What’s more important

July 11, 2018

If you had $2.8 billion to spend you could:

  • Pay nurses, teachers and support staff more.
  • Put more money into helping children who get to school without pre-learning skills necessary to succeed.
  • Put more money into helping children further through the schools system who are failing.
  • Not have to cancel the $6.5 million boost for the cochlear implant programme.
  • Find any number of ways to help those most in need.

Or spend it on fee-free study for tertiary students that hasn’t encouraged more students; has one nothing to encourage more maori, Pacifica or people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and put subsidizing students ahead of improving the quality of teaching.

What’s more important?

Those people who have had surgery and other hospital appointments cancelled because of the nurses’ strike will know.

Those who don’t get the help they need to succeed at school will too.

So will the people who will no longer get a cochlear implant.

 


Rural round-up

July 7, 2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

A rural South Canterbury general practitioner was paid $13 for each of the 150 emergency calls she made in the last year, a pay rate described by the Rural GP Network as a joke.

The network’s chief executive Dalton Kelly said with such low pay rates plus the demands on rural GPs it is understandable rural health professionals are leaving the sector, prompting a call for a portion of the proposed tourist tax to be directed to rural health services.

Kelly said rural GPs and nurses are regularly called to tend to sick and injured tourists and unlike an urban incident, patients cannot be transferred to someone else who is on call. . .

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

A trade expert has backed up comments by agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who says New Zealand is facing its most challenging time in trade in 30 years.

Petersen told Rural News that the established rules on trade via the World Trade Organisation, particularly for agricultural products, are at risk from the US-China trade war.

While the products being targeted now are not NZ products, the risk of spillover into our products is very high, he says. . . 

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey. . .

A strong bull-seeking season in south – Nicole Sharp:

Prices are up and bull breeders are happy following a successful selling season.

Bull breeders throughout Southland and Otago have been hosting fellow farmers on farms for sales over the past couple of months.

PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said sales came to a conclusion at the end of last month and there was positivity in the air.

”We have seen a great bull-selling season for the South, with high demand for quality bulls“ . . 

Hundreds gather to celebrate 50th anniversary of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Hundreds of people have celebrated the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest.

The first FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final was held in Auckland in 1969.

Former winners and finalists were among a 400-strong crowd which gathered in Invercargill last night to mark the milestone.

“It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it,” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, 66, who won the national final in 1981. . .

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie. . . 

Omega lamb project update in third year:

The Omega Lamb Project is now in its third year and well over 100 restaurants in New Zealand and Hong Kong have had Te Mana Lamb on their menus.

The project builds on a decade-long scientific programme and breakthrough research. It found that the right combination of genetics, management and feeding can alter the fat profile of lamb and produce animals that are healthy, while delivering a tastier and healthier product.

Te Mana Lamb is higher in Omega-3 than other lamb available on the market.

Mark Williamson, general manager of the Omega Lamb Project, a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership, the farmer-owned Headwaters and leading food company Alliance Group, said Te Mana Lamb is being praised by chefs for its flavour and consistent eating quality. . . 

Fears for future of Scots beef and lamb production – Colin Ley:

The viability of beef and sheep production in Scotland is being threatened by a Scottish government climate change bill that includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said that will make it virtually impossible for the country’s farmers to produce beef and lamb.

“Moving to net zero GHG emissions would be absolutely devastating for our livestock industry,” he told an industry meeting at the Royal Highland Show.  . . 

 


Almost spent the lot

June 25, 2018

Nurses and health boards are continuing to negotiate improved pay and conditions in an effort to avoid strikes.

Last-ditch talks between the nurses’ union and district health boards (DHBs) will continue on Monday in a bid to avoid planned strike action.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) and DHBs’ negotiating teams attended mediation on Friday after nurses “strongly rejected” the DHBs’ latest offer on Monday.

The NZNO issued strike notice to the DHBs on Wednesday for July 5, with notice of a second 24-hour strike planned for July 12 likely to be issued next week. . . 

A survey sent to NZNO members on Monday to gauge their priorities for any revised deal had received close to 13,000 responses a day before it closed at 1pm on Thursday.

A message sent to union member’s said their feedback had helped negotiators be “very clear on what your priority issues are and what will be required on order to avert strike action and resolve this dispute”.

The three main priorities were remuneration, safe staffing and pay equity.

However, whether the first nationwide nurses’ strike since 1989 can be averted remains to be seen.

Nurses on Monday “strongly rejected” the DHBs’ latest collective offer, a $520 million package described by Health Minister David Clark as the best in a decade. . .

A $520 million package sounds generous but there would be $275 million more this year had they not wasted it on free fees for tertiary students, nearly $40 million of which will be spent on students who fail to complete their first year.

It would be difficult to find anyone who thinks spending millions on students who don’t need help is a greater priority than  improving pay and conditions for nurses.

Teachers are lining up for more pay and better conditions too and it would be equally difficult to find anyone who thinks that wouldn’t be a higher priority than fee-free tertiary study.

The free-fee policy is just one of several expensive policies. Another is the winter power payment for beneficiaries, some of which will go to wealthy retirees. These are extravagances that Labour and its coalition partners have put ahead of funding necessities.

Then-National Finance Minister Steven Joyce was laughed at when he said there was a big hole in Labour’s pre-election spending calculations and that they hadn’t factored in pay increases for public servants.

The trouble the government now has finding enough to satisfy nurses shows he was right.

Remember how Michael Cullen boasted they’d spent the lot after his last Budget in 2008?

The current government has almost spent the lot already if it wants to keep to the budgetary constraints it’s imposed upon itself to counter accusations it’s a poor manager of money.

Cullen left power with the new government facing a decade of deficits.

By contrast the current government came to power with forecasts of continuing strong surpluses.

They could have spent wisely, factoring in the need for fair increases to give nurses and teachers much better pay and conditions.

Instead they’ve wasted money on fripperies like the fee-free tertiary study and power payments for wealthy people and left far too little for basics like improved pay and conditions for nurses and teachers.


Rural round-up

May 5, 2018

Save water and cut effluent – Richard Rennie:

A partnership between Ravensdown and Lincoln University has unveiled technology its creators believe will reduce farm effluent loads significantly while also saving billions of litres of fresh water.

ClearTech, launched this week, has taken the dairy industry’s two biggest issues, effluent losses and water consumption and dealt with both through a combination of simple water purification principles, managed by a computerised controller.

ClearTech puts a coagulant into the effluent when a farm dairy yard is hosed down. It causes the effluent particles to cluster together and sink, leaving most of the water clear and usable.

Ravensdown effluent technology manager Jamie Thompson said there are challenges to getting effluent to clot given the variable pH, turbidity and content of the waste on any given day. . . 

Dairying unexpected but welcome career choice – Nicole Sharp:

Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year Jaime McCrostie talks at the recent regional field day at the Vallelys’ property, near Gore, about her journey in the dairy sector.

Jaime McCrostie never thought she would end up dairy farming.

She grew up on a sheep farm and it was her neighbour who taught her how to milk cows.

She has travelled all over the world and worked in a range of industries, but always seems to come back to the dairy industry. . . 

MediaWorks to broadcast Grand Final of 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

A new deal will see MediaWorks broadcast New Zealand’s longest running agricultural contest the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Under the agreement, an edited version of the 50th Grand Final of the iconic contest will be broadcast on ThreeNow.

ThreeNow is MediaWorks’ free video on-demand streaming service available on smart TVs and mobile devices.

MediaWorks’ Head of Rural, Nick Fisher, said the broadcaster is proud to be partnering with NZ Young Farmers to produce the programme. . . 

Tribute paid upon receiving award – Pam Jones:

An Alexandra man has received national recognition for his services to irrigation in Central Otago, but has paid tribute to the work of “two extraordinary women” as well.

Gavin Dann was one of two recipients of a 2018 Ron Cocks Award from Irrigation New Zealand during its conference in Alexandra recently, for his leadership of the Last Chance Irrigation Company (LCIC) and his work to establish a community drinking water supply.

Mr Dann had been the “driving force” behind a number of initiatives to improve the Last Chance company’s operations, supporting the scheme for more than 40 years, Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop said. . . 

 

Landcorp board gets a refresh – Neal Wallace:

Former Landcorp chairwoman Traci Houpapa was available for reappointment but missed out because the shareholding ministers wanted to refresh the state-owned enterprise’s board, she says.

Her eight-year term on the board, of which three were as chairwoman, has come to an end, along with three other directors, Nikki Davies-Colley, Pauline Lockett and Eric Roy.

Houpapa accepted her appointment was at the behest of the Ministers of State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters and Finance Grant Robertson.

The newly appointed directors are Nigel Atherfold, Hayley Gourley and Belinda Storey.

She said the Landcorp she joined eight years ago was very different to the one she has just left, with a different strategy, focus and operating model. . . 

 

Regional fuel tax will add to the cost of food:

Regional fuel tax legislation, as it stands, is likely to add costs to fresh fruit and vegetables for consumers.

Today, Horticulture New Zealand spoke to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee about its written submission on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill, that is endorsed and supported by a further 18 organisations.

“While in principle, we agree with measures to reduce road congestion in Auckland, we believe there are un-intended consequences of the Bill as it stands; these could include increases to the prices of healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . .  . .

Bull finishing farm steered towards a sale:

One of Northland’s most substantial bull finishing farms has been placed on the market for sale.

The 400-hectare property is located on the western outskirts of the township of Kawakawa in the Mid-North, and is held over 24 individual titles in three blocks. The farm’s topography consists of 268 hectares of rolling to medium-contour grazing paddocks, and 108 hectares of flat land – allowing for tractor-access to 95 percent of the property.

The farm also contains 24 hectares of mature pruned pine trees ready for harvesting, and estimated to be worth in the region of $360,000. The freehold farm has been owned by three generations of the Cookson family. . . 

Delegat has record 2018 harvest, driven by increase in NZ grapes – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group, New Zealand’s largest listed winemaker, says it had a record harvest this year, driven by an increase in New Zealand grapes, while its Australian harvest fell.

The Auckland-based company said the 2018 harvest rose to a record 40,059 tonnes, as grapes collected in New Zealand rose 10 percent to 38,012 tonnes. The Australia harvest for Barossa Valley Estate fell to 2,047 tonnes from 2,760 in 2017.

“The 2018 vintage has delivered excellent quality in all regions,” managing director Graeme Lord said in the statement. . . 


Confusing education with promotion

May 4, 2018

Parents are understandably upset that their children are being taught how to use illegal drugs at school:

. . . “I applaud the school for providing all of the information they have provided,” Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said.

Bell said people needed to understand the context that the material was used in.

“This booklet hasn’t been given out as part of a drug curriculum, it’s been given out as a wider social investigation on various issues with meth in this country,” Bell said.

Massey High School distributed the “information notice” to Level 3 health students but say it was provided by the Ministry of Health.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the booklet and associated website information weren’t “specifically” designed for use in a school environment.

“The MethHelp booklet was designed to support adult users to stop, to reduce use and to stay healthy.”

. . . An Auckland mother told the Herald she was shocked at the school’s attempt to legitimise its actions.

Sarah Clare, whose son is a Year 11 student at the school, said the material was encouraging drug use, not stopping it.

“Even if the rest of the book is saying it’s bad for you, that one page of comments saying, ‘meth isn’t that bad it’s how you use it’ – contradicts the rest of the booklet.”

Clare said that comment – “be discreet and only keep less than 5 grams for personal use” – was shocking.

This isn’t education, it’s promotion, and promotion of criminal behaviour at that.

Bell said that comment was about giving drug-users advice about how they can reduce harms around drug share.

“There is the harm of criminal convictions and we are just saying there are those risks if you parade a quantity of drugs for supply … that’s just practical information that’s been out there for a long time.”

Would they tell their pupils how to reduce the harm while they were stealing, raping or murdering?  These are illegal acts too and people are more likely to carry out these criminal acts under the influence of meth.

Anti-drug organisation Methcon said the Drug Foundation had pushed the “harm minimisation” approach for at least the last decade.

“The theory is flawed and dangerous, particularly when discussing methamphetamine. Meth is the most addictive drug. It is impossible to use the drug in a safe way.

“Methcon’s approach is one of ‘harm elimination’. We believe that the bar needs to be set high and that the best way to avoid meth harm is to not use at all.” . . 

The school wouldn’t try to tell its pupils how to use tobacco in a safe way and it’s not illegal.

Using meth is not safe for the users or for other people who may become victims of the violent and irrational behavior it leads to.

If pupils are using meth, the school’s responsibility should be to get them the help they need to deal with their addiction.

It should not be normalising its use and increasing the risk of pupils who aren’t using it being tempted to do so.


This isn’t an April Fools’ joke

April 13, 2018

When I saw these posts on Facebook I wondered if it was a belated April Fools’ Joke.

It’s not a joke.

The Labour-NZ First-Green government really is wasting their time and our money on a Bill that would dictate who can call themselves a teacher.

For the record teacher is defined as: a person who teaches, especially in a school; one who imparts knowledge to or instructs as to how to do something, or causes (someone) to learn or understand something by example.

You can submit on this lunacy here until midnight tonight.

Although given it’s obvious the monkeys have taken over the asylum it’s probably not worth the effort.


$38m wasted on dropouts

March 9, 2018

Even the very few people who think making the first year or tertiary study fee-free must acknowledge that wasting $38m on dropouts is not good use of public money:

Students aren’t paying, but the taxpayer will. According to 2013 data, 14 percent of first year university students failed to complete their studies.

In its first year, the fees free policy will cost $275 million. If 14 percent of students drop out that means a potential $38 million could be spent on them.

The Government expects more people will enrol as a result of the policy – so in its second year, it will cost $372 million.

If dropout rates remain the same, that means a potential waste of $58 million.

“The government is giving money to rich kids and wasting it,” Mr Seymour said.

The $38 million is on top of what taxpayers already cover in fees for those who drop out.

Before the fees free policy was adopted, the Government was already funding 71 percent of the $2 billion cost of tuition.

It’s ridiculous that $38m is being wasted one dropouts, it’s no better that most of the rest of this year’s $275 million is being wasted on people who would have been enrolling for tertiary education anyway.

Just think how much good that money could do if it was spent on the children failing earlier in the education system – the ones who can’t read and write.

Unlike tertiary graduates who will generally earn far more than non-graduates over their working lives, these people might never be able to get employment.

 


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