Word of the day

April 6, 2015

Mage – a magician or learned person; skilled magic user who, unlike wizards and sorcerers, needs no staff as an outlet of his magic, but instead uses his/her hands;  practitioner of paranormal magic.


Rural round-up

April 6, 2015

Helicopter pilot Simon Spencer-Bower sets high farming and flying standards – Tim Cronshaw:

As a boy Simon Spencer-Bower would crane his neck to the sky to watch the crop dusters flying over his family farm at Eyrewell.

The deep impression their aerial feats made on the youngster was to set him on a lifetime of flying with a healthy mix of farming.

As soon as he left school he gained his fixed-wing pilot license in 1967, aged 18. . .

Anti-dairying rhetoric is out-dated :

Farmers don’t want weaker environmental policies. Ten years ago we were fair game for the ‘dirty dairying’ remarks by Fish & Game, today not so much.

Bryce Johnson recently said his organisation has moved on – that they are not anti-dairying, but rather they are anti-dairying that is harming the environment. But the question remains, why is the focus on dairying, as opposed to any other activity that harms the environment?

Environmental compliance and reducing farming’s impact is now an everyday part of a dairy farmer’s business.  We know there are a few ratbags out there – every industry has them – but while some regional councils try to clean up the tail-end of our industry they overlook their cousins in their own backyards. . .

Otago Regional Council blindsides ratepayers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Otago Regional Council to properly inform and explain themselves to their ratepayer farmers who are facing huge increases in rates and consent costs this year.

“The Otago Regional Council needs to be held to account on their Long Term Plan consultation document, which is severely lacking in reasoning for their major increase in farmer rates,” Says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“The Council is proposing a heap of big changes such as new water quality targeted rates for water monitoring, a new dairy monitoring targeted rate, and significant increases in the consent fees they charge all of which will mean increased costs for farmers. For many this will run into the thousands of dollars.” . .

No bull in proper effluent management – Chris Lewis:

I never thought when I entered farming politics that there would be so much talk about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course; not polite are its effects and the costs of managing it.

Waikato Federated Farmers has the task of holding our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent is a big bone of contention. But they have a job to do, as we do, so it’s sometimes important we celebrate them. Just as farmers often feel criticised by the media, I imagine councils do too, giving the public an ill-informed perspective. . .

  Top farm business an industry leader:

An Omarama couple who run a traditional high country combination of merino ewes and cattle with hydroelectricity generation for good measure have won the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Annabelle Subtil were the supreme winners announced at a ceremony on Thursday after amassing section awards for innovation, integrated management, soil management and water quality.

They run the 12,000 hectare Omarama Station, a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell.

South of Omarama village, the Mackenzie Country property winters 23,000 stock units, including 7500 merino ewes and 310 angus-hereford cows. . .

Earth greening despite deforestation – Albert Van Dijk & Pep Canadell:

WHILE the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.

Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and South East Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Plants absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. With a greening globe, more plants may mean more absorption of carbon dioxide. If so, this will slow but not stop climate change. . .


As Aussies see us

April 6, 2015

Cameron Stewart writes in The Australian on how, and why the trans-Tasman tide is flowing in New Zealand’s favour:

Jennifer Zhu, a former Australian public servant, was writing briefing notes for incoming prime minister Tony Abbott when she hatched her own Pacific solution.

She leans forward so her story can be heard above the rhythmic grunts of the dragon boat teams gliding across New Zealand’s ­Wellington harbour at dusk. “I was in Canberra working on the briefings for the change of ­government [in 2013] when I realised how much the public service was going to be cut [under Abbott],” she says. Her Australian boyfriend, ­fellow public servant Iain McKenzie, 28, chimes in: “We could see that promotions were unlikely.”

“So I looked up a website,” continues Zhu, 27, who now works for ­Immigration New ­Zealand, “and there were lots of government jobs here. We thought, ‘Why not?’ ” After a year in Wellington, they haven’t looked back. “We both have good [public service] jobs and it’s a much more relaxed culture,” says Iain. “We’re not leaving anytime soon.” . . .

Stewart gives other examples of Australians and ex-pat New Zealanders who have moved here to work in a variety of occupations including farming, viticulture, nursing and hospitality then looks at why the tide has turned.

What has happened is that somewhere, somehow, perhaps in the dead of night when no one was looking, Australia and New Zealand have swapped sides. Cocky, confident Australia is now home to dysfunctional politics, yawning budget deficits, rising unemployment and an electorate unwilling to accept tough reforms.

By contrast, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is running the most successful and ­stable centre-right government in the world. Whereas Abbott might not survive his first term as leader, Key, 53, is into his third term and has never been more popular. Key presides over a country that is no longer a dead-end backwater but one that enjoys plentiful jobs, strong economic growth and is on the cusp of a budget surplus. All this despite its second-largest city, Christchurch, being devastated by the earthquake of February 22, 2011, which left 185 people dead, the city centre in ruins and a $40 billion clean-up.

Even the Kiwi dollar, for so long the poor cousin to our own currency, is at virtual parity these days. “I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never seen this before,” mutters the woman at the Melbourne airport currency exchange as she hands me fewer $NZ than I gave her in $A. “They must be doing something right over there.”

GDP growth in New Zealand last year was 3.3 per cent compared with 2.8 per cent in ­Australia, while unemployment was 5.7 per cent in the December quarter compared with 6.1 per cent (now 6.3 per cent) here. Forget rugby; New ­Zealand is winning a bigger game. When Abbott visited New Zealand in February, he had to ­concede Key has led “a very successful, a really, really successful centre-right government. There are lessons for ­Australia in what you have done.” By contrast, the New Zealand press pack suppressed giggles when Key told an Australian journalist: “I think it’s a bit harsh to describe it [Australia] as one of the more unstable democracies in the Pacific.”

As a result of this trans-Tasman shift in ­fortunes, we are seeing something we have not seen for a generation. The tide of Kiwis coming to our shores has ebbed while the number of those going back home has flowed. This year the trans-Tasman migration is likely to be in New Zealand’s favour — something that has not been seen since Australia had “the recession it had to have” in the early 1990s. . .

[Prime Minister John]Key says Australia’s mining sector and growth in the big cities has slowed, making the country less attractive. “It is harder; I don’t think the opportunities are there in the same way, while on the other side of the equation there are lots of opportunities here in New Zealand and while they may make less money the cost of ­living is generally a lot lower.” . . .

A friend who works in Australia says he earns more and a lot of things cost less there than they do here. But when he takes into account the higher tax rate and other compulsory costs he pays the difference isn’t nearly as big as it appears.

It is often said that Key runs New Zealand like a CEO rather than a politician and that there are clear parallels in style with another self‑ made millionaire-turned-politician, Malcolm Turnbull. “I know [Malcolm] well and I like him,” is all that Key will say of Turnbull, wary of wading into leadership speculation.

Key is a delegator rather than a dictator and makes a habit of consulting in person with ­several of his ministerial colleagues each ­morning. He holds informal meetings ahead of formal Cabinet sessions so that people can float ideas or shoot them down without undue embarrassment. “Most people realise we are not doing extreme things,” he says. “We try to explain what we are about.” He says he is “unashamedly pro-economic growth” but prefers the path of pragmatism over ideology. “My instincts are very much in the middle so I am not fighting internal demons,” he says. “I am not a secret right-winger who wants to do things.”

He does not accuse Abbott of being a secret right-winger but the truth is that compared with Abbott, Key is much more of a pragmatic centrist economically and is more liberal socially, having voted for gay marriage in 2012.

It says much about Key’s political skills that he managed to usher in an increase in the GST in 2010, a debate that both sides of Australian politics are unwilling to have. Ironically, Key did this despite Howard, the architect of ­Australia’s GST, advising Key over a lunch in Auckland in 2010 that a rise was too risky. “I said to [Howard] ‘I am going to raise the GST and drop personal tax rates’ and he said, ‘Don’t do it’. He said, ‘You’ll have the obvious ­argument that the price of bread goes up and it will be felt more keenly by the poorer person and so you will lose that debate’.”

But in the end Key chose to pursue the reform and succeeded, with surprisingly little political bloodshed, in lifting the GST by 2.5 percentage points to 15 per cent while cutting personal and company tax. As a result, New Zealand’s top personal tax rate is now only 33 per cent compared with 45 in Australia, while the company tax rate is 28 per cent compared with 30 per cent here. Key has also been part-privatising state assets in power, coal and aviation, a path that causes political grief in Australia. Key’s reform record has been helped by ­having a first-rate finance minister, Bill English.

In welfare reform, Australia is looking to ­emulate the New Zealand system, which is ­saving billions in long-term payments. In 2011, Key adopted a new model of welfare that ­identifies groups at risk of long-term welfare and establishes special targeted programs for them. “We’ve done a lot in what is called the ‘investment approach’ to welfare reform and we have been genuinely investing money up front in people who would otherwise be long-term beneficiaries,” says Key. When social services minister Scott Morrison addressed Canberra’s National Press Club in February he spent most of his speech lauding the New Zealand model and promising to look at what Australia could adopt from it.

Part of Key’s popularity stems from what political analyst Colin James calls his macro- personality. “Key has a remarkable rapport with ­people across the political spectrum and that is unusual. Bob Hawke probably had that but ­certainly Rudd, Gillard and Abbott didn’t.” . .

Because Australians and New Zealanders are allowed to work in each other’s countries without restrictions, migration statistics are not definitive but they do suggest that far more Australians are now moving to New Zealand to live. While there will always be a flurry of movement because of family ties between the estimated 600,000 Kiwis in Australia and 60,000 Australians in New Zealand, the total number of ­people from ­Australia moving to New Zealand (including New Zealanders returning home) has soared in the past two years to February from 15,355 to 23,571.

Spoonley says the ­number of non-Kiwi ­citizens arriving from Australia to live in New Zealand has jumped by 50 per cent in the past two years, from 5234 in the 12 months to ­January 2013 to 7895 this year.

Job opportunities and quality of life have driven this trend. According to data comparison website Numbeo, apartment rents are on average 24 per cent lower in New Zealand than in Australia and apartment costs per square metre 36 per cent lower. The national median house price has stayed flat at $350,000, according to the Real Estate Institute NZ, and even in Auckland, where the market is hottest, the median price of a house — $675,000 — still ­compares favourably with Australian cities.

New Zealand also enjoys a reputation for better work-life balance, although OECD ­figures suggest New Zealanders only have ­marginally more leisure time than Australians. The downside is that salaries in New Zealand are also around 30 per cent lower on average, although this gap is said to be closing.

Even so, New Zealand is trying to make the most of its moment in the sun, having recently held job expos in Perth and Sydney and another in Melbourne later this month to spread the message that “New Zealand is one of the best performing economies in the world right now and the demand for skilled workers is high”. . .

The current contrasting fortunes of both countries could easily be reversed in years ahead, and the traditional flow of Kiwis to ­Australia could resume. Like Australia, New Zealand is heavily dependent on the health of the Chinese economy and its dairy industry, the country’s biggest export earner, suffered sharply lower prices last year.

In addition, the rebuilding of Christchurch is adding around 1.25 per cent to GDP growth each year but this will tail off as the city nears completion. Even so, a report last month by Moody’s Investor Services predicts continued strong economic growth for at least the next two years and for New Zealand’s budget to return to surplus — a word that Australians can only dream about.

Key concedes that New Zealand has better growth and employment than Australia right now but declines to brag. “We want a strong Australia,” he maintains. “A strong Australia is good for New Zealand. No relationship is more important to New Zealand … there is naturally a bit of rivalry but Aussies are looked at fondly here. Most people, I think, look at Aussies and go, ‘It really is the lucky country even if it has one too many creepy-crawlies and sharks’.”

Key lists several high-profile Australians who have come to New Zealand to live, but his final one packs a punch. “The Australian High ­Commissioner [Michael Potts], who is just about to finish his time here, is not going back to Australia,” the PM reveals. “He is about to live down the road here in Wellington,” he says, pointing out the window. “His wife is a Kiwi so they have made the call they are going to live in New Zealand.”

Key cannot hide his grin. Now even the ­diplomats are defecting. It’s taken a generation, but the Bondi Bludgers are finally enjoying their revenge.

 

"A great read from The Australian on why so many Kiwis are coming home: http://nzyn.at/1FbFD4s"


Quote of the day

April 6, 2015

. . . I asked him how they figured out who they would lend money to. He explained some pretty flash point scoring criteria they use to work out how much they can loan to who.

Then he smiled and said “plus the rule of 45”. What’s that I asked, expecting it to be some sort of flash algorithm. Far from it. It referred to the 45th parallel, the circle of latitude that is 45 degrees south of the Earth’s equatorial plan.

In Godzone that describes a line from Oamaru to Queenstown. It turns out that folks south of this line are incredibly unlikely to default on a loan. Some strange amalgam of factors – social mores and a tendency to stand by your word – means trust is everything down south. If someone has shown trust in you, then you’ll do anything to honour that trust. . . –  Mike O’Donnell  – The 45 South Rule – a matter of trust.


April 6 in history

April 6, 2015

46 BC Julius Caesar defeated Caecilius Metellus Scipio and Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Younger) in the battle of Thapsus.

402 Stilicho stymied the Visigoths under Alaric in the Battle of Pollentia.

1199  Richard I of England died from an infection following the removal of an arrow from his shoulder.

1320 The Scots reaffirmed their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.

1327 The poet Petrarch first saw his idealized love, Laura, in the church of Saint Clare in Avignon.

1385 John, Master of the Order of Aviz, was made king John I of Portugal.

1483 Raphael, Italian painter and architect, was born (d. 1520).

1652 At the Cape of Good Hope, Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck established a resupply camp that eventually becomes Cape Town .

1667 An earthquake devastated Dubrovnik, then an independent city-state.

1671 Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, French poet, was born (d. 1741).

1773 James Mill, Scottish philosopher and historian, was born (d. 1836).

1782  Rama I succeeded King Taksin of Siam who was overthrown in a coup d’état.

1793 During the French Revolution, the Committee of Public Safety became the executive organ of the republic, and the Reign of Terror began.

1808 John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company.

1812 British forces assaulted the fortress of Badajoz under the command of the Duke of Wellington was the turning point in the Peninsular War against Napoleon led France.

1814 Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to Elba.

1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized by Joseph Smith, Jr. and others at Fayette or Manchester, New York.

1832  Indian Wars: The Black Hawk War began when the Sauk warrior Black Hawk entered into war with the United States.

1860 The Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—later renamed Community of Christ—was organized by Joseph Smith III and others at Amboy, Illinois.

1862 American Civil War: The Battle of Shiloh began when forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant met Confederate troops led by General Albert Sidney Johnston.

1864  A British patrol was ambushed by Pai Marire warriors near the present-day township of Oakura, south-west of New Plymouth.

Pai Marire ambush in Taranaki

1865 American Civil War: The Battle of Sayler’s Creek – Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia fought its last major battle while in retreat from Richmond, Virginia.

1866 The Grand Army of the Republic, an American patriotic organization composed of Union veterans of the American Civil War, was founded.

1869 Celluloid was patented.

1886 Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, The Last Nizam of Hyderabad state, was born (d. 1967).

1888 Hans Richter, Swiss painter, film maker, graphic artist and avant-gardist, was born  (d. 1976).

1888 Thomas Green Clemson died, bequeathing his estate to the State of South Carolina to establish the Clemson Agricultural College.

1890 Anthony Fokker, Dutch designer of aircraft, was born  (d. 1939).

1892 Lowell Thomas, American travel writer, was born (d. 1981).

1893 Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff.

1895 Oscar Wilde was arrested after losing a libel case against the John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry.

1896 The opening of the first modern Olympic Games was celebrated, 1,500 years after the original games are banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I.

1903 The Kishinev pogrom began, forcing tens of thousands of Jews to later seek refuge in Israel and the Western world.

1909 Robert Peary and Matthew Henson allegedly reached the North Pole.

1911  Dedë Gjon Luli Dedvukaj, Leader of the Malësori Albanians, raised the Albanian flag in the town of Tuzi, Montenegro, for the first time after Gjergj Kastrioti (Skenderbeg).

1917  World War I: The United States declared war on Germany.

1919 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ordered a general strike.

1923 The first Prefects Board in Southeast Asia was formed in Victoria Institution, Malaysia.

1926 Ian Paisley, Northern Irish politician, was born.

1928 James D. Watson, American geneticist, Nobel laureate, was born.

1929 André Previn, German-born composer and conductor, was born.

1930 Gandhi raised a lump of mud and salt and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”  and started the Salt Satyagraha.

1936 Tupelo-Gainesville tornado hit Gainesville, Georgia, killing 203.

1937  Merle Haggard, American musician, was born.

1938  Paul Daniels, English magician, was born.

1941 – Germany launched Operation 25 (the invasion of Yugoslavia) and Operation Marita (the invasion of Greece).

1947 The first Tony Awards were presented for theatrical achievements.

1955 Rob Epstein, American filmmaker and journalist, was born.

1957 Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis bought the Hellenic National Airlines (TAE) and founded Olympic Airlines.

1962 Leonard Bernstein caused controversy with his remarks from the podium during a New York Philharmonic concert featuring Glenn Gould performing the First Piano Concerto of Johannes Brahms.

1965  Launch of Early Bird, the first communications satellite to be placed in geosynchronous orbit.

1965 – The British Government announced the cancellation of the TSR-2 aircraft project.

1968 In Richmond, Indiana’s downtown district, a double explosion killed 41 and injured 150.

1970 Newhall Incident: Four California Highway Patrol officers were killed.

1972 Vietnam War: Easter Offensive – American forces began sustained air strikes and naval bombardments.

1973  Launch of Pioneer 11 spacecraft.

1982 Estonian Communist Party bureau declared “fight against bourgeois TV” — meaning Finnish TV — a top priority of the propagandists of Estonian SSR

1984 Members of Cameroon’s Republican Guard unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the government headed by Paul Biya.

1994  The Rwandan Genocide began when the aircraft carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down.

1998 Pakistan tested medium-range missiles capable of hitting India.

2004 Rolandas Paksas became the first president of Lithuania to be peacefully removed from office by impeachment.

2005 Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani became Iraqi president.

2009 A 6.3 magnitude earthquake which struck near L’Aquila, Italy, killed 307 people.

2010 – Maoist rebels killed 76 CRPF officers in Dantewada district, India.

2011 – In San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, more than 193 bodies were exhumed from several mass graves made by Los Zetas.

2012 – The Independent State of Azawad was declared.

Soucred from NZ History Online & Wikipeda


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