Issues that matter


He’s referring to Labour MP David Clark’s suggestion that the government bans Facebook.

Perhaps Andrei is right and Labour is trying to throw the election.


Speech from the heart, solutions from experience


Every now and then an MP makes a speech from the heart.

Today John Banks did that.

He also offered solutions to the problem of poverty, based on his own experience as a victim of it.

Word of the day


Agathism -the doctrine or belief that all things tend or incline towards ultimate good , although the intermediate means may be evil.

Rural round-up


Synlait hikes annual profit forecast on value-add earnings growth, unsure on Chinese sales target – Paul McBeth:

Jan. 28 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy Food as a cornerstone shareholder, will beat its annual profit forecast by as much as 77 percent on earnings growth, though might miss its sales target for infant formula into China due to stricter regulations.

The Rangiora-based company anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July, it said in a statement.

Synlait lifted its forecast milk payout to between $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and $8.40/kgMS from $8/kgMS previously as global dairy prices climbed, but is reaping earnings growth from its value-add products and a favourable product mix, chairman Graeme Milne said. . .

Sheep farming area now a dairy melting pot – Mike Crean:

The old mail box has the name Inniskillen stencilled on the front. Beside it are nine small, modern mail boxes. To Dick Davison, they illustrate the greatest social change in the history of North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin.

It is the change from an aristocracy of established sheep farming families to a multi-cultural society of dairy farmers, managers, labourers and sharemilkers. The change is greater even than the transformation caused by breaking up the large estates a century ago, Davison says.

He and wife Liz bought his family’s farm, Blakiston, across the road from Inniskillen, in 1976. Recently they sold most of it, retaining an elevated block where they have built their dream house. . .

Honey price tipped to rise:

Beekeepers are struggling through one of their most challenging seasons, with cool temperatures and wind significantly slowing honey production.

National Bee Keepers Association president Ricki Leahy said the weather so far this summer had been exactly what the bees did not thrive in.

“We have hives down the West Coast and it has certainly been a miserable summer down there, really,” Mr Leahy said.

“The main problem we have with unsettled weather is the bees need to build up a momentum to get a good honey flow going.

“You also need that constant heat to get the nectar in the flowers … so everything depends on a nice, long stretch of fine weather.” . . .

Little risk in biocontrol insects:

An international study into the use of introduced insects to control weeds has found little evidence of them going wrong.

Dr Max Suckling of Plant & Food Research said there had been concerns about introducing non-native insects as weed biocontrols because of the risk of them attacking non-targetted plants.

But Dr Suckling said their worldwide survey of more than 500 insect biocontrol cases, dating back more than 150 years, had found few examples of them causing serious damage to other plants. . .

China pays up big for Australian cattle – Warwick Long:

Australian dairy and even beef farmers are making the most of Chinese demand for live cattle.

China’s dairy industry killed two million cows last year as smaller subsistence farmers left in droves on the back of high meat prices.

The price of an Australian six-month-old dairy heifer for live export has risen by over $400 in just a couple of months.

Independent livestock agent Darren Askew says farmers are now earning over $1,350 per animal.

The trade of dairy cattle to China is a volatile market, which has been this high before and then crashed. . .

What inspires a young man to become a dairy farmer – Milk Maid Marian:

We received an unusual phone call the other week. A vet student with no family connections to dairy, Andrew Dallimore rang out of the blue saying he was keen to become a dairy farmer and wondered if he could ask us a few questions.

Well, what a series of questions! What were the challenges we faced becoming dairy farmers, why did we choose it, the ups and downs, where we look for knowledge and what are the pros and cons of raising children on a farm? At least, these are the ones I remember. And he took notes.

It felt like being at confessional, somehow. You have to be totally honest with someone so earnestly and diligently researching his future. Wayne and I were both immensely impressed, then gobsmacked when he offered to do a few hours work on the farm with the payment of just our thoughts and a banana! . . .

Cow burps and farts cause explosion


Methane gas released by dairy cows has caused an explosion in a cow shed in Germany, police said.

The roof was damaged and one of the cows was injured in the blast in the central German town of Rasdorf.

Thanks to the belches and flatulence of the 90 dairy cows in the shed, high levels of the gas had built up.

Then “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames” the force said in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency. . . 

Is there an alternative energy opportunity in this?

Instead of all that methane going to waste and creating the potential for explosions, could it be harnessed to produce electricity?

Is it Cunliffe of Conliffe?


This could well be because he can’t credibly explain how he’s going to pay for the baby bribe.

He tried yesterday but the figures don’t add up:

Labour Leader David Cunliffe needs to explain why he has tried to con the New Zealand public and front up about where the money would come from for his planned big spend-up, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Mr Cunliffe has been deliberately pulling the wool over the eyes of the New Zealand public by cancelling two Labour policies last week and saying that gives him $1.5 billion a year to spend,” Mr Joyce says.

“His press release of 22 January specifically states: ‘This decision frees up around $1.5 billion per annum’.

“Then yesterday, in attempting to say where the money would come from, he said: ‘Labour has recently confirmed we will no longer be proceeding with a Tax Free Zone or the GST exemption for fresh fruit and vegetables. This decision will save around $1.5 billion per year. The Best Start package will cost significantly less than this’.

“The only problem is he is completely wrong on both counts.

“There is no GST off fruit and veges in the country’s books to save, and no tax-free threshold to take out, so cancelling them doesn’t save anything.

“There are only two possibilities here: Mr Cunliffe is either deliberately trying to pull the wool over New Zealanders’ eyes; or he doesn’t understand the most basic accounting.

“Late yesterday he started to advance the possibility that other things could pay for it. The short answer is he has no idea.

“The country has rightly become very cynical about Labour’s big spending habits, and has spent five years digging out of them.

“Mr Cunliffe needs to be straight-up about spending taxpayers’ money.” . . .

New Zealand went into recession before the global financial crisis because of Labour’s high tax, churn and spend policies.

The road to surplus has been more difficult and public debt is higher because National swallowed some dead rats to continue some of the middle income welfare.

Labour hasn’t learned from that.

It wants to not only continue middle income welfare, it wants to extend it to upper income families.

Even if that was a good idea – and it isn’t – the only way to pay for it is to increase taxes, increase borrowing and/or cut spending somewhere else.

Cunliffe missed the e off the end of Lorde’s name in a tweet yesterday. He said it was a typo.

It wouldn’t be a typo to change the u in his name to an o it would be more a Freudian slip – Conliffe is the appropriate name for someone who’s trying to con the electorate.

Name and shame truants


Parliamentary truants are going to be named and shamed:

Lazy MPs will have their attendance recorded – and made public – from today.

Parliament has adopted a roll call to show how many MPs – who earn at least $147,800 a year – turn up for debates, select committees and other business.

And as well as being named and shamed, those who skip more than three sitting days will have their wages immediately docked by 0.2 per cent. For a backbencher this would be $295.

MPs also face suspension if the Speaker judges their absences “grossly disorderly conduct.” . . .

Clerk of the House of Representatives Mary Clark yesterday sent out a memo to all MPs reminding them of the new rule, which was agreed to early last month.

Attendance will be recorded by the Serjeant-at-Arms or committee clerks. An MP must have attended a debate in the House, a select committee meeting, participated in an inter-parliamentary relations programme visit or some other kind of approved “official business”.

Permission to be absent must be granted by a party leader, whip or the Speaker.

The names of absentees without permission will be published in a weekly journal.

In the memo Harris warned: “Simply being within the parliamentary precincts does not constitute attendance.” . . .

Not being in parliament doesn’t necessarily mean MPs are being lazy.

They do have other public responsibilities and roles.

The Prime Minister and Ministers have gruelling schedules all around the country, and the world. Senior opposition MPs need to get outside Wellington too, and all MPs will have commitments in their electorates which don’t always fit round the parliamentary timetable.

But Tuesdays to Thursdays are sitting days and most MPs should be there for most of that time.

How much is enough?


A living wage for a family of two was, until yesterday, supposed to be $18.40 an hour.

Inflation must be raging because after the announcement by Labour leader David Cunliffe, promising $60 a week to people who have a baby, a living wage for a family with just one child has risen to $75 an hour or $150,000 a year.

Only those who earn more than that won’t be eligible for $60 a week when they have a baby.

It would be very difficult to argue against giving children the best start possible, but how much is enough to do that?

The first year of a child’s life isn’t the most expensive in terms of providing for her or his needs.

You need equipment – a cot, bedding, buggy, high chair, car seat, clothes, napkins, books, toys . . .

However, nothing apart from the napkins has to be new – they can be bought second hand or borrowed.

Once you’ve got them, if you’re willing and able to breast feed, there’s no cost for food for the first few months and not much after that.

The biggest cost is income forgone if one parent chooses to be a full-time parent and in spite of social and financial pressure to return to work, many women and some men don’t while their children are young.

Most will have saved before they had children and all will have decided that the time and energy they can devote to their children is worth more to them and their family than anything they can earn.

All will make financial sacrifices to do this but they will have worked out that they have enough.

How much that is will be different for each family and when it’s their money it’s their business.

But Labour is planning to spend our money on its $60 a week for every baby which makes it our business.

It is not paid parental leave – parents in work will get the same as those who stay at home, until the combined income gets to $150,000.

There’s no requirement for it to be spent on the baby.

It is a no-strings-attached gift to new parents, whether they need it or not.

If it was targeted at the very poor to ensure they had enough, it would be difficult to argue against.

But it’s not targeted – unless the 95% of new parents who earn less than $150,000 can be called targeting.

It’s an almost universal payment that isn’t based on need, and it gives an equal amount to those who have too little and those who have more than enough.

How much is enough is debatable – but families earning well above the average income are getting too much to need welfare like this.

This man earned a Speights


The archetypical Southern man is supposed to be tough – and this is tough:

James Grant had barely caught his first fish when a shark plunged its teeth into his leg.

He had just entered the water at Garden Bay near Cosy Nook in Southland on Saturday when the next thing he knew a shark was wrapping its jaws around his leg.

And he’s got the holes in his wet suit and his leg to prove it.

“It was pretty well latched on, I was just trying to get it off.”

But Mr Grant, 24, a junior doctor, gave as good as he got – stabbing what he believed was a type of seven-gill shark, with his diving knife as he tried to get it to unlatch.

“I sort of just fought the shark off. The shark got a few stabs. The knife wasn’t long enough though,” he said.

When Mr Grant managed to get rid of the shark he tried to get the attention of his three friends, who were spearfishing just around the bay. But his mates did not take him seriously.

“I thought surely he hasn’t been bitten, there’s no way he has been bitten, he’s got to be taking the p…,” Mackley Lindsay said.

But he wasn’t, instead he sat on the shore stitching his own leg.

His friends carried on fishing while Mr Grant tacked the wounds together with a needle and thread from his first-aid kit for his pig-hunting dogs.

“I’m pretty happy I had such a thick wet suit on too,” he said.

Friend Jim Robins downplayed the event at the time. “He was walking so it couldn’t have been that bad,” he said.

However, his friends did do him a favour – taking him to the tavern in Colac Bay before the hospital.

The pub at Colac Bay served him a beer alongside a few bandages to stop his leg from dripping blood on the carpet. . .

I hope the beer was a Speights, he’d earned it.

Is this a cue for Good on ya mate?

Best stop Best Start before it starts


You’re both working full time in unskilled jobs. You’re only just better off doing that than being on a benefit because of Working for Families and a grandmother who takes care of the children after school. You’re still renting but trying hard to save a deposit for a house.

How would you feel about people earning up to three times what you do because they have a baby?

You’ve just graduated. You want to pay off your student loan as quickly as possible, you need to buy a car, you’re earning $75,000 and it will be a couple of years before you get much more.

How would you feel about paying more tax than you need to so a whole lot of people earning up to twice your salary can get $60 a week because they have a baby?

You’ve just bought your first house. You’re paying off the last of your student loans and servicing a mortgage. The house is a doer-upper and every spare moment either of you have is spent doing it up because you can’t afford to pay anyone else to do it.

How would you feel about some of your tax going to pay $60 a week to people living in a far newer, bigger, better  house than yours, and earn far more than you do, because they have a baby?

You’ve got a couple of preschoolers. One of you works full-time, the other part-time. You’re servicing a mortgage, trying to save for much-needed alterations to your house and put a bit away for travel, retirement and contingencies.

How will you feel knowing some of your tax is paying $60 a week to people earning the same as and more than you, because they have a baby?

You’ve got a couple of teenagers. You earn a bit too much to get anything near $60 a week from Working For families. You’re servicing a mortgage, trying to save for your retirement while feeding, clothing, educating and entertaining your teens.

How would you feel about some of your tax paying $60 a week to people earning more than twice what you do because they have a baby?

You raised your children before Working for Families was introduced and never claimed welfare even though at times you’d have been better off on a benefit than in work. You’re still working, saving for your first overseas holiday and your retirement.

How would you feel about some of the money you earn and could well use towards your retirement going in tax to pay $60 a week to people earning far more than you ever have or will, because they have a baby?

You worked hard all your life, raised your family without anything to spare for extras and went without to save a nest egg for your retirement.

How would you feel about some of the tax you pay going to pay $60 to people who have and earn far more than you ever could just because they have a baby?

If you’d feel aggrieved, you’d be justified because Labour’s Best Start is a corruption of what welfare should be.

It isn’t based on need.

It’s redistribution but it’s not just taking from those who have more than enough to go to those with too little.

It will be taking for people who don’t have enough and going to people who have far more.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said in his speech:

. . . we will be unashamedly asking the wealthiest few percent of income earners to contribute to giving all Kiwi kids the best start.

But increasing tax on incomes over $150,000 is very unlikely to cover the cost of this policy.

Even if it did, it will be paying many people money they don’t need when it could be used to pay for other things the tax on those on much lower incomes has to cover.

This is a very expensive bribe which will give some more than they need while others still don’t have enough.

It’s not a best start it’s bad policy and the best way to stop it before it starts is to vote against the parties supporting it.

January 28 in history


1225 Saint Thomas Aquinas, was born (d. 1274).

1457  King Henry VII, was born (d. 1509).

1521 The Diet of Worms began.

1547 Henry VIII died. His nine year old son, Edward VI became King, and the first Protestant ruler of England.

1573 – Articles of the Warsaw Confederation were signed, sanctioning freedom of religion in Poland.

1582  John Barclay, Scottish writer, was born (d. 1621).

1624 Sir Thomas Warner,  founded the first British colony in the Caribbean, on the island of Saint Kitts.

1706 John Baskerville, English printer, was born  (d. 1775).

1724 The Russian Academy of Sciences was founded in St. Petersburg by Peter the Great, and implemented in the Senate decree.

1754 Horace Walpole, in a letter to Horace Mann, coined the word serendipity.

1813 Pride and Prejudice was first published in the United Kingdom.

1820 – Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich discovered the Antarctic continent approaching the Antarctic coast.

1827  French explorer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville sailed the Astrolabe through French Pass and into Admiralty Bay in the Marlborough Sounds.

D'Urville sails through French Pass

1833 Charles George ‘Chinese’ Gordon, British soldier and administrator (d. 1885).

1841 Henry Morton Stanley, Welsh-born explorer and journalist, was born (d. 1904).

1855 The first locomotive ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the Panama Railway.

1857 William Seward Burroughs I, American inventor, was born (d. 1898).

1863 Ernst William Christmas, Australian painter, was born (d. 1918).

1864 Charles W. Nash, American automobile entrepreneur, co-founder Buick Company,  was born  (d. 1948).

1864 – Herbert Akroyd Stuart, English inventor of the hot bulb heavy oil engine, was born (d. 1927).

1871 Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Paris ended in French defeat and an armistice.

1873 Colette, French writer, was born (d. 1954).

1878 Yale Daily News became the first daily college newspaper in the United States.

1887  Arthur Rubinstein, Polish pianist and conductor, was born (d. 1982).

1887  In a snowstorm at Fort Keogh, Montana, the world’s largest snowflakes were reported, being 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) thick.

1890 Robert Stroud,  American convict, the Birdman of Alcatraz, was born (d. 1963).

1896  Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent became the first person to be convicted of speeding. He was fined 1 shilling plus costs for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thus exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).

1901 Wellington blacksmith, William Hardham, won the Victoria Cross – the only New Zealander to do so in the South African War.

Hardham wins VC in South Africa

1902The Carnegie Institution was founded in Washington, D.C. with a $10 million gift from Andrew Carnegie.

1909 United States troops left Cuba with the exception of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after being there since the Spanish-American War.

1912  Jackson Pollock, American painter, was born (d. 1956).

1915 An act of the U.S. Congress created the United States Coast Guard.

1916 Louis D. Brandeis became the first Jew appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

1917 Municipally owned streetcars began operating in the streets of San Francisco, California.

1918  Harry Corbett, English puppeteer (Sooty), was born(d. 1989).

1921 A symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was installed beneath the Arc de Triomphe to honor the unknown dead of World War I.

1922 Knickerbocker Storm, Washington D.C.’s biggest snowfall, causes the city’s greatest loss of life when the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater collapses.

1929 Acker Bilk, English jazz clarinetist, was born.

1933 – The name Pakistan was coined by Choudhary Rehmat Ali Khan and is accepted by the Indian Muslims who then thereby adopted it further for the Pakistan Movement seeking independence.1934 The first ski tow in the United States begins operation in Vermont.

1935 David Lodge, English author, was born.

1935 Iceland became the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion.

1936 Alan Alda, American actor, writer, and director, was born.

1938 The World Land Speed Record on a public road was broken by driver Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes-Benz W195 at a speed of 432.7 kilometres per hour (268.9 mph).

1943 Dick Taylor, English musician (The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things), was born.

1944 Susan Howard, American actress, was born.

1955 Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, was born.

1958The Lego company patented their design of Lego bricks.

1964 A U.S. Air Force jet training plane that strayed into East Germany  was shot down by Soviet fighters near Erfurt ; all 3 crew men are killed.

1965  The current design of the Flag of Canada was chosen by an act of Parliament.

1977 The first day of the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977, which severely affected and crippled much of Upstate New York, but Buffalo, NY, Syracuse, NY, Watertown, NY, and surrounding areas were most affected, each area accumulating close to 10 feet of snow on this one day.

1980 USCGC Blackthorn (WLB-391) collided with the tanker Capricorn while leaving Tampa Florida and capsizes killing 23 Coast Guard crewmembers.

1980  – Nick Carter, American singer (Backstreet Boys), was born.

1981 Ronald Reagan lifted remaining domestic petroleum price and allocation controls in the United States helping to end the 1979 energy crisis and begin the 1980s oil glut.

1981 Elijah Wood, American actor, was born.

1982 US Army general James L. Dozier was rescued by Italian anti-terrorism forces from captivity by the Red Brigades.

1985 Supergroup USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa) records the hit single We Are the World, to help raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.

1986 Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart after lift-off killing all seven astronauts on board.

2002 TAME Flight 120, a Boeing 727-100 crashed in the Andes mountains in southern Colombia killing 92.

2006 – The roof of one of the buildings at the Katowice International Fair in Chorzów / Katowice, Poland, collapsed due to the weight of snow, killing 65 and injuring more than 170 others.

2010 – Five murderers of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh: Lieutenant Colonel Syed Faruq Rahman, Lieutenant Colonel Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Major AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Major Bazlul Huda and Lieutenant Colonel Mohiuddin Ahmed were hanged.

2011 – Hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged Egyptian streets in demonstrations  against the Mubarak regime, referred to as “Friday of Anger” .

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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