Word of the day


Aggress – to initiate an onslaught, war, quarrel, or fight; make an attack.

How else do you raise $5 – $7b?


If the government doesn’t sell minority shares in a few state owned assets, how else does it get the money it needs?

This question came from Finance Minister Bill English who said:

Opponents of the Government’s mixed ownership programme need to explain to New Zealanders why it would be better to borrow an extra $5 billion to $7 billion from overseas lenders, Finance Minister Bill English says.

 Speaking to an Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Massey University business lunch today, he said the challenge was how the Government pays for forecast growth in taxpayers’ assets over the next few years.

 “Taxpayers own $245 billion of assets, and this is forecast to grow to $267 billion over the next four years. So we are not reducing our assets. Our challenge is how we pay for their growth, while getting on top of our debt.”

 The rationale for offering New Zealanders minority stakes in four energy companies and Air New Zealand is quite simple, Mr English says.

 “First, the Government gets to free up $5 billion to $7 billion – less than 3 per cent of its total assets – to invest in other public assets like modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow in volatile overseas markets.

 “Our political opponents need to honestly explain to New Zealanders why it would be better to borrow this $5 billion to $7 billion from overseas lenders at a time when the world is awash with debt and consequent risks.

The logic of those opposed to the partial sales escapes me. How can borrowing more money from foreign banks be better than selling shares, most of which will be bought by New Zealanders?

 “We would rather pay dividends to New Zealanders on shares they own in the energy companies than pay interest to overseas lenders on more borrowing.

 “The fact is, the Government is spending and borrowing more than it can afford into the future. So it makes sense to reorganise the Government’s assets and redeploy capital to priority areas without having to borrow more.

 “Most nights on television, we see the consequences of countries in Europe and elsewhere borrowing too much. We don’t want that for New Zealand.”

Secondly, under the mixed ownership programme New Zealanders will get an opportunity to invest in big Kiwi companies so they can diversify their growing savings away from property and finance companies.

 “Counting the Government’s controlling shareholding, we’re confident 85-90 per cent of these companies will be owned by New Zealanders, who will be at the front of the queue for shares.”

Thirdly, mixed ownership will be good for the companies themselves, Mr English says.

“Greater transparency and oversight from being listed on the stock exchange will improve their performance and the companies won’t have to depend entirely on a cash-strapped government for new capital to grow.

 “We already have a living, breathing and successful example of mixed ownership in Air New Zealand, which is 75 per cent owned by the Government and 25 per cent by private shareholders.”

 In his speech, Mr English reiterated the Government’s economic programme this term would focus on rebuilding and strengthening the economy.

It’s main priorities are: 

  • Responsibly      managing the Government’s finances.
  • Building      a more productive and competitive economy.
  • Delivering      better public services within tight financial constraints.
  • Rebuilding      Christchurch.

 “So there will be no big surprises from this Government,” Mr English says. “We have laid out our economic plan and Budget 2012 will focus on implementing that plan.”

The full speech is here.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field“.

2. In which book would you find: Flora Poste, Ada Doom; Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless; Viper and Big Business?

3. It’s  ferme in French, fattoria in Italian, granja  in Spanish andpāmu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Who wrote A River Rules My Life and what was the name of the station on which she lived?

5. Which is New Zealand’s largest farm?

Quote of the day


“What I think a disaster like this teaches you is that the human spirit is stronger than people think, their willingness to help and their capacity to drop everything and support one another is greater than people think. in the moment of need they don’t think about themselves, they think about others.”John Key

Ruddy mess in Labor


We were in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia during the last Australian election campaign.

There was no great enthusiasm for Labor or Julia Gillard there, although we were mostly talking to station owners and business people who probably didn’t give a representative sample of views.

Several referred to her as the “geenger beetch” but I wasn’t sure whether it was her hair colour, gender or politics to which they were objecting.

However, she won the election – just and has managed to hold a fragile coalition together and keep the country on a reasonably sound economic footing in the face of global turmoil.

However, she and her government have become increasingly unpopular and now the man she deposed as leader, Kevin Rudd has resigned as Foreign Minister, jumping before he was pushed by Gillard.

The question now is whether or not he has the numbers to lead a leadership coup or whether he’ll resign and force a by-election.

Exactly what would be achieved by Rudd’s return as party leader and Prime Minister is summed up by Larvatus Prodeo:

. . . a government which presides over an anomalously healthy economy (by international standards) and, for all its imperfections, made real progress in many important areas, is currently ripping itself to bits in a leadership contest between two individuals who do not appear to have any significantly different policy views, in the midst of appalling polling.

It’s a ruddy (Ruddy?) mess which is entertaining for political tragics.

But it’s very damaging for the government and the Labor Party and the only ones likely to benefit from whatever happens are the Liberals.

Delayed referral more evidence of need for electoral reform


The Electoral Commission has referred the radio Network to the police  for broadcasting election programmes for United Future on 25 October 2011.

It is the Electoral Commission’s view that the broadcasts for United Future on 25 October constituted a breach of section 70 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 because broadcasters were prohibited from broadcasting election programmes for a political party outside of the election period for the 2011 General Election, which began on 26 October and ended on 25 November 2011.

Why should broadcasters be singled out for restrictions which don’t apply to other media, especially now that video and audio content can be posted on the internet?

Why on earth has it taken four months for the commission to make a referral?

Why waste police time on a relatively minor breach when they’ve shown no appetite to act on more serious ones?

Whatever the answer to those questions, this referral is yet more evidence that our electoral law needs further reform.

One of the aims of electoral law is to prevent parties gaining an unfair advantage.

If it is to be effective suspected breaches should be acted on within the election period not months afterwards.

And given reluctance shown by police to take any action in the past it would be better to give the Commission the power to deal with breaches itself.

February 23 in history


632 The Last Sermon (Khutbah, Khutbatul Wada’) of Prophet Muhammad.

1455 Traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type?

1633 Samuel Pepys, English naval administrator, man of letters and diarist, was born  (d. 1703).

1660 – Charles XI became King of Sweden.

1739 – Richard Palmer was identified at York Castle by his former schoolteacher, as the outlaw Dick Turpin.

1744 –  Mayer Amschel Rothschild, German-born banker, was born  (d. 1812).

1820 – Cato Street Conspiracy: A plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers was exposed.

1836 – The Battle of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.

1840  Frederick Wicks, English author and inventor, was born (d. 1910).

1847  Battle of Buena Vista – American troops under General Zachary Taylor defeated Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

1850 César Ritz, Swiss hotelier, was born (d. 1918).

1854 The official independence of the Orange Free State was declared.

1887 French Riviera was hit by a large earthquake, killing around 2,000.

1898 Émile Zola was imprisoned in France after writing “J’accuse,” a letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

1903 Cuba leased Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.

1904  940,000 hectares of west Southland were permanently reserved for what became Fiordland national park.

First step in creation of Fiordland National Park

1905 Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen met for lunch to form the Rotary Club, the world’s first service club.

1909 The AEA Silver Dart made the first powered flight in Canada.

1917 First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg. The beginning of the February Revolution.

1918  First victory of Red Army over the Kaiser’s German troops near Narva and Pskov. In honor of this victory, the date has been celebrated from 1923 onward as “Red Army Day”; it was renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and is colloquially known as “Men’s Day”.

1919 Benito Mussolini formed the Fascist Party in Italy.

1934 Léopold III became King of Belgium.

1940 100,000 people welcomed home HMS Achilles, the ship involved in the Batte of the River Plate, the Allies first naval victory in WWII.

1940 Peter Fonda, American actor, was born.

1941 Plutonium was first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.

1944 The Soviet Union began forced deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people from the North Caucasus to Central Asia.

1945 During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy Corpsman, reached the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and were photographed raising the American flag. The photo won a Pulitzer Prize and became the model for the national USMC War Memorial.

1945 The 11th Airborne Division, with Filipino guerrillas, freed the captives of the Los Baños internment camp.

1945 Manila, was liberated by American forces.

1945 Capitulation of German garrison in Poznań.

1945 German town of Pforzheim was completely destroyed by a raid of 379 British bombers.

1945  The Verona Philharmonic Theatre was bombed by Allied forces.

1947 The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was founded.

1954 The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh.

1955  First meeting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

1957  The founding congress of the Senegalese Popular Bloc was opened in Dakar.

1958 Cuban rebels kidnapped 5-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

1960 Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, was born.

1966 In Syria Baath party member Salah Jadid led an intra-party military coup that replaced the previous government of General Amin Hafiz, also a Baathist.

1969 Michael Campbell, New Zealand golfer, was born.

1981 Antonio Tejero attempted a coup d’état by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies.

1983 The Spanish Socialist government of Felipe González and Miguel Boyer nationalised Rumasa, a holding company founded by entrepreneur José María Ruiz Mateos.

1983 Emily Blunt, British actress, was born.

1983 The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced its intent to buy out and evacuate the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri.

1987 Supernova 1987a was seen in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

1991 Ground troops crossed the Saudi Arabian border and entered Iraq, starting the ground phase of the Gulf War.

1991 Thai General Sunthorn Kongsompong led a bloodless coup d’état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan.

1992 –  The Socialist Labour Party was founded in Georgia.

1998 –  Tornadoes in central Florida destroyed or damaged 2,600 structures and killed 42.

1998 – Osama bin Laden published a fatwa declaring jihad against all Jews and “Crusaders”; the latter term is commonly interpreted to refer to the people of Europe and the United States.

1999 Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan was charged with treason in Ankara.

1999 An avalanche destroyed the Austrian village of Galtür, killing 31.

2005 n Slovakia, a two-day “Slovakia Summit 2005” took place between U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

2005 The French law on colonialism was passed, requiring teachers to teach the “positive values of colonialism”.

2007 – A train derailed on an evening express service near Grayrigg, Cumbria, killing one person and injuring 22.

2008 A United States Air Force B-2 Spirit crashed on Guam, the first operational loss of a B-2.

2010 – Unknown criminals poured more than 2.5 million liters of diesel oil and other hydrocarbons into the river Lambro, in Northern Italy, causing an environmental disaster.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipeida.

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