Rural round-up

July 20, 2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Quotes of the month

July 1, 2020

The government needed to go big, leaning on the government balance sheet is the best response in the near-term. I have two concerns. I don’t think we have a well thought out economic plan on the other side and I think people will get increasingly concerned about how we’ll get debt down – Cameron Bagrie

I was a good soldier under levels 4 and 3; I obeyed all the rules but now – there’s an oppositionally defiant child in me, screaming to be let out. – Kerre McIvor

Do you honestly think the bright and resourceful, the skilled and experienced, having lost their jobs in a fashion they could never see coming, are going to sit by and watch their prospects, futures and dreams be put on hold … or even worse … welfare? Especially when just three hours away is a country that offers work, a future, and an attitude to Covid and adversity that’s a lesson in balance, risk, common sense, and will ultimately pay greater economic dividends. – Mike Hosking

I think it is also important that farmers feel part of the nation’s family, that they are valued and are not ostracised. Not only for their own businesses, but also the downstream businesses that they support [with] their own farming and horticultural operations. David Bennett

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability. – Lindy Nelson

The mixed messages of recent days notwithstanding, most New Zealanders will welcome and take in their stride the pending return to something approaching the normality they knew, albeit with a typically quiet sense of pride at what they have been able to achieve. They will be hoping Covid19 shows no sign of a significant return during the coming winter months, as we begin to reopen our border. So too will the government and the public health authorities. For they know only too well that the level of sudden public compliance and acquiescence achieved during the lockdowns was but a moment in time – a shocked reaction to what was happening overseas and the abrupt arrival of circumstances that no-one had properly anticipated. It is unlikely to be achievable to the same extent even if future circumstances warrant it. Peter Dunne

I believe the word success is so important and that word success covers winning or it covers growing. – Dame Lois Muir

After suffering a housefire, an underinsured household would likely need to take on debt to deal with the problem – and that could be fine. But if it then took the opportunity to add a swimming pool to the property, while pushing the mortgage amount to the upper limit, one might wonder about the household’s prudence.

Similarly, the elected Government has been adding metaphorical swimming pools to its shopping list by extending the 2020 Budget beyond what was necessary to deal with the Covid crisis. This raises sharp questions about the Government’s commitment both to fiscal prudence and the Public Finance Act.Eric Crampton

Changes in usage and semantics, when imposed, are usually exercises in power. These days, pressure for their adoption, like censorship, comes not from government but from pressure groups, small but well-organised and determined. Resistance in small things to monomania not being worth the effort among the better balance, the changes first go by default and then become habitual. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking down statues and hiding our history is often not the answer to this problem. Instead, why not discuss moving statues to more appropriate locations? Why not add information around these monuments to present a more complete view of these figures? Take this opportunity to learn and understand the context in which the events commemorated by the monument occurred. . . Equally importantly, we must think and learn about the absent figures. Which people and events are not commemorated in public monuments and why is this the case? Absences can tell us as much about people’s understanding of history as the figures that were chosen. Absences can also show us where there are opportunities for future commemorations: to add these missing groups to our historical understanding as well as to our public record.  . . .

There is no right answer to how we should remember these figures – they come with significant achievements and often major failings. The only answer, for me, is that neither aspect of these figures should be forgotten. History must be allowed to be told in full – warts and all. Let discussion and debate take the place of anger and resentment. Let us use this opportunity as a time to change the way we view history; to shift our understanding of the past and to give future generations the opportunity to see history from a different perspective. . . Let our statues and monuments provoke debate and challenge us to think deeply about our past – let us not hide them all away to be forgotten. – Hayden Thorne

For most journalists, reporting the truth is an art form that leaves no margin for error. You either get it right the first time or your readers become confused about their own responsibilities when reacting to stories that must be taken at face value. Sadly, many in this ancient honourable profession have recently thrown in their lot with political forces that share their personal ideological persuasion with a result that truth is the casualty and the instability that is a consequence continues unchecked. – Clive Bibby

There is great danger in judging history by our standards, or rewriting it to modern tastes. It is simply bad history to morally look down on people who were not equipped to think differently. It’s our failure of imagination not to grasp this. It misses the really important question: why did those societies change? . . . The genius of Western civilisation is its progress through self-awareness and self-criticism. That created the endless debates that led to empirical science, protection under the rule of law, and self-rule through democracy. This allowed it to fix its errors and aberrations, ending slavery, propagating the ideas that undermined its own colonialism, making the sexes equal, and outlawing racial discrimination and intolerance. – AFR View

History, it is what it is. Good, bad and ugly, but I think it’s a good impetus for our country to learn our history. – Meng Foon

Once we stop laughing at ourselves we begin to lose our soulsPaddy Briggs

There is now an immediate need to assign accountability to the individuals or groups responsible for putting the community at risk. And this leads to the greater need for a royal commission to critically examine this current problem and many others, in the overall way that Covid-19 had been dealt with.

From the first national diagnosis of the Covid-19 crisis all the way to the recovery processes, a royal commission should be tasked with reviewing it all: the health, scientific, economic, constitutional, legal and cultural elements of the event.

This would provide a public record of what worked, what didn’t, what gaps were apparent and what could be improved next time. And it is the next time we have to be particularly worried about. Pandemics are an intergenerational problem, and what we are enduring will not be the last such experience. – Alexander Gillespie

The management of people arriving at the border has cost the government $81 million so far. That’s a lot of money to spend on a sieve when you needed – and thought you were buying – a top-quality bucket.  – Point of Order

Many people — and especially those who live in Bristol — have discovered Newton’s Third Law of Statues. Put crudely, it amounts to ‘you wreck one of ours, we wreck one of yours’. . . From the beginning, any protest outside the US reeked of entitlement and thrill-seeking. Everyone involved desperately needs to look up ‘negative externalities’ in the dictionary, although ‘doing something you like while shitting on other people’ is a useful definition. Antifa especially combines monstrous privilege with what philosopher John Gray calls ‘the problem of being lightly educated’.  Helen Dale

Kindness isn’t achievable without action.Andrea Vance

In saying, “we don’t want a witch hunt” what you’re really saying is: We expect you in the private sector to follow all the rules but we won’t. – Kate Hawkesby

Now when I feel sad, I’m gentle with myself, I don’t run from sadness.  I don’t seek to lift myself out of sadness. I have to sit with it. I think about self care, snuggly clothes, being kind to myself.I – Lotta Dann

Even if a prime minister is not technically responsible for the blunders of her ministries, the idea that someone can be in charge but not responsible will seem plainly wrong to most people. In fact, most people’s ideas about leadership can be summed up by the sign that US President Harry Truman’s kept on his desk in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here.” – Graham Adams

To reiterate, we believe in freedom of speech for all; these clients have decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view.  – Blair Partnership

“In light of the bungles at the border, it’s become abundantly clear that we didn’t beat Covid-19 with competence. . . But good luck won’t build smart borders, get the economy restarted, or pay back the debt. – David Seymour

I make mistakes at work too. And some mornings, around this time of year, after the weather’s changed and the city is wreathed in rain and drowned in mist and I have to commute to campus via a public transport system that’s a chaotic, unreliable mess, I try to persuade myself I should “work from home”. I generally force myself to go into work. But if I do stay home, then find myself making mistakes that might kill hundreds of people and cause billions of dollars damage to the economy, I like to think I’ll go back into the office. Even if it’s raining. – Danyl Mclauchlan 

“Operational matters” aren’t a get-out-of-responsibility-free card. “Operational matters” can be substituted in most sentences for “things that happened”. – Toby Manhire

Is there ever a time when the job of the media, the Opposition and academia should be diverted from the task of speaking truth to power? That’s debatable – but holding back is not what we need now. – Liam Hehir

I’m sick of these politicians making grand promises that we can all see are completely unachievable. Thinking we believe them means two things. They’re either deluded and incompetent. Or they think we’re all stupid and we’ll never notice. It’s probably a bit of both – Andrew Dickens

Holding the powerful to account is the cornerstone of journalism. It is not the only reason for our existence; I like to think we also contribute to the sense of community that binds us; I saw many lovely examples of that during the pandemic. And mostly we like to tell interesting stories about the people and places around us. But we also believe passionately in the power of the written word and its ability to challenge our assumptions. We need that during this election campaign more than any other, surely? – Tracy Watkins

You know, the 17-year-old solo mum who dropped out of school ended up being deputy prime minister of this country, and when I looked at that and what I’d achieve I knew that I could draw a line very proudly and comfortably under that and move on to my next challenge. – Paula Bennett

I set about reforming the welfare system, with more emphasis on what people could do, increasing our expectation on people to get work-ready and look for a job and changing the system so more help was available for them. . . I get that people won’t agree with everything that we did, but we were ambitious and I believed in people and their abilities, and I do despair at the moment that there’s an expectation that a lifetime on welfare can be an option for people and it almost feels encouraged, whereas I think it should be a backstop. – Paula Bennett

I was forced to think about what leadership means – what is the basic statement one can use to describe at a fundamental basis what leadership is. What I came up with, while not anything earth-shattering, was that “leadership is about giving the credit and taking the blame”. – Ben Kepes

She was the galah in a cage of budgies. Claire Trevett

Government essentially reinvented the wheel, and when the wheel eventually turned up, it was wonky. – Louis Houlbrooke

Too many politicians these days are too manufactured, too inauthentic, spend too much time on focus group research and advice on how to talk to people. Here’s a tip – just talk. Be yourself. – Kate Hawkesby


Rural round-up

June 28, 2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

June 6, 2020

Farmers facing undue Govt pressure – Peter Burke:

Hawke’s Bay vet Richard Hilson says the effects of the lockdown with COVID-19 tended to isolate farmers more than people might have imagined.

He says towards the end of Alert Level 4, farmers needed to talk to people – their neighbours and others. He believes many felt they were being backed into a corner, on their own, having to deal with the drought.

Vets, says Hilson, were in a unique position to help farmers in this respect. He says when a vet goes on a farm they usually work with a farmer, unlike someone who comes on to fix a machine. He says vets are people that farmers more likely form a relationship with, chew the fat and have a laugh. . . 

Intervention groups plan early action on winter grazing issues:

As the temperature gauge starts to drop, Federated Farmers and allied groups have an action plan in place to head off any issues with winter grazing.

“Winter crops are gradually being opened up to stock around the lower South Island and although the weather has been kind so far, we all know that winter will arrive before long,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

Rural people know that a photograph taken of stock in a muddy paddock seldom tells the full story in terms of what the farmer has in place to protect waterways from run-off and ensure good animal welfare.

“Nevertheless, these selective photographs can generate negative publicity and we want to make sure any concerns are proactively addressed, and that any farmer needing advice or support gets it early,” Katie says. . . 

National’s new ag-man unknown – Peter Burke:

 Who is National’s new agriculture spokesman, David Bennett?

While new National Party leader and former agriculture spokesman Todd Muller may have been unfamiliar to urban New Zealand, he was well known in the rural heartland.

Now, with Muller’s elevation to the top job, he has named the relatively unknown Hamilton MP David Bennett as National’s new agriculture spokesman. Peter Burke finds out who he is.

From the corporate life to the good life and then politics – that’s the career path of National’s new agriculture spokesman David Bennett. . .

A1 milk predisposes to asthma and lung inflammation – Keith Woodford:

New findings published by Nature Research, demonstrating how A1 milk predisposes for asthma and lung inflammation, should bring the A1 milk issue back into focus for both consumers and farmers

Until May 15 of this year, there had been a lack of new scientific evidence about A1 milk for almost a year. The reason it was quiet is because no-one had been funding the next studies that needed to be undertaken. However, new evidence has now come forward from India, somewhat out of left field.

Prior to this, there had been multiple strands of evidence demonstrating that A1 beta-casein and hence A1 milk is pro-inflammatory and linked to auto-immune conditions. However, the new research published by Nature Research in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ is the first to explore these pro-iinflammatory and immune-related effects of A1 beta-casein in the airway and lungs. . .

Best practice and vital new research focus of calf rearing webinar series :

Existing best practice and vital new research aimed at producing strong, healthy, well grown calves is the focus of five calf rearing webinars being run by the Dairy Women’s Network starting on Monday.

Calf rearing is a critical time for dairy farmers, with success determined by the quality and management of new-born calves. It covers the time from birth to 12 weeks of age and includes feeding (colostrum, milk, fibre, meal, and water), housing, general husbandry and health management of calves from the moment they are born up to four weeks post weaning. . . 

Are vegetables vegan? The man taking aim at animal products in organic farming – Jessica Glenza:

Will Bonsall is a homesteader and 45-year vegan living in rural Maine with a message for Americans – your vegetables are “very un-vegan”.

Bonsall is an influential member of a small but growing group of vegan and organic – “veganic” – farmers, who want to revolutionize organic agriculture, which traditionally depends on animals byproducts such as cow manure.

“There’s a little bit of a disconnect, even hypocrisy, in vegans … We vegans like to put on our plates [vegetables] grown in methods that are very un-vegan,” Bonsall said.“Most organic agriculture is focused on moo poo,” said Bonsall. “Cow manure, animal manure, but also blood meal and bone meal,” he said. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2020

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again. . . 

Rushed log legislation deserves the chop:

Federated Farmers and the Forest Owners Association are joining forces to condemn the Log Brokers Bill as a Trojan horse to potentially force farmers and foresters to subsidise local processing industries from reduced export earnings.

The unwarranted rush over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill risks unintended consequences, including retaliatory action by nations we trade with, Federated Farmers forestry spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The period for consultation is tighter than even the emergency actions on high-powered automatic firearms spurred by the Christchurch mosque attacks. . . 

Agility and innovation essential for meat exporters – Allan Barber:

The days of bemoaning our meat exporters’ lack of flexibility when everything was exported as frozen carcases are now a distant memory. Even the days of growing the profitable chilled lamb business without upsetting the EU authorities are receding into the distant past, as meat marketers cope with the complexities of marketing to previously time poor, technologically sophisticated consumers around the world now living in lockdown without ready access to restaurants.

AFFCO Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a critical point in time which will result in a permanent shift in buying habits, placing huge emphasis on further processing capacity and weight ranging capability. He sees online as a distinct buying channel where consumers will not seek individually branded products, but a home solution delivered to the door. A local example of this trend is Auckland based Hyper Meat which offers three meat packs for home delivery at different price points, all at specific weights, as well as a range of wines and other beverages. . . .

Irrigation NZ congratulates David Bennett:

IrrigationNZ wishes to congratulate David Bennett as he takes on the agricultural portfolio for the National Party.

The announcement came today as new National Party Leader, Todd Muller, revealed the line-up of the new look National Party caucus.

Mr Bennett takes over from Mr Muller, who was previously in the role. . .

Never let a good crisis go to waste: How our food sector can save NZ’s economy – Rosie Bosworth:

The world will always need food, and New Zealand is enviably positioned to capitalise on this, writes future foods expert Rosie Bosworth – but we need to take a few big steps first. 

It’s a bittersweet moment for New Zealand. As a nation we’ve collectively worked hard to successfully flatten the curve (for now). But for many Kiwi businesses and industries, the economic aftermath of Covid-19 has not been pretty. As with many countries, there have been winners and losers. With some of New Zealand’s top export-earning industries – like international tourism and education, which contribute $16.2 and $5.1 billion respectively to our GDP – having been effectively decommissioned in the wake of Covid, New Zealand must now focus on its other economic heavyweights to help even up the balance sheets.

Now more than ever, our thriving agriculture and food and beverage sectors will be key economic lifelines for the country and crucial points of job creation for hundreds, if not thousands, of Covid-displaced New Zealanders hungry for work. Why? Because the world will always need food. Natural, honest, trusted products that New Zealand is enviably positioned to produce better than any other nation on the planet. Especially in a Covid world, where consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. . . 

Next generation focused on improving dairy reproduction – Samantha Townsend:

When the Yarringtons’ ancestors built their farm with their bare hands the biggest technology at the time was horse and cart.

Six generations later, Rod and his wife Natasha, began using semex AI24 collar systems in February – real time information and reproductive performance technology to improve heat detection and in-calf rates. 

“Getting our cows back in calf was one of our biggest inefficiencies because with just the two of us on the farm, it was hard to be everywhere,” Mrs Yarrington said. . .

 


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

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.


Rural round-up

August 7, 2017

Community mourns farmer of the year – Ruby Harfield:

Farming and rugby communities are in shock after the sudden death of Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year Paul “Butch” Renton.

Mr Renton, who with wife of 27 years Marie accepted the 2017 Farmer of the Year title at the Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Awards just four months ago, was found dead on Wednesday morning at Glenmore Station, the Mangatahi property west of Hastings on which he grew up. 

Police have said no foul play was involved and the matter has been referred to the coroner. . . 

The great food disruption: part 1 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part one of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable. 

We humans love to romanticise things – and we particularly like to romanticise our food. When you think about that juicy burger at lunch, last night’s curry or this morning’s breakfast berry smoothie, it’s all too easy for us to imagine a happy cow called Daisy who spends her days roaming across lush rolling hills with her young nearby, leaping lambs, happy hens frolicking in the fields, and trusting, caring farmers, who lovingly ply their trade the old-fashioned way – tractor, straw hat and pitch fork in hand. . . 

Avocado thieves selling stolen fruit on black market:

Police have found small business owners in Bay of Plenty are purchasing stolen avocados, following a spate of orchard thefts in the region.

Police received nine reports of thefts in Western Bay of Plenty since May, and said there had been a number of avocado thefts in Tauranga to Katikati in the last month.

They had found that a number of retailers were accepting the stolen avocados to sell in-store. They urged store owners to support orchardists by only purchasing produce  from legitimate growers. . .

Blue Sky Meats posts $1.9M loss, signals review of unprofitable Gore beef plant –  Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats, the Invercargill-based meat processor, posted a loss for the second year in a row and said the future of its unprofitable beef plant in Gore is under review.

The company reported a loss of $1.91 million, or 16.54 cents per share, in the 12 months ended March 31, from a loss of $1.96 million, or 16.98 cents, a year earlier, according to its annual report. Revenue slid 17 percent to $97.9 million. It won’t pay a dividend. . . 

Carbon budgets would provide ‘certainty’ for dairy sector:

DairyNZ has welcomed the release today of a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, which recommends New Zealand approach climate change in a similar manner to the United Kingdom.

Dr Jan Wright recommends Government set up an independent Climate Change Commission to propose carbon budgets as stepping stones towards meeting greenhouse gas targets, which would provide certainty and transparency about how New Zealand climate change targets will be met..  .. . 

Australia gets closer to objective carcase measurement – Alan Barber:

In March I wrote about Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to assist with the introduction of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) objective carcase measurement (OCM) technology to all Australian meat plants. At that time neither the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) nor the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) were completely persuaded of the logic of committing the industry to such a large investment without further analysis and a robust business case.

The resulting review, performed by EY, has recommended that Australian meat processors and producers should go ahead with OCM projects in spite of a lack of consensus throughout the sector. The main finding confirms earlier studies which indicate significant benefits for both parts of the industry, if the technology is adopted. The review recommends AMPC and MLA to work together to achieve alignment between the two sectors which haven’t always agreed with each other. . . 

Farmers lift the lid on repro results:

It’s no secret that many New Zealand dairy farmers are struggling with herd reproduction and this is hurting their profitability. Yet there are some farmers out there achieving above-average repro results. What are they doing right?

Blake Korteweg: 78 percent six-week in-calf rate

Farm Facts
Location: Hedgehope, Southland

Farm size: 175ha (effective)
Herd size: 500 cows
Production: 203,000kg MS

When 50:50 sharemilker Blake Korteweg took over management of the family farm in South Otago from his father, the six-week in-calf rate was only 60 percent. Under his management, that’s climbed to 78 percent. The first change he made was to get mating down from 15 weeks to 11 weeks. . . 

Opening Agcarm conference – David Bennett:

 . .  Agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines, or ACVM, play an important role. Their use is essential to address animal welfare and to produce safe and suitable food we can sell with confidence in New Zealand and overseas.

Farmers and food producers around New Zealand depend on them to:
• improve the quantity and quality of their produce;
• keep people, animals and crops healthy; and
• reduce the spread of diseases, weeds, parasites and other pests. . . 

Planning is Key to Success in New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards:

The runners-up of the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Award believe the earlier potential entrants begin preparing for the awards, the better, and they should be starting now.

Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Awards open in October, and Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos say gathering information and records takes time, and now is a good time to start this if they haven’t already. . . 

Image may contain: text

Barbed wire, ruining farmers’ jeans since 1867.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2017

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . .

Lifting water quality and profit too – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are continuing to be proactive when it comes to changing regulations within Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan. Mid-Oreti and Hedgehope farmers held a catchment field day recently to discuss the plan and what more they could do on farm to continue to improve water quality. Nicole Sharp reports.

How can you make looking after the environment profitable?

That was the hot topic at the mid-Oreti and Hedgehope catchment field days recently, where farmers gathered to discuss Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan and what more they could do. . . 

Farmers hold back wool from auction in weak market  – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Less wool than forecast was offered at New Zealand’s weekly auction as farmers held back bales from sale in a weak market.

Just 6,821 bales were put up for sale at yesterday’s South Island auction after 11 percent of the expected bales were withdrawn before the sale started, according to AgriHQ. Even with the low number of bales on offer, the clearance rate fell 2 percentage points from last week’s auction to 73 percent, lagging behind last year’s levels, AgriHQ said. . . 

Comvita shares slump 9.4% on Deutsche Bank downgrade, news of Myrtle Rust in NZ  – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 9.4 percent as investment analysts cut their valuation for the manuka honey products maker, coinciding with yet another problem out of the Te Puke-based company’s control with the discovery of Myrtle Rust in the Far North.

The shares fell as low as $6.07 in early trading today, the lowest since Jan. 23, and were recently down 65 cents to $6.25 after Deutsche Bank cut its price target for the stock to $7.05 from a previous target of $9. Deutsche Bank owns a stake in broking and research firm Craigs Investment Partners, whose executive chairman Neil Craig also heads up Comvita’s board. .. 

New South Wales agricultural region showcased to leading New Zealand and Australian farmers:

Puketapu beef finisher Rob Pattullo was one of nearly 50 leading farmers from across New Zealand and Australia to tour North-western New South Wales recently.

Hosted by specialist agricultural bank, Rabobank, the tour group gathered to visit some of the region’s most progressive farming businesses. . . 

Harraway Sisters Help Celebrate 150 Years of Harraways Oats

New Zealand’s iconic oats company, Harraways, is celebrating 150 years of providing Kiwis with delicious oats.

Since 1867, Harraways has been operating from its original site in Green Island, Dunedin and remains privately owned.

With humble beginnings as a small family business producing flour for the growing population of Dunedin, oats weren’t the company’s sole focus at the time. Replacing the old method of stone grinding flour with an oat roller milling plant in 1893, a thousand tonnes of oats were produced in the first year, expanding Harraways into the breakfast cereal producer that they are well-known as today. . . 

Star gazing tours and new pools are ‘hot’ attractions at Tekapo Springs:

The introduction of star gazing tours married with the launch of new pools have put Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map. 

Star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations was launched by Tekapo Springs in New Zealand’s Mackenzie country just two months ago, taking viewing the Southern night sky to whole new levels. . . 

 Manuka Health unveils $3.5 million Wairarapa Apiculture Centre
Minister for Food Safety officially opens state of the art processing plant:

Leading honey manufacturer Manuka Health has today officially opened its expanded national apiculture business after a $3.5million build that will significantly expand the organisation’s export capacity.

Joining CEO John Kippenberger, the Minister for Food Safety Hon David Bennett opened the Manuka Health Wairarapa Apiculture Centre in an event attended by MP for the Wairarapa, Alastair Scott; Mayor John Booth of Carterton District Council; Chief Executive of Carterton District Council, Jane Davis; industry and government representatives; neighbours; beekeeper partners; site design and build companies; and Manuka Health staff. . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2017

$6 a kilo for greasy wool is realistic – Alan Williams:

A wool price of $6 a kilogram greasy is being targeted by a Federated Farmers strategy being developed as necessary for the industry to achieve sustainable returns.

An industry levy was not part of the work being done, federation national meat and fibre group chairman Rick Powdrell said.

Getting detailed information on what happened to New Zealand wool overseas and where it went were key parts of the project. . . 

Fight for Feds top job likely – Annette Scott:

Competition is ramping up as nominations open for the Federated Farmers national board’s changing of the guard.

Speculation pointed to a challenge for the national leadership as president William Rolleston ended his three-year term.

The annual meeting was scheduled for June 22 in Wellington. Both the president and vice-president roles would come up for grabs.

Current vice-president Anders Crofoot, also at the end of his three-year term, confirmed he would stand for president. . . 

Meat co-ops search for winning formula – Tony Benny:

New Zealand’s two big meat co-ops, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have both had new CEOs at the helm for the past two years, each charged with improving returns to their farmer-shareholders. Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor talked to Tony Benny.

When Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor each came from Melbourne to take top jobs in the New Zealand meat industry, little did they know they’d almost been next door neighbours before coming here.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Hamilton recalls his first meeting with Surveyor when the subject of where they’d lived in Melbourne came up.

“I said I was in East Melbourne. He said, ‘So was I, what street?’. I said, ‘Central Park Road’. He looked at me and he said, ‘I was in Central Park Road too’, and it ended up we were only ten houses away but I’d never met him.” . . 

ACCC court action against Murray Goulburn applauded – Shan Goodwin:

FEDERAL Court action instigated by the competition watchdog against big dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has been heralded a significant first step to bringing long overdue fairer trading practices to the milk supply chain.

Milk producers say the move shows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is serious about addressing breaches of competition law in the dairy industry and lays a good foundation for the results of it’s current inquiry into the competitiveness of milk prices. . . 

Hemp seeds to be legalised as food:

An agreement reached between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities will see hemp seed legalised as food in New Zealand, Food Safety Minister David Bennett says.

Ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide today approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food.

“I stated my support at the Forum today and was pleased a change to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was approved,” Mr Bennett says.

Mr Bennett says hemp has no psychoactive effect and has historically been used as a source of fibre and oil because it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty-acids. . . 

Rural Kiwis swipe right for country love on new farmer dating app – Jill Galloway:

Lonely Kiwi farmers are hooking into a United States based dating app to find love.

About 500 single New Zealanders are already members of the FarmersMatch dating service which has only been going since March.

Founder Derek Ma said the app could bring together single people with a love of the country. . . 

New Zealand olive oil scoops medals at international competitions:

Winners in two prestigious international Olive Oil competitions have just been announced and New Zealand features in both.
In the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), which is arguably the largest of international Olive Oil Competitions, Robinsons Bay and Old French Road both won GOLD with their Extra Virgin Olive Oil entries.

Both olive groves are from Akaroa and were Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show respectively at the 2016 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.
The 2017 NYIOOC attracted more than 800 entries from 26 countries and was judged by an international panel of experts. For more information see https://nyoliveoil.com/ . . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2017

Stockmanship and work ethic leads family to win Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

East Otago sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht have won the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The win was announced at a gala dinner at the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin on April 7.

The Engelbrechts also won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

The Engelbrecht’s 7500 stock unit East Otago sheep and beef business is based on their 611ha home farm, Stoneburn, near Palmerston. The couple have four children, Oscar, 19, Sam, 16, Anna, 14 and Charles, 12. . . 

Aim tech at firms not farmers – Richard Rennie:

As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more of a reality for New Zealand farmers its success might lie in promoting it harder to farm service businesses than to farmers themselves.

KotahiNet chief executive Vikream Kumar tipped the usual pitch for farmers to adopt the IoT on its head to delegates at the MobileTech conference in Rotorua.

His company specialised in connecting businesses with sensors and wireless networks that enabled devices to communicate within businesses and beyond, including farms, orchards and processing operations. . . 

Tauranga animal health CEO finalist for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Tauranga woman described as “successful yet so down to earth” is in the running to take out the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

A qualified veterinarian, Dr Claire Nicholson is the Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, a company she set up to develop and promote unique products that address current areas of economic loss in the dairy and sheep and beef industries.

She’s also a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW), past associate director for AgResearch and has worked with Massey University researching the epidemiology and economic cost of Neospora. Her family farms are in Gropers Bush, Southland. . .

Regions win battle to keep GE-free status but confusion remains – Gerard Hutching:

Lobby group Pure Hawke’s Bay is claiming victory in its fight to be free of genetically modified fruit and vegetables, but Federated Farmers describes the new situation as “a mess”.

Pure Hawke’s Bay feared Environment Minister Nick Smith would remove the powers for local and regional councils to declare themselves GE-free when the Government pushed through the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill this week.

However, in last minute changes, Smith amended the Bill so the minister could not refuse councils the right to become GE-free – but only for crops, which he defined as cereals, vegetables or fruit.

Smith’s definition did not include GE grasses, trees or livestock. . . 

New ground broken on rural fibre:

Federated Farmers has successfully negotiated a significant benefit for rural property owners who allow telecommunications fibre to cross their land.

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which was passed by the Parliament this afternoon, facilitates the installation of fibre optic cable along overhead electricity lines. It includes a unique provision that provides a quid pro quo to landowners whose land the lines network crosses, Federated Farmers communications spokesperson Anders Crofoot says.

In exchange for the right to string high-speed fibre along existing overhead powerlines, the amendment act guarantees fibre connections to farmers whose land is crossed. . . 

New Zealand mānuka honey science definition:

Food Safety Minister David Bennett has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries’ release of a proposed scientific definition for mānuka honey produced in New Zealand.

“Overseas regulators and consumers have expressed a desire for an independent, Government-backed definition to safeguard the authenticity of mānuka honey products.

“This Government-backed definition will provide an important starting point for the industry to promote New Zealand mānuka honey in world markets,” Mr Bennett says. . . 

Government science definition of mānuka honey an important step forward:

The industry organisation for the honey and beekeeping industry, Apiculture New Zealand, is pleased the Ministry for Primary Industries has released its proposed science definition of mānuka honey for industry review and consultation.

“The introduction of a regulatory science definition is a major milestone in the history of the mānuka honey industry. It is a relatively young industry growing very rapidly and with huge potential.

“We signalled our willingness to work with MPI to ensure its proposed science definition is robust in meeting shared objectives around consumer confidence and authenticity, and will be making a detailed submission on behalf of industry,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture NZ. . . 

Foreign Wine Looking for Greater US Market Penetration:

The US wine market continues to represent an attractive opportunity for many foreign wine companies, according to the Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q2 2017. However, increasing competition and ongoing wholesaler consolidation, among other factors, make it increasingly difficult for small wineries to penetrate, with a particular complexity for foreign wineries. An increasing number are seeking alternative structures and strategies to deliver greater penetration in the market. Each strategy has the potential to achieve success, but also carries risks and pitfalls.

While the US market has attributes that make it attractive to many foreign wineries, it is also a crowded, complex, and daunting market. The traditional approach for foreign wineries looking to enter the US market has been to identify an appropriate importer, and to work the market with the importer and/or distributors to sell their product.. . .

More evidence that the key to allergy-free kids is giving them plenty of dirt — and cows – Rachel Feltman:

People who grow up on farms — especially dairy farms — have way fewer allergy and asthma problems than the rest of us. Now one research team thinks they’ve brought science closer to understanding why.

In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers report that they were able to pinpoint one possible mechanism for the allergy protection in mice they studied. Surprisingly, the protein that they fingered as the likely allergy-preventer doesn’t actually affect the immune system — it affects the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.

The research is related to something called the hygiene hypothesis, where a lack of exposure to microbes as a tyke leads to more allergy and asthma. . . 

 


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


The case for partial floats

July 6, 2013

The Green Party is continuing to spit into the wind with its attempt to get a politician’s initiated referendum on the partial float of a few state owned companies:

P.S. This is our last week to get Keep Our Assets petitions in, so if you have any signatures yet to send, freepost them to me today at:
Russel Norman . . .

Perhaps he wasn’t listening to Question time when Bill English explained the benefits of the policy:

1. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Finance: What are the advantages of using proceeds from selling minority shareholdings in energy companies to buy new public assets, instead of borrowing that money from overseas lenders?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Very significant advantages. In the case of the share sales programme, the Government is swapping one asset—that is, a minority stake in an energy company, which it can only hold and collect dividends—for another asset, which is cash, which it can use for all sorts of purposes. Over the entire programme we expect to free up between $5 billion and $7 billion of cash as a replacement for the asset that we are selling. This will be invested in schools, hospitals, irrigation schemes, the rebuild of Christchurch, and other infrastructure projects. The alternative is to borrow the money from overseas bankers rather than get it from New Zealand savers.

David Bennett: How are proceeds from the share sales programme being allocated to reinvest in other priority public assets? . . .

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has set up the Future Investment Fund. The money going into that fund comes mainly from New Zealand savers who have had the opportunity, and chosen, to invest in large New Zealand companies. The Opposition despises them for this, but we think it is good for the country. The Future Investment Fund will show transparently where that money is going, and it is going to other public assets.

David Bennett: What investments in new public assets has the Government so far confirmed will be made from the Future Investment Fund using proceeds from the share offer programme?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the Opposition has pointed out, it is amazing just how many new public assets you can procure. Last year’s Budget allocated $33.8 million for modernising schools, $250 million towards a KiwiRail Turnaround Plan, $88 million for health sector capital, and $76 million for the new Advanced Technology Institute. This year’s Budget allocated $426 million for the Christchurch and Burwood hospitals, $50 million to speed up the School Network Upgrade Project, $94 million for the 4th year of the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan, $80 million for irrigation projects, $700 million in contingencies for projects such as new schools in Christchurch, Christchurch’s justice and emergency services precinct, and supporting Canterbury’s tertiary institutions to recover from the earthquake. The Government also agreed that over the life of the fund $1 billion will be allocated to other health capital projects. . .

David Bennett: How does New Zealand’s approach to investing in new public assets while limiting extra debt compare with approaches in other countries?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Although some regard this idea as extreme, in fact it is very common around the world. The following OECD countries have Governments that partially own companies that are floated on the stock exchange: Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Japan, Korea, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the Labour Party models itself on Albania, which does not have any of these sorts of companies.

The alternative to selling minority shares in a few state assets are: print more money, borrow more money, tax more or do less.

 


NZ not so sorry savers

March 2, 2013

New Zealanders have been accused of being poor savers for years, but are we really?

This exchange in parliament last week suggests otherwise:

David Bennett: How has household savings changed recently and what reports has he received on household wealth?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think, as we are familiar with, official measures show a significant improvement in the last 3 years, from dissaving of 7.1 percent of household income in 2007 to just positive household savings more recently. Alongside that, though, there is a maybe confusing report from the Reserve Bank, which has recently highlighted that in measuring household wealth its statistics exclude some important items. For instance, when it measures household wealth it does not include equity in farms. It does not include equity in shares in some businesses and commercial properties and forests, and nor does it include some types of foreign assets held by New Zealanders. It estimates that when these items are included, household net wealth is in fact $167 billion higher than it thought, or around 25 percent—that is, the Reserve Bank’s revision of the numbers indicates households may be 25 percent wealthier than they thought.

Trans Tasman offers further explanation:

. . .  The reworked figures put NZ not as an outlier among developed nations for its low rate of savings but more in the mainstream. For the best part of a generation it’s been part of the NZ economic story that Kiwis focus on housing as their main form of saving, but the revelation household wealth, following a re-estimation of non-housing assets , is more evenly balanced between property and other assets, will have implications for several major areas of Govt policy ranging from retirement to housing needs. As a result of the information from the RBNZ, Finance Minister Bill English has Treasury testing the figures and reviewing the implications.

This is encouraging, better savers have more security, more choices and are better able to look after themselves.

Better domestic savings also reduce reliance on foreign savings for investment and growth.

Government’s role in encouraging savings include policies which encourage economic growth and discourage inflation.

The first helps lift incomes and the second protects the real value of wages and savings.


NZ training for marathon

February 14, 2013

An illuminating exchange during Question Time yesterday:

David Bennett: Why is controlling Government expenditure an important part of the Budget?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Because between 2000 and 2009 core Crown expenditure jumped from $35 billion to $64 billion, an increase of 84 percent. If we had stuck with that rate of spending, Treasury forecast that the Government would now be spending well over $80 billion per year. In fact, we are spending currently around $73 billion, and Government expenditure as a proportion of GDP is dropping from 35 percent of the economy to 31 percent over the next 3 or 4 years. At the same time as holding Government expenditure, we are improving public services and getting better results for the public.

The total expenditure is very high but the decline as a percentage of GDP is encouraging and must continue.

David Bennett: How will Government policies help increase job opportunities?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Government policies are supporting businesses in times when it is difficult to create new jobs. Job growth occurs when employers, businesses, and the Government have sufficient resources to invest and the confidence to hire a new employee. It is a product of both foreign and domestic investment. We will focus on continuing, as we have done for the last 4 years, to create the best environment we can for businesses to make the decision to invest and employ.

The left thinks it’s the government’s job to create jobs. It’s not.

It’s the government’s job to create the environment which gives businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

David Bennett: What progress is the Government making in its economic plan?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Despite the fact that conditions remain tough, we are continuing to make moderate progress. We would expect to see the economy grow at an average of around 2 percent in real terms. New Zealanders are saving more, exports are continuing to grow, interest rates are at a 50-year low, and real wages continue to grow. At the same time, we are getting on with the rebuilding of Christchurch. Compared with many other developed economies, New Zealand’s is doing pretty well.

Dr Russel Norman: Given his statement at the select committee this morning that the New Zealand economy is “training for a triathlon”, is the triathlon that New Zealanders are taking part in under his Government that, firstly, they are working long hours for low pay; secondly, they are losing their jobs due to the high Kiwi dollar; and then, thirdly, they are making the trans-Tasman dash?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member may recall the context for that remark was his proposition that we should get printing money to fix all our problems. I explained to him that the economies where they are doing that are like a patient on a table in the emergency room where they are trying to decide what kind of respirator to give them. Compared with that, New Zealand is like the person outside training for a triathlon—that is, we are in much better shape than economies like those of the UK and Europe. That is why we are not adopting the member’s silly policies.

Dr Russel Norman: Is the Minister confident that his neo-liberal policy agenda is very successful, in light of the fact that New Zealand is now approaching a 6.5 percent current account deficit under Treasury’s own estimates, when he promised that he would rebalance the economy, and we currently have record high unemployment—unemployment that has not been this high since his party was last in Government?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member points to a number of real challenges for the economy. New Zealand has a 30-year history of current account deficits. We believe we are making some progress, but it will take time to make that progress. But there is no problem that he has come up with that will be fixed by cranking up the Greens’ photocopier and printing money.

Thanks to the hard decisions taken during the mid and late 80s and early 90s and the good work the National-led government has done since 2008, New Zealand is in a much better position than many other countries.

We aren’t out of the woods yet but the mess was years in the making and the cleaning up will take time.

It’s a marathon and New Zealand is fit for it.


Will there be a snap debate on this too?

August 16, 2012

On Tuesday parliament had a snap debate on the sale of what were the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

It was called by the Opposition who, for reasons which are based far more on emotion than reason, are opposed to selling farm land to foreigners.

Last night Russel Norman’s Bill to restrict the sale of land greater in area than 5 hectares was defeated.

The bill was defeated by 61 to 59 with National, United Future and ACT opposed.

Quite why the Opposition have such an attachment to farmland when their policies show they have little understanding of farming or interest in its success escapes me.

I also don’t understand why farmland engenders such emotion when sales of companies like this go unremarked:

Foley Family Wines, owned by the California-based billionaire Bill Foley, will take control of New Zealand Wine Company, adding the Grove Mill, Sanctuary and Frog Haven brands to its suite of local wines.

NZ Wine Co shareholders approved the merger at a special general meeting in Blenheim today, with about 99 percent of votes cast in favour, the company said in a statement. 

The merger, which will see Foley take an 80 percent stake in the Marlborough-based company, has not yet been approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

Foley already owns the luxurious Wairarapa Wharekauhau estate and is chairman of two Fortune 500 companies, insurance firm Fidelity National and banking and payments technology company, Fidelity National Information Services.

He also owns the Vavasour, Goldwater, Clifford Bay and Dashwood wine brands.

NZ Wines shares are listed on the NZX alternative market and last traded at 92 cents.

I have no problem with this investment or foreign investment in general. Bill English explained earlier this week the country has a lot to gain from foreign capital.

But if the control of farm land and its produce by foreign owners exercises the opposition, why aren’t they equally concerned by what looks like a significant investment in another primary industry?

Could it be it’s not foreign investment per se but the nationality of the investors which is at the root of the opposition to the Crafar farms by the Opposition?

Contributions to Tuesday’s debate included speeches from Maurice WilliamsonTodd Mclay, Jonathan Coleman, and David Bennett.

And yesterday’s debate on Noramn’s Bill included this speech from Jonathan Coleman who had to withdraw the comment daconomics but introduced the term yokelnomics:


%d bloggers like this: