Word of the day

November 12, 2013

Kairos – a propitious moment for decision or action; the opportune time and/or place, the right time to say or do the right thing; a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action : the opportune and decisive moment; pregnant time, the time of possibility – moments in our day, our week, our month, our year or our lifetime that define us.


#gigatownoamaru growing, growing

November 12, 2013

Oamaru, New Zealand’s sharpest town,  has led Chorus’s gigagtown points table from the start.

‘Gigatown’ will be the first town in the Southern hemisphere to access a one gigabit per second (1Gbps) internet connection.

How do we decide who gets to be Gigatown? Actually, we don’t decide – you do.

We’re looking for the town that wants it the most. There’s two ways we’ll be measuring that drive, enthusiasm and determination to be Gigatown:

1. by listening out for the town with the loudest voice on social media; and

2. by tallying up the supporters for each town signing up on this website.

Over the course of the competition, we’ll measure social media and online community engagement in support of each eligible ‘town’.

The town with the loudest voice will be New Zealand’s first Gigatown, and will be well positioned to become a leading digital innovation hub for New Zealand, showcasing how ultra-fast broadband can re-define our economy, reshape how our children learn and change how our communities live, work and play.

Points will be counted up for each town and adjusted relative to the town’s size to become ‘Gigapoints’, which are displayed on this website so you can keep track of your town’s progress. The adjustment for town size ensures that each town has the same opportunity to be the Gigatown.

The five eligible towns with the most points at the end of the initial round will go forward to the finals

When I checked a few minutes ago #gigatownoamaru was more than 40,000 ahead of its nearest rival.

How’s it doing it?

Good, old fashioned community spirit combined with new fashioned technology as people in the town and the wider district and their family and friends use social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, . . .  to gain points.

gig 12.11

 


Rural round-up

November 12, 2013

Plant not closing – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms’ Silverstream lamb-processing plant near Mosgiel will not open for the start of its season as usual in December – but it is not being closed.

While the plant’s 12-strong management team are in consultation over potential redundancy, Silver Fern and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union are confident the Finegand plant near Balclutha could take the up to 180 boning staff should they choose to transfer there.

With no staff meeting or statements sent to individual staff, there is confusion over the plant’s future and it was ”inadequate for workers to be left dangling”, Otago-Southland Meat Workers’ Union branch president Daryl Carran said. ”Because Silverstream is for overflow processing, to bone lamb at the peak of the season, it’s more open to volatility.”

Coronial report on quad bike deaths – industry forum to be convened:

 Whangarei Coroner Brandt Shortland has today released findings into five workplace quad bike deaths:

As part of his concurrent inquests in April this year into the five deaths, Coroner Shortland invited submissions on quad bike issues from a series of experts and involved parties, and his findings include his conclusions and recommendations (see summary below).

“These findings and recommendations give weight, in the Ministry’s view, to the need to continue focusing on reducing the death and injury toll associated with quad bike use in agricultural settings,” General Manager Health and Safety Operation Ona de Rooy said. . . .

Federated Farmers welcomes coronial recommendations:

Federated Farmers is welcoming recommendations contained in Coroner Shortland’s written findings released today on quad bike related deaths in 2010 and 2011.

“Can we express our heartfelt commiserations to the family and loved ones of those people subject to the Coroner’s findings,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“The one thing we welcome in Coroner Shortland’s findings is that it recognises the practical realities of using quad bikes in a farm setting. Indeed, many of the recommendations are current industry practice and that is a good thing.

“There are far more quad bikes in New Zealand than registered road-going motorcycles. Many farmers will spend hundreds of hours a year operating a quad bike because they have become the farmer’s Swiss Army knife. . .

High input costs in China’s milk benefit NZ:

A dairy industry analyst says it’s a good thing for New Zealand farmers that it costs substantially more to produce milk in China than it does to produce the same volume in this country.

The International Farm Comparison Network 2013 Dairy Report shows that producing 100kg of milk in New Zealand costs $US35. In the United States it costs $US44 to produce the same amount and in China it’s 50% higher again.

NZX Agrifax’s dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says that reinforces China’s ongoing dependence on importing dairy products from countries such as New Zealand.

She says it’s importing feed that makes producing milk so expensive in China. . .

Star rating system for food could benefit primary industry sector:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says food labelling using a star rating system could benefit the primary industry sector in New Zealand.

The star system effectively rates the nutritional value of a product.

The minister announced last week a voluntary star rating system would be the focus of research as to how effective it could be and what consumers think about it.

Ms Kaye says it’s important consumers have the best possible information about making healthier eating choices which is why the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling Advisory Group decided the system should be looked into.

She says the system could have flow-through benefits for the primary sector.   . .

Giesen, Johanneshof and Villa Maria dominate 2013 Marlborough Wine Show awards:

Family companies dominated the awards at the 2013 Marlborough Wine Show celebration dinner held in Blenheim on Saturday night with Giesen, Johanneshof Cellars and Villa Maria winning nine of the 14 awards presented.

In addition to 12 class trophies, there were two new awards – The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence which was presented jointly to Ara Wines and Villa Maria for their Seddon Vineyard and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award which was presented to Johanneshof Cellars for their Gewurztraminer, vintages 2006, 2010 and 2012. . .


Denniston Plateau mine’s a goer

November 12, 2013

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society won’t appeal an Environment Court ruling signing off on a planned coal mine for the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau after cutting a deal with mining company Bathurst Resources yesterday.

The environmental lobbyist has agreed not to appeal the final consent process and in return Bathurst won’t do anything in its control to cause open cast mining in a defined protection area, the entities said in separate statements. The parties also agreed to let court costs fall where they lie in respect to the wider appeals process.

“This agreement is a significant milestone for the Escarpment Mine Project,” Bathurst chief executive Hamish Bohannon “It gives Bathurst increased certainty and the company now has a much greater level of confidence around being able to commence mining activities as soon as possible.”

Last month the Environment Court granted consents for the project, ending a two-year battle waged in the courts, which have largely been in Bathurst’s favour.

Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin said the group cut the deal because a successful appeal might not have prevented the mine, and that this was a way to ensure Bathurst protects the reserve area.

Bathurst shares were unchanged at 24 cents yesterday, and have climbed 26 percent this year.

This is a good outcome for all concerned.

The mine will go ahead creating more higher paying jobs on the Coast and the reserve area is protected

 


If interest rates are a problem now . . .

November 12, 2013

An MYOB survey of rural businesses identifies major pressures:

Top 5 pressures for the primary sector in next 12 months

Pressure % of SMEs
Fuel prices 58%
Exchange rates 41%
Cashflow 35%
Interest rates 31%
Finance 25%

Interest rates are at historically low levels and are expected to go up next year but not significantly.

If that’s a concern now these businesses won’t want a change of government because policies announced so far by opposition parties would lead to much higher interest rates.

Fuel prices and exchange rates are also an issue – but a lower exchange rate would make imports, including fuel, more expensive.

New Zealand’s rural sector continues to find the going tough as it faces a high dollar, uncertain international markets and rising production costs. However, things are looking up, with more than double the proportion of SMEs expecting an annual revenue rise as had experienced one in the prior 12 months.

This is the finding of the latest MYOB Business Monitor, in which 39% of SME operators in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector reported falling annual revenue, while only 15% saw revenue increase in the year to August. The sector’s growth was half the pace set by all SME’s surveyed, where 30% saw revenue increase.

MYOB General Manager Business Division James Scollay says the survey underscores some of the complex challenges facing the industries that lie at the heart of New Zealand’s economy.

“While there is much to be positive about for the SME sector as a whole this year, it has without a doubt been a more testing time for rural business operators. There’s good news on the horizon though, with 37% of agriculture, forestry and fishing SME operators expecting their revenue to increase in the next 12 months.

“A further 46% expect revenue to remain stable, while just 7% are forecasting a fall in revenue in 2014. The latter was the lowest proportion across all the industries we surveyed, along with finance and insurance.

“What this says is that although things haven’t been as good as we might have hoped in 2013, the primary sector seems set to turn a corner and enjoy a return to growth in 2014.

“We need to be mindful that the vulnerability from key pressures – many of them external – is still there, with rural business operators wanting more support, especially around the dollar. However, revenue is definitely heading in the right direction.” . . .

This gloomy view on the past year must be in areas where the drought had such a big impact.

It certainly doesn’t reflect sentiment in the south where business is going well and the forecast for the coming season is bright.

It’s certainly bright in #gigatownoamaru as it works to be the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.


Learning to be leader

November 12, 2013

As  backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.

On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.

That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.

For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.

Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.

It was only one week ago  that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.

For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.

I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.

I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.

As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.

The letter has been picked up by CoNZervative, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock.

When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.

An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.

This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.

The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.

I covered that here and the story has also been picked up by Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog.

When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.

This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and  it makes him look like a lesser leader.


B+LNZ funding at risk in AgResearch changes

November 12, 2013

Most of the publicity and lobbying over AgResearch’s proposal to move most of its staff from Invermay to Lincoln has been directed at the government because it’s a crown entity.

However, it has an independent board and around half its funding comes from the industry and one of those funders is now raising concerns:

If there are not the skills to conduct key research AgResearch may lose beef and lamb industry funding, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Peterson says.

B+LNZ had been up front all the way over proposals to downsize AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin under the Crown research institute’s Future Footprint (FFP) plan, Petersen said.

However, the reality was if the skills were lacking there would be nothing to fund and that would put future research funding at risk.

“It’s the reality. If there are no researchers to do the work we need done then there will be nothing to fund (at AgResearch),” Petersen said. . .

Most staff at Invermay aren’t just saying they don’t want to move to Lincoln, they’re saying they won’t move.

B+LNZ spent $5 million annually funding research at AgResearch and that was boosted a further $20m by partnership funding, including the Government.

“We (B+LNZ) generate $25m worth of research activity each year,” Petersen said.

To continue to do that, access to key skills remained crucial.

“But we are not going to use that as a stick on AgResearch over where and how it locates staff.

“But if we can’t get access to key capability then one option is the funding will not be available.”

Losing key staff would have a huge impact on AgResearch capability.

. . . He acknowledged there was pressure from southern farmers for B+LNZ to oppose AgResearch’s FFP.

“I am aware that there are farmers, particularly down south, that think we should be up in arms but at the end of the day this is an AgResearch board decision and we have been given the assurances we have been looking for at this stage,” he said.

Farmer concerns were being taken seriously and B+LNZ would look into remits issued by the Southern South Island and Central South Island sheep councils opposing the shift of staff from Invermay to Lincoln.

Where the scientists were located was not necessarily the issue for B+LNZ, Petersen said.

“Our issue is will the (key skilled) scientists in fact be there to do our research?

“It could be that scientists decide not to move and then AgResearch might then decide to retain them at Invermay. Invermay, or Lincoln, is not the big deal for us – it’s the access to the capability.”

The  concern for B+LNZ isn’t about the location, it’s about capability and there are serious questions about whether AgResearch would retain that if AgResearch goes ahead with its plan to gut Invermay.


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