Word of the day

September 7, 2012

Demotic – denoting or relating to  ordinary people; of or pertaining to the ordinary, everyday, current form of a language; vernacular; popular or colloquial;  of, relating to, or written in a simplified form of the ancient Egyptian hieratic writing.

Two NZers too many for WTO?

September 7, 2012

Trade Minister Tim Groser has confirmed he’s keen on taking the top job at the World Trade Organisation.

With his background in negotiations and more recently politics he would be well qualified for the position, but qualifications aren’t the only consideration.

Geography counts too and there’s a feeling two from New Zealand could be one too many:

. . . So far, only two have said they want the job.

One is New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser, who starts with a double disadvantage: most diplomats say it is the “developing countries’ turn”, and New Zealand has already held the job once in the WTO’s 17 year history.

One trade negotiator said it would be “very peculiar” for two of the WTO’s first six chiefs to come from the same small, rich country.

Another said he regularly met Groser and said he was “very down to earth. But another New Zealander? I don’t think so.” . . .

Former Prime Minister Mike Moore headed the WTO from 1999 – 2002 and was generally regarded as doing it well. But his relatively recent tenure could handicap Groser’s bid.

Friday’s answers

September 7, 2012

1. Who said: “Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so darned unsafe for women.”?

2.  No Safe Harbour  is a book for young adults about which New Zealand maritime disaster and who wrote it?

3. It’s sûr in French, sicuro in Italian,  seguro in Spanish and haumaru in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Legislation enacted in 1972 made the use of what compulsory in New Zealand?

5. Sir William Gallagher made what to keep his car safe from a horse?

Points for answers:

Freddy got three – though yesterday was Thursday all day, unlike last week when I muddled it with Friday.

Andrei got three and the answer to #1 is worth a bonus for effort.

Alwyn wins an electronic bunch of daffodils with five right.

Grant got four.

Gravedodger got four too with a  bonus for extra information, no sign of mental degradation.

Answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

ECan commissioners to stay

September 7, 2012

Local Body and Environment Ministers David Carter and Amy Adams have announced that commissioners will continue to govern Environment Canterbury after 2013:

A Bill to extend Commissioner governance until the 2016 local authority elections, with a ministerial review in 2014, will be tabled in Parliament today.

“The Commissioners, under the leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley, have proved highly effective in addressing urgent problems with water management in Canterbury and in rebuilding key stakeholder relationships,” Mr Carter said.

“Their strong governance through the earthquake response and rebuild planning has been excellent and it is vital that this work continues. The disruption caused by the earthquakes has made the Canterbury situation unique, and the focus must now be on ensuring the region can maximise its full economic potential as Christchurch rebuilds.

“In the interests of Canterbury’s progress, and to protect the gains the Commissioners have made, the Government has decided the best option is to continue with the current governance arrangement,” Mr Carter said. . .

Environment Minister Amy Adams says it is imperative that Canterbury’s freshwater resources continue to be managed and governed effectively.

“The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges. It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective and efficient,” Ms Adams said.

“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend to retain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans and policy statements relating to freshwater management.”

The Ministers thanked the Commissioners for their efforts over the past two years.

“In the face of enormous challenges, the Commissioners have done a great job of managing Canterbury’s vital freshwater and natural resources. We look forward to further progress for Cantabrians and the continued growth of the region,” the Ministers said.

One measure of the change at the council since commissioners took over governance is processing consents.

ECan had the worst record for processing consents under the dysfunctional council, it is now one of the best.

Postponing elections for another three years is a big step but it’s justified by the size of the task facing ECan.

The earthquakes have given the council a lot more work and made it even more important that it works well.


MMP submission close today

September 7, 2012

Submissions on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations for the review of MMP close at 5pm today.

I voted against MMP each time there’s been a referendum.

The majority view differs from mine.

Last year a small majority voted for MMP again – but who knows exactly what they were voting for?

Was it the status quo or a review, the outcome of which they could influence but not control?

The process was flawed but we can’t change that. We do however, have one last chance to give our views.

The submission form is here.

I’ve just completed my submission – opting for the status quo.

I don’t like MMP but I like the proposed recommendations even less.

I am also disappointed the commission didn’t address one of  MMP’s biggest flaws – poorer representation for individuals because of the size of electorates.

Increasing the population tolerance from 5% to 10%  when boundaries are set would enable the bigger seats to be geographically smaller and give greater scope for the Boundaries’ Commission to take account of community of interest.

First they came for the apples

September 7, 2012

Australian apple growers spent years trying to keep New Zealand apples out of their country on biosecurity grounds.

Now their potato growers are following their example:

AusVeg, the national industry body for vegetable growers,  says it’s “dismayed” the federal government has so far failed to block New  Zealand potato imports that puts $A1.5 billion ($NZ1.9b) of production at risk  from tomato-potato psyllid, “a destructive insect wreaking havoc in New  Zealand”.

“The processing sector in New Zealand has stated recently  that potato production in the North Island is on a knife’s edge as a result of  this pest,” AusVeg spokesman William Churchill said in a statement.

“Why are we willing to roll the dice and play games with our  primary industries and food manufacturing sector?”

Who can blame them?

Growers here would try the same tactic if they were worried about imports, whether they were motivated by biosecurity concerns or fear of competition.

Do we still need to feed the world?

September 7, 2012

New Zealand is regarded as a leader in farming but we’re at risk of being left well behind if we don’t adopt 21st century biotechnology.

Crop-enhancing biotechnology is the world’s best hope of feeding a population expected to double by 2050, but scientists at an international conference in Rorotua this week warned NZ is in danger of missing the bus as resistance to genetic modification blocks development. AgResearch scientist Tony Conner said the amount of land planted with GM crops worldwide last year was 6 times the size of NZ. “If we continue to not adopt this technology, we run a huge risk of being left behind..In another decade we could be dealing with yesterday’s crops.”

No GM crops are grown in NZ, despite the vast potential for improved output from homegrown GM pastures, alongside exported products such as tomatoes, capsicum and squash. The loss in not embracing GM has been put at $1.5bn.

The reason we’re not embracing GM is that opposition based on emotion rather than science is dominating the discussion.

Caution with anything new is sensible but the blanket ban on genetic modification is blinkered.

Green MP Steffan Browning who helped lead a protest against the conference contends NZ should rely on organic and traditional means of producing food. “Rather than going for volume we need to be going for best value and not compromise our brand.” A research study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine could find little evidence food produced organically, without artificial fertilisers or other chemicals, is healthier or the vitamin content was any different.

Genetic modification might help farmers reduce the need for artificial fertilisers and pesticides, it would definitely enable us to produce more.

Food security is one of the biggest issues facing the world.

Although we export most of the food we produce, it’s not a lot on a global scale. Genetic modification could enable us to produce more food with better nutritional value.

If we could do more to feed the world, should we, or is it acceptable to keep the blinkers on, worry only about our little corner and let someone else concern themselves with feeding the hungry?

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