Word of the day

July 16, 2020

Flammiferous – flame producing; producing or bright with flame.


Rural round-up

July 16, 2020

Government tinkering with the ETS only gives the fossil fuel industry a get out of jail free card – Corina Jordan:

The recent tinkering with the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme will mean little to many New Zealanders.

But the outcome will. That’s because the proposed changes won’t address climate change issues, but will lead to large-scale land use change, with a devastating impact on our landscape and continue to allow fossil fuel industry a get-out-of-jail free card.

These policy and economic instruments that sit within the Climate Change Response Act and the Emissions Trading Reform Bill allow fossil fuel emitters unlimited ability to offset their pollution by planting trees.

The pastoral industry is effectively being asked to pick up the tab for other industries’ pollution and we have seen a major increase in the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry in the last year. . . 

NZ wood ad ‘implies farmers are dumb’ if they don’t embrace forestry – Esther Taunton:

Sheep and beef farmers are up in arms over an advertisement which they say implies they’re stupid if they don’t plant trees on their land.

The NZ Wood advertisement, screened on TVNZ One on Sunday night, opens with footage of a smoking chimney, gridlocked traffic and melting ice.

“The time to stop runaway global warming is running out,” a voiceover says. . . 

 

Falling co-product prices prompt changes – Allan Barber:

The sale of Wallace Group’s tanning, rendering and composting operations in the Waikato, Northland and Manawatu is the latest step in the consolidation process of what is often termed the fifth quarter of the meat industry. Since it began in the late nineteenth century the industry has had to invest significant capital in facilities which were not just designed to process animals for meat production, but also to dispose of the parts of the carcase left over from its primary purpose, otherwise known as by-products or more politely co-products.  

 Co-products include hides and pelts, tallow, meat and bone meal, tripe, tendons, blood and intestines for sausage casings and more recently medical applications. Apart from meal and tallow their market value has really suffered in recent years, the worst effects being experienced in the leather industry which has seen prices for hides and, more particularly, pelts lose much of their value. Wool on pelts have minimal value, while shorn pelts are now negative or are going straight to landfill, while hide prices, especially for cull cow and bull, have been affected by changes in fashion and consumer preference for non-animal products. Wool which used to have a comparable value to the meat return has unfortunately declined to the point where it is now shorn more for animal health than profit reasons. . . 

Regulation risks hindering innovation – Allan Barber:

The fast pace of regulatory change by the government poses a challenge for farmers trying to earn their social licence to operate.

The Emissions Trading Reform Bill and the proposed Essential Freshwater Policy are the two latest examples of regulation which are set to be introduced into law before the Election and will inevitably impose serious costs or penalties on farmers as currently drafted Some provisions run counter to good, common sense farming practices, and the ETR has the potential to side swipe the sheep and beef sector, as it incentivises the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

Representative organisations, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, are working hard on behalf of their members to mitigate the most heavy-handed aspects of the regulation, while at the same time providing farmers with information and tools to enhance on farm environmental performance in line with the comprehensive set of commitments made last year. . . 

Just when you thought wheat yields couldn’t improve :

Ashburton arable farmer Eric Watson has taken out the Guinness World Record for the Highest wheat yield for the second time, beating his former record crop density by 607 kilograms per hectare.

Mr Watson, who farms with his wife, Maxine, at Wakanui, produced an incredible 17.398 tonnes per hectare wheat crop, beating his previous record crop grown in 2017 that delivered 16.791 tonnes of wheat per hectare.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand produce about 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the latest record is as an achievement admired by the wider industry, and providing insights into innovations for future growth.

Mr Watson was thrilled with the result as he strove to continually improve and make advancements to his yields and farming operation. . . 

Campaign champions farmers’ work in boosting bees:

A week-long initiative has commenced today looking to champion the work done on farms to provide habitat for bees and other pollinators.

Bees’ Needs Week, taking place from 13 to 19 July, is an annual event coordinated by Defra working alongside farming and conservation groups.

Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in food production and agriculture, and are also vital to wider ecosystems in the UK.

Scientists say pollinators contribute the equivalent of more than £500m a year to British agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity. . .


Judith Collins’ reshuffle

July 16, 2020

Judith Collins has announced her caucus reshuffle:

“I’m proud to be leading the strongest team in New Zealand politics – one that is dedicated to delivering a better way of life for New Zealanders than the current Government can.

“I’m particularly pleased that Simon Bridges and Todd Muller, as former leaders of the National Party, have accepted my invitation to take up senior roles on my front bench.

“The education portfolio will be in safe hands with Nicola Willis who has shown a tremendous work ethic and aptitude in other challenging portfolios. I’m confident she will continue to contribute to the high standard that we all expect.

“Chris Bishop will be taking on the extra role of Shadow Leader of the House on the front bench. He has been a standout performer in Parliament and as the MP for Hutt South. I have full confidence that he is up to this demanding role.

“Dr Shane Reti has proven himself already as Associate Health spokesperson. As a senior medical practitioner, he is the right choice at this time to hold the Government to account in the demanding health portfolio. Dr Reti takes the position of number five on the front bench of the National Party.

“This refreshed line-up showcases the diverse range of talent and wealth of experience among the National Party ranks.

“National has the experience and vision needed to get our economy back on track.”

The full list is here.

It is one based on matching skills to portfolios that manages to tick the diversity boxes because these are able people and not just tokenism.

 


Nikki Kaye retiring from parliament

July 16, 2020

National’s Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has announced she’s retiring from parliament:

“Yesterday I advised the President and Leader of the National Party Judith Collins that I have decided to retire at this election.

“I made the decision not to stand for Leader or Deputy on Monday and I offered my support to Judith prior to the caucus vote. While Judith made it clear to me that I would be part of her Senior leadership team and Education spokesperson, I am ready to retire. I believe Judith is absolutely the right leader for the Party at this time and I will be supporting Judith and the Party to win this election. New Zealand needs National.

“While I don’t think it was possible to predict the events that have occurred, what I have learned from breast cancer and other life events is you can’t always predict what is around the corner. I have huge respect and admiration for Todd, Michelle and their family as they work through this difficult time. I hope that people continue to show compassion for Todd.

“I have spent most of my adult life serving the public and the National Party. This is personally the right time for me to leave. Cancer has taught me that life can change in a moment and I am ready for the next chapter.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MP for Auckland Central for nearly 12 years, Deputy Leader (briefly) and as a Cabinet Minister in the Governments of both the Rt Hon Sir John Key and Hon Sir Bill English as Minister of Education, ACC, Food Safety, Civil Defence and Associate Immigration and Education.

“I have been very proud to progress the large investments in school infrastructure, the roll out of fast uncapped school internet connections and progressing digital fluency and second language learning. I am also proud of delivering significant ACC levy cuts and passing legislation ensuring greater transparency of ACC levies, food safety reform, cell alerts for civil defence and recovery legislation.

“As the first National MP to win Auckland Central in our country’s history it has been an absolute privilege to serve four terms. I have loved being a local MP progressing projects such as a conservation park for Great Barrier, a number of local school redevelopments, the City Rail Link and apartment law reform. I intend to support the party to find a candidate quickly to ensure Auckland Central continues to have a National MP. I want to thank the people of Auckland central, Waiheke and Great Barrier Island for their support over the past 12 years.

“I have always tried to be a strong advocate for freedom and personal liberty during my time in Parliament particularly around conscience issues. I also hope that the work that I have done in areas like education has made a positive difference to young people.

“I will never forget the compassion showed to me by the people of New Zealand when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am grateful for all the opportunities the National Party and our great country has provided me.

Holding and winning Auckland Central is testament to Nikki’s talent and ability to win cross-party support.

No-one who knows her doubts her capacity for hard work and this tribute from the Ministry for Families shows that:

“It is a sad day for all New Zealanders and those of us working around child protection” says Debbie Swanwick, Director of child advocacy group Ministry for Families.

Her comments follow the announcement today that Nikki Kaye is retiring from politics.

MFF is a consumer led group of people who are having issues in keeping children safe, whether that be through the family court, with Oranga Tamariki or when engaging with government departments.

“Having worked around politicians for most of my life I have never met a politician more dedicated to her work than Nikki Kaye. Her commitment to helping our agency protect children and deal with government departments to deliver justice for them has been inspiring” she says.

Swanwick talks of taking calls from Nikki on a Saturday morning on the Wellsford netball courts following up issues regarding a School Principal bullying a child with an anxiety disorder that were not being addressed by the Education Department. “There is patchy cellphone coverage through there too but nonetheless Nikki Kaye kept calling to ensure the matter was resolved for this child, on the weekend and sometimes late on a Friday night”.

Most recently Nikki Kaye’s office has been following up every week regarding a child uplift that had been conducted by Oranga Tamariki despite the agency being clearly informed there were no concerns regarding the child’s welfare, including by the child. On the day of the uplift the child also clearly disclosed to OT and the police that they were removing her from a safe home which should have halted the uplift. The report writer from Whirinaaki had also disclosed to the child on the day of the uplift that they could see no reason why she wouldn’t be returned home on the day she was uplifted. The child was finally returned six weeks later after some dedicated involvement by Nikki Kaye’s office.

Kaye touched on the work she has done for young people in an interview with the Herald. “She was very humble in what she said though. She has been a game changer for young people in this country and I hope she continues to work in this field” says Swanwick. “She will be sadly missed”.

“These are the stories and the work that the public don’t often hear about. Nikki Kaye has been instrumental as a member of the opposition in ensuring that government departments be made accountable for their actions. Politics is a very demanding career and not for the faint of heart but this is one politician who has done more than any other I know in the area of child protection. We wish Nikki well in her future endeavours” says Swanwick.

I met Nikki when she was first standing for National, admire what she has achieved and appreciative of what she has done for the party, the people she has served and New Zealand.

I know that she has worked hard on many issues. A young woman who has been working with her on one has nothing but praise for Nikki’s determination to do what is best for the people involved and her commitment to do it in a way that isn’t partisan because of her belief it is too important for politics.

She has more than earned a life after parliament and I wish her well.

 


‘Collective Hug’ for drought-stricken farmers

July 16, 2020

Farmers stricken by drought in Hawke’s Bay who could face their toughest test in the next 6 to 8 weeks as winter bites, have received a ‘Collective Hug’ to give them a lift:

. . .The 1200 farms in the region today received a simple act of kindness made possible by one woman’s hard work.

Diana Greer is the organiser in chief of the “Collective Hug”, a project for drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers. . . 

 


Feeding on fear no substitute for policy

July 16, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a press conference yesterday morning.

A quick look at main New Zealand news websites had several, by and large positive, stories about Judith Collins the new leader of the Opposition but I had to look hard to find anything about the PM’s speech.

That was a good thing because if you go to the Beehive website and read the speech you’ll find it was a cynical attempt to feed fear about Covid-19.

It speaks about the risk of the disease spreading in the community and what will be done should that happen.

That didn’t tell us anything new.

Anyone who follows international news doesn’t have to look far to understand that in spite of more than 70 days with no cases of community spread, it could still happen when New Zealanders who are infected are coming home and what the response would have to be.

So why make that speech and why yesterday?

It was a cynical and deliberately timed attempt to take media attention away from new National leader Judith Collins, feed the fear many still have of an outbreak of Covid-19 and distract from Labour’s lack of policy.

Then Ardern had the gall to pretend she wasn’t politicking:

After a speech setting out how New Zealand would respond if another Covid-19 outbreak was to occur, the Prime Minister was asked about the front-page news of the day: Judith Collins.

Jacinda Ardern demurred, offering neither congratulations nor commiserations for the National Party and its new leader.

“I’m spending more time about New Zealand’s response and economic recovery from Covid-19,” Ardern said.

“I accept there will be politicking this year. I accept we have an election. But if I’m being brutally honest, my mind hasn’t been focused on that to date.”

Honest? That is anything but.

“I absolutely accept that there is an election this year – and there is no avoiding that – but at the moment it’s taking up a bare minimum of my attention.”

Is this an admission that she can deal with only one thing at a time?

It’s also quite an odd way of putting it. Ardern doesn’t have the choice to “accept” whether there is an election this year. Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.

This kind of language plays into a wider strategy that is emerging from Ardern and Labour to basically pretend there isn’t an election. With the global pandemic continuing to dominate the news cycle it makes total sense to stick to governing, or at least look like you are. “Politicking” is something other parties who are in trouble do, what with their leadership changes and leaking drama, you just get to govern. After all, people like Prime Minister Ardern much more than Labour leader Ardern, and the best campaign is a well-governed country. . . 

The response to the pandemic, particularly the claim about going hard and early, can be debated but the result that allows most of us to live life as normal, bar international travel, can not. However, government’s success in many other areas, in particular Labour flagship policies such as KiwiBuild and reducing child poverty, are open to attack.

That’s why Ardern wants to keep the attention on Covid-19 and away from other issues which she and her largely lacklustre team are ill-equipped to handle.

Thus far Labour has released a single election policy, which deals with afforestation of farmland and seems mostly engineered to give Kieran McAnulty a good shot in Wairarapa. When you ask about other policy areas, MPs either say “maybe soon” or point to wider government policy on an issue. But the Government is not the Labour Party, it is a set of compromises between Labour and two parties with wildly different views. Kiwis can’t vote for “the Government” – much like they can’t vote for Ardern herself. They can vote for a party, and they deserve a coherent set of values and promises to make that decision on. . .

A coherent set of values and promises to make a decision on would only remind voters that three years ago Labour campaigned on let’s do this and has been much better at speeches and media releases than actually doing anything.

Collins promised to not underestimate Ardern as a foe. Ardern is unlikely to be underestimating Collins in return. But she can only float above the partisan fray for so long. At some point she will need to dig in and fight a real ideological battle with the National Party – especially as its leader is now making promises to “take our country back”. That’s what elections are for.

They are, and National’s chances of winning have been greatly enhanced by the leadership change. Heather du Plessis-Allan says Collins nailed her first day as leader:

You can see the strategy. Collins is going to try to show Ardern how the job should be done.

And if she pulls it off, it could well look like the grownups have finally arrived.

That would be grown ups who understand there’s a lot more to governing than good communication, it takes a lot more than three or four people to run a country and feeding fear of a pandemic is no substitute for robust policy and the ability to deliver it.


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