Florence Nightingale medal for NZ nurse


Auckland nurse Joyce Hood has been awarded the Florence Nightingale medal by the International Red Cross.

The Florence Nightingale medal is the highest honour within the nursing profession. It is awarded to people who distinguish themselves in times of peace or war by showing exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of conflict or disaster.

As a nurse, 66-year-old Ms Hood from Remuera, Auckland has been a New Zealand Red Cross aid worker for the past 11 years and has undertaken 10 missions encompassing 75 months of field service in countries such as Afghanistan, Kenya, Timor Leste and South Ossetia.

The rest of the story is here.

The Woolshed Sessions – Stringing Me Along


Yes,yes, I know it’s June and New Zealand Music Month was in May.

But I’ve just caught up with the news that the Gold Guitar Awards were held in Gore last weekend and this was the winner.

Stringing Me Along, by Jess Chambers, from The Woolshed Sessions.

Who wants to be a subsidy millionaire?


A website dedicated to shining daylight on subsidies, farmsubsidy.org,  has published a list of the agrimillionaires from 2008,  the 710 businesses or individuals who received more than 1 million euros from the European common agriculture policy.

An Italian sugar company received the most – nearly 140, million euro. The smallest subsidy millionaire was an Austrian cheese company which received a relatively modest million euro.

These are large sums of money. However, Phil’s Business Blog  reckons that demonising companies and individuals receiving large payments is misdirected.

For a start, it’s little surprise that sugar processors currently top the CAP payments league table, since they are involved in a major restructuring scheme designed to cut EU production and comply with WTO rules.

And at farm level, there has never been any logic to subsidy caps. Since decoupling, direct payments to farmers are supposed to be about the delivery of public goods, and it is often large farmers that are doing the most.

It is also the case that large farmers tend to employ more people, both directly and indirectly. Furthermore, restricting subsidy according to farm size can only act as a disincentive to efficiency.

That may be right but it still doesn’t justify taking money from taxpayers, giving it to producers and manufacturers who then compete unfairly with other more efficient producers elsewhere and increase costs for consumers, most of whom are taxpayers who funded the subsidies.

It’s just a giant money-go-round supporting a giant bureaucracy and handicapping free trade initiatives.

New Zealand farmers were forced into the real world when subsidies were taken away more than 20 years ago. It wasn’t much fun at the time, but it’s made us much better at what we do and much more attuned to the market than we ever were when farm incomes went up and down by government whim.

Free trade is better for consumers and, while the transition from subsidies to standing on your own feet isn’t easy, it’s also better for producers.

Can we afford it?


When I posted yesterday about the affordability of superannuation I pointed out that it can’t be assessed in isolation, other expenditure commitments must be taken into account too.

Kiwiblog also posted on the issue pointing out here and here that the most important factors affecting the affordability of superannuation are economic growth and demographics.

I estimate the relative importance of these factors like this:

Factors affecting affordability of superannuation

 Want to make your own diagram? You can do it at GraphJam.

Personal perspective kinder than political


Had this been last year and I’d just heard the news that a minister had resigned I’d have looked at it from a political perspective.

Because I know and like Richard Worth I am seeing his resignation from a personal perspective and I’m sorry.

Kathryn Ryan said she will be talking to John Key about this on Nine to Noon  at 10.45.

GlobaldairyTrade price down 12%


Prices fell 12% in this morning’s globalDairyTrade auction.

That’s not surprsing in light of growing stock piles of milk powder and the subsidies which the USA reintroduced last week.

The rising value of the New Zealand dollar won’t help Fonterra’s returns either.

Recognising merit


The ODT has a suggestion for honouring honours:

Whereas people carrying the titles of “sir” and “dame” have a permanent public brand or trade-mark of their achievements simply in the titles, and are far more likely than most to be given opportunities to wear their decorations at formal occasions, there is little encouragement to enable the public routinely to know that their less highly honoured fellow citizens have also been recognised by the Queen.

Virtually all countries with honours systems in Europe, for example, also give recipients a gratis and discreet lapel badge or ribbon, which recipients may wear on an everyday basis if they so choose, and without embarrassment.

In this country, similar badges were made available for past and present recipients from 1996, but they are hardly widely worn and the Government ought to do what it can to encourage the custom.

At the same time, it should be routine for all official correspondence to honours recipients to carry their proper title in the address.

By such small, but symbolically important measures, our honours system might be regarded in the broader community as being much more than the “one-day wonder” it is in danger of becoming.

This is a good idea.

The people I know who’ve received “lesser” honours are hard working, selfless individuals whose efforts more than earned their award.

They are all modest people too and may prefer not to display their award, but a discreet badge or broach would give them the choice.

NZ tops Global Peace Index


 New Zealand has topped the  Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index .

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The Institute is an Australian think tank dedicated to developing the inter-relationships between business, peace and economic development.
The results of the 2009 survey  suggest:
that the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year, which appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year. Rapidly rising unemployment, pay freezes and falls in the value of house prices, savings and pensions is causing popular resentment in many countries, with political repercussions that have been registered by the GPI through various indicators measuring safety and security in society.
The GPI uses 23 indicators  of the existence or absence of peace, divided into three broad categories:  measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization.
The Top 10 countries were: New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Finland and Slovenia.
At the bottom were: Georgia, Zimbabwe, Russia, Pakistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Israel, Somalia, Afghaanistan and Iraq.
The full list is here.

R20 at the new Bowler


The Bowling Green hotel hosted generations of Dunedin students.

But the ODT reports the pub has moved from the edges of the university campus in north Dunedin to Moray Place in the centre of the city and publican Mark Deason said people under 20 won’t be welcome.

“He described the “enthusiastic” behaviour of customers under 20 as “more erratic” than those over 20.

“They are often louder and more obnoxious.”

Deason says younger people tend to rush in and out of bars, distrubing other patrons who take a more leisurely approach.

I’ve got some sympathy for this move, it’s his business, he wants the bar to have a quieter ambience and the Sale of Liquor Act says a publican isn’t obliged to serve anyone; but he may run in to the Human Rights Act which prohibits desicrimination against people on the grounds of age.

June 3 in history – Battle of Dunkirk


The Battle of Dunkirk  ended on June 3, 1940.

The following day Winston Churchill delivered his fight on the beaches speech:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Tens of thousands of soldiers were evacuated from from Dunkirk by civilian boats. The desperation of the situation and bravery of the soldiers and their rescuers was depicted in Paul Gallico’s novel, The Snow Goose.

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