Will he sue himself?

August 29, 2019

An Iwi leader is suing seven New Zealand companies for their failure to protect New Zealanders from climate change:

Climate activist and spokesperson for the Iwi Chairs Forum’s Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group, Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu), made the
announcement on the eve of his departure to Mexico where he will be one of the representatives for the Pacific region at an Indigenous
peoples climate forum .

Oh the irony of that. Will he also sue himself for the emissions produced by the return flights to Mexico?

Smith is alleging that the named companies have committed public nuisance, have been negligent or breached other legal duties by emitting greenhouse gases and by not doing enough to reduce those emissions in the face of scientific evidence that their emissions have caused, and will continue to cause, harm.

“Māori are particularly vulnerable to climate change, being disproportionately represented amongst the poor, who will be the hardest hit. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding and storm
surges will irrevocably damage low lying coastal communities, and warming oceans and ocean acidification will damage traditional resources, including fisheries.” . . .

The companies he’s suing are Fonterra, Genesis Energy, Dairy Holdings, New Zealand Steel, Z Energy, New Zealand Refining and BT Mining.

That some of the farmers who supply Fonterra are Maori seems to have escaped him.

If he’s worried about the impact of climate change, not only should he not be flying, he should be encouraging more dairy production here where it’s done so efficiently it’s better for the world’s second most efficient producers, the Irish, to drink our milk rather than their own, even when shipping it there is taken into account.

It’s the poor who would be hardest hit by the economic impact of reducing dairy production and the resulting export income and hit again by worsening climate change as less efficient producers increase production to fill the gap in the market that would be created if New Zealand production fell.

“The urgency of climate change means we need far greater action and we need it now, and not just from government but also across the private sector” he says.

“It’s not good enough just to set far off targets, especially ones that let our biggest polluters like the agricultural sector off the hook so they can have a bit more time to turn a profit. The fact is
we are out of time and are now looking at damage control.”

What does he mean by biggest polluter? If it’s dairy versus his flight, dairy is cleaner and if nutrient density is included in the calculation, as it ought to be if it’s to compare like with like, New Zealand milk production is a world leader.

The agricultural sector producers food that not only sustains New Zealanders but earns a significant chunk of the country’s export income.

Without that the poor he purports to worry about would be even poorer.

 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2017

Battle wounds and wisdom shared through Dairy Connect:

Seeking guidance from other farmers has helped Chloe and Matt Walker make the switch from city living to dairy farming – a move that came sooner than expected.

Back in 2012, Chloe and Matt were running start-up companies in Wellington and considering a move to Matt’s parents’ dairy farm near Taupo. However, after getting married in February 2013 and a change in the dynamics of their respective start-ups, they decided to take the plunge earlier than planned.

The Walkers left their city jobs and started afresh on the 133ha farm four seasons ago, with Matt taking up a role as farm manager. They had little on-farm experience but were quick to apply what they had learned in city jobs to their new careers. . . 

Deluge misses southern hydro lakes – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Last weekend may have been Oamaru’s wettest since daily rainfall records began in 1950, but the deluge that hit eastern coastal parts of the South Island over the weekend all but missed the southern hydro lakes, which remain at critically low levels for the time of year.

The managers of the southern catchments, Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Genesis Energy, all reported either little or no additional rainfall, although national grid operator Transpower said lake levels now sit at 62 percent of the national average level for this time of year, compared with 58 percent before the weekend.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman said the weekend weather “did not bring inflows  . . 

Otago $9m irrigation scheme given green light:

A new irrigation scheme in Otago will help transform dry, wasted land into productive land full of cherry trees and vineyards, the company behind it says.

But it comes at a time when questions have been raised about the sustainability of irrigation schemes in the region, in the face of expiring permits.

The $9 million Dairy Creek Irrigation Scheme, which will cover 1500 hectares of land in the Clutha catchment, has been given the green light. . . 

Blockchain the transformer – Eye2theLongRun:

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one another to enable fast, secure, and borderless transactions. . . 

‘Get on and do it’ culture contributing to farm accidents – Andrew McRae:

The high injury rate among farm workers has prompted a call for them to be more involved in health and safety decisions on the farm.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s farm sector analysis of injuries between April 2012 and March 2015 shows that for every 1000 employees, 20 suffered an injury requiring more than a week off.

For every 1000 employees in dairying 28 were injured, compared with 18 in sheep and beef, and 30 per 1000 in the shearing industry.

The sector leader for WorkSafe, Al McCone, said the figures were a result of the culture that has crept into the agricultural sector. . . 

New Zealand vanilla producer ensures steady supply in volatile market:

Soaring prices worldwide for vanilla beans have prompted New Zealand vanilla grower and manufacturer, Heilala Vanilla, to launch a new product to shield its customers from market volatility.

For the second year in a row, international prices have skyrocketed as demand outstrips supply. Spice traders predict the current market turmoil will continue into 2018. . . 


Market backs voters

September 22, 2014

The share market reacted positively to the election result:

New Zealand shares jumped, led by MightyRiverPower, after the National Party’s convincing election victory on the weekend wiped out any regulatory fears for the power companies. Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and Contact Energy paced gains.

The NZX 50 Index advanced 54.947 points, or 1.1 percent, to 5236.292. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 13 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $144.2 million. . . .

“The market is buoyant and led by the power companies, which is not a surprise, given the regulatory risk declined with the National party coming into power again,” said Shane Solly, director at Harbour Asset Management. The return of the National government means a” a consistent framework and more of the same” giving the market certainty.  . .

The market likes certainty.

Business does too and it’s good not just for businesses but the jobs which depend on them.


Not fit for sale

February 26, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says Genesis Energy will be the last State Owned Enterprise to be partially sold by the government.

Asked why he had decided to end the sales programme if it was so successful, Mr Key said a company had to have the “right characteristics” to be part of the mixed ownership model. A company like Kordia did not fit as it was too small in value and a monopoly, like Transpower, did not fit the model.

The only other two which could be sold were Television New Zealand and New Zealand Post and neither was fit for sale.

Companies which aren’t fit for sale aren’t assets they’re liabilities.

Yet opponents of even partial sales are still clinging to the view that state owned companies are sacrosanct and that the portfolio should remain exactly as it is in perpetuity.

 

 


Referendum even more redundant

September 17, 2013

Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall have announced the timetable for the partial float of Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy and further selling down of Air New Zealand shares.

The Government has confirmed New Zealanders will have the opportunity to invest in a minority shareholding in Meridian Energy from later this month, before an expected sharemarket listing on 29 October.

Full details will be set out when the offer document is lodged this Friday 20 September, Finance Minister Bill English and State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall say.

Pre-offer marketing will start this evening, ensuring New Zealanders are aware of the Meridian offer through television, newspaper and online advertising. This will explain how people can get more information, including ordering an offer document.

As with the Mighty River Power share offer earlier this year, New Zealanders will again be at the front of the queue for shares in Meridian, Mr English says.

“The Government was very clear about the opportunity for New Zealanders when we put our share offers programme to New Zealanders during the 2011 election campaign. The compelling reasons for proceeding with the share offers are as valid today.

“The Government share offer will enable New Zealanders to invest in big Kiwi companies at a time when they are telling us they want to diversify their growing savings away from property, bank deposits and finance companies.

“And we can invest the proceeds in other public assets like modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow that money in volatile overseas markets, and increase debt.”

As Ministers have previously indicated, investors will buy Meridian shares in two instalments over 18 months. This means investors will need to pay only around 60 per cent of the price up front – but they will receive in full any dividends.

In addition, there will be a price cap for New Zealand retail applicants to provide more certainty about how much the shares will cost.

Mr English says further decisions have now been confirmed, including:

  • The Meridian offer document will be lodged this Friday 20 September, setting out all the information investors need to make an informed decision about whether to invest. This will include the price range, the price of the first instalment, the capped price of the second instalment and the expected yield.
  • After the offer document is lodged, the Financial Markets Authority has around five business days to review the document. This ‘consideration period’ is expected to conclude on 27 September.
  • New Zealanders will then have three weeks from 30 September to consider the offer document and apply for shares before the general offer closes on 18 October. This will be followed by a book-build process where institutions bid for shares.
  • It is expected that Meridian will list on the New Zealand and Australian sharemarkets on 29 October.

Mr Ryall says the offer process puts New Zealanders at the front of the queue for shares and will ensure they have easy access to information.

“To help achieve this, a retail syndicate will be marketing the offer to New Zealanders, and they will offer information and advice to their clients.

“In addition, we have included what is called a ‘broker firm’ aspect to the Meridian offer. Under this arrangement, brokers assess demand from their clients and submit bids, and the Government then chooses how much to allocate them.

“Just like the retail offer, this process is open only to New Zealanders and is consistent with our commitment to ensuring 85-90 per cent New Zealand ownership of the shares,” Mr Ryall says.

Ministers have also confirmed they are considering options for Genesis Energy and Air New Zealand – two of the other companies in the Government’s share offer programme.

“As the Prime Minister said last month, we anticipate that the Genesis Energy share offer will occur in the first half of 2014, subject to market conditions,” Mr Ryall says. “Preliminary work is underway and will continue over the next few months.”

The Air New Zealand share offer will be different to the others, as it is already a sharemarket-listed company.

“What that means is that New Zealanders can buy shares in the company now, if they wish,” Mr Ryall says.

“We are currently working through the best way the sell down can occur and we remain keen to ensure that New Zealanders have the opportunity to participate in it.  At this stage, no final decisions have been made, including on timing. However, when it occurs we expect it will be a shorter process than that used for Meridian and Mighty River Power.”

This makes the politicians’ referendum on the partial sale of a few state owned assets now even more redundant.

It was always only political posturing.

It was never going to have any impact on government policy which was clearly signalled before the 2011 election, made the issue by the opposition and had already begun with the partial float of Mighty River Power before enough signatures had been gathered.

That Grey Power which fronted the referendum petition has now negotiated a deal for its members with a private power company makes it not just redundant but hypocritical.

Referendums are very blunt instruments and none of the four Citizens Initiated Referendums we’ve had since they were introduced in 1993 have achieved anything.

There are better, and cheaper, ways to make a point and influence policy.

All the latest one does is reinforce the growing body of opinion that Citizens Initiated Referendums have had their day.


Energy changes bring lower prices and dividend

May 17, 2011

The government will receive a special dividend of $520,996,030  from Meridian Energy following the sale of two hydro power stations on the Upper Waitaki.

The sale is part of a package of Government reforms aimed at improving the electricity sector. Meridian is selling Tekapo A and B power stations on the Waitaki Power Scheme to Genesis Energy.

In December 2009 the Government announced its decisions from the Ministerial Review that include a series of changes that support the overall Government objectives to improve retail competition in the industry, promote the reliability of electricity supply and improve governance in the sector through the establishment of the Electricity Authority.

I had my doubts about the wisdom of this policy when it was first mooted. But this dividend and the lower prices we’re seeing as a result of increased competition have changed my mind.


Competition brings down prices

May 9, 2011

I greeted the announcement that the government was going to require Meridian and Genesis to swap some of their assets with wariness.

Dividing the power schemes on the Waitaki River and its tributary between two companies had both benefits and costs and I wasn’t sure if it would work.

But in the last week we’ve had letters alerting us to cheaper deals from Genesis now it’s generating hydro power in competition with Meridian which used to have a monopoly on the Waitaki.

Competition works.


Consumers flee Contact

October 25, 2008

Contact Energy customers are taking their business to other electricity companies in the wake of its decision to increase its prices and the pool of money available for directors’ fees.

Electricity retailers yesterday reported a flood of inquiries during the past two days from Contact customers considering switching suppliers.

Many were from the South Island.

Meridian Energy reported a 200% increase in calls to its call centre on Thursday, a pace which continued yesterday.

TrustPower had 800 callers on Thursday inquiring about changing, equivalent to the normal volume of callers it received in a month.

A Genesis Energy spokesman said inquiries through its call centre on Thursday and Friday were nearly 50% higher than forecast.

Mercury Energy began its marketing push into Dunedin at 3.30pm on Thursday and confirmed its first customer in the city at 3.33pm.

Mercury retail manager Richard De Luca said an average Dunedin household would pay $200 less a year for its electricity than it would from Contact.

I’ve never been 100% convinced about the merits of competition for utilities because of the hassle involved in changing suppliers.

If I don’t like the service or price at one supermarket it’s easy enough to go to another. Changing power or telephone companies is more complicated and usually requires dealing with call centres which I approach with great reluctance.

However, this story proves me wrong, if customers are disgruntled enough with one electricity supplier they will go to the trouble of finding another. Only time will tell if they’re better off for doing it.


%d bloggers like this: