Quockerwodger – a wooden puppet, controlled by strings; pseudo-politician; one whose strings are pulled by someone else.
Farmers fear new water rules could push them under – Phillips Tolley:
New Zealanders value freshwater – so much so that four out of five people say it is their biggest environmental worry. The government’s plans for new rules and regulations to halt declining water quality are in the final stages of development, but some farmers fear that unless there are changes to those proposals, they will have to give up farming. For Insight, Philippa Tolley investigates.
William Beetham’s attachment to the land he farms in the Wairarapa stretches back six generations. His family settled there in the 1850s and is regarded as one of New Zealand’s farming dynasties. At one stage, the original 30-plus room Brancepeth station was the largest in the district. Beetham lives on a nearby farm and runs a beef and sheep business over the two properties. This is hilly land – baked dry and brown in the summer, but cold and wet in the winter. It is sandstone country, with easily eroded hillsides stretching down to a river – the Wainuiora – that runs along the valley. The family has been planting trees for years to keep the land from slipping. . .
The drought currently affecting New Zealand’s North Island is having devastating effects on farmers — and has already dramatically changed the country’s landscape.
New Zealand’s lush greenery has now turned into the driest of browns as the North Island’s thirst for rain continues.
Auckland is about to set a new record for its longest dry spell and forecasters have already warned the upper north is headed for “permanent wilting point”.
The New Zealand Drought Index showed severe meteorological drought is widespread across Northland, Auckland, and northern Waikato. . .
Slow China market challenge for OML – Jacob McSweeny:
Just one month after resuming production following a compliance problem, Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) is now hindered by ‘‘congestion’’ slowing products getting into China in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The meat processor shut down on September 13 after its access to the Chinese beef markets was suspended.
Some 160 seasonal workers were laid off temporarily because of the suspension, which came from a mistake involving beef fat packaging . .
Farmers’ cash backs wool co-op – Annette Scott:
Primary Wool Co-operative shareholders have backed their organisation by providing strong support for its future.
A bright future for the organisation and the New Zealand wool industry is a step closer, uplifted by the strong support of shareholders in a recent capital raising, chairwoman Janette Osborne said.
That enabled the co-operative to file an improved balance sheet as it emerges from a year of reflection and consolidation on a positive footing. . .
Bananas go with milk up north – Hugh Stringleman:
Bananas have a lot going for them as a fruitful and remedial crop in northern regions of the country, Tropical Fruit Growers of New Zealand chairman Hugh Rose says.
A plantation owner, consultant and stem seller, Rose says the economics of banana growing compare very favourably with most other land uses.
At 1500 stems a hectare, two bunches of fruit a stem each year, at least 10 hands a bunch and $5 retail a hand in local growers’ markets, the returns are attractive. . .
Whistling up some sales while waiting – Sally Rae:
It was Gerard Middleton’s penchant for chewing through his dog whistles that led to his wife, Carleigh, launching a business.
Mr Middleton, a sheep and beef farmer from The Key, near Te Anau, was going through a whistle a week, while his wife quipped he “should just train his dogs better”.
As the cost of his chewing habit mounted up, the Middletons started buying dog whistles through Boulder Bluff, a company in the United States.
They were thicker and of better quality, she said, and Mr Middleton managed to get about six months out of them. . .
FARM leaders in the Murray Darling Basin have a strong message for the 90 per cent of Australians who reside within 100km of the coast – the drought is far from over.
Those living along the east coast, having been swamped by repeated deluges of rain that have replenished dams, could be forgiven for thinking the worst is over, but on the other side of the ranges authorities warn follow-up rain is critical. . .
When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else … you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Wondering what Labour and the Green Party think about New Zealand First and its leader? Are they staying true to their values and promises, or have they adopted the standards and values of New Zealand First and its leader Winston Peters?
Keep wondering because, as Henry Cooke writes, their silence is deafening:
. . . there’s a difference between leeway for jokes and leeway for seriously unbecoming behaviour. And the prime minister has slipped this week from the usual kind of space people give Winston to be Winston into plain supplicancy.
Jacinda Ardern is yet to say anything at all about the fact the Electoral Commission made absolutely clear on Monday that the way NZ First was treating donations to its foundations was wrong. . .
Instead of properly taking this on, Ardern has hidden, as politicians often do, behind the perceived inappropriateness of commenting while some process is still active.
Sometimes this waiting game is both useful and sensible – politicians shouldn’t talk too much about murder trials before they finish.
But in this case it makes no sense. . . .
. . .there are ways of commenting on things without alleging criminal conduct. It is the lifeblood of adversarial politics.
Following the Electoral Commission’s finding, Ardern would have been totally within her rights to say, at the very least, that she thought these donations should have been declared to the commission. She could have said she was disappointed that a coalition partner appeared not to have been as fulsome as it could have been with informing the authorities – all without alleging any kind of crime. . .
Later last week it wasn’t just the donations saga on which she wasn’t commenting.
This silence got even louder on Thursday when it became clear that NZ First had some kind of involvement in two covertly taken photographs of journalists reporting on the Foundation story, which found their way onto a right-wing blog. Peters told Magic Talk on Tuesday that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, but later backtracked to say a supporter just happened to see the journalists and thought he or she should snap a photo.
Because of this shifting story, there is a muddle over exactly how involved NZ First and Peters are, a muddle that would best be sorted out by Ardern demanding a fuller explanation from Peters. Any level of involvement in this kind of tactic – clearly designed to intimidate journalists – is worth condemning, and you can bet that, if Ardern was in Opposition, she would manage it.
Instead she’s not commenting, saying it is a “matter for NZ First”, while her office notes that she speaks about ministerial decisions and comments, not about things said as party leader.
The thing is, the Cabinet Manual does have a section about ministers upholding and being seen to uphold “the highest ethical standards” at all times, not just when doing ministerial business. Ardern has all the ammo she needs to give Peters a dressing-down over this, but instead she defers. Things don’t have to be illegal to be wrong.
And it’s not just Labour which is staying silent.
Worse, this rot of silence has also infected the Green Party, which, as a confidence and supply partner, has plenty of legitimate room to criticise such tactics. You don’t need to tear the Government up or demand that Peters is fired – you can just say what the journalists’ union said on Friday, that Peters needs to explain himself and apologise.
Instead the Greens just talk about how the law needs to be changed – which most people agree with, but isn’t the point. The topic at hand isn’t underhanded but lawful behaviour, it’s stuff that is potentially illegal – hence the police referral. The party should grow back its spine. . .
John Armstrong has a similar view:
Rarely has the current prime minister looked quite so feeble as was evident during yet another turbulent week for her pockmarked, patchwork Administration.
It was another week which witnessed Winston Peters at his frustrating, selfish, perfidious and domineering worst.
In a perfect world, it would have been a week which ended with him having been relieved of the title of Deputy Prime Minister, if only temporarily.
So damning was the verdict of the Electoral Commission on the propriety of the activities of the highly-secretive New Zealand First Foundation that any other minister finding themselves on the receiving end of such a judgement would have been stood down forthwith.
That verdict on its own is a damning indictment. Once it it became public that the commission’s findings had been passed to the Serious Fraud Office, Peters’ relinquishing of his status of Deputy Prime Minister ought to have been a mere formality, if only a temporary measure while the SFO determined whether everything was above board or whether prosecutions should follow its investigation.
Peters, however, has clearly concluded that he is somehow exempt from the rules covering the disclosure of the source of political donations.
The arrogance is breathtaking — especially from someone who has previously suffered the ignominy of being censured by his parliamentary colleagues. . .
Given that track record, Peters is beyond being shamed.
He might be beyond being shamed, has that rubbed off on the other parties in government?
Just witness the outrageousness of the New Zealand First Foundation, the leaked records of which have revealed its purpose had been to accept donations in the tens of thousands of dollars from some of the country’s wealthiest individuals without having to disclose their names.
Ardern’s problem is that Peters is Deputy Prime Minister. She cannot wash her hands of him no matter how embarrassing his statements and actions might be for her or the wider Labour Party they might be. Neither can she sit blithely to one side and pretend that Peters’ very obvious agenda to undermine the Electoral Commission is not happening.
Ardern needs to read the Riot Act to Peters — and not just to remind him of his constitutional obligations.
Failure to do so makes her look weak. In dragging her down, he is dragging Labour down too.
She’s letting the party be dragged down lest Peters brings the whole government down, even though Simon Bridges’ announcement National own’t work with NZ First should it be in a position to do so after the next election leaves it, like the Greens, the choice of going with Labour or sitting or sitting on the cross benches.
He hasn’t got a lot of options. It would seem to be an opportune time to remind him of that. He is hardly in a position to pull down the Government.
That makes Ardern’s failure to talk tough appear even more pathetic. . .
And not for the first time. remember Clare Cullen and Iain Lees-Galloway?
The bizarre chain of events which unfolded on Thursday only reinforced the case for Peters losing the title of Deputy Prime Minister.
The revelation that he was party to the covert photographing and filming of journalists whose investigations of the New Zealand First Foundation have uncovered much to embarrass him and his party is a clear breach of the provisions in the Cabinet Manual covering the conduct expected of ministers of the crown.
To quote that handbook: “At all times, ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. This includes exercising a professional approach and good judgement in their interactions with the public and officials, and in all their communications, personal and professional”. . .
Andrea Vance has more to say about snooping on journalists:
No doubt Peters’ supporters are enjoying the irony of publishing paparazzi-style photographs of the reporters digging dirt on their party.
For reasons that are unfathomable to me, New Zealand tends to minimise Peters more outrageous behaviour. But he is no lovable rogue – and this is straight-up intimidation.
Protecting the identity of journalists’ sources is an essential part of media freedom.
The threat of surveillance is chilling. It can have an intimidating and traumatising effect. . .
We might be a troublesome and unlovable bunch, but good journalism and a free press is an essential part of a functioning democracy.
This attack on Shand and Espiner’s privacy is an attack on the public’s right to know about who is secretly funding their Government partner.
Both Labour and the Greens must acknowledge that and condemn it, if we are to believe their exhortations New Zealand politics should be transparent and fair.
Both Labour and the Greens are forced into silence or at best mealy-mouthed muttering over New Zealand Firsts and Peters because they daren’t face up to him lest he pulls the pin that blows up the government.
Ever since the coalition was formed they’ve pandered to him, exercising politics of appeasement, having to make material concessions, several of which have been contrary to their principles and values.
They’ve swallowed so many dead rats they must suffer from permanent indigestion.
One of MMP’s big weaknesses is that it allows the tail to wag the dog. Peters and his party aren’t just wagging the other two parties they have forced them to roll over and accept not just policies that are contrary to their principles and they’re now, by refusing to condemn it, accepting behaviour that is too.
Many commentators have questioned the values and standards of NZ First and its leader. Labour and Greens are day by day being more tainted by association and exposing their own values and standards to questions too.