Word of the day

July 29, 2014

Adscititious – forming an addition or supplement; not integral; not inherent or essential; added or derived from an external source; additional.


Fonterra drops payout to $6

July 29, 2014

Fonterra has announced its forecast payout for this season has dropped by a dollar:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $7.00 to $6.00 per kgMS and announced an estimated dividend range of 20-25 cents per share – amounting to a Forecast Cash Payout of $6.20-$6.25 for the current season.

Chairman John Wilson said the lower forecast Farmgate Milk Price reflected continuing volatility, with the GlobalDairyTrade price index declining 16 per cent since the start of the season on June 1.

“We have seen strong production globally, a build-up of inventory in China, and falling demand in some emerging markets in response to high dairy commodity prices.  In addition, the New Zealand dollar has remained strong. Our milk collection across New Zealand last season ending 31 May 2014 reached 1,584 million kgMs, 8.3 per cent higher than the previous season.

“This drop in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price will have an impact on our farmers’ cash flows.We continue to urge caution with on-farm budgets in light of the continuing volatility in international dairy markets,” said Mr Wilson.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the increase reflects the Co-operative’s expectations for improved returns on its value-add and branded products, given volume increases and lower input costs.

“As we continue to drive for growth in our consumer and foodservice businesses, during the first half of the current financial year we expect reduced cost of goods arising from lower dairy commodity prices to have a positive impact on returns.

“It is important to note that in light of the significant volatility, our dividend estimate is based on zero ingredients stream returns at this early stage in the season.

“We continued driving our V3 strategy throughout the previous season and that is why we can support an increased estimated dividend range for the 2014/15 financial year.

“Our forecasting anticipates some recovery in global dairy prices but it is too early to predict how strong this recovery will be or when it will kick in. . .

This drop was expected after successive drops in price in GlobalDairyTrade auctions and volatility in world markets.

It certainly isn’t welcome but it shouldn’t be regarded as cause for panic either.

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


SMEs want four-year term

July 29, 2014

Small and medium enterprises want a four-year parliamentary term:

A longer parliamentary term and fewer members of Parliament are two key changes that New Zealand business owners would like to see, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

The survey showed that 70% of participants wanted the parliamentary term increased to four years and 60% would like to see the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced. Fifteen percent wanted the parliamentary term extended to five years.

Greg Thompson, Partner and National Director, Tax at Grant Thornton New Zealand, said that the desire to have a longer parliamentary term recognises the maturity of the New Zealand political system since the introduction of MMP.

“MMP, compared with the old first-past-the-post system, gives a much wider representation in parliament which in turn takes longer for decisions to get through the system.

“Just look at the Government’s assets sales programme where it wasn’t possible to implement the entire programme in one election cycle. This disjointedness then flowed on to the capital markets with a loss of general cohesion in the New Zealand economy.” . . .

The survey also showed that 38% thought that MMP was the best scenario while 32% thought it should be abolished.

“It is becoming very obvious that with MMP and multiple parties there is always the ongoing need to ‘do a deal’ which takes time.

“For the business owner, this deal making slows down political processes which hinders their own decision making. What a business owner wants is clarity and stability upon which they can plan. The present electoral system and term does not deliver those two requirements.

“While there is a general acceptance of MMP, the fact that 60% of the respondents want the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced indicates a belief that ‘too many cooks’ are slowing down the parliamentary process. They prefer quality to quantity,” he said.

Lowering the quantity of MPs isn’t a guarantee there’d be an improvement in the quality of them.

As long was we have MMP any reduction in the number of MPs would make too many electorates too big.

In comparison with New Zealand’s three-year term, the United States and the United Kingdom have four and five year election cycles respectively. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to retain a three-year cycle.

Elections slow down activity in government departments and create uncertainty which is unsettling for businesses.

A four year term would be less expensive – giving us three elections every 12 years instead of four – and improve productivity within the public service and private enterprises.


Each vote is powerful

July 29, 2014

The Electoral Commission has launched a campaign to encourage people to enrol and vote:

More non-voters than ever before say they don’t feel like their vote is worth anything, or that their opinion matters.

It’s a trend that concerns the Electoral Commission, and the reason for a new campaign to help connect New Zealanders with the power of their vote.

“We are lucky to live in a strong democracy where we all get to play a part,” says Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden. “Our democracy is important, every single vote is important, and every New Zealander’s voice deserves to be heard.”

“No matter who we are, where we live, or where we’re from, we are all equal on election day.”

“We want all New Zealanders to think about why voting matters, to think about what it means for them, their family and their community,” says Mr Peden. “We want them to enrol, and we want them to vote on September 20.”

Launching this weekend, the Commission’s new campaign uses real people, not actors, speaking from the heart about why voting matters to them. . .

A website – www.ivotenz.org.nz has more about the campaign.

The latest Stuff-Ipsos poll shows 77% intend to vote.

When the remainder were asked what might put them off voting, 17.6 per cent said it was too difficult to get to a polling station, while 8 per cent said they were too busy and a further 8 per cent said they didn’t know enough about the issues or the candidates. . . .

Too difficult to get to a polling station or too busy is a poor excuse for most.

Anyone can cast an advance vote from September 3rd and there’s provision for casting special votes.

Advance voting makes it easy for anyone who can’t get to a voting place in their electorate on election day. This may be because of work, sickness, infirmity, disability, being away from home or for any other reason.

Information about where, when and how to vote in advance is available closer to election day for any by-election or general election. Information on voting in advance will also be in your EasyVote information pack, which you will receive about a week before election day, or on freephone 0800 36 76 56.

If you’re unable to vote in advance, you can cast a special vote.

Casting a Special Vote

You will need to cast a special vote if you are:

  • unable to get to a voting place or advance voting place in your electorate; or
  • not enrolled by Writ Day or
  • on the unpublished roll.

To receive special voting papers, you will need to complete a special declaration form.

Before election day you can:

  • go into an advance voting place. You will be given a declaration form to complete and your voting papers; or
  • complete and post an application for special declaration voting papers to your Returning Officer. They will send your voting papers and declaration; or
  • apply for voting papers by fax, e-mail or telephone from your Returning Officer.

Your completed voting papers must be received by the Returning Officer or a voting place no later than 7pm on election day.

On election day you can go into a voting place. You will be given a declaration form to complete and your voting papers.

Need help to get your special voting papers?

You can complete the application for special declaration voting papers and ask another person to take it to your Returning Officer, advance voting place or a voting place. They will then bring you back your voting papers and declaration.

Your completed voting papers must be received by the Returning Officer or a voting place no later than 7pm on election day.

Need help to vote?

Someone may need help to vote if they:

  • are blind or vision impaired, or
  • have severe difficulties reading or writing,
  • or have difficulty with the English language

If you need help to read or mark your voting papers, a friend, family member or electoral officials can help. Just ask when you go to vote or freephone 0800 36 76 56 to find out more.

Anyone who doesn’t speak English can take a friend or family member to the advance voting or voting place to help. . .

Political parties always advertise that they will take people to a polling booth or help with a special vote.

Family members, friends and neighbours can also help with a special vote.

Working on the day isn’t an excuse either.

Polls are open from 9am until 7pm and people are legally entitled to a break to allow them to vote.

I have some sympathy for people who don’t know enough about the parties or candidates because the media spends a lot more time on sideshows than analysis of policies and generally doesn’t do details.

But there is plenty of information on-line and anyone who approached a party for information would get more than enough.

A few people deliberately don’t vote but for most people the answers given in the poll are just excuses for not wanting to vote.

If someone really wanted to vote only some unforeseen illness, accident or other calamity would stop them.

People in some countries are still literally dying for the right to vote.

We have the freedom to vote and we are also free to not vote.

For a few that might be a considered action but those excuses given are spurious for most non-voters who don’t understand or don’t care that each and every vote is powerful.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


“Typical MP looks male”

July 29, 2014

Rob Salmond thinks he knows why National has more male candidates:

. . . National leaves everything to its local branch, to simply vote up the candidate they like. They vote in complete isolation from the broader needs of the party – they focus only on their area.

A simple vote in a single seat election like this (the “seat” here is the right to stand for National in a particular electorate) is well known to advantage males. It is a lowest common denominator effect, where a male candidate – by virtue of entrenched mental images of what a “typical” MP look like – is more likely to be the one that the fewest people object to. As a psychological level, candidates who in any way represent a change to the status quo face an uphill battle in a single-seat election, as people who have no reason to object to the status quo (through either disinterest or design) feel some level of threat. . .

What utter tosh.

How could anyone think a typical MP looks male in the 21st century?

We’ve had two women Prime Ministers, several other female co-leaders, lots of women ministers and MPs. We’ve also had and have MPs of both genders of a variety of ethnicities.

If there ever was a typical MP look-alike there is no longer.

If Salmond had looked at the two women candidates selected by National electorates this year he’d realise how silly his supposition is:

Sarah Dowie who won the Invercargill selection could hardly look less like sitting MP Eric Roy:

shoes 2

Taranaki King Country  candidate Barbara Kuriger looks very different from retiring MP Shane Adern.

Both women were selected in a transparent and democratic process by members in the electorate.

And while both look very different from the men they are working very hard to replace they do share their National Party values, commitment to their electorates and strong desire to serve them well.

The problem with gender balance is not National’s fair and democratic selection process.

As a party insider I can say unequivocally that there is no preconceived notion of any typical MP look-alike among members. In any selections I’ve been involved in, delegates didn’t care about gender they were seeking to get the best people for the job.

One reason other parties have a better gender balance is that they have more list MPs.

Good list MPs work hard. But electorate MPs have less choice about the demands on their time and energy and women who want a more active role in parenting can find it too difficult to balance them both.

Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

Improving that would do more to help attract more women than reducing democracy within the National Party.


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