Clark Visit to Cover Cracks


The ODT reports  that Helen Clark’s visit to Dunedin tomorrow might be used to try to heal rifts created in Labour’s Dunedin South electorate organisation when Clare Curran won the candidate selection over incumbent David Benson-Pope.

Although it’s not a wealthy electorate, Dunedin South  has long been one of Labour’s biggest financial contributers. The need for campiagn cash will be in Clark’s mind and she will also want to shore up support for Curran to try and head off any ideas Benon-Pope might have of standing as an indpendent.

DHB Merger is Right Prescription


The merger of the Otago and Southland district health boards would benefit people in both regions according to Chris Fraser who leaves his post as the Otago board’s regional planning and fundign gneral manager at the end of the month.

Emphasising this was his personal opinion, Mr Fraser said having one board would benefit both populations, but particularly Southland. One regional board offering employment would be much more attractive than either board trying to recruit for its own area.

However, he said any move for a merger was unlikely to come from the Otago board, because that could be interpreted as a takeover, when the boards had been keen to be seen as equals.

Southland might feel threatened by a move from Otago but parochialism needs to give way to practicality. Population based funding is tough on regions with smaller populations spread over a large area so it makes sense for Otago and Southland to combine their resources and in the process reduce some costs. Health dollars are scarce, the fewer that go on the system the more there are for services.

Fraser said the Government imposing a merger on the boards would be unproductive and he may be right. But perhaps it could offer a sweetener as the Minsitry of Education has to encourage schools to merge.

How Much Will We Spend at the Fieldays?


It’s officially called the New Zealand National Agricultural Fiedays but such is its success, the biggest ag show in the southern hemisphere is generally just known as The Fieldays  

The theme for this year is The Science of Farming and I can’t argue with the need for more of that. But regardless of what is revealed when AgResearch and The University of Waikato unveil their latest research the big talking point is sure to be how much farmers spend.

Last year total sales reached $320 million. With this year’s record milk payout and next year’s opening bid from Fonterra set at $7 a kilo it will be no surprise if dairy farmers open their wallets. But while they aren’t getting the headlines dairying is, cropping farmers have had a good season this year and a rising schedule suggests the outlook for sheep and beef is improving so they might do more than kick tyres too.  

Trust Power Counters Sydney


Graeme Purches, community relations manager for Trust Power counters Grahame Sydney’s criticism of Project Hayes   which I commented on here.

Purches says Sydney’s figures about wind strength are wrong and I suspect he’s right if only because it would be stupid to go to the expense of building a wind farm if there wasn’t enough wind to make it viable. However, he makes no comment on Sydney’s contention that self sufficiency and micro generation would be better than large-scale wind generation.

Stats Show Building Values Down


Today’s announcement that the value  of building work fell 6.3% in the March 2008 quarter might be bad news for tradespeople but there could be a glimmer of hope in it for those worrying about the high cost of converting to dairying.


Residential building work fell 6.6% (after the removal of price changes and seasonal fluctuations) in the first three months of this year following a decrease of 2% in the December 2007 quarter.


Non-residential building work fell 5.9% in the same period this year, a turn around on the 12% increase in the last three months of last year.


This news will probably be too late to impact on the price for those who’ve already started converting for the 20008-09 season, but if these figures mean a cooling of the building market it might  help those planning to convert for the 09-10 season.


Each conversion requires a new shed and usually at least one, and sometimes two or more, houses because dairying requires more labour and hence more accommodation than sheep farms.


I tried to find a regional breakdown of the figures because around 100 Southland sheep farms are being converted to dairying for the 08-09 seasons which will require 100 new sheds and more than 100 houses when calving starts in early August. I’d have expected some of that building to have started in the March quarter and so to have been reflected in these numbers.


The helpful woman at Stats NZ told me they don’t do regional breakdowns for these figures (which show work actually done) but pointed me to this link which showed the value of consents (which are granted but not necessarily used yet) for farm buildings varied from $12m to $19m in 2006; from $17m to $27m last year and this year were $32m in January, $31m, in February, $36m in March and $37m in April.

Power Cut Practice


There is never a convenient time for the power to go off but there are less inconvenient times than Sunday evening when I’m cooking dinner for six. The lights and everything else electric went off four times within half an hour from just after 6pm yesterday. Each time the power came back on within a minute or two but at about 10.15 everything went off and stayed off.

We’ve been having strong nor westers which might have been the cause of the problem, or maybe it was just to let us practise for what will happen if the hydro lakes don’t fill and voluntary savings  don’t conserve enough to stave off black outs.

%d bloggers like this: