Too poor to ignore potential riches underground

July 9, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . Conservationist groups who argue against prospecting do their cause no good.

Even they should accept we need to find out what’s there first.

Then we can do the maths and have the discussion.

Our economy is in no shape to allow us the luxury of ignoring the potential riches beneath our feet.

It might not be possible, or desirable, to get them all out, but surely we can benefit from some of the bounty bestowed on us. – Herald On Sunday.

One of the reasons Australia is wealthier than us, with higher wage rates and other benefits from a faster growing economy, is its mineral wealth.

We do need to find out what riches might be waiting underground, and undersea and then find out the costs and benefits of extracting them.

Modern mining techniques can limit damage to the environment and eventually leave the land in as good or better state than it was.


Is that all there is?

January 26, 2012

The so called teapot tape has been released on YouTube..

It’s not easy to hear what is being said by John Key and John Banks in their pre-election conversation because of the background noise.

But from what I could hear and understand there is absolutely nothing to cause embarrassment or upset to anyone.

If that is all there is, the Herald on Sunday and TV3 who had the tape and made such a fuss about it really need to look at themselves, their standards and motivation.

They inferred  implied the contents were politically sensitive and potentially embarrassing.

They told us it was in the national interest to release them. If that’s all there is it wasn’t. They are simply boring.

The HOS and even more so TV3 turned a non-event into a potential scandal and then someone from one of those media outlets or Bradley Ambrose, the reporter who, inadvertently or not, recorded the conversation, gave something to Winston Peters which enabled him to do what he does best – manufacture outrage to generate attention.

The only embarrassment is to the media who created an issue out of nothing.

I am not linking to the recording because I am unsure of the legal position but if you can’t find it you’ll save yourself 10 minutes and 46 seconds of boredom.

Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock also have posts on the recording.


No ruling on private in public

November 23, 2011

Justice Helen Winkelmann has declined to give a ruling on whether the conversation between John Key and John Banks was private because it would prejudice an on-going police case.

 “I have not reached any view on whether this was a private communication,” Justice Winkelmann said in her decision.   

“Indeed my decision turns upon the inadequacy of the evidentiary material before me to reach such a view, and in any event, the inappropriateness of my undertaking a mini trial as to whether certain conduct constituted a criminal offence … in advance of a police investigation or trial.”   

The decision means legal doubt remains over whether the conversation between Prime Minister John Key and Act’s John Banks was private, and it may be illegal to publish the tape.   

Up until now media with copies of the tape or a transcript have been reluctant to publish because of the risk of legal action.

If the Herald on Sunday and TV3 had been sure it wasn’t a private conversation they would have published a transcript of the conversation.

Instead they made do with insinuations and someone passed at least some of content on to Winston Peters to enable him to do what he does best – saying something to grab attention but nothing for which he could be held to account.


An accident?

November 17, 2011

Quote of the day:

Anyone gullible enough to swallow the story the taping of the Key-Banks tea party last week was inadvertent, as the Herald on Sunday claimed? The reality is Sunday tabloids don’t cover events other media attend during the week, unless they can get an exclusive. And the only way to get an exclusive of the tea party was by way of subterfuge. But you have to admire the HoS brazen effrontery in claiming it had acted ethically. And how about those politicians who in one breath said it would be illegal to tape a private conversation, and, in the next, said John Key was panicking in filing a complaint with the police? Trans Tasman

Whether or not people are swallowing the story, the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll shows the issue hasn’t done much damage to National  and has done nothing to help Labour.

It also shows that the vandalism of National’s signs by a now-former member of the Green Party hasn’t cost it any support.

The poll had National dropping a point to 53%, Labour down to a 10-year low of 26%, the Green Party up to 13% and, thankfully, New Zealand First on only 2.2%.


The trouble with volunteers

June 12, 2011

Whaleoil has come across Labour Party  emails, finan­cial details, party plan­ning infor­ma­tion and mem­ber­ship data among which is the minutes of a meeting of Labour North which say:

The meeting was reminded of the successes and achievements of the LN collective – in fundraising and public meetings. The role of the office and MP were clarified, noting these add value to the collective, and to use Parliamentary services for best outcome for the LP.

The Herald On Sunday asked MP Darien Fenton, who was at the meeting about this:

She said minutes of meetings were taken by volunteers and could contain errors.

However, she conceded that there had been pressure to use the Parliamentary staff member for party business.

“It has been an area of tension. It is an ongoing discussion with them about how we protect the role of the staff member and the MP. . .”

The trouble with volunteers is that they do sometimes get carried away with their enthusiasm and they might make errors.

However, MPs should be very well aware of the very clear division between what Parliamentary Services staff and funds do on behalf of constituents and what a party and its members do for political ends.

An MP who was taking part in campaign discussions should have left the meeting and the minute taker in no doubt at all that Parliamentary Services had absolutely no role in any outcomes for the Labour Party.


Jon Morgan wins Rural Women ag journalism award

October 21, 2010

Jon Morgan from the Dominion Post has won Rural Women New Zealand’s 2010 award for  journalists who highlight acheivements of rural women.

He was commended for writing stories which shine a spotlight on rural issues for a largely urban readership.

The Runner-up for the award was Liz Brook, who writes for Central Districts Farmer.

“We set up the award with the Guild two years ago to encourage greater balance in rural journalism,” says Rural Women New Zealand National President, Liz Evans. 

 “It is rewarding to see more articles being written about women in rural communities achieving extraordinary things, both in farming and in the general rural environment. 

Morgan’s winning stories were: Sweet smell of lambing success and Unlocking women’s rural skills .

Brooks winning stories were: Beefing up the meat industry and Staying true to the land and to God.

These awards were announced at the Guild of Agricultural Journalist’s annual dinner. Other winners were:

BNZ Partners’ Rongo Award recognising excellence in agricultural journalism: Richard Rennie,  for a portfolio of articles which appeared in NZ Farmers Weekly and NZ Dairy Exporter, focussing on issues around the possible sale of the Crafar farms to overseas interests.

Runner-up: the team from NZX Agri’s Country-Wide monthly newspaper, for a series of 12 articles entitled Prime Movers, largely the work of journalist Sandra Taylor.

 BNZ Partners ‘ Farm Business Writing Award: Sandra Taylor, for two articles in the Prime Mover’s series which appeared in Country-Wide.

 AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture: Jon Morgan.

 Horticulture New Zealand Journalism Award, set up last year to recognise excellence in agricultural journalism focussing on New Zealand’s horticulture industry: Jon Morgan. 

 AGMARDT Agribusiness Award, which recognises high quality information about and effective analysis of national, global and other agribusiness: Herald On Sunday journalist, Maria Slade.

Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award, for a single photo that illustrates a rural event or activity – agricultural, horticultural, industry, human interest, on farm / off farm, or any activity reflecting life or work in rural New Zealand: NZX Agri journalist and photographer, Marie Taylor.

The Guild’s own award, designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or fewer years reporting on agricultural issues, The Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award: Blair Ensor of the Marlborough Express.


Country can’t afford what teachers deserve

September 19, 2010

I spent a year at Teachers’ College during which the most important lesson I learned was that I would be a bad teacher.

I also learned to appreciate and value good teachers.

I agree they deserve to be paid more but the country can’t afford what they’re seeking and contrary to what teachers’ unions would have us believe not all teachers are good.

Quite why they think teachers are different from every other group where you have a spread of ability is beyond me. If they seriously believe their own propaganda and don’t realise that some teachers are spectacularly good, a few are spectacularly bad and the rest are somewhere between they must be on another planet.

That might also explain their insistence on seeking salary increases well beyond the country’s ability to pay.

They say they’re underpaid when compared with other OECD countries but so are the rest of us and as Kiwiblog points out a more useful comparison would be between pay rates and GDP:

In Australia 3.5% of GDP is spent on non-tertiary education, and in New Zealand it is 4.0%. So we are already paying more as a percentage of GDP, than Australia. Hence the solution is to increase GDP, not to increase the share spent on education.

Only three OECD countries spend a higher percentage of GDP on non-tertiary education than New Zealand.

He followed that up with these figures:

The OECD doesn’t seem to have up to date average wage data for NZ, but there is good data on GDP per capita. So let’s compare teacher salaries to GDP per capita. Taking a primary teacher with 15 years experience, the data is:

  • Australia $46,096 salary vs $38,911 GDP per capita = 118% ratio
  • UK/England $44,630 vs $34,619 = 129%
  • France $31,927 vs $33,679 = 95%
  • Luxembourg $67,723 vs $78,395 = 86%
  • US $44,172 vs $46,381 = 95%
  • NZ $38,412 vs $26,708 = 144%
  • OECD $39,426 vs $35,138 = 112%

So in fact New Zealand is paying primary teachers with 15 years experience far more, compared to our national wealth, than the OECD average, and than Australia, the US, UK, US, France etc.

Even if ones takes secondary teachers with 15 years experience, NZ at 144% pays far more relative to national wealth than even Luxembourg.

Picking up on this Kerre Woodham reckons teachers are unpatriotic and the Herald On Sunday says teachers aren’t doing too badly.

That doesn’t mean they couldn’t be doing better. They could, and given the importance of the job they do, they should. But not until economic growth improves enough to make their claims affordable.

Even then, they’d have a much stronger case if they accept that different teachers have differing abilities. The good ones deserve more money, others need more help to improve, or they should accept, as I did,  they’re not good enough and find another job.


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