Word of the day

December 28, 2013

 Eleutheromania – an intense or excessive desire for or obsession with freedom; a mania or frantic passion for freedom.


Rural round-up

December 28, 2013

Huge solar power system to milk cows – Gerald Piddock:

Hugh and Sue Chisholm are turning to solar power to help run a more sustainable dairy business.

The Putaruru farmers are installing one of the country’s largest solar powered systems ever to be used on a dairy farm on their dairy shed near Putaruru.

The 28kW photovoltaic (PV) system has 112 solar panels on the roof of the Chisholm’s 64-bale rotary shed as well as two Fronius IG 150 V3 inverters.

Chisholm said the capital cost of the system was a smart investment, and part of an improvement plan for their farm. . .

Sharemilkers not bad people, just bad bosses – Jon Morgan:

Immigration adviser Lyn Sparks is blaming a rise in corporate-owned dairy farms for an increase in workers’ complaints about poor working conditions.

The Christchurch-based adviser says the biggest offenders are some corporate-owned farms run by sharemilkers.

However, he believes there are more good employers than bad in dairying.

“The bad ones are not bad people,” he says. “They just don’t know how to manage.”

But a contract milker says there are just as many bad employees in dairying as bad employers. . .

Sorry tale of swaps no one understood – Fiona Rotherham:

It has been a victory – of sorts – for farmers with the Commerce Commission last week saying it intended filing court action next March against the ANZ, ASB and Westpac banks for “misrepresenting” the sale of interest rate swap loans to rural customers.

I say a victory of sorts because there’s a lot of water under the bridge yet to get compensation for farmers, some of whom ended up more heavily indebted and losing their land.

Sold between 2005 and 2008, interest rate swaps were marketed to farmers as a way to beat rising interest rates. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008 farmers with swaps saw the interest they were paying rise when rates were falling rapidly elsewhere. The banks charged huge break fees for those wanting to exit the swaps. . . .

Bank claims farmer swaps compo call ‘too late’ – Rob Stock:

ANZ says the three-year limitation period has passed under the Fair Trading Act for the Commerce Commission to obtain compensation for farmers who were mis-sold interest rate swaps.

That, the bank warned, meant the commission “will now have to attempt a novel and uncharted method to obtain compensation if it takes the court route.”

The bank’s written statement comes in the wake of the news last week that the commission would launch legal action next March under the Act against ANZ, Westpac and ASB for the sale of the swaps between 2005 and 2008. It is also investigating another bank, not yet named, that also sold swaps and may be joined to the action. . .

Postie’s long run of deliveries nears an end – Lauren Hayes:

After 53 years, millions of kilometres, thousands of early mornings and an unthinkable amount of petrol, a Winton postie is calling it a day.

At 21, Ray Cosgrove used his savings to buy into a Central Southland rural delivery run, and began loading letters into a Hansa station wagon. The Hansa might be long gone and the delivery route altered but, more than half a century later, Mr Cosgrove and his wife, Debbie, are still delivering mail to rural Southlanders.

Mr Cosgrove bought the rural run in September 1960 and stepping into the role was not as easy as many people, including the urban posties, often thought, he said. . .

Year in review – March – Rebecca Harper:

The drought was really hurting rural communities and the bill started to mount for the primary sector with drought declarations coming thick and fast. The entire North Island was eventually declared as being in drought along with the West Coast of the South Island. Dairy production took a hit and the first talk about a merger between the two largest meat co-operatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, started, as farmers looked for the causes of low lamb prices.

This was quickly followed by a call from the newly-formed Meat Industry Excellence Group, a group of lower South Island farmers, for meat-sector consolidation. A meeting in Gore to gauge support and discuss possible reform of the red meat industry attracted 1000 farmers and Alliance chairman Owen Poole put the cost of consolidation at $600 million. . .


Saturday’s smiles

December 28, 2013

A student was working in a bar during her holidays and sometimes struggled to hear the customers over the noise of the loud band.

But she was doing well until one ordered seven young blondes.

She decided it must be a cocktail and asked one of the more experienced staff how to make it.

He said he’d never heard of it and suggested she ask the customer to list the ingredients.

She did this and he said, “Grapes.”

“Just grapes?” she asked.

“Yes, just grapes,” he replied.

Deciding honesty was the best policy she said, “I’m sorry I’ve never heard of a cocktail called seven young blondes and I don’t know any made with just grapes.”

The customer looked puzzled and said, “I don’t want a cocktail, I ordered wine. Then slowly and carefully he said, “Sauvignon blanc.”


10’s not enough

December 28, 2013

Sam Judd writes on 10 top natural holiday destinations in the South Island.

I’m not going to argue that any don’t deserve to be there. The problem is, 10 isn’t enough.

I didn’t even have to think to come up with three more:

* North Otago for the little blue penguins, Moeraki, Vanished World fossil trail – included on which are the wonderful Elephant Rocks –  Dansey’s Pass . . .

* The Mackenzie Country including the starlight park at Tekapo.

* Wanaka – the lake, river, bush, hills, mountains, Mt Aspiring National Park . . .

Ten definitely isn’t enough.


Pre-election insecurity has already started

December 28, 2013

There will be an election next year.

Barring unexpected events it’s likely to be towards the end of the year.

In 2008 2011 Prime Minister John Key announced the election date in February which removed one of the uncertainties.

However, even if he makes an early announcement on the date again next year, other uncertainties remain aren’t good for business.

The general election in New Zealand next year is starting to weigh on the nation’s equity market and is also likely to weaken business confidence and the exchange rate, brokerage First NZ Capital said.

The election, to be held between September and November 2014, is expected to be an extremely close result between a National-led government and a Labour/Green coalition, First NZ said in a note, citing recent political poll results.

“The potential formation of a Labour/Green coalition government is likely to weigh on the performance of the New Zealand equity market and is already starting to impact performance,” the brokerage said. “The re-election of the incumbent National-led government would likely be greeted positively by investors and give rise to a rebound in the market.”

Stocks most likely to be negatively affected by a change of government are in the energy utilities sector such as Contact Energy, Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower and TrustPower as well as those with regulatory risk including SkyCity Entertainment Group and Chorus, First NZ said.

Those most likely to benefit from a change include exporters such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Sanford which would receive an earnings boost from a lower exchange rate, while Fletcher Building and Methven would benefit from Labour/Greens housing initiatives, the brokerage said.

That’s a very shallow analysis.

A lower dollar would help give higher export returns but it also pushes up costs of imports including fuel, machinery and raw materials.

It would also make the cost of repaying foreign debt higher and put pressure on wages.

Another very big risk from a change in government is more and higher taxes and less flexible employment law.

All of that would feed inflation which and push up interest rates which would add to the cost of doing business and impact on competitiveness.

It’s not just business which faces uncertainty next year.

The CEO of a charity which receives contracts from a ministry said that election year always makes life difficult as there is growing reluctance from government departments to make decisions when a change in government could result in significant policy changes.

This election year uncertainty is a strong argument for a four-year parliamentary term.

There would still be the costs and constraints of elections, but there would be one more year in each election cycle without them.


Curran not standing or not wanted?

December 28, 2013

Friday’s ODT had an interesting advertisement:

The New Zealand Labour Party wishes to advise all Electorate, Branch and Affiliated members that nominations for the Dunedin South constituency remain open. The closing date has been amended and is now February 28 2014.

Does this mean that sitting MP Clare Curran isn’t standing or that she’s standing but not wanted and the party’s hoping for other nominations?

Or does it just mean there’s been a muck-up and no-one’s been nominated at all?

Whatever the answer this is most unusual in what was once a dark red seat.

However, at the last election it was more purple – National won the party vote and its candidate Jo Hayes, who will enter parliament on the list when Katrina Shanks retires next month, made a serious dent in Curran’s majority.

Hat tip: Pete George


Saturday soapbox

December 28, 2013

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

 
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