Mid week music

June 24, 2009

Carol King’s Tapesty was one of the LPs which provided the background music to my student life.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, Natural Woman, So Far Away . . . and of course You’ve Got A Friend:


MAF’s meat future

June 24, 2009

There’s a brighter future ahead for the sheep meat and beef industry a report into the sector by the Ministry of Agriculture found.

It drew on the views of people in the sector to look at opportunities and challenges in the next 10 to 15 years and concluded:

Despite the obvious challenges that the sector faces over the next 10 to 15 years, this study has identified a general positive slant to people’s perception of the industry’s future. It is clear though that this rosy outlook will not be achieved through inaction or simply “carrying on as normal”.  New Zealand has a comparative advantage across much of the value chain. Leadership, vision and action are required from the sector to ensure this comparative advantage delivers a successful and sustainable industry into the future.

 

One point everyone who thinks they have a solution for the meat industry overlooks is that it comprises many competing parts.

The processing sector alone includes co-operatives, private companies and public ones. No-one can impose anything on them and too much co-operation between them could risk attracting accusations of collusion.

 Fonterra was held up as a shining example of what the meat industry could aspire to, although I’m not so sure it’s regarded quite so highly now. But milk and meat are very different products.

Dairy farmers have to sign up for a season and their  milk has to be collected every day.

Sheep and beef farmers have more licence and more choice. That gives them a lot of power when there’s a lot of feed but can leave them in trouble in difficult seasons.

There isn’t an easy answer for the sector, especially when a decline in the sheep numbers has led to excess killing capacity.

But those looking for improvements should start by looking back because solutions which didn’t work in the past aren’t likely to work in the future either.

The Bull Pen has a related post on the report.


Court thoughts

June 24, 2009

Court reporting was usually the chief reporter’s job but when he was away or had something more important to attend to it became mine.

Court started at 10am and the paper went to the presses around mid-day. That meant for the first couple of hours I had to take notes on the current case while writing -neatly by hand  because we didn’t have laptops then – the story of the previous one for a runner to pick up and take to the office.

It wasn’t easy for someone just out of journalism school but most of the cases were pretty simple – variations on traffic, alcohol and drug offences.

After a few stints as court reporter I realised I wasn’t just seeing the same charges again and again, I was often seeing the same people, or members of their families.

I was back in court this morning (not in the dock), talking to a former prison pastor who still works with prisoners, their families and victims. He told me nothing’s changed, he keeps seeing the same people time and time again.

This is a sorry reflection on them, their failure to learn and their lack of regard for the law. But doesn’t it also tell us there needs to be a lot more effort put into preventing crime and ensuring those who err once learn not to do it again?


Full marks Mr Speaker – updated

June 24, 2009

One of the reasons MPs aren’t held in very high regard is the low standards of behaviour and language some of them descend to in parliament.

Lockwood Smith has made it quite clear he expects higher standards of behaviour and accountability.

This hasn’t always been appreciated by his colleagues who had to endure lame answers from cabinet minsiters in the previous administration and were aniticiapating giving those people now in opposition a taste of their own medicine.

But Smith has made it quite clear what he expects and yesterday Trevor Mallard was sent out of the house for falling well short of those expectations..

Keeping Stock has the transcript of Hansard  which shows what happened. 

I give the Speaker full marks for his ruling and his efforts to lift standards.

UPDATE: Whaleoil has the video.


How far is too far for fuel?

June 24, 2009

The petrol station at Hampden, north of Moeraki on State Highway 1, has closed.

There are fuel stops at Herbert and Maheno about 10 and 14 kilometres further north so it’s not too much further for travellers, but how long will petrol stations stay in very small towns?

When I stopped for fuel at a small town petrol station yesterday the owner told me that if he hadn’t recently put in new tanks he’d have been tempted to stop selling petrol and diesel and stick to servicing vehicles because the margins on fuel were hardly worth the trouble.

I’m training myself  to check the fuel gauge before leaving bigger towns on long journeys because it can be a long way to the next petrol station, especially outside business hours.

However, the training isn’t complete and I’ve been fortunate to find bowsers which enable you to pay by credit or Eftpos card which have saved me from running out of fuel late at night a couple of times.

Travellers not used to long distances between fuel stops could easily get caught short.

It’s also a problem is for people living in or near the small towns which no longer have fuel outlets. Some, particularly the elderly, do most of their driving within a relatively confined area of where they live and they’re forced to do a longer trip simply to refuel.


June 24 in history

June 24, 2009

On June 24:

1441 Eton College  was founded.

 

1901 The first exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work opened.

1905 New Zealand Truth was launched.

1916 Canadian film star Mary Pickford became the first woman to get a million dollar contract.


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