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.


Food safety good but can be better

December 12, 2013

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye say the government has accepted in principle all the 29 recommendations in the report on the first stage of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident.

“This part of the inquiry focused on our dairy food safety system and we are pleased to confirm it found the whey protein concentrate (WPC) incident in August this year (2013) was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system,” Mr Guy says.

“The inquiry report finds New Zealand’s food safety regulatory model is consistent with international principles and is among the best in the world,” Ms Kaye says.

“This is a finding of fundamental importance to reassure our off-shore markets,” Mr Guy says.

“The report was peer reviewed by an international expert in the structure and management of food safety systems, Professor Alan Reilly who heads the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. He confirmed he was satisfied with the quality and integrity of the inquiry’s report,” Ms Kaye says.

“The report makes a number of recommendations, most of which are about further strengthening the New Zealand food safety system for the challenges that lie ahead.”

“Exports to China have trebled since 2007. On top of that, food safety requirements and systems are continuing to evolve,” Mr Guy says.

“New Zealand’s export performance depends heavily on the success of the dairy sector and we are committed to ensuring its underpinning food safety system remains world-leading.”

The Government will allocate between $8-12 million per year for the following key recommendations:

  • Strengthening capability in emerging export markets, particularly China. Additional personnel are needed to support growing China trade. The Government has committed to an additional four people in China and six people in other international markets. The specific location of personnel will be agreed between the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Food Safety, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade. The Government has committed an additional $4.430 million in 2014/15 rising to $8.295 million in 2017/18 and out-years to increase the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) presence overseas.
  • Establishing a centre of food safety science and research. This will bring together New Zealand government agencies and research organisations allowing for collaboration, including with overseas science centres. (At least an additional $5 million per year made up of contributions from Government and industry.)
  • Increasing dairy processing and regulatory capability. A working group will be set up to develop a strategic plan and this will see a further $1 million per year invested in dairy capability.
  • Establishing a food safety and assurance advisory council to provide high level independent advice and risk analysis. ($250,000 per year.)
  • Fast-tracking work to consolidate and simplify legislation and regulations. ($250,000 for 2014/15.)

“The inquiry report also recommends we fast-track the revision of New Zealand regulatory requirements for the manufacture of infant formula and work is already underway on this,” Ms Kaye says.

“This is a special work programme due to the vulnerability of babies and young children.

“Legislative change is required to meet some of the recommendations and we will be delivering some of that through the Food Bill, which we hope to pass as soon as possible next year. We are looking at aligning other food legislation with an omnibus bill in 2014,” Ms Kaye says.

“The inquiry findings and recommendations should renew confidence in New Zealand’s dairy food safety system,” Mr Guy says.

“We would like to thank the inquiry team, led by Miriam Dean CNZM QC, for completing this report within three months.”

This report released today is on Parts B and C of the Government’s inquiry and is separate to the compliance investigation being undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Part A of the Government’s inquiry will look at the question of what happened and the regulator’s response.

In August, MPI indicated the compliance investigation would take three to six months to complete. Part A of the Government’s inquiry cannot be completed until that compliance investigation is completed.

Federated Farmers says the report says our food safety system ‘isn’t broke but needs a tune-up‘.

“Whilst the report puts some minds at ease, confirming the regulatory system is not to blame, it also highlights the need for a stronger food safety system and a stronger understanding of the markets we deal with,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“If our dairy industry is to continue to go from strength to strength, we need to invest more into the framework of how we operate here and overseas. As we diversify into foreign markets, we need people that understand them.

“Before we get there we need to get things right at home. I am thrilled at the recommendations to simplify the regulatory processes and invest in more science and research. Food safety is paramount for the dairy industry and it has long been overdue that we put our money where our mouth is.

“This substantial investment of $8-12 million will go a long way to rebuilding our reputation overseas,” concluded Mr Leferink.

Our reputation for safe food is our biggest marketing advantage and people’s health depends on the reality matching the reputation.

We need the best system of regulating and enforcing food safety possible and these recommendations ought to ensure we have it.

A copy of the report can be found here.

A table of the recommendations and the government’s response is here.

 


Silly question, sensible answer

December 12, 2013

It’s a political maxim that you should never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.

David Parker was silly enough to do that during question time yesterday and got a very sensible answer in response:

Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Which, if any, is his greatest failing in 2013 as Minister of Finance?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): This question does test one’s humility. Without doubt, though, my greatest failing as a Minister of Finance was, as it has been for each of the past 5 years, underestimating the damage done to this economy by the previous Labour Government, and overestimating the ability of Labour members to understand that and apologise for it.

The initial question provided the opportunity for another:

Tim Macindoe: What further progress has the Government made in 2013 in improving the range of negative economic indicators it inherited 5 years ago?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place, I would say the credit for progress goes to the households and businesses of New Zealand, which have dealt with difficult circumstances with remarkable resilience and fortitude, and they are achieving results. The economy is growing 2.5 to 3 percent—one of the fastest growth rates in the OECD. We are on track to surplus by 2014-15—one of a handful of countries that will achieve surplus by that time. Back in 2008 the current account deficit was over 8 percent of GDP and it currently sits at less than 4 percent of GDP. Five years ago inflation was running at 5 percent. It is now running at just over 1 percent. Five years ago mortgage interest rates averaged almost 11 percent. Floating rates are now less than 6 percent, although forecast to rise somewhat next year. The tradable sector, which went into recession in 2007, is now succeeding, and we are particularly gratified that the manufacturing sector is expanding and even more gratified that the regions are expanding, many of them at a faster rate than in Auckland.

Labour squandered the good times and left office forecasting a decade of deficits, before the global financial crisis.

National has turned that around, in spite of financial and natural disasters and is now on track back to surplus.

This is an achievement of which the government, and the businesses and households which also weathered the storms, can be proud.

Our economic growth is the envy of many other countries but it would be at great risk should Labour manage to cobble together enough support to form a government after next year’s election.

It’s policies show it hasn’t learned from its high-spending, high taxing mistakes and is determined to repeat them.


December 12 in history

December 12, 2013

627 Battle of Nineveh: A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeated Emperor Khosrau II‘s Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh.

1769 French explorer Jean François Marie de Surville  first sighted New Zealand near Hokianga.

De Surville first sights NZ near Hokianga

1779 Madeleine Sophie Barat, French saint was born (d. 1865).

1805  Henry Wells, Founder of American Express, was born (d. 1878).

1812 The French invasion of Russia ended.

1821 Gustave Flaubert, French writer, was born  (d. 1880).

1862 USS Cairo sank on the Yazoo River, becoming the first armored ship to be sunk by an electrically detonated mine.

1863  Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter, was born (d. 1944).

1893 Edward G. Robinson, American actor, was born  (d. 1973).

1870  Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black U.S. congressman.

1900 Sammy Davis, Sr., American dancer, was born (d. 1988).

1901 Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal at Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland.

1911 Delhi replaced Calcutta as the capital of India.

1915  Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor, was born (d. 1998).

1927  Robert Noyce, American inventor of the microship, was born (d. 1990) .

1929 John Osborne, English dramatist, was born (d. 1994).

1935  Lebensborn Project, a Nazi reproduction programme, was founded by Heinrich Himmler.

1936  Xi’an Incident: The Generalissimo of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek was kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang.

1938  Connie Francis, American singer, was born .

1940 – Dionne Warwick, American singer, was born.

1941  Adolf Hitler announced the extermination of the Jews at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery.

1948 Batang Kali Massacre – 14 members of the Scots Guards stationed in Malaysia allegedly massacred 24 unarmed civilians and set fire to the village.

1949 – Bill Nighy, English actor, was born.

1950  Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the United States, led the congregation in her first services.

1956 Irish Republican Army‘s “Border Campaign” began.

1961 The first Golden Kiwi draw took place.

First Golden Kiwi lottery draw

1963 Kenya gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1964 Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

1965 Will Carling, English rugby union footballer, was born.

1979  Rhodesia changed its name to Zimbabwe.

1982 Women’s peace protest at Greenham Common – 30,000 women held hands and formed a human chain around the 14.5 kilometres (9.0 mi) perimeter fence.

1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland killing 256, including 248 members of the United States Army‘s 101st Airborne Division.

1988 The Clapham Junction rail crash killed thirty-five and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains.

1991  Russian Federation gained independence from the USSR.

2000 – The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore.

2006 Peugeot produced its last car at the Ryton Plant signalling the end of mass car production in Coventry, formerly a major centre of the British motor industry.

2012 – North Korea successfully launched its first satellite, Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2, using a Unha-3 carrier rocket.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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