Life without parole

27/08/2020

Brenton Tarrant has been sentenced to life without parole:

Terrorist gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant has accepted his fate and will spend all his remaining years in prison, with no chance of ever being released. …

Justice Mander said he had “listened with sadness” to those who had read their victim impact statements in court during the four-day sentencing hearing. He summarised their views and situations, and referred to kind, forgiving, fine people being killed. 

He said he had little doubt Tarrant had come to New Zealand to target the Muslim community. He had travelled in Europe and developed deep-seated views about the “cultural displacement” of Europeans by migrants.  . .

“You remain empty of any empathy for the victims. You remain detached and appear entirely self-centred,” Justice Mander said. . .

He rejected the idea of any credit for Tarrant’s guilty pleas, and his claimed change of views. He noted Tarrant remained entirely self-absorbed and had offered no apology or public acknowledgement.

His regret seemed centred on the waste of his own life . . .

Tarrant’s is the face of evil. This week he had to face the victims of his crime.

Many of them forgave him, showing the face of good.


Sowell says

27/08/2020


Rural round-up

27/08/2020

‘People, trust’ key to environmental work – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers in the Wanaka area have taken a proactive approach to water quality in  their patch and  are now moving into stage 2 of  their catchment group project. Sally Rae reports.

“Relationships and people. I don’t know why when it comes to the environment, we always forget that. I can wax on about science up to my wazoo — this thing is purely about people, relationships and trust.”

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle is referring to the Wanaka Catchment Group, set up three years ago and comprising 15 large properties that drain into or are upstream of Lake Wanaka.

Representing 95% of the farmed catchment, they range from fourth generation — such as the Aspinall family at Mt Aspiring Station — to overseas owners and everything in between. . . 

Why farmers are talking trees – Sam McIvor:

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says turning productive farmland to plantations for carbon farming will have negative effects on rural communities and the Government should rethink its flawed approach.

Trees have become a hot topic with farmers lately, and with good reason.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports protecting and restoring native bush and the planting of forestry on farms in a way that complements the landscape. However, we’re concerned about the impact of policies that economically incentivise wholesale land use change from pastoral-based farming into exotic trees for carbon offsetting.

Put simply, we’re not anti-forestry – we’re against policies that will lead to widespread carbon farming, which will have detrimental effects on our rural communities. . . 

Big win for Fonterra in latest DIRA amendments – Keith Woodford:

New DIRA settings give Fonterra what it wanted but make life much more challenging for any new dairy processors.

Fonterra will be feeling very pleased with the final outcomes from the much drawn-out 2018-2020 review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). Last minute changes as a consequence of Fonterra’s lobbying have made it very hard for any new start-ups to nibble away at Fonterra’s dominance.

These latest DIRA amendments were passed in late July and were supported across the political spectrum.  They were inserted at a late stage in the Select Committee process, and were a fait accompli before outsiders realised what was happening.  Someone in Fonterra deserves a job promotion for their lobbying skill. . . 

Sixty hectares of kiwifruit being planted in the Whanganui region – Mike Tweed:

Whanganui dairy farmers Jarrod and Holly Murdoch will soon be turning 20 hectares of their Waitotara land into a kiwifruit orchard.

They’re part of a burgeoning kiwifruit growing industry in the region, which includes Mangamahu grower David Wells who is now adding 16.5ha to his existing 3.5.

These projects, along with another 20ha of kiwifruit planting in the Whanganui region, have resulted in New Zealand company Apata Group Limited, which harvests, packs and stores fruit, signing on to provide infrastructure and oversee the growing of these crops.

Wells, who began growing kiwifruit in 1978, said Apata’s involvement, as well as support from local investors “triggered it all”. . . 

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines –  Rob Picheta:

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines, a new study has found.

Researchers said honey was more effective in relieving the symptoms of cold and flu-like illnesses than the usual commercial remedies, and could provide a safer, cheaper and more readily available alternative to antibiotics.

They encouraged doctors to consider recommending it to patients in place of prescribing antibiotics, which can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance when overused.

The proven health benefits of honey

Honey has long been used as a home remedy for coughs, but its effectiveness in treating common illnesses has not been heavily researched. . .

Award winning Waiheke vineyard for sale offers vintage opportunities for investors:

The land and buildings sustaining an award-winning vineyard in one of Waiheke Island’s most commanding locations have been placed on the market for sale.

Peacock Sky, in the established rural residential area of Onetangi/Trig Hill, features a mature productive vineyard which was planted more than 20 years ago. Owners Connie Festa and Rob Meredith bought it in 2008, and have since developed the property and brand into a multi-award-winning vineyard.

Located at 152 Trig Hill Road in central Waiheke, on one of the island’s highest points, the site offers panoramic views – with available space mooted for development of a luxury residential retreat, destination restaurant or events facility. . . 


Need trust for unity

27/08/2020

At the start of the first lockdown there was a high degree of trust in what the government was doing.

We didn’t all buy into the rhetoric of hard and early, and some argued that safety rather than essential should be the criteria determining what businesses could operate.

But by and large most of us accepted the need to stay home, stay safe and save lives.

Research of social media by consultancy Rutherford shows feelings over this second lockdown are different:

People are feeling more anxious and angry during the second Covid-19 lockdown than any other time since the pandemic started, according to new social media analysis.

The sense of community New Zealand felt during the first lockdown in March appears to have somewhat dissolved amid growing frustration and despair, suggests the new research by business consultancy Rutherford.

The number of people encouraging others to comply with lockdown rules, by sharing messages such as #stayhomesavelives, has dived by more than 50 per cent, the research shows. . . 

Rutherford analysed about 435,318 social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram from the past two weeks to get a snapshot of how New Zealanders were feeling about Covid-19. . . 

Rutherford chief executive Graham Ritchie said not only had the volume of social media conversation around Covid-19 increased, but negative sentiment was up 10 per cent. It was also more heightened and toxic as people vented their frustration at further restrictions. . . 

At least some of that frustration is due to the growing list of failures from the government and health officials.

There was always the risk that human error would let Covid-19 through the border but shortcomings in testing and tracing were the result of more than human error, they were the result of systems and process failures.

It doesn’t help that we were repeatedly assured that the government and Ministry of Health, bolstered by the military, had everything under control when it is now obvious they did not.

Unity depends on trust and Heather du Plessis-Allan is not alone in losing trust in the government’s ability to keep Covid-19 at the border:

. . . Do we want to go through the list of things this government has told were happening but weren’t?  Because it’s long 

It starts with the time we were promised the police were checking on all retuning kiwis isolating when at home, and they weren’t checking. It included us being told everyone coming out of managed isolation was being tested first when they weren’t. And it goes up to us being told all border workers were besting tested when they weren’t. 

You know, our plan to keep Covid out of the country looks good on paper, but unless it’s actually being done, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Covid will slip through if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do. 

Goodness only knows what the Prime Minister plans to announce to reassure us over this one.  She’s already used the 500 defence force card, the Heather Simpson and Brian Roche card, and the ‘I promise we’ll do it this time’ card. 

Are there any other cards left? 

In fact, you know what?  She shouldn’t even bother, because it doesn’t really matter what she announces to try to fix this, again. I don’t believe a word of what she and her government now say about their Covid response. 

I now do not trust them to keep Covid out of this country any more. 

Grant Robertson won’t extend the wage subsidy for the extra four days of level 3 lockdown because he says we are borrowing every single dollar we are paying out.

Yes, and how much extra are we borrowing because somehow or other the virus is back in the community and we’re now paying the Simpson-Roche committee to check that the people who are supposed to be keeping the border tight are actually doing it?

We’re no long united because we no longer trust the government and health officials to keep us safe.

But unfortunately we can trust them to keep spending more borrowed money to fix problems that wouldn’t have needed solutions if our trust in them to do what they say they’re doing hadn’t been misplaced.


Word of the day

26/08/2020

Derf – fierce; powerful, strong.


Sowell says

26/08/2020


Rural round-up

26/08/2020

Wonderful wool, our ‘supermaterial’, is at a crossroads – adapt or disappear – Piers Fuller:

Once a stalwart of our economy, the wool sector faces some tough decisions to ensure its survival. Piers Fuller reports.

For those lanolin-soaked old shearers who remember the glory days of the New Zealand wool industry, the collapse of our strong wonder fibre is something of a disaster.

For many modern economists, the writing is on the wall and it is time to face reality and produce something the world wants.

Unfortunately, what the world has wanted in recent decades has been cheap, petroleum-based synthetics. . . 

We are loved again – Nick Loughnan:

In our time of farming, Faith and I have known the ups and downs of affairs – not those that involve other people’s hearts. We’ve been together for 45 years. No, these affairs at their peak were about being needed and valued to the point of privilege, just because of what we do. We’re farmers.

At the start of our career, we certainly belonged to a privileged bunch. Deciding we wanted to own our own farm, but with neither of us having chosen parents who already had one, we had to start from scratch. Yet there were great incentives for us in our early 20s to get the breaks.

Governments had, for decades through different schemes, been developing extensive tracts of marginal land, subdividing these into smaller ‘economic’ units, complete with new dwellings, sheds, yards and fences, and then balloting them off. . . 

Growing demand for antibiotic-free meat – Annette Scott:

A sudden surge in orders for antibiotic-free meat has processors on the hop as they struggle to meet market demand.

Alliance general manager livestock and shareholder services Danny Hailes said the co-operative is desperately seeking farmers to join its Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) programme.

He said while global markets are generally subdued, there is growing demand for antibiotic-free meat.

“We have one customer, (in) North America, where demand is just growing as customers become increasingly conscious of what they are eating,” he said. . . 

A hiss not a roar

The Covid-19 lockdown has kept international hunters at home and meant a very lean season for their NZ guides, as Annabelle Latz reports.

The stags were roaring, yet not a hunter was to be seen.

Owing to Covid-19 lockdown rules there were no trophy hunters gathering from around New Zealand or abroad to enjoy the roar this year.

Instead, hunting guides were left with empty appointment books, hunters stayed home, and stags remained untouched.

John Royle of Canterbury Tahr Hunter Guide NZ has been guiding for more than 12 years and this was the first time ever he’s been ground to a halt during the roar, his most lucrative season with full appointment books. He has lost potentially three months’ business. . .

Coculture brings environmental and economic benefits

 Research scientists say law changes are required before lucrative new species, which also bring environmental benefits, can be harvested from existing marine farms.

A paper from Niwa’s Jeanie Stenton-Dozey and Jeffrey Ren, Cawthron’s Leo Zamora and independent researcher Philip Heath appears in the latest NZ Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research.

It looks at opportunities for Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) – also known as coculture. You may also have heard the term polyfarming which was the title for an MFA- supported Smart+Connected Aquaculture forum in Havelock in 2017.

The forum was held to encourage pathways to new added-value products and diversify production into other high value species. . . 

A true picture of our rural lifestyle – Joyce Campbell:

Keeping my big mouth shut is never easy for me, but over the past year I’ve managed not to tell too many folk that we’ve been filming with a team from the BBC for series four of This Farming Life.

It wasn’t a decision that any of us took lightly but I wanted to take the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the consumers of the food we produce and share the stories of the rural communities we live in.

A slot on BBC2 at prime time, to a UK-wide audience, was worth me taking the time and effort to engage with the wider public.

I’m not going to lie – I was extremely nervous on Tuesday night as the opening titles rolled, but two Rock Rose gin and tonics helped to settle the gut-churning emotions. . . 

 


Youth wing debate

26/08/2020

The Spinoff hosted a debate for representatives of the youth wings of six parties:

If the six youth wing leaders were feeling nervous about taking part in a debate filmed in front of a lively audience at the Auckland Town Hall, it didn’t show. One by one – or two, in the case of the Young Greens co-convenors – they strode onto the stage projecting what could only be described as an unnerving level of confidence. When they opened their mouths to speak, their political messages came out loud and clear.

“Let’s keep moving,” said Young Labour’s Princes Street chairperson Adam Brand. “Party vote Green,” said Danielle Marks, standing alongside fellow Young Greens co-convenor Matariki Roche. “Act is aspirational,” said Young Act president Felix Poole. “Back your future,” said Young NZ First chairperson Jay McLaren-Harris. “Look,” said Northern Young Nats chairperson Aryana Nafissi, “we need a National government”. . . 

The debate was moderated by Toby Manhire,

 

 


Enabling better environmental outcomes in agriculture

26/08/2020

Nuffield Scholar Kate Scott presents her research on enabling better environmental outcomes in agriculture:

You can read Kate’s report here.


Another day another hole

26/08/2020

We’re supposed to believe everything form the 1pm podium of truth but how can we when there are another gaping  hole between what we’re told and what’s actually happening has been exposed:

 Despite weeks of telling the public that ‘everyone’ in managed isolation is being tested for Covid-19 on day three of their stay, the Health Minister has admitted he knows these tests are not compulsory and his ministry does not know how many people haven’t had them.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed in writing on August 4 that day three tests were not compulsory and the Ministry of Health did not keep records of how many people had not received them.

This is despite Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield saying on June 9 that “from today, everyone in managed isolation will be tested twice for Covid-19”. The national testing strategy also requires day three testing.

Covid-19 testing is meant to occur on days three and 12 of a 14-day stay in managed isolation.

National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says it is disappointing the Government spin machine continued to let the public think day three tests were mandatory when they weren’t.

“This is yet another hole in our border defences,” Dr Reti says.

“Recent revelations that not all border staff were being tested for Covid-19 were extremely disappointing given this is our first and most important line of defence against the virus.

“The Government’s complacent attitude to day three testing is equally disappointing. If we are truly a team of five million then we all need to take the game plan seriously.

“Day three testing is important. Dr Bloomfield has talked about how it is key to reducing the risk of someone leaving managed isolation infectious.

Someone positive but not tested on day three would have more than a week to infect others before the test results on day 12 were available.

“This is why National has reissued our request to re-convene Parliament’s Health Select Committee. We think it is important the Director-General of Health fronts up to explain the disconnect between the Government’s rhetoric on testing and what is actually happening.

“National will protect New Zealanders from Covid-19 and allow our economy to flourish with a comprehensive border plan that includes mandatory weekly testing of all border staff.”

The Minister’s answers are here.

Not only are people not being tested, border staff are waiting far too long for results when they are tested:

A senior employee in the managed isolation system says he has yet to receive the results of his coronavirus test 10 days on.

And neither have at least three of his colleagues.

The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was tested at a pop-up centre at an Auckland isolation hotel on August 14 shortly after revelations 60 per cent of border workers had not received a Covid test.

On Monday, 10 days after his test, he was yet to receive his results.

He had also contacted his GP who said they had no record of him being tested on August 14.

As a result, he had been told to undergo another test sometime in the next week.

The man described the state of affairs as a “farce”.

“Something’s gone wrong.” . . 

Several somethings have gone wrong and something keeps going wrong.

But the news isn’t all bad – the Health Select Committee will reconvene next Wednesday, following pressure from the National Party and New Zealand First.:

National health spokesperson Shane Reti had written – for a second time – to the Health Committee chair asking for it to be reconvened. His initial request was rejected.

Reti wanted the Health Committee to call Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, senior ministry officials, and the Health Minister, to grill them on the Covid-19 response.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said it was logical for the committee to meet to canvass the advice of those people on the alert level decisions taken by Cabinet this week.

“Given the economic and health consequences of the Cabinet’s decision it is appropriate for the accountability function to be performed while Parliament is sitting,” he said.

Committee chair and Labour MP Louisa Wall said she was happy for the committee to be reconvened and would invite the minister and Bloomfield to appear. . . 

The Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) that operated during the first lockdown hasn’t been reconvened. The Health Select Committee will be the next best way for the Opposition to question the Minister and DG of Health.


Chain of incompetence

25/08/2020

This would be funny if it wasn’t so near the truth:


Word of the day

25/08/2020

Dissonance – lack of harmony among musical notes;  a combination of sounds or musical notes that are not pleasant when heard together; harsh, inharmonious noise; cacophony; lack of agreement or harmony between people or things; inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs.


Sowell says

25/08/2020


Rural round-up

25/08/2020

Group to prioritise staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Addressing the shortage of primary sector staff in Southland will be one of the key roles for the new Southern Primary Sector Workforce Action Group (SPSWAG) co-ordinator.

The job will include matching jobseekers with employers in addition to establishing a regionally focused database of jobs and implementing a pastoral support programme.

Federated Farmers’ Southland provincial vice-president Bernadette Hunt said the group, which was launched in June last year, had received several “very good quality applications” for the one-year-contract position and they were now deciding on a shortlist of applicants to interview. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Sir David Fagan on how the pandemic is affecting Kiwi shearers – Matthew Mckew:

Covid-19 restrictions mean there’s no shortage of shearers at the moment, but Sir David Fagan sees trouble ahead for the industry.

The reason there were plenty of Kiwi shearers about right now was that they can’t travel anywhere, the world champion told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We’re not getting New Zealanders going back to Australia for the season. So they’re here now shearing. I guess the winter time shearing’s pretty good for the workforce.” . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year takes the reins on Fairlie farm :

Even though Nicola Blowey’s parents sold their dairy farm in Devon just before she was born, farming has remained in her veins. After studying agriculture in the UK she came to South Canterbury to work on a dairy farm.

It was meant to be for 12 months but four years on she’s still here and rising up the industry ranks. Last year the 26-year-old won the Dairy Trainee of the Year title in the NZ Dairy Industry Awards. She then took up a farm manager position on one of Kieran and Leonie Guiney’s dairy farms near Fairlie.

Nicola now has three staff and a large herd of KiwiCross cows to look after. She’s loving the increased responsibility. . . 

 Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . . 

Why Synlait has nothing to fear from a2 Milk’s foray into infant formula – Jamie Gray:

A2 Milk will soon try its hand at infant formula making if it is successful in buying the debt-laden Mataura Valley Milk, but its supplier – Synlait Milk – has nothing to fear.

The dual-listed a2 Milk is in talks to buy three-quarters of the China-owned Mataura Valley Milk in Southland for $270 million.

A2 Milk has made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire a 75.1 per cent interest in Mataura Valley, based on an enterprise value of about $385m. . . 

Vegans urged to switch to cow milk instead of soya to save the planet – Rob Waugh:

Vegans should avoid soya milk if they want to save the planet, and even consider drinking cows’ milk instead, a sustainability charity has said.

The Sustainable Food Trust said that soya beans are associated with rainforest destruction, and that soya meal is also used in animal food, but that the amounts required to create soya milk meant that cow’s milk is healthier for the planet.

Researchers from the Sustainable Food Trust and the University of Nottingham calculated the amounts of soya used in both soya milk and cows’ milk in a new review of evidence.

The charity wrote: “Vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya are also harming the planet. . .


Must learn from mistakes

25/08/2020

People criticising the criticism of the failures by the Government and its agencies are saying the critics should keep the failures in perspective.

They justify that by comparing New Zealand’s record on Covid-19 to that of other countries.

Fair enough, in raw numbers and per head of population our infection and death rates are low.

But that doesn’t excuse the failures that have been exposed, especially those we’ve learned of since the Auckland cluster was discovered.

Bryce Edwards, who no-one could accuse of being right wing, asks how serious are the government’s botch-ups?

Of course, there are good reasons to take the border botch-ups extremely seriously. After all, we have known from the start of this pandemic that the country’s borders need to be adequately managed if New Zealand is to achieve our objective of eliminating the virus. What’s more, the revelations of the last week point to more than simply “hiccups”, but serious dysfunction in the way the political system is supposed to work, with what some believe to be deliberate attempts to deceive the public over its failings.

As debate about the botch-ups has progressed, it seems likely that failures of Covid testing have led to the current lockdown. The testing botch-ups topic is, therefore, one of vital importance, especially if the country is going to learn from the failures and correct them. . . 

The government and Health Ministry didn’t learn from mistakes made in the initial lockdown which makes it even more important to learn from the latest ones.

Given the importance of the borders, and making sure that those coming into the country don’t cause community transmission, the Government has been making promises for the last two months that every worker employed in relation to the border would be routinely tested. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, and the Director-General of Health have continued to reassure the public that such testing was being carried out.

Edwards quotes from several reports highlighting failures then asks should there be an inquiry into what has happened?

Various commentators and epidemiologists have been arguing for this to occur for some time. Although the Government continues to argue against deploying resources for such scrutiny while the crisis is still on, some experts say the need is all the greater to learn the lessons as soon as possible.

For example, University of Otago public health experts Nick Wilson and Michael Baker are reportedly both in favour of early inquiries: “the Government wasted the 100 days New Zealand was free of community transmission. They say any inquiry could offer advice to officials every few months, guiding the response to any future outbreaks” – see: Ben Strang’s Government urged to launch inquiry into its pandemic response.

According to this article, these epidemiologists believe “officials sat back and basked in New Zealand’s relative success during past pandemics, which meant systems and plans were not reviewed to an adequate standard.” . . .

National leader Judith Collins goes further, calling for a public health summit.

Judith Collins says that, as Prime Minister, she will convene a Public Health Summit to review lockdown levels and discuss other public health measures that avoid future lockdowns.

“We need to work out how our economy can flourish when it’s clear Covid-19 will be with us for some time,” Ms Collins says. “It is clear that the levels system needs to be reviewed in light of our experience, with a wide range of perspectives in the room.

“National’s border policy with a single protection agency and greater testing and contact tracing abilities is one step to ensuring the Kiwis remain safe from Covid-19, but if there are future threats as a country, we need certainty and transparency over what the process is if future outbreaks occur.

“We need to balance the social and economic costs, while ensuring the best possible health response.

“As Prime Minister I will convene an immediate Public Health Summit that would bring all aspects of our community together, from public health specialists, primary care teams, iwi leadership, Business New Zealand, manufacturing and the unions, so we can all agree on what’s best practice for the country.

“While we’re committed to the elimination approach, the Summit’s reviews of the levels will give us the best chance of recovering the jobs lost and preventing further loss.

“What’s clear is that Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time. We need to find the best ways of ensuring that we continue to eliminate this disease.

The health response can’t be divorced from the economic, social and other health consequences of the lockdown.

Covid-19 will be around for many months, possibly years. We can’t afford to have a repeat of any of the mistakes made and the government and its agencies must not only learn from them, they must come up with a better strategy for dealing with any further outbreaks.

New Zealand wasn’t prepared for this pandemic and it has made too many mistakes in handling it.

A health summit might be the best way to learn from those mistakes and come up with a better strategy not just for this pandemic but any future ones.


Word of the day

24/08/2020

Forasche – marked by shyness and lack of social graces;  wild; shy; having a fierce or cranky temperament; sullen or gloomy.


Sowell says

24/08/2020


Why are we waiting?

24/08/2020

The daily 1pm Covid-19 broadcast has just updated us on the number of new cases – eight confirmed and one probable.

Cabinet will have had this information since around 9am.

They ought to have had any other information needed to make the decision on what changes, if any, will be made to alert levels.

Why then are we having to wait until 3pm for that announcement?

Could it be to give more time for speech writers and the Prime Minister’s preparation for what will be another thinly disguised party political broadcast?

Does anyone want to take a bet on how many words will precede the only bit most of us are interested in – whether or not Auckland will be unlocked from alert level 3 and the rest of us from level 2?

Oamaru Rotary was to have opened its popup Bookarama on the day we went to level 2. We can’t open until we’re back at level one. That’s an inconvenience for the volunteers who staff it who can’t make plans until we know if and when we’ll be needed.

There are a lot more people for whom it is far worse than inconvenient.

People can’t hold funerals, weddings and other such functions; some can’t get to family and friends in need because they can’t get into, through or out of Auckland and most seriously for the financial, social and health impacts, jobs and whole businesses are at great risk.

Waiting a few hours more to learn if and when any changes in level will be made won’t make any difference to the outcome, but it would be good to know if there is a far better reason why we’re waiting than allowing preparation for the speech to which many of us don’t want to listen.


Rural round-up

24/08/2020

Family first for these high flyers – Ashley Smyth:

Topflite tends to fly under the radar when people think of Oamaru businesses, but for this family-owned success story, things are quietly taking off. Ashley Smyth reports.

While being Oamaru-based can present its challenges, these are far outweighed by the benefits the small-town lifestyle offers, Topflite general manager Greg Webster says.

“The fact we’re close to where the product is grown is a big one. Also, being a family business, family is always something we’ve put importance on.

“We want people to have a life outside of work. Living in Oamaru allows that – your staff don’t have an hour commute.”

The company, perhaps most famous locally for its striking sunflower crops, was founded by Greg’s father Jock Webster and Jock’s brothers-in-law Ross and Bruce Mitchell, in the 1970s. . . 

Minister missing in action:

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry. . . 

New rules go ‘too far’ – farmer – Sally Rae:

“Farming’s a tough game but they are hellbent on making it tougher.”

West Otago dairy farmer Bruce Eade is concerned about the Government’s new freshwater regulations which start coming into force from September 3, saying many of the rules concerning winter cropping and grazing were “almost unfarmable” in the South.

The Eade family are longtime dairy farmers and converted their Kelso property 25 years ago. They milk about 550 cows, have a free-stall barn and also winter beef cattle on crop.

“We’re lifers, you could say. We do it for the cows is the biggest thing for us. If I didn’t love my cows, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s far easier ways to make a living,” Mr Eade said. . . 

Scramble over new freshwater rules – Colin Williscroft:

Regional councils and industry good groups are scrambling under a tight timeframe to get to grips with how new freshwater regulations will be implemented and what its impact on farmers is likely to be.

The new Essential Freshwater rules became law earlier this month and in the past couple of weeks councils and groups including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ have been studying the detail of the regulations so they and the people they represent are as prepared as possible for changes when they come into effect.

Some of those changes come into effect next month, while others will be rolled out over the next few years. . . 

Wool handler keeping work local – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It’s a perfect early spring-like day in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Merinos bleat in the yards, and the shearing machines buzz inside the woolshed as the crew gets to work.

Southland-based world-class woolhandler Tina Elers quickly finds her rhythm as the fleece hits the table.

This time of year, she’s chasing the work as well as thinking about upcoming competition as a woolhandler.

“Do I treat the fleece any differently? No. What I do every day in the shed as a wool classer is practice for competition.”

Both come down to quality and speed. . . 

Expensive Geraldine-produced Wagyu beef being auctioned for charity– Samesh Mohanlall:

A South Canterbury farm has produced one of the biggest rare Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming near Geraldine have been raising Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef cattle), which is renowned for its sought after marbled meat and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple steak since 2017.

Last week a 946 kilogram Wagyu steer from the farm was processed by First Light, the New Zealand farming co-operative the Chapman’s belong to.

“This isn’t a one-off,” the co-op’s managing director Gerard Hickey said. . . 

Using data in Nigeria to reduce violence and build food security – Rotimi Williams:

Farming should be safe, but in Nigeria it can be deadly.

It’s so dangerous, in fact, that a report released on June 15 by an all-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom asks a provocative question in its title: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are murdered each year, according to human-right groups such as Amnesty International-and all we want to do is protect our land so that we can grow the crops our families need and our country requires.

As a rice farmer in Nigeria, I’ve seen this problem up close-and I’m trying to solve it with technology. . . 


Tough times, tougher border

24/08/2020

National leader Judith Collins says tough times call for tougher controls at the border:

Five million New Zealanders paid a heavy price to rid Covid-19 from our communities. They paid for it with their jobs, they paid for it with their businesses, and they paid for it with their freedoms.

They did their part and were understandably upset to find out the Government had not been doing theirs. A third of the country is now back in lockdown because of this.

Reducing the need for heavy-handed lockdowns could not be more crucial. After the first lockdown, 212,000 Kiwis were receiving unemployment benefits and 1.6 million jobs were kept alive by wage subsidies. The current lockdown is estimated to be costing Auckland 250 jobs and up to $75 million a day in economic activity.

There is a lot we still don’t know about how Covid-19 got back into our community, but let’s be real – this was not the immaculate infection, it didn’t just materialise, it had to have crossed our border at some point.

We know ministers weren’t even aware the health strategy they signed off in June only required voluntary testing of border workers. How is that possible? Did they not read it?

They now blame officials for the miscommunication even though Government is about taking responsibility for national security, not passing the buck.

But it is no surprise there was confusion. The current system requires people entering the border to interact with Customs, primary industries, the health ministry, defence force, private hotels, private bus drivers, private security and so on.

This ad-hoc approach is hampering New Zealand’s ability to respond to outbreaks in a co-ordinated and rapid way. Just as 9/11 forever changed the way we travel, Covid-19 must change the way we prepare for and manage public health threats.

This is why my Government will establish a new Border Protection Agency – Te Korowai Whakamaru, which can be translated as the ‘cloak of protection’.

We see the border protection agency in the same way as a korowai – many threads woven together to make one cloak of protection. It will provide the professional co-ordination that is sorely lacking from our Covid-19 response right now.

It will scale up and down as threats emerge and abate, like Civil Defence does, and it will be resourced with the personnel, technology and decision-making power to do its job right.

But tough times call for tough measures, and more will be needed to keep this virus at bay. That is why my Government will require everyone travelling to New Zealand to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid-19 test before boarding their plane. This is a common-sense step that other countries and airlines around the world are taking.

And we will, of course, require compulsory weekly testing of all staff working at the border or in quarantine facilities – something the Government should have been doing from the start.

A strong border needs multiple lines of defence and New Zealand’s second line – our contract tracing systems – must be better. We are too reliant on human memories and honesty right now, the QR code app has only been downloaded by a third of Kiwis. My Government will immediately invest in Bluetooth technology to enhance this, making it compulsory for everyone entering the country and border workers to carry contact tracing technology.

Yo-yoing in and out of lockdown is not sustainable, for our economy or our communities. If our border is strong then locking down 1.7 million New Zealanders can be our last resort, not our go-to option.

You can read national’s border policy here


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