Word of the day

30/09/2013

Barratry – vexatious litigation or incitement to it; offence of persistently instigating lawsuits, typically groundless ones;  trade in the sale of church or state appointments; fraud or gross criminal negligence by a captain or crew at the expense of a ship’s owner or of the owner of a ship’s cargo.


Postal referendum on partial floats

30/09/2013

The government has taken the least expensive option for the referendum on the partial float of a few state owned assets.

The citizens initiated referendum on the Mixed Ownership Model will be held as a postal vote in November and December this year after a petition regarding the Mixed Ownership Model was signed by 10 per cent of eligible voters. 

The referendum will ask whether New Zealanders support the Government’s sale of up to 49 per cent of Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Government is required to hold the referendum by September 2014, which will be overseen by the Electoral Commission.

“We want to hold this referendum as soon as practicably possible and completing it before the traditional holiday period begins will help us get maximum voter participation,” Ms Collins says.

The voting period will open on Friday, 22 November and will close three weeks later on Friday, 13 December.

The referendum roll will close on Friday, 25 October, but voters will be able to enrol on the supplementary roll up until Thursday, 21 November.

The Electoral Commission has estimated the cost of the postal referendum at $9 million – including $2.85 million for public information and advertising.

The Commission is expected to deliver a preliminary result after voting closes and a final result will be delivered as soon as possible thereafter.

The result of the referendum is not binding on the Government.

This politicians’ initiated referendum is a very expensive publicity exercise for the opposition.

Grey Power, which initially fronted the petition, lost any credibility on the issue when it signed up to discounts for its members with a private company.

Meanwhile, the share offer for up to 49% of Meridian energy began this morning with strong demand.

The Prime Minister says there has already been “strong” early demand for Meridian Energy shares by retail investors, ahead of the offer opening today.

Close to half of the Meridian Energy share offer has been pre-committed to New Zealand retail investors after Kiwi sharebrokers were invited last week to submit bids for shares on behalf of interested clients. . .

The partial float will be done and dusted with the money banked before  the referendum begins.


Tremain not seeking re-election

30/09/2013

Napier MP and Minister Chris Tremain has announced he will not be contesting the next election.

“I am proud of the significant achievements of this government led by Prime Minister John Key. Under his leadership New Zealand is now one of the strongest growing economies in the western world and has a very bright future. I intend to continue to contribute to this exciting future but now in the commercial sector of our economy.

“My family has been a huge part of my decision. I have three children finishing high school and I want to devote more time to them before they leave home,” Mr Tremain says.

“It is my intention to devote my energy to both my electorate and to my Ministerial portfolios right through until the general election next year. I have had amazing support from the people of Napier and Hawke’s Bay and wish to finish a number of local projects before the end of the term.

“I will prioritise the second tranche of local government reform, gambling reform, fire legislation and the ICT Strategy and Action Plan in my Ministerial portfolios between now and the election.

“I have made this decision with my wife and communicated it to the Prime Minister a fortnight ago. I have decided to announce it today to allow the National Party time to find a suitable replacement for next year’s election. 

“The National Party continues to enjoy unprecedented support as a second term government, which means we are well placed to win a third term next year. In the last election, I had a 6600 party vote majority and a 3700 electorate vote majority, which I believe provides a solid platform for a strong National Party candidate to win Napier once again in 2014,” Mr Tremain says. 

I am very sorry that the National Party, government and New Zealand, will lose Chris’s undoubted talents and enthusiasm for his roles as an MP and Minister.

But politics puts huge demands on MPs and their families and I understand his decision to put them first.

I also commend him for giving plenty of notice so that the party and potential candidates have time to select a candidate.


Is this really new?

30/09/2013

Increasing work pressures are putting a strain on parents, who say it is robbing them of family time, a new survey shows.

The Hyundai Family Time Study surveyed 750 people and found 59 percent say work commitments have a “real impact” on the quality of their family life.

Almost half, 49 percent, of respondents reported working between 40 and 49 hours, while 13 percent work more than 50 hours a week. . .

Is that new?

My father was a carpenter at the freezing works. He left home not long after 7am, worked until 9pm several evenings and often had at least a half-day of work on Saturdays too. If he wasn’t at work he’d be in the garden, doing maintenance at home or voluntary work in the community.

Fathers of friends worked similar hours.

One difference between then and now was that Sundays were family days.

Shops weren’t open, there was no organised sport and very few other options for any entertainment we didn’t generate ourselves.

We went to Sunday School and church in the morning. In summer we almost always came home, packed a picnic and went to the river. When it was too cold for that we’d almost always have a family outing to the beach or river or to visit friends.

Another big difference is that it was very unusual for mothers to work outside the home when I was growing up. Now it is much more common.

However, when we were young we were left to our own devices much more.

Parents I observe now seem to spend more time actively with their children than most parents did when I was a child.

It wasn’t quite that we were to be seen and not heard, but we were expected to keep ourselves gainfully occupied without parental assistance and most of the time we did.


Rural round-up

30/09/2013

Dung beetle holds dairy farm hopes – Alison Rudd:

Could dung beetles be the environmental warriors New Zealand dairy farmers have been waiting for?

They happily chew through the poo, turning waste into soil fertiliser. And with the average dairy cow producing 11 cow pats every day, the beetles have plenty of work ahead of them.

The national Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group (DBRSG) this week released its first 500 dung beetles into the ”wild” on an organic dairy farm at Tuturau, near Wyndham. Beetles will also be released soon on three other farms elsewhere in the country.

DBRSG chairman John Pearce, who flew from Auckland to supervise the release, said the beetles were expected to naturally spread to all properties, although that would take many years. . .

Prison farm work fodder for future –  Timothy Brown:

The entranceway to the 21st century edifice which occupies a 60ha site outside Milton is the last landmark before tarseal gives way to gravel on Narrowdale Rd.

Just around the corner, two large gum trees stand guard at the entrance to a dairy farm and down the driveway workers can be seen performing their daily tasks.

They look like workers on any dairy farm, but at the end of the working day these workers will return to that edifice in the distance because this is the Otago Corrections Facility’s dairy farm.

At the end of the driveway, I am greeted by the dairy farm’s principal instructor, Tony Russell. . .

Farmer ownership imperative – Sally Rae:

Finding the solutions to implement change in the red meat industry is still the major barrier in reaching the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s goals, chairman Richard Young says.

In his inaugural chairman’s report, Mr Young said meat company talks had offered no solution to date. However, those talks were still continuing.

What it did offer, if successful, was a managed approach to dealing with overcapacity.

Managed rationalisations would have less impact on all stakeholders and offer better outcomes than unmanaged rationalisations. . .

Pastures to boost hill country production:

AT LEAST 40% of New Zealand is too steep to cultivate yet still less than 1000m above sea-level.

The challenges of improving pasture on such land are considerable, but as the early results of a long-term project show, establishment of more productive species is possible.

What’s more, with the work on four contrasting sites around the country (see panel) on-going as part of the Pastoral 21* initiative, the findings promise to fine-tune best practice for improving and maintaining such country in the future. . .

Best practice could cut emissions by 30%: FAO:

GREENHOUSE GAS emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30% through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, represents the most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock’s contribution to global warming – as well as the sector’s potential to help tackle the problem.

All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains total 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases. . .

All eyes on cute badger cull in the UK – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Recently I had eight English sheep farmers come for a farm visit. (There are nine Mexicans coming tomorrow, so perhaps it will be 10 Lithuanians next week).

One of them was Charles Sercombe, who is the National Farmers Union (NFU) livestock chairman. He farms in Leicestershire.

He told me the main issues in front of the union are the Common Agricultural Policy reform and their attempts to get on top of tuberculosis (Tb), which involves starting a badger cull.

This piqued my interest, so I asked him in detail about the issue. Tb has become a major problem and one of the vectors is the badger. . .

 

A Banks Peninsula company has won New Zealand’s top olive oil award for the second year running.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took the best in show award as well as best in class in the commercial medium blend class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, where international judges commented on the high quality of the oils produced here. . .

Let’s move from fossil farming to future-proof farming:

“The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a stark choice for New Zealand agriculture,” says Brendan Hoare, Chair of OANZ (Organics Aotearoa New Zealand). “We either grasp this opportunity to move away from fossil farming to future-proof farming – or we keep making the problem of climate change even worse by the way we farm. The status quo of more dams, more fertilisers and more animals per hectare is at least 20 years out of date. It is time to change the guard and our thinking.”  . .


Bird of the year voting opens

30/09/2013

Forest and Bird has opened voting for its annual bird of the year poll.

It aims to raise the profile of our native birds and also provides good publicity for the organisation.

 


House ownership has never been easy

30/09/2013

The Herald has a story on MP’s buying their first houses.

Two points stand out – prices were lower but interest rates were much higher than they are now; the first step on the housing ladder often has to be modest.

Housing Minister Nick Smith:

. . .  bought his first home, a former state house in Riccarton, Christchurch, in 1985 while he was a 22-year-old at Canterbury University. He paid $24,000 for it, just before interest rates “went through the roof”, hitting 24 per cent.

“As a consequence, I spent the holiday building a new room on to it so I could get a new flatmate to pay the mortgage.

“I confess I was capitalist and I thought the economics worked in getting into the property market early, getting a heavy mortgage and trying to service it with four flatmates,” the minister said. . .

Auckland mayor Len Brown:

. . . recalls the difficulty of securing finance, and the cost of it, with interest rates of up to 23 per cent. “It was terrible. I don’t know how anyone ever owned any homes at all in those days,” the mayor said.

He believed the challenges in getting finance meant it was as difficult 34 years ago as it is now for first-home buyers. Back in the late seventies, “there was probably more housing available at relatively better prices”.

“Now it’s difficult because of the way prices are generally and because you’ve got to put together a 10, 15 or 20 per cent deposit.

“But the one thing I will say is if you’re prepared to start at a practical and realistic level in a community that you can afford, then you can still get a house, whether it’s an apartment at $200,000 or a standalone house at $350,000 to $400,000. That’s still available for you but you can’t afford to be too choosy.”

Justice Minister Judith Collins makes the same point:

. . . With interest rates around 20 per cent, it was “a huge struggle” to make payments.

She accepts it is difficult now, and says first-home buyers should be prepared “to buy a place that needs to be done up and to have a first home that may not be your last home”.

“I moved into a two-bedroom flat, I didn’t move into a five-bedroom mansion.

“What you have with your mum and dad is probably not what you’re going to get for your first home.”

It has never been easy to buy a house – high interest rates on lower mortgages were as least as difficult to service when these people were paying off their first homes as lower interest rates on higher-priced houses now.

Then we have Green co-leader Metiria Turei:

. . . She and her family left Auckland in 2002, partly because of the cost of housing on an MP’s salary.

She says there were good homes available in Dunedin for $140,000 to $180,000 when she was house hunting.

But her bank wouldn’t lend her less than $200,000 as she had no deposit and had to take out a 100 per cent mortgage.

She couldn’t cope with the cost of housing on an MPs salary and had no deposit saved?

That is a very sorry reflection on her financial management and a chilling reminder of how dangerous she could be in government.

People who can’t manage their own money shouldn’t be taking and spending other people’s.


Economic policy crucial for election

30/09/2013

For all the sideshows and media circuses around particular policies, people and events, when it comes to elections what really matters most to most voters are the economy, education, health, welfare and security.

The ability to make significant progress in the last three depends on the first.

The economy really does matter most and, as Rob Hosking points out in the print edition of the NBR (not online), economic policy will be crucial in the election and that’s an area of tension for the opposition.

While attention has been on likely tensions between Labour and the Greens, there are also tensions within Labour – tensions between those who kind of get the importance of economic growth and those for whom it is more an academic exercise.

This group is never exactly anti-economic growth; they just view the policies required to produce that growth with a degree of disdain and, by and large, they would rather talk about climate change and taxing things more.

And Mr Parker is definitely from this wing of Labour.

With a preference for talking about climate change and taxing more, that wing has a lot in common with the Greens.

The phalanx of economic spokesperson-ships Mr Cunliffe announced on Monday is not, if labour were to form a government, just there to form a human shield around Beehive photocopiers so Russel Norman doesn’t go berserk with the currency.

It is also to balance out Labour’s own tensions.

A party with internal tensions over economic policy isn’t one best placed to run the economy.

Against this, National will have the known quantity of Mr English, who should be able to offer a return to surplus and, no doubt some election sweeteners (probably on savings and investment policy) and a track record of having got through the worst economic crisis since the 1930s in what is actually quite remarkably good shape.

That is going to be as important a match up as the John Key/David Cunliffe battle.

John Key and Bill English against Davids Cunliffe and Parker with Russel Norman wanting a major role too?

That’s sound economic policy that is working against a lurch to the left that has failed every time it’s been tried.


Prevent, reverse and/or prepare?

30/09/2013

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded there’s a 95% certainty climate change is human-induced.

There are several possible responses to that including work to prevent or reverse it, panic and/or preparing for it.

New Zealand contributes such a tiny amount to global emissions there’s little we can do to prevent or reverse it, but Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said we’re doing our bit:

. . . “New Zealand has been an active participant in the IPCC process. It is important that we contribute as addressing climate change demands collective action, and it keeps our scientists and officials up to date with the latest in climate science. This assists policy development and decision making at home.

As well as making an important contribution to the IPCC scientific process, New Zealand is playing its part to achieve fair and binding international rules around greenhouse gas emissions.

“New Zealand actively participates in international climate change negotiations and supports collective, collaborative action. We recently convened and hosted an informal dialogue to inject some fresh thinking into negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol, by the end of 2015.

“New Zealand is committed to doing our fair share without imposing excess costs on households and businesses, while the Government focuses on jobs and strengthening our recovery,” says Mr Groser.

“The Government recently made an unconditional commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and maintains a conditional commitment to a reduction target range of 10% to 20% below 1990 levels.

“We have implemented the Emissions Trading Scheme, we are making progress towards our 90% renewable electricity target, and have launched the Global Research Alliance, committing $45 million to research ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions.”

As well as playing our part in prevention and reversal we need to prepare for the consequences should the forecast effects eventuate.

One way to prepare for the increased heat and droughts which are predicted is irrigation some of which requires water storage.

Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston has been calling for more water storage systems for some time.

He says the Opuha dam in Canterbury has proven to be effective in times of dry weather, and more opportunities for water storage around the country need to be sought.

Dr Rolleston says the discussion around a proposal by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to build the Ruataniwha dam needs to continue and the dam could be positive for the economy and the environment.

The Ruataniwha dam is controversial, because of concerns it could lead to an intensification of farming, with nutrient run-off potentially proving toxic for the Tukituki River and its fish species.

But Dr Rolleston says climate implications need to be considered.

He says farmers need to prepare, and water storage systems, like the Ruataniwha dam, could help mitigate extremes of climate.

Dr Rolleston says like the Opuha dam, the Ruataniwha dam could prove effective in times of dry weather.

While New Zealand has plenty of water, he says it’s not always in the right place at the right time.

“Certainly in South Canterbury we’ve had the Opuha dam for some years and it’s proven to be a real bonus for both the economy and the environment and we need to be aware that water storage can have a positive effect on both.”

Dr Rolleston says discussions about the Ruataniwha dam need to continue.

Ironically  the people who are most vociferous about climate change and adamant we must do something about it are often the ones who are most vehemently opposed to irrigation and the water storage which enables more of it.

They fail to see the benefits which aren’t just economic but environmental and social too.

Whether or not climate change eventuates as forecast, droughts have always been with us and will continue to occur.

Water storage can insure against that and should be pursued where at all possible, with the necessary safeguards to ensure that increasing the quantity of water available doesn’t compromise the quality.


Which century is he in?

30/09/2013

Quote of the day:

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq.

“That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees,” he said.

No specific medical studies were cited to support his arguments. – Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan

He was reacting to a campaign by Saudi women who want to overturn the ban on them driving.


Hooton responds to Cunliffe’s response

30/09/2013

Last week Matthew Hooton questioned David Cunliffe’s claim he’d exaggerated his role in helping with the formation of Fonterra.

Cunliffe responded with a time sheet from the Boston Consulting Group.

Hooton has now responded to that.

. . . In politics, explaining is losing so in writing all this I have just lost the little public contretemps between me and the likely next prime minister.  I was wrong to call Mr Cunliffe a liar when he said he had “helped with the formation of Fonterra” and consequently apologise to him for using an inaccurate word.

On reflection, I think he genuinely believes that a month’s work in 1997 on the impact on R&D of an early iteration of a failed proposal for dairy industry consolidation is the same as “help[ing] with the formation of Fonterra”, but I do not agree.  Nor would any of the top players in the GlobalCo project.

While I think his claim to have “helped with the formation of Fonterra” is untrue, I accept he believes it and it is good that the likely next prime minister feels such a strong connection with the country’s most important export industry. . .

Of course, this little kerfuffle is hardly the biggest issue facing the nation, and is relevant only because Mr Cunliffe’s Fonterra comments are the same type of self-aggrandisement that gets him into trouble over other issues.  There were his false or exaggerated claims of community work for the Auckland and Wellington City Missions and Forest & Bird, and his claim to have graduated with a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Business School when in fact he earned the degree from the nearly-as-impressive John F. Kennedy School of Government.

It is the same self-aggrandisement his colleagues complain about: that he takes credit for policy work for which he has only peripheral involvement. . . 

This all pretty petty, even to a political tragic, but it does provide an insight into Cunliffe’s character and confirm that less is more with CVs.

It’s safer to stick with the basics. If you’re as good as you think you are it will soon be obvious, and if you’re not, you haven’t tried to convince anyone you are.

The media and political opponents will remember this but what matters now to most others is not what Cunliffe did in the past, and how he portrays it,  but how he performs now and what he plans to do in the future.


September 30 in history

30/09/2013

1399  Henry IV was proclaimed King of England.

1744  France and Spain defeated the Kingdom of Sardinia at the Battle of Madonna dell’Olmo.

1791  The Magic Flute, the last opera composed by Mozart, premiered at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna.

1791  The National Constituent Assembly in Paris was dissolved; Parisians hailed Maximilien Robespierre and Jérôme Pétion as incorruptible patriots.

1813  Battle of Bárbula: Simón Bolívar defeated Santiago Bobadilla.

1832 Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, American labour activist, was born (d. 1905).

1860 Britain’s first tram service begins in Birkenhead, Merseyside.

1882  The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.

1888  Jack the Ripper killed his third and fourth victims, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.

1895  Madagascar became a French protectorate.

1901 Hubert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner.

1903  The new Gresham’s School was officially opened by Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood.

1906  The Real Academia Galega, Galician language’s biggest linguistic authority, started working in Havana.

1921 Scottish actress Deborah Kerr was born (d 2007).

1924 US author Truman Capote was born.

1927  Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 60 home runs in a season.

1931  Start of “Die Voortrekkers” youth movement for Afrikaners in Bloemfontein.

1935  The Hoover Dam, was dedicated.

1935 US singer Johnny Mathis was born.

1938  Britain, France, Germany and Italy signed the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

1938  The League of Nations unanimously outlawed “intentional bombings of civilian populations”.

1939  General Władysław Sikorski became commander-in-chief of the Polish Government in exile.

1943 Marilyn McCoo, American singer (The 5th Dimension), was born.

1943 Ian Ogilvy, British Actor, was born.

1945  The Bourne End rail crash, in Hertfordshire killed 43 people.

1949  The Berlin Airlift ended.

1954  The U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus was commissioned as the world’s first nuclear reactor powered vessel.

1955  Film icon James Dean died in a road accident aged 24.

1957 US actress Fran Drescher was born.

1962 Sir Guy Powles became New Zealand’s first Ombudsman.

Government watchdog appointed

1962  Mexican-American labour leader César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers.

1962  James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi, defying segregation.

1965  General Suharto took power after an alleged coup by the Communist Party of Indonesia. In response, Suharto and his army massacred over a million Indonesians suspected of being communists.

1965 The Lockheed L-100, the civilian version of the C-130 Hercules, was introduced.

1966  The British protectorate of Bechuanaland declared its independence, and became the Republic of Botswana. Seretse Khama took office as the first President.

1967  BBC Radio 1 was launched and Tony Blackburn presented its first show; the BBC’s other national radio stations also adopted numeric names.

1968  The Boeing 747 was shown to the public for the first time at the Boeing Everett Factory.

1970  Jordan made a deal with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for the release of the remaining hostages from the Dawson’s Field hijackings.

1975  The Hughes (later McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing) AH-64 Apache made its first flight.

1977  Philippine political prisoners, Eugenio Lopez, Jr. and Sergio Osmeña III escaped from Fort Bonifacio Maximum Security Prison.

1979  The Hong Kong MTR commenced service with the opening of its Modified Initial System (aka. Kwun Tong Line).

1980  Ethernet specifications were published by Xerox working with Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation.

1982  Cyanide-laced Tylenol killed six people in the Chicago area.

1986 Martin Guptill, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1986 Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed details of Israel covert nuclear program to British media, was kidnapped in Rome.

1989  Foreign Minister of West Germany Hans-Dietrich Genscher‘s speech from the balcony of the German embassy in Prague.

1990 The Dalai Lama unveiled the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights in Ottawa.

1991  President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti was forced from office.

1993  An earthquake hit India‘s Latur and Osmanabad district of Marathwada (Au rangabad division) leaving tens of thousands of people dead and many more homeless.

1994  Aldwych tube station (originally Strand Station) of the London Underground closed after eighty-eight years of service.

1999 Japan’s worst nuclear accident at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tōkai-mura, northeast of Tokyo.

2004 The first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat were taken 600 miles south of Tokyo.

2004 – The AIM-54 Phoenix, the primary missile for the F-14 Tomcat, was retired from service.

2005 – The controversial drawings of Muhammad were printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

2006 the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Constitutional Act that proclaimed the new Constitution of Serbia.

2009 – The 2009 Sumatra earthquakes  killed more than 1,115 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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