Maiden speeches


New Zealand First MPs Richard Prosser, Andrew Williams,  Tracey Martin, Asenati Lole-Taylor and Denis O’Rourke made their maiden speeches today.

Prosser’s is here, Williams’ here, Martin’s here Taylor’s here and O’Rourke’s here.

I don’t share their philosophy but I was interested in their stories.

Word of the day


Spurious –  fake, not genuine; false; illigitimate.

Wait for the outcry


Harvard University’s endowment fund has made a profit from its investment in Maniototo dairy farms:

DF1, the New Zealand dairy farmer owned by Harvard University’s endowment fund, posted a profit of $4.87 million last year, having bought the Big Sky Dairy Farm properties in central Otago from their receivers.

Harvard paid about $32 million for the Ainwick, Tercio and Saran farms on the Maniototo Plain, having gained Overseas Investment Office approval for the purchases in September 2010. Big Sky was the biggest dairy farm operator in Central Otago when it defaulted on payments in 2007 and was placed in liquidation in 2009.

DF1’s accounts for the year ended June 30, 2011, show Harvard picked up assets worth almost $34 million in the deal. The company notes Big Sky was in receivership,“hence the resultant discount on acquisition.”

Revenue surged to $11.2 million in 2011 from about $1.6 million a year earlier, when it recorded a $1.2 million loss, DF1’s accounts show. The Big Sky farms are being managed alongside DF1’s existing dairy property, Helenslea.

People opposed to foreign investment will criticise this return on investment.

They won’t take any notice of the people the company employs, the money spent on farm running expenses, repairs and maintenance or the tax paid.

The fund also owns forests and those who think the state should have retained ownership of them should ponder this:

The natural resources portfolio has been built up during the last decade by Andy Wiltshire, a New Zealander who started his career with the New Zealand Forest Service, the developer of the Kaingaroa plantation forest in the central North Island. Wiltshire is head of external management for Harvard Management, the fund’s manager.

Harvard beat out China’s Citic to buy the Kaingaroa cutting rights from receivership in 2004. The price was not disclosed but it was believed to be near US$650 million. The same forest was sold by the Crown in 1996 for $2.2 billion.

I don’t know why the value dropped from $2.2 billion to around $US650 million but I’m pleased it wasn’t the state who took the loss.

Centralising specialist services can be better


A shortage of specialists has resulted in a plan to move specialist maternity care from Whanganui to Palmerston North.

At the moment specialist care, such as medical inductions and epidurals, are provided at both Wanganui and Palmerston North Hospitals.

The proposed move of specialist care to Palmerston North could have a direct impact on up to 400 woman in Wanganui.

the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards the change is being driven by a shortage of specialist staff.

Problems with recruiting and retaining obstetrics and gynaecology specialists at both boards has reached a level where current arrangements can’t continue without risking the safety and quality of the care.

Women having uncomplicated births won’t be affected.

This will cause an outcry in Whanganui but centralising specialist services can be better for patients, staff and budgets.

Patients get the high level care they need, staff get more collegial support, and the budget for equipment doesn’t have to cover two locations.

North Otago women have had to go to Dunedin for specialist care for years. Providing the mother and baby don’t require on-going specialist care they are able to transfer back to Oamaru soon after the birth.


Second shot in milk war


Pack ‘n’ Save has fired the second shot in what could be a milk price war.

Federated Farmers says reports Pack ‘n’ Save in Auckland has joined Nosh in cutting the price of milk to $1 a litre shows  attention needs to focus on supermarket margins.

Dairy chair Willy Leferink said:

“Frankly, Nosh is doing more to open up competition at the retail end than any narrowly focused inquiry can ever achieve. 

“If Nosh’s milk was priced in Australian dollars and didn’t have the GST our milk attracts, it works out to be equivalent to A$0.68.

“Even Karori New World in Wellington is selling two litres of its budget milk for $2.99, as long as you spend $25 in-store.

“If you remove our GST and price that milk in Australian dollars, then it works out to be equivalent to A$1.01 per litre.  That’s only one Aussie cent more than what Coles is selling its milk for in Australia.  Milk Coles is spending a lot of money each week underwriting.

GST is a significant factor.

I’m not arguing for food to be excluded from the consumption tax but it does need to be taken into account when comparing food prices.

“But if you go to another New World in Wellington that same bottle will set you back $3.65.  That’s not only 22 percent more but tells me that margins at the retail end are pretty healthy

“That’s why we’d like to back Nosh Chief Executive Clinton Beuvink.  People need to support those local dairies and petrol stations that are selling cheap milk.  The big supermarkets rely on being convenient but convenient doesn’t make them the cheapest.

“Federated Farmers hopes this milk skirmish is the first step in a wider retail milk price war between Foodstuffs and Progressive.  It’s happened in the UK and Australia so why not here? 

“The focus really needs to be on the supermarkets because if dairies can sell milk cheaper and a small supermarket like Nosh can sell it as a loss leader, surely Foodstuffs and Progressive can do the same? 

“In two locations at least, Foodstuff franchisees already are,” Mr Leferink concluded.

Fonterra and farmers have been blamed for relatively high prices of milk and other dairy products but they are only part of a chain which adds costs at every link.

Quote of the day


. . . We expect jingoistic nationalism from Winston Peters, but heaven help us if one of the two major parties is about to change its whole attitude to trade and investment on the basis of an ill informed, prejudiced public reaction to overseas investment which has been a crucial contributor to the New Zealand economy for over 150 years. Allan Barber

Peters has nothing to lose but Labour is aiming to lead a government one day and ought to be much more careful on matters like this.

When does ownership start?


The New Zealand Maori Council lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal  over Maori ownership rights to water.

If they do own the water when does the ownership start?

Do they own rain and snow or does ownership come somewhere later in the journey from the sky to the sea?

Ministerial discretion only when there is doubt


Opponents to the sale of the Crafar Farms asked why the Minister didn’t use his discretionary powers to stop it.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson used the address in replay debate to explain:

At 1:10  he said:

Ministers have some discretion when there are issues of doubt but it’s very clear from the Act and it was very clear from the advice given to ministers from Crown Law that no discretion exists if the applicant meets every one of the criteria that is in the current Overseas Investment Act of 2005, passed by the labour Government, and the corresponding regulations that go with it.

Ministers just can’t say well I don’t care what the law says, I’m just going to exercise a discretion nd say no. because I have to tell members of this House there’s such a thing as a judicial review and you would lose it. You would simply lose the case. If the Minister was taken to judicial review . . . he or she would lose the case if they weren’t able to say . . . “I declined this because”.

 At 02:55 he said:

 . . . in the case of Shanghai Pengxin looking to buy these farms, Sir, they met every one of the criteria that is laid down in the Act passed by the Labour government and they met every one of the criteria laid out in the regulations. And remember National even added two more to try and strengthen the Act and the regs so that we did have a little bit more say and all of those were met as well.

When David Shearer and David Parker from the Labour Party said, “we would have said no  my very first question to them is: “On what grounds would you have said no?” Because remember you don’t just have the final say in this there are courts and governments have been found to have acted  inappropriately by the courts on a number of things and they’ve overturned ministers’ decisions.

One of those was Chris Carter on the Whangamata marina proposal who lost the court case because he didn’t follow the proper procedures.

That was a very expensive reminder that the government isn’t above the law.

At 5:57 he explains the difference between gross and net figures on land sales.

He gave examples of land sold to people from other countries who bought large tracts of land which were approved and supported by Labour and not criticised.

At 9:14 he demonstrated the difference in size between the 66,000  660,000 hectares sold under Labour compared with the 7,000 hectares of the Crafar farms.

He pointed out that Labour didn’t campaign on changing the law to prevent the sale of land to foreigners and concluded by saying  we should welcome the investment that comes from foreign investors and the growth that comes to our economy so long as they are quality investors of high character who are going to benefit this country.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock

February 8 in history


1575  Universiteit Leiden was founded and given the motto “Praesidium Libertatis”.

1587  Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

1612 Samuel Butler, English poet, was born (d. 1680).

1622 King James I disbanded the English Parliament.

1692 – A doctor in Salem Village suggeseds that two girls in the family of the village minister may be suffering from bewitchment, leading to the Salem witch trials.

1693  The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.

1726 The Supreme Privy Council was established in Russia.

1807 Battle of Eylau – Napoleon defeated Russians under General Benigssen.

1817  Juan Gregorio de las Heras crossed the Andes with an army to join San Martín and liberate Chile from Spain.

1828  Jules Verne, French author, was born (d. 1905).

1837 Richard Johnson became the first Vice President of the United States chosen by the United States Senate.

1849 New Roman Republic established.

1855  The Devil’s Footprints mysteriously appeared in southern Devon.

1856  Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei abolished slavery in Wallachia.

1865 Delaware voters rejected the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and voted to continue the practice of slavery.

1867 The Ausgleich resulted in the establishment of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

1879 Sandford Fleming first proposed adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute.

1882 Thomas Selfridge, first person to die in an aeroplane crash, was born (d. 1908).

1887 The Dawes Act authorised the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divided it into individual allotments.

1900 British troops were defeated by Boers at Ladysmith.

1904 Battle of Port Arthur: A surprise torpedo attack by the Japanese at Port Arthur, China started the Russo-Japanese War.

1910 The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce.

1915 D.W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles.

1922 President Warren G. Harding introduced the first radio in the White House.

1924 The first state execution using gas in the United States took place in Nevada.

1931 James Dean, American actor, was born (d. 1955).

1931 All three people on board  a Dominion Airline DeSoutter were killed in a crash near Wairoa. This was the first fatal air service accident in New Zealand.

 First fatalities on a scheduled air service in NZ
1932  John Williams, American composer and conductor, was born.
1941  Nick Nolte, American actor, was born.
1948  Ron Tyson, American singer (The Temptations), was born.

1952 Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the UK.

1955 John Grisham, American writer, was born.

1955  The Government of Sindh abolished the Jagirdari system in the province. One million acres (4000 km²) of land thus acquired was to be distributed among the landless peasants.

1960 – Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants would take the name “Mountbatten-Windsor“.

1962 Charonne massacre: 9 trade unionists were killed by French police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Paris Prefecture of Police.

1963 Mohammad Azharuddin, Indian cricketer, was born.

1963 Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba were made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.

1968  The Orangeburg massacre, a mass killing in Orangeburg, South Carolina of black students from South Carolina State University who were protesting racial segregation at the town’s only bowling alley.

1969 Allende meteorite fell near Pueblito de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico.

1971 The NASDAQ stock market index debuted.

1974 The crew of the first American space station Skylab returned to Earth after 84 days in space.

1974 – Military coup in Upper Volta.

1978  Proceedings of the United States Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time.

1979 Denis Sassou-Nguesso became the President of the Republic of the Congo.

1983  The Melbourne dust storm .The result of the worst drought on record and a day of severe weather conditions, the 320m deep dust cloud enveloped the city, turning day to night.

1989 An Independent Air Boeing 707 crashed into Santa Maria mountain in Azores Islands killing 144.

1996 The U.S. Congress passes the Communications Decency Act.

1996 – The massive Internet collaboration “24 Hours in Cyberspace” took place.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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