Word of the day


Disprize – undervalue; disparage, disdain, scorn.

Rural round-up


Fruit fly find under investigation in Northland:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in Whangarei.

The fly was collected from a trap on Tuesday 21 January and formally identified on Wednesday 22 January.

MPI Deputy Director General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says only the one male insect has been found.

Mr Coleman says, “Queensland fruit fly has been detected three times before in New Zealand – in Whangarei in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996 and 2012.  In all cases increased surveillance found no further sign of Queensland fruit fly.”

MPI has responded promptly and field teams will be starting to work in the Parihaka area near Whangarei’s port. Teams are setting additional traps to determine if other fruit flies are present in the area. . .

More than one side to meat industry debate – Allan Barber:

Hearing Tony Egan, MD of Greenlea, on Radio NZ emphasised what I already knew, but may not have commented on sufficiently in my column in Farmers Weekly about the Meat Industry Options paper.

 The meat industry is really a two speed industry with a number of companies doing pretty well in the present environment, while generally beef production and processing tend to be more economically viable than sheep. This raises the question of just how dysfunctional the meat industry really is.

 To assess the outcome of MIE’s farmer meetings and the campaign to get representation on the boards of SFF and Alliance, one could be forgiven for thinking that there was nothing right with the red meat sector. To read the Options paper without question, it may appear that all the options listed are either essential or feasible. . . .

Deer milk cheese trial underway:

Whitestone cheese company in North Otago has produced trial batches of what it believes to be a world first – cheese made from deer’s milk.

The award-winning Oamaru company is processing elk’s milk supplied by Clachanburn Station at Ranfurly in the Maniototo district.

Whitestone chief executive Simon Berry says it took up the challenge after Clachanburn approached it with the idea of producing cheese from deer’s milk.

Mr Berry says although it’s early days, it’s looking promising. The company is taking regular deer’s milk deliveries, the process has been worked out “at the shed level” on the farm and Whitestone made its fourth batch of deer cheese on Wednesday. . .

Landcare team wins science medal:

Agricultural scientists are among those who have been recognised at the annual New Zealand Association of Scientists awards.

A team from Landcare Research, headed by Graham Nugent, won the Shorland medal for its work over the past two decades looking at pest species and their role in spreading tuberculosis.

The Association of Scientists says their work has resulted in major reductions in agricultural production losses from bovine Tb. . .

Milk Reaches Record as U.S. Exports Climb Amid Drought –  Elizabeth Campbell:

Milk futures in Chicago jumped to the highest on record, signaling higher costs for consumers, as exports surge and a record drought threatens output in California, the nation’s top producer.

Shipments of dry-milk ingredients, cheese and butterfat jumped 17 percent to 1.76 million metric tons in the 11 months through November, the latest data from the U.S. Dairy Export Council show. California had its driest year ever in 2013, threatening to slow output per cow, according to INTL FCStone Inc. Futures jumped 16 percent this year, the biggest gain among 64 commodities tracked by Bloomberg. Cheese, up 12 percent, is the second-best performer.

Global dairy prices tracked by the United Nations climbed 28 percent last year, compared with a 3.4 percent decline in overall food costs. The gains in cheese and milk may boost expenses for Darden Restaurants Inc., the operator of Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, and General Mills Inc., the maker of Yoplait yogurt. . .

Export Statistics For the First Quarter of the 2013-14 Season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for October, November and December 2013 – the first three months of the 2013-14 meat export season.

B+LNZ  has developed an interactive meat exports tool for further analysis. The tool allows you to generate and download customised data and graphs of export lamb and beef statistics, by market, value, and volume. Access it at portal.beeflambnz.com/tools/export-tool


There was little change in the volume and value of beef and veal exports over the first quarter of the 2013-14 meat export season, compared to the equivalent period last season. However mutton exports rose significantly – up 16.3 per cent in volume and 22 per cent in total value. Export lamb volumes dropped, but the return per tonne increased 8.9 per cent – on account of the supply/demand equation. . .

No move to make lower speed tolerance permanent


Police have no plans to make the lower speed tolerance permanent:

. . . From December until the end of this month, police will let motorists driving just 4km/h over the limit before they are ticketed, rather than normal 10km/h. It’s the first time it’s been trailed outside of holiday weekends.

Thirty-six people died on roads between December 1 and yesterday afternoon, compared to 51 during the same time in 2012/13.

“We’ve certainly seen the results from this – the questions will be, would we see the same results if it was done permanently or is the fact there is a change and a whole lot of advertising around it?” says national road policing manager Superintendent Cary Griffiths.

“We have to look at a whole range of factors.”

Despite the apparent success of the lowered tolerance a police spokesperson told 3 News there were no plans to make it permanent, saying it worked well around holiday periods, when accidents typically spike. . .

You could ask why there’s any tolerance at all, but I’m pleased there is, especially on passing lanes when you have to go faster than 100 kph to pass vehicles travelling even a little slower than 100.

The slogans speed kills and the faster you go, the bigger the mess, are true.

But the risk of going a little bit more than 100 kph on long, straight roads with little if any other traffic in good weather, is one most could safely take.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.?

2. What was the title of Thomas Hughes’s novel set at Rugby School?

3. It’s élève in French, allievo in Italian, alumno in Spanish and koringo in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Who sang Schools out for Summer?

5. What would you do to improve education?

Education is the key


Education is one of the most important keys to better outcomes in life.

Prime Minister John Key has recognised this in announcements made in his state of the national address today.

He announced four new roles: Executive Principal, Expert Teachers, Lead Teachers and Change Principals.

I have copied the whole speech, with the announcement and explanation in bold.

Good morning. I hope you all had a good Christmas break and you’re starting 2014 eager and energised.

I know I am.


And I know the Government is, because there are a lot of things to get done this year.


Later in the year there’ll be an election, where I’ll seek the support of New Zealanders to continue the direction this country is going in.


The economy is growing. More jobs are being created. Family incomes are rising. Crime is falling. More elective surgery is being done in public hospitals. Long-term welfare dependency is falling. And we’re continuing to help families and older New Zealanders with generous income support.


As a country, we can keep going in this direction and continue to make gains, or we can change direction and go backwards.


And moving forwards is the only way to ensure we achieve the long-term growth that really changes New Zealand’s fortunes and provides more opportunities for Kiwi families.


I can assure you I take nothing for granted when it comes to the election.


Each and every vote will have to be earned.


We have to work hard as a government, every day, to keep earning the trust and support of New Zealanders.


It may be election year but we won’t be slowing down. There is far too much to be done.


MMP guarantees that every election is a tight contest.


We’ve shown we can deliver strong and stable government. We work with other parties for the good of the country, even when those parties have different policies.


That’s what MMP requires.


I have always been optimistic about New Zealand.


As a country we have huge potential.


And as we begin 2014, things are really picking up.


The economy will grow strongly this year.


Our economic growth is forecast to be one of the highest in the developed world in 2014.


That means wages will keep growing, more jobs will be created and living standards will improve right across the country.


And it means we are catching up to other countries.


The Government will produce a budget surplus next year, when most other countries will still be in deficit and building up debt.


At the same time we are returning money to families and businesses through hundreds of millions of dollars of ACC levy reductions.


We have a business growth agenda with hundreds of initiatives to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the economy.


These range from negotiating free trade agreements, to boosting funding for business R&D, to rolling out ultra-fast broadband.


The Government’s investment in infrastructure is bearing fruit as projects get off the ground and others are completed.


A lot of work, for example, will be done this year on the Waterview Connection in Auckland, which will transform the roading network in our biggest city. And this year construction will begin on the Kapiti Expressway and Wellington’s long-awaited Transmission Gully project.


This summer is the most active season ever for oil and gas exploration, with the industry spending up to $750 million. At the same time, the Government is strengthening the regulations that govern drilling, particularly in deep water.


We have a big programme of work this year to increase the number of houses being built around the country so there are more opportunities for young families to own their own home.


We are working to deliver better public services for New Zealanders – through the Police, courts, public hospitals, schools, tertiary training, and the many other ways that people and businesses deal with government.


Our approach is to put everyday New Zealanders at the heart of everything the Government does, so we organise services around them.


We now have more Police spending more time on the front line. We’ve introduced a range of measures to make communities safer, support victims, and rehabilitate offenders. Recorded crime is now at its lowest level in more than 30 years, with a 17 per cent drop over the past three years.


Over 40,000 more New Zealanders will get elective surgery this year than in 2008, and they will get that surgery faster. Almost all children under six can now go to the doctor after hours for free.


We are improving industry training and rebooting apprenticeships, and we’re on track to get 14,000 additional new apprentices in New Zealand.


More people than ever are getting tertiary qualifications.


We’re delivering significant reforms to the welfare system, with a far greater emphasis on work.


We’re making progress in the big task of cleaning up waterways, and protecting and improving water quality right across New Zealand.


And we are continuing to support Cantabrians through the aftermath of the earthquakes and the rebuilding of their city.


Household incomes have been rising faster than the cost of living, right across the board, and income inequality has been declining. Despite what our political opponents try to claim, it is simply not true that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.


We are a very steady, centre-right government with the interests of all New Zealanders at heart.


Our approach is always to take the public with us by clearly outlining our actions and priorities, and always keeping in mind why we are in government – to make New Zealand a better place for Kiwis and their families.


So when I look forward to 2014, I do so with confidence and with optimism.


But that doesn’t mean the job’s done – in fact it’s just begun.


It’s vitally important that over the next few years we continue to build on the hard-won gains we are making as a country.


That includes a huge improvement in managing the country’s finances.

We have made careful savings, been disciplined with spending, and run the public sector far more efficiently.


That’s a lot different than the previous government, which increased spending by 50 per cent in just five years. That spending helped push mortgage rates to almost 11 per cent and crippled the internationally competitive parts of the economy.


New Zealand can’t afford that approach again.


The Government will get back to running surpluses next year. At first they will be very small but they will build up over time. There might be some room for modest spending or revenue initiatives, but the top priority has to be getting our debt down.


The Government has borrowed – on behalf of New Zealanders – around $50 billion over six years to get the country safely through a recession, the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, and one of the most expensive natural disasters in history.


In better economic times we have to reduce that debt.


That will lift national savings, and help keep a lid on interest rate rises as the economy heats up.


We also have to lock in the improvements we are making to New Zealand’s economic settings. And we have to lock in the progress we are making in delivering better public services.


Those changes will continue to serve the country well.


New Zealand now has the opportunity to significantly improve its economic fortunes and provide a better future for New Zealand families.


We can achieve the long-term lift in economic performance that this country has aspired to for so long, providing we keep to our steady and responsible programme.


The alternative to locking in our programme of change is to go off into left field. And I really do mean left field.


I’ll give you an example. If Labour and the Greens ever got in they would be the only government in the world to want less competition in their electricity market.


Less competition means higher prices. In Ontario, where they have the closest thing to Labour’s electricity proposal, electricity prices have gone up more than twice as fast as in New Zealand.



On top of that, Labour wants an emissions trading scheme that would put up household energy bills by $500 a year – just like that.


They want people to work two more years before they can retire.


They want to reintroduce national awards like we had in the seventies – so hello strikes and goodbye productivity.


They want to put up income taxes and introduce a new tax on all productive businesses and farms in the country.


When you look at it closely, the alternative prescription from Labour and the Greens is a combination of high spending, untried economic experiments and a lack of focus on what really matters.


It would be a huge step backward when the country is so obviously moving forward.


So this year I want people to think hard about where New Zealand is going, and how to keep us on the right track.


I want people to think about who can provide strong, stable government in what is still an uncertain world.


And I want people to think about whose judgement and integrity they can trust.


I have always been very clear that the biggest influence on my judgement, and the way I think about politics, has been my upbringing.


I came from a family that didn’t have much. But I was able to do well and have a successful career.


That’s partly because of the beliefs instilled in me at home – to work hard and to aim high.


But equally important was the education I received at my local primary and high schools in Christchurch, and at Canterbury University.


That education opened the world to me.


So my upbringing and schooling shaped my views quite profoundly.


I believe people are ultimately responsible for their own lives and the well-being of their families.


But I also believe the Government should do what it can to provide children and young people with opportunities to succeed and do well, no matter what their family background or life circumstances.


That’s why I have personally pushed through a number of policies for young people, including better mental health services, better trades training, greater support for teen parents, and breakfasts in schools.


I visit a lot of schools around the country, because they play a huge part in shaping the lives of our young people.


And I take my hat off to the teachers and principals across New Zealand who are making a real difference in lifting achievement.


A mountain of evidence shows that the quality of teaching – inside the classroom – is the biggest influence on kids’ achievement.


I think everyone can remember the best and most inspirational teachers they had at school. I certainly can, and they made a big difference to my education.


The evidence also shows that, after teaching quality, the second biggest influence on achievement is school leadership.


To recognise this, we’ve introduced the Prime Minister’s education awards for, among other things, excellence in teaching and school leadership.


That excellence is part of the reason our top students do as well as the best students anywhere in the world, and we should be rightly proud of that.


But we can’t be complacent.


As I’ve said a number of times, far too many kids do poorly at school, and that’s not something to be proud of.


New Zealand stands out among other countries for the wide gap we have between our top students and our lowest-performing students.


International studies also show that we are not keeping pace with achievement in other countries, particularly in maths and science. In fact, we have been on a gradual downward slide since the early 2000s.


In 2000, for example, our 15-year-olds were ranked fourth in the OECD’s study for achievement in maths, with only Hong Kong, Japan and Korea ahead of us. Now we’re ranked 23rd.


Today’s 15-year-olds in New Zealand are performing worse, on average, than 15-year-olds in 2000.


That’s despite a lot more money being spent on education.


So that has to be a call to action for all of us.


There’s no doubt we have a good education system. But it’s not as good as it could be. We need to make some changes.

For some time, the Government has been looking at what international research and evidence in education tells us, what the best performing countries are doing, what teachers and principals are saying they need, and what initiatives have been working here in New Zealand.


The first thing we did was start collecting better information, through national standards, because without good information everyone is simply stumbling around in the dark.


National standards have taken time to bed in, and we’re working to improve the consistency of assessments. But the information they provide has been invaluable in determining where to put resources and effort to lift achievement.


Because lifting achievement, each year and in measurable steps, is the whole point of going to school.


So what’s next?


Well, if teaching practice and school leadership are the most important factors for achievement, then it’s obvious we need to strengthen the teaching profession and strengthen school leadership across the 50,000 teachers and 2,500 schools in New Zealand.


There are a number of things we want to do.


We want to keep top teachers in the classroom rather than having to go into management positions, or leave teaching altogether, to progress their careers. At the moment, our best teachers work their way up the career ladder by doing less teaching, and that shouldn’t be the way it works.


We want to support a culture of collaboration within and across schools. That means the really good principals and teachers spending a lot more time sharing what they know, and how they work, with other principals and other teachers.


We want the best teachers and principals to lead a step change in achievement and we are going to pay them more to get it.


So today I am announcing four new roles for principals and teachers in New Zealand schools, and investing an extra $359 million into teaching and school leadership over the next four years.


These are changes that will benefit kids across New Zealand, because high-quality teaching leads to better achievement at school.

The first new role is an Executive Principal.


Executive Principals will be the top principals from across the country.



They will provide leadership across communities of schools, supporting other principals to raise student achievement.


We envisage there will be around 250 Executive Principals, or about one for every 10 schools, on average.


An Executive Principal will remain in charge of their own school but be released for two days a week to work across a grouping of schools, which will include primary and secondary schools.


Executive Principals will have a proven track record in raising achievement and they will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals.


They will be appointed by an external panel, for up to four years. Executive Principals will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary, and they will be judged on their results.


So that’s the first new role.


The second is a similar sort of position, again working across a group of schools, but at the teacher level.


These teachers we are calling Expert Teachers, and we intend to establish around 1,000 of these new positions.


Expert Teachers will have a proven track record in raising the performance of their students, particularly in maths, science, technology and literacy.


Expert Teachers will be based in their usual school, but will be released for two days a week to work across their school grouping, under the guidance of their Executive Principal.


They will get alongside other teachers, working with them to develop and improve classroom practice and raise student achievement.


Executive Principals will oversee the appointment of Expert Teachers and the appointment will be for up to four years. They will be paid an annual allowance of $20,000 on top of their usual salary.


Executive Principals and Expert Teachers will drive a whole new level of collaboration between schools and between teachers, with best practice becoming widespread across school communities.


The third new role we are going to introduce is for the top teachers in schools.


We want the best teachers to be recognised for improving student achievement and to act, in a formal sense, as role models for other teachers.


So we are going to introduce a new role – a Lead Teacher. There will be around 5,000 Lead Teacher positions across the country.

Lead Teachers will be high-performing teachers who can demonstrate the best classroom practice.


Their classrooms will be open to other teachers almost all the time, so teachers can observe and discuss classroom practice with a model professional.


Lead Teachers will be paid an annual allowance of $10,000 on top of their existing salary. That allowance is in recognition of their status and their new responsibility in helping other teachers to raise achievement.


These new roles of Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers means more good teachers will stay in a teaching role, because they can see a career path that keeps them in the classroom where they are so effective. And that has huge benefits for the children they teach.


We are going to give extra funding to schools so teachers can take time out of their normal classroom to work with Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.


And we are also going to establish a $10 million fund for schools and teachers to develop and research effective teaching practice in areas such as writing, maths, science and digital literacy.


The final change I want to announce today is that we are also going to better match up schools that are really struggling, with really excellent principals.


To do this we are going to establish a new role of Change Principal.


Change Principals will be top principals who are paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.


Around 20 Change Principals will be appointed each year, for up to five years.


At the moment, the incentive is for principals to go to larger schools, where the salary is higher, rather than to schools that are the most challenging.


We are going to change that.


So those are the four new roles we are creating – Executive Principals, Change Principals, Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.


With all these new roles there are details to fill in and employment implications for teachers. The next step is to sit down over the next few months with representatives of the education profession, including unions, to further develop these proposals.


That process might result in some changes to the details of the policy, but our intent is clear. We want to recognise excellent teachers and principals, keep good teachers in the classroom, and share expertise across schools and amongst teachers.

And we intend to introduce the new principal and teaching roles from next year.


We plan to spend an extra $359 million over the next four years to fund these proposals, with the full-year cost rising to more than $150 million a year by the end of that period.


That’s because we are prepared to invest in long-term policies that lift achievement.


In the end, these initiatives are about kids.


High-quality teaching leads to better achievement at school – the evidence is overwhelming.


And doing better at school has a profound impact on the lives of young New Zealanders – economically, of course, but also in terms of their ability to participate in society and contribute to their families and communities.


As you can see, we’ve got plenty on, and plenty of new ideas to keep pushing the country forward.


New Zealand is heading in the right direction.


The Government’s economic programme is laying the foundations for a stronger economy, sustainable jobs and higher incomes.


We are making real progress in delivering better public services for New Zealanders and getting on top of issues like crime and welfare dependency.


And as you can see today, we have big plans for education.


It’s important we continue to lock in and protect the gains we’ve made and keep making progress.


That takes constant hard work, oversight and judgement.


It takes a team working together and all heading in the same direction.


And it takes a government that is united, focused and energised.


Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what I can promise New Zealand in 2014.


Thank you.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the Government’s $359 million investment in education over the next four years will support teachers and principals to lift student performance in every school.

The investment will create four new teaching and leadership roles in schools – Executive Principals, Expert Teachers, Lead Teachers, and Change Principals – and was announced today by Prime Minister John Key in his first speech of the year.

“These changes are the next step in our plan to raise student achievement in our schools,” Ms Parata says.


“We introduced National Standards so we can get a picture of how our students are doing in school and ensure we target assistance to those who need it.


“Since we came into government we have been spending more than ever before in education, despite tight fiscal times.


“While our education system is doing a great job for many kids, on an international scale our achievement ranking has been gradually declining since the early 2000s.


“We need to enhance the teaching and leadership in the system to raise achievement for five out of five young New Zealanders.


“These new roles will recognise and use talent where it’s needed most and will be implemented from next year to support communities of schools across the country.


“It is intended all roles will be fully in place by 2017,” Ms Parata says.


The new roles are:

  • Executive Principal – These will be highly-capable principals from across the country, with a proven track record, who will provide leadership across a community of schools while remaining in their own school. Each will work with around 10 schools, on average, from primary through to secondary, and support and mentor the other principals in these schools. This role will be offered on a two-year fixed-term basis and be linked to specific objectives for student achievement across the community of schools. Executive Principals will be freed up for two days a week to work with the other schools in their community. They will be paid an additional allowance of $40,000 a year in recognition of their new responsibilities. Their own school will also receive funding to backfill their role for the two days a week they are working with the other schools in their community. It is anticipated there will be around 250 of these roles when the rollout is completed.


  • Expert Teacher – These will work with Executive Principals, and will include experts in areas like maths and science, digital technology and literacy. They will work inside classrooms, including in other schools within their community of schools, with teachers to help lift teaching practice and improve student achievement. This role will be offered on a two-year fixed-term basis and be linked to specific objectives for student achievement. They will receive an additional allowance of $20,000 a year in recognition of their new responsibilities. Their own school will also receive funding to backfill their role for the two days a week they are working with the other schools in their community. There are likely to be around 1,000 Expert Teachers when the initiative is fully in place.


  • Lead Teacher – These will be highly capable school teachers, with a proven track record, who will act as a role model for teachers within their own schools and the other schools in their community of schools. Their classroom will be open for other teachers, including beginning teacher, to observe and learn from their practice. They will be paid an additional allowance of $10,000 a year in recognition of their status and new responsibilities. It is anticipated there will be around 5,000 Lead Teachers when this initiative is fully implemented.


  • Change Principal – These will be employed to lift achievement in schools that are really struggling.  Many schools that are performing poorly want to recruit an outstanding principal to turn their results around. Principals appointed to these roles will be paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year on top of the salary the recipient school offers. This will encourage great principals to select schools based on the size of the challenge rather than the size of the school. The roles will be fixed term (3-5 years) and will be particularly focused on lifting student achievement. It is anticipated about 20 of these roles will be needed each year.


“The profession has been telling me career pathways for school teachers and principals, and opportunities to learn from each other, are important. This has been echoed by OECD evidence and is further supported by what our own education leaders saw during a recent visit to Asia.


“Late last year I sent a delegation, including the Secretary for Education, and senior representatives from the education sector to Hong Kong and Singapore – two of the best performing countries in the international PISA study.


“Informed by the delegation’s experience, as well as clear international evidence and best practice in New Zealand, I think we have come up with what is a uniquely Kiwi mixture that will lift achievement for our students.”


Ms Parata says the changes are significant for the education sector, and she has asked Secretary for Education Peter Hughes to work with the sector unions and other key groups, including NZ School Trustees Association (NZSTA) as representatives of Boards of Trustees, on the details of how the new roles will work.


The new investment also includes a $10 million Teacher Innovation Fund, which will enable team-based, teacher-led research and development at a practical level, working within schools or across groups of schools. 


“I am really delighted that this investment will provide career pathways and raise the status of the profession – as well as lift student achievement,” Ms Parata says.


The investment will work alongside existing initiatives such as the $37.5 million Quality Teaching Agenda.


“We have also recently established the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, and will host the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March, together with education festivals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch,” Ms Parata says.


“We have progressed work to transform the NZ Teachers Council into a proposed new body, EDUCANZ. Changes to initial teacher education are also being made, with new post graduate qualifications being offered from this year.


“The National-led Government has an unrelenting focus on giving all our young people a better education and raising achievement for all,” Ms Parata says.

Education is the key to success and breaking the cycle of deprivation.

These proposed changes recognise the import part good teachers and principals play in improving achievement for all pupils.

PM’s state of nation speech live stream


TVNZ is live streaming Prime Minister John Key’s state of the nation speech.

Equality of opportunity or outcomes?


While Labour leader David Cunliffe is talking hard left politics to mollify his supporters, the party’s spokesman is being touted as more moderate so as not to scare the horses in the centre.

But is this the view of an economic moderate?

“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.”

That is muddled and contradictory but it’s not moderate.

Equality of opportunity doesn’t mean treating everyone equally. Those who start at a disadvantage would require more help.

But policies which provide equality of opportunity generally allow those who make the effort to get the rewards.

If you aim for equality of outcomes, it encourages people to sit back and get rewards without troubling themselves with the effort.

Equality of opportunity is reasonable and desirable. Equality of outcome is radical left.

Red-Green split over oil


The political year hasn’t even warmed up and already there’s a major policy difference between Labour and the Green Party whose support it will need if it’s to have any chance of leading a government.

. . . While Prime Minister John Key is busy building coalition bridges, David Cunliffe today dynamited a big one on the left.

He has announced a Labour-led government will carry on deep sea drilling off New Zealand’s coast even though its most powerful partner, the Greens, are vehemently opposed.

“We are not opposed in principle to deep-sea oil exploration – be very clear about that. We want to work with the industry,” says Mr Cunliffe.

The Greens still say they are “against” the idea. . .

Helen Clark could have invited the Green Party into coalition but chose not to for good reason.

Two of her other coalition partners – Peter Dunne and Winston Peters – were strongly opposed to being in the same government as them.

And Green policies were far too far to the left.

While Cunliffe has been trying to out-red the Greens, at least to his supporters, the Green Party still has a lot of hard-line left policies.

Many of these anti-progress and one of the strongest is opposition to oil use and extraction.

Cunliffe has fired a shot across the Green’s bow.

But he knows that unless Labour gets a substantial increase in its own support it won’t have any chance of governing without Green Party support in one form or another.

No bang, just recycled whimper


Labour and its leader finished 2013 having made no real progress in the polls in months.

They’d said and done nothing to excite people as they headed on holiday making it essential that they started the year with a bang.

Instead of that Cunliffe delivered a recycled whimper.

Whoever came up with this strategy needs to do some serious rethinking.

All it’s done is put the focus on policies which failed three years ago, remind us Cunliffe was the Finance spokesman when they were developed, and provide the opportunity to question the party’s grasp of economics.

January 23 in history


971 – In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han were soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops. The Southern Han state was forced to submit to the Song Dynasty, ending not only Southern Han rule, but also the first regular war elephant corps employed in a Chinese army that had gained the Southern Han victories throughout the 10th century.

1368  Zhu Yuanzhang ascended to the throne of China as the Hongwu Emperor, initiating Ming Dynasty rule over China that lasted for three centuries.

1510  Henry VIII, then 18 years old, appeared incognito in the lists at Richmond, and was applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity.

1556 The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hit Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.

1570  The assassination of regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray threw Scotland into civil war.

1571 The Royal Exchange opened in London.

1579 The Union of Utrecht formed a Protestant republic in the Netherlands.

1656 Blaise Pascal published the first of his Lettres provinciales.

1719 The Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire.

1789  Georgetown College, the first Roman Catholic college in the United States, was founded.

1793 Second Partition of Poland: Russia and Prussia partitioned Poland for the second time.

1813 Camilla Collett, Norwegian writer and feminist, was born  (d. 1895).

1832  Edouard Manet, French artist, was born (d. 1883).

1849  Elizabeth Blackwell the USA’s first female doctor, was awarded her M.D. by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York.

1855 John Moses Browning, American inventor, was born (d. 1926).

1855 A magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit the Wellington region.

Massive earthquake hits Wellington region

1855  The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened.

1870 U.S. cavalrymen killed 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.

1897  Sir William Samuel Stephenson, Canadian soldier, W.W.II codename, Intrepid. Inspiration for James Bond., was born (d. 1989).

1897 Elva Zona Heaster was found dead.The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.

1899 Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as President of the First Philippine Republic.

1904 Ålesund Fire: the Norwegian coastal town Ålesund was devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead.

1907 Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American U.S. Senator.

1912 The International Opium Convention was signed at The Hague.

1920  The Netherlands refused to surrender ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to the Allies.

1943 Troops of Montgomery‘s 8th Army captured Tripoli from the German-Italian Panzer Army.

1943  World War II: Australian and American forces defeated the Japanese army in Papua. This turning point in the Pacific War marked the beginning of the end of Japanese aggression.

1943 Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall  for the first time.

1948  Anita Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.

1950 – The Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

1951 Yachts left Wellington bound for Lyttelton in an ocean yacht race to celebrate Canterbury’s centenary.  Only one, Tawhiri, officially finished the race. Two other yachts, Husky and Argo, were lost along with their 10 crew members.

Disastrous centennial yacht race begins
1951 – Chesley Sullenberger, Captain of US Airways Flight 1549, a flight that successfully ditched into the Hudson River, was born.
1957  Princess Caroline of Monaco, was born.
1958 Overthrow in Venezuela of Marcos Pérez Jiménez

1960 The bathyscaphe USS Trieste broke a depth record by descending to 10,911 m (35,798 feet) in the Pacific Ocean.

1964 The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, was ratified.

1973 President Richard Nixon announced that a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam.

1973 A volcanic eruption devastated Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar chain of islands off the south coast of Iceland.

1985 O.J. Simpson became the first Heisman Trophy winner elected to the Football Hall of Fame.

1986  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first members: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

1997 Madeleine Albright became the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State.

2003 Final communication between Earth and Pioneer 10

2009 Dendermonde nursery attack in Dendermonde, Belgium.

2010 – Protests took place in 60 Canadian cities against the prorogation of the 40th Canadian Parliament.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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