$387m drop in employer, worker ACC levies

December 2, 2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins has announced changes to ACC levies which will leave $387m in the pockets of employers and workers.

“This Government is committed to the long-term sustainability of the ACC scheme so that it is working for the benefit of both levy payers and claimants,” Ms Collins says.

“Workers and employers will be paying less thanks to the Corporation’s astute financial management, outstanding investment performance and dedication to effective rehabilitation.

“The average New Zealand household can expect to keep just over $200 each year. Small businesses will also be around $180 better off annually and larger employers will receive, on average, a $6000 reduction.”

Ms Collins says the cuts largely reflect the Earners Account (paid by workers) and the Work Account (paid by employers) being fully funded. This means there is enough money in those accounts to cover the ongoing cost of claims.

Motor Vehicle Account levies, incorporated into car registration and petrol prices, will remain the same as that account is not yet fully-funded. The Government expects to introduce cuts for motor vehicle owners from 1 July 2015.

Ms Collins says the Government is on track for further levy cuts in 2015/16 as signalled in the Government’s budget this year.

“It’s important New Zealand maintains its fiscal credibility by reducing pressure on the exchange rate and interest rates to ensure private sector growth and investment are supported. This is especially important as the Canterbury rebuild gathers pace.”

The new rates will be in place for the levy year which starts 1 April 2014.

 

Work Account
Average levy per $100 of liable earnings

Earners’ Account
Levy per $100 of liable earnings (incl. GST)

2014/15 levy rates

$0.95

$1.45

2013/14 levy rates

$1.15

$1.70


Word of the day

December 2, 2013

Pachydermatous – of, relating to, or characteristic of a pachyderm; elephant-like; thick-skinned; emotionally hardened; insensitive; impervious to criticism or insult.


Rural round-up

December 2, 2013

Nutrient limits lift paperwork burden:

NEVER MIND the limits, it’s the paperwork that’s the real threat in regional council moves to cut nutrient losses and meet central Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Quality, cropping farmers have been told.

That was one of three “slightly controversial” points Roger Williams of the Foundation of Arable Research presented to growers at FAR’s South Canterbury and North Otago trials hub field day.

Compared to dairy farms, cropping systems are hugely complex and data intensive and, as some at the field day confirmed, inputting data into Overseer as required by regional plans can take days. . .

Farm open day opens up the dairy industry:

Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) opened its gates on Saturday to the Canterbury public to showcase the operations of a commercial dairy farm, with 540 visitors taking the opportunity to learn about the transformation of ‘sunshine into food’. 

Visitors to the farm were able to get a glimpse into the complex world of modern dairy farming: looking at everything from the science behind photosynthesis, soil types; irrigation; fertiliser; grass and cow digestion; breeding; milking;  right through to the collection and transportation of milk and on-processing, finally reaching the many international markets the New Zealand dairy industry serves. 

New Zealand-based end users such as EasiYo and boutique cheese and yoghurt makers provided tasty examples of where the milk ends up, and Fonterra provided Primo and CalciYum milk drinks and Tip Top Fruju’s and Trumpets in return for donations for the Philippine’s Disaster Relief, raising $350. . .

Move over GPD: putting a wellbeing value on outdoor education:

Measuring economic value should mean more than just Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That’s according to Professor of Economics, Paul Dalziel , of Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) who was speaking at The World Outdoors Summit in Rotorua last week.

Professor Dalziel argued for factoring in the idea of wellbeing to any equation which aims to measure economic value. More specifically, he was speaking with regards to wellbeing and economic value as it relates to outdoor recreation.

Although warning of the necessity for a cautious approach when allocating an economic value to the natural environment, Professor Dalziel did stress that the requirement for considering wellbeing within any such calculation stems from the idea that all economic value has a social dimension attached to it. The very fact that an individual may choose to walk the Milford Track, for instance, comes from a belief that the activity has a ‘wellbeing value’ associated with it. Otherwise the individual would not take up the activity. . .

The gap between consumer perceptions and farming reality – Mike Keogh:

If ever farmers needed reminding of the dangers of the ‘gap’ between consumer perceptions and farming reality, the recent decision by Woolworths to phase out caged eggs from its stores over the next five years has highlighted this risk. The decision, if implemented, will dramatically increase the disease risk faced by egg farmers, and also has the potential to have a much wider impact on biosecurity arrangements throughout the entire agricultural sector.

Woolworths recently announced it would stop selling caged eggs by 2018. It also announced that eggs from caged hens would not be used as ingredients for home-brand products from that date, although how this would be enforced (eggs are a major ingredient in pasta and noodles, a lot of which is imported from overseas) was not spelled out.

The biosecurity implications of this proposal were discussed by leading veterinarian Dr. Peter Scott of Melbourne University at the annual conference of the Australian Egg Corporation, held this week in Perth. He pointed out that the main source of Avian Influenza infection for Australian poultry farms is wild waterbirds. . .

Australian agriculture needs a brand and a brand champion – Mike Keogh:

If the pundits are to be believed, Australian agriculture is on the cusp of a boom that will rival the pound-a-pound wool boom of the 1950s. Rapidly growing Asian consumer demand for food, coupled with Australia’s close proximity to Asia has, in the eyes of plenty of commentators and policy makers, put Australian farmers in the box seat to experience a new era of sustained profitability and expansion.

But over the last five years, contrary to the above projections, Australian agriculture’s export performance in Asian markets has been lagging badly, relative to the performance of our major competitors. Australian agriculture has lost market share in all the big five Asian markets – Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia and India. And while Australian agricultural exports to Asia have been growing at around 8% per annum over the past five years, exporters like New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Brazil have experienced annual growth rates in excess of 20% per annum. . .
For our children – Milkmaid Marian:
Have you seen this?

Yes, it’s by Unilever. Yes, you’re entitled to be cynical and yes, I love it.

The global manufacturer and ice-cream maker has just accredited Australian dairy production as meeting its Sustainable Agriculture Code – a huge accomplishment, which is also a world first. Of course it doesn’t mean Australian dairying is perfect and Dairy Australia has published a Sustainability Framework that will nudge us all to do better.

Here on the farm, our family does a bite-sized project for the environment every year. We have: . .


What’s news?

December 2, 2013

Cameron Slater who runs Whaleoil has been ordered by a judge to reveal his sources because his blog “isn’t a news medium”.

But media law expert says he has a good case to appeal.

. . . Media lawyer Steven Price says he appears to have a good case because the act defines a news medium as one that disseminates news, which he says Whale Oil does.

And he said, a recent Law Commission report talks about bloggers being important to free speech.

A paper on media law at university while studying journalism more than three decades ago doesn’t make me a media law expert.

But I went to the dictionary and found the definition of news:newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.

Whale Oil breaks a lot of stories which appears to fit that definition.

 


$40m tariff savings

December 2, 2013

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming major cuts in tariffs for many exporters, as the Economic Cooperation Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu (Chinese Taipei) comes into effect.

“From today tariffs are removed from milk powder, cheese, butter, apple, cherry and wine exports to Chinese Taipei,” says Mr Guy.

“This will mean tariff savings of nearly $40m on current trade. It’s great news for our exporters.

“Tariffs on beef will be eliminated in two years, and tariffs on kiwifruit in three. In four years, sheep, honey and most fish product tariffs will be eliminated and 99% of New Zealand trade to Chinese Taipei will be tariff-free.

“In total, tariffs will be eliminated on 100% of New Zealand’s current exports in a staged programme over 12 years.”

Mr Guy visited a cherry orchard in Blenheim today that is now harvesting and packing for export.

“Cherryland will be one of the first exporters sending products to Chinese Taipei under the tariff free conditions. This is a great Christmas present for them, their employees and other businesses throughout New Zealand.

“Chinese Taipei is New Zealand’s largest market for cherries. Before today, these exports were charged a tariff of 7.5%, and apples faced a tariff of 20%.

“This is a grassroots example of how free trade deals benefit New Zealand, and particularly the regions. It emphasises the importance of other free trade agreement negotiations, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could have major benefits to New Zealand.

“Once the Chinese Taipei agreement is fully implemented tariff savings will reach $75m, based on current trade. But given trade can be expected to increase, those savings are likely to be even higher,” says Mr Guy.

Chinese Taipei is New Zealand’s 6th largest market for agricultural products and our 11th largest overall export market.

The benefits aren’t one-way.

Consumers in those markets will enjoy more choice and lower prices.

Tariffs are a tax which benefit politicians and bureaucrats while protecting a few of their producers at the expense of consumers and other producers.


NZ invited to 2014 G20 meetings

December 2, 2013

Australia has invited New Zealand to participate in the 2014 G20 meetings during Australia’s year as Chair.

Prime Minsiter John Key said:

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott phoned me on Thursday to invite New Zealand to the G20 meetings next year and I warmly welcomed his invitation to take part,” says Mr Key.

“It is a testament to the Australia-New Zealand relationship, and a strong indicator of how the new Tony Abbott Government in Australia views New Zealand.” 

“New Zealand is not a formal member of the G20 because of our size, but has always been supportive of it. It is very significant that New Zealand has access to the G20 meetings at the invitation of Australia,” says Mr Key.

“While the global economy is improving, growth remains a concern – and unemployment is too high in a number of economies. It is important the G20 countries continue to promote policies directed at securing global growth and stability.”

This is the first time New Zealand has been invited to contribute to a full year’s deliberations. The G20 revolves around a number of meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, and culminating in a Leaders meeting towards the end of the year.

That final meeting could influence the timing of our election.

“As a small trading nation, New Zealand has a significant stake in the global economy and we will provide valuable input. We will bring some ‘small economy’ perspectives to these discussions which may be somewhat different from the issues facing major economies,” says Mr Key.

The host of the annual G20 meeting has an ability to invite some additional countries it thinks will add value during its year as Chair.

The G20 is a grouping of the world’s largest economies accounting for around 90 per cent of global GDP and 80% of international trade. It is a key vehicle for tackling the world’s economic challenges. It is responsible for continuing to help guide the global economy as it emerges from the financial crisis.

“New Zealand will support Australia in its efforts to make its year as Chair a success and we are looking forward to working with Australia and other G20 members,” says Mr Key.

This is a good opportunity for New Zealand to work with bigger countries, develop stronger relationships with them and represent the views of smaller countries in the big countries’ forum.


Bill English politician of year

December 2, 2013

Trans Tasman’s annual roll call of MPs’ performances named Bill English politician of the year.

The star performer, however, is Finance Minister Bill English – he won the title of politician of the year. The judges said it was no contest. . .

This is well deserved.

Prime Minister John Key: Still remarkably popular for a second term PM, but not as bouncy and spontaneous as he was. 8.5/10

Mr English: Politician of the Year: He is restoring the Crown Accounts to surplus, getting the economy “set to fly” and he does more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy.

“He and John Key make a formidable team, with English’s intellectual grunt complementing Key’s instinctive political feel.” 9/10

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee: Being responsible for rebuilding a quake-stricken city would severely test anyone. Frustration showed through as he fielded EQC blunders and dealt with the shortcomings of cumbersome bureaucracies. 7/10

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: If it’s too hard for anyone else, give it to Joyce and he’ll fix it. 7.5/10.

The full roll call will be published by Trans Tasman    later today.

 

 

 


Always a risk with candidates

December 2, 2013

No matter how rigorous selection processes are, political parties run a risk with candidates.

No matter how good their credentials are and how well they appear to fit what a party needs when they’re selected, there’s always a danger they won’t stick to the party script.

At best they might not campaign well enough to win votes and they might even lose them.

The danger of rogue candidates is particularly high in seats they’re unlikely to win because it can be harder to find people willing to stand in them unless there’s a good chance they could get list seats.

The risks are bad enough for bigger parties with good back up from MPs, experienced volunteers and the party machine.

They are even greater for wee parties where the talent pool is much shallower and MPs, volunteers and party machine are stretched much more thinly.

It appears that at least some in the Green Party weren’t happy with the way their candidate David Hay performed in 2011.

That could be fair enough – standing for parliament takes a fair bit of self-confidence and candidates’ opinions of themselves can sometimes be considerably higher than that of others.

What doesn’t seem fair, if his version of events is accurate, is the way the party handled the matter:

David Hay today revealed the reason for his leadership challenge, saying that Metiria Turei and Russel Norman had betrayed the core principles of the Green Party and should resign as co-leaders and MPs.

Outside the Green Party offices in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Hay gave journalists a print-out of emails that had passed between himself and Jon Field, the party’s General Secretary, following his interview for the candidate pool. A copy is attached to this release.

The emails reveal that Megan Salole, the Green Party’s 2011 Campaign Manager, had recommended in her secret post-campaign debrief report that Mr Hay should not be accepted into the candidate pool for the 2014 election.  

Mr Hay said “I couldn’t believe the party would allow a recommendation like that to be made, without first raising concerns with the candidate directly and trying to resolve them. I made a formal complaint, which was properly investigated. The party has acknowledged that I was denied natural justice, and has apologised.” 

“But this also raises serious questions about the party’s leadership.  Metiria and Russel must have read that report, and must have known about the recommendation. At no time in the past two years have they, or anybody else, attempted to discuss their concerns with me and try to resolve any perceived problems.”

Two years is a very long time to let something like this fester.

“Metiria and Russel’s actions and omissions in this case have been contrary to the core principles of the Green Party charter principles of appropriate decision making and social justice, and the party’s values.”

“What also concerns me about this is the political risk they took and the folly of their actions.  I these two, with others, set a trap for me two years ago and then sprung it during the candidate selection process.  I can’t understand how they thought that was going to play out. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do.”

“I have completely lost confidence in Russel and Metiria’s ability to lead the Green Party. I no longer trust them or believe what they say. Neither should party members, or New Zealand voters. That is the real reason behind my leadership challenge” said Mr Hay.

“The Green Party is better than this” said Mr Hay. “We have many good, hard working, people in the party who uphold its principles and values. We don’t need these two any more. It is time for them to go.”

This tweet raises a good question about that:

That question aside, the party prides itself on its democratic processes and transparency.

If this version of events is true that’s an idle boast.

If it’s not, it shows the risk parties run with disaffected former candidates.


December 2 in history

December 2, 2013

1409 – The University of Leipzig opened.

1755 – The second Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed by fire.

1763 – Dedication of the Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, the first synagogue in the United States.

1775 – The USS Alfred became the first vessel to fly the Grand Union Flag (the precursor to the Stars and Stripes); the flag is hoisted by John Paul Jones.

1804 – At Notre Dame Cathedral Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French, the first French Emperor in a thousand years.

1805 – Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Austerlitz – French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte defeated a joint Russo-Austrian force.

1823 – Monroe Doctrine: US President James Monroe delivered a speech establishing American neutrality in future European conflicts.

1845 – Manifest Destiny: US President James K. Polk announced to Congress that the United States should aggressively expand into the West.

1848 – Franz Josef I became Emperor of Austria.

1851 – French President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte overthrew the Second Republic.

1852 – Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became Emperor of the French (Napoleon III).

1859 – Georges Seurat, French painter was born (d. 1891).

1859 – Militant abolitionist leader John Brown was hanged for his October 16th raid on Harper’s Ferry.

1867 – At Tremont Temple in Boston, British author Charles Dickens gave his first public reading in the United States.

1884 – Sir Erima Harvey Northcroft, New Zealand lawyer and judge, was born (d. 1953).

1899 – Philippine-American War: The Battle of Tirad Pass, termed “The Filipino Thermopylae”, was fought.

1908 – Child Emperor Pu Yi ascended the Chinese throne at the age of two.

1917 – Six p.m. closing of pubs was introduced in New Zealand as a ‘temporary’ wartime measure. It ushered in what became know as the ‘six o’clock swill’, as patrons aimed to get their fill before closing time.

'Six o'clock swill' begins

1917 – An armistice was signed between Russia and the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk and peace talks leading to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk began.

1920 – Following more than a month of Turkish-Armenian War, the Turkish dictated Treaty of Alexandropol is concluded.

1923 – Maria Callas was born (d. 1977).

1924 – Alexander Haig, American soldier and politician, was born (d. 2010).

1927 – Following 19 years of Ford Model T production, the Ford Motor Company unveiled the Ford Model A .

1930 – Great Depression: US President Herbert Hoover went before the United States Congress and asked for a US$150 million public works programme to help generate jobs and stimulate the economy.

1939 – New York City’s La Guardia Airport opened.

1942 – Manhattan Project: A team led by Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

1943 – A Luftwaffe bombing raid on the harbour of Bari, Italy, sinks numerous cargo and transport ships, including an American Liberty ship, the John Harvey, with a stockpile of World War I-era mustard gas.

1946 – The British Government invited four Indian leaders, Nehru, Baldev Singh, Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan to obtain the participation of all parties in the Constituent Assembly.

1947 – Jerusalem Riots of 1947: Riots broke out in Jerusalem in response to the approval of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

1954 – Red Scare: The United States Senate voted 65 to 22 to condemn Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute”.

1954 – The Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and China, was signed in Washington, D.C..

1956 – The Granma yacht reached the shores of Cuba’s Oriente province and Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement disembark to initiate the Cuban Revolution.

1961 – In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared that he was a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba was going to adopt Communism.

1970 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency began operations.

1971 – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, and Umm Al Quwain formed the United Arab Emirates.

1972 – Gough Whitlam became the first Labor Prime Minister of Australia for 23 years.

1975 – Pathet Lao seized power in Laos, and establishes the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

1976 – Fidel Castro became President of Cuba replacing Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado.

1977 – The first World Series Cricket “supertest” match played between Australia and West Indies.

1980 – Four U.S. nuns and churchwomen, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel, were murdered by a death squad in El Salvador.

1988 – Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islam-dominated state.

1990 – A coalition led by Chancellor Helmut Kohl won the first free all-German elections since 1932.

1993 – Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot and killed in Medellín.

1993 – STS-61 – NASA launched the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

1999 – Glenbrook rail accident near Sydney.

1999 – The United Kingdom devolved political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive.

2001 – Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

2008 – Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigned after the 2008 Thailand political crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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