Quote of the day

May 20, 2015

New Zealand National Party's photo.

We will maintain a considered economic course so we can manage the risks and challenges that come our way in an ever-changing world. – John Key


Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Checking out but not leaving

May 12, 2015

The weekend’s National Party Mainland conference was my last as Southern Regional chair.

It was the end of six years in the position and I chose not to seek re-election for several reasons.

I believe you should step down before you lose the enthusiasm and energy needed for what you’re doing.

The year after an election is the best one in the cycle for a change in chair, allowing the new one plenty of time to come to grips with the job before having to work on candidate selections and the election.

One important measure of success is the quality of your successor and I had one who was ready, willing and able to take over.

It’s been a privilege and pleasure to work with other volunteers, MPs and party staff over the last six years. In that time the party has increased its membership, strengthened its financial base and continued to earn the sort of support in polls few parties attain let alone maintain.

That is due to several factors which include the leadership of the parliamentary wing, the volunteers and staff.

It’s not just party faithful like me who admire our leader and the Prime Minister John Key. To be in a third term in government and still attracting similar levels of support in polls to that when first elected requires someone special at the head of a very good team.

Government and governance are never smooth sailing.

In spite of all that’s been thrown at them, the PM and his team have concentrated on what matters to voters – the economy,  education, health and law and order. They also continue to respect and value the voluntary wing.

I’ve been involved in the party for around three decades and have never known such cohesion between and performance by MPs, staff and volunteers.

Judy Kirk was president when I became regional chair. Her successor Peter Goodfellow has built on the foundation she laid.

I have had all the support and communication from the board I could have wished for. On the few occasions I had concerns I needed to talk to Peter, or other board members about, I was taken seriously and got action.

The strong financial position the party is  in is due to the work of the president, the board and strong membership.

One of the reasons membership has grown is the encouragement and support volunteers have had from the board and the service centre.

General manager Greg Hamilton changed the name of headquarters to the service centre and it wasn’t just window dressing. He and his staff provide amazing service to activists and work very hard to ensure members get value for their loyalty.

The importance of that can’t be overstated.

National is, sadly for democracy, the only party left in New Zealand that has a broad based membership of tens of thousands.

Leading those in the south has provided a few challenges, meant a lot of work but also been very rewarding.

I stepped down and have been succeeded by a woman who has the passion, personality and skills to do all that’s required and more.

I’m looking forward to working with her. My two immediate predecessors were women who provided good role models not only for the position but also for continuing to be involved after retiring from it.

Besides, the party is a bit like the Hotel California. I’ve checked out of the office but I won’t be leaving the building.

We’ve got an election to win in 2017 and earning the votes required to do that requires hard work and a team to do it.


Quote of the day

May 12, 2015

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Most people are amazingly determined to do well under their own steam.

All they want the Government to do is created the environment for that . . .

We create the environment which enables jobs to be created. – John Key


Flag changes

May 8, 2015

Sir Brian Lochore, a member of the Flag Consideration Panel is urging New Zealanders to keep open minds:

. . . Sir Brian would not say what his personal view was, but pointed to changes in flags across the Commonwealth during the past 50 years. Of the 54 Commonwealth members, 45 no longer had a Union Jack on their flag. “A lot of countries have changed. So I guess if I have a view I would like New Zealanders to open their mind and see what’s there, and then clearly vote how they feel. Because we haven’t ever had a chance at deciding on our flag, here is an opportunity for New Zealanders to have a look. That’s all I ask. If it goes back to the status quo, so be it.” . . .

Wise words.

The process has started and it won’t be stopped.

The least we can do, whatever our views on the flag and the process being undertaken to determine whether or not it’s changed, is to keep an open mind.

This shows the flags of some the of the Commonwealth countries which have changed their flags and some which haven’t:

Change the NZ Flag's photo.

The panel is doing a road show to encourage people to participate in the process. the schedule is here.

The select committee has started hearing submissions on the flag change process and Claire Trevett says the real danger to the process is politics.

. . . This is where Labour comes in, apparently determined to sabotage the process. Labour is a relatively pro-republic party in which most MPs favour a change of flag. Despite that, it has set about political point-scoring, even if doing so undermines the very process that might result in that flag change.

Their primary objection is the order of the questions in the referendums. They argue New Zealanders should first be asked whether they want a change – and have a second referendum only if the majority want change.

Labour claims it is an effort to save money. What codswallop. Labour’s objections are an effort to rain on the Prime Minister’s parade and get headlines.

The Ministry of Justice advised against putting the change question first. That was because for many people not entrenched in either camp, the final decision will depend on what the alternative is.

Had the Government gone against that advice, Labour would probably now be accusing it of penny pinching over a matter of national identity. Labour’s approach is rather selfish and short-sighted and if it has the effect of tainting the entire process, the party might rue it.

It could well save $9 million to $13 million in the costs of a second referendum. But that short-term saving would come at a bigger cost in the long term. Once this is over, it will be a long time before anyone dares to raise the issue again.

Labour has also taken to feeding the perception that it is a “vanity project” for John Key. This primarily comes down to sour grapes. Labour wants a new flag. But they don’t want Key to be the one whose name is linked to it. They want it for themselves.

The government has done all it can to ensure this isn’t party political and involve all parties in the process. But Labour’s burning desire to score points against the Prime Minister John Key is blinding them to that.

Questioning referendums is one thing, but trying to influence people’s votes out of puerile political spite is a different matter. It may be true that Key is keen on a legacy, but it should be irrelevant. The referendums are on the flag, not on the political parties or personalities.

In reality, Key has a better chance of securing the change than Labour would. Key is a monarchist so there is far less suspicion about his longer-term motives. It is not being seen as the thin end of the wedge to republicanism. Labour’s current leader, Andrew Little, favours a flag change as part of a wider move towards a republic. Yet NZ is likely to inch towards republicanism rather than gallop. . .

The referendums are a treacherous enough process. The officials’ advice also pointed to the risk of “tactical voting”, in which those opposed to change vote for the least appealing option – so the current flag had a better chance of winning.

The referendum process is now before a select committee and the Flag Consideration Panel has started its work of consulting about an alternative. This is the first chance New Zealanders have had to vote on the flag. The politicians would do New Zealand a favour by simply shutting up and letting the public get on with it for themselves.

The chances of change are compromised by politics because not just Labour but the left in general will vote against change to spite the PM. Add them to those who genuinely prefer the status quo and it will be hard to get a majority for change.

That is a pity.

Whether the flag changes or not, the one we have at the end of the process will be New Zealand’s long after most who vote in the referendum are dead.

Whether that is the flag we have or a new one, people should vote with open minds for what they think is best not for political point scoring.

 


Quote of the day

May 4, 2015

But if there is one thing we have learned about being in government, it is that the electorate is always looking forward and not back.

Yes, they want us to implement our election commitments. They want us and in fact expect us to keep our word, and we will.

But more than that, the voters expect a forward-looking agenda from the Government.

. . . They expect a programme that will keep pace with the times and the challenges that they and their families face every day.

That is why is there is no room for complacency.

There is no room for sitting back and thinking that because progress is good that the job is somehow done.

There is always more to do.

And part of that work is staying connected with the electorate – both cities and regions alike – to understand voters’ aspirations and their expectation of government.

Both the Caucus and the party organisation have important roles to play in staying connected. 

My expectation of MPs is that they will work closely with the party to ensure that our connections with local communities are as close as they possibly can be.

Party membership remains at the core of this, and I know that growing membership is a key priority of the Board.

Encouraging more members to become active in campaigns is also important as we head towards seeking a fourth successive election mandate.

So as a party we have a lot of work ahead of us. . . John Key


It’s a girl . . .

May 3, 2015

The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge have a daughter – and her gift from New Zealand is wool:

. . . New Zealand’s official gift to the Royal couple will be a selection of woollen baby items from Hutt Valley company, Stansborough, including a pelt teddy bear.

“I wish Prince William, Catherine, Prince George and the Royal Family all the very best,” says Mr Key.

A 21 gun salute will be fired from Point Jerningham, Wellington to celebrate the birth.

Note to Editors:

Stansborough produce textiles from their flock of Stansborough Greys, a unique wool breed developed by Cheryl and Barry Eldridge.  The company produces a range of accessories, home interiors, and baby wear. The Stansborough yarn was also used to costume many of the main characters appearing in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.


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