Word of the day

December 9, 2013

Pleniloquent – full of talk, excessive talking.


Rural round-up

December 9, 2013

Alliance targets increased lamb exports to Iraq – Hannah McLeod:

Alliance Group plans to increase exports to the Middle East.

The company has just completed its first year exporting directly to Iraq, supplying Pure South lamb to hotels, restaurants and catering companies.

Group general marketing manager Murray Brown said yesterday Alliance provided more than 1000 tonnes of red meat to the Middle Eastern country this year.

They hoped to increase their presence in the Iraq market by introducing a wider product range, and doing more promotional work. . .

Meat exporter turns loss into profit

Meat exporter ANZCO Foods has turned around its last-season loss to record a post-tax profit of $12.2 million for the year to September

The result comes from total revenue of nearly $1.3 billion.

It is an improvement on the $19.1m deficit during a difficult 2011-12 season for red-meat trading and the company says its books are in a healthy position.

ANZCO was begun by Sir Graeme Harrison, who is company chairman, and is owned by three shareholder groups led by Japanese company Itoham Foods . . .

Progeny test helps Perendale breeding – Sally Rae:

Warren Ayers believes Perendale New Zealand’s progeny test will lead to the betterment of the breed.

Now in its fourth year, the test has been extended, with facial eczema and maternal traits, including body condition scoring and ewe longevity, added to the measurements.

Guided by a Perendale genetics group, the society is working with AgResearch and Ovita, with Beef and Lamb New Zealand investment.

Mr Ayers has taken over as host farm for the South Island portion of the progeny test, while a property at Tutira in Hawkes Bay is also involved. . .

Outlook fine for merinos – Sally Rae:

Mark Ferguson may be trying to help provide the perfect sheep – but he also reckons he has the perfect job.

Dr Ferguson is an Australian-born geneticist specialising in fine wool sheep who moved from Western Australia to Christchurch last year to join the New Zealand Merino Company.

He is leading NZM’s production science project, an initiative that aims to unlock the potential of ”the perfect sheep” – one that was healthy, fertile and high-producing, with high-quality meat and wool fit for high-value markets. . .

Survey looks at whitebaiting culture- Yvonne OHara:

Whitebaiting is quintessential Southland and part of the culture, like deer hunting, Environment Southland’s science technical adviser Dr Andy Hicks says.

He sent out a questionnaire in August to about 600 registered holders of whitebait stands in the lower Mataura and upper Aparima areas, to find out their opinions on their whitebaiting experiences.

About half of the respondents (54.5%) of the survey wanted to see more whitebait and better water quality, while about 23% thought there was no need for any change. About three-quarters (73%) of the 100 respondents said they were happy with their experience. However, 20% said they were not. . .

Fonterra finds cause of milk contamination:

Fonterra has completed its inquiry into an October incident in which 150,000 litres of milk in 14 tankers was contaminated with suspected mining waste at its Eltham Plant in Taranaki.

The milk was contaminated with mud and gravel and was disposed of at an Eltham waste plant.

Fonterra’s lower North Island regional manager Scott Walls says the company now knows what happened and has made changes so it can’t happen again.

He says a contractor had accidentally connected a trailer that was not intended to transport food products to a truck unit. . .


Logical consequences

December 9, 2013

Positive parenting teaches you to link the punishment to the crime.

The best way is by natural consequences.

That’s when you do nothing and let what happens, happen.

If however, the natural consequences are too dangerous, expensive or pleasurable, the second best option is logical consequences – where what happens is linked to the misdemeanour.

For example, confiscating pens and pencils if a child has drawn on the wallpaper.

It strikes me that using more than $3 million recovered under the proceeds from crime Act will to fight P.is a form of logical consequences.

Prime Minister John Key has today announced that over $3 million recovered under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act will be used to fund law enforcement initiatives to break the methamphetamine supply chain and expand alcohol and drug treatment programmes.

“When I launched the Methamphetamine Action Plan in 2009, we made a commitment that money taken from those who profit from drugs would be used to target the drug trade and help those affected by it to get treatment,” says Mr Key.

“We are sending a clear message we are serious about tackling drugs, particularly methamphetamine, and the harm they cause our communities.”

Since the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act came into force in December 2009, the Police have obtained forfeiture orders for assets worth $30.5 million, over half of which are related to methamphetamine offences.

While a good portion of this money goes towards procedural factors, like repaying people and organisations left out of pocket by criminals, legal and administration costs, $7 million has been set aside for anti-P initiatives and that will continue to grow.

Law enforcement and health agencies are able to bid for funding. The successful bids in this initial round are:

  • $1 million to increase residential accommodation for participants in alcohol and drug treatment programmes. (Health)
  • $714,000 for the Drug and Alcohol Court pilot to cover prosecution and defence counsel costs. (Justice)
  • $600,000­ to aid with the recovery of legal costs incurred under the Act allowing Police to focus on recovering more criminal proceeds. (Police)
  • $335,000 to enhance frontline screening at the border. (Customs)
  • $320,000 to help assess the purity of methamphetamine. (Customs)
  • $200,000 for a Police training programme to teach drug dogs to detect cash as well as drugs. (Police)
  • $68,000 for the development of media guidelines for reporting on the use of volatile substances. (Health)

The next funding round will be held next year.

The latest Indicators and Progress Report for the Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan, also released today, shows the number of people using P has continued to decrease but the issue of demand and supply remains a complex one.

“When the Government launched the Methamphetamine Action Plan in 2009, New Zealand had one of the highest rates of P users in the world with 2.2 per cent of the adult population using the drug,’’ says Mr Key.

“We are now down to just under 0.9 per cent, which is great, but there are still over 25,000 P users in New Zealand, which is far too many.”

Mr Key says the latest report shows the price of methamphetamine remains high indicating efforts to reduce supply are having an effect.

Since 2010, the price of a point of methamphetamine has risen from $107 to $109 and the price of a gram from $723 to $757.

However, the drug’s purity levels remain high and the price of precursors (chemicals used to create P) has continued to fall.

“Customs has made more methamphetamine and precursors seizures to date in 2013 than the total seizures in 2012, which is a credit to our law enforcement agencies,’’ says Mr Key.

“By cracking down on precursors, breaking supply chains, providing better routes into treatment, supporting families and communities and strengthening leadership and accountability we are tackling P from all directions.

“I am confident together these measures will help reduce the amount of P on our streets, save lives and make our communities safer,” says Mr Key.

The report is here.
We are serious about tackling drugs, particularly methamphetamine, and the harm they cause our communities.  http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=42637


Now it’s peak water

December 9, 2013

We’ve had peak oil, now there’s peak water.

Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water.
  
We drink on average four liters of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 2,000 liters of water to produce. Getting enough water to drink is relatively easy, but finding enough to produce the ever-growing quantities of grain the world consumes is another matter.

Grain consumed directly supplies nearly half of our calories. That consumed indirectly as meat, milk, and eggs supplies a large part of the remainder. Today roughly 40 percent of the world grain harvest comes from irrigated land.

During the last half of the twentieth century, the world’s irrigated area expanded from close to 250 million acres in 1950 to roughly 700 million in 2000. But since then the growth in irrigation has come to a near standstill, expanding only 10 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States—and several other populous countries, including Iran, Pakistan and Mexico.

During the last couple of decades, some of these countries have overpumped to the point where aquifers are being depleted and wells are going dry. Several have passed not only peak water, but also the peak in grain production that often follows. Among the countries whose use of water has peaked and begun to decline are Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. In each of these countries peak grain has followed peak water. . .

Over pumping of aquifers is a problem but there are solutions including more efficient irrigation and water storage.

Some aquifers have been over-pumped in New Zealand but that is being addressed and peak water isn’t likely to be a problem here where we are blessed with so much water.

Our problem isn’t how much, or how little, water we have, it’s where we have it.

Water isn’t always where we need it, when we need it.

One solution to that is water harvesting – storing water when there’s more than enough to use when there’s too little.

That provides not only environmental benefits but social ones too through recreational opportunities and it’s a very good way to beat peak water.


Cocaine, cannabis and chocolate don’t mix

December 9, 2013

Whittakers has not yet made a decision on whether it will use Nigella Lawson in advertising campaigns.

British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson 53, admitted at a London court this week to twice using cocaine and occasionally cannabis, but dismissed claims she was a drug addict. . .

“Whittaker’s has had a fantastically successful year this year,” chief marketing officer Philip Poole said.

“We have been voted New Zealand’s Most Trusted Brand with Reader’s Digest and the Colmar Brunton [top New Zealand brand] … we also got voted the Fair Trade Most Popular Brand …

“Nigella has obviously been part of our marketing campaign this year and we’ll sit down at the beginning of next year and review what we’ve achieved this year and see what our marketing objectives are next year and review everything then.” . . .

Cocaine, cannabis and chocolate aren’t a good mix.

Someone who uses drugs even if it was only twice and occasionally, is not a good face for a trusted brand, nor is she an appropriate role model for its consumers, many of whom will be children.


It’s about respect not politics and past

December 9, 2013

Talkback last night was full of criticism of New Zealand’s delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Prime Minister John Key will lead a small group of New Zealanders to pay respects to Nelson Mandela at his official memorial service in South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was a global icon for freedom who united South Africans following apartheid,” says Mr Key.

“Madiba’s achievements demonstrate what can be attained through forgiveness and reconciliation. His vision for South Africa was one of freedom and equality. It remains an inspiration to the world.”

Mr Key will be accompanied by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger; and former Foreign Minister and Secretary‑General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon.

“This distinguished delegation reflects the mana of Mr Mandela, and the highest regard in which New Zealand held him,” says Mr Key.

“New Zealand has a close friendship with South Africa, built on the solid foundation of Commonwealth, sporting and personal ties. New Zealanders felt an emotional connection with Nelson Mandela and our sympathies are with the people of South Africa at this difficult time.’’ . .

The critics don’t seem to understand that this is about respect for Mr Mandela, not politics and not the past to which they cling.

Attempting to politicise this is disrespectful to the man and what he stood for – reconciliation and forgiveness.


NZ’s reputation for integrity needs active protection

December 9, 2013

Transparency International New Zealand is calling for serious and urgent action to protect and extend integrity here.

A media release says:

A landmark  report released today on International Anti-Corruption Day, by Transparency International New Zealand has revealed that serious and urgent action is needed to protect and extend integrity in this country.
 
Transparency International New Zealand Chair Suzanne Snively said, “Recent incidents and investigations of corruption, and increasing public concern, provide a compelling case for a more pro-active approach to these issues.

“Transparency International New Zealand has completed an independent and in-depth assessment of the quality of transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors, and the integrity of New Zealand’s overall governance systems.

The Report titled ‘Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment’, was co-directed by Ms Snively and Murray Petrie, and was produced by a large team of independent researchers.

“An integrity system assessment takes stock of the integrity with which entrusted authority is exercised in New Zealand.
 
“Our report finds that the mechanisms that support a high integrity and high trust society, and that facilitate social and economic development, remain generally robust but are coming under increasing stress. There has been complacency in the face of increased risks”, said Ms Snively.

Mr Petrie said, “The greatest area of concern relates to political parties, and the interface between political party finances and public funding. Other key areas of weakness are the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight of the executive – there are gaps in transparency in a number of areas. 

“The report makes a large number of recommendations to strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity. These include the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the development of a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy.  We also recommend  strengthening  the transparency, integrity and accountability systems of Parliament, the political executive (cabinet), and the public sector.

“New Zealand would also benefit from a more pro-active approach to the prevention of fraud and corruption”, said Mr Petrie.

Transparency International’s corruption perception index consistently shows New Zealand as a country with a strong reputation for clean government but that isn’t something about which we can be complacent.

There is room for improvement and doing that must be taken seriously.

The executive summary of the report is here.

New Zealand’s national integrity system remains fundamentally strong, and New Zealand is rated highly against a broad range of cross-country transparency and good governance indicators.

 Since the first NIS assessment of New Zealand in 2003, a welcome strengthening of transparency and accountability has occurred in some areas. The assessment found that the strongest pillars in the NIS are the Office of the Auditor General, the judiciary, the Electoral Commission, and the Ombudsman.

 

The Canterbury earthquakes represented a severe test of governance systems in terms of compliance with building standards and integrity in reconstruction, and (with two tragic exceptions, the collapses of the CTV and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings), systems have generally held up well.

However, New Zealand’s national integrity system faces increasing challenges. In key areas, passivity and complacency continue. New Zealand has not ratified the UN Convention against Corruption more than 10 years after signing it, and is not fully compliant with the legal requirements of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention more than 14 years after signing it.

Areas of concern, weakness, and risk do exist; for example, the relative dominance of the political executive, shortfalls in transparency in many pillars, and inadequate efforts to build proactive strategies to enhance and protect integrity in New Zealand.

The pillar that raises issues of most concern is the political parties pillar. The core message of this report, therefore, is that it is beyond time to take the protection and promotion of integrity in New Zealand more seriously. . . .

MMP has given far more power to political parties, most of which have very few members and are not broad-based.

The issues of most concern raised in this area must be addressed.

The full report is here.


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