Thoughts of family make cyclone personal


Like many other New Zealanders I have family in Australia and this time last year I was visiting my brother, sister-in-law and three nieces in Townsville.

A cyclone kit came up in conversation but I thought no more about it until the news that Cyclone Yasi was heading for the city.

It is impossible for anyone who hasn’t experienced it to comprehend the ferocity of a category 4 cyclone but thoughts of family have made this one personal and I am waiting anxiously for news they are all safe.


OED says pavlova is NZ’s


It’s official – the  Oxford English Dictionary has decreed the pavlova was created in NZ:

In its relaunched online edition, the OED says the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927.

This was in a book called Davis Dainty Dishes, published by the Davis Gelatine company, and it was a multi-coloured jelly dish.

But New Zealanders claim the meringue version also originated there, with recipes for it appearing in publications in 1928 and 1929.

Dr Helen Leach from New Zealand’s University of Otago is something of a pavlova expert.

“I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared,” the author of The Pavlova Story told the Daily Telegraph.

This reminds me that Deborah and Kate  made requests for my recipe.

It came from the mother of a friend. We met on our first day at high school after her parents had retired from a farm in South Otago. Our parents became friends too and, as friends do, swapped recipes, including this one.

The slow adding of sugar and long, slow cooking both seem to be important. The result is a pavlova which is crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.

Peggy Sheat’s Pavlova

4 egg whites                                pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sugar                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons water               1/2 teaspoon vinegar *

3 dessertspoons cornflour *

Beat whites to soft peak stage.

Add water & beat to mix.

Add sugar gradually (about 10 teaspoons at a time) beating well between additions – this should take at least 10 minutes.

Add cornflour, salt, vanilla and Vinegar.

Spoon onto baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake 140 degrees for 10 minutes,  130 degrees for 20 minutes then 110 degrees for 30 minutes.  **

Turn oven off and leave pavlova in until it cools – but only if oven is clean, if it’s not the pavlova will take on the aromas from the oven – or so I’m told because I’ve never had a dirty oven  🙂

When cool turn onto serving dish crisp side down, cover with whipped cream and pile fruit on top – kiwifruit in winter and berries in summer.

* If cooking for people with  a gluten allergy make sure you use maize cornflour & white vinegar rather than malt.

** The temperatures are from memory because the recipe is in Fahrenheit –  275 f for 10 minutes, 25o f for 20 minutes and 200 for 30 minutes. If your ability to convert temperatures from F to C is better than mine I’d welcome more accurate figures.

MP at 20


Most of the news in New Zealand about the Australian election focussed on who would form the government.

There are a lot of other stories:

Twenty-year-old Wyatt Roy won Longman, a seat taking in suburbs north of Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast, by a slim margin for the Liberal Party at the August 21 election, which also produced other political “firsts”.

WA Liberal MP Ken Wyatt is Australia’s first Indigenous member of the lower house.  There is also a Greens MP elected at a federal election for the first time – Melbourne’s Adam Bandt.

The Australian  reports:

Mr Roy spent his first official day in Parliament yesterday sitting next to the longest serving MP, Philip Ruddock, 67, who took him under his wing.

Mr Ruddock was elected in 1973, 17 years before Mr Roy was born.

He sounds like he’s enjoying the experience, but some things will take a bit of getting used to:

The country’s youngest federal MP, Wyatt Roy, says he is uncomfortable with the formality of some at Parliament House.

“I would much rather they call me Wyatt. I was talking to some of the parliamentary staff today and I said, ‘oh no, call me Wyatt’,” he said.

“They have to call me Mr Roy, and I said, ‘well in the military you salute the rank’, and I suppose here it is about the position and not the person.”

We were in Australia on election day and saw Roy interviewed on television.

He was articulate and came across as mature for his age and very grounded. He’ll need to be because being Australia’s youngest MP will mean he is likely to get more attention than most other new MPs.

His profile is here.

Google tells me that New Zealand’s youngest MP was Marilyn Waring who was 22 when she elected. If memory serves me correctly Simon Upton was the next youngest at 23.

The independents are going with:


Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter announced he was supporting the Liberal-led coalition  earlier today making it 74-all for the two main parties.

Jack the Insider, live blogger for the Australian, says Tony Windsor has given his support to Labor.

That makes it 75-74 to Labor.

Windsor is taking questions then the other independent, Rob Oakeshott will make his announcement soon.


From Jack’s live blog:

RO says neither party has a mandate
Oakeshott talking about the new parliament and how it will function but still no decision
Oakeshott – a hard decision , line ball judgment decision. “Could not get any closer”.
Oakeshott hinting he will support Labor
On now and still not confirming which way he will go.
RO certainly likes to create suspense
I’m going to call this. Oakeshott supports Labor
Labor. RO supports Labor on rural education.
Both Windsor and Oakeshott will support the government

Tuesday September 7, 2010 3:31 
Gillard can now form minority government
Labor wins. 76 – 74

The ABC reports:

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia’s political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.

Mr Oakeshott’s and Mr Windsor’s decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.

Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.

It is a fragile majority and it will take a lot of skill to hold it together for the parliamentary term.

 When Jenny Shipley was leading a minority government here she said she used to wake up each day and do the numbers, and she knew she couldn’t always rely on her own team. Julia Gillard will be in a very similar position.

Goose, golden egg


In New Zealand we’ve had thousands of people marching in protest at the suggestion that the potential for mining on conservation land be investigated.

When we were in Australia a couple of weeks the papers were full of stories on the government’s proposal to levy a super tax on mining, almost all of which were in support of the mining companies.

Here’ we’d probably have people saying sock it to ’em. There people understand the part mining plays in the economy and what it contributes to the country’s wealth.

The tax is seen as the government’s attempt to kill the goose which lays the country’s golden eggs and most people recognise that hurting mining hurts them too.

Govt to Govt to get NZ apples in to Australia


Orchardists have been cautious about celebrating the news that the World Trade Organisation ruled in New Zealand’s favour in the dispute over access to Australia for our apples.

The caution is because Australia could appeal the ruling.

However Trans Tasman reports that a government to government initiative might ensure the ruling is upheld.

The Trans Tasman Political Letter says NZ is looking for a way to
settle the apple export row at Government level, after NZ’s WTO
victory. It notes NZ may have won its case in the WTO court
against Australia’s barriers on the sale of NZ apples in the
Australian market, but no-one on this side of the Tasman believes
the battle has been finally won.  

As Trans-Tasman reported earlier this week, The WTO panel has
comprehensively rejected the Aust argument, and its use of
quarantine regulation as a de facto trade barrier. Clearly the
issue should now be settled at the political level, and both
Govts may have thought it a good idea to keep the WTO report
under wraps until after the Federal election.  

Trans Tasman says each Govt received the interim report at the
end of last month, and Canberra could be wary of unleashing the
fury of Aust. Apple growers in the run-up to the election.
However with a Labor Govt in power, the influence of the apple
growers mainly in seats held by Liberal or National MPs may be
less dominant. Theoretically,the Rudd Govt should be swayed more
by the interests of consumers. The NZ Govt has been looking at
how to negotiate a settlement, based on the WTO’s panel interim

TransTasman says Trade Minister Tim Groser is expected to explore
what shape a fair and final resolution could take when he talks
with his counterpart Simon Crean on the sidelines of the Cairns
Group meeting in Punta del Este early next week.  

However Trans Tasman adds NZ knows from past experience, even
when the science has been overwhelmingly conclusive, the Aust
bureaucracy has always found a way to frustrate an outcome in
NZ’s favour. With the full weight of the WTO swinging behind NZ,
Aust will risk making itself a laughing stock preaching free
trade out of one corner of its mouth while it practises
protectionism out of the other.

The observation that the Rudd government may be swayed by the interests of consumers reinforces that the ban on New Zealand apples doesn’t just handicap our apple producers, it adds to the costs and limits choice for Australian consumers.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean had earlier welcomed the WTO decision.

“This is a great day for Central Otago growers who have pinned their hopes on gaining access to markets across the Tasman.

“It has been a complicated and sometimes frustrating journey to get to this point, but now that we’re here I know that apple growers will be relieved and delighted.

“I see this decision as a vindication for Central Otago growers who have argued long and hard that the Australian ban should be lifted.

“It will be a major shot in the arm for Central apple growers, giving the industry new hope, and new markets for the future.

“Access to Australia could be worth millions to apple growers in this country and has the potential to turn the industry around.”

The Australian market could take up to 5 percent of the national crop and be worth $20 million a year.

Not everyone is so positive, (Hat Tip Andrei at NZ Conservative) Ozy Mandias wants to send Aussies our rotten apples:

Deep down my real concern is that it won’t take them long to claim our apples as there own. As New Zealanders we are constantly being ripped off by our neighbours as year after year they take our best and claim it for themselves. From racehorses to food to bands  to celebrities they have raped and pillaged the best of our little country and the next thing on their list will be our apples. . .  

My other concern is that soon we will have nothing left in New Zealand at all. . . They say that Auckland is the capital city of Samoa. Within a few years Sydney will be the capital city of New Zealand and Wellington the capital of nothing more than a strong breeze. I hadn’t been too worried about this trend, clinging to the words of former PM Muldoon that “when a New Zealander leaves for Australia they improve the IQ of both nations”. However, I never envisaged that they would move from importing people to importing our most valuable asset, apples. I wonder if Muldoon’s quote still holds true with apples??

Ag exempt from Aussie ETS


The Melbourne Age reports:

Labor has agreed to a keystone Coalition demand that agriculture be excluded permanently from the carbon pollution reduction scheme, raising hopes that Government legislation will pass through Parliament before the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

And the Australian reports Kevin Rudd:

. . . confirmed the government had agreed with the Coalition to exclude agriculture from its proposed emissions trading scheme, to be debated in Parliament this week.

This is one of the reasons that an ETS won’t be imposed on farming in New Zealand when it’s first introduced.

If our ETS isn’t in step with Australia’s we’ll be exporting production across the Tasman, making no reduction in global emissions and depressing the economy in the process.

Bridging the Tasman


It is often cheaper to fly across the Tasman than it is to fly between the North and South Islands.

New Zealand is closer to the east coast of Australia than much of the rest of the country.

We speak more or less the same language, have similar cultures and the many things we have in common are more important than the few which divide us.

Australia is our nearest significant neighbour and provides a market about five times bigger than we have at home.

There is no doubt we need them but the traffic is not all one way, Australia needs us too.

If it is to have the influence and power in the South Pacific to which it aspires, our co-operation and support are essential.

We both have a lot to gain and little to loose from bridging the Tasman and the single economic market to which the government is committed is a vital plank in the bridge.

Commerce Minister Simon Power reiterated the importance of a seamless operating market for Australian and New Zealand businesses in a speech at the Institute of International Affairs seminar.

“Our ambition is that a New Zealand company can conduct its business as easily in Australia as it can at home, and vice-versa,” Mr Power said.

“The easier we can make it for companies to operate in both New Zealand and Australia by removing unnecessary barriers, the greater the opportunities for business to make substantive productivity gains and take up new opportunities that will underpin long-term business growth.”

He said the government has identified a framework of principles and outcomes for accelerating the benefits for business which include:

  • Enabling trans-Tasman businesses to file company information only once while meeting the requirements of both governments.
  • Establishing a single set of accounting standards.
  • Establishing a single insolvency proceeding.
  • Further exploring the sharing of competition and consumer regulations, and cross representation on the New Zealand Commerce Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Changes in immigration and customs controls have made the trip between Australia and New Zealand faster and easier for people. The changes Power is aiming for will make Trans Tasman business easier too.

Holding hands across the water


A population of four million people isn’t a very big city by international standards and makes us a very small country.

When we’re so small we need good mates, and no relationship is more important for New Zealand than that with our closest and biggest neighbour, Australia.

The joint statement from Prime Ministers John Key and Kevin Rudd  commits to strengthening trans-Tasman economic integration; streamlining travel and trade between the two countries,;co-operation between our Productivity Commissions,;collaboration on the design, implementation and a linking of emissions trading schemes; and continuing very close defence relationships.

Both countries have a lot to gain from all of these but I am not convinced we should go as far as a common currency.

Using euros in several countries makes travelling in Europe much easier for tourists. But locals gave us the impression that the countries with stronger currencies had benefitted more and those with weaker ones had found it costlier. If that is so it might not be as good for us as Australia.

(That is based on anecdote, you’ll get a more scientific analysis at The Visible Hand where Matt Nolan has the pros and cons of a common currency).

While holding hands across the Tasman has benefits for both of us, the sporting rivalry will always remain. Both Prime Ministers have an extra reason to hope their team wins the rugby tomorrow because they’ve agreed the one whose team loses will wear the other team’s tie on Monday.

Fushnchups causing indigestion


Goodness me, aren’t we sensitive wee souls?

Fush ‘n’ chups , is a tongue in cheek guide to help Aussies bridge the Trans-Tasman cultural divide but some people are swallowing it whole and not not liking the taste.

Come on guys, wake up and smell the feesh n cheeps. We need to faice up to our national foibles with a smoile or they’ll theenk we don’t have a sense of humour.

Open border mustn’t risk bio security?


The idea of reclassifying Trans-Tasman flights as domestic rather than international  is a good one – with the proviso that bio-security controls are maintained.

New Zealand and Australia have the strictest bio-security border controls I’ve encountered for very good reasons. Both are bordered by sea which makes it more difficult for accidental incursions by unwanted species or infections; and primary production is very important to both economies.

The ability to travel more easily across the Tasman has many advantages but it mustn’t come with any risk to our plants and animals. 

There are still some things in each country which the other doesn’t want and if our Trans-Tasman travel is freed from passport controls both countries will need to ensure that bio-security controls aren’t relaxed too.

Aussies put ETS on hold


The Australian government has put its Emissions Trading Scheme on hold.

A parliamentary committee has been asked to inquire into the effectiveness of emissions trading as a means to reduce carbon pollution.

How very sensible.

Whether or not the climate is changing there is no point inflicting an expensive exercise on people and businesses if it’s not going to reduce carbon pollution.

Hat Tip: Dear John

Hand across the water



Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson uses four words, the ODT editorial  needs more but has a similar message.

PM of NZ also has a poignant image  of the tragedy.

Chop chop


The Aussies have got it: the only rescue package we need is wrapped in butchers’ paper . . .

Although vegetarians may prefer this  from Busted Blonde.

Australia Day – Aussies do it better


There are many areas in which New Zealand can claim superiority over Australia but I’ll concede defeat in one area of trans-Tasman rivalry and that’s in the celebration of the national Day.

Australians win because they’ve got one and we haven’t and because they really do celebrate.

From the time we arrived on Thursday we were confronted with reminders that Australia Day was coming up: shop windows celebrated Australiana; yesterday lots of cars were festooned with flags; the Strand in Townsville was alive with people in a party mood last night and the news today is celebrating Australia and its people.

The day isn’t without controversy however. The Australian of the Year is Professor Mick Dodson who has called for Australia Day to be moved because most indigenous people regard the date as “invasion day”.

Strewth – the Don’s dropped from Aust citizenship test


Stone the crows and put another prawn on the barbie – Bradman’s out and an understanding of what it means to be an Aussie is in.

Australia is to drop the general knowledge test for prospective immigrants, replacing it with a new test which focuses on the pledge of commitment new immigrants are required to make.

I’m not sure how I’d do in a general knowledge test about New Zealand, but I did the Australian practice test   and scored 5 out of 5, although I have to confess that the name of the national flower was a guess, and I’ve already forgotten the answer.

Another reflection on failed policies of the noughties


New Zealand’s had its lowest net migration gain  in any 12 month period for seven years in the year to October.

Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) today said there were 87,400 permanent and long term (PLT) arrivals in the year.

While that figure was up 6 percent from the October 2007 year, the 83,000 PLT departures were up 10 percent.

As a result net PLT migration was just 4300, down from 7500 in the October 2007 year and the lowest since 1700 in the October 2001 year.

The 34,600 net PLT outflow to Australia in the October 2008 year was the highest in at least 30 years.

How long do we give the new government to reverse this trend and how long can we blame this sort of bad statistic on the failed policies of the noughties?

Australia’s most sexist


Australia’s annaul award for outrageous sexism has gone to the outback mayor who pleaded for lovelorn female “ugly ducklings” to reverse a shortage of eligible women in a remote mining town.

Mount Isa Mayor John Malony infuriated women in August with a suggestion that “with five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa”, in northwest Queensland state.

“I think the message is ever vigilant, ever watchful, keeping people, keeping blokes on their toes and making sure that we name and shame them,” annual Ernies’ award organiser and lawmaker Meredith Burgmann told state radio.

The annual awards have 10 categories and are decided by the level of boos, jeers and stamping of feet at women’s-only event held at the New South Wales state parliament in Sydney.

Malony earned his top golden Ernie award with a defence that “The protesters are blaming me for their looks”.

At the time, the mayor said he was “telling it like it is” in a testosterone-laden town more famous for cowboys and mining lead, silver, copper and zinc than for matchmaking, sitting atop one of the world’s biggest underground mines.

You can read about the placegetters here. But in case it depresses you too much to read to the end it does finish on a positivie note.  

Rugby Union international Brendan Cannon won the yearly Good Ernie “for boys behaving better” after saying: “I don’t want my daughter Phoebe growing up in the country where almost all women will be victims of physical violence or sexual abuse during their lifetimes”.
I hope “almost all” is an overstatement.

Photo finish for Melbourne Cup


The 2008 Melbourne Cup winner was a photo finish.

Viewed, trained by Bart Cummings and ridden by B. Shinn, was 1st.

Bauer trained by Luca Cumani and ridden by C. Brown came 2nd.

New Zealand horse C’est La Guerre trained by John Saddler ridden by B. Prebble was 3rd.

UPDATE: The official results are here.

A drought by any other name


It’s not only here that state silliness is rampant, it’s going on across the Tasman  too.

FEDERAL Government experts want people to use the word “dryness” to describe Australia’s worst drought in a century.

The word “drought” makes farmers feel bad, says the government’s hand-picked Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel.

 I’d be suspicious of a body with six words in its name to start with.

The politically-correct push also aims to make farmers accept that drier weather is here to stay, and is not a temporary crisis, the panel’s newly released report says.“Words like drought … have negative connotations for farm families,” the report said.


 Would that have even the tiniest, little, wee bit to do with the reality that droughts are negative experiences for farm families?

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