Word of the day

February 1, 2014

Cafuné, – (Portuguese) – to tenderly run your fingers through someone’s hair; to run your fingers through your mate’s hair in an affectionate manner; head caress.


Rural round-up

February 1, 2014

Sock-less shoe idea gets $30k kickstarter – Daniel Lynch:

Tim Brown’s sock-less woollen running shoe idea is one step closer to being a commercial reality after the startup’s wildly successful crowdfunding campaign.

It took just over 24 hours for Brown’s fledgling company Three Over Seven to reach its $30,000 target on crowd funding site Kickstarter.

So far, more than 290 people from around the world have backed the Wool Runners idea each pledging a small financial contribution – and that figure could grow much higher by the end of the month-long funding push.

The former All White’s and Phoenix soccer player said the goal of hitting $30,000 from the Kickstarter campaign was the breakeven point to get the shoes into production.

“It has required an investment of well into the six figures to get to this point with our fabric production and the legal costs of patent filing,” Brown said.

The shoes are made from mid-micron New Zealand sheep’s wool, utilising a patent pending process comprising of knitting together wool fibres, melt-bond fibres, and multifilament yarn to form a unique knitted fabric. . .

Rare Wairarapa forest protected for all to enjoy:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced the Nature Heritage Fund has purchased of seven hectares of rare kahikatea forest on the Wairarapa Plains for $340,000.

“The giant trees that can be seen for miles on the Wairarapa Plains are now guaranteed for everyone to enjoy,” Dr Smith says.

“This area of forest known as Allen’s Bush is next to the 42-hectare Lowes Bush Scenic Reserve, which was purchased by the Fund in 2000. The latest purchase will see the nearby kahikatea forest also protected as a scenic reserve.

“Allen’s Bush is distinctive for the size of its trees, its maturity and ecological diversity. The forest is also home to a number of species uncommon elsewhere in the Wellington region, including a number of native birds, long-tailed bats, and koura and freshwater crayfish in the creeks and pools. . .

High commodity prices boost Synlait’s profit – Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk will have a much higher profit this year than it expected just a few months ago, and some of the credit goes to Fonterra.

Mostly it is a result of very high dairy commodity prices and Synlait’s mix of products.

However, Fonterra’s mix of products has led to a situation where Synlait and the other small competitors are having to pay less for their milk than they would otherwise.

They could pocket the difference as profits, NZX Agrifax dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said. . .

Milk powder exports to China leads to high export levels in 2013:

Milk powder exports, particularly to China, dominated the total goods exported for the year ended December 2013, Statistics New Zealand said today. This led to many new record highs, such as export values for the month, quarter, and year for the grouping milk powder, butter, and cheese.

“For 2013, the value of goods we exported rose by $2.0 billion – to reach $48.1 billion – and most of this increase was from milk powder,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “Almost half of our milk powder exports went to China.”

Goods exported to China in the year ended December 2013 were valued at $10.0 billion, of which $4.0 billion was milk powder. This is the highest-ever value of milk powder exported to China for any year. . .

Manawatu shows how rural banking works – Lucy Townend:

New Zealand is an agri-commerce powerhouse in the eyes of our Asia-Pacific neighbours, with Manawatu proving to be the best example.

An international delegation got the inside scoop on New Zealand’s agricultural sector this week, touring farms, banks and questioning industry experts in Palmerston North.

As part of a Massey University pilot programme, bank managers and policy makers from the Philippines, India and Bangladesh travelled to New Zealand for first-hand experience of financing in the farming sector.

The trip is part of a programme, led by Massey’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (Pace) and the Centre for Training and Research for Agricultural Banking (Centrab). Nearly 60 institutions are involved, including top central and commercial banks, as well as government departments, in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. . .

New rules to help minimise livestock injury risk:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is introducing new rules which will reduce animal welfare risks in the nation’s livestock – particularly in the dairy sector.

Hardware disease is the perforation of the stomach wall by sharp metal fragments.  It is known to occur in animals fed with contaminated Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) which is imported into New Zealand 

PKE is an animal feed that is important to New Zealand farming.  It is used to supplement feed especially during a drought.

The new rules will be issued by a notice under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicine (ACVM) Act 1997.  These will set the minimum requirements for screening PKE and outline record keeping and traceability requirements for all imported animal feeds, . .

Heading back to school:

As children head back to school, Rural Women NZ  hopes 2014 will be the year when state-of-the-art signage will be approved for use on school buses to help remind passing motorists that ‘Either Way It’s 20K’.

Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan, says “The 20kmh speed limit in both directions must be one of the most flouted rules in the Road Code, often because drivers are simply unaware of the law, or don’t notice they’re passing a school bus until it’s too late.

“We are calling for illuminated 20K signs to be approved for use on school buses.”
During 2013 Rural Women NZ took part in an extensive trial in Ashburton, along with TERNZ Ltd and NZTA, to alert drivers that they’re about to pass a school bus and of the need to slow right down, called ‘Either Way it’s 20K’. . .

Saturday’s smiles

February 1, 2014

Answering machine message:

“I am not available right now,  but thank you for caring enough to call.

I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep.

If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes.”

~~~~~

Aspire to inspire before you expire.

~~~~~

My husband and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.

~~~~~

Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.

~~~~~

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.

~~~~~

The irony of life is that, by the time you’re old enough to know your way around, you’re not going anywhere.

~~~~~

God made man before woman so as to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.

~~~~~

I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder to find one.

~~~~~

Every morning is the dawn of a new error.


Helping forward vs holding back

February 1, 2014

The contrast between policies of left and right have been well illustrated in the past week.

National’s education policy announced by Prime Minister John Key is designed to help people go forward.

The Green Party then released its education policy which had very little to do with improving educational achievement and addressing the long tail of under achievers and a lot to do with welfare.

Labour’s policy was also mostly about welfare, whether or not the recipients are in need of it.

Like most policies from the left they didn’t address the causes of any problems and Labour’s policy would remove the incentive for beneficiaries to seek work.

For all the pious words about caring for the poor, the opposition has fought tooth and nail against every move National has made in the area which will do the most to reduce poverty in the long term and that’s get people off welfare and into work.

In spite of the trenchant opposition to its reforms, National has implemented them and they’re working:

Comprehensive welfare reforms introduced over the past year are delivering strong results, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“We’re seeing positive developments as we implement welfare reforms to help more New Zealanders move from welfare into independence.”

“Our first priority has always been to either divert young people from entering the welfare system at all, or supporting them off benefit quickly,” says Mrs Bennett.

There are currently around 3,000 teen parents and 16 and 17 year olds on benefits, almost every single one is now under money management.

That means a specialist youth provider works with them to ensure their bills are paid directly, before grocery money goes on a payment card, with up to $50 in the hand. They can’t use the card to buy cigarettes or alcohol.

“Evidence clearly tells us young people who go on benefit, are at the greatest risk of staying there long term over their lives.

“Under the old welfare system, a fistful of cash was essentially handed to teenagers – hundreds of dollars – and they were just left to get on with it,” says Mrs Bennett.

Around the world, countries are grappling with the issues of young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training and this Government is focused on solutions that work for New Zealand.

This Government has reached out and managed to re-engage with 9,000 young people classed as NEET and connected them to Youth Services even if they don’t go on a benefit.

“I’m proud to say we now have 63% of those 9,000 young people actually in education.

“The best possible outcome for these young people is to re-engage in education because without that, their job prospects are seriously limited,” says Mrs Bennett.

Other changes to the welfare system include stopping benefits to those on the run from police. Beneficiaries are given fair warning to clear outstanding warrants for their arrest or their benefit will be suspended.

So far more than 1,000 warrants have been cleared as a result of this policy.

A change that was introduced as part of Future Focus reforms in 2010, and continued under the new system, is a requirement to reapply for the Jobseeker Support (formerly Unemployment) Benefit after one year.

Since Jobseeker Support was established in July last year, around 4,500 Jobseeker benefits have been cancelled during the reapplication process.

More than a third of those cancellations were due to the fact individuals had already found work and a further 37% didn’t bother to fill in the form.

Another new policy was designed to incentivise people making the decision to proactively move from welfare to work before they are required to.

The Work Bonus allows people to keep some of the benefit for the first few weeks in a new job.

So far, more than 2,500 people have received the Work Bonus, the vast majority of whom were sole parents moving into work.

“Every week more than 1,500 people move off welfare into work and we’re backing every one of them,” says Mrs Bennett.

Via @[12635800428:274:John Key] - Our welfare reforms are working: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43009

Many of these people have needed a lot of support and have overcome significant challenges to get and keep a job:

“Twenty-four year old James has battled brain cancer and is legally blind, but none of that has dented his incredible determination to work,” says Mrs Bennett.

James has received a Supported Living Payment (previously called Invalid’s Benefit), since he was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 18.

People on this benefit are not required to work.

“With the help of his family and friends, James found a removal company prepared to offer him 20 hours of work a week, working in the storeroom.

“After a referral from a specialist health and disability provider, Work and Income negotiated a wage subsidy with James’ employer to allow them to stretch to providing more hours.

“This determined young man is now working 30 hours a week.  I’m in awe of his motivation to work despite his many challenges and the fact that there is no requirement for him to do so.

‘I’m told his boss is really impressed with James’ attitude and motivation and plans to keep him on long-term,” says Mrs Bennett.

This employer indicated that the job subsidy has made a big difference with meeting the costs of training and support to help James on the job.

The Government supports around 7,000 people a year through wage subsidies which allow employers to take on staff who may require extra support.

There are currently more than 3,300 people on Supported Living Payment who are working part time.

Under new welfare reforms, the name of this benefit was changed and while there is a new streamlined process for new applications, the entitlement and qualification rules remained the same.

“Without question, the welfare system is there to support those in genuine need and New Zealanders with serious disabilities and terminal illnesses should be provided support without onerous paperwork.

“We also have a responsibility to support anyone on this benefit who wants to work; it is a basic right to be able to participate in work like anyone else,” says Mrs Bennett. 

Notes: People assessed as legally blind may continue to receive a benefit while working.

Benefit dependence is one of the biggest pointers to poor social, educational, health and financial outcomes.

Opposition policies don’t recognise this and would keep holding people back.

National’s policies do recognise this and are helping people move forward.

 

 


Priorities

February 1, 2014

While much of the focus this week has been on Labour and its leader David Cunliffe’s  lackadaisical approach to accuracy in policy announcements the government and Prime Minister John Key have been focussing on what matters:

This week I delivered my annual Statement to Parliament, outlining National’s priorities for 2014.
We have a busy year ahead.

National is continuing with its plan to build a faster-growing economy with more jobs and rising incomes.
Our goals for 2014 reflect our four priorities.

The first priority is responsibly managing the Government’s finances. After inheriting long-term projected deficits and increasing debt from the previous Government, National has reined in spending.

This hard work is paying off. The Government’s books are on track to show a budget surplus in the 2014/15 financial year.

We are also making great progress against our second priority – building a more competitive and productive economy.

New Zealand continues to stand out amongst other developed countries. Our economy has been growing at 3.5 per cent, wages are growing faster than inflation, and there are 53,000 more people employed now than there were a year ago.

We are delivering better public services. Recorded crime is at a 33-year low, welfare reforms are supporting people off welfare and into work, and patients are receiving elective surgery sooner.

And we remain committed to rebuilding Canterbury. The Government’s contribution to the rebuild is set to total about $15 billion, and there are many exciting anchor projects under construction this year.

So there is a lot to do, and it is important we continue to lock in and protect the gains we have made so far.

The government has done a lot but the job is by no means finished.

This year voters have a choice.

There’s a National-led government which will protect the hard-won gains and build on them.

Or or there’s the prospect of Labour, the Greens, Mana and whichever other parties they need who will undo the good and take the country back to the high tax, high spending policies of the noughties which put New Zealand into recession long before the rest of the world.


10/10

February 1, 2014

10/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.


Saturday soapbox

February 1, 2014

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse, amuse or bemuse.

No, not that one.


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