Kiwi now an albatross


The billion dollar train set Labour bought with our money is now worthless.

They named it after the wrong bird – it’s now AlbatrossRail.

Medieval helpdesk


You think helpdesks are a modern phenomenon?

It came from  YouTube  

(Thanks to In A Strange Land  for reminding me about it after she pointed me to  Helpline for the Helpless)

Protectionism will prolong problems


If there is one lesson which has stuck in the minds people who survived the ag-sag of the 80s, it’s that governments give and governments take away.

Subsidies turn producers into beneficiaries, at the mercy of political whim, and increase costs for consumers.

We know only too well the dangers of government interference in markets and New Zealand farmers are a shining example of doing what we do best under our own steam.

That doesn’t mean the recession will be easy for us, but as Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson warns the real threat is not the recession itself but other governments’ reaction to it:

Protectionism is emerging from its economic crypt and seeping into legislation from Cairo to Washington.

With protectionism New Zealand’s voice carries genuine diplomatic weight. We’ve been there and come out the other side better, stronger and fitter.

The time has come to use our “poster” status to ensure a protectionist repeat of 1930 never takes place. The stakes are high, very high.

Subsidies for producers are taxes for consumers which do more harm than good in the countries which provide them and they also make it more difficult for those, like New Zealand farmers, who produce more efficiently but face unfair competition in international markets.

Protectionism comes in many forms, not just direct subsidies. Feel-good campaigns which encourage people to buy-local and outrage when local firms lose out to foreign competitors as happened last week when Swazi lost the contract to supply our Defence Force are protectionist too.

We can not expect others to open their borders to our produce if we shut our doors to theirs and we will pay a very high price if we give our trading partners an excuse to buy local themselves.

New Zealand has a lot to lose if short-term recession-busting measures result in subsidies and tariffs which will protect our competitors and reverse the painfully slow but steady progress towards globabl free trade.

But every other country will lose out in the long term too because the only fair trade is free trade.

Fonterra auction price up


It’s not enough to get out the champagne but it could justify a celebratory milkshake – the front end contract price in Fonterra’s latest milk auction rose 14.7% in US dollars.

Take the exchange rate into account and that’s an 18.5% increase in New Zealand dollars.


Disunited & futureless


Kiwiblog’s spies report that United Future president Denise Krum has resigned from the party  and joined National.

The vanity vehicle for Peter Dunne has had many manifestations with different parties and names but like a spider it swallowed those who mated with it.

And what has it achieved? That waste of taxpayers money the Families Commission and an extension to daylight saving so the clocks change too early and go back too late (noticed that it’s still dark at 6am?).

I have no grounds to criticise Dunne as Revenue Minister but nor have I anything to praise him for or to make me think that an MP from National or one of the other government coalition partners’ parties couldn’t be at least as effective if not more in that role.

His majority in the last election was far less than the combined Labour and Green candidate vote so had half those who voted for the Greens in the electorate held their noses and given their electorate vote to Labour, he’d have lost his seat.

The sensible thing to do would be to retire at the next election or face the very real possibility of being retired by the voters.

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