travel is required for national security, national interest or law enforcement reasons. 

“It is extraordinary chutzpah for a new MP to claim they are critical to delivering public health services, or critical for national security. It just beggars belief,” Bishop told Newshub. “The emergency MIQ allocation is not meant to be for MPs trying it on to come home.”

Menéndez March told Newshub he applied for the category thinking he would qualify as a public servant. . . 

Oh dear, that doesn’t say much about his understanding of his lack of importance.

A Minister wouldn’t qualify under either of those categories, a back bencher who thought he might needs some very clear lessons about his role and its lowly status when it comes to critical health services, national security, national interest and law enforcement.


Yes Sir Humphrey

24/02/2021


Rural round-up

24/02/2021

Lucky to be alive – Nigel Beckford:

Sheep and beef farmer Jack Cocks almost died from an aneurysm. Now he’s sharing with other farmers what his recovery taught him about resilience. 

Jack’s part of the team that runs Mt Nicholas, a high-country merino sheep and cattle station, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. “I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, went to uni, travelled overseas and came back and worked in an agribusiness consultancy. My wife Kate and I came here to work in 2009. There’s a team of four of us that run the farm. It’s probably more of a democracy than a lot of farms but it works well. It means we can use all our different skills.”

Jack says Mt Nicholas is a great place to work and raise a family (they have two kids). “Although we’re in an isolated situation, there is a team of us here so we might see more people during our working day than many sheep and beef farmers. I really love what farming offers – that mix of running your own business as well as working outside doing practical things. We enjoy a huge variety of work.”

All that was suddenly at risk when he suffered his aneurysm in 2013.  “I’m very lucky to be here,” he says, remembering the night it happened. . .

IrrigationNZ supports Infrastructure Commission assessment that ‘status quo’ for water management no longer tenable:

IrrigationNZ is heartened by the release of Te Waihanga’s (Infrastructure Commission) state-of-play report #3 on water released today and agrees with many insights .

“The report acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable – and we 100% agree,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. This is long overdue and something we have advocated for. . . 

Regenerative agriculture white paper sets out pressing research priorities :

There is a pressing need for scientific testing of the anecdotal claims being made about regenerative agriculture. A new white paper sets out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food system.

Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as a solution for some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most acute challenges. Advocates suggest it can improve the health of our waterways, reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, add value to our primary exports, and improve the pervasive well-being crisis among rural farming communities.

With a groundswell of farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

A new white paper, Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives, sets out 17 priority research topics and introduces 11 principles for regenerative farming in New Zealand. . . 

Young inventor on mission to transform wool sector – Annette Scott:

The strong wool industry can pin its hopes on a resurgence with $5 a kilogram return for coarse wool fibre in the sights of Kiwi inventor and entrepreneur Logan Williams.

Just 25 years of age and hailing from Timaru, Williams hit the headlines when he developed and successfully exited four revolutionary inventions, including polarised contact lenses to treat photosensitive epilepsy and a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms.

He received awards for his inventions, including a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition. . .

Roped in for life by rodeo – Sally Rae:

As the rodeo season continues around the country, Southland farmer and cowboy Greg Lamb has overcome a few hefty obstacles to get back in the saddle again. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Extraordinarily determined.

That sums up Greg Lamb, a Southland sheep and beef farmer and rodeo champion who has battled injury — and a brain tumour — while pursuing and succeeding in the sport he loves.

Mr Lamb (43), who farms near Waikaka, might be a bit banged up at the moment — he hit the ground with his shoulder “fairly hard” at Wairoa rodeo last month, fracturing his shoulder blade, four ribs and a vertebra — but he is focused on making a return this season. . . 

Westland’s new CEO takes reins :

Westland Dairy Company Limited’s new CEO Richard Wyeth is looking forward to bringing the strength of a global dairy giant to the opportunities that lie ahead for the West Coast dairy processor after taking up the leadership role this week.

Mr Wyeth’s arrival at Westland yesterday was welcomed by resident director of Westland Dairy Company Limited, Shiqing Jian, who stepped down as interim CEO. Mr Jian served as interim CEO following the resignation of former Westland CEO Toni Brendish in August last year.

“We hope Richard is as excited as we are about the opportunities that lie ahead for Westland as he takes stewardship of this iconic New Zealand company,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

24/02/2021


Handicapping submitters and sabotaging submission process

24/02/2021

Kate MacNamara says there’s a storm brewing for the Climate Change Commission

Last week a coalition of over a dozen New Zealand business and industry groups – including heavyweight exporters DairyNZ and the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, mining group Straterra, the Motor Industry Association, the New Zealand Initiative, and BusinessNZ – penned a formal letter to Rod Carr, chair of the Climate Change Commission.

“We are pleased that the commission has, in response to requests, begun to release the models and underlying data that supports the commission’s findings,” it said.

“However, to constructively contribute submissions so that the commission is as well-informed as possible, we must be able to thoroughly review and comment on data and models which will influence major decisions about the future of our economy and society.”

“Given the delay in the release of crucial modelling data (not all of which is out yet),” the letter asked for an extension of the March 14th deadline for submissions by at least two weeks.

It’s a considerable failure that the commission neglected to release this data three weeks ago, along with the draft report. And the drip-feed of information, less than three weeks from the submission deadline, now threatens to reduce the window of public consultation to theatre.

So far, the commission has released peer reviews of its modelling approach and some underlying data. On February 10th, it also held a workshop to discuss the modelling, though the models themselves were not released. It also has a second webinar session to discuss “cost conclusions” scheduled for February 23rd.

Critically, the commission has not provided either sensitivity analysis nor the marginal abatement costs, broken out by industry.

That data matters. Sensitivity work helps economists to understand just how precarious that “less than 1 per cent of GDP” figure is. Will it alter significantly with slight adjustments to inputs? And the industry data for abatement cost would allow interested parties to properly test the assumptions the commission has made. . . 

The environmental impact of the CCC’s recommendations will only be known in hindsight but there is no doubt that they will come at a considerable cost which will have a significant economic impact.

Eric Crampton writes:

The Climate Change Commission’s recommendations span the breadth of the economy. They are required to come up with sector-by-sector climate budgets consistent with getting New Zealand with net zero emissions under the Zero Carbon Act. 

The sector-by-sector budgets rest on underlying models. The models build predictions about what will happen as ETS prices rise, and what will happen when some additional constraints are put into the system. Some of the CCC’s recommendations then mandate what they think are their best guesses about what a carbon price would do, subject to those constraints.

The scope is vast. The entire economy, really. 

And the Government has already signaled that it will just do whatever the Commission says to do. 

So getting things right seems to matter and is rather high stakes. 

In that kind of situation, you’d think that the underlying models would be available for checking and testing. Getting bits wrong could be really really expensive, whether you want to frame it as economic costs, or as carbon mitigation forgone. 

But the Commission is not in a sharing mood.  . . 

You might have hoped that plans that have potential to re-engineer the entire economy would have more provably robust underpinnings. . . 

You might in deed.

A media release from the CCC advises that it will extend the deadline for submissions by two weeks. Nothing is mentioned about releasing all its data.

It is impossible for anyone to make a fully informed submission without all the information on which the CCC’s recommendations are made and that includes all the data.

The CCC’s final recommendations and the policy the government implements as a result of that, will have significant and long-reaching consequences. Failing to release all the data in time for submitters to analyse and understand is handicapping them,  sabotaging the submission process and that in turn will make it much harder to gain support for the policy.


Word of the day

23/02/2021

Cakeism – the doctrine of having one’s cake and eating it too, particularly regarding the UK’s approach to Brexit negotiations; a wish to enjoy two desirable but incompatible alternatives;  the wish to have or do two good things at the same time when this is impossible.; to expect to achieve something that is beyond the realm of reality, simply because you think that you should have it.


Sowell says

23/02/2021


Rural round-up

23/02/2021

Miro – bringing jobs home  – Country Life:

At four o’clock every morning Ivy Habib’s alarm wakes her and she gets ready to drive the 45 minutes to work at Te Teko in Bay of Plenty.

Ivy’s a supervisor on a blueberry farm, built on her trust’s land in partnership with Miro, a company set up to improve productivity on Māori-owned land and to create jobs for local people.

Ivy’s daughter, grandsons, cousins and aunties also work on the orchard.

Miro has 30 shareholders, all Māori entities, trusts, iwi and hapū that want to use high-value horticulture to create career opportunities for their people. . . 

Running short of woolhandlers – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the school holidays ended, many shearing contractors were struggling to replace their “uni power”.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said there was a shortage of staff, particularly woolhandlers, as many of those who worked in the sheds returned to university or secondary school.

“We have a lot of students in the North Island, which is fine for us as we are finishing now [the season] and then they go back to university.

“In the South Island they [contractors] have started to get busier and their use of ‘uni power’ does not quite line up as well.”

In previous years, contractors could fill the void by employing woolhandlers from overseas who were in the country as tourists. . . 

Red meat sector crucial to nation’s economy – Sirma Karapeeva and Sam McIvor:

Every day, 35,700 people, the equivalent of the population of Gisborne, play a role in producing something in New Zealand we often take for granted.

They are people from all walks of life, those with a love of the land, those clothed in whites, engineers and scientists, and sales and marketing executives. This product’s origins and means of production are far removed from the cities many of us live and work in.

More importantly, this product is not only essential for a healthy life, but it’s at the heart of the New Zealand economy. . . 

 

Focus on future-proofing market – Shawn McAvinue:

Ageing farmers are a concern for new Otago Farmers Market general manager Michele Driscoll.

The biggest worry for market staff and board members was vendors retiring and stopping selling produce at the weekly market in Dunedin because they had no succession plan, Ms Driscoll said.

“They’re not going to be here forever, and who is coming up the ranks?”

The board members frequently discussed how the farming sector in the region could be future-proofed to ensure there was a supply of fresh produce on sale at the market.

“We are built on primary produce.” . . 

Reaching burn out in their jobs, a couple gave up city life in Australia to go farming in New Zealand – Lawrence Gullery:

City slickers dreaming of giving up their jobs for a better life can take their lead from Nicola Harvey and Pat Ledden.

The couple exchanged life in Sydney to begin a new venture, farming a 130ha lease property north of Taupō, about three years ago.

Nicola, 40, worked in journalism for the ABC and was then managing editor for BuzzFeed. She had met Pat, 41, in Sydney, who worked as a property valuer.

“We were very city-orientated people in our 20s and most of our 30s,” Pat said. . . 

Growers raise concern over imbalance in standards :

As Red Tractor consults on bolstering its standards, some cereal growers have voiced concerns over the requirements they are expected to meet compared with foreign imports.

In January, the UK’s largest assurance scheme, Red Tractor, announced that it was consulting the industry on significant changes to its standards.

The consultation is set to run until 5 March and intends to roll out the proposed changes in November this year.

Red Tractor say they are consulting to ensure their standards remain fit for purpose, evolving to keep up with legislation and best practice, as well as to reflect the issues currently on consumer’s minds. . .


Yes Sir Humphrey

23/02/2021


How much do they want to pay?

23/02/2021

More than two thirds of New Zealanders want the government to increase income support for beneficiaries:

Polling out today shows seven out of ten (69%) of New Zealanders agree “the Government should increase income support for those on low incomes and not in paid work”.

The UMR poll was commissioned by a super-group of NGOs who are urging the government to include increases to income support in this year’s budget, in order to release families from the severe constraints of poverty.

The group includes unions, social service NGOs, kaupapa Māori groups, churches, child poverty experts and other organisations across Aotearoa. . . 

No doubt the polling company didn’t ask those polled how the government would pay for this and how much more they would be prepared to pay to enable it to happen.

The pollsters almost certainly didn’t remind those polled how much the government is borrowing to counter the impact of Covid-19 and that every dollar borrowed has to be repaid with interest.

They wouldn’t have asked those surveyed about the root cause of poverty and what they thought the government should do about that either.

There is no doubt that poverty is worsening with the subsequent increase in poorer health and social outcomes but solving the problem isn’t as simple as increasing benefits.

Reducing the burden of government on businesses would help, and it could start with replacing an existing statutory holiday with Matariki instead of adding a new one that could cost up $448 million.


Word of the day

22/02/2021

Snirt– a suppressed laugh; a sly or disrespectful laugh , especially one partly stifled; a sharp intake of breath; to snicker; dirty snow.


Yes Sir Humphrey

22/02/2021


Rural round-up

22/02/2021

EU carbon tax: threat or opportunity? – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand farmers have been quick to claim world champion status for carbon efficiency. So why are they so nervous about a planned European tax on the carbon emissions of imports? Nigel Stirling reports.

It has been described by the European Union’s top bureaucrat as the continent’s “man on the moon moment”.

An ambitious plan to decarbonise the European economy known as the “Green Deal”.

“The goal is to reconcile our economy with our planet,” European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen boldly declared when first revealing the plan in December 2019. . . 

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is aimed at identifying lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Driven by the programme partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the review is deemed best practice given the scale of the eradication programme.

It will also fulfil a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says.

“Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is hard work, but with the whole sector working together we have made really good progress,” Van der Poel said. . . .

A winning formula for good cows :

A Waikato dairy farming couple have proven they’re at the top their game, taking out two prestigious titles at New Zealand’s largest cattle showing event.

Tom and Francesca Bennett, Te Hau Holsteins, had both the best Holstein Friesian cow at New Zealand Dairy Event and Tom also took out the World Wide Sires, All Breeds Junior Judging Competition. The family was also named Premier Holstein Friesian Exhibitor.

“It was awesome, I did the Pitcairns Trophy judging competition at the Waikato Show and came second, but Dairy Event was my first really big judging competition to win,” says Tom. . . .

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

The two conversions are complementary – one offers an experience on a commercial dairy farm while the other has a focus on horses.

Stacy Faith and her husband Andrew milk 360 cows once a day to supply Fonterra. They separately milk 20 more to supply A2 milk for the vending machine they have installed at their farm gate. It’s a farm that has long been in the Faith family. . . 

From working at the dairy farm to owning it – Ruby Heyward:

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer. . . 

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

A 23-year-old who had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a child had to quit the industry after his mental health started to slip.

Dan Goodwin from Suffolk has shared his story during the annual Mind Your Head, a week-long campaign raising awareness of farmers’ mental health issues and the support available to them.

When Dan turned 18, he moved from Bury St Edmunds and attended a land-based college in Norfolk.

Throughout his studies, he enjoyed learning and the structure that his apprenticeship with a small family-run farm gave him. . .

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

22/02/2021


Trampling democracy

22/02/2021

Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.

Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.

It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.

It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.

It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.

Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.

Imagine the uproar that would ensue.

The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.

Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:

The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.

“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.

“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.

“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.

“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”

“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.

“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”

“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says. 

The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.

This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”

“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”

“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”

Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.

That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.

By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.

 


Word of the day

21/02/2021

Plinyism  – an assertion of doubtful truth or accuracy; a statement of having doubt about the truth or accuracy of something.


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