Sir Don already


The day after John Key announced that titular honours were to be restored we’ve got another knight – but this one isn’t a New Zealand award.

Sir Donald McKinnon has been appointed as Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) by the Queen.

Sir Donald McKinnon served as the Commonwealth Secretary-General for eight years from 2000 to 2008 following a 21-year career in New Zealand politics. He was New Zealand’s longest serving Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

I met him a few times when he was National’s deputy leader and enjoyed his dry wit.

Good deputies often display more modesty than their leaders and this is evident in his comments on the award:

“It is a great honour and also acknowledges the many people who have worked with me and supported me during my tenure as Commonwealth secretary-general,” he said. “I was always conscious of my good fortune in working for the Queen, in her role as head of the Commonwealth, given her in-depth and unique knowledge of the organisation.”

JK for President?


The Wall Street Journal interview with John Key  has been attracting a lot of local interest.

It’s a long time since New Zealand was regarded as a leader in economic policy. Just as interesting as the story are the comments which are generally supportive, even envious and include the offer of a promotion  for John:

Richard McAllum:

A proposal:

1) Amend the Constitution to permit a non-native born POTUS

2) Offer Mr Key whatever he wants.

Hat Tip Anti Dismal and Not PC

Hot air will cost us dearly


Submissions on the review of the Emissions Trading Scheme closed at the end of February and how many farmers got round to expressing their views?

I suspect it was very few of us as individulas so thank goodness for organisations like Federated Farmers and Meat & Wool NZ which will have done full and well considered submissions on our behalf.

Just how necessary this is was brought home at an agri-business discussion group meeting in Wellington on Friday.

Chatham House rules applied so I can’t go into details but we were given a very bleak message about the very real costs and no real benefits of including agriculture in an ETS.

We were also left in no doubt about how strong the green (though not necessarily Green) voice is in policy formation and how important it is for the agricultural lobby to speak up so we’re not all drowned in greenwash.

Apropos of this issue, Lambcut who has joined Roarprawn  discovered that New Zealand’s battle against burps and farts from farm animals has reached the Wall Street Journal. 

It’s headed Mutton Methane: Reducing Flatulence to Reduce Global Warming  and says:

In the U.S., the climate-change wrangle focuses on remaking the energy sector. Globally, however, livestock emissions outweigh emissions from the entire transport sector. Add in emissions from deforestation—which is often a consequence of razing trees for fresh pasture land—the plant and animal world makes up about 40% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

That will feed in to the growing lobby which wants us all to go vegetarian to save the planet and we can be only slightly reassured by the comments the article engendered, most of which thought it was much ado about nothing but hot air.  Jon Morgan  looks at the comments and notes:

These people missed that the US had a large number of cattle that would benefit from New Zealand’s research. Though agriculture produced 9 per cent of the US’s greenhouse gas emissions, its farm animals were responsible for 19 per cent of the world’s emissions. New Zealand’s livestock produced 0.2 per cent of the world total.

If our research can be applied elsewhere, so much the better but those figures makes the submissions to the ETS review even more important because if agriculture is included in the scheme it would have a huge economic impact, no environemntal gain and all over just .2% of global emissions.

That the issue is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal should serve as a warning because the campaign against meat will grow and we  need facts to counter the emotion of the environmental activisits or the hot air will cost us all dearly.

Have you he(a)rd the baad jokes?


The Aussies have noticed our sheep numbers have dropped and even in a serious story they throw in a couple of what can only be described as baad jokes.

The NZ Herald spotted the story and found a couple of comedians who’d come up with rejoinders:

Rhys Darby, back on our screens in Flight of the Conchords tomorrow night, and comedian Mike King, have the same killer comeback to the Aussie heckle. It involves pointing out that whatever Kiwis do to their sheep, it’s the Aussies who then eat them.

Bet that’s considered baad taste.

I’ll show you mine . . .


Rob Hosking started it at his Blockhead blog – showing us his ACC claims so I thought I’d follow suit and show you mine.

1. A visit to the dentist after an argument between a tooth and the lawnmower – I bent down to go under a branch and the mower stopped but I didn’t.  When the dentist offered an ACC form, I said it wasn’t worth it for a single visit but he said I should fill it in because then I’d be in the system if there was a problem with the tooth in the future.

2. I tripped while climbing a fence and did something painful to my calf muscle which resulted in a trip to the doctor and several to a physio.

3. Something went ping in my calf while walking up Mount Iron – more physio.

4. Something happened to my back when I bent to pick up something while being domestic – more physio.

5. Injured wrist after tripping over – went to hopsital ED on Saturday when they don’t do non-urgent x-rays, was told to come back on Monday, decided it was improving so didn’t. Three months later it’s still not 100% better but I’m giving it more time.

There have been a few other minor incidents which resulted in a trip to my GP, including something lodged in my eye while I was cooking, which I think might have qualified for ACC but he didn’t suggest I claim and I didn’t want to.

So I think my conscience is clear – only legitimate claims and some not made which might have been but it was an interesting exercise because as Kerre Woodham says:

But just as the department’s culture has to change, so too does ours. The concept that it’s OK to rip off the “system” is prevalent – among all socio-economic groups. The poor and the disenfranchised see it as their God-given right to receive ACC payments because the world owes them a living; the upwardly mobile professionals are just as sweet about having ACC pay for their physiotherapy sessions and their taxi rides to six-figure paying jobs because they never get anything for free so why not make the most of it?

 But of course it’s not free and because it has been more generous than budgeted for it’s too expensive to maintain without some serious changes.

In related posts Keeping Stock bemoans Labour’s legacy of dependency and Inquiring Mind wonders if opening ACC to competition or turning it into an SOE with a minority shareholding by the public might help.

Does daylight saving make driving more dangerous?


Six cows were killed when a car towing a trailer hit them while they were being herded across a country road yesterday morning.

The report doesn’t mention the speed the driver was travelling . It does say the first cow to be hit was thrown several metres into the air which suggests he was going quickly but that will be up to the police to decide.

We’re supposed to drive at a speed which enables us to stop in half the visible distance ahead but it is very difficult to see in the half light before dawn and even if you’re driving carefully you don’t know what you’re not seeing until you see it.

There is no mention of the weather in the report but the sun isn’t rising until after 7am  because of daylight saving so even if the sky was clear visibility wouldn’t have been good when the accident happened and it will get worse.

The week before clocks go back to NZ standard time on April 5, the sun won’t be rising until 7.34 in Auckland, a few minutes later than in the middle of winter. It will be nearly 8am when the sun rises in Dunedin before we return to NZST.

That makes early morning work more difficult for farmers and this incident suggests it might also make driving more dangerous.

Will they, won’t they join the Dames & Sirs?


The ODT asked some of the Otago recipients of honours who could now become Dames and Knights if they’ll accept the title and found that for some it’s not an easy decision.

These include people who Emeritus Professor Lloyd Geering who already has an honorific and Sukhi Turner and Penny Jamieson who would have been addressed as Your Worship and Bishop respectively when in the jobs which earned them their honours.

Other Otago people who could accept a title are Lois Muir, Russell Coutts, Eion Edgar, Prof Alan Mark, Nigel (Sam) Neill, Prof David Skegg, Pat Harrison and Prof Linda Holloway.

Among those from the rest of the country is Jenny Shipley and I hope she does. She was our first female Prime Minister (and didn’t the second one resent that?); she has gone on from politics to success in business and true to her Presbyterian upbringing she also works for and supports a variety of voluntary and charitable projects. Among the latter is, I think,  an international organisation which encourages women’s participation in politics.

Didn’t think anyone still did this


Flax stripping?

If you’d asked me about flax stripping I’d have said it was an old skill and no-one would be doing it these days. But I’d have been wrong because Southland farmer Desmond Templeton and his son Vaughn are still doing it.

You can read about it here or watch TV3’s video here.

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