Word of the day

May 23, 2014

Putative –  commonly believed, generally considered or reputed to be; alleged; supposed; assumed to exist or to have existed; imagined; postulated, hypothetical.


Chris Bishop Nat candidate for Hutt South

May 23, 2014

Chris Bishop has been selected by National as its candidate for the Hutt South electorate.

. . . Chris was born and raised in Lower Hutt, attending Eastern Hutt School and Hutt Intermediate. He has worked in both the private and public sector, as well as contributing to the community as President of the New Zealand Schools Debating Council. He was the 2006 Young Wellingtonian of the Year.

Chris holds a first class Honours degree in Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University, and has been admitted to the bar as a Barrister and Solicitor.  He is a skilled debater and public speaker, having won ten intervarsity debating tournaments, including at the Cambridge Union and Sydney Union.

Chris worked as a researcher for National in opposition before spending two and a half years working as a Ministerial Advisor to Hon Gerry Brownlee. Between 2011 and 2013 he lived and worked in Auckland as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris New Zealand, before returning to Parliament to work as a Senior Advisor to Hon Steven Joyce.

Some commentators have seized on the fact this is the second candidate who’s worked for Philip Morris and suggested a conspiracy, but National’s record on anti-smoking initiatives show there is nothing to worry about.

Prime Minister John Key isn’t worried about National putting up two former tobacco lobbyists as election candidates.

“Not in the slightest,” he told reporters.

“Look at the government’s record – we’ve done everything from changing point of sale rules to substantially increasing tobacco excise, and we’ve got a plain packaging bill in parliament.” . . .

I’m anti smoking to a point infinitesimally short of bigotry  but have no concerns that should one or both these candidates become MPs there will be any change in National’s efforts to reduce smoking.

 


NZ back in top 20 for competitiveness

May 23, 2014

New Zealand is back in the top 20 for global competitiveness:

New Zealand’s global competitiveness is climbing again. It has improved five places in the past year to rank 20th in the world, according to the just released Swiss-based IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, a performance survey assessing 60 global economies based on 338 criteria (2/3 are statistical indicators, 1/3 is survey data).

New Zealand’s ranking fell consistently from 15th place, recorded in 2009, to our lowest ever ranking of 25th recorded last year. Our highest ever ranking was 11th recorded in 1997. The IMD survey has been going for 26 years.

This year’s leap further closed the gap between trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand and Australia. Australia slipped another notch from 16th to 17th place this year. Australia ranked behind New Zealand 17 years ago, but the tables turned over the intervening years and at one stage Australia passed New Zealand by a healthy 10 place margin.

“New Zealand seems to be climbing back into contention and pitching for a higher slot,” said New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) Chief Executive Mr Gary Sturgess when he announced the release of the results of the latest survey. NZIM is IMD’s local survey partner.

“This year’s result is pleasing and no doubt reflects New Zealand’s generally improving economic performance,” said Mr Sturgess. “It’s been a long, hard slog to get back on top of our competitiveness game but the signs, as revealed in this year’s survey, are promising. If we’re to compete successfully in our new and fast growing Asian marketplace, we’ll have to perform better than we have in recent years.

“This year’s results do, however, show that New Zealand still has some way to go to get back to competitiveness performance levels achieved in the past,” said Mr Sturgess. “For example, our overall economic performance still ranks at 34 compared with 30 back in 2009. And our business efficiency and infrastructure rankings at 23 and 24 respectively are still down on what they were five years ago.

“New Zealand has always ranked among the world’s highest when it comes to government efficiency. This year’s survey confirms that we are still one of the world most business friendly economies. We’re an open, tariff and subsidy-free economy. Bribery and corruption aren’t prevalent and government is generally very transparent in its business and public transactions.

“But we still suffer from an acute shortage of international management skills. International (management) experience, entrepreneurship and employee training all rank lower than 50 among the 60 economies measured. Our shortage of skilled labour and low workplace productivity are competitiveness performance inhibitors according to the survey. Organisations must put more effort into developing the competencies needed to lift our overall management and leadership capability,” said Mr Sturgess.

The IMD and NZIM identified five challenges facing New Zealand in 2014, the first of which highlighted the need to solve the country’s shortage of internationally competent and experienced senior managers.

The other four challenges included the need to:

• improve international market access and trade connections

• boost knowledge-based capital investment

• raise productivity and workplace skills levels

• close the gap between productivity and average per capita income levels.

The United States is still the world’s most competitive economy, after slipping to second in 2012. Switzerland is second, Singapore third, Hong Kong fourth and Sweden the world fifth most competitive economy. Germany, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Denmark and Norway rounded out the first 10 places.

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook ranks countries on their ability to create and sustain enterprise competitiveness. The overall ranking released today reflects more than 300 criteria, two-thirds of which are based on statistical indicators and one-third on an exclusive IMD survey of 4,300 international executives.

The world rankings scoreboard is here.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

The US retains the No. 1 spot in 2014, reflecting the resilience of its economy, better employment numbers, and its dominance in technology and infrastructure.

There are no big changes among the top ten. Small economies such as Switzerland (2), Singapore (3) and Hong Kong (4) continue to prosper thanks to exports, business efficiency and innovation.

Europe fares better than last year, thanks to its gradual economic recovery. Denmark (9) enters the top ten, joining Switzerland, Sweden (5), Germany (6) and Norway (10). Among Europe’s peripheral economies, Ireland (15), Spain (39) and Portugal (43) all rise, while Italy (46) and Greece (57) fall.

Japan (21) continues to climb in the rankings, helped by a weaker currency that has improved its competitiveness abroad. Elsewhere in Asia, both Malaysia (12) and Indonesia (37) make gains, while Thailand (29) falls amid political uncertainty.

Most big emerging markets slide in the rankings as economic growth and foreign investment slow and infrastructure remains inadequate. China (23) falls, partly owing to concerns about its business environment, while India (44) and Brazil (54) suffer from inefficient labor markets and ineffective business management. Turkey (40), Mexico (41), the Philippines (42) and Peru (50) also fall. . .WCY-country-rankings2

WCY-country-rankings


Rural round-up

May 23, 2014

Beef producers demand a high quality TPP deal:

Beef producers from four Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries have again demanded that any TPP agreement be a high quality deal that eliminates all tariffs on beef.

Members of the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA)* from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, urge all participants involved in the TPP negotiations to re-commit to securing a comprehensive, non-discriminatory outcome – one which eliminates tariffs and importantly addresses behind the border trade barriers.

FNBA is concerned that TPP members have not been able to craft a tariff-eliminating deal for beef, and unless all parties step up to the plate and reaffirm their commitment to a trade liberalizing outcome, countries could begin to drift away from the goal of achieving a 21st century agreement. . .

Forest researchers frustrated by ruling:

A High Court ruling against the use of genetic engineering techniques for tree breeding has frustrated forestry researchers but relieved GM opponents.

The Sustainability Council challenged a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that allowed Forest Research Institute Scion to use two new plant breeding technologies to grow pine trees that among other things would cope better with climate change, and be more disease resistant.

But the High Court has ruled the authority misinterpreted the law and should not have approved the techniques.

Scion said the court decision showed up serious deficiencies in the law covering genetically modified organisms. . .

Native plants often the best answer:

Native plants can help farmers in a multitude of ways, South Canterbury expert Hugh Thompson says.

Speaking at the Trees on Farms workshop at Pleasant Point on April 30, Mr Thompson said native species could be used in shelter belts and riparian plantings, for soil stability in creeks and steep areas, for biodiversity, and for aesthetic reasons.

”They look natural and they’re there forever.”

Six years ago, concerned by the neglect of native vegetation on farmland, Mr Thompson became a full-time horticulturist and started a native nursery.  . .

Goat Conference to address adding value to New Zealand:

Federated Farmers is pleased to announce that the inaugural NZGoats Conference in Queenstown, on 23-25 May, will be focusing on adding sustainable value to the industry.

“Right now the goat industry has a lot to offer with goat meat leading global red meat consumption and Mohair becoming a popular niche fibre so this conference is at a pivotal time for the industry,” said John Woodward, Federated Farmers Mohair New Zealand (INC) Chairperson.

Chairperson of Federated Farmers NZGoats, Dawn Sangster, added “The event is a collaboration between Mohair New Zealand (Inc), Meat Goat New Zealand and NZ Goats, under the Federated Farmers Goats industry umbrella, and the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association (Inc).

“It is aimed at both experienced goat farmers and those interested in the potential of goat farming as a way to diversify their farm business”. . .

Chilly diners get blanket coverage – Sally Rae:

When it came to warming up Queenstown’s Public Kitchen and Bar over winter, the solution was simple – New Zealand wool.

And it all fell into place after Domenic Mondillo was tackled by restaurant manager Heidi Thomson about ways to promote Mondillo Wines and also how to keep customers warm.

Mr Mondillo’s wife Ally had been looking for wool blankets to put their branding on and use as promotional items for clients and overseas visitors and met Polly McGuckin at Exquisite Wool Blankets. . . .

Outdoors Lobby Seeks Party Election Policies:

A national organisation is seeking the views of political parties and current MPs on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) has prepared an election charter and sent it to political parties and MPs said Andi Cockroft, CORANZ co-chairman of Wellington.

“Responses will be later collated and made public,” he said.

Andi Cockroft said CORANZ was strictly apolitical and “politically impartial” but had increasingly viewed with alarm the style and policies of recent governments that were bypassing democracy and eroding the public’s heritage of the outdoors and environmental quality.  . .


Budget day behind the scenes

May 23, 2014


Friday’s answers

May 23, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: In large states, public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.?

2.  What is a spurtle?

3. It’s four in French, forno in Italian, horno in Spanish and oumu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What would you do with a toque?

5. You’ve got half an hour to prepare a meal for unexpected guests, what do you cook?

Points for answers:

Ray and Gravedodger get four with a bonus for the menu.

J Bloggs also got four and Andrei got three.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Budget works for women

May 23, 2014

A few decades ago James K. Baxter wrote about National Mum and Labour Dad.

Things went downhill after that and until recently national has found it harder to win women’s support.

The good news is that has been changing and the Budget has helped to woo women:

The Key Govt, which is fighting to keep its support base around the 46% mark, got an unexpected bonus from the budget last week, with what could be a decisive shift in support from women voters. Trans-Tasman understands private polling showed women reacted positively to the measures announced in the budget for free GP visits and free prescriptions for children under 13, improvements to paid parental leave, a lift in the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and the move to make early childhood centres more accessible and affordable. In reporting their feedback from the budget National backbenchers also noted the intense response from women to measures which were seen to be directing some of the fruits of economic success to where support is most needed. Traditionally National’s support base has been weakest among women voters, especially in the 20-to-40 age group, and in this election it may be more vital than previously to ensure it maximises its vote in this segment.

It was a family-friendly Budget.
Maggie Barry MP's photo.

But it wasn’t just family-friendly, it was also business-friendly.

There has also been a positive reaction from the business sector whose priority is for the Govt to deliver on the basics and ensure the economy is moving in the right direction. This is particularly important where business is moving through the phase of investing in new plant and machinery. The interesting new feature in budgetary responses is coming from iwi leaders who seek dialogue with the Govt, as they plan developments in the wake of major Treaty settlements.

That last point is a welcome sign of what happens when iwi move from grievance to growth.


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