365 days of gratitude

July 31, 2018

Yesterday it was calls made.

Today it was a call received unexpectedly from a friend that brightened an already good day and I’m very grateful for that.


Word of the day

July 31, 2018

Dendrimer – a synthetic polymer with a branching, tree-like structure.


Rural round-up

July 31, 2018

Working group to address wool woes – Yvonne O’Hara:

A working group of industry representatives is to be established to address New Zealand’s wool woes.

Members of the group will be selected from about 40 industry movers and shakers who were invited to attend the Wool Summit held in Wellington last week. . .

Working group considered ‘last chance saloon’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

A working group, which is to be formed following a Wool Summit held in Wellington on July 16, is the ”last chance saloon” for the industry, Carrfields Primary Wool Group (CPWG) chief executive Colin McKenzie says.

Mr McKenzie, who is also chief executive of NZ Yarn, in Christchurch, was one of 40 people invited to the meeting, which was hosted by Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor.

CPWG handles about a quarter of the country’s wool clip, including from Central Otago growers.

Mr McKenzie said there needed to be a consolidation of the industry, both structurally and commercially, as well as an alignment as there were so many fragmented activities within it. . . 

Hunt for M bovis source goes on – Annette Scott:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has not given up on finding out how the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis arrived here, response director Geoff Gwyn says.

It’s now a year from when the disease was identified on a South Canterbury dairy farm and still all seven pathways remain suspects.

“We have no pathway link to any one farm. We are still looking at all options,” Gwyn said.

While MPI has completed the inspections of three premises, two veterinary associated premises in the North Island and a farm in the South Island, it searched under warrant in March it cannot yet publicly announce the outcome. . .

Mycoplasma bovis: spring testing of milk can be both hit and miss – Keith Woodford:

Bulk-milk testing of all New Zealand milk is about to begin, with three tests of every herd. However, this will only be from cows that are healthy, unless a farmer has failed to identify a sick cow. This is because sick cows are given antibiotics and their milk does not go into the vat.

Milk companies have routine tests for antibiotics in milk and farmer penalties for any mistakes are very high. So, farmers are always diligent in keeping this milk separate. This milk is either fed to calves, or increasingly tipped into the effluent system. . .

Plants must complement meat in diets – Neal Wallace:

Dietary guidelines have always stressed three-quarters of food intake should be derived from plants, Beef + Lamb New Zealand nutrition head Fiona Greig says.

Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses perfectly complemented nutrient-rich animal foods such as meat, dairy and fish.

“As sexy as it is not, that word (moderation) should be the mantra of all dietary patterns regardless of whether you eat animal products or not.” . . 

Peninsula Farm is paradise:

At the back of Raglan harbour on the West Coast peninsula lies one of the country’s most influential farming operations.

The aptly named “Peninsula Farm” is where herd improvement company CRV Ambreed grazes its young Friesian, jersey and crossbred bulls that wait to find out if they’re the dairy industry’s next megastars.

Each year around 150 bull calves are carefully selected for CRV Ambreed’s Progeny Test programme and are shipped from farms across the country to CRV Ambreed’s Bellevue production and logistics centre. . .


Spot the difference

July 31, 2018

National MP Chris Bishop illustrates the difference between a good bill and a bad one:


Confidence plummets

July 31, 2018

Labour, NZ First and the Green Party haven’t even been in government for a year and already business confidence has droppedto the second lowest in the OECD.

New Zealand has tumbled from top to bottom of the OECD business confidence rankings with the most recent data revealing New Zealand has the second lowest level of business confidence in the developed world, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“Given the high level of political uncertainty around the world it is a shocking revelation that New Zealand – typically a haven of political and economic stability – has the second lowest level of business confidence in the OECD.

“In 2016 New Zealand was the second highest in the OECD with 33 of the 35 countries beneath us. Now everyone except South Korea is ahead of us. To have fallen so far in such a short space of time is a damning reflection of this Government’s economic management.

“It is clear the Government’s low-growth policies are having a major impact, and are driving New Zealand’s appallingly low business confidence – though the Government is still refusing to acknowledge that.

“Policies such as industrial relations reforms, increased costs on small businesses via minimum wage increases and higher fuel taxes as well as the banning of oil and gas exploration, have all been bad for business sentiment and the economy.

“We want businesses confident so they can invest for growth, hire more people, and increase wages. That is how Kiwi families get ahead.

“With this Government’s dismissive and reckless approach to the economy, it’s no wonder we are again beginning to see more Kiwis heading overseas to greener pastures as opportunities here in New Zealand dry up.”

 

Businesses are generally still reasonably confident about their own outlook, but how long will it be before lack of confidence in the wider economy impacts on their decisions?

Increases in fuel taxes and the minimum wage, the prospect of a return to 1970s industrial relations and the strife that will accompany that, and the unilateral decision to end oil and gas exploration are all taking their toll on confidence.

Deteriorating  relations with Australia, our second business trading partner, add to causes for concern on the domestic front.

Sir John Key warns of clouds on the international horizon too:

. . .”We’re at the end of what I’d say is the economic cycle at the moment. There’s no question that when I look around the world and the things I’m now involved in internationally, you can start to see the pressure in the system,” Key said. 

“I was in China a week ago, it’s clear their economy is really starting to splutter a little bit. While the United States economy is doing well, they’re running massive, massive deficits – 7 per cent of GDP. Europe’s obviously much weaker than it was.

“So I think you are starting to see a slowdown in the economy and I think that, in part, reflects the business confidence numbers in New Zealand, and I think in part New Zealand businesses are looking at what the Government’s doing and they’re uncertain about that.” 

Low business confidence numbers could not be ignored, but Key said he hoped the economy remained strong “because every day, New Zealanders rely on it”.

“If doesn’t, then I think the right political party to lead the country wouldn’t be the one that’s currently there,” Key said. . .

A sluggish economy isn’t just a problem for business it’s a problem for everyone and should it get worse, businesses need confidence that the government will handle it well.

The current one has given plenty of grounds for concern that it won’t.

Running a business is full of risks and uncertainties and business people need confidence in their own outlook and the wider environment if they are to take the risks necessary to grow rather than stand still or retrench.

Business confidence doesn’t matter only for individual operations. It’s important for security of employment and a vibrant and growing economy.

That in turn is necessary to fund the infrastructure and services we don’t just want but need.


Quote of the day

July 31, 2018

When government – in pursuit of good intentions – tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player. Milton Friedman who was born on this day in 1912.


July 31 in history

July 31, 2018

30 BC  Battle of Alexandria: Mark Antony achieved a minor victory over Octavian’s forces, but most of his army subsequently deserted, leading to his suicide.

781 The oldest recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji.

904 Thessalonica fell to the Arabs, who destroyed the city.

1009  Pope Sergius IV became the 142nd pope, succeeding Pope John XVIII.

1200 Attempted usurpation of John Komnenos the Fat.

1423  Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Cravant – the French army was defeated at Cravant.

1451  Jacques Cœur was arrested by order of Charles VII of France.

1492 Jews were expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree took effect.

1498 On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.

1658 Aurangzeb was proclaimed Moghul emperor of India.

1667   Treaty of Breda ended the second Anglo-Dutch War.

1703  Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but was pelted with flowers.

1741  Charles Albert of Bavaria invaded Upper Austria and Bohemia.

1777 Pedro Ignacio de Castro Barros, Argentine statesman and priest, was born (d. 1849).

1777 The U.S. Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that the services of Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”

1790  First U.S. patent was issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

1800 Friedrich Wöhler, German chemist and founder of organic chemistry, was born (d. 1882).

1803 John Ericsson, Swedish inventor and engineer, was born (d. 1889).

1843 – The foundation stone was laid for New Zealand’s first purpose-built theatre, the  Royal Victoria Theatre on Manners St, Wellington.

Foundation stone laid for New Zealand's first purpose-built theatre

1856  Christchurch, New Zealand, was chartered as a city.

1860 Mary Vaux Walcott, American artist and naturalist, was born (d. 1940).

1865 The first narrow gauge mainline railway in the world opened atGrandchester, Australia.

1895  The Basque Nationalist Party (Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco) was founded by Basque nationalist leader Sabino Arana.

1909  Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Austrian writer and polyglot, was born (d. 1999).

1912  Milton Friedman, American economist, Nobel laureate (d. 2006).

1913 The Balkan States signed an armistice at Bucharest.

1919 German national assembly adopted the Weimar constitution.

1921 Peter Benenson, British founder of Amnesty International, was born (d. 2005).

1930  The radio mystery programme The Shadow  aired for the first time.

1932  The NSDAP won more than 38% of the vote in German elections.

1936  The International Olympic Committee announced that the 1940 Summer Olympics would be held in Tokyo. However, the games were given back to the IOC after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, and are eventually cancelled altogether because of World War II.

1938 – Bulgaria signed a non-aggression pact with Greece and other states of Balkan Antanti (Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia).

1938 Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius in Persepolis.

1940 A doodlebug train in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio collided with a multi-car freight train heading in the opposite direction, killing 43 people.

1941  Holocaust: under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.”

1943 Lobo, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1944  Geraldine Chaplin, American actress, was born.

1944 – Jonathan Dimbleby, British journalist and television presenter.

1945  Pierre Laval, the fugitive former leader of Vichy France, surrendered to Allied soldiers in Austria.

1945  John K. Giles attempted to escape from Alcatraz prison.

1948  New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) was dedicated.

1951  Japan Airlines was established.

1954 First ascent of K2, by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.

1959  The Basque separatist organisation ETA was founded.

1964 Jim Corr, Irish singer and musician (The Corrs), was born.

1964  Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1970 Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

1972 – Operation Motorman: British troops moved into the no-go areas of Belfast and Derry. End of Free Derry.

1972 – Three car bombs detonated in Claudy, Northern Ireland, killing nine.

1973 A Delta Air Lines jetliner crashed while landing in fog at Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts killing 89.

1976 John Walker won gold in the 1500 metres at the Montreal Olympics.

John Walker wins gold in Montreal

1976 NASA released the  Face on Mars photo.

1978 Will Champion, English musician (Coldplay), was born.

1980 Mils Muliaina, New Zealand rugby union player, was born.

1980 Mikko Hirvonen, Finnish rally driver, was born.

1981 – General Omar Torrijos of Panama died in a plane crash.

1981 A total solar eclipse occured.

1987  A rare, class F4 tornado ripped through Edmonton, Alberta, killing 27 people and causing $330 million in damage.

1988  32 people died and 1,674 injured when a bridge at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal collapsed in ButterworthMalaysia.

1991  The Medininkai Massacre in Lithuania. Soviet OMON attacked Lithuanian customs post in Medininkai, killing 7 officers and severely wounding one other.

1992  A Thai Airways Airbus A300-310 crashed into a mountain north of Kathmandu, Nepal killing 113.

1999  Lunar Prospector – NASA intentionally crashed the spacecraft into the Moon, ending its mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface.

2002  Hebrew University of Jerusalem was attacked when a bomb exploded in a cafeteria, killing 9.

2006  Fidel Castro handed over power temporarily to brother Raúl Castro.

2007 Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, ended.

2012 – Michael Phelps broke the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the greatest number of medals won at the Olympics.

2014 – Gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung killed at least 20 people and injured more than 270.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


365 days of gratitude

July 30, 2018

Remember when toll calls used to be reserved for matters of great moment and overseas calls were even rarer?

Not only were those overseas conversations rare, they were stilted because of the delay between the person at one end of the call speaking and the words reaching the listener at the other end.

Now it is both easier and cheaper to speak to people almost anywhere in the world.

Technological improvements have improved the quality and dropped the cost of calls.

Chats with family and friends who live in other places no longer have to wait for life’s big moments nor do they break most budgets.

Today we chatted to people in Auckland and Argentina as easily and at no greater cost than if they were in our neighbourhood.

Tonight I’m grateful for the ease and relative low cost of phone calls, domestic and international.


Word of the day

July 30, 2018

Woke – well informed; up-to-date;  aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues especially issues of racial and social justice; socially aware; alert to racial and social discrimination and unfairness; emerged or caused to emerge from sleeping.


Rural round-up

July 30, 2018

More profit with lower impact – Neal Wallace:

The low milk price in 2013 was not the ideal time for a multimillion dollar dairy conversion let alone one writing its own blueprint. But, as Neal Wallace reports, North Otago’s John and Ruby Foley had a vision and a goal and they were determined to see it through.

There was no single dairy farm blueprint for John and Ruby Foley to follow. 

They had just a wish list underpinned by a philosophy that the value of the business had to be set by the enterprise not the cost of land.

In the back of the minds of the North Otago dairy farmers was the increased difficulty for young people to enter the industry because of the cost of land. . .

Shearing pay rises are showing results – Neal Wallace:

Higher pay rates appear to have stemmed the flow of shearers and shedhands heading offshore.

Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said a wage increase of up to 25% has been welcomed by woolhandlers and South Island contractors starting pre-lamb shearing have been told by staff the better wages are an attraction to stay here instead of heading overseas.

“We have just made New Zealand an attractive proposition for our transient staff,” he said. . .

 No regional development cash to breed the ‘perfect’ varroa-resistant honey bee – Joanne Carroll:

A West Coast beekeeper has been denied Government funding to breed bees he says are resistant to the varroa mite.

Gary Jeffery, a beekeeper in Westport, said he wanted to continue breeding mite resistant bees from his stock, but that his application for help from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund had been denied.

Jeffery has previously received $25,000 from Development West Coast and has had the backing of private investors, but was running out of money to feed his bees before the end of winter. 

In a letter declining his pitch for $150,000 to develop a breeding programme, the provincial development unit said there was no evidence as to how Jeffery’s proposal would boost the West Coast economy . . 

 

Hillside collapses to from New Zealand’s newest lake – Marty Sharpe:

“Um, I think you might want to have a look at this new slip,” the top-dressing pilot told Gisborne farmer Dan Jex-Blake on February 25.

“Yeah, I know about that one. Been there forever,” Jex-Blake said.

“Nah, I don’t think so. You need to see this,” the top-dressing pilot replied.

So the fourth-generation owner of Mangapoike farm, about 55km southwest of Gisborne, jumped on the plane.

He couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.

Where there was once a grass-covered bluff was now a vertical wall, a massive scar of debris and mud, and where there was once the clear-flowing Mangapoike River was a fast growing lake. . .

City kid’s burgeoning farm empire; 6 leased lifestyle blocks and 160 ewes – Sophie Cornish:

Angus Grant’s younger sister Josie was not happy when he converted her playhouse into a chicken coop when he was eight-years-old.

But now it has all paid off. Angus and his schoolmate Nick O’Connor, won the national Teen Ag grand final, the high school version of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 16-year-old St Bede’s College student is a city boy hailing from Papanui who has been passionate about farming since he first watched Country Calendar when he was three. . .


Simon Bridges’ speech to conference

July 30, 2018

Simon Bridges delivered his first conference leader’s speech yesterday:

It is such a pleasure to be addressing you as leader of this amazing party, which I’m proud to have been a member of for 25 years.

I want to begin by thanking each and every one of you for giving your time to support us. For putting in the hard yards, raising money and knocking on doors.

You are the beating heart of the National Party.

Your commitment was put to the test following the last election.

It’s been a tough adjustment.

But National is strong.

National is vibrant.

And if we work together, National is going back to the Beehive in 2020.

We’re a fantastic team. And that is in large part down to our tireless President, Peter Goodfellow. Thank you Peter.

And can I also thank someone who never lets me forget my Westie roots. She has been an incredible support for me – my deputy Paula Bennett.

Paula and I lead a team of 56 talented, driven MPs who are truly committed to New Zealand.

From Invercargill to Northland, they live in, love and fiercely represent their communities, so let’s give them a big round of applause.

I also want to thank one particular MP who left Parliament this year after nearly three decades of service.

It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of a man I respect and admire so much, Sir Bill English.

Delegates, I want to tell you about a woman who moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

She has never lacked aspiration or a commitment to hard work. Through plenty of perseverance she now has her own successful business and does pro bono work for charities and community groups.

She is a mum to three young children that she is home alone with on far too many nights.

So many working mums are like her up and down this country.

But alongside all of that, she is also my biggest supporter, my wife, my partner for life

Could you please join me in welcoming Natalie on to the stage.

And these are our three children Emlyn, Harry and our baby Jemima.

Everyday this family amazes and delights me. They inspire me to do all I can to make New Zealand a place we are all proud of.

I love you. Thank you so much.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am proud to be a New Zealander.

We are all lucky to live in this beautiful country, tucked away in our corner of the South Pacific.

We are a successful, prosperous, confident nation that can and does foot it with the best in the world.

I love this place.

New Zealand is filled with so many opportunities.

It wasn’t always the case – ten years ago 30,000 people were leaving New Zealand every year to move to Australia, because that’s where the opportunities were.

Well, last year there were more coming the other way.

We’ve made great progress – because of the principles National bought to government.

The belief in personal responsibility, that if you put in the hard-yards, you deserve to reap the rewards.

The belief in an individual’s freedom to choose how to live their life.

The belief in enterprise as a way to create jobs, lift incomes and drive prosperity for all.

And the belief in a shared sense of social justice – a desire to give a helping hand to those in need.

These are my principles. They are National’s principles. And they are New Zealand’s principles.

There is a perception that on the right of politics we don’t care as much as on the left.

Our opponents do their best to make people think that, but they’re wrong.

Actually, if I think where I’ve come from, and everything about my upbringing, from my mum’s role as a teacher to dad’s work as a Minister – it’s all shaped me into someone with a strong sense of justice.

It is what drives me.

I want everyone to be given the best opportunity to live life to the full – and that’s especially important for the most vulnerable who need the extra support that New Zealanders as a fair minded people want to give them.

I mentioned personal responsibility earlier. Because there’s two sides to that coin.

We should do all we can to help people lead amazing lives.

But if people choose not to fulfil their end of that social contract, I believe there should be consequences.

If you commit a crime, you do the time. It’s for our safety, and victims deserve justice.

If you’re on a benefit and can work, you should be actively looking for a job.

But this Government sees things very differently.

They want to drastically cut the number of people in prison, regardless of the amount of crime committed.

They want to remove all benefit sanctions, so there’s no consequence if you fail a drug test or skip a job interview.

That’s just wrong.

It will not happen in a government I lead.

Delegates, this new Government had 9 years to get ready.

They did nothing.

Now they’ve set up 130 working groups at well over $1 million a pop – because they don’t have ideas of their own.

They’re incapable of making decisions and nothing is getting done.

Taxpayers are paying for Labour’s laziness.

Well, National will be the hardest working opposition this country has ever seen.

I don’t want to win in 2020 just because the Government is incompetent.

I want to win a contest of ideas, to demonstrate that National has the vision and the team to deliver a better future for everyone.

We’ll have the best ideas on the environment, how we can clean up our waterways and protect our beautiful country for our grandchildren.

We’ll have the best ideas for supporting the most vulnerable, to help them turn their lives around.

We’ll have the best ideas on law and order, on how to keep you safer by keeping our most violent predators locked up.

We’ll have the best ideas on health, on education, on housing, and on infrastructure.

And we’ll have the best ideas on the economy, because frankly, that’s an area where the Government has no idea at all.

Actually that’s not fair. Their plan is to tax and borrow more, so they can spend it – or at least ask a working group how to spend it.

Cancelling National’s tax cuts, and increasing costs by raising fuel taxes and housing taxes. All so they can spend billions more on diplomats, a tertiary fees policy that doesn’t deliver any more students, and a slush-fund for New Zealand First’s pet projects.

They’re out of control.

Unlike Grant Robertson, I believe hardworking Kiwis should keep more of their own money.

Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or it means we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.

But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for new workers.

About wages for our families.

About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.

About the opportunities we can give our kids to move into work and follow their passion.

About our ability to invest more in education and infrastructure and health.

All of this flows from the economy.

But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.

They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.

They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports.

They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed – the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.

National backs every single one of them.

Under National, we built one of the best performing economies in the developed world.

We dealt with the Global Financial Crisis and the earthquakes and we were getting ahead.

But we need to keep it going to ensure all New Zealanders can share in the gains – not everyone has yet.

But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Government doesn’t have a clear plan for the economy.

They’re slowing New Zealand down, not speeding us up.

Whether it’s transport, with higher taxes and fewer new roads.

Whether it’s back to decades-old labour law changes which give power to the unions and just add compliance costs.

Whether it’s the cost of living, where changes such as higher fuel taxes, rent increases and higher income taxes are costing some Kiwi families over $100 a week more.

And whether it’s the decision to shut down oil and gas exploration.

Each of these policies on their own are bad.

Together, they’re going to see more New Zealanders head overseas because there’ll be fewer and fewer opportunities here.

New Zealand can’t afford this Government.

National’s approach is very different.

I believe in sensible, consistent economic policies that provide clear direction and encourage businesses to grow.

Policies that deliver new infrastructure, support investment, drive exports and help grow skills – because that is how opportunities are created.

Those opportunities are hard won, but easily lost.

I talked earlier about the 30,000 people that were leaving for Australia every year just a decade ago – because Australia was where the opportunities were.

I’m proud we’ve been able to turn that around, by creating opportunity for our kids here at home.

But I tell you what, other countries aren’t sitting still waiting for this Government to get its act together.

Other countries want what we have, and we can’t afford three years lost to working groups and inquiries and uncertainty.

We certainly can’t afford six.

Under this Government, business confidence is already at its lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis – while in Australia it’s the highest it has been in 20 years.

We can’t let Australia beat us.

We need to keep pushing. Otherwise it is all too easy to become an also ran, a place where our kids don’t see a long-term future.

I worry all we’ll export to Australia is our young people.

I want my kids to raise their kids here. And I know you do too.

I’m always thinking about how we can make this country better for our children.

How we can create opportunity for all, and help New Zealanders realise their dreams and ambitions here.

As a father of three young children, I feel it.

I want more for them.

More choice, more opportunities and for them to lead the best life they can.

I want all our children to see a pathway to their success, whatever that may be.

For too many, that pathway can look bleak.

If Social Investment has taught us anything, it’s that some of our children have the odds stacked against them.

That without targeted help they won’t achieve their dreams.

I want to fight for a better future for those kids.

I want to fight for all our kids.

The forgotten, the naughty, the good, the exceptional.

They all count. They all matter to me.

It’s got to be about opportunity for all, here in New Zealand.

And that starts with education.

So I want to put a few ideas on the table.

Education is the future leveller.

It was for me – from Rutherford High in West Auckland to Oxford University – and it must be for our country’s children.

If a little person’s brain is nurtured and taught how to think and work and learn, that child can go on to achieve great things.

Giving them the best start in life matters more than anything.

The early years are vital, and I believe there is a lot that can be done to improve early childhood education.

It starts with a focus on quality.

Most centres do a good job of looking after our young children, but a few not doing good enough is a few too many in my book.

We need to know what is happening in every early childhood centre in the country.

National will invest more to make sure our kids get the best quality start to their education, but we will also demand nothing but the highest standards.

Or frankly the centre should close its doors.

The next step is improving our primary schools.

With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into.

The child that finds it hard to sit still and follow instructions.

The bright child that wants to be challenged.

The gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

What they all have in common, what they all need, is attention.

Attention from a teacher that has the time to acknowledge their individual needs and nurture them.

A teacher who can set a learning programme that is suited to the child, who isn’t so busy managing a room of too many young children that they can’t recognise the individual qualities that sit within all of them.

All our kids should get the individual attention they deserve.

That’s why I want more teachers in our primary schools, to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

Schools currently get one teacher for every 29 nine and ten year olds. It’s lower than that for younger children.

Those ratios should be reduced.

By giving our kids more attention, we can improve their education and set them up to take advantage of all the opportunities life throws at them.

Imagine the difference that would make to the children and to the teachers.

More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

Frankly, they need less Facebook and more face time.

Some will say that class size is less important than teacher quality.

Well I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive.

Teacher quality matters a lot, but I also believe that simply having more attention from teachers will make a difference to young children.

Sure older kids that are more self-managing can be in larger classes, but our young ones will be better off having more attention from their teacher.

After parents, teachers are often the most influential people in the lives of our children.

I come from a family of teachers – my mum, my sister and my brother. I want teachers to be highly respected professionals in our communities. They deserve that.

Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government in two years’ time.

We’ve got a two and a half year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.

This year is about listening.

We want to hear from you – parents and pupils, families and farmers, businesses and communities.

We want your views.

We want to talk and challenge ourselves, and contest ideas.

In education, our team led by Nikki Kaye will use that input to develop discussion documents next year, and our plans and policies for the 2020 election.

Unlike our opponents we welcome different views.

And unlike them before 2020 we will have made decisions and we will be ready to lead.

Delegates.

My team and I will be working hard to ensure the next government is National-led.

We will make every day count.

We want to undo the damage this Government is doing now.

Come election year we will have the detailed, thought out and costed ideas to do that.

We will show you we have the plans and the policies and the people to earn your support and continue to build the country you deserve.

This country can do better.

In fact we can be brilliant.

National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference.

I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.


Money where it matters

July 30, 2018

The National Party has committed to funding more primary school teachers when it returns to government.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.

Too many children start school unready to learn.

They don’t have the necessary language and social skills and current staffing levels stretch teachers to thinly to address their needs.

“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them. 

While deprived children need more help, so too do the bright and gifted.

“More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

“To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need less Facebook and more face time with teachers.

“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

More teachers by itself won’t make a big difference, unless there are enough to substantially reduce class sizes, but it will help as will improving the attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Teachers aren’t always valued. One reason for that is that teaching isn’t highly regarded as a profession and one reason for that is that their pay and conditions aren’t as good as those for many other professions.

Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.

“Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government. We’ve got a multi-year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.

“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.

“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”

Labour failed at Opposition, Its MPs spent more time there on in-fighting and self-sabotage than policy development.

It was ill-prepared for government and the policies it did have were ill-thought out.

There’s no better illustration of that than the fee-free tertiary education.

Every government does something stupid that even many of its supporters struggle to justify.

They don’t usually do it as early as Labour did with this policy and I hope that National has the courage to say they will drop it.

It would be hard for even those who directly benefit to say that the more than $2 billion that policy will cost would be better spent on them than on more teachers to give all children the best possible start at school.

Good governments put money where it matters.

Fee-free tertiary education doesn’t. More and better primary teachers do.


Quote of the day

July 30, 2018

A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone. Emily Bronte  who was born on this day in 1818.


July 30 in history

July 30, 2018

762  Baghdad was founded.

1419  First Defenestration of Prague.

1502 Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

1549 Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, was born (d. 1609).

1608  Samuel de Champlain shot and killed two Iroquois chiefs which set the tone for FrenchIroquois relations for the next 100 years.

1619  The first representative assembly in the Americas, the House of Burgesses, convened for the first time.

1629  An earthquake in Naples killed 10,000 people.

1733  The first Masonic Grand Lodge in what became the United States was constituted in Massachusetts.

1756 Bartolomeo Rastrelli presented the newly-built Catherine Palace to Empress Elizabeth and her courtiers.

1811  Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, leader of the Mexican insurgency, was executed by the Spanish.

1818 Emily Brontë, English novelist, was born (d. 1848).

1825 Malden Island was discovered.

1859 First ascent of Grand Combin.

1863 Henry Ford, American industrialist, was born (d. 1947).

1863 Indian Wars: Chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe signed the Treaty of Box Elder, agreeing to stop the harassment of emigrant trails in southern Idaho and northern Utah.

1864 American Civil War: Battle of the Crater – Union forces attempt edto break Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia by exploding a large bomb under their trenches.

1866 New Orleans’s Democratic government ordered police to raid an integrated Republican Party meeting, killing 40 people and injuring 150.

1871  The Staten Island Ferry Westfield’s boiler exploded, killing over 85 people.

1893 Fatima Jinnah, Pakistani Mother of the Nation, was born (d. 1967).

1898 Henry Moore, English sculptor, was born (d. 1986).

1916  Black Tom Island explosion in Jersey City.

1925 Alexander Trocchi, Scottish writer, was born (d. 1984).

1926 Christine McGuire, American singer (The McGuire Sisters), was born.

1930  Uruguay won the first Football World Cup.

1932  Premiere of Walt Disney’s Flowers and Trees, the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award winning cartoon short.

1935 Ted Rogers, English comedian and game show host, was born (d. 2001).

1940 Sir Clive Sinclair, English entrepreneur and inventor (pocket calculator, home computer), was born.

1941 Paul Anka, Canadian singer and composer, was born.

1945   Japanese submarine I-58 sank the USS Indianapolis, killing 883 seamen.

1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian-born American actor and 38th Governor of California, was born.

1950 Frank Stallone, American singer and actor, was born.

1953  Rikidōzan held a ceremony announcing the establishment of theJapan Pro Wrestling Alliance.

1956  A joint resolution of the U.S. Congress was signed by PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing In God We Trust as the U.S. national motto.

1958 Kate Bush, English singer/songwriter, was born.

1958 Daley Thompson, English decathlete, was born.

1965  US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid.

1969 Vietnam War: US President Richard M. Nixon made an unscheduled visit to South Vietnam and met  President Nguyen Van Thieu and U.S. military commanders.

1971  Apollo 15 Mission – David Scott and James Irwin on Apollo Lunar Module module, Falcon, landed with first Lunar Rover on the moon.

1971  An All Nippon Airways Boeing 727 and a Japanese Air Force F-86collided over Morioka killing 162.

1974  Watergate Scandal: US President Richard M. Nixon released subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the United States Supreme Court.

1974  Six Royal Canadian Army Cadetswere  killed and fifty-four injured in an accidental grenade blast at CFB Valcartier Cadet Camp.

1975  Three members of the Miami Showband and two gunmen were killed during a botched paramilitary attack in Northern Ireland.

1978  The 730 (transport), Okinawa changed its traffic on the right-hand side of the road to the left-hand side.

1979 Carless days were introduced in New Zealand to combat the second oil shock.

Carless days introduced Carless days introduced

1980 Vanuatu gained independence.

1980  Israel’s Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law

1997  Eighteen lives were lost in the Thredbo Landslide.

2003  In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line.

2006 World’s longest running music show Top of the Pops was broadcast for the last time on BBC Two after 42 years.

2006 Lebanon War: At least 28 civilians, including 16 children were killed by the Israeli Air Force in what Lebanese call the Second Qana massacre.

2009 A bomb exploded in Palma Nova, Mallorca, killing 2 police officers. Basque separatist group ETA was believed to be responsible.

2012 – A power grid failure left seven states in northern India without power, affecting 360 million people.

2014 – One hundred and fifty people were trapped after a landslide in the village of Ambe in the Pune district in India’s Maharashtra state with 20 killed.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


365 days of gratitude

July 29, 2018

The National Party held its 82nd conference this weekend.

I wasn’t able to attend and am sorry about that.

Party conferences are almost always lots of fun and a good way to meet old friends, make new ones and get re-energised as a volunteer.

Facebook and Twitter posts from members show there was plenty of that for those who were there.

What MPs do and say are an important sign of a party’s health, strength and unity. Equally important are the dedication and commitment of the volunteer wing.

Feedback I’ve had show that both the political and volunteer wings of the party are in good heart and I’m very grateful for that.

 


Word of the day

July 29, 2018

Midding – feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it—hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, chatting outside a party while others dance inside, resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting up front—feeling blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is okay, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.


Curiosity

July 29, 2018

Can I count on you to be there, no matter what? she said & I said no & she said what kind of friend are you? & I said the kind who won’t lie to you any time you want & I think she kept me around as a curiosity after that. – Curiosity © 2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

You can buy books, posters, cards, ornaments and more and sign up for a daily dose of whimsy like this by email at Story People.


Rural round-up

July 29, 2018

Three more infected properties – Sally Brooker:

This map shows where infected properties are under quarantine lock-down, as at Thursday last week. Map: Supplied

This map shows where infected properties are under quarantine lock-down, as at Thursday last week. Map: Supplied

A year and 100 official updates later, the central South Island is still in the grip of Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial cattle disease has never been far from the headlines since it was confirmed for the first time in New Zealand on a dairy farm near Morven on July 22 last year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, via its new Biosecurity New Zealand arm, released its ”Mycoplasma bovis response stakeholder update 100” late on Friday afternoon.

The map included showed Central Rural Life territory liberally sprinkled with blue blobs denoting infected properties.

The three latest ones discovered were all in Canterbury, connected to other known infections through animal movements. . .

MPI rules on transporting in-calf cows – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says transporting heavily pregnant cows affected by Mycoplasma bovis is a last resort.

New Zealand Veterinary Association members have been asked to certify late-gestation cows as being fit-for-transport to slaughter premises.

NZVA advised members not to certify within four weeks of the planned start of calving, even if the cows were caught up in the mass culling required to eradicate the disease. . .

 With supermarket groups reacting to fickle ginger group pressure, consumer options become inconsistent in the supermarket aisles, and local farmers lose out to lower standard imports –  Guy Trafford:

One of the issues current food producers have is trying to satisfy a number of masters. The New Zealand pork industry is a classic example.

The general public require that pigs are reared in what are perceived to be systems that meet animal welfare requirements and many consumers desire pork that has been reared in a free-range requirement. These aims to produce a more ‘ethical’ food come at a cost to the producer. . .

 Zespri chair awarded horticulture’s Bledisloe Cup:

An outstanding leader in the kiwifruit industry, Peter McBride, accepted horticulture’s premier award, the Bledisloe Cup, at the Horticulture Conference 2018 on Tuesday, 24 July.

Very similar to the famous rugby Bledisloe Cup, horticulture’s version was one of three cups Lord Bledisloe presented to New Zealand in 1931. . .

Seeka to Invest $18m in Northland Post Harvest Business:

Seeka Limited has announced plans to invest $18m in its Northland post harvest business over the next three years. Seeka is investing in new post harvest capacity, packing machines, packing shed and coolstores in Kerikeri. The investment will significantly lift the capacity of the business and give growers better harvest timing across all varieties handled – kiwifruit, avocados and citrus. The announcement was made to Seeka’s Northland growers meeting earlier this week with the Far North District Council Deputy Mayor, Tania McInnes, in attendance. . .

Wall to wall sunshine – Hannah Binns:

Yesterday the BBC Breakfast team visited our farm to learn about how the prolonged period of dry weather is effecting farmers (in particular livestock farmers) across the country.

Whilst Polly may have stolen the limelight with her best-behaviour and displays of affection for the presenter, the issue is extremely serious and worrying for all involved in British farming since everyone is in a similar situation. Don’t get me wrong, it has been lovely to have such nice weather – I can’t remember a summer when I wished it would rain!

Here’s why the recent weather is so problematic for livestock farmers up and down the UK – feel free to do a rain dance once you have finished reading! . .


Sunday soapbox

July 29, 2018

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

I do not at all udnerstand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us – Anne Lamott


July 29 in history

July 29, 2018

1014  Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars: Battle of Kleidion: Byzantine emperor Basil II inflicted a decisive defeat on the Bulgarian army.

1030  Ladejarl-Fairhair succession wars: Battle of Stiklestad – King Olaf II fought and died trying to regain his Norwegian throne from the Danes.

1565 The widowed Mary, Queen of Scots, married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

1567  James VI was crowned King of Scotland at Stirling.

1588 Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines – English naval forces under command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake defeated theSpanish Armada off the coast of Gravelines, France.

1693 War of the Grand Alliance: Battle of Landen – France won a Pyrrhic victory over Allied forces in the Netherlands.

1793  John Graves Simcoe decided to build a fort and settlement at Toronto.

1830  Abdication of Charles X of France.

1836  Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

1847 Cumberland School of Law was founded in Lebanon, Tennessee.

1848 Irish Potato Famine: Tipperary Revolt – an unsuccessful nationalist revolt against British rule was put down by police.

1851  Annibale de Gasparis discovered asteroid 15 Eunomia.

1858 United States and Japan signed the Harris Treaty.

1883 Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator, was born (d. 1945).

1891 Bernhard Zondek German-born Israeli gynecologist, developer of first reliable pregnancy test, was born (d. 1966).

1897 – The Huddart-Parker steamer Tasmania, sank off  Māhia Peninsula.

<em>Tasmania</em> sinks off Māhia with suitcase of jewels

1899  The First Hague Convention was signed.

1900 King Umberto I of Italy was assassinated by Italian-born anarchistGaetano Bresci.

1901  The Socialist Party of America founded.

1905 Stanley Kunitz, American poet, was born (d. 2006).

1907 Sir Robert Baden Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour. The camp ran from August 1-9, 1907, and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.

1920 Construction of the Link River Dam began as part of the Klamath Reclamation Project.

1921  Adolf Hitler became leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

1925 Mikis Theodorakis, Greek composer, was born.

1926 – Robert Kilpatrick, Baron Kilpatrick of Kincraig, Scottish physician, academic, and politician, was born (d. 2015).

1936 – Elizabeth Dole, American lawyer and politician, 20th United States Secretary of Labor, was born.

1937  Tongzhou Incident – assault on Japanese troops and civilians by Japanese-trained East Hopei Army in Tōngzhōu, China.

1945  The BBC Light Programme radio station was launched.

1948  – John Clarke, New Zealand-Australian comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter, was born (d. 2017).

1948 The Games of the XIV Olympiad – after a hiatus of 12 years caused by World War II, the first Summer Olympics to be held opened in London.

1957  The International Atomic Energy Agency was established.

1958  U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

1959  John Sykes, British guitarist (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Tygers of Pan Tang), was born.

1965  Tfirst 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrived in Vietnam.

1967 USS Forrestal caught on fire  killing 134.

1967  During the fourth day of celebrating its 400th anniversary, the city of Caracas, Venezuela was shaken by an earthquake, leaving approximately 500 dead.

1981 Up to 2000 anti-Springbok tour protestors were confronted by policewho used batons to stop them marching up Molesworth Street to the home of South Africa’s Consul to New Zealand.

Police baton anti-tour protesters near Parliament

1981 Marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.

1987  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand signed the agreement to build a tunnel under theEnglish Channel (Eurotunnel).

1988 The film Cry Freedom was seized by South African authorities.

1987  Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and President of Sri Lanka J. R. Jayawardene signed the Indo-Lankan Pact on ethnic issues.

1993  The Israeli Supreme Court acquitted alleged Nazi death camp guardJohn Demjanjuk of all charges.

2003 –  Moana Mackey entered the House of Representatives as a Labour Party list MP, joining  her mother, Janet Mackey, who had been a Labour MP since 1993. They became the first mother and daughter to serve together in New Zealand’s parliament.

Moana Mackey joins mother Janet in Parliament

2005  Astronomers announced their discovery of Eris.

2010 – An overloaded passenger ferry capsized on the Kasai River in Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, resulting in at least 80 deaths.

2013 – Two passenger trains collided in the Swiss municipality of Granges-près-Marnand near Lausanne injuring 25 people.

2015 – Microsoft released Windows 10.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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