Ephemeron – an insect that lives only for a day or a few days; something transitory or short-lived.
Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:
* A celebration of ordinary, everyday things at the Dull Men’s Club.
A reader alerted me to Dull Men’s Club which I appreciate.
I welcome any other suggestions of websites which might be on interest for Critical Mass.
Prime Minister John Key has announced a bigger Cabinet reshuffle than anticipated:
Mr Key confirmed the Government’s nominee for Speaker to replace the departing Lockwood Smith will be long-serving National MP and Cabinet Minister David Carter.
“I’m pleased to announce David Carter as the Government’s nominee for Speaker and I’d like to thank him for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.
“I have taken the opportunity presented by the change of Speaker to look at the Cabinet line-up as a whole, in the context of the Government’s priorities.
“As we begin a new year I am optimistic about the progress we can make, while being mindful of the challenges created, in particular, by the uncertain international economic environment.
“New Zealanders expect their elected Government to get on, and not only do what it has promised to do, but to do so with a sense of urgency and purpose, with real energy and new thinking along the way.
“It is in this context I have decided to make changes to the Ministry.”
Two other Ministers will also be leaving Cabinet on 29 January – Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson.
“Phil and Kate have both made a real contribution to the Government in their four years as Ministers and I’d like to thank them for that,” Mr Key says.
“I have made the judgement that it is time for fresh energy and ideas, and for other members of our talented 59-strong caucus to be given an opportunity.”
Returning to Cabinet is Nick Smith, who will take on the Housing and Conservation portfolios. Mr Key says Dr Smith will bring his trademark energy to housing market and social housing issues, which are of real public interest.
“I have also asked Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to work with Nick as Associate Housing Minister, reflecting the strong links between these two areas. Tariana Turia will remain as Associate Minister and a part of that housing team.”
Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye will be appointed to Cabinet where she will become Minister for Food Safety, Youth Affairs and Civil Defence. She will also be Associate Education Minister, reflecting her work as Chair of the Education select committee.
Senior Whip Michael Woodhouse will be the third new Minister, serving outside Cabinet as Immigration and Veterans Affairs’ Minister as well as Associate Transport Minister.
“I’d like to congratulate Nikki and Michael on their promotions, which are both well deserved,” Mr Key says.
The remaining position inside Cabinet will be filled by Simon Bridges, who will be promoted from outside Cabinet and take on the Labour and Energy and Resources portfolios.
“Simon has had a very good first year as a Minister and is ready to step up and take on more responsibility,” Mr Key says.
Nathan Guy will pick up the Primary Industries portfolio to be vacated by David Carter, with Jo Goodhew assisting him as Associate Minister.
Mr Key says Chris Tremain will be appointed as Local Government Minister and is well placed to work with the sector on the Government’s well-advanced reforms.
Mr Key says he had also decided to make a change in relation to Novopay.
“I share the concerns of teachers and principals at continuing problems in the operation of Novopay, and fixing this as quickly as possible is a priority,” he says.
“A fresh set of eyes is needed and I have asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to take on this responsibility.”
The change will be done through a transfer of responsibility to Mr Joyce under section 7 of the Constitution Act.
“Getting Novopay working as it should may take some time, given what appears to be the systemic issues involved. I can assure teachers that we want to get Novopay sorted as soon as possible.
“With this change and Nikki Kaye’s appointment, there is no need for Mr Foss to remain as Associate Education Minister. I have instead asked him to pick up the role of Minister of Consumer Affairs, which will link in with his existing responsibilities as Commerce Minister.”
Mr Key says there are also two notable promotions in terms of Ministerial rankings in the Cabinet changes – with Jonathan Coleman rising to 10, and Amy Adams to 15.
The resignations of Mr Carter, Mr Heatley and Ms Wilkinson will take effect on 29 January, and all the other changes will take effect on Thursday 31 January, when the Governor-General appoints the new Ministers, and the necessary paperwork will have been completed.
Mr Key says it is anticipated that a new Senior Whip will be elected at National’s first caucus meeting of the year on 29 January 2013.
“This refreshed Ministerial team is ready to continue the Government’s focus on its four key priorities for this term – responsibly managing the Government’s finances, building a more competitive and productive economy, delivering better public services within fiscal restraints, and supporting the rebuilding of Christchurch,” Mr Key says.
“I will have more to say about how we intend to meet these priorities in coming days.”
The promotion of David Carter to speaker and Nick Smith’s reinstatement aren’t a surprise.
The other changes are unexpected but refreshment is a good.
Nikki Kaye and Michael Woodhouse have earned respect as chair of the Education Select Committee and Senior Whip respectively.
Promotions always cause disappointment for those who miss out but these two are deserved.
As soon as the phrases “genetic improvement” and “new technology” are used in the same breath, the image that many laymen create is one of monsters and Frankenstein food, writes Chris Harris.
However, are the two really mutually exclusive or can they live together happily?
This year’s Oxford Farming Conference brought the questions on genetics, new technology, genetic modification and improvements in agriculture into sharp focus.
At a time when the global population is growing and growing largely in the underdeveloped and developing countries, the need to produce more food, more efficiently is unquestioned.
It is predicted that by 2050 the world’s population will need 100 per cent more food and according to the UN FAO 70 per cent of it must come from efficiency enhancing technology. . .
Government pushes banks to go rural but will it pay? – Swati Pandey and Rajendra Jadhav:
Working out of a tiny rented room furnished with a wooden table, small biometric authentication machine and shelf stacked with passbooks, Ganesh Dangi is a one-man bank for a village of 650 people in northwestern Rajasthan.
A business correspondent, or local representative, for State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ) in Ranchhodpura village, 40 km (25 miles) east of Udaipur, Dangi is racing to sign up villagers to new “no frills” plans to meet a government target that every family in the district should have a bank account.
New Delhi plans to directly transfer cash payments for subsidies into these accounts, a move aimed at tackling graft in India’s creaky, corruption-ridden public distribution system.
If successful, the initiative could also bring modern banking to the doorstep of rural India, a goal towards which progress has so far been fitful despite mandatory targets set by the government and Reserve Bank of India. . .
Shear determination keeps business going – Sally Rae:
Shearing was Dave Bateman’s life.
After decades spent shearing, Mr Bateman saw a need for affordable shearing gear and established Dave Bateman Shearing Supplies at his Milburn home.
But following his death in May 2011 following a short illness, his widow Rayna was faced with a decision- continue with the business or walk away.
She did not have a business background but, for her, the answer was simple: ”I just took over – I couldn’t see it go”. . .
Fair success with Dorset Downs – Sally Rae:
North Otago Dorset Down breeders John and Wendy Dodd had a successful trip to the recent Canterbury A and P Association’s stud ram fair.
Mr and Mrs Dodd sold the top-priced Dorset Down ram at the sale, at $6200, along with two other rams at $6000 and $5500. They also topped the averages across the various breeds offered at the two-day sale at $5900. . .
Ten new scholarships each worth $10,000 have been made available for Maori tertiary students studying agriculture.
The Whanui grants have been created by the independent charitable trust, Te Putea Whakatupu – in partnership with the national organisation, the Federation of Maori Authorites. . .
Helping women who work in the dairy industry understand the ins and outs of purchasing stock is the focus of a series of practical workshops being held across the North and South Islands in February and March.
The Dairy Women’s Network is hosting the workshops to equip first herd buyers, or those looking to get involved in purchasing stock for the first time, with the skills and knowledge to understand the process of buying and selling stock, step by step, to make an informed decision. . .
With the 2013 Karaka Yearling Sales less than a week away, one of the first drafts to arrive at Karaka at the weekend was Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan’s Cambridge Stud which is set to host its annual public parade tomorrow (Tuesday 22 January) at 1:30pm.
Having presented yearlings at the National Yearling Sales Series since the early 1980s, Cambridge Stud has dominated the leading vendor category by sale aggregate – racking up 31 straight years at the top in 2012. . . .
Bonza, mate – 20/20 in the Australian citizenship quiz.
The NZ Herald reports that New Zealanders taking the test for real average only 72.6%.
The New Zealand Superfund has already invested in farms here, now it is looking further afield:
New Zealand’s state pension fund is looking at buying overseas farmland amid growing demand for food in emerging markets, and it is also interested in assets offered by struggling European banks as well as catastrophe insurance.
Crop, dairy and livestock farming operations in North and South America, Australia and Europe are potentially attractive, Matt Whineray, general manager of investments at the NZ$21 billion ($17.5 billion) New Zealand Superannuation Fund told Reuters in an interview.
“If we go and buy a farm, we will sell a little bit of global equities and fixed income,” Whineray said, adding that the fund was looking to increase its allocation for rural farmland to 3 percent from less than 1 percent at the moment. . .
The advent of a rising middle class in many emerging economies such as China and Indonesia has prompted other pension funds around the world, including those Australia, Canada and Sweden, to increase investments in farms.
But the difficulties of directly buying land overseas and the lack of large size farmland available has proved a challenge for big institutional investors.
“Farms and forests are more difficult to buy than equities, so it provides a real challenge,” Whineray said.
But he added: “You haven’t got a big weight of institutional money in those things at the moment. That’s part of the reason that the opportunity exists.” . . .
What will the people who don’t like foreign investment in farms here think of this?
“It says don’t touch,” he said.
“Yes, I noticed the notice,” she said.
“It reminds me how my mother used to tell me to look with my eyes, but I still find that to see some things really clearly I have to look with my fingers.”