Word of the day

30/09/2021

Panopticon – a circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed; a disciplinary concept brought to life in the form of a central observation tower placed within a circle of prison cells; a building, as a prison, hospital, library, or the like, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point; an optical instrument combining the telescope and microscope.

Hat tip: Andrea Vance


Sowell says

30/09/2021


Rural round-up

30/09/2021

‘Frustrating, disappointing’ – Call for better vaccine rollout in rural areas – Sally Murphy:

There are concerns the vaccine rollout is lagging in rural areas with some farmers having to do three-hour round trips to get the jab.

The Rural General Practice Network said it had been asking for data on rural vaccinations from the Ministry for Health for some time without a response.

Chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said the network believed the rates for rural communities, and rural Māori in particular, lagged the vaccination rates for the general population being reported by the government.

“We do know that there are small niche areas such as Rakiura/Stewart Island where entire communities have been vaccinated, but we believe this is hiding what is a major issue for a vulnerable population in New Zealand – the rural backbone of the country needing support. . . 

Growers nervous of labour shortage despite imminent arrival of RSE workers – Tom Kitchin:

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge.

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge

Seasonal workers arriving from the Pacific Islands next week will be able to skip MIQ and go to work during their isolation period.

Vaccinated workers from Vanuatu can come in from next Monday, while those from Tonga and Samoa will need to wait until Tuesday, 12 October.

The workers will complete a self-isolation period of seven days and undertake day zero and day five tests, all while working at their work sites. . . 

Groundswell protests no Bloody Friday – luckily – Jamie Mackay:

Imagine running 1500 animals through the main street of a city, then mobbing them up and cutting their throats in protest.

The year was 1978. I remember it well, as it was a watershed year in my life. I’d taken a gap year after secondary school to try my hand at senior rugby with the big boys.

Many parts of Southland had suffered a crippling drought in 1978. Combine that with a season of industrial mayhem at the four local “freezing” works, and you had a powder keg waiting to explode. The meat companies, farmers, unions and workers were literally at each other’s throats.

Lambs weren’t worth much and the old ewes, who had selflessly given the best five or six years of their lives to bear the aforementioned lambs, were worthless. They had reached their use-by-date. As the dry summer rolled into autumn and beyond, the old ewes were eating scarce winter feed needed for their younger and more productive counterparts in the flock. . . 

Open trade climate change can work together – Macaulay Jones:

Supporting local businesses benefits the economy, but supporting local products is not always beneficial for the climate.

As the world and New Zealand continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and policies enacted to curb its spread, many consumers are making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

Local businesses directly and indirectly support local communities and are often owned and operated by active members of the community. However, while supporting local businesses is a great way of helping your neighbours financially recover from the pandemic, extending this principle to choosing to buy local products as a means of taking climate action may not offer the benefits for the atmosphere you’d expect. . . 

OSPRI reduces TB slaughter levy rates for dairy and beef farmers :

OSPRI who manages the TBfree programme is to reduce the TB slaughter levy rates for cattle farmers from 1 October.

The Differential Slaughter Levy (DSL) is reviewed each year to ensure that industry funding aligns with that agreed under the 2016 TB Plan Funders’ Agreement, this is subject to a 15-year period.

The slaughter levies collected support funding of the TBfree programme on behalf of the beef and dairy industries. The revised levies are collected by meat processors.

The new differential slaughter levy rates are: . . 

This silage contractor chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand – Angus Verley:

What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work. . .


Thatcher thinks

30/09/2021


Once was 1st

30/09/2021

New Zealand once was first in Bloomberg’s resilience ranking.

Now we’re 38th.

 

The government keeps telling how lucky we were to have so long without Covid-19 in the community.

We the luck ran out and we need more than luck to get our freedom back now.

We need most of the population vaccinated and we need to get rid of the MIQueue with a far, far better system for allowing people to come and go from the country safely.


Kindness to theirs not ours

30/09/2021

The litany of woes from people trying to cross Auckland’s boundaries grows by the day.

A Rotorua father faces the prospect of missing the birth of his triplets after his application for an exemption to get through Auckland’s southern border was denied.

The rejection letter leaves Kevin Acutt forced to pick earning a living for his family over one of the most significant moments of his life.

His wife Amber went into premature labour during the nationwide alert level 4 lockdown last month – just 23 weeks into her pregnancy – but staff at Waikato Hospital were able to put a stop to her contractions.

Since then, she’s been having regular scans at Auckland City Hospital’s maternal foetal medicine unit – and last Friday she was admitted there permanently as she requires close monitoring for abnormal umbilical cord flow.

Currently, the triplets are in a stable condition – but the couple have been advised it’s still a high-risk pregnancy, and things could change at any moment.

If one of them takes a turn for the worse, it’ll prompt an emergency procedure requiring swift removal of the babies, and likely the need to promptly resuscitate them. . . 

He is in Auckland with his wife but has to return to his job on Monday.

“We’ve fallen into a category that doesn’t really exist at the moment, because you can go to appointments as a support person, but our appointment has turned into a whole ‘however long she might be’,” he told Newshub. . . 

He’s asking the ministry to show humanity.

“What’s the point? What are we doing this whole COVID lockdown thing for? It’s for the people, it’s for humanity. But what’s the point, if we’re going to lose our humanity along the way?” he said.

“We’re stopping people from burying the dead, from witnessing the birth of new life. What’s the point of carrying on if we’re going to stop doing that?” . . .

It’s not only stopping people at the city boundary where humanity is lacking, there’s a growing problem at the border. Claire Trevett says MIQ is a debacle that has made mincemeat of the promise Kiwis could always come home:

If there was one thing Sir John Key was right about in his critique of the Government’s response to Covid-19, it was his assessment that the MIQ system has become a national embarrassment.

For all the successes in the Government’s handling of Covid-19, there have been failings and the ongoing bottleneck that is the MIQ system is one of them.

MIQ has been largely effective in one of its two core purposes: keeping Covid-19 out.

But its other core purpose was to let New Zealanders come in. The extent to which it is keeping New Zealanders out has now reached an inexcusable level.

It falls well short of the Jacinda Ardern’s promise that, no matter what else happened, New Zealanders would always be able to come back.

The latest draw for MIQ slots highlighted that in the process of trying to make the MIQ booking system fairer, it has done the opposite. It has also been very bad PR for the Government.

The new ‘virtual lobby’ system in which people are randomly selected for places in the queue for rooms makes it abundantly clear just how much the demand is outstripping the supply. . . 

MIQ has become an MIQueue that has left people stuck in other countries without jobs, without homes and with the threat of losing their pensions.

The Government’s response has partly consisted of blaming people for not returning earlier – for not coming, say, in June last year when there were vacancies in MIQ, or for not coming back from Australia when the bubble was open, or for going overseas at all.

That is not good enough. The Government showed it was capable of quick action when it ramped up the vaccines rollout after the Delta outbreak. But it has failed to deliver the same urgency on MIQ.

The delays and uncertainty have flow-on effects.

This week, it was pensioners overseas who were concerned they would not be able to get back within the 30 week window after which their pensions would be halted.

The Ministry of Social Development’s response bordered on heartless:

“Closure of the travel bubble with Australia, other flight limitations due to Covid and difficulty securing a spot in MIQ, were all reasonably foreseeable before departure for anyone who left New Zealand within the past 30 weeks.” . . 

The return of Covid-19 was more than reasonably forseeable, it was inevitable but the government was prepared for that.

Had it been, we’d have had a vaccine rollout not a strollout, testing and tracing would have been much faster and any lockdown would have been shorter, or possibly unnecessary.

The MIQ system was put together in a hurry because it had to be. It was a blunt instrument and it has also been effective. It was not expected then that it would be needed for so long.

But it has not evolved since then. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse – and the downstream consequences have compounded: it is not only New Zealanders trying to get in that are suffering.

It has caused backlogs in immigration and severe worker shortages in many sectors.

That was excusable for a while, but it has dragged on and on and things have hit pressure-cooker levels. . . 

It is no longer excusable. New Zealanders overseas have a right to come home and people here have a right to leave the country without the fear they won’t be able to come back.

Remember the tongue lashing Jacinda Ardern gave Scott Morrison about the way Australia treated illegal immigrants?

She was demanding he show kindness to the people who had become their problem but she, her government and bureaucrats are showing none to our own people.


Word of the day

29/09/2021

Excogigate  – to think out; to find out or discover by thinking; to devise; to contrive;  plot, plan, devise.


Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Opening safely

29/09/2021

The National Party has launched a plan to open the country safely, and let us get back to normal life:

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins today launched National’s comprehensive plan to tackle Covid-19, end lockdowns and reopen New Zealand to the world.

Titled ‘Opening Up’, National’s plan outlines a pathway to avoid nationwide lockdowns and then allow most fully vaccinated travellers to and from New Zealand to travel much more easily, either without any isolation at all, or with seven days at home.

“The Government has taken its eye off the Covid-19 ball in 2021,” Ms Collins says.

“New Zealand started the year in a good position but the slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world for most of this year and a lack of planning meant we were forced into a long lockdown in August and September, one that is still ongoing in Auckland.

“Instead of investing in contact tracing, ICU capacity and purpose-built MIQ, the Government frittered the Covid Response Fund away on art therapy, cameras on fishing boats, and Three Waters reform.

“The plan outlines ten steps we need to take, such as supercharging the vaccine rollout, buying vaccine boosters and next generation treatments, using saliva testing and rapid antigen tests and building purpose built quarantine.

“It is imperative we reach a milestone of 70-75 per cent of the 12 and above population to stop socially and economically damaging nationwide lockdowns.

“The Government has no real plan beyond a belated admission that vaccination is important. The Prime Minister says there is no vaccine target while Ministers throw around numbers willy-nilly.

“The Prime Minister also says her ‘reconnection’ ideas are still government policy while her COVID-19 Minister says they are being reconsidered.

“A 150 person trial for businesspeople to self-isolate at home before Christmas isn’t a plan, it’s an insult.

“Kiwis have done the hard yards. They have willingly followed harsh lockdown measures and other Covid-19 restrictions and, increasingly, they have been vaccinated for the common good. It’s time for them to be offered a vision and a plan about how their hard work will pay off.

“New Zealanders now have a clear plan from National. Delta is here, it may not be possible to eliminate it, and it would almost inevitably arrive into the community again. Whatever happens, we need to reopen to the world and National’s plan outlines how we can do that.

“Once we reach a milestone of 85 per cent of the 12 and above population, National believes we should start to allow fully vaccinated from low risk and medium risk travellers to come to New Zealand without going through MIQ. Non-citizens and non-permanent residents who are not vaccinated would be prohibited from travel to New Zealand.

“National’s plan would reunite Kiwi families split apart overseas, allow New Zealanders to travel overseas for business and pleasure, boost tourism and international education, and end the outrageous human lottery that is the MIQ debacle.

“Under National, Kiwis can come home for Christmas. Under Labour, they can’t.” 

The plan has 10 steps for suppression of Covid:

The time will soon come for New Zealand to pivot from an elimination strategy to one of vigorous suppression, National’s Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“New Zealand is at a tipping point. Delta is in the country right now and may never leave. Even the Government admits it may not be possible to get cases back to zero and if we do Delta will be back again anyway.

“The Government is being intellectually dishonest in maintaining the fiction that borders can reopen while New Zealand simultaneously maintains an elimination strategy. In a world with Delta, that is impossible.

“National is the only major party being upfront with New Zealanders. The time will soon come when we need to pivot to vigorous suppression of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

“This is a strategy where New Zealand aims to keep the number of Covid-19 cases very low, but not necessarily at zero. There will likely be cases of infection under this strategy, but the aim is to rapidly respond when they occur and minimise the number of people infected.

“Once we reach a milestone of 85 per cent of the country vaccinated, vigorous suppression becomes possible when supplemented with National’s ten steps to tackle Covid-19.

“National has outlined ten steps we urgently need to take to respond to Covid-19 and set ourselves up to begin to reconnect with the world. They are:

    1. Supercharge the vaccine rollout
    2. Order vaccine boosters
    3. Upgrade our contact tracing capability
    4. Roll out saliva testing at the border and in the community
    5. Roll out rapid tests for essential workers and in the community
    6. Create a dedicated agency, Te Korowai Kōkiri, to manage our Covid-19 response based in Manukau not Wellington
    7. Build purpose-built quarantine facilities
    8. Launch a digital app for vaccination authentication
    9. Invest in next-generation Covid treatments
    10. Prepare our hospitals and expand ICU capacity

“These 10 steps are important measures New Zealand needs to take to evolve our response away from lockdowns and help us open up to the world.

“If we implement these steps, we have options for our future. Kiwis can then look to reunite with family, travel overseas for business and pleasure and we can welcome tourists and students for international education.

“Once we reopen to the world, the future is in the hands of New Zealanders.” 

One of the reasons we keep having to lockdown is fear of overwhelming the health system. An important part of National’s plan is to strengthen the health system:

National’s Covid-19 Plan, ‘Opening Up’ includes a strong priority on improving our hospitals, expanding our ICU capacity and funding treatments for Covid-19, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti and Associate Health spokesperson Simon Watts say.

Dr Reti says New Zealanders did the hard yards last year to stamp out Covid-19 and expected the Government to invest wisely in the health system to prepare it for future outbreaks.

“Instead of investing in ICU capacity, the Government frittered the Covid-19 Response Fund away and has focused on restructuring the entire health system in the middle of a global pandemic.

“The number of ICU beds has actually fallen since the end of April 2020 through to September 2021, no new ICU bed spaces have been provisioned since Delta first appeared in MIQ and urgent alterations had to be made at the start of the recent outbreak to hospital wards in Auckland.

“In the first three weeks of the recent outbreak 62,829 inpatient procedures were cancelled. A delayed procedure can have a significant impact on a person’s health and their ability to recover once the surgery does proceed. In some cases, delaying a procedure is putting a life at risk,” Dr Reti says.

Mr Watts says National’s plan involves urgently implementing a specialist healthcare workforce migration plan.

“We would select the 3000 doctors and nurses out of the expression of interest pool and process them urgently. We would also prioritise and fast-track resident applications for critical healthcare workers, setting aside dedicated MIQ spaces if required.

“National would offer conditional residence class visas upon arrival to specialist, experienced nurses who have the qualifications and experience needed to immediately start working in New Zealand.

“We would also fast-track the building of new hospital wards to increase bed capacity. In Auckland, there are business cases for projects at Waitakere Hospital that could be progressed immediately,” Mr Watts says.

National’s Plan also invests in next generation Covid-19 treatments.

New Zealand is now well behind other countries in approving and ordering exciting new Covid-19 treatments like Ronapreve and Sotrovimab. These monoclonal antibody treatments are used to treat Covid-19 and have shown real promise in clinical trials.

“Ronapreve has been licensed for use in 20 countries and the EU has bought 55,000 doses. Sotrovimab has just been approved for use in Australia, which has bought 7700 doses,” Dr Reti says.

“New Zealand has not bought any doses of either treatment or approved them for use.

“National would establish a ring-fenced and dedicated Covid-19 Treatment fund from within the Covid-19 Response fund, and task Pharmac with negotiating purchase agreements with a variety of manufacturers,” Dr Reti says.

“National wants New Zealanders to enjoy more of the freedoms they have before the pandemic hit. To do this we must make sure our health system is robust enough to both deal with people who may fall ill with Covid-19 and continue day-to-day operations,” Mr Watts says.

New Zealanders can’t travel for fear they won’t be able to get back into the country and very, very few who want to return can. National’s plan allows vaccinated travel:

National’s plan to reopen New Zealand would reunite Kiwi families, allow New Zealanders to travel overseas for business and pleasure, boost tourism and international education, and end the depressing and outrageous human lottery that is the MIQ debacle, National’s Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Once New Zealand reaches a milestone of 85 per cent of the aged 12 and above population fully vaccinated, we should start to safely reopen to the world. 85 per cent would give us one of the world’s highest vaccination rates.

“Alongside the public health measures outlined in our plan, a milestone of 85 per cent means we can manage Covid-19 coming through the border.

“National’s reopening plan is based on a traffic light system and prioritises fully vaccinated travellers. Non-citizens and non-permanent residents who are not vaccinated would be banned from travelling to New Zealand.

“The low-risk (green) pathway is for travel from jurisdictions where there is either no or little cases of Covid-19, and where vaccination rates are above 80 per cent.

“Vaccinated travellers from these jurisdictions would be able to come to New Zealand with a pre-departure test and a rapid and saliva test on arrival at the port of entry. Assuming all tests are negative they would be free to enter New Zealand without any isolation.

“In the first instance we expect this to apply to travellers to and from Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT, the Cook Islands and possibly Taiwan.

“The medium-risk (orange) pathway is travel from jurisdictions where Covid-19 is spreading but under control, and where vaccination rates are above 50 per cent. Judgments would be made by National’s proposed dedicated Covid-19 agency, Te Korowai Kōkiri.

“Vaccinated travellers from these jurisdictions would be able to come to New Zealand with a pre-departure test and a rapid and saliva test on arrival at the port of entry.

“They would then be required to spend seven days in home isolation and encouraged to take rapid tests which would be provided for free upon arrival. Enforcement would be via spot checks, and the possible use of digital monitoring apps like Singapore’s ‘Homer’ app.

“We expect this to apply to travellers to and from NSW, Victoria, Singapore, the USA, the UK and many European countries.

“People who test positive either at ports of entry or in the community would either be required to isolate at home or in purpose-built quarantine, with assessments made by public health teams.

“Under this plan, Kiwis coming through the green and orange pathways would be able to come home by Christmas.

“Kiwis have done the hard yards, they’ve willingly followed harsh lockdown measures and other restrictions. It’s time they’re offered a vision for the future and a plan for how this hard work has paid off. National’s plan does just that.”

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders can’t come home, immigrants with essential skills can’t get residency and people whose skills we desperately need can’t get MIQ spaces. National’s plan seizes immigration opportunities:

Opening up to the world doesn’t just give Kiwis the opportunity to come home, but it also gives New Zealand opportunities to attract talent from overseas, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“As other countries gradually recover from the effects of Covid-19, a global bidding war for talent has emerged. Almost every advanced economy other than New Zealand has begun deploying aggressive tactics to attract skilled workers.

“Before New Zealand can do the same thing we must fix our broken immigration system.

“We currently have huge delays in processing visas resulting in a years-long backlog of residency applications, and a frozen residency pool is leaving many of our critical workers stuck in immigration limbo. They can’t access KiwiSaver or buy a house, they’re fed up and choosing to leave. It’s clear we’re in a crisis.

“Unlike the Government, National is planning for the future. Immigration will be critical to help resource our health system to deal with any future Covid-19 cases and help our economy bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.”

To resource our health system National would:

  • Instruct immigration officials to urgently reopen the frozen Skilled Migrant Category visa expressions of interest pool and prioritise processing residence applications for critical healthcare workers
  • Offer residence class visas on arrival to specialist nurses with the qualifications, skills and experience to allow them to immediately start working in New Zealand

To help our economy bounce back National would:

  • Create a pathway to residence for those migrants who have stuck with us through the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Reopen the expressions of interest pool and process these applications with urgency
  • Create a fast-tracked, streamlined process for residence applications to quickly clear the backlog
  • Offer conditional residence on arrival for highly-sought skilled workers
  • Implement a traffic light model for people arriving from overseas

Ms Stanford says National understands how important it is we rebuild the reputation of our immigration sector.

“With the world competing for global talent to help their fight against Covid-19 and support their economic recovery, we need to make sure we don’t lose our critical workers to other countries, while at the same time focus on attracting the best talent from overseas.

“If we want the best, we need to be the best. Offering a clear pathway to permanent residency will make sure New Zealand remains an attractive destination for skilled migrants to come and work at time when we need them more than ever.” 

Labour has spent 18 months saying can’t, National’s plan shows what we could do and how we could do it, and do it safely.

National’s Opening UP plan is here.


Which will be next?

29/09/2021

Inland Revenue doesn’t support Labour’s tax policy:

The Government’s own tax experts say the Government’s tax deductibility policy will do little to stop exploding house prices and will drive rents up, says National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly.

“The Government’s interest deductibility policy, which comes into effect this Friday, is not just 11th hour policymaking, but Inland Revenue advised the Government against it.

“Inland Revenue strongly opposed any option to remove the ability to deduct interest and instead endorsed the status quo, saying additional taxes on rental housing are unlikely to be an effective way of boosting overall housing affordability.

Only someone with absolutely no idea about how the real world works would think that increasing costs for landlords would magically help housing affordability.

“It also claimed the policy would put upward pressure on rents and could reduce the supply of new housing developments in the longer term.

“It estimates that 250,000 taxpayers will now have to face high compliance and administration costs, further eroding coherence of the tax system.

“The Government says the plan is to target speculators, but nothing could be further from the truth.

How could a blanket tax change hit only a small number of landlords?

“In reality, this policy targets the ‘mum and dad’ landlords of the New Zealand, those who may only own one extra property. According to MBIE, this is 80 per cent of all landlords in the country.

“For the average property in Auckland, we estimate this will lead to an extra $7,600 on the end-of-year tax bill per property which, for many, may mean they lose money on their rental.

“This figure does not even include the money that will have to be spent on accountants and lawyers who will need to help calculate the amount of tax owed.

“Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand have slated the policy, saying the measures do not accord with good public policy design.

“Government officials have advised that the Government’s housing tax policies – announced earlier this year – have had no dampening effect on house prices, but there was evidence of continued acceleration in rental price growth.

“This is another ill-conceived and rushed policy, with little real input from tax experts. As of Friday, every landlord will be paying this extra tax.

“If the Government’s policy is intended to force mum and dad landlords to put up rents or sell their retirement nest eggs, it’ll work really well.  But, if it hasn’t already had an impact on house prices, then it’s not likely to any time soon.

“National will reverse this misguided change.”

Rents have already risen since the policy was announced.

Even the Finance Minister admits tax changes won’t help the housing crisis.

Interest paid on money borrowed by a business is a legitimate, tax deductible cost of doing business that every other business except those renting houses.

Singling out landlords to lose the deductibility is unfair to them and their tennants.

It also adds uncertainty to other business. If the government can misuse tax policy in this way for one sector which one will they pick on next?


Word of the day

28/09/2021

Sloomy – sleepy, sluggish; gloomy; dull; slow; inactive; (of grain) flaccid or beginning to rot.


Sowell says

28/09/2021


Rural round-up

28/09/2021

Fear forestry conversions impacting farming communities – Shawn McAvinue:

A Swiss company has been given consent to buy a nearly 500ha farm in South Otago for forestry conversion.

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of the farm in Hillend, about 20km north of Balclutha, to 100% Switzerland-owned company Corisol New Zealand Ltd.

Corisol paid the vendors — Alistair Lovett, Mark Tavendale and A R Lovett Trustees — $4.8million for the farm, which in the consent was described as a breeding and finishing unit.

The consent states Corisol intends to subdivide and sell about 71ha of land and its dwellings and covert about 400ha to commercial forestry. . . 

Charity funding rural counselling – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is something of a misnomer to think because farmers are used to isolation, that things such as lockdowns do not affect them the same as other people.

“I think this would be particularly true of South Island farmers,” Will to Live founder Elle Perriam said.

Her mental health charity has just launched the RuralChange initiative to fund counselling sessions for rural people of all ages.

Ms Perriam did a Young Farmers online event recently with well-known farming personalities Tangaroa Walker (Farm4Life) and Kane Briscoe (FarmFitNZ). . . 

 

The schemes and drams over reducing cow methane – The Detail:

Millions of dollars is being spent on getting cows and sheep to produce less gas.

The projects in train range from genetics experiments, using seaweed in burp-free feed, and toilet-training cows. Some of it sounds ridiculous – but the animals produce methane, and New Zealand must do something urgently on reducing the amounts our agricultural industry is contributing to global warming.

Farmers argue that the country’s sheep and cows are the lowest methane emitters in the world but nearly half our total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

These schemes are aimed at doing enough to get farms to our targets – by 2030 biogenic methane emissions should be cut by 10 percent on 2017 levels. By 2050 the goal is for methane emissions to be 24 to 47 percent lower than they were in 2017. . . 

Technology behind Covid wastewater testing helping farmers identify disease in herd :

A new test detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater.

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd, a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss. . . 

Synlait Milk reports ‘largest ever’ loss of $28.5m :

South Island dairy company Synlait Milk has posted its forecast loss as it was hit by disruptions for its major customer, but predicted a return to “robust” profitability this year.

Key financial highlights

(compared to previous financial year)

  • Net loss $28.5m vs profit $74.3m
  • Revenue $1.37bn vs $1.30bn
  • Full year payout $7.82 vs $7.30
  • Forecast 2022 payout $8.00/kilo of milk solids

Synlait’s loss was at the top end of its forecast range of $20m-$30m as it bore the cost of sharp fall in orders for infant formula from its major customer A2 Milk.

Huge boost for local growers as Genoese Pesto moves to source all basil in NZ:

New Zealand’s number one pesto retail brand has moved to source all its basil onshore, exponentially increasing the basil-growing industry and helping sustain it through the challenge of COVID-19 Lockdowns as well as boosting the local economy.

Genoese Pesto, based in Horowhenua, had until recently obtained all the fresh basil that went into their award-winning products from Fiji, having anywhere from a few hundred kilograms to a tonne per week flown in.

However, issues around supply continuity, freight costs, biosecurity, and a concern for the environmental impact of the air miles involved led Genoese to find a New Zealand grower, securing a contract with Southern Fresh Foods in Cambridge, Waikato.

Genoese Pesto co-owner Andrew Parkin says they had been maxing out the volume of supply from the farm the business owned in Fiji, and when the first COVID-19 lockdowns occurred, they knew they needed to look for the security of supply here in New Zealand. . . 


Clarke and Dawe

28/09/2021


Sir Graeme Harrison joins Nat board

28/09/2021

The National Party has appointed Sir Graeme Harrison to its board:

The National Party is pleased to announce the appointment of Sir Graeme Harrison to our Board of Directors.

“Sir Graeme brings an impressive range of personal, commercial, and community experience to the Board of the National Party, and we are excited to welcome him to the team,” President Peter Goodfellow said.

Born and educated in Canterbury, Sir Graeme is best known as the founder of ANZCO Foods. He served as its Managing Director for 20 years, and Chairman for 14 years, leading the company to grow into one of New Zealand’s largest meat product exporters, with annual sales of around $1.5 billion and more than 3,000 employees.

In 2010, Sir Graeme was winner of the Federated Farmers Agribusiness Person of the Year, and in 2011 was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business.

Sir Graeme has also enjoyed a long history with Lincoln University as an adjunct professor, member of its Council, and in 2012 was conferred an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree. In 2015, he was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by The Emperor of Japan in recognition of his contribution to strengthening economic ties between New Zealand and Japan.

“Sir Graeme is a passionate advocate for rural New Zealand and our primary industries sector, and his strong leadership over the last 30 years has been inspirational to so many Kiwis,” Mr Goodfellow said.

“National backs our farmers, growers, and rural communities, who are the backbone of our economic success here in New Zealand. Sir Graeme brings an important and necessary voice to our Board table in support of those very communities.

“I look forward to working with Sir Graeme, and our wider Board, as together we move forward and seek to deliver on the priorities of the members of the National Party and the people of New Zealand.” Mr Goodfellow said.

Several commentators have made a big thing about no rural representation or people involved in primary production on the board. In doing that they overlook the president’s involvement in primary production through the board of the fishing company Sanford.

It wasn’t something that worried me. I just want a board of people with National’s values in their DNA, who put the party before their egos and who have good governance skills.

Sir Graeme ticks all those boxes and his rural connections and experience are a bonus.


Plea to pull plug on Three Waters proposal

28/09/2021

National has launched a petition calling on government to pull the plug on its Three Waters proposal:

Labour must listen to the multitude of mayors pleading for the Three Waters plans to be dumped, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“With an overwhelming majority of councils not onboard, the Government’s programme is in dire straits and its four entity model is floundering fast.

“Only a handful of mayors have explicitly supported the reforms, while the remaining 60-odd are not on board. Many are in fact urging the Government to suspend the process because they have not had adequate time to digest the detail or consult their communities.

“The South Island entity D is in serious doubt, with mayors from across the West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland writing to the Minister and asking for a pause.

“The northern entity A has all but fallen apart, with Far North and Whangārei already gone and the remaining two councils, Auckland and Kaipara, in strong opposition and likely to leave next.

“Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay mayors are against the reforms and other councils throughout entities B and C in areas like the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatū are hitting the brakes.

“It’s no surprise mayors are rebuking the Government’s woeful consultation timeframe and apparent need for speed.

“National has consistently said that the supposed benefits and cost savings haven’t been adequately explained to the public.

“We oppose the Three Waters Reforms. The touted scale benefits are unrealistic, ratepayers would end up cross-subsidising neighbouring areas, and the entities would strip power from communities and steal control of their water assets.

“The Government must heed the mayors’ calls and at a bare minimum, pause the programme immediately.

“I would encourage them to go one step further and dump the Three Waters plan altogether. We must keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Christchurch City Council has joined the majority opposed to the plan.

The Christchurch City Council has voted to inform the Government it strongly opposes the proposed entity-based model for water services. . . 

Councillor Sam MacDonald said advice from staff shows how fundamentally flawed the model is.

“What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate,” he said. . . 

Just think how much good those millions could have done had they been spent on improving water infrastructure instead.

National’s petition has attracted nearly 25,000 signatures in three days, Christopher Luxon says.

“Kiwis are making it clear they don’t support Labour’s centralisation and control agenda.

“The Government’s model of four water entities would strip control from communities and erode local democracy, putting ratepayer accountability at arm’s length.

“The significant and immediate response to our petition shows New Zealanders won’t accept the brazen theft of water assets they’ve paid for decades to own.

“We agree that every New Zealander deserves clean, safe water. But Labour’s deeply flawed entity model is not the way to get there.

“The Government looks set to ram through their plan at any cost – including making the reforms compulsory for councils, if that’s what it takes.

“National is calling on all Kiwis to sign and share our petition, demand the debate on Three Waters, and tell the Government they can’t force their asset grab on New Zealand.”

You can sign the petition here.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith gives his views on the proposals:

This is my journey with three waters so far.

Government decides that clean water is a priority for every New Zealander, that is a government decision.

Government starts by legislating a water regulator and makes it mandatory to enforce the standard that Govt has decided upon for the supply of drinking water.

It is basing its’ decisions on the Scottish water model.

This is where I saw the first crack appear.

The regulator must ensure that all users of water get the same treatment across New Zealand.

It’s again a one-size-fits-all for everybody that uses water, no matter if you are rain fed or aquifer fed. A big difference Coasters.

The question of what it will cost ratepayers has not been considered as a priority.

Can New Zealand afford a gold-plated water management regime?

Would a bronze or Silver Plate model have been a better first step.

The regulator has already indicated he has the power of enforcement, and he will use it. I wonder what that means? . . 

Bruce Smith again:

. . . At the LGNZ conference a $2.5 billion incentive was announced by the Prime Minister to encourage councils to opt into the government three water proposals.

Westland District Council was to receive $11 million which we were advised could be used on any project and not confined to three waters. Its stated purpose was to ensure Councils were no worse off after their three waters functions and assets were removed by government.

Nothing was mentioned about strings attached by the Prime Minister in her speech.

On the second day of the conference, we were informed the money would become available in July of 2024.

It could be spent on projects consulted and approved by iwi and was not confined to three waters investment.

It was subject to councils joining the government masterplan for three waters reform.

This included the transfer of Councils three water assets to one of four companies to be established to control the allocation of water, the assets transferred by Councils, and the funding of the current and future three water supplies.

It was clarified that Maori would be granted membership and voting rights of 50% of the governance groups that controlled the three water activities and future strategic direction of each of the four entities.

The voting would be 50% Maori and 50% councils who had transferred 100% of the assets to the operating companies.

This government proposal gives Maori who makeup at June 2020 10.4% of the West Coast population and 16.7% of the New Zealand population according to statistics NZ.

Maori in commercial terms gets the right of Veto in perpetuity from government.

This is an unorthodox proposal where 100% of the population have paid for the existing assets and will be paying 100% of all future water costs.

Amongst the conversations it was observed how undemocratic this proposal was. It was noted that the proposal would create a real backlash in our communities. An unintended consequence or is it a further implementation of the HE PUAPUA report. . . 

 

 


Word of the day

27/09/2021

Fordone – exhausted; overcome with fatigue; wrung out; done away with; destroyed, utterly ruined.


Sowell says

27/09/2021


Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


Clarke and Dawe

27/09/2021

Oh dear, the green’s great Greta isn’t happy with our our Prime Minister.

Greta Thunberg, the originator of the global School Strike for Climate movement, has taken a fresh swipe at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for a lack of action over climate change. . . 

“It’s funny that people believe Jacinda Ardern and people like that are climate leaders. That just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis.” . . .

Apropos of which:


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