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:


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