365 days of gratitude

April 26, 2018

We drove from Wanaka to home via Lake Onslow and the Maniototo today.

Early in the trip we marveled at how nature had painted leaves golden against a blue sky, later on we were in tussock country and passed not a single car until we got to Ranfurly.

Tonight I’m grateful for changing seasons, nature’s beauty and that it’s still possible to enjoy them without crowds of people.


Word of the day

April 26, 2018

Gallus – bold, daring; reckless; cheeky; flashy.


Rural round-up

April 26, 2018

Land use tipped to change on Waimea Plains, near Nelson, if dam gets nod – Cherie Sivignon:

Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King is putting his money where his mouth is to support the proposed Waimea dam.

The dairy farmer and long-term proponent of the dam project said he had committed to buy more water shares, at $5500 a pop, than he needed for his 57ha block of land on the Waimea Plains.

“We’re fully subscribed, a little bit over actually.”

His “60-something” shares would cost him more than $300,000. . .

Retaining soil carbon the answer to managing agricultural GHG emissions – Gerald Piddock:

A Matamata dairy farm has become ground zero for a team of Waikato scientists searching for ways to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide losses are being measured on the 200 hectare farm owned by Terry and Margaret Troughton and managed by their son Ben and wife Sarah.

Their findings so far in a project funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre were outlined at a field day on the farm.

Better pasture management, genetics, feed and nutrition had been done well, but new strategies were needed to take the project the next step forward, Landcare Research’s Jack Pronger​ said. . . 

Farmers give thumbs down to new taxes:

Any move to introduce a capital gains, land or environment tax will meet stiff opposition from farmers, a Federated Farmers survey shows.

The Federation asked its members for their views last month, to help inform the farmer group’s submission to the Tax Working Group. The nearly 1,400 responses indicated strong opposition to some of the new taxes that have been suggested.

Just on 81 percent opposed a capital gains tax excluding the family home, with 11 percent in support. However, 47 percent would support a CGT on property sold within a five year ‘bright line’ test. There is currently a two-year threshold, and the measure is seen by some as a way of discouraging speculators. . . 

NZ farm sales fall 11% in March quarter as mycoplasma bovis keeps farmers nervous –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farm sales fell 11 percent in the March quarter from a year earlier, as the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease outbreak weighed on purchasing intentions and spanned a period where smaller plots of rural land were captured by the regime to screen foreign buyers.

Some 388 farms were sold at a median price of $27,428 per hectare in the three months ended March 31, down from 438 farms at a median price of $27,509/ha in 2017, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show. Fewer dairy and grazing farms accounted for the drop, with gains in finishing farm sales coinciding with strong prices for beef and lamb meat. . . 

Calm ewes produce more than nervous ewes:

A calm temperament in ewes improves ovulation rate and successful pregnancies, according to a study published by The University of Western Australia.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Uruguay, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA and UWA, has implications for the impact of stress in human reproduction.

The team investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes known to have either a calm or a nervous temperament. They found the ovulation rate and rate of successful pregnancies to be higher in the calm ewes. . .

Shearing at the end of the world –  Tomas Munita and Russell Goldman:

Life at the end of the world can be lonely.

For weeks at a time, Roberto Bitsch and gauchos like him might not see another human being. They see horses, both wild and tame. They see the dogs they work with. But mostly, they see sheep — thousands of them.

Locals mark time by the length of the sheep’s woolly coats here on Isla Grande, the largest of the Tierra del Fuego islands at the tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to Chile’s capital, Santiago. . . 

 


Thursday’s quiz

April 26, 2018

One and all are invited to pose the questions.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win a virtual batch of Anzac biscuits.


Positive policing

April 26, 2018

A speed camera was put on a pole on state highway 1 on what locals call Holmes Hill in Oamaru.

Several people have had letters from the police telling them that their vehicles were snapped exceeding the speed limit but no action would be taken.

The letter went on to explain why the camera was positioned there and remind the recipients of the dangers of speeding.

That’s positive policing.

 


Let’s not politicise public sector

April 26, 2018

Shane Jones want to give ministers more power over ministries.

Cabinet Minister Shane Jones, says he would like to “soften that line” between governance and the bureaucracy, including allowing ministers to appoint top officials.

In an interview on the provincial growth fund Jones, the Regional Development Minister railed against a bureaucratic system he characterised as a “treacle-riddled”, slowing down process around funding economic projects, without evidence of improved efficiency.

“I’m looking forward to fighting an election to change the way that politicians relate to the bureaucracy,” Jones said.

“I know we have this separation of governance and the bureaucracy, but I’m really attracted to the idea where the Aussies have softened that line, and key ministers bring in their s…-kickers to get things done. That’s always been my preference.” . . . 

Among other things the State Sector Act gives the State Services Commissioner the power over chief executive appointments, without influence from the Beehive, at least in theory.

Unlike many other countries, public servants are required to act in a politically neutral way.

The Public Services Association warned in December that the influence of ministerial advisors, Beehive staff which are appointed to serve the interests of their minister, are undermining this neutrality.

Jones was quick to promote reports of his comments.

“Surely I’m not the only one who would like to see less bureaucracy in this country? Meeting high governance and probity standards should not come at the expense of efficiency and pace in my books,” Jones said on his public Facebook profile.

Is he suggesting we accept lower governance and probity standards?

The Taxpayer’s Union’s executive director Jordan Williams called the comments “bizarre”.

“Shane Jones is suggesting we abandon our Westminster-style independent public service and adopt a corrupt American-style political appointment model. It’s a recipe for unstable, crony, poor governance.” . . 

Anyone who has had the misfortune to attempt to move something at anything more than snails’ pace through a government department will understand Jones’ treacle analogy.

Many will have sympathy with his desire to speed processes up.

But let’s not politicise the bureaucracy.

That’s a prescription which would poison the public service and do nothing at all to improve management, governance or productivity.

 


Quote of the day

April 26, 2018

The fact is that the learning process goes on, and so long as the voices are not stilled and the singers go on singing some of it gets through. –  Morris West who was born on this day in 1916.


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