Rural round-up


Minister announces manuka honey consultation:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be asking the honey industry, scientists and other interested stakeholders for their say through this consultation process,” Ms Kaye says.

“The New Zealand honey industry has been working for many years to come up with an accurate way to label, market and brand manuka honey and unfortunately has been unable to reach consensus. There is no international standard for a definition of manuka honey.

“Recently, the authenticity of some New Zealand manuka honey has been queried in overseas markets. This puts the integrity of our country’s export reputation at risk and so steps need to be taken to ensure consumer confidence. . .

Warning to all dairy farmers:

All dairy farmers are being warned by DairyNZ to look for signs of Theileria infection and anaemia in cattle with severe cases recently reported in the North Island.

Theileria infection is caused by Theileria orientalis, a parasite transmitted by ticks when they feed on the animal’s blood.

There is a heightened risk of Theileria infection, especially in the North Island, as the tick population is likely to have increased thanks to a dry summer and a mild winter. . .

Concern over sulfite levels in raw meat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is concerned about a potential increase in the use of sulfites in raw meat and is awaiting test results after taking samples from butchers and supermarkets in Auckland.

Sulfites, such as sulfur dioxide, are used as a preservative in some foods, including meat products like sausages, luncheon meat and manufactured ham.

However, foods containing sulfites can cause serious reactions in those people who are intolerant to them.

As such, the use of sulfites is strictly controlled by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and they are permitted only in certain meat products and maximum permitted levels are specified. . .

Stock switch a step up –  Jana Flynn:

An allergy to dairy cows and a determination to upskill are just two of the reasons Juan-Paul Theron is excelling in the sheep and beef industry.

The 30-year-old New Zealand resident, originally from Cape Town in South Africa, had zig-zagged through various farming options early in his career, but he’s found his niche with a move to dry stock and a National Diploma in Agribusiness Management under his belt.

“I’m currently in Rotorua and have been here five years. It’s the second dry-stock job I’ve taken on and I’ve been farm manager for 12 months,” says Theron. . .

From the Beehive – Eric Roy:

Our sheep-meat exports to China expanded in the last twelve months from under $250 million to over $550 million. Already China has moved from our fourth market to overtaking Europe as our largest market and it has taken one year to do it. There is nothing in our trading history like that.

It took our predecessors decades to build our old supply chains into the Anglo-Saxon dominated trading world of the second half of the 20th Century. We have a goal to increase the ratio of exports to GDP by around ten percentage points to 40% of GDP by 2025.

On the basis of projections of GDP growth, it requires us to grow our exports of goods and services between around 6.5 to 7.5% on average per annum for the next 12 years. . .

Real Journeys upgrading Walter Peak offering:

Key tourism player Real Journeys is significantly upgrading its Walter Peak offering with the intention of making it a destination that “locals and tourists alike want to visit”, says Chief Executive Richard Lauder.

The upgrade will include a new gourmet BBQ menu, with localised matching wine list, and refurbishments across the facilities. Renowned restaurateurs Fleur Caulton and Josh Emett have consulted on the overall concept of the project.

Lauder says Real Journeys are focused on making Walter Peak a quality New Zealand dining experience and have hired a new executive chef, Justin Koen – previously of Queenstown’s Wai Waterfront Restaurant – to champion this. . .

Recycling more popular – Carmen Hall:

Bay of Plenty farmers have thrown their support behind voluntary rural recycling and diverted thousands of kilograms of rubbish away from the landfill.

Waste that was recycled in the region included 12,599kg of plastic containers and 36,278kg of silage wrap.

Agrecovery sales and marketing manager Duncan Scotland says the scheme has received a positive response. . .

Labour’s abaondoned the south


Labour’s holding 12 meetings around the country to let its three aspiring leaders meet members.

But in further evidence the party has abandoned the south, the southernmost meeting is in Dunedin.

Sterling service from the local MPs, Clutha Southland’s Bill English and  Invercargill’s Eric Roy have painted the south of the south blue.

But if Labour had any interest in that part of the country you’d think the leadership meeting would be a good opportunity to garner some interest and reconnect with Southlanders.

The cost of getting to Invercargill can’t be the excuse for not going because the three candidates are travelling the country on the public purse.

Was it MMP’s fault?


MMP has been given some of the blame for the inability to kick Aaron Gilmore out of parliament.

Is that fair?


Both list and electorate MPs can be sacked from their caucus and party but if they don’t resign they stay in parliament until the next election when voters give their verdict.

However, while a voters can ensure an MP doesn’t win an electorate they have no influence on where a candidate is on their party’s list. That means they can vote for someone else in the electorate but still find the person they rejected has got into parliament.

This is an aspect of the system on which many people submitted to the review of MMP, arguing that if an MP loses a seat, or contests it and fails to win it, s/he should not be able to enter parliament on the list.

I disagree with that.

Standing in an electorate ensures candidates face the voters and get to know the people whose support they are soliciting and learn about their concerns.

If they take it seriously, and given it’s the party vote which really counts they’d be stupid not to, they gain an understanding of the individuals, groups and communities on whom their policies will impact.

The goods ones don’t just stand in an electorate they stay in touch with it, working with and for the people in it. And failing once or twice doesn’t prevent later success.

Eric Roy* and Nicky Wagner, for example, failed to win electorates but got in on the list, worked hard, earned the support of the people and won Invercargill and Christchurch Central respectively.

Others like Chris Finlayson and Michael Woodhouse have stood in dark red seats they have little hope of winning, but even those who don’t share their political views would be hard pressed to criticise their performance as MPs and Ministers.

I have no doubt that standing in electorates has helped them in their work.

That not all list MPs who stand in seats perform well in parliament is not a reason to change the rules to prevent dual candidacy.

MMP is not my preferred electoral system but the advantages of dual candidacies outweigh the disadvantages.

One valid criticism of the system is that list MPs aren’t directly answerable to constituents. Dual candidacy at least means they have to front up to voters.

Good MPs will ensure they don’t squander the goodwill they earn by doing so by continuing to work in electorates whether or not they have any chance of winning them.

But to return to the original question of whether it’s MMP’s fault that Gilmore could have stayed in parliament had he not chosen to resign.

It’s not. But it is the system which enabled him to be there in the first place and that system has given less power to people in electorates and more to parties.

If parties get an electorate selection wrong, voters can ensure the candidate doesn’t get into parliament. They can’t do that with an individual list MP.

* Eric first entered parliament in 1993 by winning the seat of Ararua which disappeared when MMP was introduced. He stood unsuccessfully for Invercargill twice but stayed in parliament as a list MP. He missed out on the electorate and list in 2002 but won the seat in 2005.

Old system wrote beneficiaries off


Interesting statistics of the day from Eric Roy:

In 2004, 66% of people on Sickness Benefit and 45 % on Invalids Benefits were interested or very interested in looking for work.

Of 539,000 disabled people surveyed in 2006, more than 40% were working – 75% full time.

The current assessment system for people receiving Sickness or Invalids Benefit tells us a mere 6.5% are fit for part-time work. . .

It’s difficult to believe that so many people on Sickness and Invalids benefits were interested in working eight years ago but only 6.5% are fit for at least part-time work now.

Simply put, the old system has been writing these people off and ignoring the fact that work is important; socially, financially and therapeutically.

National wants a welfare system with services and attitudes that help people reach their potential and change their lives for the better.

The Opposition and their supporters who are criticising National’s welfare reforms are arguing against helping people help themselves.

Some people will never be able to support themselves but that is no reason to not encourage, and where necessary help, those who can to do so.



Community Internship Programme applications open


The Community Internship Programe is calling for applications from not-for-profit groups in need of professional help.

The Community Internship Programme (CIP or the programme) funds hapū, iwi or community groups with identified development needs to employ skilled professionals from the public, iwi, private or community sectors as interns for three to six months.

The programme is designed to achieve specific capacity-building outcomes for host hapū, iwi or community organisations, and relationship-building outcomes between the public, private, iwi or community sectors.

The programme focuses on skill-sharing and the exchange of knowledge between sectors, while building ongoing relationships which continue after an internship ends.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy gives an example: a member of the NZ Police is currently helping Ngāti Porou to develop a youth mentoring programme to support youth at risk.

Not-for-Profit organisations are usually long on passion but can be short on skills.

This is a great idea to marry that passion with the skills they need and foster an on-going relationship with the Not-for-Profit sector.

Southland party at Parliament


Invercargill MP Eric Roy is reviving the Southland party at Parliament:

Oysters, chocolate, meat and “sheep on a spit” will be a few of the delicacies National MP Eric Roy will be serving in Parliament next month to bring displaced Southlanders together for a night of cheese rolls and southern company.

Mr Roy said the Southland Party in the banquet hall of the Parliament building used to be an annual evening.

However, it had died out about seven years ago.

In its heyday, the night attracted about 400 Southland people to the Beehive, he said.

“It’s about networking and showing off Southland. It was always a good way for us to reconnect – people are saying it’s time we did it again.”

Mr Roy was calling on any Southlanders based in Wellington, as well as any Wellingtonians with Southland connections, to come out and party “Southland-style” in the capital.

A very protein-laden meal was promised with lots of hay bales, swedes and cheese rolls, he said. . .

I’m not sure about the protein content of hay bales but presumably they’re for sitting on not for eating.

The party’s Facebook page is here.

Doing ducks a kindness


Duck shooting opens today.

All over the country a lot of blokes, and some blokesses, have been preparing for this day for weeks – building and provisioning mai mais.

SAFE calls it the season of suffering but Eric Roy reckons it’s an act of kindness.

Hunters kill 20.6% of ducks, the greatest killer is starvation so hunting  saves ducks from a fate worse than death.

Duck shooting might also be good for the environment.

The regional council has been monitoring water and found an E. Coli problem in a stream leaving one farm. It had nothing to do with the stock on the farm – the culprits were the ducks on a dam.

Walking to victory


Eric Roy has done it – completed his 320 kilometre walk across his Invercargill electorate at about 20 kilometres a day.

That’s near enough to a half marathon, each day.

I offered to join him on his walk in to Riverton on Tuesday but didn’t have a hope of keeping up with his average time of around  7 kilometres an hour.

When I first heard about his plan to walk across his electorate I wasn’t 100% sure it was a good idea but I’ve been proved well and truly wrong.

He met lots of his constituents who wouldn’t turn out to formal meetings, got a walker’s view of his patch and by starting early still had plenty of time left each day for his normal work.

He also proved he’s very efficient:

Mr Roy was weighed at the start of his trek in a fish factory in Bluff on October 11, and it turned out yesterday he had dropped 2kg from 136 to 134.

He said he hadn’t expected to lose much weight but it was a victory for efficiency. “You can’t get a car to do 320km for 2kg of fuel.”

He was weighed on different scales at each end of the journey, at a fish factory at the start and a wool store at the end. But as both were industrial and should be calibrated properly that shouldn’t affect the accuracy of the weight.

Expecting standards from teachers is bullying?


The Ministry of Education has been accused of bullying for expecting schools to meet their legal requirements to adopt National Standards.

Now Invercargill MP Eric Roy has been accused of bullying for expecting teachers to meet a very reasonable standard of behaviour.

Fernworth School teacher Terry Guyton asked candidates what they would do to “repair the damage caused by national standards”.

Mr Guyton said the standards were forcing teachers to label five-year-olds as failures.

Mr Roy took exception to Mr Guyton’s comment.

“If you are a teacher telling five-year-olds they are a failure you should not be teaching,” he said. “You should not even be testing them.”

What’s wrong with that?

Any teacher who tells a five year old he/she is failing is failing him/herself. But that’s not how Labour sees it:

Labour candidate Lesley Soper took the platform after Mr Roy and promptly accused him of bullying.

“You have just seen an example of the bullying … the Ministry of Education has used on teachers in this country.”

When did expecting anyone to do what’s legally required become bullying?

There could be many reasons for a child not reaching a standard but you have to know where they are before you can work out why and then help them.

The standards aren’t about passing or failure, they’re a tool to identify progress, or lack of it, which then enables the school and family to help children – and it’s working.

Just yesterday a father gave a story which shows this. His son’s first report was all about what a lovely child he was. The second, after the introduction of National Standards showed he had a reading problem. The school and parents gave him extra help and the third report showed he had caught up.

That is exactly how the standards should work, and will if teachers put the children’s education ahead of their own politics.

UPDATE: Mr Guyton’s father has a different view.

Walking to victory


Invercargill MP Eric Roy always tries to do something a bit different with his election campaigns.

In 2008 he had a carbon zero campaign and launched it by planting native trees.

This time he’s walking to victory with a 360km trek through his electorate.

He expects to spend about three hours on the road each day and he’ll be multi-tasking. He’s taking his phone to deal with constituent matters while walking, meeting some en route and will complete each leg of the journey with an opportunity for the public to meet him over a cuppa.

A trek of this length isn’t for the faint-hearted or unfit but this is the bloke who walked several hours out of the bush with a broken leg and who celebrated his recovery from cancer by running the Kepler Pass.

Point was to make political point


If you’re arranging a debate for entertainment or intellectual exercise the moot is irrelevant.

If , like  Hampden Community Energy you’re arranging a debate to make a political point then you frame the moot to achieve that and confirm what you already believe.

The first debate the group organised was a couple of years ago.  I was asked, at the last minute, to take part to represent the National Party, arguing the affirmative on a topic to the effect that all economic growth was good.

I was already committed to something else on the date and explained that even if I hadn’t been, it was the role of MPs, not volunteers, to speak on policy.

My caller said he’d asked MPs, including the Prime Minister, but they weren’t available. I said given the short notice that wasn’t surprising. He said that the date was arranged to suit one of the other speakers, I said that MPs in general and the PM in particular were usually booked up weeks, sometimes months, in advance and if he’d really wanted them he’d have to be prepared to work round their diaries first.

He said  the debate was important and they’d cancel prior commitments to go to a funeral. I said, funerals were usually unforeseen and there was little room for negotiation on when they happened.

He repeated the debate was important and the PM and other MPs should cancel something else to attend it. I asked how he’d feel if they committed to his event then pulled out because they got a better offer?

He reiterated how important it was, I could see nothing I could say would help and ended the call.

The debate went ahead with a former Act MP, and another couple taking the affirmative.

HCE arranged another debate on the topic of the sustainability of growth 15 months later. The PM and other ministers declined invitations but Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, Invercargill MP Eric Roy and Selwyn MP Amy Adams accepted.

The organiser wasn’t satisfied with that and complained in the media that the team would be comprised of  MPs not ministers. Jacqui, understandably decided she shouldn’t ask her colleagues to waste their time when they weren’t wanted and pulled the team. That debate went ahead too.

HCE planned a third debate, this time on the partial sale of state assets but when no National MPs were available the organisers cancelled it.

They shouldn’t be unhappy with that outcome though. The point of the debate was to make a political point and get publicity for their point of view and they have.

Did you see the one about . . .


All Blacks in space – Eric Roy has a photo to prove it.

Go for the best deal regardless and “local” will really look after itself – Eye to the Long Run on why buying local isn’t necessarily better.

Earthquake photos – Offsetting Behaviour on Goggle Maps with lots of links.

Parlez vous Francais? – Penguinunearthed at Around the World on immersion language lessons.

Latest! Adolf Hitler predicts rain in Hokitika – Brian Edwards has the video.

Power Trans Tasman’s politician of year


Simon Power tops Trans Tasman’s 2010 roll call of politicians and is named their politician of the year.

Power gets the top ranking thanks to his towering performance in Parliament and the sheer volume of the legislative work he has done. He has taken more Bills through Parliament than any other Minister, accounting for one third of the Government’s legislation in 2010. He is the lock to Key’s flashier winger’s performance. Trans Tasman says of Power “An outstanding Minister. Huge workload includes reforming the Justice system and market regulation as well as law reform. He is looking more and more like a leader in waiting.”

He gets 9 out of 10 in the roll call as does John Key who also scored 9 last year.

Bill English, who has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of entering parliament, went up from 8 to 8.5 and was commended for the work he has done on tax reform and steering the country through the worst recession since the 1930s.

Honourable mention must also be made of Gerry Brownlee who has had another strong year in trying circumstances. “Brownlee gives the impression he is growing into the job, his media management has improved and so has his running of Parliament as leader of the House.” He stays on a rating of 8 out 10.

Other Ministers to go up in the ratings are Tony Ryall, to 8.5, Nick Smith, to 8, Judith Collins to 7.5, Chris Finlayson to 7.5, David Carter to 7, Murray McCully to 8, Tim Groser to 7.5 (no love lost between that pair), Wayne Mapp to 6 and Kate Wilkinson to 5.

Among MPs whose score improved this year was Eric Roy who was described as: 

An Associate Speaker who handles the House with patience and good grace, and this often isn’t easy. His experience is respected, his demeanour is appreciated.

On the whole National scored better than Labour.

For the Record, 30 National MPs managed to boost their scores this year, 13 stayed on the same score and 15 went down.

For Labour a much better performance – last year not one MP improved on their 2008 score. This year 26 of the 42 boosted their scores, 10 stayed the same and 5 went down.

National managed to get 32 of its 58 MPs over the 5 mark this year, improving on the 20 who made it last year – 26 of them were under the 5 mark. For Labour another relatively low scoring year, with just 15 MPs over 5 out of the Party’s complement of 42 – 26 rated below 5.

Some MPs will feel undervalued by their ranking and assessment. The judgement is made by Trans Tasman’s Editors on the basis of MPs’ performance in Caucus, Cabinet, Committee, The House and Electorate and the influence they bring to bear in their various forums. Roll Call is compiled by Trans Tasman’s team of writers and Parliamentary insiders, with a final decision on each ranking arrived at after much discussion.

I don’t know these people but I have no doubt about their knowledge and impartiality. However, as my previous post pointed out good electorate MPs do a lot of hard work which may be appreciated by those they help but largely goes unnoticed by anyone else.

Some of those not particularly well ranked have very good majorities which shows their constituents value them more highly than the pundits do.

Criticised for what don’t do not appreciated for what do do


National’s doing well but I’m disappointed it’s not being stronger on alcohol.

This was the message a party member gave me when I ran in to him last week.

The next day I was at a meeting where Invercargill MP Eric Roy mentioned that the legislation the government introduced to the House has 52 of the 63 recommendations from the Law Commission’s report on alcohol.

That may not be going far enough for some but it’s more than a very good start – especially when you acknowledge that the root of the problem with alcohol abuse is a cultural one which requires change in people and behaviour not legislation.

However, the conversation with the party member illustrates one of the perennial problems in politics – you’re far more likely to be criticised for what you don’t do than recognised for what you do do.

Honesty doesn’t make the headlines


When we’re bombarded with news which shows the baser bits of human behaviour it’s easy to forget that these sort of things are news because they’re not the norm.

Acts of generosity, kindness and honesty don’t hit the headlines because in spite of fears concerns about modern morality they aren’t news, they do still happen every day.

That said, if I lost my wallet, I wouldn’t be over confident of getting it back with its contents intact, if at all.

But Invercargill MP Eric Roy lost his wallet at the rugby last week and thanks to the honesty of some Southlanders, it was handed in to the police with everything untouched.

If you know who the anonymous good Samaritans are, please phone his office (number in the link above) because he’d like to thank them.

Hat Tip: Roar Prawn

Marching in spirit


Nearly 20 years ago I was among more than 13,000 North Otago people who marched through Oamaru to protest against the removal of surgical services from the local hospital.

That was more than half the population of the district and about the total population of the town and we were wrong.

There were very good clinical reasons for closing the hospital’s operating theatre. Increased specialisation and technological advances meant the hospital and its surgeon simply weren’t able to offer the modern, and often less invasive, surgical services available in Dunedin.

That was a local battle lost for clinical reasons. Now the whole of Otago and Southland is fighting a bigger battle with clinical support.

More than 1000 people gathered for a meeting in Dunedin Town Hall last night to support the retention of neurological services in the city’s hospital.  Many more thousands of people are marching as I type for the cause and will form a chain of support around the hospital at lunch time.

I can’t be with there but I’m marching with them in spirit.

The south’s four National MPs, Jacqui Dean, Bill English, Eric Roy and Michael Woodhouse,  sent a message of support to last night’s meeting.

Jacqui pointed out in a media release that recent heavy workloads for the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust highlighted the need for the people of Otago and Southland to have access to neurosurgery services in Dunedin.

Last month the rescue trust experienced what was the busiest day in its 11-year history, when its’ helicopter conducted six rescue trips, over 1934km, including four to Wanaka, one to Dunstan Hospital and one to Ranfurly.

While none of the emergencies related to head injury, Mrs Dean said the call-outs highlighted how essential it was for there to be access to health services which could meet the ever-increasing needs of the Otago and, particularly, the Central Otago communities.

“When we have an emergency helicopter service that can make six rescue missions in one day, it sends a pretty clear message to me that ours is a region that needs access to health services as close at hand as possible.

“We have people living in these areas which at times can be quite isolated. We need to have health services in place to meet their demands and to do it in a time frame in which lives are saved – not lost.

“The majority of the rescue trust’s missions relate to accidents – that is the nature of the Central Otago region, with its adventure tourism, skifields and challenging roads.

“This, in my opinion, reinforces the need for neurosurgery services to remain in a centrally located position at Dunedin.

“A shift in neurosurgery services to Christchurch is only likely to jeapardise lives and negatively disadvantage the people of this region.”

A widely scattered population can’t expect to get specialist services in local secondary hospitals but providing there’s no clinical evidence to the contrary, the nearly 300,00 people in the south ought to be able to get most of them in our nearest tertiary hospital, Dunedin.

Credo Quia Absurdum Est has a report:

 which shows the agreement to have a single site for neurology for the Southland Island was taken by the Canterbury DHB to mean it would be based in Christchurch.  As such the CDHB has spent considerable time and resources focusing on that and ignoring the single service, two sites approach.

The report is here and in another post CQAE points out :

“That the recommended neurological service for the South Island is one service based in Christchurch, with a comprehensive Outreach programme.”

Hang on a minute.  Dunedin does outreach services, but how does Christchurch perform in that regard at the moment?

“Christchurch’s record on outreach is poor.  Christchurch does not provide outpatient clinics outside Christchurch, while Dunedin’s record is impressive.”

Canterbury DHB would no doubt be happy to have all South Island tertiary services in Christchurch and on purely financial grounds there may be a case for that.

However, patients are almost always better off if they can get the treatment they need closer to home providing it is clincially safe and in this case it is.

Dunedin clinicians are confident the neurological services can be provided safely. This is a turf war with the Canterbury DHB which should back down and take a South Island-wide view.

Conference reflections part 1


Too little sleep and lots of excitement is not  conducive to insightful or incisive posts so I’ll stick to reflections on the weekend’s highlights of  the National Party’s Mainland conference which was held in Oamaru’s beautiful Opera House.

Delegates were welcomed by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean who was too modest to point out that she had led the project to restore and refurbish the building when she was on the District Council.

Waitaki mayor Alec Familton opened the conference with a lesson in history and politics in which he linked Liberal MP and Minister of Land, Sir John McKenzie, former National Prime Minister Sir John Marshall and our current PM John Key.

He applauded the government for policies which leave more of our money in our own pockets, a sentiment which I, as a ratepayer, heartily approve of in a mayor.

Environment Minister Nick Smith had been going to speak about water but in response to requests from delegates he tackled the more complex and controversial issue of the ETS  (a post on that will follow).

Invercargill MP Eric Roy spoke with knowledge and passion about the goal of a pest-free Stewart Island. It’s a challenge but the environmental and economic rewards would be huge.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s speech included an outline on strategies to help people become independent.

She told of a man who had been unemployed for many years. He had poor literacy one of the consequences of which included lots of fines for driving without a licence because he couldn’t read and write well enough to get one. He was taught to read and write, got his drivers licence and a jog operating a forklift.

When his case manager went to check on him after the first week he liked his boos, was enjoying his work, and delighted to be earning $600 a week. When the case manager went back the following week he wasn’t so happy. He still enjoyed the work but thought the boss had lied to him because he hadn’t got the $600 he’d been promised. The case manager checked his pay slip and pointed out the difference between the $600 he’d been promised and what he got in his hand was tax.

The man mentioned his 19 year old son was looking for work too. When the case manager went back a couple of weeks later she asked if the son, who hadn’t got the job, was on a benefit.

The father said of course not, he wasn’t working to pay taxes to have his son sitting round on the dole.

MPs Katrina Shanks, Michael Woodhouse and Jo Goodhew spoke on leaky homes, ACC and reforms to Aged Care policy respectively then joined Paula for a social policy forum.

The remit requiring freedom campers to have self-contained loos passed unanimously. Matthew Littlewood of the Timaru Herald reports on that here).

Finance Minister Bill English, fresh from the Budget which has gained unprecedented levels of approval, including not only economic and political analysts but fashionistas too, shared some reactions.

Among these were: It’s not great but it’s not Greece and it’s okay not UK.

He also said it was better to tax less the things you want and tax more the things you don’t. that’s why the budget increased tax on consumption and lowered it on income.

Bill said New Zealanders seemed to be more resilient and independent in this recession than in the 1990s. Most people are handling the tough times and we are a more resilient country because we’re standing on our own feet.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. Who is the patron saint of tax collectors?

2. What is a mast year?

3. Who wrote, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know and in which poem?

4.  What is a windrow?

5. Who said/wrote A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.?

Gravedodger got 3 1/2.

JC got two and a bonus for teaching me something else about windrowing.

Andrie got a clean sweep if I accept to rather than on a Grecian Urn and I do. 

Cadwallader doesn’t get the five s/he requested but does get a couple of bonuses for wit.

David got three right and a sympathy bonus for the hay fever story.

Paul got two right – as in his answers matched mine. His answer to 4 didn’t match mine but justifies a point and he can have a bonus for wit/satire and/or desperation for his answers to 2 & 5.

Bearhunter got a clean sweep with a bonus for being word perfect with on the urn (which I wouldn’t have picked up if s/he hadn’t pointed it out).

Rob got 3 1/2

Rayinz got 5 (I let him get away with to  rather than on  too).

PDM gets one and a long-distance bonus since he’s answering from Britain.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break: Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. A cold coming we had of it,/just the worst time of the year/For a journey, and such a long journey;/The ways deep and the weather sharp. . .  Who wrote this and about whom was it written?

2. What is a metrosideros excelsa?

3. Who said, “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.“?

4. Chef Richard Gordon is a shareholder in which Waitaki Valley wine company?

5. Which MP is patron and a former national president of Young Farmers?

Paul Tremewan got three and a bonus for imagination in his answer to #1.

Andrei got four.

Samo got 4 with a 1/2 for #3.

Deborah got two and a bonus for being able to recite the poem.

PDM got one.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break. Read the rest of this entry »

Lockwood tops Trans Tasman roll call


Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith has beaten Prime Minsiter John Key to the top spot in Trans Tasman’s annual roll call.

This year on 9.25 out of 10 Lockwood Smith is top of the pile. Smith gets the nod because of his stellar performance as Speaker. He has been a revelation. A journeyman politician for most of his time in the House, Smith has finally found his niche. His score more than doubles from 4.5 last year to 9.25.

Trans Tasman says “his insistence Ministers answer questions properly swept away decades of ducking and dodging allowed by his predecessors. Runs the House fairly, rarely raises his voice and is a student of standing orders and speakers’ rulings.” He has had regular contact with the media and introduced a new route for the procession so the public could see it.

He created “an overdue infusion of good sense and a real commitment to Parliament.” Trans Tasman says Smith is probably the best Speaker since National’s Matthew Oram in 1950-57.

John Key is 2nd on 9 and Hone Harawira is at the bottom on 0.

The full commentary and list is here.

As always, the list appears to place a lot more importance on what MPs do in Wellington and doesn’t reflect the very good work many do in their electorates. Election results for Jacqui Dean. Jo Goodhew and Eric Roy, for example, show their constituents have a higher opinion of them than Trans Tasman does.

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