Does it matter who owns our farms and factories?

April 21, 2009

Should we be concerned about the possibilty of Chinese investment (and therefore a measure of Chinese control) in NZ dairy farms and factories?

This question came from Farmer Baby Boomer , in response to yesterday’s post on Fonterra’s investment in China.

I answered a month ago in  it doesn’t matter who owns what when I said . . . who owns what isn’t important, it’s what they’re permitted to do with it that matters.

What they’re permitted to do depends on our culture and our laws. Overseas investors might need education about the former and definitely need respect for and to adhere to the latter.

As long as our laws protect workers, customers, creditors, contractors, the environment and anyone or anything else connected with the enterprises foreigners invest in we have nothing to worry about. If the laws don’t work for overseas owned businesses they won’t work for New Zealand owned ones either in which case it’s the law which is at fault not the owners and investors.

If it’s acceptable for New Zealanders and New Zealand companies to invest in other countries then we have to accept investment from foreign nationals and companies.


“Ladies” should dress for men

April 21, 2009

Russian designer Alexander Terekhov says women should dress to impress men.

The Russian designer – who recently showcased his label Terexov at New York Fashion Week – insists ladies look best when they shun comfortable clothes in favour of figure-hugging dresses and heels.

He said: “I like that in following the trends Russian women dress more for men than for themselves. They like to look feminine – to dress up in heels and dresses. I think every woman should own a classic cocktail dress, a clutch bag and a lot of shoes – that is true wherever you are.”

What do comfort and practicality matter, as long as the blokes are happy?


Field trial on hold because jurors can’t afford the time

April 21, 2009

The trial of former Labour MP Phillip Field has been delayed because too many potential jurors said they couldn’t afford to serve.

The trial against former Government minister Taito Phillip Field is in “limbo” after half the jury was discharged this morning.

Seven jurors – five women and two men – were stood down by Justice Rodney Hansen at the High Court at Auckland this morning after they indicated the trial would have placed them in too much hardship.

The trial has been set down for three months.

Even three days off work could be too costly for some people unless employers were prepared to bridge the gap between the compensation jurors get and normal pay.

When trials stretch into weeks and, in this case, possibly months it puts a strain on people’s finances and also impacts on their workplaces which are left to cope without a staff member or forced to employ a temporary replacement.

Some employers are prepared to top up the pay for their staff while they’re on jury service so they’re not out of pocket but not all can afford to do this, especially for prolonged trials; and if they have to employ a stand-in they end up paying twice.

Few if any self employed people could afford more than a very short time off work either and parents of young children or other fulltime care-givers would find it difficult if not impossible to arrange alternative care for any length of time too.

Unless there is a change in the system, including recompense which matches, or nearly matches, wages forgone, juries will comprise only unemployed and retired people.


Banana campaign is bananas

April 21, 2009

An Australian wasn’t happy when she discovered a foreign banana in the breakfast Qantas served to her on a flight home from New Zealand.

Toni Rogers says she’s shocked the national carrier is serving bananas from the Philippines given the amount of media coverage the imports issue has had.. . . 

“It was also the fact that it was Qantas, if it was Air New Zealand I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought,” Ms Rogers says. . .

“That’s probably what concerned me more than anything else, Qantas was serving Filipino bananas in preference to our local growers,” Ms Rogers says.

She was also worried about how the bananas are disposed of and the potential quarantine threat they may posse people get them through airprot quarantine systems.

The Australian banana industry says it’s comfortable with the checks and balances in place to ensure fresh fruit doesn’t breach border biosecurity.

It’s more concerned about why the national carrier isn’t serving Australian bananas on trans-Tasman flights.

CEO Tony Heidrich says given the publicity surrounding the Philippine banana imports, this could be potentially damaging to Qantas. . .

“I think any Australian would like to see our national carrier supporting Australian industries, just as Australians try and support Qantas on the routes they operate.”

If the banana industry isn’t concerned about biosecurity breaches the issue isn’t fear of pests and disseases it’s nationalism.

The national airline should carry the nation’s produce, right? Not necessarily, there are other factors to keep in mind including cost and the trade implications.

If Australian bananas are more expensive would passengers still want them to be supplied in preference to bananas, or any other fruit, from elsewhere? And if they want Australian bananas on Australian planes will they accept that airlines from other countries favour produce from their own producers rather than from Australia?

New Zealand and Australia have the strictest biosecurity border controls I’ve encountered and for very good reaons. We’re both surrounded by sea with no very close neighbours which should make it easier to keep out unwanted pests and diseases, and primary industry is very important to our economies.

But we both need to be very careful about pretending to play the biosecurity card when what were really doing is playing the protectionist one.

Buying local pulls the heartstrings, but it’s not necessarily best.

Hat Tip: Larvatus Prodeo   , go on click on it because something which starts with: Everyone knows that Kiwis constantly try to subvert our Australian way of life. They did it, for example by sending us Jo Bjelke-Petersen back in 1913 and then again with Russell Crowe. . . . is worth reading 🙂


Eskimo lollies leave sour taste

April 21, 2009

A Canadian Inuit touring New Zealand has been offended by one of the staples of the Kiwi lolly mixture, the marshmellow Eskimos .

Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, says the Eskimo lolly, manufactured by Cadbury/Pascall, is an insult to her people.

The word Eskimo is unacceptable in her country and carries with it negative racial connotations, she said.

She intends sending packets of the iconic confectionary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a Inuit tribal elder in the Nunavut Territory.

A name change by the manufacturer will no doubt be called a PC over-reaction, but would we say that if we came across a marshmellow caricature called a Hori in another country?

Is this very different from the name change for the wee white sticks with the pink ends we called cigarettes when I was a child? They’re now known as space sticks because the attitude to smoking has changed and it’s, correctly, seen as silly to associate smoking with sweets.

Now that the insult has been pointed out, Cadbury/Pascal will have to have a rethink and when they act on that I’m sure we’ll find that marshmellow lollies by another name will taste as sweet.

UPDATE: Alf Grumble  has a different view.

UPADATE 2: Keeping Stock  is on Alf’s side.


Good call

April 21, 2009

The walkout from the UN racism conference in Geneva confirms that New Zealand’s decision not to send attend was a good call.

I wonder if the hand wringers who were lamenting the decision yesterday will admit they were wrong?

UPDATE: Keeping Stock  posts that Joris de Bres, our Race relations Comissioner is attending the conference. Wonder if he walked out too?


Getting the numbers

April 21, 2009

Commentators seem to be agreed that Melissa Lee is the favourite to win the National nomination for the Mount Albert by-election.

I have no inside knowledge of her, any other candidates or the views of members in the electorate.

But I do know the party rules and that some favourites have been overtaken in the past by nominees who had a better understanding of what was required –  support from more than 50% of members or voting delegates, in the electorate.

Progressive voting is used so if a nominee doesn’t get at least half the votes in the first ballot the name of the lowest polling nominee is removed and everyone votes again, and if necessary, again until someone crosses the 50% threashold.

Providing an electorate has more than 200 members, and I think  Mount Albert does, it is only the members from the electorate who vote.  The members decide at their AGM if voting will be by universal suffrage or if it’s to be done by delegates with one for every set number of members.

Some high flyers in previous selections have either not understood this or have understood but still failed to win over enough delegates and missed out. David Kirk didn’t get the selection for Tamaki after Rob Muldoon’s retirement because Clem Simich had the numbers

But it’s quite simple. Candidate selection in the National Party, unlike other parties which give at least some of the power to its hierachy,  is grass roots democracy. The winning nominee is the one who wins the support of at least half the members or voting delegates in the electorate and that’s done the old fashioned way by letting them get to know you and convincing them you have the skills and abilities to be a good electorate MP.

John Key has announced the by-election date. It’s June 13th which is also the date Simon and Garfunkel will be playing in Auckland and the All Blacks have a test match in Dunedin., not that either will be relevant becasue both will take past after polling closes.

UPDATE: Lou taylor at No Minister  has another perspective on the by-election


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