Word of the day

26/06/2014

Doryphore – a pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic; someone who constantly draws attention to other’s minor flaws; person who points out the mistakes of others in an annoying way.


Comments policy – trolls not welcome

26/06/2014

My patience has been exhausted.

Any comments I regard as trolling will be deleted.


Rural round-up

26/06/2014

B+LNZ Lincoln Science Day: Farming 20/20 in 2020:

Thursday, 3 July 2014 Region: Northern South Island Location: 12.30-5pm: Stewart Building, Lincoln University By farmers. For farmers

Bookings are now open for this free farmer science event. Register today.

You will have heard about drones in agriculture, but have you seen one in action? Thought about selectively targeting stock to reduce drench resistance? Is clever winter feeding with fodder beet the latest game changer? How can your smartphone help you work smarter, not harder?

Come along and find out about the technologies that could take farming into the future. . . .

Why are dairy prices spiking?

It’s shaping up to be a historic year for America’s economically important dairy industry.

At the end of August, decades-old dairy price supports will change as the federal government ends its milk income loss contract (MILC) program. MILC guaranteed compensation for dairy producers if domestic milk prices fell below a certain level.

But dairy producers haven’t had to worry too much, at least for the present, about milk prices falling.

Despite a smaller overall beef and dairy herd, due in part to historic drought conditions across parts the U.S., the nation’s milk output is expected to reach a record 206.1 billion pounds this year, up nearly 5 billion pounds from 2013.

Dairy prices have also spiked. “We’ve never seen dairy prices and milk production this high at the same time,” Robin Schmahl, a commodities broker and owner of AgDairy in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin,told AgWeb.com 
back in April. “For dairy producers, the futures looks brighter than it has for a long time.” . . .

Rangatahi learning about land:

It makes sense to upskill rangatahi who will eventually manage the farms on Maori land as more whenua is returned to iwi, the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre says.

The Masterton-based centre has joined with Papawai Marae, near Greytown, to provide agricultural training for 15 Kuranui College students on the Ringa Raupa Ringa Ahuwhenua pilot programme.

Taratahi Maori Agribusiness co-ordinator Ben Matthews said it was important to guide young Maori on a rural career path to set them up for the future. . . .

Cow comfort key to stand-off pads:

Farmers considering investing in stand-off pads must make cow comfort their number one priority, according to new DairyNZ research.

Information from the three-year study into stand-off pads, a farm facility which helps farmers prevent pasture damage in wet weather, has been released in a new resource – Stand-off pads – your essential guide to planning, design and management.

DairyNZ farm systems specialist Chris Glassey says the research followed eight North Island farms with stand-off pads during the winter months of May until August. The Northland and Waikato farms were monitored for hours of pad use, pad stocking density, surface material deterioration and cow comfort. . . .

Progress on forestry safety action:

In the first five months of this year, the number of serious injuries reported in forestry has dropped by nearly half compared with last year, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“This is positive news and indicates the work the whole industry – the regulator, the forestry companies, the contractors and the workers – has been doing is paying off, but this is not a time to celebrate,” Mr Bridges says.

“I remain concerned that WorkSafe New Zealand is continuing to find very serious levels of non-compliance in the industry.”

WorkSafe New Zealand figures show 46 serious injuries have been reported this year up to the end of May compared with 82 in the same period last year.  This year’s figures are substantially below the six year rolling average for the same period of 77.  . .

 

Media Release from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC):

New Zealanders are being invited to have their say on the newly drafted animal welfare standards for the temporary housing of companion animals.

The proposed Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals describes the minimum standards and best practice guidelines that owners and people in charge of animals must achieve to meet their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

“It is essential that owners and people in charge of companion animals in temporary housing facilities are aware of their welfare needs,” says Chair of NAWAC Dr John Hellström. . . .

Bee groups moving towards merger:

The two groups representing beekeepers look set to merge to act as one voice for the industry.

Federated Farmers launched its bee industry group in 2002 after a split with the National Beekeepers’ Association.

For the first time, the organisations are holding a joint conference in Whanganui.

Association president Ricki Leahy said there has been a positive reaction from the industry for them to unite soon. . . .

 


Thursday’s quiz

26/06/2014

1. Who said: “For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewellery!” ?

2. The Beatles’ first recording took palce in which company’s studios, where?

3. It’s tambour in French, tamburo in Italian, tambor in Spanish and taramu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Where is the Strawberry Fields memorial?

5. What’s your favourite Beatles’ song?


Argument for longer term

26/06/2014

Uncertainty about September’s election is unsettling business:

The Grant Thornton International Business Report says business confidence for the next 12 months has fallen from 88 percent to 70 percent.

This narrows the business confidence gap with Australia, where companies have been buoyed by the first Abbott budget.

Mark Hucklesby from Grant Thornton New Zealand said on Wednesday he has witnessed election year jitters in several boardrooms in the past few weeks and overseas customers are also nervous about the outcome. . .

New Zealand is still 6th in the world which is encouraging.

But uncertainty affects confidence which makes it less likely for businesses to invest more and/or take on more staff.

Our electoral cycle is short by international standards.

Adding another year to it would lessen the braking affect elections have on business.

 


Taxing prosperity

26/06/2014

A comprehensive Capital Gains Tax compensated for by a lowering in other taxes might have something to recommend it.

But Labour’s CGT isn’t comprehensive and won’t be matched by compensatory drops in other taxes.

Labour leader David Cunliffe tried to sell the policy via questions to Prime Minister John Key in question time yesterday – and failed:

1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he accept inequality, including asset inequality, is increasing in New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): No. The best evidence shows that income inequality is not increasing in New Zealand, and I am advised that there is no reliable time series on changes in wealth inequality. As the Minister of Finance noted yesterday, the OECD has reported that New Zealand was one of only six developed economies in which both income inequality and disposable income inequality were flat or slightly better between 2007 and 2011. This is quite an achievement through one of the worst recessions in decades.

Hon David Cunliffe: How does the Prime Minister feel about the Oxfam report that shows that the top 10 percent of wealthy New Zealanders own more than the other 90 percent put together?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I suspect that is probably similar to lots of parts of the world, but what I can say is that under a Labour Government, with its announcements today, every single New Zealander in KiwiSaver will be worse off when they have a capital gains tax on their KiwiSaver account.

Hon David Cunliffe: How can he be so relaxed about the growing gap between the rich and poor, when the median income in, say, St Heliers has increased by $6,700 a year since 2006 to $42,700, while the median income in Māngere has fallen by $200 to just $19,700?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I did not actually say what the member said that I said. What I would say is that at a time when the economy is in surplus, when it is earning more than it is spending, putting a tax on every farm, on every business, and on every KiwiSaver will simply make the situation worse for so many New Zealanders. No wonder they will not vote for that.

Hon David Cunliffe: In light of that answer, does the Prime Minister agree that a 35 percent increase in luxury car sales over the past 2 years while at the same time the number of children living in poverty has grown to 285,000 shows that inequality is rising, or does he not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, that is not a reliable measure of income inequality. What would be worth noting, though, is that households that earn $60,000 or less—that is, 50 percent of all New Zealand households—pay $2.5 billion in tax and they receive over $7 billion in benefits. Through the worst of the economic times this Government has supported those most vulnerable New Zealanders.

Hon David Cunliffe: How does the Prime Minister feel about the fact that homeownership rates are at their lowest levels in 50 years, and does he think it acceptable that half of the pupils in schools in our lower income areas are changing schools once a year or more? So we have declining homeownership, dislocated children, and growing inequality—how does he feel about that?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: One thing I do know is that if you put a capital gains tax on rental properties, as the member is suggesting—because, in fact, virtually all property is excluded under the Labour plan—what that will do is put rents up. So those who are renting a property and watching parliamentary question time today better know that under a Labour Government they will pay more. In other words, they will have less to spend. No wonder they will never support that policy. . . .

Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Prime Minister think it is fair that the incomes of the top 1 percent of income earners in New Zealand have risen 10 times faster than the bottom 10 percent, and does he think that a capital gains tax might just help equalise some of that growing gap between the rich and the poor?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to the last part of the question, no. What is really important that New Zealanders understand is that a capital gains tax in the way that Labour has described today will be on every small business in New Zealand, every business in New Zealand, every KiwiSaver account in New Zealand, and every part of the productive sector of New Zealand. If we want people in poverty, then we should cancel their jobs, and that is what Labour would be doing—putting a tax on prosperity for New Zealand. . . .

Good tax might be an oxymoron but better taxes are aimed at things we want to discourage.

Labour’s CGT by contrast will hit things we need to encourage – savings, investment and businesses big, medium and small that earn the money and provide the jobs we need for prosperity.


Yes – with conditions

26/06/2014

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has given a conditional yes to supporting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

A $275 million dam and irrigation scheme proposed for Central Hawke’s Bay is a step closer after Hawke’s Bay Regional Council voted this morning to invest up to $80 million in the scheme provided a number of conditions are met over coming months.

Regional councillors voted 6-3 in favour of proceeding with the investment of ratepayer money in the dam based on conditions including that investment is finalised from other investors, contracts are signed with water users to take a sufficient amount of initial water from the scheme and “satisfactory” environmental conditions are handed down from a board of inquiry that has been considering consents for the project.

Debbie Hewitt, representing Central Hawke’s Bay on the regional council, said the project would address farming and social issues in the district and leave a legacy for future generations. . .

One of the conditions is getting farmer support, which ought to be a no-brainer:

A Central Hawke’s Bay farmer is delighted the regional council will put millions into the Ruataniwha Dam scheme. . .

Jeremy Greer’s family operate an 800 hectare farm, but can only water up to 200 hectares at the moment.

Mr Greer says today’s decision is another step in the right direction.

He says it will ensure drought protection and increase production. . .

A number of conditions still have to be met, including finding other investors and ensuring local farmers sign up to the scheme.

Council chair Fenton Wilson says he’s confident they will come to the table with their wallets.

“The community’s got to do its bit now. We’ve got to get commitment and signed contracts unconditional for minimum 40 million cubic metres of water and that work’s ongoing.”

Wilson says this shows other investors and farmers the scheme can be a viable project.

The dam still has to clear several hurdles before it gets the full green light – including the Board of Inquiry’s final decision due in the next 48 hours. . .

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers’ Kevin Mitchell says farmers look to the next generation when it comes to investing in the land.

“Droughts are coming more frequent on this side of the East Coast of the North Island.

“To have that water available to build resilience in your farming systems is absolutely vital.”

Droughts have a devastating impact on farms, farmers and those who work for, service and supply them.

But production isn’t just reduced in bad years. When a region is drought-prone farmers have to farm conservatively because they can’t rely on getting enough rain when they need it.

A reliable water supply with irrigation not only provides insurance against droughts it will also enable much better production in average and good years.

There are environmental benefits too – irrigation helps reduce soil erosion and can ensure minimum flows in waterways.

 

 


Envy still drives Labour’s tax and spend

26/06/2014

Labour’s announcement on its financial plan shows it has learned nothing from the mistakes it made when it was last in government.

Labour’s tax and spend ‘plan’ released today is the Opposition’s usual approach to public finances, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“After nearly six years in Opposition, all Labour can come up with is a re-hash of its failed old recipe of taxing more and spending more,” Mr English says.

“No one will be surprised – or impressed – by that.

“Labour want to increase taxes so they can spend more without any focus on better results. They are out of touch with New Zealanders’ expectations that the measure of good government is better results, not more spending.

“Labour’s complex capital gains tax would be full of holes, slap a new tax on 2.3 million KiwiSavers and on every New Zealand farm and business without addressing the real issues around housing affordability.

“As for the proposed new top tax rate, it’s just the politics of envy. It wouldn’t actually raise much money, it would encourage those who could do so to shelter money in companies and it would ignore the fact that these taxpayers already pay 22 per cent of income tax – even though they are just 2 per cent of taxpayers.”

Labour still hasn’t learned that lower tax rates lead to higher tax takes and the reverse also applies.

Never before in Britain’s history has so much tax been drawn from so few high earners – and lower tax rates are the cause:

The biggest problem with the last government was its failure to realise what it was doing wrong. David Cameron, by contrast, often doesn’t seem to realise what his government is doing right. . .

It sometimes seems that even Conservatives are surprised by just how well conservatism works.

Tax cuts, especially, have been viewed with deep suspicion by those around Mr Cameron.  . . This was about tribalism, rather than economics, and it took some time for the Prime Minister to realise that tax cuts are often the surest route to recovery and stability.

But, then, the top rate of income tax was lowered from 50p to 45p in the pound, and the Liberal Democrats forced the Government to lift three million of the lowest earners out of income tax.

It has been politically difficult – Ed Miliband chastises Mr Cameron for his “tax cut for millionaires”. But something remarkable has happened: those millionaires are now paying more tax than ever. The best-paid “one per cent” are spoken of as if they all employ clever accountants to wriggle out of paying any tax. Yet figures show they now earn 13 per cent of all paid income, and provide 28 per cent of the income tax collected.

This is higher than at any point under the last government, and twice as high as under the Callaghan government (when the top rate of tax was 98 per cent). We are witnessing what John F Kennedy called the “paradoxical truth” that lower tax rates can mean higher tax revenues. When people are taxed less, they tend to earn (or declare) more. It has taken Britain into a golden era of milking the rich. . .

 Here it’s similar with the top 2% already paying 22% of the total income tax.

Labour’s planning to increase the tax rate on trusts to circumvent the wealthy channelling money into them to avoid higher taxes.

But it’s not just the wealthy who have trusts and those not so well off will have to pay the higher rates too.

Labour will be taking more money from everyone for KiwiSaver and reducing the return from those savings with their Capital Gains Tax too.

Their plan is the same old tax and spend, driven by envy that put New Zealand into recession before the Global Financial Crisis.


June 26 in history

26/06/2014

363  Roman Emperor Julian was killed during the retreat from the Sassanid Empire. General Jovian was proclaimed Emperor by the troops on the battlefield.

1284  The legendary Pied Piper led 130 children out of Hamelin.

1409 Western Schism: the Roman Catholic church was led into a double schism as Petros Philargos was crowned Pope Alexander V after the Council of Pisa, joining Pope Gregory XII in Rome and Pope Benedict XII in Avignon.

1483  Richard III was crowned king of England.

1541  Francisco Pizarro was assassinated in Lima by the son of his former companion and later antagonist, Diego Almagro the younger.

1718  Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich of Russia, Peter the Great’s son, mysteriously died after being sentenced to death by his father for plotting against him.

1723  After a siege and bombardment by cannon, Baku surrendered to the Russians.

1817 Branwell Bronte, British painter and poet, was born (d. 1848).

1848 End of the June Days Uprising in Paris.

1857  The first investiture of the Victoria Cross in Hyde Park.

1866 George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, English financier of Egyptian excavations, was born (d. 1923).

1870  Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States.

1892 Pearl S. Buck, American writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1973).

1898 Willy Messerschmitt, German aircraft designer, was born (d. 1978).

1908 Salvador Allende, Former President of Chile (1970-1973), was born (d. 1973)

1909  Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, was born (d. 1997)

1909  The Science Museum in London became an independent entity.

1913 Maurice Wilkes, British computer scientist, was born.

1914 Laurie Lee, British writer, was born (d. 1997).

1917  The first U.S. troops arrived in France to fight alongside the allies in World War I.

1918  The Australian steamer Wimmera was sunk by a mine laid the year before by the German raider Wolf north of Cape Maria van Diemen.

1918  World War I, Western Front: Battle for Belleau Wood – Allied Forces under John J. Pershing and James Harbord defeated Imperial German Forces under Wilhelm, German Crown Prince.

1921 Violette Szabo, French WWII secret agent, was born (d. 1945).

1924 American occupying forces left the Dominican Republic.

1927 – The Cyclone roller coaster opened on Coney Island.

1934  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, which establishes credit unions.

1936  Initial flight of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, the first practical helicopter.

1940 Billy Davis, Jr., American singer (The 5th Dimension), was born.

1940 World War II: under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union presented an ultimatum to Romania requiring it to cede Bessarabia and the northern part of Bukovina.

1942  The first flight of the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

1943 Georgie Fame, British singer, was born.

1945  The United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

1948 – William Shockley filed the original patent for the grown junction transistor, the first bipolar junction transistor.

1948 Shirley Jackson‘s short story The Lottery was published in The New Yorker magazine.

1952 The Pan-Malayan Labour Party was founded, as a union of statewise labour parties.

1959  The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened, opening North America’s Great Lakes to ocean-going ships.

1960 The former British Protectorate of British Somaliland gained its independence as Somaliland .

1960 – Madagascar gained its independence from France.

1963  John F. Kennedy spoke the famous words “Ich bin ein Berliner” on a visit to West Berlin.

1973  At Plesetsk Cosmodrome 9 people were killed in an explosion of a Cosmos 3-M rocket.

1974  The Universal Product Code was scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

1975  Indira Gandhi established emergency rule in India.

1975 – Two FBI agents and a member of the American Indian Movement were killed in a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

1976  The CN Tower, the world’s tallest free-standing structure on land, was opened to general public.

1977 The Yorkshire Ripper killed 16 year old shop assistant Jayne MacDonald in Leeds, changing public perception of the killer as she is the first victim who was not a prostitute.

1978 – Air Canada Flight 189 to Toronto overran the runway and crashed into the Etobicoke Creek ravine. Two of 107 passengers on board died.

1991  Ten-Day War: the Yugoslav people’s army began the Ten-Day War in Slovenia.

1993 The United States launched a missile attack targeting Baghdad intelligence headquarters in retaliation for a thwarted assassination attempt against former President George H.W. Bush in April in Kuwait.

1994  Microsoft no longer supported MS-DOS and the development of FreeDOS began.

1995  Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani deposed his father Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, as the Emir of Qatar, in a bloodless coup.

1996  Irish Journalist Veronica Guerin was shot in her car while in traffic in the outskirts of Dublin.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

2003  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that gender-based sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

2008 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protected an individual right, and that the District of Columbia handgun ban was unconstitutional.

2012 – The Waldo Canyon Fire descended into the Mountain Shadows neighbourhood in Colorado Springs burning 347 homes in a matter of hours and killing two people.

2013 – Riots in China’s Xinjiang region killed at least 36 people and injuring 21 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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