Word of the day

March 10, 2014

Zalatwic (Polish) – the use of friends, bribes, personal charm or connections to get something done.


Sept 20 election?

March 10, 2014

Ipredict has  a 95% probability of  a September 20 election.

I have no inside knowledge on this, but the sooner, the better for me.


Rural round-up

March 10, 2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go – Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  – Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity – Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Crooked answer to straight question

March 10, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe finished last week as he started it – looking decidedly tricky.

Labour leader David Cunliffe helped with the purchase of a $4 million beach retreat for a wealthy businessman who later secretly donated to the MP’s leadership campaign.

When the Herald on Sunday asked Cunliffe two weeks ago about the four-bedroom, 200sqm house at Ti Point, overlooking the Omaha holiday home of Prime Minister John Key, he said he had nothing to do with the sale.

Cunliffe said he had no beneficial interest in the property, and his wife Karen had simply played a legal role with the trustee company which bought the property.

If he was not telling the truth, Cunliffe said, “you can have my testicles for garters”. . .

Real estate agent Lorraine Mildon said Cunliffe had been involved in the purchase, and had visited the property.

Cunliffe returned to the property shortly before Waitangi Day last year, she said, on behalf of a friend who was in America.

“He didn’t buy it. His friend did. He came and looked at it on behalf of his friend but he didn’t sign the agreement.” . .

This weekend, Cunliffe told the Herald on Sunday that he and Keenan had been “long-standing personal friends” since working together at Boston Consulting Group in Auckland in the early 1990s. He and Keenan visited the property at 41 Tairere Rd on Ti Point when it was on the market last summer.

Cunliffe acknowledged making two visits, though he could not initially recall how many, when they were, or whether Keenan was there.

Cunliffe said he first visited with Keenan, who wanted to buy the property, but the gate was locked. “We weren’t able to get on to the property.”

Keenan returned to the US, but Cunliffe went back to Ti Point with his wife and children to inspect the house. . .

Cunliffe did not disclose his visits when the Herald on Sunday inquired about it on February 22. This weekend, he said he had checked his recording of the interview and he had truthfully answered questions about any beneficial ownership of the property. “If you had asked me whether I had visited the property, then my answer would have been yes,” Cunliffe said.

It all depends on how you define involved.

The real estate agent says he was, he thinks he wasn’t.

The silly thing is that there is nothing untoward about what Cunliffe did to help his friend.

It’s what looks like prevarication in his answer that’s the problem.

There wouldn’t have been a story if he’d answered fully instead of what looks like evasively when asked.

He told the truth but not the whole truth.

He was asked a straight question by a journalist and gave a crooked answer and consequently once more he’s left looking tricky.


Treating causes

March 10, 2014

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says there has been a rise of almost 1500 per cent in places on drug and alcohol treatment programmes for prisoners since 2008.

This financial year over 3,700 prisoners will have access to treatment for their addictions, rising to 4,700 next year, up from just 234 in 2007/08.

The Government has expanded the number of specialist Drug Treatment Units in prisons from six to nine, while there has been a fourfold increase in places at the Units. In addition, since last year all prisons have introduced brief and intermediate treatment programmes and Northland and Auckland Women’s have begun intensive support, as part of the drive to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

Corrections has so far reduced reoffending by 11.8 per cent, resulting in 8668 fewer victims of crime each year.

“The revolution in offender rehabilitation is going from strength to strength in the key areas of addiction treatment, education and skills training,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Support for prisoners tackling drug and alcohol abuse is just common sense, as we know that these addictions are a major driver of crime.

“All prisoners are now screened for alcohol and drug problems when they enter prison, which allows staff to make appropriate decisions on the amount of support required. This means that every prisoner now undergoes screening for addictions, health, mental health and education when they enter a facility.

“The latest analysis shows that over half of the current prison muster has problems with drug and alcohol.

“The vast majority of prisoners are released back into communities. If we can give them the opportunity to change their lives around while inside prison, and access education and employment skills training, then they will have the tools to stay away from crime when they are released.

“This will make our communities safer, and ensure we reach our target of 18,500 fewer victims of crime each year by 2017.”

This is treating the causes of crime not just the symptoms.

Drug and alcohol abuse are two of the biggest contributors to crime.

Addressing those while people are in prison is one of the best ways to equip prisoners for life outside and reduce re-offending.
Photo: Helping prisoners turn their lives around means less reoffending and safer communities for all New Zealanders: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43249


If party didn’t want her, why would electorate?

March 10, 2014

Lesley Soper, the woman Labour didn’t really want to run for Invercargill, has been selected as its candidate.

The Labour Party reopened nominations for the Invercargill electorate in January, citing the retirement of National MP Eric Roy.

A selection meeting held yesterday saw her go up against Michael Gibson.

About 200 members of the Labour Party and unions affiliated to it attended the meeting and a floor and panel vote both opted for Ms Soper. . .

Mr Gibson, who had previously said he wanted to rejuvenate Labour in Invercargill and overhaul the party, could not be reached for comment last night.

Labour was happy for Soper to do the donkey work in a contest they knew she couldn’t win against Eric Roy.

When he stood down they thought the electorate might be more winnable so re-opened the selection.

They struggled to get anyone to put a hand up and, locals tell me, got someone at the 11th hour.

Several weeks later they’ve finally held a selection and chosen the woman they showed they weren’t confident was the best one to run against a new National candidate.

This begs several questions:

* If she wasn’t the preferred candidate in January, why is she in March?

* Was she chosen because she was the best of the two nominated, or because she’s a woman and the other wasn’t?

* If the Labour wasn’t really confident about Soper representing the party, how can the people of Invercargill be enthusiastic about her representing their electorate?

* Why didn’t the party prepare the unsuccessful candidate for a comment?

* If a party can’t run a selection smoothly how can it run the country?

Labour has handicapped its candidate from the start.

Meanwhile Sarah Dowie, National’s candidate, selected by the members in the electorate with no influence from head office, unions or anyone else, has the support of her party and is working hard to win the support of the electorate.


How would Labour keep interest rates down?

March 10, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe is threatening to tinker with the Reserve Bank Act:

. . .Mr Cunliffe said he believed in an independent central bank but Labour would make changes to the Reserve Bank Act that would lead to lower interest rates.

“On average, over time, it is our very clear view that interest rates would be lower. On average house mortgages would be lower under our monetary policy.”

“There would be additional tools that the Reserve Bank could use – macro-prudential and other tools – that would help stabilise high interest rates. . . .

What are those tools and how would they work?

Two of the biggest influences on interest rates are inflation and government spending.

Policies Labour’s announced so far would fuel inflation and require more government spending.

Rather than tinkering with the RBA, Labour would be better to rethink its policies and develop ones which would dampen inflation and curtail spending.

It’s probable that the official cash rate, and consequently interest rates, will rise soon. But they will still be well below the 11% we were having to pay when Labour lost office in 2008.

Are they going to spell out how they’d do much better next time they’re in government, or will it be a matter of wait-and-see for details which is all they’re offering with their power policy?

Photo: Labour’s been challenged for more details about its far left power policy with the Greens. The answer – ‘wait ’til after the election’. Is that okay with you? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11214563


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