Word of the day

21/01/2014

Supercherie – an attack made upon a person at a disadvantage; foul play; an attack made by deceit; deception, deceit; fraud.


Minor ministerial changes

21/01/2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced some minor changes to his ministerial line-up which includes the reinstatement of Peter Dunne as a Minister outside Cabinet.

Internal Affairs and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain, who has announced his intention to retire from Parliament at the upcoming general election, will be resigning from the Ministry.

Peter Dunne will be appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Mr Dunne will be a Minister outside Cabinet as he was prior to his resignation in June last year.

Michael Woodhouse will be promoted to the vacancy in Cabinet, and will retain all of his current responsibilities.

Paula Bennett picks up the role of Minister of Local Government, in addition to her current portfolio responsibilities.

The new Minister outside Cabinet will be Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, who will be appointed Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and Associate Minister of Local Government. Mr Lotu-liga is the MP for Maungakiekie and was first elected to Parliament 2008.

“I want to thank Chris Tremain for his work as a Minister, and previously as Senior Government Whip,” Mr Key says.

“Chris will be a real loss to the National caucus when he retires at the election and I wish him well for the future.

“I am pleased to welcome Peter Dunne back as a Minister. We have worked together well in the past, and United Future continues to be a valued partner in government.

“While 2013 brought its challenges, both Peter and I start this election year looking forward, not back.”

Mr Key also congratulated Mr Lotu-liga on his elevation to the Ministry.

“Sam has very strong ties with the Pasifika community and has represented their interests in caucus well.

“He is well placed to build on the work that Hekia Parata has done in this portfolio this past term.”

In other changes, Todd McClay will take up the role of Associate Tourism.

The Governor-General will swear in the new Ministers on Tuesday 28 January, prior to Parliament getting underway for the new year.

“The National-led Government’s strong Ministerial team will continue to take New Zealand forward and deliver on what we have promised,” Mr Key says.

Chris Tremain has done good work as a Minister but his decision to not contest this year’s election has provided an opportunity for promotion and re-jigging of some roles.


National will consider working with . . .

21/01/2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced which parties  National will consider working with following this year’s General Election.

His preferences are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future and is not discounting the Conservative Party.

He’s also left the door slightly ajar for New Zealand First.

 “MMP makes it likely that every election will be a tight contest,” Mr Key says.

“That means it’s also likely that following the election we will need to work collaboratively with other parties to form a stable Government.

“First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

 I sincerely hope that New Zealand’s First’s support won’t be needed, although David Farrar posts on the possibility of asking for it to support a minority government.

It’s more of a vanity vehicle than a party and its leader has shown he’s unreliable.

He’s also not prepared to show his hand before the election:

. . .  Winston Peters says the party is making its position clear from the outset that it will not be part of any pre-election discussions or arrangements aimed at subverting the democratic process.

“We thought MMP would stop the gerrymandering and ‘old boys’ arrangements of the past but some political parties keep manipulating the political process for their own ends instead of trusting the voters.”

Mr Peters says the time for talking about forming governments should be immediately after the election and not before. . .

What he means is he’s not prepared to put commit himself one way or the other for fear of losing votes.

Instead he’ll keep everyone in the dark until he can make a deal which best advantages him.


Arguing better, Good Wolf & dullest blog

21/01/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked off by:

*   Three destructive behaviours we all fall back on when arguing and how to fix them.  The suggestions solutions sound easy in theory, the challenge will be to remember and apply them in practice.

* The Good Wolf Manifesto – food for mind, body and spirit (check out the story behind the blog name on the about page and what success looks like on signing off the Good Wolf for 2013).

* The Dullest Blog in the World – 393 comments on tidying some pencils – I can only shake my head in wonder.


Rural round-up

21/01/2014

Wild day/night for North Island farmers:

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which struck land near to Castlepoint and others near to Eketahuna, has farmers in the Wairarapa and Tararua checking on stock, staff and each other.  These earthquakes come as the remnants of former Tropical Cyclone June approach the upper North Island.

“It’s the best shake we’ve ever had since we moved to Castlepoint Station 15-years ago,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers National Board member.

“Our house is a bit of a mess.  The pantry has been emptied and we’ve got glass, food and ornaments on the ground.  You could say we’ve been turned into a bit of an installation art form, but it’s the sort of art we could really do without having.

“Right now, I am checking on our staff and heading out to survey the farm. Any damage will likely to be to older water lines, which can easily be severed in a shake like this.  Since its summer the timing’s not ideal,” Mr Crofoot added. . .

Bushfires: rural residents are the solution, not the problem – Nicholas Gill:

The return of heatwaves and bushfires to the news pages has brought fresh warnings that Australians who live in fire-prone zones still don’t fully understand the risk they are running.

Deadly fires in Victoria’s Grampians and the Perth Hills, and the many other emergencies across other states, have once again brought the dangers into stark relief. Yet we have found evidence that people living near bushland are more aware of the risks and remedies than they are given credit for.

Last October’s fires in New South Wales prompted a resurgence of debate about how to safeguard lives and homes. On one side are those who call for landscape-scale fuel-reduction burns, with government-mandated minimum areas to be burned each year. . .

100 colourful years being marked by collie club – Sally Rae:

Central Otago’s Lowburn Collie Dog Club marks a major milestone this week with the holding of its centennial trials on Friday and Saturday.

And in the words of one of its stalwart members, Jack Davis, reaching that achievement is a ”bloody great effort”.

For the club has had a colourful history, including uncertainty over its future because of the construction of the Clyde Dam and raising Lake Dunstan. . .

Fed Farmers meat industry paper challenged:

A meat company head is taking issue with a Federated Farmers paper on options for the meat industry.

The federation released the discussion paper to its members late last year to get feed-back on what sheep and beef farmers believe should be done to make the industry less fragmented and more profitable.

Options include meat industry restructuring through company mergers, and more co-ordinated processing and marketing.

But Tony Egan, managing director of Waikato-based beef processor and exporter Greenlea Premier Meats, said the paper suffered from a one size fits all approach.

It was a good overview of the debate on the future direction of the meat industry but did not recognise that some companies, including his own, were thriving and profitable, he said. . .

Pest trap takes off:

Three Wellington designers started work on a revolutionary pest trap for the Department of Conservation (DOC) nearly a decade ago.

Nine years on and Goodnature’s automatic resetting trap is sold worldwide, including to a zoo in India, a chicken farm in Indonesia and, most recently, the Galapagos Islands.

The company manufactures up to 600 traps a week in its Wellington factory, and has more than doubled its workforce.

It is in talks with distributors in Britain and working with Scandinavian governments on a humane trap for the introduced American mink.

Goodnature director Stu Barr said the gas canister driven traps had come a long way since the first version in 2005.

“The resetting technology is obviously important because that generates efficiency and it also means that the trap is always available. You don’t want to miss an opportunity – if you kill a rat just after sunset and then a stoat comes along at one o’clock in the morning, you want to know that your trap is always ready to do it,” Mr Barr said. . .

Conference focus on top agriculture – Helena de Reus:

Quality agriculture was the focus of 60 teachers at a conference near Balclutha last week.

Telford projects manager Andrew Thompson said 57 teachers from Australia and seven from New Zealand took part in the four-day conference at the Telford campus.

Centred on quality agriculture, the National Association of Agricultural Educators (Australia) annual conference focused on the importance of having a well-trained and educated workforce which used new and innovative technologies. . . .


Could be birds not cows

21/01/2014

E.coli has been found in the swimming holes in the Taieri River.

. . . Council director of engineering, hazards and science Gavin Palmer says staff have tracked the river through nearby farms looking for the source of the contamination but haven’t found any cause of the e.coli.

Further inspections and water quality testing are planned this week. . .

Cows are usually the first to be blamed for poor water quality and sometimes there is just cause for that, but that’s not always the case.

High levels of E.coli in the Kakanui River last summer were blamed on cattle but it turned out the culprits were seagulls.

A large colony nesting upriver from popular swimming spots – and the intake for the water scheme which supplies the district’s homes – was fouling the water.

But because some are a protected species no action was taken.


Steampunk HQ

21/01/2014

Oamaru used to be regarded as a boring little town most notable for the ribbon development which was an irritant for travellers passing through from north or south.

The ribbon development is still there, and goes further, but the discovery of its Victorian heritage and the artists,  artisans and other entrepreneurs who have settled there means it is now anything but boring.

One of the town’s more recent claims to fame is that it is the nation’s steampunk capital.

Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be, a mixture of history, art, engineering, imagination and a sense of humour.

We’ve often taken visitors to play with the train outside Steampunk HQ.

train

But yesterday was the first time I’d ventured inside:

boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

steamengine

 

Don Paterson, Gillies Manufacturing’s Artist in residence,  and Kano have an exhibition of bronze sculptures and paintings in the reception at the moment, entitled Mythos.

bull

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when you’ve had enough of looking you can adjourn to the steampunk-themed playground at the harbour near-by.

playground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dunedin has a choice

21/01/2014

Dunedin City councillor Andrew Whiley writes:

The residents of Dunedin have a choice to either embrace the concept of the city being a hub for offshore gas companies or accept the alternative and encourage the companies to set up their hub in Invercargill.

Neither the residents of Dunedin nor the Dunedin City Council are in the position to say if gas exploration goes ahead off the coast of Otago.

That decision has already been made – like it or not. The decision in our control is where these exploration companies will base themselves.

Will it be Dunedin or Invercargill? Which community will reap the rewards of playing host? The residents of Dunedin, the DCC and the council’s economic development unit must support and embrace all new businesses keen to establish in our city.

The employment opportunities and family and economic benefits this exploration hub would bring to the city are significant. . . .

Industries such as ship repair, provedores, construction, engineering, helicopter services, software and IT will all increase as will road and rail freight movements and airport and port traffic.

There will be strengthened links to Otago University in health sciences, earth science and surveying plus more dollars spent in the city’s accommodation, entertainment and hospitality industries.

Dunedin has been lamenting the loss of businesses and jobs, it now has the opportunity to gain many more back.

But what about the ethical debate about using fossil fuels, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the future of the planet?

These are all serious issues and ones that governments, corporations, scientists and universities around the world are all working on to address. Globally, most of us are now aware of these challenges and are worried about the role of CO2 in climate change.

We should actually welcome exploration and production of natural gas as it can contribute to a significant reduction in those emissions. According to a report from the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions issued in June 2013, ”Increased use of natural gas in the US energy supply is contributing to a decline in greenhouse gas emissions”. . .

Dunedin is ideally suited to play host to the support industries for offshore exploration and we will see a dramatic increase in smart minds staying in Dunedin to be a part of the future in the energy and engineering sector.

These minds will look outside the box and will look at positive alternatives that can make for a cleaner and greener future.

So a plea to the Dunedin and Otago region: let’s embrace the opportunity to play host as the southern exploration hub for the companies that are coming.

If it isn’t Dunedin then it will be Invercargill!

The south will benefit wherever the base is but Dunedin could make itself the more attractive option if the city, and its leaders, made the company welcome.

 


How often do people like a leader?

21/01/2014

Richard Prebble makes an interesting observation in The Listener:

. . . The polls are amazing. John Key is not only our most popular Prime Minister in the history of polling, but also the most popular leader in the Western world. Key is on 62%; Barack Obama is on 41%. Tony Abbott was elected in a landslide and, still in the honeymoon period, is on 47%. The Queen asks Key to Balmoral for the same reason Obama asks him to play golf: they like him. Heck, I like him. There is no one we would rather have in charge in a crisis. . . .

How often do people really like a leader and when was the last time we had a leader who wasn’t just popular but who was widely  liked here and further afield?

We’ve had popular Prime Ministers, we’ve had ones who have been admired, more than a few who were disliked and some who were feared. But widely liked well beyond their parties and personal friends?  I can’t remember one.

Leaders often aren’t likeable but John Key is. Not universally of course, some people won’t be able to see beyond their politics to the person. But people who know him like him and so does the general public.

Prebble thinks National will win the election and the PM’s likeability is a major reason for that.

He may or may not be right about the outcome of the election, but he is right about people liking the PM and that gives him, and National, a huge advantage.

The popularity of Prime Ministers and Presidents fluctuates for all sorts of political reasons. A leader’s likeability is more stable and will often trump politics.


January 21 in history

21/01/2014

763 – The Battle of Bakhamra between Alids and Abbasids near Kufa ended in a decisive Abbasid victory.

1189 – Philip II of France and Richard I of England began to assemble troops to wage the Third Crusade.

1525 – The Swiss Anabaptist Movement was born when Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and about a dozen others baptised each other in the home of Manz’s mother in Zürich, breaking a thousand-year tradition of church-state union.

1643 Abel Tasman was the first European to reach Tonga.

1749 – The Verona Philharmonic Theatre was destroyed by fire.

1789 The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, was printed in Boston, Massachusetts.

1793 – After being found guilty of treason by the French Convention, Louis XVI of France was executed by guillotine.

1824   Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, American, Confederate army general was born (d. 1863).

1859 – Ice came to Nelson for the first time.

1864 – The Tauranga Campaign started during the New Zealand Land Wars.

1887 – Brisbane received a daily rainfall of 465 millimetres (18.3 inches), a record for any Australian capital city.

1893 – The Tati Concessions Land, formerly part of Matabeleland, was formally annexed to the Bechuanaland Protectorate, which is now Botswana.

1899 – Opel manufactured its first automobile.

1905 Christian Dior, French fashion designer, was born (d. 1957).

1908 – New York City passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, but the measure was vetoed by the mayor.

1911 – The first Monte Carlo Rally.

1915 – Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit, Michigan.

1919 – Meeting of the First Dáil Éireann in the Mansion House Dublin. Sinn Féin adopted Ireland’s first constitution. The first engagement of Irish War of Independence, Sologhead Beg, County Tipperary.

1921 The Italian Communist Party was founded at Livorno.

1924 Benny Hill, English actor, comedian, and singer, was born (d. 1992).

1925  Albania declared itself a republic.

1938 Wolfman Jack, American disk jockey and actor, was born (d. 1995).

1940  Jack Nicklaus, American golfer, was born.

1941 Plácido Domingo, Spanish tenor, was born.

1942,  Mac Davis, American musician, was born.

1944 New Zealand & Australia signed the Canberra Pact, which was an undertaking by both countries to co-operate on international matters, especially in the Pacific.

NZ and Australia sign the Canberra Pact

1950 Billy Ocean, West Indian musician, was born.

1953 Paul Allen, American entrepreneur, co-founder of Microsoft, was born.

1954 – The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), was launched in Groton, Connecticut by Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady of the United States.

1958 – The last Fokker C.X in military service, the Finnish Air Force FK-111 target tower, crashed, killing the pilot and winch-operator.

1960 – Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey, lifted off from Wallops Island, Virginia, aboard Little Joe 1B – an unmanned test of the Mercury spacecraft.

1968 Battle of Khe Sanh – One of the most publicised and controversial battles of the Vietnam War began.

1974 Rove McManus, Australian television host and comedian, was born.

1976 – Commercial service of Concorde began with London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio routes.

1976 Emma Bunton, English singer (Spice Girls), was born.

1977 – President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders.

1981 – Tehran released United States hostages after 444 days.

1997 – Newt Gingrich became the first leader of the United States House of Representatives to be internally disciplined for ethical misconduct.

1999 – War on Drugs: In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the United States Coast Guard intercepted a ship with over 4,300 kg (9,500 lb) of cocaine on board.

2002 – The Canadian Dollar set all-time low against the US Dollar (US$0.6179).

2008 – Black Monday in worldwide stock markets. FTSE 100 had its biggest ever one-day points fall, European stocks closed with their worst result since 11 September 2001, and Asian stocks dropped as much as 15%.

2011 – 2011 Albanian opposition demonstrations.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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