Doing the right thing


Bill English is going to forgo the extra accommodation allowance he could receive as a Minister and also payback the difference between what he’s received as a Minister and the ordinary MPs’ allowance.

Mr English said no matter how much he explained the circumstances nothing would change the perception that he was getting more than other MPs were entitled to. . .

“So I have decided to deal with perception. I am the Minister of Finance, it is my job to lead by example. So I will be getting in touch with Ministerial Services to pay back the difference between the rate I am on and the other rate going back to the election.”

. . . “I understand this does not look good. It doesn’t really matter what the technicalities are and from my point of view, particularly as the Minister of Finance, that is not a sustainable position.”

Nobody is suggesting he was breaking any rules but he is right about the need to lead by example and accepting the extra money wasn’t a good look.

He’s done the right thing by not only turning it down in future but also repaying the extra he’s already received. In doing so he’s showing that in this administration Honourable isn’t just a title but a description of how Ministers behave.

Mid-week music


Yesterday was Scottish singer Harry Lauder’s birthday.

One of his best-known songs was Keep right On To The End Of The Road.

I couldn’t find a clip of him singing it, but here’s Kenneth McKellar’s version:

Phew – milk auction price up 25.8%


Last night’s globalDairyTrade auction resulted in a lift in the whole milk price to $US2301 per tonne – an increase of 25.8%

dairy 10004

dairy 10005

That’s a very welcome change to the downward trend since March but Fonterra chair Henry Van der Hayden isn’t breaking out the champagne yet.

In an email to farmers he says while it’s great to see the lift,  it’s difficult to know where the market’s going.

The dollar which is trading above 65 cents continues to cause concern and the US has increased its support price for skim milk by 15%.

The next globalDairyTrade auction is scheduled for September 1.

UPDATE: Bernard Hickey notes the improved price has taken the dollar over 67 US cents.


I know a weak currency isn’t necessarily a good thing but Hickey points out the rise in the value of the dollar will cancel out some of the gains from the better auction price.

Oamaru Stone “unsuitable” for Central Otago


The Central Otago District Council has deemed Oamaru Stone unsuitable for rural buildings under new planning rules.

Caution over bright colours unrelated to the natural environment I could understand, but Oamaru Stone?

It’s a popular cladding  for several reasons including its relatively modest price and the ease of working with it.

It may not occur naturally in Central the way it does over the hill in North Otago, but it has been used there for more than a century. Even if it hadn’t, people who consider these mellow tones offensive must have rocks for brains:


Parkside Quarry at Weston in North Otago is the sole supplier of limestone for building.

It is also one of the sponsors of the regular stone carving symposium which results in creations like this Rock Ness Monster:

stone 2

Questions for protesters


Would the 300 or so people who protested at parliament  yesterday about cuts to Adult Community Education classes:

* Be prepared to pay more tax to fund these classes?

* Consider paying for adults to attend hobby classes a higher priority than paying for more classes in literacy and numeracy?

* Suggest other areas of education spending which could be cut instead?

* Consider other methods of funding hobby classes than taxpayer largesse?

And :

Do they know there’s a recession and that government income is woefully short of that needed for its expenditure?

August 5 in history


On August 5:

1305 William Wallace who led the Scottish resistance to English rule was arrested

Sir William Wallace

1620 The Mayflower  left Southampton on its first attempt to reach North America.

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882

1962 Nelson Mandela was jailed.

1988 The Cartwright report was released, condemning the “unfortunate experiment” for treating cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.

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