Reputation under threat by scaremongering


Last week New Zealand’s reputation was threatened by proposals for a harder line in sentencing and no parole.

This week it’s under threat by the possible resumption  of live sheep exports.

We are a tiny country with a fraction of the population which would hardly register as a city in many other places. Contrary to the view of the scaremongers, most people don’t spend their lives examining our actions and many probably don’t even know where we are.

That doesn’t mean we should be unconcerned about what other people in other places think of us.Our economic and social well being depend on exports. Markets are fickle and easily swayed by emotion so we must guard against campaigns, overt or covert, which undermine our produce.

But rather than not doing something because of ill-founded fears about our reputation we need to ensure that what we do is done well, and in the case of live exports, with proper safeguards to ensure the humane treatment of the sheep.

Woolhandler wins sports award


The Wanganui sportsperson of the year is woolhandler, Sheree Alabaster.

The award on Saturday night suprised many, not least the 34-year-old school principal from Taihape who triumphed over popular contenders such as Heartland rugby championships 2008 player of the year and Wanganui wing Cameron Crowley and Olympic Games cyclist Catherine Cheatley. . .

She said it was exciting for wool-handling competitions to be recognised as sport by the sporting fraternity, after the pioneering efforts of such people as the late Godfrey Bowen, who almost 20 years ago was named a foundation inductee of the national Sports Hall of Fame.

Falling sheep numbers have reduced the number of shearers and woolhandlers but not the quality of their performance and it’s good to have their skills acknowledged like this.

At last a government that listens


The guilt by association clause in the Copyright Ammendment Act was likened to the Electoral Finance Act.

But there is one important difference. The previous government which enacted the EFA didn’t listen to its critics.

The new government has listened and a press release from Commerce Minister Simon Power says that it will ammend the controversial section 92A.

In his own words on his own blog


Fairfacts Media has been blogging at No Minister and Barnsley Bill.

Now he’s become a lone-blogger at The Fairfacts Media Show.

Hat Tip: Barnsley Bill

Spamming myself?


A couple of weeks ago a comment was left purporting to be from a regular commentator but which was in fact spam.

Today I found a comment supposedly from me which was also spam.

For the record – I don’t require drugs, software or assistance with my sex life nor do I want to advertise any goods or services associated with these.


Nationality not important in land ownership


The announcement that the government is to simplify foreign investment rules  has attracted the usual hysterical responses.

Colin Espiner started it:

Slices of the South Island high country and assets such as ports and airports may again be for sale to the highest overseas bidder under changes to investment rules being considered by the Government.

That should read . . . sold to the highest bidder who may be from overseas because the vendor is unlikely to sell to a foreigner if a New Zealander offers a better deal.

Finlay McDonald Macdonald * continued the emotive slant with a piece headlined Bending over backwards for foreign coin.

The critics always see a freeing up of investment rules from the point of view of another buyer who may not be able to pay as much, rather than the seller who will receive more which could then be invested in something else, here or overseas, both of which will have benefits for New Zealand.

Critics also don’t appear to see that if we stop foreign investment here it is hypocritical to reap the rewards from New Zealand investment overseas.

But the worst of the criticism is nothing more than xenophobia based on ignorance.

It’s not who owns land or other assets which matters, it’s what they are permitted to do – or not  do – and that is governed by laws and regulations, including district and regional plans, which apply to everyone.

Those who oppose foreign investment ignore the benefits it brings to New Zealand and New Zealanders.

One of the farms we visited last week is owned by immigrants who brought a lot of money with them when they came. They poured it into their property and have worked hard to increase its productivity and improve it not just economically but environmentally. They employ other New Zealanders, send their chidlren to local schools, are active in the community and have strengthened the economic and social fabric of the district.

They are by no means the exception and if the rules are simplified to allow more people like them to invest here the critics will be proved wrong.

* Thanks to David Cohen  for corrrecting my spelling.

Five days, nine farms . . .


We’ve just completed a farm tour with a group we were invited to join four years ago.

Each autumn we have a study tour which visits members’ farms, alternating between the North & South Islands. We also have a city-based seminar every second winter and conference calls with a guest speaker every couple of months.

Farming can be a lonely and isolated business so sharing experiences with and learning from others in this way has immense value.

Chatham House rules apply which promotes a high level of openess in discussions and very strong friendships develop amongst us all.

This trip we visited nine farms which included a lamb finishing unit, intensive dairy and crop farms and a high country run. We also visited an agribusiness and had two sets of guest speakers.

They not only opened their gates to us, they opened their businesses too.

They were very different operations but all had several things in common – the people who owned them work hard, are very good at what they do  and are passionate about doing it.

Discussions often got on to the recession and there was concern about what impact it might have, but also confidence about the part agriculture will play in the recovery.

The week wasn’t all work, we also had plenty of good food, wine, lots of laughter and finished here with an asado:


%d bloggers like this: