Riverstone features in Cuisine awards again

June 10, 2014

Riverstone Kitchen, the first regional restaurant to win Cuisine’s restaurant of the year, features in the awards again this year as runner-up for the regional award.

Auckland fine-diner Sidart is Cuisine’s Restaurant of the Year 2014, heading off a string of strong contenders in the highest restaurant count in the 10-year history of the awards.

Winners of the prestigious Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards, held in association with Vittoria Coffee, were announced last night at a glitzy who’s who of the restaurant industry at St-Matthew-in-the-City.

Sidart also took out the title of Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant, with head judge Kerry Tyack describing the degustation-only menu of inspirational and innovative chef Sid Sahrawat as “art on a plate”.

The picture-perfect presentation of superbly flavoured dishes, a complementary drinks list and seamless service made dining at Sidart an experience to be savoured in every way, Tyack says. “Good chefs never stand still – they continuously experiment, evolve and adjust. Over the past year, Sid Sahrawat’s food at Sidart has come into its own and truly excelled.”

Adds Cuisine editor Sarah Nicholson, “This year it’s been tougher than ever before to create a dining experience that stands out from the exceptional group of restaurants in New Zealand. Sid Sahrawat’s food is clever and technical, and looks amazing, but at the end of the day it is absolutely delicious, and that is the most important thing.”

Sixteen new eateries made the cut in the nationwide awards this year, with the total number of coveted chef’s hats increasing to 30 from 2013’s twenty.

The Grove, plus its buzzing new Italian offspring Baduzzi, earned executive chef Benjamin Bayly the title of Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year. Baduzzi was crowned American Express Best Specialist Restaurant, with Wellington’s popular Ortega Fish Shack & Bar the runner-up.

Nic Watts’ chic Japanese eatery Masu at Auckland’s SkyCity was named Electrolux Best New Restaurant, with the intimate Roots in Lyttelton as runner-up.

The KitchenAid Best Regional Restaurant title went to the smart, laid-back Chim Choo Ree in Hamilton, with North Otago’s awards stalwart Riverstone Kitchen the runner-up. The House of Travel Best Winery Restaurant was Hawke’s Bay’s elegant Elephant Hill, with Central Otago’s picturesque Amisfield Bistro the runner-up.

Proprietor Chris Upton’s long-standing dedication to wine service earned Auckland’s O’Connell Street Bistro the Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience award, a new category this year, and the captivating Mojo Horiuchi, manager-sommelier at Auckland’s Kazuya, was named European Foods Restaurant Personality of the Year.

Find full profiles of the winners and other successful restaurants in the Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2014 on cuisinegoodfoodguide.co.nz, or get the Cuisine Good Food Guide 2014 free with the July issue of Cuisine, on sale 16 June 2014.

Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2014 winners:

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR 2014: Sidart, Auckland

Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year: Benjamin Bayly, Baduzzi and The Grove, Auckland

Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant: Sidart, Auckland

KitchenAid Best Regional Restaurant: Chim Choo Ree, Hamilton
Runner-up: Riverstone Kitchen, North Otago

Electrolux Best New Restaurant: Masu, Auckland
Runner-up: Roots, Lyttelton

American Express Best Specialist Restaurant: Baduzzi, Auckland
Runner-up: Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, Wellington

House of Travel Best Winery Restaurant: Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay
Runner-up: Amisfield Bistro, Central Otago

European Foods Restaurant Personality of the Year: Mojo Horiuchi, Kazuya, Auckland

Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience: O’Connell Street Bistro, Auckland

2014 Hat recipients
Scores out of 20 determine a restaurant’s hat rating. One hat is considered very good, two hats are great to excellent and three hats (18-20) mean a restaurant is consistently amazing and among the best of the best.

3 HATS
Clooney, Auckland
Sidart, Auckland
The French Café, Auckland
The Grove, Auckland

2 HATS
Baduzzi, Auckland
Kazuya, Auckland
Logan Brown, Wellington
Masu, Auckland
Merediths, Auckland
The Grill by Sean Connolly, Auckland

1 HAT
Amisfield Bistro, Queenstown
Bracu, Auckland
Cazador, Auckland
Charley Noble, Wellington
Chim Choo Ree, Hamilton
Depot, Auckland
Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay
O’Connell Street Bistro, Auckland
Orphans Kitchen, Auckland
Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, Wellington
Ortolana, Auckland
Pegasus Bay, Waipara, North Canterbury
Pescatore, Christchurch
Ponsonby Road Bistro, Auckland
Rata, Otago
Riverstone Kitchen, Oamaru
Roots, Christchurch
Soul Bar & Bistro, Auckland
Taylors on Jackson, Petone
The Larder, Wellington

One of the benefits of tourism and provincial development is the improvement in the quality of food in smaller towns.

In North Otago we’ve got Riverstone Kitchen just north of Oamaru,  Fleurs Place at Moeraki to the south and in Oamaru for the finest of dining there’s Pen-y-Bryn Lodge.

Portside, at the harbour and Northstar are also worth a visit and for more casual dining Fat Sally’s is also good.

There’s others featured here.


Politics Daily

June 10, 2014

IMF report

Bill English – IMF report backs NZ’s economic progress

TV3 – NZ given tick by IMF

Jonathan Underhill @ NBR – China slowdown, weaker commodity prices, drop in house prices biggest risks to NZ: IMF

Manufacturing

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Manufacturing still in crisis. Yeah right.

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour’s Manufacturing Crisis just keeps crisising along

Beehive

Bill English & Steven Joyce – Business Growth Agenda boosting investment, jobs & growth

Steven Joyce – Encouraging sole parents into higher study

Murray McCully – Whaling comments “worrying”

Judith Collins – New MOU signed to improve family justice

Craig Foss – Going Digital on time and under budget

Quake Court

Kloe Palmer @ TV3 – National: Labour’s quake court poorly considered

Mike Hosking @ NewstalkZB – Issues with Earthquake Court plan

The Press – Labour’s bold Canterbury policy

Derek Cheng @ NZ Herald –  Insurance Council rejects Labour’s ‘Earthquake Court’

Election

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Tweet of the Day – 10 June 2014

Scrubone @ Something Should Go Here Maybe Later – Reminder all politicians play games

Phil Quin @ Pundit – How Internet Mana could help National reach 50%

Patrick Leyland @ The NZ Progress Report – NZ Facebook pages

Pete George @ Your NZ – Craig’s Conservatives cold shouldered

Peter Cullen @ Stuff Fixed-term payouts when ministers gets marched

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR – Coat-tail deals ‘a few weeks away’, says Key

Lew @ Kiwi Politico – Doubloons

Peter George @ Your NZ – Green election prospects

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Hypocrisy on Coat-tailing and strategic voting

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – More trouble amongst the alliance partners

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A reader emails about the so-called “missing million”

Dominion Post – Nats don’t need another tea party

Campaign funding

Stacey Kirk @ – Campaign funding allocations ‘unfair

Taxpayers’ Union – Civilian Party Surely Playing Practical Joke

Hannah Herchenbach@ The Press – Civilian Party leader: Criticism ‘dishonest’

Electoral Prosecutions

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Police electoral prosecutions

NZ Herald – Investigation into police needed over Banks case

The Press –  Banks faces political reality

Bryce Edwards @ NBR – NZ POLITICS DAILY: The impact of John Banks on the election campaign

Liam Hehir @ Manawatu Standard – Redemption never impossible

Labour

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Labour’s Caucus Still In Charge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Smith on Labour

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Mike Smith – On Labour’s Mantra of Misery

IMP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Cash for credibility

Other

ACT – The Letter

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – ACT’s Letter on Banks and Hone

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Uh oh, the Greens aren’t buying Cunliffe’s dog whistle either

Dominion Post – Today in Politics Tuesday June 10

Matthew Beveridge – Tweet MPs

ODT – Fraction too much friction

David Farrar @ Kwiblog – NZ Public poll methodologies

Dominion Post – Today in Politics: Tuesday, June 10


Word of the day

June 10, 2014

Apostasy – the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle; a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, or cause;  political revolt or defection.


Rural round-up

June 10, 2014

More qualifications needed in future:

A new report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries indicates a lot more people in the sector are going to have to have a tertiary qualification if they hope to take advantage of a predicted 15 percent increase in jobs by 2025.

MPI manager of science and skills policy Naomi Parker said even roles that traditionally did not require post secondary school qualifications would do so in future because of the increasing reliance on technology. . . .

Eradicating TB from Rangitoto enhances biodiversity:

TBfree New Zealand is working with environmental groups to stamp out pests in the Rangitoto Range to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) and bring the birds back.

The Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto ranges make up a part of New Zealand’s 10 million hectare TB risk area in which TB-infected wild animals have been found.

The objective of the national pest management plan is to eradicate the disease from at least 2.5 million hectares of the country’s total TB risk area by 2026. TBfree New Zealand aims to eradicate the disease from the Rangitoto Range as part of this plan. . . .

Water and governance under scrutiny at Massey:

Framing new ways for organisations to collaborate over controversial decisions, such as water use, is the focus of a Massey University symposium involving some of New Zealand’s key leaders in governance.

The July 8 symposium, Redefining Governance for the new New Zealand, brings together a diverse range of experts and thought leaders with experience in governance.

Speakers and panellists include Alastair Bisley (chair of the Land and Water
orum), Suzanne Snivelly (economic strategist), David Shand (public sector reformer and a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance), Grant Taylor (Auckland Council’s governance director), and Dave Hansford (award-winning photographer and environmental journalist). . . .

Fonterra Appoints MD Global Operations:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Robert Spurway to the role of Managing Director Global Operations, a newly-created position on Fonterra’s management team.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr Spurway was uniquely qualified for the position.

“Robert is currently Acting Director New Zealand Operations in NZ Milk Products, responsible for overseeing milk collection, manufacturing and logistics for the Co-operative’s New Zealand milk supply.

“One of our top business priorities is to optimise our global ingredients sales and operations footprint, so we can better manage price volatility and increase value, while ensuring a total focus on food safety and quality, and our customers’ needs. . .

 

 Technology to top farmers’ shopping list:

Agricultural Fieldays 2014 will be a measure of how the agribusiness sector is gearing up to capitalise on growing export opportunities, according to New Zealand’s largest agricultural lender, ANZ New Zealand.

“With an economic recovery in full swing and growing export demand for New Zealand agricultural products, the scene is set for farmers to again invest in the technology that will drive productivity,” said Graham Turley, ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri.

“Agri-business is New Zealand’s most productive and successful business sector and it achieves this through ongoing investment in market leading technology. Agri businesses are only as successful as they are because they constantly innovate. . .

 

Hottest new dairy technology designed in New Zealand:

Technology designed to bring the power of intelligent communication and unprecedented future proofing to dairy farmers’ milking systems will be highlighted at National Fieldays.

The product in the spotlight at this year’s show (11-14 June) on the Waikato Milking Systems stand is a newly designed product known as the Bail Marshal.

The New Zealand owned company’s Chief Executive Dean Bell says the innovative product has been designed to enable all technology devices on a milking system to work together seamlessly and continually communicate with each other. . . .

Sharp Blacks Get Ready for the Tri-Nations:

 

Pure South Sharp Blacks

Our national butchery team diced up their final practice yesterday proving they have got what it takes to defend their title against Australia and England next month.
This year our team of six top butchers, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, travel to Yorkshire, England to compete in the Tri-Nations Butchers’ Challenge.

After many months of refining their skill, the Pure South Sharp Blacks performance at their last practice, held at Wilson Hellaby in Auckland, has confirmed just how promising our national team is. . .

Ambitious Butchers Make the Cut:

The Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year is well underway with the Lower North Island Regional held yesterday in Palmerston North.

The Alto Young Butcher winner Alex Harper of The Village Butcher in Frimley, Hastings and Competenz Butcher Apprentice winner Amy Jones of New World Taumarunui have successfully secured their place to challenge some of the finest butchery talent in the country at the Grand Final in September.

Alex and Amy’s motivations are high with a study tour around Europe up for grabs if they are successful in the next stage of the competition. . . .

A taste of New Zealand in Dubai, Taiwan and Singapore:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has been giving the world a taste of New Zealand.

In Dubai, New Zealand was centre stage for the 2014 Taste New Zealand chef competition. Targeted at professional chefs, the competition aims to raise awareness of the diversity and quality of New Zealand food and drink products available in the United Arab Emirates amongst chefs, buyers, and food service and retail industry leaders. Last year, the competition helped NZTE customers secure $4 million in new deals. . . .


Tractor not ideal get-away vehicle

June 10, 2014

Police think two men they were pursuing have used a stolen tractor as a get-away vehicle:

. . . Police were pursuing two men in a car in Te Aroha at 11pm on Monday night when their vehicle crashed into a paddock.

The two men fled and officers were unable to find them despite using search dogs.

On Tuesday morning at 7am a local farmer reported his John Deere tractor was missing. . . .

The average tractor is big and slow-moving which isn’t what’s normally wanted a get-away vehicle.

 


IMF backs NZ progress

June 10, 2014

The IMF is backing New Zealand’s progress:

New Zealand should expect strong and increasingly broad-based economic growth, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest report on New Zealand, published today.

The IMF is forecasting annual economic growth in New Zealand to peak at 3.5 per cent next year and not fall below 2.5 per cent over the next few years.  This growth will be driven by strong construction activity, higher prices for exports and increases in net migration.

“This is the latest in a series of encouraging reports on the New Zealand economy, which confirms that we are well placed compared with most other developed countries,” Mr English says.

“The IMF highlights the importance of getting the Government’s books back to surplus to help the Reserve Bank keep interest rates lower for longer. Under the previous government, excessive spending, alongside the booming housing market, contributed to floating mortgage interest rates reaching almost 11 per cent.

“A range of indicators points to broad-based growth in the economy. Building consents in March were nearly double the number issued three years ago. Business confidence remains near 20-year highs. And employment figures showed 84,000 more jobs in the year to March – the largest annual increase in employment since 2004.

“Sticking to our responsible economic management will help ensure Budget forecasts for strong economic growth, average wage increases of $7,600 by 2018, and unemployment falling to 4.4 per cent, all occur.”

The IMF is expecting New Zealand’s current account deficit to increase to around 6 per cent of GDP by 2016 – still well below the levels seen in the mid-2000s.  

“Although this longstanding imbalance remains a vulnerability, the latest figures are encouraging with Statistics New Zealand showing the current account deficit at 3.4 per cent of GDP,” Mr English says.

“Getting on top of Government spending to keep interest rates down and promote broad-based economic growth is a key plank of that improvement.

“Overall, the IMF report confirms the Government’s economic programme is taking New Zealand’s economy in the right direction,” Mr English says.

“This is the best way to support jobs and raise New Zealanders’ living standards.”

Economic progress is not just important, it’s necessary if we also want sustainable environmental and social progress.

 The IMF report says:

1. Economic developments. The economic expansion is becoming increasingly embedded and broad-based, with growth exceeding 3 percent in the second half of 2013, somewhat stronger than expected. The drivers include supportive financial conditions, record high export commodity prices, resurgent construction activity related to the Canterbury post-earthquake rebuild and general housing shortages, and a substantial increase in net immigration (text figures). Business and consumer confidence indicators have risen to the hi ghest levels since the global financial crisis. The labor market continues to strengthen with the unemployment rate falling to 6 percent (Figure 1). Strong terms of trade have narrowed the 2013 current account deficit to 3¼ percent of GDP and have contributed to the elevated New Zealand dollar, which continues to hold back growth in the non-agricultural tradeable goods sector. With the high exchange rate damping tradable price inflation, headline inflation has remained below the mid-point of the target band (Figure 2). Nominal wage inflation has so far remained subdued.  . . .

3. Fiscal developments. Supported by healthy output growth the government’s aim of reducing the budget deficit is going according to pl an. The deficit is currently projected to decline almost ½ percent of GDOP to less than ½ percent of GDP this year due to restraint in expenditure growth. 1 The plan would reduce public debt from it s peak of 26 percent of GDP in 2013 to about 20 percent by 2018. The government just concluded selling stakes in state-owned enterprises, which generated proceeds of about 2 percent of GDP.

Near-term outlook. Growth is forecast to increase to about 3½ percent this year and moderate to a trend rate of 2½ percent over the medium term. Strong construction activity is expected to remain an important driver for near-term growth (text figure), although the speed of the Canterbury post-earthquake rebuild and its interaction with the wider economy are less certain. The terms of trade are projected to ease somewhat due to an assumed moderation in global dairy prices, but remain high relative to historical levels and continue to boost growth in national income. The current monetary policy stance remains well below neutral, and with leading indicators pointing to an economy that is set to grow above trend in the near-term, pressure on core inflation should follow, particularly from the construction sector . . .

Economic expansion which is becoming increasingly embedded and broad-based. Growth peaking at 3.5% next year and going no lower than 2.5% over the next few years. That is very encouraging.

It will be driven by construction activity, much but not all of which will be in Christchurch. Higher prices for exports and increases in net migration will also help.

This is of course predicated on a continuation of current government policies which encourage economic development, exports and immigration, not a change to a left-wing government which will hamper growth, is anti business in general and farming in particular and anti-immigration.

 

 

 


For and against farming

June 10, 2014

The National Fieldays open tomorrow and MPs of all colours will be there at some stage.

Those from National will have a much easier job convincing farmers and those who work for, support and supply them that they deserve another term than any of the opposition parties will have trying to gain support.

National:

*Has several farmers in its caucus, understands farming and business and their importance to New Zealand.

*Holds all but two provincial electorates.

*Has kept public spending down.

*Has kept pressure off interest rates.

*Has begun reforming the RMA and will do more.

*Introduced 90 day employment trials.

*Lowered company and personal tax rates.

*Invested $400 million in water storage and irrigation

*Invested $700 million in the Primary Growth Partnership

*Exempted agricultural emissions from ETS and invested in Greenhouse Gas Coalition which has international support

*Expanded NZ’s access into the Middle East and South America, achieved direct currency exchange with China, and made significant progress on free trade throughout Asia-Pacific

While in the red and green corner Labour/Green/ and whoever else they need:

*Don’t understand or appreciate farmers, farming and business.

*See agriculture as a problem to be managed, not as the engine of our economy.

*Hold only 2 provincial seats.

*Will introduce a Capital Gains Tax

*Labour wants to double costs of the ETS and include agriculture

*Greens want to introduce a carbon tax charging $30 per dairy cow per year. Russell Norman said: “This won’t drive them to the wall… even the bottom 10% could afford to do this.”

*Have said farmers don’t pay enough tax. David Cunliffe has said businesses ‘can afford to pay more’. Russell Norman said last week when announcing new carbon tax ‘

*Will introduce water charges

*Will axe the irrigation fund

*Will tighten employment law

*Will increase public spending and debt which will push up interest rates

*Will make steeper increases to minimum wage.

*Will make KiwiSaver compulsory

*Oppose Free Trade

And let’s not forget this from which we all benefit:

If we stick to the Government’s plan, net Crown debt will fall to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020, well below the 60 per cent it was projected to reach under Labour’s policies from 2008. http://ntnl.org.nz/SqoQJh


Record primary produce exports

June 10, 2014

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says new figures show primary sector exports will reach record levels of $37.7b over the last year – around $1.3b more than previously forecast.

The Ministry for Primary Industries today released Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries 2014 (SOPI 2014) ­- an annual publication that provides a snapshot and forecast for our major primary sectors over the next four years.

“SOPI 2014 reveals export prices increased across most sectors for the year ending June 2014. Both dairy and forestry sectors stood out with good increases in both price and production,” says Mr Guy.

“Dairy now accounts for 46 percent of total primary industry export value and 35 percent of total New Zealand merchandise export value. High price levels for dairy were underpinned by robust demand from China, which remains an important market for dairy, meat and wool, seafood and logs.

“Meat and wool exports have broken $8 billion, which is fantastic considering last year’s drought. Exports are expected to increase by around 22 percent for the five years to 2018.  

“Demand for logs from China is driving the growth of the forestry sector, with export value reaching $5.1 billion at the end of June 2014. Domestic demand for sawn timber is expected to increase with the Auckland and Christchurch housing markets growing.

“SOPI also forecasts horticulture export revenues to surpass $4 billion in 2016, a major milestone for the sector. Last week’s National Horticulture Fieldays in Hawke’s Bay was a great showcase of the potential of this exciting industry.

“Export earnings for the New Zealand seafood industry are expected to increase to $1.64 billion in 2018, with prices likely to remain high due to strong demand from China, Australia, US and the EU.

“This results are helped by programmes such as the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), Sustainable Farming Fund, and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund which all deliver long-term value to the sector, and the New Zealand economy. 

“This report makes great reading for New Zealand’s primary industries as it enters the 2014/15 year, and I’m anticipating positive vibes at this week’s Mystery Creek National Fieldays,” says Mr Guy.

The full report is here.

While the report is forecasting a bright future for primary produce, Liam Dann is arguing that the dip in the dairy boom is a warning to diversify:

How worried should we be about the slump in global dairy prices? After all these years, New Zealand is still a giant grass-processing factory and milk remains the lifeblood of our economy.

In fact, dairy products now account for nearly 30 per cent of the country’s merchandise exports, by value. That figure was closer to 20 per cent when I first started covering the sector more than a decade ago.

Dairy exports are on track to generate a record return in excess of $17 billion this year – about $4 billion more than they delivered on average across the previous three years.

That big return is due to a historically unprecedented spike in dairy prices that peaked in February.

So the 23 per cent fall in dairy prices since then is certainly significant. It has prompted Fonterra to lower its payout forecast for the 2014/15 season and is finally starting to put downward pressure on the dollar. . . .

Last season’s payout was a record, this season’s was expected to be lower but the forecast is still the fourth highest.

The lowering dollar in response is how it’s supposed to work.

Dairy may be ahead of the curve in terms of New Zealand commodity export prices. It seems likely that a boom in log prices will peak this year. Other commodities like beef and lamb are also contributing to a record balance of payments.

If they start to fall too, that will add to the downward pressure. But really, for the bloke on the Wall Street trading desk who keeps an eye on this part of the world, the New Zealand story is all about dairy.

To put the other sectors in perspective, the $4 billion fluctuation in dairy returns between 2013 and 2014 is likely to be in excess of the total return for all lamb, mutton and wool exports combined last year.

So much for New Zealand living off the sheep’s back.

Dairy prices are also where the attentions of the Reserve Bank are fixed.

The bank’s economists won’t be panicking just yet. They will be keeping the current prices firmly in context. The giddy heights that dairy prices reached early this year mean that even now they are sitting at historically high levels.

I can still recall the excitement in the dairy sector when Fonterra announced its first $7 payout – the figure Fonterra is picking for the 2014/15 season. That was a record and reflected the peak of the dairy price cycle in 2005.

If the price plateaus at that level then that would be a pretty sweet bottom end to the cycle.

There are good reasons – most of them to do with Chinese demand – why the global dairy price now has a much higher top and bottom than it had a decade ago.

But the trend will become concerning if it continues, and China is the great unknown.

Where the current slowdown in Chinese economic growth settles is anyone’s guess. If there were to be a more serious and uncontrolled financial economic crisis in China then things could get ugly fast.

Meanwhile, good grass growing conditions and continued expansion of dairying in the South Island are driving increased production volumes which will prop up overall export returns to New Zealand.

A major drought next summer would still have a greater impact on New Zealand’s economic outlook than the current dairy price.

That is why irrigation is so important. It doesn’t replace rain but it insures against too little.

What a slowdown in the dairy boom does do is remind us that we should maintain a firm focus on diversifying and expanding the economy into new and less commodity-focused areas.

Ironically, chief among those is the dairy sector itself. Fonterra is well aware that lower prices for milk powder will provide more opportunities to drive the brands side of the business.

Turning more New Zealand milk powder into yoghurt and baby formula before we export it suddenly makes even more sense.

Meanwhile, that $4 billion of extra dairy cash from the 2013/14 season still has to wash through the economy and should buoy domestic growth for a while yet.

Our “rock star” label won’t stack up if our growth is all pinned to dairy and the Christchurch rebuild. Both of these factors have been timely in getting New Zealand ahead of the recovery curve in comparison with other nations – notably Australia.

The trick is to have the rest of the economy firing efficiently when we come out the other side.

A diversified economy will be a stronger one.

But our climate and soils give us a natural advantage when it comes to producing protein for which there’s growing world demand.

I’m pleased to see that Dann isn’t downplaying that and isn’t suggest we do less farming, but that other parts of the economy step up to play their parts in New Zealand’s success.

 


Rik Mayall 7.3.58 – 9.6.14

June 10, 2014

British comedian Rik Mayall has died.

 . . .He played obnoxious, poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones with his friend Adrian Edmondson. The pair later starred in the sitcom Bottom.

A pioneer of the 1980s alternative comedy scene, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder and The New Statesman. . .

Edmondson added: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. . . 

Writer Laurence Marks, who created The New Statesman, described Mayall as “a quiet, polite, caring gentleman”.

“He was the antithesis of the characters he played,” he said, . . .

 


Is inequality really the problem?

June 10, 2014

Forget inequality, it’s not the real problem. This is the view of Roger Partridge, chair of the New Zealand Initiative:

Since the publication of The Spirit Level in 2009, and its ‘devastating critique’, The Spirit Level Delusion, in 2010, debates in the media and among politicians have been gripped by wealth inequality fever. The latest instalment is French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century – a book which is at the centre of its own maelstrom over the accuracy of its analysis.

But is inequality a worthy cause célèbre? All other things being equal, few people on either the left or right would disagree that less inequality is better than more. And any parent will know that equality will lead to a more civil, stable, state of affairs within the family – and this is no doubt also true for society as a whole. But the factors that drive inequality in economic outcomes in a free market economy also produce great benefits. China may now have greater extremes of wealth than it did before Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, but the Chinese live 25 years longer and are 50 times richer than they were 25 years ago. . .

This reinforces the view that we can be equally poor or unequally rich.

Focussing on inequality – and looking to redistributive policies to solve it – risks throwing the baby out with the bath water. We would not restrain our more talented child just to make her less successful, younger brother feel better, so why should we levy our most talented, productive citizens?

The easiest way to reduce inequality is to bring the top down but that won’t improve matters for anyone.

What is needed is a focus on the real problem: that not everyone in our society has the skills needed to take advantage of the opportunities that should be available to all. Among them are the 20 per cent of New Zealand’s school-leavers who, year after year, do not achieve NCEA level 2. It requires a suspension of belief to conclude they are failing because the rich are getter richer. The problem is more complex, but we will not solve it if we look in the wrong place.

If Piketty’s thesis is correct, and inequality in the West has increased in the last 50 years, then it has coincided with a great social experiment, the welfare state, which has seen an unprecedented rise in just the sort of redistributive policies Picketty believes are needed to solve the inequality problem. But as the Welfare Working Group reported in 2011, the welfare state in New Zealand has led to long-term welfare dependency, deprivation, financial stress, low living standards, and poor health and housing. It just might be that Piketty’s solution is the real problem.

In spite of what the opposition and their supporters think, inequality isn’t getting worse:

. . . Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance) : The evidence shows that inequality in New Zealand has been flat or slightly declining since the mid-2000s. We also believe that a number of the measures the Government took through the recession certainly prevented inequality from worsening at a time when the Government was very short of revenue. But I welcome the member’s interest in the IMF’s view, because among its recent comments on New Zealand, the IMF emphasised the importance of ongoing fiscal discipline to a sustainable economic recovery. Nowhere in the statement does the IMF refer to inequality, and that is for a very good reason in respect of New Zealand—that inequality in New Zealand has not increased over the last 10 years. . . .

That inequality isn’t getting worse doesn’t mean it couldn’t – and shouldn’t – improve.

Education is one of the keys to improvement:

The interesting thing about the OECD work is that it shows that economic inequality in New Zealand has among the lowest levels of impact because of our education system. Part of the reason for having public education—in fact, the main reason—is to overcome the inequalities of birth and inequalities of opportunity. That is why this Government is so strongly focused on helping our system be more effective in overcoming economic inequality. Another reason there is high transience in those schools is that the State housing system does not meet the needs of those with serious housing need. That is why the Government is changing that policy next week.

Hon David Parker: Why can the Minister not see that rising inequality under National goes against the egalitarian values that New Zealanders hold dear, is making educational outcomes worse, and is holding back economic growth?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: There is a very simple reason we do not believe those things, despite the fact that the member does, and that is that the measures of inequality in New Zealand and the facts demonstrate that it has not got worse. That is not a political assertion or an ideological conviction; it is the facts as laid out in the annual report from the Ministry of Social Development, which was set in place by the previous Government. On “Planet Labour” I know facts have very little impact, but on Planet Earth and in New Zealand the facts matter. . .

The opposition has leapt on the inequality band wagon but have fought every initiative National has introduced to move people from welfare to work.

Welfare dependency is the cause of a great deal of inequality and helping those who can work to do so is one of the most effective way to improve not only financial outcomes but social ones like health and education too.


June 10 in history

June 10, 2014

1190  Third Crusade:  Frederick I Barbarossa drowned in the river Saleph while leading an army to Jerusalem.

1539 Council of Trent: Paul III sent out letters to his bishops, delaying the Council due to war and the difficulty bishops had travelling to Venice.

1619 Thirty Years’ War: Battle of Záblatí, a turning point in the Bohemian Revolt.

1624 Treaty of Compiègne, signed between France and the Netherlands.

1688  Prince of Wales, James Francis Edward Stuart, was born (d. 1766).

1692 Salem witch trials: Bridget Bishop was hanged at Gallows Hill  for “certaine Detestable Arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries”.

1710 James Short, Scottish mathematician, optician and telescope maker was born  (d. 1768).

1719 Jacobite Rising: Battle of Glen Shiel.

1770  Captain James Cook ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef.

1786  A landslide dam on the Dadu River created by an earthquake ten days earlier collapses, killing 100,000 in the Sichuan province of China.

1793  The Jardin des Plantes museum opened in Paris.

1793 – French Revolution: Following the arrests of Girondin leaders the Jacobins gained control of the Committee of Public Safety installing the revolutionary dictatorship.

1805  First Barbary War: Yussif Karamanli signed a treaty ending hostilities with the United States.

1829 The first Boat Race between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge took place.

1838  Myall Creek Massacre in Australia: 28 Aboriginal Australians are murdered.

1854  The first class of the United States Naval Academy students graduated.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Brice’s Crossroads – Confederate troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest defeated a much larger Union force led by General Samuel D. Sturgis.

1871  Sinmiyangyo: Captain McLane Tilton led 109 Marines in a naval attack on Han River forts on Kanghwa Island, Korea.

1886  Mount Tarawera erupted, killing 153 people and destroying the famous Pink and White Terraces.

 

Eruption of Mt Tarawera

1898 Spanish-American War: U.S. Marines landed in Cuba.

1901 Frederick Loewe, Austrian-born composer, was born  (d. 1988).

1906 Liberal Prime Minister Richard Seddon died at sea while returning from Australia to what he called “God’s Own Country”.

Death of Richard Seddon

1910 Robert Still, English composer, was born  (d. 1971).

1915 Saul Bellow, Canadian born writer and Nobel laureate was born (d. 2005).

1918 The Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István sank after being torpedoed by an Italian MAS motorboat.

1921 Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born.

1922 Judy Garland, American musical actress, was born (d. 1969).

1923 Robert Maxwell, Slovakian-born newspaperman was born  (d. 1991).

1924 Fascists kidnapped and killed Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti.

1925 Inaugural service for the United Church of Canada, a union of Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist churches, held in Toronto Arena.

1935  Dr. Robert Smith took his last drink, and Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by him and Bill Wilson.

1940 Augie Auer, US born New Zealand meteorologist and television presenter, was born  (d. 2007).

1940 World War II: Italy declared war on France and the United Kingdom.

1940 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced Italy’s actions with his “Stab in the Back” speech at the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia.

1940 – World War II: German forces, under General Erwin Rommel, reached the English Channel.

1940 – World War II: Canada declared war on Italy.

1940 – World War II: Norway surrendered to German forces.

1942  World War II: Nazis burnt the Czech village of Lidice in reprisal for the killing of Reinhard Heydrich.

1944 World War II: 642 men, women and children were killed in the Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre in France.

1944 – World War II: In Distomo, Boeotia Prefecture, Greece 218 men, women and children were massacred by German troops.

1945  Australian Imperial Forces landed in Brunei Bay to liberate Brunei.

1947 Saab produced its first car.

1957 John Diefenbaker led the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to a stunning upset in the Canadian federal election, 1957, ending 22 years of Liberal Party rule.

1965 – Vietnam War: The Battle of Dong Xoai began.

1967 –  Six-Day War ended  Israel and Syria agreed to a cease-fire.

1973 John Paul Getty III was kidnapped in Rome.

1977 – Apple shipped its first Apple II personal computer.

1980 The African National Congress published a call to fight from their imprisoned leader Nelson Mandela.

1996  Peace talks began in Northern Ireland without the participation of Sinn Féin.

1997 Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot ordered the killing of his defence chief Son Sen and 11 of Sen’s family members.

1999  Kosovo War: NATO suspended its air strikes after Slobodan Milošević agreed to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo.

2001  Pope John Paul II canonized Lebanon s first female saint Saint Rafqa.

2002  The first direct electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans was carried out by Kevin Warwick in the United Kingdom.

2003  The Spirit Rover was launched, beginning NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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