Winston in Wonderland

July 30, 2008

Winston Peters attacked journalists today and said the media, like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, believed impossible things.

His reference to the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party today reminded me he is like another Lewis Carol character who delights in obfuscation:

‘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, …

Update: The transcript of Peters’ speech in parliament yesterday is here.


Paua project waits five years for funds

July 30, 2008

An East Coast paua hatchery was forced to wait five years for a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sustainable Farming Fund.

The SFF approved the $230,500 grant in 2002 but the money wasn’t paid over until November last year.

National’s agriculture spokesman David Carter  attributes the delay to “bureaucratic ineptness”.

The grant was for the development of a commercially viable paua production system. The project was to study yellow-foot and virgin paua so seed stock production methods could be developed; to develop a selective breeding system across these two species and common paua to provide superior stock; and to test and develop a recirculating sea water system.

The applicant, Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, wrote to MAF, MAF’s director general, the Minsiter of Maori Affairs and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton seeking answers.

Carter has obtained an internal memo  which states:

” ‘all failings – and there has [sic]been many of them – were at MAF’s end’ and that it was ‘extremely embarrassing’ for MAF.”

The Minister should also be embarrassed but as Phillipa Stevenson points out at Dig ‘n’ Stir he avoided the issue when Carter questioned  him in parliament this week.

Five years of ineptness deserves more than obfuscation. Does nobody in government know how to say, “sorry we stuffed up”?

Hat tip: Dig ‘n’ Stir


Yule wins Local Govt Presidency

July 30, 2008

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule has been elected president of Local Government New Zealand.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, who contested the presidency too, is the new deputy.

Bob Harvey, Waitakere mayor had earlier criticised local bodies supporting Yule’s nomination:

“It’s a brainless stand as the largest urban authority in New Zealand to not think through what the job entails and I’m surprised and amazed at their decision. Local government will be in serious trouble if they don’t come to their sense and realise that the job is beyond the mayor of a small rural district.”

Obviously enough of those who voted realise that size doesn’t matter and a president with an understanding of provincial issues and a deputy who knows about urban issues should ensure the views of all local authorities are understood and represented.

Update: I stand to be corrected on this but I think Yule was electorate chair for Michael Laws when he (Laws) was a National MP. The skills he’d need for that job will be very useful in his new role 🙂



Mainland betters NZX-50

July 30, 2008

We call it the Mainland with our tongues in our cheeks but now we have the numbers to prove we’re weathering economic tough times better than the north.

The Deloitte South Island Index measures the market capitalisation of 33 companies with head offices or the majority of their business in the South Island and puts them into an index relative to their size.

For the first six months of this year, the index was down by 8.5 per cent, beating New Zealand’s benchmark NZX-50 index which fell 21 per cent. Over the last quarter (April to June) it has risen into positive territory, growing 3 per cent versus the NZX-50’s drop of 8 per cent.

However, doing better isn’t the same as doing well as Deloitte partner Paul Munro points out:

At a headline level it shows South Island companies are doing better than the rest of the country, but we need to balance that out with the fact that of the 33 companies measured 61 per cent saw a drop in their market capitalisation.”

Munro said the strong performance over the last quarter had been boosted by larger companies like PGG Wrightson and NZ Farming Systems Uruguay.

PGG Wrightson, the second largest company on the index, grew its market cap by $127 million, boosted by a higher share price and $5 million in bonus shares being issued, while NZ Farming Systems Uruguay saw its market cap increase by $83 million on the back of a rising share price driven by predicted increased earnings. Munro said their strength followed the boom in the dairy sector with record milk solid payouts.

He said this sector was having a positive impact on other businesses and because a greater proportion of business in the South Island was linked to dairying it was helping to hold up the economy.

It’s not all down to dairying, but the record payout from Fonterra and the continuation of conversions from sheep to dairy farms are pouring money into rural communities. That in turn is insulating the provinces from the worst effects of the recession.


WTO talks fail again

July 30, 2008

The latest Doha Round  of trade negotiations have failed which deals a blow to New Zealand’s hopes for better access to overseas markets.

Charles Finny of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce said the deal on the table at the WTO wasn’t perfect but everyone would have been better off with it than without it.

“For New Zealand it offered the end of agricultural export subsidies, caps on domestic agricultural subsidies, and improved market access for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and manufactures. More work was needed on services but signs there were positive that some forward movement could be achieved also. It is therefore a tragedy that a small number of WTO members were trying to unpick elements of this package.”

The New Zealand International Business Forum also expressed its deep disappointment that the WTO meeting had failed to agree on a way forward for the Doha negotiations.

“Failure in Geneva is bad news for everyone” said NZIBF executive director Stephen Jacobi. “Bad for New Zealand because the opportunity to reduce tariffs and export subsidies once again eludes us.

“Bad for the developing world because they need improved access to developed country markets to promote growth and address poverty.

“And bad for the global economy that desperately needs the boost in confidence that conclusion of the Doha round would bring”, said Jacobi.

Everyone gains from free trade and the ones who lose the most from trade restrictions are those who can least afford it.


Hide takes Peters’ complaint to SFO

July 30, 2008

Act leader Rodney Hide  has lodged a complaint about Winston Peters with the Serious Fraud Office.

Mr Hide said in a statement today: “It is my considered opinion that issues raised by the Dominion Post and the new Zealand Herald require proper and independent investigation.

“The Serious Fraud office is the appropriate Government department capable of carrying out an independent, thorough and competent investigation   more so with its current powers.

“It is vital that such an investigation be seen to be unfettered by any suggestion of political interference, real or imagined.”

Serious allegations require serious consideration.


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