365 days of gratitude

July 27, 2018

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength. Corrie ten Boom:

Today I’m grateful for a solution to something that although relatively minor was niggling enough to empty the day of its strength.

In searching for an apposite quote I came across the story of Cornelia Arnolda Johanna (Corrie) ten Boom and I’m also grateful for the inspiration of that.

 


15 years fomenting happy mischief

July 27, 2018

Kiwiblog marks 15 years of David Farrar’s fomenting happy mischief * today.

To maintain both the quantity and quality of posts every day for so long is no small achievement.

David has a readership that would be the envy of many professional pundits and media outlets.

His blog is one of relatively few that is consistently well reasoned and reasonable.

He is partisan but will give credit and criticism where it’s due regardless of political hue.

His was the first blog I ever read, it’s one I read every day and I look forward to the next 15 years and beyond of essential reading.

* Fomenting happy mischief was adopted by David as a slogan after a letter to the NZ Herald by Peter Davis, husband of then-PM Helen Clark, accused the paper of doing that.

 


Word of the day

July 27, 2018

Selenelion – an uncommon type of lunar eclipse when both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time; a lunar eclipse occurring as the moon sets, simultaneously with sunrise; blood moon.

Weather permitting, southerners will see a selenelion at about 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Dr Duncan Steel, of Otago’s Centre for Space Science Technology, said this might be figured impossible, given an eclipse occurred when the sun, Earth and moon were all in a straight line.

“If the moon is above the horizon then the sun must surely be below it – but the bending of the rays of light caused by our atmosphere makes it feasible to see both the eclipsed moon and the sun at the same time, so long as you are in the right place.”

The areas of our planet from which this can be experienced were very limited, because the total lunar eclipse must be ongoing at the time of moonset and sunrise.

“In this case, the further south you are in New Zealand the better, with Otago and Southland being favoured.”

In Auckland, the eclipse would still be partial as the moon disappeared below the horizon.

For those in areas from Whanganui to Wellington, there was just a slim chance of glimpsing the totally-eclipsed moon as the sun peeked above the horizon.

The opportunity was longer in the southernmost parts of the country. . . 


Rural round-up

July 27, 2018

Renewed calls for essential rural healthcare:

A petition calling on the Government to deliver for rural New Zealanders and provide essential healthcare for 600,000 rural New Zealanders has been tabled in Parliament by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

“Rural New Zealanders remain frustrated with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor’s failure to ensure vital health services are provided to rural New Zealand and are angry about the Government’s decision not to continue funding for the Rural Health Alliance. . .

’Best science since Rutherford split the atom’ – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand scientists are trialling genetically modified ryegrass they believe could revolutionise agriculture.

South Canterbury farmer, biotechnologist, and former Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston says it’s the best Kiwi science since Ernest Rutherford split the atom.

AgResearch has developed a ryegrass with high metabolisable energy (HME) that can grow up to 50% more quickly than conventional ryegrass, store more energy, be more drought-resistant, and produce up to 23% less methane. . .

Farmers keen to expand tech use – Toni Williams:

Electronic identification tags, scanning wands, weighing scales, farm business courses and drone use to check on animal welfare are all management tools used by Mt Somers deer farmers Duncan and Lorna Humm to improve, and add value, to their deer operation.

The young couple run a deer farm on a 43ha property, nestled near the foothills of the Southern Alps. Duncan isa fourth-generation farmer. The farm has been in his family since the mid-1960s, after his great grandparents moved from dairy farming near Kaikoura.

His parents, Christina and Bryan — now retired — ran sheep and cattle before diversifying a section of the property to deer in the 1990s. . . 

Making the leap from city to country:

Chloe Mackle was scared of the dark and anything that moved – but when she was challenged to try dairy farming, she decided to go for it.

Chloe Mackle After growing up in North Shore, Auckland, her first day on the job was a massive learning curve. “

All I knew was that my milk came in a bottle and my meat in a packet,” says Chloe. Now she is a farm manager and likes nothing better than working with cows and hanging out with her golden Labrador Nala . . .

Golden Shears on silver screen – Beckie Wilson:

Shearing a sheep is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that is what documentary director Jack Nicol hoped to prove in his new movie, She Shears.

Following the life of five female shearers gunning for glory at the Golden Shears, the portrayal of each woman is “quite delightful”, according to Masterton-based champion shearer Jills Angus Burney.

Angus Burney is one of the five whose story is told in the movie, produced by Miss Conception, which will be shown to the public for the first time next month at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“Part of my role is the narrator, because I’m the old bag who retired,” she said. . .

Trade war chickens home to roost: Billions of pounds of meat fill US warehouses with nowhere to go:

More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry produced by US farmers have been stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses with the amount expected to grow further, according to the latest federal data.

Record production of beef, pork, poultry and turkey has become increasingly dependent on exports as US consumers cannot buy up the huge amount of meat. That would drive down prices for American consumers, restaurants and retailers. However, the recent import tariffs imposed by the country’s trade partners on the wide range of US goods, including agricultural produce, have slowed down sales of US meat and poultry abroad. . .


Principles pay price of power

July 27, 2018

The Green Party has paid for power with the loss of its principles in supporting the waka jumping legislation.

. . .Labour promised to support the waka jumping legislation in its coalition agreement with NZ First, but the legislation is not covered in its agreement with the Green Party.

However, a clause in the agreement seemingly holds the Greens to supporting any legislation not specifically flagged in the coalition talks, meaning the Greens MPs feel they have to vote for the waka jumping bill. . .

Have they voted for every piece of government legislation so far and will they continue to do so?

Didn’t they vote against the CPTTP? If they could stick to their principles then, when they were in the wrong, why not now when they’d be in the right?

It’s understood that the Green negotiators were asked to produce a list of potential NZ First legislation they could not agree with during coalition talks, and did not think to include Waka Jumping as it had been so long since the law had been an issue.

That was at best naive.

Former Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was part of the negotiating team, said earlier this year the agreement did not in fact force the Greens into supporting the bill.

Then why are they doing it?

Green MP Eugenie Sage said “we don’t like it” but it was “very important” to one of the coalition parties.

“It is a dead rat they we have to swallow,” Sage said.

The Greens have long opposed such legislation. . .

Proponents argue that it maintains the proportionality of Parliament while opponents say it stifles democracy.

If maintaining proportionality was so important, National would have got another list MP when Peters won the seat of Northland. Instead of which NZ First got another MP.

National MP Nick Smith said the Greens had “sold their soul” and were “trashing their core values.”

“We’ve never before had a party saying it opposed a bill – leat alone a bill that makes changes to our electoral law and constitution where they are oppose to it but are going to vote it anyway.

“This is the Green Party selling its soul for power,” Smith said.

“They are the last party I would expect to do this.”

He goes further in a media release:

Government changes to New Zealand MMP electoral law enabling a party leader to dismiss an MP would break the constitutional law Allied Powers put in place following the end of the Second World War, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says.

“The Government cannot justify this draconian law change on the basis of MMP. Germany has had MMP for over 70 years and has no such provisions. In fact, the Human Rights Commission has drawn to Parliament’s attention that it would be ironic and wrong for New Zealand to have insisted on specific democratic protections in Germany, but to be breaching those protections at home,” Dr Smith says.

It is not just Germany that has constitutional protections for MPs’ free speech. The European Court has over-ridden similar laws like those being proposed for New Zealand as undemocratic. The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea struck down similar laws there in 2010.

New Zealand is putting itself in the company of totalitarian states like Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sierra Leone with these electoral law changes.

That isn’t company any country, government or party that stands up for democratic rights would want to be in.

In these countries, Members of Parliament have been dismissed for challenging corruption in their own Government, for participating in a press conference without their leaders consent and for voting in Parliament differently to how their leaders instructed them. The Government is opening up the risk of this happening in New Zealand.

“New Zealanders should be deeply concerned that changes are being made to our electoral law that would be illegal and unconstitutional in most parts of the world. At a time when autocratic rulers are on the rise, New Zealand should be strengthening and not weakening our protections for democracy and free speech.

“This draconian bill that the Government accepts will have a ‘chilling effect on the expression of dissenting views by MPs’ must be abandoned.”

The select committee received submission after submission from legal experts, academics and a broad cross-section of people concerned for this assault on democracy.

And all because New Zealand First’s leader Winston Peters is so insecure and distrustful of his caucus.

Labour swallowed the dead rat in coalition negotiations. Green Party MPs are facing up to swallowing it now so the legislation will go through.

Their members won’t be happy but they are the ones who wouldn’t have countenanced the party going with National.

Had they agreed to a blue-green government they would have got several conservation gains, including the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Instead of which they’re watching their MPs dine on a large dead rat and wondering what other principles they might sacrifice as the price of power.


John Wilson stands down as Fonterra chair

July 27, 2018

John Wilson  has announced that he is standing down as Fonterra chair immediately and will retire from the board in November.

In an email to shareholders he said:

  • I have made the difficult decision to stand down as your Chairman to recover from a recent serious health scare.
  • Within the last month I have undergone a significant surgery.
  • I have made a very good recovery and am well but need on-going treatment.
  • I have been humbled by the support of my fellow Directors, and after deep discussions with them and with my family, I have decided to stand down as Chairman as of today and will retire from the Board at the Annual Meeting in November.
  • It has been a privilege to serve you as Chairman and give something back to this great Co-operative that continues to give my family and me so much.
  • As many of you will know from experience, governance roles are incredibly rewarding, but equally demanding on the individual and their families.
  • Continuing as Chairman when I cannot put my full energy and attention into the role is not appropriate.
  • I look forward to spending more time back on the farm with Belinda and the girls.
  • Long standing director, John Monaghan has been selected by the Board as the new Chairman of Fonterra.
  • John, who has been on the Board since 2008, has been closely involved in the process to appoint a new CEO to Fonterra and will now be responsible for advancing this appointment with the full involvement and support of the Board.
  • I know you will join me in putting your full support behind John and the Board as he leads the Co-operative through this critical period of CEO transition, the DIRA review, farmer flexibility, and the vision and purpose work alongside the Shareholders’ Council.

Fonterra is facing criticism from outside but the shareholders who are the farmers who supply the milk can’t argue with the second highest payout and John Wilson must get credit for that.

It is New Zealand’s only internationally rated company and the country ought to be proud of it.

It is constrained by some of the conditions of the DIRA regulations and the review is an opportunity to fix that.

A serious health scare is a serious business and he is doing the right thing for himself, his family and the company by standing down as chair. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Fonterra is in the process of appointing a new chief executive.

It isn’t always ideal to replace both the chair and CE at the same time.

But if a board is functioning properly and all board members are pulling their weight there ought to be no problems with new people in both positions.

John Monaghan served as chair of the Shareholders Council and has both the skills and experience to lead Fonterra well.

 


Quote of the day

July 27, 2018

Of all fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing. Hilaire Belloc who was born on this day in 1870.


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