Word of the day

May 8, 2014

Wight – a person of a specified kind; a living being; creature; a spirit, ghost, or other supernatural being.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2014

Despite Strong Currency, New Zealand Winemakers Are Thriving  – Neena Rai:

New Zealand’s wine exports hit a record high in the year through end-March, led by rising demand for new-world wines from British, American and Canadian consumers.

New Zealand wine exports reached more than NZ$1.3 billion in value in those 12 months—up around 9% on the year-earlier period, according to data from Statistics New Zealand.

The gain was fueled by a bumper harvest in 2013, which has made it possible for New Zealand’s vintners to ramp up wine sales overseas.

“The very robust export performance reflects the continued demand in key markets and increased availability of the wine from the 2013 vintage,” said Phillip Gregan, chief executive officer of industry body New Zealand Winegrowers. “We expect further strong growth in the year ahead when the 2014 vintage wines are released” he added. . .

Dairy firm wants restrictions removed:

Dairy livestock genetics company LIC is asking the Government to consider removing regulations that were imposed on it when it had a monopoly on national dairy herd testing.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has started consultation as the dairy industry prepares for the transfer of its core br 3_news.4_web_news.air

eeding database from the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) to DairyNZ.

MPI said it needs to decide whether it’s appropriate to continue regulating LIC once that’s happened.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said its farmer owners agree it’s time to do away with the restrictions. . .

Part A of WPC Ministerial Inquiry initiated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that the final part (Part A) of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident will begin on 12 May.

“Part A will examine how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand international markets and how this was subsequently addressed,” Mr Guy says.

“Part A could not begin until the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance investigation was complete, sentencing had occurred, and the appeal period had expired.

“Inquiry Chair Miriam Dean QC has been conducting preliminary work with the Department of Internal Affairs on a suitable date to begin the inquiry to ensure availability of other inquiry members and that a secretariat is available,” Ms Kaye says. . . .

Black beetle numbers on the rise:

AgResearch scientists warn that one more mild winter could result in a population explosion of black beetle.
 
“Recent AgResearch trial work shows that black beetle populations are on the increase and development is more advanced in autumn 2014 than in the previous five years,” says AgResearch Science Team Leader Biocontrol and Biosecurity Dr Alison Popay.
​“This means that the adult black beetles will have plenty of time to feed and build up fat reserves to help them through the winter.  If warm conditions continue through autumn and spring conditions are right, some farmers could be facing another serious black beetle outbreak next summer.” . . .

 

Food and beverage sector driving growth:

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is well positioned for substantial growth, with exports on track to double in value in the next 15 years to US$40 billion, according to reports released today.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today released the 2014 edition of the Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage Industry. The Investors Guide showcases the key factors driving New Zealand’s food exporting success: high-quality ingredients, disease-free status, comprehensive network of free trade agreements, world-leading business environment, and strong food science capability.

“The Investors Guide shows significant investment and acquisition activity which indicates a dynamic and growing industry, and we are seeing the results in export performance,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Timber products exported without chemicals:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the expansion of a trial which has successfully exported timber products to Australia without chemical treatment.

“Forest product exporters are normally required to fumigate with methyl bromide or other chemical treatment during the summer flight season of the burnt pine longhorn beetle,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The non-chemical solution requires that inspected timber is either kept within an insect-proof environment until it is put in a container and sealed, or put in a container during daylight hours of the same day to avoid the nocturnal beetle. . . .


Floral fiends

May 8, 2014

An elderly couple have been told the flower bed outside their home is ‘criminal damage’ by a council which has demanded they rip it out.

An elderly couple have been warned they face a court charged with ‘criminally damaging the highway’ – after they planted a flower bed outside their home.

Colin Halsey, 77, and his wife Kath, 76, had decided to grow daffodils, pansies and other bushes and plants as long ago as 1999 to stop motorists churning up the grass verge whenever they parked their cars.

But almost 15 years on, a council official carrying out an inspection of the village where they couple live, spotted the illicit flower bed growing at the front of their former council house.

He spoke to Mr Halsey claiming his ”planting activity” was a ”criminal offence” under Section 131 of The Highways Act 1980 and then warned the retired salesman, the plants and bushes had been ”planted without permission.”

Afterwards he fired off a legal letter when the pensioner failed to remove them warning he had even added extra plants. . .

Gosh, imagine what the world would look like if we let floral fiends like these two indulge in “planting activity” without the necessary permission.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


Thursday’s quiz

May 8, 2014

1. Who said: Women’s Liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It’s the men who are discriminated against. They can’t bear children. And no one’s likely to do anything about that. ?

2.  Where was Plunket founded and by whom?

3. It’s too easy  in French, nonna in Italian, abeula in Spanish and kuia in Maori, what is it in English?

4. How many grandchildren does Queen Elizabeth have and what are the names of three of them?

5. Does mother know best?


Boost to apprenticeships

May 8, 2014

A generation ago thousands of people left school and took up apprenticeships.

In the intervening years changes to the system led to a drop in numbers of apprentices which has led to a shortage of skilled trades people.

A pre-Budget announcement provides a welcome boost to help solve that problem:

Continuing high demand for the Apprenticeship Reboot means the Government has decided to spend up to $20 million in Budget 2014 for an extra 6,000 places as part of its Business Growth Agenda, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Apprenticeship Reboot was announced in January 2013 by Prime Minister John Key alongside an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme to get more apprentices qualified, especially in construction trades.

Eligible apprentices or trainees who sign up for training have been able to apply for a subsidy of $1,000 towards the cost of tools and off-job course costs, or $2,000 for those in priority trades. Employers are also eligible for an equal payment.

“The Government extended the available places from 10,000 to 14,000 in December last year to keep up with demand,” Mr Joyce says.

”We’re now committing additional funding in Budget 2014 of up to $20 million for 6,000 more places. That brings total funding for the scheme to $69.4 million and the total number of places to 20,000.

“The Apprenticeship Reboot is proving very successful in getting more apprentices underway, especially in the priority trades we need for the rebuilding of Christchurch and the housing construction boom in Auckland. It is giving more Kiwis vital vocational skills that will set them up for their working lives, while meeting the needs of the growing economy.

“When we introduced the Reboot and New Zealand Apprenticeships, we anticipated that a total of 14,000 new apprentices would start training over the following five years, over and above the 7,000 who would normally enrol. However, demand for places continues to outpace this forecast.

“The Government’s ongoing investment in the Apprenticeship Reboot will benefit Christchurch, the wider economy, and thousands of New Zealanders whose training will lead to higher wages and better living standards for them and their families.”

More training opportunities will contribute to higher wages and better living standards: http://bit.ly/1ikno5l


Softening up for state funding

May 8, 2014

The faux outrage the Labour and Green party are expressing over National Party fund-raising is an attempt to soften people up to a policy of state funding for political parties.

Cabinet Clubs have been around for years, operating when National is in government and when it isn’t.

They are run by volunteers in electorates, as any other electorate fund-raiser is.

People are charged either an annual fee or by the event for the opportunity to met with like-minded people, most of whom are other members, over a meal with a visiting MP who is usually, but not always a minister, or when National is in opposition, a spokesperson.

This is all quite within the rules and it’s arrant hypocrisy for Labour to be insinuating there’s something wrong with it when at last year’s conference they were selling one on one time with their MPs:

They have asked corporates to buy a stand in their marketplace for $1,500 and in return they get:

An opportunity to meet 1:1 in a short meeting with your choice (subject to availability) of Members of Parliament and senior Party officials (further information regarding this will be sent to you on payment).

If paying for lunch at which an MP speaks and attendees get an opportunity to ask questions or offer views, in a group, offends the left, how much worse is selling one on one time?

MPs who comes to  Cabinet Club functions get no money. All funds raised above costs go to fund the electorate’s activities including election campaigns and levies to run the party. All funds for the latter come from membership, fund-raising by volunteers and donations.

The best way to raise funds is by membership. Not just for the money paid directly through the annual fee but also the people power members provide for supporting the party financially and in other ways including the time and effort put in to campaigning.

The left know they are at a disadvantage here.

National is the only party left in New Zealand which can still claim 10s of thousands of members.

Labour’s leadership campaign last year boosted their membership but even if they retained most of them they are unlikely to have more than 10,000 members, if that.

The Green Party has far fewer members, that’s why they require MPs to pay 10% of their salaries to the party.

Unable or unwilling to attract grass root members, the left is trying to soften the electorate up to a policy of state funding of parties.

Parties are voluntary organisations like sports and service clubs, churches, the AA and thousands of other organisations of like-minded people who fund their own activities and should have no call on the public purse.

It’s not just about the money, it’s about participatory democracy. Political parties are of their people, for their people and should be funded by their people, not other people’s taxes.

What’s better for democracy – parties funded by people who voluntarily support them, or state funding?

If parties can’t engender enough support to fund themselves, do they really deserve to be in parliament, let alone government?

 


Employment up

May 8, 2014

Employment and labour force participation continued to improve in May while unemployment remained at 6%.

“We’re seeing more people in the labour market, with the participation rate surpassing the previous high in late 2008 before the downturn in the labour market,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The rise in participation is on the back of more people in work, while the number of people looking for work remains unchanged.”

The labour force participation and employment rates both increased 0.4 percentage points over the quarter. “Employment continues to rise, with growth seen across a number of regions, industries, and demographics,” Ms Ramsay said. 

Annually, the number of people employed rose 3.7 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 2.6 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES). 

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime), was 1.6 percent. This compares with annual consumer price inflation of 1.5 percent. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.5 percent over the year. . .

 The latest labour market data shows continuing strong employment growth with 84,000 more jobs added to the New Zealand economy in the last year – the largest increase in nearly a decade.

“The latest results show the growing strength of the New Zealand economy,” Mr Joyce says. 

“While unemployment remained flat at 6.0 per cent, it was driven by a record labour force participation rate of 69.3 per cent. That compares with 64.7 per cent in Australia.

Highlights include:

  • Female participation rose to 63.7 per cent – a new record high.
  • Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey, rose 2.5 per cent in the year. Inflation was 1.5 per cent in the last year, meaning New Zealanders’ wages continue to rise faster than the cost of living
  • Unemployment for Pasifika continues to fall – down 2.2 percentage points from a year ago.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.6 per cent.

“Through our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, the Government has a strong focus on creating the opportunities for competitive businesses to invest and employ more people.

“Our results so far are reflected in strong growth, increasing employment, an improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living.”

An increase in employment and labour force participation while unemployment remains steady appears to be contradictory.

One explanation for that is that people who hadn’t been looking for work decided to and found jobs.

It could also reflect the return of people from Australia.
Photo: National's economic programme is working. http://bit.ly/1iVcOn0


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