Word of the day

January 15, 2014

Desenrascanco – (Portuguese) – the art of using whatever means at your disposal to extract yourself from a tricky situation;; the capacity to improvise in the most extraordinary situations possible, against all odds, resulting in a hypothetically good-enough solution; the improvisation of haphazard but completely sound solutions or plans at the last minute;  to pull a MacGyver.


iPredict – narrow Nat win

January 15, 2014

iPredict’s first update for the year is predicting a very narrow win for the incumbent government.

Key Points:

•       Election expected in Q4 2014, most probably in November
•       Growing economy expected, but with rising interest rates
•       Only National, Labour and Greens to reach 5% threshold
•       Maori, Conservative, Mana and UnitedFuture parties to win electorate seats but Act to miss out
•       Very slight advantage to John Key as head of a National/Conservative/UnitedFuture government

Commentary:

This is the first iPredict Update for the 2014 New Zealand General Election with forecasts based on trading by the more than 7000 registered iPredict traders.  As in 2011, the newsletter will be based on a market snapshot taken at a random time, initially weekly and then daily during the election campaign.

The first snapshot, which was taken at 9.32 am today, suggests a very slight advantage to incumbent prime minister John Key, most probably leading a National/Conservative/UnitedFuture government, with or without the Maori Party. . .

Of the major parties, National is expected to win 43.0% of the party vote, the Labour Party 34.5% and the Green Party 9.5%.  

No other parties are expected to reach the 5% threshold under the MMP electoral system.  The Conservative and NZ First parties are both expected to win 4.6% of the party vote, the Maori Party 1.5%, Act 1.3%, Mana 0.7%, UnitedFuture 0.6% and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 0.3%.  

Stocks for the proposed Civilian and Kim Dotcom parties will be launched in the near future.

Based on the party vote forecasts and the electorate results above, Parliament would be as follows: National 54 MPs, Labour 44 MPs, Greens 12 MPs, the Conservative Party 6 MPs, the Maori Party 2 MPs, UnitedFuture 1 MPs and Mana 1 MP, for a total of 120 MPs.  A government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.

Under this scenario, National, the Conservative Party and UnitedFuture could form a government with 61 MPs.  Were the Maori Party involved, such a government would be supported by 63 MPs.

Were the Conservative Party not to win an electorate seat, a Labour/Green/Maori Party/Mana government could be formed with 62 MPs.

Overall, the market indicates a very narrow advantage to National, with a 53.3% probability of a National prime minister after the next election and a 45.1% probability of a Labour prime minister. . .

I’d call that too close to call which is what most polls have been saying.

 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2014

Ingredient for plastic has global potential – Cecile Meier:

It took more than 10 years for Ashburton-based LignoTech Developments to create a technology that turns organic waste material into an ingredient to make lightweight plastic, chief executive Garry Haskett explains.

This is interesting for makers of cars and trucks as they strive to produce lightweight vehicles to make them more energy-efficient, chairman John Rodwell says.

The raw material, corn residue, is worth 12 cents a pound as a stock food. After running through Lignotech’s process, it is worth more than 70c a pound.

With the corn-ethanol industry in the United States alone responsible for more than 40 million tonnes of bio-waste a year, the potential is huge, Rodwell says. . .

Ngai Tahu leads way in sustainable dairying – Howard Keene:

It’s fair to say that while Ngai Tahu has had an increasing influence in the South Island economy in recent times, its participation in the commercial agriculture boom has been minimal up to now.

However, that is changing as it converts its vast tracts of plantation forestry land in North Canterbury into dairy paddocks, which could eventually make it one of the biggest dairy farmers in the country. But more importantly it aims to be a leader in sustainable dairying.

In the 15 years or so since its $170 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, Ngai Tahu has successfully grown its asset base to around $1 billion, mainly through investment in property, fishing and tourism. . .

  Water storage vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365 day a year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever increasing drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that this year we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we do not learn from them, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debate paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

Increase in stock thefts over summer – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers are warning that stock thefts increase over summer.

“There is normally a pre-Christmas binge and then it’s ongoing for the rest of summer,” their rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said.

The warmer weather made it easier for thieves to get around farms, as they did not have to contend with winter rain and mud.

Christmas visitors often put pressure on family food supplies and so there would be a spike in the black market for meat.

She said there were commonsense ways for farmers to prevent themselves becoming a target of stock theft. . . .

Why farming brings out the best of us – Willy Leferink:

The great thing about the Christmas/New Year break has been the absence of phone calls.  I don’t know if my sharemilkers and farm managers have appreciated having the boss around a lot more than usual, but it’s been great to be among the girls.

I’m not being sexist or implying that I only employ women.  I am of course talking about my cows.  Given my team, cows included, have been going full tilt our ‘Christmas holidays’ will come mid-year at the end of this season.  Right now it’s pretty full on.

The absence of media calls has given me a chance to catch up on some programmes I recorded, like TV One’s NZ Story.  Several have stood out for me given the way farming has shaped their lives for the better. . . .


Saving cents still doesn’t make sense to Labour

January 15, 2014

Boat builders are upset that the government has awarded an $8 million ferry contract to a Bangladesh company rather than locals.

Economic development minister Steven Joyce told the Herald the difference between the New Zealand tenders and the successful Bangladesh bid was around $14 million.

“The numbers here were just too big to bridge, whatever way you want to cut it. If we were to prefer New Zealand suppliers at any cost, it would be a recipe for economic disaster,” Joyce said.

Saving that many cents make good sense but Labour still doesn’t care about that:

Over at Keeping Stock, Gosman points out that the boat building industry is doing well without public subsidies:

. . . The turnover in the industry as in 2012 was around 1.7 billion dollars. Just to put it in to perspective for you if this contract had been awarded for 23 million dollars it would have been worth around one percent of total turnover. The industry doesn’t need government money to survive so why demand they get special treatment than firms from other nations? . . .

Labour wants subsidies for an industry that’s doing very well without them.

Once more it shows it’s not learned from its mistakes and still isn’t concerned about wasting taxpayers’ money.


Cosy deal continuing to end of year

January 15, 2014

The Taxpayers’ Union blew the whistle on the $19m wasted on contracts for workplace safety training:

Material released by the Taxpayers’ Union show a cosy deal between Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions (“CTU”) and ACC has cost ACC-levy payers $19 million since 2003.

The documents, available and summarised below show ACC knew that millions paid to Business NZ and the CTU to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

Recent ACC analysis concludes that, even with optimistic assumptions, for every dollar spent on the training 84 cents is wasted. 

A 2013 briefing to the Minister for ACC, Judith Collins, states that the CTU has found it “challenging” to meet its performance obligations even though it has been contracted for service since 2003. 

The documents show that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme have existed since at least 2008.

It appears that Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. But we think it’s a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash. We think members of Business NZ and the CTU should be asking hard questions of their respective management teams.

Even the report in 2008 shows that that whole scheme was achieving little more than ‘engagement’. While ACC, Business NZ and the CTU must have known the scheme was worthless, they all allowed further millions to be spent.

This is the worst example of government waste the Taxpayers’ Union has seen to date. It involves two quasi-political organisations from the left and the right complacent in receiving taxpayer funds, likely knowing that the benefit was a small fraction of the amount being spent.

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Ms Collins to put an end to this hand out to Business NZ and the CTU.

ACC Minister Judith Collins says this has all the markings of a taxpayer rort:

. . . Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme on Wednesday the scheme is clearly not working and she does not intend to waste more money on it by taking further action, since the contracts are unlikely to be renewed.

The minister said the programme looked like a very cosy deal set up in 2003, leaving the people it aimed to help with nothing.

“I think it’s pretty clear what happened and the review that’s been undertaken by ACC has already shown that it has been a waste of money,” she said.

“I actually think it has all the hallmarks of a rort.” . . .

There’s nothing new in cosy deals which give unions public funds for programmes which may or may not be value for money.

Business New Zealand members should be asking very serious questions of the organisation to find out why it too has been wasting money in this way.

Yesterday it looked like ACC was canning the scheme but today the Taxpayers’ Union says the schemes have been extended to the end of this year.

Despite the ACC telling media yesterday that it decided ‘late last year’ to can the programme, we learned this morning that the contracts were renewed in December. The end date is now 31 December 2014.

It appears that ACC only changed its tune since the Taxpayers’ Union publicly exposed the rort.

Remember, it’s not the Taxpayers’ Union who labelled the training scheme a waste of money, it’s ACC’s own experts. Telling the public that they will scrap the scheme but waiting for the new contracts to expire is not good enough. They conveniently failed to mention that the contracts have just been renewed…

The Taxpayers’ Union is also backing the Minister for ACC’s reported comments that Business NZ and the CTU should pay the wasted money back to ACC. With such clear evidence that the money did little if anything to improve workplace safety, we think Business NZ and the CTU are morally obliged to stop wasting this money and compensate ACC levy payers.

ACC fees are being reduced for most workers and businesses.

If it wasn’t wasting money on useless training it might be able to make further cuts.

Workplace safety is a serious business, it shouldn’t be a vehicle for a rort by unions and the group which is supposed to work in businesses’ best interests.


Poor policies add up to recession

January 15, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce shows how poor policies add up to recession:

It’s important to remember that in 2008 New Zealand was already in recession, thanks to the Labour-led government’s mismanagement.

It left office forecasting a decade of deficits before most of the rest of the world went into recession.

National has turned that around in spite of the natural and economic disasters it’s had to deal with.


The importance of homework

January 15, 2014

Last year in the same week a Bill passed its third reading in parliament and another didn’t make it to its first.

The Bill which did pass was the Conservation (Natural Heritage Protection) Bill, sponsored by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean who had done all the homework necessary to get unanimous support for it.

The next day a Bill sponsored by Labour’s Jacinda Ardern was rejected by the House because she didn’t do enough  homework to get it past first base.

SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) : The sponsor of this Care of Children Law Reform Bill, Jacinda Ardern, has nominated the Justice and Electoral Committee to scrutinise the bill should it pass this first reading. Therefore, as chairman of the committee it falls to me to have a first go at what can really be described only as a very sloppy and lazy member’s bill by this member. . .

This bill is a very light piece of work. Essentially, it requires the Minister to ask the Law Commission to review the law relating to the care of children and update its September 2000 report on adoption. It requires the Law Commission to report within 12 months with a report, recommendations, and, indeed, a draft piece of legislation, and, further, it requires the Minister of Justice to introduce that bill as drafted by the Law Commission without amendment within 7 days—without amendment within 7 days. So there are significant constitutional flaws in this member’s bill. There are absolutely shabby constitutional issues that the member clearly has not addressed or even thought about. . .

So the problem is that the member sponsoring this bill is essentially trying to use her member’s bill to get the Law Commission to write her bill for her. That is sloppy. That is lazy. It is a lazy approach. It is politically lazy—it is politically lazy—and it is intellectually lazy. . . .

You’d think that would be a very good lesson on the importance of doing homework, but she’s done, or more to the point, not done it, again.

This time over the issue of prisoners flying on commercial flights.

It was nothing more than union grandstanding and Cameron Slater did the homework that the journalists who broke the old news should have to expose that.

That didn’t stop Jacinda Ardern rushing to get in the news – but the Waikato Times knows a tempest in a prison teacup when it sees one and opines:

. . . The Corrections Association was not so reticent, accusing Corrections of putting public safety at risk with what it called “secret” flights. Association president Beven Hanlon said repeated inquiries among prison officers found no one who had been aware of the flights until late last year. In his 16 years as an officer and a decade as head of the union, he had never heard of a maximum security prisoner being put on a plane with the public. He was shocked.

Really? But he had commented publicly about a raft of recommendations in an Ombudsman’s report on an inquiry into the transportation of prisoners in 2007. The report said transporting prisoners by air was common and both charter flights and scheduled public flights were used. The numbers of escort officers were increased for maximum security prisoners. The report found no systemic problems with prisoner transport by air and made no recommendations about them. “Few incidents occur during air transport, and we were given no reason to believe that any systemic problems exist,” it said. Labour’s Jacinda Ardern, now demanding answers to the union’s claims, should first have taken time out to read the Ombudsman’s report (tabled in Parliament under a Labour government). Kicking up a fuss would be in order only after she was sure that Corrections practices, indeed, are endangering public safety.

It’s not uncommon in election year for unions to chase headlines in the hope of helping their Labour friends.

But MPs need to do their homework before joining them otherwise they just add to the picture of an opposition which hasn’t yet got its act together rather than the government in waiting it wants to be.


%d bloggers like this: