Word of the day

May 5, 2020

Augur –  portend a good or bad outcome; : to foretell especially from omens; to be a sign of especially good or bad things in the future; to give promise of; presage;  to serve as an omen or promise of; foreshadow; betoken; a religious official who observed natural signs, especially the behaviour of birds, interpreting these as an indication of divine approval or disapproval of a proposed action; a clairvoyant, priest or collection of priests whose job it was to interpret what the gods wanted.


No Corona

May 5, 2020

Sowell says

May 5, 2020


Rural round-up

May 5, 2020

Coming out of the crisis – Todd Muller:

National’s agriculture spokesman, Todd Muller on why the recovery from COVID-19 needs to include strategic water storage infrastructure.

A few months ago, I penned a column where I noted the challenging conversations farmers were having across dinner tables up and down the country because of the Government’s proposed freshwater reforms. Now, barely six months later, so much of New Zealand is closed with the exception of our farms and hospitals. T

he tough, painful and fearful kitchen table conversations are occurring in many houses across the country.

We are still in the highly fluid part of the crisis, where only hard choices sit in front of us. The ‘stay home, save lives’ strategy will slowly morph into the ‘safety first, but slowly restart’ phase.  . . 

Dairy sector wants New Zealanders to consider farm work as Labour shortage looms – Robin Martin:

The dairy industry wants New Zealanders to fall back in love with life on the farm.

With Covid-19 meaning the migrant workforce is not available, it is predicted the sector will need to fill 1000 jobs in time for Moving Day on 1 June – the first day of the new dairy season.

The Fortuna Group is a corporate farming operation in Southland which milks about 12,000 cows across 19 farms.

At any one time 50 percent of its 100-strong workforce are migrants, predominantly from the Philippines. . .

New health, safety and wellbeing movement for rural women launches in New Zealand with industry wide support:

Save a life, listen to your wife – that’s the message of a new health and safety movement for rural women being launched in New Zealand today.

Safer Farms has partnered with Australia’s Alex Thomas to bring The #PlantASeedForSafety Project across the ditch.

The #PlantASeedForSafety Project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them. From farm owners, shepherds, wives and partners, to nurses, doctors, teachers and even the local barista – every person living rurally has an impact on their community. . .

First farm – a 15 year journey to farm ownership :

Just over a year ago Michael and Susie Woodward packed up their four children, a herd of cows, 50 goats, chickens, five dogs and all of their farming equipment and moved islands onto their own farm. They’d beeen 50/50 sharemilking in Canterbury and had been working towards farm ownership for 15 years. It’s been a challenging 12 months. Winter was wet, summer a drought, some of the cows succumbed to a disease the Woodwards had not encountered and animals and humans on the King Country farm have had to adapt to living on hills.

 

AgTech Hackathon Solution Challenge winner announcement:

With a deft pivot around a global pandemic, the fourth annual AgTech Hackathon successfully completed its first ‘AgTech Hackathon Lite’ – a virtual version of their popular annual event. This quickfire competition takes participants through an ideation process before producing an innovative idea to solve challenges faced by the Food and Fibre sector.

Proving innovation doesn’t quit in the face of a nationwide lockdown, the winning team was announced on Friday, scoring themselves $1000 and an answer to the Zespri horticulture challenge.

While many people are using spare isolation time to to perfect their sourdough starters and TikTok dances, Beta Team – a Manawatu based team, developed Bugkilla, an all-in-one product which attracts, monitors and eradicates BMSB and provides real-time monitoring and eradication of bug infestations for fruit growers and horticulturists. . .

Europeans urged to eat their way through steak, chips and cheese glut – Emiko Terazono and Judith Evans :

Belgians have been asked to eat more fries, the British are being urged to tuck into steak and the French have been pressed to up their cheese intake. The unusual pleas come not because people need comfort food as the coronavirus pandemic rages, but to help clear a glut of produce languishing in storage as the crisis shuts restaurants, hotels and workplace eateries across Europe.

With customers on lockdown, the continent’s farmers and food producers are trying to persuade them to increase consumption of their products at home. In Belgium, the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries, trade association Belgapom is urging people to eat an extra portion a week to reduce its 750,000-tonne potato surplus. 

“The frite is an intangible cultural heritage. It is a tradition that [Belgians] have frites once a week. We are asking people to increase that moment of joy an extra time in the week,” said Romain Cools, Belgapom secretary-general.  . . 

 


The Alone Rangers

May 5, 2020

I think the Alone Rangers have been locked up too long.


Straining social licence

May 5, 2020

Yesterday we got the welcome news that no new cases of Covid-19 had been detected.

That follows several days of new cases in single digits.

To most of us that looks like it would be safe to drop to Level 2 or may even Level 1:

At Level 2:

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Risk assessment

    • Household transmission could be occurring.
    • Single or isolated cluster outbreaks. . . 

At Level 1:

The disease is contained in New Zealand.

Risk assessment

    • COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.
    • Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand. . .

So why aren’t we moving down at least one level, or at least knowing when we will?

The government has explained that elimination doesn’t mean no cases. That means that at whatever level we’re at there will almost certainly be some new ones.

But the health risk now appears to be less serious than the risk to the economy:

National Party leader Simon Bridges admits moving to pandemic alert level 2 could result in more COVID-19 cases, but says this could happen under any level and the lockdown has to end for the sake of the economy. . .

While the unprecedented restrictions have been successful in dramatically reducing the number of new infections of the virus – which has killed hundreds of thousands of people overseas – they’ve also taken a toll on the economy.

Bridges says there are 1000 jobs being lost every day under level 3, based on new applications for the Jobseeker benefit. This is similar to the rate of new applications under level 4, when far fewer businesses were able to operate – there were 30,000 applications in the month to April 17, despite the Government’s wage subsidy being paid out to organisations employing 1.6 million people.

“This has gone on too long,” he told Newshub. “We need to get New Zealand working again. Quite simply we’ve got to end lockdown because it’s so much easier to keep someone in a job.”

He said officials “from Ashley Bloomfield down” have said COVID-19 is “eliminated”.

“Having flattened the curve, let’s not flatten the economy as well. We have to come out at some point. We can’t just wait until there’s a vaccine.”   . . 

A thousand jobs lost a day is 1,000 people a day at risk financially and at risk of poorer physical and mental health as a consequence of that.

It’s not just jobs but whole businesses that have been lost and the longer we’re stuck at Level 3 the greater the risk and the greater the economic and social costs which also have health costs.

Compounding the frustration is the continuing dearth of information on what will happen and when it will happen.

We were initially told we’d be at Level 4 for four weeks. That turned into nearly five.

We were then told we’d be at Level 3 for at least two weeks. Given we’re not going to know until next Monday if there’s going to be a drop in levels, it’s likely that we’ll be stuck at Level 3 for at least a few more days longer.

Uncertainty about the legality of police action isn’t helping:

New Zealand Police’s decision to arrest Kiwis during alert level 4 despite being advised they had little legal basis to do so “undermines the rule of law” in New Zealand, the former Attorney-General believes.

The comment from Chris Finlayson comes just hours after leaked emails to NZ Herald revealed that police were told by Crown Law that they had little to no power to enforce lockdown rules.

Finlayson, a former National MP who served as Attorney-General for nine years between 2008 and 2017, says it’s clear the police have acted beyond their powers during the coronavirus crisis.  . . 

The refusal to release Crown Law advice makes it even worse.

Incumbent Attorney-General David Parker has thus far refused to make public the advice, despite mounting pressure from the Epidemic Response Committee and MPs to do so.

Finlayson believes Parker’s refusal means there are parts of the advice “he may not like” – but says that shouldn’t change whether it’s released or not.

“There’s an overwhelming public interest, for people whose freedoms have been curtailed over the last few months, to know exactly the legal basis upon which certain decisions were made,” he said. . . 

Last week the government accidently passed legislation that differed from the Bill MPs had seen. That undermines confidence, but Jenée Tibshraeny writes:

. . .The public is putting an immense amount of trust in the Government as it circumvents the usual checks and balances to get us through this crisis. But trust is earned. It’s also key to maintaining social cohesion.

Oddly, I can dismiss Thursday’s passing of the wrong legislation as an extraordinary genuine mistake.

But the lack of transparency around decision-making and incoherent way of announcing a billion-dollar policy change, are inexcusable.

The government has imposed unprecedented restrictions on us at an enormous economic and social cost.

The willingness of most of us to abide by the lockdown requires a social licence which must be based on trust.

The government’s refusal to give us all the information we need, and to which we are entitled, is undermining trust and straining that social licence, and that is putting strict compliance at risk.


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