Word of the day

November 25, 2013

Brumous – filled or abounding with fog or mist; of grey skies and wintry days; relating to winter days or cold, sunless weather.


Rural round-up

November 25, 2013

Lenders suggest farmers get better governance in place:

Farmers are being asked by rural lenders to take a board approach to their operations and stop making important decisions around the kitchen table.

Fraser Farm rural financial advisor Don Fraser says banks are asking farmers to get better governance and structures in place.

He says the banks are wanting a board approach and it’s best practice for everybody including the lender.

Mr Fraser says while he can’t provide specific details of the banks asking farmers to take this approach he knows it is happening under the radar.

He says in the past farmers have often made decisions and then gone to the banks asking them to fund it. . .

Export tax proposal won’t fix forestry – Alan Emmerson:

The loss of jobs at Rotorua as the result of yet another sawmill closure is a tragedy.

The problem is the Chinese are prepared to pay a high price for logs and, speaking as a forester, I’ll take the best price I can get.

Ultimately I’m not concerned where my logs are processed, just that I can make the most money from my long-term investment.

The issue for sawmills is they have to pay a high price for logs and the New Zealand dollar is high. The combination of the two factors makes many export sawmills uneconomic.

Like it or not, that is the way of the market. . .

NZ faces massive pest explosion:

New Zealand faces one of its biggest pest population explosions in decades.

This year is a mast year for the South Island’s beech forests, which means the trees are going through their heaviest seeding in nearly a decade. That means a feeding frenzy for mice and rats which leads to an explosion in stoats and weasels.

And to make matters worse, DOC Director General Lou Sanson says possum control hasn’t been operating at full capacity over the last year. . .

Rabbit control at Earnscleugh’s heart – Sally Rae:

If it were not for rabbiters, the Campbell family would not still be on Earnscleugh Station.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the future of the vast Central Otago high country property hung in the balance.

Plagued by rabbits, they were in ”serious strife” and it was an ”absolute nightmare”, Alistair Campbell told about 300 people attending a field day at the property on Friday.

Today, 21,000ha Earnscleugh Station is a far cry from the barren landscape of those rabbit-plagued years when some areas resembled a desert, without a blade of grass. . .

Visiting Canada to study water issues – Sally Rae:

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal will travel to Canada next year to study water management and beneficial farming practices.

Ms Soal, who is also a director of Irrigation New Zealand, has been named a 2014 Churchill Fellow, receiving a travel grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The Oamaru woman will head overseas in July next year and spend four weeks travelling in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, meeting government representatives, academics, water managers, farmers and members of the irrigation community. . .

Wine wins proof of Central’s strength – Timothy Brown:

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ”thrilled” with the results. . .

 Quad safety heading in the right direction – Jeannete Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news again following coroner Brandt Shortland’s well-constructed findings into five deaths in 2010-11.

Given the families involved will be grieving anew it is something we need to be sensitive about.

Yet any mention of a quad bike these days seems to attract almost irrational media attention.

Quad bikes are bikes and are not all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though Federated Farmers is seeking to get them reclassified as an agricultural vehicle. . .


Maori Seats too big – Flavell

November 25, 2013

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is concerned about the size of Maori electorates:

The Representation Commission has proposed no changes to the boundaries of the seven Maori electorates, because they are within their population quota.

Mr Flavell says it does not address the ”ridiculous” situation that the Tai Tonga MP is expected to represent over half of the land area of Aotearoa, which spans 18 general electorates.

He says the size of the Maori electorates is a major problem it has discussed with the Electoral Commission and MPs, but says there is no political will to change it.

He’s right about  Te Tai Tonga which covers 161, 443 square kilometres – that’s the whole of the South and Stewart Islands and part of Wellington Region.

But the next biggest seats are general ones. Clutha Southland covers 38,247 sq kms and West Coast Tasman covers 38, 042 sq kms.

Then comes the Maori seat of Te Tai Hauauru at 35, 825 sq kms and  the general seat of  Waitaki  which covers 34,888 sq kms.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti, a Maori seat, covers 30,952 sq kms then another general seat Kaikoura is 23, 706 sq kms.

The next two Maori seats are Waiariki at 19,212 sq kms and Te Tai Tokerau at 16, 370 sq kms. Then comes three general seats – East Coast (13,649); Taranaki-King Country (12, 869) and Northland (12, 255) and the smallest Maori electorate Hauraki-Waikato (12,580).

Mr Flavell says electoral law guarantees there will be at least 16 general electorates in the South Island so each one won’t be too big, and that approach should apply to Maori electorates.

The law actually says there will be 16 South Island seats and two of  those – Clutha Southland and West-Coast Tasman are bigger than all but Te Tai Tonga, Waitaki is bigger than all but that and Te Tai Hauauru ; Kaikoura is bigger than Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau and the three biggest North island seats East Coast, Taranaki-King Country and Northland are all bigger than Hauraki-Waikato.
Electorate sizes are determined by dividing the South Island population by 16 with a tolerance of 5% over or under that figure.I agree that most Maori seats are too big but so are some of the general ones. MMP gives better representation to parties but bigger electorates provides poorer representation for people.The simplest way to reduce the area electorates cover is to increase the number of seats but that would require more MPs or reduce the number of list seats and so reduce proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths.Another way to reduce the area MPs have to service is to get rid of Maori electorates and keep the total number of seats we have now. That would add a seat in the South Island and make all electorates a bit smaller but I don’t think that will get any support from Flavell.


Four pillars equally important

November 25, 2013

Quote of the day:

 . . . Our scientific, social/cultural, economical, and environmental pillars that together allow us to function and prosper as a nation – no one pillar is more important than the other or can hold a community to ransom.  . . .James Houghton, Federated Farmers Waikato Provincial President.

Sustainability requires balance.

Those of the red-green persuasion don’t understand that economic development and environmental protection and enhancement aren’t mutually exclusive.

Furthermore economic development increases the ability to protect and enhance the environment and social stability and development depends on it.


Work beats welfare

November 25, 2013

Figures released by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett illustrate the benefits of going from welfare to work, factoring in tax credits for families.

“On average around 1,500 people a week, move off welfare into work which brings pride to individuals and families and is financially beneficial.”

An average sole parent with two children under thirteen, living in South Auckland would receive around $642 on benefit, including accommodation supplement and a minimal extra allowance for costs.

“If that sole parent works just 15 hours while receiving benefit, they would be $107 better off, taking home $750 a week.”

“If they are able to go off benefit and by working just 20 hours a week on a minimum wage, they would be $171 better off each week at $814.”

Going off benefit and working 40 hours a week on a minimum wage, that same sole parent would be $190 better off at $833 a week with the Family Tax Credit, Accommodation Supplement and In-Work tax credit.

“I get how hard it can be to make the move from welfare to work, but it makes such a difference to your state of mind, not to mention financially.”

Lisa, a sole parent in West Auckland wanted to work and earn her own money and found a part time job with 20 hours work a week.

Her work focused case manager did a Better Off Assessment and Lisa was able to see how much better off she’d be doing 30 hours a week, without a benefit but picking up the In-Work tax Credit.

Lisa said her case manager showed her, “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

The benefits of work for a single person are also clear.

The average single person on Jobseeker Support with Accommodation Supplement and minimal additional allowances earns $320 a week.

“If they work 10 hours a week while on benefit, they’re $57 a week better off.”

“If they work 40 hours a week, on a minimum wage and go off benefit altogether, they will be around $200 better off, earning $520 a week.”

“No one says it’s easy; it can be hard to find a job and it can be tough putting yourself out there time and time again,” says Mrs Bennett.

“The first job may not always be the best job, but it’s a doorway to the next one and the feeling of standing on your own two feet is worth it.”

There are currently 2,900 job vacancies with Work and Income around the country, SEEK has 15,600 jobs and Trade Me has 12,800 jobs listed.

In an ideal world the taxpayer wouldn’t be subsidising low wages and working out how to improve wage levels in a sustainable way, which rules out the so-called living wage, ought to be a priority.

In the meantime, the only justification for Working for Families and other wage subsidies it that it makes lower-paid work more financially rewarding than being on a benefit.

That’s better for the people involved, any dependent and the economy and society.


Reality of MMP

November 25, 2013

One of the faults of MMP is that it can give disproportionate power to wee parties and their leaders.

New Zealand First with Winston Peters is a classic example of this.

The Conservative Party and its leader Colin Craig could be another and they are both appealing to a similar constituency.

. . . And Craig, at 45, sees himself as a fresh-faced alternative to political warhorse Winston Peters, 68.

He claims to be eating solidly into Peters’ core constituency of the older, socially conservative voter.

Members have switched allegiance, particularly after NZ First’s annual conference in October, he says. “We are enjoying seeing Grey Power no longer invite Winston, but invite me instead . . . there is a sort of transition. We are slowly taking over that space.”

Craig says one of the reasons Peters is in decline is that “he’s lost the mojo”.

“He’s not the Winston he was . . . and I know he thinks he is going to be here till whenever, but there is a point at which you start to lose credibility . . . my impression is that he was, last time, the protest vote. Now we have offered that opportunity in a similar policy space.”

Senior citizens appear to like Craig’s morally conservative views combined with an anti-asset sales stance. “A lot of them think I’m a lovely young fellow, and I get told I’m a good boy! I don’t mind, if they want to think of me as some sort of adopted son.”

Other parties are obviously worrying about Craig too.

His party is more likely to support a National-led government than a Labour one and a new wee party on the rise is likely to take votes from one in decline.

Craig’s opponents clearly now see him as a rival: David Cunliffe repeatedly refers to him as Crazy Colin. UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne launched an astonishing attack yesterday on some of his former MPs, now with the Conservatives.

Craig shrugs this off. Perhaps Labour is worried that he is gaining ground among Pacific Islanders in South Auckland, he wonders.

“I noticed that he has adopted a slightly anti-Colin Craig rhetoric which I find interesting given that I’ve never met him . . . maybe it’s just because I am going to support National and it has just become politically the thing to say.”

He’s also not upset by Dunne’s insults, saying it is unfounded criticism from a “struggling” politician.

“He is talking out of a lot of disappointment. I mean it can’t be easy when at one stage you had eight MPs and he was really in the middle of it then. A lot has transpired, self-inflicted by and large, and now he struggles to get an annual conference together. As one person said to me: it’s not an annual conference, its a support group.”

The Conservatives need to get 5% of the party vote or win an electorate to get into parliament, neither of which is a given.

But if the party’s there, what does it and its leader want to achieve?

1. Spending beyond their means: Leader Colin Craig says he’d like to match Australia’s defence spending at a “percentage level”. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s figures, Australia’s defence budget is US$26.1 billion. Ours is $1.358 billion. If Craig’s sums are based on GDP, it means an extra $1.55 billion; if it’s on population, it means another $4.87 billion. Either way, it’s a lot of guns.

2. If it wasn’t immediately obvious, more guns: Craig would consider introducing national service in return for free tertiary education. And let everyone else have a gun too: the right to bear arms, and the “Castle Doctrine” (basically, the right to shoot burglars).

3. Freedom of choice: a powhiri or a cup of tea (no confirmation on presence or otherwise of gingernuts): Craig, after the outcry when a visiting Danish MP felt intimidated by a powhiri: “Not all visitors to New Zealand are impressed by a bare-bottomed native making threatening gestures . . . if guests choose not to be welcomed in this way, I’m sure a handshake and a cup of tea would go a long way.”

4. Keep on burnin’: Climate change isn’t our fault. Instead, says Craig, volcanoes and sun flares are to blame. “Globally, our influence on temperature is very, very small. New Zealand’s influence is infinitesimally small.” Therefore, as night follows day, they would scrap the emissions trading scheme.

5. Freedom to rot your teeth: Fluoride, says Craig, is “a poison put in the water supply supposedly to improve dental health. No medical treatment should ever be given to a person without their explicit permission.” Here, he notes the vital impression on medical science made by the good councillors of Hamilton, who voted to remove this poison from municipal water (it was overturned in a recent referendum).

6. Grow yer own, toddlers: “I am 100 per cent behind schools teaching children how to raise/tend a garden.”

7. Investment in paper shredders: “Governments are prone to making unnecessary and sometimes quite ludicrous laws. I have a personal goal to scrap more legislation than I approve.”

8. Close yer legs. It’s cheaper: Craig, in April 2012: “We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.” This may go hand in hand with dumping the “frankly terrible” Working for Families.

9. Binding citizens-initiated referendums and a 100-day delay on initiating legislation to allow it to be overturned by the public: A deal-breaker in any coalition. “Although other parties might not like the idea much, if it is a choice between government or not, I expect them to be receptive to the idea,” Craig said. This appears to be a not-so-sneaky way to make gay marriage illegal again.

10. And a few other things too: Closing the Waitangi Tribunal; work for the dole; a lot less tax: a tax-free threshold of $25,000 and a flat rate of $20,000; cutting the education department budget by 50 per cent and giving half the saving direct to schools.

It’s difficult to find a coherent philosophy behind this list, some are more dog whistles than policies.

But each will appeal to a few people and some of those will vote for them.

That may or may not be enough to get the party into parliament.

If it does, Craig would be wise to accept there’s a big difference between many ideas which might appeal to some voters and policies which make a positive difference to the country.

If he doesn’t we’ll be faced with another of MMP’s faults – the ability of the tail to wag the dog.


November 25 in history

November 25, 2013

1034 – Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, King of Scots died. Donnchad, the son of his daughter Bethóc and Crínán of Dunkeld, inherited the throne.

1120 – The White Ship sank in the English Channel, drowning William Adelin, son of Henry I of England.

1177 – Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald of Chatillon defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard.

1343 – A tsunami, caused by the earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea, devastated Naples and the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, among other places.

1491 – The siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, began.

1667 – A deadly earthquake rocked Shemakha in the Caucasus, killing 80,000 people.

1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died.

1755 – King Ferdinand VI of Spain granted royal protection to the Beaterio de la Compañia de Jesus, now known as the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.

1758 – French and Indian War: British forces captured Fort Duquesne from French control. Fort Pitt built nearby grew into modern Pittsburgh.

1759 – An earthquake hit the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000-40,000.

1783 – American Revolutionary War: The last British troops left New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

1795 – Partitions of Poland: Stanislaus August Poniatowski, the last king of independent Poland, was forced to abdicate and was exiled to Russia.

1826 – The Greek frigate Hellas arrived in Nafplion to become the first flagship of the Hellenic Navy.

1833 – A massive undersea earthquake, estimated magnitude between 8.7-9.2 rocks Sumatra, producing a massive tsunami all along the Indonesian coast.

1835 Andrew Carnegie, British-born industrialist and philanthropist, was born (d. 1919).

1839 – A cyclone in India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroyed the port city of Coringa. The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted.

1844  – Karl Benz, German engineer and inventor, was born (d. 1929).

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Missionary Ridge .

1867 – Alfred Nobel patented dynamite.

1874 – The United States Greenback Party was established consisting primarily of farmers affected by the Panic of 1873.

1880 John Flynn, Founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, was born (d 1951).

1880  Elsie J. Oxenham, British children’s author, was born (d. 1960).

1890 Isaac Rosenberg, English war poet and artist, was born (d. 1918).

1903 – By winning the world light-heavyweight championship, Timaru boxer Bob Fitzsimmons became the first man ever to be world champion in three different weight divisions.

Fitzsimmons wins third world boxing title

1905 – The Danish Prins Carl arrived in Norway to become King Haakon VII of Norway.

1914  Joe DiMaggio, American baseball player, was born(d. 1999).

1915 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator, was born (d. 2006).

1917 – German forces defeated Portuguese army of about 1200 at Negomano on the border of modern-day Mozambique and Tanzania.

1918 – Vojvodina, formerly Austro-Hungarian crown land, proclaimed its secession from Austria–Hungary to join the Kingdom of Serbia.

1926 – The deadliest November tornado outbreak in U.S. history struck on Thanksgiving day. 27 twisters were reported in the Midwest, including the strongest November tornado, an estimated F4, that devastated Heber Springs, Arkansas and killed 51 with 76 deaths and over 400 injuries in all.

1936 – Germany and Japan sigedn the Anti-Comintern Pact, agreeing to consult on measures “to safeguard their common interests” in the case of an unprovoked attack by the Soviet Union against either nation.

1940 – World War II: First flight of the deHavilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.

1943 – World War II: Statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established at the State Anti-Fascist Council for the People’s Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1947 – Red Scare: The “Hollywood Ten” were blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.

1947 – New Zealand ratified the Statute of Westminster and thus became independent of legislative control by the United Kingdom.

1950  Alexis Wright, Australian author, was born.

1950 – The “Storm of the Century“, a violent snowstorm, paralysed the northeastern United States and the Appalachians, bringing winds up to 100 mph and sub-zero temperatures. Pickens, West Virginia, recorded 57 inches of snow; 323 people died as a result of the storm.

1952  – Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London later becoming the longest continuously-running play in history.

1958 – French Sudan gained autonomy as a self-governing member of the French Community.

1960 – The Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic were assassinated.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1970 – In Japan, author Yukio Mishima and one compatriot committed ritualistic suicide after an unsuccessful coup attempt.

1973 – George Papadopoulos, head of the military Regime of the Colonels in Greece, was ousted in a hardliners’ coup led by Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannidis.

1975 – Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands.

1977 – Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. was found guilty by the Philippine Military Commission No. 2 and sentenced to death by firing squad.

1982 – The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire destroyed an entire city block.

1984 – 36 top musicians recorded Band Aid‘s Do They Know It’s Christmas in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

1986 – The King Fahd Causeway was officially opened in the Persian Gulf.

1987 – Typhoon Nina pummelled the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroys entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

1988 – German politician Rita Süssmuth became president of the Bundestag.

1992 – The Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia voted to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia from January 1, 1993.

1996 – An ice storm struck the central U.S. killing 26 people. A powerful windstorm affected Florida and winds gusted over 90 mph.

1999 – The United Nations established the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to commemorate the murder of three Mirabal Sisters for resistance against the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship in Dominican Republic.

2000 – Baku earthquake.

2005 – Polish Minister of National Defence Radek Sikorski opened Warsaw Pact archives to historians. Maps of possible nuclear strikes against Western Europe, as well as the possible nuclear annihilation of 43 Polish cities and 2 million of its citizens by Soviet-controlled forces, are released.

2008 – A car bomb in St. Petersburg killed three people and injured one.

2009 – A storm brought 3 years worth of rain in 4 hours to Jeddah sparking floods which killed over 150 people and sweep thousands of cars away in the middle of Hajj.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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