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.  . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

03/11/2020

50 Shades of Green disappointed James Shaw retains Climate Change portfolio:

The conservation group 50 Shades of Green is disappointed that James Shaw has retained his climate change portfolio.

“While we have nothing against Mr Shaw personally, we believe the portfolio needs a fresh perspective,” 50 Shades of Green chair Any Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and planting good farmland in trees while we extol the virtue of protecting and increasing our biodiversity.

“It’s nothing more than a feel-good factor and will achieve nothing positive. We’ll continue to pollute, and the climate will continue to get warmer. . . 

China has vowed to cut its reliance on foreign food imports. What could that mean for NZ agricultural exports? – James Fyfe:

With China vowing to cut its reliance on foreign food imports in the coming years, experts say while New Zealand exporters shouldn’t start worrying just yet, they should start thinking ahead and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Leaders from the world’s second-biggest economy met earlier this week to lay out a five-year plan for the country. Among the priorities identified was to have a “lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductors and other key technologies,” the Associated Press reported.

With China a massive buyer of New Zealand agricultural exports, more self-reliance could have a direct impact on farmers and growers here.

Trade expert Charles Finny, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says China is an “enormously important market” for New Zealand, twice the size of our next-largest market, Australia.  . . 

Alliance weathers the year’s many challenges – Sally Rae:

It is more important than ever for Alliance Group to invest in Southland in the wake of uncertainty over the future of Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The company was committed to Southland and it had spent significant money at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, in the last couple of years, Mr Surveyor said.

That included spending $12.5million to install the latest processing technology — including new generation primal cutters, middles and fores technology — a major engine room upgrade, and reconfiguration of its venison plant so it could also process beef . . 

New Zealand’s little-told Far North wild horses story :

In 2012 Kelly Wilson’s family saved 12 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter and then two years later they had their TV  show Keeping up with the Kaimanawas when they successfully tamed another 12.

Kelly appeared on the TV series with her sisters, Vicky and Amanda, and has also written four best-selling books about horses.

An adventurer who “loves anything to do with an adrenalin rush”, she enjoys ice climbing, scuba diving and snow boarding wherever she is in the world.

“But a lot of my time now is invested into wild horses and both photographing them in the wild and then taming them first-hand and then writing the books about them.”   . . 

Swings and roundabouts – in defence of animal source foods :

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or?

It seems the religion of old is out the door in favour of belonging and identifying with a food camp, whether it be vegan, plant-based whole food, carnivore, flexitarian, keto or paleo, and it seems there are some people who sit in judgement of those who don’t adhere to their food religion. However, the food agnostics amongst us don’t want to jump on this bandwagon, and quietly prefer to not put a label on it, and simply follow a balanced diet. 

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or? . . .

Mountain Blue Orchards grows from farm and nursery to a globally integrated business – Michelle Hespe:

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they’ve adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Ridley Bell of Mountain Blue Orchards is considered the grandfather of Australia’s blueberry industry.

By becoming the 2010 NSW Farmer of the Year he feels he was also put on the map for other farmers and for the horticulture industry in general.

“The awards opened up whole series of different networks and supports,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

08/10/2020

Changes just don’t add up :

Farmer Jane Smith claims that farmers find comments from David Parker, Damien O’Connor and the Green Party’s James Shaw nauseating.

“This is our licence to operate with our global trading partners and will attract added-value premiums,” she says.

“This lacks any metric or rationale,” says Smith. “We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.”

This is a topic of discussion Smith often has with offshore peers around the Global Farmer Roundtable.  . . 

Critic calls for major investigation into freshwater reforms :

Award-winning, environmentally-focused farmer Jane Smith wonders whether she’s farming in North Otago or North Korea.

She is calling for a full review into the process behind Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Fresh Water National Policy Statement – particularly around the recent legislation for winter grazing practices and land use categorised solely on slope.

“The public have been sold a sanitised version of the truth and are going to pay an unacceptable price for what I suggest is effectively an abuse of legislative power,” she told Rural News.

While Smith is opposed to the punitive regulations in their current form, it is the process that she is challenging – rather than the outcome itself. She says her time in a myriad of governance roles have shown the importance of transparency in procedure behind every decision.  . .

Fonterra sells farms in China to reduce debt get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant  Fonterra  has  scooped in  $555 million by selling  its   China  farms  and is now aiming to unload   its yogurt business, a partnership with Nestle, located in Brazil, as  it  pursues  its  strategy of seeking  greater value, rather than volume,  in its  business.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell   conceded  the  China  farm  business

“ … has  been a tough journey for us along the way, we had to take an impairment to that asset in 2019 and again in 2020 so certainly they haven’t been as operationally effective as we would have liked.  That said, we have made significant progress of late and that’s put us in a better position to sell these assets.”

Fonterra  is  expected    to  use   the proceeds to pay  down  debt  which under  Hurrell’s  watch  has  already been trimmed  in the past year  to $4.7bn  after  peaking at  $7.1bn.  . . 

Lift in sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of retaining WTO tariff quota:

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases. . .

New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle lands on shelves:

Anchor has added to its Blue range, with a new 2L bottle made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material

    • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which research indicates is increasingly important to consumers.

Anchor is set to launch New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle which is 100% kerbside recyclable, and aligns with Fonterra’s commitment to have all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Anchor Blue 2L in the new plant-based bottle will land on shelves across New Zealand’s North Island from October 13th. And while it’s still filled with the same fresh NZ dairy milk from Fonterra farmers – the bottle is made from sugarcane. . . 

Stahmann Farms plants close to 40,000 more pecan trees at Pallamallawa property near Moree – Sophie Harris:

Trawalla has well and truly cemented its place as the largest pecan nut farm in the southern hemisphere, with close to 40,000 more pecan trees planted at the Pallamallawa property in north west NSW over the past few weeks.

A total of 39,000 pecan trees have been planted on 195 hectares of Trawalla’s neighbouring property, Long Creek, over the past five weeks. 

This brings the total number of trees in the ground on Stahmann Farms’ Pallamallawa operation, including Trawalla, Red Bank and Loch Lomond, to 150,000. . . 


Rural round-up

06/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture has become ‘political football’:

Regenerative agriculture has become “a bit of a political football” lately, and people need to regain perspective, Director and Management Consultant for Baker Ag Chris Garland says.

Farmers who practise regenerative agriculture were “sincere about what they’re doing”, and Garland thought they may be feeling “a bit overwhelmed” by the attention it had received lately.

Last week Environment Minister James Shaw was interviewed by The Country’s Jamie Mackay about the Green Party’s agriculture policy, which focused on moving New Zealand to organic and regenerative practices.

Garland heard the interview and accused Mackay of “whipping it into a bit of a frenzy”, although he did admit the Green Party co-leader didn’t really understand regenerative agriculture. . . 

Picture of snow costs to emerge – Laura Smith:

This day-old Southland lamb survived this week’s weather bomb, but most farmers around Southland are still working out the cost of the snow.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young said while some lamb deaths were normal, the snow would have affected the numbers — particularly in high country and foothills where lambing had just begun.

It was too early to tell how many died as the snow was only just clearing, he said.

“It was dry snow and that is not nearly as severe on young lambs as very heavy persistent rain.” . . 

Office to orchard, why these Kiwis are making the move to primary sector – Caitlin Ellis:

New Zealanders are switching the office for the orchard and the cockpit for cows in a bid to stay working following the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has reported a 60 percent increase in people receiving jobseeker benefits compared to this time last year in its quarterly labour market report. 

The report presents the state of the labour market in the March 2020 quarter in which the number of unemployed people rose by 5000 to 116,000. The current unemployment rate is 4.2 percent and economists are predicting a rise to somewhere between 5 to 6 percent. . . 

Lime business helps expand biodiversity – Yvonne O’Hara:

Following some trial and error, plus a little experience, a new nursery programme beside a lime mining site at Browns, near Winton, has germinated about 10,000 native seedlings in its first year.

The 480ha AB Lime site also has a 950-cow, 380ha dairy farm, with a neighbouring 70ha of native bush, including 13ha of wetlands, under restoration.

AB Lime environmental field officer Ainsley Adams said the ultimate goal was to translocate kakariki and South Island robins back into the area.

People would be able to see the dairy farm, native bush and wetlands at a field day hosted by the Mid-Oreti Catchment Group on October 8.

“We want to showcase what we are doing.” . . 

Fonterra sells China farms:

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners.

Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited (Youran), has agreed to purchase Fonterra’s two farming-hubs in Ying and Yutian for $513 million (RMB 2.31 billion*1).

Separately, Fonterra has agreed to sell its 85 per cent interest in its Hangu farm to Beijing Sanyuan Venture Capital Co., Ltd. (Sanyuan), for $42 million (RMB 190 million*1). Sanyuan has a 15 per cent minority shareholding in the farm and exercised their right of first refusal to purchase Fonterra’s interest.

CEO Miles Hurrell says in building the farms, Fonterra has demonstrated its commitment to the development of the Chinese dairy industry. . . 

Wildfire ravaged this rancher’s cattle and maybe his family legacy. He blames politics – Anita Chabria:

Dave Daley stood recently on the edge of a barren ridge and bellowed out a guttural cry meant to call his cows home — if any remained alive after the North Complex wildfire decimated this national forest.

It was a long, mellifluous chant that sounded like “Come Boss,” taught to him by his own father and, he thinks, maybe originating with the genus of the species he hoped to find, Bos taurus, domesticated cattle.

When the sound finished bouncing off the far hills, miles across a plunging valley where the Feather River meandered into Lake Oroville, he waited in a silence so deep it can be made only by absence — of animals in underbrush, of leaves for wind to rustle, of life — hoping to hear the clanking of the bells each of his animals wears. But the silence held.

“You can replace a house,” he said, his voice hoarse and sorrow crinkling the sun-baked lines around his eyes, their color a pale green-brown that mirrored the scorched pine needles nearby. “You can’t replace this.” . .


Rural round-up

18/09/2020

Dr Doug Edmeades responds to Green Party agriculture policy:

The Green Party’s plan to help Kiwi farmers transition from traditional agriculture to regenerative and organic practices is a bit redundant, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

Most farmers are already using many regenerative agriculture practices, such as rotational grazing, and zero tillage, the soil scientist told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“Let’s not delude ourselves that if we follow RA, we will improve soil health, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve water quality – that’s nonsense.”

Edmeades listened with interest to yesterday’s interview with Green Party co-leader James Shaw, where the Minister said regenerative agriculture would result in better profits for farmers. . . 

‘This just cannot happen’: $9.5 billion at risk as horticulture sector struggles to fill $25-an-hour jobs – Bonnie Flaws:

The shortage of horticultural workers due to Covid-19 border restrictions is putting $9.5 billion of the country’s economy at risk, says New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard.

About 10,000 seasonal workers would be needed starting from next month to prune and pick $1 billion worth of fruit across Hawke’s Bay alone, he said.

The shortage had the potential to cripple the region’s economic recovery.

“This just cannot happen.” . . 

Fonterra set to return to profit, but will it pay a dividend? – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s annual result this week is expected to show that the dairy giant is back in the black, but will it pay a final dividend?

The co-op last year posted a net loss of $605 million, driven mostly by writedowns of its overseas businesses, dwarfing the previous year’s shortfall of $196m, and sparking a major change in direction.

Fonterra did not pay a dividend in its previous financial year but in its latest earnings update, it said it would reassess a payout at the end of the latest year to July 31. . . 

The future of food – Greg Bruce:

Most of New Zealand’s lowland areas are now devoted to food production. How we produce food for consumption, sale and export continues to shape our landscape and lives, but the 90 per cent of New Zealanders who live in cities have little contact with those processes and the social and environmental considerations they create.

Can farmers improve yields and use resources more efficiently? Can consumers reconnect with the land and farm practices to make more informed choices and reduce waste? What is the future of our food?

THE LATE MAY EVENING my wife and I went to Coco’s Cantina for dinner, it was appallingly cold, probably the coldest night of the year. I wore a long black double-breasted wool coat, which I call ‘The Aucklander’ because it so obviously marks me as a stereotypical city person, which I am—lacking DIY skills, any sort of self-sufficiency, and any idea of what it takes to survive without a supermarket within easy driving distance. . .

Ewe’ll be seeing spots with quintuplets – Daisy Hudson:

You could be forgiven for thinking you were going dotty.

Sue Rissman certainly did when one of her ewes delivered five spotted black and white lambs on Sunday.

The quintuplets, four girls and a boy, seemed perfectly unaware of the interest in them yesterday as they trotted around after their mum on the 21ha lifestyle block Mrs Rissman and her husband, Grant, own inland from Palmerston.

The pair have 47 ewes, which have overwhelmingly delivered twins and triplets. . .

Two farming families form state of the art dairy business :

Two farming families from the Conwy Valley in Wales have gone into a partnership to run as a single state-of-the art dairy business.

The families decided to join together for a better work-life balance, more stock, less pressure and the prospect of new opportunities.

Young farmer Emyr Owen, 30, from Bodrach, near Pandy Tudur, farms in partnership with his parents on a 185-acre former beef and sheep farm.

He joined up with his next door neighbour Gwydion Jones, 38, whose family formerly farmed a herd of 150 dairy cattle at the neighbouring 95-acre Ty’n Ffynnon farm.. . 


Rural round-up

15/09/2020

Fears for harvest as seasonal workers locked out by Covid-19

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing a serious seasonal labour shortage as the reality of Covid-19 sinks in.

The horticulture and viticulture sectors in Hawke’s Bay need about 10,000 seasonal workers to work across the region starting from next month.

They expect there will be a significant shortfall of people for the upcoming season – which will affect harvest time the most.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said if the fruit was not picked, thousands of permanent jobs would be at risk. . . 

Green Party’s agricultural policy ignores basic science:

The Green Party’s agriculture policy is based on a mistaken understanding about the environmental impact of livestock farming FARM spokesman Robin Grieve said today

James Shaw attempted to justify his Party’s policy to price livestock emissions on his belief that livestock produce half New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. The science and the facts about ruminant methane emissions do not support that.

FARM was set up to present the facts about ruminant methane and the Green Party policy demonstrates how much the facts and the science of ruminant methane emissions are missing from the political debate about global warming. . . 

Farming passion through a lens – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A love of capturing a moment in time through the lens is helping a Manawatu farmer reach her goal of 50:50 sharemilking. Cheyenne Nicholsonreports.

Six years ago Renae Flett combined her love of farming with her love of photography to create her photography business Renae Flett Agri and Events Photography.

Her photos feature in farming magazines and agricultural marketing campaigns, and she has shot several weddings, maternity shoots and everything in between.

“I love to take photos of anything farming. I love farming. It’s my passion just like photography, so being able to combine the two makes me pretty lucky, (and) it’s all grown pretty organically,” she says. . . 

 

Fonterra targets community support where it’s needed most:

Fonterra is taking a new approach to how it provides nutrition to communities, to better reach those most in need across New Zealand.

CEO Miles Hurrell says, as a New Zealand farmer owned co-op, with employees spread right across regional New Zealand, Fonterra is part of many communities.

“We’ve taken a good look at what the country is facing into, particularly in the context of COVID-19, and asked if our current way of doing things is supporting the people who need it most.

“We can see there’s a need for us to expand our thinking and take a more holistic approach that reaches more people – which is why we’re making these changes,” says Mr Hurrell. . . 

New Zealand hemp industry set to generate Hemp $2 billion per annum and create 20,000 jobs:

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs.

Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association (NZHIA) for the government to take the shackles off this burgeoning ‘wellness’ industry.

“We are well behind other countries in our attitude to hemp,” says NZHIA Chair, Richard Barge. “Although it is non-psychoactive, many of our current laws treat it as though it is. This report highlights just how short sighted those laws are in economic terms, and how out of step New Zealand is with the rest of the world.” . . 

Lower North Island butchers sharpen up for competition:

Butchers from across the lower North Island sharpened their knives and cut their way through a two-hour competition in the regional stages of the 2020 Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition.

It was a close call, but after a fierce competition Braham Pink from Evans Bacon Company in Gisborne placed first in the Alto Young Butcher of the Year category and Jacob Wells from New World Foxton, claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.

This was the first regional competition in a national series to find New Zealand’s top butchers to compete in a Grand Final showdown in November. The lower North Island contestants put their boning, trimming, slicing and dicing skills to the test as they broke down a size 20 chicken, a whole pork leg, and a beef short loin into a display of value-added products. . . 

 


Just wondering

03/09/2020

Just wondering:

Why did James Shaw decide the Taranaki Green School was of sufficient merit to prompt him to issue an ultimatum?

. . .Newshub has obtained an email that went to Government ministers and the Treasury from Shaw’s office and it included a stark ultimatum.

“Minister Shaw won’t sign this briefing until the Green School in Taranaki is incorporated.”

The email said Shaw discussed the ultimatum with the Education Minister. 

“Minister Shaw has also discussed this one with Minister Hipkins.

“Sorry to be the spanner-in-the-works, but if we can get the project included, he’ll sign everything this afternoon,” the email said. . . 

Just wondering:

After all the dead rats he and his party have had to swallow in contravention of their policy in the last three years, why on earth would he make such a strong stand over  this?

Just wondering:

Who leaked the email, and why?

Just wondering:

Why did the other Ministers give in to the greenmail?

Just wondering:

What does it say about a party leader who didn’t remember his party’s policy against all state funding of private schools and what else has he forgotten about his party policy?

Just wondering:

If he’ll read this from the Villa Education Trust:

There are more reasons for dismay than immediately strike home with the Green School $11.7million debacle.

Plenty has already been said about the “greenmailing” of James Shaw over signing off on the rest of the $3 billion. The hypocrisy of the move. The passing the buck by the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education. Etc. We then had Chris Hipkins – Minister of Health, Education, State Services and Leader of the House – reverting to nonsense around Charter Schools and stating that at least the Green School kids won’t be learning in shipping containers.

The first missed point of despair is that the entire response to this spend from the perspective of other schools has been around property. One question you can always ask the Boards of dilapidated schools is how have managed their maintenance budget over the last 12 years. If they are honest you will get a range of answers. The second point is that our genuine crisis in education is student achievement and it is not highly correlated to the buildings they learn in (within reason of course). We have gone educationally insane of we think that flash buildings with close the MASSIVE U.E. gaps for Maori and Pasifika (compared to Asian and European) and reverse the decline against international measures. The NCEA results have already started to slide after 2 years under Labour. With the amount of absenteeism currently happening and the level of online engagement for many this year’s results could be a massive disaster for marginalised groups. However – educators are prepared to make a spectacle of themselves for spouting and a dab of paint.

What’s more important, flash buildings or student achievement?

The injustice our Villa Education Trust feels is around a second hidden effect. In the Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025, Minister Hipkins acknowledged “one in five children and young people need some kind of extra support for their learning. This might be because of disability, learning difficulties, disadvantage, physical or mental health or behaviour issues” and “New Zealanders want an education system where all children and young people can take part in education and can learn and achieve, whatever their needs.”

In the Plan, Minister Hipkins goes on to say “This Government has a vision for an inclusive education system where every child feels a sense of belonging, is present, makes progress, where their wellbeing is safeguarded and promoted, where learning is a lifelong journey, and where children and young people with learning support needs get the right support at the right time.”

During 2019 we took the Minister at his word – as we are – according to all external reviews (e.g. “In summary we find and conclude that in both schools, the management and staff are actively involved in continuous development, and the delivery, of a unique programme of teaching and learning which is based on a comprehensive ‘local’ curriculum that is aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum, and which provides for the personalised needs of priority learners ‘many of whom have been failed by the current education system” Cognition Education) Hence we proposed to close our small private school and open a non-zoned, 240 student State Designated Character School, near a transport hub for a wide range of Auckland families to access. The Prime Minister had told the country she wanted more options like this and the “work was being done.”

Our school community has been exceptionally poorly treated by Ministry through a process that, so far, resulted on July 7th with Hipkins saying “no” with him blaming his officials and his officials blaming him.

So – while 25 students benefit by $11.7 million at The Green School … 240 students per year with diverse needs will miss out. To rub salt in Minister Hipkins publicly mocked our efforts in the House yesterday. Class, kindness and compassion.

This whole debacle illustrates the problem with politician’s making individual funding decisions:

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling for the abandonment of grant decision making by politicians and Cabinet committees, and a return to the tradition of these being made by officials using objective and transparent criteria.

The following can be attributed to Jordan Williams, a Spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union:

“The spectacle of politicians horse-trading individual funding decisions is something we expect to see in smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear, not a modern day New Zealand with a reputation of being corruption-free.”

“The Provincial Growth Find, and now the COVID ‘shovel ready’ fund, are normalising a process of decision making that rewards companies which are politically connected. It is a dangerous path.”

“Steven Joyce reintroduced the sort of corporate welfare largess not seen in New Zealand since the Muldoon Government. But instead of fixing the problem, the current Government has doubled down and we have now returned to politicians making funding decisions for individual projects and pet causes.”

“Enough is enough. Now we are seeing the warts and all flaws in the process, New Zealand should return to a transparent process of the politician’s job being limited to setting criteria and objectives, and leaving it to officials to make the individual grant decisions.”

There is a case for Ministers to have a role when decisions are finely balanced.

This wasn’t.

Treasury opposed the grant:

The Treasury advice to Shaw and the others ministers who signed off on hundreds of projects for infrastructure investment says the Green School does not have “full private school registration” and would be unlikely to get that until mid 2021.

“We believe it would be inappropriate to announce or provide government funding for a project that does not yet have the necessary education approvals,” the advice says.

Furthermore, it says even if it had the “necessary” approvals, “we do not recommend funding for this school”.

Treasury also objected to the project being overseen by the Provincial Development Unit saying it was not the “appropriate agency for this school”. . . 

Shaw has accepted responsibility for the debacle but whoever gave into his greenmail is just as culpable.

This isn’t just a waste of money, it’s also a poor reflection on the whole government  its processes and priorities:

The murky brinksmanship revealed in the decisions to fund the Green School suggest the $3 billion shovel ready fund is operating like a slush fund by the Government, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Grant Robertson needs to come clean about the deals being done between Ministers. How is it that one Minister could hold up shovel ready projects unless the Green School was signed off?

“It’s clear the Government doesn’t have its priorities in order. These projects are supposed to be about investing in infrastructure to create jobs and grow our economy.

“But the impression left is that the shovel ready fund is operating as yet another $3 billion slush fund with different projects carved out by Government parties for their political wins.

“No matter how hard he tries, Grant Robertson cannot wipe his hands of this decision. He is the Minister of Finance, it is his job to make sure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely. Instead he signed off on a private school receiving millions of taxpayer dollars.

“With the scale of debt-fuelled Government spending right now, it is more important than ever that the Government demonstrates to New Zealanders that decisions are made on the basis of need and effectiveness rather than ‘wins’ for different Government parties.

“The whole episode makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claim there is no politics in Covid.

“The Government can’t claim ignorance, Treasury told it not to give any funding to the Green School because it didn’t have the full education approvals needed for a private school.

“Grant Robertson needs to front up and explain exactly what happened and why he’s allowing himself to be held to ransom by his own Associate Minister of Finance.”

Just wondering:

Does Grant Robertson need reminding of his own words: that every dollar the government pays out is being borrowed?

Just wondering:

What were the merits of the ‘shovel ready’ projects that were put forward for grants and missed out?

It would be difficult to believe that at least some didn’t have a much better cost-benefit ratio than this one.


Science when it suits

01/09/2020

Federated Farmers is pleased the Green Party has called for us all to embrace science:

Federated Farmers couldn’t agree more with the call from the Green Party today that science should guide the policies and decisions of MPs.  

“They issued the challenge in relation to the recent positive COVID-19 cases in Auckland but as a party that should be interested in consistency and logic, we look forward to the Greens also applying this ‘listen to the science’ principle to issues such as genetic engineering technologies and methane emissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.  

In a press statement headlined ‘Greens call for continued commitment to science from political leaders’, co-leader James Shaw said in the wake of the new cases of COVID-19 from community transmission “… now is the time to band together as a country, be directed by the science, and back good decision making”.    

Policy should be backed by science and that should support good decision making all the time, not just in relation to Covid-19.

This is spot on,” Andrew said.  “Science also tells us that unlike the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, biological methane from New Zealand’s farmed livestock does not need to be reduced to net zero to have no additional effect on global warming. 

“A reduction of 10-22% by 2050 is sufficient, yet the  climate change legislation put in place by the government has a much harsher, non-science based target which will only add extra significant economic costs and undermine the competitiveness of our meat and dairy in the international market.”  

Environment Commission Simon Upton told the government that forestry could be used to offset biological methane but not emissions from fossil fuels and Shaw ignored him.

The Greens have been similarly science obtuse in relation to GE.  

“Gene editing technologies have huge potential in our fight to be predator-free, to deal with pest plants such as wilding pines, and to develop new types of grasses that will lead to ruminant animals emitting less methane. But the Greens appear to have had a closed mind on GE, despite scientists such as Sir Peter Gluckman endorsing the need to debate and embrace these technologies,” Andrew said. 

The opportunity cost of New Zealand’s stubborn policy toward GE will only increase as the exciting technology continues to mature, leaving New Zealand worse off and offering an increasing competitive advantage to other countries. 

Opposition to GE is usually based on emotion not science.

All we are asking is that consumers and producers are empowered to make their own decisions on the technology, rather than being hamstrung by restrictive regulations that ignore the best available science. 

 “The Greens’ new professed enthusiasm to be guided by science is most welcome,” Andrew said. 

If only the Greens acted on Shaw’s call. Unfortunately the party only supports science when it suits it.


Waka jumping Act on way out

30/07/2020

The Waka jumping Act is on its way out:

The Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill has passed its first reading, marking one step closer to Parliament getting rid of NZ First’s ‘waka-jumping’ legislation, National List MP David Carter says.

“I’d like to thank the Greens for voting for this legislation. They have reasserted their values as a Party that stands up for free speech, and we look forward to working with them further to make sure this Member’s Bill passes.

“No credible democracy should ever have given the power to Party leaders to dismiss elected Members of Parliament because they don’t agree with the Leader.

“It is an affront to democracy. The public expects elected members to advocate strongly without fear of being punished by their Leaders for expressing different views.

“The free mandate of MPs is internationally recognised as fundamental to a parliamentary democracy. There are only a few countries with the draconian power for Party leaders to dismiss MPs, including Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

These are not countries whose attitude to democracy we should be following.

“As I will be retiring at the next election, I have passed responsibility for the legislation to Nick Smith, who shares my passion for good, democratic process.”

The waka-jumping Act was one of many dead rats the Green Party swallowed in return for joining Labour and New Zealand First in government.

It has now spat it out, incurring Winston Peter’s wrath in the process:

New Zealand First has a track record of pulling support for Labour-Green policies at the eleventh hour.

There’s been the capital gains tax, cameras on fishing boats, and more recently light rail from Auckland city to the airport.

Peters said comparisons can’t be drawn between light rail and waka-jumping.

“We did the work on light rail, the costings and the analysis did not back it up.”

He said the Greens’ were breaking their end of the deal.

“They’re signed up to the coalition agreement on this matter for three years and that term does not end until the 19th of September.”

Peters said the Greens can’t be trusted and voters should remember that on election day.

“You cannot possibly be going forward to the years 2020-2023 contemplating a party that can’t keep its word.”

Is this an instruction for his own supporters to vote for other parties?

But Shaw rejected that criticism.

“I think it’s a bit rich for Winston to suggest that we’re not trustworthy when in fact they’re the ones who have been entirely slippery with the interpretation of our confidence and supply agreement.”

Shaw said his party is fed up with New Zealand First not sticking to the spirit of an agreement.

“I would say that in recent times we have learned that it’s the letter of the agreement, rather than the spirit of the agreement, that’s what counts when it comes to New Zealand First.

“So when it comes to the repeal of the party-hopping bill I would say that we have observed exactly the letter of our agreement.”

So is he just playing the same political games as Peters?

“Well I learn from the master,” Shaw fired back.

That the government has held together when the antipathy between these two parties is so strong.

With just days to go before parliament rises for the election, any presence of unity has gone.

 

 


If they don’t trust & respect each other . . .

27/07/2020

The three-headed labour, New Zealand First, Green government was always going to be a difficult one.

It would be hard to find any two parties more mutually incompatible than the two smaller ones.

That they sit in parliament on either side of Labour rather than beside each other which was the normal arrangement for parties in government says a lot.

That the government has held together this long has surprised many.

Could it be the Greens have come to like the diet of dead rats they’ve been forced to swallow? Could it be that Labour got so used to having its policies vetoed by NZ First, that it was prepared to accept no progress as business as usual? Could it be that Winston Peters was so determined to last in government for the first time, staying in became more important than accomplishing much?

Whatever the reason that’s kept the parties together, the cracks in the government are turning into crevasses with the end of term in sight.

Last week the antipathy between the Greens and NZ First got vocal:

. . . Green Party co-leader James Shaw has described New Zealand First as a force of chaos, while Winston Peters has warned any future Labour-Greens government would be a nightmare. . . 

It was Peters who started the war of words at a breakfast speech in Wellington this morning.

“If you want to take out some insurance in this campaign to ensure you don’t get the nightmare government I know you’re going to get, then I suggest you party vote New Zealand First,” he said. . . 

Has he forgotten it was he who gave us this government? To use Andy Thompson’s metaphor, he’s the arsonist who lit the fire, why reward him for helping to put it out?

Shaw was happy to respond.

“Well, I think that the nightmare that he’s got is that he’s not going to be back in Parliament.”

Shaw is known to be quite measured when New Zealand First pulls the pin on policies or puts a spanner in the works, but with the campaign unofficially under way he’s ramping up his own rhetoric.

“My experience of working with New Zealand First as a party in government is that rather than a force of moderation, they’re a force of chaos,” he said. . . 

Anyone who has taken even passing note of NZ First’s history would agree with that.

Peters also admitted stopping an announcement of a $100m Southland rescue package:

. . .He did, however, reveal he told Ardern she was travelling to Southland on behalf of the Labour Party, not the coalition government.

“The prime minister was going down with MBIE [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment] and other ministers to talk about the future of Tiwai Point.

“We had a discussion the night before as to the positions the various parties might take,” he told RNZ.

“The prime minister was very well aware that she could speak on behalf of the Labour Party, but on this matter, not on behalf of the coalition because there was no paper, no agreement, no Treasury analytics to go behind it.” . . 

This is another reminder that in spite of being the minor partner, NZ First, has wielded power far beyond that granted by its voter support.

Apropos of misusing power, last week Peters faced questions over pressuring Antarctica New Zealand to take two of his friends to the continent:

. . .Foreign Minister Winston Peters directed Antarctica New Zealand to give two highly-prized spots on a trip to the icy continent to two women closely linked to one of South East Asia’s richest families. . . 

While denying any impropriety, Peters followed his usual modus operandi by attempting to deflect attention with a rant in parliament accusing several people of leaking information on his superannuation overpayments as a result of his  inability to fill in the application for superannuation properly.

He declined to repeat the accusations outside the protection of parliamentary privilege and all the people named by him denied the accusations.

It is no wonder the other parties in government are showing they neither trust and respect him and his party, feelings that are obviously mutual.

But if they don’t trust and respect each other how can they expect us to?


Rural round-up

15/07/2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Rural round-up

26/04/2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


Taxes for public services, not propaganda

28/02/2020

How would you feel about the tax you pay funding a political party?

An email from the Taxpayers’ Union explains:

The Government are gearing up to use Winston Peters’s and Jami-Lee Ross’s donation scandals to justify replacing electoral donations with taxpayer funded political parties.

Here’s a different idea for cleaning up political donations, which is similar and more cost-effective than taxpayer funding: obey the law.

It’s that simple.

The law is clear. If there is a problem it is politicians and parties not obeying it, and possibly the powers the Electoral Commission has to ensure they do.

Taxpayer funding wouldn’t solve that.

Politicians should let the Serious Fraud Office do its job, instead of exploiting the situation to get their hands on more of your money.

Just this morning, the Greens were on Radio New Zealand calling for reform. Labour’s friendly activists have been in the media calling for the same. And it’s no pipe dream: the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said she’s keen on the idea.

Oh yes. These parties never let an opportunity to try to get taxpayer funding for themselves go by.

James Shaw says “We have a donor-driven democracy, and we’ve got to get rid of that.” That’s code for the Greens taking your money.

Democracy is supposed to be of the people, for the people, by the people; not of the politicians, for the parties, with the people’s money.

It’s not donors funding parties that’s the problem, it’s too many parties with too few members and supporters. That would only get worse if parties could rely on taxes rather than members and supporters for funds.

We pay taxes for public services, not propaganda. 

In a democracy we have to accept governments that gain power legitimately spending taxes on policies we don’t support. We should not have to support our taxes going to support parties, whether or not we support them and what they stand for.

Taxpayer funding for political parties cements the status quo and makes it even harder for new political parties, or groups outside of Parliament, to hold politicians to account.

State funding would also negate the need for parties to build broad membership bases. This is particularly important under MMP because nearly half our MPs are elected through party lists, rather than directly by voters. Taxpayer funding would let parties ignore their members’ views when selecting candidates.

Taxpayer funding would also make it even easier for parties with very few members to thrive.

Like MPs’ pay increases, taxpayer funding of parties could come from nowhere, and be passed through Parliament very quickly. That’s why we need your financial support now to ensure there is a strong voice ready to campaign against these proposals.

The Greens and Labour could try to campaign on taxpayer funding.

That would almost certainly ensure they wouldn’t be returned to government with the power to make that happen.

You can donate to the Taxpayers’ Union to help them campaign against this and other abuses of public funds by going here.

 

 


Rural round-up

31/08/2019

Farmers’ efforts to be rewarded – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef sector will soon learn if it is carbon neutral while the Government moves to let farmers offset their emissions.

Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker believes some sheep and beef farmers are probably carbon neutral given their areas of native bush and tree plantations but they are not formally recognised.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is asking his officials how existing carbon sequestration on farms can be recognised.

“The Government wants to see a system where positive choices farmers make that are good for the climate are recognised. . . 

Targets missed – Hugh Stringleman:

So will axe swing on Fonterra staff?

Dairy farmers and Fonterra unit investors must be prepared for more bad news from the co-operative on September 12 when the 2019 annual results are disclosed.

The directors and the senior management team have not yet achieved the major targets set by then-interim chief executive Miles Hurrell a year ago.

They were to reduce debt by $800 million, to reduce operating expenses to the level of 2017 and to achieve a return on capital of at least 7%.

His nominated target date was July 31 this year for the debt reduction and July 31 next year for the opex cuts and ROC. . . 

Research: old age in rural New Zealand:

A new study reveals what our oldest of old people need to be able to live independently in small rural communities.  In a first, research carried out by AUT shows what people aged over 85 (our fastest growing older adult group) most need to be able to confidently get to and from opportunities to socialise.  Lynn Freeman speaks with research lead Professor of Well-being and Ageing at AUT Stephen Neville.  The research is published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Wellbeing. . . 

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater to be saved every day :

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater (about the same as 18 milk tanker loads) will be saved every day thanks to the development and installation of a ground-breaking reclaimed water system at the local Fonterra site.

The site team came up with an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, says the water-saving initiative is a testament to the Pahiatua team’s innovative and can-do approach to sustainability.

“Pahiatua is already Fonterra New Zealand’s most water efficient site, and some clever thinking has taken it to the next level.” 

Simon Gourley is The Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Simon Gourley for taking out the prestigious title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019. Simon was representing Central Otago and is Viticulturist at Domaine Thomson.

This is the second year running the trophy has been taken down to Central Otago and the third time in total since the competition started in 2006. Annabel Bulk won the competition in 2018 and Nick Paulin in 2011.

Congratulations also goes to Ben Richards from Indevin in Marlborough who came a very close second. . . 

 

How does a vegetarian defend beef? – Zinta Aistars:

Here’s how Nicolette Hahn Niman shoots down the arguments against eating beef.

One doesn’t usually think of eating as a political act, let alone a revolutionary one, but for many, what lands on the dinner plate not only provides nourishment, but also has become a means for saving the planet. What should and should not land on that plate and how it gets there is where the controversy, and the politics, begin.

Kalamazoo native Nicolette Hahn Niman is an environmental lawyer, rancher, food activist, and vegetarian. She stirs up something of a revolution in her controversial new book, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, The Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher, published by Chelsea Green in October 2014.

Hahn Niman’s first book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (William Morrow, 2009), paves the path to her current work. Porkchop is an exposé of what ails BigAg, or big agriculture, the factory farms that Hahn Niman points out as major polluters across the planet, contributing to climate change, to the detriment of everyone’s health. It is also her love story, as vegetarian meets cattle rancher, Bill Niman, joining forces in marriage and business. . .


Census debacle claims Stats NZ’s head’s head

14/08/2019

The Government Statistician and Chief Executive of Stats NZ, Liz MacPherson has resigned after the release of the report reviewing last year’s census debacle.

“As leader of this organisation, I take full responsibility for the shortfalls identified in the report,” said Ms MacPherson.

“We were too optimistic, placed too much emphasis on the online census, and did not have robust contingency plans in place for when things started to go wrong. When that happened, problems were not escalated to a higher level. We also failed our Treaty partners because we did not convert engagement with Māori into actual census responses.

“Put simply, we didn’t make it easy enough for everyone to take part and that will be a key focus for the next census.

“As the reviewers say, we got some things wrong at a time of great change during the switch to a more digitally-focused data collection approach. I accept the findings. We let ourselves and New Zealand down. . .

This is a commendable display of accountability.

Accepting responsibility is appropriate and appreciated by Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke:

This is sad but the right thing to do in the circumstances. There has to be accountability in the public sector, especially in the case of a chief exec that earns over $400,000. Today we see an example of that.”

“Running a census every five years is Stats NZ’s largest responsibility. Taxpayers will expect the next chief exec to focus on this core service, which should mean directing resources away from the department’s more wishy-washy work like measuring ‘spiritual health’.”

There was little option by the head’s resignation when the report says:

. . .It is our view that weaknesses in overall governance and strategic leadership at the programme level led to a series of decisions, some influenced by the North Canterbury earthquake, that when taken together ultimately compromised the achievement of the investment objectives and several important key performance indicators. It is also our view that some elements of the programme design introduced unnecessary complexity that made it difficult to execute and for citizens to respond. . .

But shouldn’t the Stats Minister be accountable too?

Statistics Minister James Shaw needs to take responsibility for his part in the abysmal handling of the Census 2018 debacle, National’s Statistics spokesperson Dr Jian Yang says.

“The resignation of Chief Statistician Liz MacPherson is appropriate given how badly Census 2018 was botched. But she should not be a scapegoat for James Shaw whose failure to show leadership played a significant part in this mess.

“The Minister needed to be more involved in his department. He should have asked more questions of his Statistics NZ leadership team and demanded better results from them.

“But he chose to be a hands-off Minister instead. He was missing in action when things were going wrong – off on a Pacific Island junket while his officials were left to clean things up.

“He let things spiral out of control to the point where much of the data may no longer be useful. That creates enormous problems for the billions of dollars in funding for health, education, police and other vital services that depend on reliable Census numbers.

“This failure also has massive implications for the next election with reliable data required to draw accurate electoral boundaries and decide the number of seats in Parliament.

“James Shaw was too relaxed about the problem. He brushed off any criticism as ‘scaremongering’, but today’s damning report shows there were very real issues he wasn’t across.”

When a department is carrying out its major undertaking, and doing it differently, the Minister ought to take a much closer interest than he appeared to have done.

It would also have been better had Stats NZ taken a more cautious approach to expecting people to respond on-line.

We were in the area chosen for a trial of the on-line census in 2013.

Officially it went well but locals involved told me there were big holes, not least in central Oamaru where most of the large Tongan population went uncounted.

There ought to have been enough warning signs from that to have a lot more staff on the ground with paper forms and to ensure that at the very least households which didn’t return forms received personal visits.

Not everyone has access to a computer; some people who do, use them for little more than emails; others are loathe to use them for anything involving personal data.

The first nation-wide  on-line census would have been better had people been given a choice between filling in paper forms or doing it on-line.

It wasn’t and so we’ve got huge holes in information and more than a year’s delay in the first release of data which includes the population numbers required for the updating of electoral boundaries.

That means that parties either wait to do candidate selection or risk having to re-do some close to the election when, as inevitable, at least one new electorate is created and others undergo major boundary changes.

Worse still, funding for health, education and social services are being compromised with no reliable population data.

This has been a very sorry saga the only good from which will be if lessons learned bring changes that ensure the next census results in a much better response rate and better data sooner.


They’ll know where we are

19/06/2019

Stats NZ  is going to be working with phone companies to track our movements every hour:

The population density programme will launch next month and Statistics Minister James Shaw said he was aware there would be perception issues around every step being recorded.

Mr Shaw said cellphone companies and credit companies already held that level of detail, but for the first time Stats NZ was able to act as a data broker to identify trends and patterns with the anonymised information.

I find this a wee bit creepy.

Phone and credit card companies aren’t the government and we have a choice about whether or not we use them.

He told MPs at a select committee today, there would be concerns about people being able to hack into the system and get hold of people’s private details.

“It is very rigourous and we’ve had criticism in the past of people saying it’s really difficult to get access to that information to be able to use it for research purposes – well that’s because it’s under lock and key,” he told RNZ following the committee.

It was supposedly difficult to get Budget information last month.

However, Mr Shaw said the security of the information would require increasing attention over time.

The programme has been assessed by the Privacy Commissioner and a data ethics panel is being set up to keep watch.

Mr Shaw said the Census already asked New Zealanders where they were on a particular night and the tracking just an extension of that using information that was already collected.

I don’t go anywhere that would cause me any concern should the government know about it, but that’s not the point.

Filling in a census form once every six years is very different from tracking our movements every hour.

We’re required to fill in the forms, but are phone companies required to give this information and whether or not they are, shouldn’t they be telling us what they’re doing with any information they hold on us.

Are they going to ask us for our permission to share our information and can we say no?

 

 

 


Rural round-up

22/05/2019

Nats stunned by methane target – David Anderson:

National’s climate change spokesman Todd Muller says the proposed target for methane reduction puts the New Zealand agricultural sector at “real risk”.

Muller has spent the best part of 12 months negotiating with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to get a workable, bi-partisan deal on agricultural emissions. He told Rural News the proposed methane targets are “widely overdone” and set an “unjustifiable target” for the NZ farming sector.

“There is a body of credible advice – such as recently from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) and Victoria University’s David Frame – that advocates far more sensible targets for methane,” he says. . .

National supports climate change bill but with concerns:

National has decided to support the Climate Change Response Act Amendment Bill through its first reading, but with serious concerns around the proposed methane target and the potential economic impact, Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“National is supportive of efforts to reduce emissions, however we must also ensure our approach manages economic impacts and is in line with a global response.

“National supports many elements of the Bill including establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission, a framework for reducing New Zealand’s emissions and a framework for climate change adaptation.

“We have serious concerns about the target level that has been set. . .

 

More than 300 sheep rustled from Waimumu farm – Richard Davison:

Police say a mystery $65,000 stock theft has left the victims “extremely gutted”.

Mataura Police issued a public appeal yesterday, following a lack of leads concerning the rustling of 320 sheep and eight rams from a Waimumu farm, believed to have occurred during Easter.

Mataura Constable Wayne McClelland said a stock theft of this scale was “unusual” in his experience, and had caused considerable distress to the farm owners.

“Obviously a theft of this magnitude, where you’ve lost tens of thousands’ worth of property, would hit anyone pretty hard. It’s a significant loss of assets given the size of the farm in question.” . .

All ‘Barred’-up over M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

South Canterbury rural consultant Sarah Barr says there is a huge degree of anxiety on the ground over the surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort.

She told Rural News the announcement of the surge, made just before Easter, was worrying for people who had been previously caught up in the effort.

“People who know they’ve got traces, but haven’t yet been followed up. And people who aren’t involved but are concerned that now they may be.” . . .

North Otago farmer fulfills childhood dream to compete :

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has dreamed of competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final since he was a child. He’ll finally get the chance in Hawke’s Bay this July.

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has ambitious plans to double the size of his sheep flock.

The 28-year-old’s family farm in North Otago has 500 Border-Romney cross ewes, 150-200 trading cattle and arable crops.

He’s in the process of farm succession and is set to take over in July. . .

Genesis reimagines with new product for dairy:

For the first time in New Zealand, dairy farmers will be offered an electricity plan created specifically for their unique energy use with the launch of a new Genesis product, For Dairy.

Genesis Executive General Manager, James Magill, says For Dairy recognises that the way dairy farmers use electricity is far from standard and with this product could ultimately result in savings of

between 5 and 25 per cent off their milking shed electricity bill. . .

 


Bold intentions bad policy

22/05/2019

Farming leaders are meeting the government today to discuss problems with the Zero Carbon Bill.

National MPs voted for the Bill at yesterday’s first reading but expressed serious concerns over details:

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader—National): The National Party takes climate change seriously. I want to just reflect on the fact that, as a Minister of the Crown, in my last three years I lead on electrification of our vehicle fleet, of our energy system, and wider than simply electricity, that when it comes to renewables, we saw New Zealand go from 65 percent in electricity to some 85 percent—and, on a good day, 90 percent. By the way, the trend right now is downwards. So, we understand these issues. We take these issues seriously.

I gave—in fact, in one of my first speeches as leader of the National Party, at Field Days, on the issue of climate change last year. I set out our principles and our desire to be bipartisan on this issue, because I agree with James Shaw that it is too important—economically, socially, and, clearly, environmentally—for petty partisanship. Can I acknowledge Todd Muller in relation to that, for having done an outstanding job of thinking through the difficult and the intricate economic, social, environmental issues that go with this area of reform, and for working hard with James Shaw, with the Prime Minister, and with me on this law change.

What I said in that speech at Field Days was, yes, we believed—in fact, before the Government had stated their position, I think—in an independent advisory climate commission, with the requisite expertise economically, socially, environmentally, to do the work and the mahi required. I set out our principles in this area that we would follow and that we think should be followed on climate change. It is science based—that we work heavily on innovation and technology; that there are appropriate economic signals; that we are in step with and work closely with our international partners; and that we think very carefully and understand the economic impact of this. I am glad to say that in the bill that is before this Parliament right now those principles that we outlined are there, as is the split treatment of gases that we made clear in that speech, and our position was the right approach. Those principles, those things, as I say, are in the bill. For those reasons, the National Party will vote for this bill at the first reading, but I want to be very clear with the Government: on this bill, we have real differences with the Government, and I’ve made them clear to the Hon James Shaw, to the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, and indeed to the New Zealand First Party. We need to see change in this law.

The primary area of difference that we have—it may not surprise the Parliament—is in relation to the methane target. There is, in short, no satisfactory basis for setting the targets in 2030 and 2050 as high as the Government has chosen to do in this bill. The 2030 target is negative 10 percent, the 2050 target is negative 24 to 47 percent, and I reflect, when I think about the 2030 target, on what James Shaw has realistically, I think, said himself: that emissions in New Zealand are going to rise into and beyond the mid-2020s. So he is making it quite clear to New Zealand, in terms of methane and agriculture and what needs to be done, that that change is literally in the last three, four, five years before that target is to be met in 2030.

The stark reality is that the science isn’t there yet. I am all for investment in the science. I argued, in the previous Cabinet, that we needed to increase the funding we were making in Palmerston North in science in the Global Research Alliance to make sure— . . 

I say, actually, that biotech is an incredibly important part of this answer. I think it’s a tragedy that the Green Party outright rules it out and the Labour Party isn’t sure of its position. Actually, Sir Peter Gluckman and people like William Rolleston, who know what they’re talking about, have made quite clear that it is an essential part of the answer. The reality is that, without doing that, by 2030 we will be culling significantly our herds. That’s not alarmist; that’s the reality of the situation. When half of our exports around the world are food, Mr Peters, who’s shaking his head on this issue, that’s how we pay our way around the world, and we take that seriously as well.

No one else—none of our partners—are doing this. They may have moved in other areas. There is not a country in this world, no First World nation, that is moving on agriculture, in what is a global problem that requires global leadership. But also, if we act unilaterally, it simply sends that production offshore, and 2050—a target set by the other side, unilaterally cherry picked, I’m sorry to say, for political purposes from parts of the United Nations report, but economically disastrous, wrong on the science. Don’t trust me; ask the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, ask Professor David Frame, ask many of the experts in the science throughout New Zealand who argue for a much lower target of 10 to 22 percent methane reduction, a target too high in this bill for the National Party and for New Zealand. The whole purpose of this bill, it seems to me, in dealing with climate change is based around an independent climate commission that provides reasoned, worked-through, evidence-based advice, and my position certainly is that that is where we should be sending the methane targets for an answer on that issue to be thought through. The Government will say that’s non-binding but certainly, if done well, difficult to ignore, and I’ve made those points to the Prime Minister and others.

I’m also concerned and the National Party, on behalf of New Zealanders, is deeply concerned about the wider economic impact of this law. We take climate change seriously, but we cannot accept—indeed, we believe it’s naive—when James Shaw stands up in this House and says that it’s the single greatest economic opportunity for us in at least a generation. James Shaw—I respect him; he believes we can bend the arc on climate change quite quickly, rip the plaster off and get to some sort of economic innovation nation nirvana. Well, the reality is not that simple. Short of someone inventing the new iPhone or the next great big thing, this will have very real economic consequences on working Kiwis, on working New Zealand families and on their petrol costs and their electricity costs and their incomes and their jobs. Indeed, the RIS on this bill—the regulatory impact statement—makes quite clear that, even with a tailwind, there is $300 billion of cost to 2050 on the New Zealand economy and New Zealand workers and families; a reduction in gross domestic product by 9 percent in GDP, $10 billion to $12 billion a year; and indeed at 2050 a $45 billion smaller economy.

So I say: let’s have an honest discussion with New Zealanders about this—the costs and the trade-offs—but let’s be clear, Hon James Shaw, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, that those costs are real. There’s a phenomenon in our rural communities, which I’m sure others in my party will speak about—but what is happening right now with dairy conversions and other farming conversions and the very real effect of this Government’s policies, the billion trees and so on, for no good, that’s actually resulting in a hollowing out already in some parts of New Zealand. We worry and we’re concerned about that on behalf of New Zealand.

We get climate change, we want bipartisanship, but all New Zealand needs to come on this journey. We want to see this bill changed—it’s essential that it is—so that we take out the politics; we do this on the policy. I urge New Zealanders to be heard on this, from the students to the farmers, right around the country.  . . 

TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I rise to speak for the first time on the Climate Change Response, (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. Just over a year ago, our leader, Simon Bridges, in the Fieldays, outlined our approach that we would take in the negotiations with the Government over this bill. He touched on some of the principles that he felt, from a National Party perspective, were absolutely critical to inform this commission’s judgment. 

The first was the importance of broad science. The second was the fact that we needed as an economy to have access to innovation and technology to assist us on this journey. The third was that we needed to calibrate our response, aligned with our trading partners in the global response. Fourthly, we saw a key role in the emissions trading scheme as a signal and an incentive for the change over time. Fifthly—and most critically—that we assure ourselves of the economic costs of this transition. At the core of the National Party approach to this issue is that climate change is an issue that we have to confront as a collective country, but we do it best when we are informed in a dispassionate way about what the science is suggesting is available in terms of innovation for us to apply and what the economic costs are for this change. 

We have had a fair discussion with the Government over the last 10 or 12 months. As I noted the last time I spoke—last week—for most of that period, it has been a very forthright and goodwill-based conversation between myself and my opposite number, James Shaw, and we are very pleased to see that in this legislation are the key tenets that underpin our principles and approach to climate change. There is science to inform the conversation and judgment of the commission. Innovation and the availability of that innovation is a critical part of their judgment. So is global response and so is the economic costs that we need to reflect on as a country, as is the importance of this commission being advisory and also the approach with respect to split gases. But, clearly, we have a challenge with respect to the target that has been landed with respect to methane. 

I listened closely to what the Prime Minister said, and her speech today, more than anything else, reinforces the importance of having a commission to reflect on where this methane target should be. She spoke with authority in terms of her own interpretation of what the science says. She talked to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which says that minus 24 percent to minus 47 percent of an interquartile range of four illustrative pathways out of 85, and each one of those pathways is hugely challenging. Most of them actually don’t see the economies reaching the targets, and they say in that report they are not to be used for national guidance. She used one line out of that and said, “That that works, and I’m cloaking science and the credibility of my comments around that.” It is nonsense. That interquartile range is just one line from a series of illustrative pathways that can be considered by countries as they walk this journey. David Frame says methane should stay at minus 10 percent; the Parliamentary Commissioner: minus 10 to 22 percent. 

The point is: why are we having this debate in this House? None of us are qualified, from a scientific perspective, to hold a view, when the economic cost of getting this wrong is eye-watering. This is not something that you can just wash away with lovely words. If we get this wrong, regional New Zealand will not look the same again. If we get this wrong, the standard of living that exists in this country will be materially impacted. The whole purpose of a bipartisan conversation around establishing a commission is for them to look at the competing objectives of science, of available innovation, of what the rest of the world is doing, and of what the economic impacts are.

The emphasis is mine because this is very important – the cost of getting it wrong is high in both economic and social concerns for no significant environmental gains.

The view expressed by the Government that the primary pinnacle perspective that floods all of this legislation is that we must do our bit to keep the global temperature within 1.5 degrees Celsius. Well, the global temperature is already over 1 degree Celsius, it’s pushing to 1.3 degrees Celsius, and this country is 0.17 percent of global emissions. The very idea that our collective effort will somehow impact the global temperature is nonsense. We have to call this for what it is. One point five is an objective in this legislation, it is one of the perspectives that the commission has to bring to bear along with what the science says is possible, what innovation is available to apply across the economy at a cost that works, and what the economic impacts are for New Zealanders.

The regulatory impact statement talks to the modelled cost on this economy between the current gazetted target, that we have supported previously as the National Government, and what is suggested in this bill. The sum of the difference is $300 billion; $45 billion different than what it would be if we stayed with the National Party’s target. Prime Minister, I’m sorry, those modelled assumptions assume that electricity has been integrated across our entire transport sector, assume that electricity is in our industrial heat, and assume that we have found technology to support our opportunity in the agriculture sector—all those innovations are baked into the model and it still costs us $300 billion.

That’s a lot of assumptions.

So for us to sit here and say “This is a new nirvana and we’re just going to walk there together.” is not giving New Zealanders credit. This is hard transitional stuff. It will cost and it will continue to cost, there will be opportunities there as well, but it is going to cost. The Government’s own regulatory statement talks to the scale of the cost. I’d venture to suggest that there would not be a bill that has been in front of this House in the last two decades that has a regulatory impact statement saying that the cost is $300 billion. But on this side of the House, we stand willing to support a conversation around a commission that can guide us; but to frame this up as a headlong run, to commit to 1.5 degrees Celsius even if the rest of the world doesn’t, and that those other conditions are secondary is flawed, from our perspective—seriously flawed.

I am not arguing that we do not progress our own emissions reduction journey over the next 10, 15, or 20 years. I am not suggesting that because it’s $300 billion we do nothing, because the world expects us to play our part. What I am saying is that our communities expect us to be prudent and to be measured and to use evidence as we slowly make this transition, because if we get it wrong, the Taumarunuis, the Te Kūitis, the small communities who have been so strongly underpinned by our agricultural exports and activity, the most efficient and effective emissions efficient food producing sector in the world—I repeat that for people listening at home: our agricultural sector is already the most emissions efficient food producing sector in the world. No one here suggests that New Zealand does not put its shoulder to the wheel, but we must not be so naive that we get crushed under the axle. We need to be seriously measured and prudent as we step through this. That is why, when we go to the select committee, I hope—and I echo my leader’s comments—from students to farmers to academics to those who just have a passing interest in this: please, we want to hear your voices. We want to hear the scientists—you’ve rung me, I want to hear you at that select committee, because, as James Shaw has said himself, this is an opportunity but we have to do this together.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): National is supporting the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill because a climate change commission is a good idea that will help New Zealand make progress on the challenging issue of climate change. This is the National Opposition being both responsible and being constructive about one of the most challenging issues that faces our country and, actually, faces the world.

I brought five climate change – related bills to this Parliament during the last Government. On not one did the Opposition support it. I do say it is a big step for an Opposition party to say, yes, it wants to back this idea because it’s constructive.

I’m the only member of this House that was here when New Zealand signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. You might not believe it, I was even younger than Chlöe Swarbrick, and I was privileged to be part of the New Zealand delegation to Rio de Janeiro when that initial convention was signed. But if there’s an important lesson from the intervening 25 years that this Parliament must recognise it’s that good intentions are not enough to be able to address this issue.

I’ve totalled up that over a hundred countries have made bold commitments on climate change that have failed and come to naught. The reason the Climate Change Commission is such an important part of the solution is that it will enable us to be able to have a more constructive, a more open, and a more honest conversation about how we actually can make progress on this issue. When the world signed up to the UN convention on climate change, global emissions were 24 billion tons. The commitment was to stabilise them. Today they’re 37 billion tons, or 60 percent greater.

I have to say, I’m a bit tired of big, bold commitments that set ambitions way beyond members of this House, or beyond the term of the Prime Minister or the climate change Minister, without the grit as to how you’re going to get there. I remind this Parliament that Prime Minister Helen Clark in coalition with the Alliance Party, including the Greens, came to Government in 1999. They said it was our “nuclear-free moment”. Sound familiar? They said their goal was carbon neutrality. Well, what happened during the nine years of that Clark Government, supported by both the Alliance and then the Greens? Emissions went up by 10 percent. We actually went backwards on renewables from 73 percent of our electricity being renewable to 65 percent being renewable. So my plea to this House is to not be carried away with big bold intentions but to actually look to the policies that will make a material difference to our country and globally making a difference on this issue.

I remember when our party in Government worked hard to secure the Paris Agreement. Members on this side of the House say, “Actually, New Zealand needs to do its fair share, but the solution to this has to be globally.” and I’m proud of the role that we played in securing the Paris Agreement and of New Zealand’s commitment to a 30 percent reduction by 2030. But the part that I do have to challenge parties opposite—and this part, for, me is extraordinary—is that in all the talk we know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the key of this issue. And I choked on my cornflakes. I literally could not believe it—that when we’re describing climate change as an emergency, when we’re saying it is our nuclear-free moment, to hear the Minister for Climate Change say that he expected emissions to continue to increase until 2025. I’m sorry; this has got an awful sound like KiwiBuild and some of the other big, bold intentions of Government—of not having followed through. Effectively, what James Shaw said on the radio is that this Government would not do as well as the previous Key Government in making progress, and that would be a grave disappointment.

I also want to make a plea for scientific literacy around the issue of climate change. I totally support the provisions of this bill that set up the Climate Change Commission. The reason the Climate Change Commission is a good step forward is that with the expertise, with the setting of budgets—not just big, bold targets but actions—it will enable us to get down emissions and that will help us get there. But scientific literacy is important. This notion of this bill being called “Carbon Zero” is really a misnomer. The first thing is, carbon is not the problem; carbon is at the heart of life. There would not be life on this planet without the existence of carbon. The issue is greenhouse gas emissions. Some of those greenhouse gases do not even have carbon in them: 11 percent of New Zealand’s emissions are nitrous oxide, which we are—I’m sorry; where’s the carbon in nitrous oxide? If this bill was to be scientifically literate—and I continuously have a problem with the Green Party in not being scientifically literate—it should be a bill referring to greenhouse gases, at the very least carbon dioxide and methane that are the core issues.

Now, my colleagues have rightly challenged the notion of these incredibly bold targets around the issue of methane, one of the significant gases for New Zealand. Here’s my problem. I haven’t heard a single Government member or the Minister tell us how a mid-range on a 35 percent reduction in emissions can be achieved. You know how I think they can be achieved? I think our best hope is biotechnology. When I look at the development by Landcare Research of ryegrass that can achieve as much as a 20 to 25 percent reduction in emissions, I see light, I see hope, I see a solution. For me, what is extraordinary is for the Government to set targets for the agricultural sector that go beyond what the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and scientists have said are realistic, and then take away from our agricultural sector and our farmers the very tools that would enable us to achieve those targets. So my last challenge to the Government is let’s have a conversation about the actions.

I say to Minister Shaw, let’s have an honest conversation about the cost. Ten years ago, I bought an electric car. It cost me $84,000. The petrol equivalent was $26,000. There is a real cost. My community at the moment is looking about getting electric buses. The cost of an electric bus is about $800,000, compared with $180,000 for the diesel equivalent. There is a real cost. If we want to convert over to wind, solar, and those energies, let’s have the honest conversation that there is a real cost.

For those who pretend that those costs can be ignored, I ask them to look at the yellow vest protests in France, to realise that if we are to win these arguments, we need to take New Zealanders with us. Blind open commitments that say there are no cost impacts on New Zealanders, in making progress on climate change, risk repeating the mistakes I’ve seen of the last 25 years, and it is not being upfront and honest about the trade-offs that we need to have.

I’m very proud to have invited Lord Deben to New Zealand, the architect of the climate change commission legislation in the UK, and of being a member of the Environment Committee that triggered our visit there. In my view, the Climate Change Commission is a step in the right direction, but don’t let any member of this House pretend that establishing a Climate Change Commission is going to take away the really gritty, the really tough, the really difficult issues that we have to work through in our energy sector, in our agricultural sector, in our transport sector, and in our industrial sector, if we’re going to have another round of meaningless targets and not get the runs on the board to really make progress on this huge issue.

If the government wants National’s support for progressing the BIll at subsequent readings it will have to start accepting the science.

It will also have to take far more account of economic and social costs.

The bold intentions in the Bill are no compensation for the faults which make it bad policy.


Rural round-up

06/05/2019

Gas compromise won’t be enough – Neal Wallace:

It appears the Government has compromised in the treatment of biological and long-lived greenhouse gases but a farming leader warns it is too early to break out the champagne.

Pressure from coalition partners is said to have forced Climate Change Minister James Shaw to agree to separate greenhouse gas reduction targets but Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says the new levels appear to ignore the views of scientists and studies.

Those studies claim that because methane is short lived in the atmosphere, cutting emissions rather than eliminating it will reduce global warming.

Hoggard declined to release the targets he has heard saying they are not official but says it appears the Government has fallen well short of the advice. . . 

Robots take charge – Sonita Chandar:

It is 2am and though it is pitch-black a small mob of cows is strolling toward the cowshed – it is their third visit in one day.

They are the cows that somehow just know a new is paddock available and the only way to get there is through the shed. 

They are what Auckland farmer Brian Yates refers to as hoons.

“Some girls hoon around the three-way grazing system like three-year-olds on red fizzy, arriving at each new break as it becomes available and getting up to three milkings per day. . . 

Joint opportunity – Sheryl Brown:

Cam and Jess Lea have earned the respect of their neighbours to the point that four farming couples have backed them financially into their first sharemilking position after their second year in the industry. Sheryl Brown reports. 

Four Opotiki neighbouring couples have backed Cam and Jess Lea into their first sharemilking business, holding 16% equity share apiece. Andrew and Kelly Clarke, Dave and Nat Wilson, Rob and Moira Anstis, and Colin and Maria Eggleton are all born and bred in Opotiki and knew a good investment when they saw one.

Cam, 28, and Jess, 27, sold their house, their nice vehicle and their boat to put $75,000 into the equity partnership and borrowed the rest to buy the Jersey herd that was already on the farm. . . 

Collins family’s long history of dairying – Julia Evans:

The Collins family celebrated 150 years of farming in Springston on Saturday. Julia Evans speaks to Murray Collins about his family who have lived and worked the land and their roots in the newspaper industry.

There’s Murray and Judy, their daughter Jenny and grandchildren Elsie, Henry and Leila.

Those are the three generations of the Collins family currently living on Springston’s Pendah Farm, which has celebrated 150 years of operation.

But before them there was William, Walter, Leslie and Jack Collins.

William was a typographer who sailed to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1850, after working for the London Morning Post.

Though he did not settle in Canterbury. . . 

Government should fund fire research:

The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding. . . 

Cows and climate change: A closer look – Andre Mayer:

The extent to which meat production contributes to climate change is hotly contested. We highlighted some of the concernsin our last issue, but heard from some readers who felt it didn’t convey the full picture.

Earlier this year, when U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first started promoting the Green New Deal — the Democratic proposal to mobilize government to address climate change and income inequality — she made comments about the significant impact of “cow farts” on carbon emissions.

That concerned Frank Mitloehner, an esteemed animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, who tweeted at AOC, telling the rookie lawmaker that “meat/milk” was only responsible for four per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. . . 


No CGT but . . .

18/04/2019

The government is not going to adopt a capital gains tax .

The backdown has cost $2 million and 18 months of uncertainty but Simon Bridges point out there will be more taxes:

“While the Government has backed down on a Capital Gains Tax, there are still a range of taxes on the table. They include a vacant land tax, an agricultural tax and a waste tax.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she personally still wants a Capital Gains Tax and that our tax system is unfair. New Zealanders simply can’t trust Labour when it comes to tax. 

“The New Zealand economy has suffered while the Government has had a public discussion about a policy they couldn’t agree on. Put simply, this is political and economic mismanagement. . . 

The government asked a question, the answer to which its three constituent parties couldn’t agree on.

Remember James Shaw saying:

“The last question we should be asking ourselves is, ‘can we be re-elected if we do this?’ The only question we should be asking ourselves is, ‘do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?'”

Labour and the Green Party had to swallow a big dead rat, served to them by Winston Peters:

. . .It wasn’t even an hour after the Prime Minister had put the final nail in the coffin that is the capital gains tax (CGT) when RNZ asked Mr Peters whether Labour will be expecting his party’s support on another issue in return for losing this flagship policy. Mr Peters fired back: “May I remind you, the Labour Party is in government because of my party.”

No reading between the lines necessary. . .

New Zealand First is polling under the 5% threshold, it couldn’t afford to alienate the dwindling number of its supporters.

The capital gains tax, if not dead, is buried while Ardern is Prime Minister, but the threat of other niche taxes is still live.

 


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