Word of the day

March 24, 2014

Turgid – swollen and distended or congested; very complicated and difficult to understand; excessively ornate, complex, tediously pompous or bombastic in language or style grandiloquent.


Forgetting or ignoring?

March 24, 2014

More headless chookery from Labour:

New Zealand’s interest rates are among the highest in the world and homeowners that are bearing the brunt of them should join Labour’s call for an Economic Upgrade, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

“New Zealand mortgage rates are higher than Australia and much of the developed world. That’s because our economy is not paying its way in the world and has major issues that need to be fixed. . .

Any difference in interest rates is a sign of the health of our economies. New Zealand’s is doing better than Australia’s.

That does present us with the threat of inflation which the Reserve Bank has a duty to keep under control.

That’s why the Official Cash Rate eased up from months at an historic low to 2.75 percent last week.

That’s no reason for Cunliffe to run round pretending the sky is falling.

Has he forgotten that people were paying around 11% on mortgages when the government in which he was a minister lost power in 2008?

Has he forgotten that one of the reasons for that was the high taxing, high spending policies of his government?

If he isn’t forgetting that then he’s ignoring the lessons from that and his own education which would be worse.

But that would explain why he’s peddling the unfortunately similar prescription of more tax, more churn, more spending which is what Labour policies announced so far threaten.


Rural round-up

March 24, 2014

New evidence that A1 relative to A2 beta-casein affects digestive function – Keith Woodford:

A new paper has been published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition titled “Dietary A1 beta-casein affects gastrointestinal transit time, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 activity, and inflammatory status relative to A2 b-casein in Wistar rats”

The key findings are:
1. A1 beta casein slows down transit of food through the digestive system relative to A2 beta-casein and this is an opioid effect.
2. A1 beta-casein induces a pro- inflammatory effect in the colon which is also an opioid effect.
3. A1 beta casein relative to A2 beta-casein causes up-regulation of the enzyme DPP4 in the small intestine and this is apparently a non-opioid effect.
4. In contrast to the A1 beta-casein, there is no evidence of opioid effects from the A2 beta-casein in relation to either food transit times or pro-inflammatory effects. . . .

Benefits of collaboration – Sally Rae:

Collaboration and partnerships.

Two words mentioned often during a Federated Farmers high country field day in the upper Waitaki last week.

It was a fitting location for such an event, with what could be dubbed the ”green versus brown” debate a very hot issue in both the upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie districts.

Starting in Twizel, about 140 people travelled in a convoy of vehicles through Doug McIntyre’s dairy farm operation, on to Ohau Downs, where Kees Zeestraten is battling to bring irrigation to his property, then through Ribbonwood Station and into the Ahuriri Valley before viewing irrigation development at Tara Hills near Omarama. . .

Millions spent but no irrigation yet – Sally Rae:

Kees Zeestraten has spent close to $3 million trying to get water to irrigate Ohau Downs.

He admitted he was ”gutted” it had cost so much to get to that point – and still not have water.

Meanwhile, the flats of the 5200ha Omarama property, where he intended to do his irrigation development, were, as North Otago Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said, ”pretty depleted”, with hieracium taking over and tussocks struggling to survive.

”In general, you would not say it’s in great health. It’s certainly not knee-high tussocks waving in the wind,” Mr Williamson said. . .

Green hues advancing in the high country – Sally Rae:

‘You wouldn’t get a better landscape. Green is as much a part of it as the tawny brown landscape in the background. What are they worrying about? It fits in.”

That was the comment of High Country Accord chairman Jonathan Wallis, after viewing the result of irrigation development on Tara Hills at Omarama.

The contrast between the green, irrigated flats of the property and the surrounding brown hills was vivid.

The 3400ha station, best known as a research property, was bought by Dave Ellis two years ago. . .

Sorting out key issues – Bryan Gibson:

Prime Minister John Key will hope his visit to China last week will have done the trick in terms of reassuring the government in that country and the buying public that our milk products are safe and our food-safety regime is robust.

A report, covered in this week’s Farmers Weekly, says New Zealand’s infant formula industry is in pretty good shape, but faces many challenges as China looks to tame the “Wild West” market that has taken shape there.

Audits of this country’s processing plants by Chinese authorities are under way and there will be many eager to know the results. . .

Foundation’s Australian links pay off:

The Foundation for Arable Research says its foray into Australia last year is paying off.

Foundation chief executive Nick Pyke said the link with Australia enables it to leverage off the much larger investment in cropping research being carried out across the Tasman.

“We have had some involvement in programmes which are quite different for them (Australia) because of the way we grow crops here in New Zealand, so they have learnt from that”. . .

Auckland Hauraki Dairy Winners Dominant:

The major winners in the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards, Bryce and Rosemarie Costar, have well achievable goals to keep them focused and heading in the right direction.

The Onewhero couple were named the region’s Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at an awards dinner in Pukekohe last night . Ngatea contract milker Simon Player was named the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Farm Manager of the Year and Paeroa dairy farm assistant Marion Reynolds won the region’s Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Bryce and Rosemarie Costar are 55% sharemilking 300 cows on a family farm owned by Bill Costar. They won $20,200 in prizes. . .


Mana’s principles for sale?

March 24, 2014

The Mana Party is discussing an Alliance-like deal with the yet-to-be-formed Internet Party:

The Mana Party says a merger with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party is not an option, but an arrangement involving a joint list and sharing the party vote, could be.

Mana leader Hone Harawira says he met with Mr Dotcom last month and had what he says was a general political discussion.

Mana’s secretary Gerard Hehir says a formal merger is not an option but there may be scope for an arrangement where they campaign together under an umbrella party, to take advantage of the combined party vote. . .

The several parties which held hands under the Alliance umbrella had left-wing principles in common.

Mana’s principles are pro-Maori and solidly left-wing.

It isn’t clear what, if any, principles the Internet Party has.

Many of  Kim Dotcom’s, its would-be founder, are questionable and have little if anything in common with Mana.

This is clear to one of Mana’s founding members and a former candidate, Sue Bradford, who said Dotcom would be a deal-breaker for her:

Ms Bradford, a former Green Party MP who has been with Mana since its inception in 2011, told RadioLIVE there aren’t many similarities between the two parties.

“I find it incredible that a party with the kaupapa Mana has should be considering going into an alliance with Kim Dotcom – a man who tried to buy off the right and failed and now he seems to have turned to the left to buy the left off,” she says. 

“This is so far from the kaupapa I’ve dedicated my life to and I find it quite extraordinary.”

She says it “wouldn’t be possible” for her to stay with the party if it did do a deal with Dotcom.

“I don’t think doing deals with right-wing internet billionaires who are facing a number of legal challenges is the way forward for any party that adheres to the principles of social, and economic and treaty justice that I believe in,” she says.

“We should really be thinking twice about this.”

Ms Bradford says there are others in the party who think the same way she does, and has expressed her views to the party leadership.

It could be a “short-sighted conversation” and a “bubble in a tea cup”, and nothing could come of it in the end, she says.

She also had questions about how Dotcom treats his own staff, who have complained about poor wages and not being paid. . .

Bradford has principles and is sticking to them.

Harawira is showing that any principles he has are for sale.


More coverage, new powers for Press Council

March 24, 2014

The New Zealand Press Council is to offer membership to new digital media and gain additional powers to deal with complaints against traditional print media.

The moves follow a review of the Press Council by its main funder, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, which considered recommendations by the Press Council and a report last year by the Law Commission.

The Press Council was established in 1972 to adjudicate on complaints against member newspapers. Newspaper publishers decided to include magazines in 1998 and the council’s mandate was further expanded in 2002 to include members’ websites. Current chair is former High Court judge Sir John Hansen and the council has a majority of non-media industry members.

Newspaper Publishers’ Association editorial director Rick Neville, who chairs the Press Council’s executive committee, said most publishers felt the time had come to strengthen the Press Council’s authority, and to extend its coverage to handle complaints against digital media, including bloggers.

“The media world is changing and fragmenting. It’s important that a body set up to maintain high standards, and provide an avenue for reader complaints, keeps pace with those changes.”

Sir John Hansen welcomed the industry’s initiative in broadening the council’s remit by offering coverage to digital media while also providing more tools to deal effectively with complaints.

“It’s important that all consumers of media have an avenue for complaint, and for them to believe their complaint has been handled with fairness and professionalism. ”

Under the present structure, newspapers and magazines pay an annual membership fee to the Press Council. They are also required to abide by the council’s statement of principles and accept the council’s complaints processes.

The intention is to offer a new form of membership to other, non-newspaper digital media, conditional on their agreeing to the same conditions as those applying to current members. A new fee structure will be set based on the size of the digital entity and its commercial or non-commercial status. The new structure, including changes affecting current members of the Press Council, will take effect from May 1.

Among the new powers being taken on by the council is the right, in exceptional circumstances, to censure a newspaper, magazine or website. Such a move would require a unanimous decision from the Press Council.

The council is also assuming greater powers to direct where an adjudication should appear in a publication, and members will be required to regularly publicise the existence of the Press Council and how complaints should be pursued. For instance, where an offending article has been published on one or more of the first three pages of a newspaper, the council will be able to direct an adjudication to be published on page three. Similar placement requirements will cover magazines and websites.

Editors will be required to publicise the council’s complaints processes by way of a fortnightly item at either the foot of a news briefs column, or on the editorial or letters page. Regular notices will also have to be published in member magazines and websites.

Member websites will be required to provide an easy-to-find complaints channel, advising how viewers can make a complaint to the media organization, then onto the Press Council if the complainant remains dissatisfied.

Where the council believes the potential harm or damage to an individual or organization outweighs the need to keep the public record straight, it will have the right to direct the excising of elements of a story from an online article, or for an article to be taken down.

Last year, the Law Commission produced a report entitled The News Media Meets ‘New Media’. It recommended the merger of the Press Council, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the broadcasters’ Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA) into a new, self-regulatory body to handle complaints against all media. The majority of print media opposed the recommendation, preferring instead to strengthen the Press Council.

The Government opted not to act on the Law Commission’s proposals but Ministers gave notice that they wanted to see media self-regulation continue to improve, and to cater for complaints against digital media.

This will be opt-in but will offer standing to non traditional media, including I presume blogs, which choose to take up the offer, and are accepted.

It will require responsibility and give some protection.

This move could also give credence to bloggers’ right to maintain confidentiality of sources as traditional media do.


Added value or commodities

March 24, 2014

If we had the option of producing added-value goods or commodities, the former would be better.

But sometimes the choice isn’t quite that simple.

Keith Woodford proffers a complicating factor – no New Zealand company has the ability to make the necessary investment for a lot more processing.

. . . So the choice may come down to New Zealand owned commodity companies or overseas owned value-add companies.

Either way the land will still be here. And the second option will provide more jobs, more competition, and possibly more taxes. It needs some thought.

He was talking about dairy companies but the premise applies to other businesses too.

The people and parties opposed to foreign investment are the ones calling for more jobs and more tax.

Would knowing the former would generate more of the latter make them reconsider or would xenophobia get in the way of the logic?


Curran confirmed for Dunedin South

March 24, 2014

Labour has confirmed sitting MP Clare Curran as its candidate for Dunedin South.

The party took an unusually long time to confirm the selection and there’s some evidence that the party didn’t really want Curran again.

She’s unranked in caucus, the selection date for the electorate was extended and the photo of the Labour women’s caucus celebrating International Women’s Day had every woman MP but her.

One of those could be considered unfortunate, all three together add up to a candidate who doesn’t appear to have the confidence of her colleagues.

If her own party don’t really want her, why should the good folk of Dunedin South?

 


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