Word of the day

April 28, 2014

Ludibrious –  sportive; wanton; ridiculous.


Rural round-up

April 28, 2014

Onwards and upwards for millers – Sally Rae:

When Griffins Foods signed a contract to source flour from South Canterbury-based Farmers Mill, it was a leap of faith in a group of arable farmers.

At that stage, Farmers Mill did not have a mill, let alone the ability to supply a sample. Nor was there a track record in flour production.

”It’s a great story in the sense that Griffins bought into the idea without a mill and no product,” Farmers Mill chairman and South Canterbury farmer Murray Turley reflected.

He attributed the biscuit and snack food company’s confidence in the yet-to-be opened mill to the security of the raw material and knowing the source of it. . .

Recovery but still fragile:

RECENT RAIN IN Waikato and South Auckland has set farmers on the road to recovery from the drought but the situation remains fragile for some, a meeting of farming leaders and central and local Government officials has heard.

The teleconference attended by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and other farming groups, the Rural Support Trust, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato Regional Council was told there had been good rain in the two regions over the past week.

There was general agreement that the drought had been “broken” by the rain but rainfall totals still weren’t that much in some places, some pasture was still brown and that more rain was needed over coming weeks to ensure that recovery continued. . .

Fish & Game calls for public enquiry into the future of farming:

Fish & Game NZ is calling for a public enquiry “to examine the future of agriculture in New Zealand”.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson suggested the move in a presentation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today where he was invited to discuss the future of farming following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways.

In his submission Mr Johnson explained the impact intensive agriculture is having on waterways.

“Two recent public polls confirm the wider public is clearly engaged in the issue now – and the overwhelming majority want the dairy sector to adopt a different way of operating in the future,” he says. . .

Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi:

James Davidson is the last Grand Finalist to be named in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after earning top spot at the Aorangi Regional Final Monday 21 April in Fairlie.

Crowds packed the Mackenzie Showgrounds as the eight Young Farmers demonstrated their skills, strength and stamina in the practical challenges including constructing drafting gates, digger operation and carving a wood sculpture using a chainsaw. Later in the evening the Mackenzie Community Centre was abuzz for the evening show and quiz round.

It was Mr Davidson’s first attempt at the regional level and admitted he was quite shocked after winning what he says was a rather difficult competition. . .

Rural broadband initiative milestone –  Leeana Tamati :

The sight of Netta Wilton sitting in the middle of a paddock with a laptop would probably seem odd to passersby, but it was a common scene last year.

Mrs Wilton, who lives in Scotts Gap with her husband Karl and three children, had such slow broadband

she would need to sit in a paddock to get any kind of reliable speed to do her online banking.

Mrs Wilton and her household can now successfully watch videos, play games and do the banking online, thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

The RBI is a partnership between Vodafone and the government aiming to upgrade 387 existing cell towers and build 154 new towers around the country in a bid to give rural residents access to fast broadband. . .

Faster scanner at Invermay :

A new CT scanner at Invermay will provide South Island sheep and deer farmers with faster and more accurate carcass measurements.

The scanner, which uses X-ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, has been provided by Innervision, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch.

It replaces an older scanner that has been in operation for 18 years. . . .

 

Get a taste for training:

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre is holding a four day Taster course on the Wairarapa campus 28 April – 1 May.

The Taster programme is an opportunity for anyone thinking about getting involved in agricultural training to have a ‘taste’ of what Taratahi training and campus life is all about.   

Taster students will stay at the Wairarapa campus for four nights in student accommodation and enjoy three hearty meals a day.  The days are jam-packed with modules on quad bikes, chainsaws, fencing, stock movement and lots more.

During the four days Taster students will also discover all the study options available at Taratahi and most taster students get an idea early on if they are interested in specialising in sheep or dairy. . . .


Equality, equity, fairness

April 28, 2014

For true equality everyone needs differing support to achieve the same goal, Mick

I’d have used equity or fairness rather than justice.

Regardless of that, this could be seen as supporting the case for equality of outcome which isn’t necessarily fair or attainable.

It could also be seen as accepting that some people need less support and others need more because of circumstances beyond their control.

That’s targeting rather than universality which could be treating people fairly though not necessarily equally.

But fair isn’t always equal and equal isn’t always fair.


Lies or politics

April 28, 2014

Labour has been tricky about another of its policy releases.

Last week it announced its veteran’s policy which would extend the Veteran’s pension to all veterans, whether or not they were impaired.

That sounds very generous but Matthew Beveridge covers an exchange on Twitter between Labour MP Clare Curran and Graeme Edgeler which shows that yet again Labour hasn’t given the full story.

The veteran’s pension is the same as national superannuation so week to week war veterans will be no better off with Labour’s policy.

Some would call that tricky, some would call it lying by omission.

Either way it’s just like the bumbled announcement of the baby bribe which omitted to let people know that it would kick in only after paid parental leave finished.

Then there’s getting facts wrong which is at best a very poor reflection on politics:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3’s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

“This is an appalling number of errors for someone who would seek to run New Zealand’s economy. This number of errors surely can’t have been made by accident,” Mr Joyce says.

“Mr Parker’s attempts to describe the New Zealand economy sound much more like the situation this government inherited from Labour in 2008 than anything we are seeing in 2014.

“He must have been thinking of 2008 when he talked of ridiculously high interest rates, a poor balance of trade, and the poor performance of the export sector. All were pretty sick back then and all are in much better shape today as a result of this government’s careful stewardship of the economy.”

Mr Joyce says there are two possible conclusions. “Either Labour is deliberately fudging the facts to fabricate the need for their radical economic policy prescription, or they have truly woken up in 2014 for the election without observing anything that has happened in the last five years. The latter would at least fit their regular denials of the impacts of the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

“New Zealanders know that this country today is doing better than most other developed countries, and in 2008 we were doing worse than most, in fact entering our own recession before the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“It might be an idea for Labour to look at the steady improvements that are occurring in the New Zealand economy before they start trying to write up their policy ideas.”

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Getting these facts wrong by accident is incompetence.

Getting them wrong deliberately is worse.

Either way, Labour is trying to talk down the economy which is doing well in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes and because of good management by the National-led government.

That the economy is growing doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

But the chances of improvement for everyone are far greater under this government than they would have been had Labour been in power and continued with the tax and spend policies which put the country into recession before the GFC hit the rest of the world.

The chances of improvement will be far greater with another National-led government than with the alternative prescription a Labour Green government would impose on us.

 


Experiment didn’t work

April 28, 2014

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has announced that  the government will introduce and pass under urgency legislation removing from sale all remaining so called ‘legal highs’.

“While there has been a substantial reduction in the number of these products available and the number of outlets from which they can be sold, reports of severe adverse reactions continue to be received by the National Poisons Centre and Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring” says Mr Dunne.

It has been impossible to attribute these adverse effects to any particular products and in the absence of that ministers accepted my recommendation at cabinet last Tuesday to end the transitional period, taking all products with interim approval off the market.

“I will bring to parliament amending legislation to put this measure in place, to be introduced and passed through all stages under urgency on 8 May and come into force the day after receiving the Royal Assent” says Mr Dunne.

When the legislation was introduced the 41 products which were permitted to be sold were thought to be safe. They aren’t.

The ODT shows the dangers they pose:

Nathan Belcher and Aaron Macahan started using legal highs because that was what everyone else was doing.

But by the time they realised how it badly it was affecting them, it was too late.

The pair could ”easily” smoke four or five bags a day – each.

At $25 a packet, they estimate they spent $7000 on the products just this year.

Their lives followed a pattern of eating, using legal highs and sleeping.  . .

Legalising these drugs was an experiment which hasn’t worked.

Making them illegal won’t get rid of them completely but it will make them much harder to get and get rid of the mistaken perception that they are harmless.


Shane’s parting shots

April 28, 2014

Shane Jones has given a month’s notice of his resignation from parliament.

It won’t be a month without media attention which gives him the opportunity to opine like this:

. . . But I just thought that the kaupapa that the Greens are bringing forward, I always felt, it was too anti-industry. And I’m just not going to fight that fight anymore. If that’s the way that they want the future of the country to go, then that’s someone else’s problem, I’ve had enough of it. . .

He delivered some more parting shots yesterday:

Departing Labour Party front bencher Shane Jones says while the Labour Party can still count on his personal vote, it was not in his best interests to represent the party in Parliament any longer – and that’s why he resigned.

Talking to Q+A’s Susan Woods this morning, Mr Jones said he had begun to feel his outbursts were a diversion, and he was no longer speaking to ‘core values’ on “mining, pro-development and pro-industry”.

“Of course I see the Greens will have a significant role at some point in time in a centre-left coalition – can I be an honest steward to that sort of coalition? No I can’t, so I’m not hanging around,” he said.

While Mr Jones said he had “absolutely no time for espousing the green gospel”, he said he still supported the Labour Party’s aims around the welfare of people, and defended his history in the party as someone who had stood up for past Labour party leaders like Helen Clark when they had made decisions unpopular with Maoridom in general.

He had become a part of Labour as a result of the Springbok Tour in the early 1980s, and had warmed to the towering figures of Geoffery Palmer and David Lange – “but that part is well and truly gone”.

He confessed that some would be disappointed that he would not be the first Maori Prime Minister, but “to capture John key’s seat first I had to capture David Cunliffe’s seat – that game is over and out”.

Mr Jones – who said he had not signed on for the international fisheries management role yet – demurred when asked about a return to politics, except to say he wished his colleagues well and planned a crayfish, wine and ‘Countdown party” before saying ‘Haere Ra’ to Parliament.

Jones is probably in a minority in his party who are more moderate on economic matters than the majority who are lurching ever leftwards.

But many swinging and non-voters aren’t radically left and every lurch left by Labour leaves those of more moderate views nearer the centre less likely to support it.

Jones knows that, has had enough and he’s going but he’s not going quietly.

He’s taking pot shots as he goes and he’s hitting his own side with them.


April 28 in history

April 28, 2014

357 – Emperor Constantius II entered Rome for the first time to celebrate his victory over Magnus Magnentius.

1192  Assassination of Conrad of Montferrat (Conrad I), King of Jerusalem, in Tyre, two days after his title to the throne was confirmed by election.

1253 Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk, propounded Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the very first time and declared it to be the essence of Buddhism, in effect founding Nichiren Buddhism.

1611 Establishment of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, the largest Catholic university in the world.

1715 Franz Sparry, composer, was born (d. 1767).

1758 James Monroe, 5th President of the United States, was born. (d. 1831).

1789 Mutiny on the Bounty: Captain William Bligh and 18 sailors were set adrift; the rebel crew returned to Tahiti briefly and then set sail for Pitcairn Island.

1792  France invaded the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium), beginning the French Revolutionary War.

1796  The Armistice of Cherasco was signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Vittorio Amedeo III, the King of Sardinia, expanding French territory along the Mediterranean coast.

1862 American Civil War: Admiral David Farragut captured New Orleans.

1888 – The first British rugby team to tour New Zealand played its first match, against Otago at the Caledonian Ground in South Dunedin.

1902  Using the ISO 8601 standard Year Zero definition for the Gregorian calendar preceded by the Julian calendar, the one billionth minute since the start of January 1, Year Zero occured at 10:40 AM on this date.

1912 Odette Sansom, French resistance worker, was born (d. 1995).

1916 Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian automobile manufacturer, was born (d. 1993).

1920 Azerbaijan was added to the Soviet Union.

1922 Alistair MacLean, Scottish novelist, was born (d. 1987).

1926 Harper Lee, American author, was born.

1930 The first night game in organised baseball history took place in Independence, Kansas.

1932 A vaccine for yellow fever was announced for use on humans.

1937 – Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, was born (d. 2006).

1941 – Jack Hinton won the Victoria Cross.

1941 Ann-Margret, Swedish-born actress, was born.

1945 Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement.

1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

1948 Terry Pratchett, English author, was born.

1949  Former First Lady of the Philippines Aurora Quezon, 61, was assassinated while en route to dedicate a hospital in memory of her late husband; her daughter and 10 others are also killed.

1950 Jay Leno, American comedian and television host, was born.

1950  Bhumibol Adulyadej married Queen Sirikit.

1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower resigned as Supreme Commander of NATO.

1952 Occupied Japan: The United States occupation of Japan ended with the ratification of Treaty of San Francisco.

1952 The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty (Treaty of Taipei) iwa signed in Taipei between Japan and the Republic of China to officially end the Second Sino-Japanese War.

1956 Jimmy Barnes, Scottish-born singer, was born.

1960  Ian Rankin, Scottish novelist, was born.

1965 United States troops landed in the Dominican Republic to “forestall establishment of a Communist dictatorship” and to evacuate U.S. Army troops.

1967  Expo 67 opened to the public in Montreal.

1969 Charles de Gaulle resigned as President of France.

1969 – Terence O’Neill announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

1970 Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon formally authorised American combat troops to fight communist sanctuaries in Cambodia.

1974 Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress, was born.

1977 The Red Army Faction trial ended with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe found guilty of four counts of murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder.

1977 The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure was signed.

1978 President of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by pro-communist rebels.

1981  Jessica Alba, American actress, was born.

1986 The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal, navigating from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to relieve the USS Coral Sea.

1987 American engineer Ben Linder was killed in an ambush by U.S. funded Contras in northern Nicaragua.

1988  Near Maui, Hawaii, flight attendant Clarabelle “C.B.” Lansing was blown out of Aloha Flight 243, a Boeing 737 and fell to her death when part of the plane’s fuselage rips open in mid-flight.

1994  Former C.I.A. official Aldrich Ames pleaded guilty to giving U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union and later Russia.

1996 Whitewater controversy: Bill Clinton gave a 4½ hour videotaped testimony for the defence.

1996 – In Tasmania Martin Bryant went on a shooting spree, killing 35 people and seriously injuring 21 more.

1997 – The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention goes into effect, with Russia, Iraq and North Korea among the nations that have not ratified the treaty.

2001 – Millionaire Dennis Tito became the world’s first space tourist.

2008 – A train collision in Shandong, China, killed 72 people and injured 416 more.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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