Word of the day

May 8, 2015

Atticism – concise and elegant expression or diction; a witty or well-turned phrase;  the style or idiom of Attic Greek occurring in another dialect or language; attachment to Athens or to the style and customs.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2015

Moving on at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been analysing [here and here]  the GHD data that underpin the MIE recommendations for the meat industry. Those analyses confirm to me that MIE has missed the big picture.

The key MIE recommendation has been that companies must amalgamate, with the most important merger being between the two big co-operatives Silver Fern Farms and Alliance. However, Alliance has been consistent in their position, both before and since the MIE report, that the numbers needed to support an amalgamation do not stack up.

Alliance has taken considerable criticism from parts of the farming community for their lack of interest in joining Silver Fern Farms. Chairman Murray Taggart has been the front man and has had to bear the brunt of this. There are many sheep farmers who are struggling, and it is human nature to blame everyone else, even when financial logic says otherwise. . .

Slow rebalancing in global dairy markets weighs on prices, but turnaround beginning – Rabobank:

Recent decreases in international dairy prices and the 2014/15 milk price payout projection reflect the slow pace of the rebalancing that is taking place in global dairy markets, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank said today.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the current market price forecast will negatively impact New Zealand dairy farmer cash flow and profitability across this season and next, but a turnaround in global dairy markets was beginning, with Rabobank maintaining its expectation of a price recovery to commence during the 2015-2016 season. . .

Synlait’s Akarola – Keith Woodford:

Synlait’s Akarola is about to transform China’s infant formula market. Fonterra’s new partner Beingmate, and all the other marketers of infant formula, are in for a huge shakeup.

On 25 March of this year I foreshadowed that infant formula prices in China were about to become much more competitive [here]. I based my report on information from dairy industry sources within China that New Hope Nutritionals – owned 75% by China’s New Hope and 25% by New Zealand’s Synlait – was about to launch a new brand of New Zealand- made infant formula called Akarola. I reported that the new brand would be sold exclusively online, at prices much less than half of normal prices in China.

A few days later New Hope Nutritionals launched their online campaign on JD.com ,and the foreshadowed price of 99 RMB for a 900 g per can was confirmed. In New Zealand dollars, this is about $21, or $16 in American dollars. . .

Scholarship, showing and study for Braydon – Kate Taylor:

BRAYDON SCHRODER was so tired from a week of working at the New Zealand Dairy Event he barely remembers his answers at the interview for Ravensdown’s annual Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

He had left Feilding, flown to Christchurch for the meeting and then back to Feilding in time to show one of the family’s cows in the afternoon. But he was stoked to get the call the next day from Williams’ widow Adrienne to say he had been successful.

All in all, it was a successful week for Braydon – taking home the Youth Young Handlers title (16-19 years) and winning the youth team challenge at the Black and White Youth event. This is open to junior Holstein Friesian Association members.  . .

Ambassador brings new focus to threatened species:

New Zealand’s vulnerable native species will now have another strong voice for their protection with the announcement of the country’s first Threatened Species Ambassador.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the high-profile new role will be pivotal in educating New Zealanders and raising awareness of our threatened species.

“We all need to know about the unique birds, animals and plants which are our taonga and understand the efforts needed to conserve them,” Ms Barry says. . .

New technology makes predator control easy – Gerard Hutching:

Conservationists might soon be able to know if a predator has been caught in a trap by simply checking their computer or smartphone.

Auckland civil engineer Simon Croft has developed wireless technology that attaches to traps and sends a signal to let people know if a predator has been caught.

The innovative traps will be first rolled out on farms in Hawke’s Bay, saving landowners from the time-consuming task of checking out individual traps.

Auckland civil engineer Croft said he had developed the technology “to make a difference”. . . .


Friday’s answers

May 8, 2015

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. ?

2.  To whom did Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert become parents?

3. It’s fille  in French,  figlia in Italian,  hija in Spanish and tamāhine in Maori, what is it in English?

4.  Name three living princesses by birth.

5.  Would you want to/did you know the gender of your children before they’re born?

Points for answers:

Andrei got four.

Alwyn and Teletext win an electronic bunch of sweet peas (the last pick of autumn) with five right.

 

Amswers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Sobering stats

May 8, 2015

Finance Minister Bill English gave some very sobering statistics during question time yesterday:

Of course, the Government is focused not just on savings this year; we are focusing on intergenerational savings. If we resolve problems in complicated families and struggling communities, then we will be spending less in the long run. For example, 1 percent of the children born in 1990 had contact with Child, Youth and Family before the age of 5. They had parents who were in contact with the corrections system and had been in households supported by benefits for most of their lives. Thirty-six percent of people with these three factors will be on a benefit at age 35. So you know that pretty much from when they are born, compared with 9 percent of the general population. Almost 5 percent of this group will be in prison at the age of 35. Some of these individuals will cost around $1 million each, just in corrections, Child, Youth and Family, and income support costs , and that represents significant misery in families and communities. We will continue to change things in order to change their lives.

This is why the government has taken an investment approach to welfare – spending more in the short term to help people off benefits and into work which will improve their lives, those of their children and pay social and financial dividends in the medium and long term.

Unemployment is still too high at 5.8 %, but the employment rate has reached an all-time high of 69.6%.

. . . “This is the greatest share of New Zealanders we have ever seen in the labour force. The largest increase came from 20 to 34-year-olds, who accounted for nearly half this year’s increase,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.

Over the year to the latest quarter, the number of people employed increased 74,000 (3.2 percent) while the number of people unemployed fell 1,000 (0.6 percent), as measured by the Household Labour Force Survey. . .

That’s the fourth highest in the OECD.
New Zealand National Party's photo.


Trusting the voters

May 8, 2015

The United Kingdom has voted in an election which polls suggest will be a cliff hanger with the Scottish National Party which doesn’t want to be part of the UK holding the balance of power.

In spite of that political commentator Janet Daley trusts the voters:

. . . I have to say that this tedious, seemingly endless campaign has not been unprecedentedly terrible. Nobody has made any fatal errors. And yet, we are where we are: with a Government that has succeeded against all the odds in a flat-out tie for national support with a quite absurd, cartoonist’s dream of an Opposition leadership. Or are we? Are we on the inevitable verge of a stalemate that threatens not just indecisive government but a full-blown constitutional crisis? Do an almost identical number of people really believe that it would be a good idea to put Labour back in charge, as would want to keep the Tories (or a Tory-led coalition) in power? And could this be the case, even given the startling SNP threat to kidnap a Miliband government and hold it hostage – which is a quite new element in the equation and should, by all rights, have made at least a significant difference to people’s views? 

Surely, this is very strange. And it brings me to another observation that arises from watching politics here, and in the country of my birth, for much of my adult life. I have never ceased to be in awe of the pre-eminent common sense of British voters. Time and again, I have watched them come through with an unimpeachably sagacious electoral judgment in the face of (indeed, sometimes in open defiance of) noisy bullying, fashionable pressure and apparent inevitability.. . .

But what I do know is this: the threats by the SNP to “lock the Tories out of office” even if they win the largest number of seats, combined with their sneering boast that Ed Miliband “will have to change his tune” about making a deal with them after the election, has made English voters angrier than I can ever remember seeing them. I find it simply incredible (in the literal sense of the word) that this outrage is finding no clear reflection in public opinion – which makes me feel that the polling process is missing something big.

The numbers and the logic are clear and indisputable: Labour cannot win a clear majority. Ergo, a Miliband government will have to rely on the support of the SNP to pass any legislation. Ergo, if you vote Labour, you are voting to lock in the influence of the SNP over the entire country. If there are as many people who are furious about the SNP’s presumptions as there appear to be, how can this be having so little impact on the Labour voting intention?

Another thing that I know is that those who are very angry indeed about the march of imperial Scotland are going to be absolutely certain to vote. Nothing – and I do mean nothing – will keep them from the polling stations on Thursday. And that collective resolve may interfere with the accuracy of the polling predictions just as it did four years ago when so many more people than expected wanted to give the smug Progressive Alliance a bloody nose.

Maybe even the SNP will get a mild surprise on its home turf. Friends of mine in Edinburgh report that those of a pro-Union persuasion are afraid to admit their views for fear of getting a brick through their window or having their children persecuted at school. The aggressive onslaught has effectively silenced opposition – but has it extinguished it? Are there Scots who secretly resent the ferocious pressure, or fear the economic consequences of its success?

The way for a movement to gain apparent influence and power is to appear unstoppable, so that its rise seems like an historical inevitability. It is remarkably easy to be persuaded of this when you are in a crowd of shouting activists. The problem is that you are making so much noise that you don’t hear the silence of those outside the crowd.

But here’s the thing: the British do not like being shouted at. They particularly dislike being threatened – as a number of foreign aggressors have learnt to their cost. Nor do they like being taken for fools – as Miliband appears to do, when he insists that he will make no concessions to the SNP. As often as not, they give no sign of their disgust. They do not shout back. They just wait quietly for the sanctity of the voting booth and then they do what they think is right without fear or favour.

It’s Thursday morning in the UK.

We’ll know this evening, our time, what the voters think is right.


Flag changes

May 8, 2015

Sir Brian Lochore, a member of the Flag Consideration Panel is urging New Zealanders to keep open minds:

. . . Sir Brian would not say what his personal view was, but pointed to changes in flags across the Commonwealth during the past 50 years. Of the 54 Commonwealth members, 45 no longer had a Union Jack on their flag. “A lot of countries have changed. So I guess if I have a view I would like New Zealanders to open their mind and see what’s there, and then clearly vote how they feel. Because we haven’t ever had a chance at deciding on our flag, here is an opportunity for New Zealanders to have a look. That’s all I ask. If it goes back to the status quo, so be it.” . . .

Wise words.

The process has started and it won’t be stopped.

The least we can do, whatever our views on the flag and the process being undertaken to determine whether or not it’s changed, is to keep an open mind.

This shows the flags of some the of the Commonwealth countries which have changed their flags and some which haven’t:

Change the NZ Flag's photo.

The panel is doing a road show to encourage people to participate in the process. the schedule is here.

The select committee has started hearing submissions on the flag change process and Claire Trevett says the real danger to the process is politics.

. . . This is where Labour comes in, apparently determined to sabotage the process. Labour is a relatively pro-republic party in which most MPs favour a change of flag. Despite that, it has set about political point-scoring, even if doing so undermines the very process that might result in that flag change.

Their primary objection is the order of the questions in the referendums. They argue New Zealanders should first be asked whether they want a change – and have a second referendum only if the majority want change.

Labour claims it is an effort to save money. What codswallop. Labour’s objections are an effort to rain on the Prime Minister’s parade and get headlines.

The Ministry of Justice advised against putting the change question first. That was because for many people not entrenched in either camp, the final decision will depend on what the alternative is.

Had the Government gone against that advice, Labour would probably now be accusing it of penny pinching over a matter of national identity. Labour’s approach is rather selfish and short-sighted and if it has the effect of tainting the entire process, the party might rue it.

It could well save $9 million to $13 million in the costs of a second referendum. But that short-term saving would come at a bigger cost in the long term. Once this is over, it will be a long time before anyone dares to raise the issue again.

Labour has also taken to feeding the perception that it is a “vanity project” for John Key. This primarily comes down to sour grapes. Labour wants a new flag. But they don’t want Key to be the one whose name is linked to it. They want it for themselves.

The government has done all it can to ensure this isn’t party political and involve all parties in the process. But Labour’s burning desire to score points against the Prime Minister John Key is blinding them to that.

Questioning referendums is one thing, but trying to influence people’s votes out of puerile political spite is a different matter. It may be true that Key is keen on a legacy, but it should be irrelevant. The referendums are on the flag, not on the political parties or personalities.

In reality, Key has a better chance of securing the change than Labour would. Key is a monarchist so there is far less suspicion about his longer-term motives. It is not being seen as the thin end of the wedge to republicanism. Labour’s current leader, Andrew Little, favours a flag change as part of a wider move towards a republic. Yet NZ is likely to inch towards republicanism rather than gallop. . .

The referendums are a treacherous enough process. The officials’ advice also pointed to the risk of “tactical voting”, in which those opposed to change vote for the least appealing option – so the current flag had a better chance of winning.

The referendum process is now before a select committee and the Flag Consideration Panel has started its work of consulting about an alternative. This is the first chance New Zealanders have had to vote on the flag. The politicians would do New Zealand a favour by simply shutting up and letting the public get on with it for themselves.

The chances of change are compromised by politics because not just Labour but the left in general will vote against change to spite the PM. Add them to those who genuinely prefer the status quo and it will be hard to get a majority for change.

That is a pity.

Whether the flag changes or not, the one we have at the end of the process will be New Zealand’s long after most who vote in the referendum are dead.

Whether that is the flag we have or a new one, people should vote with open minds for what they think is best not for political point scoring.

 


Quote of the day

May 8, 2015

. . . But it brings me back to the heart of this issue, which is that Labour always wants to spend more, regardless of whether it works and regardless of whether it changes anything, and it cannot stand it when it thinks someone may be being careful with the spending. . . 

The great thing is we have a country where there are thousands of people with thousands of new ideas about developing the economy. It is my job and the Government’s job to support them. Labour’s view is that the country should wait around for Grant Robertson’s new idea, and apparently his new idea is work. Labour has discovered work; it is just that it is against all of the policies that create work. Bill English


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