Word of the day


Telluric – of or relating to the earth; terrestrial; being or relating to a usually natural electric current flowing near the earth’s surface; of or proceeding from the earth or soil.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Ag-Proud founder says rural-urban goodwill already exists – Logan Savory:

Ag-Proud founder John Douglas says they have discovered there is more goodwill, when it comes to New Zealand’s rural and urban folk, than initially thought.

Douglas, along with three others in the Southland farming sector – Jon Pemberton, Jason Herrick, and Jason Checketts – setup Ag-Proud in August.

The point of the organisation was to try to develop some goodwill between those in the rural farming sector and those in the cities. . . 

Making change for the better – Deborah Rhodes:

Farmers are change adaptive, we can make change for the better. When we see a problem we fix it, when something is broken we rebuild it.

Heritage farmers have focused not just on change but improvements for the better, of knowing the challenges and taking them on.

When we see neighbours and locals in need, we wrap around them, when we need labour we provide them with on farm housing because that is what farmers do, and that is what we will keep doing. . .

Expert sees apple varieties blossom and fade over time:

John Wilton starts each day with an apple – and he knows which ones to choose.

John’s been a horticultural consultant for 57 years and was MAF’s national pipfruit and summer fruit specialist for 15 years.

Carol Stiles headed out to an orchard with John to hear about the state of the apple industry and the changes growers have seen.

When John started working on apple orchards in 1962, most of the trees had been planted before WW1. . . 

Gisborne forestry firm fined, council’s lack of action ‘irresponsible’:

A Gisborne forestry company has been fined $152,000 for contributing logging debris that caused millions of dollars of damage during two heavy rainfall events.

Juken New Zealand is one of 10 companies prosecuted by Gisborne District Council after tonnes of debris – known as slash – washed onto farms, roads and waterways in June last year.

In his sentencing notes, Judge Brian Dwyer said Gisborne District Council’s failure to monitor Juken is reprehensible and irresponsible, and it failed to meet its obligations by ensuring the company kept to its consent conditions. . . 

Manawatu strategy wins award :

The Manawatu Agritech Strategy, created by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Sprout, has won the Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning at Economic Development New Zealand’s annual Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards.

The award was presented at the Economic Development New Zealand delivering inclusive growth conference. Ten organisations were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the wellbeing and prosperity of their communities.

“Having the Manawatu Agritech Strategy recognised for integrated planning is a testament to the leadership, people and organisations in the region who were involved in its creation. This is a win for all of us,” CEDA chief executive Linda Stewart said. . . 

Animal feeding testing upgrade:

New Zealand feed manufacturers are lifting their game when it comes to quality and safety of their products.

New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) has introduced a new risk management programme that sees significant upgrades to the auditing and testing conducted by feed manufacturers.

The move comes as more imported non-grain ingredients arrive in the country. . . 

Top women wanted :

A celebration of women who make outstanding contributions to the dairy industry enters its ninth year as nominations for the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year are now open.

The prestigious award, which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy, was established in 2012 by the Dairy Women’s Network as a key strand in its support of women in their leadership journeys through providing inspiration, learning and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton said she was inspired by the high calibre of last year’s finalists and is looking forward to see who will be nominated for the 2020 awards. . .

Jingle Bells Kiwi Style


The Polkadots give a New Zealand summer twist to the northern winter Christmas song:

Less quality more quantity less delivered


We’re spending more but have nothing to show for. This is Steven Joyce’s view and as a former Finance Minister he knows what he’s talking about:

Many of us have friends or family members that just “aren’t good with money”.

They earn a good income but somehow it all slips through their fingers and they never have anything to show for it except a maxxed out credit card.

This government is starting to look like one of those friends.

It’s not like they don’t have a good income, courtesy of the tax we all pay. The Government’s half-yearly update this week shows that by 2022 they’ll have collected at least $10 billion more tax than was predicted by Treasury before the last election.

Unfortunately, they are spending it even faster. The amount they are going to spend across the four years to 2022, according to official government numbers, is now $19b more than was in their own fiscal plan prior to the election. Alert readers will recall much wailing and gnashing of teeth when someone had the temerity to suggest they would spend $11b more than their own plan. We are now well past that point.  

This government fell into the $11b hole and they’re making it bigger.

Debt is now predicted to top out at $78b, as against the $68b they predicted at election time two years ago, and an expected surplus of $6b for the current year is now projected to be a deficit.

All this wouldn’t be so bad if the government had something to show for it. But just like our friend with the big spending habit, it seems to have all slipped through their fingers.  

More and better infrastructure, health, education, housing, fewer people on welfare, fewer in poverty . . .  would be something to show for their big spending but that’s not what they’ve delivered.

All the key performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of government spending are currently going backwards. State Housing wait lists, poverty numbers and numbers on welfare are all growing. The big hospital metrics like emergency wait times and elective surgery numbers are deteriorating. The performance of our kids in school relative to the rest of the world is continuing to decline, and tertiary enrolments are down despite a year’s free tuition. There has also been no discernible economic uplift in regional New Zealand to match the government’s fine rhetoric, beyond what was already occurring.

Just about every primary sector except strong wool is enjoying good to better returns. That ought to be flowing through the regions but in spite of that and the Regional Growth Fund, the regions aren’t booming.

So it’s perhaps not surprising this week that the government tried the “look over here” tactic to distract everyone from the deteriorating state of the government books.

We are to have an infrastructure splurge – which in itself will apparently help the Treasury’s increasingly modest growth predictions be achieved.

No-one, except the anti-road dark greens, is questioning the need for more roads but there’s a big but.

Let’s be under no illusion as to how quickly the infrastructure pipeline has been run down. There are currently eleven major roading projects, all started before 2017, that are building 120km of new and upgraded four lane highways around this country. Nine of them are due to finish before the end of next year.  

From that point in time there is literally nothing, no large new road projects, rail projects, or anything else to replace them. All of the big projects in the queue have been stopped, slowed down, or postponed because “we shouldn’t be building new roads” and we’re not ready to build anything else.The civil contracting industry has been tearing its hair out worrying about what to do with its workforce.

Twice in recent weeks people in roading have told me they’re running out of work and some in the industry have already cut staff.

The problem will be how to ramp that infrastructure pipeline up quickly again. The Government finally acknowledged this week that NZTA has been pretty good at building stuff, but that was before the same government took multiple billions out of the forward roading budget, unfairly shamed the agency over the Auckland tram fiasco, made key personnel changes, and operated a revolving door into and out of its boardroom.  Treasury seems to acknowledge this issue, by projecting the government will get little more than a third of their new $12b spend out the door by the middle of 2022.

Another challenge will be to build the right infrastructure, stuff that improves economic efficiency rather than damaging it. A useful hint is to invest in more of the infrastructure that people already use, like commuter rail and busy road corridors, and not the stuff that requires heroic assumptions about bending the world to suit your world view. Flights of fancy about far-away ports and returning to a time when 70 per cent of freight travelling by rail are examples of what not to invest billions in.

Rail is good for getting some things from A to B but it covers only a very small part of the country and a lot of goods are more efficiently transported by road.

More broadly the government must start demanding some accountability for all the billions of extra spending it is doing. The absence of any tangible results from all this spending is another brake on our prosperity, and the amount of wastage going on is insulting to hard-working kiwis paying their taxes.

Most of those people would surely prefer to pay less tax to take the pressure off their own family budgets, rather than having to watch their spendthrift friend without a care in the world max out New Zealand’s credit card and have nothing to show for it.  

Letting people keep more of their own money would be better than handing it to this government to waste.

New Zealanders worked very hard to restore the country’s fiscal position following the global financial crisis. We shouldn’t be frittering all those gains away.

The previous National government put a high priority on the quality of the spend rather than the quantity because more spending is not necessarily better spending.

This one has gone for quantity rather than quality.

As a result of that it hasn’t been able to deliver on its promises, we’re all worse off because of that and it’s the poor this government purports to want to help who are paying the biggest price for that.

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