A toast to Tony

May 19, 2009

Health Minister Tony Ryall has delivered on his election promise of extra funding for maternity services.

The extra $103.5 million over four years is to fund:

* Longer stays for new mothers in birthing facilities

* An optional meeting each trimester for at risk mothers, attended by the pregnant woman, their GP, and their lead maternity carer (usually a midwife)

*Obstetric training or refreshers for GPs wishing to return to maternity care

* Meeting the costs from the increase in the number of births each year, and

* Fully funding the Plunketline 24 hour telephone advice service – as previously announced.

I’m especially pleased about the longer stays in birthing centres because I put this forward when members were invited to Pitch a Policy at National Party regional conferences. I was then asked to put it to the national conference where it was greeted with enthusiasm and passed on to the health policy advisory group.

I explained my reasoning  in a post last year . My major concern was to stop new mothers being sent home before they had established breast feeding.

When I had my children it was normal for mothers who chose to do so to stay in maternity for about five days after an uncomplicated delivery and up to 10 days after a caesarean. The major benefit of this was that there was on the spot assistance if they had difficulty getting their babies to feed.

Stays have got shorter and in recent years. Some mothers have been discharged within a few hours of delivery and most within a day or two, before their milk comes in.

The extra funding should enable many more mothers to stay long enough to establish feeding.

P.S. Good to see the media release making it quite clear the Plunketline funding had already been announced and not pretending this was a new initiative as the previous administration used to.


A kilt wearer’s noo a cross dresser laddie

May 19, 2009

Hoots mon, what does this say aboot the standard of education in the USA when a school principal does nae  ken that wearing a kilt is nae crosss-dressing?

Weber School District spokesman Nate Taggart says Craig Jessop has been asked to extend an apology to 14-year-old student Gavin McFarland of Hooper after the school official’s comments Wednesday.

Gavin says he wore the kilt twice in the past two weeks to Rocky Mountain Junior High as a prop for an art project. Jessop told the boy that the outfit could be misconstrued as cross-dressing.

Taggart says the district recognises the kilt as an expression of the boy’s Scottish heritage and that the kilt was not inappropriate.

Och aye, gie’ me strength an’ pass stir that mon up with a spirtle spurtle.

Calls him self a principal when he does nae ken aboot the kilt?


Tuesday’s answers

May 19, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who wrote 8 Stages of Grace?

2. Who said Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question?

3. What was the first European name for the town of Wanaka?

4. How does Maori legend explain the formation of the Moeraki Boulders?

5. What does  mi casa es tu casa mean?

The answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tractor $232,632 farm still free

May 19, 2009

Bidding on the tractor for sale on TradeMe  has reached 232,632.

That’s a couple of thousand more than the top bid yesterday morning.

The farm which is comes with it for free has a QV of $250,000.

The auction has attracted 162,793 views. It closes this Sunday evening.


Let them eat free range cake

May 19, 2009

One of the silliest statements in the story about the alleged ill treatment of pigs came from Mike King on Breakfst yesterday .

He said he didn’t think people would mind  paying more for free range pork (it’s towards the end of the clip at about 5:40).

You’ve got that wrong Mike. Those who can afford to, may choose to pay more for their food, but some who can won’t and many people can’t.

Expense is no excuse for not treating animals humanely. If current practices are cruel they must be changed but no-one should fool themselves that this won’t add costs to production which will increase the price and put pork products out of the range of many budgets.

The pig farm which was filmed has been identified  and will be inspected. If it complies with the law, we need to ask is the law adequate, does it need changing and should animal welfare requriements be improved?

The decision on whether changes ought to be made must be based on fact because so far we’ve had a pretty one-sided and emotional view of the issue. There is another and a Kiwiblog reader explains the difference between dry sow stalls and farrowing crates. S/he also says:

The other thing I would note is the TVNZ piece. Two points about Mike King’s “disgust”. Firstly – yes the pigs were screaming. Why? It was the middle of the night or early morning. The pigs had been left alone and were suddenly woken by human activity. What does this usually mean for them? Quite simply – feeding time. Free range pigs have EXACTLY the same reaction. If King and his companions ahd fed the pigs the screaming would have stopped. Guarantee it. Secondly – the chewing of bars and frothing of the mouth? Again, it is completely standard across all pigs. They chew things. Free range pigs it’ll be tree branches etc, for pigs in stalls or crates it’ll be bars. And yes, they froth. Christ, you should see them when they mate!

If pig farming in New Zealand breaches animal welfare standards it will have to change. But if higher – and more expensive – standards are imposed on the industry here nothing will be achieved if imported products from countries with lower, and cheaper, standards are permitted to compete with local produce.

Stopping imports or imposing higher standards on them is fraught with politics. Anything we require of imports must be based on facts or we’ll open ourselves up to charges of imposing non tariff barriers.

That won’t help the New Zealand pork industry and it will harm our efforts to free up world trade.

UPDATE: A media release from David Carter says MAF is inspecting the farm at the centre of the dispute.


We’re the rock stars Johnny Rotten

May 19, 2009

Federated Farmers reckon New Zealand farmers are economic rock stars and  want to invite Johnny Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten)  to visit so they can show him just how good dairy produce is when it comes from free range cows.

This invitation has been mooted because the former member of the Sex Pistols has been fronting advertisements In Britain urging people to buy British butter because  – he says – it’s better.

“Never mind the butter, it’s the quality of the milk what counts,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“While all milk may contain the same basic properties, kiwi cows are in a league of their own.

“Grazing outdoors on GM free grass and natural winter feed makes for happy cows and fantastic quality milk.  This milk is crafted into quality butter and other dairy products and the only thing holding us back in the UK, is the European Union’s ridiculous tariff barriers.  

“One of our senior staff members, David Broome, lived in the UK for seven years.  He tried Country Life Butter, once, and described it to me in colourful terms that Johnny Rotten would understand.

“David said only hand crafted but expensive British butter matched New Zealand butter for quality. The difference being that New Zealand butter can readily be found by British consumers in their local supermarket and convenience stores.

“New Zealand butter and dairy products, like our wine, is a taste revelation.

“New Zealand’s climate and quality pasture means we are in an agricultural sweet spot.  British consumers literally taste freedom when they eat New Zealand butter.

“While I’d like to think of dairy farmers as being the rock stars of the New Zealand economy, I’d be pleased to host that old punk rocker, John Lyndon, on my farm.

While he’s not casting aspersions on our butter, jokes aside, all primary producers need to be very careful about what we say about produce from other countries.

We may compete in the market but we should be allies in the battle against unscientific claims on production methods and quality. There’s more than enough unfounded claims based on emotion making life difficult for farmers and manufacturers of primary produce without people in the industry adding to it.

Attempts to woo consumers by putting them off competitors’ products might backfire and put them off those products regardless of where they come from.

There is one good thing about the ad, though. It might show anyone who still thinks a Buy Kiwi-Made campaign is a good the idea that it’s not, because we can’t say it’s better for us to buy local while exhorting people elsewhere to buy our exports.


They make the rules

May 19, 2009

I don’t make the rules, I just play the game  is often used as an excuse for questionable behaviour.

But politicians do make the rules about their own spending and reports from Britain continue to show gross abuses of them.

The Daily Mail and the Taxpayers Alliance have launched a campaign to ensure any MPs who have broken the law in rorting the system are brought to justice.

Bringthemtojustice2

If there are no Crown Prosecutions the Bring Them To Justice campaign will launch private prosecutions.

The New Zealand system of reimbursing MPs’ expenses is less generous and not as open to rorting at the British one, but Kiwiblog has worked out how some NZ MPS benefit from parliamentary expenses.

No-one is suggesting anyone is breaking the rules. But it does raise the question of whether the rules should be changed to make quite sure that the tax payer isn’t being taken for an expensive ride when covering MPs’ expenses.


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