Word of the day

June 25, 2013

Aggress -to commit the first act of hostility or offence; initiate an attack, war, quarrel, or fight; attack;  take the initiative and go on the offensive.


AG okays Dunne’s leader’s funding – updated

June 25, 2013

United Future leader Peter Dunne can keep his leader’s funding – for now.

The Auditor General has confirmed that, for as long as the United Future party is recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes under Standing Orders, there is lawful authority for the party to receive party funding under the relevant legislation.

It follows that, if the Speaker ceases to recognise United Future as a party for parliamentary purposes, its funding entitlements will change accordingly.

Speaker David Carter is considering Dunne’s right to funding in view of the electoral Commission’s decision to treat UF’s application for re-registration as if it was a new party.

UPDATE:

The speaker has ruled that UF will no longer be recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes and its leader Peter Dunne will be treated as an independent MP.

David Carter made the announcement in the house today after giving it “considerable thought”. The ruling is effective immediately.

However, he said if the party were to regain its registration he would “revisit the matter of the recognition of its Parliamentary membership on the basis it is a political party in whose name a member was elected in the 2011 general election. . .

This would be a good time to look at the rules around leader’s funding and whether it is justified for the wee parties.


Rural round-up

June 25, 2013

MIE may be sailing into a head wind – Allan Barber:

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group has appointed businessman and former sheep and beef farmer Ross Hyland to set up an establishment team, as it ramps up its campaign to achieve a restructure of the red meat sector.

After a series of meetings round the country at which it gained plenty of farmer support for its campaign, as well as backing from Beef & Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers, MIE has decided that it is now time to inject some muscle and structure into its plans. Chairman Richard Young said last week they had made this decision to ensure that they have an agreed solution and plan ready for the start of next season. . .

MPI says snow recovery progressing:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says South Island farmers are coping with recent heavy snowfall.

Snow has finally stopped falling in the most affected parts of the South Island hill and high country, says Trish Burborough, MPI’s Resource Policy South Island Regions manager (based in Dunedin).

She says the worst-affected areas are parts of Otago, Canterbury and Marlborough, especially in the high country above 400 metres.

“Rural communities are helping each other in practical ways, such as helping stock gain access to feed and water.

“MPI has been working with the Rural Support Trusts (RSTs) and Federated Farmers to coordinate the response. . .

Rural confidence soars after drought jitters – Jason Krupp:

The farming sector has shaken off its drought jitters, with economic confidence soaring in most rural regions, the latest Westpac McDermott Miller survey shows.

The national figures show confidence rose to 25 per cent by the end of the June quarter, up from 5 per cent at the end of March.

That was predominantly driven by a swing in rural sentiment.

Senior Westpac economist Felix Delbrucker said a generally improving global outlook and the Canterbury rebuild were certainly tailwinds, but the clincher was higher dairy prices offsetting the impact of the drought in the first part of the year. . .

Three and a half weeks in Turkey, most of the time outside Istanbul, have provided many revelations about the people, the country and not least about its agricultural production. Turkey, or to be more precise its government, wants to join the EU, although after the last couple of years of economic struggles and Eurozone problems, it isn’t clear why.

Turkey has enjoyed higher growth in the past decade than any EU member with only one year of contraction. Agriculture represents 25% of employment across an unmatched product base, although the sector is not very efficient with many small farmers and relatively unsophisticated farming methods. Subsidies are still in place, but are in the process of being reduced as part of the process of meeting the EU’s accession criteria. . . .

Leaders forum for young horticulturists:

Eight competitors from the Young Horticulturist of the Year met recently for a Young Leaders’ Forum.

The Auckland forum was established to provide an opportunity for the Young Horticulturists to develop their understanding of the industry and round out their knowledge beyond their sector specialty.

The two days featured presentations from sponsors Bayer, Fruitfed Supplies, Turners and Growers, ANZ and NZ Horticulture ITO. Presentation topics were selected to meet the forum’s theme of equipping future leaders for the challenges and aspirations of a sustainable and vibrant horticultural industry. . .

Oh Dirty River by Helen Lehndorf – Tuesday Poem:

The town where I grew up

was small, ugly and smelled
like burning blood.
 
Most of the dads and 
a lot of the mums and
heaps of the big brothers and sisters
worked at the Freezing Works. . .
(I used to link to each week’s Tuesday Poem and others in the side bar. I haven’t done it for ages because of time constraints,  but this one, and the commentary by Tim Jones  which follow it resonated with me.
My father was a carpenter at the freezing works a Pukeuri, a few kilometres north of Oamaru. The works were, and still are, an important part of the local economy. They were for many small towns then and still are for some today.)

Why is the taxpayer taking this risk?

June 25, 2013

Landcorp estimates that the heavy South Island snow falls will cost it more than $70,000.

Chief executive Chris Kelly said most of that is to cover the extra cost of workers and equipment, including helicopters, needed to reach stock on its farms in the Lake Mahinerangi area, west of Dunedin, in particular its Waipori Station.

Snow falls of up to two metres deep also damaged guttering on farm buildings that will have to be replaced. . .

The company already had much bigger losses from the effects of the drought in the North island.

Why is the taxpayer facing that risk?

The only valid argument I’ve come across for keeping Landcorp is as a land bank for Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Once all of those have been settled any remaining farms should be sold off  in an orderly manner so as not to flood the market.

It’s possible the undoubted expertise the company has in farm management might have value as a business which could also be sold.


Alphabetical advantage

June 25, 2013

Do candidates whose names appear at or near the top of a ballot paper have an advantage over those lower down?

University of Otago political studies lecturer Associate Prof Janine Hayward, said research shows it does.

Prof Hayward advised that New Zealand and international studies confirmed a name-order effect, giving better results to candidates higher up in alphabetically ordered ballot papers.

The same effect, though to a lesser extent, would still occur in pseudo-random ballot papers, where candidates’ surnames were not listed alphabetically, but in the same order on each voting paper.

Dunedin City Councillors accepted this advice and voted to have names appear in a random order on ballot papers in this year’s local body election.

Voting is by postal ballot and voters also get to vote for the Otago Regional Council and Southern District Hospital Board.

People in Central Otago, Clutha  Queenstown Lakes and Waitaki Districts also vote for the regional council and health board and Southlanders vote for the health board too.

It could be confusing for people if they’re faced with some names ranked alphabetically for some entities and randomly for others.

But if random order is fairer then it would be better for all papers to rank them that way.

Voting papers in central government elections rank candidates in alphabetical order with their parties ranked beside them.

That means parties are almost always ranked randomly and since it’s the party vote which influences how many seats a party gets that’s probably fairer.

 

 

 


It’s not about the money

June 25, 2013

This is why economic growth is important:
>This is why I think economic growth is important. What do you think?

It’s not about the money per se but what can be done with the money.

A couple we know won $1 million through Bonus Bonds a few months ago.

They had a modest house without a mortgage, but not a lot more in material terms, before the win.

Both have chosen to keep working.

The money has provided them with more choices and security but it’s not going to radically change their lives.

There isn’t the equivalent of a Bonus Bond win for countries economic growth provides the same benefits – more choices and security.


Which other parties don’t have 500 members?

June 25, 2013

Jane Clifton is feeling sympathy for Peter Dunne over the Electoral Commission’s insistence on signed applications for membership and treating United Future’s application for registration as if it was a new party.

. . . That the party must now be treated as an entirely new entity for the purposes of the system, and wait a couple of months for restoration, is little short of a joke. Again, this may be legally in order. But it’s still inane.

The Opposition, and doubtless members of the public, will see the financial penalties Dunne has incurred as perfectly righteous – but that’s a different argument. It is rather grandiose for a one- or even three-person caucus in Parliament to have the mighty infrastructure of a Leader’s Office and a Research Budget. A bit of judicious recalibration of parties’ entitlements is probably overdue.

MMP allows single-MP parties into parliament but there should be a higher hurdel than a very few members to justify a leaders’ office and the budget that goes with it.

But that Dunne should lose these entitlements because a) his party was the only party foolish enough to be honest with the commission, and b) because the law is an ass and it was unclear how to process such a novel situation through the red tape and c) because in all likelihood officials were spooked by the histrionics of Winston and Labour in Parliament about Dunne’s entitlements, is very unfair.

The Commission must obey the law, even if in this case, it appears the law is at the very lest in need of an update.

However, if the law must be applied it must be applied evenly.

Dunne is facing a tricky climb-back to redeem his career. But the commission needs to redeem itself too, by instigating equal treatment for all registered parties. Having taken such a flinty line with United Future, it should now actively check the numbers for all the parties, and keep a running monitor. That would, of course, be to look for more trouble, so it will probably handily find it lacks the resources for such rigour. . .

I don’t know where the figure of 500 came from in the requirement for a party to have at least that many members.

It is a very low hurdle for an organisation to jump and it ought to be monitored properly.

Givent he low number of members required, it shouldn’t require too much for the Commission to satisfy itself and the public that all registered parties, or at least all those in parliament, do have 500 real, living, human members.


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