Word of the day

11/12/2020

Tuft – a small cluster of elongated flexible outgrowths attached or close together at the base and free at the opposite ends especially : a growing bunch of grasses or close-set plants; a bunch of soft fluffy threads cut off short and used as ornament; a bunch or collection of threads, grass, hair, etc., held or growing together at the base; a dense clump, especially of trees or bushes; provide with a tuft or tufts; strengthen (upholstery) by passing a cluster of threads through the material, so making depressions at regular intervals.


Pay it back petition – UPDATED

11/12/2020

The Taxpayer’s Union has launched a petition to recoup the public funds used to pay for Trevor Mallard’s expensive misspeaking:

A written Parliamentary question has confirmed the Taxpayers’ Union’s understanding that the Speaker paid a six-figure settlement to a staffer he accused of rape.

Responding to the news, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says:

“Taxpayers should not have to cover the bill for Trevor Mallard’s careless accusations. It’s not like making defamatory allegations is part of his job description.”

“Trevor Mallard must commit to paying back the taxpayer money handed over to the accused staffer and the Labour Party’s law firm.”

The Union has launched a petition calling for the repayment at www.taxpayers.org.nz/trevor.

“The Speaker is paid a taxpayer-funded salary of $296,000, so we’re sure he can work out a payment plan with Parliamentary Services.”

“As a gesture of goodwill, if Trevor Mallard repays the money the Taxpayers’ Union will stop hassling him for spending $572,000 on a slide outside Parliament.”

Forgoing the hassling over the slide is a very magnanimous offer by the TU.

The speaker needs to have the confidence of parliament. He was unpopular in the first term and this is a very bad start to his second.

UPDATE:

National has lost confidence in him:

National has lost confidence in Speaker Trevor Mallard following revelations that more than $330,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on settling the legal dispute he created by falsely accusing a former Parliamentary employee of rape.

The Speaker has revealed to National, in answers to written parliamentary questions, that the total amount of public funds spent as a result of his media comments from May 2019 that resulted in a public apology for “distress and humiliation” was $333,641.70.

Of that, $158,000 was an ex-gratia payment to the former staffer to settle a legal claim, $171,000 was paid in fees to Dentons Kensington Swan and $4641.70 went to Crown Law for advice to the former Deputy Speaker.

“This is unacceptable behaviour from the Speaker of the House. This sheer size of this pay-out illustrates how serious the matter is,” Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“It is the Speaker’s job to set the standard of behaviour for everyone at Parliament but he has been reckless with his words, resulting in taxpayers footing a bill of more than $330,000 to clean up this mess.

“There has been no formal apology to Parliament for this, despite the National Party encouraging the Speaker to do so on the final sitting day this year.

“Because Mr Mallard has not lived up to the high standards of behaviour that he has set for Parliament, we believe he is no longer fit to hold the role of Speaker.

“The people who work at Parliament, and the taxpayers of New Zealand, deserve better.”

The written answers are here.

Labour has an outright majority so losing National’s confidence might not worry Mallard. But this behaviour ought to worry Labour.


Sowell says

11/12/2020


Rural round-up

11/12/2020

Dairy farmer confidence is improving but there are challenges in export markets – Point of Order:

The dairy industry  has  recovered some  of  its  confidence, as  its  role  as the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export structure has  moved  into sharper  relief  in the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Rabobank’s  latest quarterly survey of  farmer confidence says  it  has improved from  minus 32%  to minus 23%, with  demand  for  NZ dairy products  holding up well  since the  previous survey  in September.

The  dairy  industry  over  past  seasons   has  been the  target  of  urban critics  for  so-called   “dirty dairying”, climate  change  warriors  who want a reduction in methane emissions,  and the  government, which is implementing  new  freshwater regulations. Internally the industry was  stricken  with  the  financial  woes   of   Fonterra.

Even  now  as the  industry absorbs the evidence  for greater  confidence,  it   is  not  without  strategic  concerns.  . . 

Fonterra’s new ‘carbon zero milk’  50 Shades of Green:

Reading this week about the launch of Fonterra’s ‘Five anchor milks are now carbon zero’ we learned that this product claim would be achieved by gaining off-sets through funding a solar farm in India and a wind farm in New Caledonia.

In our opinion the embracing of the ETS and the use of off-setting is being used simply as a greenwashing marketing tool and duping New Zealanders who perhaps don’t understand the nuance of offsetting on our country.

It’s the ETS and off-setting mentality that is currently ruining our rural communities, replacing good productive farms and displacing people that live and work there with carbon pine forests, that will, far from being a solution, grow old, rot and burn. A disaster of our own short sighted making. . . 

Survey confirms value of farm environment plans:

Recently released fantastic survey results from farmers in the Aparima catchment in Southland confirm the value of farm environment plans, Invercargill MP and National’s associate Agriculture spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

The survey was of 151 dairy and sheep and beef farmers in the Aparima Community Environment project who are committed to addressing water quality issues and reducing their environmental footprint.

“The survey results confirm what National has been promoting – that farmer-led action and working with scientists and industry experts is most effective, not the over prescriptive, unworkable regulations such as what the Labour Government has put in place,” Ms Simmonds says. . .

Farmer bank pressure drops but so do satisfaction rates :

Fewer farmers are feeling undue pressure from their bank but satisfaction rates continue to slide, according to the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey.

Of the 1,341 farmers who responded to the survey independently run by ResearchFirst, 65.4% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank relationship. That’s down from 68.5% from the Feds’ survey in May.

“Satisfaction has steadily slipped over the past three years – in our November 2017 survey it was 80.8%,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said . . 

Seeka forecasts higher underlying earnings :

Strong sales, cost savings and significant one-off gains has seen kiwifruit exporter Seeka lift and narrows its full-year profit guidance.

The company expects underlying earnings between $15 million and $17m, compared with its previous guidance of between $9m and $12m

In a statement to the stock exchange, the company said the update reflected an improvement in its operational earnings, cost savings and the gain it expects from the sale and lease back of its Australian kiwifruit orchards. . .

Heartland launches farm term loan with self-serve online application:

Challenger bank Heartland has added another product to its growing list of digital offerings – this time for the rural market.

The term loan, called Sheep & Beef Direct, is designed for established farmers who are looking to buy or refinance a sheep or beef farm. In launching this product, Heartland is testing the appetite for a low-touch, online application that farmers can complete whenever and wherever – and they’ll be given an initial decision then and there.

Sheep & Beef Direct is the most recent of Heartland’s digital lending offerings. Joining the likes of Heartland’s Open for Business loans, car loans and home loans, it offers an online application which can be completed in minutes. . . 

 

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

11/12/2020


Threatening freedom

11/12/2020

A university or polytech graduation is one of a very few times most people have their achievements celebrated in a ceremony.

It’s not just the short walk across the stage, the hand shake, and, for a first degree, the placing of the trencher on the head of the new graduate.

It’s the total ceremonial package as well as the time spent with friends for what might be the last time in years as people who have spent three or more years together go to further study or work in different places.

Many thousands of students had their graduations cancelled by Covid-19 and  this week Otago University and Polytech students have had theirs cancelled for safety reasons.

Otago University cancelled Wednesday’s graduation ceremony after a specific threat:

. . . Police did not reveal the nature of the security threat or its precise timing, but said it related specifically to university graduation ceremonies.

University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said yesterday’s decision to postpone was made quickly after a strong recommendation from police to do so. . . .

Polytech students have had to accept similar disappointment:

Otago Polytechnic said it made the “devastating decision” following advice from police..

Without knowing anything more than there was a threat which police, and the institutions, have taken seriously, it is impossible to know if they have overreacted.

The decisions to cancel wouldn’t have been taken lightly and the search for the culprit will be taken very seriously too.

It must be not just to hold the person or people responsible to account but also to deter anyone else who, for whatever perverted reason, might think doing something similar would be a good idea.

The threat to harm people should the ceremonies have gone ahead is bad enough, the threat to the freedom to do what we want to do, where we want to do it makes it worse.


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