Poll: 62% say Peters should resign


It’s not scientific – but the poll on Decision 08 asking if Winston Peters should design shows 62% of people saying yes and 38% saying no.

Another poll shows 56% of people would support a reversal of the EFA, 31% opposing that and 13% registering as don’t knows.

PGW SFF deal demutualisation by stealth?


The proposed joint venture between PGG Wrigthson and Silver Fern Farms is demutualisation in sheep’s clothing according to Alan Robb.

He is an adjunct professor in the co-operatives programme at St Mary’s Unviersity, Canada, and an independent financail analyst and commentator based in New Zealand.

Writing in The NZ Farmers Weekly (not yet on line) he says:

In return for its $220 million, PGW will receive shares giving 50% of the voting equity. It will also have the right to appoint half of the board of directors. The share issue is likely to prevent SFF continuing as a co-operative.

The Co-operative Companies Act 1996 requires that not less than 60% of the voting rights are held by transacting shareholders. As PGW will hold Capital Shares with 50% of the voting equity and the transacting shareholders will have Supplier Shares it seems clear that SFF will no longer qualify as a co-operative.

Farmers who are considering the proposal should be aware of this defect. Will SFF cease to be a co-operative?

…If the board cannot see a future for SFF as a co-operative it has a duty to resign and allow those who are committed to co-operative principles and values to work with other co-operatives in the meat industry.

I spoke to SFF chair Eion Garden a couple of weeks ago about whether the company would be able to retain its co-operative status if the deal with PGW went ahead. He said that PGW will be transacting shareholders. Chief executive Keith Cooper told the ODT  the same thing:

PGG-Wrightson would be a transacting shareholder, supplying goods and services to the meat processor and marketer.

“The most important thing is to preserve all the characteristics of a co-operative, with a rebate structure, ownership and governance structure.”

But what does this mean? That PGW is a transacting shareholder by dint of its contract to procure stock of SFF’s behalf?  Wouldn’t that make PGW a third-party trader? I don’t have a problem with third parties, but PPCS, as SFF was known until its recent rebranding, has been adamant that it didn’t use third parties.

If this is the case it raises another question: why would PGW be allowed to own 50% of the company’s shares when all other transacting shareholders have their shareholdings capped at a much lower level?

National’s getting tougher on Peters


John Key reckons  Winston Peters owes us all an apology for misleading us over Owen Glenn’s donation towards his legal fees.

Mr Key said Mr Peters should apologise for misleading the public.

“He should admit he either wittingly or unwittingly misled the New Zealand public.”

It is possible that Peters didn’t know the Glenn had given the money towards his legal fees when he was first asked about a $100,000 donation. But if that is so his failure to check displays a lack of caution which is not appropriate in a Cabinet Minister; and his refusal to accept he benefitted from a donation to offset a legal bill which he would otherwise have had to pay is just pig ignorance.

Mr Key said there was no question that Mr Peter has benefited from the donations from Mr Glenn.

“If Owen Glenn had not made those donations to Winston Peters’ legal fund then Mr Peters would have been forced to meet that liability. Clearly there is a benefit.”

Mr Key said Miss Clark had failed to hold Mr Peters to the standard required of a minister.

“She hasn’t wanted to prosecute the issue, because if she had done so it may have left her in a difficult position when it comes to the arrangements of her Government, and this is not a prime minister who currently wants to face an election.”

Some have accused National also of being soft on Mr Peters, but Mr Key said he did not agree with this.

“We had no option but to accept Mr Peters’ word, even when it is completely contradicted by the email evidence.

“Now that he has made it clear he did receive a donation it is important he takes it to the next step and admits he gained from it.”

And it’s important to make it quite clear that this behaviour would not be acceptable from a Minister in a National-led government.

Is tax owed on Glenn donation?


Graham McCready, the man who took Trevor Mallard to court after his non-parliamentary fiight with Tau Henare in parliament’s lobby, has asked the IRD to investigate whether tax should have been paid on the money Owen Glenn gave to pay Winston Peters’  legal fees.

We’re dateless because she’s desperate


Dear Ms Clark

Your attacks on John Key are becoming increasingly desperate and until you grant us the courtesy of telling us when you’re planning to hold the election we’re all dateless.

The desperation is of your own making; but chossing the election date shouldn’t be difficult.

The last possible day an election can be held is November 15th but the day before that is Canterbury Anniversary Day and also Show Day – the former is an opportunity for Canterbury people to have a break away and the latter attracts visitors from all over the country. That means a lot of people will be away from home so a lot more people would require special votes or not get round to voting at all.

Schools are on holiday from September 27 to October 13; a fornight later, October 27, is is Labour Day so you’ll want to avoid those weekends too.

Given that it takes about six weeks to hold an election the earliest possible date, if you announced it this week, is September 6th and if you’re not going to clash with holidays there are only two other Saturdays that month, the 13th or 20th; one in October, the 18th and two in November, the 1st and 8th.

That’s just six possiblities, how difficult is it to pick one of them?

Maybe you’ve already chosen the date and got your troops organising in secret to give you an advantage over the other parties because our system allows you to do that.

It’s also possible you haven’t yet decided in the hope that something will happen to help you and that too is your perogative.

I don’t expect you to worry about the people involved in other parties who are putting their lives on hold, not able to commit to doing things until they know whether they’ll be busy with the election.

But how about a little courtesy for the people organising weddings, reunions, sports events, social functions, conferences and all the other activities which go on every weekend and which will go much more smoothly if they’re not clashing with the election.

You might not care about them, but you might care that the longer you leave us dateless the more desperate you’ll be looking.

High country love story booksellers’ choice


The Road to Castle Hill , A High Country Love Story written by Christine Fernyhough with Louise Callan, has won the Booksellers’ Choice Award.

The award was decided by booksellers who vote for the book they most enjoyed selling this year. Castle Hill has been in the top 200 bestsellers for 40 weeks, and was the best-selling book on the shortlist of 10.

The book tells of the highs and lows of learning to run a farm at some of the highest elevations in the South Island. Since the book was released, Fernyhough has been busy promoting it and speaking to groups about her experiences.

“People are so responsive, wanting to know about farming, DoC, how I’m still managing – it’s just a pleasure.”

Fernyhough has had a busy year. A heifer left her with a badly broken leg, she had a record-breaking drought to deal with, and she got married in April to her business partner and the book’s photographer, John Bougen, at the Castle Hill dog trials.

The book recounts Fernyhough’s many learning experiences after she moved from Remuera to the Canterbury High Country and also tells of her work with the Books in Schools and Gifted Kids programmes.

It’s a great read which appeals to men and women from town and country. Through it and her many public appearances in the wake of it, Christine has also become a valued advocate for farmers and farming.

A complaint from her about DOC or the steep rise in rents for pastoral leasehold land is much more likely to strike a chord with the public than it would if it comes from the usual farming lobby groups.

Hide taking Peters to Privileges Committee


Rodney Hide is taking a complaint over Winston Peters to parliament’s Privileges Committee.

Kathryn Ryan has just compeleted an interview with both men on the issue. It’s not on-line yet but one of the interesting statements from Peters was something to the effect he took his own advice because he’s a lawyer.

That reminds me of the truism: a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

Update: the interview is now on line here.

Stop digging start apologising.


The Herald uses its editorial to tell Winston Peters to stop digging. He should also start apologising.

It was one thing to make a denial without checking all possible sources of his financial support, and flourish a silly sign to news cameras, but Mr Peters did not hear alarm bells even when the Herald discovered an email in which Mr Glenn asked a public relations adviser, “You are saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First? When I did?”

A wiser man would have run a quick check on all sources of funds related to his personal political activities and his party. Instead our Foreign Minister descended to baseless and disgraceful allegations of his own – against the integrity of this newspaper, its editor, and our fair-minded political editor, Audrey Young.

Definitely not the actions of a wise man.

We were not particularly surprised by that response. Mr Peters has made a career of bluff and bluster and convincing enough poor voters that the media is the enemy. But we have been surprised at his behaviour since he was forced on Friday to concede Audrey Young’s disclosures are true.

At least, that is what he should have conceded. An honourable and decent public figure would acknowledged his error and apologised to her in the course of explaining himself. Mr Peters did neither. After his lawyer, Brian Henry, told him Mr Glenn had in fact contributed $100,000 to his legal costs in 2006, Mr Peters put out a statement that was not only devoid of apology or regret but attempted to give himself some wriggle room in semantics.

This was not an honorable or decent statement.

He did not make a donation to the NZ First Party,” he said of Mr Glenn, “he made a donation to a legal action he thought justified”. Later, at his party’s 15th anniversary conference, Mr Peters maintained this desperate distinction. “Not one cent went to NZ First and not one cent went to me,” he insisted. “A donation was made to a legal case which is a massive difference … “

No, it is not. He brought a case against the election spending of the MP who captured his Tauranga seat. The law hears those actions in the name of individuals, not parties. Had the petition succeeded, the beneficiaries would have been Mr Peters, if the seat had been restored to him, and his party, since an electorate gives a party more secure representation in Parliament. Mr Glenn obviously believed he was contributing to NZ First and to all intents and purposes, he was.

Indeed, it might disturb Mr Glenn to hear that the donation was technically not for a party’s legal action but for an individual MP’s, because that MP is the country’s Foreign Minister and the Monaco-based billionaire would like to be appointed our honorary consul there. It is a humble enough request from an expatriate who leads a multi-national logistics enterprise and has given millions to his country of birth, most recently to endow the new Auckland University business school that carries his name.

Except that buying honary appointments isn’t supposed to happen in an open democracy.

He was also the Labour Party’s largest donor at the last election, a connection noted when he was named in the New Year Honours. Labour weathered that news easily enough and NZ First could have done likewise, had Mr Peters not foolishly denied it. He has put himself in this hole and he would be smarter to stop digging.

And start apologising. Sorry really isn’t that hard to say if you understand what you’ve done is wrong; refusing to say it suggests he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care.

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