Word of the day

October 11, 2012

Sass – impudence, cheek; to talk disrespectfully, especially to someone older or in authority; stewed fruit; fruit sauce; fresh vegetables.


Rural round-up

October 11, 2012

Strong tug at Canterbury teat – Tim Fulton:

By building a plant at Darfield Fonterra fired the “first shot” in competition on the West Coast, Westland Milk Products CEO Rod Quin says.

Steve Murphy, Fonterra’s general manager for milk supply, says his crew collects only a “tiny” amount of milk from the coast, from around Springs Junction. A fair number of coasters wouldn’t even call Springs Junction their patch, he says.

A Fonterra letter drop into Westland Milk country in mid 2011 generated “quite a bit of interest”, but nothing more has come of it apart from promises to keep in contact. . .

The perfect farmer’s body – Milk Maid Marian:

What does the perfect body look like? Not mine, that’s for sure! Yesterday, I was reminded just how bad my genes are for farming. Allergies run on both sides of my family and the worst irritant of all looks like this:

(Click link above for photo)

I’m told it’s called “fog” grass because the pollen is released in such huge quantities, it makes everything go misty. Dynamite! Yesterday, I had to wander through thigh-high forests of it to get the dam siphon running again. My scalp, eyes, nose, mouth and arms are all still desperately itchy 15 hours later.

The cows don’t like it either. Fog grass is covered in thick velvety “fur” that understandably is most unpalatable. . . .

How would you design a “future dairy farm? – Pasture to Profit:

Imagine what a “Future Dairy Farm” might look like.

How would you set up a “Future Dairy Farm”? What dairy farm system will be best? Dairy farms in the future must be profitable. Farm businesses must be resilient to increasing risk. Farmers will need to operate within stricter environmental rules. There will be environmental guidelines for farms to meet. Do we understand economic comparative advantage?  . . .

Synlait Milk Announces Milk Price for 2011/2012 Season

The average price paid by Synlait Milk for milk supplied in the 2011/2012 season is $6.22 per kg MS.

This is made up of an average base milk price of $6.14 per kg MS, autumn premiums of $0.01 per kg MS, colostrum and other special milk payments of $0.04 per kg MS, and winter milk premiums of $0.03 per kg MS.

Synlait Milk Chairman Graeme Milne said “This is a solid payout for our suppliers, and demonstrates our continued focus on ensuring we leave our farmers better off than their alternatives.” . . .

Primary industry merger welcomed:

DairyNZ says the merger of the agriculture and horticulture industry training organisations this month has real benefits for the dairy industry.

AgITO and Horticulture ITO have been merged to form the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO).

The new organisation will be officially launched tonight at a celebration event in Wellington attended by Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce as well as industry representatives. The new ITO, which will also be responsible for water and equine industry training and NZ Sports Turf industry training, will facilitate on-the-job training for 15,000 employees across the primary industries. . .


Thursday’s quiz

October 11, 2012

1. Who said: “It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds”?

2. Richard Bach wrote a book about which bird?

3. It’s oiseau in French, uccello in Italian, pájaro in Spanish and manu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Which bird is on the NZ $20 note?

5. Is a bird in the hand always better than two in the bush?


Not leading by example

October 11, 2012

A law firm specialising in employment ought to lead by example in dealing with its own staff.

If it was fined for unfairly dismissing a worker it would lose the confidence of its clients.

So what happens when a union is fined for unfairly dismissing a worker?

New Zealand’s largest union has been forced to pay $5000 for unfairly firing a sick Wellington worker. . . 

”A fair and reasonable employer could have investigated better by persevering to engage Ms Kindell and assemble all relevant information from the appropriate medical sources before making a final decision.” . . .

A fair and reasonable employer could have and the court obviously thinks the PSA should have.

That the union didn’t could make it an unfair and unreasonable employer.

It could provide more evidence for employers who complain about the difficulty in complying with the process required to discipline or dismiss staff.

This case also gives more evidence to support my theory that unions often take a jaundiced view of employers because they judge them by their own low standards.

Unions are specialists in employment law and employee rights and ought to above reproach in dealing with their own staff.

It can’t help PSA members have confidence in their union when it doesn’t lead by example.


Occupation Outlook provides study guidance

October 11, 2012

Some tertiary qualifications lead directly to work, many more could if  students had a better idea of where the job opportunities were and which qualifications were most likely to lead to work.

Occupation Outlook should do that.

The Government will ensure young people are better informed about the skills needed in our economy and what to train for in a new initiative announced as part of the Skilled and Safe Workplaces progress report released today.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will produce an annual Occupational Outlook that will clearly set out information collected from industries and businesses on the expected demand for key occupations in the years ahead.

“There has been a shortage of good occupation-level information for students, parents and tertiary providers about where the skill gaps will be and what students need to do to seize those opportunities as they embark on their studies. The Occupational Outlook will help address that gap,” Mr Joyce says.

“Employers have been telling us anecdotally for some time that there is a supply glut in some occupations, and a real shortage in areas like Engineering and ICT. We have addressed the availability of study places with our Budget 2012 increased investment in Engineering courses. The next issue is to help increase student interest in taking the right subjects so they can take up these opportunities.

“The Occupational Outlook will provide information on job prospects for around 40 occupations, as well as setting out likely income ranges, and qualifications needed. This will be very useful information for parents, students, education and training providers, and Government agencies.” . . .

Agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth has often pointed out that the mismatch between student subject choice and potential jobs.

Professor Rowarth says she doesn’t understand why so many students study arts subjects when the jobs aren’t there when they graduate, or if they do get jobs, starting salaries are so much lower than for science grads. “Graduates in applied science and agribusiness are being offered salary packages of approximately $70,000. I’m not saying ignore arts and culture – I’m just advocating that we feed the soul outside work hours, because we need science and scientific research to keep our economy growing. We also need agriculture and agribusiness. We can shape the future by ensuring that we achieve the right components in education and in the workforce.”

Aware she may upset her colleagues in the arts with these statements, Professor Rowarth says the data are globally available and she’s happy to discuss. “We all want our children ‘to be happy’: that means encouraging them in to careers where they will be valued and can make a difference.”

No-one is suggesting people shouldn’t study arts nor that every degree should lead directly to a job. there is still a place for a general degree which might not be a meal ticket but does show its holder can think and reason.

But students should go into their studies with their eyes wide open to where they might, or might not, lead them when they graduate.


The plan is working

October 11, 2012

Critics of the government keep saying it doesn’t have an economic plan.

They’re deliberately not listening to the oft-repeated message on export led growth encouraged by higher savings, less debt and healthier government finances.

That has always been the plan and the Crown’s annual financial statement show the plan is working.

Higher tax revenue, lower core Crown expenses and a large fall in annual Canterbury earthquake expenses helped to halve the Government’s operating deficit before gains and losses to $9.2 billion in the year to 30 June 2012.

The Crown’s annual financial statements published today show the Government is continuing to manage its finances responsibly and getting on top of debt, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“It was important that we helped New Zealanders through the recession by maintaining government programmes and public services,” he says. “It was also important that we provided the financial resources needed to help the people of Canterbury after the earthquakes.

“That has meant running large deficits in recent years. However, that could not continue indefinitely. The consequences of too much government debt are all too clear in Europe and the United States, where we are seeing big cuts to public services and pensions, and higher taxes.

“The National-led Government does not want that for New Zealand. That’s why we’re running a balanced programme to build a competitive economy, to reduce the unsustainable growth in government spending of the previous decade, and to get back to surplus.

“The latest financial statements show the Government is making good progress, with the economy continuing to recover and public finances improving.”

In the year to 30 June, tax revenue increased by $3.5 billion from the previous year, as the recovering economy underpinned consumption and wages.

Core Crown expenses fell by $1.4 billion due to a number of factors, including costs associated with the Emissions Trading Scheme and the weather tight homes financial assistance package.

Outside the core Crown, as reported previously the value of KiwiRail’s rail-related assets was written down as a result of the company’s restructure. Some $1.4 billion of the $8.6 billion devaluation was recorded as an impairment expense in the latest operating statement.

Labour made several stupid decisions in its last term. Purchasing KiwiRail at a vastly inflated price was the most expensive and one for which we will all be paying for a very long time.

Overall, the operating deficit before gains and losses of $9.2 billion for the latest year compared with $18.4 billion the previous year.

When earthquake costs are excluded, the OBEGAL deficit was $7.3 billion in 2011/12, compared with $9.3 billion the previous year.

Net Crown debt increased to $50.7 billion (24.8 per cent of GDP), from $40.1 billion (20.3 per cent of GDP) the previous year.

“In the uncertain global environment, it’s important that the Government continues to focus on controlling its spending and improving the quality of existing spending so we deliver better public services to New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

“As I’ve said before, we have less control over our revenue – particularly with other parts of the world still struggling with high levels of debt and sluggish economies. This will have an impact on New Zealand.

“That is all the more reason for the Government to continue with the economic programme we set out at the last election,” Mr English says. “We are focused on taking New Zealand forward by building a more competitive economy based on higher savings, less debt and healthier government finances.

“That’s the only way we can create the jobs, higher incomes and opportunities for New Zealanders here in this country.”

In spite of what the Opposition might say, we can’t spend our way out of debt nor can we make matters better by meddling with the currency.

There are no quick fixes but higher savings, lower debt and continued restraint on public spending are the plan and that is, albeit slowly, leading us back to government surplus and economic growth.


October 11 in history

October 11, 2012

1138 A massive earthquake struck Aleppo, Syria.

1531 Huldrych Zwingli was killed in battle with the Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland.

1614  Adriaen Block and 12 Amsterdam merchants petitioned the States General for exclusive trading rights in the New Netherland colony.

1634  The Burchardi flood — “the second Grote Mandrenke” killed around 15,000 men in North Friesland, Denmark and Germany.

1649  Sack of Wexford: After a ten-day siege, English New Model Army troops (under Oliver Cromwell) stormed the town of Wexford, killing over 2,000 Irish Confederate troops and 1,500 civilians.

1727  George II and Caroline of Ansbach were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain.

1776  American Revolution: Battle of Valcour Island – 15 American gunboats were defeated but give Patriot forces enough time to prepare defenses of New York City.

1809  Explorer Meriwether Lewis died under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand.

1811  Inventor John Stevens‘ boat, the Juliana, began operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service between New York, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey).

1833  A big demonstration at the gates of the legislature of Buenos Aires forced the ousting of governor Juan Ramón Balcarce and his replacement with Juan José Viamonte.

1844 Henry Heinz, American food manufacturer, was born (d. 1916).

1852 – The University of Sydney, Australia’s oldest university was inaugurated.

1861 The first Cobb & Co coach service ran from Dunedin to the Otago goldfields.

First Cobb and Co coach service runs to Otago goldfields

1865  Paul Bogle led hundreds of black men and women in a march in Jamaica, starting the Morant Bay rebellion.

1884 Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States and humanitarian, was born (d. 1962)

1890  In Washington, DC, the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded.

1899 Second Boer War began.

1906  San Francisco public school board sparked United States diplomatic crisis with Japan by ordering Japanese students to be taught in racially segregated schools.

1910  Ex-president Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright Brothers.

1912 – Betty Noyes, singer who dubbed Debbie Reynolds’ singing voice in Singin’ in the Rain, was born (d 1987).

1926 Neville Wran, Premier of New South Wales, was born.

1929 JC Penney opened store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all 48 U.S. states.

1937 Sir Bobby Charlton, English footballer, was born.

1941  Beginning of the National Liberation War of Macedonia.

1942  World War II: Battle of Cape Esperance – On the northwest coast of Guadalcanal, United States Navy ships intercepted and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island.

1944 Tuvinian People’s Republic was annexed by the U.S.S.R.

1950 Television: CBS’s mechanical colour system was the first to be licensed for broadcast by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

1954 First Indochina War: The Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam.

1957 Dawn French, Welsh comedian,actress and screenwriter, was born.

1958  NASA launched the lunar probe Pioneer 1.

1962  Second Vatican Council: Pope John XXIII convened the first ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church in 92 years.

1968  Apollo program: NASA launched Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.

1969 Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, was born.

1972 A race riot on the United States Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk off the coast of Vietnam during Operation Linebacker.

1975 The NBC sketch comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live debuted with George Carlin as the host and Andy Kaufman, Janis Ian and Billy Preston as guests.

1976  George Washington‘s appointment, posthumously, to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States by congressional joint resolution Public Law 94-479 was approved by President Gerald R. Ford.

1982  The Mary Rose, a Tudor carrack which sank on July 19 1545, was salvaged from the sea bed of the Solent.

1984 Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first American woman to perform a space walk.

1986 Cold War: U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavík, Iceland, in an effort to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.

1987  Start of Operation Pawan by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka that killed few thousand ethnic Tamil civilians, several hundred Tamil Tigers and few hundred Indian Army soldiers.

1996 Pala accident: a wood lorry and school bus collided in Jõgeva county, Estonia, killing eight children.

2001 The Polaroid Corporation filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

2002  A bomb attack in a shopping mall in Vantaa, Finland killed seven.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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