Mark returning to NZ First

August 19, 2014

Former New Zealand First MP Ron Mark is returning to the fold:

Former MP Ron Mark has rejoined New Zealand First, possibly at the expense of sitting MP Andrew Williams.

Mr Mark, who is the Mayor of Carterton, confirmed today that he would run for the Wairarapa seat. . .

It is understood that Mr Williams, who is currently New Zealand First list’s third-ranked MP, has fallen on a draft list to make way for Mr Mark.   . .

If he gets a winnable position of the list it could solve the party’s leadership succession problem because there is no-one currently on the list who could follow Winston Peters.


Word of the day

August 19, 2014
Callithumpian – like a discordant band, a band of discordant instruments or a noisy parade; of, pertaining to, or resembling, a callithump.

World’s smallest political quiz

August 19, 2014

It reckons it’s the world’s smallest political quiz.

It makes me a Centrist:

Your PERSONAL issues Score is 50%

Your ECONOMICS issues Score is 70%

Centrists prefer a “middle ground” regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose “political extremes,” and emphasize what they describe as “practical” solutions to problems.

polq

 


Rural round-up

August 19, 2014

Global grain prices in free-fall – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how the OECD and FAO secretariats expect many agricultural prices to drop in real terms over the next ten years as supply ramps up across the world. This is particularly the case for staple crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans. However, in the last ten days it has become increasingly apparent that major price decreases are playing out right now in front of us. With the early Northern Hemisphere harvest reports for wheat now coming through, with increasingly positive pre-harvest reports for both corn and soybean, and with existing high global stocks, the prices have all been tumbling.

The first place to look when considering international grain prices is the USA. The USA is by far the most technologically advanced cereal growing country in the world, and has huge global influence. . .

Insights from Canada water trip – Sally Rae:

When Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal headed to Canada recently, she wanted to learn more about how water issues were managed, given that nation’s similarities with New Zealand.

There were similar legal systems, similar amounts of water per capita and challenges similar to those in New Zealand, including rising pressure around intensification and urbanisation putting pressure on the resource.

While she did not return with all the answers she was looking for, which she acknowledged was to be expected – ”water issues are complex and hard to solve, nowhere in the world has solved it perfectly” – she described it as an ”incredible experience”. . .

Growsafe looking to rise to the challenge – Yvonne O’Hara:

If relevant regulations and improved training requirements are introduced for agrichemical users as a result of the new Health and Safety at Work Act, it is likely Growsafe will rise to the challenge.

Growsafe provides basic and advanced training in the use of agrichemicals and is run by the New Zealand Agrichemical Trust.

Growsafe chairman Graeme Peters said the Government, as part of the new health and safety requirements, might consider removing the approved handler regime and replacing it with an Australian model that tailored training to suit the need, rather than the present ”one size fits all” regime. . .

Changing guard at ‘Lake Cowal’ – Peter Austin:

WHEN Leppington Pastoral Company took possession of the “Lake Cowal” property adjoining its Billabong Station at Marsden earlier this month, history to some degree repeated itself.

It was precisely 80 years ago that an earlier resident of Billabong Station had crossed the Bland Creek that forms the boundary between the two properties to make a new home on “Lake Cowal”.

That earlier 1934 migrant was Herbert (“Bert”) Dent, who had managed “Billabong” since 1924 for the Ricketson and (later) Sanderson families before taking the plunge and setting up on his own. . . .

Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award entries open:

Entries are now open for the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award 2014, which will be presented at the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists annual awards dinner in Wellington on 17 October.

The Rural Women NZ award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities.

It’s a strategy that’s paid off, says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

“Last year the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was one of the most popular categories.” . . .

Entries open for 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards:

Entries are open for the 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Now in its 39th year, the Awards are a celebration of excellence in New Zealand winemaking and is widely considered to be the country’s most prestigious wine competition.

“Our industry is known for its commitment to quality, innovation and exceptional wines. The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is a fitting showcase for this,” says New Zealand Winegrowers’ Global Marketing Director, Chris Yorke. . .


PEFU – on track to surplus

August 19, 2014

New Zealand is on track to Budget surplus this year, backed by good growth, more jobs and higher incomes under the Government’s economic programme, according to Treasury’s Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update issued today.

“The Pre-election Update confirms New Zealanders have the opportunity to build on their hard-won gains of recent years – providing we stick with the Government’s successful programme,” Finance Minister Bill English says.

“Now is certainly not the time to put New Zealand’s good progress at risk with more taxes and sharply higher government spending.

“The forecast Budget surplus for this year is still modest at $297 million and the forecast surpluses in subsequent years are not large – and yet we already have political parties making expensive promises and commitments.

“We saw how this approach damage New Zealand under the previous Labour government, when the spending proved unsustainable and we went into deficit. The economy collapsed into recession before the global financial crisis, cost of living increases soared above 5 per cent and floating mortgage rates reached almost 11 per cent.”

The Pre-election Update confirms the outlook for New Zealand’s economy and the Government’s books have not changed significantly since the Budget in May.

“Some of the drivers of growth are expected to be a little stronger than forecast in the Budget, while others have weakened a little,” Mr English says.

The latest Treasury forecasts include:

The Government’s operating balance before gains and losses is expected to be in surplus by $297 million in 2014/15 – down from $372 million in the Budget forecasts. Surpluses in each of the following three years will be smaller than forecast in the Budget.

Core Crown expenses are forecast to fall to 30.3 per cent of GDP by 2015, down from 35 per cent of GDP in 2011.

Because residual cash deficits continue for a year longer than forecast in the Budget, net government debt is expected to fall below 20 per cent of GDP in 2020/21 – when contributions are now scheduled to resume to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

Annual average GDP growth for the year to March 2014 was 3.3 per cent compared with the 3 per cent Budget forecast. Growth for the year to March 2015 is forecast to be 3.8 per cent (compared with the previous 4 per cent forecast) and then largely in line with previous forecasts.

There were 83,000 more New Zealanders in jobs in the year to June 2014. Treasury’s Pre-election Update forecasts another 151,000 new jobs will be created by mid-2018. 

Unemployment is forecast to fall to 4.5 per cent by 2018 – down from 5.6 per cent in the June quarter of this year.

In the two years to March, the annual average wage has increased by around $3,000. The Treasury forecasts it will increase further by around $6,600 to $62,000 by mid-2018.

“So on all of the key indicators, the Pre-election Update confirms that New Zealand is on track and heading in the right direction,” Mr English says.

“The economy is making good progress and public agencies are delivering better services in areas that really matter to communities – such as lower crime, higher educational achievement and more New Zealanders moving from welfare into work.

“While this progress is encouraging, we have more work to do. Should we have the privilege of being re-elected, the National-led Government will maintain a busy programme of policy reform aimed at supporting more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.”

The Pre-election Update is available at: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/prefu2014

Pre-election economic and fiscal forecasts

(The last column doesn’t fit the page, if you click the link at the top you’ll find it).

We have Ruth Richardson to thank for the PREFU which ensures no government can fudge the figures for electoral advantage.

The PREFU shows the country is still on track to surplus and it is on the right track with other economic indicators.

It also shows the need for a continuation of careful management with no room for big spending and anti-growth tax policies.

Staying on the right track requires the right government which is the centre-right National-led one.

A left government will put us on the wrong track and take the country backwards.


Caring for the dying

August 19, 2014

Life is fatal.

Sooner or later we all die.

Most would choose for it to be later,  peaceful and pain-free.

But life and death aren’t always that well-ordered.

It isn’t easy watching someone we love die and not everyone is able to give their loved ones the care they need while dying.

This is where hospices come in.

They provide a very high standard of palliative care in their facilities and in the community for people who choose to die at home.

Their care is not just for the dying but for those who will survive them.

Hospices help the dying live well for as long as they can then help them die well without either prolonging or hastening the death.

The success of the work they do provides a very strong argument against euthanasia.

Theirs is difficult but essential service and the funding boost National has pledged will help hospices and their staff do more.

 

Hospices make a huge difference to people’s lives, so National will invest an extra $20 million a year so they can do even more of their important work. ntnl.org.nz/1kA7vLl #Working4NZ

We’ll invest in 60 new palliative care nurse specialist and educator roles to improve training and support across aged residential care, GP practices and home-based support services. ntnl.org.nz/1kA7vLl #Working4NZ


National working in and for the south #33

August 19, 2014

Fantastic Fact # 33:


Better off not just about money

August 19, 2014

The Herald is comparing party’s policies and gives an example of a woman who says she’s not much better-off working than she would be on a benefit:

Solo mother Mia Silverman works 20 hours a week in a professional job – but she is virtually no better off than she would be on a benefit.

A media production assistant at Auckland University, volunteer yoga instructor and established singer-songwriter, Ms Silverman is multi-talented.

But when she tried working fulltime when her second son Frankie was still under 2, soon after her marriage broke up, it was too much.

“After working two weeks fulltime, I did a breakdown of my budget,” she says.

“What is better – being really, really stressed and working is great, but the stress of running around was too much.”

She received $680-$690 a week on a benefit. Current rates are $299.45 for a sole-parent benefit, $157.17 in family tax credits for two children, and Ms Silverman got about $205 a week in accommodation supplement for rent.

Now her 20-hour university job pays $430 a week after tax, her tax credits and accommodation supplement are reduced, but she also gets the $60-a-week in-work tax credit, taking her total net income to about $850 a week after tax.

Out of that she pays a net $100 a week for Frankie’s childcare after allowing for a government subsidy, a $16 top-up for her older son Monty’s kindergarten because he needs to be there slightly more than the 20 free hours a week, plus $35 for parking at university and $100 a week for petrol.

“I enjoy being back at work, but I’m not really that much better off.”

“My feeling with National’s approach to welfare reform is that the focus on obligation in much of the wording needs to be replaced with the idea that there will be some incentive to get back to work.”

There is no mention in this story of the children’s father and how much, if any, support he gives his family.

It also misses the point that being better-off isn’t just about money.

Children raised in benefit-dependent homes are more likely to be represented in negative social statistics for health, education and crime.

She admits she really enjoys the work – that should count for something.

That she is helping herself, albeit with top-ups from the taxpayer should also be taken into account.

By helping herself she is not using scarce tax-payer funds which can be better used on those who need more help than she does.

We’re all better off when those who can help themselves do so by both financial and social measures.


I’d be prepared to pay a bit more tax for . . .

August 19, 2014

About half the people polled in Britain say they would be prepared to pay a bit more tax if it went directly to the health service.

That is what they say but Tim Worstall points out what people say is not the same as what they do.

. . .The reason it’s not true is our old friend revealed preferences. We should never try to divine what people really want from what they say: we should instead look at what they do. And we do have a method of being able to pay extra tax: simply send the cheque to “The Accountant, 2 Horse Guards Road, London SW1″ and they’re absolutely delighted to apply it to whatever area of public spending you wish to inform them you favour. Admittedly it’s a few years since I looked into this but in that year an entire 5 people had actually done so and four of them were dead, leaving bequests.

So revealed preferences tells us that exactly one live person was actually willing to pay higher taxes for any reason at all, not just for the NHS. . .

Would a poll in New Zealand have a similar result?

Probably, but anyone in New Zealand could send money to Treasury or the ministry or department of their choice now but how many do?

I suspect it is very, very few.

I used to be deputy chair of a health board and we often got donations from grateful patients and their families.

A whole range of charities which work in areas where the government provides services survive on donations from thousands of people.

Would those people give as much if they paid more tax?

Would they prefer to pay more tax than to keep more of their own money to do with it what they wished?

They might say yes would but their actions suggest a very strong no.

Government services need our tax revenue but it takes more than a dollar in tax to provide a dollar of services.

Most of us would prefer to keep more of our own money and be free to donate directly to organisations where every cent gets to the destination we choose.

Every organisation has administration costs but with some administration costs are covered by local committee fund raising, and donations all go to projects. Save the Children is one which operates in this way.


$28b and climbing

August 19, 2014

The left keep trying to convince us they can be trusted with the Treasury benches but  promises from the Labour and the Green Party already add up to more than the country can afford:

Less than five weeks out from the election, the Labour-Greens set of combined spending promises for the upcoming election has now hit a whopping $28.1 billion over four years, National’s Associate Finance spokesperson Steven Joyce says.

“The Labour Party’s new spending commitments hit $17.9 billion over four years last week, and with the extra welfare money announced yesterday, the Greens’ extra commitments have now reached $10.2 billion over four years,” Mr Joyce says.

“It’s now even more apparent that the big spenders on the Left are flat out thinking of new ways of spending money that the country doesn’t have.

“Labour and the Greens will, of course, both tell you it’s all fully costed and so on. What they mean is they’d raise taxes and set up a number of new taxes, and if all that fails, borrow a lot more money to meet their commitments.

“Labour will also tell you they haven’t bought into the Greens’ announcements yet. However that flies in the face of the reality that any Labour-led government would have the Greens holding the whip hand – and that means the Greens big-ticket spending pledges in areas like transport and welfare benefit increases.

“Labour now needs to front up and say which of the Greens promises, if any, they don’t support.”

Mr Joyce says Labour and the Greens are completely out of touch with fiscal reality in this election.

“They propose, if elected, to go back immediately to their big spending ways by placing a massive additional burden on Kiwi taxpayers. They haven’t learnt a thing from their six years in opposition,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand is now heading in the right direction with growing economic momentum. We are now one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD, and we need to lock in that faster growth to further lift New Zealanders’ standard of living.

“The Labour-Greens swag of massive election promises would simply bring New Zealand to a grinding halt again and send all taxpayers a very big bill.”

For further information:
Green Party Election 2014 Spending Announcements – as at 17 August 2014
Labour Party Election 2014 Spending Announcements – as at 11 August 2014

Economic management matters not as the end but the means for sustainable spending on things which matter more.

When Labour lost the 2008 election their legacy was a forecast for a decade of deficits.

National has managed to turn that around, while protecting the most vulnerable without any slashing and burning, and get us back on track to surplus in spite of the natural and financial disasters that it’s had to deal with.

If Labour, the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana become the government the surplus will disappear and the social and environmental progress it could fund will go too.

Returning a National-led government will enable it to deliver on more of hte policies that are working for New Zealand.

 

 


August 19 in history

August 19, 2014

1504 Battle of Knockdoe.

1561 An 18-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to Scotland after spending 13 years in France.

1612  The “Samlesbury witches“, three women from  Samlesbury, were put on trial, accused for practising witchcraft, one of the most famous witch trials in English history.

1631  John Dryden, English poet, was born  (d. 1700).

1666  Second Anglo-Dutch War: Rear Admiral Robert Holmes led a raid on the Dutch island of Terschelling, destroying 150 merchant ships, an act later known as “Holmes’s Bonfire“.

1689 Samuel Richardson, English writer, was born  (d. 1761).
1692 Salem witch trials:  one woman and four men, including a clergyman, were executed after being convicted of witchcraft.

1745  Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard in Glenfinnan – the start of the Second Jacobite Rebellion, known as “the 45″.

1768 Saint Isaac’s Cathedral was founded in Saint Petersburg.

1772  Gustavus III of Sweden staged a Coup d’état, in which he assumed power and enacted a new constitution that divided power between the Riksdag and the King.

1782 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Blue Licks – the last major engagement of the war, almost ten months after the surrender of the British commander Lord Cornwallis.

1812 War of 1812: American frigate USS Constitution defeated the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia, earning her nickname “Old Ironsides”.

1813  Gervasio Antonio de Posadas joined Argentina’s second triumvirate.

1839  Presentation of Jacque Daguerre’s new photographic process to the French Academy of Sciences.

1853 Edward Gibbon Wakefield was elected to the New Zealand Parliament.

Wakefield elected to Parliament

1861 First ascent of Weisshorn, fifth highest summit in the Alps.

1883 Coco Chanel, French clothing designer, was born  (d. 1971).

1895 American frontier murderer and outlaw, John Wesley Hardin, was killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso.

1902 Ogden Nash, American poet, was born  (d. 1971).

1919 Afghanistan gained full independence from the United Kingdom.

1927  Metropolitan Sergius proclaimed the declaration of loyalty of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Soviet state.

1928 Bernard Levin, English journalist, author, and broadcaster, was born  (d. 2004).

1930 Frank McCourt, Irish-American author, was born  (d. 2009).

1934  The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton, Ohio.

1934  The creation of the position Führer was approved by the German electorate with 89.9% of the popular vote.

1939 Ginger Baker, English musician (Cream), was born.

1940 Johnny Nash, American singer-songwriter, was born.

1940 First flight of the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber.

1942  Operation Jubilee – the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division led an amphibious assault by allied forces on Dieppe, France and failed.

1944  As his damaged Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber rapidly lost height, Pilot Officer James Stellin struggled to avoid crashing into Saint-Maclou-la-Brière, a village of 370 people in the Seine-Maritime region. He succeeded, but at the cost of his own life.

Kiwi pilot's sacrifice saves French village

1944  Liberation of Paris – Paris rose against German occupation with the help of Allied troops.

1945   Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh took power in Hanoi.

1946 Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, was born.

1951 John Deacon, English musician (Queen), was born.

1953  Cold War: the CIA helped to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and reinstated the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

1955 In the Northeast United States, severe flooding caused by Hurricane Diane, claimed 200 lives.

1960  Cold War: in Moscow, downed American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the Soviet Union for espionage.

1960  Sputnik 5 – the Soviet Union launched the satellite with the dogs Belka and Strelka, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants.

1980  Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar burned after making an emergency landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh killing 301 people.

1981  Gulf of Sidra Incident: United States fighters intercepted and shot down two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets over the Gulf of Sidra.

1987  Hungerford Massacre: Michael Ryan killed sixteen people with an assault rifle and then committed suicide.

1989  Polish president Wojciech Jaruzelski nominated Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to be the first non-communist Prime Minister in 42 years.

1989  Raid on offshore pirate station, Radio Caroline in North Sea by British and Dutch governments.

1989 Several hundred East Germans crossed the frontier between Hungary and Austria during the Pan-European Picnic, part of the events which began the process of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

1990  Leonard Bernstein conducted his final concert, ending with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

1991  Collapse of the Soviet Union, August Coup: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was placed under house arrest..

1991  Hurricane Bob hit the Northeast, United States.

1999  Tens of thousands of Serbians rallied to demand the resignation of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milošević.

2002 A Russian Mi-26 helicopter carrying troops was hit by a Chechen missile killing 118 soldiers.

2003 A car-bomb attack on United Nations headquarters in Iraq killed the agency’s top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other employees.

2003  A Hamas planned suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem killed 23 Israelis, 7 of them children in the Jerusalem bus 2 massacre.

2005 The first-ever joint military exercise between Russia and China, called Peace Mission 2005 began.

2005 A series of strong storms lashed Southern Ontario spawning several tornadoes as well as creating extreme flash flooding in Toronto and its surrounding communities. .

2009  A series of bombings in Baghdad, killed 101 and injured 565 others.

2010 – Operation Iraqi Freedom ended, with the last of the United States brigade combat teams crossing the border to Kuwait.

2012 – A plane crash killed 32 people in Sudan.

2013 – A train accident in India killed at least 37 people and injured more than 12.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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