From WIIFM to WIIFNZ

July 20, 2017

The common thread in announcements from opposition parties, and media reporting on them, this week has been the high WIIFM factor – what’s-in-it-for-me.

Of course policies from all parties are almost always aimed to woo voters and the media finds the people who will benefit, or politically partisan, to comment with very little in-depth analysis.

(There is good analysis in the likes of Politik and the paid content in the NBR but most people don’t get beyond the paywall).

Good policy, and reporting, would look beyond WIIFM to WIIFNZ – what’s-in-it-for-New Zealand.

They would take into account not only at who gets what, but the cost – in the short and long terms – and who pays.

When Bill English became Finance Minister he asked ministries to take an actuarial approach to spending with the aim of getting value for money and reducing costs in the long term, even if that meant spending more in the short term.

That is already paying dividends in the reduction in the number of beneficiaries.

That’s good not just for the individuals who have moved from benefit dependence to paid work, it’s good for the country.

Contrast that with opposition policies which will encourage people to stay on benefits which is bad for them and bad for the country.

WIIFM is a shallow approach which encourages selfishness.

WIIFNZ is a more thoughtful approach. It would encourage people to look beyond the short-term and selfish to the longer term and wider benefits not just for themselves but the country.


Labour’s own poll low?

July 12, 2017

Last month Labour released results of its own polling to show it was doing better than public polls.

There’s been no release of its own since the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll:

Since the last poll in late May, Mr Little has dropped to fourth behind Bill English, Winston Peters and deputy Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

Mr Little’s popularity fell by three points to five per cent while Mr Peters jumped four points to 11 per cent.

It’s the lowest result for a leader of the opposition since 2009. . .

National dropped two points to 47 per cent, while Labour dropped three points to 27 per cent.

The Green Party and New Zealand First are both up two points to 11 per cent.

The Maori Party is up one point to 2 per cent and The Opportunities Party is steady on 1 per cent. . .

 

This isn’t an optimal poll for National but it’s far worse for Labour which would only get to 61 seats in a 122 seat parliament with the Green Party and NZ First.

It would only get a majority with Maori Party support as well and that wouldn’t be a recipe for the political equivalent of happy families.

This is only one poll but it continues the trend of low levels of support for Labour and its leader.

That the party hasn’t released its own polling suggests that those results are at least as dismal for it.


Rural round-up

June 8, 2017

Te Mana lamb – Jo Elwin:

Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”

It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business. . . 

New stock exclusion rules require greater flexibility – Feds – Nigel Malthus:

New rules excluding stock from waterways are coming, but they have to be sensible, practical and affordable, says Cathy Begley, leader of Federated Farmers’ water team.

Begley told attendees at the recent Feds South Island high country group conference that the proposals could affect the way they run their farms.

She says that since the Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced in February the goal of having 90% of rivers swimmable, her group has been making submissions on how farmers could be affected. . .

Rural sector achievements and value highlighted in honours list:

Federated Farmers congratulates all those who received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year and is delighted to see the rural sector and the people involved in it commended for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

“The number of Queen’s Birthday Honours which have an agricultural connection shows the significant contribution farmers and agribusiness continue to play in New Zealand.

“These awards recognise contributions in science and innovation, mental health, business and the environment indicating the diversity of effort in the rural community,” says Dr William Rolleston Federated Farmers ‘ National President. . . 

Rotorua woman excited and thankful for honour – Shauni James:

Rotorua’s Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her. . .

Maori growing part of NZ ag – PM:

Prime Minister Bill English says in most regions Maori now have the potential to become the largest long-term investors.
People are starting to realise Maori are not fly-by-night investors, he says. They are in business – farms, commercial buildings, investments — for the long haul.

English said this at an event celebrating the award of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm, this year won by the Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm, near Kaikohe. . .

Rural fuel stop from a paddock – Christine McKay:

A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

“When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes,” Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 24, 2017

One quick click can save a life – Sally Rae:

It’s a message you see regularly on roadside signs and on the television – a simple click saves lives.

Had that split-second decision been made on a Friday night three weeks ago in rural South Canterbury, a wife might still have a husband and two young children a father.

Amid her grief, it is a message  Paul Dee’s widow, Julie, wants to reinforce in a national campaign.

As she sees it, she is in a privileged position to potentially help save other lives by getting people to change their thinking.

Mr Dee (46) was killed on April 28 in an ATV side-by-side buggy roll-over,  a stone’s throw from his Waihao Downs home, near Waimate. . . 

Big things expected of Te Mana lamb – Sally Rae:

Te Mana Lamb, the product of the Omega Lamb Project, has been officially launched by Prime Minister Bill English in Hong Kong.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

It involved bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Guests at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, attended by Mr English and the Hong Kong business community, were among the first international diners to try Te Mana Lamb. . . 

Sweet finish key to success for winning blue cheese – Pam Tipa:

Much of the success of Whitestone’s Vintage Windsor Blue cheese comes down to North Otago milk, with the cows grazing off grass from limestone soils, says chief executive Simon Berry.

Their unique mould strain they developed themselves is the other flavour aspect.

“It has a sweet finish no one else in the world has. When taken onto the international stage it stands out,” Berry told Dairy News. . .

Money will attract rural volunteers – Neal Wallace:

Rural health leader Martin London hopes a $59 million Government investment to double crew ambulances will also attract more rural volunteers to the service.

London, the chairman of the Rural Health Alliance, said the boost from the funding needed to be supported by adequate training of ambulance crews.

If that happened, he was optimistic the spirit and confidence it created would encourage new volunteers to join rural ambulance services. . . 

Water Accord business as usual – Peter Burke:

The targets in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are effectively becoming normal business practice for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ director, Alister Body.

He made his comments at the release of a three year review of the accord, which covers a range of environmental targets dairy farmers are encouraged to achieve voluntarily. All dairy companies – except Westland which runs its own scheme — support the targets, as do the regional councils, Federated Farmers and some other agri-related organisations.

Body says the accord was agreed to and signed without a specific end date, but the signatories agreed to the three-year report on what has and has not been achieved. . .

Hops production in NZ slumps by 10% – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand hop production is down by about 10 percent, with the yield of some varieties falling by 30 percent.

The New Zealand Hops co-operative says its 18 growers, which are in the Nelson region, produced about 750 tonnes of hops, which was 33 tonnes less than the year before.

Chief executive Doug Donelan said the weather had not been right since spring.

“The growing season wasn’t very good. We had a cold summer and prior to that during the early stages it was a very wet spring. The two things you really don’t want when you’re growing hops.” . .

All New Zealanders to see connectivity benefits:

The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.

Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.

“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected. . . 


Rad Dad PM without politics

May 20, 2017

Rad Dads’s opens its series on fathers talking about fatherhood with Prime Minister Bill English:

Will Fleming and Greg Buckley kick into the first RadDads episode to talk with Prime Minister Bill English not about politics, but about being a dad.

The politician reveals he is a pro with a cloth nappy and a safety pin, having changed nappies for about 15 years. “I am really good at it.”

In the days before disposables were as widely used as they are now, folding nappies and changing them without sticking the pin into the baby were an art.

Separating politics and family is important for English. “I’ve always gone home for tea from The Beehive, I’ve never eaten at The Beehive… I don’t do much of the cocktail stuff…. but I want to be home.”

At home he leaves politics at the door “When I’m at home it’s not about me it’s about this household and what I can do to support then and help fulfil my role.

“Cleaning up, getting the dishes done, getting the kids to bed… I enjoyed the work of being busy in a family.”

As a father of six children he says his best piece of advice to new dads is savour the moment of the baby’s birth.

“Keep that moment. You get to hold the baby and the mother is there and it’s an experience you can’t prepare for. There’s going to be so many times when this looks hard and it is, so keep that moment.”

The video on the link above has more.

 


Loo lessons

April 11, 2017

“There’s a lot of lessons in cleaning toilets, more guys should do it. “

This is part of Prime Minister Bill English’s answer to one of 12 questions posed by Jennifer Dann.

The question was on how do he and his wife Mary juggle their work and family life.

That they do, and do it so well, is a tribute to both of them. Although being public about it doesn’t come naturally to either of them.

Modern politics and media force politicians to reveal more about themselves than was expected in the past, which isn’t easy for someone like the PM who admits to being shy.

I’m quite a shy person. I guess it’s part of that rural, big family, Catholic culture that I’m from which tends to dampen excessive self-awareness. It’s just, “Be humble. Don’t go out there telling everyone how great you are. Someone else is probably doing it better anyway.” But I’m enjoying it more than I expected.

But showing more of the person engages people who aren’t interested in politics.

Answers like this, to the question of what he’s learned from his Samoan and Italian parents-in-law helps us understand what informs his politics.

They’re a remarkable example of the promise of coming to New Zealand being realised. They raised 13 children on one income and own their own home. They had a very strong focus on their kids getting educated and maintaining their health which is a challenge in a large family on a low income.

I have enormous respect for their effort and I’m so pleased I’ve had exposure to different cultures which I wouldn’t have had as a Pakeha farmer from Southland.

His upbringing is also an important part of who he is.

He says growing up in a family of 12 children on a Southland farm was:

A mixture of discipline, hard work and adventure. We were expected to contribute to the farm and the household to the maximum of our ability at whatever age. When I was 10 I was sent out to plough our paddock on the tractor with very little instruction. At age 12 I cooked breakfast for 20 people when the shearers came up for breakfast. It was pretty basic, eggs cooked fast in hot fat. The sibling rivalry was constant. I was part of a mob of five boys at the tail end. As long as you stayed in your place it was trouble-free. I did better at school than some of them but it wasn’t like you were allowed to stay home and read books. It was a household where other skills were highly valued. You might get the best grades but were you the fastest shearer or the best fencer? My father said we were more nuggety than talented.

Family is a big part of who our PM is, so is his faith:

My faith is a significant part of who I am so it can’t help but affect my personal decision-making. It’s part of your conscience. I go to church most Sundays. I like sitting down the back as just another congregation member. You hear ideas around humility, forgiveness and mercy which are not part of the general political round. I find it very balancing.

Humility, forgiveness and mercy aren’t values often attributed to politicians and most Prime Ministers don’t clean the loos at night. But he’s a better man, and PM, for all of that.


Caption contest

March 13, 2017

 


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