Word of the day

May 27, 2014

Backarapper – a firework made from firecrackers folded together to explode one after the other.


Smiles and tears

May 27, 2014

Discussion with Simon Mercep on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Does smiling make you happy?

* The Smile Project

and

* Looking at tears under a microscope.

 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2014

HBRIC hopeful Ruataniwha scheme can be saved – Tim Fulton:

The council-controlled company promoting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme reckons it still has a good chance of getting farmers into a bankable project on its three-month deadline.

Farmers were uncertain about the impact of the draft Tukituki catchment plan changes but they hadn’t been scared off, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) chief executive Andrew Newman said.

HBRIC’s immediate problem was that while the Ruataniwha dam had been granted the consents it needed, the proposed Tukituki plan changes didn’t allow the scheme to work, he said.

“I think it’s reasonable to say the decision has had some unintended consequences and a level of ambiguity in it, when viewed in aggregate.” . . .

World Young Shepherds round:

EIGHT YOUNG Kiwis are heading to Lincoln, July 3-5 to compete in the preliminary round of competition at the World Young Shepherds Challenge.

The top two performing competitors will go on to represent New Zealand at the final in France, September 28 – October 4.

“The World Young Shepherds Challenge is a fantastic event, showcasing a vital industry and a range of young people from around the globe who have a major contribution to make to the international sheep industry,” says Beef+Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion. . .

Life a blur of activity for radio host:

As the new voice behind the Southern Farming show, Balfour man Jonny Turner is now making his mark on the Hokonui radio station.

His rural background began in the small Northern Southland community and has played a great influence on his getting involved with radio, as well as his passion for horse racing.

Growing up in Balfour on a mixed farming property, Mr Turner had always had a rural background and he had wanted to get involved with radio. When the opportunity arose he could not have been happier. . .

Tall order for responsible publicans:

Jill Derbyshire and husband Peter have been at the Royal Hotel, Naseby, for more than two years and are keenly aware of their host responsibilities under the law.

Mrs Derbyshire said hoteliers were the first in the firing line if something went wrong.

”We could lose our licence,” Mrs Derbyshire said.

One of the tools they use is an incident book, in which they and their staff protect themselves by recording any interactions they had with patrons about suggesting they use the courtesy coach or that they be driven home, or if they had been argumentative in the bar.

”If something happens and they have been in the bar beforehand, it is there,” she said. . .

Funding sought to get young into agricultural jobs

Venture Southland is looking for up to between $200,000 and $300,000 in funding, or in kind, over three years for its Southland Futures project, a strategy designed to help the region’s unemployed young people into jobs in the agricultural sector.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said it had surveyed 600 Southland pupils last December, and found that few were considering careers in the agriculture or agricultural services sectors.

The organisation found young people and Work and Income clients did look at agricultural jobs in a positive way, apart from the long hours, but often lacked ”direct experience of the industry”. . .

DPI streamlines water bureaucracy

WATER bureaucracy in NSW is being streamlined, with three organisations being combined into one under the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Currently the responsibility for water is shared throughout DPI by specific offices – the NSW Office of Water, Sydney Catchment Authority and the Metropolitan Water Directorate.

Now, the DPI is consolidating these parts into a new look Office of Water aligning the water policy and planning, regulation and monitoring and evaluation for all water in NSW. . .

 Irrigators slam water shake-up – Mike Foley:

NSW Irrigators has slammed the NSW government’s decision to remove the role of Water Commissioner from the state’s bureaucracy, in a departmental shake-up announced today.

“It is appallingly bad timing to abolish the Water Commissioner role now,” NSW Irrigators chairman Richard Stott said.

Mr Stott said planning for water recovery infrastructure projects, under the national Murray Darling Basin Plan, are are at a critical point.

“To abolish the position of Water Commissioner when the current incumbent probably has the most knowledge of how the Basin works and how NSW can best meets its water recovery commitments under the Plan is very short-sighted,” Mr Stott said. . .

Grant helps school tree plan – Michele Ong:

Ahititi School is seeing its dream garden come to fruition thanks to a generous grant.

The school received a $2000 grant from the Rural Women New Zealand and Farmlands to help with its gardening plans, such as buying trees to attract native birds, bird feed, and also “bee-friendly” trees.

Principal Chris Richardson said the school was “really pleased” with the grant which would help further add to the school’s orchard, which includes nashis, plums and apples.

Richardson said the school has not been “troubled by possums”, which was a bonus. . .


Bradford quits on principle

May 27, 2014

Sue Bradford has resigned from the Mana Party in protest against its alliance with the Internet Party.

She sent a letter of resignation to the leadership late this morning, effective immediately, saying she had lost enthusiasm for Mana and “sucking up to a German millionaire” was not her vision for the party.
“My overwhelming emotion today is sadness,” she told 3 News.
“Kim Dotcom is a gamer and it’s a big game that he’s playing, and I don’t want to become his pawn.”
Ms Bradford’s resignation means this will be the first general election in 15 years the former Green Party MP won’t be standing as a candidate. But she admits the alliance, known as Internet Mana, may be more attractive to others with political ambitions. . .

Those political ambitions will be untroubled by the principles Bradford has demonstrated in resigning.


Put That Hoedown

May 27, 2014

From Essex Young Farmers:


Don’t need the government to tell you

May 27, 2014

Stephen Balme, is begging – please government tax me more:

I’m writing here today with a most unusual of requests: Can those in charge please charge me more tax? . . .

We didn’t have much in the way of direct tax cuts this budget, but we did have them earlier on during what was frequently referred to as a global financial crisis.

So, please, charge me more tax.

Who am I to make such a bold, selfless declaration?

I’m a male. I’m 28. I rent. I have a car. I have been in the workforce for three years. Prior to that I attended Otago University where I earned two degrees and a student loan of $37,000.

And finally we get to the crux of my submission.

When I graduated university, my income more than tripled over the money provided to me by my weekly student loan payments, but expenses remained exactly the same.

I have no family to support, very few bills to pay, and ultimately am in a golden age of disposable income that cannot possibly last.

This comfortable life I currently have is only made possible through the generosity of a student loan.

So, please, please start charging interest on my loan.

It’s basic economics to see that the longer I drag out my repayments the less the loan costs in real world terms (thank you inflation).

It seems fairly clear to me that this is an unsustainable cost. You could charge a set fee every year so the mental picture of free money in the eyes of new students is gone.

Adding interest at the rate of inflation is just too obvious to bother discussing all the pros, but once again, I would be willing to pay more than that to assist the future. . .

Interest-free student loans do provide an incentive for people to pay them off no faster than the minimum required, but there is no upper limit on the amount anyone can pay off a student loan.

He could pay his off much faster, he could pay it all off at once if he had enough money.

What’s stopping him?

He doesn’t need to wait for the government to take more from him.

 


More to gain from migrants

May 27, 2014

It’s not long ago that the opposition was complaining that too many people were leaving New Zealand.

Now the migration tide has turned in our favour, they’re complaining that too many are coming here.

In doing so they are resorting to dog-whistle anti-immigration sentiment and ignoring the fact that inwards migration helps the economy:

For a country with such a long history as a migration destination, it is astonishing just how quickly new migration can be portrayed as negative or even a threat. As the Treasury papers show, it is neither. 

On the contrary, the projected uplift in migration figures comes just at the right time for the New Zealand economy and provides ample economic opportunities. There are two caveats, however: New Zealand needs to attract the migrants it needs and it needs to lift its game to accommodate these migrants.

To put the Treasury’s forecasts into perspective, it is worth looking at long-term population trends. The Treasury predicts the population will increase by a quarter of a million people, from 4.46 million in 2013 to 4.72 million in 2018. That is an increase of just over a quarter million, which may sound substantial but it is important to realise two things about these numbers. 

First, more than half of the increase (57%) is natural (that is, more births than deaths) and only 43% is due to net migration. Second, by New Zealand’s historical standards, a population growth of 1.1% a year is not high. In 85 out of the 128 years where data has been collected, population growth rate was above this level.

A net migration gain doesn’t just mean more people arriving, it means fewer are leaving and among those coming are New Zealanders returning, most of whom we should be welcoming back.

The population growth forecast should be welcomed rather than feared. It comes at a time for the New Zealand economy when, figuratively speaking, we need all hands on deck. 

Yes, the population number will rise (as will the labour force) but the total number of people in employment rises even faster. This means the unemployment rate is forecast to go down to just 4.4% by 2018, even despite a slight increase in the labour market participation rate from 67.9% last year to 69.0%. 

To put it simply, there is no shortage of jobs for new migrants. They are entering a labour market, which is edging toward full employment, with labour shortages reported in parts of the country and across many industries. 

Without migration, pressure on wages and therefore inflationary pressures would increase. There can be no doubt new migrants will make a positive contribution to the development of the domestic economy. They will add to its productive capacity and also strengthen demand.

It certainly would not be in New Zealand’s interest to curb migration. Our ability to fine-tune migration figures is limited since a large part of the net migration intake consists of returning Kiwis. For example, people who once left for Australia and now return home as the Australian economy no longer looks that promising. 

These people have a right to reside in New Zealand and cannot simply be turned back at the airport. . .

On the contrary, they should be welcomed, at least some of those will be people whose leaving was lamented as contributing to the brain drain.

Politicians should face it: New Zealand is a migration destination – and it is all the better for it. Because we are such an attractive destination for potential migrants, we can afford to select those we need most. 

We can strategically define the skills we need to build our economy. But we should also ensure those who come here also subscribe to New Zealand values – that they speak our language, respect our laws and become part of the community.

I say all this as a migrant myself – and as a father of a Kiwi son who cares about this country and wants to make it better. I was once part of New Zealand’s net migration statistic. 

Maybe I pushed up house prices at the margin when I arrived. But I am doing my best to make this country a better place. Even if it means defending the positive impacts of migration against populist responses in an election year.

It’s not the quantity of immigrants that’s a concern, it’s the quality.

The author, Dr Oliver Hartwich, is right that we can afford to select immigrants we need most.

We can, and should, also ensure those who come here subscribe to our values, speak our language, respect our laws and become part of the community.

That will happen much more easily if we are welcoming and willing to help migrants adapt to their new home.

It will be made more difficult by the xenophobia which opposition MPs, to their shame, are encouraging.

Aaron Schiff (Hat tip Matt Nolan) points out we gain from immigrants:

. . . We should celebrate because on the incoming side, skilled immigrants provide New Zealand with a significant free gift. Some other country has paid the cost of their birth, childcare, childhood medical care, education, etc. They turn up in New Zealand effectively bringing all that investment with them and this benefits the country. Sounds good to me.

Sounds very good to me.


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