Kitchen Dame’s well deserved honour

December 31, 2010

There would be very few kitchens in the country which doesn’t have at least one of Alison Holst’s recipe books.

She is now a Dame in well deserved recognition to her services to the food industry and charity.

Her honour citation describes her as ”one of New Zealand’s best-known food experts”.

She is also being honoured for her charity work, having raised more than $4 million for schools, churches, Plunket groups, kindergartens and playcentres, mostly through cooking demonstrations which have drawn crowds of up to 700 people.

Since she published her first cookery book in 1966, more than four million copies of her books have been sold.

She has continued to encourage young parents to cook ”healthy and reasonably-priced family meals” and still advocates for ”strong family values through a shared appreciation of food”, the citation says.

”She has been a positive role model to New Zealand families for more than 40 years,” it says.

If there are few kitchens in New Zealand without an Alison Holst recipe book I doubt there’s any farms without a Gallagher fence. The company’s principal, Bill Gallagher, receives a knighthood for services to business.

Others in the New Years Honours List are high country advocate, business woman and philanthropist Christine Fernyhough for services to the community and former Director General of Agriculture Murray Sherwin who both get a CNZM.

Michael Hill receives a knighthood for services to business and the arts.

Dr Keith Maslen, who tutored me at Otago, receives an ONZM for services to literature and bibliography.

One of the more controversial recipeints is Garth George who has been awarded a MNZM for services to journalism.


No conspiracy

December 7, 2009

The NZ Herald has printed Don Brash’s response to Garth George’s column today.

George’s column was published on Thursday and Brash  submitted his response that morning. When it hadn’t been printed by Saturday, he emailed it directly to George and copied it to other people.

At least two other boggers bloggers and I posted the response on Saturday.

Some people criticised the Herald for not printing the rebuttal earlier.

I side with the Herald on this.

It has a responsibility to give people a right of reply as soon as practical. But limited space sometimes means that’s not as soon as preferable.

I don’t think there was any conspiracy on the Herald’s behalf, it’s just a case where bloggers were able to respond faster.


Brash responds to George

December 5, 2009

Herald columnist Garth George was one of the people who was less than impressed with the recommendations of the 2025 Taskforce.

Taskforce chair Don Brash said George had got several things wrong in his column. He wrote an op-ed countering that which the Herald hasn’t yet published so he emailed it directly to George and some others, including me.

George’s column is here.

In response Don Brash wrote: 

Garth George was way off beam in his attack on the first report of the 2025 Taskforce. 

Leaving aside the personal invective, he claims that the “biggest absurdity” in the report is the proposition that New Zealand can and should catch up with Australia.  He says that “there is just no comparison between the two countries”, with Australia having five times our population, 32 times our land area, and huge resources of minerals.  Well, those are factual statements about Australia, but they ignore some important facts which he would be aware of had he read the report. 

First, there is no correlation between living standards and population – if there were, India would be super-rich and Singapore would be poor. 

Second, there is no correlation between living standards and land area – if there were, Russia would be super-rich and Finland would be poor. 

Third, there is no correlation between living standards and mineral wealth – if there were, the Congo would be super-rich and Japan would be poor. 

In any event, a recent World Bank study showed that, in per capita terms, New Zealand has more natural resources than almost any other country in the world. 

For most of New Zealand’s history, our standard of living has been very similar to that in Australia – sometimes a bit ahead, sometimes a bit behind.  And the Taskforce didn’t off its own bat decide that catching Australia again by 2025 would be some good idea: the goal was set by the Government itself, and the Taskforce was set up both to advise on how best to achieve the (very challenging) goal and to monitor annually progress towards achieving it. 

Too often in the past, governments have announced grandiose commitments to lift living standards – such as the last Government’s commitment to lift us into the top half of developed countries within 10 years – but then totally ignored those commitments, hoping that nobody would notice it.  It is to the Government’s credit that they made a commitment and then established a mechanism to hold them to account. 

Garth George accuses the Taskforce of recommending a whole range of things which we do not recommend.  For example, he accuses us of recommending a flat personal income tax, and notes that if such a tax were established a whole range of low income people would have to pay more tax.  But whatever the merits of a flat tax, the Taskforce did not recommend such a tax.  What we did say was that, if core government spending were cut to the same fraction of GDP that it was in both 2004 and 2005 (29%), the top personal rate, the company tax rate, and the trust tax rate could comfortably be aligned at 20%.  Under such a tax structure, all those earning above $14,000 a year would pay less income tax, while nobody would pay more income tax. 

Nobody seriously argues that government was vastly too small in New Zealand in 2004 and 2005 (the end of the Labour Government’s second term in office), so why the ridiculous reaction when the Taskforce suggests reducing government spending to that level? 

Mr George also suggests that we recommended abolishing subsidised doctor visits, and implies that we are advocating an American approach to healthcare.  This is again utter nonsense.  We suggested targeting subsidies for doctor’s visits at those who need them, either because they have low incomes or have chronic health problems. 

He suggests that we favoured removing subsidies for early childhood education.  Again, not true.  What we said was that those subsidies – which have trebled in cost from $400 million a year to $1.2 billion a year over the last five years – should be focused on those who need them.

The recommendations of the 2025 Taskforce are actually totally in line with orthodox thinking in most developed countries, and are almost entirely consistent with the recommendations of the recent OECD report on New Zealand.


Southerners stand by their man

August 7, 2008

Clutha Southland  people are not impressed by the bugging of their MP, Bill English.

As National deputy leader Bill English weathers controversy after the secret recording of his comments about selling Kiwibank, in the heart of his Clutha-Southland electorate voters were right behind their man.

Mr English was “a straight shooter” and an “absolutely outstanding” politician, said two voters spoken to by The Southland Times yesterday.

In a random poll, voters in Gore saved their harshest criticism for those who secretly taped the conversation during a cocktail function at the National Party’s annual conference and leaked it to the media.

“I think it stinks,” said one woman.

Another person described it as despicable. Most of those spoken to believed the controversy was unlikely to hurt Mr English in the polls.

“He should be a little bit more careful what he says but I don’t think it will cost him much,” said one man.

A woman who had been wavering as who to vote for would now definitely vote for Mr English.

“I think this will bring everyone behind him because it’s dirty tricks,” she said.

A good local MP gets support across party boundaries. Bill is very popular on his home patch , he has earned their loyalty so it’s not surprising his constituents are standing by him.

Mud sticks to the hand that throws it and because of that sometimes the person at whom it is thrown actually comes out cleaner.

Jim Mora’s Panel  reckoned there was nothing particularly damaging in the comments which were secretly recorded.

Garth George says it’s the work of a scumbag.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing stinks. And it is further evidence, if any were needed, that this nation has not only lost its moral compass, we have smashed it.

And The Herald  editorial says MPs will become more wary of discussing sensitive issues which is the public price of this dirty trick.

All of which I agree with. As I blogged yesterday, openness requires trust, that was abused and we will all pay for it if MPs become more guarded.


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