Word of the day

August 12, 2015

Metagrobologist – one who does or makes puzzles.


Rural round-up

August 12, 2015

Corker porker stalkers thwarted – Mark Price:

Hunters tempted to ”farm” wild deer or pigs before hunting competitions are likely to be out of luck at the Upper Clutha Deerstalkers Association competition later this month.

The association, which is holding its popular annual competition for the third time, has changed its rules, mainly to encourage more interest in hunting among women and children.

But the changes also aim to sideline hunters who manipulate the competition process by allowing wild deer or pigs to graze crops on farmland over the winter. . .

Ambitious project still growing – Lynda van Kempen:

An international curling rink in Naseby? It seemed a lofty goal more than 15 years ago, but a decade on from its opening the facility is still going strong and exceeding all expectations.

”People seeing it for the first time tend to be a bit bemused at finding a facility of this standard in the middle of what they call nowhere – but what we call the centre of the universe,” Maniototo Curling International (MCI) rink manager Ewan Kirk says. . .

US beef cow repopulation – the rebuild begins:

After the drought-induced decline in the US beef cow herd in recent years, the industry is making a mends and rebuilding its depleted numbers, with expectations to grow by more than three million head in the next three-to-five years.

With around 50 per cent of New Zealand’s beef exports destined for the US, the rebuilding of the US cow herd may impact the strong demand for Kiwi beef seen in recent years, according to Rabobank. . .

Zespri opens Singapore office:

Prime Minister John Key has officially opened Zespri’s new sales and marketing hub in Singapore, which has been set up to manage the kiwifruit industry’s growth.

Zespri chair Peter McBride says it was an honour to have the Prime Minister open the new office.

“Volumes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit are set to grow strongly in the next few years and Zespri is investing in its market capability to deliver this growth for New Zealand growers,” he says. . .

The Internet of Stings: WiFi for your beehive:

New Zealand based beekeeping technology company, Hivemind Ltd, have released a new WiFi beehive scale and smartphone app that will allow urban beekeepers, bee educators and researchers, to better monitor their bees and more easily share their knowledge about these vitally important pollinators. A crowdfunding campaign for the product is currently live on the indiegogo platform here: www.indiegogo.com/at/wifibees

The importance of bees in our environment is a highly topical and important issue gaining increasing coverage. Beekeeper and hive numbers are continuing to increase in New Zealand with over 5000 registered in 2014.  . .

 

Game on for children to raise farm safety awareness:

A new free online farm safety game that children can play on smartphones, computers and tablets is the latest innovation in the quest to improve farm safety.

Industry body DairyNZ’s cowbassador, Rosie the Cow, has teamed up with WorkSafe and ACC to create Farm Rules!, an engaging way for primary school children to learn about the risks involved with certain farm activities and how to minimise or avoid them. . .

You can download the game here.

 


False friends to farmers

August 12, 2015

In the bad old days a downturn in dairy prices would have led to government “doing something”.

Whether that something would be the right thing is moot.

Thanks to the “failed” policies of the 80s and 90s, the economy adjusts without intervention as Finance Minister Bill English pointed out in Question Time yesterday.

A drop in revenue of this magnitude in the dairy sector will have flow-on effects to the wider economy because the dairy sector makes up about 20 percent of New Zealand’s exports and around 5 to 6 percent of the total economy. The automatic stabilisers, though, are providing support to the dairy industry and to the benefit of other industries. For instance, the New Zealand dollar is down 25c against the US dollar for the last 12 months, and this underpins the returns of all exporters, not just those dealing with low prices. The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates, the overnight cash rate, to 3 percent and indicated this may fall further. The Reserve Bank’s most recent forecasts of the economy show that the economy is growing around 2.5 percent a year, which is solid, sustainable growth. . .

During the ag-sag of the 1980s, when all farming was really in crisis, we were paying more than 25% for seasonal finance and mortgage rates weren’t much lower.

The wider economy was doing badly too, with inflation raging.

James Shaw : Has the Minister of Finance received any reports that show that the New Zealand economy will face a $7 billion hole as a result of low dairy prices, and what specific measures is he putting in place to ensure that distressed dairy farmers are supported through this commodity price crash?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, I have seen those reports and I am pleased the member asked about them. In order to understand the context of this, that $7 billion reduction is a reduction on nominal GDP of over $220 billion. When you look at it that way, you can see that it is going to have a negative effect on the economy, but a containable effect, and we can continue to grow at moderate rates. In respect of dairy farmers in distress, Governments have had in place for some time measures for those families that are in severe financial distress, but generally the Government would not be looking to financially support dairy farmers because of low prices.

James Shaw : Does he regret telling Radio New Zealand in March that the concentration of capital in dairying was “not a bad thing”, and how will he now ensure that this over-allocation of resources into one sector does not now put out of work thousands of farm labourers, retailers, contractors, and suppliers who all rely on dairy farms?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The flow of capital into the dairy industry has been based on a longer-term confidence that across the Asia-Pacific region the fast-growing class of middle-income consumers will show more demand for dairy and other protein products. That is a view of the world that is not really disputed by anyone in particular. In the short term, however, the reduction in income will of course have an impact on employment directly on dairy farms, but also in the supporting towns and services. The measures announced by Fonterra last week and the positive indications from the banks that they will finance cash flow for dairy farmers over the next 12 months mean that it will not be as bad as the straight drop in income indicates, because dairy farmers have to spend $4.50 a kilo just to get the milk on the truck.

Tim Macindoe : What implications do recent developments in the international economy have for New Zealand’s economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Although there are risks in the global economy, it is evident that growth in our trading partners is holding up reasonably well—in the range of 3 percent to 4 percent. When we look back through the history of New Zealand’s growth patterns, it is reasonably clear that when our trading partners are growing at that kind of rate—3 to 4 percent—that is a positive indicator for sustainable, moderate growth in New Zealand of around 2 percent to 2.5 percent, which is our long-term trend growth rate.

James Shaw : Given his previous answer that investment in dairying was based on a long-range view of the sector, what work has he done to understand whether the dairy price collapse is actually a structural long-term change in the market rather than a cyclical short-term change?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : We try to make an assessment about that, the same as everyone else. It is pretty evident, though, that no one is quite sure. It is likely that dairy prices will not go back to $8 a kilo. In fact, it may well be not a bad thing because what is evident is that the price going that high has stimulated not just positive supply but probably excess supply. No one quite knows the answer to that question, but talking to the people whose capital investment is at stake and whose livelihoods are at stake, they maintain confidence that prices will rise from where they are—in fact, they have to, because they are below the cost of production—and they maintain a positive view about where they put their investment.

Grant Robertson : Has the Minister of Finance seen this report about the economy under his watch, which features a boat that has run aground?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, I have, and I thought how similar it is to the fate of the Labour Party. [Interruption] . . .

Hon BILL ENGLISH : In the interest of assisting the vice-great helmsman, as I understand it, that is the Westpac Economic Overview, and I note that its forecasts are for between 2 percent and 2.5 percent growth over the next 3 years, despite the fact that it says there is going to be a recession. .

But the Green co-leader still thinks it’s up to the government to do something.

James Shaw : Is he aware that organic milk powder commands up to six times the price premium of conventional milk powder on international markets, and will he turn this crisis into an opportunity by helping move more dairy farmers into organic milk production?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : If the member is correct that farmers can earn six times as much by selling their milk as they earn from organic milk, then I am quite sure they will.

So far organic milk hasn’t got much traction, but if there really is that sort of opportunity it’s up to farmers and processors to make the most of it without interference from politicians.

James Shaw : When he says that this is not a crisis and that dairy is just 5 percent of the economy, is he saying that when the All Blacks lose it just does not matter because they are one of thousands of sports teams playing over the weekend, many of which are winning?

Mr SPEAKER : In so far as there is ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Clearly, the Greens like New Zealanders being able to watch the All Blacks lose, but they do not them to be able to watch them win in the Rugby World Cup. I mean, when people use the word “crisis”, well, the Opposition should explain what that means. If those members think it means that dairy farmers are sitting around with their heads in their hands, paralysed by low prices, then they are wrong. Actually, they are getting up every morning, going out into the cold, wet weather, doing the calving, milking the cows, and spending the money they need to get their production moving and get their product to world markets. Calling it a crisis seems to me to be particularly useless. In fact, it downgrades the resilience and the responsiveness of not just the dairy sector but households right across New Zealand to a bit of economic pressure, which they can handle.

It’s the sad reality of Opposition to try to make the bad times worse. Thankfully most dairy farmers are too busy with calving to hear them.

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that New Zealand is on the “cusp of something special”; if so, was that “something special” rising unemployment along with plummeting dairy prices?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, I stand by that statement, for two reasons. The first is that I am positive and aspirational for New Zealand—

Hon Members : Ha, ha!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —unlike some people who are always talking the country down. But, actually, the second reason I stand by that statement is that I made that statement on a couple of occasions during debates in the 2014 general election, and we were on the cusp of something special: the worst pounding the Labour Party had ever had—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Andrew Little : Given that the number of people who are unemployed has risen by 13,000 and that unemployment in Taranaki alone is now at 7 percent, and there are hundreds set to join them due to major job cuts announced recently, is it not the truth of it that he is sending more and more families to the cusp of poverty?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, the Government has created—along with the people of New Zealand, of course—148,000 jobs over the last 2 years. But I note that the Labour Party has an interest all of a sudden, apparently, in farming. So when prices go up, it is nothing to do with the Government; when prices go down, it is everything to do with the Government! Those members are not asking: “Why are beef prices high? Is that the responsibility of the Government?”. But I make this simple point: the Labour Party wanted to put a huge number of costs on farmers. That was its policy during the election.

Andrew Little : Given that Westpac says that there will be no more job growth this year, and the economy has grown at just a quarter of the expected rate, has he not driven the economy to the cusp of a recession?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the member goes and reads the Westpac report, the glimpse that I had a look through, it showed that growth will be between 2 percent and 2.5 percent over the next 3 years.

Andrew Little : Why has he failed to invest in diversifying the economy, neglected regional infrastructure, and turned a blind eye to the 35,000 jobs lost in manufacturing since 2008?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member needs to get out a bit more—it is as simple as that. If you go around New Zealand and have a look at what is happening around New Zealand, you will see just how diversified the economy is. Tourism spending alone is up over 20 percent from last year, at over $8 billion. The information and communications technology sector is doing well. Kiwifruit growing is back from the lows of Psa. Beef farming is doing extremely well. Horticulture is doing well around New Zealand. Manufacturing—for 33 months in a row the performance of manufacturing index has been expanding. The services sector, export education—the only people who think the economy is solely dairy are in the Labour Party, and it wanted to tax those people— . . .

Little tried again.

Andrew Little : Given that dairy farm prices have already fallen by 18 percent since peaking last October, what preparations has his Government undertaken for dealing with increased sell-offs by insolvent farmers who cannot make ends meet with dairy prices so low?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What we have done over the course of the last 7 years, after straightening out the mess we inherited from Labour and with our very strong economic management, is to make the economy more efficient and more productive. Here is a bunch of things that we have not done: we have not brought the emissions trading scheme in straight away, we have not put a large tax on water irrigation, we have not put a capital gains tax on every farm, we have not increased the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage, and we have not taken money out of the Primary Growth Partnership. We are in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Labour Party—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —is claiming it is the farmers’ friend. They were the policies it took to the election.

Andrew Little : What is the Government’s response to the reports that, contrary to Bill English’s claims, the banks are already forcing mortgagee sales on indebted farmers, and what is to stop more of these farms being bought by overseas investors?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I am sure that the banks will work closely with farmers, as they typically do, because there is approximately $35 billion worth of debt, I think, sitting on dairy farms. One of the things the bankers will be sitting there and looking at is they will be looking at the policies of the National-led Government, which has supported the farmers; they will be looking at the proposed policies of Labour, which is anti-farmers; and they will be saying “Thank goodness National is in Government.”

The Opposition parties are trying to act like farmers’ friends but you don’t need a long memory to know they’d be false friends.

This time last year they were in campaign mode threatening to add all sorts of taxes, increase compliance costs and complexity and generally make farming less profitable, more difficult and less enjoyable.

And while they keep saying the government should do something about the payout  I haven’t heard  a single farmer echo them.

 


Green party poopers

August 12, 2015

The Rugby  World Cup is taking place on the other side of the world and matches will be played when most New Zealanders would normally be in bed and pubs are closed.

When UK fans were faced with that scenario in 2011 the government brought in special legislation to allow pubs to open for fans.

Act MP David Seymour drafted a Bill to allow bars to open at extended hours for 2015 Rugby World Cup games but Green Party MPs torpedoed it.

“An internationally televised world cup featuring our own reigning champions should be an opportunity to bring communities together over coffee or beer and showcase our wonderful hospitality facilities,” said Mr Seymour.

“Shutting New Zealanders at home for this event seems like a mean-spirited affront to community freedoms.

“The Greens do themselves no favours by locking themselves in as the party opposed to fun. . .

 

I’ve no desire to go  to a pub in the wee small hours and if I did go I wouldn’t be drinking anything stronger than water.

I’ve stayed up all night four times in the last 12 years. That was for weddings in Argentina and I drank only one glass of wine at each because I knew any more alcohol would put me to sleep.

But I can see why some people might want to gather in a pub to watch the games, especially if the All Blacks make it to the final.

Green MP Kevin Hague accused Seymour of  using the issue as a publicity stunt.

But it is Hague who is grandstanding.

In being the party pooper  he’s  providing ammunition for those who accuse his party of being the fun police and all for nothing more than negative publicity because the government will probably pick up the Bill.

Too many people drink too much but that’s a problem which won’t be addressed by the party-pooping.

 


Quote of the day

August 12, 2015

. . . this Government has always given credit for the stronger economy to New Zealand households and businesses, which, in the face of a recession and an earthquake, rearranged the way they operated, became more efficient and leaner, and got themselves through a very difficult period. We have always attributed the strength of the economy to the people who are the economy. –  Bill English


August 12 in history

August 12, 2015

30 BC Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, committed suicide allegedly by means of an asp bite.

1099  First Crusade: Battle of Ascalon – Crusaders under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon defeated Fatimid forces under Al-Afdal Shahanshah.

1121   Battle of Didgori: the Georgian army under King David the Builder won a decisive victory over the famous Seljuk commander Ilghazi.

1164  Battle of Harim: Nur ad-Din Zangi defeated the Crusader armies of the County of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch.

1281  The fleet of Qubilai Khan was destroyed by a typhoon while approaching Japan.

1323   Treaty of Nöteborg between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia) regulated the border for the first time.

1332   Wars of Scottish Independence: Battle of Dupplin Moor – Scots under Domhnall II, Earl of Mar were routed by Edward Balliol.

1480   Battle of Otranto – Ottoman troops behead 800 Christians for refusing to convert to Islam.

1499  First engagement of the Battle of Zonchio between Venetian and Ottoman fleets.

1676 Praying Indian John Alderman shot and killed Metacomet the Wampanoag war chief, ending King Philip’s War.

1687   Charles of Lorraine defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Mohács.

1806  Santiago de Liniers re-took the city of Buenos Aires after the first British invasion.

1851  Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.

1859 Katharine Lee Bates, American poet, was born (d. 1929).

1877   Asaph Hall discovered Deimos.

1881  Cecil B. DeMille, American film director, was born (d. 1959).

1883   The last quagga died at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.

1886  Sir Keith Murdoch, Australian journalist and newspaper owner, was born (d. 1952).

1889 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane), was born (d. 1981).

1895 Minnie Dean became the first (and only) woman to be hanged by law in New Zealand.

Minnie Dean

1898  Armistice ended the Spanish-American War.

1898  The Hawaiian flag was lowered from Iolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the American flag to signify the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawai`i to the United States.

1911 Cantinflas, Mexican actor, was born (d. 1993).

1914 World War I– Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary.

1918   Guy Gibson, British aviator, awarded Victoria Cross, was born (d. 1944).

1925  Norris McWhirter, Scottish co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, was born (d. 2004).

1925   Ross McWhirter, Scottish co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, was born  (d. 1975).

1932 Queen Sirikit, Queen of Thailand, was born.

1943  Alleged date of the first Philadelphia Experiment test on United States Navy ship USS Eldridge.

1944  Waffen SS troops massacred 560 people in Sant’Anna di Stazzema.

1944  Alençon was liberated by General Leclerc, the first city in France to be liberated from the Nazis by French forces.

1949  – Mark Knopfler, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (Dire Straits), was born.

1952  The Night of the Murdered Poets – thirteen most prominent Jewish intellectuals were murdered in Moscow.

1953  The Soviet atomic bomb project continued with the detonation of Joe 4, the first Soviet thermonuclear weapon.

1953   The islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia in Greece were severely damaged by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the richter.

1960  Echo I, the first communications satellite, launched.

1961  Roy Hay, British guitarist and keyboardist (Culture Club), was born.

1961 Mark Priest, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1964  South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games due to the country’s racist policies.

1964 – Charlie Wilson, one of the Great Train Robbers escaped from Winson Green Prison.

1969 Violence erupted after the Apprentice Boys of Derry march resulting in a three-day communal riot – the Battle of the Bogside.

1973 Richard Reid, British Islamist terrorist (the “Shoe Bomber”), was born.

1975 John Walker broke the world mile record, becoming became history’s first sub-3:50 miler.

1976  Between 1,000-3,500 Palestinians killed in the Tel al-Zaatar massacre, one of the bloodiest events of the Lebanese Civil War.

1977  The first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

1977 Start of Sri Lankan riots of 1977, targeting the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people – over 300 Tamils were killed.

1978   Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China was signed.

1980   Signature of the Montevideo Treaty establishing the Latin American Integration Association.

1981  The IBM Personal Computer was released.

1982   Mexico announced it was unable to pay its enormous external debt, marking the beginning of a debt crisis that spread to all of Latin America and the Third World.

1985   Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed into Osutaka ridge in Japan, killing 520, to become the worst single-plane air disaster.

1992  Canada, Mexico, and the United States announced completion of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

2000  The Oscar class submarine K-141 Kursk of the Russian Navy exploded and sank in the Barents Sea during a military exercise.

2005  Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, was fatally shot by an LTTE sniper at his home.

2007  Bulk carrier M/V New Flame collided with oil tanker Torm Gertrud at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar, ending up partially submerged.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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