Word of the day

October 23, 2013

Brummagem – a showy but cheap, inferior and worthless thing; Counterfeit; gaudy; meretricious; relating to Birmingham or the dialect of English spoken there.


5 day rural post 3 day urban

October 23, 2013

The Updated Deed of Understanding between the government and New Zealand Post has agreed to retain rural mail deliveries at five a week but urban deliveries could go down to three a week.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams says changes were required to ensure the postal service remains viable.

Under the agreement reached between the Government and New Zealand Post, changes to the Deed will not apply until 30 June, 2015.

“Around the world postal volumes are declining. In New Zealand this is at a rate of about 8 per cent per annum,” Ms Adams says.

“It is clear that if changes are not made to the Deed, then significant and on-going government subsidisation in excess of $30 million per year may be required.

“The decision to update the Deed reflects the need to balance the immediate interests of postal users with the longer term need for greater flexibility for New Zealand Post, given the dramatic reduction in the volume of postal items over the past 11 years.

“From their peak in 2002 mail volumes have dropped considerably, with about 328 million fewer items being posted in 2013 compared to 2002.”

New Zealand Post had sought the flexibility to reduce the frequency of mail delivery for standard delivery letters to a minimum of three days per week nationwide.

However, the Government was concerned about the sustainability of rural delivery services and rural contractors in general through fewer deliver days.

“Through negotiations, I have secured agreement from New Zealand Post that it will limit any introduction of a minimum three-day delivery to only urban areas, maintaining five-day delivery in rural delivery areas.

We currently get mail six days a week unless it’s a long weekend when there’s no delivery on Saturdays and Mondays.

Newspapers will be grateful that five-day deliveries are to be maintained because in most rural areas papers are delivered with the mail. If deliveries reduced to three a week most people wouldn’t bother subscribing.

“It is important to note that three-day delivery is the minimum standard New Zealand Post must meet. This means that New Zealand Post may continue to provide a higher frequency of delivery in some non-rural areas.

“The minimum standards in the Deed only apply to basic or standard postal services. The Deed does not apply to other types of postal products or services such as express mail, courier post, parcel post or premium services such as Fast Post.”

Changes to the Deed will also require New Zealand Post to continue to maintain a retail network of at least 880 points of presence, but permit this to be comprised of self-service kiosks, well as physical postal outlets.

Of the 880 points of presence, New Zealand Post has agreed to maintain at least 240 outlets where customers can receive personal assistance from an employee or agent of New Zealand Post.

“This will give comfort to members of the public who may feel anxious at the prospect of the introduction of self-service kiosks.”

The 880 and 240 figures are unchanged from the current Deed, but the specifics in each case have been modified to meet current requirements.

The timeframe for implementing any changes will be a commercial decision for New Zealand Post, after 30 June, 2015.

Minimum service requirements for New Zealand Post are set out in the Deed of Understanding it signed with the Crown in 1998. The Deed has not been significantly reviewed since it was signed.

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement.

“This is great news for rural people, as many businesses are still heavily reliant on a five day service,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“New Zealand Post and the Government have clearly listened to our members concerns and we are pleased that they have recognised the uniqueness of the rural business model in their Deed of Understanding.

“Whilst technology is changing the way we communicate and eventually we will see a decline in postal deliveries, we are not there yet. There are still some 86,000 rural people off-line, where rural post is a daily fixture in the running of their business and household.

“We would like to thank all parties involved for highlighting the unique situation that rural New Zealand is in when it comes to postal delivery,” concluded Mr Wills.

Rural Women NZ is also pleased:

“In our submission, which Minister Amy Adams has acknowledged, we highlighted that the rural delivery is so much more than just a mail service and anything that threatened its sustainability would have widespread unintended consequences,” says Rural Women national president, Liz Evans.

“It is a wraparound distribution service that is part of the fabric that holds rural communities together.

“Our rural delivery contractors provide a lifeline, delivering supplies, repairs and spare parts, animal health remedies, medicines, and courier parcels.

People pay for these services but it would be more expensive and less regular if the rural delivery contractors weren’t able to provide them five days a week.

“The five day service ensures people are able to run their farming enterprises and other rural businesses effectively, even from remote locations.”

Rural delivery contractors also pick up mail and parcels, meaning that it’s feasible to run a production-based business from a rural location. These businesses breathe life into rural communities, as we have seen through our Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Rural Women NZ’s plea to preserve the existing rural delivery service was also based on the limitations of other communications facilities, that urban people take for granted.

“In many rural areas there is limited or no cellphone coverage and we are still dealing with dial-up broadband connections in many cases.”

The mail service is used a lot less than it used to be and the decline is likely to continue.

That decline will be hastened by NZ Post’s reduction in service.
Mail is much slower than it used to be and people are using alternatives because of that.
We used to get killing sheets in the mail but now we can’t rely on timely deliveries we’re getting them emailed.
There will always be some things that can’t be delivered electronically but as technology improves the need for mail services will drop.

Rural round-up

October 23, 2013

Fonterra director blocked from Alliance candidacy:

The farmer group campaigning for meat industry reform has a bone to pick with the board of the Alliance meat co-operative.

It is upset that the board has rejected the nomination of one of the four candidates put forward for two directors seats in upcoming elections.

The board accepted three of them – those of sitting directors, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart and Southland farmer Jason Miller, and one challenger, Donald Morrison.

However, it rejected the nomination of dairy and beef farmer John Monaghan because his shareholding in the co-operative is too small for him to be eligible. . .

New Indonesian posting to boost MPI presence in Asia:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the creation of a new position for an agricultural counsellor in the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.

“This is in recognition of the growing importance of the bilateral relationship with Indonesia. It is a further step by the Ministry for Primary Industries to increase its presence in Asian markets and provide in-market support for exporters.

“As announced earlier this year, MPI is also putting more staff into China by the end of the year and is doubling its market access team in Wellington from 8 to 16.

“This position in Jakarta has been established in response to the growing interest in trade between New Zealand and Indonesia. Agricultural trade currently makes up over two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Indonesia. . .

Wrightson names Agria’s Lai as chairman, forecasts lift in operating earnings:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services company controlled by Agria Corp, named the Chinese company’s founder Alan Lai as its new chairman, replacing John Anderson, and forecast a lift in full-year operating earnings.

The Christchurch-based company first flagged the departure of veteran businessman Anderson last month, after he was appointed to steer the company after its 2010 shakeup that followed the arrival of Agria as an investor with fresh equity at a time profits were weak and debt was high. . . .

Timber confirmed as the best:

The New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF) has welcomed confirmation that timber is the best construction material for coping with New Zealand’s seismic conditions.

Experiments carried out in June by BRANZ, (Building Research Association of New Zealand) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, have shown that timber framed buildings can cope with stresses three times that of the Christchurch earthquakes, and still remain standing.

The Ministry of Education commissioned the tests in order to establish how much force its school buildings could withstand in an earthquake. . .

Tru-Test FY sales rise 12 percent, profit triples on UK sale – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tru-Test Corp, which doubled in size after buying a dairy industry equipment business, posted a 12 percent increase in full-year sales and said profit almost tripled on a gain from the sale of a UK subsidiary.

Profit rose to $6.6 million in the 12 months ended March 31, from $2.3 million a year earlier, according to the Auckland-based company’s annual report. Earnings included $5.6 million from the sale of its UK livestock weighing and tagging business Ritchey and Fearing. Sales rose 12 percent to $97.6 million. . .

Summerglow Apiaries Welcomes Confirmation From Intellectual Property Office That UMF Brand Rating System Is Reliable Measure For Manuka Honey Special Qualities:

Hamilton-based SummerGlow Apiaries has welcomed news of the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand’s (IPONZ) confirmation in a recent decision on the registrability of certain trademarks that the UMF brand rating system is a reliable measure of Manuka Honey’s special qualities.

That decision also meant that terms such as “active” and “total activity” may be inherently deceptive, is a win for those under the UMF brand umbrella.

Margaret Bennnett, co-owner of SummerGlow Apiaries who are licence holders in the UMF Honey Association, said the implications of the decision are far reaching and point consumers towards the UMF brand rating system for reliable measures of the special qualities that Manuka Honey possesses. . .

New Zealand cidery best in class at the Australian Cider Awards:

Local Rodney cider producer Zeffer Brewing Co was announced as Best in Class in the Dry Cider Category with their Zeffer Dry Apple Cider at the Australian Cider Awards held last Friday evening 18 October in Surry Hills.

The awards attracted more than 160 entries from cider and perry makers from around the globe and these were judged by US cider expert Gary Awdey and Australian connoisseurs Max Allen and Neal Cameron. . .


Fixed term pay for MPs proposed

October 23, 2013

Independent MP Brendan Horan wants MPs’ pay to be fixed for a parliamentary term:

. . . “Back in December I promised that I would put forward an amendment in a bid to get Parliament to agree that salaries would be set by the Remuneration Authority before the next General Election. The salaries would apply for the three year term of each Parliament.

“Now that the Government has given the bill its second reading, I have formally introduced the Supplementary Order Paper

“I have written to all parties in Parliament seeking their support,” said Brendan Horan.

If adopted, the new law would still require the Remuneration Authority to independently set the salaries of MPs. The difference is that the determination would be published about three months before the election.

“That way, every candidate running for Parliament and all voters will know the remuneration of MPs for the next three years. Voters will choose their MPs, and we’ll have an end to the spectacle of Christmas pay rises,” said Brendan Horan.

It’s a good idea but Horan might have difficulty getting other MPs to accept it.

 


Is buy local really best?

October 23, 2013

The NBR reports that New Zealand exporters will be hit by Woolworths’ Australia’s plan to stop importing vegetables for its own-brand frozen products.

The decision was driven by consumer demand for locally produced food.

This is a trend among better-off consumers everywhere and on the surface it’s appealing.

It’s not only charity which starts at home, business can too.

Why wouldn’t you support local businesses, employing local people, using local goods and services?

Local produce would be better wouldn’t it – fresher and more trusted?

The freshness argument doesn’t always stack up. Frozen and canned goods which are processed within a very short time of being harvested can be more nutritious than unprocessed fruit and vegetables which deteriorate more between picking and plate.

On the surface the other arguments make sense but the buy local campaign doesn’t take account of other factors including availability and price.

Local produce isn’t always at its best or available when it’s wanted nor is it always the most reasonably priced. Price might not matter to some people but it is the largest determining factor for many shoppers.

Australian producers will, at least at first, benefit from Woolworths’ buy local policy but there are risks for them too.

The supermarket wars which have depressed milk prices on that side of the Tasman could happen to other fresh produce.

Then there’s the hypocrisy problem for those producers who are exporters too.

They can’t argue in favour of buying local at home when they also want people in other places to buy their produce too.

The buy local policy will give Woolworths a marketing advantage but like a lot of policies based on emotion it might not be in the best long term interests of either producers or consumers.


Right and wrong not left and right

October 23, 2013

A former Labour MP who worked with people from across the political spectrum on a local body campaign said he’d come to the conclusion that left wing people were far more likely to see things through a political lens than those from the right.

Some people are trying to turn Len Brown’s affair into a right wing conspiracy.

It’s not.

Cameron Slater, who broke the story on his blog Whaleoil, is from the blue end of the political spectrum.

But he doesn’t let that get in the way of his posts. He’d have run the story regardless of the mayor’s political affiliation.

That’s one of the reasons his blog is so popular. Like David Farrar on Kiwiblog, he’ll give praise and criticism where it’s due regardless of the subject’s politics.

Other people from the right had some involvement with Bevan Chuang but Jane Clifton points out:

There’s been much tut-tuttery about the fact that the source of the story was Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil, one of the country’s best-read blogs, which is aggressively pro-National Party to boot. Slater’s father ran the campaign for Brown’s closest mayoralty rival, a campaign Brown’s inamorata was close to through her friendship with another campaign activist. This has brought claims she was secretly working for the other side. Which just goes to show there’s plenty of hypocrisy, paranoia and self-delusion to go around. It’s common for journalists and political junkies in the twittersphere to denounce Whale Oil as “gutter” blogging. But not for the first time, the gutter-shunning media have piled onto Slater’s ruck without a second’s hesitation.

Allegations that this is a deliberate smear campaign generated from within the National Party to destroy a left-leaning mayor are somewhat ambitious. To the best of my knowledge, the National Party cannot make a married man have an affair. For two years. Or trick him into sending silly texts that might be kept and used against him. Or force him to conduct how’s-your-father in the Ngati Whatua conference room of the council chambers.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the blog did not run the story till after the local body elections in which Brown was safely re-elected. He is unsackable. . .

But the political views of those involved in the affair and its exposure is irrelevant anyway.

This isn’t about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.

Andrew McMillan provides a timeline of events which show:

Brown, who portrayed himself as a loving family man  and committed Christian had a prolonged affair.

He had a sexual trysts in council premises on council time.

The woman with whom he had the relationship was on a council advisory board. That’s not a direct employee but as mayor he was in a position of power and she could be considered to be vulnerable.

He wrote her a reference, and as a side issue he admitted writing worthless references:

Was it an abuse of power to provide a reference for Bevan Chuang?

It was the very early stages of us knowing each other. I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know. The letter of support I wrote was a reasonable letter. I tend to be quite positive in my writing for the many people I write references for. It wasn’t a reference that was requested or provided for that was out of the norm. It was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long. . .

A reference from the mayor would carry considerable weight but his words suggest he dashes them off frequently and in this case without knowing the subject all that long.

Whether that is appropriate for a mayor might be moot but the impact on his family from his infidelity and what it says about his character is not.

Whatever his politics and those of the people who exposed him, he is in the wrong.

Whether or not it will require a resignation will depend on the outcome of a council inquiry.

But whatever it determines won’t make his behaviour right.


One of those beneficiaries

October 23, 2013

The Veterans’ Support Bill unanimously passed its first reading last night.

“The Veterans’ Support Bill enables the Government to better meet the needs of both older veterans who require assistance to remain in their own homes and veterans of modern-day deployments,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“The Government recognises the significant sacrifice and contribution our veterans have made for our country. Replacing the outdated War Pensions Act 1954 with this modern bill demonstrates our commitment to those who have given service.”

The Veteran’ Support Bill follows a Law Commission report that provided the most comprehensive review of veterans’ entitlements in 60 years.

“The Government has adopted 132 of the 170 recommendations reported by the Law Commission as part of a $60 million package of changes of which this Bill forms the material part.

“I have received positive feedback from a number of veterans on the changes, and have confidence the Veterans’ Support bill will better meet their needs and provide the support they require going forward.”

The Bill contains many of the same provisions as the current Act. The service eligibility criteria remain the same and all veterans currently covered under the 1954 Act will have coverage under the new legislation.

Veterans from the Korean War are among those who will benefit from this legislation.

Most of us haven’t got any closer to that war than watching MASH on TV.

But National MP Melissa Lee is Korean and made a moving speech in parliament last night. She spoke of what our service people did, how it helped the people and describing herself as one of those beneficiaries:


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