Word of the day

March 11, 2020

Momist – a harsh or persistent critic; one who persistently finds fault; a faultfinder.


Thatcher thinks

March 11, 2020


Rural round-up

March 11, 2020

Quarry opposition raises the question; is grape growing next? – Brendon Burns:

Given I do some work for the quarry sector nationally – hereby declared – I have to date totally refrained from any public comment or submission on the Simcox quarry resource consent renewal in Omaka Valley where I am a resident.

I also don’t particularly wish to alienate neighbours in my community but the various articles in recent days prompt me to write because there has been little aired publicly to provide any contrast to what’s being said.

My wife and I have owned land here since 2001, so we are not recent arrivals. Mind you, the quarry was here long before most of us arrived, which might suggest it has some rights to continue. . .

Coronavirus: Harvest will happen, says Wine Marlborough boss – Sophie Trigger:

Coronavirus could have “major” implications for this year’s harvest, with concerns screening processes, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements could leave a hole in the vintage workforce.

Marlborough’s harvest season is dependent on foreign workers, and more than 1000 skilled workers are expected to arrive in the region this time of year.

But some have been delayed by quarantine requirements or have been unable to travel at all due to the risk of a coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. . . 

New Zealand dairy supplier ready for resumption of work in China:

New Zealand supplier of dairy product said Monday it is ready for the resumption of work in China, with Mark Pulman, CEO of Green Valley Distribution manufacturing fresh milk for Theland emphasizing his optimistic outlook towards China’s consumption market trend on Monday.

As positive signs are emerging continuously in China’s battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, the country is expanding business operations with a precise approach that attaches different priorities to regions considering their health conditions. Milk New Zealand Dairy company resumed the work of supply chain and sales operation functions in most regions of China gradually.

Mark Pulman suggested the firms allocated at the upstream of the supply chain should be given business resumption priorities, such as dairy manufacture that produce basic raw materials. . .

Golden Shears original Ian ‘Snow’ Harrison back in action :

Age may have been one difference for octogenarian shearer Ian Harrison as he shore at the 60th Golden Shears today.

But another was that the result didn’t matter to the 86-year-old sole-survivor of the first of the famous Golden shears Open finals from 1961.

Barely troubled by his one-sheep appearance back on the stage in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, he was more interested in catching-up with old friends, and wasn’t troubled by the fact he’d have to wait till morning to find-out the official result. . . 

Not sure which is worse, drought or paradise ducks – Julie Paton:

Did I say it was dry last month? What was I thinking? Without so much as a drop of rain for around six weeks the definition of dry has taken on a new meaning. A few drops fell last week but you could practically count them on one hand.

They hit the ground and sizzled into nothingness without doing any good. In fact, those few drops probably just tickled the dormant facial eczema spores sitting on the shrivelled grass into sitting up and thinking it’s time to party.

It often seems to be the way – with an approaching high payout, something ghastly happens. Usually a drought, but sometimes the entire world economy falls apart. This time we have a drought plus the threat of a global pandemic as a bonus extra. . . 

Calving in sync with nature – Paul Brown:

It wasn’t too long ago that February and March were our busiest and most stressful months on the ranch. Like most other ranchers in the area, it was calving season for us. For years we calved during this time of year because it was “normal.” The argument is that the calves would be bigger in the fall once they were weaned and sold on the commodity market. Although this argument is true, it comes with detrimental costs in the form of stress, increased death loss, lack of sleep, and very hard work.

Calving during late winter/early spring required a lot of work for us. As you know, the weather can be quite variable from sub zero temperatures and blizzards to 40 degrees and rain. Therefore, cattle had to be constantly watched, pens had to be bedded with fresh straw and cleaned regularly and expecting mothers would have to be cycled through the calving barn as they calved. . . 


Science when it suits again

March 11, 2020

The plan for a predator-free country lacks a vital tool:

New Zealand cannot save the kiwi, kererū and thousands of other endangered species without gene editing, say experts.

And attempting to do so without the technology is likely to cost the country “a significant proportion of our national budget”.

New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis has been addressed by a new national Predator Free 2050 plan. 

But a number of academics and researchers claim it wrongly rejects the “most promising” new technology in pest management – gene editing.

“Under current technology, achieving the Predator Free 2050 goals would not only be unlikely to succeed, but also extremely expensive, costing us a significant proportion of our national budget,” says University of Otago professor of philosophy and politics Lisa Ellis.

“Of all technologies on the horizon today, only gene editing offers the prospect of potentially affordable and effective eradication.” . .

Opposition to gene editing often comes from people who are also opposed to conventional tools like 1080.

It often comes from people who urge us to follow the science in other debates on conservation and the environment but this is example of science only when it suits their ideology, again.

There is no hope of being predator free in 30 years without using all the tools in the eradication toolbox and it is stupid to rule-out the one that is likely to cost less and impact more with less collateral damage.

 

 


Don’t need panic, do need urgency

March 11, 2020

The government has announced some details of assistance for businesses threatened by the impact of COVID-19  but is being criticised for not moving fast enough on the package:

Forest Industry Contractors Association chief executive Prue Younger said she had been warning about the potentially devastating impact of Covid-19 for weeks.

“You know, we’re another week in, we’re another week of our contractors with no substance to staying in business,” she said. . .

Businesses have costs every day, every week. These ones haven’t had income for weeks and each day’s delay makes their position more precarious.

Skyline Queenstown chief executive Geoff McDonald said he was pleased the government was working on an assistance package, but he would like more detail.

“Skyline is reasonably robust, it’s a fairly large, successful organisation so we’ve got some degree of resilience.

“But some of the smaller tourism operators out there are going to be hurting right now and so the challenge is looking to the future and having at least some sort of milestones to say ‘well, if I can make it there I can get access to X initiative and Y initiative’. That’s what we really need,” he said. . . 

Small businesses have little if any fat in their systems. If there’s little or no money coming in they can’t keep paying staff and covering overheads.

This is peak tourist season. Businesses servicing them have lost customers and are losing money. They will already be cutting staff hours, getting rid of casuals and weighing up whether they can afford to keep full time permanent staff.

McDonald said businesses were also being hit with the “double-whammy” of a minimum wage increase from next month.

“We’ve got this challenging environment and we’ve got this sort of ratcheting up of wage and salary bill, so it is difficult. Tourism industry is very labour intensive so your wage bill is such a large part of your overall expenses,” McDonald said. . .

Whether the benefits outweigh the costs of imposing higher and faster increases to the minimum wage is debatable at the best of times. The risk to jobs and businesses when the economic outlook is so uncertain is even greater.

If the government wants more in the pockets of people on low wages it should take less in tax or top up wages instead of forcing businesses to spend more of their own money. It could also pay people who are in self-isolation so they’re not tempted to keep working if they might be incubating the disease but can’t afford leave without pay.

The day the first Canterbury earthquake hit, then Finance Minister BIll English phoned business leaders and asked what was needed. They said money to keep paying staff.

That went straight to cabinet, was approved, and that afternoon the announcement was made that businesses could apply for money to cover wages.

The current situation is different from the earthquake but the need for assistance is just as urgent and the response should be too.

The government is talking about tailoring assistance to individual businesses. That would be complicated and take time.

It would be far better to use the earthquake assistance model. Businesses that needed help to pay wages applied, I think through Inland Revenue, and got it. That kept businesses afloat, workers in funds and money flowing through the economy.

Something similar would be much simpler and easier to implement faster than what the government appears to be planning.

There’s no need to panic but there is need for urgency.


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