Politics Daily

11/06/2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Employment

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Name and shame rulebreakers, Government says

John Anthony @ Stuff – Work trial helps disadvantaged

Jonathan Underhill @ Business Desk – Pass mark for 90-day trials in new MBIE survey

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Simon Bridges – Feedback sought on minimum employment standards

Stuff – @ Stuff Demand for workers remains strong

EPMA – EMA backs employment standards ‘white paper’

Local government

Taxpayers’ Union – Ratepayers’ report

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Which place has the highest rates?

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Balancing the council books

Stuff – Politicians talk about keeping it local

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Ratepayers’ Report

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – And the country’s most indebted council is …

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – Well, that’s awkward

Beehive

Nikki Kaye – Funding for councils to support young people

Business Growth Agenda

Employers and Manufacturers’ Association – Growth Agenda massive, thorough, committed

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment  – Research report on employment law changes released

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

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The manufactured crisis gets worse

Election

Luke Balvert  @ SunLive – Students prefer Key as PM

Stuff – David Cunliffe hits out at coat-tailing

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – More Cunliffe hypocrisy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Quelle surprise…

Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff – Rodney MP dismisses deal with Conservatives

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – There will be no deal in Rodney

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Rudman on coat-tailing and rorts

iPredict – 2014 Election Update #21: Maori Party in Trouble

Pete George @ YourNZ – Epsom Circus

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – At least Joe might get to laugh, instead of cry

IMP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Photo of the Day – 11 June 2014

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – 99.5% of New Zealanders can see right through the scam

Geoffrey Miller @ Liberation – Three reasons the Internet Party might be successful

Geoffrey Miller @ LIberation – Three reasons why the Internet Party might not succeed

Adolf Fiinkensein @ No Minister – Who will pay on the final day?

Peter Dunne – Rich boys and their toys

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Favourable Reference: Why John Key’s Worst Enemy Is The Left’s Best Friend.

Lew @ Kiwi Politico – What is success for Internet MANA?

Social Media

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Tweet of the Day – 11 June 2014

Matthew Beveridge – MPs’ response to storm in Auckland

Matthew Beveridge – Colin Craig on social media

Matthew Beveridge – Labour’s Christchurch earthquake policy graphic

Labour

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Winning in 2014 – a prescription for Labour

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smith on Mr Cunliffe’s tales of woe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Astonishing hypocrisy and sanctimony from David Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour’s 10,000 outstanding earthquake claims is actually less than 1500, busted again

Other

Fran O”Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Cash donors have expectations

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Wednesday, June 11

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Imagine the outcry if the the Business Roundtable wrote policy for the Right…

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The success of US charter schools

ACC – ACC levy consultation – it’s easier than ever to have your say

Rob Salmond @ Polity – Easy flowchart for “political analysts”

 


Word of the day

11/06/2014

Adorkable – socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way; cutely nerdy or nerdily cute; a combination of adorable and dork.


Rural round-up

11/06/2014

Sector in good heart – judge – Sally Rae:

After travelling 3800km in nine days, visiting 27 farms throughout New Zealand, Preston Hope is heartened by the state of the sheep industry.

Mr Hope, who farms with his wife, Tori, at Deep Stream, between Middlemarch and Outram, was one of three judges for the final round of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The couple won the competition in 2012 and it was an honour to be asked to officiate, he said. . . .

2014 New Zealand wine vintage to support export growth:

The 2014 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked across the country.

“All grape growing regions experienced very favourable growing conditions through the summer and into the early autumn. 2014 is set to be another memorable, high quality vintage which will provide a further boost to growing wine exports” said New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Officer Philip Gregan.

According to the 2014 Vintage Survey, 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2014 crop is up 29% on the harvest last year and will position the industry well for the continuing consumer demand for New Zealand wine. Virtually every region has achieved production growth and for the first time Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago have exceeded 10,000 tonnes. . . .

Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Support services will be the biggest source of job growth for an increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector, a report on the future workforce needs of primary industries concludes.

Projections for the Ministry of Primary Industries, published today, forecasts that some 140,000 primary sector support services jobs will be required by 2025, compared with around 105,000 now, making it the fastest area of job growth and the largest source of employment in the primary sector, which covers sheep, beef, dairy and other animal farming, horticulture, fishing, and forestry.

Sheep and beef farming shows the largest fall in projected workforce size will be in the sheep and beef sectors, where jobs are expected to shrink to around 70,000 by 2025, from around 95,000 in 2002. The booming dairy sector shows hardly any job growth in the next decade, settling at around 50,000. . . .

Accommodation shortage of Fieldays – Susie Nordqvist:

It might be the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, but Fieldays management says the event’s future growth could be threatened by an accommodation shortage in Hamilton.

So canny locals are cashing in and renting out their homes.

“I’m renting out my house to exhibitors who are exhibiting over the week of Fieldays, and I’m going as far away from here as I possibly can,” says homeowner Sam Ward. . .

Forest owners want people to speak up

The sponsors of the Independent Forestry Safety Review welcome the public consultation document issued by the review panel on Friday.

”It poses a series of questions which will provide a useful structure for the public consultation meetings that begin on 12 June. We strongly encourage forest owners, contractors, workers and anyone else with an interest in improving the safety of people working in forestry to go to one of the meetings, or to make a private submission,” says Forest Owners Association (FOA) president Paul Nicholls. . . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales For 2013-14 Season:

New Zealand’s avocado industry today announced it has more than doubled its sales from last season to $136m, setting new records in both export and New Zealand markets.

This stunning return eclipses the previous sales record of $84.1m set in 2009-10 and is far in excess of the $60.4m worth of avocados sold last year.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says this season’s success is due to a number of reasons including initiatives which are transforming the industry into a more cohesive and competitive sector. . . .

B+LNZ Sheep Industry Awards 2014:

Help us recognise the best of the best in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards. Nominations close 30 June.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is excited to be hosting our annual showcase for sheep farming excellence in Napier this year, the first North Island venue for the event. . .

Search for top NZ rural consultants gets closer

Nominations for the annual Consultant of the Year Awards have closed and Farmax is one step closer to announcing this year’s top New Zealand dairy, sheep and beef, and emerging rural professionals.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said the awards were developed last year to recognise the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the New Zealand pastoral farming industry, which often goes unnoticed.

“On a regular basis we see first-hand the invaluable service that rural professionals provide farmer clients with. The feedback we receive from farmers about their consultants is really uplifting. It shows just how much of a difference consultants can make to their clients’ businesses,” Mr McEwen said. . . .


Long term change

11/06/2014

Thought for the day:

A terrific blog by Ragen Chastain entitled 'Seriously, weight loss doesn't work'. As many of you will know, I have been beating this drum for many years. There is now seemingly growing awareness of this every day. The tide is definitely turning!!</p>
<p>For the article see: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/seriously-weight-loss-doesnt-work/</p>
<p>And the ifnotdieting empowerment card is:<br />
'If we want to make long-term change, we can only continue to work on what we can change in a long-term way.'

It comes from Dr Rick Kausman, author of If not dieting, then what? but has a far more universal application.


Vege growers furious at Woolworths

11/06/2014

Vegetable growers are furious at Woolworths’ expectation to cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars for its Jamie Oliver campaign.

That sounds familiar, but its producers on the other side of the Tasman whose ire is raised this time.

AUSVEG is urgently calling on the ACCC to undertake immediate action to investigate the behaviour of Woolworths who are seeking enormous contributions from Australia’s horticulturalists to pay for their much touted Jamie Oliver campaign.

Woolworths are demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual growers around Australia to fund their new campaign in the form of a massive new 40c per crate charge on top of the 2.5 – 5 per cent fee growers are already required to pay Woolworths for them to market and promote their produce. 

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

Growers around the country are being given no undertaking from Woolworths on what return they will see from the additional funds they are being asked to provide to fund the promotion. . .

Woolworths’ CE was guest speaker at a dinner we attended in Melbourne last year.

He was selling the company message of how they wanted to deal direct with growers and do away with the people in the middle.

There’s no benefit in cutting out costs in the supply chain if new costs are going to be imposed on growers with no guarantee of a dividend from the extra spent.

 


Higher wages, lower benefits, higher costs

11/06/2014

The law of unexpected consequences struck when the minimum wage was increased in the USA city of SeaTac:

. . . Every debate over increasing the minimum wage comes with predictions that the law of unintended consequences will result in the opposite of what a higher wage is designed to accomplish—a better standard of living for low-wage workers.  Employers cannot pay a worker more than the value of their output.  In other words, if an employer must pay a worker $15 per hour, they must ensure the worker produces at least that amount, or they must figure out a way to reduce the cost of that labor.  So forcing employers to pay workers an artificially high wage creates perverse incentives for employers to find other ways to cut labor costs.

One way employers are cutting their labor costs in SeaTac, which recently mandated a $15 per hour minimum wage for certain workers, is by stripping away the benefits they used to offer. 

Northwest Asian Weekly reports that employees earning the new wage in SeaTac have lost benefits such as 401k, paid holidays and paid vacation, free food, free parking and overtime hours.  One hotel waitress said she is earning less because tips have decreased since the high wage has been in effect.  In many cases these benefits plus the lower state minimum wage added more value to workers’ earnings than the new $15 wage.

As one SeaTac worker put it, “It sounds good, but it’s not good.” . . .

But workers aren’t the only ones paying more, consumers are too:

Many SeaTac businesses have tacked on an additional fee to mitigate the increased cost of labor.  On the receipt below, a $6.93 “living wage surchage” was added to a $84.00 parking charge.  That is the equivalent of a 8.25% tax.

Contrary to what supporters claim, increasing the minimum wage does not create jobs and stimulate the economy.  The higher wages are not free money.  The increased cost must either be absorbed by the employer, which is impossible for many who already operate on shoe-string profit margins, or it must be passed on to workers, in the form of reduced hours and benefits, and consumers, in the form of higher prices.  Either way, someone pays.

Another consequence of higher wages is increased mechanisation to reduce the need for staff.

McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker. . .

Proponents of the so-called living wage here pay no heed to the fact that money for higher wages has to come from somewhere.

If the wage increases aren’t at least equalled by higher productivity and profits then costs have to be cut or prices increased and it’s the very people the policy is trying to help who will be hurt most by that.


Ratepayers’ Report useful resource

11/06/2014

The Taxpayers’ Union, in collaboration with Fairfax Media has launched the “Ratepayers’ Report”.

Ratepayers’ Report builds on the work of local government expert and financial analyst, Larry Mitchell and his work in previous years comparing New Zealand’s 67 territorial authorities. The data was pulled together by the Taxpayers’ Union, supplied to Fairfax Media, has been checked independently and supplied to councils for viewing before its publication.

For the first time, New Zealanders now have an interactive online tool to compare their local council to those of the rest of the country. Ratepayersreport.co.nz to compare their local council including average rates, debt per ratepayer and even CEO salaries.

Ratepayers’ Report compares, for the first time, average residential rates.  The figure has been calculated using a methodology developed within the local government sector to compare average residential rates.  Only Kaipara District Council was unwilling to provide the Taxpayers’ Union with the average residential rates information.

Some highlights: 

  • New Zealand’s highest average residential rates are in the Western Bay of Plenty District, $3,274
  • The Mackenzie District has the lowest average residential rates, nearly two thirds less at $1,104
  • The average council liabilities are $4,386 per ratepayer
  • Auckland Council’s liabilities are now $15,858 per ratepayer (and increasing!)
  • Dunedin is not far behind. For every Dunedin ratepayer, the Council owes $15,093

This is a very useful resource.

It’s important to keep in mind that people in areas governed by City and District councils also pay rates to regional councils.

That makes rates for unitary councils look higher per person in comparison with other councils than they are when regional rates are added.


Employment law changes working

11/06/2014

Employment law changes are working as intended a  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment research report shows.

The report evaluated the short-term outcomes of the 2011 changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003.

Key changes to the legislation included allowing all employers the option to use trial periods of up to 90 days, the ability for employees to cash in up to one week of annual holidays, and changes to union access and problem resolution processes.

The changes were designed to improve the operation of the labour market by achieving lower compliance costs for employers, faster problem resolution, greater clarity and more choice and flexibility for employers and employees.

MBIE’s Research, Evaluation and Analysis manager Abby Johnston says while it’s too soon to assess the full impact of the changes, there are indications that some of the changes are working as intended.

“The report shows that extending the use of trial periods to all employers has resulted in more employment opportunities, with one third of employers surveyed saying the provision has led to them hiring people they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Employers are far more likely to take on new staff when the risk of having to keep them if they’re not up tot he job is lower.

Contrary to claims by unions before the law was changed, it hasn’t encouraged employers to churn through staff. The time, effort and money involved in recruitment and training are too great to lead to employers exploiting the trial period

“The report also shows that changes to the Holidays Act have promoted flexibility and increased choices for employers and employees. Ongoing advice and education for both employers and employees will improve awareness around the amendments, which some are still getting to grips with.”  . . .

Lower compliance costs, faster problem resolution and greater clarity, and more choice and flexibility are better for both employers and employees.

The opposition and unions opposed the changes, as they do, failing to realise that while safeguards against exploitation are necessary, the easier it is to employ people and the more flexibility there is, the better for everyone.

The report is here.


June 11 in history

11/06/2014

1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy was sacked and burned, according to calculations by Eratosthenes.

631 Emperor Taizong of Tang, the Emperor of China, sent envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to seek the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier;  – 80,000 Chinese men and women were returned to China.

758 Abbasid Arabs and Uyghur Turks arrived simultaneously at Chang’an, the Tang Chinese capital, in order to offer tribute to the imperial court. They quarrelled over diplomatic prominence at the gate and a settlement was reached when both are allowed to enter at the same time, but through two different gates to the palace.

1345  The megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, chief minister of the Byzantine Empire, was lynched by political prisoners.

1429  Hundred Years’ War: The start of the Battle of Jargeau.

1509  Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.

1594 Philip II recognised the rights and privileges of the local nobles and chieftains in the Philippines, which paved way to the creation of the Principalía (i.e., elite ruling class of native nobility in Spanish Philippines).

1776 The Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence.

1776 John Constable, English painter, was born (d. 1837).

1788  Russian explorer Gerasim Izmailov reached Alaska.

1805  A fire consumed large portions of Detroit.

1815 Julia Margaret Cameron, English photographer was born (d. 1879).

1825 The first cornerstone was laid for Fort Hamilton in New York City.

1837 The Broad Street Riot in Boston, fuelled by ethnic tensions between Yankees and Irish.

1847 Millicent Fawcett, British suffragist and feminist, was born  (d. 1929).

1864 Richard Strauss, German composer and conductor (d. 1949).

1866  The Allahabad High Court (then Agra High Court) iwa established in India.

1877 Renee Vivien, English-born poet, was born  (d. 1909).

1880 Jeannette Rankin, American politician, feminist, and pacifist, was born (d. 1973).

1892  The Limelight Department, one of the world’s first film studios, was officially established in Melbourne.

1898  Spanish-American War: U.S. war ships set sail for Cuba.

1898  The Hundred Days’ Reform was started by Guangxu Emperor in hope of changing social, political and educational institutions in China.

1901  New Zealand annexed the Cook Islands.

1901 Cornwall Park was gifted to Auckland at a civic reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, when Mayor John Logan Campbell handed over the deed to land below One Tree Hill.

Cornwall Park gifted to Auckland

1907 George Dennett, aided by Gilbert Jessop, dismissed  Northamptonshire for 12 runs, the lowest total in first-class cricket.

1910 Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French explorer and inventor, was born (d. 1997).

1917  King Alexander assumed the throne of Greece after his father Constantine I abdicated under pressure by allied armies occupying Athens.

1919 Sir Barton won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown.

1920  During the U.S. Republican National Convention in Chicago, U.S. party leaders gathered in a room at the Blackstone Hotel to come to a consensus on their candidate for the U.S. presidential election, leading the Associated Press to first coin the political phrase “smoke-filled room“.

1933 Gene Wilder, American actor, was born.

1935 Inventor Edwin Armstrong gave the first public demonstration of FM broadcasting in the United States.

1936  Jud Strunk, American musician and comedian, was born  (d. 1981).

1936 The International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London.

1937  Great Purge: The Soviet Union executed eight army leaders.

1938  Second Sino-Japanese War: The Battle of Wuhan started.

1938 – Second Sino-Japanese War: The Nationalist government created the 1938 Yellow River flood to halt Japanese forces. 500,000 to 900,000 civilians were killed.

1939 Sir Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver, three-time F1 world champion and former F1 team principal, was born.

1940 – World War II: First attack of the Italian Air force on the island of Malta.

1942  World War II: The United States agreed to send Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.

1950 Graham Russell, British guitarist and vocalist (Air Supply), was born.

1955  Eighty-three were killed and at least 100 injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collided at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1956  Start of Gal Oya riots, the first reported ethnic riots that targeted minority Sri Lankan Tamils in the Eastern Province.

1959 Hugh Laurie, English actor and comedian, was born.

1962  Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin became the only prisoners to escape from the prison on Alcatraz Island.

1963  American Civil Rights Movement: Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school. Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they were able to register.

1963  Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burned himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.

1964 Walter Seifert ran amok in an elementary school in Cologne killing at least eight children and two teachers and seriously injuring several more with a home-made flamethrower and a lance.

1968 Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, of Liechtenstein, was born.

1970  Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington became the first women to officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals,

1972  Eltham Well Hall rail crash, caused by an intoxicated train driver, killed six people and injured 126.

1978  Altaf Hussain founded the students’ political movement All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation (a.k.a APMSO) in Karachi University.

1981 A 6.9 magnitude earthquake at Golbaf, Iran, killed at least 2,000.

1998  Compaq Computer paid $9 billion for Digital Equipment Corporation.

2001  Timothy McVeigh was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.

2002  Antonio Meucci was acknowledged as the first inventor of the telephone by the United States Congress.

2004  Cassini-Huygens made its closest flyby of Phoebe.

2008  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an official apology to Canada’s First Nations in regard to a residential school abuse in which children are isolated from their homes, families and cultures for a century.

2012 – Two earthquakes struck northern Afghanistan, causing a large landslide, which buried the town of Sayi Hazara, trapping 71 people. After four days of digging, only five bodies were recovered and the search was called off.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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