Budget poll

Not a Labour Party one tonight – this one’s on the  NZ Herald website:
1700–1750 votes
What do you think of today’s Budget?

  1. It’s what we needed to get back in the ‘black’ (63%)
  2. Govt cuts will leave too many people hurting (37%)

Word of the day


Redivivus – living again, brought back to life, revived.

No surprises Budget


Jane Clifton wrote in her column in The Listener:

“It has been a couple of decades since any Budget truly surprised anyone. All the measures are carefully explained in advance – as they should be – and only the fiscal details, again, containing few surprises are kept secret .  . . by Budget day, there are only two questions of any real novelty: what colour tie will the Finance Minister wear and will there be sausage rolls?”

She got it right. Today’s  Budget held few surprises – increased spending for education and health, necessary support for Canterbury earthquake recovery, much needed, but pretty restrained, changes to Kiwisaver, student loans and Working for Families, some partial sale of assets . . .

There was no sign of the usual election-year lolly scramble but there was good news. The Budget will return to surplus in 2014/15 – a year sooner than forecast in December.

This is a significant achievement given the impact of February’s earthquake since the forecast was made. We’ll all benefit from the reduced need for Government borrowing and the lift in national savings.

We’ll also benefit from the escape from a credit rating downgrade:

Standard&Poor’s has made no change to New Zealand’s credit rating and says the Government must achieve its fiscal targets for its external position to improve.

Last November the credit rating company placed the outlook for New Zealand’s AA plus rating on a negative outlook.

Today it said that the contents of the Government’s 2012 budget were “consistent with the assumptions that feed into our sovereign ratings on New Zealand”.

Finance Minister Bill English said:

Budget 2011 builds a strong platform for jobs and growth, sets a credible path back to surplus by 2014/15 and helps increase national savings . . .

“This is a responsible and balanced budget for the times,” Mr English says. “It ensures New Zealand will build faster growth based on savings and exports, so New Zealanders have the jobs and higher incomes they deserve.”

It will not surprise regular readers that I agree with that.

As for the tie – I couldn’t see it on the radio and I don’t know whether there were sausage  rolls.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Which Finance Minister presented the Black Budget in 1958?

2. Who holds the position of Associate Finance Minister?

3. It’s preventivo  in Italian, presupuesto in Spanish, (I can’t find it in Maori) – what does it mean in English?

4. Who said  “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.‘”  And in whcih book written by whom?

5. Who wrote: Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less?

Farm books win children’s book awards


The Moon & Farmer McPhee  written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by David Elliot has won the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.

It also won the best picture book.

I came across the book in Dunedin’s University Bookshop on Tuesday. It’s a delightfully quirky story, as many of Mahy’s are, with beautiful illustrations. That she’s still writing such wonderful stories at 75 is an achievement in itself.

Another book with a rural theme, Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark Sommerset, illustrated by Rowan Sommerset, a husband and wife team, was overall winner of the Children’s Choice Award.

When most children are further removed from farms and farming than any previous generation it’s good to see two books set in the country doing so well.

Beattie’s Book Blog has more on the awards and the full list of winners.

Election strategy working


Prime Minsiter John Key in Federated Farmers National Farming Review (not online):

“The environment in which we farm is more challenging than ever before. Retailers and consumers are increasingly expecting farmers to produce a better quality product, while providing transparency of production and maintaining high standards of integrity and sustainability.

Whether we like it or not, these expectations are here to stay and as a farming nation we need to think no only of how we’re going to meet them, but how we’re going to exceed them to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. . .”

Just as well the government appreciates the importance of farming and the challenges it faces because the opposition doesn’t.

Stuart Nash’s strange pronouncement on dairy farmers’ tax payments yesterday got him publicity. However, the real point wasn’t what he said but the underlying message – Labour neither understands nor cares about farming.

If Imperator Fish is right and pissing off farmers is Labour’s new election strategy, it’s working.

More here from less there


No increase in total spending is a big ask for any budget.

It’s even bigger for one that has to deal with the rebuilding of the country’s second biggest city.

Any more money allocated here will have to be matched by savings there.

That’s unusual at any time and even more so in election year.

Not only will there be no lolly scramble, any extra meat and vegetables will be paid for by cutting back on pudding.

The government has six months to persuade voters to accept the low-fat diet it will put on the menu today.

The opposition will be hoping it causes indigestion even though it has no nutritional alternative.

May 19 in history


1499  Catherine of Aragon, was married by proxy to Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales. Catherine was 13 and Arthur 12.


1535  Jacques Cartier set sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona’s two sons (whom Cartier had kidnapped during his first voyage).

1536  Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII , was beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest.


1568  Queen Elizabeth I of England ordered the arrest of Mary, Queen of Scots.


1643 Thirty Years’ War : French forces under the duc d’Enghien decisively defeated Spanish forces at the Battle of Rocroi, marking the symbolic end of Spain as a dominant land power.


1649  An Act of Parliament declaring England a Commonwealth was passed by the Long Parliament.


1749 King George II granted the Ohio Company a charter of land around the forks of the Ohio River.


1780 New England’s Dark Day: A combination of thick smoke and heavy cloud cover caused complete darkness to fall on Eastern Canada and the New England area of the United States at 10:30 A.M.

1795 – Johns Hopkins, American philanthropist, was born  (d. 1873).


1802  Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Légion d’Honneur.


1828 President John Quincy Adams signsedthe Tariff of 1828 into law, protecting wool manufacturers in the United States.

1846 Thomas Brunner, Kehu, a Ngati Tumatakokiri Maori, and Charles Heaphy reached Mawhera Pa.

Brunner, Kehu and Heaphy reach Mawhera pa

1848 Mexican-American War: Mexico ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo thus ending the war and ceding California, Nevada, Utah and parts of four other modern-day U.S. states to the United States for $15 million USD.


1861  Dame Nellie Melba, Australian opera singer, was born (d. 1931).


1864 American Civil War: the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House ended.


1879 Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, American-born politician, was born (d. 1964).

1881 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1st President of Turkey, was born (d. 1938).

1890 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese leader, was born  (d. 1969).

1897  Oscar Wilde was released from Reading Gaol.

1919 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk landed at Samsun on the Anatolian Black Sea coast, initiating the Turkish War of Independence.  The anniversary of this eventis also regarded as a date of remembrance for Pontic Greeks on the Greek genocide.

TreatyOfSevres (corrected).PNG

1921  The U.S. Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act establishing national quotas on immigration.

1922 The Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union was established.


1925 Malcolm X, American civil rights activist, was born (d. 1965).

An African American man smiling, with a microphone on the lapel of his jacket

1925   Pol Pot, Cambodian dictator , was born (d. 1998).

1928 Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, was born (d. 1982).

Colin Chapman 1971.jpg

1939 Nancy Kwan, Hong Kong actress, was born.

1941 Bobby Burgess, dancer, singer and original Mouseketeer, was born.

1943 World War II: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set Monday, May 1, 1944 as the date for the cross-English Channel landing (D-Day). It was later be delayed over a month due to bad weather.

1945 Pete Townshend, English musician (The Who), was born.

1948 Grace Jones, Jamaican singer and actress, was born.


1951 Joey Ramone, American musician (The Ramones), was born  (d. 2001).

1953 Victoria Wood, English comedian and actress, was born.


1954 Phil Rudd, Australian drummer (AC/DC), was born.

1961  Venera program: Venera 1 becomes the first man-made object to fly-by another planet by passing Venus (the probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier and did not send back any data).

Venera 1 spacecraft.jpg

1962 A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy took place at Madison Square Garden. The highlight is Marilyn Monr0e’s rendition of Happy Birthday.

1966  Jodi Picoult, American writer, was born.

1971   Mars 2 was launched by the Soviet Union.


1983 Jessica Fox, English actress, was born.

1987 The attempted hijacking of an Air New Zealand Boeing 747 at Nadi airport was thwarted when a member of the cabin crew hit the hijacker over the head with a whisky bottle.

Attempted hijacking in Fiji foiled

1991 Croatians voted for independence at their independence referendum.

2009  Sri Lanka announced victory in its 27 year war against the terrorist organisation, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Ltte emblem.jpg

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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