Word of the day

May 22, 2020

Rapprochement – an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations; the reestablishment of a happy relationship or arrangement; establishment of or state of having cordial relations; an agreement reached by opposing groups or people; an increase in friendliness between two countries, groups, or people, especially after a period of unfriendliness.


Team National

May 22, 2020

Todd Muller is the new leader of the National Party:

Todd Muller has been elected Leader of the New Zealand National Party, the party caucus announced today.

Nikki Kaye has been elected as his Deputy.

“There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else – there is only Team National,” Mr Muller said.

“National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals – National is the party for all New Zealanders.

“New Zealanders need a National Government with the experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the Second World War.

“My focus as leader is our country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.”

I wasn’t impressed that the announcement was leaked from caucus.

The leaking must stop. Caucus must be disciplined and united and focus on what matters – holding the government to account and running a winning campaign.


Is it Muller?

May 22, 2020

Newshub reports  :

12:40pm – Sources have told Newshub Simon Bridges has lost the vote. Newshub understands the vote has been won by Todd Muller.

Update: – Nikki Kaye is now deputy.

My loyalty is to National and to its leadership, I congratulate Todd and Nikki.

My sympathy is with Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett who have worked very hard in what proved to be an impossible task.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2020

RA 20 virus danger to NZ farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation. It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus, which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long-term than COVID-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA 20, but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. RA 20 is believed to have originated in the Great Plains in America. It quickly spread to the Australian Outback and then hopped the ditch to New Zealand.

Interestingly, like Covid-19, it is particularly severe in those weakened by other complicating factors. Some victims are known to have no knowledge of the important values of science, evidence, logic and reason. Another cohort includes those who know little about the principles of soil fertility, pasture management and animal husbandry.  . . 

Film gets monkey off his back – David Anderson:

A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.

Twenty-year-old Hunter Williams has shot and produced a short video that addresses the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector. The short film encourages rural people to talk about the struggles they may be facing and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Williams told Rural News that he’d had his own mental health issues growing up and the film was something that was close to his heart. The eight minute documentary is called ‘The Monkeys on Our Backs’. Various farmers and organisations have been involved in the production, including the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.

Williams was raised in Hawkes Bay and comes from a large farming family. 

Venison marketers building on-line and retail sales :

Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability.

“Fortunately our venison export marketers and/or their overseas partners already had small retail and on-line marketing programmes. They are now putting a lot of energy into generating more sales through these channels, while looking out for the green shoots of recovery in food service.” . . 

Potato prices reach all-time high in April:

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Hunting industry requires domestic support:

New Zealand’s guided hunting industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for a unique hunting experience.

“Guided hunting was worth over $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy and provided primarily international visitors with fantastic Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “It has also been an extremely important employer in provincial regions and has a low impact on our environment.”

“It really has been a New Zealand tourism success story.” . . 

Why your rural sales reps won’t sell remotely – St John Craner:

Remote selling isn’t something new yet we’re seeing a lot of resistance to it right now.

Many clients are telling us their reps won’t sell remotely, complaining that they “need to see the customer”.

Whilst I buy that argument in-part, selling remotely has been around for a wee while. Phone, email or online have been a stable source of sales for years. They aren’t new technologies. 

The real reason why most sales reps feel they can’t sell remotely is because of fear. . . 


Behind in Wellbeing Bledisloe

May 22, 2020

Some influential people aren’t buying the prevailing view that New Zealand is doing better than Australia:

The Prime Minister’s powerful Business Advisory Council has delivered her a cutting message that Australia is “co-optimising” the economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak better than New Zealand.

“Australia is currently co-optimising the wellbeing of the Covid outbreak and the wellbeing consequences of the economy better than New Zealand,” said council chair Fraser Whineray, who is chief operating officer at Fonterra. “If we don’t marshall the best possible team for both recovery and reform, we will exacerbate the slide against our greatest comparator and lose even more of our most precious asset, our people.”

“That risks a younger generation not only inheriting greater debt, but also makes Aotearoa a less desirable place to live with substantially less wellbeing.

Contrary to the Prime Minister’s oft repeated claim we didn’t go hard and we didn’t go early.

The requirement on incoming passengers to self-isolate, was lax and mandatory quarantine was late.

The government then went from being too slack to being too hard.

Their insistence that only businesses they deemed essential to operate, rather than permitting any business that could operate safely to do so, was nothing short of economic sabotage and it’s people who will pay the price for that.

Whineray told the Herald that while New Zealand was tracking well on specific Covid medical matters, “in the ‘Wellbeing Bledisloe’ we are behind”. . . 

Remember last year’s Wellbeing Budget? Have you any idea how any measures on its impact are tracking? Do you believe that the eye-watering amount the government is borrowing will give value for money?

Since early April, the council has been pushing Ardern to setup an organisation to mirror Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s high-powered National Covid-19 Coordination Commission, informing her that it did not believe her advisory council was the best placed for that purpose. Instead, it recommended members’ capabilities – and that of many other business leaders – would be of most value to NZ’s future in a properly mandated Business Recovery Taskforce and a Reform Commission “each chaired by a senior business person with great mana.”

The Government had instead floated an Infrastructure group and a proposed entity comprising academics, unions, officials, NGOs and business.

In a not so subtle appeal to the Prime Minister’s tendency to burnish her international brand, Whineray’s letter said that putting in place a recovery taskforce and the reform commission would be a “courageous masterstroke for New Zealand’s ascendant international reputation”.

“With the likelihood of a year until a vaccine can take us out of our Pacific isolation, our approach would appear to be well short of the ‘public:private’ bench strength already assembled and operating across the Tasman. . . 

Looking forward, because of the way Australia is approaching the next two stages it is like to go well in front,” wrote Whineray. ” We can choose to stick with our current strategy or look to reset.

“To avoid the endemic problem with the public sector’s misallocation of new Zealanders’ resources held by the Government in non-core activity and low productivity within the public sector we need a very strong business in involvement alongside central Government.” . . 

Good leaders understand their weaknesses and make sure they have people around them with different strengths who can compensate for them.

One of this government’s big weaknesses is private sector business experience.

We’ll all; pay for its refusal to take advice from people with it.

 


Leader must be gracious, caucus must be united

May 22, 2020

If Simon Bridges wins today’s leadership challenge he must be gracious.

Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye are both suited to their respective roles as spokespeople for agriculture and education.

Demoting them would be understandable. But leaving them their would demonstrate statesmanship and mean no valuable time would be wasted as their replacements came up to speed with new portfolios.

If the challenge succeeds the new leader must also be gracious.

Opposition leader is never an easy job and the last couple of years have been particularly difficult.

Circumstances have given the Prime Minister opportunities to shine which has left Simon in the shade. On top of this he’s faced sabotage from within and almost unrelenting negative media exposure.

There is no worse example of that then the totally unprofessional and vindictive word cloud which featured in the news a few days (and to which I’m not going to link). That crossed the line from political commentary to personal abuse, even bullying.

But time and time again he’s defied predictions of his political death and should he not do a Lazarus today, he deserves respect for tenacity and focus.

Should he make it one more time he deserves more than respect, he deserves loyalty and unity from his caucus, for his sake and the party’s.

Neither Simon nor Todd is going to out-popular the Prime Minister in the short term, but as Liam Hehir writes, personal unpopularity can be overcome by a policy platform that resonates, and a sound strategy for getting it out there.

There is, however, a big problem. Inter-party divisions do not generally affect the voting intentions of party stalwarts. There is evidence that voters who aren’t partisans, however, will use internal disagreement as a shorthand for evaluating a party’s policy chops. 

So, the path forward is clear. The first thing that must happen is settlement of the leadership question. The next thing is an end to public dissension. 

That means the winner is going to have to strike a careful balance of utu and clemency. Not enough of the former, and he (or she) will have no chance of being anything other than a lame duck. Not enough of the latter and the risk is that disagreements will be intensified. 

Any time National is talking about anything other than the economy it will be bleeding votes to Labour. If it drags on much longer, it will also start bleeding votes to NZ First. It’s the second of those which could turn a tough election into a 2002-level bloodbath. 

MPs who leak and gossip with hostile media should be called to account for risking the jobs of their compadres. Talented MPs should be brought into the fold even if they supported the unsuccessful candidate. Those who would rather reign in hell should be encouraged to explore other options. 

The shenanigans of late are a slap in the face to every unpaid volunteer who has ever stuffed mailboxes or sat through boring committee meetings or parted with their hard-earned cash to support the party’s activities. 

Those people may not abandon the party, but its parliamentary section should not be so careless about letting them down. 

I was an electorate chair when National lost the 2001 election so badly. The following year I was stuffing hundreds of envelopes asking members to pay their subs when the radio news informed me someone was publicly undermining the leader.

I fired off an email to the underminer which started with “bloody hell” and went on to say very, very clearly, how members felt about disunity.

Leaders and MPs come and go, some members do too but the base stays and if there’s one thing that upsets those who remain loyal to the party through good times and bad, it’s MPs who don’t.

New Zealand is facing dire economic times. Job losses already number in the thousands and the social consequences will soon be apparent.

The country needs an opposition focused on holding the government to account.

It needs an opposition able to show it has a plan for a better way to deal with the crisis than the current one which is focused on the quantity of its spend rather than the quality.

And it needs an opposition that shows it has the people to implement the plan who are united and working with their leader

If there’s anyone in National’s caucus who isn’t prepared to get behind whoever wins the leadership vote today s/he should get out and let those who are get on with what must be done for the sake of the party, and the country.


%d bloggers like this: