Saying it with flowers

February 20, 2014

Cameron Slater sent Annette King a bunch of flowers for publicising his blog in parliament yesterday.

Her response was less than gracious:

. . . “I’ve always enjoyed receiving flowers, and it was nice to be thanked by Cameron for promoting his blog. But I think his blog must be in financial trouble because it’s the most miserable bunch of flowers I’ve ever received. The flowers will not require me to put them on my Pecuniary Interests register.” . . .

Ms King said it did show that Mr Slater at least had a sense of humour.

Apropos of flowers and humour, Duncan Garner attempted to end Gerry Brownlee feud, sends Valentine’s Day flowers:

The year started sour between Duncan Garner and Minister Of Lots Of Things Gerry Brownlee. The Earthquake Recovery Minister flatly refused to appear on Drive.

When pressed in Wellington, Brownlee replied there was no issue with Garner.

“I think it’s a lover’s tiff, I’m expecting champagne and roses any time,” he smirked.

So today, being Valentine’s Day, Duncan sent him a gift (picture 1 below). Gerry received the present and is very happy about the present.

He has also sent us a picture of him with his gift for Garner. Though, the gift itself is yet to arrive.

Happy Valentine’s Day Gerry!

The photos show the bunch of red roses and box of chocolates Garner sent the Minister and him with the single bloom and heart-shaped chocolate he was sending in return.

 

 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2014

4.9 billion reasons why our primary industries rock:

An expected $4.9 billion surge in New Zealand’s primary exports confirms why CNBC labelled New Zealand a ‘rock star’ economy. The announcement came at the Riddet Institute’s Agri-Food Summit.

“It is significant that Riddet Institute’s co-director, Professor Paul Moughan, said New Zealand has great farmers, great processor/marketers and great scientists,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“Professor Moughan said we stand on the cusp of a revolution and we agree. We now feed an estimated 40 million people around the world and the world is crying out for our primary exports.

“Increasing global prosperity is arguably behind the Ministry for Primary Industries now forecasting an expected $4.9 billion uplift in our primary exports. It is now expected primary exports for 2013/14 will be worth $36.4 billion. . .

Pigging out proves profitable – Jamie Morton:

How do you stop truckloads of unsaleable food from going to the dump – and turn it into something useful? Put a few thousand piggies in the middle.

Each day at the Ratanui Development Company, near Feilding, two trucks deliver around 20,000 litres of whey, to be gobbled up by 8300 pigs.

This by-product of cheese-making – along with other foods such as bread, yoghurt, cheese and dog biscuits – make up about 40 per cent of its hungry hogs’ diet.

“When you drill down on the volume of stuff that these pigs eat, it usually blows people away,” farm director Andrew Managh said.

But more impressive is the idea of what this novel factory-to-farm approach could mean for recycling in New Zealand. The huge piggery is one of 23 farming operations partnered with Auckland-based EcoStock Supplies, which claims its unique business model could dramatically slash the burden on the country’s landfills by millions of tonnes each year. . .

Last stand a fund farewell – Sally Rae:

They’re called simply The Last Stand.

When shearing identity John Hough decided to make his last stand before retiring and contest the national shearing sports circuit, some of his mates decided to accompany him.

Mr Hough, who is soon to turn 70, was joined by Johnny Fraser, of North Otago, Robert McLaren (Hinds), Rocky Bull (Tinwald), Tom Wilson (Cust), Gavin Rowland (Dunsandel), who is also chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand, and Norm Harraway (Rakaia). . .

Standout season for rodeo rookie – Sally Rae:

Omarama shepherd Katey Hill has had a stellar rodeo season with her young quarter-horse Boots and is leading the national Rookie of the Year title in barrel racing.

But after such a busy season, with a lot of time spent on the road, Miss Hill (22) made the decision, due to Boots’ young age, to ”pull him back a bit” and finish the season on a quiet note.

She said she was heading to the North Island for several rodeos this month, but was borrowing a mount, and Boots was staying at home on the farm. . .

China grapples with food for fifth of world:

Feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population is no easy feat – and the Chinese government says farming methods will have to be overhauled if it’s going to feed its 1.3 billion people in the future.

A visiting senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive on Tuesday that while agricultural productivity has been increasing, Chinese farming is facing hurdles in producing its own food. . .

A dog’s life focus for photographer – Sally Rae:

Andrew Fladeboe describes working dogs as the ”most noble of creatures”.

That passion for dogs – and photography – has led American-born Mr Fladeboe to travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright fellow.

He was awarded the grant to photograph working dogs and he will work with the University of Canterbury to understand the dogs from social, historical and cultural perspectives.

When it came to selecting a country in which to undertake the fellowship, Australia or New Zealand stood out. . .


Thursday’s quiz

February 20, 2014

It’s your turn to ask the questions again.

You don’t have to follow the 5-question format I usually use.

An electronic box of stone fruit is on offer to anyone who stumps us all.


Positive prospects for primary exports

February 20, 2014

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has released a report showing primary sector exports are expected to bring in nearly $5 billion more than forecast for this year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has updated the Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries Forecast Update for January 2014.

It reveals an upward trend for agriculture, forestry, and fishing exports by $4.9 billion to $36.4 billion for the year to 30 June 2014.

“This is more economic good news, and shows how the primary industries continue to underpin the New Zealand economy.

“It’s very pleasing to see dairy sector returns forecast to rise by $2.7 billion in 2013/14, and a $1.2 billion increase in meat exports over the same time. 

“Growth in these sectors is being helped by rapidly growing demand in emerging markets, and supply constraints in our major competitors.

“The report shows that global demand for sheep meat has risen as China is consuming more, and demand is recovering in the United Kingdom. 

“Log prices also increased by 30 percent in the second half of 2013 and forestry firms are expected to take advantage of higher international prices by increasing harvest volumes. This will lead to an additional growth in returns of $0.8 billion in 2013/14.

“As a Government we’ve set a goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025 and this is another big step towards that. It will be important to build on this growth through the Primary Growth Partnership, encouraging irrigation and water storage, progressing free trade deals, new roads and RMA reform.

“It is very telling that all of these policies to support our most productive industries are opposed by Labour and the Greens. This gives provincial New Zealand a clear choice to make at this year’s election,” says Mr Guy.

Farmers and the poeple who service and supply then are very concerned about the prospect of a change of government this year.

The rest of the country should be too.

The booming primary sector isn’t just good for those in the industry, it’s good for the whole economy and the social services which depend on it.

There’s a link to the full report here.


Another bad week for Labour

February 20, 2014

Labour’s had another bad week.

David Cunliffe lurched into loony territory with suspicions that the Government’s paying someone to keep tabs on other Party leaders, following revelations of Winston Peters visiting the Dotcom mansion.

Then he asked a photographer to delete a potentially embarrassing picture had to make an apology.

This was followed by the news that some TVNZ employees have been using their employer’s premises for  Labour Party activities.

And then Cunliffe did the peculiar my-house-isn’t-as-big-as-his about which Danyl at Dim Post writes:

. . . (I keep seeing people on my twitter feed demanding to know the difference between Shane Taurima and, say, Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. I think the main difference is that if Mike Hosking wanted to set up a fundraising operation inside TVNZ the National Party wouldn’t let him because it would look terrible and destroy his career).

But it was a clip from another TV3 story the same night that’s really haunting me. Here’s a screen-grab of Labour leader David Cunliffe standing in front of a super-luxury yacht company explaining that his $2.5 million dollar mansion is just a ‘do-up’, after criticising Key for living in a nice house.

It’s hard to compress so much failure into a single image. Up to now I’ve felt that the outcome of the election is too close to call. The sides are pretty even, small changes at the margins could have huge impacts on the results. But my gut feeling now is that Labour’s support will collapse and National will win a third term. It feels like a replay of the 2011 election in which Labour keep doing baffling, stupid things and then demand to know why the media is biased against them and how anyone could like John Key. People don’t want idiots running their country.

Among the comments in response to this are:

My thoughts exactly. Labour’s refusal/inability to accept returning to government is not a divine right is getting really irritating. . .

So it’s not a triad of evil born from the GCSB, Cameron Slater and John Key that is destroying the righteous partnership of Kim Dot Com and David Cunliffe. Bugger me. . .

. . . Well there was a theory that Cunliffe was a smart operator. Indeed I thought all the “gaffs” he made that helped undermine Shearer were all actually very clever political ploys. Now I just think he hasn’t a clue and they were all just bumbling gaffs that worked out for him. . .

. . .

I guess the trouble is, have a well-to-do Harvard educated former consultant now technocrat masquerading as a working-man populist was always going to be somewhat of a gift to the NP startegists. It’s pretty hard to set the agenda when you can be easily painted as part of the problem.

Unfortunately the only other leadership options to date have been careerist jobsworths, who think they’re owed a living by the proles.

I think Danyl is on the money though – this feels like the moment that the LP blew it.

People looking for the problem need look no further than this thread: It’s the media’s fault, it’s Crosby Textor, it’s some sort of conspiracy…No it really isn’t. Labour just needs to stop being idiots. Until people are prepared to take a critical look at their own party and stop blaming everyone else, nothing will change. . . .

Sanctuary, stop trying to blame the media for the cock ups of Cunliffe and the Labour Party. What’s happening is the Labour Party is simply demonstrating what we all know deep down. Labour has neither the talent and policies nor the fitness to govern at the moment. . .

I popped in to see the Young Nats at Otago University’s O-Week tent city on Monday and asked a visiting MP how things were.

She said the contrast between MPs in parliament was palpable.

National MPs were united and positive, when she looked over to the other side of the House the body language was clear – Labour is divided and disheartened.

Whaleoil has another example of this:

. . . A mate of mine who travels a lot has noticed a distinct difference between National MPS and Labour MPs. He sits in the Koru lounge in Wellington and Auckland and observes.

He has noticed that Labour MPs operate in cliques. When other caucus members walk in or past they rarely acknowledge each other, in fact disdain is the most prevalent demeanour. There is real and palpable hostility between some members of the caucus.

In contrast National MPs have a more collegial atmosphere, holding court and joking and enjoying each others company. There is a stark difference.

National look and act like a winning team.

Labour look and act like petulant school children with no apparent teamwork unless forced by media arrangements to grin and bear the company of their peers

I think all of this shows that Labour and in particular David Cunliffe are in a deep malaise…so deep they cannot survive it. . . .

If this isn’t bad enough, Chris Trotter writes of the canaries in the mine  as The Daily Blog’s poll shows the Green Party overtaking Labour:

. . . For the first time that I could recall the Greens were in the lead – and there was nothing narrow about it. Labour hadn’t simply been dislodged into second place, it was running third behind the National Party. Overnight the Greens had moved from a rough parity with Labour to a 2:1 advantage.

I shook my head in disbelief. It had to be a rogue result. But this morning, when I checked, there it was again, a practically identical result. Greens 32 percent; Labour 22 percent; National 21 percent; Mana 9 percent; Internet Party 5 percent; Act 4 percent; NZ First 4 percent; Conservatives 2 percent; Maori Party 1 percent; United Future 0 percent.

Okay! I know, I know! There’s nothing in the least bit scientific about this sort of on-line poll. The 382 participants in the survey were all self-selected and the Daily Blog’s audience is a very long way from being representative of the wider New Zealand population.

But, don’t you see, that’s the whole point! If you exclude the National Party types getting to “know thy enemy”, the people who regularly read The Daily Blog, are overwhelmingly more Left than Centre. If Labour has shed 10 percentage points from the readership of this blog, its most sympathetic of audiences, how long can it be until the big, media-commissioned polls – Colmar Brunton, Reid Research, DigiPoll – all register a similar sudden collapse of Labour support among the general population?

Isn’t it highly likely that the readers of The Daily Blog are playing the role of the canary in a coal mine? Wouldn’t you expect an audience of such ideological sensitivity to register much earlier than the rest of the population Labour’s infuriating and increasingly obvious inability to win the 2014 election? . . .
Call it the wisdom of crowds. Announce that we’ve reached a tipping point. Put it down to a change in thezeitgeist. However 2014 is later explained by the political scientists, I want the readers of The Daily Blog – the canaries in a coal mine – to remember that they were the ones who succumbed to the gaseous exhalations of Labour’s political decomposition long before anybody else.

That poll wasn’t scientific but the Fairfax Media-Ipsos one was and it had more bad news for Labour and its leader:

. . . Prime Minister John Key is by far our most liked and trusted politician, with 59.3 per cent of people liking him, and 58.7 per cent also trusting him.

Key is also well ahead of his opponents as preferred prime minister on 51.2 per cent.

Labour leader David Cunliffe appears to be more polarising, with those who like and trust him, and those who don’t, falling into roughly equal camps. His rating as preferred prime minister is just 18.2 per cent.

The bad news for Cunliffe is that only Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom are more disliked. Harawira and Dotcom are also the least trusted. . .

To top it off,  while the party isn’t responsible for the electoral fraud of one of its local body candidates,  the sentencing of Daljit Singh is another bad news story in a bad week for Labour.


More money not always solution

February 20, 2014

When National won the 2008 election it inherited Labour’s forecast of a decade of deficits.

Careful management has turned that round in spite of the economic and natural disasters with which the government has had to deal.

The careful balance between economic management and provision of services to those in need was explained during question time yesterday:

3. SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki – King Country) to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government balancing its focus on responsibly managing its finances with addressing some of the most challenging social issues facing vulnerable families?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government has been clear since it became the Government that the 50 percent jump in Government spending in the 5 years to 2008 was unsustainable. In setting a path back to surplus, we rejected the option of aggressively cutting spending. Instead, we took the time to understand the drivers of existing spending and whether the spending was delivering results, and to ensure that results were delivered. At the same time, we put significant resourcing and effort into improving the lives of the most vulnerable New Zealanders, particularly children. We are not doing that by throwing taxpayers’ money around indiscriminately. We are attempting to resolve the complex and persistent problems that mean some of our children have lives that sap their sense of opportunity.

Shane Ardern: What are some of the social issues the Government is addressing to improve the lives of the most vulnerable New Zealanders?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has set out what it believes those social issues are, but, more than that, it is publishing results in order that the public can hold us and the public service to account for achieving something for the most vulnerable New Zealanders. The Better Public Services targets are particularly challenging because they cover some of New Zealand’s most persistent problems, like long-term welfare dependency, vulnerable children and the amount of violence that they suffer, the need to build skills and employment so these young New Zealanders have real opportunities, and also crime reduction and making our communities safer. Overall, we are making good progress towards meeting these results and further updates will be published tomorrow.

Shane Ardern: What kinds of social issues affecting the most vulnerable New Zealanders did this Government inherit in 2008?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: There were a number of long-standing social issues making the lives of New Zealanders miserable in 2008. They are set out clearly in the Salvation Army’s state of the nation report of February 2008. It said: “The social outcomes which we as New Zealanders have achieved over the past five years”—that is, under the previous Labour-led Government—“were somewhat mixed and in some areas quite disappointing.” The report noted that in 2008 more children appeared to be at risk of harm, more young people were engaged in petty crime, there was more violent crime, and the number of people going to jail was rising at a significant rate. I do not think that any of those trends could be seen as progress. The Salvation Army noted in 2008 that New Zealand households were chronically indebted.

Shane Ardern: What else do reports say about the serious social challenges facing New Zealanders when this Government took office, and particularly the fiscal policy approach to dealing with those issues?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Salvation Army said in its report in 2008 that perhaps the most disappointing aspect was that New Zealand had invested huge amounts of money in core areas of social spending but the spending seemed to have contributed very little to New Zealand’s social progress. This was not said by the then Opposition’s spokespeople; this was from the people from the Salvation Army. The report listed billions of taxpayers’ dollars that had been spent, and then listed many indicators that were going backwards—rising numbers of referrals to Child, Youth and Family Services, more children in Child, Youth and Family Services care, rising youth offending, rising teenage pregnancy and abortion rates, continuing educational inequality, and early childhood enrolment rates lower than 65 percent. Funnily enough, in 2014, almost all of these indicators are turning positive, when the Government has been very careful about its spending but instead has focused on its effectiveness.

It’s an issue of quality rather than quantity.

More money isn’t always the solution to social problems.

While the Labour-led government of the noughties spent more social indicators worsened.

By looking at causes and focussing on effectiveness the government is achieving more without throwing taxpayers’ money into a black hole where it makes no difference.


February 20 in history

February 20, 2014

1339 – The Milanese army and the St. George’s (San Giorgio) Mercenaries of Lodrisio Visconti clashed in the Battle of Parabiago.

1472 Orkney and Shetland were left by Norway to Scotland, due to a dowry payment.

1547 Edward VI was crowned King of England.

1792 The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, was signed by President George Washington.

1810 Andreas Hofer, Tirolean patriot and leader of rebellion against Napoleon’s forces, was executed.

1835 Concepción, Chile was destroyed by an earthquake.

1872 New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened.

1873 The University of California opened its first medical school.

1887 Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada, was born (d. 1967).

1901 – The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.

1906 Gale Gordon, American television and radio actor, was born  (d. 1995).

1909 Publication of the Futurist Manifesto in the French journal Le Figaro.

1913 King O’Malley drove in the first survey peg to mark commencement of work on the construction of Canberra.

1924 Gloria Vanderbilt, American socialite and clothing designer, was born.

1925 Robert Altman, American film director, was born (d. 2006).

1927 Ibrahim Ferrer, Cuban musician (Buena Vista Social Club) was born, (d. 2005)

1927 – Sidney Poitier, American actor, was born.

1935 Caroline Mikkelsen became the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.

1941  Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer, was born.

1942 Lieutenant Edward O’Hare became America’s first World War II flying ace.

1943 – The Parícutin volcano in Mexico erupted.

1950  Walter Becker, American guitarist (Steely Dan), was born.

1951 Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

1952 Emmett Ashford became the first African-American umpire in organised baseball.

1954 Yvette Williams won a gold medal for the long jump at the Olympics.

Yvette Williams sets world long jump record

1962 Mercury programme:  John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in 4 hours, 55 minutes.

1965  Ranger 8 crashed into the moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo programme astronauts.

1976 The Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation disbanded.

1989 An IRA bomb destroeds a section of a British Army barracks in Ternhill, England

1991  A gigantic statue of Albania’s long-time dictator, Enver Hoxha, was brought down in the Albanian capital Tirana, by mobs of angry protesters.

1998 American figure skater Tara Lipinski became the youngest gold-medalist at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

2002 In Reqa Al-Gharbiya, Egypt, a fire on a train injurds over 65 and killed at least 370.

2003 During a Great White concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a pyrotechnics display sets the club ablaze, killing 100 and injuring over 200 others.

2005 Spain became the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.

2010  – Heavy rain caused floods and mudslides,  on Madeira Island leaving at least 43 dead in the worst disaster on the history of the archipelago.

2013  – The smallest Extrasolar planet, Kepler-37b was discovered.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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