Principles pay price of power

July 27, 2018

The Green Party has paid for power with the loss of its principles in supporting the waka jumping legislation.

. . .Labour promised to support the waka jumping legislation in its coalition agreement with NZ First, but the legislation is not covered in its agreement with the Green Party.

However, a clause in the agreement seemingly holds the Greens to supporting any legislation not specifically flagged in the coalition talks, meaning the Greens MPs feel they have to vote for the waka jumping bill. . .

Have they voted for every piece of government legislation so far and will they continue to do so?

Didn’t they vote against the CPTTP? If they could stick to their principles then, when they were in the wrong, why not now when they’d be in the right?

It’s understood that the Green negotiators were asked to produce a list of potential NZ First legislation they could not agree with during coalition talks, and did not think to include Waka Jumping as it had been so long since the law had been an issue.

That was at best naive.

Former Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was part of the negotiating team, said earlier this year the agreement did not in fact force the Greens into supporting the bill.

Then why are they doing it?

Green MP Eugenie Sage said “we don’t like it” but it was “very important” to one of the coalition parties.

“It is a dead rat they we have to swallow,” Sage said.

The Greens have long opposed such legislation. . .

Proponents argue that it maintains the proportionality of Parliament while opponents say it stifles democracy.

If maintaining proportionality was so important, National would have got another list MP when Peters won the seat of Northland. Instead of which NZ First got another MP.

National MP Nick Smith said the Greens had “sold their soul” and were “trashing their core values.”

“We’ve never before had a party saying it opposed a bill – leat alone a bill that makes changes to our electoral law and constitution where they are oppose to it but are going to vote it anyway.

“This is the Green Party selling its soul for power,” Smith said.

“They are the last party I would expect to do this.”

He goes further in a media release:

Government changes to New Zealand MMP electoral law enabling a party leader to dismiss an MP would break the constitutional law Allied Powers put in place following the end of the Second World War, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says.

“The Government cannot justify this draconian law change on the basis of MMP. Germany has had MMP for over 70 years and has no such provisions. In fact, the Human Rights Commission has drawn to Parliament’s attention that it would be ironic and wrong for New Zealand to have insisted on specific democratic protections in Germany, but to be breaching those protections at home,” Dr Smith says.

It is not just Germany that has constitutional protections for MPs’ free speech. The European Court has over-ridden similar laws like those being proposed for New Zealand as undemocratic. The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea struck down similar laws there in 2010.

New Zealand is putting itself in the company of totalitarian states like Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sierra Leone with these electoral law changes.

That isn’t company any country, government or party that stands up for democratic rights would want to be in.

In these countries, Members of Parliament have been dismissed for challenging corruption in their own Government, for participating in a press conference without their leaders consent and for voting in Parliament differently to how their leaders instructed them. The Government is opening up the risk of this happening in New Zealand.

“New Zealanders should be deeply concerned that changes are being made to our electoral law that would be illegal and unconstitutional in most parts of the world. At a time when autocratic rulers are on the rise, New Zealand should be strengthening and not weakening our protections for democracy and free speech.

“This draconian bill that the Government accepts will have a ‘chilling effect on the expression of dissenting views by MPs’ must be abandoned.”

The select committee received submission after submission from legal experts, academics and a broad cross-section of people concerned for this assault on democracy.

And all because New Zealand First’s leader Winston Peters is so insecure and distrustful of his caucus.

Labour swallowed the dead rat in coalition negotiations. Green Party MPs are facing up to swallowing it now so the legislation will go through.

Their members won’t be happy but they are the ones who wouldn’t have countenanced the party going with National.

Had they agreed to a blue-green government they would have got several conservation gains, including the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Instead of which they’re watching their MPs dine on a large dead rat and wondering what other principles they might sacrifice as the price of power.


Rural round-up

March 4, 2018

Meat sector aiming high – Neal Wallace:

A national brand for meat supported by a story detailing New Zealand farming practices will be released within the next few months to spearhead the sector’s response to the growth of competing artificial protein.

A just-released study on the threat of alternative protein to NZ’s red meat sector commissioned by Beef + Lamb NZ identifies beef in our largest market, the United States, as most at risk from the growth of artificial protein.

It warns plant-based burgers and mince will likely be widely available throughout the US within five years and China in 10 years, potentially targeting the grinding beef market. . .

A2 Milk executives cash out of surging shares with combined $36.6 mln payday – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co executives have enjoyed a combined $36.6 million payday after cashing in on a surging share price since the milk marketer’s announcement last week that first-half profit more than doubled and it had inked a deal with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Share sales over the four days following the Feb. 21 announcement included $18.5 million sold by departing chief executive Geoff Babidge, who hands over the reins to Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka this year. . . 

Farmers’ stress over cattle disease: ‘We hope we will survive this onslaught – Gerald Piddock:

The distress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multimillion-dollar farm business has been laid to bare in emails between the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The strain VLG owners Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen were under as they battle to eradicate the cattle disease while saving their farm business during, at times, a tense relationship with the MPI was shown in the release of more than 250 pages of documents released under the Official Information Act to Stuff.

Parts of the documents were heavily redacted for privacy or commercial reasons. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q1 2018: Impact of Trade Agreements and Blockchain Technology:

A number of trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a proposed Mercosur/EU trade agreement, look set to start having an impact on global beef trade in 2018. At the same time, applications of blockchain technology are now being widely developed in the food industry, with opportunities to realise benefits further up the supply chain growing, according to the RaboResearch Beef Quarterly Q1 2018.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
The 11-member version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks set for formal signing in March (although respective governments need to sign off on the details before implementation). Gains are expected for beef-exporting countries Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada—through reduced tariffs into key global beef importer Japan, plus reduced tariffs into smaller importing countries Chile, Vietnam, and Peru. . . 

Empowering rural women:

Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) has taken off since it was founded in 2014. Chairwoman Sandra Matthews from Te Kopae Station at Rere tells the Weekender about her role in the organisation and the support avaliable for women who want to achieve more in their farming businesses.

In resource terms, Rere farmer and Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) chairwoman Sandra Matthews has struck personal gold while the organisation has grown exponentially.

The Gisborne farmer has helped empower farming women in this region, tapping into an often under-utilised pool of talent that sits within New Zealand’s farming communities. . .

Winning share farmers love the thrill:

The Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year say entering the competition has been excellent for networking, growth and knowledge of their business.

“It’s been a huge benefit to receive feedback from the judges on ways we can improve our business. Plus we love the thrill of the competition,” say Thomas and Jennifer Read.

The region’s other major winners are Gerard Boerjan, the Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brock Cumming, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

February 2, 2018

New Zealand Agribusiness Outlook 2018:

Favourable market conditions should underpin a second year of broad-based profitability for New Zealand agriculture. Where the industry chooses to direct improved cash flow and focus amid this sustained positive run will be important for many years to come. . .

Lewis Road investor Southern Pastures ties up with Westland Milk – Paul McBeth:

Dairy farm fund Southern Pastures LP, which took a quarter stake in Lewis Road Creamery last year, will link with Westland Milk Products as a supplier from the 2018/19 season and with plans for a high-value product joint venture. Separately, Westland cut its forecast milk payout for this season.

Southern Pastures and Westland signed a letter of intent where the dairy farm investor’s nine Canterbury farms will supply an extra 4 million kilograms of milk solids to Westland from 2019, and investigate a business case for a 50/50 joint venture to create products from free-range, grass-fed milk based on strict animal welfare, health, sustainability, climate change and human rights standards. . . 

Why the CPTPP is important for New Zealand:

There is no question that our small, remote nation depends on trade. But there were times during the protracted negotiations that have now culminated in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) when the visceral debate here could easily have led bystanders to believe New Zealanders specialise primarily in trading insults.

The fact that there is now a deal to be signed – after the efforts of successive prime ministers ranging from Helen Clark and John Key to Bill English and now Jacinda Ardern – is a cause for real celebration. Our role in recent decades as free-trade pioneers, in the teeth of other countries’ stubbornly defended protectionism, should be a source of national pride. Our exports reap more than $70 billion a year, but farmers and manufacturers know what courage it has taken to open our borders, forgo subsidies and eschew protectionism. They and the country are better off as a result. . . 

Environment and agriculture can both benefit from CPTTP:

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) trade agreement has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and at the same time benefit the environment, agribusiness expert Dr Nic Lees of Lincoln University says.

However, he added, the public needed to be convinced of that.

The CPTTP is the re-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, and is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Negotiations have concluded between the countries but it is yet to be ratified by New Zealand. The TTP had met some public and political opposition. . .

Farm machinery sales back to 2014 levels – TAMA:

Sales of tractors in 2017 increased markedly, just topping the previous highest recorded levels of 2014, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) General Manager, Ron Gall.

Mr Gall said the association recognised that some farmers in both islands were currently experiencing hardship with the very hot and dry conditions. The challenging drought conditions may affect sales in the coming months but it was hoped changing weather would provide some relief.

Mr Gall said in 2017, a total of 4079 tractors were sold. This is up 13% on 2016, up 14% on 2015 and even slightly up on the boom dairy year of 2014, which had 4062 sales. . . 

 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q1: Evolution of sourcing strategies:

2017 was a dynamic year for the wine industry, marked by short-term scarcity and rising prices, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly report.

The report says while “2017 was an unusual one for the wine industry, forcing all players to rethink their short-term strategies” – changing consumer behaviour, global shifts in demand volumes and changing trading frameworks, could represent long-term structural changes.

“Although the unconventional year that 2017 was may just be a one-off, it may also be enough to accelerate deeper changes that were already developing in the wine industry,” says RaboResearch senior beverages analyst Maria Castroviejo. . . 

Green light for China opens up new export opportunities for leading supply group:

Leading avocado export supply group AVOCO has welcomed this week’s announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.

AVOCO exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and the company has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China. . . 

Millennials are leaving desk jobs for this surprising profession – Alexandra Hayes:

The millennial generation is often called out for its social media addictions, its work habits, and even its unhealthy ideals around perfection, but according to the Washington Post, many of them are diverging from the status ladder and leading a crusade toward a different purpose entirely: farming.

Take Liz Whitehurst. Two years ago, she left her non-profit job and bought her farm, Owl’s Nest, from a retiring farmer. Now she grows an array of organically certified produce and sells to restaurants, through CSA shares, or at local farmers markets.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 69 percent of farmers today have a college degree, a number that suggests more millennials are leaving traditional desk jobs to pursue this very different life. . .

Manuka South® latest Manuka honey is making a legendary entrance:

The highly anticipated Limited Reserve batch of 26+ UMF features some of the rarest and most potent Manuka honey available in the world. Manuka South® is releasing only a limited amount of the high-end honey.

Manuka South® 26+ Limited Reserve – available at select Aotea Gifts stores in New Zealand – is the latest in the line of premium Manuka honey products produced by Manuka South®, a trusted brand from New Zealand Health Food Company (NZHF). But it will also be the rarest among them, because jars won’t be on store shelves long. . . 


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