Political story of the day

June 20, 2014

While sideshows and mud slinging are getting attention, the government is getting on with business as normal which includes working hard to progress freer trade.

Time to get down to business on tangled trade deal – Audrey Young:

At 3am tomorrow, New Zealand time, John Key will have the second most important meeting of his visit to the United States.

It’s a lunch meeting with US Trade Representative Mike Froman at the New Zealand Embassy, where ambassador Mike Moore, a former World Trade Organisation director general, will also be present.

Froman is effectively leading the Trans Pacific Partnership talks, which are in a parlous state.

Rescuing the deal from a pitiful result is Key’s top priority for the trip. . .

New Zealand already has very open borders which means we have little to lose and a lot to gain from any free trade deals and the TPP would be particularly helpful if it includes agricultural produce.

But negotiations are painstakingly slow.

 


Friday’s answers

June 20, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said, And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.?

2. Is it Thursday already, if so where did the rest of the week go.

3. How do you say Thursday in three other languages?

4.  What’s the derivation of the word Thursday?

5. If you could change Thursday to another day, which would it be?

Points for answers:

J Bloggs and Andrei  wins an electronic batch of ginger crunch for a clean sweep.

Rob got one and a bonus for philosophy.

Gravedodger go four and a smile for #3.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Word of the day

June 20, 2014

Torrefy – roast, scorch, parch or dry (a substance such as an ore, a drug, or a fuel) with heat to drive off all moisture or impurities; subject to fire or intense heat.


Rural round-up

June 20, 2014

New Zealand features at “Olympics” of TB control

New Zealand’s expertise in the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB) will be showcased in Wales this month at the prestigious international M.bovis conference.

TBfree New Zealand TB Eradication and Research Manager Dr Paul Livingstone QSO will be a keynote speaker at the conference. He is well known for advising other countries, including Wales, Ireland, Chile and the United States, on TB management.

Dr Livingstone has spent his working life managing the disease and has been a key part of TBfree New Zealand’s success. He said it is a privilege to speak in front of such an esteemed gathering of experts from around the world, with about 500 attendees expected at the conference. . .

Antimicrobial resistance worries vets:

Growing resistance to antimicrobials has vets worried.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association at its annual conference in Hamilton this week, regards it as one of the greatest threat to human and animal health.

Bacteria, which is the major cause of disease develops the ability to withstand the antibiotic used to control them.

Keynote speaker at the conference, Australian vet, Stephen Page said that while the problem in animals is not nearly as great as in humans, farmers and vets can’t afford to relax. . .

Rural professionals needed – Vet Assn:

The Veterinary Association says the lack of young people wanting to take up careers in agribusiness and sciences is likely to affect the number of vets being produced in this country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries puts the number of rural professionals currently at about 2000.

Association president Steve Merchant said for this country to achieve an increase in its primary exports at double the current rate, more rural professionals were needed. . . .

Research to focus on environment:

Dairy industry research funded by farmer levies will have a stronger focus on environmental issues.

The industry body Dairy NZ has received strong farmer support for renewing the levies it collects from them for another six years.

That will take effect when the Primary Industries Minister signs a new commodity levies order, which needs to happen by February next year. . . .

HRH The Prince of Wales hosts Campaign for Wool’s 5th Anniversary:

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation. . . .

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation.

– See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.org/news-item/hrh-the-prince-of-wales-hosts-campaign-for-wools-5th-anniversary/#sthash.4Zt2b9RF.dpuf

‘Farming in the Cloud’ online accounting launched by Xero:

Online accounting software company Xero today formally launched its dedicated rural online accounting and farm management solution – Farming in the Cloud – together with key farming solution partner, Figured, at the National Fieldays in Mystery Creek.

Xero also announced that rural services company, RD1 has joined Farming in the Cloud as a partner, and as part of this is working with the wider Fonterra group to explore opportunities for integration.

Ben Richmond, CA, Xero Rural Strategy Lead said: “We are excited to now have all our major rural supplier partnerships in place. Figured has been instrumental in taking Xero to the farming market. Now, having RD1 on board, alongside the likes of PGG Wrightson which is already a partner, really validates the power of Farming in the Cloud as a ground-breaking farm productivity tool, and looking ahead we’re pleased to be broadening our relationship with Fonterra.” . . .

Kahungunu Harvesting Our Future:

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi is hosting a second in a series of Agribusiness Conferences to showcase current farming talent and to provide roadways into the future for landowners and shareholders who in the past leased their land to neighbouring farmers.

This conference is being held on Thursday 26th June at The Hub in Dannevirke.

We will highlight successful business women in farming and successful grouping of Māori interests that take produce from the ‘Nuku to the Puku’ meaning from the land to the tables of the world.
Dannevirke is already a hot bed of energy and innovation when it comes to farming. The success stories from this area will be a good example for other small communities that see the value of cooperation and partnership.

Ngāti Kahungunu is well known in iwi circles for our generous hospitality to visitors. This trait has built lifelong relationships throughout the country and one we want to extend to the world. . .

Fonterra Announces Two Senior Appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced two senior appointments to the Fonterra Management Team.

Kelvin Wickham, who is currently President Greater China, will take up the newly created position of Managing Director Global Ingredients.

Johan Priem, who is currently a member of the Office of the CEO, will become President Greater China, when Mr Wickham assumes his new role on 1 August. . . .

New Zealand Site Dominates U.S. Wine World:

The most influential wine website in the U.S. is not based in Silicon Valley but the Auckland suburb of New Lynn.

The VinePair Wine Web Power Index measures the influence of selected wine websites and mobile apps within the United States and West Auckland-based Wine Searcher is top of the list.

Wine Searcher is a search engine for wine that lists more than 5.5 million wines and prices from almost 40,000 merchants around the world. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson calls it “the most successful, and seriously useful, price comparison website.” . . .


Who’s putting jobs and people first?

June 20, 2014

The government is to introduce special legislation to enable the recovery of high value native timber blown over in Cyclone Ita on West Coast public conservation land, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“We need to take a pragmatic approach and enable the timber to be recovered where it can be done so safely and with minimal environmental impact. This initiative will provide welcome jobs and economic opportunities for the West Coast at a difficult time, and will provide a financial return to DOC that can be reinvested in conservation work,” Dr Smith says.

Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year and caused the worst windfall damage in generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, national parks, ecological areas and the white heron sanctuary reserve at Whataroa. Authorisations are only to be issued where the Department’s Director-General is satisfied the proposed method of removing the timber is safe for workers and the public, and minimises environmental impacts. The recovery of timber is limited until 1 July 2019 when the Bill expires. All revenue from royalties will go to the Department of Conservation.

“A law change is needed because the current Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in this sort of extreme event. The Bill will be introduced and passed by Parliament next week under urgency. This is necessary because the large volumes of beech timber will soon deteriorate with sap stain and borer. I am grateful for the common sense support from the United Future and Māori Parties that are enabling Parliament to quickly resolve this issue.

“It is estimated that several million cubic metres of beech, rimu, matai, totara and miro trees have been felled. Stumpage prices for rimu are $250 per cubic metre, and $60 per cubic metre for beech. It is not possible to estimate the volume and value of timber to be extracted because the safety and environmental constraints may require high cost options like the use of helicopters. This law change will enable the detailed work to be done by operators on recovery proposals so as to determine where recovery is viable and safe.

“It may be appropriate to consider a permanent change to the Conservation Act to enable windblown timber in these sorts of situations to be recovered in future, but I am reluctant to do so with urgent legislation of this sort. The Department of Conservation will be commissioning research on the effects on forest regrowth and ecology by comparing similar windblown areas where timber has and has not been recovered to help make a long-term policy decision on this issue.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but no good purpose is served by leaving it all to rot. The wood will displace some of the $65 million of tropical hardwoods we import each year and give New Zealanders access to our own beautiful native timbers,” Dr Smith concluded.

The move has the support of the Maori Party:

The Māori Party is thrilled that urgent legislation is to be passed by Parliament to allow for the recovery of native timber that has fallen onto West Coast public conservation land as a result of Cyclone Ita. Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell joined Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast today to make the special announcement.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the West Coast at a time where the community has had to bear the brunt of the storm. This legislation will open up long-term employment and commercial opportunities for the community and I am proud to be part of today’s announcement,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“The Māori Party support this initiative because we see it as a way for the West Coast to take a silver lining from the storm that hit their community on April 17 this year and caused the most devastating windfall damage in decades.”

“Had we not supported the legislation, the timber would have deteriorated and lost its commercial value. In particular, beech sapwood must be recovered within a month before sap stain fungi and beech borer begin to destroy the value of the timber, which is why there is a need for urgency. The felled rimu can be recoverable for up to five years, providing opportunities for long-term employment,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Of course, the safety of the workers will be of paramount importance and authorisations to remove timber will require that the operators provide health and safety plans to show their removal methods would be safe for both the workers and the public. The legislation also provides for public exclusion from areas while timber recovery operations are taking place for their own protection.”

“Ngāi Tahu has expressed their support in principle for the opportunities presented by the legislation and we will support their preference for opportunities for the harvesting of the wind-blown timber and its proceeds to be reinvested into the West Coast community. We will also seek to ensure that the recovery is undertaken in a manner that respects and addresses any environmental and cultural matters of concern that the iwi may have.”

“While we are sad to see that so much native timber has been blown over by Cyclone Ita, we are delighted that Ngāi Tahu and the rest of the West Coast community will benefit from the passing of this legislation,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the timber recovery is the logical response:

. . . “It is very unfortunate so many trees were blown down in this storm but there is just no benefit in leaving the timber to rot” said Mr Dunne.

Parliament will consider urgent, special legislation to enable the recovery of the high value native timber.

UnitedFuture will support The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill which confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Ecological Areas and the White Heron colony.

“This timber recovery plan is the common sense, practical, and logical response to a natural process.

“I am satisfied by the environmental protections and health and safety regulations to which operators will be subject when the timber is removed.

“This will ensure that the West Coast’s unique environment will be protected” said Mr Dunne.

“New Zealand’s hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world and I am pleased Parliament will enable New Zealanders to access it rather than leaving it to rot” he said.

Former Former Westland Mayor and now National Party candidate Maureen Pugh approached the Minister and asked that permission be given for logging:

. . . “It just seems like a very practical solution to an event that’s happened,” says Ms Pugh.

She says the logs, which are a mixture of rimu, totara and beech, could be worth up to $50,000 each. . . .

The proposal’s being welcomed on the coast – Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it makes sense as it has the potential to create money. . . .

this is a very good example of a candidate being proactive for the people who’s support she’s seeking.

Contrast that with the Green Party which doesn’t attempt to win electorates and therefore doesn’t have to worry what’s best for the people in them:

 . . . the Greens say it would require a law change and they’d never support it.

“Generations of New Zealanders campaigned to protect West Coast forests – allowing trees to be taken from timber would completely cut across that,” says Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage. . . .

Nature dealt the trees the killing blow.

If they are left where they are they’ll rot.

There is a small window of opportunity to recover the fallen trees which will provide work and replace imported timber.

It will be done with safeguards for workers and the environment and all profits will go to the Department of Conservation to fund more conservation work.

But once more the Green Party will put politics and its own blinkered ideology before people and jobs.


Helping vulnerable children

June 20, 2014

There is no excuse for giving children nothing but the love and care they need.

That doesn’t stop some people neglecting or abusing them which is why there’s a need for the Vulnerable Children Bill which was passed into law yesterday.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett explains:

. . . This Bill is a critical step in giving effect to changes in the Children’s Action Plan.

These include ensuring joint accountability across Justice, Health, Education, Police and Social Development, for the wellbeing of vulnerable children.

They also include the new requirements for the screening and vetting of Government workers and contractors who work with children.

All up these new requirements will cover around 182,000 New Zealanders.

There are also new workforce restrictions to prevent those with serious convictions, who pose a danger to children, from coming into contact with them.

The legislation will also switch the onus on parents who have killed, or severely abused or neglected a child, and they will now have to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven.

It has more than 30 interwoven initiatives and it will:

• bring the right people together in communities around our vulnerable kids.

• give us a whole lot more options to respond to the different needs of children.

Firstly, we want to support vulnerable children and work alongside their families to keep them safe so that they never reach the point where they need the involvement of Child, Youth and Family.

That’s where our new Children’s Teams come in, along with the Hub and the Vulnerable Kids Information System, or ViKI.

Children’s Teams bring together frontline professionals from health, education, welfare and other agencies to wrap services around children and their families.

They work with children and young people who are vulnerable, but are best helped outside Child, Youth and Family’s statutory service.

As well as doctors, teachers and social workers there is Plunket, Family Start, Whanau Ora, parenting services, and budgeting services to name a few.

But too often vulnerable children are at the back of the queue for these services.

They have parents or caregivers who don’t know enough, or simply don’t care enough, to prioritise and advocate for their needs.

These children need to be at the front and centre of the queue,

What I have had to consider is whether these vulnerable children should get to jump the queue, and get in front of other children whose needs may be as pressing, but who have parents or caregivers fighting in their corner.

I am unapologetic in saying that yes they should, because it is they who are most at risk.

Children’s Teams will understand the unique needs of each child they deal with, and pull together a team who can make the most difference to get alongside the child and family.

They will be able to fast track access to services, and carve a clear path for vulnerable children to the support they need.

Our two pilot teams in Rotorua and Whangarei have worked with over 110 children so far and we are hearing about:

• better attendance at health appointments

• better parenting

• re-enrolments at early childhood and school

• better access to welfare support

• happier children

• better behaviour

• and reduced offending.

There’s been a lot of learning, and some hurdles along the way, but it’s clear that the mix of services and the early support is making a difference to children’s lives.

And by the middle of next year we will have eight new Children’s Teams in action.

Alongside this we’re developing a Vulnerable Kids Information System where frontline professionals like doctors and teachers can go online to register concerns about a child.

ViKI will help us join those dots into a picture about what is going on for a child.

We’re also setting up a Hub where people can report their concerns about a child quickly and easily, or get help and advice.

Depending on what’s happening for each child, the Hub will triage them to the level of support they need.

The initiatives contained in the Children’s Action Plan are all connected to each other and firmly place vulnerable children at the front and centre.

These are the children who have no one to speak up for them.

If they are not the core work and priority for police, paediatricians, social workers and community workers, then who is?

I would like to thank the Social Services Committee and all the New Zealanders that made submissions for their valuable contribution to this bill.

This legislation goes beyond this House, and beyond politics.

It goes into the home of every New Zealander whether they have children or not, because the wellbeing of our vulnerable is the measure of the heart of this country.

As proud as I am of the opportunities and support available for most of us, there are too many left out and too many let down.

As I said, there are 23,000 cases of substantiated abuse each year.

There are eight children killed by the people who should hold them, love them, and care for them.

As Minister, I expect the results of our work with vulnerable children to be that by which I am judged, and I am investing everything I have into this.

It is crucial we get it right – not in a few years, or ‘in the future,’ but now.

This legislation is a crucial step underpinning a much wider piece of work that will fundamentally change the way we work with vulnerable children and their families in New Zealand.

It will make a difference.

The law can’t be in every home, nor should it be.

But it does need to be able to act to protect children who are let down by their families.

 

Children need our protection. National is doing everything possible to keep them safe.</p><br />
<p>Learn more: http://ntnl.org.nz/1uEHaLf

You’d think this would be something that would get cross-party support, but it didn’t:

The Vulnerable Children Bill passed its final stage by 105 – 10 votes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon after only the Green Party and Mana Party’s Hone Harawira voted against it. . .

Green Party MP Jan Logie said Ms Bennett had failed to deal to the main problem of child poverty. . .

Poverty is a problem but it is not an excuse for the neglect and abuse of children.

The Minister said, the Bill is just one part of a much bigger programme – the relevant piece from the extract above explains:

. . . But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven. . .

The Green Party and Harawira put their blinkers on and voted against a Bill which isn’t pretending to give all the answers but will address part of the problem.

Shame on them.


More good news

June 20, 2014

This is good news:

National’s economic plan is working.

And there is a link between record exports and  this:

National's economic programme is working. http://bit.ly/1iVcOn0


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