Word of the day

January 16, 2014

Serein – the supposed fall of dew from a clear sky just after sunset; fine rain falling from an apparently clear sky after sunset, or in the early hours of night, especially in the tropics; evening serenity.


Boscawen seeks Epsom selection

January 16, 2014

Act President John Boscawen is seeking the Act selection for Epsom and his party’s leadership.

In a media release he says:

I am today announcing my intention to seek the Epsom nomination and leadership of the ACT Party in the 2014 general election.

  • I have been a member of ACT for over 17 years. I first stood for ACT in Epsom in 1996 and been involved in each of the five general election campaigns since. In 1996, I stood on a platform of maximising the party vote and our team achieved over 22% of the party votes cast in Epsom – a record not broken since.
     
  • In the years since 1996 I have held a number of party positions including over eight years’ service on the ACT board and as Campaign Manager, Treasurer and fundraiser.
     
  • In 2008, I stood in the North Shore electorate to maximise party votes and was elected to Parliament at No. 4 on ACT’s party list.
     
  • In August 2010, I was elected Deputy Leader and appointed Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Commerce.
     
  • At the 2011 general election I decided not to seek re-election on the party list although I did stand in Tamaki in an effort to maximise the party vote.
     
  • Following the 2011 election I continued in my role as Deputy Leader until my election, unopposed, in February 2013 as ACT President.
     

The ACT Board has announced it intends to make a decision on the ACT leadership over the weekend of 1-2 February 2014. Until a decision has been made, I will immediately stand aside from the position of President in the interim and leave the Board to be chaired by Vice President Barbara Astill.

We must rebuild our previous support and parliamentary representation and I believe that I am the best person to lead the party into the 2014 election. Just as importantly it is critical for New Zealand’s future that we do. We are the only party with a core philosophy of individual responsibility, prosperity and freedom. We have constantly pushed for social welfare and education reforms and for less government waste and lower taxes. We must get the incentives right if we are to encourage and reward hard work, savings and investment and that is why I have decided to offer myself for the position of candidate for Epsom and leader of the ACT Party.

Boscawen was an MP and replaced Heather Roy as Minister of Consumer Affairs.

He would bring experience to the role, he wouldn’t be regarded as the fresh blood the party needs.

It’s up to members to decide if he could resurrect it.


Rural round-up

January 16, 2014

If it’s hotter or cooler we need to store water – Bruce Wills:

Since it’s healthy to push yourself each New Year I like to start with a brand new experience.  For me, that was filing a farming music video for Young Country magazine.  A video set to music may be a unique way to tell my story to younger farmers but it was fun doing it at a busy time on-farm.  Admittedly, I do not think NZ on Air funding will be in the mail.

This year means I am in my final seven months as the President of Federated Farmers and I genuinely hope this column will continue with my successor.  That person will be elected in early July, after Federated Farmers provinces and industry groups assemble in Palmerston North for our National Conference. 

Looking back, 2011 seems a world away when I undertook my first political interview on TV One’s Q+A.  It was with Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and was hosted by the late Sir Paul Holmes. The subject was water quality and our dairy industry and in the minds of some people that has not changed.  The perception of what we do is yet to catch up to the realities of modern farming. 

When you’ve got older farmers, the sort that the Topp Twins satirise so well, actively swapping notes on riparian plantings then you know there’s been a shift in culture. . .

Water storage becomes 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 threat of 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 we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we don’t, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debates paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

‘Milk price outlook, the unforeseen risk of the US’ – Lisa Deeney:

“The huge increase in supplies of natural gas and oil in the US and Canada will probably pose a strong risk to future Irish milk price by enabling US milk producers to be competitive at lower prices than before.”

This is according to Cork-based dairy farmer and businessman Mike Murphy, who has interests in America, New Zealand and Chile, and an organiser of Positive Farmers’ dairy conference taking place in Clonmel, Tipperary today.

“Be aware to this risk. Farmers who borrow heavily based on current milk price may be in for a very rough time. Be a little conservative on milk price forecasts,” he cautioned to the packed attendance of more than 475 people. . .

Fonterra cream E.coli recall proves safety system ‘works’: Federated Farmers – Mark Astley

Fonterra’s decision to recall 8,700 bottles of potentially E.coli-contaminated fresh cream proves only that the cooperative’s “quality assurance system works,” New Zealand dairy farmer representative, Federated Farmers, has claimed. . .

Brown fat measurement could offer key to improving lamb survival:

Not all fats are created equal, and work by AgResearch is looking into how this knowledge can help reduce lamb deaths.

In good conditions mortality of twins and triplets is below 10% and 20% respectively, but in poor weather conditions it can be much more. Many of these deaths occur in the first three days of life, often because the lamb is unable to generate enough body heat to keep warm during periods of extreme weather.

Immediately after birth and until they get a feed, lambs have only one main way to regulate and maintain their body temperature: burn ‘brown fat’ to generate heat. . .

Irrigation scheme gets chief -Marta Steeman:

The company developing the $400 million Hurunui irrigation scheme has appointed a permanent chief executive to steer the company through the nitty gritty of design and development.

Hurunui Water Project Limited announced this week Alex Adams would take the helm on March 10.

The appointment follows the company being awarded its most critical consent – permission to take water from the Waitohi River – in August last year.

Hurunui Water Project proposes to develop four water storage dams on the Waitohi River to irrigate just under 60,000 hectares. . .

WCB slams MG’s ‘super co-op’ plan – Jared Lynch:

WARRNAMBOOL Cheese and Butter (WCB) has attacked Murray Goulburn’s takeover bid, saying any further consolidation of Australia’s dairy industry will hurt exports.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest dairy company, has argued that if it acquired WCB it would create a ”super co-operative”, giving Australia the scale necessary to compete globally.

But in a submission to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), WCB dismissed that claim.

”There is a risk that further ­consolidation of Australian dairy exporting companies could have a negative effect on Australian dairy exports,” WCB said. . . .

LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food – Steve Mistler:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The law makes Maine the second state in the country to pass such a measure. However, other states must adopt similar legislation before Maine’s labeling provision goes into effect.

The governor promised last year to sign the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington. His signature is symbolic because legislative rules don’t allow the law to go into effect until the Legislature adjourns later this year. However, supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods. Such proposals have been introduced in nearly 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labeling law. . .


Party party cancelled

January 16, 2014

Oh dear -how’s a party that can’t even organise a party party within the rules going to convince people it could run the country?

Political satirists might as well give up, reality is funnier.


Thursday’s quiz

January 16, 2014

1. Who said: Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.?

2. What are the seven deadly sins?

3. In which poem by John Milton were the seven deadly sins included?

4. Who wrote Bonfire of the Vanities?

5. Is the statement in #1 right?


Results then and now

January 16, 2014

NZCEA exam results were released yesterday when students were able to access them on-line.

That’s how it’s done now which is very different from how it was when School Certificate, University Entrance, Bursary and Scholarship results were released when I was at school.

Then, when computers were in their infancy, results were posted to students and published in newspapers.

One of my abiding summer memories is scores of people sitting on the steps outside the store in Wanaka scanning the paper for their own results and those of friends and school mates.

How things have changed – that would be considered a serious breach of student privacy nowadays.

The results themselves are different too – they used to be presented in percentages which were a lot easier to understand than the credits with their not achieved and achieved ratings today’s students.

Which is better is very much a matter of opinion.


On the cover of the Rolling Stone

January 16, 2014

Dr Hook sang about it, Lorde’s done it: she’s on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

UPDATE: A preview of the interview is on-line at Rolling Stone.

 


Tell ‘im ‘e’s dreamin’

January 16, 2014

Gordon Campbell writes at Scoop about Alistair Thompson, Scoop and the Internet Party.

He starts with the conflict between Thompson’s involvement while working for Scoop and the problem with it signing up a domain name for the new party.

He then goes on to the party itself:

And what of Dotcom’s political party ? Assuming that it does eventuate – and this column will report on it fully once it becomes certain that the Internet Party does not disintegrate before launch – such a party has made a change of government its declared aim. To that extent, Dotcom has the potential to split the existing anti-Key, centre left vote – in much the same way that Ralph Nader did in the 2000 US election – without either winning an electorate or crossing the 5% barrier, nationwide. If so, a significant share of the centre left vote would be wasted. No doubt, Dotcom has foreseen that risk. One can only assume that he believes he can attract large numbers of new voters – most of them young, some of them in south Auckland.

To that extent, Dotcom’s efforts could arguably run in parallel with Labour’s announced plans to mobilise that pool of 800,000 non-voters nationwide, many of them resident in south Auckland. Dotcom certainly has the resources and contacts to wheel in hip hop /EDM artists who would get the attention of young voters way beyond the capacity of Labour and the Greens. Whether he can transform a dance party into a political party still seems a big call however, especially given the need to reach a 5% threshold. Much rests on pure faith that new high calibre political activists would somehow magically emerge out of the woodwork.

Moreover, the party name and scant details released to date suggest that Dotcom intends to focus almost exclusively upon Internet freedoms. In doing so, he seems willing to outsource the boring old political stuff – you know, like having a credible health policy or economic policy – to Labour and the Greens. If so, he cannot hope to have much pull with the libertarian, National leaning voters who might share his zeal for Internet freedom.

Because so much of the Internet Party looks like a toy and vanity project for Dotcom, the likelihood is that such a party will function – at best – as only a voter recruitment vehicle that by mid year, will have lost its ability to amuse Dotcom. Especially if and when the polls are indicating by then that the Internet Party hasn’t a hope of (a) winning a seat or (b) reaching the 5% mark that would make its “kingmaker” role anything more than delusionary. At which point, Dotcom may think that he can throw his imagined legions behind Labour or the Greens. If that’s Plan B, he’s dreaming. The likelihood is that the only lesson that Dotcom will have given to the kids of south Auckland is the one that they’ve already sussed out : never trust a politician. It is distressing to think that Al Thompson may have thrown away so much, for so little.

Liberation has a collection of tweets on the issue, which doesn’t, yet, include this one:

https://twitter.com/reedfleming/status/423565178781696000

Someone should channel the wonderful Darryl Kerrigan and tell Dotcome he’s dremini’.

He has has money but anyone with a passing knowledge of political history knows it takes a lot more than money to win electorate seats and/or 5% of the party vote.

There are already several vehicles for those who wish to vote against the government. If Dotcom’s vanity one manages to dent any, it will be those others, not National.


This isn’t a recipe for growth

January 16, 2014

Colin Espiner interviews Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker and finds that:

If Parker is holding the country’s purse strings after this year’s general election, there’s plenty he wants to change. The top tax rate would be 39% on income over $150,000, although the company rate would be unchanged at 28% (and no, he doesn’t think that would encourage tax evasion). He’d introduce research and development tax credits, a living wage of $18.40 an hour for state-sector workers, a higher retirement age and a 15% capital gains tax.

This isn’t a recipe for growth.

Increasing the top tax rate is merely pandering to the sock-the-rich politics of envy. Those on the top tax rate already pay far more than their fair share of tax and adding the burden will increase tax avoidance as it always has in the past.

Treasury and Brian Scott have shown the flaws in the living wage concept.

Only a small proportion of those who get less than that now are single-income families and they get top-ups through Working for Families. Anything they gain through an increase in pay they’d lose through losing WWF. there’s not even any gain for the taxpayer, they’d be paying less in WFF but more in wages.

I’m not opposed to a capital gains tax in theory but if it is to do any good it must be universal and replace other taxes. Labour’s will exempt the family home and will be on top of other taxes.

The underlying theme to all this – and what really seems to drive him – is recapturing the egalitarian spirit he believes we inherited but are slowly squandering. “Not just equality of opportunity,” he says. “I believe in equality of outcome. That doesn’t mean communism,” he adds, pre-empting my question. I ask it anyway. Doesn’t it? “No, no, no. I personally wish I had made more money for myself. I’m not a pauper but neither am I a super-wealthy person. I believe that people should be rewarded for their efforts.”

Redistribution won’t recapture the egalitarian spirit and equality of outcome is impossible without the state playing a far greater role in the economy and society than is desirable and that is communism which has failed.

The best ways to improve life is to have sustainable economic growth.

We won’t get that with more of the higher tax, higher spending policies which Labour promoted  through the noughties and which put New Zealand into recession well before the global financial crisis.


Welfare reforms reduce lifetime liability

January 16, 2014

Welfare reforms have already reduced the lifetime liability by $10.3 billion.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed the latest valuation of the welfare system showing a significant reduction in the liability.

The June 2013 valuation shows the current lifetime liability[i] is $76.5 billion.

“Of the $10.3 billion reduction in liability[ii], $4.4 billion is due to Work and Income actively exceeding expectations by getting more people off benefit for longer, and less people coming onto benefit,” says Mrs Bennett.

“This translates to benefit payments being $180 million lower than expected for the year.”

Just over $1 billion of the $10.3 billion liability decrease is due to more sole parents going off benefit and fewer going on during the year.

“I hear from sole parents every week who say they’re really grateful for the support from Work and Income case managers; who are often the first to ask them what they want to do with their lives and then help them find work.”

“We provide childcare assistance, training, assistance with CVs, handling job interviews and help with the actual work search,” says Mrs Bennett.

The value in investing close to half a billion dollars in welfare reforms over the last two Budgets is evident in the results.

The two most significant work programmes led by the Minister of Social Development are welfare reform and the White Paper for Vulnerable Children.

“These work programmes are interlinked, if we don’t get things right for those vulnerable children, the chances are extremely high they will end up trapped on welfare later in life.”

The June 2013 valuation shows 62% of 30-39 year olds currently receiving benefits; first went on welfare as young people and constitute almost 80% of the total liability for this group because they’re long-term dependent.

“What’s really interesting; is that two thirds of people who went on benefit aged 16 or 17 also came to the attention of Child, Youth and Family as children and 90% lived in benefit dependent homes as children.”

While most people are supported by welfare for a short period of time, the long-term liability approach allows us to focus support clearly on those who are likely to be long-term dependent.

“Breaking the cycle of intergenerational welfare dependence is hard. Some children have grown up with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins all relying on benefits.”

“Reliance on welfare is ingrained for many and we have to turn that around, but the good news is we can and we are doing just that.”

I spoke to a sole mum who got herself a job after more than twenty years on the DPB. Her grown up children were so inspired they went out and got work too and now they all earn more and have pride in themselves and each other.”

A third of the total liability is attributable to those who entered the welfare system as young people under the age of 18 or as teen parents.

A further 40 per cent is attributable to those who first went on welfare between 18 and 20 years.

Youth Services introduced in 2012 allows specialist providers to help young people meet clear obligations, manage their money and gain independence.

Early results in the valuation are showing higher rates of these young people going off and staying off benefit. Over the year, projected costs of supporting young people dropped by 21%.

The June 2012 total liability was $86.8 billion, compared with the June 2013 liability of $76.5 billion.

Of the reduction in the liability, $3.8 billion was due to changes to forecast inflation and discount rates.

The savings a significant. Already  $10.3 billion is available for other people in need, funding other public services or projects and/or reducing what’s needed in taxes.

But the personal savings are at least as important. The money has been saved because people have gone from welfare to work where they and their families are far more likely to have better health and social outcomes than if they stayed dependent on benefits.

The left has fought these reforms tooth and nail, describing them as beneficiary bashing. Keeping people dependent is beneficiary bashing, helping those who can work to do so is saving people and money.

[i] Lifetime liability: All future lifetime costs of benefit payments and associated expenses for those receiving benefits in the 12 months up to and including the effective date of the valuation.
 

[ii] The starting liability at 30 June 2012 was reduced to $85.3 billion due to methodology correction.


Another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes

January 16, 2014

The Internet Party hasn’t even been launched and it’s already getting headlines for all the wrong reasons – Whaleoil has a scoop revealing its strategy:

The strategy paper (below) reveals that Martyn Bradbury is working for Kim Dotcom and is charging him $8000 per month plus GST for political strategy, on top of a $5000 payment to allow him to upgrade his computer, cellphone and tablet devices. . .

Further, the strategy document, which Trotter so clearly expands upon, shows that Martyn Bradbury intends to stand in Auckland Central as the Internet Party candidate, and be paid for the privilege of doing so. His strategy document outlines the need to establish an office.

The media compromise:

However the subterfuge is deeper than that. Sources have revealed that Scoop Media’s General Manager Alistair Thompson is to be the Party Secretary and has already registered the domain names under the Scoop Media banner. Scoop Media is also the name server registrant for the domain name and also that of internetparty.co.nz . . .

Summary:

  • Martyn Bradbury to stand in Auckland Central
  • Martyn Bradbury on payroll for $8000 per month plus $5000 advance payment for technology upgrades
  • Graeme Edgeler produced a report, allegedly for $3000
  • Plans for so far unnamed candidate in Upper Harbour, reputedly a broadcaster.
  • Focus on Auckland Central and Upper Harbour
  • Plans to win at least 3 seats

If I was drawing up a long list of people to attract votes from the right in general and National in particular, Bradbury’s name wouldn’t be on it.

If he stands and gets any votes he’ll be getting them from the left.

This isn’t a party that is likely to threaten the right, it’s another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes.

It’s also one that can’t even get it’s launch right:

Presumably someone told Dotcom about that the party to launch his party would be considered treating which is an offence under electoral law.

The scoop though, is great for Whaleoil who has already  collected another scalp with it:

Journalist Alastair Thompson has resigned from internet-based news service Scoop this afternoon in the wake of claims he was to be Internet Party general-secretary and had registered a domain name.

Scoop’s controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, confirmed he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson’s involvement with the party.

After the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

Pellett said that while he understood Thompson’s passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism. . . .

Cameron Slater is defending a judgement that he isn’t a journalist and therefore doesn’t have the protection journalists do in not revealing sources.

If publishing a scoop like this isn’t journalism, what is it?

Update: – tweet of the day on this issue:


January 16 in history

January 16, 2014

27 BC  The title Augustus was bestowed upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian by the Roman Senate.

1120 The Council of Nablus was held, establishing the earliest surviving written laws of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1362 A storm tide in the North Sea destroyed the German city of Rungholt on the island of Strand.

1412 The Medici family was appointed official banker of the Papacy.

1492 The first grammar of the Spanish language, was presented to Queen Isabella I.

1547  Ivan IV of Russia (Ivan the Terrible) became Tsar of Russia.

1556  Philip II became King of Spain.

1581 The English Parliament outlawed Roman Catholicism.

1605 The first edition of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Book One of Don Quixote) by Miguel de Cervantes was published in Madrid.

1707  The Scottish Parliament ratified the Act of Union, paving the way for the creation of Great Britain.

1853 – Andre Michelin, French industrialist, was born (d. 1931).

1853  Gen Sir Ian Hamilton,  British military commander, was born  (d. 1947).

1874  Robert W. Service, Canadian poet, was born (d. 1958).

1883 The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, establishing the United States Civil Service, was passed.

1896  Defeat of Cymru Fydd at South Wales Liberal Federation AGM, Newport, Monmouthshire.

1900 The United States Senate accepted the Anglo-German treaty of 1899 in which the United Kingdom renounced its claims to the Samoan islands.

1901 Frank Zamboni, American inventor, was born (d. 1988).

1902 – Eric Liddell, Scottish runner, was born (d. 1945).

1903 William Grover-Williams, English-French racing driver and WWII resistance fighter, was born  (d. 1945).

1906  Diana Wynyard, British actress, was born (d. 1964).

1908 – Ethel Merman, American actress and singer, was born (d. 1984).

1909 Ernest Shackleton’s expedition found the magnetic South Pole.

1919  The United States ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, authorising Prohibition in the United States one year after ratification.

1941 The War Cabinet approved the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) to enable the Royal New Zealand Air Force to release more men for service overseas. Within 18 months a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and Women’s Royal Naval Service had been created.

Women's Auxiliary Air Force founded

1942  Crash of TWA Flight 3, killing all 22 aboard, including film star Carole Lombard.

1944 Jim Stafford, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1948 Dalvanius Prime, New Zealand entertainer, was born (d. 2002).

1952 – King Fuad II of Egypt, was born.

1959 Sade, Nigerian-born singer, was born.

1970  Buckminster Fuller received the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects.

1979 The Shah of Iran fled Iran with his family and relocated in Egypt.

1986 First meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force.

1991  The United States went to war with Iraq, beginning the Gulf War (U.S. Time).

1992 El Salvador officials and rebel leaders signed the Chapultepec Peace Accords in Mexico City ending a 12-year civil war that claimed at least 75,000.

2001 – The First surviving Wikipedia edit was made: UuU

2001  Congolese President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards.

2001  US President Bill Clinton awarded former President Theodore Roosevelt a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War.

2002 The UN Security Council unanimously established an arms embargo and the freezing of assets of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida, and the remaining members of the Taliban.

2003  The Space Shuttle Columbia took off for mission STS-107, its final one. Columbia disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry.

2006 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia’s new president becoming Africa’s first female elected head of state.

2013 – An estimated 41 international workers were taken hostage in an attack in the town of In Aménas, Algeria.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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