Rural round-up

May 11, 2017

Dairy Awards highlight immigrant commitment:

The value of new immigrants to the dairy industry was on show at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland last night.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Andrew Hoggard says while immigration builds as an election issue, it was particularly significant that runner up to the most prestigious award were 33 year-old Filipino immigrants Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos.

The couple have worked their way up through the dairy industry and are a shining example of the significant contribution and leadership our immigrants can provide. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. . .

Remuneration survey finds modest lift in farm employee salaries:

There has been a modest rise in farm employee salaries over the last 12 months, the 2017 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration survey shows.

The mean salary for employees on grain farms increased by 2.3 per cent since the 2016 survey, while the mean salary increased by 1.8 per cent and 0.3 percent for employees on sheep and beef and dairy farms respectively.

The survey was completed earlier this year and collected information from 914 respondents on 2834 positions.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said it was positive to see farming salaries creeping upwards given the tough economic conditions experienced by farmers in recent years. . .

Sheep and beef farmers make biodiversity contribution through QE11 covenants:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are making a significant contribution to this country’s biodiversity and landscape protection, a new study on Queen Elizabeth 11 National Trust covenants has highlighted.

The study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantifies the financial commitment made by landowners who have protected around 180,000 ha since the Trust was established in 1977.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the report showed that two thirds ofQEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47% of all covenants being on sheep and beef farms. Some farms have more than one covenant and many farmers open their covenants to the community, often partnering with schools and local community groups. . .

Farmers take a lead in environment protection

Farmers’ environmental credentials have been under attack from some quarters of late but new research highlights just one way those who work the land also strive to look after it.

Federated Farmers welcomes a study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research that highlights the impact and costs of land placed under covenant via the QE II National Trust.

“Farmers have been front and centre in the activities of the QEII National Trust right from the start. We congratulate them on their 40th anniversary, and for commissioning this study,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says. . .

New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants. . .

Irrigation funding for Kurow Duntroon welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $388,000 in new development grant funding for the Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd.

“This grant is an important step forward for this project which could have major benefits for the North Otago region,” says Mr Guy.

The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme. . . 

New national body to represent Rural Support Trusts:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the election of a national body to represent all 14 Rural Support Trusts across the country.

“Rural Support Trusts do fantastic work supporting our rural communities in tough times, and this new central body will make them more efficient and effective,” says Mr Guy.

“It will provide single point of contact for other national organisations and the Government, and help the different regions share resources and experience.

“Rural Support Trusts operate independently in their areas, staffed by local people who really know their local communities. . .

Moving Day: need to know:

It’s a familiar date in the dairying diary, Moving Day, and here’s what herd owners need to know to meet their NAIT and TBfree requirements when moving their dairy herd to a new farm.
· Update contact details and record stock movements in NAIT
· Check the TB status and testing requirements of the destination area . . 


Will women lose in culture clash?

January 20, 2014

Speaker David Carter wants to modernise parliamentary protocols.

The move was prompted by a cultural clash over women’s place and Maori custom and initial reaction suggests women are going to lose.

It follows an incident during a powhiri last year where two senior female MPs were made to move from the front row of seats, reserved for speakers.

Chairman of the oldest local Maori authority, the Wellington Tenths Trust, Morrie Love, says there is no shift in society that warrants change at this stage.

He says by accepting the form of the powhiri, the area for that time is deemed a marae, and protocol needs to be genuine and authentic to marae tikanga.

One could ask where Mr Love has been if he doesn’t think there’s a shift in society at warrants change.

However, goNZo Freakpower has an explanation for the continuation of women being seated at the back:

. . . I’m not convinced by the justifications of protecting women from taniwhas and bad atua for hui seating arrangements. My theory is that it’s a face-saving gesture to the old male kaumatua. Men go deaf more readily than women, and the old geezers sit in the front seats to better grasp what’s going on. The sharper eared wahine can hear just fine from further back. . .

That might not help women be treated as equals but it is a better explanation for the practice than any others I’ve come across.


Discrimination should lose when cultures clash

January 5, 2014

Speaker David Carter is  seeking a review of Maori protocols in parliament after two women MPs were asked to move from the front row at a welcome ceremony.

He said he wanted to “modernise” the protocols. “Parliament needs a protocol that is modern and acceptable to a diversified Parliament.”

Parliament’s longest serving woman MP Annette King and her Labour colleague Maryan Street were asked to move from the front bench during a powhiri at the start of the Youth Parliament several months ago.

That prompted the Speaker to begin a process to review protocols that were put in place 15 years ago with the oversight of the Wellington iwi, Te Atiawa. . .

“I think Parliament needs to be in a position where it actually over time develops its own protocol under guidance from Te Atiawa and other iwi,” Mr Carter said.

What Maori do on their own marae is their business.

But when there’s a cultural clash in parliament, discrimination should lose.

New Zealand led the world in giving women the vote in the 19th century it is unacceptable that they are not treated equally in parliament in the 21st century.

Nineteenth century attitudes to Maori aren’t tolerated in the 21st century, those old attitudes to women shouldn’t be either.


Cunliffe chickens out, Norman steps in

November 6, 2013

Advertising on the Farming Show used to be the most expensive on the Radio Network.

It probably still is because it’s now broadcast nationwide. It’s listened to by a broad audience and not just beyond town boundaries.

I do an occasional spot on the show and often meet people from all around the country, urban and rural, who’ve heard me.

Host Jamie Mackay has a successful recipe with a blend of farming and wider rural issues mixed with sport, music and politics.

It’s the sort of show you’d think an aspiring Prime Minister would want to appear on but one has chickened out:

There’s a certain irony in the position I find myself in with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

You see, David C has red-carded me.

Meaning, for the first time since 2000, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to a weekly slot, I will not be interviewing the Labour leader on the Farming Show.

Rightly or wrongly, Cunliffe says he won’t get a fair hearing, that we will make fun of him. Heck, we make fun of everyone, including ourselves.

Jamie does make fun of some of his interviewees but the political segments are usually pretty straight. In fact with my ever so slightly blue bias I think he sometimes let Cunliffe’s predecessors and agricultural spokesmen away too lightly.

Had Cunliffe or his media team bothered to listen to the show archives, available here, they’d have known that he’d get a fair go.

I think he has unfairly pigeon-holed me. He needs to understand some of my political history before he consigns me to the National Party lackey file. . .

Brought up in a family where Norman Kirk was admired more than Keith Holyoake, Jamie voted for Social Credit in his first two elections, in 1984 he voted against Rob Muldoon and for Bob Jones, didn’t get round to voting in 1987 and had his first vote for National in 1990.

Even then it was a vote more for a candidate than a party because I liked the cut of a young buck the Nats had dragged down to his home province of Southland from The Treasury in Wellington.

His name was Bill English and he looked like he at least had a bit of spark in him.

However, considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now? 

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. . . .

So here’s my message for PC David C, which unfortunately I can’t pass on personally. 

If you really want to be the next prime minister, get your teeth into some issues that affect middle and low-income NZ – jobs, education, health, and the minimum wage are traditional Labour strongholds.

Attack National where you have an inherent political advantage and where it might have dropped the ball.

On second thoughts, I might save that message for my new Farming Show correspondent, Dr Russel Norman.

I heard Jamie a couple of weeks ago saying Cunliffe wasn’t coming on the show and he said the same thing this week.

I thought he meant just those days, after all what politician would turn down the opportunity for nationwide publicity on the radio?

But no, it wasn’t just couple of instances that didn’t suit his diary, he’s given the show a flat no for the worst of all reasons, that he wouldn’t get a fair hearing and he’d be made fun of.

How precious is that?

A politician who can’t stand the very gentle heat of the Farming Show isn’t going to cope with the much hotter temperature in other media and parliament.

He wouldn’t have been made fun of unfairly on the show but he will be now.

Jamie’s column is in the current edition of the Farmers Weekly which is delivered free to every rural mail box in the country and sold in book stores and dairies. It’s in the FW’s digital edition and on the website (to which I’ve linked above).

It will be on the Farming Show website soon.

I’ve already heard Jamie mention Cunliffe’s no-show and he’ll keep doing it. he’ll probably mention it to his cousin, political journo Barry Soper, who has does a spot on the show each Friday.

Prime Minister John Key has a weekly interview on the show. He sometimes get a little borax poked at him by Jamie and handles it well. His customary good humour and ability to laugh at themselves will continue to provide a contrast with Cunliffe who was scared of a gentle ribbing.

Deputy PM and Finance Minister Bill English, Minister  for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Deputy Speaker Eric Roy,  are also regulars on the show. So are Labour’s Primary Industries spokesman Damien O’Connor and former MP now Vice Chancellor of Massey Steve Maharey. In the past former PM Helen Clark, then-National party leader Don Brash, former Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, former MPI Minister David Carter and Cunliffe’s former leader David Shearer were all on each week.

Since Cunliffe won’t front, Jamie has invited Russel Norman to replace him.

All of these people are or were willing to front Jamie regularly but Cunliffe isn’t.

But worse than this – one of his challenges was to assert himself as leader of the opposition, a position Norman had assumed while David Shearer led Labour.

Instead, he’s handed his rival a free pass to a slot that should have been his own on the Farming Show.

In doing so he’s shown himself a little too concerned with his own image and a little less confident of his own ability than he would like the world to think.

#gigatownoamaru doesn’t chicken out.


Smith vindicated

October 24, 2013

Speaker David Carter has dismissed Labour’s breach of privileges complaint alleging Conservation Minister Nick Smith interfered in DOC’s decision-making over its submission on the Tukituki catchment project.

“The Speaker’s dismissal of Labour’s complaint confirms that the accusations of political interference were unfounded and untrue. Labour and the Greens should apologise because they got it wrong,” Dr Smith says.

“The truth of the situation is as I have said all along. There were differences of opinion within DOC over whether the Tukituki catchment proposal would have beneficial or adverse effects for water quality. A decision was made by senior managers, after meeting with the regional council and scientific advisors from NIWA, not to pursue a critical submission because they were satisfied NIWA’s science was robust and because it would take considerable resource to challenge and overturn the science before the Board of Inquiry.

“DOC’s Deputy Director General Doris Johnston has also said on the public record that she made the decision not to submit the critical leaked draft submission, that I did not play any role in her decision-making, that she did not know my view, and that I never saw the document.

“The untrue claims about political interference in DOC’s submission has been a distraction from the important work of the Board of Inquiry into the pros and cons of the Tukituki proposal. My hope is that the Greens and Labour will drop their silly conspiracy theories and let the board get on and hear the submissions and evidence in order to make well-informed decisions on this significant project.”

In attempting to hurt the Minister Labour was also questioning the integrity of the senior civil servant who repeatedly said the decision on the submission was hers without any knowledge of his view.

Whoever leaked the report was on a crusade, Labour joined it in an attempt to discredit the Minister and they’ve failed.

He’s been vindicated.

His letter to the Speaker is here.


AG okays Dunne’s leader’s funding – updated

June 25, 2013

United Future leader Peter Dunne can keep his leader’s funding – for now.

The Auditor General has confirmed that, for as long as the United Future party is recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes under Standing Orders, there is lawful authority for the party to receive party funding under the relevant legislation.

It follows that, if the Speaker ceases to recognise United Future as a party for parliamentary purposes, its funding entitlements will change accordingly.

Speaker David Carter is considering Dunne’s right to funding in view of the electoral Commission’s decision to treat UF’s application for re-registration as if it was a new party.

UPDATE:

The speaker has ruled that UF will no longer be recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes and its leader Peter Dunne will be treated as an independent MP.

David Carter made the announcement in the house today after giving it “considerable thought”. The ruling is effective immediately.

However, he said if the party were to regain its registration he would “revisit the matter of the recognition of its Parliamentary membership on the basis it is a political party in whose name a member was elected in the 2011 general election. . .

This would be a good time to look at the rules around leader’s funding and whether it is justified for the wee parties.


Who would it hurt?

June 6, 2013

Winston Peters and his sycophants and Trevor Mallard walked out of parliament over the Speaker David Carter’s ruling that Peter Dunne could still get a leader’s budget although his party has been deregistered.

Mallard and Peters are trying to get at Dunne but who would the loss of funding really hurt?

It would be a temporary inconvenience for Dunne. The people the funding employs could be far harder hit, losing their jobs, if only temporarily until United Future’s membership is sorted out. They’re the workers, the “ordinary” New Zealanders, who Peters and Mallard purport to represent.

The requirement to have 500 valid members is a very low threshold for party registration and it doesn’t reflect well on United Future or its leader that it’s having problems with it.

But the membership problem which caused the deregistration is expected to be sorted out by next week and the party will be re-registered so any loss of funding would be very temporary.

Opposition MPs keen on publicity might think it’s worth making a fuss in spite of that but the people whose jobs could be affected won’t.


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