National’s refreshed responsibilities


Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.

Farmer confidence plummets


Farmer confidence has plummeted again:

Farmer confidence is at its lowest level since the March 2016 quarter, with many citing central Government policy as the reason for concern, according to the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.

Overall net confidence has dropped from -2 per cent in the previous quarter to -33 per cent and the percentage of farmers expecting the rural economy to worsen over the next 12 months has risen by 18 per cent to 43 per cent.

“That’s extraordinary at a time when prices across most farming sectors are up on where they’ve been in recent years. Farmer confidence is now at levels not seen since we were in the grip of the dairy downturn,” Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon said.

“Government policy is identified as the key worry, with a host of measures being introduced that will affect the profitability and viability of farming.”

We have spent the last week in Western Australia with some of the top farmers from both sides of the Tasman.

Some of the Australians are battling drought but the mood among them was generally positive.

The broad acre farming in the Esperance hinterland is very different from New Zealand conditions and systems. We could only wonder how they could grow wheat when they’d had only 150 mms of rain.

The weather in New Zealand hasn’t been causing much concern and markets for everything except strong wool are buoyant, it’s government policies which are driving down farmer confidence here.

The implement this tractor is towing is mulching gum stumps from hundreds of hectares of felled gum trees in preparation for sowing crops and pasture.

That contrasts with New Zealand where many thousands of hectares of productive farmland is being covered with pine trees, with government encouragement and subsidies.

Sixty-eight per cent of farmers with a negative outlook identified government policy, such as freshwater reform and future greenhouse gas obligations, as a primary reason for their concern.

“Farmers are singled out in the Zero Carbon Bill as the only industry not allowed to offset their carbon emissions, while heavy industry and other polluters can. That makes no sense,” Falloon said. . . 

Australian farmers had no concerns about being forced into an emissions trading scheme and generally face much more relaxed policies around the environment than those we’re being threatened with.

Farm produce is much less important to the Australian economy than  it is to New Zealand’s but their farmers felt better understood and appreciated than ours do.

When we’ve been on trips like this before, we return home thinking it’s easier to farm on our side of the Tasman. But this time we’ve come home thinking that when it comes to government policy, it’s much better for farmers there than here.

Rural round-up


South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .


Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 

Andrew Falloon’s maiden speech


Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon’s maiden speech:

Thank you Mr Speaker. Congratulations on your election, and congratulations to your fellow presiding officers.

I stand here today the proud son of Shirley and John, and grandson of Ron and Joan, Arthur and Eva.

My family have sacrificed much for me to be here.

My paternal grandfather contracted polio as a child, making farming a struggle for my father’s family on their farm just outside of Waimate.

My maternal grandfather passed away at a young age, leaving my grandmother to raise three daughters on her own.

Gender equality was borne out of necessity – she did the work of two men, and raised three strong and independent women.

She was a formidable woman, and had a huge impact on me growing up.

My father spent much of my childhood growing his small business, so much of the heavy lifting of raising my sister Anna and I fell to my mother.

On top of looking after two kids, holding down a job, and being involved in a variety of worthy causes, she made the time to go to night school.

She’s always been an example to me of the importance of education, and of lifelong learning.

I’m a firm believer that we are products of our environment.

That the people we meet, and the experiences we have shape who we become.

In that sense, I recognise my privilege.

I come from a loving family. Two parents, still together.

I was born and raised in Ashburton, at the northern end of the Rangitata electorate, the sort of place you wouldn’t have thought twice about letting your kids stay out kicking a ball around the local park until sunset.

The Rangitata electorate I’m proud to represent spans much of Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury.

Unlike the 20 or so Auckland MPs who have to share a pretty average rugby team, I’m spoilt with two strong Heartland teams.

In the west we have the Southern Alps and Mt Hutt, rising high above the Canterbury plains below, with picturesque communities like Methven, Mount Somers, Staveley and Mayfield not far away.

Travelling south, the electorate cuts in to the east when you reach the Rangitata River, tracing the outskirts of distinct and diverse communities like Temuka, Orari, Winchester and Pleasant Point.

Timaru, where my wife Rose and I live, lies at the southern boundary.

Home to a thriving port, major food processing and manufacturing plants, artisan cheese, craft beer, excellent coffee and of course Caroline Bay, the Riviera of the South.

If you haven’t visited yet, to quote a questionable Australian marketing campaign: “where the bloody hell are ya?”

Further north, the coastline turns rugged, with hut settlements looking out over the ferocious South Pacific Ocean.

You’ll often find me at the Rangitata Huts, outside of mobile phone coverage (my apologies in advance to the Senior Whip), hiking the coastal trails, or trying to catch some dinner.

Further inland are the towns and settlements of Fairton, Hinds, Wakanui, Winchmore and Ashburton Forks, all surrounded by rich and fertile soils, which help make Mid and South Canterbury a food basket for the world.

In all of these communities you’ll find the friendliest and most welcoming people you’re ever likely to meet.

I am honoured and humbled to be their servant in our House of Representatives.

I went to my local Primary, Allenton School, where my mother worked in the office for twenty years.

After being sent to the Principal’s office just once I quickly learned that the growling I’d get from him would pale in comparison to what I’d get from her.

While I was at Ashburton Intermediate I became a keen rugby player for my local club Allenton, and with dreams of becoming an All Black, I enrolled as a boarder at Christchurch Boys’ High School.

Known as one of the most prolific producers of All Blacks, Christchurch Boys’ have produced 46 at last count, sadly my talent and training only got me as far as the mighty third fifteen.

By that time my attention had turned elsewhere.

I started studying economics in Year 10, 20 years ago, and haven’t stopped since then.

I credit this, and some exceptional teachers, with encouraging an early interest in politics.

More than anyone I thank Doctor Bruce Harding, my Year 13 English teacher, for fostering debate, treating us like adults, and goading me into arguing with him daily.

He was a staunch Alliance supporter, so I’m not sure he’ll appreciate my thanks, or that I’ve gone on to become a National Party MP.

I had a year off, pulling pints in London and backpacking around Europe, and came home to study Political Science and Economics at the University of Canterbury.

Coming from Ashburton, these years in Christchurch, and stints in London and later Wellington were quite a shock.

I’m still not entirely comfortable in big cities.

Throughout High School and University I was home in Ashburton every chance I got.

Working on dad’s cousin’s pig farm.

I learned more there than I’ve learned anywhere else.

The value of hard work.

An entirely new and colourful vocabulary.

I’m still trying to unlearn it.

But above all it’s given me an understanding of the huge importance of our primary sector, for jobs, for exports, and for what we eat and drink.

Following university I came to work in this place, never expecting I would be here nearly a decade.

I worked on some fascinating issues.

Auckland governance reforms.
Foreign charter vessels.
The International Convention Centre.
I visited some incredible places: India. Colombia. Indonesia.

But what I’ll remember most are the people.

My colleagues I worked with, all of whom were here because they wanted to make New Zealand a better place.

Mr Speaker, traditionally maiden speeches are a time for new MPs to talk about what they want to achieve during their time in Parliament.

I recall once reading a speech by Roger Douglas, the architect of free market reform in the fourth Labour Government.

In it he called for the state-backed construction of carpet manufacturing plants across the length and breadth of New Zealand.

I can only hope my vision for our country stands the test of time a little more.

New Zealand is a wonderful country, but I believe our best days are ahead of us.

I’m here because I want to contribute to making that a reality.

I’m not here to eat my lunch.

I want to see New Zealand continue to develop into a small, confident, outwardly focused country.

A country that remembers its history, but looks to the future.

A country that overcomes challenges rather than becoming consumed by them.

As the world grows smaller and as technology advances, the things that once held us back, like our distance, become less important, and for biosecurity and our environment, become our strengths.

Our population, too small for a sizeable domestic market, means that we have to trade.

To quote one of my colleagues – New Zealand companies are barely out of nappies before they have to start selling offshore.

That’s why I’m a strong supporter of free trade – we cannot hope to become prosperous and successful as a country of 4.7 million people trading with ourselves, and turning our back on the world.

The benefits of trade are enormous.

Where that’s most felt, isn’t Ponsonby or Panmure, Khandallah or Karori; it’s in regional New Zealand.

On the back of the China Free Trade Agreement, trade with China has tripled in the last decade.

Half the pizzas in China are topped with mozzarella from Fonterra’s Clandeboye plant in my electorate.

We now need to redouble our efforts in new and growing markets like South America and the Middle East, and do much more in Africa.

I’m incredibly nervous about talk of cutting migrant numbers.

The local economy is growing strongly in my area.

We simply don’t have enough people to do the jobs that are available.

A large cut to work visas would stall growth in the regions.

We have to move away from blaming migration for the social ill of the day.

Mr Speaker, the world is changing rapidly.

It’s important we continue to offer an education to our young people that will help prepare them for a future we cannot today imagine.

We have world class schools and universities.

But I am concerned there is a notion prevalent in too many of our high schools that their role is solely to train kids to go to university.

Farming and the trades have to be given a far more equal weighting when educating our young people about their career options.

Mr Speaker, we have much to be proud of.

We are a vibrant, multicultural society.

We are addressing past injustices.

But we can’t rest.

In the last year more than 600 New Zealanders took their own lives.

There’s no single answer, no silver bullet to fix that.

I was pleased that the last Government set aside $100 million as part of Budget 2017 to investigate new approaches – we have to accept what we have now isn’t working.

When 600 of our fellow Kiwis are dying at their own hands we have to say this is unacceptable.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties three of my best friends took their own lives in tragic circumstances.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more for them.

It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away.

I was fortunate that it was about this time, when I was at University, I met someone who helped me through it.

I wouldn’t be here without her.

Her name is Rose, and the best moment of my life was when she agreed to marry me.

Mr Speaker, before I end I have a few people to acknowledge.

No campaign is run by one person and the most successful campaigns have too many people to thank.

But there are a number of people without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.

My family are here in the Gallery today, and they’ve been nothing but supportive, despite I think a healthy degree of scepticism about politics and politicians.

Thank you for your support, and for listening to me prattle on for years about stuff you couldn’t care less about.

The three Ministers I worked for: Rodney Hide, Phil Heatley and Steven Joyce.

Thank you for your guidance, your patience, the opportunity and your friendship.

Thank you to my campaign team: Jess Letham, Mark Oldfield, John Hunt, Colin Truman, John Driscoll and Allan Booth.

My campaign chair Alison Driscoll, still not a single disagreement in seven months, a pretty remarkable achievement, particularly for me.

Fellow Rangitata candidates: Olly, Jo, Tom and Mojo; thank you for a good natured campaign.

I learned something from all of you.

It’s great to see Jo here as a Labour list MP, but incredibly sad that Mojo Mathers wasn’t high enough on the Greens’ list to return.

To my predecessor the Hon Jo Goodhew.

Thank you for being a constant source of advice and guidance, and for the job you did as our local MP for many years.

Finally, to my wonderful wife Rose.

Thank you for joining me on another journey.

Water tax now for roads


Taxing farmers who aren’t degrading water to help clean up those who are was always a bad idea.

At first what was left of the tax after some was given to Iwi was going to stay in the region from which it was collected.

Then the bad tax idea became worse.

At least some was going to go to other regions, maybe even urban areas.

Now it’s got worse still.

It wouldn’t even be used to improve waterways, some could be used for roads:

National Party Candidate for Rangitata Andrew Falloon is demanding clarity from the Labour Party on their proposed water tax which would have a big impact on productive businesses and jobs in the district.

“Labour have claimed in public that the revenue from their water tax would go toward clean-up of waterways.

“On Thursday night at a Meet the Candidates meeting in Temuka, Rangitata candidate Jo Luxton said that David Parker had offered some of the water tax revenue for spending on roads in a closed-door meeting with the Ashburton District Council.

“I’ve since had that conversation confirmed by an Ashburton District Councillor.

“Once again the Labour Party are saying one thing in public, and something else in secret.

“Either the tax is for waterways, or it’s a general extra tax on farmers and the productive sector.

“Three weeks out from the election, Labour still won’t answer basic questions about their water tax:

How much would it be?
How much would go to iwi?
What would the rest be spent on?
Why would major water users in urban areas, like Coca Cola, be exempt from the tax?

“David Parker and the Labour Party need to be honest with the people of Canterbury about how much the water tax would be and what they’d do with money raised from it,” Falloon says.

Parker has confirmed that some of the tax could go on roads:

When contacted on Friday, Parker said revenue would primarily need to be distributed to regional councils to clean up waterways.

However, money left over could be given to local councils, which would “decide what to do with it”, he said.

This means Labour hasn’t even bothered to find out if councils need more money to clean up water ways.

I hope no-one is holding their breath waiting for answers to the many questions raised over this tax.

Even if Labour did give answers, how could you trust them when what they say the tax would be used for changes so often.

Each change confirms that this policy is motivated not by environmental concerns but the perverse political aim to punish farmers and widen the urban-rural divide.

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