Word of the day


Temporal – relating to, or limited by time; of or relating to grammatical tense or a distinction of time; lasting only for a time; not eternal; of or relating to time as distinguished from space; fleeting, passing, momentary, temporary, transient, short-lived; relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual life or affairs; lay or secular.

5 point plan to get out of hole


National Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asks: how do we avoid making the economic disaster worse than it needs to be? And how can we get back on track?

. . .I argue we are making it worse than it needs to be and an ill-directed, big spending Budget this week would compound the damage. And I’ll outline National’s five-point plan to get us back on track. . . 

Big spending in the Budget should be focused on saving jobs – such as cash to small businesses most effected – and critical expenses related to health and education.

We’d do well to avoid nice-to-have pet projects, such as the Greens’ wider footpaths, or locking in new or more generous entitlements at this time.

We won’t avoid a $40 billion or $50b dollar hole; but we must not turn it into an $80b, $90b or $100b disaster. All the debt will need to be repaid.

Interest rates are low but that is no reason to borrow more than is absolutely necessary; nor to borrow for nice-to-haves rather than needs.

And, who can best provide the economic management to get us back on track faster?

The past is a guide.

The previous National Government borrowed $50b to get us through the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes. In short order we got on top of it, got back to surplus with a strongly growing, confident country and economy.

National inherited a projected decade of deficits and managed to turn that round while protecting the vulnerable front he worst effects of the earthquakes and GFC.

This Government’s economic management in the two years before Covid struck is more mixed. Yes, unemployment and debt stayed low. But in two years they burned through massive surpluses to project a deficit this year, and growth had stalled to 1.8 per cent in calendar year 2019. Many announcements were made – KiwiBuild, Light Rail etc; little was delivered.

A National Budget this week would include a five-point plan back to progress.

First, lighten the lockdown. Get Kiwis back to work unless there’s an overwhelming reason not to, rather than seeking perfection before slowly restoring freedoms.

Each day a business and its staff aren’t working is a day closer to failure.

Second, save jobs by getting cash to small businesses most in need. Our GST refund proposal to businesses that had lost more than 50 per cent of revenue for two months would help and help strong businesses to drive growth. Our Business Investment Accelerator proposals would incentivise new investment.

Third, we need commonsense and pragmatism around the rules for “2 or 1m world'”. It’s one thing to allow bars and cafes to reopen but if the rules mean that you’d just lose money, you’re no further ahead.

Fourth, unlocking private sector investment is the key to growth and innovation.

We won’t rely on Wellington committees to reinvent the economy. We’ll trust Kiwis to work out how to get back on their feet. We’ll keep taxes low, we won’t regulate firms to death or keep changing the rules, and we’ll back them to succeed.

Fifth, we’ll use the Government’s balance sheet to invest in quality infrastructure – like National did with the Ultra-Fast Broadband – in upgrading our skills, turbo-charging the innovation sector and in improving the quality of public services, such as health.

We need a Budget that backs New Zealanders.

A Budget that backs New Zealanders vs one that’s too heavy on regulation and lets any government, let alone the current one, pick winners?

No contest.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Vanishing Lands – Andrea Vance & Iain McGregor:

The rutted track climbs up and up. Short, thick tussocks make the trail hard to discern, and a cold gale howls down the valley.

John Templeton doesn’t break stride. He bends into the wind and forges upwards with the speed and sure-footedness of a mountain goat. A dozen excitable dogs trot at his ankles, and at his side Holly Addison, a 24-year-old shepherd. 

The sun is bright in a clear, blue autumn sky. Far below, strands of the Rakaia river weave their way through grey, shingle beds. Mt Arrowsmith towers high above, snow sparkling on its unforgiving peaks. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers: ‘Help us feed our livestock’ – Suz Bremner & Mel Croad:

In some situations actions speak louder than words, and for Hawke’s Bay farmers who have been hit hard this year we have a simple message that we want heard – help us physically feed our livestock and if that can’t be done, allow us our channels to sell them.

We as farmers prepare for drought – we must, otherwise we will simply make life harder for ourselves.

There are enough farmers in Hawke’s Bay who farmed through the 1982-83 drought and learned from that, and the same will be said for this one.

But what could not be prepared for this year was the combination of drought and a pandemic, which has caused chaos for the wider industry and created issues such as reduced processing capacity and a sudden decline in demand from our international markets that we rely heavily on. . .

Pandemic disruption creates economic opportunity KPMG leader says :

In-house food and fibre production is being touted as one of the ways to claw the economy back post Covid-19.

A report from the business advisory firm KPMG says New Zealand is well-placed to develop greater domestic food production, for its own resilience, and also as a way to market itself as a trusted and reliable exporter.

Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said the pandemic had forced countries to question their reliance on globalisation, and New Zealand was no different.

“I think governments are generally going to look to make themselves a little bit more resilient, and increase the domestic sourcing of key products and critical products to society. So that does mean we are going to see a lot more support for local food systems.” . .

Brothers juggling farm work and studies – David Hill:

Adjusting to the lockdown has proved to be a challenge for students who have returned home to rural areas.

When the lockdown was announced, Lincoln University Young Farmers Club chairman Callum Woodhouse and his brother Archie made the decision to return to the family’s sheep and beef farm at Eketahuna.

“My flatmates are from Canterbury, so when the lockdown was announced they weren’t too worried, but we were stressing about flights and we had to book a last-minute flight and get home.

“The old man was expecting us home anyway in April for the three weeks term holiday, but now he’s getting a few extra weeks’ work out of us.” . . 

A stoat trapper’s guide to elimination – Dave Heatley:

New Zealanders have a lot of experience with islands and unwanted organisms – keeping them away, learning to live with them, and – in just a few cases – eliminating them.

What can that experience tell us about plans to eliminate COVID-19? I can’t claim any expertise on polio, measles, Mycoplasma bovis or thar. But I do have lots of experience trying to eliminate other pests: the stoats, rats, mice and possums that threaten New Zealand’s native birds. At the forefront of that battle are New Zealand’s offshore islands. Following intensive pest-control efforts, many of those islands are now sanctuaries for native birds that are disappearing or gone from the mainland. . .



Farmers use flock of sheep in message of support for NHS :

Farmers in Loch Lomond have spent three days trying to round up a flock of sheep to spell out NHS as a message of support to frontline workers.

They creatively paid tribute to health staff who are risking their lives fighting the spread of coronavirus. . .



Social license straining


Health officials weren’t as risk averse as politicians over what businesses could operate under Level 4 lockdown:

In a briefing that went ahead the day before the country went into lockdown, officials said they thought contactless delivery takeaways could go ahead safely during Level 4.

They said the move would manage public anxiety about food availability, and would “contribute to maintaining civic order”. . .

It would also have reduced the economic fallout from the lockdown and allowed more businesses to operate, possibly making the difference between whether they survive or not.

In another paper it was also recommended that butchers be allowed to open under Level 4, because of particular concerns around access to halal meats and the animal welfare of pigs. . . 

Officials admitted that while there were clear examples of what was deemed essential and what wasn’t, there was “a large grey area in the middle”.

That is the problem of rules dictating what is essential, which involves a large amount of judgement, rather than what is safe, which is much more black and white.

When you run a business and employ people you learn to deal with both risk and trust.

You understand that taking some calculated risks is necessary. You know you have to trust the people you deal with to do what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it.

This government has very little business experience and very few people who have ever had to take big risks. It’s also a government that tends towards the authoritarian model rather than the trusting one.

Perhaps that is why they took the option of least risk of spreading Covid-19, and least trust of businesses, without understanding the economic risk and the health and social costs of that.

They could have taken just a little more risk, and showed a little more trust that businesses would do what they had to do to ensure staff and customers were safe. That is, after all, what health and safety legislation requires of them under normal circumstances anyway.

Could it be that the Prime Minister thinks we’re all as stupid she seems to think her Ministers who can’t even be trusted to speak to the media are?

Newshub has been leaked an internal memo sent to all ministers from the Prime Minister’s office instructing them not to speak to the media about Friday afternoon’s document dump. 

It directs that ministers instead respond with brief written comments that must be signed off by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

. . The leaked memo provides specific talking points to keep them on message, including: “Perfect would have been the public enemy of the good,” and, “Tough calls had to be made and we stand by them.”

It says due to public buy-in the Government doesn’t have to explain its response. 

“There’s no real need to defend. Because the public have confidence in what has been achieved and what the Govt [sic] is doing. Instead we can dismiss.“ . . 

Having confidence in what’s been achieved is not the same as confidence in how it’s been done.

It  is very different from confidence that the government has the ideas to kick start the economy which their so strictly risk averse policies and lack of trust have hit so hard.

The social license which the government has had so far is being strained.

The arrogance over Friday’s document dump and the gagging order won’t help and if we don’t get the go-ahead to move to Level 2 this afternoon it will strain even further.

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