Rather go hungry than go to work

May 9, 2018

The Ministry of Social Development has today declared a seasonal labour shortage across the Bay of Plenty, where an additional 1,200 people are needed to pick and pack an extra 20 million trays of kiwifruit this season.

This allows foreigners on tourist visas to apply for a variation which allow them to work.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.4% .

Some of those people must be in the Bay of Plenty and able to work so why aren’t they?

Kiwifruit company Apata employs more than 1000 people and will harvest and store about 10 percent of the region’s kiwifruit this year.

Managing director Stuart Weston told Morning Report about 60 percent of his staff were locals, with the rest made up of workers from the Pacific and backpackers.

He said he did not think raising the pay rate would attract more local labour.

“We think that we’ve really reached the very limits of what’s available ready and willing to work, irrespective of the money.

“And that’s evidenced by the fact that already [Work and Income New Zealand] have a system of stand down if people choose not to work in our sheds and inexplicably people will choose to go hungry rather than work in a packhouse.” 

He said the agency had been working hard to attract people to the industry but it had been having “decreasing levels of success”.

“We’re sending vans to Murupara, Tokaroa, Whakatāne and Rotorua – we’re just trying to reach out further and further to capture people who wish to work,” Mr Weston said.

Working with kiwifruit was hard work, and people who have been on an unemployment benefit struggled to cope with full-time work and could be unreliable, he said.

We visited a pack house earlier this year.

Our host told a similar story of going to great lengths to get locals to work including transport to and from work and a creche for workers’ children.

But if people prefer going hungry to work, what more can employers do?

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He tangata

May 1, 2018

National Party leader Simon Bridges delivered his first speech on the economy yesterday:
 . . Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or that we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.

But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for our children.

About wages for our families.

About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.

About the opportunities we can give those kids from Rutherford College to move into work and follow their passion.

He tangata – it is people. The economy is the what and how, people is the why.

We need a strong and growing economy to look after people – to provide the services and infrastructure they need.

We also need a strong economy to enable businesses to succeed, to provide jobs and produce goods and services that we need to export in order to afford the imports that keep us in the first world.

All of this flows from a strong economy.

But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.

They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.

They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports. 

They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed – the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.

There is, however, one group of people who don’t directly create those jobs – and that’s politicians.

Of course we have some part to play. Our role should be to get the settings right and then get out of the way – making good, consistent, sensible policy choices that give businesses the confidence to do business. . . 

The government has made a lot of fuss about regional development and has given one minister $1 billion to play with.

The best and most important thing any government can do for the regions and the cities is to get the settings and policies right then and get of the way of people and businesses.

Confident businesses invest and take the risks that enable them to produce more and create more jobs.

They make a bigger contribution to the economy and that enables them and the government to do more for people.


Anti-oil greenwash adds costs for no gain

April 13, 2018

A friend who has a horticulture business estimates the government’s ban on further offshore oil and gas exploration will add around half a million dollars a year to his costs of production.

That comes on top of a similar amount more he’ll be paying for labour with the increases to the minimum wage.

He might be able to absorb some of the increased costs but will have to pass on at least some of the increase.

Food in New Zealand is already expensive. Government policies will make it even more expensive and will also lead to job losses.

Adding extra costs for green wash is economic vandalism for no environmental gain.

The Government’s decision to ban gas and petroleum exploration is economic vandalism that makes no environmental sense, National MPs Jonathan Young and Todd Muller says.

“This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high paying jobs and $2.5 billion for the economy,” Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Without exploration there will be no investment in oil and gas production or the downstream industries. That means significantly fewer jobs.

“This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.

“Gas is used throughout New Zealand to ensure security of electricity supply to every home in New Zealand. Our current reserves will last less than ten years – when they run out we will simply have to burn coal instead, which means twice the emissions.

“The Government says that existing wells will continue but that’s code for winding the sector down.

Climate Change Spokesperson Todd Muller says the decision makes no sense – environmentally or economically – because less gas production means more coal being burnt and higher carbon emissions.

“Many overseas countries depend on coal for energy production. Those CO2 emissions would halve if they could switch to natural gas while they transition to renewable energy.

“By stopping New Zealand’s gas exploration we are turning our backs on an opportunity to help reduce global emissions while providing a major economic return to improve our standard of living and the environment.

“We need to reduce global CO2 emissions. But there is no need to put an entire industry and thousands of New Zealanders’ jobs at risk.”

Mr Young says the Government’s decision today is another blow to regional New Zealand, and Taranaki in particular.

“It comes hot on the heels of big decisions that reduce roading expenditure, cancel irrigation funding, and discourage international investment in the regions.

“This is simply Jacinda Ardern destroying an industry in the cause of a political slogan pushed by Greenpeace.”

You can sign a petition against this economic vandalism for no economic gain here.

When oil and gas are mentioned, we think of fuel for vehicles.

But oil isn’t just used for fuel.

Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars.

Given this, can we seriously consider ending our “dependence on oil”, as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative.

Good luck with that program.

Problem is, the anti-oil discourse so demonized this resource that we came to forget the many benefits conferred by its use. Oil and its derivatives have improved living conditions in Western industrialized societies, as the list quoted above quite clearly demonstrates, but also worldwide. In Africa, for example, earthenware jars used to transport water have been replaced by plastic jars, which are much lighter, providing some relief to women who have to carry out this task.

What’s more, some of these products shaping everyday life are designed locally. That’s the case for Eska water bottles or Kraft mayonnaise recipients, manufactured in Montreal. So much so that a high-technology sector has emerged around Montreal refineries over the years, providing quality jobs for more than 3,600 workers. . . 

Like other greenwash, the anti-oil movement has gained traction based on half-truths and emotion.

Like other greenwash, the government’s decision to ban offshore exploration will come at a high economic and social cost with no environmental gain.

Like other green wash the ban is about doing something, not doing the right thing,


O&G exploration ban greenwash

April 12, 2018

The government’s decision to stop offshore oil and gas exploration is nothing but greenwash.

National Opposition energy and resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the decision had come without any consultation with industry.

“The Government had promised to consult but have now made an abrupt decision to stop any new offshore exploration,” he said. 

New Zealand has only about 10 years supply of gas reserves left, he said.

“So in 10 years time we will be buying imported gas to fire up the barbecue,” he said.

Young said 20 per cent of nationwide electricity generation depended on gas.

“What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables.

“It will be coal – good one Government.”

This move will do nothing to reduce the use of oil and gas in New Zealand or elsewhere.

It will just mean importing oil and gas from elsewhere. That will be more expensive and worse for the environment.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a “kick in the guts” for the Taranaki economy.

The industry provided directly and indirectly up to 7000 jobs in the region.

“It was a kick in the guts for the long term future of the Taranaki economy and urgent work was needed on a plan to maintain Taranaki’s position as the provincial powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy,” he said. . .

Any gain from the projects which got money from the Provincial Growth Fund last week will be more than cancelled out by the jobs lost in the oil and gas industry and those who service and supply it.

This policy is economic sabotage for no environmental gain from a government long on rhetoric and virtue signaling and very short on reason.

 

 


Minimum wage hike incentivises mechanisation

March 20, 2018

Case study 1: friend who grows capsicums has gradually been mechanising the processing as technology improves and money allows.

It improves efficiency and lowers costs.

It also requires less labour and he says the minimum wage hike which is being imposed on employers by the government will increase the costs savings and incentivise him to increase mechanisation.

Case study 2: a company which picks and packs fruit has a lot of problems getting enough reliable staff when it needs them, even with the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme.

The hike in the minimum wage provided the incentive to mechanise further. The process which needed 24 workers now needs only 4.

Most employers accept that regular increases to the minimum wage and the flow-on effect on higher wages is the cost of doing business.

Most cope when the increase is modest.

But the jump in the minimum wage to $20 is considerably more than modest and providing an incentive for those who can mechanise their processes to do so.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .


NZ best for ease of doing business

November 1, 2017

New Zealand is first in the world for ease of doing business for the second consecutive year.

. . . Doing Business measures aspects of regulation a ecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business also measures features of labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking. . . 

For eight of the 11 Doing Business indica- tor sets, the report’s traditional focus on e ciency—de ned as the time, cost and number of interactions necessary to incorporate a new business or connect a warehouse to the electrical grid—has been complemented with a new focus on regulatory quality. Doing Business data shows that e ciency and quality go hand in hand, reinforcing each other.

Despite these additions and improve- ments, one aspect of Doing Business has remained unchanged: its focus on pro- moting regulatory reform that strengthens the ability of the private sector to create jobs, lift people out of poverty and create more opportunities for the economy to prosper. The notion that the private sector has substantial economic, social and development impact is now universally recognized. Responsible for an estimated 90% of employment in developing economies, the private sector is ideally placed to alleviate poverty by providing the opportunities to secure a good and sustainable standard of living.

Policy reforms catalyze private investment. Promoting a well-functioning private sector is a major undertaking for any government. It requires long-term policies of removing administrative barriers and strengthening laws that promote entrepreneurship.

Hard data helps do that. It gives a voice to the people to demand improved public services. It also increases government accountability. . . 

There is a message here for people who think capitalism has failed. It’s the private sector which is ideally placed to alleviate poverty. The government’s role is to remove barriers and strengthen laws that promote entrepreneurship.

The rankings are here.

While New Zealand does well overall, there’s lots of room for improvement in four areas: getting electricity, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

 

 

 


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