Where was the Labour candidate?


The NZ Lottery Grants Board has doanted up to $3.7 million towards the $9.7m refurbishment of Oamaru’s 100 year old Opera  House.

The grant from the board’s new significant projects fund is a welcome boost to local fundraising efforts and was announced by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker today.

The board falls under Internal Affairs so it is appropriate the Minsiter was there, but where was the Labour candidate for Waitaki?

The house was sitting today and he’s a Minister with other responsibilities – but couldn’t he have made sure the announcement was made on a day when he was able to be there and bask in the attendant publicity? Or is he not really trying to win the seat?

Given it’s nearly 35,000 square kilometres I don’t blame him if he’d rather just be a List MP, but this may well be the first time in history a candidate has failed to make the most of an opportunity for good publicity 🙂

North Otago 3 Auckland a wee bit more


They’re big boys those Auckland lads and we’ll take heart from the fact that although North Otago scored two points fewer than the last Ranfurly Shield challenge against them in 1993 they scored fewer too. The score was 139 -5 last time, today it was 113 –  3.

More SFF jobs lost


At least a couple of hundred people will lose their jobs when Silver Fern Farms closes its sheep and lamb slaughtering and processing plant at Belfast.

SFF chief executive Keith Cooper said the closure of the slaughter operations was the final instalment of its Project Rightsize for 2008, a programme which was designed to align processing capacity with supply, enhance financial performance, and re-position the business as a true marketing organisation under the Silver Fern brand.

It reflects the overall decline in South Island sheep and lamb numbers, which are expected to drop by an estimated 2.2 million units next year, as conversions in traditional sheep and lamb farming areas to dairy and alternate land uses translate into lower stock units.

Cooper said SFF projections were broadly aligned with Meat and Wool Economic Service forecasts that signal an overall reduction in livestock over at least the next three years.

There were also specific issues that make the slaughter processing operation at Canterbury less tenable. These include the requirement for capital investment in effluent management systems, environmental upgrading, and limited development options compared to other key sites.

“The proximity to residential zoning also contributed to the decision,” he said.

The processors boning room facilities would continue to operate as usual, as the company needed to retain its processing capability to meet increased demand for chilled product across the business, Cooper said.

Cooper said while no further closures are planned, all operations are subject to ongoing review based on site economics.

With this proposal, Silver Farm Farms would have reduced the number of full operating sites by six, with lamb capacity reduced by five chains.

Since February 2007 the company has reduced debt by $150 million.

“These decisive actions, coupled to the proposed partnership with PGG Wrightson and commitment of additional capital of $220 million, should now address the concerns Alliance had with a merger last year and create the opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussions,” Cooper said.

“This can only benefit suppliers to the two co-operatives.” 

The admission that Alliance’s concerns over last year’s proposed merger is interesting but it doesn’ explain why SFF spurned Alliance’s mega-merger proposal this year.

As for creating an opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussion, It’s possible I’m not talking to the right people, but those I am discussing the issue are strongly opposed to PGW’s involvement with SFF and that would make a merger with Alliance less likely not more.

We like playing with trains


A One News Colmar Brunton  poll shows 68% of people support the Government using our money to buy back the railways.

One thousand voters were polled, and asked that given the final price tag will go well over the billion dollar mark would they support the buying back of rail and ferry services?

The results:

  • Yes – 68%
  • No – 24%
  • Don’t know – 8%

I wonder what the result would have been had the question asked: would you prefer taxpayers’ money was spent on health and education or buying back the railways?

Bloggers compulsorily unionised


The tentacles of compulsion are everywhere. NZ Bloggers have been compulsorily unionised and to make matters worse the union blog is red.

Just to show I’m not biggoted I drink red wine but compulsory association with a red blog is asking too much.

Hat Tip: Clint Heine

$3m or more for Opera House?


Minister of Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, is in Oamaru this morning for what the Oamaru Mail calls “a presentation” at the Opera House.

It is expected he will be announcing a grant towards the refurbishment of the historic building.

The Mail reports a rumour that it could be up to $3m but yesterday the grapevine was tipping as much as $3.5m.

The refurbishment began in March last year and is expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

Raising the $9.7m needed for the project is a huge task for the District but a combination of community fundraising efforts and grants has rasied nearly $6.5m so far.

Labour list a test for Clark


Ranking a party list is never easy, but it is even more difficult when polls suggest that the election might result in a party having fewer MPs in parliament.

Colin James  discusses the test facing Helen Clark over Labour’s list in this morning’s Herald:

The question for Clark is whether she will assert her authority to insist on a bold list that cleans out has-beens and injects the abundant energy ready in the wings or leaves too much of it waiting for 2011. And will that list reflect closely her politics or can she inject diversity (by, for example, getting business-experienced Stuart Nash, Epsom candidate in 2005, well placed)?

Clark has promoted 40-somethings in her Cabinet and they are starting to show through, though too late to impress voters. Of the 15 MPs elected in 2005 who are retiring one way or another, seven vacate electorate seats. New candidates should win at least six. All but two of those candidates are 47 or under, which is the rising half of the electorate.

But if all sitting MPs are given priority places on the list, there is little room for new blood there unless Labour gets 38 per cent – 35 per cent if New Zealand First doesn’t make it back into Parliament and 1 per cent less if Damien O’Connor loses West Coast-Tasman.

For Labour to be sure of getting people like Chinese lawyer Raymond Huo, ex-Oxfam heavy Phil Twyford (slotted eventually to follow Clark into Mt Albert), rising youngster Jacinda Ardern, promising Maori Kelvin Davies and Nash, some of the half-dozen or so underwhelming list MPs need demotion.

But demoting sitting MPs risks destabilising caucus and the last thing Clark needs is tetchy MPs whose high opinion of themselves is not reflected by their places on the list.

But a leader’s legacy is not just action while leader. It is also what is set up for the next leader. Clark sometimes surprises. Her list will be a test.

And it will show if how she handles her short term political needs when they’re in conflict with the long term health of the party.

400 more meat jobs to go?


Meatworkers have been called to a meeting at Silver Fern Farms’ Belfast  plant in Christchurch this morning, suggesting another closure is to be announced.

The plant, which processes mutton lamb and veal, employs about 445 workers at the height of the season.

Nth Otago 5 – Auckland 0


Last time North Otago challenged Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield we scored first and for a few glorious minutes the scoreboard read: North Otago 5 – Auckland 0.

By the end of that game, in 1993, we still had 5 points but Auckland had quite a few more – 139.

We’re hosting a challenge again today and I’m facing a wardrobe problem. Partly for political reasons and partly because I like the colour, most of my clothes are blue. That’s not a problem when  I’m backing Otago but it’s also Auckland’s colour so today I ought to wear old gold and maroon in support of the home side.

%d bloggers like this: