Windblown timber should be recovered

10/04/2018

The government denied National Party List MP Maureen Pugh support for her Private Members’ Bill which would enable the harvesting of windblown trees on conservation land following adverse weather events.

“Today I moved a motion in Parliament, seeking support from Government MPs to have my bill adopted and set down for first reading next week. My bill would allow the Director General of DOC to authorise the removal of specified windblown trees on Conservation Land following a significant weather event,” Ms Pugh says.

“This a practical bill which embraces environmental responsibility and supports regional economic development.”

The proposed Adverse Weather Timber Recovery on Conservation Lands Bill follows on from the legislation implemented following tropical Cyclone Ita in 2014, which saw a number of native forests in the West Coast and Tasman severely impacted.

“This 2014 legislation was supported right through the process by local MP Damien O’Connor and his Labour colleague Rino Tirikatene. These two MPs saw the need for this legislation at the time, but it is disappointing the Government didn’t take a similar pragmatic approach today when they denied my motion to introduce the bill.

“Removing and processing these windblown trees which would otherwise lie decomposing on the West Coast forest floor would provide jobs for region along with clearing space for native regeneration – two areas which NZ First claims to be passionate about.

“Recent Cyclones Gita and Fehi have made this bill necessary, as large quantities of trees were felled. We need to be prepared by implementing legislation to deal with significant events like this in the future.”

The West Coast lost a lot of jobs when the previous Labour-led government axed the sustainable logging of native trees.

The National-led government introduced legislation to allow wind blown timber to be recovered after a big storm in 2014.

Pugh’s Bill seeks to allow that to continue.

If the government is serious about regional development, it should support this bill.

Removing and processing windblown trees would be much for employment, the environment and the West Coast and wider economy than the waste to energy project which experts advised should not be funded.


If locals won’t work

15/03/2018

An urgent call for fruit pickers in Hawkes Bay attracted just 14 applicants.

A concerted effort to find fruit pickers in Hawke’s Bay saw just 14 people express an interest and has resulted in the declaration of a regional labour shortage . . .

Gary Jones of Pipfruit NZ said the low unemployment rate meant there was strong competition for workers.

“There are at least 350 registered vacancies at the moment. The real number is likely to be higher than that,” Jones. . . .

Monday’s declaration means visitors presently in the country who did not have a work visa would be able to apply for a variation to their visitor’s visa allowing them to undertake seasonal work in the horticulture/viticulture industries for 6 weeks.

“This will now enable us to access as many available seasonal workers as possible to help harvest our fruit crops in Hawke’s Bay. Once the season is over, employers will be looking to offer permanent jobs to suitable New Zealand workers,” Jones said.

Jones said pickers were paid “well above the minimum wage” ($15.75 an hour) and the pay for those working in the packhouses depended on experience. . .

Hawkes Bay isn’t the only place where orchards can’t get local staff.

An employer in another region offered transport for staff from neighbouring towns and provided a creche. He also offered bonuses to those who would work five days but still couldn’t get enough locals.

One reason some didn’t apply or started and didn’t stay was drug testing.

What to do about them is another issue for which there are no simple solutions.

But the business couldn’t afford the risk of accidents from drug impaired staff and the only way to ensure workers were drug-free was testing.

There may be other reasons locals won’t work but the employer had done everything he could to attract them.

That left him dependent on immigrants.

His business couldn’t survive without them and as the Hawkes Bay orchard experience shows it’s not an isolated problem.

If businesses can’t get locals who are willing and able to work, they need immigrants to keep their businesses in business.


Get job title right on census

02/03/2018

DairyNZ points out the importance of getting job titles right on the census:

The census is our best opportunity to find out exactly how many people are working on dairy farms and in what roles. This is critical information that DairyNZ and government need so we can work together on things such as immigration policy, industry training, and ensuring we have capable people in the pipeline to do the work you need doing on your farm.

When you are filling in your census form on or before the 6th March PLEASE use one of the following job roles, and encourage your employees to do the same. Use the one that is the closest fit to the role you actually do. It will make a difference to us effectively working on your behalf. The job roles are:

  • Dairy Farm Assistant
  • Dairy Farm Herd Manager
  • Dairy Farm Assistant Manager
  • Dairy Farm Manager
  • Dairy Farm Owner
  • Sharemilker
  • Contract Milker
  • Relief Milker
  • Dairy Cattle Grazier


What do we do with unemployable?

08/02/2018

Unemployment has fallen to a nine-year low.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, down from 4.6 percent last quarter, Stats NZ said today.

“This quarter’s unemployment rate is the lowest since the December 2008 quarter, when it was 4.4 percent,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “However, the underutilisation rate was just over 12 percent –reflecting about 340,000 New Zealanders with potential to work more. This measure is just as important as the unemployment rate.”

Do these people with potential to work more want to, and if they want to what’s stopping them?

I’ve been in the potential-to-do-more-paid-work category for most of my married life but that has mostly been a matter of choice.

Having the potential to do more is only a problem for the individuals concerned if they want to and can’t and there could be many reasons for that.

The unemployment rate for the December 2017 quarter remains considerably above New Zealand’s lowest unemployment rate, which was 3.3 percent, recorded a decade ago in the December 2007 quarter, immediately before the global financial crisis.

In the December 2017 quarter, the unemployment rate for men remained at 4.0 percent, following adjustments to last quarter’s data. By comparison, the unemployment rate for women fell to 5.0 percent, down from 5.3 percent last quarter.

This is getting down to the unemployable – those who can’t or won’t work.

People who aren’t mentally or physically capable of working aren’t included in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). That leaves people who for a variety of reasons, including lack of skills, can’t find work. Helping them upskill and get work-ready should be a priority.

It was for the National-led government which put a lot of effort, and money, into addressing the causes of benefit-dependency.

Then we come to those who won’t work.

Continuing to address the causes is the solution to that.

One strategy that won’t be helpful is cutting immigration when there are areas and workplaces in desperate need of staff and unable to fill vacancies from the unemployed.


Rural round-up

02/02/2018

New Zealand Agribusiness Outlook 2018:

Favourable market conditions should underpin a second year of broad-based profitability for New Zealand agriculture. Where the industry chooses to direct improved cash flow and focus amid this sustained positive run will be important for many years to come. . .

Lewis Road investor Southern Pastures ties up with Westland Milk – Paul McBeth:

Dairy farm fund Southern Pastures LP, which took a quarter stake in Lewis Road Creamery last year, will link with Westland Milk Products as a supplier from the 2018/19 season and with plans for a high-value product joint venture. Separately, Westland cut its forecast milk payout for this season.

Southern Pastures and Westland signed a letter of intent where the dairy farm investor’s nine Canterbury farms will supply an extra 4 million kilograms of milk solids to Westland from 2019, and investigate a business case for a 50/50 joint venture to create products from free-range, grass-fed milk based on strict animal welfare, health, sustainability, climate change and human rights standards. . . 

Why the CPTPP is important for New Zealand:

There is no question that our small, remote nation depends on trade. But there were times during the protracted negotiations that have now culminated in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) when the visceral debate here could easily have led bystanders to believe New Zealanders specialise primarily in trading insults.

The fact that there is now a deal to be signed – after the efforts of successive prime ministers ranging from Helen Clark and John Key to Bill English and now Jacinda Ardern – is a cause for real celebration. Our role in recent decades as free-trade pioneers, in the teeth of other countries’ stubbornly defended protectionism, should be a source of national pride. Our exports reap more than $70 billion a year, but farmers and manufacturers know what courage it has taken to open our borders, forgo subsidies and eschew protectionism. They and the country are better off as a result. . . 

Environment and agriculture can both benefit from CPTTP:

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) trade agreement has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and at the same time benefit the environment, agribusiness expert Dr Nic Lees of Lincoln University says.

However, he added, the public needed to be convinced of that.

The CPTTP is the re-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, and is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Negotiations have concluded between the countries but it is yet to be ratified by New Zealand. The TTP had met some public and political opposition. . .

Farm machinery sales back to 2014 levels – TAMA:

Sales of tractors in 2017 increased markedly, just topping the previous highest recorded levels of 2014, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) General Manager, Ron Gall.

Mr Gall said the association recognised that some farmers in both islands were currently experiencing hardship with the very hot and dry conditions. The challenging drought conditions may affect sales in the coming months but it was hoped changing weather would provide some relief.

Mr Gall said in 2017, a total of 4079 tractors were sold. This is up 13% on 2016, up 14% on 2015 and even slightly up on the boom dairy year of 2014, which had 4062 sales. . . 

 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q1: Evolution of sourcing strategies:

2017 was a dynamic year for the wine industry, marked by short-term scarcity and rising prices, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly report.

The report says while “2017 was an unusual one for the wine industry, forcing all players to rethink their short-term strategies” – changing consumer behaviour, global shifts in demand volumes and changing trading frameworks, could represent long-term structural changes.

“Although the unconventional year that 2017 was may just be a one-off, it may also be enough to accelerate deeper changes that were already developing in the wine industry,” says RaboResearch senior beverages analyst Maria Castroviejo. . . 

Green light for China opens up new export opportunities for leading supply group:

Leading avocado export supply group AVOCO has welcomed this week’s announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.

AVOCO exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and the company has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China. . . 

Millennials are leaving desk jobs for this surprising profession – Alexandra Hayes:

The millennial generation is often called out for its social media addictions, its work habits, and even its unhealthy ideals around perfection, but according to the Washington Post, many of them are diverging from the status ladder and leading a crusade toward a different purpose entirely: farming.

Take Liz Whitehurst. Two years ago, she left her non-profit job and bought her farm, Owl’s Nest, from a retiring farmer. Now she grows an array of organically certified produce and sells to restaurants, through CSA shares, or at local farmers markets.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 69 percent of farmers today have a college degree, a number that suggests more millennials are leaving traditional desk jobs to pursue this very different life. . .

Manuka South® latest Manuka honey is making a legendary entrance:

The highly anticipated Limited Reserve batch of 26+ UMF features some of the rarest and most potent Manuka honey available in the world. Manuka South® is releasing only a limited amount of the high-end honey.

Manuka South® 26+ Limited Reserve – available at select Aotea Gifts stores in New Zealand – is the latest in the line of premium Manuka honey products produced by Manuka South®, a trusted brand from New Zealand Health Food Company (NZHF). But it will also be the rarest among them, because jars won’t be on store shelves long. . . 


No corruption in NZ?

30/01/2018

We were in Paraguay a few days before last election and the campaign came up in discussion with a local.

She listened to some of the policy pledges we described and said, “And you try to tell me there’s no corruption in New Zealand?”

In the past two weeks there have been two examples which would support her query.

The first was industrial legislation which is payback for union support of Labour.

Changes include the axing of the 90-day trial period for businesses with 20 or more employees and:

Employers will once again have a duty to conclude collective bargaining unless there is a “good reason” not to.

Prospective employees will be provided with information about unions in the workplace, and employers will have to pay union delegates for time spent reasonably representing other workers.

Collective agreements will be required to include pay rates or ranges for various levels of staff.

Unions will be able to access workplaces without gaining prior consent from an employer, but will still need to come at reasonable times and not unduly interrupt business continuity.

New employees will again be required to be employed under terms consistent with any collective agreement for the first 30 days of their tenure.

This will increase the cost and risk of employing staff which will threaten jobs, and businesses.

Unions make large donations of money and people-power to Labour and this is their reward for which workers and employers will pay the cost.

Then there’s the all-weather racing track.

Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the government’s intention to build the $10m track after several races throughout the country had to be abandoned due to weather.

The track could be in Waikato to boost the region and be closer to some of the breeders, with Mr Peters saying Waikato would be “a good option”. . . 

At least two of the race cancellations this summer were in Otago. An all-weather track in the Waikato will be of no use for these courses.

Mr Peters is also promising tax relief for owners who are breeding horses for racing. He says the current legislation, which he delivered last time he was Racing Minister, isn’t working like it should.

Act leader David Seymour points out:

Winston Peters’ promise of tax relief for the racing industry risks creating the perception of US-style corruption”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Mr Peters and NZ First have taken large donations from the racing industry in the past.

“For example, in 2008, the Dominion Post reported that a number of donations totalling at least $150,000 had been made to NZ First from accounts linked to the Vela family.

“This policy risks looking like a quid pro quo for the industry. . .

Lindsay Mitchell says:

. . .If tax breaks can make one industry stronger, then they can make any industry stronger.

Government picking winners is a recipe for corruption and injustice. We cannot expect New Zealanders who have not a skerrick of interest in the racing industry to disproportionately pay taxes to advance it.

Tax breaks are not subsidies if they are applied universally. Reduce tax period.

You are a guardian of public money Winston. Not a private investor. . . 

There’s no danger of policy which addresses specific problems, treats everyone equally or on the basis of need, and/or  helps the whole country being regarded as payback to donors.

But a direct link between donations and the legislation or taxpayer funded projects which reward donors as there is with the unions and Labour’s workplace law changes and past donations to New Zealand First and the assistance to the racing industry, at the very least gives grounds for the perception of corruption.

New Zealand has been at or near the top of global ranking for lack of corruption for years.

That means we’re better than most, and sometimes all, other countries.

It doesn’t mean there’s no corruption at all and it’s links between donations and policies like these which justify our Paraguayan friend’s query.


Where’s line between exchange and exploitation?

11/01/2018

An organic farm has been found to have exploited thousands of travellers:

An organic farm near Christchurch was ruled to have breached the rights of workers it said were volunteers by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), following an Inspectorate investigation.

While no records were kept on site at Robinwood Farms Limited, the sole director and shareholder Julia Osselton said that she had over a thousand people travel through her business every year.

“Rather than enjoying a genuine volunteer experience, these people were exploited as free labour for the profit of Ms Osselton’s businesses,” says Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden.

“While Ms Osselton claimed that these workers were ‘WWOOFers’ engaged in a cultural and skill based exchange, and not employees, our investigation showed this was clearly not the case.

“It is not acceptable for businesses to attempt to evade their obligations by calling their workers volunteers and simply rewarding them with a bed and some food.

In theory there might be a line between an exchange and exploitation, but it would be difficult to draw it in practice.

If people are working they must be paid at least a minimum wage and if they’re getting accommodation and food, that is probably liable for fringe benefit tax.

“This practice is unfair to businesses that do follow the law and pay their employees, and takes advantage of the good nature of travellers who may not know their employment rights.”

Evidence uncovered on the farm in Tai Tapu showed the so-called ‘volunteers’ were working up to 40 hours per week, often as labour hired out to garden or cut firewood for Ms Osselton’s profit.

They were paid $120 per week in addition to food and accommodation, regardless of hours worked or what work they performed, with a visitors book on site showing many to be from overseas.

This account of the businesses was supported in witness accounts from a New Zealand woman and a Chinese man who both had worked for Robinwood Farms between November and December 2015.

Both said Ms Osselton did not supply them with employment agreements, minimum wage or annual leave for their work. The ERA ruled they were each owed over $2600 in arrears.

A witness statement from another worker provided to the ERA recalled ‘inhumane’ living conditions, where they slept in a small storage room under the stairs without proper ventilation or a heater.

The Inspectorate was also told that food was routinely collected from waste bins at supermarkets before being fed to workers at Robinwood Farms along with spoilt meat.

The ERA already ruled against one of Ms Osslelton’s businesses for her use of volunteers, with more than $20,000 paid to a Spanish man employed by Karamea Holiday Homes Limited.

While penalties to be paid by Robinwood Farms for the breaches are still being discussed, the company could be liable for up to $20,000 per employee per breach.

“Wherever a worker is being rewarded in a business at whatever level, the Labour Inspectorate’s starting position is that these people are employees and minimum employment standards apply.”

Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, should call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.

This clears up any doubts about whether WWOOFers are paid workers of not.

If they’re being rewarded for their work in any way they are employees and therefore covered by employment law which requires the payment of minimum wages and adherence to other conditions designed to prevent exploitation.


Rural round-up

21/10/2017

Farm life and environment important for the Laugesen family – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay farming family has fenced, leased and worked its way to farm ownership. Kate Taylor reports.

Young pheasant chicks will be making their new home on an Elsthorpe farm dam this Christmas.

But the Laugesen kids might not be there to see much of them. They’re hoping to repeat last year’s summer holidays and camp out the back of the farm.

Planting native trees, regenerating wetlands and restoring birdlife is a huge bonus of farming for Graeme (who’s known by all as Logie) and Kate Laugesen and their children – Phoebe, 15, Maddy, 13, and Jack, 9. . .

Finalists announced for the 2017 Enterprising Rural Women Awards :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is proud to announce the category winners and finalists for the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2017.

The four finalists are vying for the Supreme Enterprising Rural Women Award, which will be revealed on Saturday 18 November at the RWNZ National Conference at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill. . . 

Enterprising Cromwell winemaker up for Supreme Rural Woman Award

A Cromwell woman has been recognised for her business success, creating a niche market for port and providing solutions for fast-growing boutique vineyards.

Debra Cruickshank, of Tannacrieff Wines, is one of four finalists to be announced for the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2017 after taking out a category win – the SWAZI New Zealand Entrepreneurial Enterprising Rural Women Award.

She joins Kylie Davidson and Emma Hammond, of Hammond and Davidson Accountants, in Riversdale; Jo Kempton, of Happy Belly Ferments, in Greytown; and Kiri Elworthy and Jenny Bargh, of Tora Coastal Walk, Martinborough. . .

Three generations working together – Sally Rae:

There’s a bit of a family affair going on at Waipori Station.
In fact, Pete Ronald jokes he has warned manager Dave Vaughan there could well be a takeover.

Mr Ronald (61), his daughter Nicky Adams (41) and his granddaughter Shelby Wilson (19) — who is Ms Adams’ niece — all work on the 12,000ha Landcorp-owned property which surrounds Lake Mahinerangi.

There’s a reasonable amount of good-natured banter when the three gather over lunch, with Ms Adams wearing her trademark cap emblazoned with Auntie. . .

Pneumonia, parasites something to get excited about – Sally Rae:

Kathryn McRae jokes that she is ‘‘one of those strange people’’ who gets excited about parasites and lungs.

Farm staff at AgResearch’s Invermay campus always know that if an animal dies from pneumonia, she will want to inspect its lungs.

Animal health is a particular interest for Dr McRae, who grew up on a sheep and beef farm at Mokoreta in eastern Southland.

The property has been in the McRae family for more than 100 years and has been the recipient of a Century Farm award. . .

Strong leadership needed on climate change:

The dairy sector is calling for the future Government to provide the strong direction necessary for New Zealand to move toward a low emissions future, says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

His comments came following the release of the Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017 report.

The report confirms that global emissions of carbon dioxide topped 400 parts per million in 2016, the highest for 800,000 years. . .

Visa changes for workers will leave gaps – Jemma Brackebush:

A Filipino leader in the dairy industry is worried tighter restrictions to visas could leave huge holes in the farming workforce because they do not accurately reflect what happens on farms.

In late July, the government announced that workers in low-skilled jobs earning below $41,500 a year would after three years have to leave New Zealand for 12 months before returning on a new visa.

Roberto Bolanos is a New Zealand citizen with more than a decade’s experience in the industry, and feared the changes could leave gaps in the workforce if immigrants had to leave after three years. . .

 

 


Tertiary ed. not needed

29/09/2017

More than 100 companies have signed an open letter declaring tertiary qualifications are not required for a range of roles within their workplaces.

Dear New Zealand

As employment is increasingly redefined by technology and new skills, the job market needs to respond in new ways to find talent. Skills will replace fixed knowledge and new jobs will replace the old. These new jobs need to be adaptable and offer applicants the ability to learn on the job. The pace of change is rapid.

As businesses, we acknowledge that the skills we are looking for in prospective employees can now be developed through a range of pathways. While traditional tertiary education has its place, it is one of many pathways to employment. Internships, apprenticeships, new micro-credentials, on the job training, online courses and badging are all effective ways to learn. For many, the time and cost of gaining a tertiary qualification without certainty of employment means we all need to think outside the box to connect people to jobs and opportunities.

As such, we confirm that for a range of specific, skilled-based roles in our companies, we do not require tertiary qualifications. These may be roles in technology, sales, marketing, customer service, management, manufacturing and operations to name a few.

In adopting this recruitment policy, we hope to attract a more diverse workforce with wide-ranging experience. We appreciate there are many highly skilled people with practical experience, self-taught skills, passion and the motivation to learn on the job if given the opportunity.

Some people are very skilled but don’t have bits of paper to prove it.

Experience can be at least as valuable than qualifications in some roles.

Attitude can be more important in some jobs than qualifications.

We will now consider applicants for a wide range of roles regardless of whether or not they hold a tertiary qualification. As businesses, our focus will be on assessment of necessary skills, attitudes, motivation and adaptability to join our organisations. Prior work experience (full or part-time), community work, portfolios, online learning and entrepreneurial endeavours will be some of the things we will consider during the employment process.

One place that you will be able to find these jobs is on the Trade Me Jobs site, with a clear indicator that no tertiary qualification is required to apply.

We are excited by the opportunity to engage with a wider cross section of the New Zealand public through our recruitment processes and welcome the chance to diversify the experience within our businesses.

We welcome other New Zealand businesses to follow suit and broaden the diversity of their talent pools by considering a wider range of applicants for roles. If you are a business that would like to join this movement as a signatory to this letter, please contact frances.savage@asb.co.nz and attach your company logo.

We recognise that new jobs require new skills. We welcome a new generation of employees with diverse skills and talent.

We look forward to changing the conversation.

Tertiary education can have many benefits but not everyone is suited to it and not every job requires it.

New Zealand has a high level of unfilled vacancies.

A willingness by business to look beyond a lack of tertiary training when recruiting could be part of the solution to that.

It could also save people from wasting their time and accruing debt by studying towards something that will be of little value to them.

It would be good if something similar could count with employers who are trying to employ immigrants too.

For some employers, qualifications, especially those from overseas, aren’t always nearly as useful as character and attitude.

This is certainly the case for dairying.


Rob today’s poor to pay tomorrow’s rich

30/08/2017

A leaves school and gets a job. A doesn’t have much in the way of qualifications or experience and the pay reflects that.

B leaves school and goes to university. B isn’t sure why s/he’s there, what to study or what s/he wants to do, mucks around and drops out.

C leaves school and goes to university. C loves to party and does, work suffers, s/he fails and drops out.

D leaves school and goes to university. D studies well enough, graduates and goes overseas.

E leaves school and goes to university. E loves to party but manages to do enough work to get by, graduates and gets a job, parties less, works more and gets well paid.

F leaves school and goes to university. F gets a qualification which doesn’t provide a meal ticket but manages to find a job with average pay.

G leaves school and goes to university. G works hard, gets well qualified, gets a good job and earns well above the average income.

H leaves school and gets a job, works hard, saves hard, decides s/he needs a qualification, goes to university, works hard, graduates and sets up a business which booms.

I could continue through the alphabet with the many and varied scenarios about people who choose to get a tertiary education.

Not one of them would provide a good reason why A should pay more tax to help people who don’t know why they are at university, don’t work and drop out; or do graduate and leave the country, or graduate and earn $1.6 million more on average over their lifetime than those who do not:

 That is a huge personal benefit which is why we say that they should contribute something towards the cost of that degree. Not a huge amount – usually $20,000 or so. A great investment for a $1.6 million return.

That is an average of $40,000 more a year for a 40-year working life than someone who doesn’t have a tertiary qualification.

Why should a waitress, truck driver, tradesperson, receptionist or anyone else pay more tax to give even more help to people who will go on to earn so much more?

Fee-free tertiary education is Robin-Hood reversed:

The implementation of a zero fees policy for tertiary education would reach into the pockets of the disadvantaged, to line the wallets of the future’s wealthy, according to a briefing paper just published by the Taxpayers’ Union.

‘Robin Hood Reversed: How Free Tertiary Education Robs Today’s Poor for Tomorrow’s Rich’ assesses the impacts of free tertiary education policies, like that announced today by the Labour Party.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union said, “We found that similar policies overseas have led to job shortages in crucial areas, and poorer quality courses.”

“Contrary to claims that zero tertiary education fees help the poor, in Scottland, which introduced zero fees in the early 2000’s, students from low socio-economic groups were the first to be shut out. This contradicts the political ideology of those who advocate for it, because the policy hampers social mobility, and actually increases barriers to reducing inequality.”

“The costs of such a policy are borne by low and middle-income earners, to help tomorrow’s rich get a free ride.”

The briefing paper, Robin Hood Reversed: How Free Tertiary Education Robs Today’s Poor for Tomorrow’s Rich, is available for download at: www.taxpayers.org.nz/robin_hood_reversed.

Key findings: 
• Taxpayers already cover 84 percent of the cost of obtaining a tertiary degree.
• The average household currently pays $2,456 in tax per year to fund tertiary education.
• Fully implemented, Labour’s proposal would increase that cost by $852.57 per year.
• Low and middle-income earners will pay more to subsidise tomorrow’s rich.
• Likely effects of the policy, based on the experience in Scottland with its zero fees policy, include:
o more job shortages in crucial skills-based areas;
o lower quality tertiary education;
o less access to education for students from disadvantaged or low socioeconomic backgrounds; and
o less social mobility and entrenched income inequality. 

A better educated population benefits a country, but there is also a considerable personal benefit from an education.

There’s a choice – students can continue to pay a small proportion of the cost of their education while they’re studying or everyone pays more tax forever.

Anyone with the intelligence to get a degree should be able to work out that they, and the country would be better off paying a little more for the few years while they’re studying than a lot more for the many years ahead when they’re working.


Bring dreams alive, see small hopes grow bigger

27/08/2017

National Party leader and Prime Minister Bill English’s speech to the party’s campaign launch today:

It’s great to see such a marvelous crowd. And a sea of blue.

Welcome to National’s campaign for Election 2017!

Thank you Nikki and Paula for those wonderful introductions.

And a special thanks to my daughter Maria for the way she sang our national anthem.

Maria, everyone here was glad it was you instead of me. I did offer!

Can I also acknowledge my son Xavier who is here today. Also my sons Luke, Tom, Rory and Bart. You all make be very proud.

I also want to thank my wonderful wife, Mary – thank you for everything. 

Mary’s worked out that the best way to spend time with me these days is to join me on stage at our campaign launch.

Hers is the story of many new New Zealanders.

Her families came to this country from Italy and Samoa on the promise of a better life. And they found it through community and family.

They instilled in their 13 children the value of hard work and personal responsibility.

Mary is now a doctor, a business owner, a volunteer and a fantastic mother of six kids.

Like most parents, Mary’s mum and dad worked hard to ensure their children had better prospects than they did.

Their success makes me proud of my country.

And that’s what this election campaign is all about.

It’s a campaign for every New Zealander who wants to bring their dreams to life.
Who wants to see their small hopes grow bigger.

Who wants the New Zealand of the 2020s to be confident, successful and prosperous.

It’s a campaign for Kiwis who are prepared to work hard and back themselves.
To all of you, I say this:

National…stands…with you.

We’re a party delivering for New Zealanders.

We share your ambition for the future.

We have always known this election would be close. That’s how it is under MMP.
On our side, we have a strong record of proven success and a confident vision to take New Zealand forward.

We have the best team.

We have MPs who listen to their communities.

We have Ministers with great ideas for making this country even better.

And we have new candidates passionate about our future.

But most importantly we have you – our volunteers and supporters.

You make us strong.

You make us united.

And you’re making New Zealand a better place.

Together, we’re creating a strong and growing country.

We are now a nation of opportunities for all.

Opportunities to build success for our families.

Opportunities to deliver on the potential of each and every New Zealander – providing we stay on track.

We will not squander these opportunities New Zealanders have worked so hard to create.

Remember just how far we’ve come together.

Since 2008 we’ve faced a recession, the global financial crisis and devastating earthquakes.

The economy shrank, unemployment rose sharply, and we faced large deficits and spiralling debt.

Fast forward to 2017. We now have one of the best performing economies in the world and the books are in surplus.

Under National, families up and down New Zealand are reaping the deserved rewards of that turnaround.

Over 180,000 new jobs have been created in the past two years and unemployment is the lowest since the GFC.

The average annual wage is up $13,000 since we took office, that’s twice the rate of inflation.

New Zealanders recognise progress when they see it.

In 2008, a stadium full of New Zealanders was leaving for Australia every single year.

Our children and grandchildren were heading for the departure lounge in search of better opportunities.

Not anymore. 

For the first time in a generation, more people are moving to New Zealand from Australia than going the other way.

That’s what success looks like and I’m proud of it.

New Zealanders’ hard work is helping the economy to grow.

But on its own, a growing economy is not enough.

Because National understands the pressures of running a household, paying the bills and saving a bit for a rainy day.

We’re making sure families are rewarded for their hard work and can see the benefits of growth flowing into their households.

And National is focused on making that happen.

Take a young couple, each on the average wage and looking to buy their first home.

Since 2008, their joint income has gone up by $26,000 a year.

And next April, they’ll get another $2000 boost from our Family Incomes Package – something Labour opposes.

And if we get re-elected, we want to do that sort of package again.

We’re also helping them get into that first house.

If they’ve been in KiwiSaver for five years, a combination of government grants and their own KiwiSaver would mean they have $50,000 to put towards a house.

Add in our Welcome Home Loan programme, and they would need to save another $10,000 to have enough for a deposit for a $600,000 home.

Or take a retired couple on New Zealand Super.

Since National came into office, their Super payments have gone up by 25 per cent – or $6000 a year.

From next April, they’ll receive another $680 a year on top of the normal increase as a result of our Family Incomes Package – cash Labour would take away from them.

Superannuation is based on after-tax income. When taxes go down, superannuation goes up.

And if they don’t have much other income on top of Super, they’ll now be eligible for an $18 GP visit from next July – saving them money every time they go.
That’s how National really is helping families.

Under National’s strong economic plan, we’re also building the houses, roads, schools, hospitals and broadband needed by our growing communities.

We’re investing to get our school leavers ready for work and to ensure our health services are world class.

We’re providing more police on the beat to keep our communities safer.

We’re lifting thousands of children out of poverty every year. And by one measure, our Family Incomes Package will reduce child poverty by 30 per cent.

We’re investing to improve our environment and protect our beautiful landscapes and fresh water and meet our climate change targets.

And we’re backing Kiwis to succeed on the world stage.

That’s why we’re leading the charge to finalise the TPP – because our exporters are world beaters when they’re given the chance.

The great thing is, if we stay on course we can do even better.

New Zealanders are ambitious for themselves and National is ambitious for them.
So in 27 days, voters will have an important choice.

A choice between two very different visions for New Zealand.

National’s plan to keep New Zealand moving forward – a confident plan for a confident country.

A strong National team energised by new ideas. A team that’s open to trade, open to investment, and knows how an economy works.

Or an unstable, untested group on the left that would risk it all with unpredictable and unclear policies.

Take the Labour Party, their policies have two things in common – working groups and more taxes.

Do you want a water tax?

Do you want a new petrol tax?

Do you want a new capital gains tax?

Do you want higher income taxes?

And nor do I.

Hard working New Zealanders aren’t an ATM for the Labour Party.

Labour wants to turn its back on Kiwi businesses and families, and add more taxes that would slow our economy and make it harder to compete in the world – just when we’re getting good at it.

Here’s the thing: we don’t need more taxes, if we manage the government finances well.

National focus on how well spending works, not on how much is spent, aiming for the quality of the spend not the quantity.

When forecasts show on-going taxes there is no need for new or higher taxes.

Unlike them, I back New Zealanders.

I believe in the Kiwi character, that when people make their own decisions and take responsibility they can and will succeed.

Here’s what I mean.

Recently, I met a determined young woman who lives with a condition that means her joints can dislocate with the slightest movement.

Her story had a big impact on me.

Diagnosed at 23, she was contemplating a painful and difficult life ahead.

Then she came across a new programme called Enabling Good Lives – National’s partnership between government and people with disabilities.

It’s about helping people one by one – giving those who want it more choice and control over their support, so they can choose what’s best for them.

It gives them the dignity of being responsible for themselves.

This young woman told me life is 10 times better because she’s living the way she wants.

Today, she is working as an advisor in the disability sector and speaks about the difference this approach has made in her life, and how she wants others have the same opportunity.

There are thousands more New Zealanders like her.

National respects their capacities and will enable them to have better lives.

Through our social investment programme, we’re changing lives person by person, family by family and community by community.

For example, we’ve set a target to reduce the number of children admitted to hospital with preventable conditions like rheumatic fever.

So now when a child turns up at the hospital with bronchial problems, we expect someone will be sent to their house to sort out problems with curtains, insulation and heating.

Another example is young mothers.

Too many don’t get the help offered by Plunket or GPs because they move house, they don’t answer the phone or they’re in hiding because of domestic violence.

I’m committed to changing the system from hoping those young mothers will turn up looking for help, to going out and finding solutions that work for them.
Moving from servicing misery to reducing it.

We’ll continue to expect personal responsibility and accountability.

In return, we’ll treat people with respect.

Our approach is about faster action, more trust and less bureaucracy.

And we can look taxpayers in the eye and tell them we’re investing their money well because it’s getting results.

Results like a 60 per cent reduction in teen parents on a benefit.

And 60,000 fewer children live in benefit dependent households because their parents can get jobs in our strong economy.

This is more than a plan.

It’s a mission.

And I’m committed to it because when we change lives, we change our country.
We reduce child poverty.

We help more families to live independently.

And we keep more children safe from violence.

National is turning ideals into practical results for people.

As proud of I am of getting our country’s books in order and back into surplus, that’s not what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What drives me is helping all New Zealanders achieve their goals and improve their lives.

What drives me is ensuring every child who grows up in our country has every opportunity to succeed.

We don’t give up on any of them. There’s always a way forward.

National is especially focused on education.

Isn’t Nikki Kaye doing a fantastic job as Education Minister?

She’s passionate about every child getting the opportunity to reach their potential, no matter what their background.

And she will do whatever it takes to deliver a New Zealand that’s open, ambitious and confident about the future.

We owe it to our children that they leave school equipped to succeed.

Every single child matters – they matter to their family, to their community and to our country.

And they certainly matter to me.

So National has put students at the centre of everything we do in education.

It’s working. Around 85 per cent of 18-year olds now get NCEA Level 2 – up from less than 70 per cent in 2008.

The improvement among Māori students is even better. Three out of every four Māori students now achieve NCEA Level 2. A few years ago, it was around half.

National is working hard for students and parents to build on those achievements.

We’ve increased the number of students who start school ready to learn by increasing early childhood participation to 97 per cent.

We’re sharing teaching expertise through our Communities of Learning.

And last month, we confirmed we’ll replace decile ratings with better targeted funding for kids at the greatest risk of not achieving.

Students from a decile 1 school recently told me what they thought of those ratings.

They said they were tired of having to explain why they aren’t useless.

No young New Zealander’s aspirations should be limited by a decile rating, and we will remove them.

National has also introduced National Standards, allowing parents and teachers to share valuable insights about every child’s learning.

Labour wants to abolish National Standards and prevent parents from getting that information.

I know from personal experience – quite a lot of it actually – just how valuable it was to get feedback about how my kids did at school.

All of these changes are improving achievement by our students.

But we can do even better.

We can do even more to help our young people embrace new technology, find new ideas, create new ways of working and build stronger global connections.

Nothing can replace the thousands of motivated, professional teachers who care for and educate our children.

But we can improve the tools they use and the support we give them.
So today, I’m announcing that National will implement a targeted four-point education package – costing $379 million.

Digital learning for senior students, more resources for maths, and a guarantee that all primary school students will be able to learn a second language if they choose to.

And we’ll make it even easier for parents to track how their children are doing at school, through an expansion of National Standards.

Let me talk you through the package.

First, we want our young people to have the best opportunity to take advantage of new technology – to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Rod Drury or Frances Valintine.

So we’ll invest $48 million to introduce exciting new digital learning opportunities for Year 12 and 13 students.

Each year, new Digital Academies will offer 1000 students specialised, IT-focused learning. They’ll be similar to our Trades Academies, and they’ll be just as successful.

And new Digital Internships will provide mentoring and tailored learning from businesses for 500 year 12 and 13 students, a pathway between skills gained in the classroom and real IT careers.

The second part of our announcement today is a $126 million investment to raise maths achievement for primary school students.

National Standards show we need to lift our game in maths. So we’ll provide our students and teachers with the tools they need to do that.

We’ll help 1200 teachers a year complete extra university papers targeted at teaching maths to primary students.

We’ll also provide intensive classroom support for students, where schools have identified the need to improve their maths.

That’s all alongside extra funding for classroom resources like digital apps.

If we want our children to succeed on the world stage, from this small country at the bottom of the globe, they need to be good cross-cultural communicators.

So the third part of our package is a $160 million investment to give all primary school children the opportunity to learn a second language, if they choose.

Schools will choose from at least 10 priority languages, which we expect to include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean, along with Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language.

Finally, I can confirm that a new National-led Government will update National Standards, so families have more comprehensive and more timely information about their children’s achievements in the classroom.

It will be called National Standards Plus.

National Standards has successfully set clear expectations about what every student needs to achieve in reading, writing and maths.

It provides a valuable snap-shot of how your child has performed across the year.
National Standards Plus will build on this by allowing you and your child to track their progress in more detail, online, as it happens.

We will show you your child’s progress on your mobile phone.

Some schools have already rolled out tools that support this approach.

I’ve met these children.
It was amazing meeting a little 10-year old who sat me down and showed me how much he’d achieved in the last month and what he would learn next.

I want to see that for every child in every school.

By moving the reporting online, the new system will help our hardworking teachers by streamlining their paperwork and allowing them to focus more of their time on teaching.

And teachers will have better information at their fingertips to help them develop the individual learning paths they already create for students.

National is always looking to the future.

Our teachers and schools work so hard to create opportunities for our children and these measures will further help more of our kids reach their potential.

Ladies and gentlemen.

National is a party of fresh ideas for a confident and outward-looking New Zealand.

A country that’s moving forward and heading in the right direction.

But to be in the National Party is to never be finished.

To never be satisfied.

To take nothing for granted.

And to never stop working.

That’s my pledge to you, and that’s my pledge to New Zealanders: to never stop working alongside you to make our country even better.

So over the next four weeks, I’ll be talking – and listening – to New Zealanders about our country’s future.

National has a strong team with a confident plan to keep New Zealand heading in the right direction.

We will fight hard for every single vote.

Will you join me?

We have a clear message: If you want a growing economy – party vote National!

If you want an economy that can afford world leading hospitals, schools, roads and public transport – party vote National!

If you want higher wages and better jobs – party vote National!

If you want to raise family incomes – party vote National!

And, if you want to secure your future and New Zealand’s future – on 23 September, party vote National!


Automation answer to artificially high wages

22/08/2017

NZ First wants a minimum wage of $20 an hour. The party also wants less immigration.

A higher minimum wage and fewer migrants are being promoted by other parties on the left too.

The dangers of that can be seen in the UK where British farms are preparing to work with fewer seasonal workers after Brexit:

The production of strawberries, raspberries and other berries has increased from some 60,000 tonnes a year to over 140,000 tonnes, and these are picked almost entirely by migrant workers from the EU. In 2015 about 85,000 seasonal agricultural workers came to Britain, 30,000 or so of them to pick fruit. As a recent report by Andersons Farm Business Consultants concludes, without EU labour the sector’s recent growth “would not have been possible”.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU and probably end the free movement of workers from the continent, farmers are scrambling to find farm hands. But they are also exploring more rigorously the alternatives to a bountiful supply of cheap labour, such as using more automation and increasing existing workers’ productivity. . .

There is no doubt that farmers are struggling to find workers. There are some Brexit-related reasons for this: the pound has fallen precipitately against the euro; and Britain is now often perceived to be “a xenophobic and unfriendly country”, says John Hardman, a director of one recruiting agency, HOPS Labour Solutions.

But the shortfalls also reflect structural shifts in the EU economy, in particular the rising prosperity, and higher wages, of those countries such as Poland and Romania that have historically supplied workers to Britain. . . 

Alison Capper, who chairs the horticultural board of the National Farmers Union, a lobby group, says that some British farmers are now having to make decisions “as to what to pick and what to leave”. But for now there is unlikely to be a lot of fruit left rotting in the fields. And to forestall such an eventuality, many in the industry have been heeding the government’s advice, to recruit more British workers, automate, or become more efficient—but with very mixed results.

Trying to recruit more British workers has, in the words of Mr Hardman, been a “staggering disaster”. He has managed to get only a handful of Britons out of 12,000 recruits sent to 225 farms. Money is not the main problem. Many farms pay above the minimum wage of £7.50 ($9.65) an hour, and fast pickers can earn up to £12 on piecework. But most Britons seem not to want to move to where the farms are, nor to take up jobs that only last for the season and involve getting up at 5am to work outdoors.

This is not confined to the UK. New Zealand horticulturists have the same problems, though ironically some of the migrants who will do the work here are from the UK.

Robots, on the other hand, are perfectly happy with such conditions, and are getting ever more dexterous at picking hard fruit, if not the squishier sort. Machines to pick strawberries and apples are already in use. They can pick at only about one-third the rate of a human, and farmers reckon that they miss about 15% of the crop. But they can make up for that by working 24 hours a day. They are expensive, though: one of the most popular strawberry-pickers costs about $250,000. Most farmers estimate that their large-scale deployment could still be a decade off.

As more businesses use robots and technology improves the cost will come down.

In the interim, farms have been trying to wring more productivity out of their existing operations. Many have invested in metal tabletops to grow strawberries so that workers can pick them more quickly. Farmers now grow particular strains that produce more fruit over a longer season, such as ever-bearing strawberries. Others are spending more time on training their pickers. One farmer, Harry Hall, says that he has been able to improve his workers’ picking speeds by about 15% this year. Valya, a Bulgarian university student working on his farm in Twyford, 50km west of London, says that whereas she started out picking raspberries at 9kg per hour, after training she can pluck 11kg. . . 

Increased productivity is better for workers, businesses and the wider economy.

But artificially boosting wages through an increase in the minimum wage would add costs to businesses which would be passed on to consumers.

And if immigration is cut the problem will not be how much each worker can do, but how to get the workers who are willing and able to do the work.


Immoral victory

16/08/2017

Pike River families are hailing today as a “moral victory” after MPs from four parties pledged to act immediately to re-enter the West Coast mine if in government.

Environment Minister Nick Smith calls it a political stunt that doesn’t change the risks.

 . . Prime Minister Bill English gave a commitment to the Pike River families earlier this year that the Government would see through safe, unmanned entry to the area of the drift that had not been accessed.

“This work would be delayed if taken off Solid Energy and given to some new agency. It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018. A political statement does not change the risks in the mine. It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.

“This political commitment of manned entry of the complete drift by the end of 2018 could not be done under New Zealand’s workplace law – a law supported by these very parties. They are either making empty promises to the Pike families or are proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies.

“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men. The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry.”

 

Employment law was changed because of the Pike River disaster. Under that law no-one in Solid Energy could countenance anyone entering the mine and changing the law to allow it would be a travesty.

The pledge is an immoral victory and the undertaking by the MPs is irresponsible. All it does is give false hope to the bereaved.

No lives should be risked to bring out whatever remains of the men who died in the mine.


Labour policy protects big multinational hits small locals

15/08/2017

Water bottlers fear they’ll be put out of business if Labour’s water tax is applied:

Charging water exporters a per litre levy will penalise a small, struggling New Zealand industry and lead to company closures and job losses, say two Putaruru water bottlers. Aquasplash and NZ Quality Waters are united in their opposition to Labour’s proposed water policy and say it is unfair to cherry pick by industry.

“You should charge everyone who uses water for commercial purposes, or no one. As it stands, this policy would hit small exporters like us but wouldn’t affect the big multi-nationals who are using the same resources. At a time when people are upset about the lack of tax paid by companies such as Google and Apple, is this really a wise position to take?” says Aquasplash chief executive Mark Manson.

Labour has been a vocal critic of multinationals not paying enough tax yet they’re going to tax small local companies but not Coca Cola.

He and NZ Quality Waters General Manager Bruce Sherman agree, if the policy became law, many of the 27 water bottlers around the country could close. “It would hit the livelihood of the 370 people who work directly in the industry, plus a similar number indirectly. The majority of those 750 people work and live in rural economically depressed parts of the country. A lot of those jobs could disappear,” says Manson.

That’s a lot of jobs that would be lost from regions where alternative employment opportunities will be scarce.

Sherman adds: “Of the 213 billion litres of water consented for bottling, only 0.5% of that is used. A mere 26 million litres were exported in 2016, equivalent to just two minutes’ flow over the Huka Falls or one and a half hours’ consumption of water in Auckland.And why is so little water exported? Because there’s virtually no money in it. It’s a hugely competitive global industry and the offshore markets are swamped by the giants like Evian and Perrier. Our margins are already extremely low so an additional levy would see companies shut down.”

Manson adds: “Given a 10c per litre levy, and assuming everyone managed to stay in business, we’re talking about an extra $2.6 million a year into Government coffers. Is that worth it for a potential loss of 750 jobs and the extra WINZ benefits those people would then require?” He says Aquasplash’s contract with the South Waikato District Council allows it to take up to 200,000 litres per day from the Blue Spring. Currently it uses 35,000 litres per day. That equates to 0.4 litres per second, compared to the minimum flow through the Blue Spring of 700 litres per second. “Clearly, this is a very sustainable, well-monitored and well-controlled water supply.”

Manson and Sherman say, should Labour become the Government, they would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue in-depth and help devise a fair and equitable system that protects New Zealand companies and jobs and does not let the multi-nationals off the hook. “For instance, we are interested in exploring the system used in Canada, where they charge a levy based on the number of litres you have consent for, rather than the actual amount of water taken. This encourages users to only ask for what they need, thus ensuring there is plenty available for other consents for other users. It also avoids anyone “stockpiling” consent volumes for commercial gain.”

Both Aquasplash and NZ Quality Waters are members of the New Zealand Beverage Council Water Bottlers’ Sub-committee, which is also opposed to Labour’s policy.

Rodney Hide is another to point out the inconsistencies and unfairness of Labour’s water tax:

Farmers are right to be worried about Labour’s plan to tax water.

The power to tax is the power to destroy and such a tax has the potential to tip a farm from profitability to bust. . . 

Of even more concern is a complete lack of any detail of how much the tax will be, how it will be applied, and what Labour is expecting to raise.

It’s hard to imagine a party heading into election promising, say, to tax cars without declaring what the tax will be or how much is expected to be taken.

The bare-bones announcement shows just how little farmers count in an election. They still drive the economy but matter little in politics.

Sad but true.

But even a small tax should be worrying. All taxes start out small. The principle is established and then the tax is ramped up. Whenever government is a bit short, up goes the tax. . .

A little bit of tax is like a little bit pregnant.

Of course, water should not be free. It’s a scarce and valuable resource. It’s also nonsense that its use is often subsidised. That’s bad both from an economic and an environmental viewpoint.

Rather than applying a blunt and damaging tax, it’d be better to allow tradeable water rights.

It’s not without precedent. A system operated excellently for the most valuable water in the country in central Otago for well over 100 years.

The Resource Management Act abolished these old rights in favour of government control and regulation. It was a huge loss.

Today’s system doesn’t provide any certainty and doesn’t confront users with the cost of their use.

It would be better to convert all existing water rights to perpetual rights and allow them to trade. That would get farmers onside – and it would price a valuable resource. It’d also keep environmentalists happy, if done right.

The only ones missing out would be politicians and bureaucrats who would not have the tax dollars to spend.

And there’s the issue: taxes are good for Wellington and bad for everyone else.

When there is room in projected surpluses for tax cuts, there is no need for new taxes, especially not ones as ill considered, inconsistent and unfair as Labour’s water tax.


Rural round-up

14/08/2017

“Parallel Parker” Needs to Do A Better Job of Lining Up Labour’s Water Policy:

Federated Farmers wants Labour to honour the commitment it made to only look at charging overseas-owned water bottlers and to permanently park its discriminatory tax on water that will divide communities and undermine regional economies.

On 21 June this year, then Labour leader Andrew Little told the Federated Farmers national conference, in front of the media, that they were not going to tax water across the board – just look at water bottling. When news reports on this started to come out, Labour changed its tune.

At the beginning of this week Mr Parker was telling us it would apply to “large commercial users”, but now, and the end of the week, we hear it won’t apply to the very large companies putting water in bottled products right now in central Auckland. . . 

Labour could have knocked the water debate out of the park; But the economics of its royalties policy just don’t work; Let’s hope they get some nationalistic headlines out of it before questions are asked – Alex Tarrant:

Labour this election had the opportunity to knock the water pricing debate out of the park. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement Wednesday was instead a nod to politics over policy.

On the face it, the headline announcement that all commercial water users would be charged based on usage was a welcome addition to the water allocation and pricing debate in New Zealand this year.

But going beneath the surface throws up more questions than answers. These mainly stem from the policy’s central theme of different royalty rates applying to different water users, and depending on the quality of water used.

I made my views clear on this issue back in March. Let’s have a proper water pricing debate that encompasses all water use. We also need clarification on who owns water before we go about charging for it. . . 

Govt sets out path to better freshwater:

The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry. . . 

Farmers welcome support to improve environment:

The Government’s announcement of $44 million to support freshwater improvement projects is welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says that over the past two years, in particular, the organisation has responded to farmer demand for support in the environment space. “Through this work, we’ve identified that – while farmers want to take action – knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be a barrier.

“This government funding is timely and will help us better support farmers to deliver on their water quality ambitions.” . . 

California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farm worker shortage – Chris Morris:

Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.

Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here. . .

Collaboration essential for sustainable dairy farming:

If a future in sustainable farming is to be achieved in the coming years, companies in both the private and public sector need to be working both faster and more collaboratively, says dairy farm investment company Fortuna Group.

Southland-based Fortuna Group, along with Dairy Green, are the innovators at the forefront of New Zealand’s methane recovery system.

While there are other methane recovery plants in New Zealand, the partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau is the only one that is consistently and reliably generating electricity from methane.  . . 

Lower fruit prices bittersweet due to high vegetable prices:

Fruit prices fell 5.2 percent in July 2017, contributing to a 0.2 percent fall in food prices, Stats NZ said today.

Cheaper avocados and strawberries led the fall in fruit prices in July. Avocado prices fell 29 percent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 percent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July 2017, compared with $7.71 in June.

“Strawberries are unseasonably cheap for this time of year,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are currently dropping in price due to more imports from Australia.” . . 

NZ wool sale volumes rise at double auction across North, South islands  – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A higher volume of wool was sold at auction in New Zealand this week after organisers skipped a week and held a double auction across both islands.

Some 80 percent of the 15,054 wool bales offered at auctions in Napier in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island were sold yesterday, AgriHQ said. That’s ahead of the 72 percent clearance rate for the 2016/17 season which ended June 30, and the average 77 percent rate for the first six weeks of the current season. . . .

Sanity prevails over proposed animal manure imports says Feds:

Sanity based on sound science has prevailed says Federated Farmers after the Government confirmed it would no longer be permitting imports of products containing animal manure.

The decision follows a Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) investigation which discovered imported compost from the Netherlands, intended for mushroom growing, contained animal manure.

“This is the right decision and we are glad the Government has taken this step. Federated Farmers made a strong submission earlier in the year against these imports,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Synlait Invests in Category Management to Target Growth:

Synlait Milk is investing in category management capability to support increased business development in existing and new categories.

“Building discipline in category management is a crucial step in our pursuit of profitable, and sustainable, growth opportunities,” says John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re here to make the most from milk. Category management will allow us to continue planning our growth into the most profitable categories, products and customers, and to monitor our progress against those plans.” . . 

Fonterra hailed as top NZ co-op:

Fonterra has been judged New Zealand’s top co-operative business of the year, and praised for a “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high profile campaign proudly proclaiming its Kiwi farmer-owned, co-operative status”. 

The sector’s peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) made the award at a function in Auckland last night.

Shareholders’ Council Chair Duncan Coull, who collected the award, says our farmers should take real pride in this special recognition for their co-op.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op. I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”  . . 


When locals can’t/won’t work . . .

25/07/2017

Industry groups and individual employers were unhappy with government proposals to tighten immigration requirements.

They let the government know that and it’s listened:

Immigration was due to be tightened on August 14 but there’s been a backlash from employers and the regions.

Sources have told Newshub the Government is set to back down and keep the gates open.

Examples of the revolt include Southland, which wants 10,000 more people.

“Good Kiwis are hard to find. Guys don’t want to let their good Kiwis go,” farmer Hayden Nicholson told Newshub.

“I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t let any good Kiwi go.”

Jono Breach also knows how hard it is to get a “good Kiwi”. He just got an application from one, so checked his Facebook page.

“His first picture was with wads of cash and bags of drugs, and I’m like, ‘Well!’,” he told Newshub.

That’s why farmers down in Southland have turned to immigrant labour, mainly Filipinos, like “Choco”, who loves the work, and even says he likes the Southland frost.

“This is the weather that I really like… because it is frost in the morning, but after 9am or 10am, it’s really warm and really good weather.”

Mr Breach says those are the types of people they need in Southland. But there’s a problem. The Government has proposed a tightening of immigration rules, due to come into force next month. Under the proposed changes, any immigrant earning less than $23.50 an hour, or $48,859 a year, will be deemed “unskilled”.

They will face a three-year cap on working here, with a one-year stand-down from New Zealand. They also can’t bring their families and children with them. . . 

Before an employer can take on an immigrant now they have to establish there are no locals who can do the job. A common complaint from employers is that out-of-work locals aren’t work-ready:

South Canterbury fisheries are calling out for skilled workers, saying many job seekers don’t have basic numeracy, literacy or communication skills. . . 

Sanford’s Timaru spokesperson Karen Duffy said they always had several vacancies at any one time, but it was getting harder and harder to fill those positions.

The fishery employed 90 workers, one of the largest job providers in the city.

“We are experiencing great difficulty with employing people into our business … and finding the right candidate has become extremely difficult,” she said.

Ms Duffy said local talent was difficult to come by, and she said many job seekers lacked basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

“Ability to problem solve, basic communication skills … those skills around communication and working as a team … it’s becoming harder to find suitable candidates”, she said. . . 

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said the area was in the grip of a skilled labour shortage, but it was a victim of its own success.

She said rapid growth in some businesses was quickly overtaking the supply of potential workers. . . 

Ms Smith said bringing in overseas workers could help fix the problem. . . 

“We would like to see regional variations in place … we are quite concerned a blunt policy is being applied that might work for Auckland, but is probably not very applicable for down here”, she said. . . 

When locals can’t or won’t work, businesses have to employ immigrants.

The proposed changes would have had a serious impact on a range of businesses, including dairying:

DairyNZ is backing calls for the Government to rethink its new immigration policy, saying dairy farmers rely on skilled people from overseas who are wrongly classified as lower-skilled, locking them and their employers into a cycle of uncertainty.

“Many of the best performing teams on dairy farms include migrant staff,” says DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. “Some of these people are being classified as lower skilled workers when, in reality, their experience and skillset should be considered mid-skilled.”

Dr Mackle says the dairy sector and the wider New Zealand economy will not benefit from the policy changes to the essential skills visa conditions which will result in farmers not being able to retain their best migrant staff.

“The requirement of the new policy is that herd managers and farm assistants here on work visas must have their visas reviewed every year, and that they must leave New Zealand at the end of three years. This means our farmers will lose some of their best staff.”

With the objective of ensuring there were no unintended outcomes with the new policy, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, recruitment advisors, and others including farmers, made submissions to Government.

“As stated in our submission, on behalf of dairy farmers, we want to see migrant dairy staff who are currently classified as lower-skilled to be recognised as mid-skilled when they are paid within the mid-skilled remuneration band.

“With this policy there is no provision for farm roles between the low-skilled classification and the high-skilled bracket. It is crucial that this be addressed so that our farmers can continue to tap into this pool of workers when there are no New Zealanders available,” Dr Mackle says.

“Without being able to retain skilled migrant staff, dairy farms in several regions, especially Southland and Canterbury, will be severely impacted in terms of profitability. There’s the real likelihood that with fewer skilled, and consequently more unskilled staff on the ground farmers would also not be able to keep up their high standards of care for the environment they live and work in, or for such aspects as animal welfare and health and safety.”

Dr Mackle says migrant staff and their families are good citizens, making vibrant and viable contribution to the rural communities they live and work in.

“They bring their cultures and values with them. Many partners of the primary visa holders are working in the likes of aged care, supermarkets, and cafes, where they’re also valued for their work ethics and reliability. Their children attend local schools and, far from putting pressure on class sizes, many rural schools may not be viable if not for these kids.”

Dr Mackle adds that what is being faced in many rural communities – and impacting employers in all sectors – is not so much an immigration issue, but one of migration.

“In many rural areas in the South Island, especially Southland and Canterbury, people have moved away to cities. With the decrease in rural populations, the pool of available workers has shrunk too – impacting all business, not just dairy. Quite simply, there’s a shortage of Kiwis in these rural areas – migrant staff are the answer for many.”

A stable, skilled, and productive workforce is essential to the success of any business, he says.

“Farmers are the foundation of the dairy sector which earns this country upwards of $12 billion in exports, and contributes to the lifestyle, infrastructure, and technology all Kiwis enjoy, rural and urban. Farmers must be able to employ – and retain – the staff they need to run their businesses.

“Dairy deserves the best. Like most Kiwi employers, dairy farmers might not hire people from overseas as their first choice – due to language and visa bureaucracy – but often they have no other choice.”

DairyNZ says the industry provides 35,000 on-farm jobs, including contractors and staff – 3,774 of these jobs are currently filled by people from overseas.

Other sectors are also relieved that government has listened.

We are pleased to hear that the Government is planning to review incoming immigration changes with a specific focus on how they will affect the regions. Effectively addressing skills shortages in manufacturing and other sectors needs to remain a core part of our immigration system – notwithstanding changes that may be required to address other issues associated with current high levels of net migration, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive, Dieter Adam said, “In particularly, the 12-month stand-down after three years did not make any sense to businesses – having to send quality workers back home not long after they completed the inevitable on-the-job training required to become fully productive and integral to their business operation. The skills they may take with them often simply cannot currently be filled by New Zealanders.”

“Unlike in other sectors, labour shortages in manufacturing are almost completely in the skilled workers category, especially for those with trade skills and experience.

“The Government’s approach to use pay levels as a surrogate for skill level was seen as a sensible approach by some of our members, where it was seen as potentially a smoother pathway to fill high income skill shortages, but others argued it is crude and has a number of issues. It ignores the fact, for example, of regional variation in pay for jobs at the same skill level, and it may unintentionally lead to wage inflation by artificially setting a base line across the country for what machine operators, for example, should be paid.

“The NZMEA is not simply advocating for a continuation of current immigration policies and practises, which have led to immigration outcomes that may well be unsustainable in some areas. The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with changes that address these issues without cutting off the much needed supply of migrants to fill skill shortages, especially in the regions outside of Auckland.” Said Dieter.

The regions have a serious shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers. Unemployment is around the level where those without work are unemployable nationally and in a lot of small towns unemployment is well below the national rate.

Restaurateurs in Oamaru and Wanaka have told me how difficult it is to get local staff who are prepared to work the required hours. They want to start later and/or finish earlier than the business requires or they simply don’t have the attitude and work ethic that’s needed.

Advertising is expensive. It costs several hundred dollars each time a new staff member is required and immigrations rules require that the business goes through that process of trying to employ locals each time there’s a vacancy, even if they’ve only just done that and established there isn’t anyone suitable.

In small towns and provincial areas, employers know the locals and would usually know anyone who was willing and able to work when there’s a vacancy without needing to advertise.

The requirement to prove there are no locals available to work simply becomes an expensive exercise in futility that puts strain on businesses and their staff.

Auckland has problems with too many people for the available housing and infrastructure but that should not be used as an excuse to make business so hard outside the city.

It is possible to ensure immigrant workers stay in the regions when their visas are tied to specific employers.

Opposition MPs are making their triennial discovery of life outside big cities as they try to court votes. That they have softened their anti-immigration stance shows that they have realised the difficulties businesses are facing.

It’s difficult for government’s to win on something like this – if they don’t listen they’re criticised, if they do they’re accused of doing a u-turn.

But most employers aren’t interested in the politics, they’re just grateful that the government has heard their concerns and will be acting on them.


Rural round-up

12/07/2017

Young farmer win ‘still sinking in’ – Vaughan Elder:

Winning the title of Young Farmer of the Year was a dream come true for a Milton man who has fond memories of watching the competition as a child.

Sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead was named Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday night after three days of intense competition spread across Palmerston North and Feilding.

Winning the event was ”unbelievable” given the high standard of the six other finalists he was facing, Mr Woodhead said.

He won a prize worth almost $100,000, including a 25hp tractor, a quad bike and $15,000. . .

Inspirational farmers awarded – Andrew Morrison:

We all have people in our lives who inspire us.

They are often the unsung heroes who, through their words and actions, enrich our lives and make us want to be – and do – better.

They may be friends, family, work colleagues or teachers – or the neighbour who isn’t afraid to give things a go. They strive for excellence and lead by example.

Over the past year Southland has been fortunate to host many of agriculture’s most inspirational people. We saw the skills of the world’s-best shearers and wool handlers on display at the World Shearing Championships in January and in May we hosted the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ National Showcase. . .

Dairy hub set to open – Sally Rae:

The Southern Dairy Hub at Makarewa, near Invercargill, will be officially opened on Friday.
The hub, which includes a working dairy farm and centre for science and research, will allow farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils, in southern conditions.

DairyNZ and AgResearch are the principal shareholders, investing $5 million each, while local farmers and businesses contributed a further $1.25 million through the Southern Dairy Development Trust. . . 

Southland farmers concerned proposed Water and Land Plan will cut land use – Brittany Pickett:

Ian and Heather Smith are worried they could lose the use of up to a quarter of their farm if the Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan remains unchanged.

The couple run Erme Hill, at Waimahaka, in Southland, a 413 hectare rolling country dairy and sheep farm and are in the Bedrock/Hill Country physiographic zone.

They have 480 dairy cows, 700 ewes and 650 hoggets and winter almost all of their stock on the farm. . .

Southern entries vie for top steak award:

Several Southern entries are among the finalists in this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition.

Judging will be held this week at Auckland’s University of Technology with the winners announced at an awards dinner in Auckland on July 20.

Ceri Lewis (Otautau) and Dougal Stringer (Gore) are both finalists in best of British breed (Angus), Laurie Paterson (Gore) is a finalist in best of British breed (Hereford), and Anita Erskine (Tuatapere) is a finalist in best of British breed (other) with a Shorthorn entry.

Bowmont Meats, in Invercargill, is in the final of best of brand-retail with a Hereford Prime entry. . .

British adults shun dairy farm labour – sector could be threatened if EU labour cut

Questions have been raised over the future of the dairy industry after only 4 per cent of UK adults said they considered all key aspects of work on dairy farms ‘personally acceptable’.

Industry chiefs sounded warning bells over the industry’s ‘image problem’, but said the domestic workforce could not be relied on to plug labour shortages.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) highlighted that of the 2,000 people questioned, many were put off by a role when linked to the dairy industry – such as working with animals or jobs situated in rural locations – with only 9 per cent of skilled or qualified UK adults confident they would consider a job in dairy. . . 


Rural round-up

05/07/2017

Rangitikei dairy farmer Stu Taylor changes the way he employs dairy farm staff –    Jill Galloway:

The social lives of workers are changing and dairy farmers must change the way they employ dairy staff, says a Rangitikei dairy farmer.

Dairy farm owner near Santoft Stu Taylor said he aimed for a roster of five day on and two day off for the 30 staff employed at his farm.

At the DairyNZ ‘People Expo’ in Palmerston North, he said he was committed to a better way of working for dairy farming. . . 

Rural women ‘in crisis’: Letter reveals dark side of farm life – Ruby Nyika:

Rural women struggling with mental illness have been neglected for too long, a Waikato woman says.

In a pleading letter sent to Rural Women NZ, Mary Anne Murphy calls for more mental health support and funding specifically for rural women.

Murphy, who no longer lives rurally, felt compelled to act after government ministries announced at Fieldays that $500,000 would be committed to Rural Mental Wellness, targeting struggling farmers. . .

New father Richard Morrison wonders what is ahead in farming for his young son:

Thirteen weeks ago I entered into a new venture: fatherhood. I try and imagine what the future may have in store for little Henry but that task is challenging and a little daunting.

I think about the change we have seen the last 35 years, since my childhood, and even the last 17 since I entered the workforce. The world is a bigger place and it moves a lot faster: I was able to attain a university degree without using a computer – now some toddlers seem to be attached to them.

The prospects for one little person is hard to foresee in this big, fast moving world but there is one thing I do know. Growing up in New Zealand on a farm, in a tight knit rural community, with access to quality local schools prepares you incredibly well for life. This is as true today as it has been for the last 100 years. . . .

Kiwi farmer wins Australasian business management award:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmer Jonny Elder has taken out the 2017 Rabobank Business Development Prize, a trans-Tasman business management award for up-and-coming farmers.

Selected from a group of New Zealand and Australia’s most progressive young farmers, graduates of the 2016 Rabobank Farm Managers Program (FMP), Mr Elder, from Northern Southland, was recognised for his management project – which demonstrated how he had utilised the learnings from the program to create and implement a business plan to maximise the potential of his farm. Designed for emerging farmers, the FMP focusses on the development of business management skills, with an emphasis on strategic planning, leadership and self-awareness. . .

Dairy farmers moving to ‘good returns’ from beef calves – Andrew McRae:

Demand for beef calves is driving down the number of bobby calves being processed and providing a lucrative side business for dairy farmers.

On dairy farms, where 70 percent of all calves are born, those not needed as dairy replacements have traditionally been sent for slaughter.

But that’s now changing, according to Doug Lineham, from Beef and Lamb’s Dairy Beef Integration Project. . . .

Pacific Alliance FTA negotiations hailed:

Federated Farmers says it’s excellent news that New Zealand is underway with free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

The announcement by trade minister Todd McClay that the five nations will strive to improve market access and level the playing field is an important step in the New Zealand Trade Agenda 2030 strategy. It also represents the ongoing commitment from four members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to improving the trade environment in the Pacific region. . .


Rural round-up

08/03/2017

Farm recruiter backs PM’s claims around drugged up Kiwi workers –  Gerald Piddock:

A Hamilton-based farm recruitment agency is backing Prime Minister Bill English’s claims that Kiwi workers’ inability to pass drug tests are why overseas workers are needed.

Cross Country Recruitment managing director Ben De’Ath​ said that since December 4, 2016, 21 individual farm owners have contacted him seeking new staff because they have had to instantly dismiss staff due to failed drug tests for methamphetamine or cannabis.

Three-quarters of these farm owners were in Waikato and the rest were in the Central Plateau. These farmers were now short staffed purely because of illegal drugs, he said.

De’Ath said his company started to record why vacancies were arising in December because it helped make a case to Immigration New Zealand for foreign workers on behalf of farm owners. . . 

Plea to pay tribute to rural women:

Rural women are vital to resilience in rural communities and families and New Zealanders should pay tribute to their role tomorrow, which is International Women’s Day, a rural health leader says.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says women are often the glue which holds families together in tough times.

“They are essentially the backbone of the NZ economy. After all, about 600,000 Kiwis live in rural areas and agriculture and tourism are the powerhouses of our economy,” Thompson says.

“Each year, more than two and a half million tourists visit rural New Zealand. In 2011-2012, $40 billion, or 19 percent of GDP, was generated directly or indirectly by the agri-food sector.

“If the spending power of rural people is considered, then the contribution of the agri-food sector is $53 billion, or one dollar in every four dollars spent in the economy. Rural women play a crucial role in making all this happen. . . .

New youth opportunities in agriculture sector:

TeenAg, an agriculture sector youth programme run by New Zealand Young Farmers, will receive $146,000 of support under a new partnership announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This is about supporting more young people to develop skills such as leadership and learn about potential career opportunities in the primary sector, which is such a vital part of our economy,” says Ms Kaye.

“TeenAg aims to promote a positive picture of agriculture and raise awareness of agricultural careers from an early age.

“The funding announced today will support around 500 more young people to participate in the programme.” . . 

Hunter Downs irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a funding grant of $1.37 million for Hunter Downs Water from Crown Irrigation Investments announced today.

“This development grant funding will be used by Hunter Downs Water to complete the next stage of its programme as it works toward becoming construction ready,” says Mr Guy.

Hunter Downs Scheme is a farmer and community led scheme with the capacity to irrigate 21,000ha in an area located between Waimate and Timaru in South Canterbury. …

A Celebration of Women in the Seafood Industry:

Nelson will launch a rolling programme of events around the globe tomorrow, International Women‘s Day, to celebrate the role women play in the seafood industry.

Seafood women in Iceland, the United States, Chile, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are taking part.

Donna Wells of Nelson’s Finestkind is organising a breakfast, the first event of rolling celebrations around the globe.

Around 60 women in the seafood industry are attending the breakfast to be opened by the Mayor, Rachel Reese. . . 

Lamb flap prices hit record high as NZ slaughter rates decline – Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – A shortage of lamb meat in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter, is pushing up prices, with lamb flaps hitting a record high and prices for many other cuts lifting in export markets.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.60 per kilogram in February, from US$5.50/kg in January and US$3.45/kg in February last year, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report. That’s ahead of the previous record set in January 2014.

New Zealand slaughter rates for lamb so far this season are tracking 13 percent below the same period a year earlier at 7.17 million lambs, according to NZ Meat Board data. . . 

Over $15m in Developments for Winter 2017 at Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Developments for the 2017 winter season at Cardrona have totalled over $15million, with continued investment in the resort’s facilities and infrastructure. The investment includes a new high speed cabin lift, Base facility development, and improvements in terrain, carparking and snowmaking.

The biggest development for Winter 2017 is the new McDougall’s Express Chondola. The Doppelmayr “combined” lift of eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs will replace the old McDougall’s Quad Chair. It is the first cabin-style lift on any ski area in New Zealand. . . 


Regions need immigrants

19/12/2016

The hospitality industry outside main centers is in desperate need of staff:

A serious shortage of kitchen staff has seen renowned Moeraki restaurateur Fleur Sullivan resort to washing the dishes herself.

“We’re going into summer with a skeleton staff. It’s terrifying at the moment.

“I’ve been doing the dishes flat out.” 

Sullivan, who is advertising for three chefs and also needs a dish washer and a kitchen hand, is desperate to bolster her team before the visitor peak hits bringing more than 200 diners a day. 

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said staff shortages were an issue throughout the country, but small towns and isolated areas were really struggling to recruit cafe, bar and restaurant workers.

In a recent survey 65 per cent of hospitality businesses reported extreme difficulty hiring chefs with positions advertised repeatedly to find suitable candidates. . . .

When employers have a vacancy they have to establish there are no local people who can do the work before they’re able to take on a worker from overseas.

The position has to be advertised and employers have to liaise with WINZ to ensure no-one who is registered as unemployed would be suitable.

The pool of local labour in a small place like Moeraki is very, very small.

Any locals who can and want to work will be working.

Yet employers like Fleur have to go through the process every time they need more staff. That can be within days or even hours of having completed the process if another staff member leaves.

The system needs to have a bit of flexibility to recognise  the difficulties employers in remote wares face and allow them to employ staff without going through the time consuming and expensive rigmarole every time they have a vacancy.

The Opposition keep saying there are too many immigrants. That’s certainly not the case in Moeraki and places like it where there are not nearly enough locals for the available work.

 


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