Closed and opaque

December 6, 2019

Didn’t Jacinda Ardern promise to lead an open and transparent government?

That promise has been broken again:

Labour’s decision today to block the request of former New Zealand First President Lester Gray and former Treasurer Colin Forster is the Government covering up serious allegations of financial impropriety of its coalition partner New Zealand First, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says.

“There was no good reason for blocking these senior New Zealand First officials from being heard at the Justice Select Committee on electoral law. They sought the hearing because they had serious concerns about the failure to disclose major donations, unauthorised campaign expenditure and concerns over the New Zealand First Foundation.

No-one with any knowledge of running a political party and election campaign could believe that a party could do that on membership subs, members’ fund raising and donations under the disclosable amount alone.

If the way the NZ First Foundation has been used to funnel donations is within the law then the law must change.

“They were fearful of speaking publically with threats of legal action and the Justice Committee provided a safe place for them to disclose their knowledge of what has occurred.

“Labour is part of a cover up in denying the Committee and New Zealand the opportunity to hear their concerns.

“These issues in New Zealand First go to the heart of our democracy and the result of Election 2017. New Zealanders have a right to know who were the financial backers of the Party that was decisive in the 2017 Election outcome.

We also have a right to see if any dots can be joined between those backers and NZ First policy.

“New Zealand First was the only Party that did not disclose the source of any donations and it had 10 times the value of anonymous donations of any other Party at Election 2017. It has also been revealed since that $500,000 was secretly contributed to the New Zealand First Foundation.

“Labour’s denial to allow senior New Zealand First officials to submit to the Justice Select Committee makes a joke of the Government’s commitment to be the most open and transparent Government ever.

“There could be nothing more important than the transparency of the source of funding for the Party that ultimately determined the Government.

“This is deja vu of the New Zealand First funding scandal that led to the defeat of the last Labour Government. Labour has learnt nothing and is continuing to cover for New Zealand First’s shady dealings.”

The failure to deliver open and transparent government joins a growing list of this administration’s record of rhetoric unmatched by action.

This government is closed and opaque and its MPs’ veto of  NZ First’s former office holders to be heard is another brick in the wall between its promises and delivery.


Not so popular

December 3, 2019

There is little doubt that Jacinda Ardern’s leadership enabled Labour to gain enough votes in the 2017 election to cobble together a coalition government.

Her fans among the commentariat would have us believe her popularity is unquestioned.

But over at Kiwiblog David Farrar has the numbers that tell a different story:

    • Governing Party – Clark Labour 45%, Key National 55%, Ardern Labour 39%
    • Opposition Party – English National 39%, Goff Labour 33%, Bridges National 46%
    • NZ First – 2001 2.7%, 2010 3.1%, 2019 4.0%
    • Greens – 2001 6%, 2010 4.5%, 2019 7.0%

And how is the PM as Preferred PM

    • Clark 2001 41%, Key 2010 56%, Ardern 2019 36%

Popular yes, but not as popular as her predecessors.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2019

Pressure on Jacinda Ardern over water quality amid farmer well-being concern – Pattrick Smellie:

Suddenly, farmers’ mental health is in the news again.

It’s not sensationalist or alarmist. It’s a fact.

A growing number of farmers are feeling massive personal pressure from several directions, with the greatest source of that pressure being felt as the Government’s agenda to make agriculture contribute to cleaner water and climate change action.

It may not be totally rational. Global prices for our key agricultural commodities are currently high and include a very healthy-looking dairy payout in the season ahead. Export returns are further assisted by a weak Kiwi dollar. . .

2020 Zanda McDonald Awards finalists announced:

Things are heating up for the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award, with one Australian and two New Zealanders announced today as the three finalists for the 2020 trophy.

The trans-Tasman award is widely seen as a badge of honour in agriculture, recognising passionate and outstanding young professionals working in the sector.

The 2020 finalists are Dr Elle Moyle, 29, from Victoria, Jack Raharuhi, 27, from Westport NZ, and James Robertson, 22, from Auckland NZ. The three were selected from a shortlist of six applicants, who were interviewed by the judging panel last month in Wellington. . .

“Farmers barely covering interest costs’ – Westpac boss David McLean :

Some heavily indebted dairy farmers are barely covering their interest payments despite relatively strong prices for several seasons, Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean says.

“The ones who’ve got more leverage, most of those are still covering their cost of production but some of them are close to the edge,” he says.

“Their interest cover isn’t that great – there are a lot of farmers who are doing it tough and there’s not a lot of buffer.” . . 

Dairy prices should bring some cheer as bankers get tougher on farmers and govt further burdens them – Point of Order:

The sun  may be shining  again  on  NZ’s  dairy industry:  spirited  bidding  at  the latest    global  dairy trade  auction  backs  up Fonterra’s move  last  month to  lift the  projected  payout  range to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.

The  average GDT  price  rose 3.7% to $US3446 a  tonne,  with the  key products  WMP up  3.6%  to $US3254, and SMP  6.7% to $US2924.

WMP prices, after dipping mid-year, have remained above the important $US3000/tonne level since July.  ANZ  in a market commentary   noted the auction outperformed expectations. Futures prices have steadily lifted since the previous GDT event in October. . . 

BioBrew delivers probiotic technology to support dairy farms:

CalfBrew improves profitability while reducing the need for antibiotics and other problematic synthetic inputs.

A small NZ company, BioBrew Ltd, has developed a novel approach to probiotics that delivers a very strong ROI and increases the sustainability of NZ dairy farms.

Developed with the assistance of Lincoln University and with funding from Callaghan Innovation and the Sustainable Farming Fund, CalfBrew delivers the finest probiotic technology available. CalfBrew improves profitability while reducing the need for antibiotics and other problematic synthetic inputs. . .

Meet the winners of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019:

A Canterbury business creating a high-value, top-dollar future for merino wool has won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019, leading a stellar list of category winners.

Based in Christchurch, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited is an integrated sales, marketing and innovation company for merino wool, and the world’s leading supplier of ethical wool through its accreditation brand, ZQ Merino.   

The company aims to help transform merino wool from a commodity into a high-value fibre, working with brands to create unique design-led and R&D-based products that incorporate merino wool, and in turn helping growers to get better returns. . .

 


Home and away

November 4, 2019

More than a third of New Zealanders think the Prime Minister is too focused on overseas.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll asked New Zealanders: “Is the Prime Minister too focused overseas?”

    • Most said no: 55.3 percent
    • But more than a third think Ardern is too overseas-focused: 35.9 percent
    • Even some Labour voters agree: 14.3 percent. . .

One of a PM’s roles is international relationships and overseas travel is part of that.

My criticism isn’t the time she spends away and her international focus per se, it’s that there are too many problems at home on which she doesn’t appear to be focused and which she either isn’t addressing or is addressing poorly.

Here’s just one example:

All her year of delivery is delivering is disappointment.


Rural round-up

November 3, 2019

Forestry conversions rules ‘totally out of control’ – Kate Newton:

Wealthy European buyers have snapped up four more sheep and beef farms to convert to forestry, as rural concerns over the sales ramp up.

Overseas Investment Office (OIO) decisions made in September and released today show the sales total more than 2200 hectares of land previously owned by New Zealanders, in Gisborne, Wairoa and Whangarei.

The new owners plan to plant 1600 hectares of the land as commercial forests.

Austrian count Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg, who purchased two other sheep and beef farms for forestry conversion in August, is the purchaser of two of the latest properties. . .

Farmers given breathing space on ETS but stress remains – Jo Moir:

The government’s “world-first” agreement with farmers on emissions means some farmers are grateful for the breathing space, but for others it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the agreement with farmers last week, putting agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme from 2025 – with a 95 percent discount rate.

Ms Ardern said the plan would give farmers autonomy over their own businesses. . .

Flying under the rural radar – Colin Williscroft:

The Women of Influence Awards often recognise women who contribute a lot but are not household names and this year’s rural winner fits that description, as Colin Williscroft found out.

Environmental planner and independent Resource Management Act hearings commissioner Gina Mohi was recently named the rural winner in the Women of Influence Awards.

The judges praised Mohi’s work balancing competing tensions around the productive use of land while having appropriate measures in place to manage environmental and cultural impacts on natural resources. . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Annual appointment for a trim but it’s no beauty treatment – Tracy Roxburgh:

Ladies, picture this if you will.

It’s been a long, cold winter and along with the extra layer of insulation you’ve acquired on your body, you’ve decided, to help keep yourself warm, to instigate a self-ban on your regular beauty therapy appointments.

But the sun actually has warmth in it now.

And very soon everyone’s going to be walking around in their next-to-nothings (undies, undies, togs, undies) so it would behove you to, well, sort yourself out.
Like, ASAP if not sooner. . .

 

North Canterbury farmer to represent New Zealand in Switzerland:

A young North Canterbury man will represent New Zealand at an international gathering of dairy farmers in Switzerland.

Robbie Wakelin, 28, has been selected to attend the 15th World Holstein Friesian Federation Conference in Montreux.

He was one of a record 17 people who were vying for the fortnight-long trip, which is being funded by Holstein Friesian NZ.

“It’s a really humbling experience to have been selected to be part of the New Zealand delegation,” he said. . .

 


Carbon Zero still sabotaging farming

October 22, 2019

The Zero Carbon Bill has returned from the Select Committee without science-based changes:

Controversial biological methane targets in the Government’s much-touted Zero Carbon Bill remain unchanged, despite strong lobbying from both environmentalists and farmers.

After months of scrutiny from MPs from both sides of the political aisle, the environmental select committee today released its much-anticipated report on the Zero Carbon Bill.

It shows the legislation’s original commitment to reducing biological methane – greenhouse emission from cows and sheep – by between 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, remains in place.

This is despite intense lobbying for the targets to be fixed, not at a range, at either 24 or 47 per cent. . .

National is not happy. Its environmental spokesman Scott Simpson said not nearly enough of the bill had changed. . . .

Simpson said the 24-47 range not changing created uncertainty for industry players.

“It is too high given the current level of technology available to farmers to make meaningful reductions to biological methane.”

He said currently, the only way farmers can reduce this type of biological methane is by reducing their stock count. . .

Reducing stock numbers would come a high financial and social cost for at best no environmental gain and at worse a loss as our less efficient competitors increase production to fill the gap.

It also goes against the Paris Accord which stipulates climate change mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The Government unveiled the Zero Carbon Bill in May this year with much fanfare; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a “landmark” piece of legislation.

“New Zealanders have demanded it – and today we delivered it.”

Do those who have demanded it understand the consequences and the cost of undermining food security in this way?

Do they understand they are demanding significant cuts in export income with all the hardship that will follow that?

Do they understand they are demanding steep increases in the price of food?

All the government is delivering is a flawed Bill that will take us on a pathway to misery.

 


Delivering disappointment

October 18, 2019

This was supposed to be the government’s year of delivery.

David Farrar posted this on Kiwiblog a couple of days ago and got pushback from a Minister’s office:

A Minister’s Office has said that there has in fact been 149 million trees planted. The official policy is to include trees planted by the private sector as part of business as normal. They are correct this is the official Government position today but neither the pre-election policy or the coalition agreement stated the billion trees would include other plantings. In fact the coalition agreement says:

A $1b per annum Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund, including … Planting 100 million trees per year in a Billion Trees Planting Programme

That very clearly implies they would find 100 million trees a year, and has nothing about including non-funded trees that would occur regardless of the Government.

So I stand by my position that the Government promised to fund one billion trees and has only funded 2.5% of that to date.

This shifting of goalposts is typical of the government. They’ve done it with police numbers too.

The Government has shifted the goalposts in its promise to deliver more frontline police after what seems like a slip of the tongue by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

It promised to “strive towards adding 1800 new police” over three years but in a game of semantics, it is now saying it will deliver 1800 new trained recruits by next month.

The move has drawn the ire of the Police Association who say it is not good enough and that the Government has broken its promise to police. . .

The Government has insisted that 1800 extra new officers was never a target, but an aspiration. . .

Not a goal, but an aspiration.

That’s the government summed up in six words and the result is a year of delivering disappointment.


%d bloggers like this: