Word of the day

31/03/2022

Subvention – a grant of money, as by a government or some other authority, in aid or support of some institution or undertaking, especially in connection with science or the arts; an amount of money given as support by an organisation or government for a particular purpose;  the act or process of providing aid, help or support of any sort.


Sowell says

31/03/2022


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

31/03/2022


Can’t right past by wronging present & future

31/03/2022

The Dunedin City Council has backed tracked on its backing for the collective opposed to the government’s Three Waters plans:

. . . The city’s elected members voted 7-6 yesterday to revoke last month’s decision to join Communities 4 Local Democracy, a collective of more than 30 councils opposed to key aspects of the Government’s Three Waters reform programme.

Mr Hawkins argued joining the group had amounted to the council turning its back on mana whenua, represented by Te Runanga o Otakou and Kati Huirapa ki Puketeraki, who have ancestral links to the area.

This prompted the two runanga to suspend their involvement in the council’s Maori participation working party, which has input into strategies and projects. . . 

The council bowed to the wishes of two runanga.

It has an obligation to consult them but do wishes of runanga trump DCC residents? If the majority of residents want the council to oppose Three Waters, will the council reverse its reversal?

To not do so wouldn’t be democratic and that illustrates the problem with co-governance with which, Richard Prebble says there is no democratic accountability :

. . . With almost no debate, Labour has adopted a radical reinterpretation of the Treaty as a partnership to justify co-governance. With co-governance, there is no democratic accountability when half the power is held by those who do not have to answer to the electorate.

Co-governance was not in Labour’s manifesto. Labour ministers hid from its coalition partner He Puapua – a report that could result in co-governance being extended. Work on this radical document is continuing.

Now Labour has an absolute majority and ministers have put the Treaty as a partnership at the heart of the government. It is paralysing policy. How can Māori be part of both the Crown and the other partner? Who is Willie Jackson representing as the minister in charge of He Puapua? . . 

He’s not representing the growing number of New Zealanders who are growing increasingly concerned about the government’s co-governance ambitions.

We do not need a new Treaty. The Treaty is fine as it was written in 1840. [In the English text version] there are just three articles: “Cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty”; “guarantees … the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties”; and grants “all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects”.

There is nothing about partnerships or being “a multi-ethnic-liberal democracy”.

As David Lange put it: “Did Queen Victoria for a moment think of forming a partnership with a number of thumb prints and 500 people?”

A few Māori signed the English version. Māori had travelled to Australia and Britain. The preamble meant Māori knew what they were agreeing. Ceding sovereignty to end the bloody musket wars, gaining protection for their property and all the rights of British citizenship was a good deal.

What the Treaty does say is still important today.

Sovereignty was ceded. Sovereignty is indivisible. The Crown is everyone as represented by the executive and the courts.

Property rights are guaranteed.

Citizenship grants the rights from the Magna Carta – no arbitrary taxation and the right to a fair trial with a jury.

Parliament is responsible for the present reinterpretation, and only Parliament can fix it.

Parliament has included in a number of laws the phrase “the principles of the Treaty”, without saying what those principles are. No MP thought that a court might say that a Treaty principle was a partnership. No court has.

If you know what these principles are, please tell me because I have yet to find a definitive answer.

People have seized on a statement by judges that in resolving Waitangi claims, it is a relationship similar to a partnership, in order to claim that partnership is a Treaty principle.

Where Māori have a valid property claim, such as to some of our national parks, then co-governance is a pragmatic solution. It recognises the Māori property interest while maintaining the public interest in preserving the parks.

Labour ministers are now promoting co-governance on the basis that the Treaty is a partnership even where Māori have no property claim. . . 

Co-governance where there is a legitimate property claim is quite different from co-governance where there is none.

Māori interest in having access to health is the same as everyone.

That doesn’t mean that Maori might be able to better address Maori health problems but that’s a matter of services not governance.

As far as water is concerned, Māori only have an ownership interest as ratepayers in the dams, pipes, pumping stations and sewage plants. There is no case for co-governance.

So what is the answer?

In the hearings to appoint Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court, a Senator asked what the solution was when the court misunderstands what Congress intended? The Judge replied that in that case Congress should amend the law to make its intention clear.

We should follow the judge’s advice. Parliament has legislated that courts apply the principles of the Treaty. Parliament should now set out that those principles are what were agreed in 1840.

Instead of a referendum, Act should campaign that Parliament legislate that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are those in the Treaty: namely, the Crown has sovereignty, the Crown guarantees property rights and everyone has the same rights of New Zealand citizenship.

When Parliament does that we can again repeat Governor Hobson’s words: “He iwi kotahi tātou: now we are one people”.

There is a problem of course that there are four versions of the Treaty – The English one and the Maori translation of it which are different from the Maori version and the English translation of it.

But regardless of which version is used, there is no doubt that the Crown did not always honour the Treaty. Successive governments have acknowledged that and Treaty settlements have, and are still being, negotiated to compensate for that.

There is no doubt that Maori are over represented in negative statistics and under represented in positive ones for crime, education and health. But co-governance won’t solve that.

There are considerable, well-founded beliefs that all it would do is undermine democracy.

You can’t right past wrongs by wronging the present and future which is what co-governance that moves away from equality under the law, democratic accountability, and democratic institutions and practices based on one person, one vote would do.


Word of the day

30/03/2022

Smit – stain, tarnish; contaminate, infect; smear, sully.


Thatcher thinks

30/03/2022


Rural round-up

30/03/2022

Beaumont Bark Up a fun way to support Farmstrong – Evelyn Thorn:

Mental health is a continuing issue for the rural sector, and what better way than a traditional bark up to both combat the strains of farm life, and do its bit to bring the issue to wider attention through its supportive fundraising efforts. Reporter Evelyn Thorn whiled away a couple of hours at the second annual Beaumont Bark Up recently, and talked to organiser Jana Fransbach to find out why she is supporting a cause close to her heart.

This year marked the second Beaumont Bark Up, where dogs from just down the road, to as far afield as Owaka, travelled to put their best bark forward and compete for prizes.

Organised by Beaumont Hotel bar manager and local shepherd Jana Fransbach, the event was held not only to bring local farmers and shepherds together to the hotel for some laughs and fun, but also to raise funds for rural wellbeing charity Farmstrong.

Proceeds from the evening, including a modest, $10 entry fee, went to Farmstrong, a national programme dedicated to supporting mental health within the community of all New Zealand farmers. . . 

Dairy farmers keep Karen’s dream alive :

Dairy farmers are keeping a dream alive for Karen Chapman, who grew up on a dairy farm in the small Waikato settlement of Otaua and has only ever wanted to milk cows.

Karen has been supported by a network of dairy farmers in and around Pukekohe, many of them participants in the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme fundraising scheme, who raise animals and donate the proceeds to IHC.

This year, the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme marks its 40th anniversary by celebrating all the farmers who have made lives better for people with intellectual disabilities in their communities. Over those 40 years, the scheme has raised $40 million.

Karen’s dream looked pretty hopeless because her Dad Noel Chapman, a sharemilker, died while she was still a teenager and she and her Mum Olive shifted into Pukekohe. Then, in a double tragedy, her mother died suddenly too, and Karen moved into IHC residential care. . . 

Plan to plant half land in trees for timber – Sandy Eggleston:

The new owner of Wisp Hill Station plans to grow trees for timber on about half of the 5500ha property and is not carbon farming.

Last year, the station was bought by Ingka Investments from Southland brothers Leonard and Graham Ward.

Ingka Group is the largest IKEA retailer and represents about 90% of IKEA retail sales. It has three business areas: IKEA Retail, Ingka Centres and Ingka Investments.

Ingka Investments forestry portfolio manager Andriy Hrytsyuk said while agriculture had been an important part of the New Zealand economy, forestry also had a role to play. . . 

Nursery growers’ green shoots for industry :

A new programme to draw people into the primary sector has hit a major milestone – pairing up an aspiring nursery grower with an industry mentor.

Primary ITO’s PiPI (Pathways into Primary Industries) is at a pilot stage where career-ready people can connect to business owners to help them launch into a career.

It is a new area for Primary ITO, providing a matching service between people who want to join the sector, mentors happy to help, and even businesses looking for people.

There’s previously been a gap in doing this, says Primary ITO’s chief executive Nigel Philpott. . . 

New independent directors appointed to DairyNZ board:

A financial expert and a transformational chief executive are the two independent directors to be appointed to DairyNZ’s Board of Directors.

Margaret Devlin fills an existing vacancy, while Mark Todd replaces Peter Schuyt who will be stepping down in October after almost nine years on the Board.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Board is delighted to bring such quality directors as Margaret and Mark on board.

“Both Mark and Margaret are exceptionally talented and experienced professional directors and will bring a fresh perspective as the Board oversees the delivery of DairyNZ’s strategy,” he says. . . 

 

Knoydart community owns Britain’s remotest mainland pub:

A community in Lochaber has succeeded in its bid to buy Britain’s remotest mainland pub in a landmark deal.

Residents of the Knoydart Peninsula in Lochaber are now the owners of The Old Forge in Inverie.

The only way of reaching the village – and its pub – is by walking 18 miles (29km) or making a seven-mile (11km) sea crossing.

The pub’s Belgian owner Jean-Pierre Robinet put the pub on the market last year, asking for offers over £425,000. . .


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

30/03/2022


FPAs really UPAs

30/03/2022

They’re called Fair Pay Agreements but for whom are they fair?

They’re not fair for the 90% of workers who will be forced to accept them if 10% of people in their occupation want them.

They’re not fair for the workers who will lose flexible pay and conditions that suit them and be forced to accept inflexible pay and conditions that don’t.

They’re not fair to employers in different parts of the country with different cost structures who will be forced to accept the pay and conditions imposed on them regardless of whether they can afford them.

They’re not fair to the businesses that will collapse under the weight of unaffordable wage bills and the workers who will lose their jobs to business failures and increased automation.

They’re not fair to the everyone already struggling with inflation who will face higher costs as a result of them.

It’s not fair that they will harm the economy:

Labour’s misnamed ‘Fair’ Pay Agreements Bill will reduce flexibility and harm New Zealand’s economy, National’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“This bill is an ideological overreach, deliberately going to war with employers at a time when we’re facing huge economic challenges.

“The modern workplace is changing rapidly and people value flexibility. Labour’s bill would take us in the opposite direction, towards rigid national awards.

“It’s another example of this Government’s belief that central government knows best – better than employees and employers trying to arrange things for themselves in a way that works for them.

“Flexible labour markets are one of the foundations of our relative economic success in the past few decades. This bill undermines that foundation and will harm our economy and our national competitiveness.

“National stridently opposes this bill.”

They are so unfair that Business New Zealand is saying no to the payment being offered to them:

BusinessNZ has confirmed that it will not accept payments included in the Fair Pay Agreements Bill introduced to Parliament today.

Under the terms of the Bill, BusinessNZ would be offered $250,000 a year for supporting compulsory bargaining in major sectors of the economy.

But Chief Executive Kirk Hope says the FPA scheme is unacceptable and BusinessNZ will not take part.

“The Bill shows the Government is not listening, and we think the legislation should simply be canned.

“The scheme would make it compulsory for businesses to take part in collective bargaining, and compulsory for them to accept union demands or imposed arbitration.

“The FPA scheme would be deleterious to the economy, to people’s prosperity, and to the human rights of those involved, and despite the mention of BusinessNZ in the Bill presented to Parliament today, I can confirm that BusinessNZ will definitely not be taking taxpayer money to support compulsory national pay schemes.”

The Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association says FPAs are a step back in time:

The Government’s step backwards to National Compulsory Awards, also known as Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), is a retrograde move for employees and employers that removes the flexibility we’ve come to expect and need in the modern workplace, says the EMA.

Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald, says this is a step back to a centralised, antagonistic wage bargaining system that failed workers and their employers in the 1970s and 80s and was done away with in the 1990s.

“It puts a Wellington bureaucracy between employees and their employers and enforces the same pay and conditions for all employees regardless of their circumstances and those of their employer.”

Mr McDonald says inflexible, unwanted, slow moving, centralised bargaining was the last thing needed in the modern workplace.

This is what we had decades ago when a worker who sprained an eyelash at one workplace could trigger strikes the length and breadth of the country.

“FPAs are not consistent with the goal of the New Zealand economy being made of flexible, innovative, competitive and agile businesses.

“If nothing else, how would we have coped with the demands for flexibility and adaptability in the workplace imposed by Covid if we were working with these ponderous, unwanted awards?”

“The fact they must be compulsorily brought to an outcome is illegal under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles signed up to by previous Labour governments and currently illegal under our domestic bargaining frameworks where employers can choose to opt out.

As only 10 percent of a workforce or 1,000 workers in any sector can demand one of these agreements, they are demonstrably undemocratic.”

Mr McDonald says the EMA and other members of the BusinessNZ network had opposed these agreements from the moment they were proposed and would continue to oppose them.

He said it was hard to see what the issue was that they were meant to solve, especially with such widespread access to such agreements.

“MBIE, the government’s own advisors, said there may be a few areas where there could be an issue with pay and conditions and the best solution was to apply a market test and review conditions in those sectors and make changes where required.

“We’d support that, but instead this legislation takes a scattergun approach that will result in inflexible, rigid conditions across multiple industries with some employers having to deal with multiple awards in one workplace.

“It’s a logistical nightmare if nothing else. How do you reach every employee and employer from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga?

Inflexible, rigid and a logistical nightmare – what’s fair about that?

“I see the Government’s release ignores the fact that Business NZ and its network and the Chambers of Commerce have already ruled out being the bargaining agent for employers. The fact the CTU is the Government’s bargaining agent of choice also shuts out all the other non-affiliated unions from the bargaining process and ignores the fact around 80 per cent of the workforce is not associated with unions,” says Mr McDonald.

It’s not even fair to many unions.

How fair is it to democracy when the CTU supports the Labour Party financially and with people power for campaigning.

If corruption is too strong a word for it – and I”m not sure it is – then unfair certainly isn’t.

These aren’t FPAs they’re UPAs – unfair pay agreements – and another reason to ensure this government doesn’t get a third term.


Word of the day

29/03/2022

Exurb – a prosperous area beyond a city’s suburbs; a region or settlement that lies outside a city and usually beyond its suburbs, usually not highly developed, and that often is inhabited chiefly by well-to-do families; ) is an area outside the typically denser inner suburban area of a metropolitan area, which has an economic and commuting connection to the metro area, low housing density, and growth.


Thatcher thinks

29/03/2022


Rural round-up

29/03/2022

Farmers unhappy crucial land will be lost of flooding over the government’s proposed hydro storage scheme at Lake Onslow – Kaysha Brownlie:

The Government is pouring millions into trying to fix New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem. 

But it’s also pouring water on people’s farms in the process.

A $4 billion pumped hydro storage scheme is being investigated against other options to create a battery to store power for when we run low.

One option would involve flooding Lake Onslow, a man-made lake 20 kilometres east of Roxburgh and roughly halfway between Dunedin and Queenstown.  . . 

New Zealand red meat exports top 1 billion in February but pressure mounting on sector :

Current strong export returns for New Zealand red meat face pressure in the coming months due to labour shortages and supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The industry exported products worth $1.1 billion during February 2022, with increases in value to all major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said current strong meat prices were compensating for a drop in the volume of exports, with sheepmeat volumes down 11 per cent and beef down seven per cent compared to February 2021.

“Absenteeism in processing plants due to staff having to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the pressure on our industry, which is already dealing with a significant labour shortage and ongoing global logistics challenges. . . 

Meat processors searching for skilled staff during challenging times – Yashas Srinivasa :

South Canterbury’s major meat processors are struggling in their hunt for staff.

Alliance Group’s Smithfield plant in Timaru is 30 workers short during what is an “extremely busy” processing period and require more halal butchers while at Silver Fern Farms, at Pareora, the shortage is around 150 for a season described as one of their most challenging.

Alliance Group general manager manufacturing Willie Wiese said like the rest of the meat processing and exporting industry, they are continuing to deal with labour shortage issues at their plants including Smithfield.

“The sector’s chronic labour shortage has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and border restrictions, which has prevented us from employing a small number of workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally,” Wiese said. . .

How a Central Otago farm became Montana for Power of the Dog and the region’s film hopes :

Central Otago will be watching the 94th Academy Awards with anticipation as The Power of the Dog is up for a pack-leading 12 nominations.

The movie, a critical darling, was filmed primarily in Otago.

Dame Jane Campion has become the first woman to be twice nominated for best director, while its stars are also up for most of the major categories and the movie is tipped as favourite for best picture.

But closer to home it is the uncredited co-star – the sparse landscape of Maniototo – filling locals with pride. . . 

Wool Impact NZ plans for positive impact – Country Life:

Carpet marketer Wools of New Zealand says demand for woolen carpet is lifting and the new body forming to help the struggling strong wool industry will give it a further boost.

Wool Impact NZ will launch mid-year with the aim of working with brands to get strong-wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Wools of NZ chair John McWhirter says in the past 6 to 12 months the demand for wool carpet has lifted from 15 percent of the soft flooring market to 20 percent.

“And what’s exciting about that is when you think about it, that’s actually a 25% increase in demand for wool carpet. Yes, it’s off a  small base. But it’s a clear signal that consumers are actually moving back to wool, to natural fibres and away from man-made fibres.” .  . 

 

 

Kabocha Milk Co wins 2 global wards for best health wellness drink and best plant based beverage with Kabochamilk :

 Fresh Kabocha (also known as pumpkin or squash – and not to be confused with ‘Kombucha’) has been eaten by the people of Japan, Korea & China since 1541. It is revered for its high Vitamin A & C content, and rich fibre and mineral content.

• Kabochamilk was created in collaboration between between veteran Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Japanese NZ celebrity chef Sachie Nomura with the goal of creating a visually beautiful, nutritious plant milk that isn’t affected by seasonality and can be consumed any time of the day.

• Kabochamilk upcycles NZ Kabocha and provides a high-value export opportunity – positively impacting nature and communities.

Kabocha Milk Co.– proudly made in the Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand has scooped another two international food innovation awards – this time at the 2022 World Food Innovations in London as the “Best Health and Wellness Drink” and “Best Plant Based Beverage” . . 


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

29/03/2022


Posting this because NZME won’t

29/03/2022

A newsletter from the Free Speech Union says:

Longstanding BusinessDesk columnist and financial journalist, Jenny Ruth, has covered controversy and crisis for decades, but these are not easy days for opinion-piece writers voicing ‘questionable’ views. 

When reporting on the Free Speech Union’s work pressuring NZME (which owns BusinessDesk) to publicly discuss their policy towards advertising and editorial independence at the upcoming AGM, she referred to the Speak Up for Women advertisements which were refused. NZME claimed these ads were ‘potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view’. 

In a thorough review of our advocacy for dedication to free speech from New Zealand’s largest publisher, she concluded with a personal reflection on the work she has previously done for women, including assisting in setting up first feminist refuge in Auckland for battered women. Her final lines give a taste for how she views the decision by NZME not to run the ads: 

‘The fact is, women have been erased from history for about as long as people have existed in many different cultures all over the world. I am an adult human female and I won’t allow the transgender lobby to erase me in the name of inclusion.’

BusinessDesk has now decided that they will not publish this column by Ruth, despite having repeatedly claimed that her ‘columns help drive subscriptions’. Notwithstanding the fact NZME owns BusinessDesk, Ruth claims the decision isn’t about commercial interests, the ‘decision was political’. 

Essentially, this boils down to taking the opinion out of opinion pieces, if the opinions being expressed don’t fit comfortably with the politically correct status quo.

Kiwis self-censor every day out of fear of what is socially acceptable. Yet when influential commentators must start taking into account the way the political wind is blowing on particular issues in order to be printed, free speech isn’t even receiving lip service anymore. By refusing to publish Ruth’s column for political reasons, BusinessDesk editor Patrick Smellie has created a rod for his own back, setting a precedent when any controversial opinion is published, the mob can come at them with pitchforks. 

Publishers must remain committed to featuring a variety of opinions that reflects the diversity of perspectives in our society. We will be contacting BusinessDesk and calling on them to ensure free speech is respected.  . .

What was in the column that led to the decision to censor it? :

Censorship, NZME and transgender issues

NZME refused to run advertisements placed by Speak up For Women because they were “potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view”.

Publisher and broadcaster NZME could be facing a fiery annual shareholders’ meeting next month because theFree Speech Union (FSU) has managed to put advertising and editorial independence on the agenda.

There’s no resolution to vote on, just an item for discussion, but one aspect that will likely exacerbate sensitivities is that the free speech issue that gave rise to the agenda item involves transgender politics.

Last year, when the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Act was going through the process of becoming law, a group called Speak Up for Women (SUFW) wanted to run an advertisement in publications owned by NZME which consisted of the Oxford University definition of the word woman.

For the record, that definition is: adult human female. 

One of the changes to the Act was to make it easier for people to change the sex on their birth certificates without having to go through the Family Court or show evidence of medical treatment to change their sex.

NZME refused to run the ad, even though the Advertising Standards Authority had rejected complaints about the ad, which had already appeared on a billboard.

Socially responsible

“In the context of advocacy advertising, the advertisement was socially responsible and did not reach the threshold to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence, did not cause fear or distress without justification, and was not misleading,” ASA said.

It had received 34 complaints about the billboard which accused it of being transphobic hate speech which could cause undue harm or offence to the transgender community.

Essentially, the complainants said the ad was “a dog whistle” intended to inspire transphobia.

SUFW had faced a concerted campaign to deny its members the right to speak, which included local councils including Christchurch, Auckland and Palmerston North cancelling meetings arranged at their venues.

SUFW won a high court case allowing it to hold a meeting at the Palmerston North Library and Justice Gerard Nation said SUFW “cannot rationally be described as a hate group”.

SUFW was concerned that the legislation could remove the right of women and girls to single-sex spaces, such as changing rooms, hostels and prisons.

It has also campaigned against the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sport.

SUFW provided me with a copy of a letter NZME sent it.

Potentially inflammatory

As you know, we had previously requested that your advertisements have the definition of ‘woman’ removed, as we considered that these were potentially inflammatory, would compromise NZME’s reputation and draw it into a debate in which it does not take a view from a commercial perspective,” NZME’s letter said.

After saying it wouldn’t run any further SUFW ads, spelling out a clause in its advertising terms and conditions giving it the right to make such decisions, it ended: ” We do not intend to enter into correspondence regarding this decision.”

FSU spokesman Jonathan Ayling said he estimated shareholders accounting for about 10% of NZME shareholders had signed onto a letter to NZME’s board drafted by his organisation decrying NZME’s decision not to run the ad.

Ayling said he had no difficulty getting the discussion item on the meeting’s agenda and that NZME hadn’t asked for proof that his organisation represented a sufficient number of shareholders to force the issue.

“It’s quite demonstrably clear that we have more than 5%. They didn’t suggest we needed to provide proof of that, but I think it’s quite obvious to the board,” Ayling said.

An NZME spokesperson disputed the 10% figure and said about 15% of NZME’s shareholders live in New Zealand.
“We think it’s more like 2% or even less. I don’t know where they’re getting that information from.”

Half retail shareholders

Having the backing of 10% of NZME’s register may not look like much, but it looks like the FSU is representing nearly half the retail shareholders.

Nominee companies, several from Australia, dominate NZME’s register, accounting for 68.8% of its ownership while custodian companies of Forsyth Barr and Jarden own 8.3% and ACC owns another 4.24%, accounting for 77.3% in total.

The FSU letter said that shareholders have an interest in commercial considerations being at the forefront when decisions are made on advertising content.

“Yet we are of the opinion that NZME’s commercial interests are best served when the company is seen to uphold a commitment to free speech and encourages robust debate on the pressing issue of the day,” FSU said.

“It is simply not consistent with the role of the fourth estate to be pulling the teeth out of a controversy and avoiding offence (which is ultimately not possible).”

The letter went on to say that by refusing to run an ad, vetted by the ASA as legal and acceptable, NZME was “impeding free speech and acting as censor, rather than allowing a free and open marketplace of ideas without discrimination”.

Amen

To which I can only say, amen. I’m appalled at NZME trying to suppress SUFW’s views.

I’m also acutely aware that NZME owns BusinessDesk.

But my view of its letter to SUFW is that NZME’s position is simply untenable and amounts to censorship. Censorship and my understanding of journalism will always be in diametric opposition.

I do have some sympathy with the transgender accusation that the definition of the word women could be used as a dog whistle.

Nobody listening to the confirmation hearings last week for Ketanji Brown Jackson who has been nominated to join the US Supreme Court could have mistaken the blatant dog whistle senator Marsha Blackburn blew.

Blackburn, a Republican, asked Jackson to define the word woman among a barrage of questions hitting just about all the current culture war issues, including transgender swimmer Lia Thomas being allowed to compete – and win – against other women at a college sports event.

Blackburn’s bad faith was undeniable, but the answer is not to try to suppress the issues she raised.

Mud sticks

Despite SUFW having won so many battles against being labelled transphobic, it’s obvious the label has stuck – even one of my own colleagues told me he thought some of its members probably are transphobic.

If that’s true, then he’d have to label me transphobic too, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If a person wishes to present themselves as the opposite sex to the one they were born with, I don’t think that’s any of my business, other than to accept them for who they are.

Bathroom issues are simply ridiculous; it would be both cruel and dangerous to force a transgender woman to use a male toilet.

Ridiculous? Is it not also cruel and potentially dangerous for a woman who has been abused or has good reason to be fearful of men, to force them to share a toilet with a transgender woman?

Nor should transgender people be subjected to harassment and embarrassment in the name of security at airport checkpoints.

But there is an undeniable issue with women’s sport. There’s a reason we have men’s sports and women’s sports.

While women have advantages men don’t share, bar the inevitable outlier, they simply aren’t as strong as men.

If we keep going down the path of allowing women who grew up as men to compete in women’s sports, that will simply spell the end of women’s sports.

Anyone who has gone through puberty as a male will be stronger than someone who has not.

I won’t be erased

I was among the group of women who established the first feminist refuge in Auckland for battered women which gave rise to today’s Women’s Refuge network.

If a battered transgender woman had turned up on our doorstop, would we have turned her away? I don’t think so, but there could well have been issues to deal with concerning other women we were sheltering at the time and their feelings of safety.

Avoiding dealing with such issues because they make us feel uncomfortable won’t make them go away.

I bristle at being told I can’t say things like “pregnant women” or “women with cervical cancer” anymore and that I should say pregnant “people” or “people” with cervical cancer so as to be inclusive of a vanishingly small minority of transgender men who might become pregnant or develop cervical cancer.

That reminds me of being told when I was much younger that the word “man” included women when it patently does not. 

The fact is, women have been erased from history for about as long as people have existed in many different cultures all over the world.

I am an adult human female and I won’t allow the transgender lobby erase me in the name of inclusion.

Some might debate some of the points made in the column, but I can’t see anything that justifies censoring it.

Newspapers are free to publish columns or not, as they see fit but if they want to be taken seriously they have to be very careful about censoring views for no better reason than they’re controversial.

And they ought to recognise that accepting trans women’s right to be that way and standing up for women are not mutually exclusive.

 


Word of the day

28/03/2022

Benignity – kindness or tolerance toward others; the quality or state of being benign or kind.


Sowell says

28/03/2022


Rural round-up

28/03/2022

Not so fast – Rural News:

Predictions that NZ’s farming sector is in for a bumper year need to be put into context.

While many primary sectors – including dairy, horticulture and red meat – are experiencing record commodity prices, a number of factors are leading to some even bigger cost increases, which will mean less on-farm profitability.

As Rabobank NZ’s analyst Emma Higgins recently opined, “Rocketing input costs and crimped production in some regions will not translate into new benchmark profits”.

This is due to a number of reasons: the ongoing impact of Covid, the war in the Ukraine, growing inflation and the imposition of government-imposed regulations – to name just a few.

Worrying external deficit should give govt cause to shy away from calls to cull the country’s dairy herd – Point of Order:

Even  though NZ  is  reaping record prices for  its  primary exports, the  country’s current  account deficit  “exploded”  (the  BNZ’s  word  for it) in calendar  year 2021  to  the  equivalent  of  5.8% of  GDP,  or  $20bn. The  previous  year  the  annual deficit had been only  0.8%  of  GDP.

Economist  Cameron Bagrie  said  the current account deficit didn’t  get the  attention  it  deserved. The  BNZ’s  economists, noting there had been  a  very  big change in a  short  space  of time, said the deficit   is  the  largest   since 2009.

“It continues a rapid widening of the external deficit that we have been warning of for quite some time. The deficit is now getting to a level that some in the market and/or rating agencies might start paying attention to.”

Whether  the  government, preoccupied  with Covid  and  rising inflation, is  paying   any attention  isn’t clear — but  it  should be.  Some insiders  believe it is  beavering  away  on climate change  measures  that could have a  damaging effect on  farming  morale—particularly if the government goes  ahead with  measures as  proposed  by the Climate Change Commission to reduce  methane emissions  by  cutting cow herds by  15%. . . 

Otago pulls out the stops on its most insidious pest – Jill Herron:

When the rabbits spill off Otago’s land and on to its sea lion, seal and penguin-populated beaches, you know there’s a serious pest-control problem

For the first time in years – so many no one wants to put a number on it – non-compliance notices have been served on Otago landowners for letting rabbits run amok on their land.

A further 40 notices ordering immediate action or costly consequences are set to follow, as a shake-up in the pest department at the Otago Regional Council (ORC) last year starts to bear fruit.

Environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard, who has been in the role less than two years, concedes the ORC has had a “less than active stance” on the rabbit front and that this would have contributed to current numbers. . . 

Big names back NZ agtech breakthrough:

 Two global leaders in agriculture are helping advance world-first pasture technology designed, tested and made in New Zealand.

Investment from Gallagher and the Royal Barenbrug Group will fund wider farm roll-out and faster development for Christchurch-based Farmote Systems, company founder Richard Barton says.

Launched in Canterbury last spring, the Farmote System is a unique new way of automatically recording precise, consistent and reliable pasture data, 24/7. It now covers over 6000 hectares of farmland.

Fast forward

“We’re excited to have attracted new investment from Gallagher, as well as further investment from Barenbrug,” Richard Barton says. . . 

 

Export deal to see NZ wool carpet used in $1bn New York skyscraper :

A Kiwi company has secured a US export contract to supply one of New York’s tallest skyscrapers with its wool flooring product.

The $1.1 billion Brooklyn Tower will be home to hundreds of the city’s elite and will stand at 327 metres when it opens later this year, making it one of the world’s tallest residential buildings.

The new contract will see Bremworth supply over 3,000sqm of wool carpet for the 93 storey, supertall skyscraper and is one of the company’s largest ever installations of its natural fibre product in the US.[1]

The North American deal is the highest profile commercial contract for the company since Bremworth’s wool carpets were used in the refurbishment of dozens of US retail outlets owned by Cartier, the luxury French jewellery maker. . . 

Dairy giant Arla warns of supply issues unless farmers paid more – Emma Simpson:

The UK’s largest dairy has warned milk supplies could be under threat unless its farmers are paid more.

The managing director of Arla Foods said costs are increasing at rates never seen before and that farmers can no longer cover their expenses.

“Because of the recent crisis, feed, fuel and fertiliser have rocketed and therefore cashflow on the farm is negative,” said Ash Amirahmadi.

He added farmers are producing less milk as a result of the higher costs. . . 


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

28/03/2022


Bright ideas needed

28/03/2022

Reducing the excise tax on fuel shows what happens when politics meets climate change policy – politics wins.

That’s a very good illustration of what’s wrong with so much of the response to climate change – it’s focused far too much on taxing more and trying to force us to do or have less.

That’s not attractive to the wealthy,  it is unaffordable for the poor.

The economic and social costs of too much climate change policy are too high with little, if any environmental benefit.

There is a better way – bright ideas based on the research and science. That’s what’s solved so many other problems.

 

 

You can watch the clip on YouTube here.


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