Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Apologising for others easier

18/06/2021

The government has apologised for the dawn raids featuring the Prime Minister’s trade mark compassion.

I’m not doubting her sincerity. But apologising for actions of previous governments that took place before she was born is so much easier than the apology, and amends, she owes for the inhumane treatment of families split by the Immigration Ministry’s intransigence over reuniting them:

Only 560 people qualified for a border exemption that the government announced in April to reunite split families.

Today, one man will get to hold his 18-month-old son, whom he has not seen since he was four days old.

Meanwhile, his family’s friends are having to explain to their six-year-old girl why waiting on a visa decision meant she could not yet be reunited with her father while her friend is.

Olivia Constable has started doubting her Mum’s promise that “we’ll see Daddy again one day, but not sure which”.

“She asked my friend Debbie whether the phone conversations she has with Bart on FaceTime ‘is that pre-recorded, is it like a movie?'” said her mother Caroline Waldron. “Because it feels to her like they are saying the same thing every time. And if it’s a recording of some sort she is listening to, and is her Dad actually dead?” . . 

This is cruel and unusual punishment for people with skills the country desperately needs and their families.

Henco de Beer, whose family are among the few permitted entry, explains the consequences of keeping families apart:

“I know of many people who are going through divorce cases, families falling apart, and children who are seeking psychological help, children who refuse to speak to their parents, getting up to nonsense, being involved with the wrong groups of friends. And these are good people, but the position has really, really warped their lives into a whole different direction.”

The number of split families is hard to calculate, but Immigration New Zealand (INZ) received 6559 requests for border exceptions on humanitarian grounds between August and April. . . 

That is 6559 partners and children of valued workers whose family bonds are deemed to be less important than a whole lot of people anyone with a heart would regard as less in need of a space in MIQ.

The cruelty is being noticed overseas. Candice Matthews ,a Kiwi in Canada, writes, immigrants are our people:

. . .They are not papers, but people. If you define people by their status, whatever that status may be, you are no different to those politicians that have put horrible policies in place during the last century in the name of something, anything, nothing.

Immigration New Zealand smells of nothing learned from other crises, nor other countries’ dirty hands, nor other groups of people’s exclusions in the name of this-is-all-new-to-me-so-if-I-mistake-and-break-families-up-then-that-is-a-reasonable-cost-for-my-lack-of-understanding.

Actually, Immigration New Zealand smells of America. Would you like to supersize that with your order of common sense, sir?

It is not acceptable to determine the worth of a person based on a permit she holds in her purse.

We do not accept your future apology.

After Covid, hundreds of documentaries will be made on the impact of Covid-19 on the Government’s power to make makeshift policies and break broken people.

One day, a documentary will cover New Zealand. One day, all the immigrants that you legally allowed into this country, and then left to weep, beg, barter and pay to play in your lottery of who looks the least bit immigrant and who has the most money, will have a say in this documentary. . . 

Do not come to us begging for forgiveness when Kiwis learn what you did and didn’t do for those who call New Zealand home. Our tallest-poppy syndrome will quickly turn to a wickedest-politician syndrome.

Covid requires caution, controls and risk-mitigating policies, but not at the absolute cost of common sense.

When I read an article about an immigrant woman who hasn’t seen her baby in almost two years because Immigration New Zealand deems children being raised by persons other than their parents acceptable, I start to wonder if Covid is code for colonisation.

Do you remember when we kept children away from their parents in the name of colonisation? If you don’t, ask any Māori family.

We do not accept your future apology. We demand action. Now.

Let those actions make news here in Canada, instead of having to hear another horror story about Immigration New Zealand and how they allowed characters from a children’s show into their country, but not the woman from South Africa who is waiting for your department to decide whether being a mother is a true necessity to her children.

If you would like to barter with our people’s lives, you should start by bartering your own. Send your child away and have her only come home when the last immigrant family’s child is finally reunited with their parents in New Zealand.

I would strongly advise you to accept not seeing your child for the next three years at the rate you are going. We challenge you to live without your child for two years, Jacinda.  . . 

What makes the continuing refusal to reunite families worse, is that the government is still criticisng Australia for its treatment of its illegal immigrants and offering to bring some here.

How on earth can another country’s illegal immigrants have more right to come here and be a  higher priority than the families of people who came here legally, bringing skills we need and doing essential work New Zealanders can’t?

What’s happened to the be kind mantra we were all exhorted to follow?

The apology to Pacifica people for historical wrong-doing for which this government wasn’t responsible looks like hypocrisy when there’s absolutely no compassion being shown about keeping families apart for which it is responsible.


Late start and only a start

16/06/2021

Who’s surprised that the government prioritised border exemptions for film crews over farm workers?:

New documents show tensions arose between government departments over who should get border exemptions and how the dairy industry lost out in favour of space and film projects.

DairyNZ had its border request rejected in the run-up to calving last year, having asked for farm or herd managers already employed in New Zealand, who were overseas on holidays when the pandemic struck.

It said it was concerned the decision may have been pre-determined, and said the the logic didn’t stack up, including why fishing was favoured over dairy.

One email summary on agriculture stated: “Make sure the clear distinction between fishing ‘yes’, and dairy, ‘no’.”

Its chief executive, Tim Mackle, described the assertion in the documents that the industry could source New Zealanders for the jobs as a “pipedream”, as herd and farm managers were specialist staff with many years of experience.

“We’ve got a sector here that’s New Zealand’s largest, a $20 billion export sector, which is going to be critical to New Zealand’s recovery and we couldn’t get 40 or 50 people through that system,” he said. “That was very frustrating and farmers felt that keenly.” . . 

Last week the government announced 250 farm workers, vets and their families will be allowed in.

That’s a start, but it’s a late start and only a start.

It’s late because workers were needed months ago and not just on dairy farms. Horticulturists and viticulturist have also been desperately seeking exemptions so they could harvest fruit and vegetables.

It’s a start because a lot more workers are needed not just on farms, orchards, and vineyards but in meat works, on ski fields and in hospitality.

These staff shortages are bad for business, add to costs, reduce income and put added pressure on staff.

At least as bad as this, is the way the government is keeping the families of workers out:

The government has quietly broken yet another election promise, resulting in thousands of critical workers being unable to enter New Zealand and migrant families separated, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Labour campaigned at the election on establishing a 10 percent quota for critical workers in MIQ, saying that “the allocation system will ensure a majority of MIQ places are always available for returning New Zealanders, with 10 per cent of capacity set aside for critical workers and other entrants.

“However the Government has never implemented this policy. Instead, they have been measuring the number of critical workers in MIQ as a proportion of occupied MIQ rooms, rather than total MIQ capacity.

“At the moment there are on average over 1500 rooms vacant every day in MIQ, and over 9000 MIQ room vouchers have been unused since the beginning of the year.

“If Labour was actually carrying out its promise, thousands more critical workers would be allowed into New Zealand, helping spur our recovery from Covid-19 and filling skill shortage gaps.

“The government could also easily reunite the split migrant families, some of whom have now gone over 500 days without seeing their family, thanks to Government policy that is frankly cruel.”

What’s happened to kindness? The emotional and financial burden this imposes on these families is anything but kind.

“Information on the MBIE website gives the impression that for each month this year, the Government has been meeting the 10 percent minimum. But when the spare un-used capacity is taken into account, the Government is nowhere near its original capacity commitment.

“The Government’s broken promise makes no sense in the light of excess capacity in MIQ. It is novel, I know, for this Government, but perhaps they should start implementing what they campaigned on.”

Failure to allow family members in is also forcing workers out.

Maheno dairy farm manager Mark Purugganan has “lost hope” of being able to be reunited with his family in New Zealand, and is returning to the Philippines.

Mr Purugganan has lived and worked in New Zealand since 2012. He was joined by wife Roxanne a year later, and their two sons, Keired (5) and Abram (2), were born here.

He has helped manage Quambatook, a 900-cow dairy farm at Maheno, with James and Bridget McNally, for three and a-half years.

His children suffer from severe eczema and so their mother took them back to the Philippines to let their skin recover, as it seemed to be better in the warmer and more humid climate.

“The original plan was for me to go home every six months to visit them, until they outgrow their eczema problem, and then we can all come back here together.

“And then the lockdown came.”

Mr Purugganan last saw his family in person in December 2019, when Abram was a 7-month-old baby. He has missed three of Keired’s five birthdays. . . 

It’s not just dairy workers, but nurses and other essential workers the country needs and whose skills are valued but who are separated from their families.

This policy might have been excused when the lockdown started and there was so much pressure on MIQ for citizens and permanent residents.

But that excuse can’t be used now and failure to allow these families to reunite and to allow more essential workers in is a major government failure.

 

 


Petition launched to get more vets into NZ

21/01/2021

A critical shortage of vets has prompted a petition to let more into the country:

Right now, New Zealand is facing a dire veterinarian shortage. We urgently need vets from overseas, but the closure of our borders to safeguard New Zealand from COVID-19 – while of course necessary – has meant they haven’t been able to arrive.

As we enter the busy summer season, without enough vets: 

  • Animal welfare will suffer; 

  • The wellbeing of our extremely busy, stressed and burnt-out vets will only continue to be hit, at a time they should be able to enjoy some rest with loved ones; and

  • Our production animal sectors could face economic harm if animals can’t be treated.

The Government has made some promising noises, but far more still needs to be done.

So far, of the 30 border exceptions the Government promised back in September, only 19 or so vets have been allowed into the country – despite many more (who meet the Government’s stated criteria) requesting exceptions to enter and being declined. 

The Government’s latest decision only reconfirms its existing and public-stated policy: that only vets earning over $106,080 pa will be eligible for border exceptions.

We desperately need vets of all skill levels, salary levels, experience levels and disciplines, and we only need a small number. Only a few vets would be entering NZ at any one time – because it takes a while to find them jobs and get them registered to practise as a veterinarian here in New Zealand.  

They’ll arrive in a safe and controlled manner, and not all at once like the Netflix actors or Russian fishermen. They’ll arrive a few at a time and won’t clog up MIQ facilities.

Designating vets as critical workers would reflect our crucial need for them as skilled professionals to care for our animals – in the same way that we recognise our human doctors who care for you and me.

Please sign and share this petition to urge the Government to reclassify vets as critical workers. Thank you.

You can sign the petition here.

You can read a media release here.


Rural round-up

19/12/2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Ardern re Immigration NZ border exemption confusion– Julie South:

Dear Prime Minister (and Minister Faafoi & Ms Standford)

Open Letter:  clarification sought on rationale used for border exemption denials for health care workers

I’m writing this Open Letter with the hope you’ll be able to answer my questions because it appears no one else in your government is able to.

There are quite a few questions in this letter, so to make it easy for you, I’ve highlighted them in blue.  I’ve also provided some background information to give you context.

I’m hoping you can help me because my colleagues and I are struggling to understand the rationale applied by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in recent border exemption denials for the health care workers I specialise in finding jobs for. . . 

Shares in a2 tumble as company slashes forecast – Catherine Harris:

Shares in dairy company a2 have plunged more than 20 per cent on Friday as the company slashed its forecast to reflect a longer than expected recovery in its some of its selling channels.

The glamour stock’s share price fell more than 23 per cent to $10.78 in late afternoon trading, after a2 downgraded its revenue forecast for the first half to $670 million, and between $1.40 billion to $1.55b for the full year.

That was well down on 2020’s stellar full year revenue of $1.73b, and its September guidance of $1.8b to $1.9b, with $725m to $775m for the first half. . . 

A new lease on life – Neal Wallace:

Torrid life experiences proved to be Lindsay Wright’s apprenticeship for work with the Rural Support Trust in Southland. Neal Wallace talks to the former Wendonside farmer about the scratches and bruises that life has served up to him.

Lindsay Wright agonised for months about what to do with his fourth-generation family farm.

The uncertainty was adding to his depression but in the end, the decision only took a few minutes to make once he started working with a counsellor to address his health issues.

She asked him three questions: Did he want to stay as he was? Did he want to sell it? Did he want to employ a manager? . . 

Alliance demonstrates agility in tough year:

Shareholders at the Alliance Group Annual Meeting this week were told the cooperative showed agility in an unprecedented year as a result of Covid-19 and adverse weather events.

Last month, Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million.

Adjusted for a one-off event of ‘donning and doffing’, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Lawyers called in over 119 year old mistake – David Williams:

Officials want to exclude a reserve from a Crown pastoral lease, which might spark a court battle, David Williams reports

When Lukas Travnicek flew over Canterbury’s Mt White Station he’d done his research.

The Czech Republic native, and New Zealand resident, knew the average rainfall of the Crown pastoral lease property, which borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, and factored its 40,000 hectares (about a quarter of Stewart Island) into his development plans, should he buy it.

“I saw it from the chopper, the very first time and they didn’t want me to land because they said that it would be disturbing for the manager and you’re not sure if you really want to buy it. But I made the pilot land.” . . 

Govt must listen to farmers on freshwater rules:

The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year. . . 

The mystery of Tekapo’s disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star? – Brook Sabin:

It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic shots: Lake Tekapo, the mountains and a bright glow of purple. You probably know what purple I’m talking about. Yes, the “L” word – “lupins”.

Mackenzie Country is known around the world for its lupins; before Covid-19 Lake Tekapo would often have traffic jams around lupin hotspots.

The trouble is, when some strike that perfect Instagram pose – little do they know they’re actually frolicking among weeds.

Lupinus polyphyllus (which to be fair, sounds like the plant equivalent of an STI) is commonly known as the russel lupin, or just “that purple Instagram flower”. It is the weed equivalent of 1080; opinions are bitterly divided. . . 


Tough times, tougher border

24/08/2020

National leader Judith Collins says tough times call for tougher controls at the border:

Five million New Zealanders paid a heavy price to rid Covid-19 from our communities. They paid for it with their jobs, they paid for it with their businesses, and they paid for it with their freedoms.

They did their part and were understandably upset to find out the Government had not been doing theirs. A third of the country is now back in lockdown because of this.

Reducing the need for heavy-handed lockdowns could not be more crucial. After the first lockdown, 212,000 Kiwis were receiving unemployment benefits and 1.6 million jobs were kept alive by wage subsidies. The current lockdown is estimated to be costing Auckland 250 jobs and up to $75 million a day in economic activity.

There is a lot we still don’t know about how Covid-19 got back into our community, but let’s be real – this was not the immaculate infection, it didn’t just materialise, it had to have crossed our border at some point.

We know ministers weren’t even aware the health strategy they signed off in June only required voluntary testing of border workers. How is that possible? Did they not read it?

They now blame officials for the miscommunication even though Government is about taking responsibility for national security, not passing the buck.

But it is no surprise there was confusion. The current system requires people entering the border to interact with Customs, primary industries, the health ministry, defence force, private hotels, private bus drivers, private security and so on.

This ad-hoc approach is hampering New Zealand’s ability to respond to outbreaks in a co-ordinated and rapid way. Just as 9/11 forever changed the way we travel, Covid-19 must change the way we prepare for and manage public health threats.

This is why my Government will establish a new Border Protection Agency – Te Korowai Whakamaru, which can be translated as the ‘cloak of protection’.

We see the border protection agency in the same way as a korowai – many threads woven together to make one cloak of protection. It will provide the professional co-ordination that is sorely lacking from our Covid-19 response right now.

It will scale up and down as threats emerge and abate, like Civil Defence does, and it will be resourced with the personnel, technology and decision-making power to do its job right.

But tough times call for tough measures, and more will be needed to keep this virus at bay. That is why my Government will require everyone travelling to New Zealand to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid-19 test before boarding their plane. This is a common-sense step that other countries and airlines around the world are taking.

And we will, of course, require compulsory weekly testing of all staff working at the border or in quarantine facilities – something the Government should have been doing from the start.

A strong border needs multiple lines of defence and New Zealand’s second line – our contract tracing systems – must be better. We are too reliant on human memories and honesty right now, the QR code app has only been downloaded by a third of Kiwis. My Government will immediately invest in Bluetooth technology to enhance this, making it compulsory for everyone entering the country and border workers to carry contact tracing technology.

Yo-yoing in and out of lockdown is not sustainable, for our economy or our communities. If our border is strong then locking down 1.7 million New Zealanders can be our last resort, not our go-to option.

You can read national’s border policy here


Many reasons for border failures

24/08/2020

Steven Joyce has identified three reasons for border failures:

. . . First, the Government and its Covid response is being run by a way too small group. The Prime Minister and her group of three core ministers hardly trust anyone to make decisions outside their inner circle. While there is always a core group, in this instance even senior portfolio ministers are being sidelined.

The whole Government currently seems to come down to the PM, Robertson, Hipkins, Woods, Bloomfield, and the ever-present Brian Roche and Heather Simpson.  . . 

The upper coterie didn’t even trust the then-Health Minister to be in Wellington during the initial lockdown.

Keeping to such a small group is a a dangerous level of control freakery and reinforces the belief that Cabinet has a very few capable Ministers and a whole lot of empty chairs.

. . With something this big, it pays to take advice from all quarters and forget the party politics for a bit. Unfortunately, the current Government has remained intensely political and self-protective throughout the Covid response, while maintaining that it isn’t.

It’s particularly egregious that Ashley Bloomfield is being shielded from fronting up to a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the border breaches and the lockdown. He’s not a politician, he’s a well-paid public servant who currently has extraordinary power over people’s lives. He simply must front.

The government-dominated Health Select Committee has turned down National’s health spokesman Dr Shane Reti’s request for it to reconvene to enable the DG to be questioned and on Q&A yesterday Jack Tame said requests for him to front on that programmer have been refused.

Second, Chris Hipkins has a ridiculous workload. Speaking as someone who has held a few portfolios in my time, the idea that any single individual could successfully manage Health, Education, the State Sector, and Parliament’s business all at once is truly ludicrous. And so it has proven.

Chris Hipkins is a capable individual but he is clearly not completely across his health brief. On top of that, his statements this week suggesting first that conspiratorial rumours on Facebook were themselves a conspiracy, and second that the 1pm press conferences were the single source of truth — a statement reminiscent of Comical Ali of Iraq — suggest someone under a lot of stress.

If the already overloaded Hipkins was the only one capable of taking on Health, It indicates a serious lack of ability in Labour’s ranks.

Finally, the PM and her ministers need to stop thinking that politics is a game of how to spin your way out of absolutely everything. This has been their Achilles heel.

They have been caught too often saying one thing one week, and something completely different a couple of weeks later, all in the hope that the public have the memories of goldfish.

It is a politician’s job to put a positive spin on most things, but you can’t keep arguing that black is white when it obviously isn’t. If you try, people stop believing you.

Sometimes an issue is so serious or the failure so obvious that you have to drop the buzz phrases, quit the dissembling and level with the public. They may even thank you for it, and they’ll be more inclined to believe what you say in the future.

As it is, we are approaching a risky point where the public may stop believing the Government and its spin — which is tricky when you are dealing with a pandemic. . . 

There are more than enough examples of serious discrepancies in what the government and DG of Health have said and what was actually happening to undermine confidence – from the early days of lockdown when they kept saying there was enough PPE and flu vaccines when front line staff were saying there wasn’t to the recent huge gaps between the policy on border testing and its implementation.

Three big reasons for border failures are bad enough, but there are more, among them are the problems created by having 15 different border agencies dealing with different parts of the process:

National’s new policy to delegate or create an agency to be in charge of the border is exactly what is needed right now. Here is a list of all the various agencies doing various different facets of border control, with insufficient overall leadership or governance from any single body. It’s no surprise that the virus has reemerged!  . . 

This complex mishmash of responsibility and authority has been described as a spider’s web. That attributes far more skill and direction than it deserves.

There’s a pattern to spiders’ webs.

The only pattern in the mishmash of responsibility and authority for border control appears to be gaping holes and repeated failure to learn from mistakes.

And if we’re looking for reasons it’s hard to go past this government’s record of mistaking pronouncements for achievements.

Time after time it’s been so much better at talking about what it’s doing, or think it’s doing, than actually doing it or ensuring it’s done.


Need cheaper option for MIQ

22/07/2020

Charging returning citizens and permanent residents for some of the cost of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) isn’t simple.

These people have a right to return to their homeland.

The BIll of Rights also allow freedom to leave and enter the country and freedom from detention.

Prisoners don’t have to pay the costs of their imprisonment.

However, these people, some who have never lived in New Zealand, some who have lived in other countries for far longer than they’ve lived here and some who are just coming in temporarily, are collectively costing the rest of us hundreds of millions of dollars.

We all incurred significant costs in personal and financial terms through levels four, three and two of lockdown to eliminate Covid-19, is it not fair that those returning contribute something towards the costs of keeping the disease at the border?

The trouble is there is no choice about going into MIQ and no choice about the standard, and therefore the cost.

Three thousand dollars for an adult, which is what’s proposed, is a lot of money for many people, in some cases too much to enable them to come home.

If they are going to be charged they should be able to choose cheaper options than the up market hotels most are sent to.

The last intake of refugees per-COvid was in March and they are now being resettled.

No more are scheduled to come here while border restrictions are in place, couldn’t the refugee resettlement centres be repurposed as a less expensive option for MIQ while the border remains closed?

 


Rural round-up

30/06/2020

Migrant numbers reduce ‘in silence’ as Kiwis move into farm jobs – Lawrence Gullery:

An agency which helps farms source overseas staff believes the Covid-19 fallout is being used to manage migrant workers out of New Zealand.

Christiaan Arns, the managing director of Auckland-based Frenz, a recruitment and immigration agency for dairy farms, described the state of New Zealand’s immigration rules as a “complete shambles”.

The short term picture is clear, the pandemic has forced borders to close.

But the medium to long-term outlook is confusing, Arns said. . . 

Red meat opportunities ‘if we’re quick enough’ – Sally Rae:

The Covid-19 situation has provided opportunities for New Zealand’s red meat sector to capitalise on — “if we’re quick enough”.

That is the message from Michael Wan, global manager of the New Zealand Red Meat Story for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Likening it to the equivalent of the panic buying of toilet paper here and in Australia, Mr Wan said there had been a “massive run” on red meat in the United States.

As people hunkered down over lockdown, they were stocking up their freezers, concerned they might not be able to access fresh protein. They had reverted to cooking traditional types of food and wanted to keep well and boost their immunity, he said. . . 

Dunedin geneticist looking to Africa – John Gibb:

When the world starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, big agribusiness opportunities will open up for New Zealand, Dunedin geneticist Dr Bruno Santos believes.

Brazilian-born Dr Santos has welcomed his recent promotion to partner at AbacusBio and said that would increase his ability to provide input into the international company’s future.

The agribusiness consulting company was ‘‘hugely passionate about making a difference to agriculture and has great scientific credentials as well as on-farm pragmatism’’.

‘‘Bruno leads projects for AbacusBio in the genetics of many species from sheep to rice,’’ the company said. . . 

Great to meet ewe: Introducing sheep via Zoom to fans worldwide :

A sheep farmer who is making money from virtual tours of her farm does not believe people will give up on the idea of visiting New Zealand to experience things for themselves.

With the world in lockdown, people are having to get creative in their pursuit of overseas adventures.

Sheep farmer Angie Hossack who used to host visitors from all over the world via the Farmstay programme, has discovered another way to make money.

Her popular online farm tour ‘Meet the Woolly Sheep on My Farm‘ takes place on her 10-acre block south of Rotorua. . . 

Fermenting for good :

Three and four-year-olds in the rural village of Clevedon have developed a taste for sauerkraut.

The kindergarten children have been making sauerkraut under the guidance of Kelli Walker who has set up a fermentary just out of the town.

Clevedon is about 35 minutes south-east of central Auckland.

Under Kelli’s supervision, kids there squeeze out cabbage and watch the sauerkraut ferment and burble away before taking it home in jars to devour – much to the surprise of their parents. . . 

North Queensland photographers acknowledged among world’s best – Sally Gall:

Townsville-based freelance photojournalist Fiona Lake has been acknowledged as one of the best in the world in the field of agricultural photography.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Australia-time she was announced as the winner of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalism 2020 Star Prize for Photography for her exquisitely-composed aerial image of a bullock team published by the Queensland Country Life last September.

Ms Lake’s entry had earlier in the evening been announced as the winner of the nature/landscape category.

Commenting on the news, she said the win highlighted the affinity that rural Australians have with their animals. . . 


Some more welcome than others

09/06/2020

The move to alert level 1 takes us back to nearly as life was pre-Covid-19, except that border are closed, at least to some though not others:

With calving season about to kick off, calls are mounting for critical migrant workers to be allowed back into New Zealand.

Going into calving short-staffed isn’t how Waikato’s Duncan Scott wanted to begin the new milking season.

But like many dairy farmers around the country, Scott’s without key staff who are unable to return to New Zealand because of border restrictions prompted by the international Covid-19 pandemic. . . 

His herd manager has been on the farm for three years and can’t be replaced by someone inexperienced.

Scott said he understood the current drive to employ Kiwis and he had taken on people who were previously out of work because of the economic fallout of Covid-19.

“But you also need some experienced people to lead the new staff,” he said.

He gave an analogy of what it might be like replacing the herd manager with an inexperienced person.

“If you can imagine someone turning up to Waikato Hospital to give birth and finding the midwife is an airline pilot who has been out of work for the past three weeks.

“That’s the situation we are in and that’s why we need these guys (migrant workers) back in the country.” . . 

Federated Farmers immigration and labour spokesperson Chris Lewis also farms near the Scott family in the Pukeatua district in the Waikato.

He is aware of the labour shortage but said it appeared only movie stars were allowed in the country, referring to the crew of the Avatar sequel. . .

Experienced dairy staff with work visas aren’t allowed in, but relatives of film crew are:

Ten of the 200 high-value foreigners – such as the Avatar film crew – allowed entry into New Zealand during the border restrictions were relatives of the workers.

The news comes as work visa holders and their families – already settled in New Zealand but out of the country when the border closed in March – clamour for permission to return.

The immigration industry has added its voice, saying urgent applications from New Zealand employers for vital overseas staff are languishing in a ‘deep dark hole’.

The government has faced criticism for the opaque process behind the exemptions, including initially that they even existed. . . 

Getting to level 1 and having no active cases of Covid-19 has come at a very high economic and social cost.

We can’t afford to undo the gains with lax border restrictions.

But providing people who come in agree to managed isolation and, where needed, quarrantine at their own expense people with work visas, family of residents and citizens and anyone else who will make a positive contribution to the economy, for example foreign students, should be allowed in.

Like several other government policies current border restrictions are arbitrary and unfair, making some people more welcome than others with no fair grounds for discriminating.


Govt hasn’t learned

04/06/2020

The government hasn’t learned from mistakes it made in deciding which businesses could operate at alert level 4:

Dozens of marine engineering jobs in Nelson are at risk over a Government policy to refuse entry to ships during the Covid-19 pandemic, delivering a hammer blow to the international repair and refit industry.

Aimex Service Group managing director Steve Sullivan said about 40 jobs were under threat at the Port Nelson-based company he founded in 2009.

“Forty per cent of our revenue comes from the international refit business,” Sullivan said. “It’s all under threat.”

Two major contracts were cancelled just before the alert level 4 lockdown, leading to a loss of about $4 million to the wider Nelson economy, Sullivan said.

“We … will have to put more people out of work if the policy does not change,” Sullivan said, referring to the 40 jobs at risk.

Both he and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith urged the Government to lift the blanket ban and consider the entry of each ship on a case-by-case basis.

The catalyst for prompting Sullivan to speak out publicly was the Government refusal to allow entry to the Captain Vincent Gann, a tuna boat now at sea in the eastern Pacific and in need of urgent repair.

A fault with the Captain Vincent Gann’s reduction gear that provides propulsion meant it was able to travel at half its usual speed only. It was also at risk of further damage. The repair work was expected to take about six weeks and would deliver about $600,000 to the wider Nelson economy – $400,000 to Aimex and $200,000 to associated businesses.

The Captain Vincent Gann’s last port of call was American Samoa, which had no reported cases of Covid-19 and had closed its borders in late March.

TNL International shipping agent John Lowden said the American-owned Captain Vincent Gann had been fishing out of Pago Pago for the past 18 months.

“The crew has been at sea since … 15th May and by the time it gets down here, they would have been at sea for a month,” Lowden said. “They don’t pose any threat at all.”

Sullivan said the crew members could easily be tested for Covid-19 and were prepared to be quarantined on arrival, if necessary. . . 

This exchange in parliament yesterday gives no hope that common sense will prevail:

 Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Customs: Does she agree with the statement by Steve Sullivan from Nelson’s marine engineering company AIMEX that “The Government’s policy to refuse entry of vessels for engineering and maintenance work is costing jobs and millions of dollars in work”, and does she stand by her department’s decision to refuse entry to the fishing vessel the Captain Vincent Gann?

Hon JENNY SALESA (Minister of Customs): I do stand by Customs’ decision to give effect to immigration rules. This Government’s position has continued to be that the best economic response is a strong public health response. While I appreciate this is an incredibly difficult time for many businesses in New Zealand, our Government has made unprecedented support available for businesses like AIMEX. I encourage them to take up any and all support that they are eligible for from the Government during this unprecedented time.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister saying it’s better for New Zealand for companies like AIMEX to take a wage subsidy rather than actually letting them do the work that earns the company and the country income.

Hon JENNY SALESA: The question is mainly about whether or not we allow a fishing vessel like this to come through. The decision made by the Government has not been to open up our border. We are 12 days into having zero COVID-19 cases, with only one active case. In terms of foreign ships, on 26 May a foreign fishing boat emerged as one of the points of transmission where a foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed vessel with 29 members of its crew being COVID-19 positive was heading towards the Pacific. A vaccine is not yet available for COVID-19, so the fact is that we are focused on saving lives and focused on public health. We are now looking at the recovery of our economy, but I stand by our Government and our response.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Why did she state yesterday in this House that the Customs refusal to allow entry of the Capt. Vincent Gann from American Samoa to New Zealand was based on advice of the ministry and Director-General of Health, when her department has admitted it never sought any advice from the Ministry of Health or the director-general on that vessel from American Samoa. . . 

Hon JENNY SALESA: The question that the honourable member asked me yesterday was whether I stand by Customs’ policies and actions—a very general question. Then he followed up with the question about this particular vessel. Had he put down a specific question like that, I would have been able to answer in specific ways.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does she accept that the COVID-19 risks for the fishing crew from American Samoa are far less than from the film crew that’s been allowed in by the Government from California, when American Samoa has had zero cases and zero deaths, and California has had 115,000 cases and 4,200 deaths?

Hon JENNY SALESA: I reiterate that this particular ship was a foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed ship. They were not all Americans or American Samoans on that particular ship. Customs enforces the rules and laws that Parliament and Cabinet set. The exemptions for visas are by the Minister of Immigration and the exemptions for jobs are by the Minister for Economic Development. The honourable member who has been a member for many, many decades—more than me—should know if he was to put down this kind of question who the right Minister is to ask about these sorts of issues. . . 

The government’s insistence on its own arbitrary and inconsistent definition of essential during the alert level 4 cost more jobs and did much more damage to the economy than had any business that could operate safely been permitted to do so.

Its refusal to let this boat when the crew has been isolated at sea for more than two weeks, are prepared to be tested and if necessary quarantined, shows it hasn’t learned from that.

There are plenty of other examples of the immigration lottery:

The Avatar film crew has been allowed in but there’s still no certainty over whether America’s Cup crews will be.

Dairy farmers are desperate for migrant staff to return:

. . . Ryan Baricuatro has worked on McFarlane’s 550-cow family farm near Carew, west of Ashburton, for seven years.

In early March, with no cows on the farm following the cull and Baricuatro’s wife due to have a baby in the Philippines, McFarlane encouraged him take some leave and return to his home country.

“We didn’t expect him to be gone for two months and not knowing when he’ll be back is tough,” McFarlane said.

“With his knowledge of the farm and the way we operate, he’ll be integral to getting us back and running after Mycoplasma bovis and at calving. He’s virtually irreplaceable for us, we’re desperate to get him back.” . . 

Geraldine farmer Tom Hargreaves shares McFarlane’s concerns.

Last May, his sheep and beef farming family bought the property next door and hired two staff, including Uruguayan Patricia Grilli, to run a 420-cow dairy operation.

After a successful first season on the farm, Grilli took time off to return to Uruguay for her father’s surprise birthday celebrations. . . 

Despite their best efforts, including providing Grilli with a letter from her employer and a lawyer, she was turned away by customs officials at the airport in Uruguay.

That’s left Hargreaves worried and his team stretched thin to cover Grilli’s role through winter.

“We don’t really know what’s happening. Nothing has been shown to us, so we’re really in the dark and getting more and more nervous,” he said.

“The dairy farm should start up from August 1, but we really needed her over winter as well. Our dairy farm manager didn’t have a day off and the sheep and beef guys would help out but only he and Patricia know the milking shed.” . . 

As of Wednesday, DairyNZ was aware of at least 40 skilled workers who had taken ill-timed holidays and are now unable to get back into New Zealand. 

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle agreed it could become a human and animal welfare issue if dairy farms were understaffed or had staff with the wrong skill-sets come calving.

As well as the workers stuck offshore, the industry was facing a much bigger problem if lower skilled workers already in the country couldn’t get their visa extended, he said. . . 

It’s not just workers who can’t get in.

Schools and universities could be attracting foreign fee-paying pupils and students from the northern hemisphere to start study in July but they too have yet to gain permission for entry.

Eric Crampton discussed why getting safe entry at the border matters:

The government seems to have everything backwards currently. It results in horrible inequities and the usual amounts of muppetry because they’re starting at the thing from the wrong end.

Right now, if you want to enter New Zealand and you’re not a returning resident or citizen, you have to convince the Minister that you’re important enough to be let in. That kind of regime was hard to avoid during the worst part of lockdown because you also needed exemptions from piles of other mobility restrictions if you were coming in as an essential worker to fix Wellington’s sewer pipes. But it’s got things the wrong way around now that lockdown is over. Instead, the principle should be that if you can enter safely, you’re allowed in – with no sign off from the Minister unless that were somehow already required for whatever visa you’d be coming in on.

Starting from the economic necessity of getting particular people in has the government picking winners – it’s the aristocracy of pull all over again. James Cameron has pull; some poor guy whose pregnant wife is here in New Zealand while he’s in Australia doesn’t. Because being allowed in is a function of their having the Seal Of Approval, safety gets less consideration than it should. Tom Hunt’s story from yesterday of quarantine-bound Avatar film crews mingling in hotel reception with regular guests – that kind of muppetry absolutely cannot be allowed to happen. And maybe it didn’t – the story relied on a non-quarantined guest’s reckon that the crowd she went through at reception was that film crew. But it is the kind of thing that’s more likely to happen if the guiding principle is “Movies are important and Avatar Sequels about that main Avatar and the other Avatar – that’s what matters and it matters so much that we’ll pay them tons of money to make those movies here”

You need to flip it.

If people can come in safely, they should be allowed in. . . 

The government was too slow to close the borders before the lockdown and too slow to insist on quarantine for anyone who came in.

Now it’s gone to the opposite extreme with arbitrary and inconsistent exemptions instead of working on the safety principle.

There would be a slight risk of someone bringing Covid-19 with them but providing everyone who comes in was required to quarantine at their own expense, the risk and cost would be minimal when compared with the benefits of businesses and jobs saved.

It would also give us some hope that it was able, and willing, to learn from its mistakes.


Rural round-up

19/12/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


More immigration isn’t what they campaigned on

18/09/2019

The government has announced changes to immigration policy with a streamlined temporary work visa.

It’s been greeted positively by Federated Farmers:

“Our message that workforce and related problems experienced by the big cities are not necessarily those experienced in the provinces has  been taken on board – we congratulate the government,” Feds employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The changes will help ensure farmers and others can more easily employ migrants when they need them, and when the options for taking on and training suitable New Zealanders are exhausted.”

By ditching the ANZSCO skill level classifications, there is much greater scope for a migrant worker to achieve career progression on our farms.

“The changes incentivise farmers to invest in training and supporting migrant employees because there’s a greater chance of keeping them than currently exists.

It’s such a waste of time and effort to train people only to have them forced to leave the country when their visas run out.

“We also acknowledge the government for its compassionate and pragmatic approach in reinstating the family entitlement for lower skilled visa holders.  The migrant worker’s children can be educated here, and their partner can get an open work visa,” Lewis said.

“It’s a positive for rural communities to have settled and content families, not just single men who may well be sending all their money home to their family.”

It’s far better to have families together here, participating in the community, than to separate them with the worker isolated and sending money home.

The government has indicated the dairy industry is a likely early target group for one of the new sector agreements, containing specific terms and conditions for recruiting foreign workers.

“Federated Farmers looks forward to working with other Team Ag  partners and the government to help get this sector agreement right,” Lewis said.

DairyNZ and the tourism industry are among others who are pleased with the changes and I agree with them.

Unemployment levels are low throughout New Zealand and out of the main centres are down to the unemployable. It is at least difficult, and often impossible, to get locals who are capable of working on farms, orchards, hospitality and tourism in the regions.

But what do all the people who voted for the governing parties, Labour NZ First and the Green Party think?

All three parties criticised immigration levels when they were in opposition and campaigned on cutting it back.

We can be grateful that now the anti-immigration rhetoric has met the reality of worker shortages it’s the voters who believed the talk who are disappointed but businesses will find it easier to get the staff they need.


New nesters

14/07/2019

Stories from migrants to the Waitaki District:


Would we want them?

21/05/2019

Immigration NZ registered a surge in website visits on Sunday, the day after the Australian election.

More than 11,500 people logged onto the Immigration New Zealand website and its information site New Zealand Now on Sunday, compared to fewer than 2500 the previous Sunday.

Google analytics also showed a spike in Australians searching the words ‘moving to New Zealand’, particularly those from Queensland.

The true level of interest in emigrating is difficult to gauge as Australian citizens do not need a visa to travel to New Zealand, although its visa-holders do.

The number who started the visa process, through registrations of interest, jumped from 20 to 715. . . 

We don’t, and shouldn’t, discriminate on political views.

If we did, would we  want more people who appear to be upset they’ve got a government that priorirised economic management, lower taxes and a more moderate approach to climate change than the opposition which proposed the opposite?


Rural round-up

05/05/2019

Sensible immigration will allow rural communities to flourish – Nick Hanson:

A big shakeup could be coming for New Zealand’s immigration policy.

Many of the proposed changes are sensible and will lead to a simplification of the immigration system, but there is also concern that while the system might be easier to understand, it will be harder, longer and more costly to employ workers from overseas.

Under the proposals, every employer who wishes to employ a migrant must become an accredited employer. In theory, this is good  migrants deserve to come to New Zealand to an employer who treats them well and complies with New Zealand employment law.  . . 

Fonterra could learn lessons in enterprise and growth from Australia’s Wesfarmers – Point of Order:

NZ  co-ops have been  getting  a  bad  media  rap   lately.  Take  Fonterra, for example.  Andrea Fox, one of the  country’s  best-informed journalists  specialising  in agriculture  issues,  started   a  new series in the  NZ  Herald  with the  headline:  “Fonterra: Disappointment and soured  dairy dreams”.

Noting   the dairy goliath had a silver-spoon  birth   nearly  18 years ago she  wrote:

“Today the  co-operative  is looking a bit like  the family’s overweight, lazy teenager  hogging the remote  on the biggest couch in the room And the  credit card bills are coming in”.

After Fonterra posted a historic first net loss of $196m, Fox  says  calls  are heating up  for  the company to be split up  and a  company, perhaps  listed, spun off it, open to outside capital  investment to  chase  high-value product  markets. One of the country’s investment  gurus, Brian Gaynor, says even major shareholders  are telling him it’s  time for  change. . . 

Uncertainty swirls over Mackenzie dairy plan – David Williams:

The legal battle over a large dairy farm planned for the Mackenzie Basin is heading to the High Court. David Williams reports.

The future of the Mackenzie Basin’s Simons Pass Station – a lightning rod for national environmental opposition – remains as unclear as a swirling effluent pond.

Dunedin businessman Murray Valentine has spent 16 years and millions of dollars gathering approvals, court settlements, and building infrastructure for a $100-million-plus dairy development at Simons Pass, near Lake Pukaki. Valentine told Newsroom last year he plans to irrigate 4500 hectares at the property – some of which is Crown lease land – and stock more than 15,000 animals, including 5500 cows. (The average herd size in New Zealand is 431 cows. The national herd is five million milking cows.)

As of late last year, 840 cows were being milked and Valentine says the development is about a quarter finished. . . 

Regional wrap:

Confident sheep and beef farmers are paying top money and have out-bid foresters for land on the North Island’s East Coast. In the South Island apple harvesting’s almost finished in the Nelson Motueka region.

Kaitaia, in Northland’s north, needs a good dose of rain – the five or six millimetres at the weekend didn’t help much.  Where there are wet spots in paddocks new grass is germinating well.

Around Pukekohe it’s been quiet in market gardens because of the school holidays and the working week being interrupted by statutory holidays. Many staff have taken time off. It’s been warmer this week than last and Monday’s 15mm of rainfall has been enough for most crops. . .

Bumper crop of Young Vegetable Growers:

Seven of New Zealand’s best and brightest will vie for the title of Young Vegetable Grower of the Year in a competition in Pukekohe next Friday, 10 May.

The victor will be crowned Young Vegetable Grower of the Year, and move on to the Young Grower national final, to be held in Tauranga in October. There, they will join the winners of the Bay of Plenty, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, and Gisborne regional fruit-grower events, to compete for the national title of Young Grower of the Year 2019.

Contestants will demonstrate their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful horticulture business, including tractor proficiency, sales and marketing, and health and safety. The winner will be decided at an awards dinner on Friday night, where they will speak to an audience from throughout the industry about growing in a climate of change. . . 

Stuart Varney is proud to be a farmer the Fox business star sees a Chinese trade deal coming soon – Betsy Freese:

Stuart Varney has a top-rated market program on television, but he is happiest when he is working on his 1,100-acre tree farm in upstate New York. The host of Varney & Co., weekdays 9 a.m. to noon EDT on FOX Business, is in the midst of his first timber harvest this spring. Born and raised in the U.K., Varney, 70, helped Ted Turner launch CNN in 1980. He became an American citizen in 2015. I caught up with Varney to talk about agriculture, trade deals, and the media.

SF: Tell me about your farm.

SV: It’s lovely rolling hills and forests, a delightful piece of land. It reminds me of my native England. I bought it 18 years ago because I wanted a big piece of land within a reasonable drive of my home in New Jersey. In England, the idea of owning 1,000 acres, or even 100 acres, is out of the question unless you are a billionaire. But in America, you can do it. We found this property for a reasonable price. It was my piece of America. I fell in love with it. The idea of creating a tree farm came later. I didn’t know anything about logging and didn’t buy it for that purpose, but we hired a forester and he created a plan. Our first harvest is this year. We will harvest 1,088 trees. . . 


Immigration criteria must change

12/02/2019

Nelson firefighter, Steve Webster,  and his family are facing deportation:

An online petition is pushing for a firefighter fighting the Nelson blaze to be spared deportation.

The petition ‘Stop the Deportation of Steve Webster from NZ’ was set up on Change.org yesterday by friend and former volunteer firefighter Ken Mahon.

Mahon said he began the online petition at 3pm yesterday – without telling Webster – after he saw new social media photo of Webster all dirty from fighting the Tasman fires and decided he had to do something. . . 

Steve and Gail Webster moved to Nelson from the United Kingdom in 2012 with their two teenage daughters.

As well as being a volunteer firefighter, the couple own Earthbloom Flower Shop in Nelson and Steve is a car salesman.

In 2016 the Nelson Weekly reported the family had their bid for permanent residency turned down in early April that year. They were told they had to be out of the country by midnight on Friday May 20.

Just 48 hours before that deadline, Steve received an email at midnight on Wednesday saying they had been given a 12-month essential skills work visa, Nelson Weekly reported.

However, Mahon said the family had again landed themselves in a fight against immigration after they had been given until June this year to leave the country.

“They have worked very hard at getting their business up and running but unfortunately it hasn’t met the requirements by immigration in the timeframe,” he said.

“It is a bit rough really. They give a lot to the community, have a lot of support out there, and are well liked.

“It is just not fair. Why does this always happen to the good people in life?”

Aucklanders have rallied to support another business person facing deportation:

The community is fighting to save the family of seven from being sent overseas. Credits: Newshub.

Hundreds of people have rallied in Auckland on Sunday in support of a Ukrainian family facing deportation.

Nataliya Shchetkova and her family thought New Zealand would be their home forever.

After they arrived here six years ago, they bought La Vista, a popular restaurant in Auckland’s St Helier. They now employ 17 full-time staff – up from nine when they bought it.

But Immigration NZ says the business does not add enough benefit to New Zealand by creating sustained and on-going employment over and above the existing level of employment.

The family of seven have been denied residency and told they should start planning to leave by July 1 – including selling their restaurant if necessary. . . 

She has almost doubled the staff employed and that’s still not enough?

These two cases are particularly troubling when only after political and public pressure did Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway reverse his decision to give residency to a convicted criminal.

If immigration criteria doesn’t allow families like the Websters and Shchetkovas who are making positive contributions in business and the community to stay then the criteria is wrong and must change.

 


Immigration good but

05/12/2018

National is generally supportive of immigration, but not without limits:

 National would pull New Zealand out of the UN’s Global Compact on Migration because of its potential to restrict New Zealand’s ability to set its own migration and foreign policy, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

“National is supportive of global action on major issues and of migration into New Zealand because it brings skills, capital and connections and makes New Zealand a better, more diverse place. And we support the ability for New Zealanders to travel and live and work overseas should they choose.

“But immigration policy is solely a matter for individual countries and must take account of their individual circumstances – and New Zealand’s policies are already held up as international best practice. There is no automatic right to migrate to another country without that country’s full agreement, a view which the United Nation’s Global Compact on Migration, set to be signed next week, seeks to counter.

Immigration is generally positive but not without limits.

“While not binding, the Compact could restrict the ability of future governments to set immigration and foreign policy, and to decide on which migrants are welcome and which aren’t. While National is the party most open to immigration, we cannot accept this.

A government must have the right to say which and how many immigrants cross its borders.

Any restriction on that is a restriction on a country’s sovereignty.

”This Government’s own immigration policy is weak and confused, including its unfulfilled campaign promises to slash immigration. Signing up to this only clouds things further – like its working groups the Government appears to be relying on the UN to set its migration policy rather than making its own decisions.

“While a number of countries are pulling out of the agreement as the extent of its potential impact on the decision-making of individual countries is realised, our Government is refusing to outline its own position.

“For these reasons, National will not be supporting this agreement and we will reverse the decision if this Government signs up to it.”

The government has yet to decide whether or not it will sign up to the compact.

Several countries including Australia, the USA, Hungary, Austria Poland and Switzerland have declined support.

 

 


Lees-Galloway changes mind

28/11/2018

Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway has changed his mind about Karel Sroubek:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has reversed his decision to grant conviction drug smuggler Karel Sroubek residency.

An Immigration New Zealand (INZ) probe into the drug smuggler found he was liable for deportation on grounds not previously considered. These included Czech convictions under his real name.

“He is being removed because he never had a visa in the first place.”

Lees-Galloway said public trust and confidence had been damaged and he took responsibility for it and for fixing it. He apologised to the prime minister but did not offer his resignation. . . 

The Minister is responsible for the damage to public trust and confidence in both the system and him.

How on earth he could have given residency to anyone who had been convicted of crimes when so many worthy, law abiding would-be residents are turned down defies logic.

 


Incompetent or ?

09/11/2018

A decision to deport a convicted criminal could be made in a very few minutes.

A decision to give residency to one needs a lot more time than it got:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway made the decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency in less than an hour.

The revelation has led to calls from the Opposition for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sack her Immigration Minister.

Lees-Galloway said he did not read the full file on the Czech drug smuggler, and instead “read the aspects of the file that I thought were necessary to make the decision that I made”. . .

How can you know what you need to read to make a decision if you don’t read all the information you have?

“I took the information that I had and I took the time that I felt was necessary. I read various aspects of the full file. I didn’t rely solely on the summary.” . . 

Various aspects? That’s not the full file and it defies belief that he could have read even some of the information that has made this decision so inexplicable and granted residency.

National Leader Simon Bridges has renewed his call for the Prime Minister to sack Lees-Galloway over the “careless decision” after Lees-Galloway claimed he carefully considered all the relevant information.

He allowed a drug dealing gang associate to remain in New Zealand without reading all the information available to him, Bridges said.

“Either Lees-Galloway has misled the Prime Minister or she’s misled New Zealanders.

“The Prime Minister has defended that decision for the past two weeks, telling New Zealanders it was a ‘difficult decision’ but that she had been assured by Lees-Galloway he had given it ‘careful consideration’.

“We now know he hadn’t.”

An hour was not careful consideration of what was a dangerous decision and it was not acceptable due diligence from a senior Cabinet Minister, he said.

“Lees-Galloway’s credibility is now shot. The Prime Minister cannot expect the public to have confidence in any of his decisions given his careless approach to Sroubek’s residency.

“The Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Lees-Galloway from Cabinet immediately.”

Woodhouse said Lees-Galloway had arrogantly refused to reveal the evidence upon which he made his decision, saying it was not in the public interest.

“He insisted it was a complicated decision not taken lightly.

“The Prime Minister even went as far as saying Lees-Galloway ‘shared with me the careful consideration that he gave this case… it was clearly a very difficult decision’. Only clearly it wasn’t,” Woodhouse said.

The evidence was now overwhelming that Lees-Galloway didn’t do his job, he said.

“It is now clear he made that call without asking questions and without proper consideration of the facts or the track record of the convicted criminal he was allowing to stay. Sroubek needs to go and Lees-Galloway does too.” . . 

To have read all the relevant information and made that decision indicates gross incompetence or something conspiracy theorists would delight in.


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