Brothers In Arms


Happy birthday Mark Knopfler, 61 today.

Word of the day


Saginate  – to pamper or make fat.

If only winter would do more of the first meaning and less of the second.

This recovery will be different


New Zealand went into recession before the rest of the world because our growth was built on government spending, the housing bubble and debt fuelled consumption.

Finance Minister Bill English says the recovery will be different from past recoveries and the government is firmly focussed on ensuring it’s a sustainable and long-term one.

“This recovery will be patchy at times – due to the uncertain global environment and the need for businesses and households to pay down large stocks of debt.

“In this credit-constrained world, the recovery will need to come first from the earnings side of the economy such as exports,” Mr English said today in a speech to the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

“All of this shows that tackling the economy’s imbalances will not be a short-term task. It’s not just a matter of shrugging off the global recession. The challenges we face started years earlier.

“Turning that around will require a relentless, long-term focus and commitment,” Mr English says.

This reality was reflected in stable rather than growing results for domestic industries like housing and retail, and indicators such as business confidence and the sharemarket.

Temporary solutions based on borrow, tax and spend policies pursued by past governments, and still favoured by some parties, would simply mask the underlying weakness of our economy.

Recent debate about the Government’s goal of catching Australian incomes by 2025 had attracted some comment – much of it characterised by a total lack of context about the recent economic performances of the two countries.

“In the three years to 2008, New Zealand’s economic growth was unbalanced and sluggish. In early 2008, New Zealand went into a recession that Australia simply didn’t have.

“This meant the Australian economy grew by about 11.5 per cent in the four years to March 2010, while our economy grew just 2 per cent.

“So the Government inherited a situation that makes the challenging target of catching Australia even more difficult. Let me stress that the Government remains committed to this target – but it’s a 2025 target, not a 2011 or 2014 target.”

Over the past 30 years, there had been many two year periods when New Zealand performed better than Australia, as dairy and other commodity prices fluctuated. But overall, the trend has been clearly in Australia’s favour.

“On the commodity front, Australia clearly has the edge at the moment,” Mr English says. “Put in simple terms, Australia’s mineral industry makes up nearly 70 per cent of its exports, while dairy makes up 20 per cent of our exports.

“Furthermore, Australian commodity prices roughly doubled in the five years to July 2010, while New Zealand’s commodity prices increased by only half as much.

“As a result, Australia’s minerals boom is likely to mean it will perform better than New Zealand in the near term, but it is the long-term trend we are determined to turn around.

“The only way we can permanently lift New Zealand’s economic growth is through considered and consistent reform and change, year after year.

“Budget 2010 took several steps in that direction – including across the board personal tax cuts from 1 October, which will help narrow the gap in after-tax incomes compared with Australia.”

More broadly, the Government has built its economic plan around six policy drivers. They include:

  • Strengthening our tax system
  • Better, smarter public services
  • Reforming regulation
  • Education and skills
  • Business innovation and trade
  •  Investment in productive infrastructure.

These are what National campaigned on and it’s what the government has been delivering.

But it’s not a quick-fix.

The foundations of our economy have been undermined by high and unfair taxes, a bloated bureaurcracy, too much red tape, too many people without the necessary education and skills, too little innovation and trade and insufficient investment in the right places.

Considered and consistent reform and change, year after year is a long term strategy to turn that round.

It’s what we need to change from a nation fuelled by empty calories of debt, tax and government spending to one built on savings and exports.

The extracts above are from a speech delivered to the Council for Infrastructure Development.





Fed Farmers gets rates relief for Invercargill cockies


Who do you call when your rates double without warning?

Invercargill cockies called Federated Farmers and they’ve negotiated a change in the city council policy

Federated Farmers is praising Invercargill City Council for listening to farmers in order to crack a rates impasse that had soured relations between farmers and the City Council.  The changes will mean an average saving of around $3,000 per farm from 2010 compared to 2009.

“Both Doug Fraser, Federated Farmers Southland local government spokesperson, and I worked with 70 farmers and Federated Farmers staff to lobby Council to realign its rating policy,” says David Rose, Federated Farmers associate spokesperson for local government.

“The rating burden on Invercargill farmers just doubled in 2009 without any warning and I suspect this took even the City Council by surprise.

“Thanks to the hard work and facts-based lobbying of Federated Farmers, we’re able to celebrate Council officially announcing that it will take farm rates back to a more historic level.  This means the rates that farmers paid last year will roughly halve and this is great news.

“I believed that this rights last year’s wrong.  I am full of praise that the Council is honourably admitting that last year’s rating levels were wrong and it’s a big positive that we can build the relationship between the Council and Federated Farmers.

“It demonstrates the constructive role that Federated Farmers plays for New Zealand’s farmers and proves that honest dialogue achieves results.

“Federated Farmers is now working with the Invercargill City Council to review funding policy, which Council has committed to do and this prospect is exciting.  We are looking to align the rates that farmers pay with the services that they receive. 

“However, for now, we’re celebrating this success and genuinely thank Invercargill City Council for listening and understanding our concerns,” Mr Rose concluded.  

Federated Farmers’ role as an advocate for farmers and the wider rural community is an even more important one now that New Zealand is increasingly urbanised.

I hope the farmers who benefit from this decision, and others elsewhere who might need the organisation’s help one day, recognise that and support the organisation which supports us.

Can’t see past chip on shoulder


I’ve always regarded the Dim in Dim Post as satirical because his posts show he’s bright.

However, today he can’t see past the chip on his shoulder in a bitter and twisted response to the death of Sir Ron Trotter.

If you’re going to attack someone it’s better to do so when they’re alive and can counter the aspersions cast.

Although this isn’t so much a personal attack as a reflection of Dim’s politics.

As such it’s a sad indictment on a belief that it’s not possible to create wealth without making others poorer. It also  fails to recognise that Sir Ron used the hard work and skills which made him so successful in business in public service too.

Stephen Franks posts an antidote to Dim’s toxin here.

P.S. – just as I pushed delete to empty the spam folder I caught sight of a comment left on eysterday’s post about Sir Ron which I think was a genuine one about a tribute site for him, if you re-do the comment I’ll make sure it’s not deleted.

Not another Chinese milk scandal


When I heard the news yesterday that hormones in milk might be behind the early sexual development of Chinese girls I feared the worst.

This was going to be a repeat of the Sanlu melamine poisoning scandal and once more Fonterra was implicated.

The company was quick to say:

Fonterra is a supplier of milk powder to Synutra International but we understand Synutra sources some milk locally and imports whey powder from Europe.

In New Zealand there are strict legislative controls on the use of Hormonal Growth Promotants (HGPs) – they are not allowed to be used on milking cows.

The strict controls mean that it is not necessary for New Zealand milk or milk products to be routinely tested.

Fonterra remains 100% confident about the quality of its products.

Thankfully our reputation for high standards of food safety mean when Fonterra says this.

Thankfully too,  Dunedin School of Medicine’s head of paediatrics Professor Barry Taylor says it’s unlikely milk powder is the cause.

“If there were three cases here in Otago I probably would not jump up and down. And certainly not if there were three cases in several many millions of people. There would be a natural number occurring, and I suspect, [if milk powder was the cause] there would be somewhat more than three,” Taylor told ONE News.

But false alarm or not, it is another reminder that the standards we adhere to in New Zealand are not those in all other countries.

Where Fonterra would almost certainly believed, the story of the cover-ups in the Sanlu scandal  show that it would be difficult to put the same level of trust in Chinese companies.

Adolf at No Minsiter says this is the reason we should prevent Chinese interests from buying up large chunks of our dairy industry.

I wouldn’t go that far but I do think it is essential that the integrity of our food production and processing is safeguarded whether it is foreign companies operating here or ours operating in other countries.

We can’t compete on price with countries like Brazil but we can compete on quality. Food safety is an important ingredient in our reputation for quality and we can not afford to have it compromised by people who don’t share our standards.

August 12 in history


On August 12:

30 BC  Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, committed suicide allegedly by means of an asp bite.


1099  First Crusade: Battle of Ascalon – Crusaders under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon defeated Fatimid forces under Al-Afdal Shahanshah.

Battle of Ascalon-engraving.jpg

1121   Battle of Didgori: the Georgian army under King David the Builder won a decisive victory over the famous Seljuk commander Ilghazi.

1164  Battle of Harim: Nur ad-Din Zangi defeated the Crusader armies of the County of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch.

1281  The fleet of Qubilai Khan was destroyed by a typhoon while approaching Japan.


1323   Treaty of Nöteborg between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia) regulated the border for the first time.


1332   Wars of Scottish Independence: Battle of Dupplin Moor – Scots under Domhnall II, Earl of Mar were routed by Edward Balliol.

1480   Battle of Otranto – Ottoman troops behead 800 Christians for refusing to convert to Islam.

Otranto castello.jpg

1499  First engagement of the Battle of Zonchio between Venetian and Ottoman fleets.

Battle of Zonchio 1499.jpg

1676 Praying Indian John Alderman shot and killed Metacomet the Wampanoag war chief, ending King Philip’s War.

1687   Charles of Lorraine defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Mohács.

1806  Santiago de Liniers re-took the city of Buenos Aires after the first British invasion.


1851  Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.


1859 Katharine Lee Bates, American poet, was born (d. 1929).


1877   Asaph Hall discovered Deimos.


1881  Cecil B. DeMille, American film director, was born (d. 1959).

1883   The last quagga died at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.


1886  Sir Keith Murdoch, Australian journalist and newspaper owner, was born (d. 1952).


1889 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane), was born (d. 1981).


1895 Minnie Dean became the first (and only) woman to be hanged by law in New Zealand.

Minnie Dean

1898  Armistice ended the Spanish-American War.

1898  The Hawaiian flag was lowered from Iolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the American flag to signify the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawai`i to the United States.

1911 Cantinflas, Mexican actor, was born (d. 1993).


1914 World War I– Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary.

1918  – Guy Gibson, British aviator, awarded Victoria Cross, was born (d. 1944).


 1925  Norris McWhirter, Scottish co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, was born (d. 2004).

Guinness World Records logo.svg

1925   Ross McWhirter, Scottish co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, was born  (d. 1975).

1932 Queen Sirikit, Queen of Thailand, was born.

1943  Alleged date of the first Philadelphia Experiment test on United States Navy ship USS Eldridge.


1944  Waffen SS troops massacred 560 people in Sant’Anna di Stazzema.


1944  Alençon was liberated by General Leclerc, the first city in France to be liberated from the Nazis by French forces.


1949 Mark Knopfler, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (Dire Straits), was born.

1952  The Night of the Murdered Poets – thirteen most prominent Jewish intellectuals are murdered in Moscow.

1953  The Soviet atomic bomb project continued with the detonation of Joe 4, the first Soviet thermonuclear weapon.

1953   The islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia in Greece were severely damaged by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the richter.

1960  Echo I, the first communications satellite, launched.


1961  Roy Hay, British guitarist and keyboardist (Culture Club), was born.

1961 Mark Priest, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1964  South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games due to the country’s racist policies.

1964 – Charlie Wilson, one of the Great Train Robbers escaped from Winson Green Prison.

1969 Violence erupted after the Apprentice Boys of Derry march resulting in a three-day communal riot – the Battle of the Bogside.

Mural - Battle of the bogside 2004 SMC.jpg

1973 Richard Reid, British Islamist terrorist (the “Shoe Bomber”), was born.


1976  Between 1,000-3,500 Palestinians killed in the Tel al-Zaatar massacre, one of the bloodiest events of the Lebanese Civil War.

1977  The first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.


1977 Start of Sri Lankan riots of 1977, targeting the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people – over 300 Tamils were killed.

1978   Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China was signed.

1980   Signature of the Montevideo Treaty establishing the Latin American Integration Association.

     CAN members     Mercosur members     other members
     CAN members     Mercosur members     other members

1981  The IBM Personal Computer was released.

Ibm pc 5150.jpg

1982   Mexico announced it was unable to pay its enormous external debt, marking the beginning of a debt crisis that spread to all of Latin America and the Third World.

1985   Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed into Osutaka ridge in Japan, killing 520, to become the worst single-plane air disaster.


1992  Canada, Mexico, and the United States announced completion of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


2000  The Oscar class submarine K-141 Kursk of the Russian Navy exploded and sank in the Barents Sea during a military exercise.


2005  Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, was fatally shot by an LTTE sniper at his home.

2007  Bulk carrier M/V New Flame collided with oil tanker Torm Gertrud at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar, ending up partially submerged.

The New Flame sinking off Europa Point, 13 August 2007

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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