Word of the day

January 24, 2020

Gobslotch – a  greedy, clownish person apt to gobble his food; an untidy and voracious eater; glutton.


Thatcher thinks

January 24, 2020


Rural round-up

January 24, 2020

Failure won’t be farmers’ fault – Arthur Tsitsiras:

Farmers, like any business people, always look to keep costs down and make a profit. 

Farming, however, is an industry with a unique set of variables. Droughts can severely affect crop and livestock growth, floods and storms damage crops and infrastructure, unexpected disease outbreaks and wavering demands in certain products can all have wide-ranging impacts completely out of farmers’ hands. 

In addition, farmers are now expected to be conscious about their environmental impact.  . . 

Primary Sector Council’s starry-eyed vision – Nigel Malthus:

Late last year, the Primary Sector Council (PSC) unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries.

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future. . . 

Here comes the sun . . . (flowers) – Sally Brooker:

One of North Otago’s favourite crops is making an impact again.

Sunflowers are maturing in paddocks on Thousand Acre Rd, between Oamaru and Kakanui, attracting photographers and adding a feel-good element to the landscape.

They are grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for their animal feeds company Topflite.

“You never get sick of them,” general manager Greg Webster said of the giant yellow flowers. . . 

Robot start-up Radius Robotics seeks to solve world’s soil depletion – Catherine Harris:

Farming by robot is no longer a fantasy, and it also could be a breakthrough for preserving our soil quality, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs say.

Christchurch’s Radius Robotics is developing a wheel-based robotic system which would direct drill seeds with a minimal footprint, irrigate, weed and collect data.

Reducing the amount of land having to be tilled was one of its key aims, co-founder Henry Bersani said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to seek advice on farm succession planning – Sam Kilmister:

A series of workshops is designed to get farmers thinking about life after the farm.

Farm succession is a pressing topics among sheep and beef farmers, with more than 50 per cent of sheep and beef farms expected to change hands over the next decade.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership will hold a series of workshops educating Rangitīkei farmers on business transition and help them to navigate what can often be a difficult process. . . 

Fonterra leaves impression:

An internship at Fonterra proved to be just as valuable to Massey University science student Victoria-Jayne Reid as it was to the dairy co-operative with the development of a new testing regime.

The third-year science student spent her summer at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre across the road from Massey’s Manawatu campus helping to validate a new test for fat content in milk products that has proved to be robust and simple.

“The old reference method was highly laborious, it involved hazardous chemicals, manhandling and it took a long time,” Reid says. . . 


Don’t waste it

January 24, 2020

The Taxpayers’ Union has submitted a design proposal for a 3.5-metre artwork in the Beehive entrance.

 

The Union will save taxpayers money by refusing the $15,000 commission fee should its submission be chosen.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Perfectly placed to greet MPs and Ministers arriving for work, Don’t Waste It serves as a warning to would-be money-wasters in the heart of government.”

“For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity.”

“Taxpayers understand the value of money, because they work for it. But too often, politicians take money from us only to fritter it away on pet projects, political fads, and minor extravagances. The taxpaying public can never be too firm in its opposition to government waste. It is in this spirit that we submit our proposal.”

Former MP Eric Roy used to have a shearing hand piece in his office in parliament to remind him where he came from.

It would be good for everyone who works in parliament – MPs and staff – and everyone who visits, especially those who come to lobby for funding to have this reminder that no money should be wasted.

 


Wrong data, wrong result

January 24, 2020

The decision to close the Lumsden Maternity Centre was based on incorrect data:

The Lumsden Maternity Centre was closed last year as part of a region-wide review of maternity services by the Southern District Health Board, and replaced with a maternal and child hub.

The decision was strongly opposed by locals; a report by Ernst and Young commissioned by the board found numerous faults with how the SDHB implemented its maternity strategy.

The report’s terms of reference did not include the SDHB’s decision to create a hub at Lumsden.

That decision was the subject of the new report, which was written by midwifery academic Pauline Dawson and commissioned by Lumsden clinic operators the Northern Southland Medical Trust.

Ms Dawson said the closure went against the aims of the National Maternity Monitoring Group and the SDHB’s own primary health strategy.

‘‘This closure puts mothers and babies in this area at risk of poor short and long-term health outcomes and places additional burden of care on remote rural lead maternity carers.’’

Ms Dawson said when deciding to close Lumsden the SDHB did not correctly identify the catchment area the unit served, and ‘‘significant’’ numbers of mothers who had used it were not counted.

The SDHB had used birth numbers in its reports where it should have considered pregnancy numbers when assessing if it had met its Ministry service coverage schedule requirements, Ms Dawson said.

The Ministry itself used a document to support the decision in which travel times between centres were incorrect, and wrongly used the time to the closest primary facility rather than to a secondary service, as it should have, Ms Dawson said.

There’s a big difference between what’s available at a primary facility and a secondary one.

‘‘This error makes several locations appear as they are within service coverage schedule specifications, when they definitely are not.’’

Trust chairwoman Janese Priergaard-Petersen said the report confirmed many of the issues trustees had raised.

‘‘The decision was based on poor information and then executed poorly by the SDHB.

‘‘We don’t yet have any solid data on outcomes for mothers and babies, both in terms of births and postnatal care but we do know that mothers, and the lead maternity carer midwives who care for them, are struggling with the lack of support left by the closure of Lumsden Maternity.’’ . . .

They don’t have solid data but they do have cases where the lives of the mothers and babies were at risk because the Lumsden Centre had closed.

They include the woman whose husband drove at high speed in winter conditions while she was on all fours in the back seat; and a baby born in a car park outside the centre.

The community has questioned the decision to close the maternity centre from the time it was first mooted.

It was the wrong decision, based on wrong data.


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