Peters Through The Looking Glass

July 12, 2008

Winston Peters says NZ First handles its PR in-house.

Given the way he handles questions from journalists, I wonder if in the house there is a library with a copy of Through The Looking Glass?

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs: they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

‘Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, …


Grain Price Rises Pushes Food Prices Up

July 12, 2008

Good news for producers is bad news for consumers because rising international prices for grain will push domestic food prices up again.

Bread prices are predicted to rise 10c a loaf and pork and bacon prices $2 to $3 a kg.

Food producers face new grain contracts – $100 a tonne, or 30%, higher than last year.

Farmers say contracts for next season’s harvest, which are about to be signed, reflected those higher prices.

Pig and poultry producers say price rises are inevitable to cover higher feed costs.

Foodstuffs (South Island) chief executive Steve Anderson agrees, and warns costs will continue to increase across the board.

He could not quantify the size of any increase, saying that was up to suppliers, but he doubted there would be any price correction in the immediate future.

“We’re not planning on seeing a reduction in commodity prices in general.”

The price for meat and wool is also driven by the price of grain and that in turn is driven by the price of energy. The combined shortage of food and high fuel prices will push the price of all food up.

Grain prices were so volatile, milling wheat growers were not signing contracts at $500 a tonne, claiming the price was still $100 a tonne below the international price and higher-yielding feed wheat.

“It is a rising market. On a falling market, everyone would be signing,” Federated Farmers grains council chairman Ian Morten said.

Demand from dairy farmers had also driven up cereal prices. Growers have been encouraged to plant higher-yielding feed varieties instead of milling wheat, which gave them leverage against the mills.

Grain growers had this year resumed exporting to take advantage of higher international spot prices, something they had not done for many years, which reduced the availability of domestically-grown cereals.

On top of this is the competition for land from the misguided policy which changes land use from producing food for people to the production of fuel for vehicles.

Farmers and food producers also blamed Solid Energy for higher prices, as it has contracted 5000ha of predominantly cropping land to grow oilseed rape for biodiesel production this year.

Solid Energy plans to increase that production to between 20,000ha and 25,000ha within three years.

Mainland Poultry chief executive Michael Guthrie said international issues had driven grain prices up 80% for his egg business in the past 18 months.

Drought in Australia had decimated world grain production; there had been floods and biofuel production in the United States; growing demand for grain from China and India; low world grain stocks; and dairying had taken over cropping land in New Zealand.

Mr Guthrie said egg prices had been stable for the past two years. He expected prices to rise, but could not say by how much.

Pork Industry Board chairman Chris Trengrove said New Zealand was six months behind the rest of the world on feeling the impact of higher grain prices.

Pork and bacon prices would need to increase about $1 a kg to the farmer to cover rising costs, which translated to between $2 to $3 a kg to the consumer.

Production and transport costs are also rising for fruit and vegetables and that too will impact on retail prices.

Repeated competition from rabbits persuaded me to abandon my vegetable garden but now it has been securely fenced this seems like a good time to get it ready for spring planting.


Two more reasons to not vote for Peters & his party

July 12, 2008

The long list of reasons for not voting for either Winston Peters or his party got a couple of additions this week:

First his response to a legitimate quesiton from a journalist:

“Print one thing wrong, sunshine, and I will sue you,” Mr Peters said before hanging up.

And now Audrey Young reports on emails which suggest Labour’s biggest donor also gave money to NZ First.

The emails suggest repeated denials by Foreign Minister Winston Peters that his New Zealand First Party received a donation from businessman Owen Glenn appear to be incorrect. A private email from Mr Glenn to his public relations man in New Zealand says he did give the party a donation.

Mr Peters was last night sticking by his story, saying through a spokesman that Mr Glenn had not given the party money – “he did not” – but he refused any other comment.

The conflicting stories raise credibility issues, as Mr Peters produced a large “NO” sign at a press conference soon after questions of a donation to his party arose.

Did he get part of “no” wrong?

Prime Minister Helen Clark refused to comment last night. While she has sacked ministers for incorrect comments, they have been Labour ministers. She runs a minority Government, relying on New Zealand First in confidence and supply votes. With an election less than five months away, she would want to avoid any conflict with Mr Peters.

There may also be the tricky matter of her response to questions over works of art signed, but not painted, by her. That would normally be a sacking offence for a Miniser of Arts. Peters would be less tolerant  than Labour MPs are of her expecting higher standards of other Ministers than she does of herself.

The email exchange between Mr Glenn and PR man Steve Fisher, managing director of Baldwin Boyle, occurred in February this year when the Monaco-based businessman was visiting New Zealand to open the Owen G. Glenn building at the Auckland University Business School.

Mr Fisher emailed Mr Glenn on February 21 about a Herald story on the businessman’s donations to political parties. He was concerned that Mr Glenn and Mr Peters continued to give the same story.

Mr Glenn, in his reply to Mr Fisher, disclosed that he gave to the party.

Steve Fisher: Our plan worked well. There is nothing new about you in here Owen. Note that Winston says you have never made a donation to NZ First, so at all costs you must stick to that line. It was definitely the right thing to do to deny the Maori party offer as well.   

Owen Glenn: Steve – are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?

Steve Fisher: No, just stick to the line of referring stuff to NZ First. What I’m saying is we don’t want to contradict Winston.

Last night, Mr Glenn was in Monaco, and when asked why he had not said in February that he gave money, he said: “I made a decision not to say anything to anybody because there was so much controversy about everything. I was just there to open the business school so I just didn’t want to get caught up in anything … I elected not to say anything.”

 At the moment it is Peters’ word against Glen’s so the Electoral Commission must investigate the allegations with urgency. If the issue is not sorted out before the election voters have a very easy way to show which one they believe.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock


Which Province is NZ’s Food Bowl?

July 12, 2008

If Waikato is the food bowl of New Zealand  as Lianne Dalziel said in justifying the appointment of former MP Dianne Yates to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board, then the province needs to improve its marketing.

I’d have accepted the cream can or horse racing capital, but Waitako wouldn’t immediately come to mind if I was asked which province is the nation’s food bowl.

If we’re going for North Island entrants for the title Hawkes Bay with its wonderful fruit, vegetables, sea food and wine would be a finalist. The Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay and Northland have a delicious range of fruit and vegetables too; and Wairarapa has wine and olives.

In the South Island, Central Otago can claim the country’s best stone fruit, it has pip fruit and wine too. Nelson and Malborough also grow tasty fruit and have delicious sea food and wine. Canterbury produces tasty fruit and good wine too.

Oysters put Southland on the list, though I’m not sure if swedes would be counted for or against them 🙂

Lamb is legend in Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Southland, though just about anywhere in New Zealand grows it just as well, and the same can be said for beef.

North Otago may not spring to everyone’s mind as the culinary capital but we have a growing appreciation of our primary produce. There’s a fledging viticulture industry, and Fleurs Place at Moeraki has woken our taste buds to the delights of local fish and sea food. Just as the cold winters add intensity of flavour to Central’s stone fruit, the colder water enhances the flavour of fish, particularly blue cod.

Riverstone Kitchen , a finalist in the Cuisine restaurant of the Year, uses as much local produce as possible – including fruit, vegetables and herbs, from its own orchard and garden.

Wasabi is grown in the Waitaki Valley and it also produces very sweet strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, tayberries and boysenberries.

Whitestone Cheese has an array of national awards to back up my ever so slightly biased view that they produce the country’s best cheese.

Totara Lowlands  sells the most succulent cherries I have ever eaten – they don’t export so the pick of the crop is sold locally. Their hazelnuts and honey are also top quality.

While we’re in that part of the the district, Totara and nearby Kakanui are renowned for the vegetables from their market gardens and there are simply no better new potatoes in the world than those which grow here. They are no ordinary spuds, they’re more like underground strawberries.

If you don’t understand how proud North Otago would be if we were called the nation’s potato patch then you obviously haven’t tasted the Jersey Bennies which grow here.


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