Break out the champers

February 17, 2009

The affront to democracy that was the Electoral Finance Act was repealed this evening.

It was consigned to the dust bin by 112 votes to 9 when only the Greens continued to blindly support the misguided and badly drafted peice of legislation to the bitter end.


DHB fraud fallout highlights stupidity of Clayton’s democracy

February 17, 2009

Otago District Health Board chairman Richard Thomson didn’t accept the invitation to jump so Health Minister Tony Ryall has pushed him

No-one is saying Thomson is responsible for the $17 million fraud for which former ODHB employee Michael Swann and his and business associate Kerry Harford were found gulty last year.

But Ryall is holding him accountable  and had he understood his role and responsibilities as chair he’d have resigned before he was sacked.

David Farrar Kiwiblog explains the requirement for accountability at Kiwiblog and in his NBR column.

The letters page of the ODT has had a lot of correspondence on the issue, some of those in support of Thomson point out he was elected to the board, not appointed.

That is irrelevant and just highlights the stupidity of the Clayton’s democracy surrounding DHB elections because, elected or appointed ,health boards and their members are accountable not to their communities but the Minister.

Because he’s elected, Thomson could choose to stay on as a board member now he’s been sacked as chair. But if he didn’t understand why, although he was neither to blame nor responsible for the fraud, he should still have been accountable for it; he’s shown he doesn’t understand the role of the board and to whom it’s answerable.


Why do my dove trees die?

February 17, 2009

My mother told us she’d like her ashes put under a dove tree when she died and gave me some money to buy one . I planted it, as she requested, in a paddock with a view but it died.

A tree expect said it might have been because it had been too exposed so I bought another one and planted it in a sheltered spot in the garden. My father died shortly afterwards and we put his ashes round it but by the time Mum died nearly two years later that tree too had died.

The funeral director said that wasn’t unusualy but he didn’t know if that was because of the ashes or just coincidence. In case it was the former, when I I bought another tree, this time not a baby but a teenager, and planted it in a different place and for five years it grew happily, but now it’s died too.

febrero-013

I’m planning to buy another, but before I do, I’d like to know why they die and what I can do to ensure the next one survives.


Should we be worrying about Fonterra?

February 17, 2009

The Sunday Star Times is concerned about Fonterra’s plans to stockpile milk powder.

Fonterra’s managing director of global trade, Kelvin Wickham, last week pointed the finger at the US Department of Agriculture for buying up more than 100,000 tonnes of surplus milk powder from US producers and stockpiling it in limestone caves near Kansas City.

What Wickham did not mention was that Fonterra was already well advanced in its plans to begin doing the same thing here, but not in limestone caves. Instead Fonterra will be stockpiling excess milk powder in modern, high stud warehouses up and down the country.

Maybe he didn’t, but there is a difference between a government stockpile and a supplier owned co-operative one. The former is a taxpayer subsidy which might encourage more production, any costs for the latter will be carried by farmers.

 Frenemy  is also concerned and if I’m reading the post correctly seems to think Fonterra was trying to hide something.

I don’t think that’s the case. The ODT reported last November on the company’s plans to use the former Fisher & Paykel site at Mosgiel for storage and I’ve read other references in shareholder communications and/or the media.

And what’s the alternative? You can’t turn the milk supply off overnight if  it starts outstripping demand and, when cow numbers are dropping in Europe and the USA, the medium to long term outlook is still pretty positive.

Farmers cranked up production in response to last season’s record payout but supply usually peaks in November, it’s been dropping since then and tanker pick ups are down to alternate days on many farms.

Some farmers are planning to dry cows off early rather than milking to the end of the season to conserve feed in response to the high cost of winter grazing and because they’d have to pay $5.50 for extra shares for any increased production.

But in spite of that, and the gloomy headlines, this is market reality and we are all going to have to focus on our cost structures.

Meanwhile on the positive side while the payout is down from the record high, $5.10 isn’t too bad when the three biggest costs – fuel, fertiliser and interest are dropping. 

If Fonterra was actively encouraging farmers to produce more milk than the company can sell I’d be worried, but stockpiling the surplus from what they’re already getting in response to falling international demand looks like a sensible response to market signals.


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