Word of the day

August 1, 2013

Arsle – to move backwards; resile, recoil, retreat, or draw back; the desire to constantly fidget or become distracted by other thoughts, as opposed to focusing on the moment.

What crisis?

August 1, 2013

The opposition are doing their best to manufacture a manufacturing crisis but the facts show there isn’t one.

Jobs have been lost in some areas but there have been gains in others, including the high tech manufacturing sector.

The High and Medium-High Technology Manufacturing Sectors Report was today released in Christchurch by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

High-tech manufacturing includes pharmaceuticals, aircraft manufacture, professional and scientific equipment manufacturing, and computer and electronic manufacturing. It is a small but fast-growing part of our manufacturing sector counting for 0.7 per cent of GDP and 3 per cent of our total exports.

Medium-high tech manufacturing products are diverse and range from domestic appliances, to motor vehicles and parts, milking machines and insecticides.  The sector is almost double the size of the high-tech manufacturing sector at $2.8 billion a year in exports.

“These sectors are making a substantial and growing contribution to our economy,” Mr Joyce says. “Both were affected by the Global Financial Crisis but, as the report shows, they have bounced back, overcome barriers and shown renewed growth since 2010.”

“High-technology manufacturing has developed from small beginnings to become a significant export earner – from $139 million in 1991 to $1.4 billion in 2012 – and is now growing faster than the New Zealand wine industry.

“The sector spends almost four times the New Zealand average on R&D and this investment is paying off. Firms in the sector are producing smart, innovative products that New Zealand is known for internationally.” . . .

The report is here.

Some key points:

  • Where our top high technology manufacturers are global leaders, it is because they specialise in niche markets.
  • Manufacturers are also increasingly becoming service providers
  • Manufacturing is going digital – new technologies are changing the structure and competitiveness of manufacturing.
  • Australia has a critical role in the development of New Zealand’s higher value export industries and in building New Zealand-owned multinationals.
  • While exports from these sectors were affected by the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-10, both have shown resilience and tenacity in the face of this difficulty and have demonstrated renewed growth since 2010.

Many businesses in this sector aren’t in traditional manufacturing and the impact of technology is chaning those that are.

Manufacturing is changing, it’s requiring different skills of workers but it’s not in crisis.

The growth of medium and high tech manufacturing is good for the sector, employment and the wider economy.

Rural round-up

August 1, 2013

Waikato land likely to be better used now:

Lands owned by two Waikato tribes will be better used thanks to an agreement by the iwi and Lincoln University.

Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua have signed a memorandum of understanding with the tertiary educator.

The document outlines an agreement to create an agricultural training centre in Waikato and to explore a new farm certificate course.

Tribal spokesperson Willie Te Aho, who affiliates to both iwi, says the programme is intended for everyone – not just tangata whenua. . .

Bee Aware Month – Love Our Kiwi Bees:

August is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging the government to take the threat to bees much more seriously.

Bees account for over 5 billion dollars of New Zealand’s economy through the pollination of crops and honey exports.

But bees are under threat. All wild bees have been wiped out by the varroa mite which is also threatening the rest of our bees.

“The varroa mite is one of the biggest threats facing our Kiwi bees. It has spread throughout the country and we desperately need to contain this dangerous pest,” says NBA CEO Daniel Paul. . .

Wilding pines cleared from shores of Lake Pukaki:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says the battle to preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage has taken a step forward, with 150 hectares of wilding trees cleared at the iconic Lake Pukaki.

Land Information New Zealand has completed an intensive 18 month eradication programme in an area between the western shoreline of the lake and State Highway 80.  It will enable the shoreline to return to its natural state.

“Wilding trees, including conifers such as lodgepole pine (pinus contorta), pose a significant threat to the environment by competing with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water.

“The Government is committed to minimising the impact of these trees by clearing them from Crown land and contributing to community programmes in areas such as Mid Dome, Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu,” Mr Williamson says. . .

Horticulture New Zealand elects new president:

Fruit and berry grower Julian Raine has been elected president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Julian is Nelson based and has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He takes over from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Julian has extensive experience both in growing and wide – ranging roles in industry organisations.

“Julian has been a director of the New Zealand Boysenberry Council and Nelson Seasonal Employers Inc, is chair of the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and a trustee of the Massey Lincoln Agricultural Industry Trust,” says immediate past president Andrew Fenton. . .

Southland and Otago Dairy Awards Regions Merge:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will take place in 11 regions, including a merged Southland/Otago region.

National convenor Chris Keeping says organisers made the decision to merge the Southland and Otago regions in late July as it is believed that the merged region will be stronger, creating a better competition for entrants.

“The executive committee has deliberated on the future of the regions for some time, and came to its decision on the basis that it is most important that entrants are guaranteed a competition and the opportunity to compete in the national finals,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. . . .

Taste Farmers’ Markets Award Winners celebrate the real flavours of NZ:

This growing popularity of Farmers’ Markets is something being seen worldwide and for a host of reasons. The awareness of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated produce, climate concerns and the investment into local communities and resources, sustainable agriculture and community hubs are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2013 Taste Farmers Markets Awards. Localvore Chef Judge Jonny Schwass said “The produce we tasted was fresh, crisp, alive and nourishing. The vegetables, preserves, meats and cheeses are the real produce of Aotearoa” As a Chef and now father, his cooking is about the beauty of well-chosen ingredients and simply prepared food. For Jonny food is the only thing that enlightens all senses. He believes food elevates our mood. It makes us better people. Food is more than energy, food is life. . .

And in celebration of our wine industry:

Looks good!

Thursday’s quiz

August 1, 2013

1. Who said: There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten.?

2. What were Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless, in which book did they appear and who was the author? (Have I asked this question in a previous quiz?).

3. It’s vache in French, mucca in Italian and vaca in Spanish what is it in English and Maori?

4. Where would you find the sculpture “Charging Bull,”  by Arturo Di Modica?

5. What’s your favourite cheese/s and with what would you accompany it?

Not quite like winning Lotto

August 1, 2013

The 50 cent increase in Fonterra’s forecast payout announced yesterday will mean another $500,000 for farms producing a million kilos of milk solids.

One farmer described it as like winning Lotto but it’s not quite like that.

It doesn’t come from gambling a few dollars and luck. It’s the result of a large investment and a lot of hard work by the farmers and their staff, and by Fonterra and its board and staff.

But it is good news for farmers and the wider economy:

. . . While dairy farmers aren’t getting too ahead of themselves, economists are not only predicting higher milk prices but also increased production. Economists predict the lift in milk prices and an increase in milk production could boost the New Zealand economy by $3.5 billion. . .

The high payout provides reassurance for farmers who feared that enabling shares to be traded would come at their cost:

. . .But what’s great news for Fonterra’s farmers and the economy is not such good news for outsiders who invested in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund.

The more Fonterra pays for its raw milk, the worse it gets for them.

The forecast milk price is going up fast, but Fonterra’s share price fell today. It seems that for investors, Fonterra can have too much of a good thing.

“The increased payments to farmers actually results in higher costs to Fonterra and therefore lower profit margins made on its products that it sells to the consumer,” says Brooke Bone of Milford Asset Management.

Investors in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund don’t receive the raw milk payout. They receive dividends from the money Fonterra earns turning that raw milk into finished products, and that market’s just getting tougher. . .

The higher payout will make dairying more attractive for those considering expanding or converting and the lower share price will make it a little easier for those who then choose to supply Fonterra.

There is one similarity between a Lotto win and the higher payout – both provide opportunities and choices.

But most farmers will put most, if not all the extra money into the business – reducing debt, upgrading plant and machinery, environmental enhancement . . . there’s a long list of things on which the money could be spent and there will be tax to pay on it.

As more than one has commented, if they won Lotto, they’d just keep farming til it was gone.

When the snooper is snooped upon

August 1, 2013

Is there more than a little irony in the outrage over the release of a journalist’s phone records when journalists in general try to find secrets as part of their work and the one in question was dealing with leaked material on spying?

The snooper has been snooped upon and to her credit, Andrea Vance can see the potential for wry humour:

In other circumstances I could probably find something to laugh about in revelations that the journalist who broke a story about illegal spying was snooped on by Parliament’s bureaucrats.

Let alone the irony that the reporter in question previously worked for the News of the World, the tabloid at the centre of a privacy violation scandal. . .

But she’s angry and has a right to be.

Journalists are paid to find out things people don’t necessarily want other people to know.

To do this they use sources who may wish their connection with the story to remain in confidence and the release of Vance’s phone records is an abuse of that.

The opposition is trying to find a conspiracy at the highest level, the government and parliamentary services say is was a mistake by someone at a low level.

The seriousness with which the matter is regarded is confirmed by the referral of the whole matter to parliament’s Privileges Committee.

Is it too much to hope that it might also find out how Winston Peters knew about the phone records long before the matter became public?

There are many questions and different versions over what was done by whom, among them is whether Peters did really get any records.

However, if he did, it’s difficult to believe that it was by accident.

Policy for the few

August 1, 2013

Labour’s housing policy restricting the purchase of houses to New Zealanders and Australians is policy for the few.

It is dog-whistle politics for xenophobes and for those wanting to buy homes in the few areas where high prices make it most difficult.

In spite of what the party would have us believe, Invercargill is not one of those.

Photo: John Key is in denial if he seriously believes offshore speculators in the housing market are not a problem worth tackling.

Labour has abandoned the provinces and obviously doesn’t know what’s happening in the south.

House prices aren’t out of control and there is no housing crisis.

There will be a lot more people in Invercargill keen to see the value of the homes they own go up to increase their equity and the value of the investment, or who are wanting to sell for a reasonable price than there are first-home buyers struggling to find something they can afford.

There will be a lot more people in the rest of the country – yes even Auckland and Christchurch – who feel the same way.

Run-away house prices aren’t good for the economy and do make it difficult for people to get on the first rung of the property-owning ladder.

But they aren’t a nation-wide problem and where they are a problem restricting sales to New Zealanders and Australians will make little if any difference.

The problem is one of supply and demand in a very few areas and that will only be solved by freeing up land for development and building lots more houses.

%d bloggers like this: