Coming home to roost


Keeping Stock quotes Gerry Brownlee’s supplementary question:

Gerry Brownlee: Does he recall the repeated calls from Mike Williams on election night 2005 for commentators to wait until the South Auckland booths came in before calling a result, and does he think that that may have been because Mr Williams was confident that sooner or later the “Kentucky Fried Chickens” would all come home to roost?

Which reminded me of this cartoon in Straight Furrow:

Dunedin says mostly no


Dave Gee has a video from Dunedin’s Channel 9 TV which went to the city streets to ask if Winston Peters will survive.

Eleven people said no, five said yes. But there’s hope – those who said yes didn’t express any approval of him, they were just going on his record for getting out of very deep holes before.

Biggest food price rise in 19 years


I just popped in to the supermarket for a couple of things which, as invariably happens, turned into a basket full and a checkout total more than twice the amount I was expecting.

The latest food price index from Statistics New Zealand helps to explain why: food prices inceased 2.7% in August which is the biggest rise since July 1989 when GST increased from 10% to 12.5%.

All five subgroups recorded upward contributions to the latest Food Price Index (FPI) increase, with the most significant upward contribution coming from the fruit and vegetables subgroup (up 9.6 percent). Within this subgroup, the main contribution came from vegetable prices (up 14.5 percent), driven by higher prices for lettuce (up 33.6 percent) and tomatoes (up 42.8 percent). If vegetable prices had remained constant at July 2008 prices, the FPI would have risen 1.3 percent.

Vegetable prices have increased by a total of 36.4 percent over the past four months, with growing conditions hampered by unusually wet weather.

Grocery food went up 1.9% and meat, poultry and fish increased by 2.6%.

The most significant upward contributions to these subgroups came from, in order of significance, higher prices for cakes and biscuits (up 8.0 percent), fresh milk (up 4.4 percent), and lamb (up 16.8 percent). The most significant downward contribution came from lower prices for yoghurt (down 8.9 percent).

The annual increase in food prices of 10.6%  in the 12 months to August was the largest since the year to May 1990. 

All five subgroups recorded upward contributions to the annual increase, with the most significant being the grocery food subgroup (up 13.1 percent). Within this subgroup, the main contributions came from higher prices for cheese (up 43.8 percent), bread (up 17.4 percent), fresh milk (up 12.5 percent), and butter (up 87.6 percent). 

The fruit and vegetables subgroup rose 19.1 percent in the year to August 2008. The most significant upward contribution came from higher prices for lettuce (up 145.3 percent).

These increases are well above most increases in pay rates and come with high interest rates and the increase in the price of other necessities such as fuel and power.

All of those will be straining household incomes which will be contributing to the slowing domestic economy. That was one of the factors which prompted the Reserve Bank to drop interest rates this morning but it will take a while before the impact of that filters though to household budgets.

Leader demands resignation


A politician has been forced to resign  because he misled his leader – but it was in Australia not New Zealand

An Australian state premier says his police minister has quit his Cabinet post over revelations that he danced in his underwear at a parliamentary office party.

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees told Fairfax Radio Network on Thursday that he demanded Matt Brown’s resignation Wednesday night because Brown had misled him about what had happened at the office party three months ago.
Rees says Brown initially claimed that nothing inappropriate had happened at the party but later admitted to stripping to his underwear.

It’s good to know there’s somewhere in the world where the truth is still valued, ethical standards are upheld and elected representatives are held to account for lying.

School leaver exemptions to be axed


He was bright but hated school. He just didn’t fit in.

He was given an exemeption to leave at the age of 14, immediately found himself a job and is now a happy and well adjusted adult.

Under a law changed proposed  by Labour he would no longer be granted an exemption to leave school early.

The Education Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament yesterday would remove all exceptions to children leaving school before the official leaving age of 16.

There were nearly 2000 exceptions last year, down from 4000 in 2006 after an Education Ministry crackdown.

Parents of students aged 15 may apply to the Education Ministry for their children to leave early on the basis of educational problems, conduct, or the unlikelihood of the student gaining benefit from attending school.

Secondary Principals Association president Peter Gall said though he believed in keeping teens in school, the early exemptions were often a relief to parents and pupils.

Some pupils exempted from school had mental health problems but most were “chronic truants whose fit with school just wasn’t right” and were directed into alternative education or unpaid work experience.

If they were to be kept in school for another year there would need to be more government support for schools to cope, he said.

“Where it will impact is to what extent we have to use the law with some students who just don’t want to be there. Do we have to go through and prosecute the parents?”

This is yet another one-size fits all approach. It doesn’t recognise that keeping some teenagers at school won’t do anything for them and will cause problems for other pupils and teachers.

Exemptions shouldn’t be used in isolation, they need to be part of a package which ensures those leaving school early go in to other training or work.

And when they are used it should be in exceptional circumstances, but they ought to be there for the small minority of pupils who will be better off out of school.

Oswald Bastable has another perspective on this issue here.



Chicane’s view in The Southland Times:

The morning after


Neutering options


Farmers have two choices when neutering ram lambs and bull calves.

Docking turns them into wethers or steers.

The other option is the less radical one which renders them infertile without actually docking them and turns them into cryptorchids.

I’m not sure why I thought of cryptorchids when I read that Helen Clark won’t sack Winston Peters today.

Maybe it’s because he’d like us to believe he’s a lamb awaiting slaughter by his “enemies and the elite media.

Of maybe its just because he runs round like a wounded bull but he’s not required to perform his duties and he’s still keeping his baubles.

OCR down 50 points


The Reserve Bank has reduced the Official Cash Rate by 50 basis points to 7.5%.

Bank Govneror Alan Bollard said the rate was decreased because the domestic economy is slowing, the global economy is deteriorating and a combination of increasing costs and decreasing demand is putting pressure on businesses.

“While domestic activity is likely to pick up late this year as a result of personal tax cuts, increased government spending and rising rural incomes, we expect a prolonged period of household sector adjustment and below-average growth.

“The weakness in economic activity is expected to translate into lower inflation pressures in the medium term. Headline inflation is expected to peak around 5 percent in the current September quarter before trending down thereafter. However, food price inflation, exchange rate depreciation and higher wage costs will tend to keep headline inflation at elevated levels through 2009.

“With medium-term inflation pressures expected to ease, it is appropriate to move towards a less restrictive monetary policy stance. Compared to the June Monetary Policy Statement, we have brought forward some of the projected interest rate reduction, but have not altered the expected overall decline. We believe this response is warranted in light of the tightness of current credit conditions and the time it will take to affect the actual interest rates faced by households and businesses.”

The dollar dropped by half a US cent to 65.67 cents after the annoucnement.


A lot of commentators say that is good for exporters. But when I look at the big ticket items in farmers’ budgets I think any gain we get from higher returns will be cancelled out by the increase in costs for fuel, fertiliser and any other imported inputs.

ETS calculus


(A + B – C) x (D – E)

              F  + G + H                     = X


Where A = economic sabotage

            B = social cost

            C = environmental benefit

             D = political expediency

             E = logic

             F = bureaucrats

             G = consultants

             H = traders

             X = an unknown quantity

Memory’s a great deceiver


Joe Bennett muses on the unreliability of memory:

Because according to Mr Neuro, and who am I to argue with science, though I did for a bit out of habit, the long-term memory resembles a computer program that keeps receiving updates from Microsoft Central.

Every time you tell a story, the memory erases what actually happened and replaces it with your latest version of what happened. Eventually, there’s none of the original program left and the truth and your story have had a divorce. . .

All of which seemed to me to explain rather a lot. . .

It explained why Messrs Glenn and Peters can tell conflicting versions of the same event and both believe they’re telling the truth (though I’ll wager a pig to a peanut that one’s far closer to the truth than the other).

But I wonder, when each is alone with his conscience, if he really does believe his own version of the truth?

There is a difference between unreliable memory and untruth and when you start believing your own lies you’ve lost your grasp on reality.

First opinion poll


No it’s not scientific – but the first spokesperson from the court of public opinion has given her verdict and it’s bad news for Winston Peters and Helen Clark.

We’ve just stopped for fuel on our way home from Wanaka and the woman serving said both should go.

How many more thousands of voters do we need to make sure that happens?

ETS survey


The New Zealand Centre for Political Research is carrying out a survey to acertain support for an Emissions Trading Scheme.

It asks: 

 1. Do you support the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme into New Zealand?

2. Do you believe that man-made carbon dioxide is causing global warming and endangering the planet? 

3. Do you believe that an Emissions Trading Scheme will reduce global warming?

4. Do you believe that an Emissions Trading Scheme will impose significant costs on the economy?

5. Do you believe that New Zealand needs an Emissions Trading Scheme? 

My responses are:

1. Probably not in general and definitely not in the form before parliament now.

2. I don’t know.

3. No, and it may do more harm to the environment by exporting production from countries with higher environmental standards to others with lower requirements.

4. Yes – and consequently increase social problems associated with a declining economy.

5. Regardless of the science, politics demands we do something to reduce carbon emissions. If we don’t our trade will suffer because of non-tariff barriers. The challenge is to find a “something” which will have the greatest environmental benefit at the lowest economic and social cost.

We have only one world. We have a responsibility to look after it and there are good economic, social and environmental rasons for doing so. But that requires an emission reduction scheme not a trading scheme.

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