Bridges promoted to Minister

02/04/2012

Prime Minister John Key has promoted Simon Bridges to the position of Minister outside Cabinet:

Napier MP Chris Tremain, who is currently a Minister outside Cabinet, will  move up to become a Minister in Cabinet at number 20 on the Ministerial  list.

Mr Key also announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios with the departure of Dr Nick Smith.

David Carter will assume the role of Local Government Minister in addition to his current portfolio of Primary Industries.

“The local government reforms announced recently remain an important part of the Government’s agenda. Mr Carter is an experienced Minister and I’m  confident he will drive these reforms along,” Mr Key says.

Amy Adams will take over as Environment Minister and hand the Internal Affairs portfolio to Mr Tremain.

Tim Groser will also become the new Minister for Climate Change Issues.

“Mr Bridges will be the new Consumer Affairs Minister and Associate  Minister of Transport, taking over from Mr Tremain. Mr Bridges will also be Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues,” Mr Key says.

The National caucus had strong intakes in 2005 and 2008 which means there are several candidates for any vacancy.

Simon had a promising career in law before he entered parliament and is a popular MP.

Tim was already Minister for Climate Change negotiations and a logical choice for the Climate Change Issues portfolio.

The NBR says:

 Mr Groser is believed to be less supportive of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) than his predecessor Nick Smith. As Climate Change Negotiations Minister, he is more aware than most that the while Kyoto system, on which the ETS is based, is likely to collapse at the end of this year. His record is of favouring more direct initiatives on the matter, such as the Global Research Alliance on agriculture that he set up, which has been the only real outcome from recent UN climate change summits and now boasts more than 30 countries as members.

Working on an initiative which could make a difference is far better than wasting time on an agreement which is the result of bureaucracy and politics triumphing over common sense.


A North Otago gem

02/04/2012

A National Party policy day in Wellington had to take precedence over the Beef + Lamb NZ farming for profit field day on one of our properties last week.

But Sally Rae from the ODT was there and has written about making the most of a wonderful place.

This photo shows why we consider it a gem:


Rural round-up

02/04/2012

What is gunna happen – Gravedodger:

In the last month I have been fortunate to access a couple of reasonably inaccessible bits of the SI High Country, The Middle Clarence Valley and last weekend country around the Pahau and Dove Rivers in Nth Canterbury.

The two areas have been or are involved in “Tenure Review”, or as one wag described it Ten Year Review. A process where the Crown negotiates the retirement of some of the land in the CRL, Crown Renewable Lease, and the Leaseholder gains a Freehold Title to some of the more productive areas. One thing that becomes apparent is the retired land is exposed to major problems from weed and animal pests as the control of them exceeds DOC’s abilities and resources and the land that is retained for pastoral use is still being managed and will be kept relatively clear of gorse, broom, blackberry, briar and animals such as possums, ferrets, pigs, rabbits and deer. . .

(He’s got some stunning photos which you’ll see if you click the link above).

Leaving the farm – Offsetting Behaviour:

Bill Kaye-Blake says there’s not much that can be doneabout long-term trends towards rural depopulation. And he puts rural New Zealand especially on the wrong side of broader trends:

Technology isn’t going to be the saviour of rural New Zealand. We’ve been hearing for years that new communications technologies (will) allow us all to work from home, the cafe, and the beach. We do that to some extent. A few people do build business empires on the back of broadband. But we also spend lots of time in our offices, seeing and talking with our co-workers. One of the interesting economic geography arguments I’ve seen is that technology is making face-time more valuable. As a result, work that requires us to spend time with each other is becoming more highly paid, and work that can be made routine and parceled out in bits and bytes is becoming less valuable. New Zealand is on the wrong side of that trend, and rural areas even more so.

Let’s take the agglomeration economic geography arguments as starting point. Tech is more a complement to big cities than they are a substitute for face to face interactions. Who gets the strongest benefit from this in a world that’s mostly free-trading? Big global cities, not Auckland. Our small size makes us, over time, less competitive in sectors that compete with international big-city industries; our comparative advantage then pushes farther towards agricultural production. . .

If dairy farmers want to farm in the black they need to be green – Passture to Profit:

The NZ dairy industry is in a very interesting place right now. On one hand they generate serious export dollars; their contribution to the national income is undeniable. The wealth generated by dairy products means that most New Zealanders enjoy a good standard of living. On the other hand they are viewed by increasing numbers of thinking New Zealanders as exploiting our natural resources to the detriment of the environment. Sir Paul Callaghan spoke at the “StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future conference” in March 2011, pointing the finger at dairy farmers but also illustrating the economic reality.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related

Dairy farmers have a real challenge: – to produce milk but to reduce the impact on the environment. . .

New Zealand a place where talent wants to live and proudly farm – Pasture to Profit:

“New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live” this was the NZ strategic vision that Sir Paul Callaghan(New Zealander of the year 2011 & ex Massey University Scientist) spoke so passionately about before his death last week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related  Sir Paul Callaghan was a world class scientist, leader & a passionate advocate for a better more prosperous New Zealand. He was a great orator & he had a vision of a “knowledge driven economy” based on excellence & research & development . . .

Schedule setting process as much art as science – Allan Barber:

The weekly schedule setting process is a hallowed meat industry tradition which determines what farmers will receive for their livestock during the week beginning with the Sunday evening phone calls from buyers.

The process itself remains almost a total mystery to those on the receiving end, but it delivers certainty of livestock value in any given week. It enables a farmer to decide if it’s time to sell or worth hanging on another week or two, provided there’s enough feed and value to be gained from holding on.

The lead up to the weekly schedule is a fairly complex set of inputs to arrive at an assessment of what each species and grade are actually worth to a meat processor and exporter at the moment of purchase. That is the first slightly unusual thing to observe about the process: the procurement price does not equate to the final selling price, which will only be known at a whole variety of different times in the future when the various cuts and components of the livestock have been sold. . .

Dairy restructuring Ammendment Bill attracts differing views – Allan Barber:

Fonterra chairman, Henry van der Heyden, says that monitoring the milk price is not necessary, but “we can live with it”, particularly with Commerce Commission oversight, while Simon Couper, Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chair, believes it to be draconian with the potential over time “to destroyNew Zealand’s biggest, most successful and most important export industry.”

Federated Farmers’ dairy section head, Willy Leferink, inclines more to Couper’s view than van der Heyden’s, stating that Feds look forward to submitting on the bill at the Select Committee stage, because “If the policy settings for milk pricing at the farm gate become arbitrary, then it’ll not only shoot our largest export industry in the foot, it will directly affect the price consumers pay for their milk,” he warned. . .

Otago dairy award judges give winning advice:

Entering the Otago Dairy Industry Awards three times has set James and Helen Hartshorne on a pathway to success – with the couple claiming the region’s top prize, the 2012 Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year.

“The judging feedback showed us that although we were competent at running the practical side of our farm, we would gain huge benefit from a better understanding of and an ability to analyse the financial and business side of our operation,” the Hartshornes said.

“And as a result of contacts made through our judging panels we secured our first 50:50 sharemilking job.”

The couple won $16,600 in cash and prizes at last night’s awards held at Balclutha Memorial Hall. The 2012 Otago Farm Managers of the Year, Gareth and Angela Dawson, and 2012 Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year, Richard Lang, were also announced. . .

Southland dairy winners share strengths:

The big winners at the 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards are newcomers to the province, who share common interests and business strengths.

Winton 50% sharemilkers Billy and Sharn Roskam won the Southland Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title and Edendale contract milkers Hannes and Lyzanne du Plessis won the Southland Farm Manager of the Year contest.

The 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards were held last night at Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill. The other major winner was Robert Ankerson who won the 2012 Southland Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Both the Roskams and du Plessis’came to Southland to further their dairy farming careers, and say their teamwork is a key to their farm business success. . .

Small farmers fear squeeze by corporate owners:

Some farmers fear they are being squeezed out of the property market by corporate owners with better buying power.

As dairy farms become larger and more expensive, corporate ownership is becoming more prevalent.

Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink says corporate owners tend to own more than one farm and can use their buying power to negotiate hefty discounts. . .


Stability vs proportionality

02/04/2012

Do we need a party vote threshold and if so how high should it be set?

This is one of the questions to be considered by the review of MMP and divergent views of submitters show it’s not one for which there is an easy answer that is likely to gain widespread support.

Graeme Edgler  argues that the party  threshold be reduced from 5% to 2.5% and Jordan Williams wants the one-seat rule thrown out but argues for the retention of the 5% threshold.

A decision on the threshold pits proportionality against stability.

If the threshold is too high it reduces proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths; but if it is too low it increases the risk of parliamentary and more importantly, government instability by enabling too many wee parties to gain seats.

I think the stability argument is important and given how low the membership threshold is for parties – they need only 500 people signed up before they register – I wouldn’t want to see it any lower than 5%.

But given a seat gives a party representation I see merit in allowing the party of the seat-winner to bring in others on his or her coat tails to help maintain proportionality.

This does mean that a party that wins a seat could get more than one MP even though it won less than 5% of the vote when a party without a seat would get none although it might have had a similar or higher party vote but still doesn’t get to 5%.

But allowing the seat-winner’s party to get the proportion of seats for which voters gave their support gives a more proportional parliament and disallowing that just because other parties miss out would only lessen proportionality.

The first deadline for submissions on the review is this Thursday.

That is for those wishing to speak to their submissions. these will be presented from April 24th to May 18th.

If you just want to make a written submission the deadline is May 31st.


Money doesn’t buy happiness but . . .

02/04/2012

A study found students who were happier made more money  later:

Analysis using data from the 1976 “College and  Beyond” survey of 13,676 freshmen shows that individuals with a higher  cheerfulness rating at college entry have a higher current income and a  higher job satisfaction rating and are less likely ever to have been  unemployed than individuals with a lower cheerfulness rating.

Money doesn’t buy happiness but this finding suggests happiness help you make more money.

Could it be because optimistic people are better at selling?

So what helps make you happier?

People who did five acts of kindness in a day were happier than a control group and the effect lasted for subsequent days.

I don’t think blogging counts as an act of kindness but I am about to do some cooking for a grieving family.


No new spending

02/04/2012

Political tragics have been exercised by sideshows in the past week but the government is concentrating on what matters.

On Q&A yesterday Prime Minister John Key said there is unlikely to be any new spending in this year’s Budget:

 It’ll be either a zero budget or very close to zero. What that means is we will spend more money in health and education, but all other ministries will be expected to save money. Why are we doing that? Well, because we need to get NZ back into surplus so we’re not racking up more debts and more deficit so that future generations aren’t continuing to pay for debts that we would be racking up today. So in the four years we will have delivered budgets, we will have spent about $2 billion worth of new money over that four-year period, effectively, of new expenditure through the budget process. Michael Cullen and Helen Clark will have spent $12 billion at the same time. That’s $10 billion of taxes you’re not having-

Individuals, households and businesses which have got the message that spending less and saving more is a priority will be encouraged that the government is continuing to swallow its own medicine.


April 2 in history

02/04/2012

742 Charlemagne was born (d. 814).

1453  Mehmed II begins his siege of Constantinople (Istanbul).

1513 Juan Ponce de Leon set foot on Florida, becoming the first European known to do so.

1743 Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, was born  (d. 1826).

1755 Commodore William James captured the pirate fortress of Suvarnadurg on west coast of India.

1792 The Coinage Act was passed establishing the United States Mint.

1801 Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Copenhagen – The British destroyed the Danish fleet.

1805 Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer, was born  (d. 1875).

1810  Napoleon Bonaparte married Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.

1814 Erastus Brigham Bigelow, American inventor, was born (d. 1879).

1840 Émile Zola, French novelist and critic, was born  (d. 1902).

1863 Richmond Bread Riot: Food shortages incited hundreds of angry women to riot in Richmond, Virginia and demand that the Confederate government release emergency supplies.

1865 American Civil War: The Siege of Petersburg was broken – Union troops capture the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia, forcing Confederate General Robert E. Lee to retreat.

1865 – American Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

1875 Walter Chrysler, American automobile pioneer, was born  (d. 1940).

1900 US Congress passed the Foraker Act, giving Puerto Rico limited self-rule.

1902  Dmitry Sipyagin, Minister of Interior of the Russian Empire, was assassinated in the Marie Palace, St Petersburg.

1902 “Electric Theatre”, the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opened in Los Angeles.

1914 Sir Alec Guinness, English actor, was born (d. 2000).

1916 Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana was arrested.

Arrest of Rua Kenana

1917 World War I: President Woodrow Wilson asked the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.

1917 The first woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin, took her seat as a representative from Montana.

1930 Haile Selassie was proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia.

1939 Marvin Gaye, American singer, was born (d. 1984).

1940 Penelope Keith, English actress, was born.

1947 Emmylou Harris, American singer, was born.

1947 Camille Paglia, American feminist writer, was born.

1956 As the World Turns and The Edge of Night premiered on CBS-TV. The two soaps become the first daytime dramas to debut in the 30-minute format.

1961  Keren Woodward, English singer (Bananarama), was born.

1962 The first official Panda crossing was opened outside Waterloo station, London.

1972 Actor Charlie Chaplin returned to the United States for the first time since being labeled a communist during the Red Scare in the early 1950s.

1972 – Vietnam War: The Easter Offensive began– North Vietnamese soldiers of the 304th Division took the northern half of Quang Tri Province.

1973  Launch of the LexisNexis computerized legal research service.

1975 Vietnam War: Thousands of civilian refugees fled from the Quang Ngai Province in front of advancing North Vietnamese troops.

1975 – Construction of the CN Tower was completed in Toronto. At 553.33 metres (1,815.4 ft) in height, it became the world’s tallest free-standing structure.

1980  President Jimmy Carter signed the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act in an effort to help the U.S. economy rebound.

1982 Falklands War: Argentina invaded the Malvinas/Falkland Islands.

1984  Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma was launched aboard Soyuz T-11, and becomes the first Indian in space.

1989 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Havana to meet Fidel Castro in an attempt to mend strained relations.

1991  Rita Johnston became the first female Premier of a Canadian province when she succeeded William Vander Zalm (who had resigned) as Premier of British Columbia.

1992 Mafia boss John Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering and later sentenced to life in prison.

2002  Israeli forces surround the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem into which armed Palestinians had retreated.

2004 Islamist terrorists involved in the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks were thwarted in an attempt to bomb the Spanish high-speed train AVE near Madrid.

2006 More than  60 tornadoes broke out; hardest hit was Tennessee with 29 people killed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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