Election shouldn’t hinge on TV debate


If the outcome of the election hinges on a televised debate between any or all of the party leaders then democracy in New Zealand is in a sorry state.

If we can’t work out what we believe in, what the parties stand for, what they’re promising and how that matches our own philosophy without watching eight of them shouting at and over each other for 60 minutes, minus numerous advertising breaks, then we’re the ones at fault.

It’s not Helen Clark and John Key who have declined to debate the wee partys’ leaders, nor TV3 which has decided not to bother with a debate between the wee partys’ leaders, it’s us.

We’re the ones who’ve got the right to vote and we also have the responsibility to exercise it intelligently. If we’re going to do that a TV debate won’t make any difference. And if we’re not going to vote intelligently there are plenty of other ways open to us to work out who to vote for or against, if we bother to vote at all.

Not convinced? TV3’s news and current affairs director Mark Jennings says these aren’t big rating events. That means that most of us make up our decisions independent of televised debates and chances are the majority of those who tune in are political junkies who will only have their biases confirmed anyway.

The fuss about it is nothing more than a political storm in a tea cup of free publicity.

But if there are a few lost souls out there unable to work out who should govern us for the next three years without the assistance of a TV debate, I’d be happy to help them – nothing I could say would be any less intelligent than a leaders’ shouting match.

Minnows beat Fonterra’s payout


Tatua Cooperative Dairy Company has rewarded its 112 shareholders with a payout of $8.00 per kilo of milk solids for last season.

Westland Milk Products bettered that, and set a record, with its payout of $8.29/kg.

Fonterra announced a $7.90/kg payout last week.

All companies are retaining some of that payout for future investments – 37c/kg for Tatua, 30c/kg for Westland and 24c for Fonterra.

Campaign Casserole


Take several plump egos, stuff with equal quantities of personal ambition and political philosophy and season lightly with policy.

Toast in glare of publicity then set over heat of the moment to simmer.

Meanwhile, put potential coalition partners in a separate pot and warm with promises of promotion; stir well until mixture comes to the boil.

Mix everything together and cook over the flame of naked ambition until stewed.

NB: great care should be taken when removing dish from heat because casserole tends to curdle if subjected to a sudden cooling of support.

Credit crunch hits UK


Will one be wanting fries with that?

PGW delays SFF settlement


PGG Wrightson couldn’t have chosen a worse time for its first payment towards its 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms.

PGG Wrightson is blaming “extreme financial market conditions” for a delay in settlement of the proposed purchase of 50 percent of Silver Fern Farms.

PGG Wrightson chairman Craig Norgate said a number of banks which had committed to participate in funding the transaction had since been unable to finalise their credit approvals in time for yesterday’s part-settlement.

This is only a delay, but Norgate says it’s likely to take weeks rather than days to get the funds. The first payment of $145m was due yesterday, the second of $75 is due next March.

Jamie McKay’s interview with Norgate on the Farming Show is on line here.

Melamine map


Our competitiors will love this:


New Zealand is in purple, denoting that melamine has been found in products here. It doesn’t explain that it was in minute quantities: New Zealand Food Safety Authority Dr Geoff Allen said:

“Without exception, all results fall below the safety threshold set by NZFSA, and also fall below any safety limits set by other food safety regulators around the world including US and EU,” he said.

NZFSA has set a 1ppm limit on melamine in infant formula, a 2.5ppm limit on melamine in foods on shop shelves, and a 5ppm limit on foods which might be used as ingredients.

“From all 116 tests there is clearly no indication of any deliberate adulteration,” he said. “Based on results to date we are confident that all New Zealand dairy products are fully compliant.”

Tatua chief executive Paul McGilvary told NZPA though the NZFSA, and major multinational food companies including Nestle and Heinz have argued that low-level melamine contamination does not pose a health risk, the Chinese dairy scandal involving Fonterra’s joint venture Sanlu has triggered consumer sensitivities around the world.

Global markets had been sensitised to melamine contamination, and consumer perceptions were important even where contamination levels were so low they did not present a health risk, he said.

Emotion and perception will beat the facts in food safety and our competitors will be very keen to use this to their advantage if they can.

Raids bust melamine factories


Twenty two people were arrested after 800 Chinese police raided melamine factories in Hebei province.

According to The China Daily newspaper yesterday, Gao and others produced melamine in underground plants. The police seized a total of 222.5kg of melamine labelled “protein powder”, which was sold to breeding farms and to milk collection centres.

Nineteen of those detained are managers at dairy pastures, breeding farms and milk-buying stations, all in northern Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing.

Another milk product recall


Yesterday chocolate that had been made in China was recalled in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan because it contained melamine.

Today Lipton’s milk tea powder  has been recalled in Hong Kong and Macau for the same reason.

Scandal behind milk scandal


Behind the melamine poisoned milk scandal in China is another one – the economic and commercial pressure on women to use infant formula rather than breast feeding their babies themselves.

Country women go to cities for work, leaving their babies back home with their families, and advertising persuades mothers that baby formula is better than breast milk.

You can read the sorry saga here.

No companies advertise infant forumla in New Zealand. No New Zealand company should be involved in a company which advertises it elsewhere.



A letter to the editor of the ODT:

While I am no lexicographer, I would like to recommed to the publishers at Oxford Press that Helen Clark’s suggestion that the coming election will be decided over trust should be the new definition of ironic. Duane Donovan – Bradford.

38 more sleeps . . .


. . . until election day and after nine eyars of waiting we finally get to keep a little more of the money we earn.

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