Bending branches

February 7, 2018

Government ministers are bending the branches of government to breaking point, Helensville, and lawyer, MP Christopher Penk says.

By constitutional convention, respective roles played by our three branches of government are deliberately distinct. The “executive” (which is led by cabinet but includes all the civil service) basically runs the country. The “legislature”, aka parliament, passes laws defining the limits of that executive power, among other things. And the “judiciary” (our court system, more or less) applies the law, deciding each case on its individual merits in accordance with existing legal norms – without fear or favour and free from political pressure.

The doctrine demanding a separation of powers is a sacrosanct safeguard within our partly written, partly unwritten constitution. Its importance lies in preventing any one individual or group from gaining an outsized portion of power.

Taken together, constitutional safeguards have helped to keep New Zealand blessedly free of corruption in our short but proud history. Enjoying such stability and certainty is an international advantage that we should guard jealously and zealously. . .

He gives four examples where ministers’ behavior has weakened the constitutional framework:

* Andrew Little’s comments on a perceived problem with bail

* Little’s comment on the decision not to prosecute over the CCTV collapse.

* Clare Curran’s tweet on a police prosecution.

* Grant Roberston’s threat to make an example of landlords illegally raising rents.

In this country it’s pretty hard to hold a government to account when it bends, or even breaks, constitutional convention. That’s the thing about conventions, of course: for better and worse, they’re almost impossible to enforce. The flexibility of our constitutional arrangements is actually a real strength most of the time (whatever advocates of a comprehensive written constitution may say), so this is not a criticism but an observation.

That said, with few firm legal constraints in the form of “black letter law”, political accountability becomes all the more important. As Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that is where we come in. And take note, ministers: we will.

The transition from opposition, where there is greater leeway for criticism, to government and cabinet where much more circumspection is required, isn’t always easy.

But that’s no excuse for bending the branches of government as these ministers have.

Adam Smith writes on this at Inquiring Mind.

 

 


Rural round-up

August 16, 2017

Paying for water should be a consistent policy:

A consistent policy on water for everyone is required, says BusinessNZ.

An ad hoc policy on water charging would be prone to political manipulation, with regions, councils and businesses all lobbying for favourable royalty regimes, BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said.

“Business needs an agreed, consistent water policy that applies to all water users and where rights to use water are tradable, fairly apportioned and can be known in advance.

“It would not be helpful for business to have to operate and make investment decisions in an environment where the cost of water is determined on an ad hoc, changing basis. . . 

Unwanted, Unknown, Unnecessary – Labour’s New Water Tax on Auckland’s Rural Northwest:

The water tax recently proposed by Labour would deliver a sharp blow to the economy of Auckland’s rural northwest, says National’s candidate for Helensville, Chris Penk.

“It’s unwanted because farmers, horticulturalists and viticulturists provide a significant number of jobs in the region … and slapping them with a water tax would completely undermine this growth. And the inevitable price rises for consumers would hardly be welcome either.”

“It’s unknown because Labour aren’t saying what they’d actually charge. There’s almost no detail associated with the threatened tax, even on such key aspects as how much it’d be and where the money would go.” . . 

The realities of Mycoplasma bovis – Keith Woodford:

The recent outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in South Canterbury has come as a shock to all dairy farmers. It is a disease that most New Zealand farmers had never heard of.

Regardless of whether or not the current outbreak can be contained, and the disease then eradicated, the ongoing risks from Mycoplasma bovis are going to have a big effect on the New Zealand dairy industry.

If the disease is contained and eradicated, then the industry and governmental authorities will need to work out better systems to prevent re-entry from overseas. And if the disease is not eradicated, then every farmer will have to implement new on-farm management strategies to minimise the effects. . . 

Slowing supply growth to impact NZ dairy supply chain – new industry report:

New Zealand dairy processors will struggle to fill existing and planned capacity in coming years as milk supply growth slows, leading to more cautious investment in capacity over the next five years, according to a new report from Rabobank.

The report Survive or Thrive – the Future of New Zealand Dairy 2017-2022 explains that capital expenditure in new processing assets stepped up between 2013 and 2015, but capacity construction has run ahead of recent milk supply growth and appears to factor in stronger milk supply growth than what Rabobank anticipates.

Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says milk supply has stumbled over the past couple of production seasons and, while the 2017/18 season is likely to bring a spike in milk production of two to three per cent, Rabobank expects the brakes to be applied and milk production growth to slow to or below two per cent for the following four years. . . 

Synlait Milk says US approval for ‘grass-fed’ infant formula will take longer –  Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the NZX-listed milk processor, said regulatory approval for its ‘grass-fed’ infant formula in the US is taking longer than expected.

Rakaia-based Synlait is seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its ‘grass-fed’ infant formula to be sold in the world’s largest economy ahead of a launch of the product with US partner Munchkin Inc. The companies said in a statement today that the FDA process, which had been expected to be completed this year, is now expected to take a further four to 12 months. The stringent process, known as a New Infant Formula Notification (NIFN), includes a range of trials, audits and documentation. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says that during the past year, New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.8 per cent – to 3.6 million head – while the decline in the sheep flock slowed sharply as sheep numbers recovered in key regions after drought and other challenges.

The annual stock number survey conducted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service highlights the continued growth in beef production, as farmers move towards livestock that are less labour-intensive and currently more profitable. . . 

Grad vets encouraged to apply for funding:

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston is encouraging graduate vets working in rural areas to apply for funding through the Vet Bonding Scheme.

Since the Scheme was launched in 2009, 227 graduates vets have helped address the ongoing shortages of vets working with production animals in rural areas of New Zealand.

“The 2014 People Powered report told us that by 2025, we need 33,300 more workers with qualifications providing support services, such as veterinary services, to the primary industries,” says Ms Upston. . . .

Production and profit gains catalyst for joining programme:

The opportunity to look at their farm system and strive to make production and profit gains was what spurred Alfredton farmers, James and Kate McKay, to become involved in the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

RMPP is a seven year Primary Growth Partnership programme aimed at driving sustainable productivity improvements in the sheep and beef sector to deliver higher on-farm profitability.

Encouraged by their ANZCO livestock rep, Ed Wallace, James and Kate joined the programme in 2015 and have had the opportunity to look at some key aspects of their farming system. This has included sitting down with local BakerAg consultant, Richmond Beetham, who has helped the McKays look at their ultimate goal of mating a 50kg hogget. Increasing weaning weights and looking to diversify their forages has also been a goal for the McKays. . . 

Fonterra Dairy Duo Claim Awards at Top International Cheese Show:

Two Fonterra NZMP cheeses have scooped silver awards at the prestigious international Cheese Awards held recently at Nantwich, UK.

One of the most important events in the global cheese calendar, the International Cheese Awards attracted a record 5,685 entries in categories that ranged from traditional farmhouse to speciality Scandinavian. Cheeses from the smallest boutiques to the largest cheese brands in the world vied for top honours in the Awards, now in their 120th year of competition. . . 

Dairy farmers spend over $1b on the environment:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have conducted a survey on New Zealand dairy farmers’ environmental investments, revealing an estimated spend of over $1billion over the past five years.

Five percent of the nation’s dairy farmers responded to the survey and reported on the environmental initiatives they had invested in such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands. 

“It is encouraging to see the significant investments farmers are putting into protecting and improving the environment,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair. . . 

Criticism of farming gas emissions tells only half the story  – Paul Studholme:

It is imperative that political decisions on reacting to climate change are based on science, writes Waimate farmer Paul Studholme.

I write because of frustration with the sweeping generalisations and half-truths critical of the farming industry in this country that are presented by the mainstream media and environmental groups as facts.

One in particular, repeated frequently, is this: Farming produces more than half the greenhouse gases in New Zealand. This is only telling half the story or one side of the equation.

What is referred to here are the gases methane and carbon dioxide emitted by cattle and sheep. This is part of the carbon cycle. . .


National selects Christopher Penk as Kelston candidate

August 2, 2014

The National Party has selected Christopher Penk as its candidate for the Kelston electorate at the 2014 General Election.

. . . Mr Penk said he was honoured to be selected and would be running a strong campaign to win more party votes for National in the seat.

“National’s plan for a stronger economy with more jobs, better public services in health and education, more support for families, and safer communities is delivering for Kelston communities. I’ll be working tirelessly to ensure we can keep New Zealand heading in the right direction.”

National re-opened selection for the Kelston electorate after the decision by List MP Claudette Hauiti to retire from politics at the election. . .

As the National Party List has already been selected, Mr Penk will enter National’s List at the position of 68. Placing him, as an electorate candidate, ahead of other candidates not standing in seats, but behind other electorate candidates.

Biographical Notes – Christopher Penk

A born-and-bred West Aucklander, Christopher Penk lives in Kelston with his wife Kim.

After completing his secondary education at Kelston Boys High School, Christopher studied at Auckland University, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 2009.

Christopher joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 2000, which included serving as an officer of the watch on the HMNZS Te Kaha. He also worked for 12 months as aide-de-camp to the Governor-General in 2003, greatly enjoying this role as a member of Dame Silvia Cartwright’s personal staff at Government House. Later, Christopher went on to fulfill a dream of serving aboard submarines, spending time in the Australian Defence Force as navigating officer on HMAS Sheean.

Christopher returned to New Zealand in 2008 where he completed his legal training. This culminated in his admission to the bar in 2010, most recently working as Senior Solicitor at Hornabrook Macdonald Lawyers, a boutique commercial and property law firm.

Outside his military service and legal career, Christopher has been an active member of many community groups, including the Returned Services Association, Glen Eden’s Playhouse Theatre, and playing and coaching several cricket teams at the local Suburbs New Lynn Cricket Club.

 


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