Word of the day


Lumpenintelligentsia – a section of the intelligentsia regarded as making no useful contribution to society, or as lacking taste and culture; pseudo-intellectuals; the lowest stratum of the intelligentsia, sometimes associated with informal education.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Lean on a gate, chat to a mate – Toni WIlliams:

‘‘Lean on a gate and talk to a mate’’ is the call from rural health advocate Craig Wiggins.

Mr Wiggins, who farms at Dromore, near Ashburton, has put the message out as a simple mental health campaign to help farmers and others out there struggling.

‘‘I’ve been doing a fair bit of work around farmer support and helping people through some tough times, and especially through Covid,’’ he said.

‘‘We are really, really trying to bridge gaps and talk to people, but it’s just not getting through to some people, and I know that one of the things we can do is just keep checking on each other and talking to those people that you haven’t talked to for quite a while.’’ . .

Agriculture industry voice needs reviewed – Robin Bistrow:

The agricultural industry is being let down in the environmental regulation space, Rural Advocacy Network (RAN) chairman Jamie McFadden says.

Mr McFadden said while Beef+Lamb, Dairy New Zealand and Federated Farmers all operated efficiently in the research space, through on-farm management, environmental issues, floods and gave good sound employment advice, no-one was looking after the farmers at the grassroots level of coping with the avalanche of environmental regulation.

‘‘Farmers are getting cross. Farmers are trying to work with a flood of regulations, but they are having to deal with way too many unworkable regulations,’’ he said.

‘‘They are struggling with the sheer volume of regulations — impractical stuff that is coming through.’’ . . 

Business booming in ‘wop wops’  – Ashley Smyth:

Bex Hayman has made country cool again with her jewellery and accessories brand Whistle & Pop. She makes time to speak to Ashley Smyth, while juggling farm life, lockdown and running a business with three small children.

Talking to Bex Hayman over the phone during lockdown, you can’t help but be buoyed by her enthusiasm.

As we bond over the joys of working from home with three children, she takes a peppering of Nerf bullets from 3-year-old William in her stride. . . 

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration – Keiller MacDuff:

A trio of young inventors from Mackenzie College may have solved an age-old farming problem.

Year 11 and 12 students Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, invented the Flexi Mat Frostease, a device that can be inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over, as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes).

The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together.

Amy said animals can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes. . . 

Jordan Moores from Valli wins award:

Congratulations to Jordan Moores from Valli for becoming the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year.

He is thrilled to have taken out the title and very excited to go through to the National Final which will be held in Central Otago for the first time this year in late November. No doubt there will be a large local crowd supporting him in the build up and on the day. “I’m going to give myself the weekend off” he said “and then get back into the study and preparation. It’s really exciting to be going through.”

Congratulations also goes to Hannah Lee for coming second. Hannah is currently on maternity leave, so not only did she impress judges with her great winemaking skills and knowledge, but also her multi tasking skills as in between challenges she managed to check in with her little one who was there with her babysitter. Great work! . . 

UN calls for reform of $540bn farming subsidies to help climate – Emiko Terazono:

The UN is calling for reform of the world’s $540bn in farming subsidies to help the climate and promote better nutrition.

Livestock and food production are among the biggest emitters of carbon but also enjoy the most state support, it says in a new report. Financial support to farmers accounted for 15 per cent of agriculture’s total production value globally, with the figure expected to more than triple to $1.8tn by 2030 if subsidies continue to grow at their current pace, the UN warned.

Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change due to greenhouse gases emitted by deforestation, manure, agricultural chemicals, rice cultivation and burning crop residues. Yet farmers are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, be that extreme heat, rising sea levels, drought, floods or locust attacks. . .

How’s it going?


Bring on the bench


Sir Ian Taylor wrote an open letter to the PM saying it is time to bring on the bench in the fight against Delta.

. . . Where our opposition initially focused on the health of our people we have seen now that it had a deeper strategy. It would also go after our economy, slowly but surely infecting, and in many cases, destroying the very businesses that will be needed to fund our team in the future.

Which leads me to the bench.

The players on the bench aren’t there to replace the entire run on team, they are there to consolidate what those players have done. To address the strengths and weaknesses that the coach has identified so that we have the best shot at winning. . . 

Now is the time to go to the bench, because we have identified the double game plan that has been unleashed on us. The first is Covid, now in Delta variant mode, has adjusted far faster to the changing playing conditions than we have.

The second is the unseen variant that is slowly but surely working its way through the forward pack, our economic engine. That engine will be desperately needed if we are to stay in the game after the initial opening rounds.

The lockdown system, alongside the MIQ booking platform, are two obvious weaknesses in our current game plan.

The economy simply cannot afford to keep replaying the same level 4 restrictions that played out over the past couple of weeks, nor can businesses expect to operate successfully on the international playing fields with an MIQ system that simply has no rules they can play by. . . 

Sir Ian has written a second open letter, this time suggesting how business can help get ahead of the virus:

. . . This week we had to walk away from a significant, multi-year contract because we could not risk sending our people out to service it without knowing when we could get them home.

It’s the second such contract in the past month, and we aren’t alone.

Businesses are sending people overseas with no idea when they will be coming home.

One business colleague who operates in nine countries around the world is now planning to move his entire family to Europe simply because he cannot guarantee an MIQ space for business trips that he regularly took to keep his business in New Zealand operational.

This is a hi-tech business employing more than 250 people.

These businesses are essential to keeping the export dollars coming that are needed to fund the entire team of five million – and the major road blocks to keeping those dollars flowing, are MIQ and the interpretation of what an essential business is. . . 

Handicapping businesses at the best of time is a mistake, doing it when we’re living on borrowed billions is sabotaging them and the wider economy.

Last week the Covid Response Minister said: “What people don’t understand is that building a points-based (MIQ) booking system is very difficult!”

All sorts of things Ministers and their officials find difficult are not to people whose businesses rely on finding workable solutions and finding them quickly.

The advice from the bench would have been: “No Minister. Sending rockets into space from Mahia – that’s difficult. Delivering real-time graphics to golf tournaments in New York, Prague and Scotland whilst also covering a 10-day yacht race in Keel, Germany, in the same week from an office in Dunedin – that’s difficult! Building a points based booking system? ‘Yeah/nah, not really’.”

We have a tech industry sitting on the bench that could do that in a heartbeat.

And we have a government that won’t use that bench.

Booking a space in MIQ: now that’s difficult!

But there is far more value we can bring from the bench.

We, and others, have operated in some of the most Covid-ravaged countries in the world and we have kept our Kiwi staff Covid-free for more than a year and a half because of the protocols that have been put in place by the businesses we work with. . . 

What we have learned from our experience over the past year and a half is that businesses have a huge interest in keeping their people safe from Covid and they can do it faster than governments because they aren’t having to look after entire countries.

We are only ever sending small numbers away at any time. The 250 staff company I mentioned earlier has a maximum of eight people who ever have to travel abroad. It’s not an Olympic team.

When we look at opportunities, and that’s what this is, we never explore why things might not work. We always ask: “What if we pulled it off?”

So, “what if” businesses didn’t need to take up MIQ spaces. “What if” businesses could apply existing technologies and protocols that would guarantee that none of their teams would have Covid when they returned to Aotearoa from their essential overseas travels. . .

They have a model that’s been working and is continuing to work safely, why can’t they use it?

“What if” the Government could put in place, quickly, the following:

• 1: An accreditation and audit system that approved the processes that individual companies could present for their people who had to travel abroad. To begin with, that would have to be for business reasons only but the option exists to expand it, if it proves successful.

They would also have to be vaccinated.

• 2: Approval for a range of antigen tests already being used successfully so companies could set up their own programmes as part of their accreditation. Ideally you would prioritise Kiwi companies working on these tests because that also creates an enormous export opportunity for them. Approving these tests should be a priority.

• 3: An oversight government agency to work with businesses to implement their strategies quickly. NZTE or Callaghan Innovation spring to mind.

• 4: The same agency would be in charge of the audit process to ensure businesses are meeting the obligations in their accredited protocols. . . 

The government has proved it’s very good at shutting the country down. It doesn’t have the experience and expertise to start opening up again even though the longer we’re closed to the world the greater the economic and human cost will be.

Sir Ian is right – it’s time to bring on the bench to enable businesses to do business, and do it safely.

%d bloggers like this: