Word of the day

03/09/2021

Disembarrass – free oneself of a burden, nuisance, embarrassment or entanglement;  free someone from something troublesome or superfluous; to disentangle or extricate from something troublesome or embarrassing; to free from or cast out something objectionable or undesirable: clear, disburden, disencumber, release, relieve, rid, shake off, throw off, unburden.


Sowell says

03/09/2021


Rural round-up

03/09/2021

Pine plantations extend lifetime of methane in North Island atmosphere :

North Island pine forests are prolonging the life of methane in the local atmosphere by as much as three years, climate researcher Jim Salinger says.

Dr Salinger said new computer modelling showed New Zealand had underestimated the impact of methane in its greenhouse gas emissions and would need to set tougher targets for methane reduction.

The modelling showed compounds called monoterpenes emitted by pine plantations in the North Island were extending the life of methane in the New Zealand atmosphere from 12.5 years to 15 years.

Dr Salinger presented the research to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee today. . . 

The Covid glitch in our supply chains – Sharon Brettkelly:

Our farm-to-fork process is usually highly efficient. But the Delta variant has blown a hole in the security of our supply chains, sparking questions about what changes are needed.

Rod Slater was only eight years old when he became part of the meat supply chain in New Zealand.

From his father’s butcher shop in Mt Albert, Auckland, he would head out on his bike with the meat parcels in the front basket to deliver to customers.

The 75-year-old recently retired chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand remembers his first delivery to a rest home when he had to crash his bike to stop it, and the meat came tumbling out. . . 

Common sense prevails over grazing rules :

Just days into her new role as National’s Agriculture spokesperson, Barbara Kuriger is pleased to see common-sense is prevailing in Southland.

The Government’s proposed intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules for Southland, were due to come into effect in May, but were deferred in March for one year, after the farming sector deemed them ‘unworkable’.

Last Thursday, the Government announced it’s now going to adopt almost all the changes put forward by the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group — which is made up of ag sector representatives.

A consultation document was also released and is now open for feedback on the Ministry for the Environment website. Submissions close on October 7. . .

What New Zealand farmers can teach the world – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Global food security is on a razor’s edge, but Kiwi farmers can show other countries what can be achieved whilst continuing to make more improvements down on the farm, writes Jacqueline Rowarth.

Recent food price increases in New Zealand are small in comparison with the rest of the world. The 2.8 per cent increase to the year ended July 2021 in New Zealand is nothing in comparison with the 31.0 per cent reported for the global Food Price Index by the FAO over the same time frame.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, food insecurity worldwide was on the rise.

The Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU) Index released at the beginning of the year stated that the pandemic threatens to erase “progress made in the fight to eliminate global hunger and malnutrition”. . . 

Hawkes Bay farmers watching gathering signs of a third big dry – Sally Murphy:

Conditions in Hawke’s Bay are being described as extremely dry as farmers prepare for another warm, dry spring.

For the past two years the region has been in drought over summer and it is looking like farmers could face a third.

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said they’ve only had about 280mm of rain so far this year.

“Underfoot it’s very dry, a lot drier than normal and certainly for this time of year. Some areas had a little bit of rain yesterday but it’s only enough to wet the top. . . 

Farms left with 70,000 surplus pigs amid labour crisis:

Labour shortages at abattoirs have resulted in a surplus of 70,000 pigs on farms across the country, the National Pig Association has warned.

The lack of available workers at processing plants is causing a significant surplus of pigs stuck on farms, the trade body said.

Most plant workers – the majority being eastern European – have gone back to their home countries following Covid-19 travel restrictions and Brexit uncertainty.

Meanwhile, pig producers are continuing to struggle with record costs and negative margins that have persisted since the start of the year. . . 


There’s a better way

03/09/2021

You’ve got a good job and you’re settled where you are but it’s thousands of kilometres away from your family.

You’ve done your budgeting, you can afford to pay for flights and MIQ, and you’ve got enough holidays due to have enough time in New Zealand after you’ve done those two weeks.

It’s been more than two years since you’ve been home. Your grandparents are elderly and you know if you don’t get back this summer you might not ever see them again.

You can’t call the trip urgent as it is for so many others, strictly speaking it’s a holiday but are you going to do as Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins asks and let those whose need for MIQ space is far more pressing?

Perhaps some will, but some won’t and people like the family who took their young son to Houston for cancer treatment, the woman whose own health and that of her unborn baby are at risk, and many others whose needs anyone with a heart would consider worthy of emergency spaces in MIQ will have to rely on luck.

There is a better way:

It’s clear Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) is going to be with us for some time, so it’s past time we fixed the festering issues with our current system. National is proposing five sensible improvements to the beleaguered Managed Isolation Allocation System.

“New Zealanders overseas trying to come home are increasingly fed up with the operation of MIQ,” Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says

“Unhappiness is widespread and about the only people prepared to defend the system are those who designed it, those who administer it, and the Government.

“More than 15,000 Kiwis abroad have signed a petition to make changes to the inequitable MIQ allocation but the Government has done nothing.”

National is proposing five sensible changes to improve MIQ:

  1. A ban on bots and third party providers
  2. A new prioritisation system to allocate space (a ‘points system’)
  3. The introduction of a waiting list
  4. Transparency over room release dates
  5. The introduction of a Kiwi Expat Advisory Group

“The underlying problem of MIQ is that demand generally massively exceeds the number of spaces in any given period,” Ms Collins says.

“At the moment, with the exception of a 10 per cent quota for critical workers, some contingency rooms, and a very limited number of emergency allocations, spaces in MIQ are simply allocated on a ‘first-in, first-served’ basis.

“Third party booking websites have sprung up, charging people thousands of dollars to secure a room in MIQ, and incredibly this practice is even officially sanctioned by government officials. There is also a strong suspicion that ‘bots’ and other automated booking mechanisms are being used despite MIQ officials saying that has been stopped.

“We need an immediate no tolerance policy on the use of bots and third party providers accessing the MIQ system,” Ms Collins says.

National is proposing that the ‘first-in, first-served’ basis for MIQ should be changed to a prioritisation system based on points, similar to the way in which skilled migrants are assessed for eligibility for New Zealand.

National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says at the moment the MIQ system makes little judgement about the motivations for people coming to New Zealand.

“Everyone is treated the same, and while that has superficial appeal it ultimately leads to unfair outcomes for many people.

“We believe people coming home to farewell dying family members or for urgent medical treatment should not be treated the same as people coming to New Zealand for a holiday. Likewise, Kiwis returning home to live permanently should be prioritised over people returning home for short periods of time.

“We need to be upfront about the fact that there will generally always be a shortage of space in MIQ, and we should therefore be clearer as a country about who should be prioritised for valuable MIQ space over others.

“The system should assign points to particular categories of people who could then be allocated guaranteed spaces in MIQ for a period of time once they meet the threshold for points set by the Government.”

As a starting point, the following groups of people should receive a higher number of points, meaning they get preferential treatment into MIQ:

    • Those coming to New Zealand to visit sick or dying family members or for urgent medical treatment. This would essentially be an expansion of the existing emergency allocation, which is currently too narrow.
    • People coming to New Zealand to fill skill shortages. This could and should include split migrant families who the Government has callously disregarded.

That would not only be humane, it could also help retain people whose skills we need but who will leave if their families can’t join them.

“Alongside the introduction of a points system, the Government should also introduce a waiting list for spaces, so that the system is not purely based on luck and chance.

“There needs to be greater transparency over when rooms will be released, so people can plan with more certainty. Similar to when tickets go on sale for concerts, the time and date of released rooms should be well signalled in advance.

“Finally, National is proposing the establishment of an Expat Advisory Group that MIQ is required to consult with about the overall MIQ system.

“Many of the problems in the last year have festered for some time, and many were foreseeable. The system has not been designed in a user-friendly way and ongoing consultation with expats abroad would be a valuable thing.

“New Zealanders overseas and here at home have spent more than a year dealing with a broken MIQ system. Unlike the Government, National has come up with a plan to change that.”

Another improvement would be purpose built MIQ facilities, away from the centre of cities, where people could exercise safely without risking exposure to, or spreading of, disease. That would be both safer and more pleasant for people who have to use them and the buildings could be moved or re-purposed in the future if, or when, MIQ is no longer needed.

Hotels were only just alright when the need  find somewhere to quarantine people was urgent. They are not an acceptable longer term solution to the problem that will be with us for years.

When most people in New Zealand are vaccinated some arrivals who are also vaccinated and come from countries where Covid isn’t rife, might be able to self-isolate. That will be many months away and there will still be a need for MIQ for people who pose a higher risk for a lot longer, certainly long enough to make purpose-built facilities a far better option than the temporary solution of central city hotels.

They could also provide space for a lot more people, reducing, and possibly ending, the frustration and heartbreak that people now face dealing with a system that can’t cope with the demand.

Oh and purpose built facilities would also have sufficiently tight security that no-one in isolation could escape and roam around in public for 12 hours.


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