Another Labour EFA Breach?

June 14, 2008

Does this appear to be words or graphics which might persuade someone to vote for a party? It’s in the exhibitors’ product listings in the Fieldays catelogue under the heading Labour Members of Parliament:

The NZ Labour Party has launched NZ Fast Forward, the largest ever boost to research, development and innovation in New Zealand’s history with $700 million dollars (sic) of new funding. It is part of the Labour-led Government’s commitment to transforming New Zealand’s primary industries to meet future challenges. In Government, the NZ Labour Party will continue to work alongside farmers to ensure the coninual growth and prosperity of the primary sector and rural communities, and that rural people have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. Find out more about our rural policies – www.labour.org.nz This is funded by the Parlimaentary Service.

A Hamilton PO Box number and phone number follow – but there is no authorisation statement.

Then there’s this for New Zealand First:

New Zealand First is Parliament’s third largest and most dynamic party. It has led the debate in New Zealand on immigration, the Treaty, a fair go for senior citizens, law and order and owning our own country for more than 10 years. We will be seeking your party vote this year to continue this fight.

It has a Hamilton street address, phone number and fax but no authorisation statement.

And this for Libertarianz:

Libertarianz is the first and only political party in NZ to have an explicit individualistic philosophy. We are committed to shrinking the power an influence of the Government in every area of our lives, and are committeed to the concept of a free society with a free marekt economy. We offer you a unique opportunity to influence the future political direction of our nation. Join us and say no to OSH, RMA, NZQA and all other Government nanying!

It was followed by an Auckland PO Box & fax number, mobile phone number and website address but again no authorisation.

And National? It had this:

Take this opportunity to visit our site and meet a Member of Parliament. During the four days we will have several MPs manning the stand and they will be available to discuss issues of interest to people. Come along and have a chat and give your views. National is very interested in hearing what people really think. This is your chance to have a lively exchange of ideas.

It was followed by a Hamilton PO Box and phone number and no authorisation but I don’t think you could say the words were soliciting votes so it didn’t need one.

 

 Then there were the sites. Labours had two big red banners saying Labour, with the party logo and parliamentary crest; and a couple of bright red banners saying Waikato Labour MPs with a website address.

There was no authorisation. So are the Labour Party MPs acting separately from the party? And does Labour have to account for a donation from parliamentary services for the costs of the fieldays stand and banners in the same way Bill English suggested it might have to with the Prime Minsiter’s office over funding the budget brochure? (Keeping Stock comments on that here)

The NZ First site had authorisation statements and parliamentary crests on its posters.

I didn’t notice if posters at the Libertaianz site were authorised, but did enjoy a discussion with the bloke handing out pamphlets 🙂 and the National site was set up like an MP’s office, with nothing promoting National.

So three out of four statements in the catelogue appear to breach the EFA because they don’t have authorisation statements and Labour’s site as a whole appeared to be advertising the party with public money and without authorisation statements.


Emotion Beats Facts

June 14, 2008

We pride ourselves on our agricultural efficiency but I have yet to see anything here to rival a small farming cooperative on the outskirts of Sorrento, in Italy, when it comes to using every square centimetre of land.

 

Eleven families pooled their small, uneconomic units to form a four hectare farm. Their main crops are lemons and olives. They plant olive trees between the rows of lemons and the olives grow taller so their fruit is above the shade of the citrus trees’ leaves.  Some of the trees were grafted so they produced oranges and lemons from the same trunk to diversify production without taking up any more space. They grew grape vines along the outside rows of trees too. The farm also kept four pigs and three cows – all of which were housed inside; and in a bid for both self-sufficiency and organic production, their manure provided the fertiliser for the orchard.

 

The farm produced its own olive oil, and made cheeses, wine and limoncello. It also welcomed tourists to walk through the orchard, inspect the olive press, watch the cheese making, taste their produce and of course buy it. Our guide didn’t talk about budgets or bottom lines, but the cooperative looked prosperous and if the slick operation of the tour and size of the farm shop, where the visit ended, were anything to go by then tourism made an important contribution to the income.

 

The main emphasis of the tour was horticulture and only passing reference was made to the stock, but as we passed them I wondered about the quality of life for animals which are housed inside all year round. This thought was reinforced by an article headlined “The Ethics of eating Meat” which I read in a Bangkok newspaper on the way home.

 

The author argued it was unethical to eat meat because of the environmental cost of growing and harvesting feed for animals raised on feedlots, although he had no problem with pasture-grazed stock. He didn’t mention welfare issues but I remember looking at cattle standing on concrete under mid summer sun in both the United States and Argentina and wondering how happy they were. Those who knew more about animals than I do, assured me that their demeanour, health and condition indicated they were quite content, and pointed out that there was shade available which the stock chose not to make use of.

 

 

I couldn’t argue with that, but I still felt something was wrong and in matters like this science takes second place to sentiment. I remembered that when we passed a herd of cows standing in the mud on a cold, wet day as we drove from Queenstown to Dipton. It was obvious they were being break-fed and were about to be shifted which I know gives animals better quality grazing, does less damage to soil structure and is a more efficient use of pasture than letting them roam the whole paddock at once. But anyone who knew nothing about our farming practices, and on this prime tourist route there would be many of them, would have seen abject misery. That is not the picture we want them to recall when next they see our meat in their supermarket chiller.

Efficiency of production and quality of produce will count for nothing if customers think our practices are unethical; and arguments to the contrary will be worthless because emotion beats facts in marketing.


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