Anyone for Skippy steaks?

August 9, 2008

A University of Sydney study found that farming kangaroos  instead of sheep and cattle could cut greenhouse gases produced by grazing livestock by almost 25%.

Farm animals account for about 11% of Australia’s greenhouse emissions. The study reckons that replacing 7 million cattle and 36 million sheep with 175 million kangaroos by 2020 could produce the same amount of meat while lowering greenhouse gases by 3% a year.

 

However, the study said changing farming practices in Australia, which is one of the world’s top wool and beef producers but sells by comparison only small amounts of kangaroo meat for human consumption, would not be easy.

 

“The change will require large cultural and social adjustments and reinvestment. One of the impediments to change is protective legislation and the status of kangaroos as a national icon,” it said.

It will also take a marketing campaign because anyone old enough to remember Skippy might have some trouble digesting the idea of kangaroo steaks.


Whatever he is, he isn’t a victim

August 9, 2008

Over at Keeping Stock the poll which solicited opinions on Winston Peters has closed and the results are here.

The 68 self selected but discerning respondents can’t have been fans because none chose option C which offered the label victim.


No to MMP not necessarily no to proportionality

August 9, 2008

Those opposing a referendum on MMP seem to be saying it will mean a return to First Past the Post. But there are other alternatives which may be considered including Supplementary Member, Single Transferable Vote and Preverential Voting.

The chances of us getting a referendum aren’t high because National, which will campaign on the issue, would almost certainly need the support of at least one of the wee parties to do it and Act and United are the only other parties which say they trust us to choose our voting system.

If we do get a say, I’d prefer to be able to rank the choices rather than just tick one because that could split the vote and allow a less popular system through, which ironically is one of the criticisms of FPP.

However, regardless of the referendum, MMP can’t continue forever without some changes because proportionality declines after each census and it will eventually be too far out of kilter.

That happens because when the boundaries are reviewed more electorates are created in the North Island, to keep the number of people in them equal to the number in the 16 South Island electorates which are determined by law. This means every six years the North Island gets more general seats and there is a corresponding decrease in the number of list seats.

We started with 60 electorate and 60 list seats in 1996; after this election there will be 70 electorates (including the Maori seats) and only 50 list seats.

Another problem with the boundry revision under MMP is that rural electorates are getting too big. I am not suggesting we should change from one person one vote; but I do want a system which recognises there is a limit to the area we can expect an MP to service.

People in an electorate covering 38,247 square kilometres (as Clutha Southland, the largest general electorate does) can not hope to get the same ease of access to their MP as those whose MP has to cover an area of just 23 square kilometres as Epsom, the smallest general electorate.

It doesn’t matter who the MPs are nor which party they represent, it is humanly impossible to service these huge rural electorates as easily or effectively as the smaller city seats.

P.S. For more on this issue see the Herald where Clare Trevett backgrounds the case for a referendum on MMP and looks at alternatives.


Kiwi Party’s wish list

August 9, 2008

The Kiwi Party is holding its inaugural conference today and it has announced its first five priorities.

They are repealing the anti-smacking law; appointing a Royal Commission on child abuse;  introduce binding referenda on controversial issues; increase the drinking age, clamp down on those who supply alcohol to under-age drinkers and establish faith based detox and rehabilitation centres; increase the minimum wage to $15; and invest in marriage preparation and relationship enrichment courses (which by my count is six priorities).

There are no surprises there. The big surprise would be if the party actually got in to parliament and history shows how difficult that would be.  Party leader Gordon Copeland is only in parliament because Future New Zealand, the manifestation of the Christian party he was in at the time, was subsumed by the United Party.

The best result for a Christian party was the Christian Colaition’s 4.3% of the party vote in 1994. In 1999 Chirstian Heritage got 2.4% and Future New Zealand got 1.1%.

Three years later Christian Heritage got 1.4% and United Future NZ got 6.7% – but that was because the television worm liked its leader Peter Dunne and National was decimated.

At the last election United was down to 3% and Destiny got .6%.

MMP does enable wee parties to get in to parliament but no new party has got in without an electorate seat and I can’t see the Kiwi Party having a broad enough appeal to change that.


Saturday smiles

August 9, 2008

Friday is poetry day at Homepaddock and now, because the joke in the weekly Ag Letter* is too good not to share, I’m starting Saturday Smiles.

A young monk arrives at the monastery and is assigned to helping the other monks who are copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand.

He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, he goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up and that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.”

He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him.

He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, “We missed the “R”!, we missed the “R” !”

His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?”

With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, “The word was…CELEBRATE!!!”

 

This reminds me of a true story about a local vicar who was talking about the other clergy in town.

 

“The priest is a good bloke, he enjoys a whisky but of course he’s Catholic so he’s celibate. Then there’s the Minister, he’s a good bloke too, got a lovely wife and several children but he’s Presbyterian and doesn’t drink,” the vicar said. Then he added with a smile, “I’m an Anglican.”

*(The Ag Letter is an email newsletter published by Baker & Associates which provides management and marketing information for sheep, beef and dairy farmers. You can view a recent issue and subscribe to it here.)


Contact’s eyeing the Clutha

August 9, 2008

Contact Energy is investigating more dams on the Clutha River.

Contact Energy’s Wellington-based communications manager Jonathan Hill said the power company was “taking a close look again” at old proposals which had been on the back burner, such as those involving sites at Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry.

… Mr Hill said Contact did not have any firm plans in place and was simply looking at all of its options.

“However, we have a clear preference that any new hydro developments should be on rivers that already have hydro schemes on them, to avoid altering virgin rivers.”

Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry on the Clutha River had all been proposed as possible sites.

Mr Hill said they were the only river schemes that Contact was actively looking at as the plans had already been drawn up by the previous owner, ECNZ.

“I think its a very important point to make that if we do identify a project that we would like to advance, the first steps will be to discuss it with local communities.

“The role of new, large-scale hydro projects will be particularly important in an environment in which there is growing concern around climate change and sustainability and in which traditional thermal fuels such as gas are becoming increasingly expensive,” he added.

The increase in thermal generation has been a major contributor to the increase in our carbon emissions. But the difficulty of getting through the Resource Management Act makes the development of new wind and hydro generation a long, involved and expensive process.

The Environment Court appeal against Meridian Energy’s  application consent for its Project Hayes windfarm in the Lammermoor Range has been adjourned until January.

Its Project Aqua on the south of the Waitaki River never got to the consent stage but the company is now looking at a scheme on the north bank.

This winter’s power crisis was avoided by conservation measures and timely rainfalls, but at great cost to businesses and the economy.

Conservation measures can only do so much, if we want to be a first world country with a first world economy so we can afford first world social and environmental initiatives, we need first world power supplies and that means more generation.

If the past is any guide there will be fierce oppostion to more dams on the Clutha. But if we have to reduce carbon emissions and nuclear generation is neither popular nor practical then we have to accept more wind and/or hydro schemes.


Russian Jack

August 9, 2008

Friday’s poem, On the Swag, brought a comment from JC which I think deserves a post:

During the 50s and very early 60s, My parents and I were often on the road from Hawkes Bay to Wairarapa and Wellington going to all the A&P shows with my ponies and horses. We often saw Russian Jack on the road, said to be the last of the swaggers.

I remember being quite surprised at how my perception of what a swagger looked like compared to the reality. I could see very little romance in a life that required such an enormous amount of tackle that RJ carried about with him. There’s a picture of him here:

http://folksong.org.nz/russian_jack/56.html

Later, when I joined the Forest Service in 1963, I saw many older men arrive in camp who had something of the same stamp.. men, some of whom would arrive in an old pin striped suit to slash scrub and plant trees. They were good to us young guys and had many homilies to pass on.. until the weekend, and then you saw the reason.. they were monstrous alcoholics who started on Friday and then drank steadily in their huts all weekend. They sometimes became incontinent and were not pleasant to be around.

In a life of working the back country of the North Island, I’ve met many men and the odd woman with the stamp of the swagger/hermit.. people who preferred their own company who were allowed to settle somewhere, even in an old car body, and did enough local work for their beer and baccy. I suppose the most astonishing thing about them is how they were often good company, even if only for a little while.

I’ve never met a swagger, but JC’s story reminds me of Tom the fencer who came to work on Great Mercury Island when I lived there. He’d had an ininerant life, and had worked on many of the bigger farms around the North Island. He was a wonderful story teller and could yarn for hours so was good company if you didn’t mind his casual attitude to personal hygiene – although we know he washed his socks in the weeks he spent on the island because we saw him throw them over the verandah rails when it rained.


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