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.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2013

Basting a chop won’t make a steak – Chalkie:

Poor old Red Meat. There she is, best frock on, hair done, smiling with her eyes and showing a bit of leg, only to find that tarty dairy cow getting all the attention.

Dairy co-op Fonterra teased investors for years before finally letting them on to third base late last year, with explosive results. Units in its Shareholders Fund quickly shot up to well over $7 after being issued at $5.50 a mere two months ago.

Meat co-op Silver Fern Farms, on the other hand, is still working the street corner.

After a reform of its capital structure in 2009, ordinary shares in Silver Fern became tradeable by any Tom, Dick and Harry on the unlisted market, but they have not been pursued with any passion. . .

NZ meats on Singapore menu

New Zealand beef, lamb and, most likely venison, are on the menu at the Lone Star’s first overseas restaurant in a top waterfront precinct in Singapore.

The meat, branded Pure South, is being supplied by meat processor and exporter Alliance Group to the Fern & Kiwi restaurant, an offshoot of the Lone Star bar and restaurant chain.

A New Zealand-themed menu was worked out by consultant chef Mathew Metcalfe, who has cooked for the late Steve Jobs and leading Hollywood figures.

The meat range will come from farms across the country and processed at Alliance’s Group’s eight plants. . .

Carter laments stubborn attitudes – Jon Morgan:

Outgoing Minister for Primary Industries David Carter reels off a long list of what he calls “a good number” of achievements during his four years in office, but at the end of it he has to admit to a few lows as well.

The intransigent wool and meat industries have both defeated him, as they have ministers before him.

It obviously frustrates him. He puts it down to warring personalities in leading roles and the farmers’ apathy that lets this continue. . .

NZ wool floors show crowds – Tim Cronshaw:

The reaction of customers to Wools of New Zealand’s (WNZ) carpet wool at the world’s largest flooring show has reinforced to its leaders they are on the right track with capital raising a minimum of $5 million.

A share offer to commercialise WNZ into a sales and marketing company was extended to February 25 after the capital raising reached more than $4.1m last year from 500-plus strong wool farmers committing 12 million kilograms of annual wool production.

WNZ chairman Mark Shadbolt said growing interest by spinners and manufacturers in WNZ carpet ranges at the world’s largest flooring trade show, Domotex, this month had been encouraging. The trade show was attended by 40,000-plus visitors. . .

Safety shake-up call – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are going to have to make health and safety a normal part of running their business if the number of on-farm accidents is to be cut.

Some farmers struggle to give health and safety the same amount of attention as they do to stock health or pasture management, industry-good Farmsafe national manager Grant Hadfield says.

“It’s considered a bit of an ogre. It shouldn’t be because it’s pretty easy to put systems in place.” . . .

Plaudits for irrigation policy – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to become a minority investor in irrigation schemes will ensure those projects get off the ground, say farmers with close ties to irrigation schemes in South Canterbury.

The Government announced last week that it would establish a company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development.

The yet-to-be-named company would take minority stakes in water projects with a long-term goal of getting out and leaving the projects to the private sector. . .

Submitters discuss Tarras irrigation scheme – Jessica Maddock:

There was passionate opposition to an Otago Regional Council proposal to invest in a $39 million Tarras irrigation scheme at a hearing yesterday, with submitters saying it would be using ratepayer money to benefit only a few.

The council is considering buying $3.5m of redeemable preference shares. It would also pay up to $500,000 annually for five years, toward the fixed costs.

Tarras Water is planning the scheme to benefit 40 families, by taking up to 73.6 million cubic metres a year from the Clutha River to irrigate about 6000 hectares.

Nearly 70 people lodged a submission on the investment proposal, with the majority in opposition.

Eleven submitters spoke at a hearing in Cromwell yesterday, before four council members. Eight opposed the proposal and three supported it. The first day of the two-day hearing was in Dunedin on Thursday. . .


David Carter new speaker

January 31, 2013

Not surprisingly, Labour’s nomination of Trevor Mallard for speaker failed and National’s nomination, David Carter was successful.

He succeeds Lockwood Smith who has won admiration across the house and from outside it for his even handed approach to the role and for holding ministers to account in a way few if any of his predecessors did.

The speaker-elect is a successful farmer who has been a good minister and among his achievements was the merger of the Ministries of Fisheries and Agriculture and Forestry into the Ministry of Primary Industries.


Rural round-up

January 24, 2013

Govt expects money back from irrigation investment – Marie McNicholas:

A promise of $400 million for direct taxpayer-stakes in new regional irrigation schemes comes with a crucial caveat: the Government expects to get its money back.

It has decided to spend the first $80 million setting up a new Crown company to provide bridging finance for irrigation projects to encourage hesitant private investors to take the plunge.

It is the first tranche from the $400 million pool the National-led Government had already earmarked for taking equity stakes in new irrigation infrastructure. . .

Budget boost to irrigation funding welcomed as ‘circuit breaker’:

 “New Zealand is extraordinarily water rich, but we only capture and use about two per cent of annual water runoff, which is absolutely miniscule by international standards,” Water New Zealand Chief Executive, Murray Gibb said in welcoming the decision announced today by outgoing Primary Industries Minister, David Carter. He said Government would earmark $80 million to fund irrigation schemes in the 2013 Budget.

 “Large scale off-farm harvesting, storage and distribution water infrastructure for irrigation comes with a hefty price tag. The funding announced today is likely to be a deal maker, bringing planned schemes to fruition. This has to be good news for the New Zealand economy Murray Gibb says. . .

DairyNZ supports Government irrigation funding decision:

DairyNZ has welcomed the Government’s decision to support regional-scale water infrastructure which will ultimately speed up the delivery of irrigation schemes.

The Government announced today that it will create a company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure. In addition, $80 million will be set aside in the 2013 budget for water infrastructure projects.

DairyNZ Chairman, John Luxton, says the decision bodes well for the future of dairy farming and its contribution to the economy.

“The dairy industry is committed to sustainable use of water and will be releasing a new Sustainable Dairying Water Accord as well as a wider sustainable farming strategy. But, for continued development of the industry, we need to have confidence that the necessary big regional investments will happen.” . . .

Fonterra Welcomes Irrigation Investment Commitment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group has welcomed today’s announcement by the Primary Industries Minister, David Carter confirming an $80m investment in this year’s Budget for irrigation and water storage infrastructure.

Managing Director Co-operative Affairs, Todd Muller, said the investment announcement, coupled with the establishment of a Crown vehicle to co-invest in water schemes, was an important step towards boosting agricultural productivity and exports.

“Water is fundamental to dairying and agricultural productivity. Enabling a mix of public and private funding will give investors the necessary confidence to push ahead with schemes at the regional level.

“We will see benefits flow through in increased production and export earnings and we will also see the environmental benefits which will come from improved water flows. . .

Put farm safety first this summer:

The first occupational agricultural death in 2013 has the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Federated Farmers asking farmers to put safety first in 2013 to bring down the farm toll.

“Five people died doing agricultural work last summer,” says Ona de Rooy, the Ministry’s General Manager Health and Safety Operations.

“As summer is a busy time on the farm it is vital to make safety a top priority.”

“Long hours of work in the heat and sun can lead to fatigue, impair judgement and increase the likelihood of an accident taking place,” Ms de Rooy says. . .

Comvita buys Aussie groves to expand olive extract output:

Comvita, which uses produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, has bought an 85 hectare organic olive estate with potential to expand its production of olive leaf extracts by 130 percent over the next five years.

The price paid for Organic Olives (Aust) by Comvita’s Australian subsidiary is undisclosed. The estate comprises some 7,000 certified organic olive trees, with room for further plantings, and is in Coominya, on the shores of Lake Wivenhoe in south-eastern Queensland . . .


$80m investment bridge for irrigation

January 24, 2013

The Speaker-elect has made a significant announcement for irrigation in his final days as a Minister:

The Government is establishing a company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced today.

In 2011 the Government signalled plans to invest up to $400 million in regional-scale schemes to encourage third-party capital investment. Cabinet has now directed that $80 million for the initial stages of the company’s operation be set aside in Budget 2013.

“The development of well-designed storage and irrigation infrastructure has the potential to deliver significant economic growth for our primary industries and support new jobs, which will have a flow-on effect for all New Zealanders,” says Mr Carter.

“New Zealand naturally has plenty of water – this is about managing the resource better for the economy and the environment.”

Two examples of how much spare water we have is the large amounts being spilled at the Clyde and Roxburgh Dams:

clyde

roxburgh 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Carter says that because the opportunity to take a stake in developing regional-scale water infrastructure is new for private investors, it is appropriate for the Government to take a bridging investment role to ensure the right projects can get underway.

“The Crown-owned company will be a minority investor in any development project, and it will also plan to be a relatively short-term investor.

“A number of groups are developing proposals for these larger, regional-level schemes, and the Government expects to consider at least one proposal in the next 12 months.

“Reliable irrigation represents a major step in unlocking economic potential for New Zealand, having our tradable sectors growing strongly and delivering on the Government’s economic growth goals.

“It will also be better for the environment, as these schemes will lead to more efficient water use, and can provide for the replenishment of aquifers and the restoration of stream and river flows,” Mr Carter says.

The company will provide short-term bridging loans to irrigation schemes to enable regional projects to get underway.

The necessity for large amounts up front for schemes which will have multi-decade pay-backs has been a very high hurdle which has held back irrigation development.

The company will provide short-term bridging loans to irrigation schemes to enable regional projects to get underway.

Federated Farmers is grateful for the kick-start:

“What the Government is doing here should be applauded by environmentalists as much as it will be by farmers,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers, speaking from his farm in the Hawke’s Bay.

“It was over 30 degrees outside and the pasture I was looking at is brown. The last significant rainfall we had here was before Christmas but I am not complaining, this is farming on the East Coast.

“In saying that it highlights the big two opportunities we have with water storage, the economic and the environmental.

“The best way to keep nutrients and soil on our farms and out of water is green living grass. It is really that simple.

“Farms like mine have dams but they can only last so long. In winter, when you see our rivers over capacity, you ask why this cannot be stored for use when we hit a dry spell like now.

 “Take the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Ruataniwha Plains Water Storage Project as one example. If it comes off, it will not only be big for the Hawke’s Bay but big for New Zealand.

“The resulting reservoir will cover an area of some 372 hectares; only slightly smaller than Sydney’s central business district but around double the size of Wellington’s.

“Farmers will have to pay a water distribution price so this is not a hand out, but a hand up. The government will exit to bring in further private sector investment. We only need look to the performance of Fonterra’s units on the NZX to see what could be possible.

“It also speaks volumes that the poster project for water storage remains Canterbury’s Opuha Dam. This exercise in perseverance took years highlighting why short-term government involvement is needed to deliver economic infrastructure.

“What we know from Opuha is that since it opened there has been numerous environmental and recreational spin-offs, in addition to benefiting farmers of course.

“The Ruataniwha Plains Water Storage Project in my area will lift the area of land influenced by irrigation from 6,000 hectares to some 42,000 hectares.

“Economic analysis indicates farm output in the Hawke’s Bay will rise by $160 million each year with farm value add increasing by $70 million. That last amount includes additional household income worth $24 million each year.

“An additional 632 full-time equivalent jobs will be created and we are just talking about one project. These are real green jobs because that is the colour of the grass it will grow.

“This will greatly aid the development of not only pastoral agriculture and horticulture, but value-added manufacturing too. In early 2012, Heinz announced closure of their Australian plants in favour of the Hawke’s Bay.

“Politicians from the left and the right agree Canterbury’s Opuha Dam works, so why not speed similar projects along? This is what the Government is doing here and it will be as good for jobs as it will the environment,” Mr Wills concluded.

David Carter has been a strong advocate for irrigation in general and water storage in particular.

This initiative is a wonderful legacy from his time as Minister.

There’s an irrigation funding fact sheet here and irrigation funding Q&A here.


%d bloggers like this: