Word of the day

August 14, 2019

Lechercraft – an act of promiscuity; a one-night stand.


Sowell says

August 14, 2019


Rural round-up

August 14, 2019

Mainland venison marketer calls China home – Sally Rae:

When Hunter McGregor established a business in China four years ago, it was pioneering stuff.

Mr McGregor runs a Shanghai-based venison importing and distribution business, working with specialist New Zealand venison producer Mountain River Venison.

There was no market for venison in China and so it had been about creating both interest and demand for the product – “because it doesn’t sell itself”.

What he has also found is that running a business in China is getting harder. And that, quite simply, was “because it’s China”. “It’s the way things are,” he said. . . 

Looming 6A plan deadline pushed out – Sally Rae:

A significant milestone looms for rural landowners in April next year when new obligations are scheduled to come in to play to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s 6A plan change for rural water quality. But if a proposal from staff, headed to a council meeting this month, gets approval from councillors, that date will be pushed out to April 2023, as rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In a nutshell, Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner says parts of the much-discussed 6A are working really well – but other parts are not.

And with the deadline just months away, the council did not believe it could enforce what was due to come into effect.

Talking to the Otago Daily Times ahead of the council meeting, Ms Gardner stressed the ORC was “absolutely not” walking away from its responsibilities around water quality, which remained its number one priority. . . 

Fonterra’s losses provide more questions than answers – Keith Woodford:

The forthcoming asset write downs of more than $800 million announced on 12 August by Chairman John Monaghan are clearly damaging to Fonterra’s balance sheet. It also means that Fonterra will now make a loss for the year of around $600 million. However, the implications go much further than that.

The losses mean that Fonterra will need to sell more assets to bring its ‘debt to asset ratio’ under control. The losses also ping back to the balance sheets of its farmer members, where the Fonterra shares are assets against which these farmer members have their own debts. Many dairy farmers are already struggling with their balance sheets, with banks now requiring debt repayments on loans that used to be interest-only.

If these write downs are the full story, then Fonterra will survive. The big question is whether these are all of the write downs, both for now and the foreseeable future. . . 

Farmers are getting more milk from each cow – they deserve a much better performance from Fonterra  –  Point of Order:

This   is the second  chapter  in the  woes  of  Fonterra, and  behind  it   the  dairy industry,  on  which the  New Zealand  economy is  so  dependent.

Point of Order   listed  some of those  woes    last  week.  Now, in the  wake  of  the latest  revelation,  Fonterra  will  have to absorb a loss of between $590m and $675m for the current financial year.

Critics   of the industry have  sprung  to the attack:  Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones is calling Fonterra’s management “corporate eunuchs” and labels Fonterra’s board as “grossly inept”. . . 

Meat prices drive increase in overall food price index:

Rising meat prices drove food prices up in July 2019, Stats NZ said today.

Meat and poultry prices rose 2.8 percent, with higher prices for chicken, lamb, and beef, partly offset by falling pork prices.

Chicken pieces were a big driver of the monthly price rise, up 7.0 percent. The weighted average price in July was $8.61 per kilogram compared to June ($8.05 per kilo). As well as being a big contributor to the monthly change, chicken pieces were up 8.8 percent annually. In July 2018, the weighted average price for chicken pieces was $7.91 per kilogram.

Lamb chop prices reached an all-time high in July, up 1.7 percent. The weighted average price was $17.70 per kilogram compared with $17.41 in June and $16.33 a year ago. . . 

Finding the Will to Live

When Elle Perriam’s partner ended his own life in 2017, she set about changing the lives of others, embarking on a national tour in June to encourage farmers to ‘Speak Up’

New Zealand is in what can only be called a mental health crisis. Around 500 New Zealanders per year die by suicide, and we have some of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD. The statistics are even worse in the rural demographic, where suicide rates are 20–50 per cent higher than in urban areas. The pressures of agriculture, coupled with the typical stoic, silent culture that permeates rural New Zealand can mean that those who are struggling often find it difficult to seek help, or to talk about their private battles. Geographical isolation can also be a factor, with some farm workers employed on remote high-country stations for months at a time with limited off-farm contact.

In December 2017, 21-year-old North Otago farm worker Will Gregory tragically ended his life, leaving his family, friends and girlfriend Elle Perriam devastated. Following Will’s death, Elle, a Lincoln University student, looked for a way to create positive change in the rural mental health sector, and the idea for the ‘Will to Live Speak Up Tour’ was born. Elle, with the help of her sister Sarah, launched the tour at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival in October 2018, with Will’s black Huntaway Jess as mascot. . . 

It’s a tough time being a farmer these days – Kate Hawkesby:

It’s a tough time to be a farmer these days. I really feel for them. Sure, they’ve been through lots of good and bad times, that’s the nature of farming, but it feels like this current climate is really tough.

Farming seems under fire from the government in a changing climate of new taxes, regulations, rules. it costs more to be on a farm these days. And that’s before we even get to Fonterra.

After massive write-downs of its assets, Fonterra’s forecasting a huge loss this financial year of around $675 million. That’s the second biggest loss since it began 20 years ago. No dividends will be paid to shareholders this financial year. . .


Census debacle claims Stats NZ’s head’s head

August 14, 2019

The Government Statistician and Chief Executive of Stats NZ, Liz MacPherson has resigned after the release of the report reviewing last year’s census debacle.

“As leader of this organisation, I take full responsibility for the shortfalls identified in the report,” said Ms MacPherson.

“We were too optimistic, placed too much emphasis on the online census, and did not have robust contingency plans in place for when things started to go wrong. When that happened, problems were not escalated to a higher level. We also failed our Treaty partners because we did not convert engagement with Māori into actual census responses.

“Put simply, we didn’t make it easy enough for everyone to take part and that will be a key focus for the next census.

“As the reviewers say, we got some things wrong at a time of great change during the switch to a more digitally-focused data collection approach. I accept the findings. We let ourselves and New Zealand down. . .

This is a commendable display of accountability.

Accepting responsibility is appropriate and appreciated by Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke:

This is sad but the right thing to do in the circumstances. There has to be accountability in the public sector, especially in the case of a chief exec that earns over $400,000. Today we see an example of that.”

“Running a census every five years is Stats NZ’s largest responsibility. Taxpayers will expect the next chief exec to focus on this core service, which should mean directing resources away from the department’s more wishy-washy work like measuring ‘spiritual health’.”

There was little option by the head’s resignation when the report says:

. . .It is our view that weaknesses in overall governance and strategic leadership at the programme level led to a series of decisions, some influenced by the North Canterbury earthquake, that when taken together ultimately compromised the achievement of the investment objectives and several important key performance indicators. It is also our view that some elements of the programme design introduced unnecessary complexity that made it difficult to execute and for citizens to respond. . .

But shouldn’t the Stats Minister be accountable too?

Statistics Minister James Shaw needs to take responsibility for his part in the abysmal handling of the Census 2018 debacle, National’s Statistics spokesperson Dr Jian Yang says.

“The resignation of Chief Statistician Liz MacPherson is appropriate given how badly Census 2018 was botched. But she should not be a scapegoat for James Shaw whose failure to show leadership played a significant part in this mess.

“The Minister needed to be more involved in his department. He should have asked more questions of his Statistics NZ leadership team and demanded better results from them.

“But he chose to be a hands-off Minister instead. He was missing in action when things were going wrong – off on a Pacific Island junket while his officials were left to clean things up.

“He let things spiral out of control to the point where much of the data may no longer be useful. That creates enormous problems for the billions of dollars in funding for health, education, police and other vital services that depend on reliable Census numbers.

“This failure also has massive implications for the next election with reliable data required to draw accurate electoral boundaries and decide the number of seats in Parliament.

“James Shaw was too relaxed about the problem. He brushed off any criticism as ‘scaremongering’, but today’s damning report shows there were very real issues he wasn’t across.”

When a department is carrying out its major undertaking, and doing it differently, the Minister ought to take a much closer interest than he appeared to have done.

It would also have been better had Stats NZ taken a more cautious approach to expecting people to respond on-line.

We were in the area chosen for a trial of the on-line census in 2013.

Officially it went well but locals involved told me there were big holes, not least in central Oamaru where most of the large Tongan population went uncounted.

There ought to have been enough warning signs from that to have a lot more staff on the ground with paper forms and to ensure that at the very least households which didn’t return forms received personal visits.

Not everyone has access to a computer; some people who do, use them for little more than emails; others are loathe to use them for anything involving personal data.

The first nation-wide  on-line census would have been better had people been given a choice between filling in paper forms or doing it on-line.

It wasn’t and so we’ve got huge holes in information and more than a year’s delay in the first release of data which includes the population numbers required for the updating of electoral boundaries.

That means that parties either wait to do candidate selection or risk having to re-do some close to the election when, as inevitable, at least one new electorate is created and others undergo major boundary changes.

Worse still, funding for health, education and social services are being compromised with no reliable population data.

This has been a very sorry saga the only good from which will be if lessons learned bring changes that ensure the next census results in a much better response rate and better data sooner.


Quote of the day

August 14, 2019

You know in politics you are dealing in the realm of choices. You don’t always have clear-cut decision between a thoroughly principled position and a thoroughly unprincipled one. You’re making snap decisions with paucity of information, generally trying to do the best that you can, but you will make errors, and sometimes it’s a decision between a bad and a worse alternative. It has to be done, because we need to order our society, and of politics it can literally be said: Bad job, but someone’s got to do it. – Peter Costello who celebrates his 62nd birthday today.


August 14 in history

August 14, 2019

1183  Taira no Munemori and the Taira clan took the young Emperor Antoku and the three sacred treasures and fled to western Japan to escape pursuit by the Minamoto clan.

1385 – Portuguese Crisis of 1383–1385: Battle of Aljubarrota – Portuguese forces commanded by King João I and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilian army of King Juan I.

1598  Nine Years War: Battle of the Yellow Ford – Irish forces under Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, defeated an English expeditionary force under Henry Bagenal.

1842 Indian Wars: Second Seminole War ended.

1846  The Cape Girardeau meteorite, a 2.3 kg chondrite-type meteorite struck near in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

1848  – Margaret Lindsay Huggins, Anglo-Irish astronomer and author, was born (d. 1915).

1867 John Galsworthy, English novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate, was born (d. 1933).

1880  Construction of Cologne Cathedral was completed.

1885  Japan’s first patent was issued to the inventor of a rust-proof paint.

1888  A recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan’s The Lost Chord, one of the first recordings of music ever made, was played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison’s phonograph in London.

1891 Petitions organised by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union(WCTU) seeking women’s suffrage and signed by a total of 9000 women were presented to New Zealand’s Parliament.

Women's vote petitions presented to Parliament

1893  France introduced motor vehicle registration.

1900  A joint European-Japanese-United States force (Eight-Nation Alliance) occupied Beijing, in a campaign to end the Boxer Rebellion.

1901  The first claimed powered flight, by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21.

1908  The first beauty contest was held in Folkestone.

1912   U.S. Marines invaded Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government.

1921  Tannu Tuva, later Tuvinian People’s Republic was established as a completely independent country.

1933  Loggers caused a forest fire in the Coast Range of Oregon – the first forest fire of the Tillamook Burn.

1935  United States Social Security Act passes, creating a government pension system for the retired.

1936 Rainey Bethea was hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last public execution in the United States.

1937 Chinese Air Force Day: The beginning of air-to-air combat of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II in general, when 6 Imperial Japanese Mitsubishi G3M bombers were shot down by the Nationalist Chinese Air Force.

1941 David Crosby, American musician, was born.

1941 Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter of war stating postwar aims.

1945  Steve Martin, American actor and comedian, was born.

1945 Japan accepted the Allied terms of surrender  and the Emperor recorded the Imperial Rescript on Surrender.

1946 Susan Saint James, American actress, was born.

1947  – Danielle Steel, American author, was born.

1947  Pakistan and India gained Independence from the British Indian Empire and joined the British Commonwealth.

1948  Don Bradman, widely regarded as the best cricket batsman in history, makes a duck in his final Test innings.

1950  Gary Larson, American cartoonist (The Far Side), was born.

1957 – Peter Costello, Australian lawyer and politician, 35th Treasurer of Australia, was born.

1959 – Magic Johnson, American basketball player and coach, was born.

1960 – Sarah Brightman, English singer-songwriter and actress, was born.

1966 – Halle Berry, American model, actress, and producer, Miss World United States 1986, was born.

1967  UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act declared participation in offshore pirate radio illegal.

1969 British troops were deployed in Northern Ireland.

1972  An East German Ilyushin Il-62 crashed during takeoff from East Berlin, killing 156.

1980  Lech Wałęsa led strikes at the Gdańsk shipyards.

1987  All the children held at Kia Lama, a rural property on Lake Eildon, Australia, run by the Santiniketan Park Association, were released after a police raid.

1994 Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal“, was captured.

2003  Wide scale power blackout in the northeast United States and Canada.

2006  Chencholai bombing – 61 Tamil girls were killed in Sri Lankan Air Force bombing.

2007   Kahtaniya bombings killed at least 400 people.

2010 –  2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games, first ever Youth Olympics, officially started in Singapore.

2011 – A polar blast swept through New Zealand.

Polar blast sweeps the country

2013 – Egypt declared a state of emergency as security forces killed hundreds of demonstrators supporting former president Mohamed Morsi.

2015 – The US Embassy in Havana, Cuba re-opened after 54 years of being closed when Cuba–United States relations were broken off.

2018 – Thirty-five people die when a bridge connecting Genoa with Liguria in northern Italy collapsed

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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