‘I know that there is a massive difference between announcements and achievement.’

30/11/2021

Christopher Luxon’s first speech as National Party leader:

Tēnā koutou katoa and good afternoon everyone.

It’s an incredible privilege and honour to have been elected Leader of the New Zealand National Party today and I thank my colleagues for putting their trust and confidence in me.

And it is fantastic to have Nicola Willis elected as our Deputy Leader. I can tell you she will do an incredible job and we will be a formidable team.

I’d also like to thank Judith Collins for her service to the National Party during a very difficult period, and Dr Shane Reti for the dignified way he has supported our team through recent days.

Much has been made of my relative newness to Parliament but to be honest, I see it as an advantage.

I bring a fresh set of eyes, and what I see is that this place and this country needs a shake-up.

Nicola and I are fresh new faces for a revitalised National Party.

We are the reset.

Today we are drawing a line under the events of the last four years, and we are putting them behind us.

If you are one of the 413,000 voters who moved away from us, my message to you is: from today, National is back.

I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.

Under my leadership, National will use our breadth of talent and real-world experience every day to deliver for each and every New Zealander.

We will be a new National Party for New Zealand.

There will be other opportunities for me to talk more about who I am, and National’s policies and plans.

But today I want to be very clear with you about one thing: New Zealand is at a critical cross-roads as we grapple with, and emerge from, a global pandemic.

We have a choice: a choice between our current road to mediocrity, or a pathway to a more confident, aspirational and prosperous future.

New Zealand needs an alternative now more than ever to take us in the right direction – because frankly, the country is heading the wrong way.

Inflation is soaring. We are paying more than ever before at the checkout and the petrol pump, and everyday Kiwis are struggling to get ahead.

There’ll be a million Kiwis missing at Christmas dinner this year because they can’t get home to see their loved ones.

After over 100 days in lockdown, Aucklanders are still utterly confused and directionless.

Our provincial heartland feels taken for granted. Our farmers are not villains!

I know that there is a massive difference between announcements and achievement.

Talking about something gets you a headline. Actually getting things done is what improves the lives of everyday New Zealanders.

For four years, New Zealand has had a government great at delivering good PR but woeful at delivering much else.

Nice ideas and good intentions don’t pay the rent or the mortgage, educate our children, keep us healthy, keep us safe from crime and gangs, improve our mental health, lower our emissions or keep us united.

I’ve seen the incredible things that people can accomplish when they are freed up and given the tools and the choices to seize opportunities.

I believe in a New Zealand that rewards hard work; a New Zealand that empowers Kiwis to take a punt and create prosperity for themselves and their families.

Most of all I believe in a New Zealand that while small in size is large in ambition. Let’s rediscover that!

Growing our economy and raising productivity are the single biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

I pledge now to those New Zealanders that I will give everything I have to this role.

I’m proud to lead a government-in-waiting that will work every day to represent all New Zealanders – a “national National Party” that earns back their trust and confidence, and actually delivers for them.

And the National Government I will lead will be a government of action.

We will bring the tide back in and lift all boats.

We need to seize the tremendous opportunities we have, rather than squander them.

As I often say, we’re all going to get the country we deserve – and I firmly believe that together we – each and every one of us – can achieve the very best.

Finally, can I say no-one can do this role without the support of their family and to my wife Amanda, and our kids William and Olivia, who are in lockdown in Auckland probably watching on TV, thank you for being so supportive, understanding and encouraging – I love you.

I want to again thank my Caucus colleagues for my selection as Leader and I thank Nicola for joining me in the leadership team.


Willis deputy

30/11/2021

A media release from the National Party:

Christopher Luxon has been elected Leader of the New Zealand National Party, alongside Nicola Willis as Deputy Leader.

“It is a tremendous privilege to lead our great party, and I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me,” Mr Luxon says.

“I’m delighted the Caucus has elected Nicola Willis as Deputy Leader. She will do an incredible job and we will be a formidable team.

“The unified National Party that Nicola and I lead will work every day to represent all New Zealanders, earn back their trust and confidence, and deliver for them.

“Now, more than ever, New Zealand needs the National Party to offer them hope, ambition and drive to meet the challenges of the coming decade.

“We believe New Zealanders need a government of action – not rhetoric.

“I came to politics because I know how to solve problems and get things done.

“I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.

“We are the new National Party that New Zealand needs.”

This is a very good start.


Word of the day

30/11/2021

Scot – a native of Scotland; a member of a tribe of Celtic raiders from the north of Ireland who carried out periodic attacks against the British mainland coast from the 3rd century and, eventually settling in N Britain during the 5th and 6th centuries; a payment corresponding to a modern tax, rate, or other assessed contribution; money assessed or paid; tax; levy.


Luxon is leader

30/11/2021

Chris Luxon is the leader of the National Party.

This is a good result and it was a gracious move from Simon that augurs well for future unity in caucus.

I await the announcement of caucus responsibilities with interest.

If you want to learn a bit more about Chris, his maiden speech is here.

 


Thatcher thinks

30/11/2021


Rural round-up

30/11/2021

Taxpayers Milked to the tune of $48K for anti-dairy propaganda :

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is challenging the New Zealand Film Commission’s funding criteria after it gave anti-dairy documentary Milked a $48,550 “finishing grant”.

The film, currently screening in New Zealand cinemas, argues that the dairy industry causes climate change, pollutes water, destroys land, abuses cows, and victimises dairy farmers. The film is explicitly political, with constant shots of the Beehive in the trailer, and features contributions from Greenpeace, SAFE, and the Green Party. The film appears to be part of a wider anti-dairy campaign – the promoters have erected billboards attacking the dairy sector.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The 40,000 New Zealanders employed in the dairy industry are unlikely to be happy to learn they are funding a film that attacks the source of their livelihoods. And that’s to say nothing of the rest of us, who all benefit from dairy’s enormous contribution to New Zealand’s economy.”

“We wish the filmmakers well in their attempts to win hearts and minds, but that doesn’t mean they should receive government money for their propaganda. Just imagine the outcry from certain groups if the Taxpayers’ Union received government money to produce a film on the evils of socialism.” . . 

Unease over regulations – Kayla Hodge:

Proposed changes to adventure activity regulations could prove to be a nightmare for commercial operators and landowners.

A review of the adventure activities regulatory regime is proposing to tighten restrictions on how operators work, and introduce tougher rules for landowners who allow access to adventure activity operators.

Under the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment proposal, landowners will have to be involved in the management of natural hazards, providing information to operators or assessing and managing risks.

The review came in the wake of the 2019 Whakaari/ White Island eruption that killed 22 people and injured 25 who were on a tour accompanied by an operating company. . .

Co-products offaly underused: academic – Sally Rae:

Fancy a shake of pizzle powder in your chowder? How about some heart in your tart?

Don’t choke at the suggestion; meat co-products, better known as offal, are protein-rich and food scientist Associate Prof Aladin Bekhit, from the University of Otago, believes consumers are missing out on “wonderful nutrients” by turning their noses up at them.

A recent study, supervised by Prof Bekhit, investigated the macronutrient composition of sheep heart, kidney, liver, skirt, stomach, testis, tail and pizzle.

Protein content ranged from 10.2%-28.8% and the pizzle (an animal’s penis) was found to have one of the highest levels. . .

 

Fight to eradicate wilding pines far from over – expert – Tess Brunton:

The lead investigator of a nationwide fight against wilding pines says they can’t stop work to eradicate wildings or risk the tide turning against them.

Before 2016, wildings were estimated to be invading roughly 90,000 hectares each year.

Later that year, a five-year government-funded research programme, Winning Against Wildings, was launched aiming to control or contain wildings nationally by 2030.

It has sparked new knowledge, research and techniques for controlling the pests including remote-sensing tools to detect and map invasions in remote areas and using low-dose herbicides to control dense wilding invasions. . . 

ANZ sponsors Dairy Industry awards :

A unique sponsorship opportunity with the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) has been entered into by New Zealand’s largest bank.

ANZ Bank New Zealand will sponsor the Financial and Business merit awards in the Share Farmer and Dairy Manager categories in four regions – Southland/Otago, Canterbury/North Otago, Waikato and Taranaki.

A representative from the bank will also judge the National Share Farmer of the Year category.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon says this sponsorship shows ANZ Bank New Zealand has huge support for the dairy industry. . . 

NSA responds strongly to article labelling sheep a menace of the countryside  :

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is shocked and disappointed by factually incorrect and damaging comments made of UK sheep farming in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph (Thursday 25th November 2021).

In the article titled ‘There’s a fluffy white menace that is spoiling Britain’s National Parks’ ‘destination expert’ Chris Moss labels sheep as a blot on the landscape suggesting they be removed from National Parks and failing to recognise their importance to the countryside he is enjoying or the rural communities that so many appreciate visiting.

NSA Chief Executive says: “The comments made in this piece are both unhelpful and divisive at a time when many in agriculture and the environmental movement are working together to move to an even more multifunctional land use and approach to farming.

“Mr Moss states that sheep are ruining our landscapes, including National Parks, ignoring the fact the vast majority of these are in areas where sheep farming is the predominant land use activity. Maybe he should consider that it is thousands of years of sheep and livestock farming in these areas that has actually made these iconic regions such that people want to designate them as national parks. In fact, sheep farming and its relationship with the Lake District landscape and culture is one of the core reasons why this national park was designated a World Heritage site in 2017.” . . 

 


Sowell says

30/11/2021


Now’s the day . .

30/11/2021

This quote from Robert Burns is apposite both because it’s St Andrew’s Day and because the National Party will have a new leader today.

Now’s the day and now’s the hour. – Robert Burns


Complacency incompetence & control freakery

30/11/2021

Sir Brian Roche has yet another report criticising the government’s Covid-19 response:

Sir Brian Roche warned lockdown tolerance was waning, the vaccine rollout was failing Māori and MIQ was causing social and economic harm, a document dump released on Friday shows.

The esteemed advisor also told the Government the “current outbreak has revealed the very poor level of preparedness of hospitals for Delta”.

Sir Brian reviewed the Delta outbreak and its impact on reopening the borders. He sent his advice to ministers on September 23 – two days after Auckland moved to alert level 3.

Tolerance and goodwill for lockdowns and closed borders were being challenged, Sir Brian warned.

“The current Delta outbreak has, to a significant extent, exposed urgent issues with respect to New Zealand’s preparedness for reconnecting.

“Delta has fundamentally changed the model of preparedness and response and we must adapt accordingly. We do not have a do-nothing option.” . . 

The lack of preparedness for Delta is matched by being ill-prepared for opening the borders:

Sir Brian also wanted the Government to begin opening the international border “to address escalating economic and social harms”, but said before doing so there needed to be a means for vaccination verification, “coherent and fit-for-purpose plan” for MIQ alternatives with saliva and rapid antigen resting rolled out widely “as quickly as possible”.

“Rapid antigen testing is a critical prerequisite – we cannot afford the delays in its introduction that have been experienced with saliva testing.”

The Government only rolled out vaccine passes on November 17 and announced changes to MIQ alternatives and rapid antigen testing this week – two months after getting that advice.

To address the issues Sir Brian wanted a fit-for-purpose COVID agency or response unit because the current model “is failing and will fail” when the country reopens.

“We recommend that this unit is put in place before the end of the vaccination rollout as the current arrangements put the country at unnecessary risk.”

The lack of preparedness is partly due to complacency – all the time wasted last year that led to the delay in the vaccine strollout.

There are also elements of incompetence, especially around the delays in saliva testing and rapid antigen testing.

The costs of that have been compounded by control freakery:

Newshub can reveal Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield advised the Government “the rest of New Zealand could move to Alert Level 1” back in September. 

The Government dropped a heap of documents related to the COVID-19 Delta outbreak response on Friday, revealing behind-the-scenes advice from the Ministry of Health that informed alert level decisions. 

In a document dated September 12, Dr Bloomfield advised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Cabinet that Auckland could shift to alert level 3 while “the rest of New Zealand could move to Alert Level 1”.  . . 

Keeping Auckland at level 4 and the rest of New Zealand at level 2 for longer than advised  has been very expensive in both economic and human terms.

All sorts of events have been cancelled, businesses have failed, wedding services and funerals have had restricted numbers or been postponed because of restrictions on what can operate and how many people can gather.

The financial losses and emotional strain of this are incalculable.

But the biggest cost could yet be political.

The government has told us time and time again it’s following medical advice but this information dump shows that at least in this case it wasn’t.

So what was driving this very costly decision?

It wasn’t complacency, it might not have been incompetence – it looks very like control freakery as does yesterday’s traffic light announcement.

 


Word of the day

29/11/2021

Altitonant – sounding loudly or thundering from high above.


Thatcher thinks

29/11/2021


Rural round-up

29/11/2021

Which face do we believe – Peter Burke:

When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy.

Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more.

But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days.

The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? . .

Residents take up arms in Central Otago as rampant rabbits ruin land– Olivia Caldwell:

A plague of rabbits has destroyed thousands of grape vines, chewed through fence posts and rose gardens and left properties in Central Otago potted with holes, costing landowners thousands of dollars.

The trail of destruction has driven some to take up arms – despite never having owned a gun before – and shoot them from their front lawns.

The local authority says the responsibility for dealing with the pests lies with homeowners – a stance which has infuriated some, who say the buck should stop with the council, not them.

In recent months the Otago Regional Council (ORC) has visited more than 300 properties across the rabbit-prone areas of Lake Hayes, Morven Hill, Dalefield, Gibbston Valley and Hawea, and has now emailed hundreds of letters to landowners asking them to come up with their own compliance plan to get rid of rabbits. . . 

Bank opts for woollen carpet – Country Life:

The chief executive of Rabobank was so determined its new Hamilton HQ would have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in.

Todd Charteris says it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift.

He wasn’t having a bar of it.

Rabobank specialises in rural banking and is relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building. . . 

Native dairy farmer – Country Life:

A Waikato farming couple will be hanging up their tennis racquets this year after transforming the farm’s tennis court into a native plant nursery.

Dave Swney and Alice Trevelyan started The Native Dairy Farmer and spent the latest Waikato lockdown potting up 22,000 plants now neatly lined up on the court.

Alice estimates they moved about 16 cubic metres of compost.

“Heaps of shovelling,” says Dave. “Some of us farmers have fatter fingers and probably aren’t as good on some of the more delicate jobs but we can get on the end of a shovel and shove a bit of compost.” . . 

First year EIT student chosen as Young Vintner of the Year:

Maddison Airey, a 23-year-old first year Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science (BVWSci) student from EIT, has won the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society & Craggy Range Young Vintners Scholarship for 2021.

Maddison received her award at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner last night.

As part of the scholarship, Maddison wins $2,000 funding from the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and a vintage position at Craggy Range Winery for the harvest season of ’22, and she will also be an associate judge for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards next year.

Maddison says she is excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will offer her. . . 

‘I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis’: The energy crunch has made fertilizer too expensive to produce, says Yara CEO – Katherine Dunn:

The world is facing the prospect of a dramatic shortfall in food production as rising energy prices cascade through global agriculture, the CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International says.

“I want to say this loud and clear right now, that we risk a very low crop in the next harvest,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the CEO and president of the Oslo-based company. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis.”

Speaking to Fortune on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Holsether said that the sharp rise in energy prices this summer and autumn had already resulted in fertilizer prices roughly tripling.

In Europe, the natural-gas benchmark hit an all-time high in September, with the price more than tripling from June to October alone. Yara is a major producer of ammonia, a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer, which increases crop yields. The process of creating ammonia currently relies on hydropower or natural gas. . .


Sowell says

29/11/2021


Party bigger than leader & caucus

29/11/2021

RNZ deputy political editor, Craig McCulloch, says that Judith Collins leaves National’s leadership with the party in ruins.

No it’s not. The party is bigger than the leader and caucus and neither the caucus nor the party are anywhere near ruined.

On Friday I was with the capacity crowd for the party’s Southern Region’s Christmas lunch.

I can’t speak for everyone there, but the mood of those I conversed with was one of relief and cautious optimism.

Most of the media had been predicting the end of Judith’s leadership from almost the start of it.

For several reasons, some of her own making, some not, predictions that she would be replaced sooner, rather than later, were gaining more and more traction.

She precipitated her own demise and that has provided an opportunity that the whole party can grasp.

Being a member of course means I’m looking through blue tinted spectacles. It also means I have a better knowledge, and much more positive view, of many MPs than others get through the media and that gives me confidence that the party is far from ruin and is  poised for resurgence.

Whoever the new leader is, the caucus  will, with discipline, focus and unity,  hold the government to account for its many failings; and, in consultation with, and input from, members, it will develop better policies for dealing with the many challenges New Zealand faces.

Caucus will have the support of the wider party and, as it hasn’t for more than three years, it will show it can not only run itself well, but is ready, willing and able to run the country.

The cost of doing anything else is far too high and would risk turning McCulloch’s assertion into a prophesy that came true.


Word of the day

28/11/2021

Zoilist – an imitator of Zoilus; one who practises Zoilism; a carping or nagging critic; one who makes bitter, carping, and belittling critical judgments; a rude, nasty, or dishonest critic who enjoys finding faults in others.


Milne muses

28/11/2021


Rural round-up

28/11/2021

Inflation stalks NZ agriculture – Hugh Stringleman:

The inflationary thief is active in New Zealand and it is not clear whether it will be transitory or more persistent, independent economist Cameron Bagrie says.

The Reserve Bank said inflation is 4.9% currently and expected to rise to 5.7% in the first quarter of next year and it has assessed its presence as “somewhat transitory”.

After the sharp peak, the bank expects that it will take until 2024 to return to the 2% target zone.

But the economic commentators are having a bob each way. . . 

WTO trade ministers must seize agricultural subsidy reform opportunity :

Ahead of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference from 30 November – 3 December, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is strongly supporting calls for a meaningful outcome on agricultural subsidies reform.

“Agricultural domestic support reform is the most urgent agricultural trade policy issue needing to be progressed multilateral,” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther. “An ambitious outcome would unlock major benefits for global agricultural trade.”

Domestic support subsidies are a major source of distortion and price volatility in agricultural markets. They lock in unsustainable food production systems, create significant disadvantages and inequities for unsubsidised producers, and cause a raft of negative environmental impacts through inefficient use of natural resources.

Crewther says domestic support has fallen behind the other key areas of the WTO’s agricultural negotiations and an outcome is long overdue. . . 

Deck the hay bales Southland farmers get behind Christmas competition :

Southland farmers are hoping to spread some Christmas cheer by creating sculptures such as hay bale reindeer and fertiliser tank Christmas trees on their farms.

Thriving Southland, which represents 30 catchment groups, has launched a competition calling on its farmers to create a festive themed sculpture.

Spokeswoman Rachel Holder said despite only starting a couple of days ago people are getting really excited about the competition.

“One of the catchment groups came up with the idea to inject some wellness into our communities and to boost morale because it’s been a really tough spring – there has been a lot of rain. . . 

Highly visible Queenstown property protected from development :

A highly visible piece of Kawarau Falls Station is now protected from development, following a decision by the owners, the Mee family, to place a QEII covenant on 170 hectares of the property.

The covenanted land is located across the Kawarau River from Queenstown Airport, north of the Remarkables Ski Area access road.

This follows an announcement last year that 900 ha of the neighbouring property, Remarkables Station, has been covenanted and will be gifted to QEII. While the Mee property will remain in family ownership, the landscape will be protected from development in the same way that Remarkables Station is.

Kawarau Falls Station director Mike Mee said the decision to covenant the areas was “the right thing to do” and he hoped it would inspire others in the region to consider legal protection as they look to the future. . . 

Consultation opens for registration of forestry advisers and log traders :

Key players in the forestry industry are encouraged to have their say on the design of a new registration system for log traders and forestry advisors with consultation opening today.

Legislation introduced in 2020 aims to raise professional standards across the forestry supply chain by requiring forestry advisers and log traders to register.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s Director Forestry and Land Management Oliver Hendrickson says the system will provide assurances for anyone dealing with registered forestry advisers that they are receiving expert and impartial advice from people with the right knowledge and experience.

“These changes will also support a more open marketplace for the large number of new forest owners bringing their timber to the market for the first time. They also increase investor confidence in commercial forestry, support long term investment, and meet the broader objectives for land management and climate change. . . 

Farming robot kills 100,000 weeds per hour with lasers – Kristin Houser:

Carbon Robotics has unveiled the third-generation of its Autonomous Weeder, a smart farming robot that identifies weeds and then destroys them with high-power lasers.

The weedkiller challenge: Weeds compete with plants for space, sunlight, and soil nutrients. They can also make it easier for insect pests to harm crops, so weed control is a top concern for farmers.

Chemical herbicides can kill the pesky plants, but they can also contaminate water and affect soil health. Weeds can be pulled out by hand, but it’s unpleasant work, and labor shortages are already a huge problem in the agriculture industry.

“It’s harder to find people to do that work every single year,” vegetable farmer Shay Myers told the Seattle Times. . . 

 


Maya muses

28/11/2021


Sunday soapbox

28/11/2021

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams


Stephen Sondheim – 22.3.30 – 26.11.21

27/11/2021

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has died:

Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, whose music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.

His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death. He said he did not know the cause but added that Mr. Sondheim had not been known to be ill and that the death was sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said.

An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.

His work melded words and music in a way that enhanced them both. From his earliest successes in the late 1950s, when he wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” through the 1990s, when he wrote the music and lyrics for two audacious musicals, “Assassins,” giving voice to the men and women who killed or tried to kill American presidents, and “Passion,” an operatic probe into the nature of true love, he was a relentlessly innovative theatrical force. . . 

 


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