Word of the day

April 26, 2014
Plangorous – resonant or plaintive in sound; mournful; characterised by loud lamentation.

Rural round-up

April 26, 2014

Future farm staff needs a big priority:

To be considered world leaders, the dairy industry needs to lift its game to attract and retain quality staff, says DairyNZ.

As dairy farms get bigger, demands on farm staff are getting greater, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine, a key speaker at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 7-8. Farmers are encouraged to register now to attend the forum.

“We need to ask ourselves if we’ve got an industry geared up to accommodate the growing demands,” says Mark. “We have a range of initiatives in place and we’re working hard on all fronts – but is it enough? I’ll be keen to hear from farmers attending the forum about their priorities.

“Our research suggests that for on-farm roles, we need 1000 graduates every year at diploma level and above, and another 250 a year for rural professional and science roles. . .

Crop losses ‘in millions’ – Annette Scott:

Unprecented weather is proving a cropping farmer’s nightmare as Canterbury arable farmers face crop losses in the millions of dollars.

“We are at the tough end of a relatively tough season and the toughest part is we can’t do anything about it,” Federated Farmers national grain and seed chairman and Mid Canterbury arable farmer Ian Mackenzie said.

“It’s worse than frustrating and what hurts most is that it’s the more-valuable crops that are still standing out in the paddocks.”

Ground conditions were very wet, he said. Autumn wheat should be planted but radishes were still in the paddock. . .

Cropping farmers encouraged to seek support:

Federated Farmers is encouraging farmers to help each other as cropping farmers in Canterbury and North Otago seek respite from a prolonged wet spell which is threatening specialist crops and cereals ahead of harvesting.

“Already sodden fields have been shown no mercy from a succession of passing cyclonic fronts” said Mid-Canterbury President, Chris Allen.

“This will have the same impact on cropping farmers as one metre of snow during lambing would have on sheep farmers, it’s very serious.

“Now into autumn with shorter days and less heat, there will be limited opportunities for farmers to recover their crops.  Due to the wet ground conditions, crops aren’t suitable for harvest and when they are, there will be a big demand on resources. . .

Farmer grateful for army help:

Federated Farmers is appreciative of the efforts of the New Zealand Army to help southern Westland clean up the mess caused by former tropical Cyclone Ita.

“Given it is Anzac Day, we are moved to have the New Zealand Army on the ground here in Westland to help us to recover,” says Katie Milne, the organisation’s Westland provincial president.

“It feels like the cavalry has arrived but more accurately, it’s the sappers.”

On Thursday Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said nine New Zealand Defence Force personnel were already in Whataroa and a team of 16 engineers and support personnel from Burnham would arrive on Thursday afternoon. . . .

FMA investigates whether banks breached financial markets laws on interest rate swaps to farmers

(BusinessDesk) – The Financial Markets Authority, New Zealand’s markets watchdog, is investigating whether the sales and marketing of interest rate swaps by major banks to rural customers may have breached financial markets laws.

The FMA is working with the antitrust regulator, the Commerce Commission, to see if the banks have breached laws including the Securities Act 1978 and the Securities Markets Act 1988, the watchdog said in a statement. It declined to comment further while the investigation is ongoing. . .

NZ infant formula makers likely to get all-clear from China – Andrea Fox:

Nearly all New Zealand’s 13 infant formula manufacturers look likely to pass muster by Chinese authorities to continue exporting to China, which has introduced tough new regulations after food-safety scares.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kay said based on advice from Chinese officials in the past 24 hours following their audits of NZ manufacturers, most, if not all, were expected to achieve registration.

However, one unnamed manufacturer would have to make some changes before registration would be complete, the ministers said.

The Chinese audit was conducted last month. . .

Saturday’s smiles

April 26, 2014

A contingent of newly enlisted soldiers is camping out for the night.

As they settle down, the sergeant looks up and says, “When you all see the stars in the sky, what do you think.?”

One soldier says she looks for the Southern Cross and thinks of home.

Another says he thinks of how insignificant we are in the universe and such a tiny part of the grand design.

A third ventures to ask the sergeant what he thinks.

He replies, “I think someone’s stolen the blimmin’ tent.”


April 26, 2014

9/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.

How much worse could it get?

April 26, 2014

John Armstrong asks: Could things get any worse for David Cunliffe than they did this week?

It is quite conceivable they might, of course. Cunliffe’s leadership of Labour still has a way to go before it hits rock-bottom. But this week’s very public exhibition of the disunity which flows freely and abundantly from the deep schisms within the party may well have proved to be sufficiently damaging to have put victory in September’s general election out of reach. . .

Armstrong isn’t the first commentator to say this and while it is still far too soon to declare another Labour defeat, the odds on it winning which were slipping have got even worse.

The start of the week was punishing enough in itself with Labour squirming in humiliation following National’s cruise missile-like strike which removed the Opposition party’s current prime asset from the forthcoming election campaign.

Labour’s embarrassment at losing Shane Jones as a result of a quite brilliant piece of politics on Murray McCully’s part left Labour powerless to hit back at National.

But that was no excuse for the outbreak of factional warfare in the form of the Labour left indulging in a danse macabre on Jones’ still warm political corpse. . .

For those in Labour’s ranks still interested in winning the election, observing the self-destructive behaviour must have been the equivalent of watching members of the orchestra on the heavily-listing Titanic fighting over who owned the instruments. . .

The left of the party and its supporters let their delight overcome political pragmatism. Lurching left suits them but it scares voters in the centre who are crucial to an election win.

Jones’ departure immediately prompted an at times bitter argument over whether he had been of any real value to Labour during his nine years in Parliament. As far as those on Labour’s left flank were concerned, he was just an over-ambitious blowhard who had a way with words but who was driven by self-interest, rather than being imbued with team spirit – something which was amply illustrated by the shocking timing of his going as far as his many critics are concerned. They had two words to mark – or rather celebrate – his exit: good riddance.

For those on Labour’s right flank, Jones had been someone who, for all his faults, could reach into segments of the voting public which those on the left professed to represent, but with which they had long lost touch.

Given Jones was such a polarising figure, the post-mortems were inevitable. But this argument was as much about Labour’s direction as it was about Jones. Along with other colleagues, Jones was worried that Cunliffe’s shifting of the party leftwards could only extend so far and for so long. At some point, Cunliffe would have to bow to the brutal electoral mathematics which require the two major parties to fight for occupying rights in the centre. The great fear of Jones and others was that Cunliffe’s seeming chopping and changing would end up satisfying no-one.

Jones’ departure has stoked even more worry for the party’s centrists that the left will see it as a victory in the simmering and debilitating power struggle for control of the party. . .

Labour’s factions and disunity are highlighted again.

There has been a lot of talk in the past few days about Labour being a “broad church” for all-comers. Indeed, Helen Clark’s strategy for winning elections had Labour building relationships of mutual benefit with sections of society who were in the minority – such as the gay community – or felt they were in the minority – such as the elderly.

A fair chunk of these minorities have formal representation within Labour’s organisation. But in seeking to secure their pound of flesh in terms of policy gains in return for votes, their agendas have become increasingly out of sync with the far more apolitical or conservative-leaning wider New Zealand public.

With the left of the party running its own agenda which puts purity ahead of pragmatism, Labour’s appeal is shrinking. Those voters whom Labour needs to capture will see Jones’ exit as a further narrowing of Labour’s appeal. The “broad church” is turning into The Temple of the Tyranny of the Minority. . .

Labour looks less and less like a party and more and more like a collection of factions using the party as a vehicle for their own agendas which while important to them aren’t what matter to most voters.

The resignation of an MP in a party that is struggling for clear-air doesn’t have to be bad news for a party.

But the announcement of Shane Jones’ resignation and the aftermath have been yet another debacle for Labour.

Alastair Scott Nat candidate for Wairarapa

April 26, 2014

Alastair Scott has been selected by the National Party to contest the seat of Wairarapa.

Alastair Scott, 48, is owner and director of Wairarapa’s Matahiwi Estate winery. He is also Chairman of Henergy Cage Free Eggs, a director of Transpower, Councillor of Massey University, and Trustee of the Wairarapa Region Irrigation Trust and NZ Scout Youth Foundation.

His successful business career sits alongside a strong track record of community involvement as a founding Trustee of  ‘Kiwi Can’ Charitable Trust Wellington, Deputy Chair of the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, and a Member of the Wairarapa Development Group.

Mr Scott is a father of three. He lives between residences in Masterton and Wellington with partner RobynNoble-Campbell and their blended family.

A successful business career and a strong track record of community involvement are far better credentials for an aspiring MP than most candidates standing for parties, and many sitting MPs,  on the left.

Saturday soapbox

April 26, 2014

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse, amuse or bemuse.

Photo: <3 Change your thoughts to change your life <3 Lynda Field Life Coach visit www.lyndafield.com

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