It’s only one poll

October 14, 2019

The slide has started:

The age of Jacindamania is over. Brand Ardern has taken its biggest knock yet – and when Labour’s magic weapon loses its power, the party does too.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows just how wounded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Labour have been after the string of crises that have beset them.

Labour was the only party to lose support in Newshub’s poll. It’s now on 41.6 percent – smacked down by 9.2 percent.

Most of that went to National, which is on 43.9 percent – up 6.5. This is enough to overtake Labour, and that’s manna from heaven for the Nats and leader Simon Bridges. . .

It’s only one poll,  has a margin of error of 3.1%, and remember the last Newshub-Reid Research Poll, had National much lower and Labour much higher than the TV One poll that came out the same night.

On this result Labour and the Green Party could still form a government and National and Act would be a couple of seats short.

But while Party support ebbs and flows the trend is more significant, and this echoes other polls which show Labour losing support.

And support for the Prime Minister tends to peak and then fall.

Personality matters but it doesn’t pay the bills and while warm words are well received they can’t counter the fact that the year of delivery has been one of disappointments.


Coalition unravelling?

October 10, 2019

Barry soper thinks the coalition cardigan is beginning to look a bit threadbare:

Governments, since coalitions were forced on us 23 years ago, are a bit like – and just as scary as – the Fair Isle cardigan mum used to knit for you to keep you snuggly during winter.

Catch a thread on a barbed wire fence though and they begin to unravel – and with the current Beehive crop their red, black-and-white and green cardie is starting to look motley. . . 

He takes a look at the last two weeks: Shane Jones doing his vote seeking rant then doubling down with threats of utu against those who complained; that was followed by leaks from New Zealand First disgruntled members.

Then came the dropping of the electric vehicle target and next:

But the red yarn simply wouldn’t knit with the green when it came to Labour ministers rightly giving the Greens’ Eugenie Sage the bird when it came to her rejection of a company buying land to extend its gold-mining operation in Waihi. . . .

This coalition cardigan’s now beginning to look a little threadbare.

That was before yesterday’s report on Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway’s handling of  Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek’s residency case:

The Heron review found that the INZ processes were adequate but could be improved.

It said that Ministers applying absolute discretion may have limited time and did not usually receive free and frank advice on deportation cases – though Ministers were also free to take more time and seek further information.

“It is obvious to state that a process which allows a Minister to make a quick decision on a complex case with as little as an oral briefing and no advice is fraught with risk,” the review said.

The risk could be mitigated if more decision-making was delegated to experienced experts, which would keep the Minister “above the fray”. . . 

Except that there is no requirement for a Minister to make a quick decision and Minister’s are paid to make careful, reasoned decisions.

Heron said it was also risky for the Minister to make a decision “without receiving any advice or recommendations and without any verification of the reliability of the information”.

“This process puts both the Minister and INZ at risk. Whilst Sroubek is an unusual case, it does provide an example of the manifestation of that risk.

“The grounds contained in the case file summary were understood by most to be sufficiently powerful such that the original decision of the Minister was unexpected.” . . 

Unexpected is bureaucratise for wrong.

If the case file summary made a sufficiently powerful case it’s the minister who’s at fault, not officials and not the system.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she still had confidence in Lees-Galloway.

“These are complex cases and I think the Heron report rightly suggests the whole process needs to change, because both Immigration New Zealand and Ministers were carrying too much risk.”

Ministers are paid to carry risk.

That she maintains confidence in him reflects very poorly on both her judgement and leadership.

This ought to have been a sacking offence but with the coalition cardigan looking so threadbare she can’t afford any more dropped stitches, or dropped ministers.


Threats & hypocrisy

October 2, 2019

Fresh from a gentle slap on the wrist from the Prime Minister for his vote-for-us-or-else comments, Shane Jones was threatening utu:

Shane Jones has a stern word of warning for foreign-owned forestry companies looking to undermine him: “Political utu is a dish best served cold”.

He said the people who tried to undermine him would learn this lesson closer to the next election. 

Is he not expecting to be a minister closer to the election that he thinks thinks he can say something then his role prevents him from saying now?

Jones made the remarks after he was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister for trying to solicit votes for NZ First at the Northland Forestry Awards. . . 

But now Jones is firing back. He wants the attendees to know he’s aware of who they are, and their relationship to the National Party. 

“They were playing a dangerous game,” Jones said.

“I know them. A handful work for international forestry companies,” he said. 

“It is wrong for overseas-owned forestry companies to have their staff briefing the media and using the same language as the National Party against me.” . . .

This is appalling for any MP, let alone a Minister, and what makes it worse is the hypocrisy.

His one billion trees policy is encouraging forestry and, while making it all but impossible for foreigners to buy land for farming, the government he’s part of is making it easier for them to buy farms to plant in trees for forestry.

 


Open and transparent?

September 30, 2019

When Jacinda Ardern declared hers would be an open and transparent government this probably wasn’t what she was meaning:

Controversial Cabinet Minister Shane Jones told a forestry awards ceremony they needed to vote for him or miss out on the billions he’s handing out for provincial growth, it has been alleged.

One person present labelled Jones’ comments as an inducement to “bribery” and another thought the minister – responsible for forestry and the $3 billion provincial growth fund – was “buying votes”.

But Jones says New Zealand can expect him to remind it over the next 12 months that votes for New Zealand First are needed to ensure it continues to fulfil promises in its coalition agreement with Labour.

“When you get a retail politician like myself – a son of the north – you’ve never going to take the politics out of the politicians.” . .

There’s politics and there’s politicking and then there’s blatant vote-for-us-or-else which looks very close to bribery.

Another person who paid close attention to Jones’ speech said he was angry and shocked at the political approach.

“Some of the things he said I didn’t particularly like. [It was] he had this big pot of gold so make sure you keep voting for me. There were direct comments along those lines.”

A third person who objected to Jones’ comment said it detracted from the intent of the evening, which was to celebrate excellence in forestry.

“It should never have been a political rally, which is what he made it. He was saying ‘if you don’t vote for me, you won’t get any share of the billion dollars’. He said you’ve only got a few months of me here, so you’d better vote.

“It’s just bribery. I thought that was pretty disgusting.”

Another person present said: “It wasn’t a political forum. He didn’t do himself any good. He just made a complete idiot of himself.”

Those interviewed did not want to be named, citing the influence of Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund and concerns speaking openly could have a personal and financial impact. 

Whether it was meant as a threat or not, these people have not only interpreted what Jones said as vote-for-us-or-else, they’re scared about the consequences of speaking out.

What he said is bad enough. That he said it so openly is worse. It shows that he thinks he’s immune from any censor by both his leader and the Prime Minister that ought to follow this behavior but won’t.

Reacting to the Herald piece, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Jordan Williams said:

“This is truely banana republic stuff.  A Minister telling an industry sector that they need to pony up with support, or else lose taxpayer funded lavish.”

”It is shocking, and belongs in Namibia, not New Zealand.”

“Even for Shane Jones this is breathtakingly shameless.  This not only sours the reputation of the current Government, it sours the reputation of our whole political establishment.  It is pork barrel politics in its true meaning.”

“Taxpayers are relying on the Prime Minister to prevent Shane Jones dragging us down the transparency indexes.  Now is the time for her to show whether she demands western democracy standards of her Ministers, or whether her junior coalition partner wields the true power and can do what they like with public funds.”

Sadly the junior coalition partner does wield the true power and its members not only can and do do what they like with public funds, at least one is open that they’re vote-buying with them.


Eco-anxiety exacerbated by emotion not facts

September 25, 2019

Parents are being told not to terrify children over climate change:

Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”, experts have said, as they warn parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe.

Protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the recent fires in the Amazon and apocalyptic warnings by the teenage activist Greta Thunberg have prompted a “tsunami” of young people seeking help. . .

The Cold War and spectre of nuclear obliteration hung over my generation but I don’t recall being terrified by apocalyptic reporting like that which we’re getting on climate change.

A group of psychologists working with the University of Bath says it is receiving a growing volume of enquiries from teachers, doctors and therapists unable to cope.

The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) told The Daily Telegraph some children complaining of eco-anxiety have even been given psychiatric drugs.

The body is campaigning for anxiety specifically caused by fear for the future of the planet to be recognised as a psychological phenomenon.

However, they do not want it classed as a mental illness because, unlike standard anxiety, the cause of the worry is “rational”. . .

Is it rational or is the problem that a lot of the reporting in mainstream media and more so what’s spread by social media is more emotion than science?

Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg rose to global fame this year as she supported the protests by Extinction Rebellion, which brought parts of central London to a standstill.

Thurnberg argues that the EU must cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2030 to avoid an existential crisis – double the target set by the Paris Accord – while Extinction Rebellion demands the UK achieve net-zero emissions by 2025. . .

What’s the science behind those claims and more importantly where’s the science in response?

The CPA recommends a four-stage approach to explaining responsibly climate change to children without scaring them.

Parents should first gradually introduce them to the known facts, then ask them how they feel, before acknowledging that the ultimate outcome is uncertain.

Finally, parents should agree practical steps to make a difference, such as by cutting down on non-recyclable waste and choosing food with a better climate footprint. . .

Where’s the science that proves recyclable is any better than non-recyclable?

Where’s the promotion of nutrient density in the carbon footprint equation for food that, for example, proves real milk is far better than the highly processed pretenders and that New Zealand Milk is best of all?

Where’s the promotion of practices that would make a real difference?

But how can we blame psychologists for spouting solutions based on emotion not science when our own Prime Minister is making promises contradicted by her government’s policies?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit that New Zealand is “determined” to be the most sustainable food producer in the world. . .

“We are determined that New Zealand can and will play our part in the global effort,” Ms Ardern said. . .

New Zealand farming is already the most sustainable in the world.

When the Prime Minister told the United Nations (UN) she was determined for New Zealand to be the most sustainable food producer in the world, she should have realised that we already are, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The Prime Minister told the UN Climate Summit that ‘We are determined to show that New Zealand can and will be the most sustainable food producer in the world.’ When really she should have been promoting the fact that our primary sector is already the most sustainable food producer by some margin.

“New Zealand farmers have made massive gains over recent decades and continue to stay ahead of the pack in terms of efficiency and sustainability. In the last 30 years we’ve managed to produce more sheep meat from 32 per cent fewer sheep due to improvements with enhanced breeding mixes and enhanced lambing percentages.

“Our dairy products are so much more sustainable that a litre of New Zealand milk shipped to Ireland, the next most efficient producer, would still have a lower emissions profile than Irish milk produced locally.

“If the Prime Minister supported lowering emissions she would be promoting our primary sector on the world stage, and encouraging people to eat New Zealand produced food.” . . .

Playing our part in the global effort would be encouraging more food production here, not decreasing it by encouraging forestry on land best suited to pasture and other policies which would decimate farming at a high environmental, economic and social cost.

Playing our part would be following the Paris Accord’s stipulation that climate change mitigation would not come at the expense of food production.

Playing our part would be backing science not exacerbating ‘eco-anxiety’ with words and policies based on emotion not facts.


Property rights matter to all

September 24, 2019

Who’s standing up for property rights?

The Government’s handling of Ihumātao has shown it has no respect for property rights, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. 

“It’s been eight weeks since the Prime Minister told Fletcher Buildings it had to stop developing much needed houses on land that it owns. Since then, Fletchers has not been invited to be part of negotiations. It’s had to sit on the side-line as others have tried to take away its rights.

“It has set an appalling precedent for a Prime Minister to insert herself into the business of a private company and prevent it from building 480 much needed houses.

Does the Prime Minister even have the right to tell a company it can’t go about its lawful business on its own land?

“No wonder business confidence has plummeted when the Prime Minister shows such blatant disregard for businesses and property rights.

“It doesn’t matter where in the world the Prime Minister is, it’s time for her to set the record straight. She needs to tell the protestors to go home, make it clear that the Government won’t be spending taxpayers’ dollars on buying the land and rule out any sort of deal.

“This matter doesn’t concern her. It’s time to butt out and give Fletchers back the land they legally own.”

Jacinda Ardern’s interference has done nothing to solve the problem. It’s made it worse.

If the government gives, or loans, the Iwi anything at all towards purchasing the land, it will open up the opportunity for every other iwi to renegotiate what were supposed to be full and final Treaty settlements.

Worse than that, it has sent a very clear message it doesn’t respect property rights which are a fundamental building block of democracy.

Private property was exempt from treaty settlements for a very good reason. The wrongs treaty settlements were to compensate for were started when Maori property rights were ignored in the past and could not be righted by infringing other people’s, including those of Maori, in the present and future.

Property rights matter for everyone and it is well past the time when the Prime Minister’s interference in Fletchers’ right to exercise theirs must stop.


Rural round-up

September 22, 2019

So farmers and businesses have ‘nothing to fear’ according to Ardern? – Henry Armstrong:

When the debate on a Capital Gains Tax was in full swing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely quoted as assuring farmers and small business owners that if a CGT were to be introduced, they had nothing to fear.

The productive sector and indeed most New Zealanders, quickly saw through this disingenuous claim and made their views known. The Ardern-led government quickly dropped that proposal-at least for now.

It seems the Ardern-led government learned nothing in the process. . . 

Under-siege farmers must engage – Alan Williams:

Sheep and beef farmers are under pressure on several regulatory fronts but still need to engage in the process, South Canterbury farming leader Mark Adams says.

“It’s really important that individual farmers get into this arena that they’re not comfortable in to convey their views and situations to the people making the decisions. 

“Those people need to hear from farmers on the ground.” . . 

Partnerships build success – Colin Williscroft:

Hard work, careful planning and a strong business focus helped George and Luce Williams win the 2019 Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year Award but, as the Tinui couple told Colin Williscroft, it’s been a team effort.

Well used to analysing their on-farm performance George and Luce Williams are forever grateful to the many other businesses that contribute to their farm’s smooth operation.

The Williams run Grassendale Genetics, a 1570ha (1040ha effective) farm on challenging hill country on Wairarapa’s east coast.

Though the location might be seen by some as isolated the couple have tapped into a community of talented rural and urban people to help build the strength of their business. . .

Award winners encourage entrants – Yvonne O’Hara:

Simon and Hilary Vallely are passionate about dairying.

They encourage those with a similar enthusiasm to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland/Otago regional competition. Entries open on October 1.

The couple, who won the 2018 Southland/Otago regional Share Farmers of the Year competition, are 50/50 sharemilkers near Gore with 490 cows and have a 210,000kgMS target. They also have bought land to raise beef animals as an investment.

The Vallelys recently became the new regional managers for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, taking over the role from Darren Stenning. . .

‘Geogastronomy Club’ plan on menu – Hamish Maclean:

A forthcoming “Geogastronomy Club” proposal will outline what club members will need to commit to and what the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust can offer as benefits in return.

Waitaki District Council spokeswoman Lisa Heinz said a steering group would draft the proposal based on discussions at June “geogastronomy” workshops in Oamaru.

“The current mission is to tell our story through the sense of taste about how our land, soil, water and local artisanal creativity make Waitaki produce unique,” she said. . .

Time to grow the farmer not just the farm? – St John Cramer:

We talk a lot about capital gains but it’s time we spoke about the human capital of our farmers. Our farmers are resilient, hard-working, resourceful people who do the best with what they have but is this hard work ethic getting in the way of the working smarter ethic?

Farming isn’t getting any easier so we need to become smarter because sitting still isn’t going to work.

The level of complexity and compliance farmers now face can be cognitively challenging for anyone. . . .

Study: White Oak Pastures’ beef reduces atmospheric carbon:

Will Harris is many things to many people. To chefs and foodies, he is a legendary farmer producing some of the world’s best pasture-raised meats infused with the terroir of south Georgia. To athletes, body-hackers, and health-conscious consumers, he is the owner of White Oak Pastures, which ships humanely-raised, non-GMO, grassfed proteins to their doorsteps. To the communities surrounding Bluffton, Georgia, he is one of the last good ole’ boys and the largest private employer in the county. To his colleagues in agriculture, he’s a renegade and an inspiration. But Will Harris’ legacy might turn out to be something else entirely. He may be remembered as the cattleman who figured out how to enlist cows in future generations’ struggle to reverse climate change. . .

 


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