The hair has it?

May 18, 2011

It must be election year.

Peter Dunne has posted a video on the Untied Future website defending his hair.

I can’t find the video but TV3 says:

“What’s this thing about my hair. I’m getting fed up with being described as having a dead possum on top, all sorts of other things like that from people who think it’s untidy, it’s too grey, it’s too coiffeured.

“I think it’s really bald-headed men. I go on the Close Up show with Mark Sainsbury. It’s really very awkward because he is not looking at me, he is looking straight up here.”

He said he doesn’t appear on Campbell Live because John Campbell doesn’t like him, but added: “Sorry John, I quite like your plastic hair, too.”

Mr Campbell has since posted on Twitter that he’ll have Mr Dunne and his hair on his show tonight.

“I’ll interview them both at once. Or, my hair will interview his.”

He’s obviously combing hair, here, there and everywhere for publicity. Does someone this desperate deserve the brush off?


Word of the day

May 18, 2011

Querulent – abnormally given to suspicion and accusation; habitually and abnormally suspicious; constantly complaining.


South Devon/Friesian X sirloin NZ’s best

May 18, 2011

A South Devon/Friesian X sirloin steak from Phil Hoskin in Pahiatua was judged New Zealand’s tenderest and tastiest in the 2011 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition.

Twenty finalists, carved down from nearly 400, were tasted by a panel of judges at the grand final today during the Beef Expo in Feilding.

The judging panel comprised Commonwealth Gold Medallist Alison Shanks, All Black Legend Richard Loe, food writer and television personality Julie Biuso, radio host Jamie Mackay and top chef, Graham Hawkes.

Each steak was assessed on aroma, juiciness, tenderness, texture and taste.

Head judge and chef, Graham Hawkes said the competition just keeps growing and the entries just keep getting better.

“The quality of New Zealand beef is simply the best and the entries this year were no exception,” says Hawkes.

The Grand Champion was awarded the prestigious Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Trophy, the original Beef Carcass shield and $5000.

The supreme brand award went to Bowmont Wholesale Meats in Invercargill with their Hereford Prime entry.

The Steak of Origin contest has been run for more than eight years on behalf of Beef + Lamb NZ .

 The competition process involves an initial assessment of the sirloin steak at Carne Technologies in Cambridge. Each steak is aged for three weeks before being tested for tenderness, pH and % cooking loss. The most tender steaks make the semi-final and are cooked and tasted by a panel of judges in Christchurch. The finalists (four from each of the five classes) are tasted at the Beef Expo in Feilding by top chefs and celebrities to find the most tasty and tender steak in the country.

The full results of the final:

Class 1: Best of Breed – European
1st: Rob & Mary Ann Burrows, Culverden (Charolais), processed at Ashburton Meat Processors
2nd: Charlie Stephens, Christchurch (Piedmontese) processed at Ashburton Meat Processors/Ellesmere Butchery
3rd: Cornwall Park, Auckland (Simmental), processed at Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby
4th: TD & BR O’Shea, Whangarei (Limousin), processed at Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby

Class 2: Best of Breed – British
1st: DC & LJ Redmond, Rakaia (Angus) processed at Ashburton Meat Processors
2nd: Robin & Jacqueline Blackwell, Inglewood (Angus) processed at Taranaki Abattoir
3rd: Tim & Kelly Brittain, Otorohanga (Angus), processed at Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby
4th: Tim & Kelly Brittain, Otorohanga (Angus), processed at Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby

Class 3: Best of Breed – Crossbreed & Other
1st: Phillip Hoskin, Pahiatua (South Devon/Friesian X) processed at Silver Fern Farms, Hastings
2nd: Nigel Foster, Kaitaia (Angus X) processed at Silver Fern Farms, Dargaville
3rd: Kate & Paula Jordan, Blenheim (Charolais/Jersey X) processed at CMP Kokiri
4th: Julia & Stewart Eden, Gore (Dexter/Friesian X) processed at Alliance Mataura

Class 4: Best of Brand – Retail
1st: Bowmont Wholesale Meats, Invercargill (Hereford Prime)
2nd: Foodstuffs, North Island (AngusPure)
3rd: Glanworth Partnership, Pahiatua (AngusPure)
4th: Chef’s Choice, Wanganui (AngusPure)

Class 5: Best of Brand –Wholesaler and Foodservice providers
1st: Angus Meats, Christchurch (Angus Reserve)
2nd: Progressive Enterprises, Auckland (Countdown Finest Angus)
3rd: Land Meat NZ Ltd, Wanganui (AngusPure)
4th: Neat Meat, Auckland (AngusPure)

On a related matter, rivtettingKate Taylor has been at the Beef Expo and is all beefed out.


Small drop in milk price

May 18, 2011

The trade weighted index for GlobalDairy Trade’s latest auction dropped 1.1%

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

Results were:

    • WMP (Whole Milk Powder) up 0.1% to $3,863/MT
    • SMP (Skim Milk Powder) down 1.5% to $3,824/MT
    • AMF (Anhydrous Milk Fat) down 5.8% to $5,340/MT
    • RenCas (Rennet Casein) at $9,778/MT
    • MPC70 (Milk Protein Concentrate) at $6,113/MT

 This was the first time Casein and Milk Protein were offered at a GDT auction.


Tough tax talk fail – updated

May 18, 2011

Are farmers paying enough tax? the headline asks.

The answer Labour’s revenue spokesman Stuart Nash wants is no but his tough tax talk just shows how little he understands business and tax.

The average dairy farmer pays less tax than a couple on the pension – raising questions about whether the sector touted as the backbone of the economy is paying its fair share.

A couple on a pension doesn’t usually employ several people, produce anything incurring the costs associated with that and earn export income as farmers do, all of which make a positive contribution to the economy in addition to any tax paid.

As the Government prepares one of the tightest Budgets in recent years, cutting into middle-class family benefits and KiwiSaver subsidies, new figures suggest the cuts will hit those also shouldering the greatest tax burden – wage and salary earners.

Inland Revenue Department figures provided to Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash show that, in the latest full year for which figures were available, the average tax paid by dairy farms was $1506 a year, despite an average Fonterra payout understood to be well over $500,000.

 The payout is a gross figure, tax is paid on income after expenses which include wages, repairs, maintenance, power, fuel and interest. If you’re heavily indebted as many dairy farmers are there’s little if anything left after all that on which tax is due.

The figures also show that more than half – 9014 – reported a loss for the 2009 year and 2635 reported trading income of between $1 and $20,000.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English said he was not surprised by the figures.

“The reason why there’s not much tax being paid is because there hasn’t been much money made. The average dairy farmer … made a cash loss of $50,000.”

This is why most farmers are using this year’s good returns to pay down debt. Too many took advantage of relatively easy credit, found costs rose faster than income and made little if any profit.

The sensible ones have learned from this and are taking a more Presbyterian approach to their businesses. 

Of the nearly 72,000 companies in the primary sector, nearly 40,000 were unprofitable.

This  includes sheep and beef farmers who’ve have had a series of very bad years. But making a loss in one, or even a few years, doesn’t make a business unprofitable. Most businesses in the establishment and development stages make losses. That’s even more likely in primary industries which are subject to so much variation in climate and markets.

“Either we have a sector in dire financial trouble or the sector is simply writing off a lot of income against expense and not paying tax,” Mr Nash said. “I hope it’s the latter. If they are facing dire financial trouble then we as a nation are in the poo.”

When you’re in business you  are legally allowed to write income off against expenses – providing they’re business related ones and anyone who tries to get away with non-business related claims won’t get far.

Mr English said the primary sector was responsible for 66 per cent of exports but, for each dollar earned overseas, only 6c went to the farmer. “So the other 94c goes in rates to the local councils, road user charges … all the cost structures around getting that kilo of meat from the farmgate to the shore …”

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said the figures released by Mr Nash did not raise any policy issues. The $26m tax mentioned came from those who identified themselves as in dairying, he said.

Those not classified by industry paid another $1.5b in tax and a significant number would be dairy farmers.

“We don’t think the [tax] figure is as low as $26m by any stretch of the imagination.”

There has been a problem of low profitability in the last few years. But most farmers have got the message the government is sending – consumption fuelled by borrowing isn’t sustainable. They’re containing costs, paying off debt and most will be paying a lot more tax on this season’s income.

Busienss NZ says the claims are misleading:

Operating costs and business debt shouldered not only by farms but all businesses are reflected in their level of taxes paid, says BusinessNZ.

Commenting on claims by Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash that dairy farmers pay less tax than a salary earner earning $50,000 a year, BusinessNZ said the comparison was misleading.

“Businesses have income structures that take into account the cost of doing business. This is a cost not borne by a salary earner.

“Farm businesses face capital investment and depreciation servicing costs, debt costs, feed costs and labour costs, in the context of fluctuating cash flows often affected by weather, necessitating further debt for operating costs before receiving end of year payouts.

“This means that many businesses would not have the $50,000 income that is being used as a comparison.

“Comparing this situation to an employed person’s $50,000 income – that does not have to account for operating and business debt costs – is not a valid comparison.”

Peter Dunne says dairy farmer tax headlines simply wrong:

Media headlines today comparing dairy farmers’ tax bills with those of the average wage earner were based on “an inexcusable fudging of turnover and income”, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today.

“This is a classic case of comparing apples and oranges – the media and the Opposition have conveniently ignored the fact that businesses, including farmers, are not taxed on turnover, they are taxed on the income they have as profit,” Mr Dunne said.

“The particular instance cited was for 2008-2009, when dairy farmers received significantly lowered Fonterra pay-outs, and were servicing very high debt levels across the sector at high interest rates.

“Federated Farmers has stated that the average dairy farmer made a $50,000 cash loss in that year. In that case, pointing to $500,000 incomes is patently ridiculous. Again it is the difference between turnover and profit,” Mr Dunne said.

He said that suggestions of the Government going soft on any businesssector did not fit with the $119.3 million allocated over four years in Budget 2010 to clamp down on tax evasion.

Turnover, income- what’s the difference when you’re chasing headlines?


Old rules give way to common sense with proposed rule changes

May 18, 2011

The public is being consulted on proposed changes to give way rules.

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s give way rules released for public comment today are expected to reduce intersection crashes and improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, the NZ Transport Agency says.

New Zealand’s current give-way rules place complex demands on road users, and changes were identified last year as a road safety priority in the Government’s 10 year Safer Journeys road safety strategy.

Intersection crashes currently account for 17 percent of fatal crashes on New Zealand roads, and over 80 percent of intersection crashes causing injuries occur in urban areas. In the ten years to 2009, the number of crashes involving pedestrians and turning vehicles at intersections doubled.

It is expected that the proposed changes to the give-way rules will reduce intersection crashes and improve safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, as the proposed changes will result in less complex decision-making at intersections.

When in doubt give way to the right generally applies on our roads so in theory a vehicle turning left at an intersection should give way to an on-coming one turning right.

But it doesn’t work well in practice. It requires the driver of the left turning vehicle to check mirrors to ensure there’s no vehicle approaching from behind to which the on-coming one would have to give way; and the right turning vehicle has to be certain the left turning one is going to yield. This leads to hesitation and confusion.

Giving the left turning vehicle right of way is merely applying the guiding principle of right turning vehicles gives way to all other traffic.

The other change applies to who gives way at T-intersections. At the moment a vehicle on the through road turning right gives way to one turning right from the trunk road which often leads to congestion as it holds up traffic behind.

Both changes ought to make traffic flow more easily after the initial inevitable period of confusion, when most drivers will hesitate because  either they won’t be sure whether or not they have the right of way or  whether or not the other driver will yield to them.

If you want to check your knowledge of current give way rules, the NZ Transport agency has activity cards here. I got all but # 11 right.


Diversity in electorates takes pressure off list

May 18, 2011

Damien O’Connor was criticised for the intemperate language he used to describe the Labour list.

His criticism shouldn’t have been directed at the list, one of its roles is supposed to be to add to the diversity of parliament.

The question to ask of Labour is why doesn’t it have much diversity among its electorate MPs?

Labour’s selection is strongly influenced by unions and head office which makes it relatively easy to select people who don’t fit the WMM (white middle-aged male) category as candidates for red seats.

In National, providing an electorate has 200 members, it is they who select the candidate and the party hierarchy has no influence at all over who they select.

In spite or because of that, Kiwiblog points out, National has eight MPs of Maori descent now.

Georgina te Heuheu is retiring in November but the party has new candidates of Maori descent in Northland (Mike Sabin), Wellington Central (Paul Foster-Bell), Dunedin South (Joanne Hayes) and Mangare (Claudette Hauiti).

That means 11 out of 63 National candidates in general seats are of Maori descent.

Is part of Labour’s problem the Maori seats? Has it taken for granted it would win them and thought that means it doesn’t need Maori in general seats?

Perhaps if Labour trusted its members and exercised a little more democracy in selecting candidates for electorates,  it wouldn’t have to depend so much on its list to get a caucus more representative of New Zealand.

Footnote:

 Apropos of yesterday’s post on participation, National’s Northland selection would be the most democratic of any for any party in the country. It was made by 275 voting delegates representing a membership of more than 4,000.


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