Abtruse – difficult to understand; obscure; not known or understood by many people.
FluTracking is an online surveillance system used to track the spread of influenza.
Participation is voluntary, you’ll find out how to join at the link above.
You’ll get an email each week with a link to questions. It takes about 30 seconds to answer them.
The main aims of it are to develop a system that can provide:
- Community level influenza-like illness surveillance
- Consistent surveillance of influenza activity across all jurisdictions and over time; and
- Year-to-year comparison of the timing, attack rates, and seriousness of influenza in the community.
Saturday’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 abuse.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst from of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. – Winston Churchill
Futurity – time to come; a future condition, event, prospect, state or time.
The Bill that would have created unequal voting rights in Rotorua has been ‘paused’.
Labour has predictably started backpedalling on the discriminatory Rotorua District Council Bill but rather than just pressing pause, they need to can the whole thing now, National’s Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill would give the 22,000 Māori roll voters in Rotorua three council seats, the same number as the 56,000 voters on the general roll. Each Māori roll vote would effectively be worth about two-and-a-half votes on the general roll.
“One of the core principles of our democracy is one person, one vote. That, as New Zealanders, we are all treated the same. Our individual votes have equal power in deciding who governs our country and in decisions affecting our lives.
“This bill would throw out the one person, one vote principle. Labour should scrap it entirely. It is undemocratic and unfair, as indicated by the Attorney-General’s assessment that the bill is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.
“Labour should also abandon the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, which alters voting rights in a different way.
“Under that bill’s provisions, 14 councillors would be elected democratically, then after the election Ngāi Tahu would appoint two more – without even bothering with elections. This is equally inconsistent with our Bill of Rights Act and cannot be justified.
“Equal suffrage is a pillar of our modern democracy and it cannot be thrown away. Labour needs to respect democracy and scrap both bills.”
David Farrar shows how this is a victory for people power :
. . . They planned to ram it through Parliament in a few weeks. The Māori Affairs Committee only opened submissions for two weeks. They started scheduling oral submissions before the written submissions had even closed.
But what stopped them wasn’t the Attorney-General’s advice it breached the Bill of Rights Act (they knew it did and didn’t care) but the fact in just two weeks we got over 10,000 New Zealanders to do individual submissions against the bill – including 2,500 who asked to speak to their submission.
This meant the Māori Affairs Committee would have had to meet for eight hours a day, five days a week for five weeks to hear all the submissions against. It made it impossible for it to be passed by 1 June. . .
People power has won this time, but ‘pausing’ this Bill doesn’t mean there won’t be other attempts to undermine democracy.
The Canterbury Bill is still there and needs at least as much opposition to show the government they can’t undermine democracy by ramming through Bills like these.
Rural focus missed in health reform – Neal Wallace:
Rural communities should be a priority health focus alongside women, Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the Government’s health reforms, according to a NZ Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN) submission.
The NZRGPN says the proposed legislation ignores the needs of 740,000 rural people and will mean the continuation of poorer health outcomes for those living in rural communities.
The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, which amalgamates the country’s District Health Boards into a centralised body, will be reported back to Parliament later this month.
Despite the economic importance of rural-based industries, the network claims that unless “rural people” is added to the Bill as an identified priority population, then health inequities and the rural health staffing crisis will continue. . .
Government regs take their toll on hort growers – Peter Burke:
Horticulture NZ’s chair is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of growers with confidence at rock bottom.
Barry O’Neil told Rural News the pressure that growers are facing is on many fronts, including a plethora of new government regulations. He says 2022 will be the hardest year the sector has experienced for many and the heat is on growers because of this.
“It’s not just Covid, it’s all the other issues that are building in respect to the environmental settings the Government wants to achieve,” O’Neil explains. “There are shipping disruptions, labour shortages and rising costs on orchard as well.
“It’s not just about change – this is about the amount of change and the speed at which this happening.” . . .
Planting trees ‘binds our community’ – Sally Rae:
“We are all in this together.”
As Emeritus Professor Henrik Moller points out, although 90% of voters live in urban centres, New Zealand’s biological industries — particularly farming and forestry — earn about 60% of the country’s national income.
Urban dwellers often went “hunting and gathering in supermarkets” and there was increasingly less understanding of the struggles their rural counterparts had.
“The more we understand, meet and support each other, the safer our country will be. Our future depends on it,” he said. . .
Environment Southland has proposed a “right tree, right place” policy in response to concerns about forestry taking over pastoral land as climate change bites.
In an extraordinary meeting of the council earlier this month, Environment Southland discussed its response to a document released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which proposes changes to forestry settings in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme (ETS).
The MPI is considering changes to the ETS, including a blanket ban on exotic forestry receiving carbon credits or a ban on nominated exceptions. Keeping the status quo is also being considered.
There is a concern good pastoral land is being eaten up by forestry being planted to earn carbon credits, which have more than doubled in price since June 2020. . .
New research has found that Americans have different ideas about wool compared to New Zealanders – one that offers growers a huge opportunity.
The research commissioned by the Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ) found a large education gap in how US consumers think about wool, CFWNZ chairman Tom O’Sullivan said.
“For example, 53% think of cashmere when they hear the word wool. Although they are aware of wool, it sits quite a bit lower down in their consciousness when compared to New Zealand consumers.”
The research by Fresh Perspective Insight canvassed 3000 consumers across three markets – New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in November last year. . .
JB Fairfax Award to Kate Newsome – Andrew Norris :
A budding journalist from Glen Innes with a passion to provide a voice for people in rural areas has been awarded the 14th JB Fairfax Award for Rural and Regional Journalism and Communications.
Kate Newsome has been undertaking a bachelor of arts and bachelor of advanced studies in media and communications at the University of Sydney, said the award’s benefactor, John Fairfax, during his presentation to Kate at Sydney Royal Show.
“… we need talented and well-trained journalists, individuals who can bring to all of us … balance and factual accounts of the many things that affect our lives,” he said.
“Kate is a great girl and she hopes to use a career in the media to bring greater attention to many of these issues.” . .
The High Court has ruled in favour of Grounded Kiwis’ case against the MIQueue lottery of misery.
. . .Justice Jillian Mallon released her decision this afternoon and found that although MIQ was a critical component of the Government’s elimination strategy, the combination of the virtual lobby and narrow emergency criteria meant New Zealanders’ rights to enter their country was infringed.
“In some instances in a manner that was not demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” Justice Mallon said.
The decision, which spanned hundreds of pages, outlined Justice Mallon’s decision.
She found that the MIQ system didn’t allow for individual circumstances to be considered and prioritised, and examples of extreme delays were not prioritised.
The MIQ booking system did not allow for individuals, and the prioritisation of returning citizens, due to the “virtual lobby” that operated as a lottery and the criteria for emergency allocation was narrow and too tightly set. . . .
Anyone using both head and heart would agree that a system which allowed multiple foreign DJs to cross the border more than once, and stopped citizens with pressing needs to return was unfair.
During the judicial review, lead defence lawyer Paul Radich QC spoke about the real impact the MIQ system had on New Zealanders and read aloud statements that detailed the anguish and distress many felt through the process.
One woman was left stranded overseas, unable to return home to bury her only son when he died from a medical event. Another was unable to be there while her son underwent cancer treatment.
Multiple families had been separated for months if not years and some suffered emotional distress so extensive from their attempts to return home that ongoing psychiatric support is needed.
One man spent 10 hours a day refreshing the website to try and secure his spot in MIQ, sleeping with headphones just so he would know when to jump online. For this, he suffered serious sleep deprivation.
Some had to give up altogether because of the negative toll the system was having on their mental health and wellbeing. . .
The Grounded Kiwis court ruling is a victory for the many Kiwis who wanted to come home and couldn’t because of the lottery of human misery that was the MIQ system, National Party Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop said.
“Justice Mallon has found that the MIQ system did not sufficiently allow individual circumstances to be considered and prioritised where necessary and it operated as an unjustified limit on the right of New Zealand citizens to enter their country,” he said.
“The judge has said there were other ways the MIQ system could have worked, such as a points system, as recommended by the National Party. . .
“We now have judicial confirmation of state-sponsored cruelty that was the MIQ lottery.”
MIQ helped to keep Covid-19 out of the country but the system for allocating spaces, particularly for people with urgent needs to return home, was not fit for purpose.
Courts have now found that the lockdown was, at first, illegal; that vaccine mandates for the defense force and police were illegal and now has found that some aspects of MIQ were unjustified.
With an apology to Lady Bracknell, if losing one case was a misfortune, losing two begins to look like carelessness and to lose three looks like incompetence.
Apropos of incompetence, why has it taken until now to get face mask exemption cards with legal backing?
Lagan – goods or wreckage lying on the bed of the sea; a ship’s discarded or lost cargo that has sunk to the sea floor; goods left in the sea on a wreck or tied to a buoy so that they can be recovered later by the owners; goods cast overboard, as in a storm, with a buoy attached to identify the owner.
The loneliness of the long distance rural midwife – Vanessa Bellew:
Pregnant women in one town in Southland have lost the last remaining midwife and are now served by maternity care based 100km-160km away
Te Anau’s only midwife is the latest casualty of the beleaguered maternity system in the South and now it appears the town’s maternal and child hub is being downgraded before it is even fully up and running.
The Southern District Health Board told Newsroom the town and nearby area did “not have sufficient” pregnant women or baby numbers to sustain a maternal and child hub and a full-time midwife in the town.
Health professionals Newsroom spoke to were concerned that the health board was using inaccurate and outdated statistics to justify reducing maternity services further and for not funding a locum midwife. . .
National Party leader Christopher Luxon is not a fan of culling New Zealand’s dairy herd.
“I’ve got no time for that whatsoever,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.
Recently, Greenpeace called for the Government to “halve the herd”, following the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
Luxon said there was no need for this, as Kiwi farmers were already “the most carbon-efficient in the world”. . .
Solar powered smart cow collars come to Taranaki farms – Elijah Hill:
The best dressed Taranaki dairy cows this year may just be the ones wearing solar-powered, time-saving, smart collars.
New Zealand tech company Halter, which fits solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars to cows, is expanding to the region as well as Central Plateau, Otago and Southland.
Cows are trained to respond to sound and vibrations from the collars which allow farmers to ‘steer’ the cows around the farm.
This allows farmers to call cows to the milking shed using their phone, or set ‘virtual fences’ and break feed while having a cup of tea at home. . .
Are pine trees the problem or the solution? – Keith Woodford:
Pine-forest regulation proposals are creating lots of heat with big implications for land-use and the landscape.
Right now, there is a fervent debate underway as to where pine trees fit within our future landscape. On one side stand Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. They are proposing that existing legislation should be reversed so that pine trees would only be for production forestry and not so-called permanent forests.
Minister Nash has recently come to a position that only native forests should be permanent, and he is supported by many who hold strong environmental values. Dame Anne Salmond is one of the leaders in that camp.
In contrast, Minister Shaw is concerned that if permanent pine forests are allowed, then too much carbon will be stored in this way and urban people will no longer be forced to modify their carbon emitting behaviours. There are some huge ironies there. . .
The great Kiwi muster – an ancient tradition with a bougie hut – Olivia Caldwell:
Every autumn, teams of musterers take to the South Island high country to corral flocks of sheep for winter. It’s a custom resistant to change, technology and modern living. Almost. OLIVIA CALDWELL reports.
It’s three o’clock on a cold autumn morning up in the mountains of Lake Heron station.
The first and fittest musterer gets out of bed and walks several kilometres to find where the sheep are scattered around hills.
He’s 17, and it’s called delegating. The seven other team members get to sleep-in until 4am, when they get a wake-up call, followed by a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs. They will need it. Over the next 12 hours, they’ll cover 20 kilometres and 2000 metres elevation on foot. . .
A new service is to be established to offer vital advice and urgent practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers in Scotland.
Ukrainian workers play a key role in soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland, but due to the war they are facing a range of concerns about their work, their homes, and their futures.
The new Worker Support Centre, run by Scottish charity JustRight Scotland, will provide key support to workers on these issues.
It will also provide immigration advice to enable them to stay and work in Scotland while returning to Ukraine is still unsafe. . .
Garrick Tremain points out the major flaw in the government’s plan to reduce speed limits:
. . . Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety.
Our road toll statistics are about as bad, and sometimes worse, than they have ever been – this despite constant bleating to take care, drive to the conditions, etc, etc…
As bad as they may be our roads have never been better.
*Vehicles have never been safer to travel in.
*Driver education, though far from ideal, is better than ever before.
*Traffic policing has never been stricter.
*Penalties for misdemeanours have never been higher.
*There have never, in my lifetime, been fewer intoxicated drivers on our roads.
Despite all these improvements the traffic accident rate does not decrease.
If those factors have improved, what’s got worse?
Just one thing … the number of vehicles on our roads at any given time.
It would seem therefore, that only a fool, would advocate for increasing traffic density and numbers.
There are two ways to increase the number of vehicles on our roads at any one time… extend the length of the journey by 1) adding distance or 2) adding time.
By reducing speed (as proposed) by 20% (eg. from 100kmh to 80 kmh) we increase traffic volume by 25% – eg. from 500 vehicles to 625 vehicles.
It is simplest of simple mathematics, yet it has not been mentioned by, or probably even occurred to, the whiz kids in the PM’s think tank or the floors of juveniles employed at Waka Kotahi. . .
The government has a plan to get the road toll to zero.
Waka Kotahi’s strategy is extensive, and expensive advertising, that amounts to no more than bureaucratic back-patting, pushing the politicians’ propaganda in a misguided attempt to convince us it will make roads safer; and reducing speed limits which will make driving more dangerous.
Slower speeds results in more vehicles on the road and higher traffic density will increase the risk of accidents.
Reducing speed limits might work as a revenue-gathering exercise as frustrated drivers go faster than they ought, but it will also increase traffic volume and that will inevitably lead to more accidents not fewer.
The aim ought to be reducing traffic density and that requires improvements to roads, including more passing lanes, and more motorways that will allow traffic to travel faster. Instead they’re slowing traffic thereby increasing traffic density and that will sabotage their plan to reduce the road toll.
Hypomnestic – relating to or characterised by defective memory; having a weakened memory; abnormally poor memory of the past.