Word of the day

July 2, 2020

Monomania – exaggerated or obsessive enthusiasm for or preoccupation with one thing;   mental illness especially when limited in expression to one idea or area of thought; excessive concentration on a single object or idea; a psychosis characterised by thoughts confined to one idea or group of ideas; an inordinate or obsessive zeal for or interest in a single thing, idea, subject, or the like.


Sowell says

July 2, 2020


Rural round-up

July 2, 2020

Contractors need staff pronto – Annette Scott:

Without skilled operators rural contractors risk having millions of dollars of essential agricultural machinery sitting idle this spring. 

After an urgent meeting with Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor, Rural Contractors is surveying members amid rising concern over the pending labour shortage.

Results so far reveal up to 1000 skilled machinery operators will be needed for the spring and summer.     

Many will need to be brought into NZ, Rural Contractors president David Kean said. . . 

Worker shortage worries pig farmers :

Pork producers are calling on the Government to urgently review its policies on skilled migrant workers as severe staff shortages hit. 

Pig farmers rely on experienced workers from overseas to meet a shortfall in staff with the necessary skills required to work with the country’s herd.

However, they are concerned skilled migrants already working on farms might not have their visas renewed or existing workers trying to return from overseas will be blocked, leaving many farmers with significant staffing shortages.

“The sector’s strong preference would be to have a pool of available skilled and unskilled New Zealand workers,” New Zealand Pork chief executive David Baines said.  . . 

Aerial top-dressing, deer among highlights of past century – Richard Davison:

In common with a record 70 families set to receive their Century Farm awards in Lawrence last month, the Mackies, of South Otago, were unable to share their story when Covid-19 intervened. Here they take the opportunity to do so, looking back over the Copland and Mackie families’ 100 years of farming the same land, with reporter Richard Davison.

Given the ups and downs of farming, it’s no mean feat to stay put on the same land for a century and more.

Every year, though, the Century Farms event in Lawrence marks a swag of families from across New Zealand achieving just that, and last month a record 70 families were due to pick up 100- and 150-year awards.

We all know what happened next, but many of those families’ stories still deserve to be told, helping paint a picture of the gambles, innovations, hard work and lighter-hearted moments of New Zealand farming down the years. . . 

Growing native plants creating legacy – Keri Waterworth:

The quality of water entering lakes, rivers and streams from farms in the Upper Clutha catchment is improving due to the thousands of natives planted around waterways on those farms. One of the nurseries supplying the plants is Wanaka’s Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust nursery. Kerrie Waterworth reports.

Nestled in the shelter of an extensive QE11 convenanted kanuka forest beside Lake Wanaka, the Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust nursery is at the end of an easy walk through the QEII Covenant Kanuka forest beside Lake Wanaka.

On the Tuesday afternoon I visited, it was one of the two nursery volunteer afternoons held each week during winter, and only the second since the nursery reopened following the Covid-19 lockdown/restriction periods. . . 

Wine worker launches petition to ease visa conditions as concerns grow for next harvest – Maia Hart:

A petition has been launched calling for the Government to ease temporary work visa conditions for international winery workers impacted by Covid-19.

The petition, started by Cait Guyette, is calling for the Government to allow grape harvest workers already in New Zealand to stay until vintage 2021.

Guyette, who is from the United States but had a permanent job at a winery in Marlborough, said she felt disheartened there had been no leniency to allow harvest workers to continue working in New Zealand’s wine industry. . . 

NSW buys outback station in state’s largest single property purchase for a national park – Saskia Mabin:

It’s the vast embodiment of outback beauty and heartbreak — a sweeping western NSW cattle station that is, by turns, arid no-man’s land and lush waterbird haven, home to ancient Indigenous artefacts, the ghostly trail of Burke and Wills and now the nation’s newest national park.

“It can be very good and then it can be vile,” said Bill O’Connor, 84, owner of Narriearra station, which has just become the largest block of private land bought for a national park in the state’s history.

With nearby Sturt National Park, Narriearra will create a conservation area of close to half a million hectares, or twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory.

The 153,415-hectare station sits in the north-west corner of the state, with the dog-proof fence of the NSW-Queensland border forming its northern boundary. . . 


Bridges & Reti up, Clark down

July 2, 2020

National leader Todd Muller has announced two promotions in the wake of Paula Bennett’s decision to retire from politics:

Dr Shane Reti will be ranked number 13 and will take on Associate Drug Reform. Shane has demonstrated a huge intellect and capacity for work, supporting Michael Woodhouse in our Covid-19 response, as well as achieving much in the Tertiary Education portfolio.

Simon Bridges will be picking up the Foreign Affairs portfolio and will be ranked at number 17. Simon has been leader and a minister for a number of years in the last National Government. He expressed a desire for this portfolio and his experience will be valuable in this important role.

Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye will pick up the portfolio of Women and will make several announcements associated with this portfolio in the coming months.

Amy Adams will take the portfolio of Drug Reform. She will work with Shane Reti in this area. . . 

These are all good moves, I am especially pleased that Simon’s experience and skill will be put to good use.

Gerry Brownlee did have the Foreign Affairs portfolio. I have no idea what negotiations went on, but Gerry stepped aside to allow Bill English to be John Key’s deputy when John became leader for the good of the caucus and party. It looks like he has done so again which shows commendable loyalty and grace.

Meanwhile, a mess has been tidied up for the government.

David Clark has resigned as Health Minister:

The embattled MP for Dunedin North said he had become a “distraction” and that the “time is right” for someone else to fill the role, but he will stand as an MP in the upcoming election. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement Dr Clark contacted her on Wednesday to “confirm his wish to resign as a minister” and that she had accepted his resignation. 

The Prime Minister has appointed Labour MP Chris Hipkins as Health Minister until the election. Hipkins is currently the Minister of Education.  . . 

Clark is the third of Ardern’s Ministers to lose his warrant – Clare Curran resigned, and Meka Whaitiri who was sacked.

It has taken a while, had Ardern had more steel the resignation would have been accepted weeks ago when Clark first offered it.


App another govt fail

July 2, 2020

The government’s tracing app is another addition to the list of its Covid-19 response failures:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has slammed the Government’s controversial COVID-19 tracing app as a monumental failure on every possible measure.

Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government’s NZ COVID Tracer is a lacklustre yet expensive app which was late to the pandemic, and then hardly used. The Ministry of Health slowly developed it in secret, excluding the private sector which repeatedly offered to help. By the time the official app came out there were already better apps on the market which had been quickly developed by technology companies.”

Data now reveals that people who downloaded NZ COVID Tracer checked in around two times. Only 10,000 out of 800,000 Kiwi businesses signed up to the app. It was a digital diary, rather than a genuine tracing app like the ones operated by the Governments of Australia and Singapore. Both of those were offered to the Government, but it seemed obsessed with developing its own app from scratch. Government essentially reinvented the wheel, and when the wheel eventually turned up, it was wonky.”

Why reinvent the wheel when there was a locally made one that was working?

“The Government should have swallowed its pride and adopted the same approach as Wellington City Council and Dunedin City Council. They endorsed – and invested – in the Rippl tracing app, made by Wellington-based software company PaperKite. That app was released well before NZ COVID Tracer and is widely considered superior. PaperKite offered to collaborate with the Ministry of Health but was declined. Data from Rippl is stored in the Kiwi Cloud while data from NZ COVID Tracer is held in Sydney.”

Another case of government-knows best when it doesn’t. The private sector had released a superior product And using it would have saved both time and money.

“In a pandemic, the Government should have quickly adopted the best technology, no matter who developed it. In this case, the private sector was demonstrably quicker and more effective than the Ministry. NZ COVID Tracer will be remembered as an expensive failure,” says Mr Houlbrooke.

The total cost of developing NZ COVID Tracer is not yet known.

There is no doubt that New Zealand has had relatively few cases of and death from Covid-19 but each addition to the list of response failures confirms that good luck has played a big part in that, possibly a bigger part than management much of which has been less than good.


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