Censured but not responsible


Auckland mayor Len Brown has been censured by his council.

The Auckland Council has agreed 15-5 to censure mayor Len Brown.

Those opposed were councillors Brewer, Cooper, Krum, Quax and Stewart. 

Mr Brown has been asked back into the meeting to respond.

He says he accepts the resolution.

The council wants him to repay the costs incurred.

The council had been debating the following motion: a “request that the mayor make full reimbursement of all remaining personal costs and also make an appropriate contribution to other costs incurred by the council.”

Councillor Cameron Brewer asked for legal costs to be added. . .

The Taxpayers’ Union responded:

If Len Brown won’t pay back the money ratepayers have been forced to fork out, councillors should explore legal channels to recover the money,” saysTaxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams.  . .

“Though there is no legal punishment for Brown’s breaches of the Council’s code of conduct, instead of being upfront, the Council needed an independent review of the Mayor’s behaviour to get to the truth. The Council should take all steps to recover the costs to ratepayers.”

“If Mr Brown wants to be responsible for all of Auckland, the least he can do is be responsible for his own behaviour.”

It’s so much easier being responsible for a city spending other people’s money than one’s own behaviour which requires spending one’s own money.

Rural round-up


SFF implements salary freeze – Nigel Stirling:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) is implementing a salary freeze as part of a range of measures to get the meat processor back to profitability.

The move, revealed at the company’s AGM in Dunedin today, holds all salaried employees’ remuneration at current levels for a period of 12 months.

The company last year paid wages, salaries and benefits of $315.1m, up from $290.2m the previous year.

Chief executive Keith Cooper outlined further steps to turnaround the company’s performance including land disposals and exiting some stock financing arrangements. . .

Farming – change the perception – Will Wilson:

Agriculture must tread carefully in its bid to attract new entrants to ensure it does not undervalue and trivialise the incredible amount of hard work and education required to be success in the industry.

Agriculture is such a catch all term for a huge range of very specialist professions, yet from the outside the perception is the drip fed image of the village idiot on a tractor or the floppy haired Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his cable knit.

As an industry agriculture continue to pander to this image because it’s media friendly and easier than finding out and explaining the real demands of modern agriculture. . .

Financial report shows agriculture is well on track:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Government’s half year Economic and Fiscal Update report showing a faster growing economy, with the agriculture industry being well on its way to doubling its exports by 2025.

“We have long advocated for economic restraint, and it is great to see the $86 million surplus forecast for 2014/15 is up ever so slightly on the surplus forecast in May,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Agriculture has had a great start, with the tradable sector growing 11.1 percent since 2009 compared with non-tradeables up 6.6 percent, however resource pressures are growing and next year we will likely see a tightening of monetary policy to dampen inflation. Farmers and exporters will need the Government to keep spending and debt under control in order to take the pressure off interest rates and the exchange rate. . .

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price manual:

Issued 16 December 2013, Release No. 56

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s milk price manual. The manual determines how Fonterra calculates the farm gate milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for their raw milk.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each milk season under the 2012 amendments to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

The Commission has concluded the 2013/14 Milk Price Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the DIRA milk monitoring regime. . .

MG lifts milk price to $6.25/kg :

MURRAY Goulburn (MG) has announced a third step-up in the farmgate price (excluding the NSW-Sydney region) for the 2013-14 season of $0.18 per kilogram butterfat and $0.38/kg protein.

This step-up takes MG’s weighted-average, available price to $6.25/kg milk solids.

MG has also increased its end of season forecast to a range of $6.30-$6.50/kg milk solids.

“Global demand for dairy foods remains strong and as a result prices for key dairy ingredients, such as whole milk powder, have remained at near record levels for an unprecedented period,” MG managing director Gary Helou, said. . .

Canterbury style zone committee comes to the Wairarapa:

Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa welcomes the formation of the Ruamahanga Whaitua Committee and its commitment to balance environmental and economic values for the Ruamahanga Catchment.

“The Whaitua committee makeup is well balanced to deliver sustainable and workable rules for the Catchment and the Wairarapa,” says Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa provincial president Jamie Falloon.

“We thank the people involved for putting their names forward for what will be a pretty busy two year period.

“It will be a challenging process and will require all parties to be fully involved in discussions to find outcomes that are what the community wants. . .

Workshops help dairy farmers drive better production and profit:

Farm nutrient company SealesWinslow is running a series of seminars and workshops to help dairy farmers achieve higher production, margins and profits.

SealesWinslow’s “Routes to Profitable Milk Production” roadshow, which kicked off in the Waikato in late October, has been rated highly for content and relevance by farmers attending.

Animal nutrition expert for SealesWinslow, James Hague, has been demonstrating how farmers can master the art of balancing the diet to fully feed the herd and benefit from better production from grass, higher production per cow and per hectare, higher margins and more profit. . . .

Greens biggest threat


Jamie Mackay asked Prime Minister John Key 20 quick-fire questions on the Farming Show today.

Asked about New Zealand’s greatest strength and/or opportunity, he said agriculture.

To the question of our biggest weakness or threat he answered the Green Party.

The questions and answers were mostly light-hearted but I think these last two were serious and he’s right about both.

The Santa Brand


The clever people at the Quiet Room have come up with a Santa brandbook:

You need to pop over there to see it properly, but here’s a taste.

santa 3







santa 1










The plan is working


The Opposition spin is that the government doesn’t have a plan.

It does and it’s working:
Photo: National’s plan for the economy is working.

Confidence levels soar


The good news keeps coming with confidence in agriculture at a 19-year high; manufacturing at a 15-year high and service at their highest level in 14 years:

New Zealand business confidence rose to its highest in almost 15 years this month, adding to evidence the economy is picking up pace.

A net 64.1 percent of firms are optimistic about general business conditions, up from 60.5 percent last month, according to the December ANZ Business Outlook survey. Firms seeing a pickup in their own business activity rose to a 19-year high of 53.5 percent from 47.1 percent last month.

ANZ’s composite indicator of business and consumer confidence indicates the two sides of the production-spending equation are in alignment, with the potential for annual economic growth to accelerate by more than 5 percent over the first part of 2014.

“That augers well for an economic expansion with real legs, said ANZ New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

Confidence in the agriculture sector surged to a 19-year high of 54.5 percent, while manufacturing confidence hit a 15-year high of 56.1 percent and services reached the highest reading in 14 years of 68.5 percent. Sentiment in the construction sector at 66.7 percent and retailing at 65.4 percent remained “extremely elevated”, ANZ said.

The survey results are “incredibly strong” with firms’ profit expectations pushed beyond last month’s 19-year high to 39.7 percent from 37.3 percent. Employment intentions are the strongest in 19 years at 24.7 percent while residential construction intentions at 66.7 percent are the highest in almost 24 years and commercial construction intentions are robust at 41.2 percent.

Bagrie said the last time the survey recorded such high readings in 1994 and 1999, the economy was in full swing with GDP growth of more than 5 percent and the latest survey results “portend a booming economy”.

“All this momentum is occurring despite headwinds from an elevated New Zealand dollar and overwhelming expectations interest rates are going to be moving up,” Bagrie said. A net 71 percent of survey respondents expect higher interest rates over the year ahead and a net 31 percent of firms expect to raise prices.

One of the biggest challenges over the coming year will be ensuring supply can meet demand so inflation remains in check, Bagrie said. . .

The full report is here

  Survey results portend a booming economy. Many readings resemble 1994 and 1999 – years of incredibly strong growth.
  Our composite indicator, incorporating both business and consumer confidence, is signalling the potential for annual economic growth of around 5
percent by mid-2014.
  One of the economy’s biggest challenges over the coming year will be building available supply-side capacity and driving productivity growth to ensure the inflation genie doesn’t escape out of the bottle. . .

The last time we saw these sort of readings (in 1994 and 1999) an  economic upswing was in full swing.GDP growth was in excess of 5 percent, as flagged by this survey: who says business confidence surveys don’t matter!

Surfeit capacity was being eaten up too. There are similarities. Strong growth can follow extended periods of weakness or deep slumps. Recoil and pro-cyclicality
kicks in. Success breeds and feeds more success.

Throw together some localised one-offs: a city rebuild; plans to address housing shortages in the nation’s largest city; and a 40-year peak in the terms of trade,
and the growth picture takes on “tiger” as opposed to “tabby” characteristics. Suddenly the economic baton has been passed to this side of the
Tasman: yes, New Zealand can outperform Australia over the years ahead.

Challenges remain. The NZD is high; it will remain so. We’ll continue to see more flip-flops across the global economy than in all the footwear stores in Bondi
Beach. New Zealand’s balance sheet is weak. Candy is dandy but sadly NZ’s fiscal lolly jar has a distinctly empty rattle to it.

Despite these mitigating elements, the demand picture still looks remarkably assured. So assured that the question is not whether opportunities exist, but how successfully they can be seized. The emerging story across the economy will be matching demand with available supply. There will be frictions.

There is no silver bullet to easing such frictions. People and resources need to be mobilised. Get the right incentives and you’ll drive the right behaviours. At a
time when all and sundry are talking about the macroeconomic picture, there is another area of economics that deserves more attention. It’s the small stuff; what
happens at the firm and individual level. It’s microeconomics. Get the microeconomic story right and the macroeconomic one has more punch. Get it wrong, and the Reserve Bank will be forced to remove the “punch-bowl” as exuberance gets out of control. We don’t want popping champagne corks to switch to also popping the cork in the genie’s inflation bottle. . . 


Confidence matters not just to businesses but to the wider economy and to people.

Confident businesses are more likely to take the risk to invest more, produce more, employ more and pay more.

All of that means more tax which will help the government on its track back to surplus.



Toronto mayor Rob Ford admits to using crack cocaine:

Yes I have smoked crack cocaine. But no — do I? am I an addict? — No. have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, approximately about a year ago. I answered your question. You ask the question properly, I’ll answer it. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. All I can do now is apologize and move on.

Auckland mayor Len Brown admitted having a two year affair but thinks it’s entirely personal  doesn’t think it affected his work then or his ability to continue as mayor now and still says he’s staying put.

Young people think drunken group sex is normal.

There’s a link between all this – an apparent absence of shame.

Illegal and immoral behaviour has always gone on in all levels of society.  But it wasn’t acceptable or something from which everyone could move on without consequences.

It used to be regarded as shameful.

What’s different now is an apparent acceptance that private behaviour doesn’t impact on  public roles, that leaders don’t have to be positive role models and it doesn’t matter if they’re not; that anything goes and that you don’t have to reap what you sow.

Nothing excuses the behaviour of the young men who raped comatose girls and boasted about it in social media.

But the absence of shame in those who are supposed to be setting examples influences what is acceptable and/or normal.

You can turn on television or a computer at any hour of the day or night and find fictional depictions of illegal and immoral behaviour without consequences and now life is imitating art.

This morning at least five Auckland City Councillors will put forward a motion of no confidence in the mayor.

If enough of the others support them to pass the motion, it might shame him into resigning.

If it doesn’t there’s little more they can do – a mayor can’t be sacked for being shameless.

December 19 in history


211 – Publius Septimius Geta, co-emperor of Rome, was lured to go without his bodyguards to meet his brother Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla), to discuss a possible reconciliation. When he arrived the Praetorian Guard murdered him and he died in the arms of his mother Julia Domna.

324 – Licinius abdicated his position as Roman Emperor.

1154  Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

1606  The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery left England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.

1683  Philip V of Spain, was born (d. 1746).

1820 Mary Livermore, American journalist and women’s rights advocate, was born (d. 1905).

1879 – Universal male suffrage was introduced in New Zealand when the Qualification of Electors Act extended the right to vote (or electoral franchise) to all European men aged over 21, regardless of whether they owned or rented property.

1906 Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union, was born (d. 1982).

1915 Édith Piaf, French singer and actress, was born  (d. 1963).

1920  King Constantine I was restored as King of the Hellenes after the death of his son Alexander I of Greece and a plebiscite.

1923  Gordon Jackson, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 1990).

1924  The last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was sold in London.

1925 Robert B. Sherman, American songwriter, was born.

1932  BBC World Service began broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service.

1934  Pratibha Patil, President of India, was born.

1941 The Royal Navy cruiser HMS Neptune struck enemy mines and sank off Libya – more than 750 men lost their lives including 150 New Zealanders.

HMS <em>Neptune</em> lost in Mediterranean minefield

1941 Adolf Hitler became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.

1941 – Maurice White, American singer and songwriter (Earth, Wind & Fire), was born.

1944 Zal Yanovsky, Canadian guitarist (The Lovin’ Spoonful), was born.

1946  Start of the First Indochina War.

1972  The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth.

1983  The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, was stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

1984 The Sino-British Joint Declaration, stating that the People’s Republic of China would resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the United Kingdom would restore Hong Kong to China with effect from July 1, 1997 was signed in Beijing by Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher.

2001  A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg )was recorded at Tosontsengel, Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.

2001 – Argentine economic crisis: December 2001 riots – Riots erupted in Buenos Aires.

2009 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Hualian, Taiwan.

2012 – Park Geun-hye became the first female elected President of South Korea

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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