Rural round-up

06/12/2020

B+LNZ has ‘farmers’ backs’ over new rules:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has “farmers’ backs” and will not stop advocating for them over the controversial freshwater rules.

In an update to farmers, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker in the past couple of weeks and it would seek meetings with Climate Change Minister James Shaw and newly appointed Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

“Our focus has been on changes to the essential freshwater rules, making progress on the certified freshwater farm plan, holding them to their promises on issues like carbon farming and asking for a pause on new environmental rules. We’re also collaborating with other industry groups on these issues,” Mr McIvor said.

Farmers had identified three key issues with the freshwater rules, including arbitrary resowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops which many farmers were not able to meet because of climatic and soil conditions. . .

Fruit growers ‘doing their best’ to hire suitable NZ workers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers are rubbishing claims they’re turning down New Zealanders for local fruit picking work as they would prefer cheap foreign labour.

It follows union concerns that plenty of people are applying for jobs, but are waiting weeks for replies if they get them at all.

Orchard owners have been calling for the government to allow in more seasonal workers from Pacific countries to help with the summer fruit harvest.

Stephen Darling runs Darlings Fruit in Ettrick, Central Otago, growing mainly apples and apricots. . .

New chair of Safer Farms and two new directors announced:

Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) co-founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms’ since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people. . . 

GO NZ: Waitaki Valley girls’ weekend – hiking high country wine region – Anna King Sahib:

Getting high in the Waitaki back country, hot-tubbing and gin – all the ingredients for a great girls’ away weekend, writes Anna King Shahab

A couple of days in the Waitaki Valley, inland from Ōamaru provided the chance to follow the footsteps of those who farm our food, and to taste the fruits of the country’s youngest wine region.

Our girls’ weekend away had been built around a simple, wholesome concept: a walk on the farm. We’d booked in with new guided walk operator Sole to Soul Hiking – the passion project of Sally Newlands Juliet Gray, best friends making a living on neighboring farms in the Hakataramea Valley, a 50-minute drive inland from Ōamaru. The impetus of Sally and Juliet’s business is to share the numerous benefits they experience daily when walking the high country they farm – a workout, yes, and also a connection with the land and environment, an awareness of where and how our food is raised, and a chance to practise mindfulness. . . 

Silver Fern Farms celebrates Plate to Pasture Award winners:

Coromandel beef producers Brent and Kara Lilley have received the Silver Fern Farms 2020 Plate to Pasture Award for their exceptional consumer focus.

The Awards, now in their 7th year, celebrate suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply quality stock and produce food with the consumer front of mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, Shareholding, Supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. . .

A dairy solution to Australia’s out of control feral camels – Denise Cullen:

Australia has the biggest feral camel population in the world, but one farmer is working to change public perception of this ‘pest’.

Ten years ago, Australian cattle grazier Paul Martin decided that he couldn’t stand to see another camel shot.

In the 1800s, camels were shipped to Australia from the Middle East, India and Afghanistan to help open up the country’s vast remote interior. They were later released into the Australian wilderness en masse with the advent of mechanised transportation.

With their energy-storing humps, broad toes that support their weight on sand and ability to eat 85 percent of even tough and thorny vegetation, they were perfectly suited to the dry, desert conditions which make up more than one-third of the continent.  . . 

 

 


Political doesn’t have to get personal

11/12/2019

The first editor I worked for kept telling his reporters, people sell papers.

He was encouraging us to get a personal angle on stories because people like to read about people and relate better to stories with people.

It’s advice that can apply to some aspects of politics. Those making policy should consider the impact it will have on people, not just those at whom the policy is aimed but those who it will affect, including those who will pay for it.

Like the editor, politicians know the power of the personal and use people, real or imagined, to sell their own policies and to criticise those of their opponents.

Personalising politics in that way should always be done with care. It can backfire, as it did when the couple paraded at the launch of one of the first KiwiBuild homes was found to be better off than many would consider in need of government assistance.

It can be tempting to turn a disagreement on issues and policies into personal attacks on the people promoting them, but it is a temptation best resisted, as should criticising people for carrying out their roles just because we don’t agree with their politics.

Regardless of whether we voted for her, regardless of whether we support her, the PM is the PM of New Zealand and acting as such, not as leader of the Labour Party, not as leader of the government, but leader of the country, in her response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

Just as any recent Prime Minister, regardless of his or her political colour would have.

Just as Anne Tolley, is doing all  she can and should as the local MP.

People throwing mud at them over this should remember that it sticks to the hand that throws it and that attacking someone personally means, as Margaret Thatcher said, that the attacker has not a single political argument left.

 

 

 


So bad so soon

19/06/2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Leaders’ debate

04/09/2017

 


Bill’s proven most capable

25/08/2017

A Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS poll shows people think Bill English is most capable of running the government.

English, the National Party leader and Prime Minister, is streets ahead of the newcomer and he has improved on his ratings in the Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS poll.

English was rated most capable by 45 per cent compared with his rating of 41 per cent in July.

Ardern was rated the most capable by 32 per cent, a huge improvement on the 10 per cent that former leader Andrew Little got last month. . .

The PM’s leadership is proven.

His first time as National Party leader came too early. He learned from that, put his head down, worked hard for his constituents in his electorate and brought data-driven innovation to his portfolios. He proved his worth as Finance Minister and Deputy PM through very difficult times and has continued to perform well as PM.

On the other side there’s someone who couldn’t unseat Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central, which was once a safe Labour seat, has had less than a year as an electorate MP, and a very few weeks as a party leader.

Would you put someone with less than two months leadership experience in charge of a school, hospital, any business or organisation?

Why would we risk the country with someone so unproven?

 


One week two taxes

10/08/2017

It’s just over a week since Jacinda Arden took over as leader of the Labour Party and she’s already announced two new taxes.

The first was a fuel tax :

The Labour Party might have changed its leaders but where it wants to take New Zealand hasn’t changed, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says.

“By resurrecting a decade-old idea of charging Aucklanders another tax it’s now clear why they had to abandon the “fresh approach” line,” Mr Joyce says.

“Regional Fuel Tax was Labour Party policy back in 2007 and it has been rejected by voters many times since then. It’s about as tired as R&D tax credits.

“Labour would make Aucklanders pay at least another 10 cents a litre every time they fill up their tank and that’s just for starters. That would have a real impact on the cost of living for hard-working Aucklanders.

“And it would probably spread around the country. Last time around, Wellington and Canterbury were lining up for regional taxes too. There is also no national price so fuel companies could easily transfer the cost to motorists around the country.” . .

The second is a water tax.

 A Labour-led government would implement royalties for bottled water, irrigation schemes and other commercial uses, leader Jacinda Ardern told the Environmental Defence Society’s annual conference in her first major policy speech on environmental policy since becoming party leader last Tuesday.

Drinking water, stockwater for farms, and ‘non-consumptive’ uses such as hydroelectricity generation would not face the charges, which would be set following a national conference of affected industries and water users within the first 100 days of the new government, Ardern said. . .

What happens when irrigation water is also used for stock?

Why is water for stock to drink seen as a more virtuous use than water to grow grass for stock to eat?

Farmers are understandably worried:

Pledges from Labour to consult on a “proportionate and fair” royalty for irrigation water have eased the concerns of farmers – but only by a tiny margin.

They remain terrified by the potential impacts on farming families, rural communities and the entire economy.

Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said consultation is welcome “but talking won’t allay the fears of farmers of where this could go”.

The Federation remained opposed to any royalty on irrigation water, especially when it remains unclear what purpose it would serve, other than adding another tax.

“At least Labour appears now to be proceeding with caution, recognising the considerable risks. They’ve promised that if they are part of a new government, deciding the levels of any royalty on commercial use of water will be preceded by consultation.”

Mr Allen said the 10 cents a litre figure some had bandied around would bankrupt farmers and cripple our export competitiveness and regional economies. Even one thousandth of that figure, if that’s a level Labour has in mind, would be “eye-watering” given the volume of consumptive water use.

“With any royalty, farmers and growers would have little choice but to pass on the extra cost, if they could, meaning New Zealand consumers would pay more for food, and our products would be at a disadvantage against imports.”

Farmers recognised some positives in the Labour policy announcements. They would applaud that riparian planting would qualify for carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme, “but we hope this is not a hint of a policy announcement to come on including animal emissions in the ETS”.

And the idea of activating young people who are out of work to join water quality improvement projects is worthwhile.

“That will get young people out on the land and more familiar with the farming sector, and they’ll get to experience – and help with – the large amount of environmental enhancement work farmers are already doing.”

But the whole exercise of adding a new tax on water, even if the revenue is shared with regional councils for water quality work, “is counter-productive, and a money-go-round with administration costs added in.

“Farmers are working hard to live within the limits imposed by environmental standards and the desire by all New Zealanders – farmers included – to clean-up water quality hot-spots.

“Adding an extra cost in the form of a water tax drives a perverse incentive for farmers to intensify their activity, and deprives them of income that at worst puts them out of business and at best leaves them with less money to spend on environmental protection work.”

Labour has pledged to consult, and Federated Farmers would take that opportunity, Mr Allen said.

“If we can get round a table with them, we’ll be able to talk them through all the downsides of what they’re proposing in a rational way. This needs to be done without the distraction of a general election.”

Federated Farmers believes an important principle is that if there’s to be a charge for commercial use of water, it should be paid by all, with no room of discrimination.

“If you’re going to be stupid enough to bring this in, it’s got to be fair.”

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said Labour’s proposal to introduce a water royalty for commercial water users would be difficult and require extensive consultation around the regions.

. . .“Within a farming business, just like any business, commercial water rates already apply. Our farmers also pay for access to irrigation, and access to water on their land through council consents. Water royalties could potentially duplicate these costs.

“Labour earlier hinted that such a levy wouldn’t result in a cost increase for farming, but without a robust conversation about how their water royalty policy will work we can’t know exactly how this would affect dairy farmers.” . .

Horticulture NZ says “Let’s not do this“:

“Extra costs on growers of fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables will make healthy food more expensive,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“This seems incongruous with policies around alleviating poverty and the benefits of healthy eating to reduce the economic burden of secondary health issues as a result of obesity.

“Horticulture New Zealand supports sound, consistent water policy to support efficient use of water and we have issued our own such policy (available here).

“But we do not support a blanket tax without due consideration of New Zealand’s water priorities as a nation. These priorities must include water for drinking, sanitation and food production.

“Today’s statement does not provide sufficient detail about Labour’s intentions, which should be made clear prior to the election. We don’t feel it is enough to say that if Labour forms the next Government, there will be a conversation about water within the first 100 days.

“There is already the Land and Water Forum which has been working on the wider issues of water allocation, rights and use for some time.

“Horticulture is a rapidly growing industry, contributing significantly to the economic wellbeing of New Zealand. Our vision is healthy food for all forever. We do not want to see the cost of fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand, supporting local economies and providing jobs, pushed up higher than the cost of imported or processed food. We do not believe the long-term outcomes from a blanket water tax would benefit New Zealanders.”

The Taxpayers’ Union says a water tax shouldn’t pick and choose:

“Picking and choosing who pays what ‘water tax’ and changing the tax rate based on its use, is economic silliness,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union

“In principle, a case can be mounted for charging users of water. However, Labour’s proposal seems more focused at the users, than the actual use.”

“If Labour is genuine in charging a ‘fair’ amount for water, why hasn’t it backed tradable permits for water? That’s a far more efficient, fair, and environmentally beneficial system than royalties payable by some users.”

“Jacinda Ardern comparison to royalties on oil and gas is a bit silly. Labour’s water royalty policy is akin to saying, they’ll charge oil drillers if the oil is used to make asphalt, but not if it’s used for plastics. Our point is that a water royalty should treat industries the same – rather than pick and choose.”

“The most disappointing thing about today’s announcement is that it’s really just another tax on business and entrepreneurship.

With the Treasury swimming in money, Labour should be explaining how it will lower the tax burden to get Kiwi businesses ahead – not saddling industry with even higher tax bills.”

Taxing water for bottling will be popular with voters even though a tiny amount of available water is involved and there’s a danger of it being regarded as an export tariff.

But why tax water for bottling unprocessed but not the water that is processed into beer, wine and other beverages? Or will the spring water at Speights be taxed too?

Taxing irrigators might be popular in some places until the consequences become apparent – higher costs for milk, meat, fruit and vegetables.

But popular isn’t necessarily good and the water tax is unfairly targeting a small number of businesses, most of which are in Canterbury and Otago.

Most of these will have fenced and planted waterways and already be doing everything else they can to protect and enhance water on or near their farms. It is unfair and unreasonable to take money from them to clean up other people’s messes elsewhere.

It is especially unfair for those of us who have to adhere environmental farm plans which are independently audited each year, where the only problem with nearby water is E.Coli from seagulls and where we pay the costs of water to provide environmental flows in the Waiareka Creek.

Some of the money would go to regional councils the rest would be absorbed into the consolidated fund, to be used for Treaty settlements, where there is no need for it.

The government is forecasting surpluses for years ahead, there is no need for any new taxes unless there are compensatory cuts elsewhere.

The water tax is Labour’s attempt to hide its economic profligacy under environmental camouflage.

Two new taxes in one week prove that the party has a new leader but nothing else has changed including its tax and spend policies.


%d bloggers like this: