Word of the day

30/08/2022

Antistrophon – an argument or accusation turned back onto the person who has just accused you of it; the turning of an argument against the one who advanced it; an argument retorted against an opponent.


Sowell says

30/08/2022


Rural round-up

30/08/2022

Race against time on winter grazing – Neal Wallace :

Last-minute discussions are underway to ensure farmers can winter livestock on crops next year without swamping regional councils with urgent resource consent applications.

Farming leaders, regional councils and the government are rapidly trying to find a solution after it emerged that officials are unlikely to have finalised Freshwater Management Plan criteria in time for planting intensive winter grazing (IWG) crops.

This process is an alternative form of approval for non-compliant winter graziers and without it, thousands of farmers may need resource consent for next winter. 

Farming groups are calling for a year’s deferral of the new rules, citing the absence of a freshwater plan. . . 

My beef with George Monibot – Diana Rodgers:

Many, many people have forwarded me the latest piece by George Monbiot and asked me to comment, so here it is.

At first, I felt incredibly frustrated because Robb Wolf and I address his worldview in our book, Sacred Cow – and this really is a battle of worldviews. 

George is of the view that nature (wild animals) is more important than human livelihoods and our nutritional status… and that uprooting people who live in rural communities, dishonoring their way of life and food culture, and testing unproven food like substances on them all in an effort to preserve wilderness is perfectly noble.

Robb and I on the other hand believe that sustainable regional food systems that take the local environment, human nutrition, food culture, and economy into account are the right path forward.  . .

Mushroom farm in Havelock North to cut jobs and stop production – Tom Kitchin:

A mushroom farm which got a $19 million loan from the government will let around 100 of its staff go and close much of its factory.

Te Mata Mushrooms, in Havelock North, is the second largest commercial mushroom farm in the country and supplies mushrooms around the Central North Island and Auckland.

It also has one of the largest non-seasonal horticultural workforces in Hawke’s Bay.

It was given the Covid-19 Infrastructure Investment Fund loan in 2020 to help expand and improve its facilities, with former infrastructure minister Shane Jones excited about “sustainable full-time employment for more than 200 people”. , , 

Kiwifruit growers to appeal Sungold licenses being included in property RV

The group that represents New Zealand’s kiwifruit growers says it’s disappointed in the recent high court decision appeal ruling that SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 to $4.1m.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . .

Fieldays Innovation Awards announced 2022 prize package details with additional sponsors :

Innovators across the food and fibre sector stand to be rewarded this year as the Fieldays 2022 Innovation Awards prize

package grows, thanks to new sponsors joining the returning partners of the awards.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards are the ultimate launch platform for Primary Innovation, and are a globally renowned

awards programme. The total prize package is over $60,000 worth of cash, services and products. . . 

‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession – Annette McGivney:

Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.

Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.

Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative than renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply.

But as winter approached, with Arp just months away from taking his hives to California, his bees started getting sick. By October, 150 of Arp’s hives had been wiped out by mites, 12% of his inventory in just a few months. “My yard is currently filled with stacks of empty bee boxes that used to contain healthy hives,” he says. . . .


Left or Right

30/08/2022

Paula Bennett explains at The Common Room why she chose the right answer rather than the left one:


“I would expect there to be specificity and certainty when spending public money.”

30/08/2022

Auditor General, John Ryan, has raised serious concerns about the government’s cost of living payment:

. . .I have concluded that the payments made to ineligible people do not constitute unappropriated expenditure. However, in my view, good stewardship of public money required greater care when designing and implementing the COLP – ensuring that the criteria were clear and that the data used by Inland Revenue was adequate. I have a number of concerns about these matters.

In this letter, I outline that:

  • Speed and expediency were prioritised over certainty and accuracy.
  • There is a lack of clarity about what “present in New Zealand” means.
  • Using a physical address in New Zealand as a proxy for being present in New Zealand is problematic.
  • Inland Revenue does not know, and has said it may never know, how many ineligible people might have received the payment.

In my view, Inland Revenue should now consider what steps it can take to identify how many ineligible people have already received payments. I encourage Inland Revenue to also focus on future payment tranches to ensure that payments are reaching only the people the Government intended them to go to. I also encourage Inland Revenue to remind ineligible recipients that they are obliged to repay any payment received immediately. . .

The Ag said payments made to people not present in New Zealand wasn’t unappropriated expenditure, but he added a big but:

In reaching this view, however, I had a number of concerns about the lack of clarity in the criterion used, the inadequacy of the evidence to establish whether the payments were being made to individuals who met that criterion, and that public money has been paid to people who were not eligible to receive it.. . 

Recently I have commented on the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme that prioritised speed and expediency over certainty and accuracy. There may be justification for doing this, but it is still important to be sure that public money is being spent appropriately, and in accordance with the key policy intent.

As I outline below, I am concerned about the uncertainty of what “present in New Zealand” is intended to mean, and the accuracy and fitness for purpose of the information used to determine that. I would expect there to be specificity and certainty when spending public money.

Taxpayers deserve specificity and certainty when the government spends our money.

As I have said recently in relation to the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, where there are criteria, it is important that they are sufficiently clear to enable decision makers to apply them accurately and to assess whether they have been met. . . 

The government didn’t learn, or didn’t apply the lessons, from mistakes which paid money to tourists operations that didn’t need it.

I am concerned that the Government does not know how significant the scale of payments to ineligible people is. The Minister of Revenue has been quoted by media as saying that it could be around 1% of payments. Inland Revenue told my staff that it is doing some work to improve the accuracy of future payments, but does not know, and may never know, how many ineligible people might have received the payment. This is, in my view, unacceptable.

Inland Revenue is not able to provide assurance that it has paid the COLP only to those individuals who were intended to receive it and not to those who were ineligible. In my view, the public can reasonably expect Inland Revenue to consider what steps it can take to better identify the scale of any payments to people who may not have been eligible.

Cabinet agreed that the Commissioner of Inland Revenue would not actively pursue repayment of any mispayments unless fraudulent or wilfully misleading information was provided. Section 7AAA of the Tax Administration Act requires that ineligible people who receive the payment immediately repay it. The Inland Revenue website does state this, but in my view, Inland Revenue might want to consider whether to communicate this message and its expectation for repayment more proactively.

No-one had to provide any information so those who got it and shouldn’t weren’t acting fraudulently or wilfully, but people who now live overseas, or are dead, are unlikely to be regular readers of the IRD website.

Concluding comments

The COLP was developed to achieve the Government’s objective of supporting low- to middle-income workers experiencing increased living costs due to inflation. Although criteria were set to manage the scope and scale of support that would be provided, for the reasons set out above they have not resulted in the funding being provided only to people who met the eligibility criteria. In my view, good stewardship of public money required greater care when designing and implementing the COLP – ensuring that the criteria were clear and that the data used by Inland Revenue was adequate. . . 

This isn’t a government that demonstrates good stewardship of public money.

It gave the money to anyone earning less than $70,000 not on a benefit,  and in doing so not only people living overseas and dead people got it, so too did people with high-income earning partners.

The National Party’s Finance spokesperson, Nicola Willis, who made the complaint to the AG has been justified:

The Auditor-General’s damning investigation into the cost of living payment has embarrassed the Government into making changes to the rollout of the scheme, National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“It was obvious from the start that the cost of living payment had been desperately rushed out with no attention to detail. That’s why I wrote to the Office of the Auditor-General earlier this month to ask them to examine the delivery of the cost of living payment.

“Today it’s been confirmed that the Auditor-General did carry out an investigation of the scheme.

“The letter released today following this investigation is damning and confirms that the cost of living payment has been an expensive failure, stating that ‘good stewardship of public money required greater care when designing and implementing the [cost of living payment]’.

“It is clear that the Auditor-General’s investigation has forced the Government into making changes to the cost of living payment.

“It was obvious after the first payment ended up in the bank accounts of London expats, French backpackers and dead people that the Government had not done the work to ensure that only eligible New Zealanders could get the payment.

“The Auditor-General makes a good point, but one that should have been obvious to any responsible government, in suggesting changes be made to future payments to ‘ensure that the payments are reaching only the people the Government intended the payment go to’.

“The Government has been unable to answer questions about how many ineligible people received the first payment, and has shown little interest in finding out.

“Rightly, the Auditor-General is asking Inland Revenue to ‘consider what steps it can take to identify how many ineligible people have already received payments’.

“It’s shocking that it took a stern word from the Auditor-General for the Government to take taxpayers’ money seriously.

“Labour has a complete and utter disregard for taxpayer money. Kiwis deserve a government that treats public money with respect and don’t need a public slap-down to do so.”

The $350 payment would make a small and only temporary difference to people who were struggling to buy bread and enable a bit of jam and cream for those who didn’t need it.

National’s plan for tax cuts would give permanent help to everyone.

It would also be less inflationary because it would take some pressure off the need for pay increases.


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