Taxing questions

February 11, 2019

What wasIRD thinking?

The taxman is researching the public’s views on globalisation and fairness in the tax system. Questions had included where respondents sit on the political spectrum, prompting questions of whether taxpayers are funding sensitive political polling. . .

After days of defending the research, Inland Revenue conceded on Saturday night that it was wrong to ask the political question.

“We should not have included the question about political spectrum,” group head of communications and marketing Andrew Stott said, adding that the department would not include the question in its research.

Inland Revenue was forced to reveal details of the $125,000 research project it is undertaking with polling company Colmar Brunton, after repeatedly playing down its significance. . .

A tweeter who was polled said she was also asked how much she trusts Air New Zealand and Fonterra and if large companies are paying their fair share.

IRD has admitted it was wrong to ask about political affiliation. Are questions about trusting two businesses and whether large companies are paying their fair share any better?

What relevance would that have to IRD’s business? Why would views on these matters matter to it?

IRD should be concentrating on policy and advice and leave politics and spin to the politicians.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2018

Grabbing life by the horns:

October 8th- 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Co-op farmer Wayne Langford knows what it’s like to suffer from mental illness. He’s the man behind the YOLO (You Only Live Once) farmer blog. He shares his story about owning up to his illness and how the YOLO project helped him cope with depression.

I was pretty down in the dumps – I referred to it as a rough patch, my wife called it what it really was – depression. We were lying in bed one morning and she said, “well, what are we going to do? Because we can’t go on like this.”

Most people who knew Wayne Langford knew this about him. He was 34, married to his wife Tyler and the father of three boys. He was a 6th generation dairy farmer who owned and ran his Golden Bay farm. He was a proud Fonterra supplier and was the Federated Farmers Dairy Vice Chairman. . .

Farm produce holds up trade deal:

New Zealand trade negotiators are trying to get their European counterparts to recognise Kiwi agricultural exports are small-fry in comparison to the regional bloc’s farming sector.

The second round of free-trade negotiations between NZ and the European Union is under way in Wellington with 31 European officials in the capital to discuss a deal politicians say they’re keen to fast-track. . . 

Kaitiakitanga and technology benefiting farmers, environment:

An innovative approach to monitoring farm effluent runoff is reaping financial rewards for farmers with bonuses for farming excellence.

Miraka, a Taupo-based milk processor with more than 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to farmers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme – people, the environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity
. . .

Farmers build rapport amid Mycoplasma bovis heartache – Tracy Neal:

Despite the fact they are not out of the woods yet, cattle farmers are starting to consider life after Mycoplasma bovis.

Finding that pathway will be helped by a special Beyond Bovis seminar in Hamilton later this month – held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show.

The government is working to eradicate M bovis and so far more than 43,000 cows have been culled. . .

High country station to host agricultural workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a shortage of young people wishing to work in the agriculture sectors, and industry consultant John Bates, of Alexandra, is developing a programme to help address the problem.

Lincoln University owns Mt Grand, a 2127ha high country station near Lake Hawea.

Profits from the farm help fund postgraduate and graduate scholarships.

It is also a teaching facility for university students studying environmental and ecological degrees. . . 

 

PGG Wrightson expects FY19 operating earnings to match prior year’s record – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson expects full-year operating earnings to be on par with last year’s record, including earnings from the seed and grain business that it is selling to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.

The company said it expects its operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to June 30, will be approximately $70 million. In August, it said its operating ebitda was a record $70.2 million in the year ended June. . . 

Virgin beefing up for transtasman battle

Weeks out from its breakup with Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia says it ready to roll out its “full armoury” in what is shaping up as a three-way battle over the Tasman.

The Australian airline is also trying to establish more of a market presence here after being quiet for much of the alliance with Air New Zealand that stretched more than six years but will end on October 28 after the Kiwi carrier opted to quit the partnership.

Virgin has since upped its marketing and following a search for a New Zealand beef supplier the airline today announced Hinterland Foods from Moawhango in the Rangitikei District had won the “Got Beef” campaign and would supply its meat to the airline for in-flight meals. . . 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2018

Virgin Australia hunting for New Zealand’s best meat – Sally Rae:

Virgin Australia has taken a not-so-subtle dig at rival airline Air New Zealand by launching a campaign to find New Zealand’s “finest meat supplier”.

Earlier this month, Air New Zealand announced it would be serving the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its business premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland flight.

That attracted ire from many in the rural sector, who believed the airline should be pushing the country’s premium products. . .

Young Vinnies show farmers their support – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Gavan Herlihy was “blown away” to receive handmade cards from school pupils to be distributed to farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Members of the Young Vinnies at St John’s School in Ranfurly were to be congratulated for the caring gesture, Mr Herlihy said.

It was a very stressful time for those affected and he expected receipt of the cards – which he was distributing on the pupils’ behalf – would be both treasured and appreciated. . .

Dairy herds may change from black and white to brown and brindle – Keith Woodford:

In coming years, we are likely to see the colour of New Zealand dairy cows change from predominant black and white to a mix containing more brown and brindle.  It will be a response to changes in the relative price of protein and fat.

Black and white Friesian cows produce about 1.2 kg of fat for every kg of protein.  In contrast, the brown Jerseys produce about 1.4 kg of fat for each kg of protein. Jersey milk is also richer with less water.  Jersey milk is about 5.7 percent fat whereas Friesian milk is about 4.5 percent.

For many years, protein has been worth a lot more than fat, but in the last two years that has changed. Milk protein prices are the lowest they have been for many years whereas fat prices are at record highs. This is the reason why butter is now so expensive in our supermarkets. . .

Third world water restrictions may be introduced if Waimea Dam canned – Cherie Sivignon:

Water tankers may be needed on the streets of Brightwater during severe droughts if the Waimea dam project is shelved.

“We’ll be slipping into Third World provisions [in a severe drought],” said Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne. “I think, the community doesn’t realise that’s what we have ahead of us without the dam.”

Kempthorne said he expected to be accused of scaremongering but the rules for tougher rationing in dry spells were in place under the no-dam provisions in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). The rationing and related restrictions would affect rural and urban water users in the Richmond, Hope, Mapua, Brightwater and Redwood Valley areas including businesses and industry. . .

Govt to appeal landmark negligence finding in Psa case – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Crown will appeal last month’s High Court’s decision that the government was negligent in allowing Psa, the virus which devastated the kiwifruit industry, into the country.

Psa infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and is estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports. The growers’ group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than $376 million in compensation. The group of 212 growers, led by Strathboss Kiwifruit and Seeka, claimed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – which was merged into the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2012 – was negligent under the Biosecurity Act. . .

Horticulture holds reduced levy

Horticulture growers voted to keep the levy at its current rate, at the Horticulture New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Christchurch today.

“Last year, we proposed reducing the levy by 0.01% to 0.14% (14c per $100 of sales) and this year, we recommended maintaining that rate,” Horticulture New Zealand Board Chairman Julian Raine says. . .

Young Farmer event wins national award:

An event bringing the country to Wellington has won a national award

A ground-breaking event which brought the country to the nation’s capital has received a sought-after award.

Wellington hosted the Taranaki/Manawatū Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

The contest was organised by Wellington Young Farmers and has been named the country’s best regional final in 2018. . .


Give wool front seat AirNZ

July 7, 2018

Air NZ should be publicizing wool not fake meat:

Federated Farmers is puzzled why our national carrier is making a song and dance about an overseas-produced plant protein burger but not the Kiwi company that supplies them with world-leading transportation fabrics.

“Air New Zealand has been offering vegetarian options on their in-flight menus for a long time. The Impossible Burger available on Business Premier flights between Los Angeles and Auckland for a few months is just another option,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

“Other dishes feature New Zealand-made produce and farmers are confident passengers will always make a place on their plate, and in their heart, for our natural tasting, grass-fed beef and lamb.  People come back to their tried and true favourites.”

Air New Zealand prides itself on being innovative, and like to partner with like-minded enterprises.

“Farmers understand that – we do it ourselves.  But why would our national carrier build an advertising campaign around a foreign product and not a cutting edge Kiwi firm supplying a key component made from a natural, sustainable New Zealand product?”

Inter-weave Ltd is a New Zealand owned and operated bespoke wool upholstery and home wares manufacturer. They combine leading design and technology with luxurious naturally-grown, New Zealand wool fibres to produce high quality, clean, anti-static, ethical textiles sold around the world.

The transportation fabrics Inter-weave supplies to Air New Zealand meet the highest flame retardant criteria. They are accredited with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and have Enviromark NZ diamond accreditation, the highest achievable in this programme.

“Typical of products made from wool, the fabrics are beautiful, have excellent durability and will perform exceedingly well under constant wear. Wool fibres have elasticity that allow them to recover to their original shape even after being stretched over 30%.”

It’s a great advertisement for New Zealand natural products, our farmers and an industry that is the lifeblood of rural communities, delivering a livelihood for thousands of Kiwi families.

“Seated in nature, and a Kiwi product flying high.  Sounds like a great basis for one of those cheeky and fun Air New Zealand advertising campaigns to me,” Miles says.

I sometimes choose vegetarian options and I’m open to genetic modification so I don’t have a problem with the airline offering fake meat.

But MIles has got it right, our national airline would have been better publicising our cutting-edge wool rather than the USA’s fake meat.

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Fight back against fake meat

July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand is serving the impossible burger:

Air New Zealand is giving customers a taste of the future with a new inflight collaboration with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods.

The airline is the first in the world to serve the award-winning, plant-based Impossible Burger which is now available as part of its Business Premier menu on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants. The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever. . . 

Air New Zealand will serve the Impossible Burger on flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland through until late October.

Many farmers and some MPs aren’t impressed that the national airline is serving fake meat.

Shouldn’t it be showcasing New Zealand’s fine, free range real meat?

The fake meat burgers will only be served on flights from the USA when the airline is less likely to be using New Zealand produce and only for three months.

But alternative proteins are one of the challenges facing traditional primary producers.

Fake meat is being sold as healthier and better for the environment, but is it?

Joanna Blythman thinks not and says: Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow :

The Impossible Burger is arguably the perfect veggie analog to the ubiquitous beef burger and it is making a big splash as the veggie burger that ‘bleeds’. Joanna Blythman, a renowned investigator of the unpronounceable ingredients in processed food, has a look at the newest fake meat arrival.

The ‘Impossible Burger’ is being marketed in the US as the revolutionary product that will make meat redundant. Its ingredients are as follows: water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, leghemoglobin (soy), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, vitamins and zinc.

Now even for me, a seasoned investigator of obscure techno-ingredients, this list requires annotation. Let’s start with its first ingredient by weight: water. Suffice it to say that no quality product uses it as a bulk ingredient. Textured wheat protein, potato protein and soya protein isolate are all powdery derivatives, extracted from their eponymous food using hi-tech chemical and physical methods that are veiled in commercial secrecy. Coconut oil has a trendy ‘superfood’ ring to it, except that here it isn’t raw, so the inherent nutrition of the nut has been heavily compromised by the harsh industrial refining process to which it has been subjected. Konjac and xanthan are industrial hydrocolloid gums. (The latter was designed to thicken the drilling mud in the oil industry.) Their role here is to absorb all that water and glue together ingredients that wouldn’t naturally bond. . . 

She goes on to dissect the flavourings which don’t sound very appetising either.

And what of the most arcane ingredient in this faux meat? Soy leghemoglobin (SLH) is a vat-grown, genetically engineered form of the heme iron found in the root nodules of soybean plants. We’re told that it gives the fake meat a ‘bloody’, meat-like taste and colour. It has emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration’s view is that “the current arguments at hand, individually and collectively, were not enough to establish the safety of SLH for consumption”. . .

I am open to the use of genetic modification but I suspect many of those lauding fake meat as better than the real thing aren’t.

So that’s the Impossible Burger: water, protein powders, glues, factory flavourings, flavour enhancers, synthetic vitamins – all signifiers of low-grade, ultra-processed food – and a novel ingredient that has no proven track record of safety.

Reading this list of ingredients, it’s not the sort of product that I, and many other food-aware citizens, would buy. It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. I’d have absolutely no chance of tracing the origins or uncovering any substantive detail on the assiduously guarded production methods behind its utterly anonymous components.

And although the sales pitch for the Impossible burger is that it’s ‘made from simple, all-natural ingredients’, it’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food engineers and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory – not the kitchen, farm or field – and people who believe that everything nature can do, man can do so much better, and more profitably. . .

I’m also awed by nature’s complex systems that gift us humans the privilege of nutritionally perfect, health-giving natural foods, be they eggs, milk, meat, cereals, or fruit and vegetables. Cutting-edge food engineers who create ‘plant meat’ are undeniably clever, but they do not have nature’s sure nutritional judgment, good taste, and wise, all-seeing intelligence, or fully understand how her elaborate natural systems work.

It’s a great pity that the vegan versus omnivore debate has become so heated and binary. The equation that plant food is good and animal food is bad, is simplistic at best. Those who rush to embrace the ‘plant meat’ revolution as our environmental and ethical salvation, fail to interrogate the product in any deeper way, and that’s a significant blind spot in evaluating its ultimate sustainability and moral rightness.

Like it or not, there’s a market for fake meat and as Landcare Trust Nelson-Marlborough coordinator  Annette Litherland says, farmers must find ‘sweet spot’ of economic, environmental sustainability if we’re going to compete with it.


Minister shouldn’t mind business’s business

March 21, 2018

Air New Zealand chair Tony Carter has written to Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to reinforce the airline’s independence:

Mr Carter noted that the Crown’s shareholding in the publicly listed airline gives it equal rights to all other ordinary shareholders.

Mr Carter drew attention to recent examples where the Regional Economic Development Minister has publicly criticised Air New Zealand in relation to operational decisions regarding regional air services, while at the same time making reference to the Crown’s 51% shareholding.

“Any appearance of a lack of commercial independence is viewed seriously by the Air New Zealand Board and is ultimately potentially damaging to the interests of all shareholders, including the Crown.”

He was responding to criticism from Shane Jones over the ending of flights to and from Kapati:

Jones is encouraging mayoral leaders to approach the government with “solutions” and he wants to see a policy that ensures flight connectivity in the regions continues.

“The immediate solution lies with (Air NZ). They’ve taken a strategy to increase profit by downgrading provinces and you can’t tell me that they haven’t done that.”

He said former prime minister Sir John Key was on the Air NZ board and was in a position to “change the strategy and priorities”.

Air NZ should “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to supporting provincial providers, Jones said.

“My whole phone has been clogged by our fellow Kiwis ringing with tales of woe from the provinces. I mean the sad thing is whilst they’re a brand promoting New Zealand to the rest of the world, in respect of servicing…it’s not good enough.”

Jones said regional NZ got better treatment from second-hand car dealers than Air NZ. . . 

National MP Nathan Guy who represents the Otaki electorate which includes the Kapati Coast, has launched a petition urging the airline to keep the flights.

As National’s regional economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith says, that’s what local MPs do:

Obviously you’d expect the local member to be advocating vigorously for his local community. I’m just saying that every commercial industry needs to operate on commercial lines,” Goldsmith said.

“It’s up to Air NZ to deal with their arrangements. Parts of regional New Zealand should be well served by Air NZ and they have to work through whether particular regions stack up.

“I would hope, particularly in Kapiti, they’d think very carefully before they cut down in that area.”

A local MP in opposition has a lot more freedom than a Minister and Jones could do well to follow his opposition counterpart’s example in choosing his words carefully.

Majority public ownership doesn’t give the government the right to tell a company what to do.

Ministers must be very careful not to mind business’s business.

I have sympathy for Kapati people who are losing flights but Air NZ’s departure could open the door to a smaller airline which could provide a similar service.


KiwiDaze

May 3, 2016

A new video documenting 25 year old Kiwi plumber Logan Dodds’ ultimate New Zealand OE is set to inspire young New Zealanders to get out and explore their backyard.

Air New Zealand has supported Logan Dodds and his friend Trent Nattrass to experience all New Zealand has to offer – the end result KiwiDaze – an epic four minute video showcasing their adventures and jaw dropping scenery throughout the country over six weeks of summer. . .


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