Word of the day

October 31, 2012

Truth – the quality or state of being true; the body of real things, events, and facts; actuality; conformity with fact or reality; verity; fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.


From black dog to editor’s desk

October 31, 2012

Blogger Cameron Slater has made no secret over his battle with the black dog of depression.

Mind you, he doesn’t make a secret of much. That includes hs disdain for much of the mainstream media and now he’s joining it.

Internet shock jock goes mainstream

“Wellington, you’re on notice – be afraid.”

New Zealand’s number 1 news and opinion blogger Cameron Slater has today been appointed Editor of the Truth.

Truth is New Zealand’s last remaining Kiwi-owned national newspaper which this year turns 125 years old.

Slater has been brought on board to fundamentally change the way newspapers deliver to their audiences. Newspapers worldwide are in decline, due, Slater says, to a tired old business model that no longer works.

“We’re not going to spend $4 million on a paint job and then deliver the same tired old paid-for shit.

“Most of the media in this country is weak, and it’s paid for. The integrity in news went ages ago.”

Slater is adamant that the backbone of New Zealand – the people who work – are not getting a fair shake from government or the system. He aims to change that.

“Each and every one of us has got an investment in NZ Inc, and the majority of the people in charge of the place are taking the piss out of our investment.

“We’re going to keep the buggers honest. There’s no better disinfectant than sunlight.

“To use a tired phrase – if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, so Wellington, you’re on notice – if you’re having a lend, we’re coming for you!”

Changes will be rolled out over a period of months and will include both print and a 24 hour news website to support the paper. Slater aims to alter the approach to news presentation significantly.

“We took the pulse of the nation, and it had nearly bloody died.

“No bastard wants to read old news – they can get that online. We’ll be more of a views-paper that promises to deliver REAL news, REAL opinion.

“The people are numb from the eyes down with the diet of PR’d crap they get now. I will not do it to them anymore – it’s not right.

“I assure you – the little paper that could still can!”

There will be further announcements regarding contributors and editorial direction.

Slater’s first issue will hit newsstands on Thursday 8 November 2012.

This won’t be an easy job but you don’t get to be the country’s most-read blogger by doing the easy things.

And surely nothing he’ll meet in the editor’s chair will be harder to deal with than depression.

 

 

 

 

 


Halloween more holloween

October 31, 2012

One of the many advantages of country living is that we are very unlikely to be bothered by children tricking and treating for Halloween tonight.

It isn’t a celebration for which I have any fondness.

Like Guy Fawkes it is out of season here and it’s also out of time.

It might have had some good points a generation or two ago when children made their own  costumes and showed them off to neighbours whom they knew well.

But it’s a hollow celebration now that the outfits are almost all bought and children turn up at doors of people they barely know, if not those of strangers.

Scrooge was referring to Christmas when he said, “Bah, humbug.”

But Halloween brings out the inner curmudgeon in me and I apply it to that trick and treating for what is more holloween.

That said I won’t be going as far as Credo Quia Absurdum Est to deter trick or treaters.


Rural round-up

October 31, 2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms -  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone -  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


“With help I’ve come alive”

October 31, 2012

Quote of the day:

I tell you one thing, it was hard,” he says. “I was thinking I was in a hole, but again with help of everyone I’ve come alive.” - Pedro Carazo, Christchurch restaurateur who lost his son and his business in the February 22nd earthquake.

You can read more here and find Pedro’s House of Lamb on Facebook.


And they say farms are expensive

October 31, 2012

We were splitting the partnership in a crib in Wanaka and looking for another one at the same time we were buying a couple of hundred hectares from a neighbouring farm at home.

When given the price of the section and working out the per hectare price compared with the farmland my farmer asked, “how many stock units could I run on it?”

Urban sections aren’t directly comparable with farms but Don Brash points out just how out of kilter city prices are:

For one of the least densely populated countries in the world, it is ridiculous that tiny 500 square metre sections often end up costing well in excess of $250,000 – equivalent to $5 million per hectare. Yes, there are costs of servicing these new sections with infrastructure – but $5 million per hectare?

Five million dollars could buy you about 600 hectares of reasonable farmland in the Manawatu on which you could run about 6,000 stock units.

People complain that farms are expensive. I wouldn’t say they’re cheap but they’re far more reasonably priced than the sections Dr Brash talks about.

That’s a lot of money poured into what is usually a non-productive asset, if not a liability.

A section, and the house built on it, generally cost money and earn nothing until, if the market is favourable, it’s sold when there might be some capital gain.

That contrasts poorly with farms which are – usually – productive assets that provide jobs and earn export income.


Unions oppose freer trade

October 31, 2012

Unions on both sides of the Tasman are opposing freer trade between Australia and New Zealand.

. . . Approaching the 30th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER), the CTU has teamed up with its counterpart the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to fight some of the key recommendations made by productivity commissions of both countries.

The unions have written to the productivity commissions rejecting a proposal to reduce all remaining tariffs to five per cent, unless there is a public inquiry into the impact on jobs. . .

This is a blinkered approach which would hold back both countries.

Tariffs are a subsidy for businesses paid for by consumers.

They are anti-competitive, protect inefficient businesses and workers, restrict choice for customers and inflate prices.

Australia is our biggest trading partner. We have far more to gain from access to a market about five times bigger than ours than we have to lose.

But the gains aren’t all one-way.

The freer trade is across the Tasman the better it is for both countries.

 


October 31 in history

October 31, 2012

475  Romulus Augustulus was proclaimed Western Roman Emperor.

1517  Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

1587  Leiden University Library opened.

1795  John Keats, British poet, was born (d. 1821).

1822  Emperor Agustín de Iturbide attempted to dissolve the Mexican Empire.

1860 Juliette Low, American founder of the Girl Scouts (d. 1927)

1861  American Civil War: Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott resigned as Commander of the United States Army.

1863  The Land Wars resumed as British forces in New Zealand led by General Duncan Cameron began their Invasion of the Waikato.

1864  Nevada was admitted as the 36th U.S. state.

1876  A monster cyclone ravaged India, resulting in over 200,000 deaths.

1887  Chiang Kai-shek, Nationalist Chinese leader, former Republic of China president, was born(d. 1975).

1908 Muriel Duckworth, Canadian activist, was born (d. 2009).

1913 Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States.

1913 – The Indianapolis Street Car Strike and subsequent riot began.

1917  World War I: Battle of Beersheba – “last successful cavalry charge in history”.

1918  Banat Republic was founded.

1920  Dick Francis, British jockey-turned-novelist, was born (d. 2010).

1923 The first of 160 consecutive days of 100 degrees at Marble Bar, Australia.

1924  World Savings Day was announced in Milan by the Members of the Association at the 1st International Savings Bank Congress (World Society of Savings Banks).

1926 Magician Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured.

1931  Dan Rather, American television journalist, was born.

1938  Great Depression: In an effort to restore investor confidence, the New York Stock Exchange unveiled a fifteen-point programme aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.

1940   The Battle of Britain ended.

1941  After 14 years of work, drilling was completed on Mount Rushmore.

1941   The destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 United States Navy sailors.

1941  A fire in a clothing factory in Huddersfield, England killed 49

1943  World War II: An F4U Corsair accomplished the first successful radar-guided interception.

1949  Bob Siebenberg, American drummer (Supertramp), was born.

1954 Algerian War of Independence: The Algerian National Liberation Front began a revolt against French rule.

1956 Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France began bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.

1963  An explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum (now Pepsi Coliseum) in Indianapolis killed 74 people during an ice skating show.

1968  Vietnam War October surprise: Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announced  he had ordered a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam” effective November 1.

1973  Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escaped from Mountjoy Prison aboard a hijacked helicopter.

1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two security guards.

1985 Keri Hulme’s novel The Bone People won the Booker Prize.

Keri Hulme’s Bone people wins Booker Prize

1986  The 5th congress of the Communist Party of Sweden was inaugurated. During the course of the congress the party name is changed to the Solidarity Party and the party ceases to be a communist party.

1994  An American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in Roselawn, Indiana, after circling in icy weather, killing 68 passengers and crew.

1996  Fokker F100  TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402 crashed into several houses in São Paulo, Brazil killing 98 including 2 on the ground.

1998 Iraq disarmament crisis began: Iraq announced it would no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

1999  EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 on-board.

1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returned to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

2000   Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Flight 006 collided with construction equipment upon takeoff in Taipei, Taiwan killing 79 passengers and four crew members.

2000 – A chartered Antonov An-26 exploded after takeoff in Northern Angola killing 50.

2000 – Soyuz TM-31 launched, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been continuously crewed since.

2002 A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his ex-employer.

2003 – Mahathir bin Mohamad resigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, marking an end to Mahathir’s 22 years in power.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

October 30, 2012

Disapprobation - strong disapproval, typically on moral or social grounds; the act or state of disapproving; the state of being disapproved; condemnation.


8-hour tramp to claim ute

October 30, 2012

A Canterbury university student tramped eight hours to win a ute.

A five-week competition gave clues to the Isuzu ute’s whereabouts.

. . . We told you it wouldn’t be easy and some of the more cunning hunters made the most of what they had in hand.

Aaron Bashnick a 22 year old Canterbury University student did just this, using his wit and determination to bag the prize.

Aaron, who is studying forestry engineering, won the ute after following the 5 week hunt.

“There were five people all right there together looking for the D-MAX, it was crazy. Three of them went right past it and didn’t see it because it was well camouflaged. I only got there a second before the guy behind me”, Aaron said.

“We knew from the clues that the D-MAX was at the back of the property but the hunt rules said no one could go onto it until nine o’clock. So to get around it we tramped in over the Tarlesse Range. It took about eight hours but I guess it was all worth it now,” he said. . .

I hope the bloke who was a second behind got a consolation prize.

 

 

 


Strange economics from new party

October 30, 2012

New Zealand has another political party – the New Economics Party.

. . . Our philosophy is that Earth is for sharing, so owners of private land and its resources must pay an annual rent to the public for the privilege, instead of having their earned income confiscated by government. . .

Our solutions will go a long way to tackling resource depletion, climate change, environmental damage, unemployment and poverty, while at the same time unleashing the human creativity and entrepreneurial spirit required to meet the big challenges ahead.

We will change the way money is created. The current interest-bearing debt money system drives the world-devouring engine of perpetual growth, transfers wealth from the poor to the rich and causes growing debt, instability and environmental harm. The profit making bank createdimoney (sic) system we live with is a monoculture that causes people to behave competitively in a dog-eat-dog world. We want multiple currencies co-existing. Until we change the money system we change nothing. Change it and you help all of the above including climate change. . .

That sounds like strange economics to me.

The party’s first campaign is going to be against the Trans Pacific Partnership:

The fledgling New Economics Party co-founded by Otaki woman Deirdre Kent has decided that its first campaign is to help fight the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

“We came to the conclusion on Sunday that almost all the policy we have on our books will be illegal if the TPPA is signed,” said Deirdre Kent. “Under the TPPA a government doing what we recommend would be sued for millions of dollars by multinational companies.”

“It looks as though foreign banks, insurance companies and money traders are to be given more powers to challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis. There will probably be no possibility of capital controls and no chance to bring in the domestic-only land-backed New Zealand currency we are working on”, she said. . .

Goodness knows where they get that interpretation of the TPP from.

The TPP as it stands isn’t perfect which is why it’s up for negotiation rather than being a fait accompli.

But if negotiations are successful it will open borders to the benefit of consumers and producers.

The people with the most to gain from that are the poor who face fewer choices and are less able to pay higher prices which result from protectionism and import restrictions.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

October 30, 2012

Tasty lambs’ tails may soon be off the barbecue menu – Jon Morgan:

FIRST, there’s the acrid smell of burning wool, closely followed by a frenzied crackling as the lanolin sizzles. But then comes the mouth-watering aroma of roasting meat.

Barbecued lambs’ tails are a delicacy savoured by many farmers at this time of year as tailing, or docking, gets under way.

It’s a time of short-lived pain for the lambs but is necessary to prevent greater pain later. The long dangling tail can become encrusted with faeces and attract blowflies. Their maggots feed on the lamb’s flesh, causing great pain and distress.

There’s an art to docking.

Many farms have modern equipment that clamps the lamb and presents it breech-forward to the man or woman wielding a hot iron. With a swift flourish, the tail is severed and the lamb is set free to run bleating to its mother.

Rubber rings can also be used. They cut off the blood supply so the tail drops off in seven to 10 days.

Enough of the tail must be left to protect the genitals and so it can still wag. That’s not so farmers will know if it is happy or not, but so the lamb can spray its faeces away from its body. . .

Tails could prove winner – Terri Russell:

A Southland sheep farmer started docking his lambs this month as part of new research that looks at the effect of docking tails at different lengths.

The three-year docking trial is the first of its kind documented worldwide and was launched by Alliance Group last month when lamb tagging started.

Tail docking is common practice in New Zealand to try to reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike.

Alliance Group livestock general manager Murray Behrent said the research would help shed light on claims that docking tails too short was an animal welfare issue, and that longer tails improved the growth rate of lambs. . .

Pressure on meat,wool farmers to improve outputs – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers will put their energies into improving meat and wool production as markets meet a strong headwind from the debt crisis in Europe.

The European recession and unfavourable currency exchange rates would lead to weaker sale prices for lamb and wool in the 2012-13 season, said Beef + Lamb New Zealand economic service executive director Rob Davison.

The forecast for average lamb price at $94 was down on the likely $113 for the 2011-12 season just completed. . .

Dairy chairman urges more focus on image – Neil Ratley:

Southland dairy farmers were congratulated for a job well done but also asked to continue working to improve the industry’s public image at the DairyNZ annual general meeting in Wallacetown.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the dairy industry pumped millions of dollars into the regional economy.

“The average annual revenue from milk production is more than $1.2 million per farm,” he said. “At least half of that money is being spent on farm working expenses and circulating through the local economy.”

Dairy NZ chairman John Luxton said the New Zealand and Southland dairy industry had shown considerable growth and resilience to factors impacting other industries. . .

The way you’d farm if you farmed yourself – Pasture Harmonies:

Think for a moment that you’re a Western consumer contemplating buying some animal protein for dinner that night.

Faced with an array of red and white meat choices, you have a tiny thought in the back of your mind about how the animal that produced that steak or mince or breast grew up.

(Ignoring anthropomorphism) mostly, you’re going to be aware that its life was pretty confined and squashed, and bears very little resemblance to how it would’ve existed in a ‘natural’ world.

However, you’ve got to eat, and pretty much you have Hobson’s choice when it comes to the production source of the meat. . .

New Leadership for Grape and Wine Industry

New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s 1,500 grape growers and winemakers, announced today the election of Steve Green as Chair and John Clarke as Deputy Chair.

Mr Green is proprietor of Carrick, a boutique Central Otago winery; he succeeds Stuart Smith of Marlborough who has stepped down after six years in the role. Mr Green has been involved in the Central Otago grape and wine industry since 1994. He has previously served as Chair of Central Otago Winegrowers and has been on the New Zealand Winegrowers Board since 2005, serving for the last three years as Deputy Chair.

Mr Clarke is a Gisborne grapegrower with over 30 years experience in the grape and wine industry. Mr Clarke, who is a former Gisborne Mayor, has previously served for ten years as the Chair of Gisborne Winegrowers and joined the New Zealand Winegrowers Board in 2006. . .

More calculators to make the most of nitrogen:

A broader range of online calculators developed to assist farmers to gauge the possible benefits of using urea treated with a urease inhibitor are now available

Summer is just around the corner which in New Zealand typically means drier weather conditions making it difficult to assess the best time to apply nitrogen fertiliser.

Urea treated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabiliser addresses ammonia volatilisation and offers farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better even if the weather or soil conditions are not optimal. . .

World’s first compostable fruit label for Zespri Kiwifruit:

Zespri will introduce the world’s first and only fully compostable fruit labels on all Zespri® Organic Kiwifruit next season.

Zespri’s Global Marketing Manager – Organic, Glen Arrowsmith, explains this initiative is part of Zespri’s leadership role and ongoing commitment to improving the environmental credentials of its products.

“Our international customers – retailers, wholesalers, consumers, governments – are increasingly interested in the sustainability of products arriving in their markets and we’ve invested in research and development to continue to lead the market in this area.” . . .


Training & education

October 30, 2012

Jacqueline Rowarth, Professor of Agribusiness at Waikato University explains the difference between training, education and development (in the NBR print edition, not online):

 . . . training applies to vines, dogs, young children and troops. Conformity and obedience are required for reasons of efficiency, safety, hygiene and reliability. Training also applies to any skill – pruning, hairdressing . . . In general, training is teaching a skill or type of behaviour through regular practice and instruction. People might get better at their job with some knowledge and experience but the basic skill is acquired through training.

Education involves intellectual, moral or social instruction. training might be part of being educated but the context involves knowledge and, at its best, enlightenment.

Terms overlap. Education involves training and development . . .

Training and education do overlap but my observation on changes in recent years is there has been a movement from training to education in subjects which require more of the latter than the former.

In what used to be primarily practical subjects, it’s no longer enough for pupils to be able to do something, they must be able to explain, even pontificate on, what they’re doing, how and why.

That might be fine for academic subjects but is it necessary for those which require skill rather than intellectual enlightenment?


Mobile retirees could help housing affordability

October 30, 2012

Baby boomers have started retiring and a lot more will follow.

Many of them will be in Auckland. Not all of them will want or need to stay there.

These mobile retirees could sell a home there and buy something at least as good for a lower price elsewhere.

Look at what $455,000 or $165,000 could buy in Oamaru and contrast that to what you’d get for a similar amount in Auckland.

Selling up and shifting out would take some of the pressure off the housing supply in Auckland and add to the population of smaller towns and cities which would welcome inward migration.

The difference between the price gained for the house sold in Auckland and one bought elsewhere would give the mobile retirees money to spare to enjoy a less frugal retirement.

This won’t make housing more affordable by itself, but add it to other measures and it could help.


Affordable housing requries culture change

October 30, 2012

Affordability of housing isn’t a simple matter.

Someone wanting to sell, or with a large mortgage wanting more equity in their property will be happy with higher prices.

However, there are more people finding it more difficult to buy and in responding to the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability, Finance Minister Bill English spells out why it matters:

“High house prices matter because many New Zealanders spend a large portion of their incomes on housing and that has helped fuel household debt and contribute to damaging imbalances in the economy,” Mr English says.

“In particular, high housing debt diverts money from more productive investments, contributes to New Zealand’s significant overall level of indebtedness and exposes taxpayers to growing demands for State assistance with housing costs. 

“Those factors make it vital that housing becomes more affordable. In addition, projections suggest that many more homes will be required in coming years than are being built.”

There are no quick fixes and improving affordability isn’t just the government’s responsibility but it has a programme with four key aims:

  • Increasing land supply – this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.
  • Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing – this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents.
  • Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing – this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.
  • Improving productivity in the construction sector – this includes an evaluation of the Productivity Partnership’s progress in achieving a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020.

Decisions made by local councils not only affect their local communities, but have wider effects on the economy and the Government’s books. 

“Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils and the Government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability,” Mr English says. . .

These measures will help, but a culture change is also needed.

My generation and older were brought up with the idea of a single story house on a quarter acre section as the norm.

That is still possible in some places but in cities, notably Auckland, where demand for housing is so high and land supply inadequate it is no longer realistic.

People who want to live in those places need to accept that their sections will have to be smaller and houses higher. Terraced housing and apartments are normal in most other parts of the world where a lot more people are packed into cities which cover far smaller areas than ours.

Not PC discusses some options and shows some examples.

Denser housing will affect communities too – if people no longer have big sections round their homes, there will be a need for more public green spaces and play areas.

Those not willing to accept the change will have to move to smaller cities and towns where there’s less pressure on land and prices which could be good for both the city they leave and the place where they settle.

The full report is here.


October 30 in history

October 30, 2012

1137  Battle of Rignano between Ranulf of Apulia and Roger II of Sicily.

1226  Tran Thu Do, head of the Tran clan of Vietnam, forced Ly Hue Tong, the last emperor of the Ly dynasty, to commit suicide.

1270  The Eighth Crusade and siege of Tunis ended by an agreement between Charles I of Sicily and the sultan of Tunis.

1340  Battle of Rio Salado.

1470  Henry VI returned to the English throne after Earl of Warwick defeated the Yorkists in battle.

1485  King Henry VII was crowned.

1501  Ballet of Chestnuts – a banquet held by Cesare Borgia in the Papal Palace with fifty prostitutes or courtesans in attendance for the entertainment of the guests.

1735 John Adams, second President of the United States, was born (d. 1826).

1751  Richard Sheridan, Irish playwright, was born(d. 1816).

1831 Escaped slave Nat Turner was captured and arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.

1863  Danish Prince Wilhelm arrived in Athens to assume his throne as George I, King of the Hellenes.

1864 Second war of Schleswig ended. Denmark renounced all claim to Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg, which come under Prussian and Austrian administration.

1865 The Native Land Court was created.

Native Land Court created
1885 Ezra Pound, American poet, was born (d. 1972).

1894  Domenico Melegatti obtained a patent for a procedure to be applied in producing pandoro industrially.

1896 Kostas Karyotakis, Greek poet, was born (d. 1928).

1905  Czar Nicholas II of Russia granted Russia’s first constitution, creating a legislative assembly.

1918  A petition with more than 240,000 signatures was presented to Parliament, demanding an end to the manufacture and sale of alcohol in New Zealand.

Massive prohibition petition presented to Parliament

1918  The Ottoman Empire signed an armistice with the Allies, ending the First World War in the Middle East.

1920  The Communist Party of Australia was founded in Sydney.

1922 Benito Mussolini was made Prime Minister of Italy.

1925   John Logie Baird created Britain’s first television transmitter.

1929 The Stuttgart Cable Car was constructed.

1938  Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing anxiety in some of the audience.

1941  World War II: Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved U.S. $1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Allied nations.

1941  Otis Williams, American singer, was born.

1941 – 1,500 Jews from Pidhaytsi (in western Ukraine) were sent by Nazis to Belzec extermination camp.

1944  Anne Frank and her sister Margot were deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

1945  Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs signed a contract for the Brooklyn Dodgers to break the baseball colour barrier.

1945  Henry Winkler, American actor, was born.

1947 Timothy B. Schmit, American musician (Eagles), was born.

1947  The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was the foundation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), is founded.

1950  Pope Pius XII witnessed “The Miracle of the Sun” while at the Vatican.

1953  Cold War: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally approved the top secret document National Security Council Paper No. 162/2, which stated that the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons must be maintained and expanded to counter the communist threat.

1960 Diego Maradona, Argentine footballer, was born.

1960  Michael Woodruff performed the first successful kidney transplant in the United Kingdom at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

1961   The Soviet Union detonated the hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya; at 58 megatons of yield, it is still the largest explosive device ever detonated, nuclear or otherwise.

1961 – Because of “violations of Lenin’s precepts”, it was decreed that Joseph Stalin‘s body be removed from its place of honour inside Lenin’s tomb and buried near the Kremlin wall with a plain granite marker instead.

1970  In Vietnam, the worst monsoon to hit the area in six years causes large flooded, kills 293, leaves 200,000 homeless and virtually halts the Vietnam War.

1972   A collision between two commuter trains in Chicago, Illinois killed 45 and injured 332.

1973   The Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey was completed, connecting the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosporus for the first time.

1974  The Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman took place in Kinshasa, Zaire.

1975  Prince Juan Carlos became Spain’s acting head of state, taking over for the country’s ailing dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco.

1980  El Salvador and Honduras signed a peace treaty to put the border dispute fought over in 1969′s Football War before the International Court of Justice.

1983  The first democratic elections in Argentina after seven years of military rule.

1985  Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off for mission STS-61-A, its final successful mission.

1987   In Japan, NEC released the first 16-bit home entertainment system, the TurboGrafx-16, known as PC Engine.

1991   The Madrid Conference for Middle East peace talks opened.

1993  Greysteel massacre: The Ulster Freedom Fighters, a loyalist terrorist group, open fire on a crowded bar in Greysteel. Eight civilians were killed and thirteen wounded.

1995  Quebec sovereignists narrowly lost a referendum for a mandate to negotiate independence from Canada (vote is 50.6% to 49.4%).

2000   The last Multics machine was shut down.

2002  British Digital terrestrial television (DTT) Service Freeview begins transmitting in parts of the United Kingdom.

2005  The rebuilt Dresden Frauenkirche (destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II) was reconsecrated after a thirteen-year rebuilding project.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

October 29, 2012

Transhumance – The action or practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, usually to lowlands in winter and higher country in summer.


Bureaucracy rules not OK

October 29, 2012

If it moves, tax it is supposed to be a tongue in cheek remark, but someone at the Canterbury City Council took it literally by imposing £16 walking permit on people who accessed their homes through a car park:

The council compulsory purchased land to the rear of Cromwell Road, Whitstable, in 1995. It then turned it into what is now known as Bisson’s Car Park. Residents who enter the car park to access the rear of their homes received letters from the council informing them if they wanted to continue doing so they would have to pay for it. Amazingly, someone thought it was a good wheeze to attempt to charge local residents £16 a year for a pedestrian licence; £122 a year for a vehicle licence; get everyone to sign a 13-clause licence agreement; and on top of that require each household to purchase £2 million worth of public liability insurance. . .

Not surprisingly residents weren’t amused and let the council know.

It responded:

. . . Our intention was to regularise existing access to the rear of their properties by granting access licences across the residents’ car park.

However, concerns have been expressed about the proposal so we are going to pause and take time to discuss the situation with them to allow us to find a way forward that meets the needs of all parties. . .

Any utterance which includes the words regularise, find a way forward and meets the needs of all parties in a single sentence should be regarded with extreme caution.

But in this case I think it means they know they’ve got it wrong and are trying to get it right.

 

 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2012

Agricultural debt an economic winner - Brian Gaynor:

New Zealand has a strange attitude towards debt. We criticise the agriculture sector for having too much debt even though it generates the bulk of the country’s export earnings.

Meanwhile individuals are encouraged to take on more and more debt albeit this generates little economic activity and makes residential property less and less affordable for new home buyers.

This weird situation is highlighted in a recent report by the Ministry of Primary Industries, an amalgam of the old agriculture, forestry, fishing and food safety ministries. It also comes through in a major report by ANZ Bank, “Greener Pastures: The Global Soft Commodity Opportunity for Australia and New Zealand”. . .

Farmers may be pressured to trade shares for cash:

Dairy farming representatives have suggested that some highly indebted farmers may find themselves under pressure from their banks to sell the economic rights to some of their Fonterra shares for cash.

Fonterra has released details of the shareholders fund which it’s launching next month as part of its Trading Among Farmers plan.

TAF will allow outsiders to invest in the dividend earnings from shares that farmers deposit in the fund, in exchange for the cash value of the shares. . .

Scientist pursuing life-long fascination – Sally Rae:

Julie Everett-Hincks’ fascination with sheep breeding and lamb survival began at a young age.

Now a senior scientist at AgResearch Invermay, Dr Everett-Hincks grew up on a sheep farm in South Otago and, as soon as she could walk, she was out with her father on the farm.

Even as a young girl, she wondered “why some sheep made better mothers than other sheep”. . .

Ministry boss operation focussed – Tim Fulton:

The petrol-head running the Ministry for Primary Industries loves his engines, although he’s been known to pad around Pastoral House in a sports jacket and the most modern of casual shoes. This man you could have just met at a BBQ is Wayne McNee, a leading driver of the country’s economic growth.

He’s spending a fair bit of private time getting ready to marry for a second time and has only just quit ploughing plenty into his son’s motor-racing career.

Jamie McNee is a top New Zealand hope, having excelled in Toyota Racing formula four and then the Toyota Championship where he finished third, winning a couple of races.

McNee senior says motor-racing is one of his passions but it got to a point with Jamie, spending roughly $150,000 a year, where he couldn’t sustain the cost of funding his career. . .

Sheep take over Spanish streets:

Spanish shepherds led a flock of more than 2,000 sheep through central Madrid on Sunday in defence of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

Many tourists and residents were surprised to see traffic cut to allow the ovine parade to bleat its way across some of Madrid’s most upscale urban streets.

The right to use droving routes that wind across land that was open fields and woodland before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great metropolis it is today has existed since at least 1273. . .

Community Activities and Bass Guitar Balance Busy Farming Lives:
Southland farmer Euan Templeton is not a big TV watcher.As well as running a 545ha sheep and beef farm at Waimatuku, east of Riverton, Euan and wife Linda are involved in a host of off-farm activities that “keep us young”.Music and gardening are key hobbies for the couple. Euan is captain of the local Boys Brigade company, a church elder and a member of the Lions Club. He also sings in the Southern Sounds Barber Shop Chorus and plays bass in a rock band.

All this makes for a busy life, but Euan reckons they have achieved a fairly good balance between the demands of their coastal farm and their off-farm interests. . .


Is it good enough?

October 29, 2012

New Zealand’s education system isn’t world class.

This is the opinion of Ministry of Education chief executive, Lesley Longstone.

[She] wrote in the ministry’s annual report that New Zealand cannot claim to be world class because Maori and Pasifika children and children from poor communities are underperforming. . .

Not surprisingly teacher unions have gone on the defensive but they’re missing the point.

It doesn’t matter how our education system ranks in the world, what matters is whether it’s good enough.

When one in five leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills and some students who get to university need remedial help it’s not.

The blame for that can’t all be laid on the system or teachers.

If children get to school without pre-reading skills, shift schools often, have insufficient encouragement and support from home and/or don’t have enough food or sleep the best of teachers will struggle to make a difference.

But some children make good progress in spite of the disadvantages they face while others don’t.

What makes the difference?

If the education system was as good as it needs to be it would not only know the answer to that question but how to apply what makes the difference where it’s lacking.

 

 


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