Word of the day


Ochlophobist – a person with a phobia or fear of mob-like crowds; one with an aversion to crowds.

Friday’s answers


Teletext gets my thanks for posing  Thursday’s questions and can claim a virtual rhododendron for stumping everyone by leaving the answers below.

Rural round-up


Low methane producing sheep could be way forward for NZ – Brittany Pickett:

Sheep giving off lower methane emissions are being bred by scientists now looking to see if they can produce leaner meat and more lambs.

Methane from livestock is responsible for 33 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of international agreements, New Zealand is committed to cutting these emissions.

“New Zealand has the issue that they can’t do this by cutting urban emissions or planting trees,” AgResearch senior scientist Suzanne Rowe said.

Scientists at Invermay have been involved in a five year programme to measure whether breeding sheep for low methane is likely to affect reproduction, productivity and health. . .

Dairy farmers discovers the secret of a happy workforce – Esther Taunton:

Faced with a line-up of ‘zombies’ of his own making, dairy farmer Stuart Taylor knew something had to change.

“I looked at these beautiful young people who I’d promised a life and a career and I’d turned them into zombies,” he said.

“I’d made them work from 3am to 6pm and they were broken, the way we were doing things was broken.”

Speaking at DairyNZ’s Taranaki Rural Professional’s Conference in Inglewood, Taylor said the realisation that things weren’t working was the start of a culture change on his Rangitikei farm. . .

Labour manipulating farmers brilliantly over proposed water tax – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers have played right into Labour’s hands with their outcry over their water tax policy.

Last month has seen floods of claims, counter claims, accusations, conflated figures of its impact and downright hysteria in some quarters of the rural sector.

Thankfully, the vast majority of dairy farms in Waikato are dryland apart from a handful that irrigate in South Waikato, so it will have a minor effect on farmers in this region.

A cynical person would see the tax as a simple, clever vote grab of the urban sector by the Labour Party. . .

MPI sniffer dog joins stink bug fight:

A bug-sniffing detector dog introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries will help stop the potentially devastating brown marmorated stink bug from making a home in New Zealand.

An MPI labrador (named Georgie) demonstrated her sniffing skills on stage today by locating dead stink bugs hidden in a harvesting machine at the New Zealand Winegrowers conference in Blenheim.

MPI will have two trained dogs ready to sniff out stink bugs this summer, including a specialist dog to assist with detecting the pest in the event of an incursion, says MPI Border Clearance Director Steve Gilbert. . .  

Read the rest of this entry »

Water tax won’t work


We all want clean water but Labour’s water tax won’t achieve that:

. . .Labour’s water policy of taxing irrigation water is great as it has raised awareness, stimulated debate and attempted to fix the problem. The saddest thing is that it is fundamentally flawed. It has indirectly torn us apart as a country, creating an ‘us and them’ divide between rural and urban communities.

You simply can’t tax one sector of society for a national problem – we are all in this together. We all have to pay.

If individual farmers are causing problems they should be responsible for them and regional councils already have the powers to hold them accountable. But it is wrong to make all irrigators pay a tax to spend cleaning up messes for which they’re not responsible.

The policy has vilified irrigated farmers, portraying them as the sole cause of the issue. This has given urban people the ammunition to point the finger and hide behind the quietly forgotten fact that urban waterways have some of the worst quality in the country – through no fault of agriculture, let alone irrigation. . .

Even in the country, rivers with more irrigation generally have fewer quality problems.

The tax is holding all irrigators responsible for something few, if any, caused and it could have unexpected consequences:

A new survey of irrigators has revealed the potential impact of implementing Labour’s proposal on a water tax, including the news that it is set to lead to more intensive farming.

Key findings from the survey conducted by IrrigationNZ were:

• 40 per cent of farmers said they would need to increase the number of stock on their farm to pay for the water tax

• 63 per cent of farmers and growers said they would reduce their spending in local communities

You can’t spend money twice. Every dollar taken from a farm in water tax is a dollar less to spend and the local community will be the first to feel the impact.

Over 80 per cent of farmers are already carrying environmental improvement work such as fencing off streams or riparian planting – but half of those surveyed said they would have to reduced their spending on this to pay for the water tax

Every dollar taken in water tax is a dollar less for on-farm improvements.

Andrew Curtis, CEO, Irrigation NZ, says: “The survey raises serious concerns about the potential unintended effects of a water tax and whether these outcomes are desirable. Environmental lobby groups who support a water tax blame intensifaction for water quality issues but our survey shows the water tax is set to lead to more intensive farming as well as reduce spending on environmental improvements and spending in rural communities.

“The tax would not just affect farmers but the rural economy, with the potential for job losses in local shops and businesses in many areas of New Zealand.”

Dairy conversions could go up

IrrigationNZ carried out a survey of 124 farmers to gather information on the potential impact of the water tax (at a 2 cents per 1,000 litre charge). Of the 59 arable, sheep, beef or mixed cropping and sheep or beef farmers participating in the survey, 48% said they would consider converting their property to other uses, like dairying, dairy grazing, horticulture and more intensive activities to make their farms viable enough to fund the cost of the tax. Two property owners said they would consider selling up.

One arable farmer explained his reasons for considering converting: “We have continued to hold off converting to dairy, while many around us have done just that. We believe we are doing a good job, but every year our bottom line is diminishing, while we work harder and are more productive. Soon, dairying will be our only viable option.”

Mr Curtis says: “Many people would assume that taxing water would result in less water being used however the results indicate farmers would have less money to spend in investing in more efficient irrigation systems and less to spend on crop monitoring to apply water only when needed.

Every dollar taken in tax is a dollar less for investing in technology which would have environmental benefits.

“Equally, the comments from arable, sheep and beef farmers indicate that many of them would consider moving to more intensive farming such as dairying which would consume more water – not less!”

A group of Maniototo farmers who use irrigation predominantly for sheep and beef farming recently highlighted the impact of the tax in this video. The area is one of New Zealand’s driest and receives only 350-500mls of rain annually. The farmers could face costs of $2.6 million in water taxes and would have the option of selling their farms, reducing their water allocation or converting to dairy farming as a result of the tax.

Environmental improvements already happening

“The results also highlighted that most irrigators are already fencing off waterways and many are carrying out riparian planting work. With that in mind we would question whether a new tax, with its associated administration costs is needed, given this work which is already underway,” he adds.

IrrigationNZ has reiterated its concerns about the water tax in light of the survey results.

“While we understand that many New Zealanders support the concept of a water tax, we question whether they would support some of the outcomes it could create. Labour is talking about raising $650 million to $1 billion from the tax over the next decade. They need to provide the public with an analysis of the impacts of the tax on farms, jobs and the wider economy before people can make an informed decision about whether the tax is a good idea,” says Mr Curtis. “Our survey has thrown up some very concerning issues.”

The survey also raised issues with Labour’s idea of having ready for work unemployed young people access properties, with most of those surveyed having concerns about the health and safety issues liability issues involved.

Survey findings in full

The survey found that costs varied widely if a 2 cents per 1,000 litre tax was introduced:

• 30 per cent of irrigators would pay less than $10,000 per annum

• 19 per cent of irrigators would pay between $10,000 and $20,000 per annum

• 29 per cent of irrigators would pay between $20,000 and $40,000 per annum

• 22 per cent of irrigators would pay $40,000 or more, with the highest individual cited a cost of $175,000 per annum.

Meeting the extra expense

• 40 per cent of farmers said they would need to increase the number of stock on their farm to pay for the water tax

• Of the 59 arable, sheep, beef or mixed cropping and sheep or beef farmers participating in the survey, 48% said they would consider converting their property to other uses, like dairying, dairy grazing, horticulture and more intensive activities to make their farms viable enough to fund the cost of the tax. Two property owners said they would consider selling up.

• 63 per cent of farmers said they would reduce their spending in local communities

• 56 per cent of said they would look at reducing debt payments and 35 per cent of farmers said they would consider increasing debt.

• 27 per cent said they would have to look at either reducing staff hours or laying off staff to meet the tax costs

Environmental Improvements

• 47 per cent had undertaken riparian planting work already

• Over 80 per cent had done one or more of the following – fenced off waterways, undertaken riparian planting, or undertaken some other kind of biodiversity enhancement work

o 74 per cent had already undertaken work to fence off waterways

o 47 per cent had already undertaken riparian planting

o 44 per cent had already undertaken some other form of biodiversity enhancement

People who’ve already done, or are doing, work to protect waterways will be taxed and some of their money will be used to help those who haven’t or aren’t.

• 50 per cent said they would reduce riparian planting, wetland restoration or other biodiversity enhancement work as a result of the tax

• 45 per cent said they would scale back investment in funding more efficient irrigation systems

• 21 per cent said they would reduce back crop monitoring or irrigation scheduling investment.

The survey follows an earlier analysis IrrigationNZ completed on the amount of tax raised by region from the proposed water tax, compared with the swimmability of rivers. The analysis showed that the regions with least swimmable rivers were all located in areas with less than one per cent irrigated land area.

Every day more facts come out to show how bad this policy is.

But as yet none of those facts have had any impact on Labour politicians who have based their policy on emotion.



Why the economy matters


It’s this simple:

We want to turn our economic strength into practical care, compassion and support. That’s my mission – Bill English.

A strong economy is the only way to provide sustainable social services.

Quote of the day


Even if this spring the dappled leaves should shelter our minds from the moon’s pale echo we would still remember how once they were sheltered by our skulls only from the day’s sun and the night’s stars and never from what we feared and what we remembered. –   Dan Davin who was born on this day in 1913.

September 1 in history


717 – Siege of Constantinople: The Muslim armada with 1,800 ships, was defeated by the Byzantine navy through the use of Greek fire.

1270 – King Stephen V of Hungary wrote of his walk to the antiquum castellum near Miholjanec, where the Sword of Attila was recently discovered.

1355 Tvrtko I wrote in castro nostro Vizoka vocatum from old town Visoki.

1644  Battle of Tippermuir: Montrose defeated Elcho’s Covenanters, reviving the Royalist cause.

1653 Johann Pachelbel, German composer, was born (d. 1706).

1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years—the longest of any major European monarch.

1772 Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa founded in San Luis Obispo, California.

1804 Juno, one of the largest main belt asteroids, was discovered by German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding.

1818 José María Castro Madriz, first President of Costa Rica and founder of the republic, was born (d. 1892).

1836  Narcissa Whitman, one of the first English-speaking white women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains, arrived at Walla Walla, Washington.

1854 Engelbert Humperdinck, German composer, was born (d. 1921).

1862  American Civil War: Battle of Chantilly – Confederate forces attacked retreating Union troops.

1870  Franco-Prussian War: Battle of Sedan resulted in a decisive Prussian victory.

1873  Cetshwayo ascended to the throne as king of the Zulu nation following the death of his father Mpande.

1875 A murder conviction effectively forced the violent Irish anti-owner coal miners, the “Molly Maguires“, to disband.

1876 Taranaki farmer Harry Atkinson became New Zealand’s Premier, succeeding Sir Julius Vogel.

1876  – Harriet Shaw Weaver, English journalist and activist, was born (d. 1961).

1878 Emma Nutt became the world’s first female telephone operator when she was recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.

1894 More than 400 people died in the Great Hinckley Fire, a forest fire in Hinckley, Minnesota.

1896 A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, the Hare Krishna Movement, was born (d. 1977).

1897  The Boston subway opened, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.

1902  A Trip to the Moonconsidered one of the first science fiction films, was released in France.

1906 Eleanor Burford Hibertt (Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr…), English writer, was born (d. 1993).

1906 The International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys was established.

1911 The armored cruiser Georgios Averof was commissioned into the Greek Navy.

1913 – Dan Davin, New Zealand author, was born (d. 1990).
Daniel Marcus Davin photographed during the Second World War

1914 St. Petersburg, Russia, changed its name to Petrograd.

1914  The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.

1920  The Fountain of Time opened as a tribute to the 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain following the Treaty of Ghent.

1923  The Great Kantō earthquake devastated Tokyo and Yokohama, killing about 105,000 people.

1928 Ahmet Zogu declared Albania to be a monarchy and proclaimed himself king.

1933 Conway Twitty, American singer, was born (d. 1993).

1934  SMJK Sam Tet was founded by Father Fourgs from the St. Michael Church, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

1939 World War II: Nazi Germany invaded Poland, beginning the war in Europe.

1939 Lily Tomlin, American actress and comedian, was born.

1939 The Wound Badge for Wehrmacht, SS, Kriegsmarine, and Luftwaffe soldiers; and the final version of the Iron Cross were instituted.

1939 Switzerland mobilised its forces and the Swiss Parliament electedHenri Guisan to head the Swiss Army (an event that can happen only during war or mobilisation).

1943 – Eleanor Roosevelt visited Auckland.

Eleanor Roosevelt visits Auckland

1946 Barry Gibb, English singer (Bee Gees), was born.

1951 The United States, Australia and New Zealand signed a mutual defense pact –  the ANZUS Treaty.

1957 – Gloria Estefan, Cuban-American singer-songwriter and actress, was born.

1961 The Eritrean War of Independence officially began with the shooting of the Ethiopian police by Hamid Idris Awate.

1962  Channel Television reached 54,000 households in the Channel Islands.

1964  The Indian Oil Corporation formed after the merger of the Indian Oil Refineries and the Indian Oil Company.

1964 – Holly Golightly, American author and illustrator, was born.

1969  A revolution in Libya brought Muammar al-Gaddafi to power.

1969 – Tran Thien Khiem became Prime Minister of South Vietnam under President Nguyen Van Thieu.

1970  Attempted assassination of King Hussein of Jordan by Palestinian guerrillas, who attacked his motorcade.

1972  American Bobby Fischer beat Russian Boris Spassky and became the world chess champion.

1973 J. D. Fortune, Canadian singer (INXS), was born.

1974 The SR-71 Blackbird set (and holds) the record for flying from New York to London in the time of 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds.

1979  The American space probe Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn when it passed the planet at a distance of 21,000 km.

1980  Terry Fox‘s Marathon of Hope ended in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

1980  Major General Chun Doo-hwan became president of South Korea, following the resignation of Choi Kyu-hah.

1981  A coup d’état in the Central African Republic overthrewPresidentDavid Dacko.

1982  Canada adopted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of its Constitution.

1982  The United States Air Force Space Command was founded.

1987 Dann Hume, New Zealand musician (Evermore), was born.

1983 Cold War: Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet Union jet fighter when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace. All 269 on board died, including Congressman Lawrence McDonald.

1985  A joint American–French expedition located the wreckage of theRMSTitanic.

1987 Lorraine Cohen was sentenced to death by a Malaysian judge for heroin trafficking.

New Zealander sentenced to death in Malaysia

1991  Uzbekistan declared its  independence from the Soviet Union.

2004  Beslan school hostage crisis started when armed terrorists took children and adults hostage.

2014 – Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble, were shot and killed and another staff member was wounded at the Ashburton WINZ office where they worked.

Sourced from NZ History Online, NZ Herald, Te Ara, Encyclopaedia of NZ,  Wikipedia

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