Critical Mass

July 30, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

Ogooglebar’ … and 14 Other Swedish Words We Should Incorporate Into English Immediately

and

22 things journalists know to be true


Word of the day

July 30, 2013

Jettatura –  casting of, or curse by, the evil eye.


Rural round-up

July 30, 2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


More work to do on water

July 30, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the release of two environmental water reports paint an encouraging picture of our waterways but also underline the need for the Government’s freshwater reforms.

. . . The river condition indicator is based on data that was collected across more than 300 regional council and NIWA-monitored sites over a ten year period (2000-2010), out of the tens of thousands of waterways across New Zealand.

The report shows that overall concentrations of nutrients and bacteria are either stable or improving at most monitored sites, and that water quality is generally improving.

The swimming suitability indicator provides a summary of monitored swimming sites. It reflects a precautionary approach to managing public health risks, which means that even a very small risk will be flagged through a lower grading.

The report shows that many swimming spots are affected in wet weather as a result of stormwater runoff. At some sites, heavy rain and wind can churn up sediment from the bottom of the waterway, releasing pathogens back into the water.

Other common sources of water pollution are urban stormwater systems, livestock, fertilisers and dense populations of wildlife. . .

Dense populations of wildlife are a particular concern for us.

There’s a large colony of seagulls nesting in a canyon not far above the intake for the water scheme which supplies us.

That’s causing high levels of contamination but because some are a protected species their right to nest trumps our right to clean water.

Ms Adams says the Government’s freshwater reform programme is critical to improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

“Issues with our waterways have been building over a number of generations, and it is going to take a similarly long time to fully realise solutions for these issues.

“The key tenet of the Government’s proposals is that improving our water management system will require solutions that start now and build over the long-term. There is no quick fix.”

There are many contributors to poor water quality.

The impact of most has built up over years to decades.

Improvements are being made and more work is needed.

But the Minister rightly points out the problems didn’t happen overnight and it will take time for the solutions to make a difference.

The river condition report is here.

The swimming suitability report is here.


Lawyers major beneficiaries of Labour policy

July 30, 2013

Labour’s housing policy might win votes from fellow-xenophobes and the economically illiterate desperates who think banning a tiny number of people from purchasing property will make a difference to house prices.

But the only real beneficiaries of the policy will be lawyers:

Labour’s policy to restrict foreigners from purchasing a home will hit Kiwis in the pockets and will line lawyers’ wallets, ACT Leader John Banks said today.

On Radio New Zealand this morning, David Shearer confirmed that Labour’s policy would put the onus on conveyancing lawyers to determine whether those purchasing a home are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and are buying the home for themselves with their own money

“Housing is already unaffordable without Labour’s added proposition of more red tape and higher lawyers’ fees,” Mr Banks said.

“Under Labour’s policy, when any New Zealander buys a house, a lawyer is going to have to establish whether or not they are a foreigner.

“As there is no list of foreigners handy, every purchaser will have to be questioned by their lawyer and will have to prove their citizenship.

“Labour also expects lawyers to prove that the purchaser will be the beneficiary of the purchase and is not purchasing the home on behalf of someone else. But how would they know? Lawyers only know what they’re told by the purchaser.

“Labour’s dopey ban on foreigners purchasing housing is going to cost every New Zealander through increased legal fees and more red tape.

“It is recent immigrants to New Zealand who will sadly come under the most scrutiny from this policy that is not actually going to do anything to solve the problem of housing affordability.

“Instead of focusing on this kind of dog-whistle claptrap, Labour should be doing something about the real cause of the housing crisis – the lack of land supply for residential development,” Mr Banks said.

The policy will generate more work for lawyers as people seek to circumvent the restrictions by, for example,  setting up companies registered here with resident directors.

One of Labour’s other polices, the capital gains tax, will also provide opportunities for lawyers as people seek to find loopholes.

There will no doubt be other new or increased taxes under a future LabourGreen government.

They too will provide extra work for lawyers from people seeking to minimise their liability just as tax increases under the 1999-2008 Labour governments did.

Labour in its early days aimed to govern for the workers. These days its policy provides a lot more gains for lawyers.


Maori Party out-xenophobes the xenophobes

July 30, 2013

If Labour was trying to out-xenophobe the xenophobic New Zealand First and Green parties with its housing policy it has been trumped by the Maori Party.

The Maori Party has labelled Shearer’s new policy aimed at restricting foreigners from purchasing houses as ‘lip-service’, and has challenged the Labour Party to commit to real action to protect the assets of Aotearoa by extending their policies to prevent the sale of land and strategic assets into all and any foreign ownership.

“The Maori Party have a clear policy on land ownership, we must protect and preserve our land to keep it from falling into foreign ownership. The Labour Party’s housing policy, which would restrict foreigners from purchasing houses, is nonsensical as it discriminates against which foreigners it exempts and does nothing to protect the asset of true value to the people of Aotearoa – the land.”

“On one hand the Labour Party want to limit the purchase of residential property by overseas investors, but on the other they promote and support the free trade agenda which is entirely about easing rules for foreigners to do business, and invest in New Zealand assets.”

“There are other ways to do business with countries overseas which protect the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources. We think that both the Labour Party and the National Party have a duty to look at how we can protect our resources before they advance investment agreements such as the TPPA.” . . .

There are lots of ways to do business with other countries but if we want economic growth here, with the social development that fosters, we need investment.

Our poor savings record means we don’t have enough spare money ourselves which leaves us with two choices – we can borrow from other countries or welcome foreign investment.

Inwards investment should pose no more threat to the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources than investment from within.

Whoever owns our land or other assets is subject to the same laws which govern what they can do with them as everybody else regardless of where they come from.

Without foreign investment we’d go backwards.

That would hurt the poorest people, among whom are a disproportionate number of Maori, the most.


Does Labour have a research unit?

July 30, 2013

Political parties get public funding for parliamentary support services.

That could and usually does include researchers.

They’re the people whose duties ought to include looking carefully at policy proposals.

Does Labour have a research unit and if so was the xenophobic policy barring all foreigners except Australians from buying houses examined by it?

If so why didn’t they see two large fish hooks spotted by a journalist and a lawyer?

Not long after the policy was announced for Rob Hosking pointed out the numbers of non-resident “foreigners” owning houses David Shearer was quoting included ex-pat New Zealanders.

Shortly after that Stephen Franks pointed out the policy almost certainly breached the Free Trade Agreement with China:

. . . Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment)  all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal”  no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.

So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139. . .

. . . What would happen if Labour got the numbers to legislate such a policy irrespective of the FTA? Parliament can, after all, legislate contrary to international law.

There would be serious legal, economic and political ramifications. The Chinese government could invoke the dispute settlement procedures in the agreement.  NZ exporters may lose their benefits under the NZ China FTA. NZ’s international standing as a good treaty partner would suffer. . .

The FTA was signed by a Labour government , several members of which are still in the Labour caucus.

What did they have to say about the FTA and Labour’s xenophobic policy?

. . . Their Leader said this evening to NewsTalk ZB’s Susan Wood that his colleagues responsible for the China FTA tell him it was not meant to prevent NZ from barring investment it does not want.

If that was what they meant, it is not what they signed. . .

The sooo boring detail of deals that stitch us up may have eluded the politicians who actually signed them, but until they are properly understood Mr Shearer, stop digging.

Did his colleagues not understand what they signed, or did they understand but fail to explain the fine print to their leader?

Either way it reflects poorly on them.

It also raises questions about the party’s research unit. They’re the ones who are supposed to look at boring details.

Did anyone bother to run the policy past them?

If not why not?

And if so why did the researchers fail to spot the flaws uncovered so quickly by a journalist and a lawyer?

Could it be the research unit is as disillusioned and dysfunctional as the caucus?


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