Aint no way to treat a lady

February 3, 2014

Labour now has two people seeking to be the party’s candidate in Invercargill:

. . . Michael Gibson will challenge Lesley Soper for the position, in what the party have dubbed ”democratic process”.

The two will need to pull together party member votes before a selection panel makes the final decision.

New Zealand Labour Party regional representative Glenda Alexander said contest was healthy for democracy.  

”We know people were looking for a change in the area, this is a chance for someone to front up and put their money where their mouth is,” Ms Alexander said. 

The uncharacteristic decision to reopen nominations could be perceived as a breach of the democratic process, she said. 

”We really wanted to make sure things were more transparent this time …we were criticised for rushing the nominations before Christmas.”   

Michael Gibson’s nomination was received on Thursday evening by Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett in the ”nick of time”, a spokesperson said. 

Mr Gibson said he had not considered nominating before the first round closed late last year, but after the only candidate was informally announced in early January, he thought he could offer something different. . .

Democracy and democratic principles are mentioned four times in 15 paragraphs of the story suggesting the party is on the defensive of a process which looks anything but democratic and is paying scant regard for democratic principles.

Labour bought itself an argument it didn’t need to have with its policy of a quota for female candidates.

It had one in Invercargill who had done the hard work of standing before but in an act which shows no regard for her re-opened nominations.

The message in that is they thought she was good enough to stand when she didn’t have a hope of winning against incumbent MP Eric Roy, but she’s not good enough  to contest the seat against a new candidate now he’s announced he’s retiring.

Helen Reddy might well sing, that ain’t no way to treat a lady.

It’s also not a good way to run a selection.

If Soper is selected she’ll handicapped with the reputation of the one the party didn’t think was good enough.

If Gibson wins, he’ll start from behind as not man enough to stand against Roy nor troubled by the ethics of trampling over someone who will be justified in feeling aggrieved at the way she’s been treated by a party not nearly as loyal to her as she is to it.

There is no doubt a popular local candidate like Roy attracts votes from people who wouldn’t vote for his party but National will be selecting a candidate by the truly democratic method of voting by members in the electorate.

He or she will start the campaign without the handicaps of internal party machinations.

S/he will have been selected without interference from the party hierarchy and with both the backing of the locals and the determination to do the hard work necessary to earn the votes to hold the seat for National.

 


English to step down as Feds CE

February 3, 2014

Conor English has announced he’ll be stepping down from the role of chief executive of Federated Farmers.

. . . “In July this year, I would have been at Federated Farmers for six years as Chief Executive Officer, which, I believe, is a good length of time. Along with the almost three and a half years I worked at Feds in the 1990s, my total time at Feds is almost 10 years! 

“I am very proud of what the whole Federated Farmers team has achieved over that time. 

“I grew up in a household that talked a lot about the three “P’s” – the Prime Minister, the Pope and the President of Federated Farmers. 

That’s a great line, and not altogether said in jest.

It has been a great privilege for me to lead this organisation in the capacity of CEO and to serve our fantastic farmers and rural community.

“2014 will be a year of change and excitement for me,” Mr English said.

The President of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills, commented:

“We have reluctantly accepted Conor’s resignation and appreciate him giving us six months notice of his departure to enable a smooth transition to a new Chief Executive,” Bruce Wills said.

“Conor has achieved much in his time as CEO and we will miss his energy, talent, skill and experience. . .

“This year is a big year for Federated Farmers with both our own internal board elections and of course the General Election.

 It will be a year of major change with this resignation and Wills and several board members stepping down at the AGM.

Will and English have been good leaders for the organisation.

They’ve worked hard to build bridges and find common ground with all sorts of other groups and individuals, without compromising the best interests of farmers and the wider rural community for whom they’ve been strong advocates.

They will leave the organisation in good heart.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2014

Wairarapa Farmer wins NZ Rural Wetland Champion 2014 award:

Combining good farming practices with proactive steps to look after the wetlands on their beef and dairy farm, has earned the Donald family in the Wairarapa, the title of “National Rural Wetland Champion for 2014”.

To celebrate World Wetlands Day 2014 (Sunday February 2) the National Wetland Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) worked with regional councils around the country to find New Zealand’s most wetland-friendly farming families.

Wetlands are important to maintaining a healthy environment, playing a key role in water purification and flood control. Protecting wetlands and minimising the impact of farming on these ecosystems benefits everyone. . .

Tighter PKE screening welcomed:

Federated Farmers is pleased 4mm is being proposed as the minimum screening mesh for Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) entering New Zealand.

“From 21 April, when the screening is set to commence, confidence in PKE as an imported animal feed should improve,” says Bruce Wills, the President of Federated Farmers.

“PKE is a recycled waste by-product of Palm Oil production. It does not drive that industry’s demand, just as plastic recycling does not drive demand for petrochemicals.

“If PKE isn’t used as supplementary animal feed, it is otherwise composted, burnt as waste and even sold as fuel for furnaces. . . .

Minister marks World Wetlands Day:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today marked this year’s World Wetlands Day with the launch of a new stamp in the Game Bird Habitat Collection Series.

“The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme is aimed at raising funds to protect and enhance the habitat of our game birds. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to enable New Zealanders to give direct support to a great cause,” Dr Smith says.

The 2014 stamp features the pukeko, painted by landscape and wildlife artist Jeanette Blackburn, and the background habitat on the stamp is the Para Wetland in Marlborough. As well as the stamp, this year’s collection includes other related items such as a miniature sheet, first day cover and a limited edition signed Artist Print.

The items are sold through New Zealand Post to collectors and also used by Fish & Game to endorse hunting licences, with the funds raised going towards habitat conservation projects.  . . .

Inventor off to Cologne trade fair – Mark Price:

The Lake Hawea man who developed the what he branded the ”Slammertool” is taking it to what he calls the hand tool equivalent of the Olympics.

T. J. Irvin will attend the 142,000sq m international hardware fair Eisenwarenmesse in Cologne, Germany, from March 9-12.

”That No8 wire mentality New Zealand prides itself on – Eisenwarenmesse is the Olympics of that.”

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would rather be at the Winter Olympics in Sochi but could not turn down an invitation to put his multi-purpose Slammertool up against the world’s best new tools – even though the trip will cost him $44,000. . .

Synlait’s John Penno explains the company’s success – Jamie Ball:

In the first of a two-part NBR ONLINE interview, primary industries reporter Jamie Ball talks to Synlait’s John Penno on how and why it currently all seems to be going so right for the Dunsandel-based milk company.

Canterbury-based Synlait group was founded in 2000. In February 2013, Synlait Farms and Synlait Milk were separated. Synlait Milk floated last July and is now 39.12%-owned by Chinese company Bright Dairy, 8.4% by Japan’s Mitsui & Co, and 7.5% by Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina. Synlait Milk’s IPO offer price, announced in July, was $2.20. Earlier this week, shares were trading at $3.82, a gain of 74%, valuing the company at $560 million. On January 28, Synlait Milk announced an increase of its forecast milk price for the FY2014 season from $8.00 per kg/MS to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kg/MS.The company also lifted its advance rates for the season effective from January, to be paid February, from $5.00 per kg/MS to $6.40 per kg/MS. Synlait Milk 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. . .

 

Synlait Milk joins board of leading industry body:

Canterbury dairy product manufacturer Synlait Milk has joined the Board of the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), allowing it to take a greater leadership role in industry issues.

INC, which represents 95% of the infant formula industry in New Zealand and Australia by volume, has welcomed Synlait to the new role and says the move will benefit both consumers and the industry.

“Synlait Milk is a fantastic New Zealand company, we are delighted to have them join our Board,” INC Chief Executive Jan Carey said.

“The Infant Nutrition Council is firmly committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of New Zealand’s infant formula industry. . .

 

Why Australians should support farmers during drought: NFF – Brent Finlay:

A recent editorial on drought assistance (Australian Financial Review 17 Jan 2014  “Don’t subsidise low rainfall”) raised the valid question – should Australians support farmers during drought?

In short, the answer has to be ‘yes’ if Australians want their high-quality food and fibre to continue to be produced on Australian soil.

A Productivity Commission report in 2009 concluded that the Interest Rate subsidies of the past did not necessarily reward farmers who were the best prepared for the droughts – an unavoidable feature of farming in Australia. As a result, it was the Gillard Labor Government, not Barnaby Joyce, as your editorial incorrectly suggested, that introduced concessional loans as a business restructuring support mechanism during severe downturns.

Additionally, it’s incorrect to say the Abbott Government ignored the PC report, or the need for fundamental shifts in the way drought support is structured, when extending this measure to cope with the rapidly deteriorating climatic conditions it faced upon election. . . .

US billionaire Foley may buy Martinborough Vineyard:

(BusinessDesk) – American billionaire Bill Foley may add to his wine interests in the Wairarapa region with the acquisition of pinot noir pioneer Martinborough Vineyard Estates.

Foley, through NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines, hasn’t yet gone through the due diligence process and isn’t at the stage of agreeing a price for the Martinborough vineyard, said chief executive Mark Turnbull. The parties are aiming to complete the transaction by March 31.

The business would add to the Te Kairanga Wines company, just down the road in the town of Martinborough that Foley acquired in 2011. Foley has been expanding his wine interests while building what Turnbull has called a vertical integration strategy which has included taking a 24.9 percent stake in celebrity chef Simon Gault’s Nourish Group restaurant chain. . .


All votes equal

February 3, 2014

I don’t expect everyone to share my political views and respect others who have the courage of their convictions, whether or not they agree with mine.

What frustrates me is people who vote without understanding what they’re doing.

It’s a frustration shared by Paul Henry:

. . . “The problem with the democracy is that everyone’s vote counts the same as everyone else. I think it is diabolical that someone who doesn’t give a shit about politics, has no interest in it, doesn’t care, can go into the polling booth and nullify my vote through their own pig-ignorant stupidity,” he said.

If Henry ran the country (his 1999 foray into politics for the National Party in Wairarapa left him unelected) there would be a test at the beginning of the ballot paper to determine a voter’s intellectual capability to participate in democracy. A three-question, multi-choice quiz to establish a minimum knowledge of the system.

“And if you can’t get those three questions right, there is no way you can make an even vaguely intelligent independent decision on who should form the next government. It would be nice if people could upskill,” he said. . . .

I’ve often said that people should have a comprehension test before they’re allowed to vote – but only tongue in cheek.

If you’re free to vote you’re free to vote in ignorance or to not vote at all.

But could – and should – more be done to ensure people are better informed and engaged so that they can vote more intelligently?

I don’t know of any data on why people vote the way they do but Statistics NZ has found that the most common reason for not voting at all was they didn’t get round to it, forgot or weren’t interested.

Non-voters in 2008 and 2011 general elections: Findings from New Zealand General Social Survey shows 21 percent of people who didn’t vote in the 2011 General Election ‘didn’t get round to it, forgot or weren’t interested’.

A further 7 percent didn’t vote because they felt their vote wouldn’t make a difference. It’s interesting to see that this group has nearly doubled since the 2008 General Election, according to NZGSS manager, Philip Walker.

Age, income, and migrant status also made a difference to voting behaviour. Younger people were less likely to vote – 42 percent of people aged between 18–24 years said they didn’t vote in the 2011 General Election.

“People who feel they don’t have enough money to meet their daily needs are also less likely to vote,” Mr Walker said.

Whether people are migrants, and how long they have been in New Zealand also made a difference to their voting behaviour. Recent migrants had low voting rates, while migrants who had been in New Zealand for longer periods had very similar voting behaviour as people born in New Zealand.

The report is welcomed by the Electoral Commission, which is concerned about New Zealand’s declining voter participation.

“Declining voter engagement in our Parliamentary democracy is a problem that affects all of us and it will take a national effort to turn this worrying trend around,” Robert Peden, Chief Electoral Officer, said. “This research will further increase understanding of the problem, which is a necessary step in finding solutions.”

It’s not just a matter of quantity but quality.

We should be concerned not just about how many people vote but that they do so in an informed manner with a good understanding of what they’re doing.

I am sure one of the reasons people are disenchanted by politics and politicians is that they don’t understand them.


Better use

February 3, 2014

Universal benefits ensure no-one misses out.

But they also ensure those in most need don’t get enough because people who have more than enough get money they don’t need.

As Kerre McIvor puts it:

I suppose if you live in the leafy suburb of Herne Bay and you’re on an Opposition leader’s salary of nearly $263,000 – topped up with whatever salary your clever wife brings home – you might assume that those on $150,000 are wondering where their next bottle of pinot gris is coming from. But most people – including the 150k-ers – would surely think the money could be put to better use.

It’s not just the people on $150,000, it’s all the others former Finance Minister inelegantly described as rich pricks.

The so called living wage which the left have adopted as gospel is around $38,000 for a couple with two children.

Labour’s baby bonus has substantially inflated that.

In doing so it would spread money too thinly, giving to those more than capable of looking after themselves and their families which would leave too little for those in genuine need.


Better at eating than growing

February 3, 2014

Colin Espiner sums up the root of New Zealand’s problems:

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them.

Any party which promises to spend more and tax more without growing more and which is more focussed on eating the pie than growing it will give us more than economic indigestion.

New Zealand’s growth is good by international comparisons but its fragile and its young.

We need sustained growth and responsible policies which promote that or we’ll be right back where we were at the end of Labour’s last term in government – in a recession of our own making.

 


Diving into debt

February 3, 2014

One of the biggest priorities of the next government, whatever its colour, should be to use predicted surpluses to pay down debt as quickly as possible.

But Labour hasn’t learned from its profligate spending during the noughties.

Its promises so far show it will be diving into our pockets through higher taxes to  pay for its higher spending.

The inevitable consequence of that is diving into higher debt – private and public.

tremain


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