Rural round-up

October 13, 2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy. . .

Fraser Whineray: a results-oriented business leader with a track record on decarbonisation – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  board,  under   heavy  fire   for the losses racked up  in  the last two years,  may at last   be getting something  right.  Its recruitment of  Mercury’s  CEO Fraser Whineray to the newly created  post of  chief operating  officer   puts him in pole position to drive innovation,  efficiency, and  sustainability  in the co-op.

When he joins  Fonterra  next year  he will bring with him the credentials of having transformed Mercury,  simplifying the business  through the divestment of overseas interests and developing a  compelling strategy for  sustainable growth.

Harbour  Asset Management’s Shane Solly  said Whineray adds  “a  bit of grunt to the front row at Fonterra”. . . 

Time to modernize our biotech laws – Dr Parmjeet Parmar:

Biotechnology advancement has been rapid, and we’re being left behind due to our restrictive legislation, writes National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

Biotechnology is occurring all around the world and we need to have an informed discussion on how it could affect New Zealand.

Our legislation needs to be amended to ensure that we can make advancements that need made, while having a clearly regulated framework that mitigates risk.

Recently I announced alongside National Party Leader Simon Bridges, that National would make the required changes to the Hazardous Substances and Organisms (HSNO) Act should we be elected in 2020. . .

Government must focus on maintaining land’s productive capacity, says Horticulture New Zealand:

Moves by the Government to protect highly productive land must focus on maintaining the productive capacity of that land. 

‘We need a national policy that ensures New Zealand can grow enough vegetables and fruit to feed itself, now and in the future, and at affordable prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘That’s why we support the Government’s action to protect highly productive land.  However, policy makers must also remember that the land itself is only one factor in vegetable and fruit growing. 

‘Growers also need access to water for irrigation, they need to be able to apply sufficient fertilizer, and they need to be able to operate machinery like frost fans and infrastructure like packhouses, 24/7 depending on the time of the year.

‘If for any reason, growers cannot do this, they need to have the option to use the land for other purposes.’  . . 

Agribusinesses reap accelerator benefits :

Sprout accelerator is offering $500,000 to innovators from traditional agritech and future-food focused start-ups.

Eight will be selected to join the six-month accelerator starting in January.

The Accelerator offers $75,000 worth of business coaching, mentoring, network access and MBA style block courses.

Entrepreneurs will receive business mentoring and workshops from world-class business owners and directors from across the technology, agricultural and food industries.  . .

Stop the farm invasions inspired by Aussie Farms Map – Brian Ahmed:

OVER the past two months, the Victorian Parliament has listened to farmers about the impact of farm invasions on farming families, our industries, and our way of life.

As a chicken egg farmer myself, I presented to the inquiry last month along with my daughter, Danyel, who I hope will one day take over our family farm.

Danyel spoke with passion about her love of farming and desire to keep our multi-generational farm growing into the future. 

But, as Danyel told the inquiry, with the rise in farm invasions, she is too scared to live on the farm with her young family. . . 


Archaic GM law holding NZ back

June 18, 2019

New Zealand’s archaic genetic technology law is stifling breakthrough science:

Pressure is mounting on the Government to tackle the controversial area of genetic technology, with officials warning if it doesn’t, the country could face lost opportunities – ranging from economic benefits to cutting-edge medical treatments and combating diseases like kauri dieback.

Documents obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act reveal the current law around genetically modified organisms (GMO) is out of date and could be restricting New Zealand’s access to the advancements the technologies provide.

In a Ministry for the Environment briefing to Environment Minister David Parker in June 2018, officials warned New Zealand could fall behind the rest of the world in the genetic engineering space. It said the rapid pace of technological change is forcing countries to clarify their positions, and recommended the Government update the law and at the very least spark a national conversation about genetic modification.

“The developments raise questions as to whether New Zealand’s regulatory framework is still appropriate as the Gnis becoming outdated in light of developments. We believe a broad public conversation is required to ascertain New Zealanders’ views on the developments.”

The HSNO Act has never had a full review, meaning it hasn’t evolved since 1998.  

“The current regime is inflexible and reflects a 1998 understanding of genetic modification (GM) and the social priorities at the time.”

The law hasn’t changed but the science has.

National’s research, science and innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar told Newshub the Government’s dropped the ball and the law should be looked at.

“Looking at the way this technology has evolved over the last seven or eight years, it’s outdated and definitely not fit for purpose.”

Parmar believes ignoring the advice is harming the environment and the economy.

“This is shutting down the conversation, which is not good for any Government. I think we should be really open-minded about seeing how we can take advantage of any technology. This is just like any technology – we need to learn to use it to our advantage and that is where they’re lacking.” . . 

Ecologist Jamie Steer told Newshub the legislation needs to be reviewed because the technology could be a game-changer.

“In terms of gene editing, it’s already been raised as a possibility to affect the Predator Free 2050 goals, including the possibility to achieve one of the interim goals around making a science solution that’s capable of eradicating one of the target species. Another possibility is using genetic modification for increasing the survival and fitness of a species. Both are feasible but would require significant research and public engagement.” . . 

Gene editing is not mixing genes from different species.

It’s simply selective breeding – opting for beneficial genes and getting rid of harmful or less productive ones.

It’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years. The only difference is that new technology enables it to happen faster.

Gene editing could lead to the development of more nutritious food, it could be used to fight disease in people, animals and plants, it could be used for predator control.

The risks of not moderating the policy, providing its lead by science are far less than the risks of sticking with outdated law based on outdated science.

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

May 6, 2019

Gas compromise won’t be enough – Neal Wallace:

It appears the Government has compromised in the treatment of biological and long-lived greenhouse gases but a farming leader warns it is too early to break out the champagne.

Pressure from coalition partners is said to have forced Climate Change Minister James Shaw to agree to separate greenhouse gas reduction targets but Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says the new levels appear to ignore the views of scientists and studies.

Those studies claim that because methane is short lived in the atmosphere, cutting emissions rather than eliminating it will reduce global warming.

Hoggard declined to release the targets he has heard saying they are not official but says it appears the Government has fallen well short of the advice. . . 

Robots take charge – Sonita Chandar:

It is 2am and though it is pitch-black a small mob of cows is strolling toward the cowshed – it is their third visit in one day.

They are the cows that somehow just know a new is paddock available and the only way to get there is through the shed. 

They are what Auckland farmer Brian Yates refers to as hoons.

“Some girls hoon around the three-way grazing system like three-year-olds on red fizzy, arriving at each new break as it becomes available and getting up to three milkings per day. . . 

Joint opportunity – Sheryl Brown:

Cam and Jess Lea have earned the respect of their neighbours to the point that four farming couples have backed them financially into their first sharemilking position after their second year in the industry. Sheryl Brown reports. 

Four Opotiki neighbouring couples have backed Cam and Jess Lea into their first sharemilking business, holding 16% equity share apiece. Andrew and Kelly Clarke, Dave and Nat Wilson, Rob and Moira Anstis, and Colin and Maria Eggleton are all born and bred in Opotiki and knew a good investment when they saw one.

Cam, 28, and Jess, 27, sold their house, their nice vehicle and their boat to put $75,000 into the equity partnership and borrowed the rest to buy the Jersey herd that was already on the farm. . . 

Collins family’s long history of dairying – Julia Evans:

The Collins family celebrated 150 years of farming in Springston on Saturday. Julia Evans speaks to Murray Collins about his family who have lived and worked the land and their roots in the newspaper industry.

There’s Murray and Judy, their daughter Jenny and grandchildren Elsie, Henry and Leila.

Those are the three generations of the Collins family currently living on Springston’s Pendah Farm, which has celebrated 150 years of operation.

But before them there was William, Walter, Leslie and Jack Collins.

William was a typographer who sailed to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1850, after working for the London Morning Post.

Though he did not settle in Canterbury. . . 

Government should fund fire research:

The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding. . . 

Cows and climate change: A closer look – Andre Mayer:

The extent to which meat production contributes to climate change is hotly contested. We highlighted some of the concernsin our last issue, but heard from some readers who felt it didn’t convey the full picture.

Earlier this year, when U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first started promoting the Green New Deal — the Democratic proposal to mobilize government to address climate change and income inequality — she made comments about the significant impact of “cow farts” on carbon emissions.

That concerned Frank Mitloehner, an esteemed animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, who tweeted at AOC, telling the rookie lawmaker that “meat/milk” was only responsible for four per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. . . 


Following not making history

December 5, 2016

A strong candidate and well-ordered campaign weren’t enough to make history on Saturday.

A sitting government has never won a by-election in a seat held by the Opposition and Mt Roskill voters weren’t going to change that.

That National won the party vote in the general election two years ago was irrelevant. It’s a red seat and voting reflected that.

Labour’s Michael Wood, helped by the absence of Green and New Zealand First candidates, won the with 11,170 votes, well ahead of National’s Parmjeet Parmar who got 4,652. The counting of special votes isn’t going to make much difference.

The result brought a good end to a bad week for Labour with two polls giving them at best 28% support and at worst 23%.

But they shouldn’t get too excited.

Maurice McTigue won Timaru for National in the 1985 by-election but Labour increased its support in the 1987 election. More recently, the Labour candidate won Christchurch East in 2013 but National won the party vote in that seat a year later.

Roshan Nauhria, leader of the newly formed NZ People’s Party, got 709 votes on Saturday.

He too should learn from history which shows how difficult it is for a new party to win seats unless it has the advantage of a sitting MP who has changed allegiance.

 

 

 


Bribe-O-Meter relaunched

October 31, 2016

National has a lot to gain from winning the Mt Roskill by-election and Labour is already showing it knows it has a lot to lose:

The Mt Roskill by-election campaign has hardly started and Labour has already shown how desperately worried they are about losing it, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says. 

“Labour are hitting the panic button fairly early on,” Mr Joyce says. “Promising a $1.4 billion rail link between the electorate and the city looks very desperate.” 

“This is taking pork barrel politics to a whole new level. If this is the sticker price for a Labour party by-election campaign, all the other electorates across New Zealand will be asking for their $1.4 billion. To say nothing of every other electorate in Auckland looking for multi-billions in new railway lines.  And we’ve still got more than a month to go.”

Mr Joyce noted that the Labour party is promising Auckland ratepayers will pay for part of their by-election bribe. “I’m assuming the new Mayor of Auckland is okay with Andrew Little saying the city has got a lazy $700 million lying around at the same time Mr Goff is out there saying the Council is short of money.”

Mr Joyce says Labour would be better off promoting their candidate as a possible MP for Mt Roskill. “This is Mr Wood’s third attempt to become an MP. You think they would be putting in the effort making him look electable rather than highlighting how worried they are he’ll lose.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be about who is the best person to represent the electorate in Parliament. 

“Parmjeet Parmar is already showing the people of Mt Roskill that she is a hardworking conscientious MP who will be a strong diligent voice for Mt Roskill in Wellington. All this announcement today underlines is that Labour are worried sick that the people of Mt Roskill will choose her over their candidate.”   

These comments show National has learned from mistakes made in the Northland by-election.

 

And it’s just as well because the Taxpayers’ Union is counting the cost of any promises made:

The Taxpayers’ Union is relaunching its election Bribe-O-Meter to keep track of politicians’ pork-barrel promises in the lead up to the Mt Roskill by-election. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“While the by-election is for a single Parliamentary seat, the cost of pork-barrel promises impact the pockets of all New Zealand taxpayers.”

“Labour has run roughshod over Auckland Council and the NZTA’s cost-benefit planning processes. Its pledge to spend $1.4 billion on light rail risks an expensive bidding war with the Government – with the cost landing on taxpayers.”

“The Bribe-O-Meter is to provide transparency and accountability for what those promises will cost.”

The Mt Roskill Bribe-O-Meter will be hosted online at www.taxpayers.org.nz.

In a by-election voters can, as they do with their electorate vote in a general election, choose the person they think will best represent them and pay less attention to parties.

The more Labour promises to spend, the more it will be showing it lacks confidence it its candidate.

 


Opposition down one, can National make that permanent?

October 10, 2016

When Phil Goff resigns from parliament the Opposition will be one vote down, putting National back in the position it was immediately after the election and before it lost Northland when New Zealand First gained another MP.

National list MP Parmjeet Parmar is expected to win the party’s selection for a candidate to contest the by-election.

If she were to win the seat National would gain another list MP which would make it easier than it is at present to get legislation passed.

How likely is that?

National won the party vote in the seat in the last election and Labour’s candidate Michael Woods won’t have anywhere near the name-recognition that Goff had.

But a government has never won a seat from the opposition in a by-election.

The Green Party’s decision to not stand a candidate will help Labour and the waters will be muddied by the candidacy of  newly formed People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria to contest the election.

History shows new parties rarely attract much support. The question is: will any support Nauhria does attract will split the opposition vote or be at National’s expense?

Labour has the most to lose. Failing to hold the seat wouldn’t only leave the Opposition one seat down, it would be a huge blow to its fight to continue looking like a major party with any chance of leading a future government.

National has less to lose and a lot to gain.

History is against it, but a strong candidate and a campaign to match make a win possible although it’s too soon to say if that’s probable.

 


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

August 31, 2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


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