How did the Budget affect your family?

May 17, 2011

It’s a simple enough question – how did the Budget affect your family?

It wouldn’t be silly for an opposition MP to run a poll asking it.

But it would be silly to do so a couple of days before the Budget is delivered, giving people who read Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock the opportunity to vote and give results he wouldn’t be expecting:

  • Better off (87%, 297 Votes)
  • Worse off (11%, 39 Votes)
  • No change (2%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 341


Word of the day

May 17, 2011

Rancidification – chemical decomposition of fats, oils and other lipids; disagreeable odour or taste of decomposing oils or fats; rank; repugnant; nasty, rancid remarks.

Alf Grumble ruminates on rancidification and its political implications here.

Fonterra expects record production

May 17, 2011

Fonterra is expecting record production for the 2010/11 season after the best autumn weather in several years. 

Production is 4% ahead of the same time last year with a couple of weeks of the season still to go. This time last year drought resulted in lower milk production.

Steve Murphy, general manager milk supply said:

Fonterra last season collected 1,286 million kilograms of milksolids.

“Exceptionally favourable pasture growth conditions since January mean our farmer shareholders have enjoyed strong production around the country, particularly north of Taupo. This is a real turnaround from earlier in the season when many of our farmers were struggling with a cold and wet spring. This, coupled with an early December drought, depressed production levels dramatically.”

 “It was a tough start to the season due to the northern drought. Farmers then had to cope with more drought, floods and snowstorms. But the recent excellent pasture growth has meant herds are now in good condition, which bodes well for calving and the new season’s start.”

Mr Murphy said the additional milk would be welcomed in the market where supply remained tight.

He noted prices for globally traded dairy products, while off their highs of early March, were still at historically high levels.

“This means farmers are on track to enjoy another good season, which will flow through the economy and benefit every New Zealander.”

Farmers have been very cautious, paying off debt and containing costs in the expectation that next season’s payout will not be as high as this one’s.

But record production when international prices are well above the long term average is very good news not just for the company and its shareholders, employees and those who supply and service them but the wider economy as well.

Energy changes bring lower prices and dividend

May 17, 2011

The government will receive a special dividend of $520,996,030  from Meridian Energy following the sale of two hydro power stations on the Upper Waitaki.

The sale is part of a package of Government reforms aimed at improving the electricity sector. Meridian is selling Tekapo A and B power stations on the Waitaki Power Scheme to Genesis Energy.

In December 2009 the Government announced its decisions from the Ministerial Review that include a series of changes that support the overall Government objectives to improve retail competition in the industry, promote the reliability of electricity supply and improve governance in the sector through the establishment of the Electricity Authority.

I had my doubts about the wisdom of this policy when it was first mooted. But this dividend and the lower prices we’re seeing as a result of increased competition have changed my mind.

High lamb price cause for celebration not outrage

May 17, 2011

Phil Goff was reportedly outraged at the price of lamb during his weekend supermarket shop.

“We bought some chops, half a dozen chops – it was 15 bucks for that.”

Shock, horror, after several years of prices which barely covered the price of production, if that, farmers are getting a decent return. That’s coming from the demand for our meat on international markets and those prices are reflected in our supermarkets and butcheries.

The increasing price of food isn’t easy for people on low to middle incomes. But they’re boosting export income which is helping economic growth and that is the only sustainable way to boost jobs and wages.

It’s only three years ago that Federated Farmers’ T150 campaign which set a target of $150 for lambs was considered unrealistic. This season prices have been passing that – getting up to $199 at Temuka last week.

That is a cause for celebration, not outrage. Higher prices for primary produce are the seeds from which our much needed recovery will grow.

Public participation prerequisite for democracy

May 17, 2011

The Human Rights Commission is concerned that the lack of public participation in fundamental legal reforms is damaging parliamentary democracy.

 In the past five years fundamental human rights issues such as the lack of public participation in submission processes, diminishing collective deliberation about fundamental changes, rushed legislation, the by-passing of select committees, and what appears to be less respect for submitters in select committee proceedings have been of concern, says Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor.

In a submission to the Standing Orders Review, the Commission says that each of these on its own is a cause for concern but the aggregated effect warrants serious scrutiny so that parliamentary processes are not further weakened.

The problem isn’t just a lack of engagement with parliamentary processes, it’s the low membership of and interest in political parties.

What does it say about the strength and stability of a party when someone who isn’t even a member can execute a coup and become its leader?

What danger does it pose when that party is in government and that person can have so much influence without even being in parliament?

MMP gives much greater power to parties at a time when membership is declining.

This isn’t confined to politics – many churches, sports clubs, service groups and other voluntary organisations have difficulty recruiting and retaining members too.

That is a concern because they are part of a strong and vibrant civil society. The declining interest and involvement in political parties is even more serious.

A party leadership change by a takeover of a small caucus supported by a low membership is the sort of thing that should only be possible in banana republics. Now that’s it’s happened once, what’s to stop it happening again with more serious consequences?

Without a resurgence in participation in parties and the political process, how long will it be before our version of democracy becomes of the few by the few for the few?

Good manners rule on marae

May 17, 2011

At last, board members of the Te Tii Marae have run out of patience with Titiwhai Harawira.

Titewhai Harawira faces a possible ban from Te Tii Marae after being accused of “rancidification of Maori protocols” at a recent Maori Party hui.

In an email to the Herald, seven board members from the lower marae at Waitangi said they were disappointed protocols such as manaakitanga (looking after people and agreeing to disagree), whanaungatanga (strengthening families) and kaitiakitanga (caring for resources or people) were becoming meaningless to “a pocket of Maori people”. . .

. . . The Te Tii email said the marae would not be a “dumping ground for personal agendas” any longer.

 “The political poncing and resultant rancidification of Maori protocols by bullies who want everything their own way by whatever foul means, are not traits that this particular board would wish to have our children and young adults perceive as being the Ngapuhi way forward.

 “The board’s priority is to preserve the dignity of the marae and trespass notices will be issued where the board considers it necessary to do so,” the trustees wrote.

 The best response to rudeness is good manners and reason, just like this.

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