S92a in terminal decline

March 11, 2009

Telstra Clear has pulled out of the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum and its attempts to make secion 92A of the Copyright (New Technologies) Ammendment Act workable.

Section 92A, which requires ISPs to have a policy of disconnection in place for repeat infringers of copyright online, has been the focus of protests over the last few months.

The code will not solve copyright issues, says Mirams.

“It is not our role to make bad legislation work,” he says. “The industry had no input into section 92A. [The draft code] is bad for our customers. Customers and businesses have spoken via blogs and petitions and also directly to us. We have listened and we have agreed.”

That may not have killed the controversial clause which prompted the internet blackout  but it will almost certainly lead to a terminal diagnosis because John Key said if ISPs couldn’t reach agreement the section would be suspended.

Hat Tip: goNZoFreakpower and geekzone.


In your own right

March 11, 2009

When we were first married I was often asked if I was my farmer’s wife because he’d been national president of Young Farmers and was well known in the district and further afield for various other – mostly positive 🙂 – reasons.

It took a job as rural reporter on Radio Waitaki before I became better known in my own right and I knew I’d finally got there when my farmer went to buy some sheep and the first thing the vendor said to him was, “are you Ele’s husband?”

This story  about Bill Clinton brought that back because although he’s referred to as a former president he’s also called:

Clinton, the husband of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, . . .


Pinot Noir good for children’s health

March 11, 2009

 

Don’t panic, no-one is suggesting children drink the wine – it was auctioned and the money raised donated to help pay for ear nose and throat operations at Dunedin’s Mercy Hospital for children who wouldn’t qualify for public treatment.

The $25,000 donation from Central Otago’s Pinot Noir Charitable Trust is matched dollar for dollar by the hospital’s Outreach Fund and will enable about 20 children to have surgery.

I was at my GP’s last week and the high rate of illiteracy among prisoners was raised in conversation. He said that there is also a high rate of deafness among prisoners.

Children who don’t hear properly, don’t learn properly and those who don’t learn properly are more likely to turn to crime so these operations could do more than keep the children out of the public health system, they might keep some out of jail.


Fonterra’s challenges

March 11, 2009

The NBR is doing a series on Fonterra’s five big challenges.

The first is by Hugh Stringleman on collective capital.

His second is on balance sheet blues.

Today we have part III with Allan Swann’s thoughts on Queen Street farming.


9 day fortnights just for union members?

March 11, 2009

Imagine the uproar if Labour introduced assistance which enabled union members but not other staff who didn’t belong to unions to work nine-day fortnights.

That seems to be what’s being suggested now and my first reaction isn’t positive.

We’re facing unusual times and it is impossible to spend taxpayers’ money on a scheme like this in a way which doesn’t advantage some people and disadvantage others unless assistance is universal.

But at first glance spending tens of millions of dollars on a scheme for which at best 15% of the workforce is eligable looks like giving too much to too few.


How green can we grow?

March 11, 2009

When environmental concerns hit economic realities something’s got to give and if the conflict is between addressing hunger and staying in business now versus saving the planet for the future, cost and volume will be two of the deciding factors.

That’s why I don’t think Barney Foran  is on the right track when he says that if New Zealand farmers don’t lead the world in environmentally sustainable production we’ll be forced out of business.

He predicts that within a decade, meat will be marketed on its greenhouse gas emissions as well as water quality, biodiversity assets and cultural values. “Tomorrow’s meat enterprises will focus on product quality first, backed up by measured and low environmental impacts, austere production chains, avoidance of most chemicals and heavy metals and making farmed landscapes waterwise, biodiverse and beautiful.”

Food is already being marketed on greenhouse emissions. Last week I was shown packaging from French sausages. My French isn’t up to translating all the writing but it was obvious the little green box was showing the carbon emissions generated in production.

That will be a consideration for those who can pay to be choosey but not everyone can and even at the top end of the market price matters. Looking after the environment is important but if we don’t supply affordable food we’ll be out of business in much less than 20 years.

If that happened the world would be going hungry or else producers in other countries would fill the gap left as our production dropped and their production methods may well have a much larger environmental footprint than ours.

Commenting on  Foran’s view, Farmgirl asks if environmental concerns are a higher priority than food itself.

They shouldn’t be. Sustainability is supposed to be a three legged stool which gives equal value to environmental, economic and social concerns. If we concentrate on the environment at the expense of the other two factors the stool will fall over.

The issue also comes up at Mother Jones:

When most of us imagine what a sustainable food economy might look like, chances are we picture a variation on something that already exists—such as organic farming, or a network of local farms and farmers markets, or urban pea patches—only on a much larger scale. The future of food, in other words, will be built from ideas and models that are familiar, relatively simple, and easily distilled into a buying decision: Look for the right label, and you’re done.

But that’s not the reality. Many of the familiar models don’t work well on the scale required to feed billions of people. Or they focus too narrowly on one issue (salad greens that are organic but picked by exploited workers). Or they work only in limited circumstances. (A $4 heirloom tomato is hardly going to save the world.)

Responding to this, The Visible Hand in Economics  asks if organic farming is sustainable:

The key issue is:

  1. Organic farming uses a LOT more resources than normal farming;
  2. To call yourself organic and get that market recognition you need to be 100% organic;
  3. There is no market standard for recognising that a farmer is more sustainable or environmentally friendly than their rivals if they’re not organic.

I think that most consumers who buy organic are also the type of people who want to do the environmentally friendly thing. While organic farming may not be as polluting as farming with synthetic fertilizer it is much more resource intensive. So where’s the incentive for farmers to move towards less resource hungry AND more sustainable alternatives?

But there’s another question: when everything is taken into account is organic farming actually better for the environment?

The North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group was set up about 15 years ago and has done a lot of work, in conjunciton with the Otago Regional Council, to educate farmers in sustainable production and they’ve done a very good job. I don’t think any of the farms which follow the guidelines are organic but they use science-based practices  to maintain the health of the soil and waterways while producing meat, milk and crops which meet all the requirements for food health standards.

If they switched to organic farming the volume produced would fall, and it’s a moot point as to whether the quality would be any higher or if it would be any better for the environment.


Where to Ngai Tahu?

March 11, 2009

Small in number but economically and politically powerful, Ngai Tahu has earned wide respect in the south.

While some other tribes are still caught up in grievance mode Ngai Tahu has invested wisely and seems to be more focussed on the future. But lately they’ve been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

As the ODT editorial says:

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (Tront) has long been regarded as a model post-settlement success story.

It negotiated firmly early on in the settlement process, achieved in 1998 a Deed of Settlement that included a cash sum of $170 million, established a tight and efficient business organisation, and set about investing and growing its assets.

. . . For some time now, however, it has been apparent that all is not well within the tribe.

The latest symptom was the abrupt sacking of corporation chairman Wally Stone.

The move met with widespread surprise and concern, and this was followed by further revelations of bad blood last week.

As a result, long-time Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere (chairman) Mark Solomon appears to be increasingly isolated.

Nothwithstanding the apparently labyrinthine internal politics of the iwi and the inclination of its leaders, especially Mr Solomon, to shield tribal machinations from public scrutiny, the divisions in the organisation need to be urgently addressed lest the good work of the last 10 years be undone.

Roarprawn latest post on the issue  is one of many from her giving the inside story, including this one which links to a blog  giving another point of  view from Richard Parata.

Ngai Tahu has done a lot of good for its members, the wider economy and the regard in which they are held by the wider public.

I won’t pretend to understand what’s gone wrong or why, but I hope wisdom prevails and they get it sorted out and soon because as the ODT says:

Nothwithstanding the apparently labyrinthine internal politics of the iwi and the inclination of its leaders, especially Mr Solomon, to shield tribal machinations from public scrutiny, the divisions in the organisation need to be urgently addressed lest the good work of the last 10 years be undone.


%d bloggers like this: