Flood claims cows

August 26, 2008

North Canterbury farmer Peter Schouten could do nothing but watch as 100 of his cows were washed into a river on their way to the morning milking.

“When I got there the cows that were walking towards me were just dropping into the river. That was the most horrific sight I have ever seen,” Mr Schouten said.

He said the bridge was “more like a highway bridge than a dairy farm bridge” and the bridge itself was still intact but the southern entrance had been washed away.

On many farms the cows were “just a number” but on his family owned and operated farm they had a “real passion” for the animals and “seeing your favourite cows being washed down the river was like losing a pet dog”.

Almost 30 cows had survived and been recovered alive, but the rest were still missing.

Good farmers do know their individual animals and this would be a devastating experience for the family and their staff.


Technical defence

August 26, 2008

Paul Gallagher writes about defence by parliamentary technicality and says Margaret Wilson’s hands were tied by standing orders today.

She didn’t have much in the way of options when presented with a claim of sub judicae from Winston Peters.

But:

With patience, Rodney Hide’s tenacity will hopefully see to it that these matters are properly and extensively investigated. He shouldn’t misdirect his frustration into challenging the Speaker. He should instead renew his pressure on Peters with even more vigour. Biding his time may offer Hide more time to consolidate his position.

And if the reliance on sub judicae is found to be unreasonable, Peters may have just managed this afternoon to dig himself a deeper, more hazardous hole.

And what was Hide trying to discolse today? Grant Flemming  writes:

ACT leader Rodney Hide has made explosive allegations that New Zealand First was paid off by Simunovich Fisheries to stop leader Winston Peters making corruption claims against it.

 

The allegations, made under parliamentary privilege, revolve around Simunovich Fisheries, which was at the centre of a 2003 parliamentary committee inquiry into the allocation of quota for a crustacean called scampi.

. . . Mr Hide’s allegations, included in questions to Prime Minister Helen Clark on the Government’s stance on corruption, included:

– that a businessmen had told The Dominion Post newspaper he was one of several people Simunovich boss Peter Simunovich had given cheques of $9999 in 2002 to pass on to NZ First in return for Mr Peters stopping allegations of wrongdoing by Simunovich Fisheries and he had said that “sure enough within a couple of weeks Winston Peters did shut up”;

– that a statement from the businessman, who was now afraid for his safety, had been passed on to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO);

– that the businessman claimed Mr Peters had gone to meet Mr Simunovich to discuss the evidence of corruption and had stated that for a payment of $50,000 “we would just slowly get rid of it”;

– that the businessman had kept the bank records.

Peters said the claims were baseless and formed the basis of a defamation case.

Mr Peters later attempted to ask his own question, which appeared to suggest there may have been cheques NZ First had received from some individuals or groups but never cashed.

“If there was a subsequent series of cheques, paid some substantial time later, despite the fact that there was an inquiry in this house that concerned a business and, here’s the relevant point, those cheques were never cashed.”

Mr Peters was then cut off by Ms Wilson on the basis that Mr Peters himself had claimed the matter was sub judice.

These are very serious allegations which must be investigated because it’s not only Winston Peters’ career at stake, it’s New Zealand’s reputation for the absence of corruption.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock


Speaker assists Act election campaign

August 26, 2008

The Labour Party is in disarray tonight after Speaker Margaret Wilson admitted she has been assisting Rodney Hide with Act’s election campaign.

“It started on August the first when Rodney provoked me into cracking a joke. Everyone laughed and I liked it and people liked me. It was all such fun and I wanted more of it,” she said.

“I realised then it wasn’t going to happen with Labour in power, you see we’re not allowed to laugh. Helen says so and Heather makes sure we do what we’re told. But I liked laughing, I’m sick of being the bossy one, no-one likes, it’s lonely.

“That’s when I made the decision to help Rodney’s election campaign and that’s why I did what I did today.

“I kept saying I was sorry but I wasn’t really, because I knew that if I didn’t let Rodney ask his question and then sent him out he’d get all that wonderful publicity and Act would get more votes and join National in government and then we’ll all have so much more fun in the next parliament. Not that I’ll be there but I’ll still watch it on TV and be able to see Rodney. He’ll be a Minister and all because I helped him.

“It was going to be our little secret, but I had to come out about it because everyone’s picking on me. They think I was wrong  and they’re saying nasty things  because they don’t understand  what I was doing.

“Of course I wasn’t letting Winston Peters get away with anything fishy or hide behind standing orders or parliamentary privilege; and it had nothing at all to do with needing his votes to pass legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme; and I definitely wasn’t being unfair to Rodney.

“That would be showing bias, it would bring the house into disrepute, goodness me, it might even prompt people to suggest I was incompetent and cast aspersions on my impartiality, then they’d start going on about freedom of speech and democracy. And we couldn’t have that just because they didn’t realise I was joking.”

Labour leader Helen Clark could not be reached for comment but her spokesperson Heather Simpson said she thought is was a hoot.

Hat Tips: Keeping Stock, The Hive, Roarprawn, Half Done,


Not what doctor ordered

August 26, 2008

Police have been called in to investigate after Christchurch Hospital discovered that medicine prescribed to relieve pain had been diluted or replaced with water.

A spoonful of water might have a place in a study of placebos but it’s definitely not what the doctors ordered.


Do go (to) the roarprawn

August 26, 2008

When Busted Blonde left a comment on an earlier post I clicked on the website and got a warning that the blog may have content suitable only for adults.

I’ve had a lot of spam comments from porn websites in the last few days so didn’t go any further.

However, The Hive recommended a new website and when I clcked the address I got the same warning but, reassured by Queen Bee’s recommendation I continued and discovered roarprawn.

She’s right of centre and interested in farming, fishing, forestry, food and politics.

She’s also got a sense of humour and I didn’t find anything on the blog that explained the adults only warning – unless there’s a double entendre in the recipe for fish heads which I don’t understand 🙂


Did tough love case have to go to court?

August 26, 2008

A tough love call to police from parents who wanted to give their son and his mates a scare ended up court.

The police prosecutor said the defendent stole his mothers credit card and gave it to friends who used it for a $720 spending spree.

The parents had wanted police to give the youths a stern talking to, offer them diversion and teach them a lesson which would keep them on track in future. However, police said the offending was too serious for diversion and laid charges.

Judge Philip Moran said the two youths who were charged had acknowledged their offending, taken responsibility, and pleaded guilty.

“I am persuaded that young men setting out on their lives don’t need convictions for such serious charges.”

He discharged them without conviction and ordered them to pay back the money.

A friend discovered her daughter had stolen something from a shop. She spoke to the youth aid officer who gave the girl a stern talking to then accompanied her while she returned the goods and apologised to the owner.

But that was several years ago. Don’t police have that sort of discretion now or did they choose not to use it?  Surely if the parents, who were the victims of the crime, only wanted to give their son a fright there was no need to clutter the courts by laying charges.

Fortunately the judge used his discretion. But other parents learning of this may hesitate to use tough love if they think it might end in court.


Greens back ETS

August 26, 2008

The Greens have decided to back to announce they’re backing the Emissions Trading Scheme.

That leaves Winston Peters just where he likes to be – holding the trump cards because his party has the votes which will determine if Labour is able to pass the legislation introducing the ETS or not.


ETS will pass?

August 26, 2008

Federated Farmers met the Green Party this morning in a last ditch bid to delay legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme until after the election.

The farmers called the bill a “high-risk proposal” and said it would jeopardise the New Zealand economy. They also claimed it would have little effect on climate change.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson said the issue was too important to rush.

“Our simple message to those MPs considering their options is ‘don’t rush’. As a nation we have more to lose than to gain by getting this wrong.”

They are right but I suspect their plea fell on deaf ears as Paula Oliver and Vernon Small  both think Labour has the numbers with support from the Greens and New Zealand First to pass the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Both quote Helen Clark as saying the bill is ” poised for passage” as soon as there is a majority.

That exposes the Greens appeal to the public to guide them for the sham it is. It also raises the question: what concessions has Labour had to make to get the support?

The Greens may not have played hard ball – though given the downward trend of their support in recent polls they should have.

However, New Zealand First must have exerted considerable pressure when, as The Hive  so eloquently points out, the party would be signing a suicide pact because of the thousands of jobs that would be lost in its Bay of Plenty heartland.

None of the parties has learnt from the mistakes made in steam rolling the Electoral FInance Act through in the face of widespread concerns. The only hope lies in National’s intention to change the ETS if it’s leading the next government.

In the meantime we’ll be leading the world with a scheme which sabotages our economy without making any positive difference to the environment.

Update: Inquiring Mind sums it up:

The Greens demonstrate that when it matters they are simply Labour’s per chicken to be plucked and thrown aside. A vote for Green is just another vote for Labour, they contribute little and gain no real benefits for anyone. Further, they are not Green they are just another left wing socialist group rolling over after having their payoff in some minor concessions.

NZ First simply pay back Labour for keeping Winston out of trouble.


Trade deficit 22.8%

August 26, 2008

last month’s trade balance deficit  of 22.8%, wasn’t unexpected. 

The July deficits have been more than 20% for the last four years. New Zealand hasn’t had a July trade surplus since 1991.

Merchandise exports were valued at $3.4 billion in July 2008, up $781 million (29.6 percent) on July 2007, while merchandise imports were up $754 (21.9 percent) to $4.2 billion over the same period, Statistics New Zealand said today.

The summer and autumn drought is blamed for the fall in seasonally adjusted dairy volumes in the first half of the year. Although that has been partly offset by the high world price for dairy produce and a $266 million increase in crude oil exports.

Exports for milk powder butter and cheese were $192 million higher than in July 2007.

Petroleum and products (up $292 million), led by automotive diesel and crude oil, was the biggest increase for imports compared with July 2007. The next largest increase came from mechanical machinery and equipment, up $82 million, spread over several commodities including production equipment for use in New Zealand’s gas fields, irrigation and spray equipment, and computers.

Dairy prices which helped exports will be responsible for some of these imports too. Farmers have taken the opportunity improved returns provide to upgrade machinery and undertake more irrigation development. But the increased production from all of this will eventually feed through to more exports


Lone crusader’s not alone

August 26, 2008

Tracy Watkins wrote of how  Winston Peters  is a lone crusader, at least in his own eyes.

To listen to the evidence given by Winston Peters’ lawyer and “blood brother” Brian Henry to Parliament’s privileges committee is to understand something of the strange, conspiratorial world the NZ First leader believes himself to dwell in.

 

It is a world in which Mr Peters apparently stands – alone and alert – against the forces of treachery, a world filled with foes in business, the media and government, a world in which he alone shines a light on the venal and corrupt.

Several blogs have commented on the column, including Keeping Stock, and  Inquiring Mind  and a quick trip around the blogosphere uncovers an unusual degree of unanimity on the faults of Peters and his party.

Unfortunately this view is not so clear to his supporters as this letter in The Listener shows:

As someone show has stamped her feet in the cold while attending cake stalls to promote New Zealand First, I certainly wouldn’t turn down a $25,000 donation from Sir robert Jones, although I might spit in his eye for his pre-1987 crash advice to invest in stocks becasue you could collect dividens “like mowing your lawn with less trouble”.

It is particularly curious to find the party under financial investigation because when it comes to donations it has always been the last, loneliest and ugliest as far as the big spenders are concerned, maybe because they knew they wouldn’t get any reciprocal co-operation.

That’s what Peters would have you believe but there is a growing body of evidence to the contrary.

Wherever whatever money went it no doubt was used to enable survival, either the party’s or Winston Peters’, since he has been the linchpin.

If that’s the case why weren’t the donations declared?

If the current bully-boy exercise has any benefit, it might be in more atttention to NZ First polices. the media have been so intent on Winston-baiting that they have mostly ignored them.

So there you have it in black and white. It’s the media’s fault, Winston’s lilly white.  

If ever there were grounds for requiring people to pass a comprehension test before voting they are in the blind loyalty expressed in this letter because all Peters needs are 5% of voters to share the views of The Listener’s correspondent. Then he and his party will be back in parliament and possibly back in government.


Immigration rules too strict for dairy workers

August 26, 2008

A change in the way Immigration New Zealand is interpreting policy  is hampering would-be employers trying to recruit overseas staff for dairy farms.

Immigration Placement Services manager Bruce Porteous, who is based in Manila, said as many as 500 workers have had their visa applications declined because they were not skilled enough.

Assistant herd manager and herd manager are on the INZ Immediate SKills Shortage list but the department has determined that an assistant herd manager needs the equivalent of a National Certificate in Agriculture Level 2, or two years’ work experience or both.

Five Rivers lower order sharemilker Scott Christensen said the rules were too strict. He had hoped to employ another Filipino as a dairy assistant this season but the person had had his visa application declined.

Mr Christensen said the man, who was a qualified veterinarian and worked in a zoo, was turned down by Immigration NZ because he did not have any practical dairy farm experience.

“We can take someone off the streets here and teach them to milk cows in five minutes,” he said. “If this man had milked 10 cows for the past two years then that’s all that would have been required.”

We’ve been having problems with INZ too because our herd manager wants to apply for residency but the rules require him to have a Bachelors degree or five years relevant work experience. He’s been working for us for 2 1/2 years and he’s worked his way up to herd manager, while completing AG ITO levels 2, 3 and 4. He’s had enough relevant experience and has the relevant qualifications for us but that’s not good enough for INZ.

 I sought advice from Federated Farmers which quite rightly works at the policy level rather than with individual cases. However, the bloke I spoke to said he’d had so many approaches from farmers struggling with INZ he could be working on the issue fulltime.

I don’t know who makes the decisions on what’s required but they obviously don’t listen to employers who are usually far more concerned about attitude than relevant experience.

People with good work ethics can easily be trained to milk cows and overseas experience is often so far removed from what happens here it can be a hindrance rather than a help.

I understand the need to ensure that immigrants aren’t taking jobs which could be done by New Zealanders. But there is a desperate shortage of good workers at all levels in the dairy industry and it’s being aggravated because INZ requirements are far stricter than those of the employers.


Irrigation funding

August 26, 2008

The Government’s finally come up with some money to help investigate  community irrigation and water storeage schemes.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has allocated $390,000 under its Community Irrigation Fund to seven schemes, including the Strath Taieri Irrigation scheme, Dairy Creek Irrigation scheme, Mount Ida Dam and Tarras Community Water Scheme.

Two others are in Canterbury and the other in the Wairarapa.

MAF director-general Murray Sherwin said in a statement the $6.4 million fund aimed to help rural communities adapt to climate change and reduce the risk of water shortages.

The money can meet 50% of valid costs and can be put towards paying for support staff, promotional and communication activities, developing a prospectus for potential investors, investigating funding arrangements, facilitating farmer investment and to investigate multiple use of water.

This is great news and long overdue. No-one expects the tax payer to contribute to on-farm costs but the development of community irrigation schemes should be treated like other infrastructure with a public benefit.

When the North Otago Irrigation Company was doing the ground work for its scheme to pump water from the Waitaki River then pipe it under pressure to irrigate up to 20,000 hectares in the Waiareka and Kakanui Valleys there wasn’t a cent of government money available.

Then Minsiter of Regional Development Jim Anderton met NOIC directors several times, accepted there was no better form of regional development foe the area, and each time he promised some assistance but never once delivered.

The NOIC Scheme which opened two years ago has provided an amazing economic, environmental and social boost not just to the valleys but the wider District too with flow-on benefits for the national economy. It would have been a bit easier for all concerned had their been the financial assistance MAF is now providing.


Performance matters

August 26, 2008

New Zealand’s Olympic team was too big and athletes shouldn’t be using the games for experience, Associate Professor David Gerrard, a former selector, says.

Prof Gerrard, who attended his eighth Olympics in Beijing working with the Fina drug-testing commission, said New Zealand should “stick to its knitting” when targeting medals…

“We cannot afford to be all things to all people. We have to stick to our knitting and go with those sports which we have been good at. That means the rowing, the cycling, canoeing . . . The country had to accept it was never going to be good at everything…

“The team was too big. Performance is what it’s about, not just making up the numbers…

“This is the Olympic Games. This is where you have to perform at your absolute best.”

Performing at your absolute best in the ultimate sporting competition because achievement rather than participation is what matters – now there’s a radical thought.


It was the cheap beer…

August 26, 2008

Some blame  cheap beer  at Dunedin supermarkets for unruly behaviour in the wake of the weekend’s Undie 500.

Mayor Peter Chin also blames the media.

The cheap beer may have been a contributing factor. But the people who did stupid things are the ones ultimately responsible for doing them.


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