Juan Carlos abdicates

June 2, 2014

When we lived in Spain some of the people we met could remember life under Franco and the transition to democracy under King Juan Carlos.

It’s fairly recent history.

On a lighter note the news has prompted these tweets:


Politics daily

June 2, 2014

New Zealand Politics Daily is taking  a break.

I don’t have the time or inclination to provide the same service of a reasonably comprehensive list of links to news stories and blog posts on issues of the day.

However, I’m willing to start with a few and invite anyone who has read anything I’ve missed to add a link to it in a comment.

I won’t pretend to be balanced – there will be more links to blogs of a bluer hue. Anyone who wants the red and green end of the spectrum better represented is welcome to leave links.

John Key in Samoa

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – Big chief Key visits Samoa on first leg of Pacific tour:

Prime Minister John Key says he is expecting the campaign for the All Blacks to play in Samoa to be on the agenda in his meeting with Samoa’s Prime Minister today, and said he was a fan of the idea himself. . . .

Claire Trevett – @ NZ Herald – Key gets taste of Samoan pride in Apia:

Prime Minister John Key got a taste of Samoan pride at Independence Day celebrations in Apia today. . .

Green Party

Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald – Carbon policy dangles cash carrot:

The Green Party is offering up tax breaks of $6 a week for households to soften the blow of a proposal to tax carbon pollution in New Zealand for the first time. . . .

RadioNZ – Greens’ carbon tax policy challenged:

A carbon tax as proposed by the Green Party would make New Zealand’s primary export industry less competitive than other countries’, Federated Farmers says. . .

Federated Farmers – Green Party Carbon Tax a mixed message:

Farmers will be confused by the Green Party’s decision to abandon the world’s most stringent Emissions Trading Scheme in favour of a Carbon Tax. . .

Matt Nolan @ The Visible Hand – Greens’ carbon tax:

I see that the Greens have announced a carbon tax to replace the emissions trading scheme (with details and analysis by BERL here).  . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A massive tax on NZ and the Greens reckon each household will save a measly $319 p.a.:

The Green party is going into this election proposing a carbon tax…the exact same thing that cost Julia Gillard her job. . . .

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Green’s carbon tax:

The have proposed scrapping, the , replacing it with a , and compensating for the with a reduction in income and company tax. . .

Business NZ – More sophisticated approach than carbon tax needed:

The business community is disappointed by the Green Party carbon tax policy, saying it would not be good for communities, bringing potential loss of jobs and industry. . .

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald  – Excitement the mark of a party whose time has come:

The Greens are straining at the leash. They are not just hungry for power. They are starving. . .

RadioNZ – Questions over Greens’ healthcare policy:

The Green Party’s promise of free healthcare for everyone up to the age of 18 is unaffordable and fiscally irresponsible, the Government says. . .


Jane Bowron @ The Press – Piling on inducements:

Town planners of the future will have to set aside lots of land for dementia wards if the latest research by a Finnish doctor is to be taken seriously. . .

The Owl @ Whaleoil – Who will get all the union donations?

The left parties now have a major issue and in particular Labour as the union donations for the elections are up for grabs. . .

Pete George at Your NZ – A young person’s view:

Yesterday I was talking to someone in their twenties who has at least average awareness of news and what goes on in politics. . .


Marlborough express – Migrants not the problem:

There is no cause for excitement about the number of migrants showing up from distant lands. . .


Pete George @ Your NZ  – Kim Dotcom and the Internet Party:

Is it ever going to be possible to separate Kim Dotcom from the Internet Party (and now the Internet/Mana campaign constriction)? . . .

Gravedodger @ No Minister – NZ Prepares For The International Pinhead Dancing Championships:

As the dust settles following the High Socialistiety marriage of the decade between the hard left of NZ politics and the most media prominent 1 percenter on current rankings, indications are that a significant number of the hopefuls for the WFoPD  world champs are well off the pace. . .

Cameron Slater @ whale Oil – The advent of political Mega-donors:

The best thing about Kim Dotcom pouring millions into this election is that he has set the benchmark for all other parties…and it is the left-wing that has done it. . .

Cameron Slater @ whale Oil – Will David Cunliffe commit to shunning the Internet Mana Party?

Labour and David Cunliffe find themselves in a pickle and one that all media commentators and the hard left have missed. . .


David Farrar @ Kwiblog – A smart ad:

The Conservative Party ran this ad full page in the Sunday newspapers. It said: . . .

NZ Herald – Top honours for business long overdue:

A recurring criticism of this country is that it fails to acknowledge the importance of its business leaders. . . .

Alf Grmuble – Try becoming a broadcaster, if you are not Labour’s Flavell of the month – or try another party:

Dunno what is so disagreeable about Will Flavell within Labour ranks. . . .

Timaru Herald – Further protection for victims in new law:

Late last Tuesday Parliament passed the Victims Orders Against Violent Offender’s Bill. . .

Southland times – Fixing up the fixing:

 The Government is right to be making match-fixing an explicit criminal offence. . . .

Peter Cresswell @ Not PC – The use of the English language in Australia:

Yes, Tony Abbott, words do have meaning. . . .


Word of the day

June 2, 2014

Nothingarian – a person of no particular religious belief, creed, particular sect or political affiliation.

Rural round-up

June 2, 2014

Dairy growth transforms High Country –  Graeme Acton:

The dry grasslands of the South Island’s Mackenzie Country are a truly iconic New Zealand location. But Insight investigates how much pressure the landscape might face from plans to increase dairying.

The Mackenzie Country is a tough and unforgiving land where farming is difficult, and where generations of New Zealand farming families have struggled with snow and ice, drought and pests.

But the Mackenzie Country is undergoing a transformation, a quiet revolution where the tussock is giving way to ryegrass, and where the sheep are slowly being replaced by dairy cows.

Irrigation in the Mackenzie raises two vital issues: the protection of water quality and the protection of the current landscape. . .

 Fashion stores get the wool message – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Shepherds mixed with shopkeepers and fashion designers stroked city sheep at the launch of Wool Week on Monday.

The “We’re Loving Wool!” message is being spread throughout the nation’s cities this week, thanks to Primary Wool Co-operative sponsorship.

The launch was at Auckland’s Britomart, where the country’s top designers were in attendance.

Zambesi’s Liz Findlay, Campaign for Wool New Zealand Fashion ambassador, shared the impact of wool on her clothing collections. . .

 Gypsy Day marks homecoming for Waikato farmer –  Erin Majurey:

Watch out on rural Waikato roads this weekend.

It’s likely to be busy as farmers pack up their troubles and head to pastures new for the start of the next dairy season.

It culminates tomorrow with what has become known as Gypsy Day – the day when contracts are up and farms change hands.

Many have spent this week packing boxes and cleaning their ovens preparing for moving day, when they will march their stock down the road only to pick up where they left off.

Among them is Ruakura herd manager Joel Baldwin who is heading home to Putaruru.

Baldwin, 24, will start sharemilking on his father Gray’s farm. . .

 Gypsy Day challenges some schools:

A rural principal says while Gypsy Day means a lot of work for farmers, it’s also a difficult time for country schools.

The first day of June marks the start of the new dairy season, and sharemilkers around New Zealand are shifting farms to start new contracts.

The principal of Lauriston School in mid-Canterbury, Dianne Pendergast, says the uncertainty of where pupils and their families will be can be stressful for teachers trying to plan class sizes. . . .


Still keen to see who’s top dog – Sahban Kanwal:

Peter Boys has been dog trialling for 50 years and he is still going strong.

Boys, from Timaru, has been competing for as long as he can remember and he does not have any plans to quit soon.

“I am going to compete for as long as I can – I still have about 10 years left in me,” he said, as he finished his turn in this year’s New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trials Championships, at Waihi Station near Geraldine.

Boys’ dog, 4-year-old Jem, is not quite as old a hand at the championships as her owner, and according to Boys, she has maybe another six years of participating in these events. . . .


World class who?

June 2, 2014

Do you know who Claudia Batten, Andrew Adamson, Neville Jordan,Dr Catherine Mohr  and Dr Murray Brennan are?

They were honoured at the 2014 World Class New Zealand Awards last week but I suspect most of us know little about the awards, or those who won them.

. . . digital entrepreneur Claudia Batten was named the youngest ever Supreme Award winner.

Ms Batten, 39, stood out as not only a serial entrepreneur but also for her “degree of engagement” in supporting other Kiwis in the start-up scene, according to one of the judges, Phil Veal.

“She’d achieved a remarkable measure of success but she had actively in the last several years been engaged in giving back to New Zealand,” Mr Veal said.

Colorado-based Ms Batten, who began her career in commercial law, was a founding member of two highly successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Others recognised included Andrew Adamson, director of the animated box office hit Shrek, who flew from Russia to receive his award for services to the creative sector.

Multi-millionaire Wellington businessman-turned-investor Neville Jordan accepted his award for services to business and investment.

Surgical robotics technologist Dr Catherine Mohr was recognised for her global impact on life sciences and renowned surgical oncologist Dr Murray Brennan was awarded for his contributions to research.

World Class New Zealand also acknowledged the substantial impact American technology entrepreneur and Kiwi Landing Pad director Craig Elliott has had on New Zealand’s standing in America’s tech world, announcing him this year’s Friend of New Zealand.

The awards, established by Kea (Kiwi Expatriates Association) New Zealand in 2003, include among past winners former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Don McKinnon, fashion entrepreneur Peri Drysdale and physicist Sir Paul Callaghan, who was recognised posthumously in 2012.

Kea New Zealand global chief executive Craig Donaldson said last night’s winners were saluted for taking flight and creating global success against all odds.

“Their success has been earned in workplaces far less glamorous than the world-famous sports fields and concert stages but their contribution to our country is immense and should be widely promoted to inspire others to dream big.”

Had they won on sports fields or concert stages we’d probably know more about them.

But success in business and science usually take place below the popular radar.

Mr Donaldson said the awards played a vital role in recognising “tall poppies”, particularly when New Zealanders were not confident at promoting their successes.

“There are so many amazing Kiwis around the world who have done world-class things but none of us have heard about them.” . . .

More’s the pity.

Success in business, science and any other positive field of endeavour should be celebrated the way successes in sport and the arts are.

This year’s judges included Sir Tipene O’Regan, Professor Margaret Brimble, Dr Craig Nevill-Manning, Peri Drysdale, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas and Jon Mayson.

Q & A The Herald asked the six winners the same set of questions:

1. Was there a specific moment or turning point that helped launch your career? What drove you to make the choices you made?
2. In your opinion, is there something special that sets Kiwis apart or helps Kiwis succeed on the world stage?
3. What can New Zealanders do better to improve their chances of success overseas?
4. Which one New Zealander do you feel epitomises the Kiwi attitude to success and why?
5. What does being a World Class New Zealander mean to you?
6. Sum up your career in 10 words or less.

Answers include:

Dr Murray Brennan . . .

3. Having your own vision is important, but equally so is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes and see the opportunities that they see. It may be a given, but hard work isn’t just an important factor in success, it’s inevitable. . .

5. A deep feeling of gratitude. While I have been recognised in other parts of the world for my work, to be honoured with this award here in New Zealand by such an esteemed group of judges is a special milestone.

6. Otago education, serendipity, hard work, tenacity, vision, next generation investment.

Dr Catherine Mohr . . .

3. Our greatest strengths are often the source of vulnerabilities as well. The very dauntless attitude that leads Kiwis to take on anything, can lead to a tendency to reinvent when it might be better to adapt, or to change what is there currently, when it may be better to simply move forward. . . 

5. As a New Zealander who largely grew up away from New Zealand, being a Kiwi has always been an anchor of my identity. I felt great pride to be a part of this community. It is an incredible honour to be receiving this award. It is like being welcomed home.

6. Finding ways to use technology to improve the human condition.

Neville Jordan . . .

3. Understand their place in the world and behave as a world citizen. . .

5. It provides a quiet space within; to reflect on and about all those who have helped me along the way.

6. Vision, courage and stamina.

Claudia Batten . . . 

3. We have to realise that when we step on to the world stage there is another code, another set of rules, and learn them. I think we can be a little naive; a little too “smell of the oily rag”.

4. Maybe it’s human nature to want to hear about soap stars and athletes. I find it repetitive and uninspired. We should talk about the Sarah Robb O’Hagans, Victoria Ransoms, Greg Crosses, Jonty Kelts and Guy Horrocks a lot more than we do every one of them pushing boundaries and setting new standards internationally.

5. As Kiwis on the world stage we have an obligation to represent all the positives that people associate with New Zealanders and then take it to another level. We need to be out there setting the groundwork so that others can have a slightly less bumpy road as they come in behind us.

6. A squiggly line!

Craig Elliott . . .

3. New Zealanders should not be afraid to raise their hands and tell the world about their good ideas. . . .

5. Being an “American” World Class New Zealander allows me to help more New Zealand entrepreneurs and serve as their network into Silicon Valley. Any way I can bring attention to the innovation in New Zealand is fantastic and I’m honoured to be able to help.

6. Farm boy turned high tech CEO/fly fisherman.

 This refers to those who’ve been awarded Queen’s Birthday honours, but it applies equally to these people and the many others most of us don’t know who make a positive difference every day:

It’s important that we recognise those who make a difference in our communities.

Fairtrade fails the poor

June 2, 2014

A study into Fairtrade shows it fails the poor it purports to help:

Sales of Fairtrade-certified products from Uganda and Ethiopia are not benefiting poor farmworkers as profits fail to trickle down to much of the workforce, says a groundbreaking study.

The Fairtrade Foundation is committed to “better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”. But a UK government-sponsored study, which investigated the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda, found that “where Fairtrade flowers were grown, and where there were farmers’ groups selling coffee and tea into Fairtrade certified markets, wages were very low”.

Christopher Cramer, an economics professor at Soas, University of London and one of the report’s authors, said: “Wages in other comparable areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops but where there was no Fairtrade certification were usually higher and working conditions better. In our research sites, Fairtrade has not been an effective mechanism for improving the lives of wage workers, the poorest rural people.”

Researchers who collected detailed information on more than 1,500 people said they also found evidence of the widespread use of children being paid to work on farms growing produce for Britain’s leading ethical label. . . .

Fairtrade is supposed to help the poor, improving their wages and cutting out costs between workers and customers.

Fair Trade, organic and sustainability certification organizations make claims that they reduce poverty and improve sustainability – through price premiums, ownership stakes, higher output demand, more environmentally sustainable production conditions, and/or ‘civil society empowerment’ activities.


Unfortunately, there is a bewildering variety of schemes, with varying content to their certification processes and auditing procedures. . .

This research was unable to find any evidence that Fairtrade has made a positive

difference to the wages and working conditions of those employed in the production of the commodities produced for Fairtrade certified export in the areas where the research has been conducted. This is the case for ‘smallholder’ crops like coffee – where Fairtrade standards have been based on the erroneous assumption that the vast majority of production is based on family labour – and for ‘hired labour organization’ commodities like the cut flowers produced in factory – style greenhouse conditions in Ethiopia.


In some cases, indeed, the data suggest that those employed in areas where there are Fairtrade producer organisations are significantly worse paid, and treated, than those employed for wages in the production of the same commodities in areas without any Fairtrade certified institutions (including in areas characterised by smallholder production).

At the very least, this research suggests that Fairtrade organizations need to pay far more attention to the conditions of those extremely poor rural people – especially women and girls – employed in the production of commodities labelled and sold to ‘ethical consumers’ who expect their purchases to improve the lives of the poor.

The FTEPR research design did not set out to capture comprehensive data on child labour. However, in the quantitative survey results and especially in the qualitative life’s work interviews, the fact of widespread wage labour by children and teenagers (specifically, children working for wages and during school time) was inescapable.

 Another issue of importance both to the Fairtrade literature and more widely is the governance and structure of producer cooperatives. . . . The research finds a high degree of inequality between members of these cooperatives, i.e. the area cultivated with the certified crop (tea and coffee) and the share of the cooperative’s output are very unevenly distributed among members: there are large numbers of members who have tiny plots of land and sell very little to the cooperative, and there is a small number of members who dominate sales to and through the cooperative. One clear implication of this is that the many benefits of being a member of a Fairtrade certified cooperative – tax breaks, direct marketing channels to high – value niche markets, international donor financed subsidies – accrue very unequally.

 Fairtrade may ‘work’ but it does not quite do what it says on most of the labels: it aggravates rural inequality and at best may do so by supporting the emergence of rural capitalist producers; and it fails to make a difference, on the data collected, to the welfare of the poorest people involved in the Fairtrade chain, i.e. manual agricultural wage workers.

If Fairtrade does not make a positive difference in these research areas to the wages and working conditions of manual workers, then it is challenging to explain what accounts for this and what does make the most difference to wages and conditions. . .

That Fairtrade doesn’t  help the poor by improving wages is bad enough.

That there’s widespread use of child labour to provide produce for supposedly ethical Fairtrade labels is even worse.

Fairtrade is a supposedly ethical brand.

Fair trade is supposedly ethical commerce which helps the poorest producers and workers.

This report shows it fails to live up to its promise, at least in the places studied.

Once were youngsters

June 2, 2014

Among the many ironies of the Internet Mana Party is the aim to attract young voters when its candidates are middle-aged and older:

David Farrar said  Laila Harre leading the internet party because she uses the internet, would be like him leading the Greens because he sometimes eats them.

I think that’s the sort of logic these baby boomers are using – they can attract young voters because they once were young.

National, by contrast, has young MPs and candidates.

Among them is Cabinet Minister and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who is in her early 30s.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross was only 11 when Harre first entered parliament so was National’s Dunedin South candidate Hamish Walker.

The party’s Clutha Southland candidate Todd Barclay, was only just at school when she first became an MP.

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