Rural round-up

28/11/2022

HWEN wants govt review of methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector has asked the government to review its methane targets and the method by which it sets those targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

In its submission in response to government proposals on pricing emissions, the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership is asking for the Climate Change Commission to take another look at the 2050 emission reduction targets to reset methane levels using the GWP* calculation.

HWEN chair Sarah Paterson said this reflects feedback from farmers and growers during consultation on the government’s proposals.

HWEN chief executive Kelly Forster said it “really is a call to ensure the [commission’s] review takes into account the latest science”. . . 

Setting a standard: How our beef and lamb footprint measures up against the world avatar – Liam Rātana :

New research has found that the carbon footprint of Aotearoa-produced beef and lamb is among the lowest in the world. We took a deeper look at what the report says, and why it matters.

So what is this research?

Commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, and conducted by AgResearch, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study looked at on-farm emissions – which allowed for direct comparisons with other countries – but also went further, looking at the full “cradle to grave” footprint (ie including on-farm, processing and post-processing emissions). The report’s findings showed that despite the additional emissions involved with exporting product, our total footprint was still lower than the majority of countries – even those who had domestically produced meat.

While the report acknowledges that differences in methodologies make it difficult to accurately compare countries’ footprints across the entire process, particularly notable is the difference in the liveweight footprint of our stock. This metric, used to measure emissions before an animal is processed, shows that New Zealand’s average carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per kilogram of sheep meat is less than half the international average, and about 30% lower than the international average for beef. . .

Immigration red tape frustrates short-staffed farmers  – Robin Martin :

A Northland farmer fears immigration red tape will see an experienced German dairy hand walk away from a job vacancy that she desperately needs to fill.

Katrina Pearson said applying for a work visa under the Accredited Employer Scheme had been a bureaucratic nightmare.

She runs a 250-hectare dairy farm west of Whangārei, milking nearly 500 cows.

Pearson needs two full-time staff, but she is struggling to recruit. . . 

Father and son named national ambassadors :

Ashburton father and son, Phillip and Paul Everest have been named as the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made earlier this week at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Pae in Christchurch.

The event was attended by all the regional supreme winners from the 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The BFEA is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices hosted by the New Zealand Environment Farm Trust (NZEFT) where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.

The Everest family run Flemington Farm in Ashburton where they’ve expanded the255ha property into a sustainable dairy and beef farm. They were named the 2022 Regional Supreme winners in the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment awards in July this year. . .

Fonterra confirms timeline for Capital Structure implementation :

Fonterra can today confirm that its new Flexible Shareholding capital structure is set to be implemented in late March 2023, subject to the Board being satisfied that the relevant preparations are completed before then.

The structure, which is laid out in a step-by-step tool for shareholders as well as this Guide to Flexible Shareholding, is intended to make it easier for new farmers to join the Co-operative and for existing farmers to remain, by allowing greater flexibility in the level of investment required.

Chairman Peter McBride says Flexible Shareholding will support Fonterra’s strategy by helping to maintain a sustainable milk supply, protecting farmer ownership and control, and supporting a stable balance sheet.

“Our Co-operative is already making good progress towards our 2030 strategic goals, and we believe moving to our Flexible Shareholding structure will help ensure that we stay on track,” says Mr McBride. . .

 

Innovative uses of forestry and wood products unveiled at Fieldays :

New and innovative uses of forestry and wood products will be on display at 35 stands in the Fieldays Forestry Hub near Hamilton between 30 November and 3 December, including a revolutionary treatment for radiata pine, a super carbon-storer – biochar – and cutting-edge research exploring using woody biomass for aviation fuel.

Planted trees are the raw material for more than 5,000 products we use every day. They also form the foundation of New Zealand’s next-generation bioeconomy, with the demand for new biomaterials only set to grow as fossil fuel-based products are replaced with renewable alternatives.

The revolutionary treatment for radiata pine allows it to be used in place of imported hardwood timber for decking, interior bench tops and as a fortified exterior cladding.

Called Sicaro, this timber treatment technology is being distributed by Motueka-based architectural company Genia. It uses a fortification process that replaces water within the cell structure with a water-borne solution that cures to a resin. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2022

Dairy producers gain fresh momentum so how sensible is it to impose a new levy on them – Point of Order?

After a slow start to the season, the NZ dairy industry has perked up,as at  the latest Fonterra  GDT auction prices firmed, after three successive falls.

That rise came on the heel of reports NZ dairy earnings from Australia have ballooned because processors there are short of milk and lining up to buy NZ dairy products.

Open Country Dairy, NZ’s second-biggest dairy processor and exporter, said it has had a 40% lift in demand for product from its Australian customers. South Island-based Westland Milk Products said it had been turning away approaches from across the Tasman.

Industry leader Fonterra, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said it was continuing to see strong demand from Australia. Fonterra had earlier earmarked for sale a stake in its Australian business,but only  last month announced it was not going ahead with that,a decision on which the board will be  congratulating itself. . . 

Alliance Group casts net for 400 seasonal workers – Luisa Girao:

The Alliance Group will look to the North Island and beyond to bring in 400 seasonal workers to cope with its employee shortfall.

Some of the imported staff may live on site due to the Southland accommodation squeeze.

Alliance manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese confirmed yesterday the company was recruiting up to 400 seasonal staff from across the country as well as from overseas for its Lorneville and Mataura plants.

They would help make up the shortfall in numbers Alliance could not recruit locally in Southland, he said. . . 

 

Agri commodity markets research outlook 2023: tightening the belt – Rabobank:

Agricultural commodities reached record nominal prices in May 2022, on the back of adverse weather, falling stockpiles, the war in Ukraine, the container shortage and various protectionist measures restricting food commodity exports. Between May and October, prices dropped 18% due to the USD strength, weak demand, a better container shipping situation, the temporary establishment of the Black Sea grain corridor and select bumper harvests. Presently, there are growing expectations for Brazil’s upcoming harvests of soy, sugar and coffee, as La Niña wanes and the wet season there has begun in a timely manner. Still, prices of agricultural commodities remain high, at about 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, which is when we last saw some sense of ‘normalcy’ in agricultural markets.

Report summary

High prices would normally stimulate supply, but production is currently relatively inelastic to prices: area availability is limited as swaths of very fertile land are lost in Ukraine, farm input costs are high, La Niña is active and the cost of finance has increased. So there is more pressure on demand to balance the equation. Here we start to see some weakness that might continue through much of 2023. Global inflation has resulted in a loss of purchasing power globally, and subsequent hikes in interest rates could result in some major economies going into recession. A global recession would limit demand on a number of fronts, from feed and energy-related commodities to non-essential commodities like cotton, coffee and cocoa. . . .

Fonterra announces divestment of Chile business :

Fonterra is pleased to announce the divestment of its Chilean Soprole business. The divestment comprises a number of transactions that result in aggregate consideration of 591.07 billion Chilean Pesos (approximately NZD1.055 billion).

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell, says that the divestment process for the Soprole business formally commenced in April 2022, following the launch of Fonterra’s strategy to 2030.

“A key pillar of our strategy is to focus on New Zealand milk. Soprole is a very good business but does not rely on New Zealand milk or expertise. We are now at the end of the divestment process and have agreed to sell Soprole to Gloria Foods – JORB S.A. (Gloria Foods).”

Gloria Foods is a consumer dairy market leader in Peru, with operations in Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.  Fonterra and Gloria Foods have a long-standing commercial relationship in South America. . .

Pig farmer tickled pink by top ham award :

 North Island farmer Jim Mather takes great pride in “growing fantastic animals” on his farm near Foxton – but he was still surprised to find a ham from one of his pigs had won the highly coveted Supreme Award in the 2022 100% New Zealand Bacon and Ham Awards.

Auckland’s Westmere Butchery won New Zealand’s best ham award for their bone-in leg ham, but a journey back along the supply chain to discover the provenance of the champion ham, leads to Jim Mather’s family farm.

“We know it’s fantastic pork – because our pigs want for nothing,” says Jim.

“But you don’t usually get a lot of validation for your product as a farmer. We really appreciate that the winner made a point of making sure we knew it was one of ours – we’re absolutely delighted.” . . 

The promise of seagrass pastures – Mel Silva :

In Lau Group in Fiji, seagrass meadows play a special and vital role for the environment, marine life and community. These underwater pastures help to maintain water quality, provide a habitat for diverse flora and fauna – while also supporting local industries and cultural practices.

On a broader scale, these marine environments are critical to the health of our global climate. Similar to forests on land, seagrass can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as it grows – storing it through a process called carbon sequestration. Seagrass is one of the world’s most effective carbon storage powerhouses, and it can store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

Measuring the carbon capacity of ecosystems allows nations to participate in climate discussions, evaluate their contributions and better manage their ecosystems’ vitality. However, gathering this information is much more complex in an underwater environment than it is on land. Traditional methods for carbon assessment of coastal and marine ecosystems have relied on remote geospatial and aerial sensing technology that can be affected by cloud cover, angle of the sun and weather – and getting results from this imagery relies on costly and time consuming manual image analysis.

Under the Digital Future Initiative, we’re launching a new ‘blue carbon’ project in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Tidal (an ocean health project within X) to address these barriers. Together, we’re exploring novel applications of artificial intelligence to measure, with greater efficiency and accuracy, the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to absorb and sequester carbon. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Submission on Ag emissions and pricing

18/11/2022

Submissions on the government’s proposals to impose a tax on farm emissions close today.

You can submit here .

This is my submission:

  • We oppose the government’s proposals for pricing agricultural emissions

1.3. The Paris Accord agrees: ”to decrease global warming through: . . .  Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.”

1.4 Until there are affordable, practical and safe ways to reduce emissions any costs imposed on farmers will reduce food production and lead to job losses on farms, in businesses that service and support farmers and process their produce; and in the wider communities.

1.5 New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for producing nutritious and safe food, efficiently with high standards of animal welfare. We have strict requirements about the use of chemicals and drugs. Any tools that reduce emissions must not have any adverse impact on stock, meat quality and nutrient value and human health.

1.6 We oppose the use of the ETS to encourage on-farm emissions reductions. Unless, and until, there are safe measures to reduce emissions it would simply be a tax on production.

1.7 We do not support the pricing of emissions until there are safe measures to reduce them. However, if one is imposed, a farm level system would be less bad than the proposed interim processor level system as a backstop.

1.8 If the government persists in imposing costs, any approach to reducing emissions must maintain the viability of New Zealand’s farming sector and rural communities.

1.9 It must not encourage practices that would lead to poor economic, environmental and social outcomes, for example large scale job losses on farms and rural communities or replacing pastoral farms with pine plantations.

1.10 It must recognise the good work that many farmers and rural communities have already done to mitigate climate change through establishing vegetation and that is fair across all sectors and New Zealand industries and communities.

1.11 The Governments proposal does not do this.

 

2 He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) did not have universal support but the government has succeeded in uniting farmers against its proposals.

2.1 The He Wake Eke Noa approach aimed to create a mitigation package that included recognition of technologies used and progress already made, the adoption of mitigating technologies only when they had been proved safe and were readily available, recognition of the agri sector’s contribution to the economy, care for rural communities, recognition of progress against goals and recognition of our competitive position in markets.

2.2 The government’s proposal is primarily focussed on emissions pricing to achieve arbitrary targets that have no relation to what is possible, practical and proven.

2.3 The proposal is overly simplistic, would destroy rural communities and come at a huge economic cost. Taking out 20% of sheep and beef farms would cripple small rural towns and take multi millions of dollars from export earnings.

2.4 Primary industries in general and pastoral industries in particular are fundamental to New Zealand’s economic wellbeing.

2.5 They comprise more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s physical export earning and make up about 50 percent of these total export earnings. There is no other way to pay for all the imports the country needs.

2.6 New Zealand has international commitments to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions. That does not mean that New Zealand has to be the first country to destroy its most important export-earning industries.

2.7 No other country in the world is considering going down a self-destruction path for mainstream industries that underpin that nation’s fundamental economic well-being. It is not happening and it is not going to happen elsewhere in the world.

2.8 Sabotaging farming, which the government’s proposal would do, would at best have a minimal environmental impact, at worst it will increase global emissions through carbon leakage and degrade New Zealand soil and waterways when pine plantations replace pastoral farms.

 

3 The government’s proposed emissions accounting system will add unaffordable costs to the dairy sector and have an even worse impact on the deer, sheep and beef sectors.

3.1 The assumption that tools and technologies will be available to assist with reducing or mitigating emissions is putting the green cart well in front of the scientific horses.

3.2 There are no options available now and there is a risk that some proposed tools would impact the quality of meat and milk, and possibly human health.

3.4 Professor Keith Woodford points out:

. . . The problem is that nature’s ruminant nutritional system was designed for a purpose over millions of years by trial and error. That is how evolution works. And nature does not necessarily take kindly when humans want to interfere with the basics of that ruminant system. Change part of the system and there is always a good chance that the overall system will fall apart.

One way or another, the excess hydrogen has to be removed from the rumen. Otherwise, the rumen will turn from a fermentation vat to an acid vat. The animal will not be impressed and will get very sick.

Accordingly, it is not just a case of killing the methanogens. Something else has to take over the job that the methanogens do naturally. If there was an easy solution that was energetically better than producing methane, then nature would in all likelihood have figured that out itself.

So, what are the technologies that humans have been exploring?

One of the most fascinating technologies is to feed some bromoform-releasing seaweed to ruminants. These trials have been going on both in New Zealand and overseas. The bromoforms are particularly good at killing off the methanogens, but unfortunately, they tend to also mess up other parts of the rumen system. Particularly important is the finding in a recent scientific paper that bromoforms pass from the rumen into milk.

Alas, bromoforms are a suspected carcinogen and certainly have the ability to interfere with many human processes. My own assessment is that, despite some ongoing hype, there is close to zero chance of this technology being acceptable to food-safety authorities. Indeed bromoforms, which are similar in their action to chloroform, are already widely banned in foodstuffs.

The second feed additive that has generated considerable hype is a chemical called 3-NOP. This has been developed through to early-stage commerciality by Dutch firm DSM with the trade name Bovaer.

This technology appears to be much safer than bromoforms and does reduce methane production in feedlot situations for dairy and beef cattle. However, the evidence to date is that it does not work under pastoral conditions because it needs to be evenly distributed throughout the feed. . . .

3.5 There is not yet anything that can safely reduce methane emissions in stock and there are very real questions about food safety with what is being trialled.

3.6 We must not risk our hard-earned reputation for safe food in an attempt to reduce emissions.

 

4 Relying on forestry to make the ETS work is a temporary band-aid. It does not address the carbon problem and it is creating an artificial market that incentivises planting trees on good pastoral land.

4.1 This increases the risk of fires, provides shelter for pests which threaten native species and carry diseases which could infect farm animals; takes up large amounts of water which compromises waterways and water life and would be hard to reverse.

4.2 It also takes jobs from farms and the local community and reduces export income.

4.3 The government’s approach to emissions accounting is inequitable by proposing to levy farmers for methane emissions but not give any credit for the sequestration from on-farm vegetation.

4.4 Unless farms are able to offset emission through sequestration, some will become unviable and the damaging conversion from farmland to forestry will be exacerbated.

4.5 A broader range of sequestration is critical to achieving a balance in the system that will make it work for both extensive and intensive farmers. If the government insists on levying farmers it must adopt the HWEN recommendations and recognise a broad range of vegetation categories.

4.6 The government’s excuses exluding on-farm sequestration on the basis of the complexity of measuring sequestration. That is wrong.

4.7 Hyperspectral photography using LIDAR technology is available to measure both biomass and species composition of vegetation over a large scale. This technology could be adapted to measure vegetation to account for sequestration.

4.8 If the government insists on levying farmers for emissions based on hypothetical models it must accept sequestration credits based on accepted and standardised measurement.

 

5 We oppose the Government’s proposal for taxing emissions altogether and its proposal for price setting through the Climate Change Commission.

5.1 If the government does impose costs on emissions, the agricultural sector must be represented on any body that sets prices to ensure it is fair and manageable.

5.2 The CCC’s brief to reduce GHG emissions is a conflict of interest with price setting that could risk it using agriculture to cross-subsidise a wider reduction in warming

5.3 Criteria that must be taken into account when setting the price must include equity, economic impacts and what other countries, in particular those with which we compete in exports.

5.4 Agriculture’s contribution to reducing emission must not be the expense of any of our major exporting sectors and rural communities.

 

6 We oppose linking the price of nitrous oxide to the carbon price.

6.1 Linking nitrous oxide and CO2 reduction targets doesn’t make sense if there are different targets for them.

6.2 If the nitrous oxide price is linked to the carbon price and the carbon price rises rapidly this will become a significant cost to farms and their profitability.

 

7 We have grave concerns about the impacts the government’s proposal will have on on production, income and costs on farms, rural communities and the wider economy.

7.2 During the ag-sag of the 1980s it was feared farmers would be driven from their farms in their thousands. Some did lose their land but the worst impacts were further downstream in the businesses which serviced and supplied them, schools, and provincial towns. Farmers retrenched and businesses and service providers they used to frequent had too few alternative customers and clients.

7.3 The impact the government’s emissions reduction proposal would have would be far worse for job losses and business failures.

7.4 The modelling shows that a very cautious approach needs to be taken to pricing and the government must recalculate the methane targets.

7.5 High targets require a higher price with the proposed system. No other country is planning to put a price on agricultural emissions. It is foolhardy to sabotage the agricultural sector and the whole New Zealand economy for no benefit except being able to claim a first.

7.6 The government’s claim that customers will take emissions into account and pay more for produce if the country’s agricultural emissions is unproven.

7.7 Until and unless there are affordable, practical and safe tools for reducing emissions, the country’s emissions might reduce but the emissions per animal and therefore per kilo of milk and meat won’t.

 

8 The government’s proposal will have a disproportionate impact on sheep, beef and deer farmers.

8.1 The impact will be even worse if there is not proper recognition of sequestration.

8.2 No single sector should disproportionately carry the burden of meeting New Zealand’s targets.

 

9 If a levy is imposed, if must be at a level that delivers only on the scheme’s intended purpose and not to collect excess funds or charge farmers more than absolutely necessary.

9.2 The use of any revenue collected must be under farmer control and they must have the say on how it is used for reinvesting into agriculture for example for research or supporting the uptake of technology.

 

10 We oppose the processor levy backstop.

10.1 This is inequitable because it would only be imposed on those who slaughter stock.

10.2 A processor levy would treat the best, most efficient producers the same as the worst and least efficient with no reward or incentive for improving on-farm practices.

 


Look over there

17/11/2022

Inflation is stealing the real value of earnings and savings; there’s a health crisis, the education system is failing children . . .

These and several other problems are the government’s responsibility but what is the Prime Minister talking about? Paying the Black Ferns the same as the All Blacks.

That is a matter for the Rugby Union Board, sponsors and the players and its a commercial decision not a political one.

So why is she talking about it?

It’s look-over-there politics designed to take attention away from the many very real problems which she and her government are failing to address.

Just like her criticism of fuel companies, supermarkets and more recently banks, what the Black Ferns get paid is not something over which she has any influence or control.

And there’s added hypocrisy when nurses in care homes and general practice are getting nowhere with their plea to have pay parity with hospital nurses and the PPTA has just rejected the government’s pay offer.

Her talking about the Black Ferns’ pay might temporarily deflect attention from matters which are her business.

However, it will do nothing for the players and, when the justified excitement many are feeling about the World Cup win fades, we’ll still be facing inflation, a health crisis, education failures and all the other problems which are making life so difficult for so many.

 


Tech progress freed children and women

29/10/2022

Technical progress freed children from hard labour:

It’s summertime and across the United States, children are away from school. The custom of long breaks in the school year dates to when most Americans worked in agriculture and often needed their children’s help on the farm. Of course, most children simply didn’t attend school, instead helping with housework and grueling farm labor year-round. In 1820, for example, primary school enrollment in the United States was just over 40 percent. That percentage rapidly shot upward in the coming decades, reaching 100 percent by 1870. But even then, many children didn’t make it past elementary school. In 1870, U.S. mean years of schooling stood at just 4.28. That number has risen steadily ever since. What changed? Technology, for one thing.

In his book Enlightenment Now, Harvard University professor Steven Pinker recounts how technology helped get boys off the farm and into the classroom. He quotes a tractor advertisement from 1921:

“By investing in a Case Tractor and Ground Detour Plow and Harrow outfit now, your boy can get his schooling without interruption, and the Spring work will not suffer by his absence. Keep the boy in school—and let a Case Kerosene Tractor take his place in the field. You’ll never regret either investment.” 

It wasn’t only boys who were helped by technology:

As more farms adopted efficiency-enhancing agricultural devices like kerosene tractors, more boys attended school instead of working the fields. For girls, the huge time savings brought on by labor-saving household devices played a similar role. As running water, electricity, washing machines, and other modern conveniences spread, time spent on housework plummeted. Pinker’s book also contains a telling chart documenting the change.

Most of the work replaced by those technologies had traditionally fallen to mothers—and to their daughters. The time freed up by innovation enabled more girls to attend school.

Washing machines and tractors have accomplished more than just cleaning clothes and ploughing fields. They also freed America’s children to receive an education. . . 

It’s not just American children who were freed from farm and house work.

Domestic appliances which reduce the burden of housework have made it easier for women to work outside the home.

Whether they’ve also made the sharing of domestic chores between men and women more equal is debatable.


MUDdying employment not fair

28/10/2022

Labour calls them Fair Pay Agreements.

They are mandatory union deals (MUDs) and anything but fair which is why National will repeal them:

Labour’s misnamed ‘Fair’ Pay Agreements Bill will be repealed by a future National Government, National’s Workplace Relations & Safety spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“This mandatory union Bill is an ideological overreach that harm will our economy. At a time when both employers and employees want more flexibility, the agreements are a throwback to 1970s industrial relations.

“We all want higher wages and better conditions – especially during a cost of living crisis. But the only sustainable route to higher wages is more productive businesses. This Bill will harm productivity.

“Fair Pay Agreements will make New Zealand’s workplaces less agile and flexible and make all workers beholden to a union agenda. It will force employers and workers within a sector to bargain for minimum terms and conditions for all employees in that industry or occupation, regardless of whether or not they want to be included.

“The modern workplace is changing rapidly and people value flexibility. Labour’s Bill would take us in the opposite direction, towards rigid and one-size-fits-all agreements.

“It’s another example of Labour’s belief that central government knows best. Employers and employees should be able to make arrangements that suit them – not hamstrung by more ideological government overreach.

“Flexible labour markets are one of the foundations of our relative economic success in the past few decades. This Bill undermines that foundation and will harm our economy and our national competitiveness.”

Imagine the uproar if a National government passed a law enriching its bigger funders.

This is what Labour has done:

We now have a law that allows a government appointed body to set pay rates and conditions for an entire industry – even if not a single employer in that industry agrees with them.

Even under the bad old 70s law, employers had a choice – they could reject a bad agreement and face strikes. . . 

This law is about forcing workers to fund unions, which is no surprise as 30% of Labour’s caucus are former union organisers. This is 100,000% greater share than in the overall population.

Not only are former union organisers over-represented in the caucus, unions are big, possibly the biggest, funders of the Labour Party.

The left are perpetually exercised over donations from individuals and businesses but there is no evidence they get policy that gives them the sort of power, and money, this policy gives unions.

Business is already gloomy:

Business pessimism has deepened as stronger than expected inflation appears to have rattled firms.

ANZ’s monthly survey of business confidence showed a net 43 percent of respondents expect the broader economy will deteriorate this year, from a net 37 percent the month earlier.

Firms’ view of their own prospects also dipped slightly with a net 3 percent of respondents expecting to be worse off compared with 2 percent in September.

ANZ senior economist Miles Workman said the stresses on businesses, especially cost pressures, remained intense, and responses received after the recent third quarter inflation numbers were generally more negative.

“Costs are still rising rapidly, and passing these costs on has become more difficult as customers become more price sensitive. . . 

Businesses will become even gloomier when this law which will MUDdy employment relations takes effect.

Mike Hosking points out that enacting it shows that Labour doesn’t understand economics:

. . . They’re promoting unions and unionisation is a very Labour pastime.

It also comes, ironically, at a time when it’s never been less needed. The labour market is a complete shambles and anyone who wants work has a vast array of choice.

And wages have gone up ludicrous amounts. So much so, that inflation is still way higher than anyone expected, and the downstream consequences are going to be ugly.

That perhaps is the ultimate irony. Even Grant Robertson, one of the biggest fans of things like Fair Pay Agreements and the jobs tax, is already warning about the economic mess next year.

And the economic mess is a direct result of wage rises that have come about for no other reason than the cost of living having gone skywards.

The part Labour have never quite got their head around is that each job has a value, and when you pay more for that job than its value, the way we are at the moment, a couple of things happen, you pass the price on to the punter, who either pays it, which leads to inflation.

Or they don’t pay it which means you then layoff the workers because you can’t afford them anymore.

That’s essentially what unionism is. It’s an annual “we are ripped off, it’s not fair, we are on strike” sort of fiesta for more money for the sake of more money.

Under this latest guise of Fair Pay Agreements, if 10% want an industry wide deal, they get it.

Who cares about the 90%? You can’t afford the rise at your particular factory, warehouse, or office? Stiff cheese.

You can’t agree on the deal they’ve forced upon you? Stiff cheese again. You’re off to compulsory mediation and they’ll tell you what you’re doing with your money and your business.

The greatest sadness of all is we used to do it this way.  We did this decades back and it didn’t work. And when the Employment Contracts Act came along and people got choice, they chose what we’ve had ever since, until now. For many, that choice has once again been taken away from them.

In essence, we are revisiting past mistakes because those driven by ideology, don’t understand economics, and they never learn.

It’s beginning to look more and more like Labour thinks they can’t win next year’s election and they’re trying to make the most of their outright majority before they’re out of government.

The more of this ideological and economically damaging policy they push through the more likely it is they will lose and the more National will add to its list to repeal, reverse and scrap:

Had Labour attempted to moderate its policies, there might have been a chance of them enduring past a change of government.

So many are causing so much harm, the next government will be able to start repairing the damage by getting rid of them and these MUDs will be among the first to go.


“It is not a levy, it is a tax”

27/10/2022

National’s Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg gets it – when research, science and technology have yet to come up with the means to reduce farm emissions, the government’s proposal to charge for them is not a levy, it’s a tax:

NICOLA GRIGG (National—Selwyn): I was thinking, just earlier, after hearing Damien O’Connor’s contribution to the House followed by Meka Whaitiri’s, that we’d heard two valedictory speeches this evening, and I think I can add a third to that list. Yet another five-minute diatribe just proving nothing but what a tin ear the Ministers of this Crown have. We hear nothing but denial and defence coming out from this Government. They are so, so enthusiastic about rewriting history.

The facts of the matter are the industry, the 11 partnership groups of He Waka Eke Noa, took a proposal to the Government. The Government has come back with its response just last week. It has dumped the parts that the farming sector was prepared to sign up to. That is what the so-called “whinging and carping and griping” that Kieran McAnulty talks about is about, because, once again, this industry has been roundly ignored by this Government. And, yes, we do, on this side of the House, stand by the fact that we will not support a pricing mechanism until the science and technology is in place, otherwise it is not a levy; it is a tax. It is a tax on food while our country is in the grip of a cost of living crisis, and this Government is doing nothing but to fan the flames of that crisis.

The government keeps trying to tell us it cares about the poor and wants to help people out of poverty but either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care, that taxing food production will push more people into poverty by increasing unemployment and food prices, and reducing export income.

Nobody on that side of the House is talking about the 20 percent of sheep and beef farms that are going to go out of business. By the Government’s own numbers, one in five sheep and beef farmers in this country will go out of business, and they have the nerve to talk about this side of the House criticising them and not supporting this proposal. We would support this proposal if it was fair and if it was equitable. We have said from the outset that the National Party does support emissions pricing for the agricultural sector if there are fair and reasonable sequestration options in place; if there is the science and technology in place. We will not stand by a proposal that puts one in five of our sheep and beef farmers out of business. We will not stand by a proposal that sees our richest industry, the industry that earns this country some money, sent offshore to high-emitting farming countries. We will not stand by it, we will not support it, and I do not apologise for calling the Government out on it.

If you don’t want to hear it from me, Mr McAnulty, maybe have a look at the latest industry rag out this week. Here we go: “Govt ‘fails fairness test’ on HWEN”. “HWEN has farmers upset over offsets”. “Sector flags ‘immediate concerns’ on HWEN”. There is no balancing of the ledger on the levy; take that from the people in the industry, Mr McAnulty. And while Ms Whaitiri crows away about the farmers inviting her on to their place, I’ll tell you what: it ain’t for tea and tinies. It is to try, in a desperate, final attempt—in the six weeks they’ve got left, it is to try and educate this Government as to what it is doing to our most productive sector. Fifteen percent of this country earns 50 percent of its revenue, and you lot over that side of the House should pay wise words to that.

Every single one of the industry groups, the 11 groups that signed up to this thing, have reacted angrily and have opposed the Government’s response to it. Once again: you took their advice back in May; perhaps you best start listening to them now. As you keep saying, they are the industry. They are the ones at the coal face. They are the ones who should know what they’re talking about. Well, they’re telling you now: this thing does not work, and the National Party wants to work with those groups and find something that will work. We are committed to reducing carbon emissions. We do agree the primary sector does need to pay its way, and it plays an important part in designing a system, designing its own process for recording and pricing those emissions. It can only happen, though, if farmers are allowed all options of sequestration. That includes shelterbelts; that includes riparian planting; that includes native bush and reserves.

A National Government would invest in driving technology. It wouldn’t just announce $300 million technology incentives and funds and just write a press release and put it out; it would actually invest. Come down to my electorate. Come and visit Lincoln Agritech and all those solutions are right there. They have been developed. They need some sort of system to commercialise them and incentivise them. I would suggest, Mr McAnulty, if you want me up in Marlborough having a look at the flood damage, come down to my electorate, take a look at the technology being developed down there, put your money where your mouth is, and start investing behind them.


Can’t they join the dots?

18/10/2022

Remember Labour promising to prioritise reducing child poverty? Add that to yet another big promise and bad performance:

Students are suffering as their families’ food budgets shrink, with an increasing number arriving at school ‘hungry, cold, and miserable,’ teachers say. As schools return for term four, the focus for many won’t be teaching – but feeding children who have survived the holidays on limited food. KidsCan has seen a sharp rise in demand, with schools ordering food for over 10,000 more children a day than at the start of the year.

KidsCan surveyed its partner schools on the impact of the rising cost of living, with more than five hundred responses. Teachers said some students were surviving on food provided at school, with cupboards at home empty by the end of each week. They were also helping more families access food banks.

“Parents are having to decide between bills and basic essentials for their children, even with both parents working,” one principal wrote. Another reported one child telling her, ‘Dad was crying last night because he said it’s his job to feed us kids, but he doesn’t get enough money, and everything is so expensive.’ “Children are worried about family money and their parents’ well-being,” she said.

Hungry children can’t learn properly, add worries about their parents and it’s not hard to join the dots between that and increases in young people’s mental health problems.

Some students were living in grim conditions, with increasing overcrowding as families couldn’t afford both rent and enough food. One school reported a child living in a 3-bedroom home with nineteen others. “Sadly, this is not unusual,” the teacher wrote. Petrol costs were affecting attendance, with one school picking up sixty children every day. High schools reported reduced attendance as senior students worked part-time to support their families or left altogether.

Teachers were seeing an impact not just on students’ education, but their wellbeing too. Several schools said they’d seen a drop in the number of students able to participate in sport. School camp letters didn’t make it home if students thought their parents couldn’t afford it.

The increase in demand comes as KidsCan has seen a drop in regular givers, who are having to tighten their own budgets. The charity is now supporting 877 schools nationwide, helping to feed more than 49,000 students a day. A further thirty-nine schools are waiting for help, with most applying since April as costs rose. KidsCan also supports more than 7,000 students in 177 early childhood centres nationwide with food and clothing.

“The situation is pretty dire. We’re seeing record demand for KidsCan food at school, as families go hungry at home,” KidsCan’s founder and CEO Julie Chapman says. “We are bringing in more food to meet the increased demand from our partner schools, while also working to reach those children on our waitlist. But with our costs rising, and a drop in people able to donate every month, we need more help from individuals and businesses too. Too much of the burden is falling on overwhelmed teachers, and they need all the support we can give them.” 

It’s fair to give some of the blame for the cost of living crisis to Covid-19.

But the government is also at fault because, as John MacDonald points out,  it has got its priorities wrong:

When it comes to knowing what it should be prioritising, this government is hopeless.

If you want evidence, where would you like me to start? Centralised control of the health system. A priority? No. Centralising all the polytechs around the country. A priority? Wouldn’t have thought so. Restructuring water services up and down the country. A priority? Maybe in some places, but not everywhere.

That’s just a start. And I actually think there are two headlines in the news today that trump all of those examples. Two headlines that, in just a few words, show how way off beam the Government has got when it comes to knowing what its priorities should be.

The first headline: ‘The worst we’ve ever seen it’: Kidscan’s support for hungry children grows as food prices hit 13-year high’. And the second headline: “Government expects to spend $6 million on contractors working on public media mega-merger”. . .

Remember the Wellbeing Budget?

Is there any measure of wellbeing that has improved since then?

Poverty, for children and adults, certainly hasn’t, nor has the associated problem of homelessness.

There’s little hope of any improvement to hungry children and wider issues of poverty when the government doesn’t appear to be able to join the dots between that and its policies that have fuelled inflation and added costs and complexity to food production.

Fruit and vegetables weren’t harvested because of labour shortages, reducing supply, export income and increasing domestic prices.

That’s due in part to closed borders and Labour’s anti-immigration stance.

It’s also due to the increased minimum wage which means beneficiaries work fewer hours before they hit the ceiling where their benefits are reduced.

The locks have been taken off the border but the number of people coming in who are willing and able to work in horticulture and on farms is well below the number needed.

The situation is made worse by the long and expensive process to employ them. The government mandates that immigrant workers must be paid the median wage which in most cases is more than the going rate for horticulture and farming staff. It shouldn’t be hard to join the dots between higher wages and more expensive food.

The raft of regulations that have hit farming are also part of the problem and if the government succeeds in forcing its butchered version of He Waka Eke Noa on the sector it will add to the problem of less production and higher prices.

Heather du Plessis-Allan says the climate tax will wreck the industry:

The Government can’t force this version of its climate tax on farmers.

It’s economically reckless. It will shut down up to one in five sheep and beef farms.

This is the prediction from the Government’s own models.

It will cause a 24 per cent drop in sheep and beef revenue. That works out at $2.9 billion a year. That’s more than we spend on our entire education system annually.

It will cut jobs, close businesses and kill towns.

It will not only reduce production of meat and milk, it will add to the costs of producing fruit and vegetables too and some of those costs will be passed on to consumers.

The tax breaches the Paris Agreement that demands action “in a manner that does not threaten food production”. This nukes 20 per cent of sheep and beef food production in a food-producing nation.

It is economic sabotage, threatens food security and it won’t help the environment.

Our farmers are the most climate-friendly in the world. If they stop exporting 20 per cent of their meat, some other farmers somewhere else in the world will take up that slack. Those farmers are less climate-friendly. The sheep and cows they farm will hurt the climate more than the sheep and cows we’re getting rid of to help the climate.

This tax will remove 1.6 megatonnes of sheep carbon emissions in New Zealand. Farmers in the rest of the world will replace that with 2.1 megatonnes of sheep carbon emissions. The climate tax will lead to a 133 per cent increase in those emissions. This is the prediction in the Government’s own models.

The Prime Minister claims our farmers will “benefit from being world-leading”. That’s BS. Precious few consumers in London and Perth and even Auckland are wealthy enough to question the climate impact of their meat before buying it. Right now – with inflation soaring internationally – they’re more concerned about the price. . .

People might voice concern for the climate when they’re asked about it but when they’re shopping its quality and price that matters.

It could only get worse when the protests start. Groundswell has announced protests for Thursday in all the major centres.

It may snowball when farming communities realise the impact this will have on those living around sheep and beef farms. Many of those farmers will simply switch to planting trees if their council allows it. People will be replaced by pine. Groundswell predicts, 2368 Kiwi farming families will walk off their land.

Schools, shops and cafes will close. Meat plants won’t have work. It’s predicted one close every year from 2030 and 13,984 red meat sector jobs will be lost. . . 

It’s should be easy to join the dots between the job losses and more hunger but the government doesn’t appear able, or willing to do it.

Unless, or until, they do the headlines showing how badly wrong they’ve got their priorities will worsen.


Unfair Pay Agreements get worse

07/10/2022

The first iteration of Labour’s Unfair Pay Agreements was bad. It’s now got worse:

Labour has used its select committee majority to make the Government’s misnamed Fair Pay Agreements Bill even worse, National’s Workplace Relations & Safety spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“National opposes the Bill which would force employers and workers within a sector to bargain for minimum terms and conditions for all employees in that industry or occupation, regardless of whether or not they want to be included. If enacted, this Bill will make New Zealand’s workplaces less agile and flexible and make all workers beholden to a union agenda. If it passes through Parliament, a National Government would repeal it.

“The original legislation would have forced employers to provide employee contact details to the union initiating the ‘Fair Pay Agreement’. Now, Labour has gone a step further and extended it to allow unions to use this information to recruit new members.

“No government should force employers to help unions do their marketing for them.

“This move just proves what this Bill is all about – Labour trying to prop up unions after the vast majority of Kiwi workers have voted with their feet and left them in droves.

“This Bill is an ideological overreach that will inflict more pain on employers at a time when we’re facing huge economic challenges.

“The modern workplace is changing rapidly and people value flexibility. Labour’s bill would take us in the opposite direction, towards rigid and one-size-fits-all agreements.

“A flexible labour market has been one of the foundations of New Zealand’s relative economic success. This Bill undermines that foundation and will harm our national competitiveness and our economy.

“This is classic Labour thinking that central government knows best. Employers and employees should be able to make arrangements that suit them – not hamstrung by more ideological government overreach.” 

The EMA says the legislation shows the government has failed to listen :

The Government’s report back on the misnamed Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) demonstrates a failure to listen that was also highlighted in the recent Mood of the Boardroom survey, says the EMA.

Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald, says the Mood of the Boardroom survey highlighted these proposed compulsory, centralised, nation-wide wage agreements as policy that was neither wanted nor fit-for-purpose in the modern workplace.

“What has come back from the Select Committee process makes things even worse for employers and employees, the vast majority of whom will have no say in FPAs, if they are introduced,” he says.

“As we said in our submission on this Bill, FPAs are a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. We agree with MBIE’s own advice to Government that there may be a case for minimum pay and conditions in a very small number of sectors. Let’s identify those and work with Government and the Unions to address those sectors.”

“It is proposed that the Head of MBIE, an unelected public servant, will now decide if an FPA can go ahead and the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) will decide an agreement, in some cases without any reference from employers, and in the absence of a representative body of affected employers.”

“Given the authority found in favour of employees in 77% and 74% of cases from the last two years of available data, employers will have little faith in the outcome of any determination from the ERA.”

Mr McDonald says there are other major concerns around notification of coverage of the FPAs for employers and employees, the safety of information that must be handed over, and over-reach by employee negotiators who are given free access to the workplace and get to determine what information is given to employees.

“Apparently a notice in six local papers and one national website is enough to inform every employee and employer in the country that if they are in a certain sector, they are covered by a Fair Pay Agreement. If an employer misses that notice they’re liable for prosecution even if they have no idea that part or all of their workforce is covered by the agreement.

“And if an employee is covered by more than one agreement, then, if 25% or more of their job is covered by one agreement, they fall under that agreement. How is that decided?” says Mr McDonald.

“Employers must hand over employee details to the negotiating union, a breach of privacy as almost 90% of private sector employees aren’t union members. Employers must now include information on how to join a union, if the union wants to include that material in information on FPAs, distributed by employers to their employees.”

“Low pay is also a factor in deciding to go ahead with an FPA but there is no definition of low pay. Teachers, nurses and firefighters are all claiming they are low paid at the moment and the public would largely agree with them. They are rightly in dispute with their employer, the Government, but by New Zealand standards they are reasonably well paid. Arguably they can make a case to replace their existing collective agreement with an FPA.”

“Coincidentally those are all examples of collective agreements locking in lowest common denominator pay increases over longer fixed terms and failing to respond to the market and demand. That’s what FPAs do for three years,” Mr McDonald says.

“Meanwhile, the private sector has responded to high inflation and the shortage of people by currently offering average wage increases of 8-9%.”

Mr McDonald says the EMA also wants higher wages and salaries for workers but that had to correspond with increased productivity for a business to remain viable, and simply raising wages did not improve productivity.

“FPAs are a return to failed collective, centralised thinking that was having a negative effect on the country’s productivity in the 70s and 80s, and they will reduce flexibility in the workplace at the very time it is most required.”

“They are simply not needed. Countries around the world are moving forward to the enterprise system we currently have in New Zealand while we are taking a retrograde step. A one-size-fits-all approach is not fit-for-purpose in a modern, fast-moving, flexible and adaptable workplace,” he says.

This legislation would take us back to the bad old days when someone in an industry spraining an eyelash would lead to strikes in every business in that industry throughout the country.

It takes no notice of differences in individual businesses within an industry which could warrant different pay and conditions.

The left get upset about perceived influence big businesses could have on a National-led government. Legislation like this shows that the influence of big unions and the payback for their funding Labour and providing people-power for campaigns, is far more dangerous to employers, their staff and the wider economy.


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Stop the jobs tax

28/09/2022

National has launched a petition to stop the jobs tax:

Labour wants to take more of your hard-earned cash, with a plan to impose a new 1.39% Jobs Tax on every worker and every employer.

The Jobs Tax would make a typical worker (earning $60,000) $834 worse off every year. That’s $834 less for your groceries, your power and other bills, and your own savings. Employers would also be forced to pay the tax for every employee on their pay roll. Yet another cost on business that will put pressure on prices and make it harder to get a pay rise.

The Jobs Tax has been dreamt up by the Government to pay for Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest pet project: an “income insurance scheme”. This gold-plated welfare scheme would allow those made redundant to stay off work for up to 6 months on 80% pay. This despite businesses crying out for skilled workers!

The Jobs Tax joins the long line of other taxes Labour has introduced to fleece New Zealanders of their hard-earned cash, all while delivering worse outcomes for you and your family.

Help us stop Labour’s obsession with spending your money. Sign our petition to stop Labour’s Jobs Tax today.

Want to know how much Labour’s Jobs Tax will cost you? See how much worse off you’ll be HERE.

That link takes you to a table that shows someone earning $35,000 would pay $487 a year, the employer would also pay that making a total of $974  taken from the worker and the business in extra tax.

Someone earning $60,000 would have $834 taken from them, so would the employer making a total of $1,668 taken from the worker and the business by the government.

May be an image of 2 people, child and text that says "Labour's Jobs Tax will cost someone earning $60,000... $834 PER YEAR"

Workers earning $135,000 and their employers would pay  $1,820 each, a total of $3,640 taken from those who earned it by the government that promised no new taxes.

That’s a lot of tax that would be taken from workers and employers and who do you think would make better use of the money – the employees and the businesses or the government?

Taking that much tax to redistribute to people who may or may not need it is bad enough. It gets worse when you read Eric Crampton explaining how the scheme would be open to rorts:

A dark part of me hopes the government’s employment insurance scheme is enacted exactly as proposed.

It will be terrible.

But the rorts it will spawn will be the stuff of which economics columnists’ dreams are made.

The scheme really is not insurance. Insurance charges premiums that vary with risk. The government’s employment insurance scheme simply charges a proportion of a worker’s salary.

It’s not an insurance scheme it’s a tax and it’s not needed by many, perhaps most workers.

Has anyone bothered to investigate how many people are really at risk of losing their jobs and how many of those who, in the current environment, would walk straight into another job?

Consider seasonal employment which is only covered if a worker is made redundant before the end of the contracted picking season.

But employers making workers redundant every year will not pay a higher insurance premium.

Clever employers will put seasonal workers on to permanent contracts before making them redundant towards the end of the picking season. Workers in on the bargain will work through the initial four weeks of redundancy covered by the employer if they want to play the game again next season.

And a lengthy period on 80 per cent of their prior salary awaits.

You might even consider it a subsidy scheme for seasonal work. Attracting workers out to the regions is easier if those workers can enjoy six months of government-provided redundancy pay as part of the bargain. . . 

Or consider maternity benefits.

Parental leave provides payments of up to $621.76 per week. But if a parent-to-be were to be made redundant, just consider the benefits for those on higher incomes!

Rather than see their pay drop to a meagre $621.76 per week, they could receive up to about $2000 per week – if they earned $130,000 or more before taking parental redundancy.

It really is brilliant. Labour has come up with a mechanism ensuring higher-earning women face fewer costs when having children, while doing fairly little for women on lower wages.

If a right-wing government had come up with the scheme, it would be accused of doing it deliberately, and possibly with eugenic intentions.

What employer would be so mean as to decline their employee’s request to be made redundant before the birth of their child?

And while parental leave is only available to one parent at a time, both parents in a two-income family could take redundancy. They could enjoy a full year with one parent at home with the new baby, or six months of family togetherness. On an “insurance” payment. . .

Labour has done a lot to make better-off people better-off while the poor have got poorer.

The jobs tax would do more of that and it would foster make-work schemes for employment lawyers:

Under current employment law, it is impossibly difficult to fire underperforming workers in some circumstances. It is too easy for employers to find themselves tied up in personal grievance claims for months – to the benefit of the lawyers.

But if both sides in a fractured employment relationship can agree that the worker will be made redundant, with an “insurance” scheme picking up months and months of redundancy payments at 80 per cent of the worker’s salary, everything becomes easier.

The employer neither needs to come up with a very expensive golden handshake, nor deal with months of workplace toxicity as a personal grievance case works its way through.

The worker can simply be made redundant.

You might even view it as a tidy second-best workaround to dysfunctional employment legislation. It will be far easier for employers to fire problem workers, with their agreement, when the scheme is in place. . . 

If there’s ever a good time to add a new tax, it’s not when all but the wealthy are struggling with the impacts of steeply rising prices.

If there’s ever a good time to make it easier for people to not work, it’s not when there’s a nation-wide shortage of workers.

This is a bad tax made worse by the potential for rorts and really bad timing.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

01/09/2022

The Huiarua / Matanui betrayal – Clive Bibby :

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government.

Who would have thought that it would be possible to have two views of the same cornerstone industry that are so diametrically opposed. 

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account.  . .

Dairy is fundamental to New Zealand’s future but it needs an informed debate – Keith Woodford:

The key message of this article is that dairy is of fundamental importance to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.  However, the journey to get there is not straight forward and it will be controversial.

First, I set out the reasons why dairy is so important, and hence the need to face-up to the challenges that lie ahead. This then leads towards necessary actions to address the challenges.

It is no accident that New Zealand’s most important export industry is dairy, comprising some 30 percent of the export value of goods that leave New Zealand’s shores. Add in sheep, beef, timber, fish, kiwifruit and wine, and New Zealand’s primary industries contribute a little over 80 percent of the export earnings derived from merchandise goods.

The remaining exports are led by aluminium and some machinery. However, with these and other manufactured goods, the net contribution is typically much less than the export earnings, given the imports that are required to feed into the manufacture of these exports. . . 

Tomato growers face skyrocketing energy costs, labour shortages – Sally Murphy:

Tomatoes NZ hopes feedback from growers about the issues they’re facing will show the government and consumers how expensive and hard it’s become to grow the fruit.

The industry group is getting feedback from growers to create a living document of information.

It highlights the main issues growers are having such as rising energy and production costs, labour shortages and biosecurity incursions.

The cost of energy used to heat glasshouses had skyrocketed, with coal between 45 and 65 percent higher in price and gas up 50 percent.

Sourcing labour remained a challenge, the document said. Tomato growing businesses were operating with 40-60 percent of employee numbers due to the effects of Covid-19 and border restrictions. . . 

Worsening labour shortages forces agricultural sector to evaluate next steps :

Agricultural businesses in New Zealand are currently experiencing one of the highest labour shortages in its history. Farmers, business owners, and growers are dealing with a range of issues that are being felt nationwide with multiple crop losses and recent floodings. These issues and the additional strain on expenses are forcing employers to step back and evaluate next steps. There has never been a better time for employers to be well informed and aware of their obligations when it comes to managing and paying their staff.

New Zealand’s leading employment relations and health and safety at work specialists, Employsure New Zealand have released resources for agricultural business owners. Having represented over 6,000 businesses, Employsure have used their experience and knowledge to create tailored and effective resources for small business owners who find themselves unsure of their responsibilities.

Employsure New Zealand’s Operations Manager, Laurence McLean has commented on the importance of employer obligations. Mr McLean commented, [1]“With New Zealand doubling its working holiday intake and offering a fast-tracked path to permanency for temporary migrant workers, it is vital for employers to be knowledgeable on how to manage their staff from all walks of life including vulnerable workers such as backpackers and migrants many of whom do not fully understand their rights as employees. . . 

A2 share price rallies sharply as the processor reports big jump in net profit – Point of Order :

A mixed  bag  of  news  came  down the  line  for  New Zealand’s  dairy  industry  over the  past  week.  On  one  side,  Fonterra trimmed   its  forecast  payout  for  the  season, while  on  another a2  Milk   surprised   its  critics  by  reporting  a  42% jump  in  net  profit  to $114m.

Any   company  listed  on  the NZX  and  sitting  on a  cash  mountain  of  $800m  must  be  doing  something  right.    Yet  some of  the  headlines  on   its  result  focussed  on  what  might  go  wrong   for   the  company  that specialises  in marketing  a2 milk  and  infant  formula.

For  example  Business  Desk’s  Jenny Ruth  says the    biggest source of uncertainty for a2 Milk right now is China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) deadline of February 21, 2023, for companies selling infant formula in China to get a new form of approval.  It’s called the GB standard, which is a Chinese national standard. Foreign companies won’t be able to manufacture formula for the Chinese market beyond that date unless they meet the new standard and have that all-important tick from SAMR.

But the  investment  community  was  cheered  by the  result in  what  is  currently  a rather downmarket climate. A2 Milk’s  share price rallied sharply after the company reported the  leap in profit which was driven by strong growth in its infant formula business in China. . . 

Integrated report shows strong progress for company against strategic objectives :

Ravensdown’s 2022 Integrated Report published today shows the fertiliser co-operative owned by primary producers is tracking well against its strategic objectives.

Highlights include:

  • A 12 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from fertiliser against the previous year.
  • A net reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions of 2,206 tonnes of carbon dioxide (14%) since the base year of 2018.
  • Confirming plans to convert the company’s Dipton, Southland coal-fired combustor to biomass eliminating at least 1100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, almost 10 per cent of Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint. . . 

 


Govt of takers not makers

01/09/2022

This was the government that was going to impose no new taxes on us.

Passing quickly over the increased excise tax on petrol, the ute tax and the landlord taxes, and the bemusement over the threat of GST of KiwiSaver management fees on which they’ve back-tracked, let’s think about the difference between a government of takers not makers.

How much better we, and the country, would be if the government had put as much thought into policies that would help us make more instead of how it could take more from us.

The health crisis might not be completely behind us, but we’d have more health professionals working, shorter waits for access to health services and better treatments when we got to them.

The housing crisis might not be completely behind us but we’d have a lot fewer people unable to buy their own home of find one to rent.

The labour shortage might not be completely behind us, but businesses wouldn’t be so short of good staff, and there would be far fewer people on job-seeker benefits.

There are several contributing factors to all three of these crises and the government’s focus on how to slice and dice the national pie to take more, instead of on how to help us all make a bigger and better pie is a major one.

We’re lumbered with a government that has wasted far too much time on trying to take more from us and done far too much to make it harder for us to make more ourselves.

Inflation is raging, we’re deep in debt.

We need a change from a government of takers to one that gets out of the way of the makers.


One rule for us

17/08/2022

Think of a workplace where a staff member felt he had legitimate concerns about bullying which had not been adequately addressed.

Think about that worker being so upset that he went public with his concerns.

Think about the response if the worker’s boss responded publicly by insinuating that the worker was the one who was mishandling those working for him.

Think about the boss deciding not to investigate the allegations made by the staff member, instead calling a meeting of co-workers to discuss the staff member’s future to which he was invited then calling another, earlier, meeting to which the worker wasn’t invited.

Think about the second meeting which the aggrieved worker didn’t attend, at which it was decided his behaviour was so bad he’d be permitted to carry on his work, but suspended from the workplace team.

Think what would happen when the worker took a personal grievance case to the Employment Relations Authority.

Regardless of whether the worker was at fault, he would almost certainly be awarded damages for hurt feelings and probably reinstated in his job.

That could be any workplace in the private sector, and possibly any in the public sector, but not in the Labour Party caucus.

Labour’s treatment of Dr Gaurav Sharma is very much a case of one rule for us and another for them.

It reinforces my view that the party makes such union-friendly and employer-unfriendly industrial relations laws because it thinks everyone treats staff as badly as it does.

That isn’t to say Sharma is right nor that he is the only injured party. Former staff members have criticised him which has prompted Heather du Plessis-Allan to ask why then hasn’t Labour instigated a proper inquiry?

. . .Clearly, on the balance of probability, he is not an innocent here. He has three staff members complaining to the media about him 

But just because he might have behavioural issues, it doesn’t absolve the Labour Party of the allegations he’s laying. 

He claims to have been bullied by former senior whip Kieran McAnulty and by current senior whip Duncan Webb and that the Prime Minister’s office did nothing to stop it.

He claims that he asked them to investigate his complaints and they wouldn’t’ 

Why? 

Any good operator would’ve ordered an investigation by now for two reasons:

First; you shut the story down.

Look at what happened to the Nats with the Sam Uffindell stuff. Those allegations were in the news for two days, the Nats ordered an investigation, and the stories stopped because we all knew we’d find out the truth in 2-3 weeks.  

Now compare that to Labour’s handling of this mess. This is the sixth news day about Sharma. They could’ve shut this down days ago. 

But also, the second reason, due process. 

Here is a guy claiming bullying and being accused of bullying and it’s got very complicated and murky to all of us watching. 

The right thing to do for his sake and for the sake of Kieran McAnulty and Duncan Webb – all of whom risk having their reputations blemished by this – is to order an investigation and clear the names of the innocent parties.

So why won’t the Labour Party do that?  

A generous reading is that they don’t’ want to tie up the time of people they know are innocent. A less generous reading is they don’t’ really want to know what an investigation would unearth. 

They run the risk that while this ends as a news story, but none of us are ever really sure what happened and are left forever suspecting that while Gaurav Sharma might’ve been a bully himself, he was right and Labour were bullies too.

Labour has left the door open for Sharma to be readmitted to caucus but how likely is that when he still feels so aggrieved?

That someone told Sharma of the meeting to which he wasn’t invited suggests he has at least one friend in caucus who puts loyalty to him before loyalty to caucus.

An inquiry could have settled matters, instead it provides ammunition for those accusing Jacinda Ardern of being anything but kind and it will continue to fester.


A tale of two leaders

15/08/2022

When the news of Sam Uffindell’s schoolboy attack broke Christopher Luxon said there had to be a place for redemption, providing there was contrition and he told the MP to front the media, which he did.

When fresh accusations about Uffindell as a student broke, his leader stood him down pending an independent inquiry.

There was some criticism about that and Uffindell won’t be the only one who is worried about how something they did years ago might turn up. But it is fair to seek answers to questions about what happened and it gives a couple of weeks breathing space while that process goes on.

Contrast that with Jacinda Ardern when Speaker Trevor Mallard accused a parliamentary staff member of rape – accusations that subsequently cost the taxpayer more than $330,000 to settle.

She let him keep his job as speaker, a role which holds considerable power, and has subsequently rewarded him with a diplomatic post.

Then last week Hamilton West Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma wrote a column in the NZ Herald raising issues of bullying.

Ardern’s answer to that was to insinuate he had issues managing his staff.

. . .”Starting out as a new MP can be challenging and one of the toughest parts is navigating the new environment but also the role you must play as an MP managing others.” . . .

Where’s the kindness in that?

He responded with a Facebook post and a timeline of events:

Over the last 24hours many of you would have read the op-ed I wrote in NZ Herald. I want to start by thanking a large number of you who have contacted me from across the country with support. I have also had a few people who have tried to harass me without knowing the fully story. Due to being busy with constituent work and more recent matters I haven’t had much time to follow the comments on social media, but from what I have seen there are many genuine questions out there.

In order to give context to the issues I raised yesterday, I am sharing the following timeline of events:

⁃Before I took my oath I was assigned a Relationship Manager by Parliamentary Services to look after me and my staffing levels. This person had a direct conflict of interest in their role due to being a Labour member who had tried to stop me getting selected as a candidate. I raised this on Day 0 with a senior Parliamentary Manager who assured me that this would never be an issue. ⁃In February 2021 I had an underperforming staff member but instead of listening to my concerns, this was actively turned into a major project by the Labour Party Whips to bring me into disrepute and to rein me in. I sat in meetings after meetings being told I was doing a terrible job and that 9/10 times the MP is a bully so we refuse to listen to anything you have to say. I wrote numerous emails to Parliamentary Services and Whips Office asking for support, providing significant evidence of underperformance by a staff member but I was told in clear words “if you are staying up and working until 3am, you should work until 5am to make up for your staff’s incompetence.” Issues I raised involved staff being drunk at work, not showing up to work, being sent on leave without any notice or approval, and a significant wastage of taxpayer’s money. But all I was told was that I need to shut up and do a mentoring course on managing people. I had hundreds of pages to prove that my staff wasn’t doing the work they were hired to do and it affected my ability to provide services to my constituents but I was never listened to. The main bully was Kieran McAnulty who kept gaslighting me, shouting at me, degrading me in front of caucus members and other attendees at events and telling me that I was a terrible MP. His staff members at the Whips Office were the same. One of the most clearest examples was on the night of the America’s Cup final race where he asked me to come to his room for a meeting on a very short notice, but when I got there I was advised that he had to be in an important meeting so couldn’t make it. I spent close to 2 hours sitting with Kieran McAnulty’s staff in his office being told how terrible a manager I was, with no right of reply. But what was most sickening was that when I came out I saw photos of him drinking and celebrating the America’s Cup final while I sat in his office like a school kid at the headmaster’s office.

⁃In August 2021 I found that a Member of Parliament of the Labour Party and a Parliamentary staff member (also a Labour Member) were misusing taxpayer’s money. As someone who took an oath to uphold and protect the interests of this country I raised my concerns with the Relationship Manager at Parliamentary Services. Instead of protecting my identity and looking into this matter, Parliamentary Services forwarded my concerns to the Labour Party Whips and alerted them of what I had said.

The issues of bullying and mismanagement of staff have been the major focus.

This accusation of the Labour Party and a parliamentary staff member misusing taxpayers’ money ought to be getting at least as much attention.

⁃Following this incidence, I was put through further bullying. I was told by then Junior Whip Duncan Webb that what I did was wrong and I should be ashamed of myself. I was told that it was lucky that this Parliamentary Services Relationship Manager (who I had raised issues re conflict of interest on day 0) who is also a Labour Party member informed the Whips Office, because it could have fallen into the wrong hands which could have caused trouble. I was then told by Duncan Webb that an accusation like this could mean that the government could get into trouble, lose the election etc and such issues needed to be contained rather than discussed freely. I was then told by Duncan Webb in clear terms that “the only way this country can succeed is if Labour is in government. Government means Labour. So the Party comes first and foremost before the country.” The matter was never looked into and everything was hushed.

⁃Due to my outspoken stance on squandering of taxpayers money and other policy issues I was further bullied. I was called to last minute meetings with no notice and no support person (but once when I managed to take a caucus colleague with me).

⁃My staffing issues created through the mismanagement of the Whips Office and Parliamentary Services continued. My messages to the Parliamentary Services Relationship Manager were often not returned and I was repeatedly deflected to instead sort it out with the Whips. The same Whips who would bully me and had no legal right to begin with in a triangular relationship between Parliamentary Services (employer), my staff (employee) and myself (day-to-day-manager). I went to the Manager’s Manager but nothing came out of it. I went to the CEO of Parliamentary Services, I wrote emails and made calls – I was promised support to help with the staffing issue but all I got was silence. Many weeks after meeting the CEO I was told that I should go back and talk to the Whips.

Slowly I fell into a cycle of stress, depression and lack of hope as I found myself stuck. I remember one of my former patients sending me very kind message on World Mental Health Day about how I had helped her as a doctor a while ago. I thought to myself about how despite listening to and assisting many of my constituents with bullying and harassment issues, I had to put a bold face up as I struggled everyday with the thought of contemplating suicide. The Labour Party Whips Office and the Parliamentary Services removed all my mānā and didn’t give me any fair process to express my concerns. Slowly I started withdrawing from all the social events in Wellington. Every time I saw my bully Kieran McAnulty speak or smile, it made me sad and angry at the system and the process.

⁃I came to a point in 2021 where I advised Duncan Webb that I had had enough, and because I hadn’t received the support and justice I had been seeking I would go to the media to present the whole issue and tell them how I was being mistreated and there was no investigation into serious claims I had made about the incompetence of a staff member. This is the first time they listened. I was told that they would fly up to Hamilton and talk to me face to face to resolve my issues, which I declined because I had been in meetings after meetings with them for months with no resolution. Their solution included paying a severance pay from taxpayer’s purse to a person who had been repeatedly underperforming. I refused on principle, doing this would mean a double wastage of public money. I kept being pushed to concede but I refused. Eventually they cut a deal with the staff member to encourage them to resign from my office (I did not pay this person out because I stood by my claims which were never and still haven’t been investigated).

⁃After this, the bullying continued in many ways, simplest of which was a freeze on hiring staff. I challenged this and asked them to openly and fairly investigate my claims. But it was refused. For months on end I continued to be short staffed in providing support and services to my constituents who deserved better. I was told that I wasn’t an employee of the Labour Party, or its caucus or Parliamentary Services. My employers were the constituents – but my resourcing was halted by the Labour Party Whips – who were not legally even part of the triangular relationship. A fourth wheel which I continued to challenge shouldn’t be able to make decisions for my constituents especially when they were themselves the bully. When I tried to contact the Parliamentary Services they stopped taking my calls or replying to emails, instead again asking me to talk to the Whips.

⁃I went the only place I felt I could to seek help in December 2021. The Prime Ministers’ Office. The advice was always clear – do not give anything in writing and do not expect anything in writing. Everything can be OIA’ed. So I met the Chief of Staff of PMO for over an hour of meeting which was supposed to be only a 30mins appointment. I took with me hundreds of pages of evidence – emails, timelines, issues etc to explain my case. I very clearly said that Kieran McAnulty was a bully. That I was being bullied. That other caucus members were being bullied by Kieran McAnulty. Few weeks after the meeting when I had not heard from PMO, I contacted the PMO with a written complaint on 18th of December 2021. An investigation was never done. My bully still walks the halls of power with his head held up high, while a “messenger from Caucus” advised me yesterday after my op-ed in Herald that I should take the basement exit and try to avoid Parliament. The kick in the guts however is that despite raising concerns about Kieran McAnulty, not only by me but as I understand by other members of the caucus too (which I had clearly said to the PMO) he was promoted to being a Minister of the Crown. This is our justice.

⁃The issues with Parliamentary Services are even more complex & detailed and have continued. My current staff member has also raised significant concerns about the support from Parliamentary Services and has essentially been ghosted and stone walled. They have had no support in terms of expectation settings & annual review and have been underpaid for a significant amount of time. They went on to raise similar concerns as me re the Relationship Manager (the Labour member with conflict of interest) but it was only after 17months that this person was removed but never investigated for a serious breach of confidentiality (in my case raising concerns re taxpayers money) and in other cases re appropriate support and training.

⁃I know that some people think that I had for some reason tried to time this with what was happening with the issues at the National Party but that is far from the truth. I was told in an email in May by Parliamentary Services that there had never been an investigation against me despite me asking for an official review on multiple incidences. In April this year I contacted a range of lawyers in Wellington and eventually engaged someone to help me draft a legal challenge to the issues I had been facing. I was open about this to the Parliamentary Services and the Labour Whips from the moment I hired the lawyer but they thought I was bluffing. Due to a recent overseas trip and the staff shortage it has taken me a bit longer than I had anticipated to put together all the notes for my grievances and concerns (I am at 40+pages but still writing). Last week I had written to a new Manager at Parliamentary Services asking for a report on some serious complaints I had made (over a year ago). This Manager had promised me 4months ago that things would be looked into but I had not heard back. In reply to my most recent query the Parliamentary Services Manager advised me that they would instead first like to meet me with the Labour Whips and then they would give a written reply. Don’t forget that Parliamentary Services is part of the triangular employment relationship, but Labour Whips aren’t. Hence my comments yesterday about seldom replying and often from behind the Whips’ table.

⁃To me this meeting on Thursday was another attempt to silence me, to bully me and to put me in my place. But unlike other times this time they had given me a slightly longer notice for the meeting. Having been in numerous meetings where I had no support person and was being talked at by 3-4 people often, I decided to take my lawyer Phil Mitchell with me to the meeting to support me. The meeting was called by the Labour Party Whips in their room with the presence of Parliamentary Services on the day of their choosing. They weren’t expecting me to bring a support person let alone a lawyer. Suddenly the conversation in the room was about moving forward. The staffing issues that PM and Whips office claim they had been working with me in good faith to resolve had been going on for 1.5 years but now somehow with the lawyer in the room and threat of a legal case hanging about their head, I was advised that all was forgotten! That I just had to move forward, drop my complaints about Parliamentary Service and significant issues of drunk staff, staff with serious complaints from constituents etc because they didn’t want to investigate these claims. I was told that I was relitigating old matters. At the Thursday meeting I continued to say that Kieran McAnulty is a bully and if they would investigate him. I was just given blank stares and told to move on. I was also told by Duncan Webb that making such claims against a sitting senior Labour MP can affect my career projection.

⁃But they agreed to resolve the staffing issues. Within 30mins of a meeting with my lawyer I had been emailed by two Managers at Parliamentary Services that everything would be resolved and we were moving forward. The ads and roles for staffing were sent to me and I was free to hire asap, something that couldn’t be done in 1.5 years was done in a short meeting with a lawyer. ⁃The reason the op-ed came out yesterday was because the meeting was called by the Labour Whips yesterday at a time and place of their choosing and in that meeting they continued to laugh on my face saying in front of my lawyer “how will you even sue us, you have no legal rights” while repeatedly refusing to investigate anything I have said or investigate me for any issue.

⁃In summary, I stand by my claims that I have been subjected to ongoing bullying by the Parliamentary Service and the Labour Whips and none of my concerns have been investigated. Neither has there been an investigation into any claims against me as per the last written contact from the Deputy CEO of Parliamentary Service. I didn’t just wake up on the wrong side of the bed one day and made these serious claims. For 1.5years I have been trying to seek independent investigation, justice and support from Parliamentary Service, Labour Whips and the PMO. I also want to clearly state that despite what Duncan Webb says it has always been my belief that the country should always come ahead of any party. If I ever have to choose between party and country my allegiance will always be with the country first.

Misusing taxpayers’ money and bullying are very, very serious claims, not in the past as accusations against Uffindell are, but in this term of government and continuing.

There are also accusations from a staff member against another Labour MP, Anna Lorck.

Christopher Luxon has showed strong leadership in seeking an independent inquiry into the claims about his MP’s past and standing him down pending the results of that.

Jacinda Ardern is showing none of the kindness on which she lectures the rest of us, and she’s showing poor leadership.

Serious accusations deserve a serious response that includes an investigation into how much, if any, substance there is to them.

And that doesn’t mean the usual word salad and answering another question than the one she was asked, which is Ardern’s usual way to handle interviews which test her.


Rural round-up

11/08/2022

A foot and mouth outbreak in NZ would affect more than agriculture – tourism needs a plan too – Stu Hayes:

Recent warnings of a “doomsday” scenario if foot and mouth disease (FMD) arrived in New Zealand inevitably singled out the agriculture sector. But overseas experience tells us FMD can also result in potentially severe impacts on the tourism sector.

As the 2001 FMD crisis in Britain highlighted, inadequate planning and crisis management can cause a reduction in trade, job losses and damage to a destination’s image.

This matters, because destination image is one of the leading factors influencing tourists’ decisions. Accurate or not, negative images in the media can directly affect demand.

As New Zealand ramps up preparations for a potential outbreak, important lessons from the UK’s experiences must be heeded if the local tourism sector is to avoid its own doomsday scenario. . . 

Science the key to our decisions – Barbara Kuriger:

“A set of principles shapes National’s primary sector decision-making,” says agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

Fresh from last weekend’s annual conference, she says: “The sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand and growing. It underpins our economy.

“Certainty and confidence are what the sector needs from a government and that is what we intend to provide them,” she says.

“Technology is key to achieving emissions reductions, not taxing or banning things. . . 

Free health check initiative for farmers – Shawn McAvinue:

A third of the farmers who visited the launch of a new health check initiative were referred to see a doctor.

A van had been fitted out to allow a nurse to complete free health and wellness checks for the new Rural Health and Wellness Initiative.

Earlier this year, the initiative was launched by the Carr Family Foundation, founded by the Carr Family, who own agribusiness Carrfields.

In the back of a van, the nurse checks people’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index. . . 

Arable sector buoyed by 30 percent lift in production in three years :

New Zealand’s arable sector appears to be on a roll, with production increasing by 30 percent in the past three years.

Arable production includes wheat, barley and maize for humans and animals to eat and seeds for sowing.

Last year those farmers produced crops worth $1 billion and production and sales from the entire sector, including milling and further production, were worth $2b while more than 7500 people were employed.

The Arable Food Industry Council secretary Thomas Chin said arable producers flew below the radar but were vitally important to New Zealand’s economy, both locally and for exports. . . 

New campaign launches to attract more people into forestry careers :

A new recruitment campaign called ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ aims to draw attention to the varied career opportunities available in the growing forestry industry. A sector-wide initiative, the campaign has just launched and hopes to attract more young people into the industry and fill people shortages being felt throughout the sector.

Designed to demonstrate the huge range of roles and opportunities available in forestry, the mostly digital ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ campaign is primarily targeted at school leavers and young people.

Showcasing everything from machine operation, silviculture and harvest management to science-based roles and wood processing, the campaign attempts to match a candidate’s areas of interest with suitable jobs.

A range of videos have been created, featuring real people working in forestry. A digital platform has been created, that prompts people to answer a quick-fire survey about their interests, before suggesting the areas of forestry that might fit them best. . . 

Fast food took a gamble on fake meat. It’s not paying off – Ali Francis:

It was early 2022 and the world’s most profitable burger chain was finally rolling out a patty made of vegetables in hundreds of its stores. The pea, rice, and potato mixture mimicked the flavor and texture of its beefy brethren. Chains like Burger King and White Castle had done it before, but McDonald’s was the biggest. The McPlant was yet another mass-produced fake-meat burger lionized as a savior to the impending climate disaster—and, of course, an offering that could potentially lure more customers to stores. But the plant patty’s success depended on enough people actually wanting to eat it. Last week, a mere six months after launch, McDonald’s quietly ended its brief and underwhelming experiment.

The company’s first animal-free burger, which uses a fake beef patty from Beyond Meat, was made available in roughly 600 stores this past February to gauge customer demand. McDonald’s confirmed to CNBC last Thursday that the test concluded as planned, but neither the fast food giant nor Beyond Meat have since announced plans for a nationwide rollout—and Beyond Meat share prices fell 6% after the announcement. While the McPlant is apparently thriving in international markets like the U.K. and Austria, American customers were not about it, with some rural stores selling as few as three burgers a day.

So why was the McPlant such a McFlop? When products like Impossible and Beyond’s burgers hit shelves a few years ago, fast food was lauded as their ideal sales vehicle. Big chains could theoretically tap their low prices, ubiquity, and lab-manufactured addictiveness to sell fake meat convincing enough to overpower the American beef obsession. In reality, fast food restaurants were never going to be responsible for changing this country’s consumption habits based on moral, health, or prevent-the-environmental-apocalypse arguments. . . 


Welfare that works

08/08/2022

Christopher Luxon’s speech to the National Party conference yesterday included a firm stand on one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services and policy on welfare that works:

The video you just saw told a little about my life before politics. It also gave you a glimpse of the three most important people in my life: Amanda, who you met yesterday, and our children William and Olivia.

The lives of all children, and the circumstances in which they raise their own families, will be shaped by the decisions political leaders are taking right now.

My vision is for a more confident, positive, ambitious and aspirational New Zealand than we know today.

A country with a government that backs those who want to get ahead, manages a more productive economy, respects taxpayers, and actually gets things done.

I envisage a society built on New Zealanders’ rights and responsibilities to each other, and to our country.

A New Zealand where young people go overseas to act on a bigger stage, not to escape the cost of living and lack of opportunities here at home.

A country with welfare and education initiatives that help people flourish.

A country that meets its emission reduction targets.

A country that holds on to its ethos of fairness, including to the generations that follow ours. A country that fosters social mobility, and that encourages government, businesses and communities to work together.

I want New Zealanders who can’t support themselves to know they will always be looked after.

For everyone else, taking personal responsibility, and being proud of it, should be part of what it means to be a New Zealander.

That point was missed by several commentators. There is a difference between people who are unable to support themselves and those who are unwilling to support themselves. The former will always need support, the latter might need temporary support but have the responsibility to support themselves.

Don’t we all want to live in a New Zealand that embraces diversity and multi-culturalism, recognises the Treaty, acknowledges Auckland as the biggest Pasifika city in the world, welcomes needed migrants, but that first and foremost serves the common cause of all New Zealanders.

A country that emphasizes what unites us, instead of what divides us. A country that says absolutely, explicitly, that there is one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services.

That’s the New Zealand I want to live in.

Under Labour

However, Labour’s view is for a dependent society where big government squeezes out business and community initiatives.

Labour MPs wouldn’t have a clue how it feels to be responsible for a business whose employees’ jobs depend on that business succeeding.

I know that feeling. I’ve borne that sense of responsibility.

And I say to the Government, let businesses compete.

Stop piling on extra costs, like Fair Pay Agreements dreamed up to appease Labour’s union backers.

Make New Zealand open to the world, engaged and confident in its ability to find solutions.

New Zealanders don’t need the Government to tell them to be kind.

We need the Government to tell us when we’ll get an appointment at the hospital.

We need the Government to keep us safe from gangs and street violence.

We need the Government to get kids back to school.

Being in government isn’t about telling people that you care.

Saying you care, while taking no meaningful action, is empty.

Caring means identifying the problem, devising a solution and getting things done.

That’s what a National Government that I lead, will do.

And it’s what a Labour Government led by Jacinda Ardern, demonstrably cannot do.

Labour has shown time after time that it cannot deliver the things New Zealanders want and need.

From hospital waiting lists to being able to afford a first home. From parents desperate to get mental health support for their kids, to an increasing number of people living in cars and the thirteen hundred more children living in poverty since Labour came to office – the very things that Jacinda Ardern campaigned on are all worse.

Instead of devising solutions, Labour announces working groups.

Maybe they report back. Maybe they don’t. The general sense of Labour being overwhelmed by the burden of office, does not change.

Instead of solving problems, ministers put Band Aids on top of Band Aids.

The Government made up the cost-of-living payment to cover its own mismanagement of the economy which has seen inflation overtake wage growth every quarter for the past two years.

And then they so mismanaged delivery of the payment, that your taxes are being given to investment bankers in London, French backpackers, and dead people.

Labour cannot deliver anything.

They conflate spending more with doing more, when those are two very different things.

Labour doesn’t understand the difference between the quantity of spending and the quality.

Since Labour came into office, 50,000 more people are dependent on the Jobseeker benefit than when National was in office five years ago. It’s a Government failure that I’m going to talk more about in a minute.

That would be bad enough at any time, it’s inexplicable when so many employers are desperate for staff.

Since Labour came into office, there are four times as many people living in cars, four times as many on the state house waiting list, and 4,000 kids in motels – at a cost of a million dollars a day.

The Government is spending $5 billion more a year on education, but now only 46 per cent of our children are attending school regularly.

These are economic and social failures under Jacinda Ardern’s watch, yet she never holds herself or her ministers accountable for them.

It’s shameful.

It’s not only shameful it comes witha very high cost that we will be paying for years, possibly decades.

Government Spending

A massive increase in government borrowing and spending over the last few years has overheated the economy and super-charged the cost of living crisis.

This year, the Government will spend $51 billion more than National did only five years ago.

That equates to about $25,000 per household of additional new spending this year alone.

This year’s Budget included by far the most new spending of any Budget in New Zealand’s history, and it was delivered when the economy was already overheated and inflation was rising.

Grant Robertson is addicted to spending. He was overspending long before anyone had even heard of Covid. He has missed every new spending limit he has set for himself over five Budgets.

So, it’s not surprising that, as Nicola said yesterday, to pay for all this spending during Covid, New Zealand has borrowed more than any OECD country, apart from the United States.

You couldn’t run a household or business like this, and you shouldn’t run a country like it either.

None of those doing this spending have run a business and their reckless spending is a result of that.

If you think of the economy like a car, then the Government and Reserve Bank have been squashed together in the driver’s seat, pushing the accelerator flat to the floor. Now, like some terrified passenger realising the car’s going too fast, the Bank’s pressing down hard on the brake. The car’s got the wobbles and there’s a very strong likelihood it’s going to crash.

The impact of this hair-raising mismanagement of the economy is that homeowners, some who bought during the record house prices reached under Labour, are lying awake at night fearing that the next interest rate rise will be the one that forces them to sell up, likely at a huge loss.

Worst of all, for all this government spending, nothing is being achieved.

Economic Management

It can be different. I know it can.

The last National government came into office in 2008 inheriting a set of Treasury forecasts showing deficits stretching out for a decade.

In fact, every incoming National Government since 1960 has inherited an economic mess from Labour. In 1975. In 1990. In 2008.

We certainly know what to expect in 2023.

But the last National government got the country’s books back in order very quickly.
Its Ministers managed public spending with the same care that people manage their own household’s budget.

And did it by reducing backroom waste without cutting frontline services.

The contrast between National and Labour’s approach to economic management could not be starker.

National knows how to turn things around.

We have a five-point plan to beat inflation, and another five-point plan to make New Zealand wealthier so Kiwis don’t have to work for an hour to earn what an Australian earns in 45 minutes. National’s plans will be implemented by a capable administration that holds itself accountable.

National will not only lift New Zealand’s economic performance, it will restore New Zealand’s confidence too.

Bureaucracies & Centralisation

Labour believes in an over-bearing State that thinks people need to be told what to do and how to do it. They believe in centralisation and control.

Just look at the mega-mergers of our polytechs, health system and Three Waters. It’s always the same story. Labour thinks that Wellington knows best, and better than the rest of New Zealand. They’ve spent more money, hired 14,000 more bureaucrats, and got worse results.

Only Labour could spend so much to achieve so little.

I reject that approach.

National believes those closest to the problems should be closest to the answers. That’s why we back community-led solutions. For example, the Covid vaccine roll-out showed that bureaucrats in Wellington don’t always know best how to reach people. Just ask the Maōri organisations who had to take the Government to court so they could get people vaccinated.

National also believes in personal responsibility. We back Kiwis to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and whānau.

Welfare

I want to come back to welfare because New Zealand is rightly proud of its history of supporting people through adversity and a government I lead will build on that legacy.

In fact, we will do more, using the social investment model that Sir Bill English introduced. It uses long-term data to work out where and when targeted actions should occur to change the course of a person’s life – and taxpayers’ liability – for the better.

That is so much more effective than this government’s spray and walk away approach.

National wants all New Zealanders to be able to pursue their aspirations. A good education, followed by a job, is the best and usually the only long-term path to achieving this.

When it comes to welfare, every New Zealand government, Labour or National, will always support those who permanently cannot work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

Making the point again that too many commentators have missed. national agrees with the need for support for people who can never work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

But when it comes to those who can work, Labour and National’s approaches differ.

Having a job in early adulthood sets you up for success throughout your working life. Conversely, if you’re on a benefit before you turn 20, across your lifetime you’re likely to spend 12 years on welfare.

I know people are worried about this. I was talking to a mum in Wellington whose son has been absent from school for so long that he’s been unenrolled, and now he’s going to go on the benefit and she’s worried sick about what his future will look like.

She’s right to be worried.

Welfare dependency pushes people further away from the rungs of social mobility. It locks them out of the opportunities, sense of purpose and social connections that jobs provide.

Benefit dependency not only harms the person trapped on a benefit, but it also can harm the children who grow up in benefit-dependent households. And under Labour, there are more of them. There are now one in five children in New Zealand growing up in a household that depends on welfare. One In Five.

That comes at a high social and financial cost.

As a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in.

I will not be a Prime Minister who allows young people’s lives to be going to waste when there is something more that could be done to propel them along a more fulfilling life path.

I will not be a Prime Minister who thinks it’s okay that the numbers of young people who are able to work, but who instead are on a Jobseeker benefit, is growing during a period of almost full employment.

I will not be a Prime Minister who thinks that work is punishment and that it’s kinder to people to prioritise their entitlement to a benefit over their responsibility to work if they can.

Right now, with businesses crying out for workers, there are 50,000 more New Zealanders on a Jobseeker benefit than there were under National.

As you know, their benefits come from the taxes paid by other New Zealanders who would gratefully have kept that money, if they hadn’t had to pay it in tax.

Every measure of dependency on the Jobseeker benefit has increased under Labour.
Disturbingly, 34,000 under-25 year olds are on it – a 49 per cent increase under Labour’s watch.

Worse still, the number of young people who’ve been receiving the Jobseeker benefit for a year or longer has almost doubled.

That’s right. The number of under 25s who’ve been on the Jobseeker benefit for more than 12 months has just about doubled – in a time of acute labour shortages.

This doesn’t make sense to anyone.

It’s not a sign of a Government that cares. It’s a sign that this Government talks itself up but doesn’t know how to deliver. It’s a sign that this Government has no ambition for the people who most need help. And it’s a sign the Government is abandoning young New Zealanders.

But National cares. National cares deeply. A Government I lead will do more to steer young people away from a life of isolation and dependence on welfare, and towards a life of independence and participation through work.

National thinks that if you’re young and you can work, you should. And if you can’t find a job, you need encouragement to keep taking active steps till you get one.

Some young people have barriers to employment like, say, not having a driver’s licence, or having an addiction.

Whether they are simple or complex, the earlier problems are identified and tackled, the sooner they can be addressed.

What we’ll do

So, today I’m announcing a new approach to getting young people at risk of long-term welfare dependency into work.

The increasing numbers of young people on welfare shows that the Ministry of Social Development is not giving them priority.

A National Government will not keep funding failure by government departments. If government departments can’t deliver, we’ll find someone else who can. So, in this case, we will bring community providers into the mix, redirecting some funding from the Ministry of Social Development, and getting community providers to do the job instead.

We’ll contract them to provide under 25 year olds, who’ve been on a benefit for three months or more, with a dedicated job coach to help them get into work.

Young jobseekers will get more support, with a proper assessment of their barriers, and an individual job plan to address those barriers, and find a job.

If we don’t do that, they’ll be on and off welfare for years.

A Government I lead won’t waste human potential and we won’t give up on people who could and should be contributing.

Currently people are not, as standard practice, required to have a plan to obtain employment until they’ve spent 12 months on a benefit. That is far too late.

And you don’t have to have a case manager, though you can call an 0800 number if you want one. That is far too casual.

Under a National Government, if you’re young and on the Jobseeker benefit for longer than three months, whether or not you ask for it, you’ll be getting help.

The very clear expectation is that your responsibility is to find a job and become independent. I know that there are many parents, just like that mother in Wellington, who don’t want welfare to be the easy option for their kids that it is today.

Unfortunately, the course for many young people is that they find a job, work for only days or weeks before quitting or failing, and going back on the benefit.

So National will offer a $1,000 bonus to a person who is under 25, has been on the benefit for 12 months or longer, and who then starts work and stays off the benefit for the next 12 consecutive months. In other words, they have successfully broken their welfare dependency.

On the other hand, those who blatantly do not follow their agreed plan – meaning they don’t turn up for courses, don’t apply for jobs or don’t engage with their jobs coach – will face sanctions.

Under Labour, the use of sanctions has fallen dramatically, so perhaps it’s no surprise there’s been a big increase in the numbers on a Jobseeker benefit, and in how long they stay on it.
If Labour thinks it’s being kind to set young people up for a lifetime of dependency, even when there are jobs they could be doing, National doesn’t.

National’s approach will be about people’s potential to contribute, not just their entitlements. That’s what a society built on rights and responsibilities is all about.

Any changes need to be fair to jobseekers, and fair to taxpayers. I believe this policy has that balance right.

In summary, I have messages for three groups of people.

First, to young people trying to find a job: That is a hard place to be and, if there was a National Government, you’d get more support and encouragement from your own job coach.

Second, to young people who don’t want to work: You might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends.

Third, to taxpayers: National is on your side.

Fellow National Party members, this is a great country and all of us are so, so lucky to live here.

But under Labour, New Zealanders can see and sense that we’re heading in the wrong direction. Today, we feel insecure about things we once assumed were solid. Things we’ve taken for granted now seem uncertain.

I sense it. I see it. And that’s why I came to Parliament. What I’ve seen in the short time I’ve been in politics only motivates me more to win the next election so that a National Government can take New Zealand forward.

The election is going to be incredibly tight. Labour knows we’re back and they’re under threat. They’re trying to spin, deflect and distract from their own inability to deliver.
New Zealand needs a turnaround. And a National Government I lead will deliver it.

Only National can provide the hope that things can be different. Only National can deliver the prosperity New Zealand deserves. Only National can build the strong economy New Zealand needs.

National Party members, my enduring promise to you all is that, under my leadership, National will be the government that New Zealand needs, and National will take New Zealand forward.

Thank you all – let’s get to work. Let’s go and make it happen!

The all carrot-no-stick approach to welfare that Labour has adopted has had the inevitable result of increasing welfare dependence.

National’s plan has plenty of carrot to help young people get into work and stay there.

It also has some stick to apply to those who could work but won’t.

National accepts the government has a responsibility to help people through welfare but it also accepts that those who can work have a responsibility to do so and that there must be consequences for those who can but won’t.

This is good policy and also good politics.

After all how could anyone with both a wise head and good heart think this government’s policy of encouraging welfare dependency in young people who could work if given some help is the right thing to do?


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Another immigration fail

26/07/2022

The government is implementing another anti-immigration policy:

Plans to axe partner work visas at the end of the year could see migrants working under the table or stuck in abusive situations due to financial dependence

Migrants following their partners to New Zealand will find themselves without options for work, which advocates warn could lead to a rise in worker exploitation and even domestic violence.

From December, most partners of temporary migrant workers will no longer receive work rights through their partnership, and will need to qualify for the new accredited employer work visa or be granted a visitor visa.

Right now, partners can get hold of a visa for the same amount of time as their migrant worker partners, allowing them to work or study for up to three months.

But with immigration rebalances bringing in the accredited employer work visa, migrants will have to jump through the same hoops as their work visa-bearing partners in order to earn money.

It’s raised questions about how it will help with current worker shortages and social harms it could cause, with more people forced to subsist in single-income family set-ups or work under the table in situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation. . . 

National Party immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford said the new system would put people off moving to New Zealand, right at a time when many sectors are crying out for workers.

“There’s a worldwide war on talent,” she said. “Our visa settings need to be as welcoming as possible.”

She questioned whether New Zealand would be an attractive destination for people who know their partner will not be able to work, especially in this age of a sharply rising living costs.

“If they do come it’s going to be significant financial pressure on them,” she said.

And for those who do, she said they could well end up in under-the-table work, where workers are much more likely to be exploited.

“Everything this Government has done has put barriers in the way of good people getting here,” she said. “I don’t understand the rationale when we desperately need people.” . . .

Why would a government do this at any time let alone when the country is facing a major labour shortage?

It is anything but kind.

It not only shows lack of compassion for immigrants, it also shows the government has no sympathy for employers who are desperate for workers.


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