Compassionate conservatism trumps good intentions

February 15, 2018

Bernard Hickey writes of Bill English:

. . . He talked of his admiration for his father-in-law’s family ethos and hard work in raising a big family in Wellington, despite the struggles of arriving with little from Samoa in an unfamiliar city. He also talked about a quiet chat he had with a kaumatua on a marae about the problems of Māori youth, and the need for strong communities with their own resources. His point was that he admired the self-reliance and quiet conservatism of family and community life. He saw his role as helping those communities and pulling Government out of the way to let them get on with it. It wasn’t an ugly or dry form of libertarian scorched-earth politics. It was a deeply humane and thoughtful approach where Government was supposed to treat people with empathy and dignity and as individuals, rather than as just another beneficiary locked into welfare for life. His views on helping to lift people out of poverty were a precursor to his championing of the social investment approach, which he was only just starting to roll out through the Government as Labour returned to power in late October.

As he spoke about his in-laws and his wife and the dignity and self-reliance of those conservative Samoan and Māori communities, he stopped for a few moments. The tears rolled down his nose and splashed onto the lecturn. You could hear a pin drop. The audience was with him though. English’s story was utterly authentic and thoughtful and showed a depth of humility and humanity that struck a chord that night. He got a standing ovation when he finished.

Since then I’ve listened to English give countless speeches off the cuff that connect with audiences of all types up and down the land. Some thought he was a dry policy wonk who would struggle on the campaign trail, but I was sure he would connect if he was able to make his case on his feet in debates and in interviews, rather than in scripted speeches. . . 

I have heard Bill speak like this countless times – from the heart, eloquently showing both compassion and intellect.

His essential conservativeness often shines through, particularly on macro-economic issues and in challenging the good intentions of public servants.

“Whatever the fashions, sound economics matter. They might be a bit boring, but if you stick to them that’s what works. People are always trying to find shortcuts and leapfrogs and I’ve seen most of them come to grief,” he said.

He said he had learned that the effects of the public sector on the economy and people’s lives were often under-estimated, and often negatively.

“Good intentions are not enough. They’re not even a start, because there’s been a lot of money wasted and lives wrecked on the basis of good intentions expressed through public services,” he said. . . 

His work and policies showed the importance that more spending isn’t always better.

It’s not what you spend but how that matters, quality rather than quantity.

One of Bill’s legacies is proof that well thought-out policies, based on his compassionate conservatism, backed by effective spending, make a positive difference where good intentions don’t.

 

 


Tweeting panel

August 8, 2015

TV3 asked me to join The Nation’s tweet panel with Generation Zero co-founder Kirk Serpes this morning.

It was an interesting exercise.

Good interviewers listen to what interviewees say and base their next question on what they hear. I tried to do that with my tweets but kept missing the next point as I was tweeting on the last and trying to keep up with other tweets coming in.

Lisa Owen interviewed Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings talking about the farm gate milk price announcement today. This was followed by  reporter Torben Akel discussing governments appointing ex-MPs to government boards and an interview with American journalist Ben Taub who’s been writing about why teenagers’ journeys to jihad. 

The studio panelists were Heather du Plessis-Allan, Jacqueline Rowarth and Bernard Hickey.

Having Heather on the panel was very good marketing for Story which she’ll be co-hosting with Duncan Garner. It starts this Monday.

You can see the tweets here.


Change of govt poses risks to farming

June 12, 2014

Bernard Hickey was one of the speakers at Alliance Group’s Pure South conference a couple of weeks ago.

I wouldn’t have put him at the blue end of the political spectrum but his list of risks to farming under a Labour/Green and whichever other parties they would need to govern could well have been used to recruit people to National.

The annual KPMG Agri-Business Agenda picks up on some of those risks:

Leaders in the agri-business sector fear the loss of the traditional political consensus favouring free trade agreements if there’s a change of government, but are equally fearful that a Labour-Greens coalition will see heavier regulation against environmental harm and will start charging farmers to use water and other “natural capital”, says the annual KPMG Agri-Business Agenda publication.

While enthusiastic about Labour’s research and development tax breaks, which could help develop new technologies to improve environmental outcomes, farming and food sector leaders fear the lack of visible progress towards environmental goals could see what the report coyly refers to as “a new coalition government” impose new costs and regulation on the industry to force a faster clean-up.

“The need for the primary sector to improve its performance around core sustainability issues, such as water quality and nutrient management, is not disputed,” KPMG’s global head of agri-business, Ian Proudfoot, writes following a series of “roundtable” meetings and surveys with sector leaders around the country.

“While significant investment has been made to address these issues, the benefits are not immediately apparent. There is a concern that the lack of runs on the scoreboard may result in a new coalition government increasing the regulation on the industry and imposing charging mechanisms for the use of natural capital.”

A major concern is the prospect that the “time the industry needs to resolve its challenges may be reduced or completely removed.”

Degradation of waterways has happened over time and has many causes. A lot of work is being done to repair, protect and enhance water quality but problems which developed over years aren’t solved overnight.

On trade policy, the report suggests that agri-business leaders regard the expansion of “high quality” free trade agreements as “higher priority” than in the past, at the same time as Opposition parties appear to be cooling towards them.

“This reflects the benefits that are being derived from the agreements in place, and constraints being experienced when competing in key markets, such as Europe and South Korea, where competitors have preferential market access over our companies.”

However, there were indications the history of cross-party cooperation on trade policy “may no longer be guaranteed”, especially given the extent of opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently under negotiation but apparently stalling.

Labour’s policy on trade liberalisation is confused. The Green Party’s is clear – and negative.

The report also suggests the sector has a poor image among urban communities and needs to take a coordinated approach to communicating its importance to the country. . . .

That image isn’t helped when Labour and Green politicians are anti-farming in general and dairying in particular.

A change of government poses serious risks to farming and the people who rely on it.

Given how big a contribution it makes directly and indirectly to the economy, and exports in particular, that’s all of us.

 

Photo: We’ve helped primary sector exports hit record highs, and there’s more to come with exports expected to grow 22 per cent for the five years to 2018. http://ntnl.org.nz/1hxY6lZ

The KPMG report is here.

 


More tax, higher costs, fewer jobs

June 2, 2014

The Green Party plans to impose a carbon tax on us:

. . . Co-leader Russel Norman wants to scrap the current carbon pricing system – the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In its place would be a tax of $25 per tonne of carbon on industry polluters. . .

Critics of the tax claim the tax is a burden on households, who pay higher electricity and fuel costs.

However, the Greens say their levy would be offset by a ”climate tax cut” on the first $2000 of income. 

”We can reduce our emissions without hurting household budgets,” he said. ”Households will be on average $319 better off every year under the Green party policy.” . .

Imposing a tax with one hand and giving a tax with another won’t make anyone better off because the tax will lead to other cost increases on fuel, power and food which will passed on, in part or full, to consumers.

Agriculture – which is currently exempt from the ETS – would pay a reduced rate of $12.50 per tonne. This works out as an 12.5 per cent hit on farmers’ income. This includes 2 per cent on the working expenses of the average farm. A Berl Economics report, released with the policy, said dairying will be ”adversely affected.”

Dairying won’t just be adversely affected by the carbon tax, it will be hit by other Green policies too.

But it adds: ”However, at the currently projected pay-out for milk solids, even dairy farms in the lowest decile would remain well above break even in the face of an emissions levy.”

What happens when the payout drops to its long-term average which is well below the $7 forecast for the coming season?

What about the environmental impact of less efficient farmers in other countries increasing production because our produce is more expensive which makes it easier to compete with us?

And what about the poor people who will face higher prices for dairy products, power and fuel?

Other gas-emitting industries – such as electricity and road fuels – are less likely to be affected because they would be able to ”pass-on any production cost increases to households.” . . .

That will be the households whose earners will be getting a tax cut, the benefit of which will be less than the cost increases from the extra tax.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said the levy may threaten jobs. 

“Our approach should be unlocking business solutions rather taxing business more,” he said. 

As a “small open trading economy” New Zealand should participate in international emissions trading schemes.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said the tax will make dairy farmers “less competitive” in international markets. . .

Less competitive means lower returns which means less export income which means less economic growth which means we’ll be less able to fund the first world education, health and other services we need.

However green they want to paint it, this is a red policy which will add costs, put downwards pressure on wages and threaten jobs.

Bernard Hickey told last week’s  Alliance Group Pure South conference that the election will be close.

He then went on to list the policies that farmers could expect to adversely affect them under a Labour/Green coalition with whichever other left-wing parties they’d need to govern.

They included: capital gains tax, compulsory KiwiSaver and water restrictions and charges.

Those are three very good reasons to vote National and the Green carbon tax is another.

And Steven Joyce points out some inconvenient truths:

 

 

 


Why not just print more money?

February 27, 2012

Bernard Hickey wants the government to print more money.

I don’t know which is more frightening, his suggestion or the number of comments supporting him, for example:

The NZ dollar needs to lose 40% of its value, and massive public works projects can be funded – workers employed, taxes paid, the mental state of the nation immensely improved. BUT sale of land, houses and public assets MUST be blocked or the foreign locusts will pounce aided by the devalued NZ dollar. It’s crucial that the two go together – devaluation and regulation of asset purchases by foreigners.

And:

By choice I would, by law, insist that all loans were replaced with local borrowing, and thereby remove our balance of payments burden at a stroke. In addition, the RB would have control over liquidity without having to rely on the OCR (which has little leverage).

And

All the Banks you mention, including the Reserve Bank of New Zealand are controlled by the Rosthchild banking family, so you would have all New Zealanders pay more for products, fund the interest costs on this fake money and fall deeper into debt to the international Bankers?
 
If less of our hard earned “real money” was sent offshore to pay interest costs to these people we would all be better off.
Printing more money would devalue our currency which immediately makes the foreign debt we owe – as a country and individuals – higher.
The upside of a lower valued currency is that our exports would earn more but the downside is that imports would be more expensive. That doesn’t just mean luxuries, its basic food items like flour and fruit; vehicles, machinery, fuel; medicines . . .
The other consequence of printing money is inflation.
We were in Argentina a couple of weeks ago. The official inflation rate there is about 12% but several people told us it’s really around 24%. It’s less than 30 years since we had that sort of inflation rate here – it helped speculators but ruined savings and investment which is what we need to be encouraging.
The other argument against printing more money is that it doesn’t address the underlying problems in our economy – we’ve been spending too much and earning and saving too little.
The solution to that is not printing more money. It’s export-led growth, more savings, more investment and reducing the burden of the state.

Rural round-up

October 23, 2011

Success stories: how Glowing Sky grew from printing T-Shirts in Stewart Island to makigna nd selling merino clothing through its own chain of stores – Bernard Hickey:

Cath Belworthy still seems surprised at her business success as she tells her story to a business conference in Dunedin.

“We’ve taken it to a level that we would never ever have dreamed of all those years ago,” said Belworthy, who co-founded Stewart Island-based clothing company Glowing Sky Merino with her husband Dil in 1997.

But she is rightly enthusiastic and proud of all the hard work, sacrifice and inspiration that led to that success . . .

The trade environment: Future of WTO, beyond Doha TPP-regional FTAs – Bruce Wills (speech toInstitute of International Affairs:

. . .After talking to Federated Farmers staff about the long running saga that is the Doha trade round, one staff member relayed to me a political joke, if such a thing is possible, which may just hit the Doha nail on the head.

In Moscow, not long after the communist takeover, a factory worker trudging past the city gates noticed a revolutionary guard intensely scanning the horizon.

In mud, snow, sleet and rain, this worker trudged past the same guard above the same gate, year in, year out.

One snowy day, our worker stopped, looked up and summoned up the courage to yell out, ‘comrade, what exactly are you doing up there?’

The guard stood to attention and with snow falling from his tattered greatcoat proclaimed proudly, ‘I am the lookout for the global communist revolution’.

‘Oh’, our factory worker innocently shoots back, ‘it’s a job for life then!’

That possibly sums up where the Doha trade round is right now. Despite much heroic effort by NZ trade officials, ten years on from when it all started; it seems to be where it started. . .

Who should hold the power of prosecution? – James Houghton:

The Auditor-General might be worried about regional councillors’ personal bias when the authority is deciding to undertake prosecutions, but I wonder if the staff can be totally fair either.

Following a recent recommendation by the Auditor-General, Waikato Regional Council is asking its staff to review the role our elected councillors take in deciding what prosecutions it should be pursuing.

At the moment the decision whether to initiate a prosecution or not is made by a regulatory committee of councillors. I guess the worry is they could be tempted to consider their re-election chances when weighing up the options whether or not to prosecute when a person has breached the law . . .

Processing changes may not mean better capacity alignment –  Allan Barber:

The meat industry will see a number of processing initiatives taking effect over the next 12 months, all of them designed to create greater efficiency for their owners. They may not necessarily lead to better alignment of capacity with predicted livestock numbers for which B&LNZ Economic Service forecasts an increase from 2011 of 5.7% to 20.1 million lambs, second lowest in more than 50 years, and 1.8% more cattle, mainly cull cows . . .

Tasty and healthy, venison is set ot tkae over your dinner table

NEW YORK (WABC) — To indulge your love for red meat without detriment to your health, venison is the meat choice for you.

Grilled, pan seared or smoked, venison is the new “it” food, according to Chef Brad Farmerie and he should know. At his Soho restaurant Public, he prepares and serves about 10 thousand portions of it each year.

“I know for a fact, this is going to be a rockstar meat going forward, next year, the year after and everywhere from then on,” he says.

He cooks with cervena venison. It’s farm raised in New Zealand, grass fed and one of the most popular dishes from his kitchen. . .

How much water do we use? Daniel Collins:

One of the arguments being used at the moment to promote water storage and irrigation schemes is that much of the water that falls on New Zealand flows to the sea, not to the farm. Conor English, CEO of Federated Farmers, wrote in an opinion piece earlier this year:

“It’s not that New Zealand is running out of water, it’s that water is running out of New Zealand.”

As it turns out, about 80% of the water that falls on New Zealand flows out to sea, the rest evaporates back into the atmosphere. . .

Chica the bright red car:

Children expecting a visit from Rainbow Place’s nurses and therapists can now look forward to shorter waiting times, thanks to the gift of a bright red Nissan car to be named ‘Chica’, donated by Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) at the weekend.

The therapists and nurses at Rainbow Place – an arm of Hospice Waikato – travel thousands of kilometers each month throughout Waipa, Waikato and Coromandel, supporting children and young people who are coping with serious illness or bereavement . . .

My New Hero Kenyan Farmer Kimani Maruge! It’s never to late to learn – Pasture to Profit:

It’s been an amazing week! What with the Rugby World Cup. I am very proud to be a New Zealander & to see the fantastic rugby the
All Blacks play. A very interesting week on UK pasture based dairy farms too.

This week I watched an amazing DVD called “First Grader” an award winning 2011 film about the Kenyan hero “Kimani
Maruge”. Kimani Maruge (a farmer) was a 1950’s Mau Mau veteran who arrived at a tiny rural primary school as an 84 year old man determined to get an education after the Kenyan government offered “free education for all”. Kimani holds the record as the oldest person ever to start primary school. His determination to get an education was truly
inspirational.

Latest results from Shearing Sports NZ:

New Zealand representative Dion King had to put in one of his better performances of quality shearing to beat a top quality lineup and deny the legendary David Fagan a memorable double in the new season’s first North Island shearing competition in Gisborne on Saturday.

Shearing at the Poverty Bay Show, which attracted almost 100 shearers and woolhandlers, Te Kuiti gun Fagan was trying to add victory in his first show as a 50-year-old to his last at the age of 49 at Waimate a week earlier, and also complete a double he had scored last season. . .

Mortgagee sale of prime Wakatipu land:

A prime piece of land on the shores of Lake Wakatipu is to go to mortgagee sale following the developer going bankrupt.

The 38-hectare Walter Peak Estate is across the lake from Queenstown. It has consent to build a luxury lodge or several homes . . .


Did you see the one about . . .

September 18, 2010

An email from Matt McCarten – Whale Oil received a thank you from Matt.

It’s not all doom and gloom despite the earthquake and SCF collapse – Beranrd Hickey finds 10 reasons to be cheerful.

Proof: Wellington council wardens are ticketing against council policy – Big News cuaght them at it.

Science explained Something Should Go Here Maybe Later, who’s made a welcome return to blogging, illustrates the differences between biologists.

Milestone for Beattie’s Book Blog – post 10,000 in a little under four years 1311 visitors for the day by lunchtime on the day the post was written.


Save whose farms from what?

August 25, 2010

A group of Aucklanders wants to Save The Farms .

Not from pests and diseases, high rates bills, compliance costs and a myriad of other real threats. They want to save us from the perceived threat of foreign ownership.

Rather than saving our farms, StF is threatening them.

It is an incorporated society whose purpose is to:

  • Maintain ownership by New Zealand citizens of all agricultural and sensitive land and land of cultural importance.
  • To gain an immediate Moratorium on the sale of this land to foreign investors.
  • To promote and stimulate informed public debate around these objectives in a non political and partisan manner.
  • To promote a revision of the Overseas Investment Act 2005.

To this end they want the government:

  •  to put a moratorium on the sale of the Crafar farms and other sensitive agricultural land.
  •  to give urgency to the proposed review of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 incorporating a robust programme for public submission as announced by the Prime Minister.
  • The moratorium on the sale of sensitive agricultural land remains until the review of the Act has been completed.

This is a direct attack on property rights and farm values.

What do they mean by “our” farms anyway?  The only farms which might be considered “ours”  are those owned by Landcorp.

The rest aren’t “ours”. They are the property of the many individuals, trusts, companies and other bodies who have purchased the land.

Excluding foreign buyers would have an immediate and negative impact on the price of farmland. Other would-be purchasers might enjoy that but would-be sellers and the hundreds of other land owners whose farms’ values would plummet, and their creditors, would not.

What makes farms special or different from commercial or residential property, businesses and companies that all foreigners should be prevented from buying it?

Around 80% of our forestry is foreign-owned as are many other companies operating here including several vineyards and wineries and hotel chains. A Chinese company has a big stake in PGG Wrightson which gives them access to PGW’s intellectual property in seed development.

Most of our banks are foreign owned and their policies and operations impact on the day to day life of New Zealanders directly in a way that farms do not.

The Overseas Investment Act  already requires vetting of would-be purchasers of more than 5 hectares of non-urban land.

Regardless of who the owners are they can’t take the land with them and are subject to the same laws and regulations governing what they can do with it as everyone else.

Bernard Hickey says SOF’s is a myopic, xenophobic campiagn which needs debating.

I agree with his adjectives and think a discussion on the facts would be helpful. It could start with a KPMG report which found:

  • There is no evidence that New Zealand is experiencing an unusually high level of foreign investment in agricultural assets.
  • No justification for significant changes to the overseas investment rules . . .
  • KPMG’s Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot says: 

    “As a small, developed economy New Zealand has always required inbound investment to support the standards of living we are now accustomed to, and this holds true even in the current environment. The agricultural sector in particular lacks sufficient equity to take advantage of the opportunities available to it and foreign investment offers the potential for us to maximise the value of our land. Events of the last year have demonstrated we are not always able or prepared to finance these opportunities from our own resources.

     “The high price of quality agricultural land in New Zealand and our remoteness to the rest of world means that even with the natural benefits of water and the link product has to New Zealand’s sustainable brand we are unlikely to be top of the list of preferred destinations for most international land investors currently looking for opportunities,” says Mr Proudfoot.

    In other words there is no need for SoF’s campaign because in spite of perceptions to the contrary, New Zealand farmland isn’t particularly attractive to foreign investors.

    Given that and our need for capital, those who want to come here should not be discouraged without good reason and not being citizens is not by itself a good reason.

     It is better for farming and New Zealand to allow, or not, sales of farm land to foreigners on a case by case basis than to cut off the investment and ideas which can mean foreign owners give far more to New Zealand than they take.

    The threat of foreign ownership is a perception, the threat to farms and their owners from a blanket ban on foreign ownership is real.


    Key tops Listener power list

    December 1, 2009

    It’s no surprise that Prime Minister John Key tops the Listener’s top 10 in its 2009 Power List.

    The panel says he is:

    being identified by leadership scholars as pioneering an entirely new style of political leadership in this country. Sceptics may cite his pragmatism as evidence of overt risk-aversion, but so far his reasonable, moderate demeanour and light-handed management has worked magic for the Government’s standing. He has been the polar opposite of Helen Clark, resisting both the micromanagement of others’ portfolios and playing favourites in the caucus. His cheerful tolerance of coalition partners’ ructions – “The bulk of people who come into politics have type-A personalities!” – has saved National from being embroiled in their crises.

    Bill English is second followed by Alan Bollard, Rodney Hide, Steven Joyce and Rob Fyfe.

    Then comes Michael Stiassny, the country’s senior receiver. The introduction to the list explains:

    Perhaps the most telling detail about this year’s Power List . . .  is that a receiver (Micahel Stiassny) comes in at No 7. Yes, it has been a tough year; a year when debt became a dirty word, when old power bases were weakened by the recession. . .

    Tariana Turia is ninth then John Whitehead and Peter Jackson. The top 10 has an 11th place – it’s filled by Phil Goff.

    Then there’s those who have been delisted:

    Craig Norgate who was 4th in the Business and economy section last year; Andrew West who was 3rd in agriculture  and Pat Snedden who was 4th in health and medicine.

    The panel that selected the 2009 almanac of influence was chaired by Listener senior write Rebecca Macfie. Members were Lynn Freeman who hosts Radio NZ’s arts programme; Karl Du Fresne, Chris Wikaira, director of PR firm Busby Ramshaw Grice; Jane Clifton; Jacqueline Rowarth, Director of Agriculture at Massey; Bernard Hickey, Alan Isaac who chairs NZ Cricket, is a director of Wakefield Health, trsutee of NZ COmmunity Trust, chair of McGrathNicol & Co and advisor to Opus International; and Stephen Franks.

    The full list and commentary won’t be online until Boxing Day. I subscribe to the magazine and if I didn’t I’d fork out the $3.90 for this issue.


    It’s the systems not the size

    October 6, 2009

    The announcement that Crafar Farms has been put into receivership is not unexpected.

    Bernard Hickey has a good analysis on the problems with the operation  and he wants an inquiry into large herd dairy farms.

    However, it’s not the size of individual farms or operations that’s the problem, it’s the rapid growth of dairying which has led to a shortage of good staff.

    If you’ve got a bigger farm any problems you have will be magnified but problems aren’t confined to bigger farms and bigger operators. 

    We talked to the CE of a very large dairy operation last year. They have very good systems which include regular visits, the timing of which depends on how each farm is running. He said that was everything to do with the manager and staff and nothing to do with size.

    They’d had 400-cow farms where the wheels fell off and 1500-cow farms which were model operations.

    Big isn’t bad by itself. But the bigger an operation gets the more important it is to have really good management systems and processes; and no matter how good they are, they depend on good people to make them work well.

    Bigger operations need regular checks to ensure they do. In smaller operations it’s much harder because often only the people on the property know what’s going on.


    OCR unchanged

    September 10, 2009

    The Official Cash Rate remains at 2.5%.

    Federated Farmers and other exporters have been caliing on Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard to cut the rate again in the hope it would put some downward pressure on the value of the dollar.

    But if an OCR at 2.5% isn’t lowering the attraction to the New Zealand dollar another small reduction would be unlikely to have any effect.

    Bernard Hickey gives his view on Bollard’s statement at interest.co.nz


    Phew – milk auction price up 25.8%

    August 5, 2009

    Last night’s globalDairyTrade auction resulted in a lift in the whole milk price to $US2301 per tonne – an increase of 25.8%

    dairy 10004

    dairy 10005

    That’s a very welcome change to the downward trend since March but Fonterra chair Henry Van der Hayden isn’t breaking out the champagne yet.

    In an email to farmers he says while it’s great to see the lift,  it’s difficult to know where the market’s going.

    The dollar which is trading above 65 cents continues to cause concern and the US has increased its support price for skim milk by 15%.

    The next globalDairyTrade auction is scheduled for September 1.

    UPDATE: Bernard Hickey notes the improved price has taken the dollar over 67 US cents.

    Sigh.

    I know a weak currency isn’t necessarily a good thing but Hickey points out the rise in the value of the dollar will cancel out some of the gains from the better auction price.


    A $1b interview

    March 31, 2009

    The Wall Street Journel interview with John Key  generated a bit of interest in New Zealand, but mostly by way of the isn’t-it-good-the-world-notices-us reporting.

    Bernard Hickey reckons it was worth much more than that and explains how John Key secured a US1bln loan for New Zealand with a newspaper interview.

    Hickey’s post explains how ANZ  National secured a $1b bond issue in the USA, it’s worth reading in full so I’ll leave it with this:

    It turns out the interview was a crucial factor in the success of the bond issue, the first long term issue by a New Zealand bank since July last year. It is likely to set the tone for more.

    Thank you John.


    Hickey’s last post

    February 24, 2009

    Bernard Hickey is retiring from his blog Show Me The Money.

    I understand his reasons – the demands of his job and a desire for more time at home – but I will miss his contribution to the blogosphere.

    In his last post he asks John Key to trust us with the truth about the economy.

    I think his view is very pessimistic one and I don’t agree with his suggestion Key cancel’s the tax cuts but I do agree with the need to direct spending to the things which really matter, like education and infrastructure.


    Do you want food safety with that?

    February 3, 2009

    Australian fishermen get $15 a kilo for prawns landed on the beach and it costs locals $12 a kilo to get farmed prawn to the weight required for sale; but Chinese farmed prawns land in Australia for $3 a kilo.

    With that price difference I can see the attraction of the imports and that’s not the only food that comes from China.

    The Land  reports that Chinese food is flooding into Australia:

    It includes nearly 250 tonnes of fresh or chilled garlic, 67t of broccoli, 400kg of flour, more than 38t of preserved tomatoes, 1085t of various types of peanuts and 160,000 litres of apple juice – all sent here in the second half of last year.

    Who knows how much Chinese food comes into New Zealand too but more to the point how safe is it?

    We are in no position to complain about the quantity when we send mega tonnes of meat, dairy products and fruit to other countries, but we have a right to question the quality and safety. Food produced here and in Australia has to meet strict standards, but regardless of what’s required in China the poisoned milk scandal is proof we need to be very wary of their produce. 

     China is a huge market, we can’t afford to ignore them and if we want to sell to them we have to buy from them in return. Australians face a similar situation and Michael Thomson, editor of The Land’s FarmOnLine says they have to Trade with China but do it right.

    That’s easier said than done and Bernard Hickey warns of the dangers of trying to do business in China

     However, food standards and unscruprulous business practices are not just a problem in the developing world. Frenemy  found an article from the Huffington Post:

    You’d think the Peanut Corporation of America was headquartered in China. They discovered salmonella twelve times over the past two years at a Georgia plant, yet they chose to ship out contaminated peanut butter regardless. Sounds a lot like the Chinese dairy company Sanlu that knowingly sold melamine-laced milk powder. In both cases, kids died. In both cases, the regulators were none the wiser. 

    It would be impossible to police every food producer and processor, but there is a case for requiring the reporting of any health issues with strong penalties for those who don’t.

    The EU imposes very strict requirements on the killing and processing of meat we send there, so much so that there’s a suspicion they’re using food standards as a non-tariff barriers. We can’t test every item of food which comes into the country but the increasing amount of imports from places which don’t have our strict standards does raise the question of whether we’re doing enough.

    Cheap food isn’t good food if it comes at the cost of our health.

    This isn’t an argument for compulsory country of origin labelling, but retailers ought to take note of customer concerns and realise the marketing advantage in highlighting food from sources which we ought to be confident have high saftey standards.

    In the meantime, the thought of Chinese broccoli is the prompt I need to grow my own.


    Why not more WiFi?

    January 9, 2009

    Internect connection in Argentina was better and faster in 2003 than anything we could get at home at that time.

    We’ve got broadband since then and although the rural connection (through Orcon) is much slower than we’d get in a city it’s an improvement on dial-up – fine for emails, net surfing and blogging but slower than desiarable for up or downloading lots of data.

    But it doesn’t work on the laptop so when we’re on the road we use a Telecom mobile connection which operates at a similar speed to the home connection.

    That’s pretty dismal comapred with many other places and last month’s visit to Argentina showed us their technology has overtaken ours again with the proliferation of free WiFi services which were available in most cafes, bars and hotels.

    Bernard Hickey  found a similar level of service in the USA and Fairfacts Media notes free WiFi is offered by British pubs as a way to attract business.

    We’re a long way from widespread availability of WiFi in New Zealand although the government has promised a boost to internet services as part of its investment in infrasturcture.

    The wee Otago town of Lawrence isn’t waiting for the government though. The ODT reports  the locals are already setting up free wireless internet in the town centre.

    More and more people, especially overseas visitors and business people, had laptops with them as they travelled, so it made sense to try to offer them free Internet access so they would stay longer in the town. . .

    Quite – it’s good for travellers and it’s good for business and there’s no need to wait for the government to do it.


    Recession’s over ?

    December 8, 2008

    When announcing last week’s drop in interest rates Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard said the recession was technically over.

    John Key doesn’t share his confidence.

    Bernard Hickey is sure there’s worse to come.

    Tui is too:

    recession


    Recall parliament – Hickey

    October 20, 2008

    Bernard Hickey says parliament should be recalled so all parties can be fully informed about and debate the economic and financial crisis.

    It doesn’t need comment from me, if you’re interested I suggest you read it all here.


    FTA has fishhooks

    September 30, 2008

    The announcement that the United States has signed up for preliminary talks to negotiate a multi-lateral free trade agreement has been greeted with some caution.

    Bernard Hickey points out the fish hooks:

    A free trade deal with America will never be a deal to make trade free with America. It is a chance for lobbyists in Washington to make money by blocking our dairy, beef and sheep exports, and for America’s most powerful pharmaceutical companies to kill off Pharmac.

    And in a later post shows the response from Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation:

    “The heightened prospect of greater manipulation by New Zealand of not only global markets, but also our domestic industry and policy, would make an already uneven playing field in the global markets even worse,” Kozak said. “This manipulation of our markets will drive down dairy farmer income in America, force farms out of business, and create a ripple effect swamping dairy plants and other rural businesses – all at a time when our economy is slowing and unemployment is rising.”

    If I was a conspiracy theorist I might see a link between this and the survey over how much Chinese people trust food in the wake of the melamine poisoning scandal.

    The survey was carried out by Sinogie Consulting whose chief executive Bruce McLaughlin said 

    There was not much damage to Fonterra at present but that could change in the long term.

    “I would say that Fonterra has to keep its head very low in China at the moment. I think if they start shouting too loudly about the Chinese authorities being to blame, then the Chinese authorities will react and it won’t be pretty.”

    He’s right that it wouldn’t be pretty, but he doesn’t admit he could be a wee bit biased because as Roarprawn found with a couple of clicks   his company does a lot of work for a big US dairy exporter.


    Passing on the brillante baton

    September 18, 2008

    How exciting and heart warming it was to check in to Homepaddock yesterday morning and discover I’d been blessed with a Brillante Blog award.

    It was bestowed by Deborah who’s In A Strange Land  where she writes intelligently and thoughtfully on feminism, motherhood, parenting, work,  politics, life . . . and occasionally posts on food with photos that cause weight gain if you look at them too long.

    Once you get a Brillante you’re invited to spread the happiness by passing it on to blogs you enjoy.

    The rules are simple:

    1. Put the logo on your blog.
    2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
    3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
    4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
    5. Leave a message for your nominator on her/his blog.

    So after a day of contemplation my nominees in alphabetical order are:

    Annie Fox the nom de blog of Anna Wolf whose posts are warm, witty, passionate, frank, down to earth and full of life which is all the more remarkable because she’s writing about dying.

    Phillipa Stephenson at Dig-N -Stir . There is on-going discussion about the difference between journalism and blogging. Pip does both supberbly, writing concise, well researched posts which reflect her knowldege and interest in the subject matter, her ability as a wordsmith and, where appropriate, her wit.

    Dim Post for showing you can take a dig without getting dirty; and because every day is improved by humour.

    Ex-expat who makes me think with posts that are educational, enlightening and/or entertaining.

    Will de Cleene at goNZofreakpower whose posts aren’t frequent but point me to places I wouldn’t find by myself.

    Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind  earns the award for the quotes and cartoons of the day by themselves. But there’s more: well reasoned posts on a variety of topics with special mention for not confining himself to New Zealand.

    Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock for the quanity, quality, consistency and variety of his posts with extra points for his enthusiasm and sense of humour.

    David Farrar at Kiwiblog because I can’t go past the godfather of the NZ blogosphere. It helps that I share many of his views, but even when I don’t, I admire his well written, researched and reasoned posts. He’s open about his bias but never bigoted.

    Dave Gee at Life from Right Field because we southerners must stick together and with special mention for originality and pictures.

    Macdoctor if he employs the same wit, intelligence, reason and compassion in medicine which he displays in blogging I’d be very happy to be his patient.

    Monkeywithtypewriter , not just a token primate, he’s also got perception and a sense of humour.

    The team at No Minister because they often amuse, sometimes shock and enable me to feel moderate. They get a special mention for visuals too.

    Not PC for the art and architecture.

    NZBC goes for quality rather than quantity and gets bonus points for humour and orginality.

    Poneke for the quality of posts in which he uses the skills that made him an award winning journalist. Besides, you’ve got to admire a bloke who’s besotted with buses.

    Busted Blonde at Roarprawn because she’s upfront, sassy, witty, in the know and shares it with style.

    Bernard Hickey at Show Me The Money because he takes numbers and adds words that make sense of them.

    Queen Bee at The Hive : she’s got contacts, she gets the facts and she’s the miistress of succinct posts with sting.

    The team at Tumeke! for variety and originality. Tim Selwyn deserves an honourable mention by himself for doing the monthly blogosphere rankings.

    Well the rules did say at least seven.

    P.S. I have an aversion to chain letters or anything resembling them and I can do the maths: if seven people send something to at least seven people who send it …. it won’t be long to run out of blogs which haven’t got it. So should any of you on whom I’ve bestowed a Brillante want to change the rules or ignore them altogether, I won’t be offended, you won’t be courting calamity, your family and pets will be safe and the sky won’t fall in.


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