Word of the day

May 18, 2014

Yclept –  by the name of, called.


What flower are you?

May 18, 2014

What flower are you?

I’m sometimes a a carnation:

You are uniquely sweet and innocent. You can bring a smile to anyone’s face. Friends and strangers alike can recognize that you are something special.

I hope that’s a garden one that smells spicy and not the hot house variety with no scent.

And sometimes a sunflower:

You are the eternal optimist, always looking up. Nothing can shake your sweet, happy spirit. Friends enjoy your company because they find your joy contagious.

Honesty requires me to admit that while I aspire to both of those, I don’t always achieve them.


Rural round-up

May 18, 2014

Sheep farming vital, ripe for higher returns:

New Zealand sheep farmers could and should be earning more for their products, a sheep industry advocate has told scientists at AgResearch’s Ruakura campus.

Shifting into a higher earning bracket would result in a more vibrant pastoral sector, Steve Wyn-Harris said.

The Central Hawke’s Bay sheep farmer and columnist was in Hamilton recently as guest speaker at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Science’s Waikato branch’s monthly meeting.

He said only 10 per cent of New Zealand sheep farms made a high- earning $650 per hectare farm surplus.

The bulk of the industry had to be shifted into that bracket – “and it can be done”. . .

Money to protect southern water :

Landowners in Southland’s Waihopai and Waikawa catchments will have better access to funding for fencing and planting following a decision by Environment Southland to relax grant criteria.

The Living Streams fund supports landowners in the two catchments by awarding grants to projects that protect or enhance water quality, such as fencing waterways and riparian planting.

Senior programme leader Amy Kirk said the grant was a significant incentive for landowners wanting to put up fencing to protect waterways.

“Keeping stock from accessing waterways is the easiest first step to improve and protect water quality, which is our top priority,” she said. . .

 

Innovation central to farm’s success – Gerard Hutching:

Matt and Lynley Wyeth’s Spring Valley farm east of Masterton lies in the area called Kaituna, roughly translated as “plentiful eel”, appropriately enough for a property that has recently won a top environment award.

The native crayfish, koura, abound in the streams and wetlands dotting the property, testament to the health of the ecosystem. Sons Alex, 9, and Cameron, 6, know the best places to trap the creatures, both having acquired a taste for the freshwater delicacy.

Lying in the foothills of the Tararua Forest Park, Spring Valley can be difficult country to farm. A spring snowfall just around the key time of lambing is always on the cards, while 1800 millimetres of rain makes working the 1000-hectare property a daunting challenge. This compares with an average of 1200mm in Wellington city. . .

Import need will remain – Hugh Stringleman:

THE gap filled by milk powder imports was 20% of consumption last year and it will remain large for the foreseeable future, Rabobank’s China dairy and beverages specialist Sandy Chen says. 

The need would be 10-20% of demand this year, he predicted.

On a speaking tour around New Zealand, Chen said the gap between China’s domestic dairy production and consumption widened dramatically last year, from 5% to 20%.

NZ filled 90% of the increased import demand for milk powder. . .

Large-scale forest for sale near Taumarunui:

A 3000-hectare forest for sale near Taumarunui is one of the largest forestry blocks to be offered on the open market in recent years.

While forestry estates of this scale are often sold privately, Oio Forest is a first rotation forest for sale by tender.

LJ Hooker rural sales agent Warwick Searle said the size and quality of the forest made the sale significant. . .

Battle for New Zealand’s best bacon and ham begins:

Entries are now open for the 100% New Zealand Bacon & Ham Competition and top butchers are encouraging their peers to enter.

From the tastiest rasher to the most succulent slice of ham, the Competition attracts butchers and retailers nationwide who put their craft to the test on Friday 18 July 2014.

The 100% NZ Bacon & Ham Competition celebrates New Zealand’s finest cured pork products and helps customers identify and appreciate homegrown, sustainable bacon and ham. It supports New Zealand’s pig farmers, who raise pork solely for the local market. . . .


What should the exchange rate be?

May 18, 2014

Bob Jones isn’t impressed with Labour’s monetary policy, with good reason:

The uncritical way the media have treated Labour’s ridiculous monetary policy proposal reflects its mood change. Despite its alluring symmetry, the concept is naive in the extreme. David Parker should be asked exactly what should the exchange rate be? That would be fun. Let us assume he succeeded in lowering the exchange rate drastically, for if not drastically, then why bother?

The effect: happy farmers and exporters (that is until they wanted to buy a new tractor, car and other spending), a reduced income for all houseowners other than the minority with floating-rate mortgages who stay neutral, and the return of inflation as virtually everything and not just imported goods leaps in cost. Ergo: back to the days of wage-costs cyclical increases and an end to stability.

A fall in the value of the dollar is not without costs – and for many people those costs could well be higher than those of a higher exchange rate.

Reducing the value of the dollar, reduces earning power in effect reducing the real value of wages.

But here’s the irony. For Labour to get up this year, they acknowledge they must capture the 30 per cent non-voting sector comprising mainly low-income people. Reducing their already tight incomes and adding to their consumption cost is an odd way to achieve that. . .

If Labour thinks they can sell a policy which would reduce people’s take-home pay by increasing Kiwisaver contributions while bemoaning the plight of the poor, they really don’t understand the people to whom they’re tying to appeal.


Deep roots

May 18, 2014

Open large picture

©2014 Brian Andreas published with permission.

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Most fundamentally important task

May 18, 2014

Photo: We’ve committed an extra $500m in the Budget to support children and families. http://ntnl.org.nz/1sCYDoh

No-one should contradict the first half of this sentence – parenting is the most fundamentally important task in society.

That they need support should be beyond debate too.

However, the nature of that support and who gives it and how much is given is debatable.

Parent with babies and young children used to be able to rely on getting practical and moral support from  extended family, friends and neighbours.

Then the state got involved through family benefit.

A generation ago all mothers received the FB for each child from birth until the end of the year the child turned 18.

It wasn’t a lot, about $5 a week from memory, though to put that in perspective the rent on my first flat, in 1976, was $7 and the next year rent was only $4.75.

The FB was dropped by Ruth Richardson on the grounds that it was ridiculous for someone like her to get the money when she and her family didn’t need it while other families needed more.

Various forms of more targeted help for families have been introduced since then.

One of those is Paid Parental Leave – targeted not on need, but whether or not the mother was in paid work for the required length of time before the baby was born.

That means wealthy families in which the mother has been working get help for jam while poorer families in which the mother wasn’t working might not have enough for bread.

The importance of time together for mothers and babies to bond is beyond debate.

In the past that meant most women stopped working for some time and the family lost income as a result.

It’s now the norm in most western countries to pay some form of PPL to give some financial support to women who stop work to care for their babies.

But it still leaves the question of whether there should be help for families in which the mother wasn’t in paid work, if not universally at least for those on lower incomes.

There is of course another question – whether or not it’s the taxpayers’ role to provide financial support for any new parents and the wealthier ones in particular.

But once a benefit like PPL, it’s politically difficult to cut it.

I’m still left with another question, though – would the practical and moral support parents used to get from extended family, friends and neighbours be at least as valuable for many as the financial help from the state?

Regardless of your financial position, it’s very difficult doing the most fundamentally important task of parenting in isolation.


Horan has to act

May 18, 2014

The NBR asks – Will Horan drop the hammer?

It starts by listing the happenings which have made this a horror year for Winston Peters then goes on to say:

Affable TVNZ presenter turned failed MP Brendan Horan could hold the country’s fate in his hands — or at least the outcome of the next election.

Mr Horan tells NBR he’s still trying to decide whether to push ahead with a complaint over Winston Peters’ apparent failure to disclose his financial interest in racehorse Bellazeel.

Having called for Judith Collins’s head for failing to fully comply with her obligations under the Register of MPs’ Pecuniary Interests, it would be untenable for Mr Peters to stay on if  found to have committed the same offence (in reality, of course, Mr Peters would claim conspiracy or some other excuse, but the embarrassment and awkwardness could well push his party under the 5% threshold).

Registrar Sir Maarten Wevers, who oversees the registry of MP’s financial interests, says he cannot look into the matter of his own account. Standing Orders require a formal complaint to be made by an MP.

And Mr Horan is the only one likely to lay the potentially career-ending complaint. . . .

If he’s got grounds for a complaint he’s honour-bound to make one.

If he hasn’t the very slight hopes he might have had of retaining a seat in parliament will be dashed.

And on the face of things, there’s a pretty good case for Sir Maarten to at least have a poke around.

Mr Peters has defended his non-disclosure, saying his interest in the racehorse was a small, short-term syndicated lease, purchased in a charity auction in 2008. The NZ First leader says the lease has since expired and Bellazeel — sired by famous racehorse Zabeel — is no longer running.

According to TVNZ’s report, Mr Peters told reporters earlier this week, “I did have an ownership for a short time but it’s been out to pasture for years.”

Yet NZ Racing records that Bellazeel raced as recently as January. 

In fact, the five-year-old bay mare — sired by the famous Zabeel — has had quite a chipper time of it over the past few months, with two wins and a third from seven starts in the 2013/14 season, earning prize-money of $20,175.

In all, Bellazeel has raced 15 times and won three races, winning $31,575.

And Mr Peters has been fuzzy on timing, his exit from the syndicate is presumably a recent development; NZ Racing still lists him as a co-owner.

What’s holding him back?
So what’s stopping Mr Horan pushing ahead with a complaint? . . .

He made the first accusations under parliamentary privilege but then went too far with fresh ones without that protection:

He went on Radio NZ and, in a live interview, made new accusations against Mr Peters regarding consultants and spending. 

Mr Peters turned his lawyers on RNZ.

The state broadcaster posted an apology to its website the same day, which it also read out multiple times on air.

Having taken his attack a step too far, Mr Horan now seems to have over-compensated in the other direction. . .

There is no downside for him taking the complaint to the registrar if he’s got grounds to do so.

He has to act, providing he’s got facts to back it up.

If he doesn’t he’ll play right into Peters’ hands because it will look like the allegations he made were baseless.


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