Word of the day

March 12, 2014

Batrachomyomachy – a tempest in a teacup, making a mountain out of a molehill; petty quarrel.; the battle between the frogs and mice, a comic epic or parody of the Iliad.


Word of the day

March 12, 2014

Appetency – an eager desire; longing; instinctive inclination;  natural bond; attraction.


Rural round-up

March 12, 2014

Three top dairy farms open to the public: see for yourself:

The public are being invited to see for themselves real dairy farms in action, in this case, finalists for the 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award for Dairy.

“Given what’s been in the media over the past 24-hours, this is frankly the best antidote,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“It is an opportunity to see three top-performing dairy farms in action tomorrow, Friday and next Wednesday.

“This is also a chance to talk to the trustees, the farm managers and the organisers of this fantastic competition.  Above all, it’s a genuine opportunity to use your Mark I eyeball and see for yourself what a modern dairy farm is and perhaps, what it isn’t. . .

Fine over quad bike death:

Share-milking company Holden Farms Limited has been fined $28,125 and ordered to pay reparations of $75,000 after a farm hand died last year when the quad bike he was riding rolled on top of him.

Holden Farms pleaded guilty in the Tokoroa District Court to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Gary Tantrum.

Mr Tantrum died one year ago tomorrow while he was mustering cattle on a farm at Mangakino in Waikato. His quad bike rolled while he was riding up a steep slope. It fell on top of him, crushing him causing fatal injuries. . .

Rural contractors need to bone up on employment obligations:

Agricultural contractors need to ensure they are on top of their all employment and health and safety obligations, according to Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ)

“Our industry is working hard to encourage and attract good people into the sector,” says RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton. “It is all very well having a top-of-the-line tractor, but it is not much use if there is nobody to drive it!”
He says one way of ensuring that both employers and employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and obligations is to have written employment agreements in place.

“It is actually a requirement of employment law to have EAs and these should be signed before any work begins.” . . .

Life after Cloudy Bay: New Kiwi classics (and barely a single Sauvignon Blanc among them) – Olly Smith:

I’m just back from the vineyards of New Zealand.

You don’t need me to tell you about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which has hordes of fans.

You’ll know Cloudy Bay, but try Greywacke (pronounced Greywacky) by Kevin Judd, winemaker at Cloudy Bay for two decades. Outstanding.

And breaking out from Sauvignon Blanc, how about the spine-tingling Paddler Grüner Veltliner, Kumeu  River Chardonnay, Vinoptima’s exotic Gewürztraminer, or the world-class reds of Craggy Range in Martinborough?

Otago in South Island is showing glimpses of world-class Pinot Noir. . .

Cloudy Bay vineyard leads oyster season globally:

This year, two of New Zealand’s finest local luxuries Cloudy Bay Pelorus and freshly shucked oysters will be served together as a first of the season food and wine pairing. From 10 March, 19 of New Zealand’s top restaurants will be taking part in the launch of Cloudy Bay Pelorus & Oysters. The delicious crisp palate and creamy complexity of Cloudy Bay Pelorus is the perfect wine match for the taste of freshly shucked Bluff oysters.

Joining New Zealand, top restaurants in Australia including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will also take part in this new Cloudy Bay culinary experience. Diners will be able to indulge in perfectly chilled Cloudy Bay Pelorus, served by the glass or bottle with freshly shucked bluff oysters served over ice in a custom made Cloudy Bay wooden crate. . .


Labour’s wrong again

March 12, 2014

Labour is claiming that current government debt is worse than it was under Sir Robert Muldoon.

But they’re wrong again.

In cash terms, Labour is right.

But to base such a claim on the cash figure is economically and financially illiterate.

Firstly, inflation means the dollar value of the amount concerned – $52 billion – is rather different in 2014 compared to 1984.

But that is not the most important thing.

Anyone with an ounce of financial nous knows debt should never be viewed in isolation. An 18-year old will, typically, be carrying much less debt than a typical 38 year old but the 38-year old is usually better off financially because of assets to offset that debt.

And so it is with government debt. The key figure is debt as a proportion of GDP: here, government debt is forecast to top out at 30% over the next couple of years and then fall.

To put this in context, gross government debt peaked at a little higher than 78% in 1987 and net government debt – the more important measure – peaked at 67% of GDP.

It is currently at  27% of GDP . . .

That peak of 78% for gross debt and 67% of net debt in the mid 80s was under Labour, when several of its current MPs were in power.

That was due in part to Muldoon’s foolish policies but those were very different from the ones National has now.

Debt is higher than it should be, no thanks to Labour’s policies as a result of which it was forecasting a decade of deficits when it went out of power.

The increase in debt in the last five years is also due to a deliberate strategy to take the harder edges off the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and deal with the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Which of the spending National took to cope with those would Labour cut?

How would it do that when it’s fought tooth and nail against every single measure National has instituted to cut back Labour’s public service excesses, reduce costs while maintaining services and get the economy back on track to surplus?

How could it do it when its media releases show its economic and financial illiteracy?

Labour either doesn’t understand the numbers or it’s deliberately misrepresenting them.

Either way it is wrong again.


Taxed into oblivion

March 12, 2014

Quote of the day:

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion. – Federated farmers Dairy chair, Willy Leferink.

No party is promising tax cuts, but Labour and the Green Party are threatening us with more and higher taxes based on political philosophy rather than economic sense.


Not all over yet

March 12, 2014

Chris Trotter thinks the election is all over bar the counting:

UNLESS SOMETHING HUGELY DRAMATIC HAPPENS between now and polling day, 20 September, the General Election of 2014 is all but over. The National-led government of Prime Minister, John Key, looks set to be returned for a third term by a margin that may surprise many of those currently insisting that the result will be very close. What may also surprise is the sheer scale and comprehensiveness of the Left’s (especially Labour’s) electoral humiliation.

By which dark paths must one travel to reach these gloomy (for the Left!) conclusions? Simply stated, one has only to follow the basic precepts of psephology (the study of elections and electors).

No matter whether you approach the forthcoming election from the perspective of the socio-economic context of the contest; contrasting styles of political leadership; the policies of the major players; the parties’ organisational heft and their respective financial resources; or the many factors influencing turnout; the advantage lies decisively with the National Party. . .

The advantage does lie with National.

It can campaign on its achievements, Prime Minister John Key is the most popular leader in recent political history, National’s caucus is united, several retirements mean the new one will be refreshed, and it will be presenting some big new ideas with small price tags.

The unity isn’t only in caucus, the membership is also united and supportive of the parliamentary wing of the party.

Photo: Election date: September 20. Like and share if you back John Key and National for #3moreyears http://nzyn.at/3moreyears

Labour by contrast has achieved little in opposition, has a leader who is less popular than the unpopular one he replaced and who doesn’t have the confidence of his caucus which is divided. With only one retirement announced it looks old and stale, and policies presented so far have been botched in their presentation and come with big price tags.

If we were voting under First Past the Post, National could be looking forward to a landslide.

But under MMP, it’s not enough for the major party to do well, it will almost certainly need coalition partners and none of those who might fit in a National-led government are particularly strong.

It hasn’t happened yet in New Zealand, but the smaller of the big parties could cobble together enough votes to trump the bigger one and lead a government, albeit a potentially very unstable one.

The six months to the election isn’t long for a divided and dismal Labour to climb higher, but it’s plenty of time for even a very popular government to falter.

If a week is a long time in politics, six months is far longer.

National has the record, the talent and the policies to win a third term and Labour does not.

But there is no complacency about the election outcome.

Good things might come in threes, but there’s absolutely no guarantee enough voters will support  a third term.

The omens are good for another National-led government, but there’s no certainty.


No room to splash cash

March 12, 2014

Parties on the left like to think the government is the answer to most problems.

By contrast, National recognises the importance of individuals, households and businesses, and careful management of government resources.

Hon KATE WILKINSON (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: What will be the focus of the Government’s economic programme going into the election on 20 September?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government will focus on building on the recovery that is now under way to support New Zealand households and businesses, to create more jobs, and to earn higher incomes. Now that we have been able to manage through a very significant recession and the impact of the earthquake, and clean up some of the damage done by the last Labour Government, we will look forward to helping New Zealanders organise the capital and the skills required to take advantage of the very substantial opportunities offered by a growing Asia- Pacific region.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What progress is the Government making with its economic programme and how is this helping households and businesses?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: First of all, the recovery in the economy is principally the work of New Zealand’s households and businesses, supported by Government. Government policy that has helped to support that has been to get the Government finances under control and get back to surplus; and to focus on all those areas across the economy that support growth, such as better infrastructure investment, a tidier, more effective, and more efficient system for giving young New Zealanders skills, reducing welfare dependency, re-regulating the use of our natural resources so that we can be a prosperous economy as well as a clean, green economy, and, of course, there are many other ways we have been supporting New Zealand households and businesses.

Reducing the burden of government is one of the bests ways to help people and businesses.

Hon David Parker: Why is he claiming that everything is going swimmingly when the $1 billion deficit to 31 January in his Government’s accounts is $637 million worse than he forecast in just December?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I have pointed out regularly in this House, we can control expenditure to a significant extent but revenue can fluctuate. In this case—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, bear in mind that in the previous financial year we finished about $3 billion ahead of budget. On the most recent figures in this year tax revenue is about $800 million

behind budget. The people who should take the most notice of that are the Opposition parties, because it makes it pretty clear there is not room to splash cash everywhere in election year.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What are some of the ongoing economic challenges the economy faces, and how will the Government work to overcome them?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Probably the main economic challenge is to manage our way through the next growth cycle, avoiding the excessive damage created during the last growth cycle under the last Labour Government. For instance, it is inevitable that interest rates will rise some time this year, according to decisions of the Reserve Bank. We want to make sure that interest rates are not driven to 10.5 to 11 percent by bad Government policy and excessive Government spending. That is probably one of the best things we can do to support New Zealand households.

Government spending has a significant influence on interest rates.

Labour’s profligacy was a major cause of high interest rates, National’s Presbyterian approach to other people’s money has helped to keep them low.

Hon David Parker: Is it correct that having inherited close to zero net Government debt he is soon to clock over $60 billion of borrowings; and is this more than any other Minister of Finance in New Zealand’s history in nominal terms and the worst in real terms since Muldoon?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, but it is another symptom of “Planet Labour”, a place where the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes never happened. Voters will increasingly see a party marooned on “Planet Labour”—1970s Fabianism at its worst.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: Going into the election on 20 September, what economic policies will this Government reject because they would impose costs on households and cost jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is pretty clear from lessons learnt from the last cycle through the early 2000s up to 2008 what policies to avoid. One of those is a sharp increase in Government spending, because that will push interest rates up much faster than they need to go. The second one would be imposing a costly emissions trading system, which is guaranteed to put power bills up by around $500 per year and, in combination with a single-buyer electricity authority, would make household electricity bills significantly more expensive, not cheaper, as the Opposition claims.

Labour and Greens both plan to tax us more, directly and indirectly, and then splash the cash around.

Not only will that leave us with less of our own money, it will fuel interest rates and inflation.


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