Word of the day

December 12, 2013

Warison – wealth, possessions; a treasure; reward, recompense; a war cry or musical note, usually on a bugle, to signal an attack.


Rural round-up

December 12, 2013

Audacious goal on South Canterbury demo farm:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s demonstration farm programme is about testing new and exciting ideas within a real farm context. So, when Andrea and Warren Leslie from South Canterbury were invited to join the programme, they were challenged to share their ultimate on-farm goals during an initial workshop of demonstration farmers. Warren says he made the mistake of standing up first.

“I said ‘I want to lamb 200 per cent’ and people said that’s not such a big deal. Then I added ‘without any triplets or singles’.” That quietened them. He wasn’t finished. The cattle goal was more challenging again: “We breed Murray Greys and sell a lot of bulls into the dairy industry. Wouldn’t it be great if 75 per cent of our progeny were male? I’m just putting it out there, to get the discussion going.” . . .

Fonterra farmgate milk price mixed blessing:

Farmers will have split views on Fonterra Cooperative Group confirming the farmgate milk forecast at $8.30 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS). While they will be pleased with that confirmation they will be less pleased to see the dividend forecast being cut by two-thirds to ten cents per share.

“The dividend is a direct marker to the financial performance of Fonterra as a company,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since it’s a 22 cents per share haircut.

“But knowing what my farms have produced in the season to date, it’s no surprise to find that Fonterra has been pushed to process what our farms have produced. . . .

Synlait Milk flags faster growth in 2014 as Fonterra cuts guidance – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which joined the NZX in July, says earnings will beat guidance next year on cheaper raw milk prices and growing demand for its products. That contrasts with Fonterra Cooperative Group, which today slashed its guidance in the face of a margin squeeze.

International demand is favouring Synlait’s milk powder and anhydrous milk fat products, while recent announcements mean the season’s milk price won’t be as high as expected, the company said in a statement. Because of that, Synlait said first-half and annual earnings will probably beat forecasts in 2014. It predicted profit of $19.6 million on sales of $524 million in its prospectus.

“We now expect the company will benefit from both earnings growth in our value added categories, a favourable product mix, and lower than expected milk prices,” chief executive John Penno said. “This is likely to mean Synlait’s earnings for the half and full FY14 will be ahead of forecast.” . . .

Showcasing the best – Rebecca Harper:

It’s show time here in Feilding.

Growing up, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show was a huge part of our family life. We went to a small country school and they closed the school and gave us all the day off, because we all went to the show.

Dad used to enter lambs every year and there was usually a coloured certificate to take home for a prize on the hoof or the hook.

I rode my pony and competed in the horse events and my brothers and I were given money for the rides. . .

Kiwis take Aussie shield – Tim Fulton:

New Zealand has run away with Australia’s agricultural and pastoral show shield.

The FCAS Shield has been contested by Australian states since 2000, while NZ entered the fray five years ago.

FCAS is the Federated Council of Agricultural Societies, an equivalent of the Royal Agricultural Society in NZ.

First, second, and third placings in premier show competitions are combined to find the shield winner. . . .

Rural women up front and centre – Abby Brown:

Members of Rural Women’s Scott’s Ferry branch showed off their underwear at the Royal A&P show on December 6.

The Y fronts and boxers were decorated as part of their Y Front campaign which encouraged men to be up front about prostate cancer and get checked.

The underwear decorated one wall of the advocacy group’s booth.

Another wall was decorated with plaster cast breasts, as the group also encouraged women to get checked for breast cancer. . .


Thursday’s quiz

December 12, 2013

1. Who said:If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.?

2. Who said: Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.?

3. It’s haine in French, odio in Italian and Spanish and mauāhara in Maori, what is it in English.

4. This is known as whose prayer?

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy. . . .

5. Can you forgive and forget?


People’s Pope Time Person of Year

December 12, 2013

Pope Francis has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

Managing editor Nancy Gibbs explains why:

Once there was a boy so meek and modest, he was awarded a Most Humble badge. The next day, it was taken away because he wore it. Here endeth the lesson.

How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.

At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church. . . .

These days it is bracing to hear a leader say anything that annoys anyone. Now liberals and conservatives alike face a choice as they listen to a new voice of conscience: Which matters more, that this charismatic leader is saying things they think need to be said or that he is also saying things they’d rather not hear?

The heart is a strong muscle; he’s proposing a rigorous exercise plan. And in a very short time, a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him. For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year.

I have copied only the start and end of her explanation, it is worth reading in full.

Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias also write in Time:

. . . what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all. People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), “the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.” In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world—above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.

And behind his self-effacing facade, he is a very canny operator. He makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office. He is photographed washing the feet of female convicts, posing for selfies with young visitors to the Vatican, embracing a man with a deformed face. He is quoted saying of women who consider abortion because of poverty or rape, “Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?” Of gay people: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” To divorced and remarried Catholics who are, by rule, forbidden from taking Communion, he says that this crucial rite “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” . . .

While the Catholic Church envisioned by Benedict XVI was one of tightly calibrated spiritual prescriptions, Francis told Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica, in an interview published at the end of September, that he sees “the church as a field hospital after battle.” His vision is of a pastoral—not a doctrinaire—church, and that will shift the Holy See’s energies away from demanding long-distance homage and toward ministry to and embrace of the poor, the spiritually broken and the lonely. He expanded on this idea in a 288-section apostolic exhortation called “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel.” “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he wrote. He made it clear that he does not just want talk—he wants actual transformation.

He has halted the habit of granting priests the honorific title of monsignor as a way to stem careerism in the ranks and put the focus instead on pastoring. He told a gathering of his diplomats that he wanted them to identify candidates for bishop in their home countries who are, he said, “gentle, patient and merciful, animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life.” To Francis, poverty isn’t simply about charity; it’s also about justice. The church, by extension, should not reflect Rome; it should mirror the poor. . .

This too is worth reading in full for an explanation of how in a very short time this Pope has changed the image of the Catholic church for the better, giving it a more compassionate, forgiving and humble face.

He is the People’s Pope and is making a positive difference to those most in need.


Interest rates will rise

December 12, 2013

The Reserve Bank has kept  the official cash rate at 2.5% but clearly signalled an increase is likely next year.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said: “Growth remains moderate but mixed for New Zealand’s main trading partners. Nevertheless, export prices for New Zealand’s main commodities, and especially dairy produce, have continued to increase.

“New Zealand’s GDP is estimated to have grown at over 3 percent in the year to the September quarter and the expansion in the economy has considerable momentum. New Zealand’s terms of trade are at a 40-year high, household spending is rising and construction activity is being lifted by the Canterbury rebuild and the response to the housing shortage in Auckland.

“Continued fiscal consolidation and the high exchange rate will partly offset the strength in domestic demand. The high exchange rate is a particular headwind for the tradables sector and the Bank does not believe it is sustainable in the long run.

“House price inflation is high in Auckland and other regions due to the housing shortage, and demand pressures associated with low interest rates and rising net inward migration. Restrictions on high loan-to-value mortgage lending, introduced in October, should help slow house price inflation. Data to date are limited on the effects of these restrictions. We will continue to monitor outcomes in the housing market closely.

“Annual CPI inflation increased to 1.4 percent in the September quarter and inflation pressures are projected to increase. The extent and timing of such pressures will depend largely on movements in the exchange rate, changes in commodity prices, and the degree to which momentum in the housing market and construction activity spills over into broader cost and price pressures.

“The Bank will increase the OCR as needed in order to keep future average inflation near the 2 percent target midpoint”.

Yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it was holding the forecast milk payout and reducing the dividend might have taken a little heat out of the market, but there are other pressures on inflation, not the least of which is house prices.

The bank removed restrictions on low loan to value ratios for the construction of new homes earlier this week after it became aware that this policy would reduce the housing supply which is one of the factors pushing up prices.

Restrictions remain for loans for existing houses and this is sensible.

If people are stretched to get and service a loan at current historically low interest rates even a small increase could over-stretch their budgets.

With only 10% equity in their properties a small change hey could well end up losing that and if forced to sell would not only lose their homes but still owe money.

 


Parliamentary productivity

December 12, 2013

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says the Government is very pleased with its busy and productive legislative year, which ended with Parliament’s adjournment yesterday.

“The House sat for three fewer days this year, but passed more legislation,” Mr Brownlee says.

“We saw a 45 per cent increase in Government bills passing their third reading and becoming law, with 145 bills passed, up from 99 in 2012.

“Another 57 Government bills passed their first reading and were sent to select committee, compared to 66 in 2012, and 67 Government bills received their second reading, compared to 56 in 2012.

“A continuing priority for the Government is the settlement of Treaty grievances, a process being superbly led by the Minister for Treaty Settlements Christopher Finlayson.

“This year eight settlement bills were sent to a select committee, and two passed their third reading into law.

“Parliament’s Business Committee has enabled extended hours to progress Treaty Legislation on five occasions this year and the Government has made use of the extended hours provisions on nine occasions.

“I’m very encouraged by the enhanced importance the Business Committee plays in organising Parliament’s business and I want to thank all members of the committee for their work.

“Parliament sat for 31 weeks in 2013; there were 90 question times with Ministers answering 1059 oral questions and thousands more supplementary questions.

“There were four bouts of urgency for a total of 93 hours out of the 596 hours the house sat for during 2013.

“Over 41 per cent more written questions were asked this year, rising to 16,946 from 11,899 in 2012.

“More papers were presented this year – 1330 compared to 1222

“Oral questions answered were similar to 2012, with 1059 in 2013 compared to 1100 the previous year.”

Parliamentary productivity is only one measure of politicians’ work.

The good ones do a lot of work outside the House much of that is working to help people and has little or nothing to do with politics.


How many, how much?

December 12, 2013

A group of business people in a smallish town had heard an advocate for the disadvantaged campaigning for assistance to combat child poverty.

They invited her to meet them to find ways they could help.

They listened to her speak and asked some questions which she answered.

Then one said, “How many are there and how much would it take to help them?”

The woman said that wasn’t the point.

The questioner said it was. If they knew how many children there were and how much it would cost they could work out how to raise the money and use it to get the children out of poverty.

The woman said, they were typical rich people who didn’t understand the problem and left.

I know this community and some of the people at the meeting.

They do understand the problem and have the resources to make a positive difference to many, possibly all, children in need in their smallish town.

They’ve been left thinking the campaigner was more interested in campaigning and advancing her political cause than practical solutions.

It’s a shame and not just for these children in this town.

Had the people at the meeting not had their genuine offer of help thrown back in their faces they might have been able to not only help those in their own town but provide an example for other communities to follow.


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