Peters talking tough


Winston Peters says he’s happy for the public to hear what he has to say to the Privileges Committee next Monday.

Mr Peters said he was happy to have an open hearing.

“Most certainly. I want to dispose of this sham and I intend to do so.” When asked on radio to clear up the donation issue, Mr Peters said he was constrained by committee rules.

Will we be any the wiser after we’ve heard him?

Too late for merger talks


Events have overtaken any ideas Silver Fern Farms and the Meat Industry Action Group have about a merger between SFF and Alliance Group.

The prediction that the sheep kill will be down by 9 million this season changes everything.

Even without that, although there were good reasons why SFF might to merge with Alliance, the case for Alliance joining SFF was much weaker; and something MIAG seems not to understand is that directors are legally required to act in the best interets of the company.

But now sheep numbers have dropped so steeply the meat industry is entering a new era.

There will have to be more works closures and job losses not only in the freezing industry but in allied areas such as shearing. That will be difficult for the many people involved but there is a silver lining to this cloud for sheep farmers because decreased supply is coming while demand is rising and that will mean better prices.

SFF lost any opportunity it might have had for joining others in the industry when it pulled out of discussions over Alliance’s plan for a mega merger. It now has its hopes set on shareholders accepting PGG Wrightson’s proposal to take a 50% stake in the company and says it there is no plan B.

But if that plan isn’t accepted SFF will have to come up with another, and the letter Alliance directors has sent to shareholders makes it clear it has its own plan which don’t involve either SFF or PGW.

In a strongly worded letter, Alliance chair Owen Poole pours cold water on both SFF’s desire to reopen merger discussions and its proposal to allow PGG Wrightson to take a 50% stake in the company.

He wrote, in response to one SFF chair Eion Garden wrote to Alliance shareholders, and lists the arguments against the PGW proposal and SFF advances.

 Poole’s letter follows the break: Read the rest of this entry »

500 posts


This is my 500th post since I started blogging three and a half months ago.

The first post, on April 22nd, was on DOC culling its staff, a topic I revisted today with my 498th post.

The first real comment (ie not spam or links for the sake of linking) was made by Nonein on a post about the farmers’ share of food prices  on May 17th and the first link came three days later from The Hive.

I haven’t counted properly but I think the person to make the most comments – and certainly the most which disagree most strongly with me 🙂 – is Truthseeker.

The most frequent links come from Keeping Stock  and No Minister and their blogs also refer most visitors each day.

Most of those who pop in to Homepaddock are, not surprisngly, from New Zealand but according to Alexa  4.7% come from the UK and 12.6% from other countries which means it’s not just Kiwi insomniacs who add to the visitor numbers overnight.

Thank you all for adding to the fun of blogging.

Glums show no enthusiasm for PGW SFF move


A $220 million injection of cash makes it easy to understand why overtures from PGG Wrightson might be attractive to Silver Fern Farms.

It’s more difficult to understand why PGW wants to get into the meat industry. However, Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff gave his views on this in yesterday’s Southland Times (which is no longer on line):

Mr Cuff believed PGG Wrightson was trying to protect its own base and take multiple fees and that any remaining profits would be split between PGG Wrightson and the farmer.

SFF seem to think that PGW’s involvement would increase the prospects of a merger with Alliance but this comment suggests the reverse is true.

If the body language at the “fireside chats” SFF is holding is anything to go by, its shareholders aren’t keen on PGW’s involvement either.

The meeting in our area was like a gathering of the Glums. There were about 20 farmers there and around half of them have now converted to dairying or cropping so while they may still be SFF shareholders they are no longer involved in the meat industry.

The crossed arms and unhappy faces of those who still have sheep suggested they weren’t convinced of the merits of PGW’s proposal either.

DOC culls staff but spends on rebranding


The Department of Conservation culled 56 staff a few months ago after overspending its budget by $8 million but now its planning to spend $2.3 million  on a rebranding exercise.

That’s like culling your stock then spending the money you save by not having to feed them on painting your fenceposts.

Update: No Minister  seeks readers’ suggestion on what DOC does.

Election could be decided by courts


The NBR reports that the election may be decided by the courts because of uncertainties over the Electoral Finance Act.

It quotes Kensington Swan electoral law expert Hayden Wilson: 

“The result of the election could even turn on the decisions of the Electoral Court if there were litigation arising out of the results in certain critical seats,” he said

Electoral petitions in previous elections have not affected the overall outcome of an election, as the impact had been confined to just one electorate seat in each case. That changes under MMP.

His explanation is here.

Wilson says the EFA is limiting campaigning too and this is supported by National’s Wellington Central candidate Stephen Franks who was going to have a sign on his electorate office.

“The Electoral Commission wrote to candidates saying that signs like that were a campaign expense, and the Commission assessed the value of standard sign at $6 per sqm which was over $17 a day.

“Including construction and removal that came to about $4 600 for a four month campaign. That was almost a quarter of the campaign allowance for just one sign.”

“Alternatively with the campaign spending limit at $20 0000, I could have sent one postcard to about two thirds of the electorate,” he said.

People may not be concerned about the absence of vote-for-me circulars amongst the junk mail but it does mean methods canddidates would normally use to introduce themselves aren’t being used. 

The Waitaki Electorate covers 34,888 square kilometres and the National Party is finding our campaign activities and communication are severely curtailed. But at least we have the people-power for door knocking and hand deliveries. The wee parties can’t possibly cover an area that big so they are even more constrained in getting their messages across.

That’s yet another negative consequence of the EFA which those opposed to it warned about but which its supporters chose not to heed.

Govt says no to Clutha dams


Energy Minister David Parker says the Government won’t support Contact Energy’s plans to build more dams on the Clutha River.

“I am confident we’ll have alternatives which don’t require us to dam even more of our ever-dwindling number of unmodified rivers.”

He may be right but he also needs to be fast because one of the reasons New Zealand’s carbon emissions have gone up so much is our growing reliance on fossil fuels. We don’t have enough hydro and wind generation to satisfy demand so the need for carbon-friendly alternatives is urgent.

Standing room only at the Robbie


The Robbie Burns may not have quite the reputation as The Cook or the Gardens, but it too has for many years hosted its fair share of Otago students.

Yesterday it was host to a different clientele as the venue for the joint launch of the election campaigns for National’s Dunedin North and South candidates, Michael Woodhouse and Conway Powell.

There was standing room only and a wide range of ages with a good number of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s as well as older people including Percy Wellington, who has been a member for 67 years; and former Speaker Sir Robin Gray.

The speeches were short – an introduction by Katherine Rich, followed by John Key then the two candidates. The messages were similar – New Zealand and Dunedin need National and the party has the right people for the huge task facing the in-coming government, whatever its stripes.

One of the strengths of MMP is that it enables parties to have an MP is an area where they might not win an electorate. Katherine Rich has been a strong advocate for Dunedin and its people and an asset for National in the city and around the country.

John told the ODT that Dunedin would need a high calibre replacement for Katherine and that both candidates were high calibre. I agree.

Research companies want to merge


Crop & Food Research and HortResearch want to get back together.

Today HortResearch’s acting chief executive Bruce Campbell said international expectations around research and development had shifted in recent years.

“Rising food prices, and some real concerns about our ability to supply food to countries such as India and China as their wealth increases raise the question of how NZ and its food-growing should be positioned to do the best that we can,” Dr Campbell told NZPA.

Food production was a “burning platform” and NZ needed to be able to do the best that it could on a world stage.

“We need to using all the resources that we’ve got to make sure we’re going as fast as we can.”

Scientists complain they spend too much time applying for funds and not enough time in research.

A merger may not halve the time spent on applications but it would avoid duplication and competition. It might also reduce administration and all of that would enable more time and money to be spent on research.

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