Quote of the day


AS if we needed proof that Australia is losing its mojo, our cocky little cousins across the ditch are rubbing our noses in their success.

The Kiwis are killing it.

The New Zealand dollar is set to hit parity with ours, for the first time in 30 years.

Its economy is growing 20 per cent faster. Its GDP per capita is rising while ours is falling.

Its competitiveness rankings have outstripped ours. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent compared with our 6.3 per cent, and that’s with a higher participation rate.

The NZ budget is heading towards a surplus while ours spirals ­further into deficit.

In a world lacking impressive leadership, Prime Minister John Key and his finance minister Bill English are shining lights, running the most successful and stable conservative government in the world. . . . Miranda Devine

Happy Australia Day


While our friends on the other side of the Tasman are celebrating their national day, we can reflect on 10 things New Zealand does better than Australia:

It’s written by a New Zealand-born Australian resident Angela Mollard who says:

. . . New Zealanders like themselves.

Unlike the Germans who have self-regard, or the Italians who are self-admiring, or the Americans who aren’t quite sure how great they are these days but will enthuse anyway, the kiwis exude quiet confidence and self-determination.

“So why are so many of them coming over here?” I hear you say.

Well, they’re not. . .

And goes on to list 10 things we do better than them:

1. They don’t have Attention Deficit Disorder when it comes to Prime Ministers.

In recent years they’ve played a long game politically. . .

2. They believe in firm consequences.

When All Black Aaron Cruden missed a flight to Argentina following a drinking session he was dropped from three tests and told to stay home.

Upon returning to the squad he was benched for a match because his replacement was playing so well. . .

3. They sell themselves.

As Australia has flailed with Lara Bingle, dated expletives and a string of “best jobs in the world” for freeloaders, New Zealand has sold itself on “100 per cent Pure New Zealand” since 1999.

No visitor is in any doubt of the splendour offered. . .

4. When they boast “homemade” they mean it.

Sure, the wine is excellent, the craft beer, well, beery, and coffee is the national religion after rugby — although the growing health trend for “quarter shots” is bonkers.

But it’s at morning and afternoon tea they truly excel. . .

5. Women play sport.

Of course they play it here too but you’d never know from watching television.

In NZ, netball is not only broadcast live but its stars, along with golfer Lydia Ko and shot putter Valerie Adams, also appear in the glossies. . .

6. They’re thrillseekers.

Whereas you can’t visit a beach or a pool in Australia without a sign warning you against every possible activity short of breathing, New Zealanders view any body of water as the means to adrenalin. . .

7. Race relations matter.

Grievances are redressed through the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori culture is upheld in schools where the national anthem is sung in both languages, and to have “mana” (honour and respect) is to have it all. . .

8. They don’t see gay marriage as a threat.

And so they legalised it. Full stop.

9.There’s no special favours.

Whereas we continued to endorse MPs who misused their cab charge allowance, compared women’s genitalia to molluscs and used union money to pay for prostitutes, a NZ cabinet minister was fined $2000 in November after he bypassed airport security to board a flight. . .

10. Their coins make sense.

The $2 is larger than the $1 and the 5 cent was withdrawn.

It’s not enough to make you move there — the mango prices are exorbitant and the accent sucks, sorry, sux — but credit where it’s due. . .

Never lamb alone


We Love Our Lamb’s contribution to Australia Day:

ABC calls election for Abbott


The polls haven’t long closed in Australia and already the ABC is calling the election for the Liberal National Coalition:

An hour into the vote count, respected ABC analyst Antony Green has called the federal election for the Coalition, ending Labor’s tumultuous six years in power.

Early poll numbers suggest the Government is facing strong swings against it in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, with a number of high-profile MPs fighting for their political survival.

“I think we can say the Government has been defeated. What we’re having fun and games with is trying to figure out the size of the swing,” Green said. . .

Tony Abbott will be Australia’s 28th Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd will lose the election but the Sydney Morning Herald reports he will probably keep his seat:

7:33pm: In Mr Rudd’s Brisbane seat of Griffith the much discussed possibility of an upset now looks unlikely.

With 12 per cent of the vote counted Mr Rudd has 55.3 per cent of the vote compared with 44.7 per cent for the Liberal Party’s candidate Bill Glasson. . .

Exit polls indicate Liberals’ landslide win


A Sky News exit poll points to a landslide win for the Liberal Coalition.

Exit polls, like any others, can and do differ from the final vote count but it would be a very foolish gambler who put any money on a Labor win tonight.

Aussie election all over – betting agency


The campaign is still going and polling day is more than a week away, but an Australian betting agency has declared the race over.

Online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au on Thursday declared the election a one-horse race.

“As far as Sportsbet’s betting markets are concerned, the Abbotts can start packing up their belongings ahead of their imminent move to Kirribilli House,” agency spokesman Haydn Lane said.

“The coalition are now into Black Caviar-like odds to win the election.”

The agency priced the coalition at $1.03 with Labor at $11.50. . .

Liberal leader Tony Abbot isn’t taking anything for granted though:

Mr Abbott was media adviser to John Hewson when the Liberal leader lost the 1993 election.

“I once worked for an opposition that was careering towards the inevitable victory – and it didn’t happen,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

“1993 is proof that there is no such thing as an unlosable election and I think this election is very, very tight.”

But Sportsbet is paying out already and says:

 • The Coaltion are favourites in 90 electorates

• Labor are favourites in 56 electorates

• Katter’s Australian Party is favourite in 1 electorate (Kennedy – QLD)

• Independents are favourite in 1 electorate (Denison – TAS)

• 2 electorates are currently too close to call (Lyons – TAS, and Lingiari – NT)

The Coalition are favoured to win 34 more seats than Labor. . . .

A week can be a very long time in politics, but while the better agency might not have every seat right, it’s a reasonably sure bet that Abbott will be Prime Minister of September 7th.

Ruddy mess in Labor


We were in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia during the last Australian election campaign.

There was no great enthusiasm for Labor or Julia Gillard there, although we were mostly talking to station owners and business people who probably didn’t give a representative sample of views.

Several referred to her as the “geenger beetch” but I wasn’t sure whether it was her hair colour, gender or politics to which they were objecting.

However, she won the election – just and has managed to hold a fragile coalition together and keep the country on a reasonably sound economic footing in the face of global turmoil.

However, she and her government have become increasingly unpopular and now the man she deposed as leader, Kevin Rudd has resigned as Foreign Minister, jumping before he was pushed by Gillard.

The question now is whether or not he has the numbers to lead a leadership coup or whether he’ll resign and force a by-election.

Exactly what would be achieved by Rudd’s return as party leader and Prime Minister is summed up by Larvatus Prodeo:

. . . a government which presides over an anomalously healthy economy (by international standards) and, for all its imperfections, made real progress in many important areas, is currently ripping itself to bits in a leadership contest between two individuals who do not appear to have any significantly different policy views, in the midst of appalling polling.

It’s a ruddy (Ruddy?) mess which is entertaining for political tragics.

But it’s very damaging for the government and the Labor Party and the only ones likely to benefit from whatever happens are the Liberals.

Cobbers and mates


It’s Australia Day.

Our cobbers and mates (is there a difference between the two?) across the Tasman are celebrating and don’t they do it well?

They have an Australia Day address – this year’s by Associate Professor Charles Teo Am, a first generation Australian.

You can listen to him delivering it and read a transcript at the link above. If you don’t have time for that, at least ponder this which applies just as much to New Zealanders:

. . .  I would like to see this Australia Day as a turning point. I want my fellow Australians, those who were born here and those who have immigrated here, to pause and think of the lives that have been sacrificed for what we take for granted today. I want everyone who finds themselves angry and intolerant to think first about the misfortunes of those who are less fortunate…such as those with cancer. I want anyone who has come from another country to embrace the Australian way of life, it has served us well. I want all Australians to see how immigrants have contributed to our nation and to appreciate that a rich and prosperous country such as ours has a moral and global responsibility to share our resources. . .

They have the Australian of the Year :

The Australian of the Year 2012, Geoffrey Rush, has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. . .

The Senior Australian of the Year 2012, Laurie Baymarrwangga, is an extraordinary elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. . .

The Young Australian of the Year 2012 is 22 year old engineering advocate Marita Cheng of Brunswick East whose leadership is changing the occupational landscape for women by encouraging girls to pursue engineering studies and careers. . .

Australia’s Local Hero 2012 is foster mother and carer Lynne Sawyers of Darbys Falls. Lynne has shared her home, her family and her love with more than 200 children. For 15 years, she has been on call to care for lost, abused and bewildered children in heartbreaking circumstances. . .

They have family and community celebrations and they have lamb with lambassador Sam Kekovich:

They seem to have a unity we have yet to achieve over celebrating a national day. But they also have a contrary view: see Australia Day/Invasion Day: Unity/Disunity at Larvatus Prodeo.

We could learn from the Aussies


Sometimes I wish we were a bit more like the Aussies.

They could teach us how to celebrate our national day (that’s if we had one we could agree on) and how to promote our lamb at the same time:

You’ll find more in a similar vein from Sam Kekovich here.

Apples away!


The World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body, has upheld New Zealand’s case  in the dispute over exporting apples to Australia.

This is great news for orchardists which has been welcomed by Trade Minister Tim Groser.

 “The appeal report upholds the thorough analysis undertaken by the WTO dispute Panel around risk assessment and the science at issue. These findings – reached by independent external arbiters – settle any debate.  This is good news for New Zealand apple exporters,” said Mr Groser.

 New Zealand has been seeking access into Australia for its apples since 1986 but has been barred from the market as a result of restrictive quarantine measures.  Australia has maintained that the alleged risk of introducing fire blight, European canker and apple leaf-curling midge justified the measures.

 After exhaustive efforts to resolve the matter with Australia, New Zealand took the issue to the WTO.  The WTO Panel report on the case was released in August.  Australia appealed. The Panel had found that all 16 of Australia’s quarantine measures, along with their Import Risk Analysis, were inconsistent with Australia’s legal obligations under the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. The Appellate Body has now upheld the Panel’s core findings. 

 On a subsidiary issue – whether there were less trade restrictive measures available to Australia – the Appellate Body overturned the Panel’s decision on technical grounds.  But this does not weaken the central findings around risk assessment and the science.    

 “The Appellate Body has confirmed that Australia’s objections to New Zealand apple imports are simply not backed by the science.”

 This ruling opens the door to apple exports to Australia worth millions of dollars.

That’s not only good for our producers it will offer more choice, and potentially lower prices through more competition, to Australian consumers.

Remembering Black Saturday


Today is the first anniversary of Australia’s worst natural disaster – the Black Saturday bushfires.

When tragedy like this strikes it makes the headlines and many of us are motivated to do what we can to help, but most of us then get on with our lives.

In remembering the 173 people who died, I’m also reminded of their families and friends for whom life will never be the same again.


Deborah also rembers at In A Strange Land with links to Black Saturday  and Ashes   from Spilt Milk who lives on the edge of the area which was devastated and whose husband was fighting the fire.

Turnbull down but not out


A former party leader can go quietly or stay and fight.

Malcolm Turnbull, who was deposed as Australian Liberal Party leader last week, has a blog post Time for Some Straight Talking on Climate Change  which indicates he’s doing the latter:

While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy.

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, “bullshit.” Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words, electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions. . .

Maybe Tony Abbott and Phil Goff should consult each other on how to handle the choir when some of its members are singing a different song.

Hat tip: Larvatus Prodeo

Banana campaign is bananas


An Australian wasn’t happy when she discovered a foreign banana in the breakfast Qantas served to her on a flight home from New Zealand.

Toni Rogers says she’s shocked the national carrier is serving bananas from the Philippines given the amount of media coverage the imports issue has had.. . . 

“It was also the fact that it was Qantas, if it was Air New Zealand I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought,” Ms Rogers says. . .

“That’s probably what concerned me more than anything else, Qantas was serving Filipino bananas in preference to our local growers,” Ms Rogers says.

She was also worried about how the bananas are disposed of and the potential quarantine threat they may posse people get them through airprot quarantine systems.

The Australian banana industry says it’s comfortable with the checks and balances in place to ensure fresh fruit doesn’t breach border biosecurity.

It’s more concerned about why the national carrier isn’t serving Australian bananas on trans-Tasman flights.

CEO Tony Heidrich says given the publicity surrounding the Philippine banana imports, this could be potentially damaging to Qantas. . .

“I think any Australian would like to see our national carrier supporting Australian industries, just as Australians try and support Qantas on the routes they operate.”

If the banana industry isn’t concerned about biosecurity breaches the issue isn’t fear of pests and disseases it’s nationalism.

The national airline should carry the nation’s produce, right? Not necessarily, there are other factors to keep in mind including cost and the trade implications.

If Australian bananas are more expensive would passengers still want them to be supplied in preference to bananas, or any other fruit, from elsewhere? And if they want Australian bananas on Australian planes will they accept that airlines from other countries favour produce from their own producers rather than from Australia?

New Zealand and Australia have the strictest biosecurity border controls I’ve encountered and for very good reaons. We’re both surrounded by sea with no very close neighbours which should make it easier to keep out unwanted pests and diseases, and primary industry is very important to our economies.

But we both need to be very careful about pretending to play the biosecurity card when what were really doing is playing the protectionist one.

Buying local pulls the heartstrings, but it’s not necessarily best.

Hat Tip: Larvatus Prodeo   , go on click on it because something which starts with: Everyone knows that Kiwis constantly try to subvert our Australian way of life. They did it, for example by sending us Jo Bjelke-Petersen back in 1913 and then again with Russell Crowe. . . . is worth reading 🙂

Aust govt to ban mortgage break fees?


The Australian government is considering a ban on mortgage break fees  which ought to be regarded with concern.

Mortgages are contracts and a government that gets between parties in a contract is treading in very dangerous waters.

Banks are being criticised for charging break fees for customers who want to get out of fixed term deals. If the charges were well above the cost there might be grounds for that criticism, but breaking a mortgage incurs expenses for the banks and they are justified in expecting customers to pay reasonable costs associated with backing out of a deal.

Banks have also received criticism for not passing interest rate falls on to people with fixed mortgages, but I have yet to hear anyone suggest that these customers pay more when interest rates rise.

If you agree to a fixed interest loan you gain if interest rates rise and lose if they fall. If you choose to use the floating rate you’ll be able to take advantage of falling rates but have to pay more if they rise.

There is no certainty. People who borrow have to accept the risks which come with it and governments should be very wary about trying to protect them from those risks.

A man is no financial plan


We aren’t too far removed from the times when a woman was dependent on her father, husband or other male relatives. We have come a long way and now have legal equality but many women are still less than equal financially.

That there’s neither security nor independence in that is recognised by Property Women Australia.

Bearing in mind their strict mantra – a man is no financial plan – the sisterhood has come to New Zealand looking for bargains to add to their property portfolios.

. . .  This unique support group is all about women taking control of their own finances.

And they are much more likely to live happily ever after by doing that than by kissing toads or waiting for a prince.

Have you he(a)rd the baad jokes?


The Aussies have noticed our sheep numbers have dropped and even in a serious story they throw in a couple of what can only be described as baad jokes.

The NZ Herald spotted the story and found a couple of comedians who’d come up with rejoinders:

Rhys Darby, back on our screens in Flight of the Conchords tomorrow night, and comedian Mike King, have the same killer comeback to the Aussie heckle. It involves pointing out that whatever Kiwis do to their sheep, it’s the Aussies who then eat them.

Bet that’s considered baad taste.

Aussies like Australia


The critics didn’t like it but the Aussies aren’t taking any notice of them and have made the film  Australia the country’s second highest grossing film behind Crocodile Dundee.

We went to the film on Friday and can see why the critics didn’t like it and the Aussies do.

The plot is not just thin, it has so many holes it might have been attacked by a crocodile and the characters are stereotypes – the pretty widow, the rough, tough drover with a heart, the Aborigine elder with super-natural powers,  the half-caste child, the rich rake and the bully.  But there are also pretty faces, spectacular scenery, horses,  and a history lesson which probably appeals to nationalism.

I wouldn’t want to see the film twice but am pleased I saw it once – and that I saw it at Wanaka’s Cinema Paradiso   which is not only a gem with its cast-off furniture,  it also has a half time when you can have a meal pre-ordered from the cafe you walk through to enter the theatre, a glass of wine, delicious home-made ice creams or just sit on one of the outside chairs for a breath of fresh air.

Without that break I might have found sitting still through the three-hour film a bit difficult.

Too little and too much


Phone calls to friends in Australia last night reinforced the tragic irony of  toom little water in one area and too much in another.

A family in Victoria is waiting anxiously as fire, albeit slow burning, approaches one of their properties.

While other friends who farm in northern New South Wales are dealing with floods after several years battling the dry.

The ABC reports that these are drought breaking rains.

Further to the north and west in Bourke, authorities are tallying up the damage bill after three quarters of the towns annual rainfall came down in 15 hours on the weekend. This in a town that just recently saw an exodus of a fifth of its population because of the drought.

Our  friends haven’t lost stock and are grateful the flooding round them is not nearly as bad as that in Quensland.

Thousands of kilometres away in Queensland, the towns of Normanton and Karumba have been cut off for six weeks and may have to tough it out for another month. Emergency services are ensuring people get the basics like food and medicine, but industries are struggling.
. . . In Karumba, businesses can’t get the goods they need to keep the local economy going and they’re warning job losses are on the way.

The local council estimates that stock losses may run to 100,000 and some graziers may have lost up to two years’ profits.

. . . Further up the river, people shifted 20,000 head out of the floodwaters and up onto higher ground. But then, a lot of that higher ground has gone underwater.

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