Will a bond in the hand entice them to the bush?


The government’s announcement that it will offer graduate doctors, nurses, midwife, teachers and vets loan write-offs if they’re prepared to work in hard to staff areas is a good start.

No one is pretending it will be an instant fix for rural recruitment but as Health Minister Tony Ryall says:

“This is a first tangible step to helping keep our own front line clinical doctors, nurses and midwives, which we have trained specifically to care for kiwis, to work in the country that trained them.”

It may tempt those who know they can earn more overseas, but it is a sweetener which might help those who stay at home to choose rural hospitals rather than city ones.

Bonding newly graduated vets who are willing to work in rural practices may help persuade some of these professionals into the countryside too.  Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says:

“The vets who opt in get a significant financial incentive, while eligible vet practices can have confidence they can retain graduates.

“Because the scheme encourages new vets to remain in the practice, rural areas will benefit from having vets settle and become part of the local community.”

Mr Carter says the scheme is targeted at rural vet practices working with farmed animals.

The increase in dairying has led to a greater demand for rural vets so this policy should help increase the supply.


A generation ago all teachers were paid during their training and bonded and country service was a requirement for those who wanted to advance up the career ladder. 

Today’s announcement of loan write-offs for teachers  applies not just to country schools but unpopular city schools and subject areas with a shortage of teachers too. Education Minister Anne Tolley said:

“This teacher bonding scheme represents a new solution to graduate teacher shortages. This scheme will assist in attracting teachers to schools that have had problems finding and keeping staff, and will boost numbers in subjects where there have been shortages,”  Mrs Tolley said.

There are a lot fewer rural schools since Trevor Mallard’s radical surgery approach to rationalisation a few years ago, but many of those which remain still find it difficult to attract, and keep, staff. This policy offers an incentive to teachers willing to go to more isolated areas although not all positions will be suitable for new graduates.

Bonding won’t solve all problems with  rural recruitment, particularly in health. It doesn’t address the need for more experienced professionals to supervise and mentor the new graduates, nor does it address the need to establish a career path in general hopsital medicine for doctors at rural hospitals, for example.

But it does deliver on election pledges and it is better use of scarce taxpayer dollars to target assistance to individuals in a way which benefits the wider community far more effectively than increased funding for undergraduates would.

Macdoctor  is less impressed.

Section 92a delayed


The NBR reports that the government will delay the implementation of section 92  of the Copyright ammendment Act for a month.

Prime Minister John Key announced at a post-cabinet press conference this afternoon that implementation of the controversial clause of the copyright legislation to be delayed until March 27.

“We are hoping that by that time we will have come up with a voluntary code of practice,” Mr Key said.

If no agreement is reached, Section 92A will be suspended.

Thank goodness we’ve got a government with the good sense to do the right thing.

Yahoo & thank you. 🙂

UPDATE: No Minister  and Kiwiblog  have related posts.

UPDAYE 2: Inquiring Mind cautions that while a skirmish has been won the war is not over.

Who’s to lead the Greens to where?


Jeanette Fitzsimon’s announcement she will step down from the co-leadership  of the Green Party in June is not unexpected.

As a list MP she could resign from parliament too without triggering a by-election but plans to stay on as an “active backbencher”.

While I admired her ability to stay calm and polite, I lost respect for Fitzsimons when she allowed her anger at the attacks on the Greens by the Exclusive Brethren to blind her to the anti-democratic nature of the Electoral Finance Act.

The party got into parliament because of MMP but it’s failure to get into government also reflects badly on the leadership and is due to philosophy and direction which make it look at least as much red as green.  Its radical left social and economic agenda alienates supporters and potential partners who might be sympathetic to at least some of its environmental goals.

The party rules require male and female co-leaders and Sue Bradford and Meteria Turei have announced they’ll contest the position.

But who leads the party may not be such an important question as to where she leads (or to be more accurate co-leads) it.

Fitzsimons and co-leader Russel Norman do seem to have learnt from the Maori Party and are trying to find some common ground with National.

If the party is not to languish on the far left,  the new leadership will have to build on this and make an effort to move more towards the centre because that’s where the power in MMP lies.

FTA with India hopeful


Opening of negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and New Zealand  is good news for primary producers and the wider economy.

Trade Minister Tim Groser  said we have yet to realise the full potential in our trade and economic relationship with India.

“We export coal, timber, wool, hides and skins to India, but relatively few of New Zealand’s traditional food exporters have been able to access the Indian market. 

“As well as working to improve the terms of access for our traditional agricultural sector, it is critical that we focus on emerging niche sectors in which New Zealand and Indian companies can collaborate. 

“India is a growing market for a range of New Zealand services and technology. Over 23,000 Indian tourists and 5,000 students came to New Zealand last year. India is also a major potential source of investment capital. 

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson welcomed the announcement:

 “With $60 million of wool exported each year India represents a ‘green fields’ market for sheep meat.  Sheep meat is widely consumed and unaffected by religious dietary requirements where meat is consumed.

“Aside from being the second most populous nation on earth, English is the principal language of business and India shares a common legal as well as social bond with New Zealand.  They know New Zealand and a multilayered approach to exports, from high to low value goods, is within our grasp.

“Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated there were some 100,000 millionaires in India with a massively expanding middle class estimated to be 300 million strong.  The prospect of an FTA means the sky really is the limit,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

Opening negotiaions is just a start and reaching agreement could take a couple of years  but improved access to a market where people are already familiar with lamb and mutton when the global sheep population would be very good news for farmers.

Transmission resumes


An impressive number and range of blogs blacked out this morning.

The protest was noticed by media here and abroad.

But success won’t be based on numbers participating in or noticing the blackout, that will be measured by whether or not the government takes note and acts to ensure the offending guilt by association part of the Copyright Amendment Act does not come into effect.

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