Word of the day


Admurmuration – an act of murmuring.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


A foot and mouth outbreak in NZ would affect more than agriculture – tourism needs a plan too – Stu Hayes:

Recent warnings of a “doomsday” scenario if foot and mouth disease (FMD) arrived in New Zealand inevitably singled out the agriculture sector. But overseas experience tells us FMD can also result in potentially severe impacts on the tourism sector.

As the 2001 FMD crisis in Britain highlighted, inadequate planning and crisis management can cause a reduction in trade, job losses and damage to a destination’s image.

This matters, because destination image is one of the leading factors influencing tourists’ decisions. Accurate or not, negative images in the media can directly affect demand.

As New Zealand ramps up preparations for a potential outbreak, important lessons from the UK’s experiences must be heeded if the local tourism sector is to avoid its own doomsday scenario. . . 

Science the key to our decisions – Barbara Kuriger:

“A set of principles shapes National’s primary sector decision-making,” says agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

Fresh from last weekend’s annual conference, she says: “The sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand and growing. It underpins our economy.

“Certainty and confidence are what the sector needs from a government and that is what we intend to provide them,” she says.

“Technology is key to achieving emissions reductions, not taxing or banning things. . . 

Free health check initiative for farmers – Shawn McAvinue:

A third of the farmers who visited the launch of a new health check initiative were referred to see a doctor.

A van had been fitted out to allow a nurse to complete free health and wellness checks for the new Rural Health and Wellness Initiative.

Earlier this year, the initiative was launched by the Carr Family Foundation, founded by the Carr Family, who own agribusiness Carrfields.

In the back of a van, the nurse checks people’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index. . . 

Arable sector buoyed by 30 percent lift in production in three years :

New Zealand’s arable sector appears to be on a roll, with production increasing by 30 percent in the past three years.

Arable production includes wheat, barley and maize for humans and animals to eat and seeds for sowing.

Last year those farmers produced crops worth $1 billion and production and sales from the entire sector, including milling and further production, were worth $2b while more than 7500 people were employed.

The Arable Food Industry Council secretary Thomas Chin said arable producers flew below the radar but were vitally important to New Zealand’s economy, both locally and for exports. . . 

New campaign launches to attract more people into forestry careers :

A new recruitment campaign called ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ aims to draw attention to the varied career opportunities available in the growing forestry industry. A sector-wide initiative, the campaign has just launched and hopes to attract more young people into the industry and fill people shortages being felt throughout the sector.

Designed to demonstrate the huge range of roles and opportunities available in forestry, the mostly digital ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ campaign is primarily targeted at school leavers and young people.

Showcasing everything from machine operation, silviculture and harvest management to science-based roles and wood processing, the campaign attempts to match a candidate’s areas of interest with suitable jobs.

A range of videos have been created, featuring real people working in forestry. A digital platform has been created, that prompts people to answer a quick-fire survey about their interests, before suggesting the areas of forestry that might fit them best. . . 

Fast food took a gamble on fake meat. It’s not paying off – Ali Francis:

It was early 2022 and the world’s most profitable burger chain was finally rolling out a patty made of vegetables in hundreds of its stores. The pea, rice, and potato mixture mimicked the flavor and texture of its beefy brethren. Chains like Burger King and White Castle had done it before, but McDonald’s was the biggest. The McPlant was yet another mass-produced fake-meat burger lionized as a savior to the impending climate disaster—and, of course, an offering that could potentially lure more customers to stores. But the plant patty’s success depended on enough people actually wanting to eat it. Last week, a mere six months after launch, McDonald’s quietly ended its brief and underwhelming experiment.

The company’s first animal-free burger, which uses a fake beef patty from Beyond Meat, was made available in roughly 600 stores this past February to gauge customer demand. McDonald’s confirmed to CNBC last Thursday that the test concluded as planned, but neither the fast food giant nor Beyond Meat have since announced plans for a nationwide rollout—and Beyond Meat share prices fell 6% after the announcement. While the McPlant is apparently thriving in international markets like the U.K. and Austria, American customers were not about it, with some rural stores selling as few as three burgers a day.

So why was the McPlant such a McFlop? When products like Impossible and Beyond’s burgers hit shelves a few years ago, fast food was lauded as their ideal sales vehicle. Big chains could theoretically tap their low prices, ubiquity, and lab-manufactured addictiveness to sell fake meat convincing enough to overpower the American beef obsession. In reality, fast food restaurants were never going to be responsible for changing this country’s consumption habits based on moral, health, or prevent-the-environmental-apocalypse arguments. . . 

Winston Churchill’s wisdom


‘Adverse effect on public accountability’


The Auditor General has added his voice to the chorus criticising the governments Three Waters legislation:

We have published our submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Water Services Entities Bill.

Because water services are critical to everyone, our focus is on how the public and Parliament are able to influence the performance of the Water Services Entities (WSEs) and hold them to account for that performance.

Overall, we are concerned that the Bill, as currently drafted, could have an adverse effect on public accountability, transparency, and organisational performance.

We are concerned about whether the planning and reporting mechanisms in the Bill will be sufficient to enable comprehensive and effective public scrutiny of WSEs. We recommend the Committee seeks further information from officials about the effectiveness of these arrangements.

In moving responsibility for water services from councils to WSEs, there is a significant reduction in audit scrutiny proposed in the Bill. We strongly recommend the Committee considers the requirements for independent assurance in all aspects of the operations of these new public entities, and whether WSEs should be required to produce a 10-year plan, similar to councils’ long-term plans, that is also audited.

The submission also sets out our views on the need for further clarity on the WSEs’ governance arrangements, planning and reporting arrangements, and integration with the wider public management system.

You can read the submission here.

But will the government listen?

The Office of the Auditor-General has delivered a scathing indictment of the Government’s Three Waters reforms and the Government should now abandon them, says National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts.

In a submission to a Parliamentary committee released today, the Office of the Auditor-General says the proposed Three Waters changes will result in ‘a serious diminution in accountability to the public for a critical service’ and ‘no proposed audit scrutiny’.

“The submission delivers a damning analysis of the overlap of proposed governance structures, lack of access to information by the public to scrutinise the proposed Water Entities, a lack of performance measures and a lack of integration with other reforms and local planning,” Mr Watts says.

“This is a scathing indictment of Labour’s Three Waters reforms.

“The Government arrogantly ignored the criticism of local communities and National when it was told these reforms were unaccountable and not transparent, and now they are being confronted with the reality.

“National has said from day one that these proposed reforms wouldn’t give communities access to accountability for the performance of these entities, and that their structure made them destined to fail. These concerns have been backed by the Office of the Auditor-General.

“Labour must accept they’ve got it wrong. Three Waters is not only unpopular, it is broken. The Government cannot now continue to ignore the critics of their reforms, and the public.

“It’s time for the Government to admit it was wrong and start again.

“If the Government goes ahead, despite the overwhelming criticism, National will repeal the changes and ensure water assets remain in local ownership.”

Tens of thousands of submissions on the Bill from councils, other organisations and individuals are highly critical of the proposals but the select committee won’t be considering all of them:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has written to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on behalf of the more than 65,000 New Zealanders who took the time to submit on the Water Services Entities Bill (Three Waters) through our submission tool.

“We learnt that the committee intends to treat these 65,000 submissions as ‘form submissions’ and disregard them. This is especially outrageous considering that we deliberately ensured that submitters could personalise their submissions and many did,” Taxpayers’ Union Local Government Campaigns Manager Josh Van Veen says.

“We have offered our assistance to the committee in identifying the personalised submissions and hope that in the interest of fairness and good public service they take us up on that.”

“To throw out such a mammoth number of submissions would be a slap in the face to the New Zealanders who took the time to have their say formally on Three Waters.”

The TU made it easy for people to submit, and also made it easy to personalise submissions then went to the trouble and expense of printing all 65,000 submissions because the committee wouldn’t accept them by email.

Some would have been ‘form submissions’ but not all and it’s yet another example of government arrogance and disdain for democracy that the committee won’t be considering any of individual submissions voicing opposition to the measure because they were assisted by the TU.

It’s troubling that the adverse effect on public accountability has already started.



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