Don Everly 1.2.37 – 21.8.21

23/08/2021

Don Everly of the Everly Brothers has died:

Everly and his brother, Phil, had hits worldwide in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Bye Bye Love and All I Have To Do Is Dream.

They were known for their close harmonies, and influenced groups like The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. . .


Word of the day

23/08/2021

Protean – tending or able to change frequently or easily; able to do many different things; versatile; extremely variable; readily assuming different forms or characters; of or resembling Proteus in having a varied nature or ability to assume different forms.


Thatcher thinks

23/08/2021

Rural round-up

23/08/2021

Another battle about land is ahead – Mike Houlahan:

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Quite when they will get back to considering the merits or otherwise of the Bill is anyone’s guess.

When that day comes though, it will be keenly watched – the discussion paper on the review attracted 320 submissions, and the 161 submissions the environment select committee waded through to reach this point included a form submission lodged by 1733 individuals. . . 

Plant nurseries rush to save seedlings on eve of lockdown – Sam Olley:

Lockdown has come at one of the worst possible times for nurseries, amid the late winter planting season for native plants and forestry.

Nurseries are allowed to carry out some maintenance but it is far from business as usual.

For Ngā Uri o Hau nursery in Mangawhai it was a scramble to save the trees on the eve of lockdown.

Six thousand native plants sat on pellets in a loading bay ready to go out to clients but they had no irrigation, and wouldn’t be going anywhere at alert level 4. . . 

While the Brits brace for Christmas without turkeys, NZ leads APEC initiative on food security – Point of Order:

Not enough turkeys for Christmas?

Calamity.

Not in this country (so far as we know), but in Britain, where the British Poultry Council is pressing the UK Government to deal with the culinary consequences of shortages of workers resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The British food industry faces huge disruptions that have forced leading restaurants – including Nando’s and KFC – to reduce their service or to close. . .

It’s calving time – Country LIfe:

It’s calving season and dairy farmers around the country are working long hours.

They’re not only doing the usual milking and maintenance but watching over their herds as they calve.

Country Life Producer Sally Round got up before the birds and put on her wet weather gear to meet Wairarapa dairy farmer Jody James and his team to find out what happens.

It’s pitch black and the temperature has plunged. . .

Value your time – Mark Guscott:

After a recent field day, Mark Guscott is asking the question: Do farmers value their time?

Do you value your time? In my experience there are heaps of farmers who don’t. I went to a field day to learn from a cocky who was doing a good job of wintering cattle. He fed them a lot of balage and hay and was asked, “how does that amount of feeding-out stack up financially?”.

He replied that it didn’t cost him anything as the grass grew for free and he owned his own baler! Well, the language in my mind was colourful and I straight away lost concentration. This was unfortunate on my part as he was doing a good job overall. I guess his rationale was that once the payments on the baler were finished then it didn’t owe him anything. Fair call, but what about the diesel for the tractor, the person driving that tractor or the maintenance on the baler?

The point is that what we do every day is important and worthwhile. We should value what we do. The cocky was doing a good job but he needed to account for the wage or drawings that he feeds his family with. There are some that would say that any profit made is payment, but when the coffers are empty at the end of the year, it wouldn’t be very encouraging to think ‘I’ve worked hard all year for nothing’. What we do to look after our land, our animals and our people is bloody important. While sometimes it might not feel like it, there are a lot of people out there who value what we do. . .

Rural areas need a Covid strategy, and fast – Stephanie Stanhope:

It’s fair to say that the people of regional, rural and remote NSW are on high alert as the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges yet again.

A state-wide lockdown has commenced and communities are grappling with what this means in terms of access to essential supplies and services, keeping businesses afloat and families’ food on the table, in already strained circumstances.

Access to healthcare in regional and rural NSW is already difficult, as the CWA of NSW has been advocating on for some time now.

Last year we surveyed our members and overwhelmingly heard about long wait times to see general practitioners, lack of nurses and health professionals, and ill-equipped hospitals servicing large areas of the regions. . .

 


Will they boast about this?

23/08/2021

Yesterday’s Covid-19 media stand-up started with a boast about how many people were vaccinated he day before.

Will the government also boast about the abysmally low share of the population that is vaccinated?


Yes Sir Humphrey

23/08/2021


Team leaders failed us

23/08/2021

Peter Dunne supports the lockdown as the only response to community transmission given our embarrassingly low rates of vaccination:

But what I am opposed to is all the sickening hype that has accompanied it. Especially since everything has been so predictable. From the first signs of the emergence of the Delta variant the government should have been fully aware of the inevitable risk to New Zealand, given its capacity for rapid spread and our abysmal approach to rapid community vaccination. When Covid19 Response Minister Hipkins first threatened a “short, sharp lockdown” last week, the government’s planning for such an event should have been in full swing.

Then, when the case was detected on Tuesday, the lockdown button should have been pushed immediately. It did not require the staged drama of the Prime Minister, her deputy, and others rushing back to Wellington for an emergency Cabinet meeting to decide what to do. The plan should have been in place and able to be activated at literally a moment’s notice.

A foreseeable event shouldn’t need a meeting to work out the response. Most of us realised we’d be going into lockdown as soon as we heard Covid-19 was in the community.

Indeed, it is unimaginable that any responsible government would not have a contingency plan well in place for such an emergency, suggesting that the real point of the contrived urgency was more about showing the government was bold, decisive and in control. If, as the Prime Minister has implied, they were awaiting further information before reaching a decision, then that suggests the government and the Ministry of Health were hopelessly ill-prepared for such eventualities, something the public should be extremely concerned about. It must be hoped that the Prime Minister’s hints were yet more spin, not an accurate reflection of the real state of play.

Stopping vaccinations and long queues at testing stations are evidence they were ill-prepared.

Nor did the lockdown decision require the false concern of how the decision would be conveyed to the public. It should have been announced immediately it was decided upon. But, instead, as is customary with this government, there was the predictable silly pre-announcement that there would be an announcement a few hours later.

And when the announcement was eventually made, the sanctimony and arrogance were palpable. All New Zealanders wanted to know was when we would be going into lockdown and for how long. Even then, they were kept in suspense when it was announced that the Prime Minister was running ten minutes late – a deliberate ploy to attract attention if ever there was one. Worse, when she eventually deigned to appear it was to be a further twelve minutes of generalities and slogans before she eventually got to the point we had all been waiting to hear.

All most of us wanted or needed to know was what level of lockdown we’d be in. A brief introduction might have been alright but any of the other generalities and slogans could have come after that.

All the appeals to live in your bubble, remember you are part of the team of five million, and to be kind are so much humbug. All they do is raise the hairs on the back of the neck more rigidly. Just as bad is the obsequious way the Director-General of Health begins all his waffling presentations thanking the country’s health workers, for just doing the job they are paid to. Nurses and midwives threatening strike action over unresolved pay claims might prefer he demonstrated his support for them in a more tangible way.  . . 

The government’s primary focus once it became aware of the case should have been on giving people and businesses as much time as possible to adjust to what was being imposed on them. Delaying the announcement several hours until the 6:00 pm television news and then not even turning up on time to deliver it suggests the process was more about keeping the focus on the government, than meeting the public’s concerns.

The government that said the Covid response shouldn’t be politicised is doing everything it can to politicise it.

Moreover, if we really are a team of five million all playing our part, then the government should have shown its trust in us by releasing in unredacted form all the advice available to it so that we can see for ourselves the extent of the risk we faced, the government’s pre-planning to deal with such an event and the basis for its decisions. Now, of course, that will never happen, confirming the cant of the government’s approach that we are in all this together.

I would prefer the government when dealing with complex but not unexpected situations like this week’s outbreak to keep its focus solely on the facts, without the extraneous, embellishing drama. People simply need to know what is happening, how it affects them, and what they need to do. They can work the rest out for themselves without the saccharine laced platitudes masquerading as announcements that have become so much a part of the process.

We will get through the current situation for no other reason than people’s focus on their own and their families’ wellbeing. It has nothing to do with being kind, staying in bubbles, or being part of some mythical team of five million. That is all just so much unctuous poppycock. People will respond because they appreciate it is in their best personal interests to do so. Anything else is just puffery. Therefore, we deserve to be respected as mature and responsible beings, capable of sound decision-making, not errant children to be given morality lectures at our leaders’ convenience.

The greatest absurdity of this week’s announcements, in response to a situation brought on almost entirely by our poor vaccination rates, was the abrupt decision to suspend vaccinations, only to be just as abruptly overturned less than 24 hours later. It suggested a complete lack of forethought, planning and organisation. Or, as the ever-curmudgeonly Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame would say, “They haven’t got Brains any of them, only grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake, and they don’t Think.”

Andrea Vance has similar criticism of the failings that were foreseen and unforgivable that let Delta loose:

 . . .Turns out the roadmap was redundant. We haven’t even started building the road.

And here we are back in the world’s strictest lockdown. As much of the rest of the world de-masks, we are back to fitting ours.

Once the source of admiring headlines, we are now the subject of mocking incredulity.

The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp. . .

We were overconfident about the elimination strategy and our ability to keep the virus out. But whereas the virus got more sophisticated, more “tricky” to use Ardern’s own parlance, we did not. 

While New Zealand was free of community transmission, the Government took a leisurely approach to vaccination. . .

Much more a strollout than a rollout.

As a consequence, the majority of us are unprotected. Worse than that, the roll-out had to be temporarily paused because of poor planning.

The government and ministry that spent so much time – and money – telling us what to do, didn’t have the foresight to do what they should have – made sure vaccination centres were ready and able to operate at any lockdown level and that there were enough people trained to vaccinate and test.

Unfortunately, for the rest of us, the delta strain is no respecter of targets created by Beehive spin-doctors.

If only Ardern had applied the ‘go hard and go early’ approach to her Government’s vaccination strategy.

The original, successful eradication strategy was put in place to prevent the health system being overwhelmed.

Last week Ashley Bloomfield said there was now a well-developed ICU network across the country.

And yet specialists have warned that emergency departments were at capacity, even before the outbreak.

Sure enough, just a few days into this outbreak many parts of the health system were under significant strain. As of Friday, an Auckland ED was closed, testing centres were struggling to cope with demand, swabs running low and PPE supplies again in question.

How many times have pronouncements form the podium of truth not been matched by actually what’s happening in the frontline of the health system?

Self-collecting saliva testing is still not available to the public, despite being widely used overseas and much more convenient. It was only introduced as an option for border workers last month.

These are failings that were foreseeable and are unforgivable. We are yet to learn how the variant penetrated New Zealand’s defences, but the most obvious pathway is a border incursion.

So for now, we will do our bit. Stay home, mask up, relinquish our freedoms and hope the consequences of a lockdown are not too severe.

The responsibility to stop the spread is once again on us – because the Government failed to play its part.

The team – with the exception of a relatively few idiots who back conspiracy theories over science – has done its bit and we’ve been let down by the team leaders.

 

 


Wouldn’t listen, didn’t learn

23/08/2021

The excuse of no rule book for a pandemic held some water last year. It doesn’t now and we’re paying a very high price because of a government that wouldn’t listen and didn’t learn:

The first Level 4 lockdown hit big manufacturers hard. But when one came up with a plan to allow plants to stay open safely, the Government wouldn’t listen

Last year, after New Zealand came out of our first Covid-19 lockdown, Tony Clifford went to the Government with what he thought was a pretty good idea. An idea which might save manufacturers millions of dollars if we went back into Level 4.

Clifford, managing director of big forestry and wood products company Pan Pac, proposed a Covid certification system. 

Government would draw up a set of standards which a manufacturer had to meet to operate under Level 4 lockdown. Companies would be audited independently and if they passed, they could stay open through lockdown. Think of it like a Covid WoF for factories.

“I advocated for it strongly,” Clifford says. “But there was no appetite at all.”

Once New Zealand went back into Level 4 lockdown this week, Pan Pac had to shut down its whole operation.

Pan PAC isn’t alone. A whole lot of other businesses that could operate safely aren’t permitted to, yet a confectionary factory is regarded as essential.

I’ve got a whole mouth full of sweet teeth but I don’t think lollies are essential.

Clifford says he approached a range of government agencies with his accreditation plan, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

He also got in touch with ministers, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, who also has the economic and regional development portfolio.

“I said: ‘Why not prepare for the future?’ They basically told me there wouldn’t be another Level 4, so we didn’t need to worry.” . . .

If the government and its Ministries had worried and acted on the worrying some businesses which can operate safely would be able to now and we might not be at level 4 lockdown.

Catherine Beard, executive director of Manufacturing NZ and Export NZ says there are other companies like Pan Pac, which could gear up to operate safely in Level 4, but don’t get the chance because they aren’t deemed essential by Government.

“It costs them many millions per week to shut down, although often they have a highly controlled health and safety regime in place – registered to deal with chemicals, for example – and would even create a special worker bubble if they needed to,” Beard says.

“The cost of a shut-down for those companies is disproportionately high and they are working in environments they can control very precisely.”

The more often New Zealand companies are forced to shut down, the harder it is to remain credible in the international market, Beard says.

“Manufacturers often have export customers waiting, and particularly in this environment with a lot of shipping interruptions, if you miss a shipment it’s a big deal.

“New Zealand doesn’t want to look like a country that’s unreliable and expensive and give[s] our international customers a reason to drop us.” . . .

The lockdown restrictions have a flow on impact on the housing shortage:

Julien Leys, chief executive of the Building Industry Federation, is frustrated at the ramifications for the construction sector from the latest Level 4 plant closures.

Last week, before any thought of a lockdown, Leys went on RNZ’s Nine to Noon show and described the situation for the building industry as “as bad as it gets” in terms of shortages of construction timber and other building supplies.  . . 

That was before the new Covid outbreak. This week, the latest Covid outbreak has shut down logging operations, sawmills, cement factories and manufacturing operations, perhaps for three days, perhaps for a week, potentially for far longer.

‘As bad as it gets’ for home building just got a bit worse.

There are government exemptions which allow New Zealand Steel’s production facilities, Tiwai Point’s aluminium smelter and the Methanex methanol plant to stay open under Level 4 lockdown, Leys says. Why can’t exemptions be given to other production facilities that can operate safely.

“We need to consider what other materials we need to produce, for example structural timber,” he says.  . . 

Meanwhile, Fletcher Building is also left wondering why its Golden Bay Cement works can’t get a Level 4 exemption. The Government says exemptions to steel, aluminium and methanol are because the time and difficulty to turn the plants off and on again makes shutdown uneconomic.

But the same could be said for cement too. It takes three days to wind down production at Golden Bay and the same amount of time to get the lines up and running again.

Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor says the company will need skeleton crews on site this week to turn the plant off, and would be keen to see some sort of exemption applied for his company too.  . . 

The arbitrary criteria of essential causes all sorts of anomalies. The criteria should be whether or not businesses can operate safely.

Meanwhile, Pan Pac will wait out this lockdown, hoping it doesn’t go on too long, Tony Clifford says. Then he will be back on the Government’s case about Covid accreditation. 

Maybe this time someone will listen.

They haven’t listened to horticulturists and greengrocers:

A Pukekohe vegetable grower says with independent fruit and vege stores unable to open his crops will be left in the ground to rot.

Under level 4 green grocers can provide contactless delivery but cannot open for customers.

Harry Das grows 100 hectares of potatoes, pumpkins, cauliflowers and lettuces for independent stores and restaurants.

He said if lockdown continues past this week he will lose around 60 to 70 percent of his lettuce crop.

“With the independent stores closing our orders will just drop off to almost nothing, the products will sit in the paddock and go to waste.

“We also supply processed lettuce to McDonald’s and with all their doors closed all our beautiful lettuce will be wasted.” . . 

Butchers are similarity frustrated:

More than a year on from the first Level 4 lockdown, the rules around essential groceries still seem murky. Butchers and fishmongers can’t open, but dairies can and people can get wine, chocolate and doughnuts delivered to the door.

While at Level 4 supermarkets can operate with shoppers in store buying meat and vegetables, those same customers cannot walk into a green grocer or butcher without breaking the law.

For those small, specialist businesses not set up for “click and collect” or delivery, this means trading ceased at midnight on Tuesday.

Two butchers said they had gone into survival mode. . . 

Greengrocers, butcher and bakeries operating a one-in-one-out system, or with phone orders they could package and leave at the shop door when customers arrived for pick-ups would be at least as safe as supermarkets where far more people shop at a time.

Then there’s the problem of what’s an essential item and what’s not for businesses like dairies:

Dairy and service station workers want to be supported like supermarkets, as other small business owners get to grips with what counts as an essential item for online delivery.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Wednesday said the rules for what non-food items counted as an essential item would become clearer as the lockdown went on, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) last night released a list to help in that process.

There is some ambiguity however – the guidelines note that businesses will be relied on to determine which products are essential. . .

If customers go in to a dairy to buy a bottle of milk, is the shop assistant going to tell them they can’t also buy a magazine? Is it any less safe to sell a magazine than milk?

This is an absolutely unacceptable level of control freakery that wouldn’t be necessary if the government had listened to businesses with plans to operate safely, had learned from mistakes made in earlier lockdowns and used safe rather than essential to determine which businesses can operate and which can’t.


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