The Great Race

July 26, 2010

Happy birthday Blake Edwards, 88 today.

This was my favourite film when I was a child and I blame it on never having grown out of the as-yet-unfulfilled desire to have a food fight.


Ban wrong response to concerns over foreign ownership

July 26, 2010

The Green Party’s members bill seeking to ban overseas investment in New Zealand land over five hectares is the wrong response to concerns over foreign ownership.

The media release says:

Today Dr Norman released a Member’s Bill that would effectively stop the purchase of New Zealand’s productive dairy industry by restricting the sale of farmland over five hectares to overseas investors.

I think that should read restricting the sale of farmland over five hectares to New Zealanders because the Bill says:

4 Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to: prevent foreign ownership of sensitive land.

 5 Sections 16 and 17 deleted and replaced

Sections 16 and 17 of the principal act are deleted and replaced with

16 No overseas investment in sensitive land

No consent can be granted for overseas investment in sensitive land.”

This is  a knee-jerk reaction to concerns over the purchase of the Crafar farms by Chinese investors. 

If there is a problem with overseas investment in our land, this Bill isn’t the solution.

Not all land over 5 hectares is sensitive, nor is it all farmland.

 New Zealanders’ lack of wealth in comparison to that of people  from some other countries could make us vulnerable but overseas investment can have benefits too.

It’s not just who owns land but what they do with it, and its produce, which matters and most of that is controlled by local authority regulations and central government laws.

A blanket ban on land sales over five hectares is an overreaction to what, at least at this stage, is a problem of perception rather than reality.

We need to have a discussion on the benefits and risks of foreign ownership and if there is a need for legislation it should be based on facts not emotion as this Bill is.


The Snow Goose

July 26, 2010

Paul Gallico, was born 103 years ago today.

He’s one of my favourite authors and The Snow Goose is one of my favourite books.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.


Employment law changes neither anti-worker nor anti-union

July 26, 2010

Dear Helen Kelly,

Re: the  letter you wrote to Prime Minister John Key:

On the issues – we oppose them. They show a disregard for the working people of this country. They paint a picture of workers as lazy, untrustworthy skivers, that are out of control and need to be disciplined. Workers are painted as acting deceitfully when applying for positions (so 90 days are important) taking sickies, misusing union membership and a range of other generalisations that demean the people we work with every day. Employers on the other hand are painted as generally fair minded people that will use all powers reasonably.

On the contrary, the proposed changes are a mild rebalancing of employment law which paints a picture of employers as slave-driving, untrustworthy bullies who are out of control and need to be disciplined. Employers are painted as acting deceitfully when employing people (the 90 days trial for smaller businesses hasn’t been the disaster you and other unions feared), who will demand sick-notes for every absence, hate unions and a range of other generalisations that demean the people who work hard to provide jobs for people every day. Employees on the other hand are painted as generally fair minded people who will use all rights reasonably.

Apart from the slur on working people this analysis disregards the fact that many employers are not “fair minded individuals” but corporate entities that employ CEOs and managers to maximise profit.

Apart from the slur on employers this analysis disregards the fact that the majority (I think it’s 90%) of New Zealand businesses are small to medium enterprises employing fewer than 10 people. Maximising profits is sensible practice which makes the business and jobs more secure and enables employers to offer improved pay and conditions for staff.

 We work with global corporate entities in this country who comply with a wide range of minimum standards and regulations which make their work practices decent here. These same corporates work in unregulated economies employing people under atrocious conditions.

Ms Kelly, you can’t use employment law in New Zealand to fight the global war on capitalism.

You might however, try to understand to see that the measures the government is proposing help employers take on new workers and make workplaces better for existing staff who suffer if another worker doesn’t fit in or work well.

You might also admit that unrestricted access to workplaces has been abused by some union representatives.  The Inquiring Mind has a good example of this.

You may not believe that employers like happy workplaces for their own sake, but surely you can see they have a vested interest in ensuring their workers are happy because that helps productivity.

You however, have a vested interest in unsettling and upsetting workers because that will help you increase membership.

You sound like you’ve come to believe your own rhetoric which has turned a small employer-friendly molehill into a worker and union hating mountain. That’s not good for employers or the people they employ.


Monday’s quiz

July 26, 2010

In case you’re wondering why these questions, it’s Maori language week.

1. What do maui and katau  mean in English?

2. What do maunga, whenua and moana,  mean in English?

3. What do nota, hauta, rawhiti, and rato mean in English?

4. What are the Maori words for the numbers 1-10?

5.  What  do kata and aue mean in English?

(Apologies to pursits for the absence of macrons, I don’t know how to do them).


200% good start to lambing

July 26, 2010

We’re lambing again for the first time in about 12 years.

The first ewe to deliver produced twins which gives us a 200% start to lambing.

However, with 10,999 more ewes to lamb the odds of maintaining that percentage are tiny.


Waitaki shows how to use council credit card

July 26, 2010

The Waitaki District Council has only one credit card which is locked in the council safe and requires authorisation by the chief executive or financial manager before it can be used.

The ODT reports that in the last two years it had been used for just 24 transactions totalling $11,126.

The Dunedin City Council has a less Presbyterian approach to credit cards. The ODT found that in the last three years the DCC’s 206 credit cards had been used for purchases totalling more than $4.8 million.

Exactly what those purchases were has not been divulged because council chief executive Jim Harland wants the paper to pay the cost of getting the spending details.

In his response, Mr Harland said he would detail the spend after the newspaper paid the estimated $8278 it would cost to research, collate, and produce it.

The newspaper’s last request was processed free of charge, despite the draw on council staff hours, as he accepted there needed to be a degree of accountability for senior staff, he said. . .

. . . Mr Harland cited privacy and harassment concerns to decline the newspaper’s request to release information about staff who might have apologised, made repayments, or had otherwise been spoken to about possibly inappropriate spending.

Mr Harland also declined to release the positions and names of those behind the $4.3 million spend, citing privacy and harassment concerns.

Naming them would subject them to publicity not warranted by their positions, he said.

THe ODT isn’t the only paper having problems extracting information on council credit cards. The Sunday Star Times is attempting to find out who Manakau mayor Len Brown wined and dined to the sum of $810 charged to his mayoral card. 

If council employees are spending council money on council business, where’s the problem? If they’re not, don’t the public whose rates fund councils have a right to know about it.

 If they took as much care to use the card correctly as the Waitaki Council does they, and their ratepayers, would have nothing to worry about.


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