Word of the day

May 5, 2014

 Levant – abscond, run away, leaving unpaid debts; leave secretly or hurriedly to avoid paying debts.


Rural round-up

May 5, 2014

Luxury lifestyle pays milksolids dividend – Heather Chalmers:

The middle of the Mid-Canterbury plains is an unlikely place to find two massive barns housing milking cows.

Unlike New Zealand’s typical outdoors pastoral grazing system, the 950 cows from Pannetts Dairies’ herd at Mitcham, near Rakaia, spend most of their milking season inside the purpose-built barns.

While cows are free to wander out to paddocks if they wish, it is no wonder they prefer the indoors life, where their every need is catered for. As well as having a nutritionally complete feed available at all times, cows can rest on one of the 940 individual beds lined with rubber mats and make use of an automated back scratcher resembling a carwash brush. Using the barn system, cows will be milked and calve year round, rather than the more typical spring-calving seasonal production. . .

Living at the mercy of milk prices – Lyn Webster:

Being a non-shareholding supplier, my only vested interest in Fonterra is my cows and machinery.

In the perfect world I should be raking in enough cash to pay my lease, increase production and start buying my own shares.

But at the rate I’m going with drought and drying off early and doing eff-all production, it seems like a bad joke and I continue to rely on the farm owners’ shareholding to supply milk.

I am in a strange position as most dairy farmers own both cows and company shares, but I am also not alone because I bet there are many sharemilkers out there whose contracts changed after TAF and they are receiving milk price only and no dividend. . .

 Truffle season ready to delight – Ashley Walmsley:

THEY probably aren’t going to fill the winter fruit bowl of most kitchens but Australian black truffles are now in season.

One truffle expert is doing her best to educate Australians on exactly what to do with the highly prized delicacy.

Sara Hinchey of Melbourne’s Truffle Hound said even those without royal (French or Italian) blood can revel in the rich yield of black truffles from the colder regions of the nation.

Ms Hinchey’s expertise has led her to team up with several leading Melbourne restaurateurs in a series of special dinners and workshops to showcase a range of ways to prepare and consume this extraordinary and little understood subterranean mushroom. . .

An affinity for the rural sector – Sally Rae:

When David Paterson started work as a rural valuer more than 30 years ago, things were very different.

A day could be spent walking over a farm using rudimentary equipment, as there was no such thing as digital cameras or GPS units.

”When I started in 1981, you’d sit on top of a hill and look down and try and draw on the map where a gully was. Nowadays, of course, technology really has taken control,” Mr Paterson, the Dunedin-based national manager for Rural Value, said. . .

Interest in 9 dairy farms ‘positive‘ – Simon Hartley:

The likely multimillion-dollar sale of nine Southland farms owned by debt-ridden state-owned enterprise Solid Energy appear set to be concluded.

In what was considered one of the largest multi-farm offerings in the country, tenders closed a month ago on the more than 2000ha of the combined nine farms, which covered millions of tonnes of low-grade lignite coal.

PGG Wrightson real estate general manager Peter Newbold had been confident of interest in the farms, given recent demand for dairy land had exceeded supply. . . .

Budget 2014: New funding for rural and Māori housing:

The Government has announced new funding of $16 million over four years to support the repair and rebuild of rural housing, the improvement of housing on the Chatham Islands and the development of Māori social housing providers.

“New Zealanders living in remote rural areas face a number of unique and often difficult challenges, including the cost and availability of decent housing,” Associate Housing Minister Tariana Turia says.

“That is why the Government has allocated funding to improve housing in rural New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands. Compared to the rest of the population, significantly more Māori are experiencing housing deprivation and are more likely to be state tenants or renters than home owners.

“Iwi are incorporating housing into their long-term planning and the Government currently has accords with at least five iwi. Budget 2014 will take major steps to help iwi and the Crown achieve these housing aspirations. . . .


Wagner new minister

May 5, 2014

Nicky Wagner is to become a Minister outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister John Key has today reallocated the portfolios made vacant by the resignation of Maurice Williamson as a Minister.

Christchurch Central MP, Nicky Wagner, will be made a Minister outside Cabinet and take on the portfolios of Customs, Statistics, Associate Conservation, and Associate Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

“Nicky has been an MP since 2005, and has done a great job in Christchurch and in chairing the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“As a Minister I expect she will treat her new portfolios with the same hard work and enthusiasm.”

In other changes, Nick Smith will take on the Building and Construction portfolio, and Michael Woodhouse will take on Land Information.

“I would like to thank them for taking on the extra responsibilities,” says Mr Key.

The Governor General will swear in Nicky Wagner on Wednesday 7 May. . .

Nicky won the Christchurch Central seat at the last election after serving two terms as a list MP and is currently a parliamentary Private Secretary.


No testing highs on animals

May 5, 2014

The government will not allow animal testing on so-called legal highs.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any animal testing on legal high products.

Parliament will pass legislation this week to pull all legal high products from shop shelves until they can be proved to be safe. . . .

John Banks was the only MP to vote against the original legislation because it allowed animal testing. and he was right to do so.

(I posted supporting him here)

I accept the case for using animals to test drugs which could potentially help people but I can’t see any ethical justification for using them to test recreational drugs.

This will have the same effect as banning the drugs altogether.

That isn’t without problems is preferable to allowing tests to be carried out on animals.

 


Growing for good

May 5, 2014

The message from the opposition’s policies and their attacks on the government is that at best economic growth isn’t important and at worst there’s something wrong with it.

New Zealand National Party's photo.

They don’t seem to be able to join the dots between economic growth and the provision of services which depend on it.

Economic growth is growing for good health like this, for example:

The Government has today announced free drop-in sore-throat clinics will be expanded to target a further 90,000 children and young people who are at risk of getting rheumatic fever.

“Budget 2014 will invest an extra $20 million over the next four years to combat New Zealand’s high rate of rheumatic fever – bringing the Government’s total investment to more than $65.3 million over six years,” Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“Excellent work is already going on across the country. Expanding a number of these initiatives will help reach more families whose children are at risk of developing this serious illness.

“The free drop-in sore-throat clinics will be rolled out in the Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Hutt Valley District Health Boards (DHBs).

“When the free clinics open later this year, over 200,000 children and young people in high-risk areas will have access to prompt care and treatment for sore throats.”

Mrs Turia says the Government will also expand healthy homes initiatives in the Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs. 

“These initiatives help families to address housing conditions, particularly for those families living in crowded homes, a contributing factor for rheumatic fever,” she says.

“And an extra $5 million is being invested to raise awareness of the disease, including TV and radio campaigns and information resources. The increasing profile of rheumatic fever is raising awareness with families and health professionals, and as a result more cases of rheumatic fever are being identified and treated.

“As part of the Better Public Services focus, the Government has a target to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two-thirds by June 2017. This additional funding will help us achieve this goal,” Mrs Turia says.

Addressing rheumatic fever is a recommendation from the Ministerial Committee on Poverty which was negotiated in the relationship accord between the Maori Party and the Government.

Budget 2014: National's commitment to combating rheumatic fever will give another 90,000 kids access to free sore-throat clinics - http://bit.ly/1rI1oCt


Sugar isn’t the same as tobacco

May 5, 2014

Prime Minister John Key regularly tells young people not to start smoking because of the health and financial costs.

He warns them that the tax on tobacco will increase every year he’s PM, how much that would cost and tells them how much more money they’ll have if they stay smoke-free.

I fully support National’s policies to help smokers give up and deter non-smokers from taking it up.

One of the best ways to do that is tax increases which always result in an increase in people kicking the habit.

But what works for one substance won’t necessarily work for another.

Health advocates have seen increased taxes reduce the incidence of smoking and they want to apply the same measure to sugary drinks.

. . .Dr Gerhard Sundborn was so worried he set up the New Zealand Beverage Guidance Panel – a group of public health experts that will this month deliver a bold new proposal, obtained by The Nation, to Parliament. On its wish list is a 20 percent tax on sugar, sugar controls back in schools and more education and marketing about health risks. . .

The Taxpayers’ Union says their campaign appears to be motivated more by politics than based on science.

. . . Sugar and similar fat taxes around the world have failed to curb obesity and have turned into revenue gathering tools.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:
“Denmark’s tax on saturated fat introduced in 2011 was an economic disaster. The Danish tax was abandoned 15 months later and did little, if anything, to reduce harmful consumption. Worse, it was estimated to have cost 1,300 jobs. Why would New Zealand want to repeat this mistake?”

“Taxing the Kiwi tradition of a warm pie and can of cola won’t reduce obesity. The overseas experience tells us that it just leads to compensatory purchasing and brand switching.” . . .

“There is no doubt that we have an obesity problem in New Zealand. The evidence is that taxing an inelastic product won’t affect the consumption of those consuming too much. Tap water is free, but people still choose to pay for bottled water. A tax on Coke and Pepsi won’t stop people from over indulging.”

Sweet drinks don’t quench thirst, they make it worse. But taxing them will do little if anything to solve the obesity problem.

Sugar isn’t tobacco and fizzy drinks aren’t the only source of sugar.

If they become too expensive there are plenty of other ways people will be able to get their sugar-fix.

Some hospitals have banned sugary drinks to send a message about improving health and diet.

That’s a good idea, providing they offer healthier alternatives, including free water, but that is only a small step in a long journey.

The causes of obesity are simple – too much energy in and not enough out over time.

But solving the problem is complex and taxing sugary drinks won’t have the same impact on over consumption and lack of exercise that tax hikes have on smoking.


2nd, 3rd and also rans could still win

May 5, 2014

Finance Minister and National Party deputy leader Bill English is warning the party and its supporters against complacency:

“The Opposition can be divided, it can have many leaders and co-leaders, it can have no vision, very little policy, be disorganised but under MMP it can win and we need to remember that every single day.”

He said National would need to win the highest vote any incumbent Government had ever won – it was re-elected for a second term in 2011 with 47.31 per cent of the vote.

The Opposition is divided, has many leaders and co-leaders, no vision, little policy and is disorganised but under MMP the 2nd and 3rd place-getters and some also-rans can win an election.

He also told delegates to make no assumptions about who was a potential voter, pointing to a large representation at the conference from south Auckland. . .

Critics like to paint National as the party for business people, professionals, farmers and the wealthy.

It welcomes those, but not to the exclusion of a whole range of other people who share its vision for a safe, prosperous and successful New Zealand that crates opportunities for all New Zealanders to reach their personal goals and dreams.

Many of its MPs came from humble backgrounds.

Simon is no rich kid, grew up in one of the poorest suburbs in Auckland at that time, went to the local working class High School. It doesn’t fit the stereotype of the left so they can’t handle it , worked three jobs to get through Uni graduating at the top of his class…. post graduate at Oxford, one of the youngest Crown Prosecutors in the country, very proud of my little brother.

Values. Join the campaign for 3 more years here: http://nzyn.at/3moreyears

Mr English said despite the Government’s achievements in addressing a broad range of issues from the crime rate to reducing welfare dependency and the improvement in the economy, voters would not be thinking about rewarding National.

They would be thinking about which party could support them best and offer them the best opportunities. . .

Voters rarely reward parties for what they’ve done but if they recognise that they’ve done well they will vote for more.

The alternative is to undo the good work that’s been done and take us backwards again.
We can't be complacent, every vote counts on 20 September!


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