Lee National candidate for Mt Albert


I’ve been surfing to find the results of National’s candidate selection for the Mount Albert by-election and Kiwiblog is the first with the news that Melissa Lee  has been selected.

Ravi Musuku, the only other nominee, will be disappointed but in spite of conspiracy theories, National has a very democratic selection procedure which gives all votes to its members.

If the electorate has sufficient members who have belonged to the party for at least six months then all those who vote will be from the electorate. If not, delegate numbers are topped up with members from neighbouring electorates.

In spite of conspiracy theories the rules make it very difficult, if not impossible for the board or caucus to influence selection.

In fact, my experience of National Party people suggests that if they were told to vote for a candidate they’d favour another because they don’t like being told what to do 🙂

P.S. National, the party which is often attacked by others for lacking gender and ethnic diversity, is the only one which hasn’t selected a middle-aged bloke of European descent as its candidate.

UPDATE: I credited Kiwiblog as being first with the news but I note that Whaleoil  posted 12 mintues earlier – not that either of them are competitive 🙂

Work Avoidance


Had I realised the limitless possibilities for work avoidance which come with blogging I might never have started.

The latest is following links which refer visitors to this site. Sometimes there’s an obvious explanation, blogging on something which relates to posts on other people’s blogs, but I can’t work out why Alpha Inventions  and Condron have discovered me.

But they have and regularly direct visitors this way.

However, susceptible to work avoidance though I might be, I’ve resisted the temptation to follow any of the zillions of blogs they link to.  

Enough opportunity for work avoiding is already more than enough.

The scoop that wasn’t


The Herald thought it had a scoop:

National party ‘names’ candidate for Mt Albert by-election

National is holding a meeting in Auckland suburb Mt Albert this evening to select its candidate – but someone in the party has already decided who it is going to be.

The National Party Mainland Conference agenda lists Mt Albert candidate MP Melissa Lee as a speaker.

But it’s the paper that’s got it wrong. I’ve got a copy of the official programme and it says:

Address by Mt Albert’s List MP Melissa Lee.

Note the difference between Mount Albert candidate which she may or may not be after tonight’s selection, and  Mount Albert’s list MP which she is.

The programme notes her position as buddy MP for the electorate which isn’t represented by National, it’s not second guessing the selection process.

Hat Tip: No Minister

UPDATE: TV One news has just given the same story, not understanding the difference between a list MP and a candidate.

Australia dealys ETS, Select Committee deliberates in NZ


Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced his government’s Emissions Trading Scheme will be delayed a year.

Back here, the Select Committee reviewing our ETS has started hearing submissions.

Federated Farmers have asked for the scheme to be scrapped or substantially altered.

“The road to economic hell will be paved by an ill conceived ETS, because New Zealand doesn’t need the ETS to meet its Kyoto obligations,” said Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

Federated Farmers favours repeal of the ETS and non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy. The Federation’s interim solutions put to the Select Committee include:

  • New Government-funded forest plantings via land leasing regimes, land purchases or other viable partnership arrangements. This will not just develop new permanent forestry sinks but also generate employment opportunities. This concept was also put to the Prime Minister’s Job Summit held earlier in the year;
  • A low-level carbon charge set at a rate that recovers just enough revenue to account for any emissions deficit;
  • Government purchasing the cheapest Kyoto emissions units available to meet New Zealand’s future liabilities, until the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012;
  • Lead internationally by advocating for each country to allocate a percentage of GDP towards climate change initiatives; and potentially,
  • Non-compliance, akin to the Canadian Government’s approach since 2005.

Feds’ other option was a substantial rewrite of the ETS to exclude primary food production and introduce economic tests.

“The primary production of food has no place in any emissions trading scheme,” Mr Nicolson continued.

“Precedent for this comes from Denmark. The Danish Government in March moved to specifically exclude the primary production of food from its Kyoto response.

Meat & Wool NZ and the Meat Industry Assocation  also want a rethink of the scheme.

They say including livestock in the scheme when no other country does puts farming at a signifincant risk and would have severe financial, social and environmental impacts.

They are using two case studies to show the affect the scheme would have. One of these is Southland farmers Julie and David Marshall:

Mr Marshall said the cost of paying for his emissions would equate to an extra $43,000 a year from about 2017 onwards.

The alternative would be to plant enough trees to offset his carbon footprint but, because of the unsuitable growing conditions near the coast, he would have to plant enough pine to cover half his 247ha property, he said.

MIA chair Bill Falconer said:

New Zealand’s 15,000 commercial sheep and beef farmers and about 80 processing plants collectively generated export earnings of $6.8 billion a year, which was in jeopardy under the current legislation.

“We could only contemplate an ETS for livestock if it properly incentives farmers to use proven mitigation technologies but leaves them no worse off compared to their overseas competitors,” he said.

The ETS is about politics and bureaucracy not the environment.

It is irrseponsible to impose significant costs on primary industry with the consequent social and economic impacts of that when there will be no environmental gain and possibly an increase in emissions.

There is no point in reducing emissions here if it will only lead to an increase somewhere else. We’ve signed the Kyoto Protocal but that doesn’t mean we have to sabotage our economy with an ETS which far exceeds what other countries are contemplating.

New Zealand and the environment would be better off if the energy and money going into the ETS was diverted to research  instead.

Swine flu transmitted from person to pig


Swine flu has been transmitted from a farm worker to a pig.

Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.

The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen.

“Could it gain virulence? Yes,” Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, said Sunday. “It could also become milder. It could go in both directions.”

In other words, the answer is maybe and that’s definite.

Until it’s proved or disproved simple rules of hygiene – washing hands, covering mouth when coughing or sneezing –  should apply with people and animals – as they should all the time, regardless of whether or not there’s a flu bug about.

Meanwhile, Mexican officials say that the outbreak of swine flu has passed its peak.

Silver Ferns wearing merino


The Silver Ferns new playing uniform is made from a merino/polyester mix.

Merino has many qualities which ought to be good for the players and the association with our leading women’s sports team should have benefits for merino.

That news however, came well down the story which is dedicated to introducing the All Blacks new white away-strip to the world and  is little more than an extended advertisement.

I can’t help but think the players of yore and their supporters would have been a lot more interested in how they played than what they wore.

Monday Quiz


Keeping Stock has a Monday Quote, The Hand Mirror has Monday Funday .

This is the first of what may or may not be a regular Monday Quiz.

1. What’s the name of the mother of Dog’s pups in Footrot Flats?

2. Who wrote Backblocks Baby Doctor?

3. Where was Phar Lap born?

4. Who said,” No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well.”?

5. The Corriedale was the result of crossing which breeds of sheep?

The first to answer all five correctly gets the glory, the judge’s decision isn’t final, correspondence may or may not be entered in to.

NZ one of most urbanised countries in world


Fewer than 20% of New Zealanders live in the country, making us one of the most urbanised countries in the world.

That’s one of the points made by Associate Professor Hugh Campbell from Otago University’s Centre for the Study of Agriculture, writing for Paddock Talk  in today’s ODT.

A particular history of town and country planning tended to protect fertile lands for commercial farming thus constricting population growth into towns and cities with relatively little lifestyle subdivision, village regeneration or holiday cottages, as has become the norm in many other First World countries.

The result is that, by some measures, New Zealand has more than 80% of its population living in non-rural areas – one of the highest levels in the Western world.

In contrast to this, rural-based industries, from farming and forestry to tourism, account for the vast majority of our export earnings.

Democracy being what it is, this widening cultural and economic gap is going to be a significant challenge for politicians both in farming and in Wellington.

Lifestyle subdivision brings problems of its own when people from town move to the country then object to the sights, sounds and smells of rural life and want to impose rules which interfere with normal farming practices.

The challenge isn’t quite as bad as it was before the election because National, Act and the Maori Party all have a high regard for property rights and an understanding of the importance of primary production.

But numbers count in politics and rural New Zealand no longer has the numbers.

We also have a perception problem, highlighted by Federated Farmers vice president Frank Brenmuhl in an address to a horticultural teachers’ conference:

He quoted a report which showed that in 2008 farm workers earned an average income of $41,914, more than $2,000 above the average non-farm income of $39,517.

Therefore, I do not believe we struggle for good staff because we pay poor wages or the opportunities for advancement are not good. After all, I have personally seen many examples of young people aged between 20 and 24, who are receiving salary packages in excess of $70,000 per year. Good farm managers are paid well for good results because it is good business.

Also, I don’t believe we lack agricultural trainees and graduates because we lack agricultural training institutions. But, I do believe that many career advisors and teachers, who play a big part in influencing student choices, do not value the work that those in the agricultural industry do.  We are treated much the same as cleaners and waste disposal operators. Necessary, but grubby and you can do better with your life, especially if you have a modicum of intelligence, in which case a tertiary education in arts, culture political science or information technology is your proper option.

I think he’s got a point. Because farmers work outside and get their hands dirty there’s a perception that they don’t use their brains as well.

But it’s not just a lack of people interested in working in agriculture that’s a problem, we need more scientists, engineers and others in the fields which support agriculture and drive innovation in primary production and processing.

As the recession bites people will give up luxuries but they will still have to eat. We’ll all suffer if the export-led recovery we need to get New Zealand back on track is hampered by a lack of skilled people in agriculture and the sciences and industries which support and improve it.

Brooke Fraser – Without You – Updated


Day four of the tune a day for New Zealand Music Month challenge and if the description on Brooke Fraser‘s website is to be believed, her songs are aural sweet treats:

She makes the kind of music that sounds like a pop marshmallow has dropped into a folk hot chocolate and become a warm, spicy chocolatey broth.

Here she is singing Without You:


Keeping Stock has Wayne Mason and Don McGlashan with Nature

Inquiring Mind brings us The Camel by Fat Freddys Drop

And Rob caught up yesterday with Pretty Girl by Hogsnort Rupert (my father’s favourite – my brothers and I bought him one of those wee round black things – were they called 45s? – of it for a birthday).

And Rob’s offering for today is from the same era – If I Only Had Time  by John Rowles.

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