Using children unprofessional

November 3, 2011

An MP was handing out balloons at an A & P show.

As a group of preschoool children approached the teacher was overheard reminding children and accompanying adults that they were only to have red balloons.

The MP asked the teacher if that was the parents’ instructions or the staffs’. The teacher didn’t reply.

The MP said the vast majority of children at the show were happy to have balloons of any colour, because they were children.

How very unprofessional of the teacher to impose her political bias on them.

What are they conserving?

November 3, 2011

A farmer came across a Department of Conservation ute in the middle of Dansey’s Pass and stopped to find out what it was doing there.

The driver was happy to chat. He was from Dunedin and had been called to come to the aid of an injured hawk on the road near Ngapara. He’d never been through the Dansey’s and since he’d been so close thought he’d take the opportunity to do so.

He said the bird was unlikely to survive but the farmer was welcome to take a look.

He added that if the farmer ever came across an injured hawk on the road he should phone DoC and someone would come and get it.

The farmer didn’t want to take a look and his response to the invitation to ring about an injured bird is best left unwritten. Suffice it to say he wasn’t impressed.

It’s about 133 kilometres from Dunedin to Ngapara by the direct route. It’s nearly 200, and a lot slower, if you take the long way home through the Dansey’s Pass.

That’s a very long and expensive way to go for a bird, even if it was a kahu, a harrier hawk, which is protected.

Whatever the rescuer was conserving it wasn’t his time DoC’s fuel and our money that pays for it.

NZ to food as Apple to technology

November 3, 2011

New Zealand could be to food what Apple is to technology, Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said in launching the organisation’s election manifesto.

New Zealand, we believe, has the real potential to be to food what Apple is to technology. Innovative, lithe and smart. Creating products that people not only need, but desire and aspire to.

Our 2011 Manifesto is all about realising the immense opportunity we have as a nation in a world with seven billion mouths, a milestone reached only yesterday.

There’s a genuine opportunity to at least double the primary sector’s current $31 billion export contribution over the next 39 years. This would be good for all New Zealanders. Good for everyone alighting from the trains here this morning and good for every New Zealander yet to be born.

Agriculture, from grass through to the manufacturers, is our key economic advantage. As are our factory workers, research scientists, marketers, designers and managers. It’s what we know and what we do best. The global possibilities with food are frankly endless.

This is not to say we can’t do other things well. It is not agriculture or other ways of earning our way in the world and can be agriculture and the production of other goods and services

There’s an old but accurate farming cliché, that to be green, you’ve got to be in the black. It is critical that our farms and our country are economically and environmentally sustainable. They are really flipsides of the same coin.

Federated Farmers is not aligned to any political party and its manifesto is aimed at them all.

Being apolitical, we hope whoever forms the next government will sit down and talk with us about a positive policy agenda. Federated Farmers is focused on growing a highly successful economy.

You see, farmers learned the hard way what being over-extended with debt means. It’s a lesson government needs to heed because what it spends has to be earned by taxpayers first. That’s a point we seem to easily forget these days.

Federated Farmers wants value for money from our public services. Government spending should not be about the headline figure, but what that spending delivers economically, socially and environmentally. Less could mean much, much more.

There is a big role for government to invest wisely with strategic infrastructure. That’s been the case with Broadband and Federated Farmers will continue pushing for ever faster speeds.

Being able to access daily milk production reports, herd records, killing sheets, and do billing and payments  on line keeps farmers in touch with processors, suppliers, banks and accountants, There is a lot of potential for using technology for traceability and stock monitoring and recording too they depend on fast and reliable internet connections.

One other area we will push is water storage. Water represents New Zealand’s strategic ace by removing the annual lottery all New Zealanders face from La Niña, El Niño or a changing climate.

A bad drought costs billions but drought should be the one word missing from our vocabulary. Our rainfall is plentiful but we miss opportunities with most of it washing out to sea.

Water storage creates options. Real options for new types of farming and new types of farmers. When you put that together with enhanced communication and transportation links, these options are vital to attract talented urban and rural people into farming.

Farmers haven’t been at all impressed with water policies from Labour and the Green Party, in particular the plan to charge for water.

Helping tomorrow’s farmers demands clear educational pathways with ongoing professional development. Farming remains a knowledge-led profession.

It may also surprise some that farmers want clean water too. All the farmers I know work hard to leave their farm in a better state than they found it. The land is not just our workplace, it’s our home.

Yet New Zealand’s higher global obligation, in a world of seven billion mouths, is to be the most efficient food producer we can be. It’s hard to get there when New Zealand is the only country on earth looking to put the primary sector’s biological emissions into an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Feeding 10 billion mouths by 2050 is the great global challenge and the one area where New Zealand can be a true world leader. Including agriculture’s biological emissions in the ETS, purely a domestic decision, only invites less efficient countries to take our markets.

Then again, agriculture is already in the ETS with the rest of New Zealand. We pay it directly on our fuel and electricity and indirectly on virtually everything we use and no, we don’t get a rebate either.

We must remember that the ETS arose from the late 1990’s and the last decade. We’ve got to look to the future and not to the past when one in seven billion humans, right now, goes hungry. Our ability to grow and process food and fibre can make a world of difference, but it also demands a completely new political mindset.

Federated Farmers believes in the positive contribution we can make now and into the future. This is why New Zealand could become the Apple of food by way of primary food production, manufacturing, distribution and consultancy.

Federated Farmers wishes to play a big part in New Zealand’s positive global future. Our 2011 manifesto is a tangible compact to farm forward and farm together.

The manifesto is here.

Thursday’s quiz

November 3, 2011

1. Who said: Someone once asked me why women don’t gamble as much as men do, and I gave the
common-sensical reply that we don’t have as much money.  That was a true but incomplete answer.  In fact, women’s total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage. ?

2. Name the jockey who rode for the Queen Mother then became a best-selling author of crime novels.

3. It’s cheval in French, cavallo in Italian, caballo in Spanish and hōiho in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What is an empanada?

5. Who wrote Black Beauty?

Effective return yield not value

November 3, 2011

Opponents to National’s plan to sell a minority share in a few state owned enterprises keep raising the return the government will miss out on after the sale.

But ODT political editor Dene Mackenzie said figures being bandied about on what returns state-owned assets are providing to the Government are skewing the argument:

A media release from Green Party leader Russel Norman questioned National’s decision to fund new infrastructure by selling SOEs that had returned, on average, 17.6% per annum over the last five years.

But the total shareholder return he quoted combined the return from cash dividends with the growth in the value of the company.

What he does not point out that while the increased capital value is nice to have, a government cannot spend it on social  programmes such as schools, hospitals or welfare.   

The only money a government has access to is the cash from the dividends paid.   

The only way to release the stored up capital value of the assets is to sell the assets.   

You can borrow against the value but that increases debt and comes with risk that if the value of the asset drops the debt increases in proportion.

The crisis in Greece and other European countries illustrates the danger of too much borrowing.

National is committed to getting the country’s debt under control and balancing the books. Until we do that the economy will be held back which will restrict the ability to increase employment opportunities and pay rates.

National’s plan is to continue eliminating waste in the public service, increase export income and use the mixed ownership model, which has worked well for Air New Zealand, for four energy companies.

The proceeds from selling minority shareholdings will go into a new Future Investment Fund which will be used for other assets like schools and hospitals without increasing overseas debt.

The plan isn’t to get rid of assets it is to pay for more assets without increasing debt which is what Labour will have to do to pay for all it plans to do.

Quite how they believe that retaining a majority shareholding in public control and selling a  minority share to mainly New Zealand individuals and organisations is wrong yet borrowing more from foreign banks is right defies logic.

Show us the money

November 3, 2011

Phil Goff was holding his own in last night’s Press leaders debate until John Key asked him to back up his promises with costings.

Labour won’t countenance National’s mixed ownership model which is expected to bring in $5 to $7b which leaves a very big hole to start with.

Other promises bring the hole up to a total of $17.2 billion and counting.

Labour can’t show us the money, all they’re showing us is more debt from foreign lenders.

Simply expensive

November 3, 2011

Phil Goff reckons an earthquake levy on all properties to be collected with rates, would be simple and fair.

It might be simple but it wouldn’t be fair and it would be expensive.

A rates-based levy would be be particularly onerous for people who own a home which make them asset rich even though they are cash poor.

A lot of these would be older people who bought a modest house years ago in an area which subsequently became popular. The house might still be modest but the land value will have increased and with it the rateable value.

Farmers will be particularly hard hit by this policy. The Earthquake Commission levy covers dwellings and the land around it. Most of the value of farms is in large areas of land well away from any dwelling and it isn’t covered by earthquake levies or insurance.

If Labour’s  policy was introduced, farmers would pay a very high levy based on the value of an asset which would get no cover.

It isn’t clear whether the levy would attract GST as rates do, if it does that would make it even more expensive.

But even if it is GST exempt, Labour’s levy would compound the unfairness which is already a feature of property-based rating systems.

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