Drug decisions should be medical not political

February 16, 2016

Helen Kelly has been denied consent to use a cannabis oil product to help control her pain and nausea.

The ministry responded this morning, saying it was deferring the application because it did not contain enough information, she said.

“Basically they’ve said my doctor hasn’t described enough how the current drugs I’m taking are not working,” she said.

“He’s described all the drugs I’m taking and he’s a senior oncologist and he said, ‘I’m seeking permission to give her cannabis’, but … they’re second-guessing him.”

An earlier report quotes associate Health Minsiter Peter Dunne saying health officials hadn’t been able to get the information they needed:

“My understanding is they have made a number of attempts to do so … but to date, no such information has been provided,” he said.

“For that reason, they can’t formulate a recommendation to me on the application and I can’t reach a decision on their recommendation.”

How can a politician and health officials make a better informed decision than the doctor who is treating the patient?

Unlike some decisions on medicine this isn’t about funding.

I don’t understand why it is a political decision and not a medical one.

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2015

Breaking down NZ fences – Lindy Nelson:

From dairy to red meat, New Zealand agribusiness is undergoing a profound transformation. The expanding markets of Asia bring both new opportunities as well as challenges.

To extract the maximum value from these opportunities the sector needs an injection of new ideas and perspectives and to engage 100 per cent of its available talent. One of the ways this is happening is the emergence of more women in leadership roles.

From boardrooms to the management of New Zealand’s top agribusinesses, women are stepping into roles not traditionally held in our sector. . . .

INZ supportive of budget 2015 allocation to freshwater management:

Irrigation New Zealand supports the government’s budget allocation to assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater.

“This will help water policy evolve into even more practical, precise and workable terms and will hopefully make the consenting and regulatory process around water storage and irrigation infrastructure development less costly and lengthy,” says Mr Curtis. “It will also give more recognition to the collaborative processes which are already happening in water catchments about future infrastructure development. . .

Plea to promote good employers:

A rural recruitment specialist says the farming sector should be identifying and celebrating good employers, not naming and shaming the bad ones.

This week Council of Trade Union president, Helen Kelly, has been tweeting links to farm ads which she says are for jobs paying below the minimum wage – and sometimes even below $13 an hour.

John Fegan has been a rural recruitment and HR specialist in the Waikato region for more than 20 years and while he agrees there are bad employers out there, he does not agree with what Helen Kelly is doing.

Mr Fegan believes a system which highlights farmers who have good employment standards is the best way to go about bringing change. . .

Ballance makes key leadership appointments:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced the appointment of two general managers as well as appointments to new roles in strategy and agricultural technology.

Chief Executive Mark Wynne said the appointments were aligned with a revised focus for the co-operative on driving value for shareholders from its core fertiliser business, building the capability of its people, and making smarter use of data and technology to support better decision making both within the company and on the farm. . .

 

Low payout, smarter herd management:

“If you want to get the best out of your farming business when payout is low, you need to have the right tools.”

That’s the view of Drury-based dairy farmer Sue Dyer, who recently presented at a series of workshops run by CRV Ambreed to teach farmers how technology can be better used to achieve their herd improvement goals.

Dyer said dairy farmers spend too much time on administration and managing their herd information, and when time is money, farmers have to make a considered decision about the products and services they use and how they use them. . .

Danielle Nierenberg's photo.


$16 minimum wage ‘just a start’

July 7, 2014

Labour is planning to lift the minimum wage from $14.25 to $16 an hour in its first year in government – and that’s just the start.

Unions have been lobbying Labour on the issue, but the pressure is still on; they want much more.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is comfortably nestled between Labour’s union affiliates.

“Colleagues, comrades – we are part of a broad labour movement,” says Mr Cunliffe.

The unions are strong within that movement. They are pushing hard for a jump in the minimum wage.

Labour has already indicated two increases in its first year – one before Christmas from $14.25 to $15 an hour, and today came the details of the second.

“Even that’s starting to look a bit stingy, so we’re looking at a further increase within the first year,” says Labour’s labour spokesperson Andrew Little. “I expect it will be up around $16 an hour.”

So $16 an hour by April next year – for the unions leaning on Labour, it’s a pay-off, but just a start.

A pay-off for unions but extra costs for employers, price increases for customers and less job security for workers.

“It needs to be more, above $18, but it certainly would be a big boost,” says president of the Auckland Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) Jill Ovens.

“I think the second increase needs to be more than $16; it needs to start moving to two-thirds of the average wage over the term of the Government,” says CTU president Helen Kelly. . .

New Zealand does have a problem with low wages.

But if pay increases are to be sustainable without boosting inflation and threatening jobs and the businesses which supply them, they have to be linked to productivity increases and the ability to pay them.

Add other Labour policies which will reduce flexibility and increase regulation and businesses and the jobs which rely on them will be even less secure.

Unions which regard a $16 minimum wage as just a start could find it is also the end to some jobs and some businesses.


Wide approval for workplace safety reform

August 8, 2013

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has announced the most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

“The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020,” says Mr Bridges.

“The reforms recalibrate our approach so we are working smarter, targeting risk and working together to improve performance in workplace health and safety.

“This is the legacy we owe to the Pike River families, the families of the 75 people who are killed each year in New Zealand workplaces, and the estimated 600 to 900 who die annually from the long-term effects of occupational disease.”

Mr Bridges says Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which provided Government with a solid foundation to work from.

“We will improve the legislation and back it up with clear guidelines and enforcement, and investment in a strong new regulator WorkSafe New Zealand.

“But achieving the target is not something we can do alone. It also requires leadership and action from business and workers, working with government, sharing the responsibility and driving the solutions on the ground.

“Good health and safety makes good business sense.  It is an investment in improved productivity, staff engagement and in an organisation’s reputation in the community,” Mr Bridges says.

The rabid anti-business sector doesn’t get this.

Safe businesses are better businesses for people, productivity and profits.

Included in the reform package are:

  • an overhaul of the law, supported by clear, consistent guidelines and information for business on their requirements
  • more funding for WorkSafe New Zealand to strengthen enforcement and education and implement the changes
  • a focus on high risk areas
  • stronger focus on occupational harm and hazardous substances
  • better coordination between government agencies
  • improved worker participation
  • stronger penalties, enforcement tools and court powers.

More details on the package here.

BusinessNZ welcomes the changes:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said it was a significant step in the right direction.

“Moving to a principles-based regime in which health and safety responses are tailored to the business rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach will be a real help to many businesses, as will a simpler approach to levy setting and other costs.

“We are also pleased to see a heavy emphasis on clarifying responsibilities and on providing information and guidance to businesses and their employees.” 

Mr O’Reilly urged that care be taken in finalising the law to avoid unintended consequences. . .

ACC is supportive:

ACC’s Chief Executive, Scott Pickering, says ACC is looking forward to working closely with the new Crown agent ‘WorkSafe New Zealand’. The agency forms the cornerstone of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety.

“WorkSafe New Zealand will bring a new, sharper focus to the importance of workplace safety, and ACC will provide all the support we can to ensure more Kiwis go home safe and sound at the end of their working day.”

Mr Pickering says he’s very mindful of the important role ACC plays in injury prevention, but he also looks forward to seeing what can be achieved with a more collaborative approach.

“There’s a growing awareness that New Zealand’s high work-related injury rates require united action, with Government agencies, businesses and workers all working together towards the same goal. . .

Forest Owners Association supports the reforms:

“The government has a vital role to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says president Bill McCallum. “It has the power to pull a range of levers that will influence attitudes, understandings and behaviours of all involved.”

He says lax attitudes to safety are prevalent in New Zealand and even with the best will in the world, it is a battle to get safety to be seen as the number one priority by every individual in the workplace.

“What we desperately need is a change in culture at all levels of our society, so that unsafe work practices are rejected as being socially unacceptable. We have seen huge changes in social attitudes to drink driving and tobacco smoking, thanks largely to government support for campaigns addressing those issues.

“We now need the same focus brought to bear on cultural attitudes that portray risk-taking as being acceptable.

“The real game changer will be when we get acceptance from everyone involved – from the boardroom through to the worker in the forest – that we have a collective and personal responsibility for health and safety. This is a responsibility to and by the worker, as well as to their workmates, their families and the businesses they work for.”

The package has also been welcomed by the CTU:

Helen Kelly, CTU President said “the announcements today acknowledge that our health and safety system is in need of an overhaul, and we welcome the direction taken by the Government with these proposed changes.”

“Moves to strengthen worker participation at the workplace are particularly positive and will help keep Kiwi workers safer at work. The inclusion of a general duty to involve and consult with workers on health and safety matters, and strengthen the role of H&S representatives will give workers a voice in how health and safety is handled in their workplace”.

Her only complaint is no worker representative on the Worksafe New Zealand Board.

Even the  the Public Service Association: welcomes the reforms, though it too complains that there’s no representative for workers on the Worksafe board.

Work safety is the responsibility of employers and employees, wide support for the reforms from representatives of both is a good start.


Rural round-up

July 22, 2013

‘Real people’ contact informs policy – Sally Rae:

Representing the farming community has been a ”privilege” for Matt Harcombe.

Mr Harcombe is leaving Federated Farmers, after 12 years working for the rural lobby organisation, to join the Ministry for Primary Industries in a Dunedin-based policy role.

The main highlights of his time with Federated Farmers had been the relationships established with farmers and working closely with the organisation’s provincial presidents and national board, he said. . .

Rise of the machines – robotics meet farming – Dr William Rolleston:

In the very near future ‘drones’ could well take the place of workers in forestry and a host of different industries.  It may be a case of not wishing too hard for what the CTU wants because an obvious solution to “carnage,” as CTU President Helen Kelly graphically described forestry, is to completely remove the person from the risk equation.  No person, no accident.

The CTU has demanded to know how forestry will stop the “carnage” and we know agriculture is also in the CTU’s crosshairs.  In 2010, the Forest Owners Association was one of the first to enter into a Primary Growth Partnership with the Government.  This has flown under the CTU and media radar but the PGP’s vision is “no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”.

The outcome will likely be drone logging machines reflecting an increasing use of robotics on-farm and in our farm system. . . 

Fleeces ‘absolutely fabulous actually’ – Sally Rae:

Ask Marnie Kelly what she likes about Matakanui Station’s fine-wool fleeces and the answer is simple – ”they’re absolutely fabulous, actually”.

Mrs Kelly is the general manager of Central Otago-based Touch Yarns, which produces mostly hand-dyed wool yarns which are exported to Europe and the United States, as well as sold in shops throughout New Zealand and Australia, online and through a retail shop in Clyde. . .

MIE seeking farmer registrations – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Excellence is seeking registrations from farmers to ensure they are up to date with what the organisation is doing in its bid to drive reform in the meat industry.

While the group had been ”a bit slow off the eight-ball” communicating with farmers, a website had now been launched, chairman Richard Young, of Tapanui, said.

Farmers were encouraged to register on www.mienz.com and also provide details on their farming operations, including what meat companies they supplied. . .

Maori farmers launch a new network – Murray Robertson:

A GROUND -breaking new collaborative initiative to develop Maori farming in Tairawhiti sprang out of the major Maori agri-business hui in Gisborne on Thursday.

More than 160 people attended the day-long event at Shed 3 at the Gisborne port and heard a range of impressive presentations.

The word “collaboration” was the common theme and a challenge was issued to Maori agri-business leaders to work together to capture more value for their owners. . .

Milder flavours in latest olive harvest

Customers of Nelson olive oils can expect milder, better balanced products from this year’s harvest, say growers.

After a tough, wet growing season last year, which made it difficult to produce top oils, the long, dry summer has been much kinder, although rain before and during picking caused some disruption.

The region’s biggest grower, Roger Armstrong, of Tasman Bay Olives, is pressing about two-thirds of a record crop of about 280 tonnes – 40 tonnes more than in 2011 – and he’s happy with what he’s seen. . .

Hemp growers ready for success – Sandie Finnie:

Waikato couple Dave and Anne Jordan are prepared for a cropping venture which slots into the new “greenwave” of products in demand around the world.

For the last four years the Jordans have trialled growing industrial hemp and are now building up their seed stocks so they can do large plantings.

Meanwhile they sell hemp oil for skin care and related products at their local farmers’ market and can barely keep up with demand. . . .


Speakers lets sun shine on access

July 26, 2012

Proving once more that sunlight is a good disinfectant, Speaker Lockwood Smith has released a list of members of the public who hold access cards to Parliament:

Dr Smith said that members of the public were only given approved visitor status if they had been security cleared and agreed to their names being public.

“The benefit of being an approved visitor is that the person does not have to be security screened each time he or she comes to Parliament. Instead, an approved visitor can access the public areas of Parliament through a security cleared entrance”, said Dr Smith.

 CARD HOLDERS
Name Organisation
Nicholas Albrecht Vector
Tim Clarke Russell McVeagh
Peter Conway Council of Trade Unions
Daniel Fielding Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
Charles Finny Saunders Unsworth
Helen Kelly Council of Trade Unions
Tony O’Brien Sky TV
Phil O’Reilly Business NZ
Leigh Pearson L.A. Pearson Limited
Barrie Saunders Saunders Unsworth
Mark Unsworth Saunders Unsworth
Jordan Williams Franks & Ogilvie
Rasik Ranchord Parliamentary Breakfast Group
 Philippa Falloon Former MP’s spouse
Lady Jane Kidd Former MP’s spouse

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