Farrar #4 on Listener media power list


David Farrar is number four on the Listener’s 2009 power list for media.

It is a reflection of both the quality and quantity of posts on  Kiwiblog, and well deserved recognition of its influence.

It’s also a sign  of the blogosphere’s growing role in the media.

Scotland the Brave


Because it’s St Andrews Day

(and because I usually post a music video for singers who have a birthday today but a quick trawl through YouTube for something from Billy Idol came up with nothing I liked).

2025 Taskforce report requires tough decisions


The 2025 Taskforce chaired by Don Brash has made  35 recommendations to help close the income gap between here and Australia.

Most of them require some tough decisions from government and some belt tightening from the rest of us.

Finance Minister Bill English said:

“Having steered the economy through the recession in better shape than many had predicted, the Government is now focused on getting a step change in New Zealand’s economic performance over the next three to five years.

“We must consider a range of options if we are to get the investment, economic growth and new jobs needed for that to happen.

“Having said that, this Government is pragmatic. And any decisions about key economic policies must meet the tests of fairness and equity.

“Where we specifically campaigned on doing certain things, we’re not going to break our word.”

The government isn’t going to break any election promises but not everything in the report was covered by a promise.

There is also plenty of scope for fresh promises in National’s 2011 election campaign.

The sale of state assets, for example. The previous government sold some Landcorp farms and there is nothing wrong with continuing with that in the future.

The government isn’t going to do anything which will threaten economic recovery in the short term. But it has sent very strong signals about the lack of money available for new spending which will make next year’s budget pretty stringent.

That might help focus the rest of us on how much we expect from public funding and how much we should be doing for ourselves and that any funding of luxuries now will be at the expense of some necessities later.

The resilience of the economy in the face of global economic uncertainty was due in no small part to the tough decisions the governments of the 80s and early 90s made.

If the economy is going to continue growing and be strong enough to cope with the next recession, we’re all going to have to accept the need for some tough decisions from government and the sooner it makes them the sooner we’ll feel the benefit.

Hat Tip: interest.co.nz

The full list of recommendations follows the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday’s quiz


1. What is a cutty sark (as distinct from the Cutty Sark)

2. Who is the patron saint of farmers? 

3. Who said, “There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.”?

4.Who wrote, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

5. What’s a kakaruwai?

NZ aims for space


A mention of Great Mercury Island grabbed my attention in a news item this morning.

I spent a school -year there supervising the correspondence lessons of the manager’s children 30 years ago.

But what’s happening there today is of far greater importance than that – a New Zealand designed and built rocket is being launched in to space.

Rocket Lab is launching Atea-1, a two-stage sub-orbital vehicle capable of carrying payloads of 2 kg up to 120 km altitude, from Great Mercury.

TV3 has an interview with Rocket Lab directors Peter Beck and Mark Rocket* here and the island’s co-owner Michael Fay here.

* Is that his real name or did he change it to fit his business?

St Andrew’s Day


The appeal of whisky escapes me and I’m not very keen on porridge.

But it’s St Andrew’s Day and I’ve got tartan genes which require me to acknowledge Scotland’s patron saint and the country’s national day.

Saint Andrew's Day

Learning to play the game


The ETS has been enacted and whether or not we like the rules we’re going to have to learn to play the game.

Most attention has been on costs, but there will also be opportunities.

I’ve yet to find anyone who fully understands what’s involved in carbon farming, but most reasonable sized farms in our district have hillsides and gullies which are probably better suited to trees than crop or pasture.

Farmers may also be able to develop micro-generation of power from small wind farms.

There is also an opportunity at Copenhagen, to negotiate changes to the one-size-fits-all rules which disadvantage New Zealand because most of our emissions come from agriculture, 94% of which is is exported, and we grow exotic trees well for forestry.

In Friday’s print edition of the National Business Review, Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson gave his wish list for changes:

* Excluding emissions from crops and farm animals from the successor to the Kyoto protocol; or if emissions from primary food production are included it needs to take a global not an individual country perspective. That would allow efficient producers like us to “over emit” because we “over produce” food, most of which is exported.

* International funding for the Global Alliance concept to tackle agricultural emissions.

* The inclusion of pre-1990 forests as permanent forestry sinks.

*The ability to count non-forest crops, plantings and grasses for credits (eg riparian plantings which aren’t Kyoto compliant).

* Global standardisation of foot printing methodologies.

* Inclusion of territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones as permanent carbon sinks.

How much progress our negotiators make on these points will be one measure of whether the focus is on making a positive difference to the environment or just on politics.

ETS better than carbon tax


An emissions trading scheme is a better option for New Zealand than a carbon tax, Environment Minister Nick Smith told a National Party Bluegreen forum at Totara on Saturday.

He said an ETS is better able to recognise forests which play a critical role in offsetting emissions and in our economy; it’s better able to recognise limits rather than just setting a price as a tax would; and it keeps us in step with most of our major trading partners. Europe and the United States already have an ETS and, in spite of the debate going on across the Tasman now, Australia is likely to have one soon.

He likened an ETS to the quota management system for fisheries. Companies will be able to buy and sell carbon units in the same way they buy and sell fishing quota.

The government had been very mindful of the problem of carbon leakage when designing the scheme.

It would be easy to reduce emissions if a company moved its production somewhere else but that wouldn’t do anything for global emissions. If for example Holcim moved cement production to China, New Zealand’s emissions would go down but it’s likely global emission would increase because environmental standards wouldn’t be as high there as here.

“That would have done nothing for the environment and would costs New Zealanders’ jobs,” he said.

Dr Smith also stressed that the ETS was not an excuse for the government to take money from people.

“This is not a cash cow for the government to profit from. The scheme is fiscally neutral . . . foresters will gain, other people will pay, but it’s fiscally neutral for the government.

Agriculture produces about 6% of emissions in Britain and 14% in Australia but it accounts for around 50% of emissions in New Zealand.

“Every country under Kyoto has to cover for agriculture but when it’s minor the government covers. In New Zealand where it’s 50% of our emissions doesn’t have that choice.”

However, he said that emissions per kilo of milk fat and lamb had been reducing by 1% a year over the last 10 years.

Around 90% of the increase in emissions have been from developed countries but in the next 30 years 97% of the increase will be from developing countries.

“Even if developed countries stop all emissions, climate change will increase because of the developing countries.”

Most developing countries have a high proportion of emissions from agriculture, for example in Uruguay it’s 80%. The Global Alliance to support research will enable developed countries to share research with developing ones to help them reduce emissions.

Dr Smith acknowledged that most farmers were unhappy with the prospect of an ETS but not doing anything would endanger trade.

“Agriculture is an export industry and we trade on the basis of being clean and green. We can’t compete on the basis of being the cheapest.

“We are not going to be a leader but we can’t be a lagger because other countries will not allow access if we aren’t carrying our fair share of the burden of climate change.”

National’s Dunedin list MP, Michael Woodhouse, also stressed the risk to trade from doing nothing.

“Even if you don’t believe in global warming, consumers in our markets do and we will face barriers to our produce if we aren’t seen to be doing something,” he said.

Of all the information I’ve heard on the whole global warming issue that’s the most compelling.

Regardless of the science, the politics and emotion demand action.

November 30 in history


On November 30:

1554 Philip Sidney, English courtier, soldier, and writer, was born.

1667 Jonathan Swift, Irish writer and satirist, was born.


1786  Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgated a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty.

1810  Oliver Winchester, American gunsmith, was born.

1872 The first-ever international football match took place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.

1835 Mark Twain, American writer, was born.

1874 Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel laureate,was born.

1886 The Folies Bergère staged its first revue.

1934 The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100mph.

1936  The Crystal Palace, London. was destroyed by fire.
1940  Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz.
1949 the first National government was elected in New Zealand, led by Sidney Holland.

Election of first National government

1953 June Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.

1955  Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad), British musician, was born.

1965 Ben Stiller, American actor, was born.

In the black and white image, Stiller is facing the camera. He has his right arm crossed in front of him and left hand raised to his chin, with the pointer finer right below his lips. He is wearing a black suit.

 1966 Barbados became independent

1967 The People’s Republic of South Yemen becomes independent.

Flag Coat of arms

1995 Official end of Operation Desert Storm.

2005  John Sentamu became the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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