Ecan under review

29/10/2009

Being caught between two regional councils has little to recommend it.

Two sets of rules and two sets of people to deal with adds to costs, delays and frustrations.

With some of its catchment coming under the Otago Regional Council and the rest under Environment Canterbury, the Waitaki District Council, and its residents, are able to compare the two authorities.

Time after time, they have more problems with ECan than with the ORC.

Difficulty dealing with ECan is not peculiar to the WDC. Other local authorities and ratepayers have also had problems and 10 mayors wrote to government with their criticisms.

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide have ordered two inquiries into ECan. One under the Resource Management Act which will look at its resource consent performance. The other under the Local Government Act will look at governance and policy functions.

Newly elected chair Alec Neill has responded sensibly  to this:

“Since I was elected, I have made it very clear that the council will work constructively with both central government and local councils,” he said.

Asked by the Otago Daily Times if he agreed with the ministers’ comment about “poor performance”, Mr Neill said he wanted answers rather than deny the council may have problems.

He was not going to get into “slagging matches” with the ministers.

The Government had information regarding ECan’s performance with resource consents.

In the 2007-08 financial year it was ranked the worst of 84 local authorities by processing only 29% of consents on time.

Since then, it had made changes which had dramatically im-proved its performance.

“I’m not in denial. There have been areas which have been unsatisfactory. If there remain areas which are unsatisfactory, I’m anxious for those to be addressed,” he said.

Regional Councils have wide ranging powers. Any problems they have internally or in dealings with other local authorities and the public add to costs and frustrations.

Mr Neill has met all mayors in the region since his election and there is more confidence that relationships between ECan and other councils will improve.

Regional Councils are supposed to be putting their energies into ensuring soil, air and water are protected, not wasting their time and our money on politics as has been happening. These reviews will help get Ecan’s focus back where it ought to be.


AG – better rules needed

29/10/2009

The Auditor General has ruled there are no grounds for an inquiry into Finance Minister Bill English’s housing arrangements.

However, the AG says the rules need to be improved and recommends:

that the aim be to develop a simple and sensible system for providing MPs and Ministers with appropriate support for the costs of their accommodation while in Wellington. The system should be:

  • clear and well explained;
  • grounded in principle, with a clear purpose and scope;
  • controlled by appropriate checks and limits;
  • transparent; and
  • seamless for those receiving the support, whether they are an MP or a Minister.

As with the administration of all public money, the system should also reflect the fundamental principles of accountability, transparency, fairness, and value for money. We emphasise that the system needs to be able to be understood not only by those administering it, but also by those to whom service is being provided, and by the general public who fund it.

We endorse the new practice of publicly releasing information at regular intervals on the various support arrangements for MPs and Ministers that are being funded by the public purse. It is an important step towards better transparency and accountability.

It is in the best interests of MPs and the public to have clear rules.

MPs should not be out of pocket if they have to maintain a house in their electorate and Wellington. However, Bill has decided that he will not receive any allowance, although he could legitimately claim one or live in a ministerial house at greater cost to the taxpayer.

“I’m determined to continue focusing on the things that matter to this Government – helping Kiwis into jobs and managing the economic recovery.

“To that end, I took the personal decision last month to voluntarily repay all of the housing allowance I’ve received since the election. I’m now receiving no housing allowance – that’s my decision.”

Bill has been exonerated by the Auditor General. He has also made the right decision on this.

Running the country and getting the economy growing again are too important to be distracted by sideshows generated by the opposition which is making personal attacks because they have nothing political to get their teeth in to.


October 29 in history

29/10/2009

On October 29:

1618 English adventurer, writer, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I of England.

1740  James Boswell, Scottish biographer of Samuel Johnson was born.

1787 Mozart‘s opera Don Giovanni receives its first performance in Prague.

1863 Twenty seven countries meeting in Geneva agreed to form the International Red Cross.

Flag of the ICRC.svg

1886 The first ticker-tape parade takes place in New York City when office workers spontaneously threw ticker tape into the streets as the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.

1891 US singer and comiedienne,  Fanny Brice, was born.

MyMan.jpg 

1894 SS Wiararapa was wrecked on Great Barrier Island.

1897  Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda was born.

1923 Turkey beccame a republic following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

1947 Richard Dreyfuss, American actor, was born.

1956  Suez Crisis began: Israeli forces invaded the Sinai Peninsula and pushed Egyptian forces back toward the Suez Canal.

1964  Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the Republic of Tanzania.

1969 The first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

1971 Winona Ryder, American actress, was born.

1995 Forgotten Silver hoax was screened.

2004 In Rome, European heads of state signed the Treaty and Final Act establishing the first European Constitution.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


9/10

28/10/2009

Bother – missed one question in the Dominion Post’s political quiz.

I made a wrong guess about what was concerning the Environment Commissioner.

Kiwiblog got the lot.


Mid-week Music – The Shadows

28/10/2009

In recognition of Hank Marvin’s birthday, The Shadows play Apache:


The Reluctant Pirate

28/10/2009

Amos Bunberry is a pirate in training, but a relucant one.

He’s trying pirate life because his mother said he had to. But he’s not enjoying it until he meets Griselda and her gang of forward thinking pirates.

This is a quirky tale in which brains beat brawn.

The author is Pauline Cartwright. Her word plays and jokes are enhanced by Marg Hamilton’s illustrations.

The book was a finalist in the 1994 Aim Book Awards.

dairy 10004

Post 28 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

book month logo green

over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar.


PGW rebrands

28/10/2009

Rod Orman was less than enthusiastic about PGG Wrightson taking Chinese company Agria as a cornerstone partner.

Perhaps the person who photoshopped the PGW store with Chinese script below the brand had similar concerns:

PGGW

 


Waimate writer wins SST short story contest

28/10/2009

Waimate writer Sue Francis has won the open section of the Sunday Star Times short story award.

Her winning story, The Concentrators, is set in Temuka and she describes it as a coming of age story.

This is Sue’s second writing success this year. She has recently had a story published in the latest volume of Random House’s Best New Zealand Fiction. 

Sue is a classmate in the writing course I am doing at Aoraki Polytech. The win is also a good reflection on our tutor, Diane Brown.


Southland celebrates

28/10/2009

They may not have the numbers found in provinces further north and even the most loyal Southlander would admit that they don’t always get the warmest of weather.

But Southland certainly knows how to celebrate.

The Southland Times covers yesterday’s Ranfurly Shield parade here.


Own boss for holiday pays off

28/10/2009

The staff of the Pig & Whistle pub in Queenstown who employed themselves for Labour Day think it was worth their while.

Owner Barry Ellis turned the pub over to his staff on Monday to avoid having to pay the punishing holiday pay rates which often makes opening too expensive.

Staff signed special contracts for the day and became self employed. They had to pay all the costs and they could then share the profit.

Duty manager Daragh Cantwell said it would be a few days before the financial success of their boss handing the pub over to the staff was known.

“But we did okay. It was definitely worthwhile,” said the temporary boss, enjoying a day off yesterday after working 17 hours the previous day.

If the staff are happy and the owner is happy this may be one way of getting round the law which requires anyone working on a holiday to be paid time and a half and a day off in lieu.

There is a risk in it for staff, if they don’t make enough they’d be working for nothing for a day. But there’s a risk in operating on holidays for owners that they won’t make enough to cover the cost of extra wages and days off.


From prescriptive to flexible

28/10/2009

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson has introduced a bill to give flexibility to rest and meal break legislation.

The Employment Relations (Rest Breaks and Meal Breaks) Amendment Bill amends the Employment Relations Act 2000, giving employers and employees the opportunity to develop rest and meal break policies best suited to individual requirements.

Ms Wilkinson says the Bill moves the legislative focus from prescription to flexibility, and encourages both employers and staff to negotiate in good faith about workable rest and meal break arrangements.

Gosh, a minister who trusts workers and employers to work out what suits them. That’s a novel concept.

People need regular breaks and in some work places it’s possible to have them at set times but it’s not possible or preferable in all workplaces at all times.

Shearers have breaks at regular, set intervals. But the people who are bringing in the sheep aren’t going to stop on the dot if the stock aren’t where they need to be when the shearers start their next run.

When you’re lambing or calving and a ewe or cow needs help, no good farm worker will stop for a cup of tea and I don’t think anyone assisting with human deliveries would either.

UPDATE: PDM pointed to the Herald which says Gvot bill axes right to smoko.


October 28 in history

28/10/2009

On October 28:

1510 Francis Borgia, Spanish duke and Jesuit priest was born.

Saint Francis Borgia. He is depicted performing an exorcism in this painting by Francisco Goya.

1538 The first university n the New World, the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino in the Dominican Republic, was established.

1664 The Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, later to be known as the Royal Marines, was established.

RoyalMarineBadge.png

1697 Canaletto, Italian artist, was born.

1846 Georges Auguste Escoffier, French chef, was born.

1848 The first railway in Spain – between Barcelona and Mataró – wass opened

1886 President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor

1890 New Zealand’s first Labour Day celebrations took place.

1893 Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Pathétique, received its premiere performance in St. Petersburg.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky by Nikolay Kuznetsov, 1893
1903 Evelyn Waugh, English writer, was born.
1914 Jonas Salk, American biologist and physician, was born.
1918 Czechoslovakia was granted independence from Austria-Hungary.
Flag Coat of arms

1927 Dame Cleo Laine, English singer. was born.

1929 Joan Plowright, English actress was born.

1941 Hank Marvin,lead guitarist for The SHadows, was born.

1942 The Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) was completed through Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska.

1946 Australian politician, former leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, was born.

1948 – Swiss chemist Paul Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the insecticidal properties of DDT.

1954 The modern Kingdom of the Netherlands was re-founded as a federal monarchy.

1955 Bill Gates, American software executive, was born.

1960 Landon Curt Noll, Astronomer, Cryptographer and Mathematician: youngest to hold the world record for the largest known prime 3 times, was born.

 

1965 Nostra Aetate, the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions” of the Second Vatican Council, is promulgated by Pope Paul VI; it absolves the Jews of the alleged killing of Jesus, reversing Innocent III’s 760 year-old declaration.

1967 Julia Roberts, American actress, was born.

1970 Gary Gabelich set a land speed record in a rocket-powered automobile called the Blue Flame, fueled with natural gas.

1970 Britain launched its first (and so far, only) satellite, Prospero, into low Earth orbit atop a Black Arrow carrier rocket.

Prospero X-3 model.jpg

1982 Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) won elections, leading to first Socialist government in Spain after death of Franco.  Felipe Gonzalez became Prime Minister-elect.

2007 Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the first woman elected President of Argentina.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


In Touch

27/10/2009

dairy 10007

No woman could get in to the All Blacks, not even a West Coaster. Or could she?

In Janette Sinclair’s In Touch, Sandy Jones manages it.

This is a light hearted romp with a twist in the tail – and the tale.

Post 27 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

book month logo green

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down the Dragon’s Tongue by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy.

Rob’s catching up with The Shag Incident by Stephanie Johnson and two books by Barry Gustafson: His Way, a Biography of Robert Muldoon and kiwi Keith, a Biography of Keith Holyoake.

And Karen Healey has made a late entry to the challenge with: The Alex Quartet by Tessa Duder; The works of Elizabeth Knox; and Gavin Bishop.


Tuesday’s answers

27/10/2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who wrote Requiem for a Wren?

2. Who said “Always for give your enemies, nothing annoys them so much”?

3. What is Zaire now called?

4.When were New Zealand’s first Labour Day celebrations held?

5. Which was New Zealand’s first National Park?

Paul Tremewan gets the winner’s electronic bouquet (violets today) with four right, a bonus for extra information and half a point  for the answer to 3 which was worng but amused me.

Samo gets 4 1/2  – it would have been 5 had the answer to 2 not had two names.

PDM gets 2 and 2 bonuses for extra information.

PaulL gets one right and a bonus for being first.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Fish & Game internal ructions

27/10/2009

Fish & Game’s challenge attempt to establish a right to roam on pastoral lease land was an expensive business for pastoral lessees and the Crown who were defendants.

It was also costly for the organisation and not just in financial terms. It has caused serious internal ructions.

The Timaru Herald reports that Central South Island Fish & Game has passed a vote of no confidence in the organisation’s national chief executive, Bryce Johnson.

Fish & Game is funded from fishing and hunting licences. Many pastoral lessees hold licences are were livid that they were paying for the court action three times – through their licence fees for the body taking the action and both as taxpayers and lessees for the defence.  

Anecdotal evidence from people hunting and fishing on their land supported lessees’ contention that Fish & Game didn’t have whole hearted support of its members for the action. This vote of no confidence supports the anecdotes.


5m by mid 2020s

27/10/2009

New Zealand’s population is expected to reach 5 million by the mid 2020s, according to projections by Statistics New Zealand.

While the total population is expected to grow, a greater number of us will be in the older age group:

New Zealand’s population aged 65 years and over (65+) is projected to eclipse 1 million in the late 2020s, Statistics New Zealand said today. According to the 2009-base national population projections, by the late 2020s those aged 65+ will comprise one in five New Zealanders and exceed the number of children aged under 15 years.

Currently, there are 550,000 people aged 65+ and 890,000 children. These trends largely reflect the higher fertility rates of the 1950s and 1960s, the much lower fertility rates since, and the continuing gains in life expectancy. 

The population growth is expected to slow from an average of 1.2% in the past five years to an average of 1% in the next decade, .7% a year in the 2020s and .5% in the 2030s.

These figures are from mid-range series 5, one of nine different projection series derived to indicate the likely size and structure of New Zealand’s population. This projection assumes in the long run that New Zealand women will average 1.9 children each, that life expectancy will continue to increase, and that net migration will average 10,000 people a year. 

People worried about the impact people have on the environment may be cheered by the thought that the birth rate will be under the figure of just over 2% needed for population maintenance. 

Those already concerned about immigration won’t be happy that our population increase will come from immigrants rather than live births.

This is happening throughout the western world. But what these stats don’t show is that the people who are delaying having families and having fewer children tend to be better educated and wealthier than those who are having more children.

The social and economic  implications of that may be just as serious as the implications of the increase in the average age.


And the winners are:

27/10/2009

Drum roll please, the winner of the Homepaddock poll for best broadcaster is Jim Mora and the best programme title goes to Afternoons.

Jim got 39% of the votes after sitting at more than 50% until yesterday when a surge in votes took Peter Sledmere to 23%.

Mary Wilson attracted 13% support, Brian Crump and Kathryn Ryan got 10% and Clarissa Dunn 6%. There was a lone vote for Sean Plunket in the comments but his nomination came too late for the poll.

Afternoons won 33% support, Media Watch was second with 28%, Country Life attracted 22% of the vote and Check Point got 17%.

If this had been scientific I’d have to tell you how many people voted. Since it’s not, suffice it to say the results reflect high quality opinons rather than a large quantity of voters. 🙂

Jim and the staff at Afternoons will, as promised, receive a box of Whitestone Cheese, which will be delivered some time in the next couple of weeks.


FTAs slow but vital progress to prosperity

27/10/2009

The announcement of a free trade agreement with Malaysia, our eighth biggest trading partner, is welcome news.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“Between 2004 and 2008 New Zealand’s goods exports to Malaysia grew by more than 80 per cent – double the rate for New Zealand’s export growth to the world over the same period.”

If we can achieve that without an FTA, the opportunities with one will be even better.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said:

“Malaysia’s large and growing population of more than 28 million people presents considerable opportunity for new and enhanced market access for New Zealand’s exporters, including in education, environmental, management consulting and veterinary services.

Fran O’Sullivan highlights the opportnuities for dairy prodcue too.

But it’s not just about goods and services, it’s also about attitude.

For generations we looked to the other side of the world, to Britain, and sent most of our produce there.

Now we are looking to markets closer to home. This is not just about trade, it signals a change in culture and a growing recognition of the importance of the Asia Pacific region.


How good are your fences?

27/10/2009

Fences are required by law to keep strays out rather than to keep the owner’s stock in.

That doesn’t however, absolve farmers from blame if their stock gets loose and causes an accident.

A Gisborne man successfully sued a farmer for $5,386 after his car hit a calf which had got on to the road.

The calf had been recently weaned and the disputes tribunal found the Nuhaka farmer negligent because he did not take all reasonable steps to ensure adequate fencing.

This doesn’t mean that farmers are always regarded as responsible if stock get on to the road.

A Dunedin woman hit a herd of calves which had escaped through a fence and over a cattle stop. The farmer’s insurance company has said he wasn’t liable for the damage to the woman’s car.

The lessons from this is for farmers to ensure their fences are up to the job required of them and for drivers on rural roads to be aware that fences can fail.


October 27 in history

27/10/2009

On October 27:

1466 Desiderius Erasmus Roterdamus, Dutch humanist and theologian, was born.


Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger

1728 James Cook, British naval captain and explorer, was born.

1795  The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Madrid, which establishes the boundaries between Spanish colonies and the U.S.

1811 Isaac Singer, American inventor, was born.

1854 Sir William Smith, Scottish founder of the Boys’ Brigade, was born.

1858 Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, was born.

1873 Emily Post, American etiquette author, was born.

1914 Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, was born.


1932 Sylvia Plath, American poet, was born.

1939 John Cleese, British actor and writer, was born.

John Cleese 2008 cropped.jpg

1943  New Zealand troops made their first opposed land since Gallipoli when soldiers from 8 Brigade, New Zealand 3rd Division, helped their American allies clear Mono Island of its Japanese defenders.

1945 Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil.

1950 Fran Lebowitz, American writer, was born.

1958 Simon Le Bon, English singer (Duran Duran), was born.

1970 Alama Ieremia, Samoan born All Black, was born.

1986 The British government suddenly deregulated financial markets, leading to a total restructuring of the way in which they operated in the country, in an event now referred to as Big Bang.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


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