Who would it hurt?

June 6, 2013

Winston Peters and his sycophants and Trevor Mallard walked out of parliament over the Speaker David Carter’s ruling that Peter Dunne could still get a leader’s budget although his party has been deregistered.

Mallard and Peters are trying to get at Dunne but who would the loss of funding really hurt?

It would be a temporary inconvenience for Dunne. The people the funding employs could be far harder hit, losing their jobs, if only temporarily until United Future’s membership is sorted out. They’re the workers, the “ordinary” New Zealanders, who Peters and Mallard purport to represent.

The requirement to have 500 valid members is a very low threshold for party registration and it doesn’t reflect well on United Future or its leader that it’s having problems with it.

But the membership problem which caused the deregistration is expected to be sorted out by next week and the party will be re-registered so any loss of funding would be very temporary.

Opposition MPs keen on publicity might think it’s worth making a fuss in spite of that but the people whose jobs could be affected won’t.

Word of the day

June 6, 2013

Malapert – impudently bold in speech or manner; saucy; boldly disrespectful; an impudent, saucy person; a lunar crater that lies near the southern limb of the moon.

Rural round-up

June 6, 2013

Successful 2013 Hemp Harvest for Canterbury:

For the twelfth consecutive year, a successful hemp seed harvest has been completed in the heart of New Zealand’s agricultural centre, the Canterbury plains.

In 2001, Oil Seed Extractions (OSE) and Midlands Seed Limited (Midlands) formed a partnership in the production of high quality seed oils and combined forces to work through the legislation surrounding the commercial production of hemp seed.

These two Ashburton businesses have been involved with hemp trials since the first hemp growing licences were issued in September 2001, and despite the high costs to maintain these licences and the related compliance, they continue to grow successful commercial quantities of Hemp seed in New Zealand. . .

Well done Kereru Station – RivettingKateTaylor:

Normally there are hundreds of red four wheelers traversing the countryside at a Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the year field day , but this year we would have needed a couple of days to get around the magnificent Kereru Station.

Kereru Station’s managers Danny and Robyn Angland  have now been added to the list of who’s who in Hawke’s Bay farming circles (the station is owned by two charitable trusts).

It is a 2842ha property (2114ha effective) with six staff, 15,385 sheep and 1586 cattle. . .

Full-scale Fieldays assault on Russia in the works – Andrea Fox:

Russia is poised for a huge change in the way it farms, with big opportunities for New Zealand agribusiness, say sector leaders planning to get a foothold.

National Fieldays is muscling up its job description to advance New Zealand agriculture, organising a presence for New Zealand agribusiness at a large Moscow show in February, while Hamilton’s Gallagher Group is looking for a way to extend its business in Russia to sales to farmers.

Both were part of a trade visit to Russia last month and say they are excited about the potential for New Zealand in helping the Russian government in its push for greater farming efficiency and production of quality protein, particularly dairy, for its population. . .

Strong demand for NZ sheep genetics

One of New Zealand’s larger air shipments of sheep has landed in Australia to meet growing demand for New Zealand sheep genetics.

The world’s largest red meat genetics company, Focus Genetics, flew 100 Primera and Highlander rams across the Tasman, the third shipment in the last 12 months.

Focus Genetics’ Animal breeding specialist Daniel Absolom said demand has been high.

“The demand for our rams in Australia exceeded all initial expectations. The programme is part of a long term plan to establish NZ sheep genetics in the Australian market,” he said. . .

Environmentally aware farmer elected Federated Farmers Golden Bay president

With the retirement of long serving Federated Farmers Golden Bay provincial president, Graham Ball, Collingwood dairy farmer Sue Brown has stepped up to lead the province.

“Graham will be a tough act to follow but I am humbled to be entrusted with my colleague’s faith,” says Sue Brown, Federated Farmers Golden Bay provincial president.

“Golden Bay is an amazing area to farm in being enveloped, as it is, by both Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks. It is a real privilege to be Federated Farmers provincial president in such a special area we are blessed to farm in. . .

New leaders for Sharemilkers and Sharemilker Employers

Twin leadership changes have come about for Federated Farmers Dairy’s Sharemilkers’ and Sharemilker Employers’ sections. Waikato dairy farmer, Tony Wilding, is the new chair of the Employers Section while Tararua farmer, Neil Filer, has been elected chair of the Federation’s Sharemilkers’ Section.

“The sharemilking system has been a fantastic pathway to farm ownership for us and remains so for many others. Yet today I also see more ways to farm ownership,” says Tony Wilding, chairperson of the Federated Farmers Dairy’s Sharemilker Employers’ Section. . .

Thursday’s quiz

June 6, 2013

1. “Who said: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.?

2. What are lares and penates?

3. It’s biens in French, beni in Italian, bienes in Spanish and rawa or taputapu
in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What the name for a dealer in household items such as oil, soap, paint, and groceries and/or who deals in supplies and equipment for ships and boats?

5. If you could pick any material item, regardless of cost, for your home what would it be?

Co-sleeping deaths preventable

June 6, 2013

Anyone who went to Sunday School will probably know the story of Solomon:

Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgment. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other. After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there was only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!” However, upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!”

All those hundreds of years ago the danger of sharing a bed with a baby was known.

Cot deaths, or Sudden Infant Death syndrome was prevalent when our children were born. It was particularly high in New Zealand and research established that co-sleeping was a very high risk factor.

That was more than 20 years ago and the message still hasn’t got through:

Deaths caused by infants sleeping with their mothers have reached epidemic proportions, a coroner says.

In the Rotorua coroner’s court today, coroner Wallace Bain listed a litany of deaths caused by co-sleeping both in New Zealand and overseas saying the problem was on-going. . .

Noting there had been 55-60 preventable deaths nationwide in recent years, 26 in the Rotorua region in five years involving infants sharing beds with adults, he said parents continued to put their children at risk.

He said midwives appeared to have changed their practice of advising co-sleeping, something he’d refer more formally to in his findings which he reserved.

He urged the media to “get the no co-sleeping message out there”.

Last month an international study was released which said up to 88 percent of children who died while sleeping with their parents may not have died if they were sleeping on their own. 

It was from the biggest ever study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and results showed that even when neither parent smoked, and the baby was less than three months old, breastfed and the mother did not drink or take drugs, the risk of SIDS was five times higher if sleeping with a parent, than if the baby had slept in a cot next to their parents’ bed.

Smoking, being drunk and taking drowsiness-inducing drugs further increases the risk.

The research is unequivocal about the risks and reducing them is easy.

Babies should sleep in their own beds.


Something wrong when houses worth more than farms

June 6, 2013

We spent Queens Birthday with friends in Takapuna.

They showed us modest houses on pocket-handkerchief sections that had recently sold for more than $800,000.

You could buy better houses on bigger sections in many other places for a fraction of that amount.

Our friends also showed us houses which had sold for up to $8 million.

You could buy a good farm for less and something is very wrong with that.

People who already own houses in the city get nervous when measures to increase the supply is mentioned because it could reduce the value of their properties.

But a farming friend who was also with us for a weekend pointed out the value of his farm dropped when the market corrected a few years ago and no-one, except those who owned them and perhaps some of their bankers, was concerned.

Several factors affect the value of property but when Auckland prices are so out of kilter with houses in other parts of the country and with farms, supply and demand are obvious culprits.

That must be addressed not just for the sake of people who want to own property in the city but for the rest of us because of the impact the lack of supply and high prices are having on the economy.

Until the supply is increased and/or the demand drops we’ll all be paying for the problem.

More or fewer?

June 6, 2013

Several commentators have been picking there will be an extra Maori seat after people choose which roll to be on.

But so far  more people are switching from the Maori roll to the general roll than from the general roll to the Maori one.

If that trend continues the number of Maori seats will stay the same or there could be one fewer.

This could be a reflection of Treaty settlements which have enabled Maori to move from grievance mode to growth mode.

It could be because Maori realise the size of the electorates makes it much more difficult for their MPs to represent them effectively.

It could be because there is no single Maori voice.

It could also be because people realise the seats have had their day.

The Maori Party isn’t happy about the trend:

Tariana Turia said “When we first entered into a relationship with the National Party in 2008, the first thing we did was negotiate to keep the Maori seats in place. At that time it was a huge deal because National had campaigned on getting rid of the Maori seats. We cannot be complacent, we know that our seats remain vulnerable, and if we don’t use them we risk losing them.”

“Māori voter participation is absolutely crucial to any system of political representation. And yet, for at least the last decade, there has been ample evidence demonstrating that the electoral system is not effectively engaging with Māori. Much more work must be done on all fronts, to encourage Māori uptake on their democratic right, to get on the electoral roll”.

Voter participation and representation do not depend on special Maori seats.

Participation is equally important which ever roll people are on and being on the general roll doesn’t mean Maori aren’t represented.

Turia herself said that Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

I don’t know if there are any figures for Maori voter participation on the general roll but voting in Maori seats is usually lower than in general seats. Many who enrol on the Maori roll don’t bother to vote.

One argument used to defend the continuation of Maori seats is that it’s up to Maori to choose.

That’s like saying only those 65 and over should have a say on superannuation. Having Maori seats affects us all.

If those seats were dropped and the current total number of electorates retained the seats would decrease in geographical size which would give better representation for all of us.

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