Word of the day

March 11, 2019

Cicisbeo –  a married woman’s male companion or lover;


Thatcher thinks

March 11, 2019


Rural round-up

March 11, 2019

Silence on the land: Why are NZ Farmers quiet on the prospect of capital gains tax? –  Andrea Fox:

The proposed capital gains tax is a “mangy dog”, Federated Farmers says – but so far it hasn’t provoked much barking in the home paddocks.

Farmers have been almost silent – at least in public – on the spectre of a tax that, according to critics, will add unacceptably high costs and complexity to farmers’ already heavy compliance burden.

But don’t think for a minute they’ve accepted the idea of a tax on land sales.

The suggestion from farmers is that while some feel so hammered by central and local government lately they are shellshocked. Others are more relaxed. That’s because they know Coalition partner NZ First won’t support the recommendations from the Tax Working Group (TWG), for fear of being consigned to political history next year. . .

Aerial “no-till” project set to revolutionise NZ farming:

A successful trial of “no-till” helicropping showcased today in the Southern Waikato promises a step-change in the approach to pastoral farming in New Zealand – ensuring the protection of soils while maintaining productivity.

“We are effectively putting away the plough,” says Sustainable Helicropping Group Chairman, Colin Armer. “The aerial no-till approach means we can establish crops and renew pastures without touching the ground or disturbing precious soil, more like what happens in nature.”

Mr Armer says early results from the $1 million project have proven the potential to address the estimated 192 million tonnes of soil that are lost every year from erosion – according to the Ministry for the Environment’s Our Land 2018 report – 44% of which is from pastoral land. . . 

On the Farm: Our guide to what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

Each week our Country Life reporters talk to farmers and orchardists up and down the country about what’s happening in their area.

Northland’s  kumara need rain.  The harvest is 15 percent through and some moisture would help swell the size of the kumara. The up-side of the dry is it is easy to get them out of the ground.  The crop needs to be harvested by the end of May so there is only limited time to wait for rain and to get through it all.  Kumara have been very expensive in the past couple of years because of a lack of supply and  growers would love it if prices could ease a bit so it’s more affordable for everyone.   

Around Pukekohe the long dry spell continued until Thursday when some scattered showers drifted over the district but our south Auckland correspondent says they may get some “useful precipitation’ from the approaching cold front. He says much of the district’s cultivated land is bare except for irrigated paddocks where brassicas and lettuce are growing or are being planted.  . . 

Meat and dairy up in December:

The volume of meat and dairy product manufacturing rose in the December 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the December quarter. A 4.0 percent boost in meat and dairy product manufacturing led the rise.

“The meat and dairy industry rebounded after a strong fall in the September quarter,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 

If there’s no water what’s the point? Female farmers in Arizona – Debbie Weingarten and Audra Malkern:

By 9am, it’s already 100F (38C). In the desert afternoons, rain gathers on the horizon, teasing – and then it disappears. There is so much heaviness, so much waiting.

I pulled on to the ranch of Anastasia Rabin with Audra Mulkern, a Washington-based photographer and founder of the Female Farmer Project. We were on assignment for a story and chasing a statistic: according to the most recent US census, Arizona is the state with the highest proportion of female farm operators.

Despite the fact that women have always farmed, they have been left out of our agricultural narrative. An incomplete story has real consequences: women have been left off land titles and bank documents; they have been denied federal loans and training opportunities; and until the 1982 census of agriculture, female farmers were not counted at all. . .

LIC officially opens upgraded facility in Manawatu:

LIC’s semen processing centre in the Manawatu was officially opened this week following an injection of more than $1 million to upgrade the facilities.

LIC, a herd improvement and agritech co-operative, is the country’s largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services and dairy genetics.

The refurbishment will enable the dairy farmer-owned co-operative to enhance its export capabilities and use the centre as a back up to its main facilities in Hamilton if required. . . 

Cheaper to travel to Japan than stream the Rugby World Cup:

It will be cheaper for communities in some remote areas of New Zealand to travel to Japan than it will be to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Tim Johnson, CEO of Gravity – New Zealand’s only dedicated satellite broadband provider – says that apart from the challenges of doing homework and running a business in remote areas, capped broadband data rates would make it cheaper for some Kiwi’s to fly to Japan than it would to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

For Gravity Internet, who has as one of its shareholders former All Black Andrew ‘Andy’ Ellis, that scenario was intolerable. . . 


If not sacking AG must investigate

March 11, 2019

Shane Jones is in another spot of bother:

After declaring a conflict of interest in a proposed Northland cultural centre, Shane Jones sat through a meeting when ministerial colleagues decided on its multi-million dollar funding application, even giving reassurance about its governance.

Manea, Footprints of Kupe was among the first group of projects to be awarded cash from the Provincial Growth Fund, a $1 billion a year fund secured in coalition negotiations between Labour and NZ First, which is coming under increasing criticism. . . 

He has repeatedly said he stepped back from having involvement in the project and denied advocating for it.

But documents quietly posted on the website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) showed that Jones attended what appears to be the single ministerial meeting to determine the application.

“Minister [of Finance Grant] Robertson raised his concerns about the broader management and commercial operations of the project,” MBIE official Mark Patterson wrote.

“Minister Jones provided reassurance that as the project has Far North Holding Ltd, the commercial arm of the Far North District Council, involved in its governance structures, he was comfortable their presence would alleviate any concerns on the issue.”

Patterson added that MBIE would manage other concerns through milestone payments.

“Minister Robertson was comfortable to sign the briefing knowing this mitigation was in place.”

Less than a month after Davis announced the funding, Jones was asked by Act leader David Seymour whether he had held any discussions with his ministerial colleagues about Manea.

“I asked my colleagues to make the decision on that project in order to manage a conflict of interest”.

Later he said he “noted” the involvement of Far North Holdings to colleagues.

On Friday, Jones insisted he purely offered “statements of fact” in the meeting and he believed he had managed his conflict of interest, but acknowledged others would consider it appropriate to exit meetings altogether.

“You can physically exit or you can declare a conflict and let colleagues deal with the issue,” Jones said.

“I don’t believe my presence in any meeting with three other powerful ministers has any deterrent effect.” . . 

He might believe that but it doesn’t stop the perception that he used his influence when he declared a conflict of interest and ought to have not even been in the room.

[Act leader David] Seymour said the documents suggested Jones “was decisive” in seeing the funding go ahead to an organisation he had a prior association with.

“He actually provided reassurance to his colleagues, which is at stark odds with  his repeated assurances in Parliamentary questions that he’d recused himself from any role,” Seymour said, claiming Jones had breached the Cabinet manual.

“I don’t see how you can continue to be a minister when something as simple as a conflict of interest, you can’t manage.”

On Sunday morning, Seymour, called for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sack Jones.

“Shane Jones not only involved himself in an application in relation to which he had a conflict of interest, he also concealed this key meeting in answer to a written parliamentary question,” Seymour said.

Clare Curran was eventually sacked for a similar transgression.

National’s regional development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said it defeated the purpose of declaring a conflict of interest and delegating responsibility, “if a minister then engages fully in favour of a project which Shane Jones appears to have done”.

“We need a full explanation from Shane Jones of his involvement in this project from start to finish.” . . 

 Seymour and the Taxpayers’ Union have both called for the Auditor General to investigate:

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Ministers have it drilled into them that when it comes to decisions that involve a personal interest, they shouldn’t be in the room, let alone provide advice and ‘reassurances’. Shane Jones’ behaviour will give taxpayers zero confidence that the Growth Fund is being spent impartially or for economic good.”

“Businesses across the country will look at this example, along with other Growth Fund handouts, and figure that the key to profitability is cosy relationships with the political class. That is the path to cronyism and corruption.”

“The Prime Minister mustn’t let her Government’s reliance on NZ First lead to an open season on taxpayer funds. She should call in the Auditor General to investigate Shane Jones’ actions, and be prepared to strip him of his Regional Economic Development portfolio if necessary.” . . 

The Provincial Growth Fund is a $3 billion fund which has been criticised several times for doling out money without the usual cost-benefit appraisal and rigour which should precede largesse with taxpayers’ money.

The Prime Minister dilly-dallied before sacking Clare Curran.

Given the sensitivities with New Zealand First, it is unlikely she will act on the calls to sack the minister over this matter so it is up to the Auditor General to investigate.


Quote of the day

March 11, 2019

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity. –  Douglas Adams who was born on this day in 1952.


March 11 in history

March 11, 2019

1387 Battle of Castagnaro: English condottiero Sir John Hawkwood led Padova to victory in a factional clash with Verona.

1649 The Frondeurs and the French government signed the Peace of Rueil.

1702 The Daily Courant, the UK’s first national daily newspaper was published for the first time.

1708 Queen Anne withheld Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, the last time a British monarch vetoed legislation.

1824 The United States War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1845 Hone Heke cut down the British flag pole for the fourth time. He and Kawiti were leading figures in the attack which resulted in the  fall of Kororareka.

The fall of Kororareka

1848 Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin became the first Prime Ministers of the Province of Canada to be democratically elected under a system of responsible government.

1851 The first performance of Rigoletto, written by Verdi.

1864 The Great Sheffield Flood: The largest man-made disaster ever to befall England killed more than 250 people.

1867  The first performance of Don Carlo written by Verdi.

1872 – Kathleen Clarice Groom, Australian-English author and screenwriter, was born (d. 1954).

1872 Construction of the Seven Sisters Colliery, South Wales, started; located on one of the richest coal sources in Britain.

1884 – The New Zealand Freethought Association was founded.

New Zealand Freethought Association founded

1888 The Great Blizzard of 1888 began along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.

1903 Ronald Syme, New Zealand classicist and historian, was born (d. 1989).

1915 J. C. R. Licklider, American computer scientist and Internet pioneer, was born (d. 1990).

1916 Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born. (d. 1995)

1916  Ezra Jack Keats, children’s  author, was born (d. 1983).

1917   Baghdad fell to the Anglo-Indian forces commanded by GeneralStanley Maude.

1927 Samuel Roxy Rothafel opened the Roxy Theatre in New York.

1931 Rupert Murdoch, Australian-born entrepreneur, was born.

1941  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law, allowing American-built war supplies to be shipped to the Allies on loan.

1945 The Imperial Japanese Navy attempted a large-scale kamikaze attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Ulithi atoll in Operation Tan No. 2.

1952 Douglas Adams, English writer, was born (d. 2001).

1958 Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, interim President of Iraq, was born.

1977 The 1977 Hanafi Muslim Siege: more than 130 hostages held in Washington, D.C., by Hanafi Muslims are set free after ambassadors from three Islamic nations join negotiations.

1978 Coastal Road massacre: At least 37 were killed and more than 70 are wounded when Al Fatah hijack an Israeli bus, prompting Israel’s Operation Litani.

1985 Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet Union’s leader.

1990 Lithuania declared itself independent from the Soviet Union.

1990 Patricio Aylwin was sworn-in as the first democratically elected Chilean president since 1970.

1993 Janet Reno was confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn-in the next day, becoming the first female Attorney General of the United States.

1999 – Infosys becomes the first Indian company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

2004  Simultaneous explosions on rush hour trains in Madrid  killed 191 people.

2006 Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as first female president of Chile.

2009 Winnenden school shooting – 17 people were killed at a school in Germany.

2011 – An earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude strikes 130 km (81 mi) east of Sendai, Japan, triggering a tsunami killing thousands of people. This event also triggered the second largest nuclear accident in history, and one of only two events to be classified as a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

2012 – A US soldier killed 16 civilians in the Panjwayi District of Afghanistan near Kandahar.

2014 – Russia annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Leading to the 2014 Crimean crisis and 2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

2016 – At least 21 people were killed by flooding and mudslides in and around São Paulo, Brazil, following heavy rain.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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