Word of the day

02/12/2021

Acouasm – a nonverbal auditory hallucination, as a ringing or hissing; the perception of ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds that are not really there.


Finance & Infrastructure for Bridges

02/12/2021

National leader Chris Luxon has appointed Simon Bridges as spokesman for Finance and Infrastructure.

. . . “Simon has prodigious skills, incredible talent and the intellectual heft needed to excel as National’s Finance spokesperson,” Mr Luxon says.

“He is ideally suited to prosecute the wasteful spending decisions, spiralling debt and rising costs of living occurring under the Labour Government.

“New Zealand needs a strong economy so we can invest in better core services like healthcare, education and police.

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

“For the last 30 years, our economy has been suffering from a productivity disease.

“Lifting productivity means raising people’s incomes, which in turn gives New Zealanders more choices and better lifestyles.

“It’s important that our economy is sustainable, and that means ensuring that we spend effectively and with discipline.

“Investing in hospitals and roads is important – blowing cash on nice-to-haves is quite another thing.

“As an example, this Labour Government borrowed $57 billion for the COVID-19 Response fund, yet has managed to end up with fewer ICU beds 18 months into the pandemic than at the start.

“High inflation is like a thief in your pocket, making it harder to live. That’s why public spending must be brought under control – otherwise we will keep seeing costs rising faster than wages.

“It’s also critical that we reset New Zealand’s approach to infrastructure and take a genuine long-term, intergenerational view. We need an overarching vision for New Zealand’s infrastructure and new funding and financing mechanisms that can drive us into the coming decades.

“Simon will play a central and critical role in our leadership team, and he and I will work closely together.

“Simon will be an exceptional Finance and Infrastructure Minister in the next National Government come 2023.”

This is good use of Simon’s undoubted skills and also good politics.

Comparisons with John Key who gave Finance to Bill English are inevitable and that’s positive, given how successful that partnership was.


Sowell says

02/12/2021


Three waters word soup

02/12/2021

The Taxpayers’ Union recorded a lengthy interview with Nania Mahuta in an attempt to address concerns about proposals including ratepayer input, iwi veto power, and forecast costs.

If you’ve got a spare half hour and are fluent in word soup, you can listen to the interview here.

Matt Burgess listened and this is his interpretation:

Taxpayers’ Union: How does taking water assets off councils save money?
Nanaia Mahuta: Because of economies of scale. We need to solve under-investment. Water has to be financially sustainable. We’re not taking the assets.

What do mean you’re not taking the assets? Councils lose ownership except in name.
Councils will own the assets. We have to prevent privatisation. Economies of scale.

What ownership rights will councils have?
Councils will set strategic performance expectations. There will be good governance. Water won’t compete with other council services for funding.

Can you rule out iwi groups receiving water royalties?
We have to prevent privatisation. Iwi cannot sell the assets. Iwi care about the long term.

You said iwi won’t have a veto right. But iwi will be 50% of boards and major decisions require a 75% majority. So, iwi hold a veto, correct?
No.

Given 61 of 67 councils oppose your reform, how has consultation shaped your reform?
First, we need public ownership. Second, we must prevent privatisation. Third, we need solutions. Fourth, we want good governance.

Will ratepayers be represented on the working group?
Only through councils.

You signed off a Cabinet paper on the reform on 18 October. Four days later, your office received a summary of council submissions. Was your consultation a sham?
I received regular feedback from DIA and LGNZ through that period.

Why are the reforms so unpopular?
The current system does not work.

61 of 67 mayors oppose your reform.
It’s about the ratepayers.

Ratepayers hate your reforms. Have you seen our poll? It’s three to one against.
It’s about economies of scale.

Castalia has rubbished your cost modelling.
Castalia accepts privatisation. We must prevent privatisation.

Your cost savings are based on Scottish data which was not adjusted for New Zealand.
It was adjusted.

You are promising operating cost savings of 50% and [up to 9,000] more jobs in water. How does that make sense?
Economies of scale. Better funding.

You only looked at new statutory entities, not the existing Council Controlled Organisations (CCO) model. Why?
Because water needs to be able to borrow off council balance sheets. There is no way to do that with a CCO. Economies of scale. Prevent privatisation. Good governance. Affordable services.

Why is the Treaty relevant when we’re talking about pipes not water?
Excellent question. Iwi will achieve better environmental and drinking water outcomes for the whole community.

How are Māori more connected to the environment than anybody else?
They’re not. But Māori are very connected to the environment.

Why not leave water with councils and guarantee their debt instead?
Economies of scale.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
So, in summary, Three Waters is about alleged scale economies and thwarting a privatisation nobody wants.

Three Waters is also about the abuse of political power, a very flawed process and, as highlighted in this interview, a Minister who can’t adequately address legitimate concerns about it.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog


Rural round-up

02/12/2021

Milk price forecasts are being lifted ahead of critical vote on Fonterra’s capital structure – Point of Order:

As dairy farmers prepare for the critical decision  they have to make  on the capital shape of the big co-operative Fonterra,  they  will   be  buoyed  by  the  strong markets across the  globe  for  dairy products — so  strong  that economists are  revising   their forecasts  for  this  season’s  payout.

Fonterra  itself  has  already revised  upwards  its  original forecast range from $7.90 – $8.90kgMS, from  $7.25 – $8.75  kgMS.

The Advance Rate which Fonterra pays its farmer owners will be set off the mid-point of the range. This has increased from $8kgMS to $8.40kgMS.

ANZ  Bank  economists have  raised   their  forecast  to  $8.80  while others,  citing  the  futures  market, see  it  breaking  $9. . . 

Rounding up on Round Up – Leo Argent:

There’s growing talk around New Zealand and the world about glyphosate being a health hazard, possibly a carcinogenic.

Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide that serves as the main ingredient in weed killers like Round-Up and others. It is the most widely used herbicide in the world.

Numerous district councils in New Zealand and foreign countries are attempting to phase out glyphosate, while some are even banning it out right. This has many farmers and others worried.

A NZIER report shows that herbicides are worth between $2.7 to $8.6 billion to New Zealand agriculture, with an average impact on output of up to 20%. . .

Meat, dairy still preferred protein options – Neal Wallace:

The red meat and milk sectors appear to have successfully fended off initial competition from alternative proteins, which are struggling to make market gains.

New Zealand exporters are not dismissing the long-term threat from plant-based alternative protein products, which are being heavily discounted and repositioned to less favourable places on retail shelves.

Financial losses are mounting as international manufacturers struggle to reach sales targets and share prices plummet, but observers note the covid pandemic has encouraged consumers to flock to naturally nutritious products such as red meat instead of highly processed products.

The Financial Times this week reports that in September alone, US sales of plant-based meat alternatives fell 1.8% compared to the year before, taking the decline in sales for 2021 to 0.6%. . . 

Māori agribusiness crop trials hold hopes for local employment :

It is hoped trial crops planted as part of a Māori agribusiness project in eastern Bay of Plenty will help create jobs for locals.

The Whangaparāoa Māori Lands Trust with help from The Ministry for Primary Industries is exploring the potential of their whenua near Tihirau.

The project which started in 2019 involves the owners of 25 Māori land blocks which cover 18,000 hectares of land, with about a third (6000 ha) suitable for livestock, horticulture or arable farming.

Land owner co-facilitator Rika Mato said the group undertook research to investigate options for profitable and sustainable land uses for the whenua. . . 

Report funded to inform councils on farmland use and forestry – Maja Burry:

Local councils concerned that too much productive farmland is being converted to forestry are funding a report which they hope will show a way forward.

In September, the Tararua District and Wairoa District mayors wrote to rural provincial councils about developing a collaborative approach to responding to the increase of forestry planting throughout New Zealand and the impacts on communities.

Fourteen councils stretching from Southland to Waitomo have now opted to come on board, with the farming group Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Local Government New Zealand also providing funding support.

Wairoa District Mayor Craig Little said the aim of the work was to present a high-level document on land use issues, which the government could use to inform policy moving forward. . . 

From wiped out to a $30m business: The Our Cow story – Shan Goodwin:

WHAT began out of pure necessity just to stay in farming has become one the country’s most successful agribusiness ventures that is chipping away at disrupting the boom-and-bust cycle of cattle production.

When drought, bushfires and rock-bottom cattle prices threatened to wipe out Bianca Tarrant and Dave McGiveron’s dreams of being beef producers, they launched a meat box subscription service to sell their product direct to city customers.

That business, Our Cow, is today a $30 million affair, with a boning and packing plant, 30 employees and a hundred other producer suppliers. It delivers premium beef, lamb, chicken and pork to 20,000 customers from Cairns to Adelaide.

Pandemic-driven consumer desire to know where food comes from and how it’s produced, and to support Australian farmers, has fuelled what was already a strong emerging trend for paddock-to-plate purchasing beyond the imagination of the young entrepreneurs. . .


Farmer Christmas

02/12/2021


Some religions more equal

02/12/2021

As the likelihood of Chris Luxon leading National grew, so too did criticism of his religion.

Almost every interview since he became leader canvassed that and most did it as if they were investigating something foreign and somewhat suspect.

Am I the only one to see the irony of this from people who don’t question the imposition of prayers in Maori at many official events or the annual mixing of church and state with the political pilgrimage to Ratana?

Does anyone doubt the questioning would be much softer, the suspicion much less overt and more polite for Christians if they were also Maori or Pacifica?

Who doubts that they would be far gentler on an adherent of another faith, and that being an atheist or agnostic would have gone unremarked?

These days, some religions are more equal than others.

Simon Bridges made this point in his memoir National Identity (p261):

Note that I say Christinas are the new pariahs. . . For some reason, Kiwis today are more comfortable with religions that our culture has traditionally had little to do with than they are with the religion our has traditionally had little to do with than they are with the religion our country was founded on . . 

Overall though, officially, New Zealand has become a post-Christian secular society. Your average Governor-General would choke on her cucumber sandwiches were a prayer or Bible reading incorporated. Well, with one very significant exception. In recent years with the public renaissance of Maori culture, most public events will have a religious dimension in a Maori parry or karakia. . . There is an exquisite irony in what’s happened here. Our public servants and civic leaders, who’d spit on the ground during a Pakeha’s Christian prayer, beam like Cherhire Cats when the same is done in te reo. I love this. God works in mysterious ways and he clearly has a sense of humour. . . 

Those haranguing – and that’s not too strong a word – Chris Luxon on his religion and views on conscience issues like abortion, euthanasia and conversion theory – would be most unlikely to question people of other faiths so belligerently.

Perhaps they’ve forgotten, if they ever knew, just how much our culture and laws owe to Judeo-Christian mores.

And what does it say about them that Luxon’s Christianity is far more an issue than Jacinda Ardern’s socialism?


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