Word of the day

April 30, 2020

Rede– a plan or scheme; a story; advice or counsel given by one person to another; to advise or counsel; speak with others about; talk over in detail; have a discussion; to interpret, explain;  give an interpretation or explanation to.


Thatcher thinks

April 30, 2020


Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Let’s not repeat past mistakes

April 30, 2020

Many of the critics of the erroneously called ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s overlook the fact that the seeds for the problems were planted years earlier.

Those seeds were protectionist policies which provided subsidies for production here and imposed tariffs and import restrictions on goods from overseas.

As a result, producers were divorced from markets and produced far more than we could sell.

Consumers were also worse off. They had less choice and paid more for locally made goods that were often of a much lower standard than imports.

This all put a lot of power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats and a lot of money in the pockets of the favoured few who had import licences or received subsidies.

It also cost far more than the country could afford and consumers paid twice – first in higher prices and then in higher taxes.

Dismantling all that was painful and nowhere more so than in North Otago where the sudden end of subsidies for primary produce coincided with successive droughts.

At one stage in the 1980s it wasn’t unusual for farmers to get a bill for sending stock to the freezing works because the transport cost more than the animals were worth.

There were predictions farmers would be forced off the land in their hundreds. A few did lose farms but the real devastation was in servicing and supplying businesses and processing.

However, gradually farmers adjusted to the new rules and became stronger for it, helped in North Otago by increased irrigation which drought-proofed the district.

There are arguments about the way the changes were made but nothing will convince me it wasn’t necessary to make them.

Farming, and New Zealand are far better for it.

That is why I have been appalled by the calls here and abroad for a return to the bad old days of protection of local industries and trade restrictions.

We need to be doing what we do best, not protecting local producers of goods others can produce at higher quality and lower prices and we must be free to sell the excess of what we grow so well to the rest of the world.

We consume only about 10% of the food we produce.

Selling the other 90% is one of the major contributors to the country’s wealth.

Successive governments, diplomats and trade negotiators have spent decades fighting for freer trade not just to benefit us but to benefit producers and consumers in other countries as well.

If we start putting up barriers, other countries will retaliate and we will come off far worse than they will.

One of the silver linings to our response to Covid-19 is the reinforcement of New Zealand as a safe country.

That will be a valuable selling point in a world that is aware of new dangers and will be more aware than ever of the importance of food safety.

It would be foolish to do anything to jeopardise that by repeating mistakes that were made in the past, the correcting of which caused so much pain.

Let’s not go back to the bad old days. We must learn from the mistakes, not repeat them.

 


Word of the day

April 29, 2020

Variolation – obsolete method of immunising patients against smallpox by infecting them with substance from the pustules of patients with a mild form of the disease (variola minor); the deliberate inoculation of an uninfected person with the smallpox virus (as by contact with pustular matter) that was widely practiced before the era of vaccination as prophylaxis against the severe form of smallpox.


Sowell says

April 29, 2020


Rural round-up

April 29, 2020

Young film-maker shines spotlight on mental health challenges facing the rural sector – Nikki Preston:

Farmers are baring their souls about battling with mental health issues in what can be a lonely and isolating industry in a bid to encourage others to do the same.

A short video called The Monkeys On Our Backs looks to address the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector than those in urban areas by encouraging people to talk about the struggles they may be facing, and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Director Hunter Williams said he had his own mental health issues growing up so it was something that was close to his heart.

But it was after a conversation he had with a farmer at his mum’s wedding about how he also had “monkeys on his back” before sharing his story that inspired the video. . .

Covid-19 prompts iwi-owned producer to speed new planting projects – Tracy Neal:

The head of iwi-owned Wakatū Incorporation says the Covid-19 crisis demonstrates the value of staying local, of food sovereignty and the strength of community networks.

Wakatū employs up to 500 people on orchards, farms, vineyards and factories across Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough, on a seasonal and permanent basis.

It has been able to continue food harvest and production during the level 4 lockdown, with some restrictions in line with new WorkSafe practices which will continue under level 3.

Chief executive Kerensa Johnston said they were wanting to step away from conventional farming, and focus more on regenerative farming techniques in what she said was one of the country’s best growing districts. . . 

Hunters urged to follow rules :

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) is urging hunters to follow the new anti-COVID rules with a shift to Level 3.

“Under Level 3, hunting and some other outdoor recreation will be permitted, although with tight rules around what is allowed,” says NZDA national president Trevor Chappell.

“Those include only allowing hunting on private land within your own immediate region and bubble, and with the landowner’s permission. “Overnight trips are not allowed, and hunting must be on foot. Helicopters, quad bikes and other motorised vehicles are not permitted.”  . .

 

Meat industry stalwart signs off – Peter Burke:

A man who has spent more than 40 years in the meat industry says the best thing that happened to the industry in NZ was the UK joining the European Union in 1973.

Tim Ritchie, who has just retired as Meat Industry Association chief executive – a position he held for the last 11 years. He says Britain joining the EU forced NZ to look at the world as its marketplace and not just rely on what was essentially a single market. It also forced us to move away from primarily sending frozen lamb carcasses to the UK.

Richie told Rural News this meant the NZ meat industry had to move from being a commodity supplier of meat to producing specialty packaged cuts, which could be sent to new, high-end markets.

Buying local critical to survival of Kiwi pork industry:

 A leading Wellington smallgoods producer is urging people to buy only NZ raised and farmed pork, to help keep Kiwi’s pork farmers going during the COVID-19 response; and is launching an online store to drive demand and support the local industry.

The NZ Pork Board estimates NZ has an oversupply of up to 5,000 pigs per week. Angus Black says farmers have been under mounting pressure with the closure of cafes, restaurants and butchers during Level 4.

“Before Level 4 restrictions around 60% of NZ pork went to cafes, restaurants, producers like ourselves and independent butchers. With most of these avenues closed over recent weeks farmers are struggling to feed their stock and provide enough space to house them and ensure their welfare. . . 

Appointment of independent director to Fonterra board:

Fonterra today announced the appointment of a new Independent Director, Holly Kramer, who will join the Fonterra Board as an Independent Director on 11 May 2020.

Ms Kramer is based in New South Wales and has extensive governance, multinational, and retail business experience.

She currently holds a number of significant governance positions, including the Board of Woolworths where she is an Independent Non-Executive Director and Australia Post where she is Deputy Chair and an Independent Non-Executive Director. . . 

Coronavirus: EU proposes €80m agricultural support package:

British farmers could benefit from measures included in a new €80m package of support for the EU agri-food sector impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

The UK could apply to take part in one measure included in the support package – the private storage aid (PSA) scheme.

The European Commission proposed to grant private storage aid for dairy and meat products, such as beef, sheep and goat meat.

While the UK left the bloc on 31 January 2020, it still participates in certain policies which will expire at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. . .


We don’t need another save-my-job party

April 29, 2020

Soon to be no longer the Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross plans to launch his own political party.

Former National MP, turned independent, Jami-Lee Ross is starting his own political party ahead of this year’s election and is calling it Advance New Zealand.

In one of his semi-regular newsletters, Ross last night asked his supporters if they would join with him in starting a “new political movement”.

“I want to see a democratic country that has brave voices in the middle that speak truth to power,” he said. . .

“No new party has made it to Parliament without a current or former MP leading it.”

His last point is correct but while it worked for Tariana Turia, Jim Anderton, Peter Dunne and Winston Peters, there are several other disaffected MPs who tried it and failed.

All the ones who succeeded won a seat to do it and he is very, very unlikely to hold his electorate in the election.

It takes a lot more than a sitting MP to form a credible party.  A quick look at previous election results show every three years there are parties that managed to get the 500 members required to register and stand, gained an insignificant number of votes then disappeared.

This is a desperate attempt to cling to his parliamentary career and we don’t need another save-my-job party.


Good communication doesn’t confuse

April 29, 2020

A few days before the country was locked down Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explained the four levels.

As has happened so many times she was congratulated for good communication.

But a little more than five weeks later, Cactus Kate points that if what was said about what happens at which level still held, we wouldn’t be stuck in level three now.

You are already there.

You are already there

You are already even here.

We’ve been repeatedly told the reason for the hard lockdown is the goal of elimination of the virus.

As the definitions for yesterday’s word of the day, showed elimination for those of us who speak English means getting rid of something.

Epidemiologists and politicians speak another language and it was only a few days ago that we learned that elimination doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to us.

And on Monday, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and the PM told us that we had, by the epidemiological definition, eliminated Covid-19.

But yesterday we were told that wasn’t the case:

At yesterday’s daily press conference Dr Bloomfield was asked whether New Zealand had achieved elimination.

It was his answer that “we’ve achieved [elimination] through alert level 4” – and the Prime Minister chipping in that New Zealand “currently” had eliminated the virus – that resulted in yesterday’s confusion.

Realising the waters had been muddied, Dr Bloomfield arrived at Parliament today armed with a clarification.

Asked whether he accepted yesterday’s remarks had given the country and the rest of the world a false impression, and whether he was concerned New Zealanders would be breathing a sigh of relief at a time they should still be vigilant, Dr Bloomfield didn’t mince his words.

“I can just clarify we haven’t eliminated it, and we haven’t eradicated it.”

He said elimination is about having a low number of cases, and a knowledge of where they’re coming from and identifying people early.

Then it’s a case of stamping out the virus and continuing to maintain strict border restrictions to be sure no new cases are being imported.

Elimination is by no means eradication and the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this is a situation of entering into the world of epidemioligist-speak.

“And they know well what each of these terms mean in a health sense, but of course in an every day sense they mean, often, something different.

“Elimination doesn’t mean zero cases… we will have to keep stamping Covid out until there’s a vaccine,” she said. . . 

It’s not good enough to blame the jargon.

Good communicators put jargon into everyday language, using words that we all understand and whose definitions fit our understanding.

National’s health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said Dr Bloomfield probably felt the need to clarify on behalf of the Prime Minister.

“This underscores the importance of talking in plain English. The public are not epidemioligists, they don’t have the same information the Prime Minister has and it’s really important they get on the same page, talk in English, and make it clear to New Zealanders where we’re at and how we’ve got to stay there.” . . .

I think we’re now clear that elimination doesn’t mean what we think it means but, we are no clearer on what the levels mean.

We’re told there’s no evidence of community transmission and that the disease is contained. It’s not quite so clear whether no evidence means there’s no risk of community transmission or if we’re now down to the risk of only household transmission.

But if we can take the information on alert levels to mean what it says, it ought to mean we can go down to level two, if not one.

But yesterday we only went to level 3 and while there’s the expectation this will last no more than a fortnight, there’s no certainty.

Given that the information on levels is different from what’s happening, there’s even less certainty.

The communication on this is confused when it needs to be clear.

Good communication isn’t just about getting your message across, it’s also about ensuring the people to whom you’re communicating understand what you’re saying and clarifying any confusion when they don’t.


Word of the day

April 28, 2020

Elimination – the complete removal or destruction of something; the act, process, or an instance of eliminating or discharging;  the process of getting rid of something, eg waste, errors, or the competition; the expulsion of waste matter from the body; a type of chemical reaction involving the loss of a simple molecule, such as water or carbon dioxide; the process of  removing from several possible answers the ones that are unlikely to be correct until only one is left; the process of solving a system of simultaneous equations by using various techniques to remove the variables successively; the  act of causing a quantity to disappear from an equation; a game, bout, or match in a tournament in which an individual or team is eliminated from the competition after one defeat.


Sowell says

April 28, 2020


Rural round-up

April 28, 2020

Farmers must bide their time – Annette Scott:

The probability of a global recession is growing along with the likelihood of reduced consumer spending in all red meat markets.

The covid-19 pandemic has shifted demand for red meat away from food service to eating at home, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.

Just how long that will take to reverse will depend on how long it takes people to be comfortable to eat out in restaurants again.

The key for New Zealand across the supply chain will be maintaining integrity, reliability and consistency. . .

Disaster plans made – Toni Williams:

Vicki and Hamish Mee are planning a ‘‘worst case scenario’’ for stock at their Mid Canterbury free-farm piggery.

The Mees run Le Mee Farms and also have a cropping operation.

Their planning follows restrictions during the lockdown period which stop independent butchers from opening, and make any sale of pork limited to supermarket stores, other processors or retailers which were open.

As imported pork was still allowed, the Mees were preparing themselves for a different future market post-lockdown. . .

Backing ‘best fibre in the world’ – Sally Rae:

Long-time wool advocate Craig Smith says his new role as chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests is about “championing the cause of wool”.

The council is an association of organisations engaged in the production, testing, merchandising, processing, spinning and weaving of wool and allied fibres.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he has also been heavily involved with Campaign for Wool, a global project initiated by Prince Charles. . . 

Meat plants back to near normal – Neal Wallace:

Meat processing throughput could be back at close to maximum on Tuesday when the country’s covid-19 response level drops to level three.

Final protocols are still to be confirmed but level three restrictions should enable meat processing to be close to full production, helping address the backlog of stock waiting to be killed, which has blown out to six weeks, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Danny Hailes says.

At level three social distancing between workers drops from 2m, to 1m.

That should allow throughput for sheep to rise from  50% to 90% of plant capacity and beef from 70% to 100%. . . .

Online auction takes off – Annette Scott:

A handshake still carries weight for livestock trading firm Peter Walsh and Associates but with covid-19 it has been forced to change tack.

The lockdown changed that handshake to a tap on a keyboard as the company held to its first Livebid online auction last week. 

“With no saleyard operation we had to find new ways of moving livestock so we said ‘let’s keep it on the farm’,” Peter Walsh said.

With a smart back office team and the latest technology the independent livestock broker came up with Livebid. . .

Full fields, empty fridges – Laura Reiley:

Farmers in the upper Midwest euthanize their baby pigs because the slaughterhouses are backing up or closing, while dairy owners in the region dump thousands of gallons of milk a day. In Salinas, Calif., rows of ripe iceberg, romaine and red-leaf lettuce shrivel in the spring sun, waiting to be plowed back into the earth.

Drone footage shows a 1.5-mile-long line of cars waiting their turn at a drive-through food bank in Miami. In Dallas, schools serve well north of 500,000 meals on each service day, cars rolling slowly past stations of ice chests and insulated bags as food service employees, volunteers and substitute teachers hand milk and meal packets through the windows.

Across the country, an unprecedented disconnect is emerging between where food is produced and the food banks and low-income neighborhoods that desperately need it. American farmers, ranchers, other food producers and poverty advocates have been asking the federal government to help overcome breakdowns in a food distribution system that have led to producers dumping food while Americans go hungry. . .


When politicians and advertisers preach

April 28, 2020

If any more advertisers tell me to “be kind” I’m going to throw a brick through the television.

This tweet was posted a couple of weeks ago and stuck with me.

Kindness is one the the values I value. The world would be a much better place if we had a lot more of it.

But the exhortation to be kind from advertisers and politicians induces thoughts in me that are anything but kind.

Why?

I think it’s partly because the lockdown has uncovered my inner contrarian.

Farming is an essential business and I spend a lot of time at home alone in normal circumstances so my day to day life hasn’t altered much. I realise this puts me in much better circumstances than a lot of other people.

But because I can’t go where I want to, when I want to and with whom I want to, I really, really want to.

Strong as the temptation is,  I’m resisting it and doing as I’m told – staying home and as the ads and politicians keep telling me, staying safe.

But I don’t like it and I like being preached at even less, especially by advertisers and politicians.

I am old enough to remember when kindness started at home and the moral and ethical foundation established there was reinforced at school and backed up at Sunday school and church, in the days when most children went there.

I like to think that kindness still starts in most homes, that it’s reinforced at school and while far fewer people are regular church goers these days, they still play a role in moral guidance not by preaching at us, but by teaching and providing good examples through their actions.

Why then do advertisers and politicians feel the need to preach at us?

If they were leading by example I might be inspired to follow.

But when they preach at me, that inner contrarian comes out and rather than feeling positive about the message I start thinking some very unkind thoughts about the messengers.


Word of the day

April 27, 2020

Recreant – cowardly; unfaithful or disloyal to a belief, duty, or cause; apostate; a coward; a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend.


Sowell says

April 27, 2020


Rural round-up

April 27, 2020

Farmers claim water law lockout – Neal Wallace:

Federated Farmers says it remains shut out of deliberations on the specifics of the Government’s freshwater legislation after unproved claims it leaked confidential information about the policy last year.

Its water spokesman Chris Allen says the accusation was never proved but resulted in the cessation of what he called a constructive working relationship between the farming body and parties considering the new regulations.

“It really did challenge the integrity of Federated Farmers and we were miffed about that. It did not come from feds,” he says. . . .

Environment moves must be fair – Andrew Morrison:

The past few weeks have served to remind New Zealanders about the importance of the country’s primary sector.

Food has become big news. 

Every day the media brings us stories of supermarket queues, panic buying and supermarket workers going the extra mile to try to keep shelves stocked against a rising tide of worried consumers.

As farmers we are fortunate to be able to continue producing nutrient-rich food for our nation and our export markets.  . .

Rural postie lifts spirits with ‘The Best Dressed Mailbox Competition :

Covid-19 may have everyone in lockdown but that hasn’t stopped one inventive rural postie from keeping people on her route entertained.

Diane Barton wanted to add “a bit of amusement” to her mail run, so she set up a private Facebook group for her RD1 and RD4 route to get the community involved.

First there was a bear hunt, which quickly descended into chaotic fun, with not only bears turning up in letterboxes and windows, but cows and zoo animals as well.

“I had a trusty heading dog that I borrowed from a client’s mailbox and the dog rounded them up and put them back in their paddocks and cages,” joked Barton, who was quick to point out that “no stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this animal hunt“. . .

 

Not your typical sheep paddock: why sunflowers and lentils herald NZ’s regenerative revolution – John McCrone:

Before coronavirus, people were worried about other things. Like the state of New Zealand farming, and climate change. So why were policy makers suddenly getting interested in regenerative agriculture? John McCrone reports.

Wait, are those sunflowers poking their yellow faces above the waist high tangle? Did he just say he loves thistles too? All biodiversity is good?

No wonder Peter Barrett – former campervan entrepreneur and now manager of Central Otago’s 9300 hectare Linnburn Station – has had neighbouring farmers looking askance. . . 

Dairy Women’s Network conference on next month :

As events and conferences throughout New Zealand and around the world cancel and postpone due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Dairy Women’s Network have worked furiously for three weeks to ensure the majority of its annual Allflex DWN2020 Conference will still be held next month.

“While we have had to postpone our face to face conference until 2021, we have adapted to the current situation and are excited to be able to hold four days of online webinars and keynote sessions from the original conference programme,” Dairy Women’s Network Partnerships, Marketing and Communications Manager Zellara Holden said. . .

Beautiful disasters: The wild, wilted world of plant scientists who breed crops ready to thrive on a climate-ravaged earth – Lela Nargi:

A diversity of regionally adapted seeds are in short supply in parts of the U.S. So farmers must increasingly rely on a handful of publicly funded seed breeders to supply them.”

Michael Mazourek led the charge through thick-aired greenhouses, cheerfully tallying the destruction. “We inoculated these with a virus,” he said, stopping beside a table topped with stubby squash plants in square plastic pots. Their leaves were anemic and crisp around the edges.

“This was a beautiful disaster,” Mazourek said as he circumnavigated a miniature forest of wrung out pepper plants dangling shriveled fruits. “Our new fancy heaters didn’t work and we had a frost, which is a very climate change-y sort of event.” . .


Beware derangement syndrome

April 27, 2020

When Winston Peters put Labour in power I was determined that I wasn’t going to get Ardern Derangement Syndrome.

I’d seen far too much stupidity from people who suffered from Key Derangement Syndrome and was determined not to follow their silly example of making politics personal in this way.

It hasn’t always been easy, but so far I have been able to resist developing ADS.

I accept the PM is a warm and intelligent woman and I’d probably enjoy her company.

However, retaining resistance to ADS doesn’t extend to echoing the adulation that has been heaped on her from many quarters.

That is, as Andrea Vance points out, unhealthy:

Politicians should not have fans. By placing our leaders on a pedestal, it creates an unhealthy and polarising dynamic. 

There is evidence of it already in our online political discourse. Any criticism of the Government’s policies and measures is met with a wave of venom.

Even gentle questioning – by opponents, interest groups or the media – is seen as a personal attack on Ardern. 

It’s also often seen as sexism which is tiresome.

That’s because when people blindly align themselves to one party and their leader, they tend to overlook the negative effects of their decisions.

Those who seek to hold Ardern to account over flu vaccines, personal protective equipment in the health system, or confusion about restrictions, are villainised or strafed with ‘whataboutism.’ . . 

When Ardern is fronting the government that has imposed unprecedented and draconian restrictions on what we can do, at a huge personal, social and economic cost, she must be questioned and questioned hard.

That doesn’t mean personal criticism of her but nor does it  mean uncritically repeating her lines such as going early, going hard.

The initial response to Covid-19 was neither.

Then there are legitimate questions over the arbitrary decisions over what businesses and which goods and services have been considered essential under level four lockdown and the economic and social costs of all that.

Candidates will always be judged on their likeability. But infusing politics with an over-the-top “stan culture” turns elections to a sports game, where we are invested in only who wins, not policy or ideology.

And it upends what the political system should be. Prime Ministers are our civil servants, beholden and accountable to us. It should not be a one-sided relationship.

Hero worship eventually reduces our complex, and occasionally flawed, political figures to one-dimensional icons.

Just because Ardern is remarkable, does not mean she is always right.

Over at Croaking Cassandra, Ian Harrison explains six times she has been factually wrong.

He’s found factual errors in what she’s said on transmission rates, the number of cases per 10,000, the number of deaths, containing the pandemic, mortality rates and testing rate.

Steve Elers also says the PM must be held to account over her claims:

During the Covid-19 daily briefings I’ve found myself yelling at the TV screen and sometimes even throwing things at it. Why? Because our journalists seem far too chummy with the prime minister instead of fulfilling their role as the watchdog for society.

A healthy democracy requires the news media to hold power to account, regardless of who is in power, and to question government decisions, just like when the prime minister says: “Elimination doesn’t mean zero cases, it means zero tolerance for cases.” . . 

For the health and wellbeing of my TV, I hope the news media will start holding power to account. If journalists can’t find the motivation within themselves to ask critical questions of the prime minister, perhaps they should imagine she is Simon Bridges.

Or perhaps not.

At least some seem to have Bridges Derangement Syndrome where it’s not what he says but that it’s he who says it or the way he says it that becomes the focus of criticism.

Just as putting a politician on a pedestal is wrong, so too is unfairly pulling one back and the media does us a disservice if it lets derangement syndrome get in the way of reasoned reporting and analysis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Word of the day

April 26, 2020

Mazed – dazed and confused; perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements; filled with bewilderment.


Milne muses

April 26, 2020


Alone Rangers Anzac Special

April 26, 2020

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