Who do we believe?

July 25, 2008

TV1 news showed Winston Peters at the press conference at which he said he’d never asked Sir Robert Jones for money.

Sir Bob has just been on Closeup saying Peters asked him for money – in his words “hit me up for 50 grand” and that Roger McLay from Peters’ office came to pick up the cheque.

Over at Keeping Stock Inventroy 2 was watching Campbell Live on TV3 where Peters said the cheque was given to the Spencer Trust, not his party, followed by Sir Bob saying that the donation was to New Zealand First.


Allegations unsubstantiated rubbish – Peters

July 25, 2008

He didn’t have a sign saying “no” this time, but Winston Peters   didn’t have many straight answers either.

He labelled allegations over donations to New Zealand first as unsubstantiated rubbish and attacked the media.

No surprises there, but as Julian Robins said on Checkpoint (not yet on line) there are still a lot of questions to which answers have yet to be given.

Update: Checkpoint is now on line here.


Aussie farmers get ETS advantage

July 25, 2008

Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme will not include agriculture at its 2010 start date though it might be phased in after 2015.

The Australian Government says it does not consider it practical to include agriculture from the start, but hopes to have all major polluting industries covered by 2015.

New Zealand was the first country to feature the primary sector in an ETS, which will be introduced from 2013, with 90% free allocations to be phased out from 2018.

Australian National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president David Crombie welcomed the news the sector would not be included from the start of the scheme and says farmers will be willing to play their part in meeting the climate change challenge.

‘No country in the world has yet found a way to equitably include its agricultural production in an ETS,’ Crombie says. ‘That is, with the exception of New Zealand, where farmers are now looking at margins reducing by up to 160% as a result.’

And can anyone explain why we’re doing that whent he cost is so high for little or no environmental benefit?

Crombie says the Government’s Green Paper takes into account the three key issues for farmers. These are the impracticalities of measuring, monitoring and verifying agricultural emissions; the need to fully grasp agriculture’s life cycle to account for carbon stored in soil, crops and pastures; and the need to challenge the international Kyoto rules to reflect Australia’s particular circumstances.

One of New Zealand agriculture’s major arguments against being the first country to include the sector has been the fear of losing a competitive advantage.

It has also called for delays until further research can deliver better measurement and mitigation techniques.

Both accurate measurement and effective mitigation are essential if the scheme is to have any validity and benefit.

The Australian Government recognises a joint effort with the industry is required before agriculture is included, and a final decision will be made in 2013.

The National Party refuses to support the New Zealand Government’s ETS on the grounds the policy has been rushed, arguing we should instead follow Australia’s moves.

An issue this important ought to have broad cross-party support. Labour’s approach doesn’t which means a sensible approach depends on them not being able to push the Emissions Trading Bill through parliament before the election.


ETS costs too high for agriculture

July 25, 2008

The costs from the proposed emissions trading scheme   will erode any improvement in red meat schedules and dairy payout.

This and other adverse impacts have prompted industry groups to call for more time to voice their concerns about the ETS amid widespread fears it will crush competitiveness for no environmental benefit.

There is absolutely no point in imposing costs on primary industry, or any other sector, if there is not going to be a measurable environmental benefit.

As the first country to include agriculture in such a scheme, the sector says its concerns have not been taken into account, prompting a pan-industry letter sent to Parliament calling for another chance to make submissions.The latest independent analysis of the scheme in its current form shows sheep, beef and deer farmers will be ‘hit hard’ by the ETS – much more so than their dairy counterparts.
Detailing a range of indicative costs for 2030 – the year when agriculture will pay full carbon emissions expenses – National Bank rural economist Kevin Wilson shows the cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kilogram of product sold would be 38c for meat producers compared with 21c for dairy.
Given the dairy payout is historically higher per kilogram of milksolids than a kilogram of meat, it means sheep, beef and deer farmers would pay a higher proportion of income into offsetting emissions than dairy farmers.

The cost of emissions per hectare would equate to $185 for dairy and $84 for sheep and beef. Dairy also has a higher GHG cost per stock unit at $74, compared with $8.40 for sheep and beef.

Wilson told Rural News many variables will determine the ultimate costs, but the fundamental question is why New Zealand has agriculture in its ETS plans when no other countries do.
 
There is no satisfactory answer to this question, especially when New Zealand’s extensive grazing systems put us among the most productive producers of protein with the lowest carbon emissions in the world. 

He says 2018 – when agriculture would enter the scheme – is actually a lot closer that it seems given the changes that would need to be implemented: ‘Now is the time to start preparing potential management options.’Meat & Wool NZ chairman Mike Petersen is not surprised to hear the ETS costs to dairy farmers are lower because they generally sell more product and at a higher price.
But his major and immediate reason in pushing for change to the scheme is that New Zealand is the only country in the world to put agriculture in an ETS. ‘It’s a real concern to us,’ he says.
‘That’s why we are arguing there needs to be some recognition of the competitive factors that New Zealand agriculture will face as a result of being the only country in the world to do so.’

MWNZ was one of 14 industry groups calling for the chance to provide further submissions to the Climate Change Bill recently amended by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Petersen is concerned the ETS goes beyond meeting the nation’s international obligations, and warns carbon neutrality is not a sustainable long-term goal for New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry.

Another worry is ‘trade-offs’ being made in Parliament to pass the bill before the election, says Petersen.

Keeping Stock wonders if Helen Clark’s support of Winston Peters this week is because she needs his support fot the bill.

Wilson’s calculations are based on a conservative carbon cost of $25/tonne, plus stocking rates of 2.5 cows/ha for dairy and 10 stock units/ha for sheep and beef. It takes fertiliser application of 500kg/ha for dairy and 50kg/ha for sheep/beef, production of 875kg of milksolids/ha and 220kg of meat and fibre/ha, along with 7.4t of CO2 equivalent per square hectare emitted for dairy and 3.4/ha for sheep and beef.
 
No-one knows what the cost will be, it is unlikely to be lower but it could be much higher.

 


Would a rose by any other name really smell as sweet?

July 25, 2008

It was all very well for Romeo to ask “What’s in a name?” His only problem was a family feud which is simpler than going through life with a moniker that will be an embarrassment.

Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt recognised this when he ordered a child be put under the guardianship of the court so her name could be changed from Talula does the Hula from Hawaii.

I support his judgement because I have a rather jaundiced view on unusual names, although mine is not an embarrassment it is more often than not the source of confusion and irritation.

Elspeth is the Scottish form of Elizabeth and it is pronounced Els bith. Not Els peth, Elzz bith, Elzz a beth, or any of the other variations from albatross to Elizabeth to which I have had to answer.

Fortunately it is a name which lends itself to diminutives and most people call me Ele. That is often misspelled and mispronounced Elle or taken to be a shortened form of Alison, which causes confusion. But at least it isn’t usually difficult to sort that out.

While I may not like my name, at least my parents chose it with the best of intentions. That is more than can be said for Talula’s parents; Mr and Mrs Bridge, who christened their son Sydney Harbour or the couple who saddled their child with the names of an entire football team.

A British psychologist who undertook a study of unusual names concluded they can cause psychological harm. No wonder when some of the gems he encountered included Attracta Mann, Annete Curtain, Robin Banks, Susan Eatwell Burpit and Trina Field.

However, names with double meanings are not always the fault of parents with a perverse sense of humour. Even if you choose your child’s name with due care and sensitivity there is no allowing for changes in fashion and meaning.

Gay used to be a popular name with connotations of happiness. And it is not just names but initials which must be considered.

I once worked for a paper which referred to people by title, initials and surname. One woman I interviewed said she would prefer to have her name or just her first initial used.

When I checked the electoral roll back at the office I understood why – she was Veronica Dawn.

My farmer was named after his father, then called by his second name to avoid confusion between them but that causes other problems. So when it came to choosing names for our children we agreed we would give them names we were going to call them by, and that they’d be short and easy to pronounce.

Unfortunately that’s also the criteria used by shepherds, so the expectant father, dismissed most of my suggestions with, “No, I knew a dog called that.”

We finally settled on Jane, Tom and Dan. It hadn’t occurred to us people would assume we meant Jayne, Thomas and Daniel because no name is so simple it won’t be changed by those who think they know better.

But at least we haven’t blessed anyone with a name which needs a five-minute explanation with every introduction.

Not every parent worries about such things and I’m pleased Judge Murfitt has taken a stand on that for the sake of the children. Because while Romeo reckoned “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, I think Anne of Green Gables won that argument when she asked, “would it really if it was called a skunk cabbage?”


Taxi driver – no-one voting Labour

July 25, 2008

The taxi driver who took me to Wellington airport this morning was listening to a political discussion on Morning Report.

I took the opportunity that offered to ask what passengers were saying about the election. He said no-one was supporting Labour; nor were he, his family and friends. Some of them weren’t sure who they’d vote for but he’d be voting National and he reckoned John Key was honest.

The views of one taxi driver and his passengers can not be likened to a scientific poll. But they can be a barometer of mood and this taxi driver was sure the mood was for change.


Tax policy out in first week of campaign – Key

July 25, 2008

The National Party will announce its tax policy  in the opening week of the election campaign.

National has already said it had finalised a programme of tax cuts and Mr Key told a business audience today that these were locked in.

They would be more substantial than those proposed by Labour and the programme would not change if economic forecasts worsened.

“In terms of our tax cuts programme it (an economic downturn) will make no difference at all,” Mr Key said.

When National designed the cuts package it was aware that the economy could take a turn for the worst and had been cautious.

If there was not an ongoing programme of tax cuts then the take-home wage gap between Australia and New Zealand would become unsustainable because of the number of people it would drive across the Tasman.

“You will see from us a programme of ongoing personal tax cuts… We have done them, we know what it looks like.” Mr Key said the programme would be “extremely transparent” in terms of cost and what they would deliver.

In the speech Mr Key said National would be releasing its KiwiSaver policy and there would be other policy releases on Working for Families. He indicated these would be minor changes to current government policy settings.

Once something like Welfare for Families is established it is difficult – politically at least – to axe it and It is possible that welfare is the easiest way to help low income working families.  But I hope National’s tax package will provide a more efficient, less costly way to help middle and upper income earners than benefits which create disincentives for self-help through rebates on extra income.


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