Word of the day

08/06/2021

Eedle-doddle – a person who shows no initiative in a crisis; negligent; muddle-headed.


Sowell says

08/06/2021


Rural round-up

08/06/2021

Big rain, big pain, big cost – Canterbury’s week of flooding devastation – Martin van Beynen:

An intensively farmed region of Canterbury lying between the north branch of the Ashburton/Hakatere and Hinds rivers was one of the hardest-hit by this week’s floods. Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN spent four days in the area assessing the impact.

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury knew it would be bad.

When the MetService issued a red alert for the Canterbury region on Friday, May 28, they prepared for some sleepless nights and a rough weekend.

The MetService warned that 200-300 millimetres of rain was expected to “accumulate” about the high country between 3pm on Saturday and 11am on Monday. The rain would cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the agency said. . . 

Flood took my farm – Annette Scott:

The storm has eased and the carnage is emerging on Darryl Butterick’s flood-stricken Ashburton Forks property.

Farming deer, sheep and beef across two separate properties between the North and South branches of the Ashburton River, Butterick was smack bang in the middle, copping the breakout of both rivers.

“We got it right up the ass, that’s for sure,” Butterick said.

Two-thirds of his deer farm, carrying 500 hinds and sire stags, was under water. . . 

Farming leaders focus on Canty clean-up – Neal Wallace:

Offers of help are coming thick and fast for Canterbury flood victims, but farming leaders say they are still trying to collate exactly what is needed and where.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Caroline Amyes says much activity is happening behind the scenes.

“We are all working in the background to collaborate and to have a unified approach,” Amyes said.

The groups coordinating the response include Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, rural advisers, Civil Defence, Ministry of Primary Industries, the feed source hotline, Environment Canterbury, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

Amyes says the Rural Support Trust is collating needs and the Government’s $500,000 grant has enabled a co-ordinator to be employed to match offers with need and arrange logistics. . . 

Northland SNA plan: Kāeo residents up in arms at packed public meeting – Peter de Graaf:

A plan to designate more than 40 per cent of the Far North as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) is a big disincentive to people who already look after their land, speaker after speaker told a packed public meeting in Kāeo.

More than 200 people turned out on Thursday evening to share their concerns about a proposed expansion of the district’s SNAs, a day after close to 500 people attended a similar meeting in Kawakawa.

Many of those at the Kāeo meeting said they already protected native bush by planting, pest control and fencing — but the SNA plan, which could limit use of their properties, had given them second thoughts.

Ahipara’s Danny Simms said he loved his land and didn’t need anyone to tell him to look after it. . . 

Global food prices rise at rapid rate in May:

Global food prices rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May, 4.8% higher than in April and 39.7% higher than in May 2020.

A surge in the international prices of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in the index to its highest value since September 2011 and only 7.6% below its all-time peak in nominal terms.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 6% from April, led by international maize prices, which averaged 89.9% above their value a year earlier. . .

A season of outstanding quality for New Zealand winegrowers:

After a smaller than usual harvest this year, New Zealand winemakers are excited about the excellent fruit and wine quality, though careful management of inventory is required to meet escalating global demand.

Spring was cooler than usual in 2021, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

The globally renowned wine-growing region of Marlborough was hit especially hard by these frosts. As an area famous for the quality of its wine – particularly Sauvignon Blanc -– this shortage of grapes has created a number of downstream implications for the wine industry, both here in New Zealand as well as internationally. . . 


Thatcher thinks

08/06/2021


Govt PR vs media, no contest

08/06/2021

Remember Jacinda Ardern’s promise to be the most open and transparent New Zealand had ever seen?

Andrea Vance writes that her promise to be open and transparent is an artfully crafted mirage:

. . . In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”

Since then the numbers of faceless communications specialists have skyrocketed. The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened.

And it is now harder than ever to get information. . .

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same.

Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise. . . 

Such stonewalling might be common-place in dictatorships. It’s not supposed to happen in a democracy.

Vance gives examples of the difficulty she, and other journalists have, in getting information and notes why:

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors.

Since the current Government took office, the number of communications specialists have ballooned. Each minister has at least two press secretaries. (Ardern has four).

In the year Labour took office, the Ministry for the Environment had 10 PR staff. They now have 18. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade more than doubled their staff – up to 25.

MBIE blew out from 48 staff to 64. None of those five dozen specialists could give me those figures for many weeks – and again I was forced to ask the Ombudsman to intervene.

The super ministry – and its colleagues uptown at the Health Ministry – are notorious for stymieing even the simplest requests. Health’s information gatekeepers are so allergic to journalists they refuse to take phone calls, responding only (and sporadically) to emails.

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years.

There’s no contest in government PR versus the media.

PR staff will be paid far more than they’d get in the media and instead of providing information they’re keeping it from journalists and so from the public who pay them.

At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. It has not delivered on promises to fix the broken, and politically influenced OIA system.

It also keeps journalists distracted and over-burdened with a rolling maul of press conferences and announcements, which are often meaningless or repetitive and prevent sustained or detailed questioning.

In this age of live-streaming and blogging, organisations often feel obliged to cover every stage-managed utterance for fear of missing out. . . 

This isn’t openness, it’s obstruction in an attempt to hide the facts and present the fluff.

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care?

Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers.

It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share.

The government isn’t only withholding information from and manipulating it to the media, it’s obstructing the Opposition.

All of which begs the question: what are they hiding?


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