Word of the day

September 13, 2013

Batta – a special allowance; extra pay; rate of exchange; discount on disused coins; subsistence money (as for a witness or prisoner); maintenance or travelling expenses of an employee.

Rural round-up

September 13, 2013

Minister announces manuka honey consultation:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be asking the honey industry, scientists and other interested stakeholders for their say through this consultation process,” Ms Kaye says.

“The New Zealand honey industry has been working for many years to come up with an accurate way to label, market and brand manuka honey and unfortunately has been unable to reach consensus. There is no international standard for a definition of manuka honey.

“Recently, the authenticity of some New Zealand manuka honey has been queried in overseas markets. This puts the integrity of our country’s export reputation at risk and so steps need to be taken to ensure consumer confidence. . .

Warning to all dairy farmers:

All dairy farmers are being warned by DairyNZ to look for signs of Theileria infection and anaemia in cattle with severe cases recently reported in the North Island.

Theileria infection is caused by Theileria orientalis, a parasite transmitted by ticks when they feed on the animal’s blood.

There is a heightened risk of Theileria infection, especially in the North Island, as the tick population is likely to have increased thanks to a dry summer and a mild winter. . .

Concern over sulfite levels in raw meat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is concerned about a potential increase in the use of sulfites in raw meat and is awaiting test results after taking samples from butchers and supermarkets in Auckland.

Sulfites, such as sulfur dioxide, are used as a preservative in some foods, including meat products like sausages, luncheon meat and manufactured ham.

However, foods containing sulfites can cause serious reactions in those people who are intolerant to them.

As such, the use of sulfites is strictly controlled by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and they are permitted only in certain meat products and maximum permitted levels are specified. . .

Stock switch a step up –  Jana Flynn:

An allergy to dairy cows and a determination to upskill are just two of the reasons Juan-Paul Theron is excelling in the sheep and beef industry.

The 30-year-old New Zealand resident, originally from Cape Town in South Africa, had zig-zagged through various farming options early in his career, but he’s found his niche with a move to dry stock and a National Diploma in Agribusiness Management under his belt.

“I’m currently in Rotorua and have been here five years. It’s the second dry-stock job I’ve taken on and I’ve been farm manager for 12 months,” says Theron. . .

From the Beehive – Eric Roy:

Our sheep-meat exports to China expanded in the last twelve months from under $250 million to over $550 million. Already China has moved from our fourth market to overtaking Europe as our largest market and it has taken one year to do it. There is nothing in our trading history like that.

It took our predecessors decades to build our old supply chains into the Anglo-Saxon dominated trading world of the second half of the 20th Century. We have a goal to increase the ratio of exports to GDP by around ten percentage points to 40% of GDP by 2025.

On the basis of projections of GDP growth, it requires us to grow our exports of goods and services between around 6.5 to 7.5% on average per annum for the next 12 years. . .

Real Journeys upgrading Walter Peak offering:

Key tourism player Real Journeys is significantly upgrading its Walter Peak offering with the intention of making it a destination that “locals and tourists alike want to visit”, says Chief Executive Richard Lauder.

The upgrade will include a new gourmet BBQ menu, with localised matching wine list, and refurbishments across the facilities. Renowned restaurateurs Fleur Caulton and Josh Emett have consulted on the overall concept of the project.

Lauder says Real Journeys are focused on making Walter Peak a quality New Zealand dining experience and have hired a new executive chef, Justin Koen – previously of Queenstown’s Wai Waterfront Restaurant – to champion this. . .

Recycling more popular – Carmen Hall:

Bay of Plenty farmers have thrown their support behind voluntary rural recycling and diverted thousands of kilograms of rubbish away from the landfill.

Waste that was recycled in the region included 12,599kg of plastic containers and 36,278kg of silage wrap.

Agrecovery sales and marketing manager Duncan Scotland says the scheme has received a positive response. . .

Who could this apply to here?

September 13, 2013

Quote of the day:

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” Murray Rothbard.

This could apply to all three Labour leadership contenders and anyone who promotes what they’re promising as workable and affordable.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall

Friday’s answers

September 13, 2013

Andrei provided Thursday’s questions earning my thanks and an electronic vase of camellias for stumping everyone.

The flowers can be claimed by leaving the answers below.

Worse than MMP

September 13, 2013

MMP is far from perfect as electoral systems go but the composition of the Australian senate is evidence that their convoluted preferential system is even worse.

Six little-known candidates from assorted ‘micro-parties’ hold the balance of power in Australia’s senate – or upper house – after Saturday’s election.

The result has led to calls to change the electoral rules, which allow parties to win the seats with as little as 0.2 per cent of the vote – or 1,908 votes – in the case of the Australian Sports Party. Another small party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, is likely to win with just 0.5 per cent of the vote.

Parties running for the 76-member state-based Senate can “harvest” their votes and do numerous deals with other parties to swap unused votes. The complex system has even led to the emergence of a consultant, Glenn Druery, a skilled mathematician and political operative, who works for small parties to cobble together backroom vote swap deals. . .

Vote harvesting, deals to swap unused votes, a seat with as little as .2% of the vote?  That doesn’t seem to be the best way to determine the make-up of the senate.

Among the new senators who will take their seats next July are:

Ricky Muir, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party

Muir, 32, supports four-wheel “bush bashing” – or driving off-road in the outback. He posted an online video, which he has now removed, of himself throwing “kangaroo poo” in a garden. “What’s the big deal?” said his spokesman. He also suggested on twitter that George W Bush was responsible for the September 11 attacks.

David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrats

A pro-gun libertarian, Leyonhjelm appears to have won in part because his party appeared first on the lengthy 3.3-foot Senate ticket and because some voters may have thought he represented Tony Abbott’s Liberal party. “Looks like I’m going to be the senator for the donkeys,” he said, referring to the throwaway votes – or donkey votes – which are likely to get him elected. . .

         Wayne Dropulich, Australian Sports Party

A former member of Australia’s gridiron – or American football – team, Dropulich, a civil engineer, said he and some friends came up with the idea for the party several months ago. His party’s slogan was: “Are you more interested in sports than politics?”

Glenn Lazarus, Palmer United Party

A former Australian rugby league forward, he is known throughout the nation as “the brick with eyes”. He once posed naked with a brick to promote a brick company. . .

If this is what a preferential electoral system and compulsory voting deliver then thank goodness we don’t have either.

Market recovery plan to help minnows

September 13, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have outlined an initial market recovery plan following the reported potential contamination of Fonterra-produced whey protein concentrate.

“Minister Guy and I have been in close contact with the affected primary sector business throughout the past weeks. We all agree that a coordinated, all of Government response is needed,” says Mr Groser.

“New Zealand’s highest priority is to protect the safety of consumers. The Government will be working in close consultation with affected New Zealand companies to help rebuild trust with their in-market partners and customers.

“We need to restore full market access to those markets where restrictions have been put in place, re-establish confidence in the robustness of our food safety system, and reaffirm the positive image of New Zealand brands.”

A key component of the recovery plan will be an intense programme of targeted visits to key markets by Government Ministers as well as senior officials once essential technical issues are resolved.

“Our response needs to be fine-tuned and targeted to the particular needs of each key market. We already enjoy close relationships with overseas regulators at a technical level but where appropriate, Ministers themselves are prepared to engage to assist resolutions,” says Mr Guy.

“These visits will be complemented by incoming visits of overseas Ministers, regulators and media to demonstrate first-hand the robustness and professionalism of New Zealand’s regulatory framework and production processes.”

A dedicated New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Market Connections Fund of up to $2 million will also be established to support companies to contact existing customers and shore-up business relationships impacted by the whey protein concentrate issue.

“This fund is intended to help the smaller companies re-establish their position in China,” says Mr Groser.

“Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both Government and businesses. We can’t allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium size companies,” says Mr Guy.

The Government earlier announced plans to place more officials in overseas markets, particularly China. The recovery plan will be developed to take into account lessons learned from various investigations and inquiries.

Key actions from the plan are:

  • Intensify engagement with food safety authorities in a range of overseas markets, including a projected visit to China during September by the Acting Director General of MPI, to roll back restrictive measures and to restore normal trading conditions.
  • Use opportunities for Ministerial engagement to reinforce at high levels the messages conveyed through intensified engagement with food safety authorities.
  • Organise a programme of visits to New Zealand by Ministers, senior regulators and media from key overseas markets focused on improving knowledge of, and confidence in, New Zealand’s food regulatory systems.
  • Utilise existing regular official dialogues, such as those established under the NZ/China FTA, to explain how New Zealand’s regulatory systems work
  • Use forthcoming high level political events, including the East Asia Summit, APEC, and the WTO Ministerial Conference, to pursue dialogue with Ministers representing key markets.
  • Utilise, and potentially add to, cooperation agreements that are in place with key markets, including China.
  • Provide support from New Zealand government agencies offshore to New Zealand exporters to assist them in their meetings with overseas customers and commercial partners.
  • Progress longer-term measures to ensure that New Zealand government agencies and New Zealand’s overseas posts are resourced with staff trained to be able to promote New Zealand’s  reputation as a safe producer of food.
  • Establish a dedicated NZTE Market Connections Fund to support companies with market recovery, similar to the Christchurch Market Connections Fund.

Fonterra is a big fish in the international dairy market.

Its recall of potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate turned out to be a false alarm.

The incident has been expensive in terms of both finance and reputation but Fonterra is big enough to deal with that.

However, a lot of smaller companies were caught up in the wake of Fonterra’s problems through no fault of their own and these minnows are less able to cope with the cost to their business.

The government initiative to help restore New Zealand’s reputation for food safety will be a big help to them.

Matthew Doocey to contest Chch East for National

September 13, 2013

The National Party has selected Matthe Doocey as its candidate for the Christchurch East by-election.

“While an incumbent Government has never won a by-election in a seat it does not already hold, the National family are united behind Matthew as he accepts the challenge to wrest a seat which Labour has held since 1922,” says National Party Regional Chair Roger Bridge.

“Matthew Doocey is a fresh new face to the political landscape in Christchurch, and one of two nominees interviewed for the candidacy. We’re delighted to have him aboard.”

Matthew Doocey says he is proud to have won selection to contest the by-election on behalf of National.

“It’s going to be a big challenge up against the Labour machine in East Christchurch. Of course Lianne Dalziel is a household name there and Labour will be desperate to hold on to the seat.

“But I believe Christchurch East needs a constructive voice inside John Key’s National-led Government. It’s an electorate with huge opportunities and big decisions to make as it works its way through the recovery and beyond.

“Jobs, growth, education and healthcare are the bread and butter issues. I think the public appreciate the fact that National has held steady despite the distractions and side-tracks that appear to pre-occupy the other side.

Matthew Doocey (41) is married to Hungarian-born wife Viktoria. They have lived in Redwood since returning to Christchurch from the UK earlier this year. He works at the Canterbury District Health Board as a manager in its surgical division.

He went to St Bedes college, then studied counselling psychology at WelTec (Wellington). He has a Bsc (Hons) in Social Policy, an MA in Healthcare Management from Kingston University in London, and an MSc in Global Politics from Birkbeck University in London. He is also studying towards a Doctorate in Health by distance at Bath University in the UK.

Matthew Doocey has a long career in healthcare management including in the delivery of community mental health and social care services both in voluntary, and Government settings. He has worked extensively in the voluntary and community sector, including for Youthline NZ.

“Christchurch is my home town. My closest family are here. When I heard about the quakes I really wanted to come home to the city I grew up in and give something back.

“Christchurch East was characterised by strength and resilience in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Now we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the community even stronger and I want to be part of that.”

The Green Party is contesting the seat which will split the anti-government vote to some extent and a new candidate won’t have the personal following that the retiring MP Lianne Dalziel had.

But Christchurch East is a dark red seat and even a strong National candidate like this one faces a huge task in contesting it.

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