Peters vs The Listener


Winston Peters has penned a letter to the editor of The Listener in response to David Fisher’s story about New Zealand First Incorporated on which I blogged a couple of weeks ago.

In relation to the “curiouser & curiouser story (August 16), the name New Zealand First is held by an incorporated society set up 15 years ago to hold and protect the name. This society had no other purpose and could not possibly generate the intrigue Fisher mistakenly infers. He sent my office a list of questions, none of which referred to this matter.

Fisher responded:

Peters has previously confirmed that party officials handle comments on party matters and party structure. Peters says NZ First Incorporated was set up 15 years ago “to hold and portect the name” and has no other purpose. Following the story’s publication, Peters sent a press release asserting that “New Zealand First Incorporated was set up well before the political party”.

According to documents bearing his signature, filed with the Companies Office, he is not correct. those documents, dated August 1993, are the rules of incoproration for the society and state that NZ First Inc was set up “to assist and promote the objects of the political party known as NZ First launched on 18 July 1993”.

Also, the documents with the Companies Office make no reference to the society’s existance being purely for the preservation of the name. Instead, NZ First Inc’s filings with the Companies Office include the party’s rules and procedures for selecting the party list, for dealing with the electorate candidates, for electing officers of the party and for putting remits before its annual party convention.”

This is typical Peters, leaving more questions than answers and among those questions is: if NZ First Inc hasn’t received income and made payments, how has the party been operating and who was paying for it?

No place for savs in food basket


The butcher used to call in his van once a week when I was a child. During school holidays we’d hang round waiting for his delivery and be rewarded with a cheerio or saveloy to eat.

Butchers don’t deliver anymore, no doubt handing out saveloys would contravene a health standard and saveloys have declined so much in popularity that they’ve been taken out of Statistics New Zealand’s Food Price Index.

Chris Pike from Stats NZ said what goes in to the average basket of food on which the figures are calculated is based on data collected every three years from a survey of 2,600 households. This information is supplemented by supermarket scan data and reports from food manufacturers and distributers.

Fresh peaches, condensed milk and cheesecake were also removed from the average basket although cheesecake will be included in the new category of frozen deserts. In a sign of changing tastes and diets fresh pineapple, soy milk, free-range eggs, hummus dip and chilled fruit juice were also added to the basket.

The new relative importance of the FPI subgroups indicate that about $21 of every $100 spent by households on food is spent on eating out or takeaways. About $17 of every $100 spent on food is on meat, poultry and fish, and about $14 is on fruit and vegetables. Non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee, soft drinks and fruit juice account for $10, and the remaining $38 is spent on grocery food.

The price of the basket of food went up 7.8% in the year to July. This was partly due to the impact of the international price for milk whcih showed in a 59.3% increase in the price of chedder cheese, an 89.4% rise in the price of butter and a 10.2% increase in the price of fresh milk.

The improved international market for grain also had an impact on domestic prices with bread costing 19.6% more. The other major contributer to the overall price rise was grocery food which went up by 11.2%.

July figures showed a small overall increase in food prices – 0.6% for the month – and that was mainly due to higher prices for fruit and vegetables which went up 3.6%

The breakdown could provide a good argument for eating seasonal produce because the biggest contributers to the rise were lettuce and cucumber which went up 32.4% and 27.9% respectively. However, the price of tomatoes dropped 32.4% and nectarines were 32.3% cheaper.

Grocery food went up .5% in July, restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food increased by .6%  and non-alcoholic beverages rose .4%.

The improved prices dairy farmers are receiving had a spin-off on the price of yoghurt which rose 9.2%. Meat, poultry and fish prices decreased 1.0 percent. The main contributor to this decrease came from lower prices for fresh chicken (down 7.1 percent).

Winter’s too long for my cone supply


One of the routes for my regular morning walk brings me home past pine trees behind our house.

Each time I pass I pick up an armful of cones and make a mental note to come back later with several bags to ensure my cone supply outlasts the need for fires. But the mental note gets lost in the rest of the day’s activities so I’ve been burning cones faster than I’ve been replenishing them.

That’s why I’ve just come in from 15 minutes in the pouring rain desperately searching for dryish cones and asking myself why I don’t learn that unless I make a conscious effort to pick up cones when the sun shines winter will always last longer than my kindling supply.

Greens want to slam door on foreign owners


The Green Party’s concern that foreign speculators are making it more difficult for would-be first home owners to buy a property has prompted co-leader Russell Norman to call for a ban on foreign ownership.

“We believe land should be owned by New Zealand citizens and residents only and our laws should be changed to say that,” Dr Norman said.

“Why should we allow Singaporean, Australian or American speculators to buy investment properties in our country, shutting first-time home buyers from the market.”

The question of whether overseas buyers were making it difficult was discussed at a recent farm forum. The panelists – two farmers, an accountant and a farm advisor, were adamant that foreign investment in land was a good thing.

If it boosted prices, vendors recieved more for their properties which they were able to reinvest elsewhere in the economy.

The new owners farmed the land so that they and/or their staff became part of the community contributing not just economically but socially too. If they chose not to keep the farm, it  was put on the market and available for another purchaser from New Zealand or elsewhere because no matter who owns it, they can’t take land away.

What people do with land is a matter for local and central governments through district and regional plans and the Resource Management Act. Foreign owners already have to satisfy the Overseas Invesment Commission before they buy farmland and that is a sufficient hurdle.

Norman isn’t talking about farm land though, he’s talking residential property where the market has already slowed up, even in North Otago which has been insulated from the recession by the positive influence of dairying.

Banning foreign investors would only add to the difficulties would-be vendors are already facing and slash the value of investments people have made in their homes.

Update: Bernard Hickey blogs at Show Me the Money that house prices in Mt Eden/Epsom have fallen 30.4% in the three months to July.

Could Labour and National shun Peters?


The Dominion editorial suggests that Labour and National could keep Winston Peters out of power.

Party leaders might be surprised at the kudos they would attract if they mutually agreed neither party would treat with him after this year’s election.

But would they trust each otehr to keep their word if New Zealand First held the balance of power after the election? And if they did shun him how would they govern when he would hold the votes which would make the difference between between legislation passing or not, unless Labour and National voted together?

The idea of a grand coalition appeals to many, but the difficulties involved in getting Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms together would be nothing compared with getting the two major parties round the same cabinet table.

It’s not parties but voters who will determine the mix of the next parliament and if Peters is in that mix he might still hold enough cards to hold one or both the big parties to ransom.

He needs only one voter in 20 to do that and there could well be that many deluded people who tick New Zealand First on the ballot paper. The only way to counter that is to ensure one party has enough votes to keep him out of government if he manages to sneak back in to parliament.

What’s wrong with tolls?


Down here a traffic jam means someone’s moving stock on the road or there’s a couple of vehicles ahead of us at an intersection if we happen to be in town just after 5pm.

But each time I go to Auckland I wonder about the daily frustration and the waste of time, money and fuel which results from people crawling round the city.

National is suggesting toll roads as part of the solution  to over crowded roads. We’ve used them overseas and any reluctance to pay was soon overcome when we realised the alternative was spending the same amount or more on extra fuel getting to the same place much more slowly.

What if boot was on other foot?


The Press asks a very good question about Winston Peters:

But for those who do subscribe to Peters’ victimisation defence, there is a simple question to answer: what if the boot had been on the other foot?

If Hide had been subject to similar claims about donation irregularities, the first politician to be jumping up and down in outrage, calling for inquiries and generally making political capital would be Peters himself.

Peters has dished out the medicine of accountability but he’s reluctant to swallow it himself.

What’s a fair day’s wage for less than fair day’s work?


A business used to employ people from Idea Services (formerly IHC) to put labels on their product.

It wasn’t a particularly difficult job and the people enjoyed doing it. They also enjoyed earning the wages which were negotiated by Idea Services and regarded as fair by them, the workers and the business for which the work was done.

The business went back to Idea Services recently because they had more work but were told a change in the law meant the people now had to be paid the minimum wage.

The problem is that the people aren’t able to do the minimum amount of work required to justify that wage.

The business wasn’t exploiting vlunerable workers, it was giving them work they were capable of doing and found satisfying and it didn’t matter that they did it slowly.

The business will find other workers to do the job quickly enough to earn at least the minimum wage. But that won’t help the people with the intellectual disabilities who’ve lost their jobs.

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