Farmers back Ruataniwha

April 28, 2016

The success of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS), always depended on farmers backing – and they have:

Irrigation New Zealand is delighted to see the Ruataniwha project is now in a position to proceed.

HBRIC today (Wednesday 27 April 2016) announced it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed. CEO of Irrigation New Zealand Andrew Curtis said: “This is good news for Central Hawke’s Bay as it will re-invigorate the shrinking communities of Waipukurau and Waipawa.

“This result shows farmer backing is strong for the project. This is not surprising given the Ruataniwha Plain’s current and future susceptibility to drought.

Mr Curtis said: “The mix of land-use is, as Irrigation New Zealand predicted, dominated by traditional mixed cropping, and sheep and beef finishing systems. This is what Central Hawke’s Bay has and will always do well. There is also some permanent horticulture in the mix, and given the boom in the orchard and wine industries currently it is very likely this area of opportunity will be expanded further in future.

“The land-use mix should alleviate any environmental concerns for the Tukituki River. This, when combined with the dam’s ability to release water to guarantee summer flows alongside mimicking natural flood events that cleanse it, means the Tukituki River is in a great position to maintain and improve upon it’s predominantly good water quality.

“Irrigation New Zealand is now looking forward to both the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Crown committing investments to this community dam project and the ‘land swap’ court issue being resolved in a timely manner.

Mr Curtis concluded: “No one disputes the Hawke’s Bay needs water storage. The local community has now demonstrated its support for the Ruataniwha project. It’s time for regional and national communities to do the same.”

Sadly some people do dispute Hawke’s Bay’s need for water storage including the Green Party which wants the dam dumped.

But at last farmers have confirmed their willingness to invest in the scheme that will drought-proof between 20,000 and 30,000 hectares of land with good potential for increased agriculture, horticulture and viticulture.

The climate and soils in the area will give farmers more  choice over what they grow with the water than those with irrigation in many other areas.

The scheme will bring environmental, economic and social benefits to the region and the country.


Feds challenge NZ Greens to follow Aus Greens on GMOs

January 11, 2016

Federated Farmers is challenging the New Zealand Green Party to follow Australian Greens on moderating their stance on Genetic Modification.

Federated Farmers has welcomed a shift in thinking by the Australian Green Party and encourages their New Zealand counterparts to be equally open minded about the benefits of genetic modification.

Over the past week Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale has conducted a series of interviews in which he has opened the door to changing the party’s longstanding opposition to genetically modified organisms.

He told ABC radio that “the concerns are less around human health and much more around the application of the technology when it comes to giving farmers choice.” In another interview with The Land he said he did “not have a blanket objection to the use of genetically modified crops” and that “it’s a bit simplistic to say GMO’s are safe or they’re not safe.”

“This is entirely in line with Federated Farmers’ position of giving farmers choice about what and how they farm, and assessing the benefits and risks of genetically modified organisms on a case-by-case basis,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr William Rolleston.

“It’s refreshing to see such an open minded approach from the Australian Greens on what we see as a key issue for the agricultural sector, and we encourage the NZ Green Party to also review their policy on genetic modification.”

“If you look at some of the biggest challenges facing farmers at the moment, such as drought and pressure from some quarters to reduce biological emissions. These are both things that likely have a scientific solution,” says Dr Rolleston.

Dr Rolleston said genetic modification has been used extensively around the world, to the benefit of farmers and the environment, without any incident of harm attributable to the GM aspects of the application.

“Although no crops using GM are approved or grown here yet, this vitally important science is being used successfully in New Zealand. GM products such as food enzymes, medicines and animal feed are now commonplace.”

“We ask that the Greens open their minds to the agricultural sector also taking advantage of these rapidly evolving technologies,” he said.

Di Natale, like Rolleston, is a medical doctor:

. . . Senator Di Natale – whose medical career included practicing in regional areas – said he personally had no philosophical or ideological objections to the science of GM.

He said genetic modification was “something we’ve done for a long time in medicine”.

“I do not have a blanket objection to the use of genetically modified crops – I absolutely don’t – and it would be hypocritical for me to say that because I support the use of genetic modification in medicine,” he said. . . 

In response to this, Grant Jacobs writes at Sciblogs:

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks much of the ‘debate’ on GM is unhelpful.

Below are a few suggestions to those thinking about this issue, or who wish to offer public comment. . . 

 

  • Remember that genetic engineering (GE) has applications far wider than just crops, and more than just herbicide-tolerant crops.
  • If your concern is food safety or environmental issues, talking about ‘GMOs’ is a distraction away from issues (if any). It is the traits of each crop or animal variety that determine if there might be risk, not how the crop or animal was first bred.
  • If your concern is over transgenic organisms, say ‘transgenic organisms’ not ‘GMOs’.
  • If your concern relates to business aspects, make sure those concerns are real, related to GMOs and avoid straw-man arguments.
  • If your concern relates to international trade, give examples of it being an issue (rather than ‘what if’-style claims).
  • Be aware of misapplied or inappropriate cultural memes, or conflation with separable things.
  • Aim for discussion, not ‘debate’ or argument. . . 

If you follow the link you can read his elaboration on each point.

A lot of the debate on GMOs is based on politics and misinformation rather than science.

Caution on any new technology is wise, but a blanket ban on GMOs is not.

 


Quote of the day

September 30, 2015

. . . Labour’s problem may be summed up in two words: proportional representation. New Zealand’s MMP electoral system allows minor parties to thrive, thus removing the pressure on opposition supporters to transfer their allegiance to the party best placed to defeat the Government. By denying Labour the 5 to 10 percentage points it needs to become a credible competitor to the National Party, proportional representation and the Greens are encouraging the Right to contemplate permanent political ascendancy. . .  Chris Trotter


Green party poopers

August 12, 2015

The Rugby  World Cup is taking place on the other side of the world and matches will be played when most New Zealanders would normally be in bed and pubs are closed.

When UK fans were faced with that scenario in 2011 the government brought in special legislation to allow pubs to open for fans.

Act MP David Seymour drafted a Bill to allow bars to open at extended hours for 2015 Rugby World Cup games but Green Party MPs torpedoed it.

“An internationally televised world cup featuring our own reigning champions should be an opportunity to bring communities together over coffee or beer and showcase our wonderful hospitality facilities,” said Mr Seymour.

“Shutting New Zealanders at home for this event seems like a mean-spirited affront to community freedoms.

“The Greens do themselves no favours by locking themselves in as the party opposed to fun. . .

 

I’ve no desire to go  to a pub in the wee small hours and if I did go I wouldn’t be drinking anything stronger than water.

I’ve stayed up all night four times in the last 12 years. That was for weddings in Argentina and I drank only one glass of wine at each because I knew any more alcohol would put me to sleep.

But I can see why some people might want to gather in a pub to watch the games, especially if the All Blacks make it to the final.

Green MP Kevin Hague accused Seymour of  using the issue as a publicity stunt.

But it is Hague who is grandstanding.

In being the party pooper  he’s  providing ammunition for those who accuse his party of being the fun police and all for nothing more than negative publicity because the government will probably pick up the Bill.

Too many people drink too much but that’s a problem which won’t be addressed by the party-pooping.

 


Do we have consensus on tax?

July 20, 2015

Labour finally answered the calls to show us some policy last week with an announcement on proposed changes to provisional tax:

The bad news for Labour was that it wasn’t its own fresh policy it was reheated National Party policy:

Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has congratulated Labour Party Leader Andrew Little on finally announcing his first “new” policy after eight months in the job, although unfortunately for Labour it’s a cut and paste of a previous Government announcement.

“Labour announced today it was launching a discussion document on changes to provisional tax for businesses. However it seems to have overlooked that the Government launched its own discussion document containing almost identical proposals back in March,” says Mr Joyce. “These in turn were based on National Party policy at the last election.”

The Government has already consulted on proposed changes to provisional tax including a business PAYE, changes to use-of-money interest and penalties, increased use of tax pooling and the use of tax accounts. A Green Paper was launched on 31 March this year and submissions closed on 29 May.

“Feedback on the Green Paper’s suggestions has generally been supportive, and provisional tax was the part most commented on. As we’ve said previously, the changes will require new technology to be implemented, which will be developed as part of the IRD’s Business Transformation project,” says Mr Joyce.

“Quite why Labour has started its own consultation is beyond me.

“Submissions are now closed but the Government would be happy to accept a late submission from the Labour Party in support of the proposal,” Mr Joyce says. “We also appreciate its implied endorsement of the Business Transformation process that will make these policy changes possible.”

A link to  the March announcement can be found HERE.

A link to the Government’s Green Paper, Making Tax Simpler, can be found HERE.

A link to the National Party’s 2014 election policy on this issue can be found HERE.

Act supports the ideas in the green paper which the government released in March, last week New Zealand First also mooted a similar strategy and the Green Party is also open to the proposed changes.

The good news for all of us is that this could mean there is consensus on provisional tax which is very unpopular with businesses for good reason.

They have to pay on expected income without the benefit of a crystal ball that can give them an accurate forecast of their futures costs and income.

A reasonably accurate estimate is difficult enough for any business, it is particularly taxing in farming where there are so many variables and a lot of income is lumpy.

Dairy farmers get monthly payments for their milk but last year the pay out was far higher than expected, this year it is much lower.

Cropping, sheep and beef farmers and many horticulturists get most of their income in a very few payments a very few times a year. Estimating what they are likely to produce, how much that will cost and what they’ll be paid for it months in advance with any deegree of accuracy is next to impossible.

The changes proposed by the IRD which now seem to have support across the political spectrum would simplify the tax system.

Simpler taxes are less expensive to comply with and administer. That reduces costs for businesses which is good for them and the people they employ, service and supply.


Want voters but not govt

June 2, 2015

New Green co-leader James Shaw wants to woo National Party voters:

“I think there is a huge number of people out there who are concerned about the environment and they are concerned about the economy,” says Mr Shaw, “and they have been holding their nose and voting for the National Party. . .

Concern for the economy and environment aren’t mutually exclusive and people vote for and against parties for a variety of reasons.

But environmental concerns and initiatives aren’t the preserve of left-wing politicians and Shaw has sabotaged his campaign to woo National voters by ruling out going into government with the party.

Like his predecessor, he’s moored his party on the left flank of Labour which means its doomed to be in opposition if National wins another term and has no guarantee of being in government if Labour wins.

If Labour has a choice of coalition partners it would more likely opt for New Zealand First, safe in the knowledge the Green Party has nowhere else to go.


Greenwash not green

May 29, 2015

Green Party co-leader aspirant James Shaw has just got his learners’ licence:

. . . Aged 16, Mr Shaw decided he would not learn to drive for environmental reasons. He has maintained that stance while living in Wellington, Brussels, and London.

Now that electric cars are more readily available, the 42 year-old is planning to change his policy, and has gained his learner licence. . .

Does he travel in cars that other people drive, does he travel in taxis, does he use products which are transported by land sea or air, does he fly . . .?

Not driving but being driven or flown isn’t being green it’s greenwash that defies logic.

If this is the sort of intellectual rigour the politician and his party apply to their policies and practices they are destined to remain on the loopy left of the political spectrum.


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