John Key to resign as PM

December 5, 2016

John Key has announced he’s resigning as Prime Minister and National Party leader:

A special caucus meeting will be called on 12 December, when a new leader will be decided upon.

He said it had been a privilege to serve the people of Helensville, and he will stay in Parliament long enough to avoid a by-election.

Mr Key made the announcement at Parliament today.

He told his Cabinet and caucus colleagues this morning that he did not intend to stay on for a fourth term as leader, he said.

“To me, this feels like the right time to go.”

The timing would give caucus and the new leader time to settle in prior to next year’s general election, he said.

It was “the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. . . 

My first reaction was disbelief then sadness.

John Key took on the party’s leadership as it was on the way up in popularity and built on that.

He led the party to three election victories and has been at the head of a government which has maintained unprecedented levels of popularity.

I first met him when I was National’s Otago Electorate chair and was very impressed with him.

What I saw then, the intelligence, approachability, and both interest in and concern for people,  have been signatures of his leadership of the party and the country.

When he became Prime Minister New Zealand was facing a decade of deficits. He and his team, not least of all his deputy and Finance Minister, Bill English, have turned that round and projections now show growing surpluses.

He has led a strong united caucus and party. The mutual respect between the parliamentary and voluntary wings and party staff is unquestioned. That won’ change under a new leader.

The commentariat and opposition will be delighted and think this will help change the government next year.

But the party’s strength and unity will continue under the new leader as will its compassionate conservatism and policies which work for all New Zealanders.

My initial reaction was sadness. I still feel that, but I am also optimistic about the party and the government, and the new leader, whichever of the several able candidates that will be.

Update:

The PM’s resignation speech:

Just a few days ago I marked the anniversary of my eighth year as Prime Minister and my tenth as leader of the National Party.

Such an occasion seems a fitting time to not only take stock of the past 10 years, but to look forward.

Being leader of both the party and the country has been an incredible experience.

Along with my Cabinet and caucus colleagues, we steered the country through the global financial crisis which was arguably the worst recession since the Great Depression.

We have stood with Christchurch in the wake of the earthquakes – the greatest natural disaster to hit our country since 1931, and we have mourned the victims of the Pike River Mine disaster; one of the saddest days our small nation has endured in recent times.

During my time as Prime Minister the Government has positioned New Zealand so that our economy could harness the opportunities offered by a burgeoning Asia and a more connected world.

Reforms have been far reaching, including substantial changes to our tax, welfare, planning and labour laws, not to mention the successful partial sell-down of state companies, the considerable overhaul of our Justice, Security and Corrections agencies and, of course, trade liberalisation.

Ten years since I first became leader of the National Party, I believe we can look back on advanced race relations and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.

We also have a more confident, outward-looking and multi-cultural New Zealand that competes and succeeds on the world stage.

Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love. All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me – my family.

For my wife Bronagh, there have been many nights and weekends spent alone, many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend.

My daughter Stephie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job.

I thank them for their tolerance. Bronagh and I are immensely proud of them.
My family has also had remarkable opportunities and experiences as we have met people and visited places from one end of our country to the other.

We have celebrated alongside fellow Kiwis in their happiest times, and wept with them in their saddest.

Simply put, it has, for me, been the most remarkable, satisfying and exciting time of my life.

But despite the amazing career I have had in politics, I have never seen myself as a career politician. I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in Parliament.

The National Party is in great shape. Bill English has told me that in all his years here, ours is the most cohesive Cabinet he has seen. And I personally am humbled and gratified that after eight years as Prime Minister, my personal support from the public remains high.

I absolutely believe we can win the next election.

But I do not believe that, if you asked me if I was committed to serving out a fourth term, that I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders.

I also believe that leadership change, for the right reasons and handled well, is good for a political party.

For all these reasons, I today told my Cabinet and caucus colleagues of my decision to step down as Leader of the National Party and as Prime Minister.

It is my expectation that on Monday 12 December National MPs will hold a special caucus meeting to select a new leader and later that day I will tender my resignation to the Governor-General.

This has been the hardest decision I have ever made and I do not know what I will do next.

But for me this feels the right time to go.

It gives the Cabinet and caucus plenty of time to settle in with a new leader before heading into the next election with a proud record of strong economic management, a commitment to the most vulnerable in our society and lots of ideas to keep lifting New Zealanders up in the world.

It would be easy to say I have made this decision solely to rediscover the personal and family life I once had, and that is a factor, but it is one among many.

Over the years I have observed many leaders who, in a similar position, fail to take this step.

I can understand why. It is a hard job to leave.

But, for me and the National Party, this is a good time to go. Party membership is high and the party is well-funded. The caucus is talented and eager to serve, and one of the achievements of which I am proud is having built with my colleagues a Cabinet team that is capable, committed and cohesive.

That is a great legacy for National’s next leader.

Just as I grasped the challenge of leadership so will a new leader.

Inevitably they will bring their own personality, emphasis and priorities to the role.

This is part of the process that allows a long-serving government to keep delivering.

For my part I am confident the caucus has a number of individuals who would make a fine future PM.

It is inevitable I will be asked who I will vote for at the caucus meeting on December 12.

Whoever the caucus elects will have my unwavering support, but if Bill English puts his name forward then I will vote for him.

For 10 years now Bill and I have worked as a team. I have witnessed first-hand his leadership style, his capacity for work, his grasp of the economy, his commitment to change and, most of all, his decency as a husband, as a father, as a friend, a colleague and as a politician.

Bill has, I believe, grown a great deal since he was last Party leader.
Fifteen years on he has more experience and the party and political cycles are quite different.

I believe that National, under Bill’s leadership, would win the election in 2017.
This is not the time to thank all of those who have made the past 10 years possible for me.

But nor can I stand here without acknowledging Bronagh, Stephie and Max who have sacrificed a lot for me to have been able to do what the job demands.

No person in this role can succeed without the support of an enormous number of talented and dedicated individuals.

I thank my deputy Bill English, the Cabinet and caucus for their loyalty and energy and, of course, my wonderful staff, so well led by Wayne Eagleson, who have done more than I ever could have hoped or expected.

I also wish to thank and acknowledge our support partners ACT, United Future and the Maori Party without whom the strong and stable Government we have delivered would not have been possible.

I have no doubt my successor will look to build upon these relationships.

Last but not least, I wish to put on record my everlasting gratitude to the people of Helensville for electing me, and to the New Zealand public for their support, faith and encouragement. It has been my privilege to serve you all.

I have always believed that the test of a good Prime Minister is that he or she leaves the country in better shape than they found it. Over time, others will judge whether I have done that.

All I can say is that I gave it everything I had.

I have left nothing in the tank.

Finally, while I intend to stay in Parliament long enough to avoid the cost and inconvenience a by-election would cause the good people of Helensville, I will at an appropriate time prior to the next election step down as an MP.

On that day, I shall walk from these buildings for the last time, a richer person for the experience and privilege of being here, and hoping and believing that New Zealand has been well served by the Government I led.

Thank you.

There’s a video of the speech on Facebook.

And his Deputy, Bill English’s response:

John Key’s intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister of New Zealand means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“On behalf of the National Party, the Government and New Zealand I thank John for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to our country.

“Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference.

“I thank Bronagh, Stephie and Max for the sacrifice they’ve made to enable John to be an extremely successful and effective leader.  We are deeply appreciative.

“While the gap he leaves is huge we understand and respect his decision to step down from a job from which there is no respite.  We wish John and his family every success with their life out of the public eye.

“Under John Key’s leadership the Government has worked alongside New Zealanders to ensure our country is one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in the world.”

The National Caucus will consider the implications of the Prime Minister’s decision and how to ensure New Zealand stays on course to continue building a strong economy, increasing opportunities for our families and businesses, rewarding enterprise and effort, while protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s outstanding leadership that he will leave behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward and build on his legacy,” Mr English says.


StepUp Taranaki

December 5, 2016

I had a two-week posting on the Taranaki Daily News when I was at journalism school.

That was my first and last visit to the province but this celebration of the area’s people and places from StepUp Taranaki makes me want to go back:

This is the first choreographed dance video of its kind to be launched to the world.

It’s the result of one New Plymouth woman’s dream to bring the region together. Behind it is an amazing story of inspiration, motivation and the joining of cultures.

It was filmed over 18 months using a variety of filming techniques including numerous drone shots. A Huge team of dedicated volunteers all worked on it keen to help their community come together.

It features world first shoots like dancing big rig trucks and dancing oil rig workers along with thousands of locals. Even New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key got involved! Mr. Key and renowned TV show host Paul Henry starred as Pilots in our StepUp Airways scene.

This project was produced by a charity and made money for other other charities and we at StepUp believe it is a world first.

To top it all off, New Zealand has just been ranked the number one place in the world to live (Legatum Prosperity Index), AND Lonely Planet has just voted Taranaki the 2nd best place in the world to visit.

It’s about community building, team work,spirit and pride. Whoever you are, wherever you live you can do this and your area will thrive from such a positive and uplifting project. Everyone loves to dance – we’ve proved it!

Who’s in?!

#Whatsyourregion? #Whatsyoursong? #Whatsyourdance? #Everyonelovestodance

The full story is at StepUp Taranaki


Rural round-up

October 11, 2016

NZ lamb prices lift; weak demand likely to weigh on future returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb meat prices advanced last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the UK market, where around two thirds of the country’s lamb legs are exported.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.20 British pounds per kilogram in September, from 4.10 pounds/kg in August and 3.40 pounds/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.

In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August,and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said. . . 

NZ Hereford beef a hit in Germany – Gerald Piddock:

German consumers are taking a liking to New Zealand hereford beef, with demand growing in a market traditionally dominated by pork and poultry.

Fuelling that demand is the cattle’s grass fed diet and New Zealand’s outdoor farming style, importer Christian Klughardt says.

Klughardt and his brother, Oliver, run HP Klughardt, a family business started by their father in 1968. They have bought lamb and venison from Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and its predecessor PPCS for about 30 years. . . 

New app helps farmers manage mastitis:

A new app for farmers has been launched by LIC Automation to help those with CellSense in-line sensors to more easily manage mastitis in their herd.

CellSense is an automated in-line sensor providing farmers with a live somatic cell count (SCC) resultwithin two minutes of cupping the cow. The new CellSense Connected app sends the SCC results straight to farmers’ smart devices. Data is presented in an easy-to-use format on the farmers’ devices (phones and tablets), allowing them to assign a SCC result to a cow during milking.

This means farmers can view reports at their convenience and use them to aid dry off decisions. A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra that alerts farmers to which cows in the herd have a high SCC. . . 

Freshwater management to benefit from new institute:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater. . . 

Cycle trail a $37 million boost for regions:

More than a million people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail last year, generating around $37 million in economic benefits for local communities, according to a new report released today by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.

The evaluation the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail has been very effective in attracting high-value visitors to our regions,” says Mr Key. . . 

Parasite-resistant deer on the horizon?:

Deer breeders who want to select deer with natural resistance to internal parasites may now do so. However, they’re taking a punt, as research to find out whether – or how – resistance is linked to growth rates and parasite levels in deer won’t be completed until late next year.

Resistance levels are scored using a saliva test that measures the antibodies triggered when animals ingest internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA, short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where CARLA breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection. . . 

Improved road access for farmers:


Farmer Rayawa (on horseback) observes as his road is upgraded.

Small to medium scale crop farmers living along Lutukina Road in the Macuata Province are now able to get their produce to markets faster and with their crops undamaged since their road was recently repaired by Fulton Hogan Hiways.

FHH is contracted by Fiji Roads Authority to maintain the unsealed and sealed road networks in the Northern division.

Running through green terrain, Lutukina Road is located off the Labasa/Nabouwalu highway. It is 45 kilometres from Labasa Town and six kilometres from Dreketi. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more.

“MPI has banned the importation of any of the affected lines, but we believe there are likely to be farmers out there who bought contaminated seed lines last year and could have left-over seed in their sheds. . . 

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort this year. Cardrona’s previous skier day record has been smashed by over 30,000 visits this year – a sign of growth in both the snow sports and local tourism industries.

Investing in key areas such as carparking and the Valley View base area, along with a focus on minimising pinch points, has created a more even spread of capacity. Continual investment in terrain management including the SnowSat system, snowmaking capacity and grooming fleet has created a more stable, season-long product.

The entire resort was open top to bottom on Opening Day June 11, including Valley View Quad for the first time in the lift’s history. Early snowfall, increased snowmaking capacity and tactical terrain management saw the resort fully operational from day one. . . 


Mending beats measuring

October 4, 2016

Prime Minister John Key said the government was committed to reducing the number of children in poverty but didn’t want to put a figure on it.

Asked why the government could set goals to make the country predator-free but not measure the number of children in poverty, Mr Key said it was a complicated area, and the advice the government had been given was it was difficult to have one particular figure.

He said it was more binary in terms of whether there was a rat or stoat or possum there, whereas there were a range of different ways of measuring poverty.

It was better to focus on factors that contributed to deprivation rather than the exact numbers, Mr Key said.

“Isn’t it better for the government to say, ‘Rheumatic fever’s an issue, potentially prevalent with high levels of deprivation and therefore let’s focus on that rather than worry too much about the individual measure of poverty?'” . . 

There is no one definition for poverty which makes it impossible to get an accurate count on how many children suffer from it.

But there is no argument over children in severe deprivation being at risk of rheumatic fever.

Focusing on that will make a positive difference to the lives of those affected by and at risk of this very serious illness where counting won’t.

Mending beats measuring.

 


Home should be safe

September 13, 2016

Sweeping reforms to our laws will build a better system for combatting abuse and will reduce harm, say Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

The Government is proposing a broad overhaul of changes to family violence legislation, stemming from the comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act.

“New Zealand’s rate of family violence is horrendous. It has a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and a profound impact that can span generations and lifetimes,” Ms Adams says.

“Our suite of changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.

“This is about redesigning the way the entire system prevents and responds to family violence. The reforms are an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence.

“For many, family violence is an ingrained, intergenerational pattern of behaviour. There are no easy fixes. Our reforms make extensive changes across the Domestic Violence Act, Care of Children Act, Sentencing Act, Bail Act, Crimes Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act.”

Changes include:

  • getting help to those in need without them having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
  • putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

“These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year,” Ms Adams says.

The package makes changes to both civil and criminal laws, and provides system level changes to support new ways of working. It will cost $132 million over four years.

“Legislation is part of but not the whole change required. These legislative reforms are designed to support and drive the change underpinning the wider work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence. The work is about comprehensive and coordinated system change with a focus on early intervention and prevention,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Social agencies and NGOs I’ve been speaking with are desperate for a system-wide change so we can make a real shift in the rate of family violence.”

“Laws alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence. But they are a cornerstone element in how we respond to confronting family violence. It sets up the system, holds perpetrators to account, and puts a stake in the ground,” Ms Adams says.

The full pack of reforms are set out in the Cabinet papers and are available atwww.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/reducing-family-and-sexual-violence/safer-sooner

In a speech announcing the changes Prime Minister John Key said:

For most children, New Zealand is a great place to grow up.

We have a high quality education system, easy access to the outdoors and a strong culture of participation.

Most children can rely on the adults in their house, family and whanau for nurture, encouragement and support.

This helps those children to grow, flourish and be ready as adults to take advantage of all the opportunities that today’s world offers.

But we know that, unfortunately, that does not describe the growing-up that every child experiences.

For most New Zealanders, home is a sanctuary.

But for some, home can sometimes be the opposite.

It can be a place of fear, anxiety and danger. . . 

Today I want to focus on how we intend to address the harm in our society caused by repeated family violence.

This is usually, though not exclusively, perpetrated by men on their partners or former partners, and on one or more of their children.

Family violence isn’t only a problem for women and children, although it is less common, men can be victims too.

The issue isn’t one of gender or age. Violence is violence and it’s unacceptable no matter who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.

All New Zealanders wish family violence did not happen.

Many wish that those involved might just fix it themselves.

Some families do manage to improve their circumstances, but some do not.

They need help to stop the violence and repression so they can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

Obviously, the most important reason to help is to protect victims from the pain, fear and consequences of living in a violent household.

The sooner we stop it, the better the chance of lives being saved and of injuries being avoided; and the better the chance of adults and children living with the confidence, security and opportunities that most New Zealanders take for granted.

In addition, the greater the reduction in family violence now, the greater the chance of it not blighting another generation.

New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives, and I get that.

But let me say straight up that in households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully.

If they won’t stop that behaviour, and the victims can’t stop it, then we must ensure that someone else stops it.

Home should be the safest place for children and family the people who make and keep it that way but there are far too many children for whom home isn’t a sanctuary which is why the state and its agencies must step in.

We know the effects of this type of offending are cumulative and profound.

Children subjected to family violence, and those who witness it, are at risk of serious problems with their physical and mental health, poor educational and job outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse, and homelessness.

None of this will surprise any of you here today.

This audience knows that police respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year.

And you know that kids are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents.

You also know that, tragically, nearly half of all homicides are acts of family violence.

We are all aware of terrible cases where a woman has predicted, “my ex is going to kill me”, and he has.

Victims, mostly women, are often trapped because their spouses or partners have isolated them, cut them off from support and finances, and undermined their confidence.

It’s easy to think this is someone else’s problem.

But it is not someone else’s problem if you are a New Zealander who cares.

That’s why Ministers have been working together to come up with a different and better approach to family violence to get different and better results.

Everyone knows there is no single answer and the Government cannot be all of the solution.

However, we have a key role.

We have resources when victims often do not.

And we have the ability to make laws laid down by Parliament and enforced by police.

That is quite different to the laws laid down by some guy in his own home, and enforced by him.

Today I am announcing an overhaul of the family violence prevention system.

Our new approach will revolve around intervening sooner, and more effectively.

That is because the sooner we can identify problems and get victims and perpetrators the help that they need to change their lives for the better, the fewer serious assaults there will be.

We have already started with a new Integrated Safety Response pilot that is running in Christchurch, and soon to get underway in the Waikato.

This has brought in the widest range of agencies to work together, share information, and assess and plan responses for every family violence notification to police.

It involves daily case triage, specialist high-risk case management, and help for perpetrators to get the services they need to change their behaviour.

We know we have developed a better way of working on behalf of the people who need us most.

It’s early days but we also know that at least one life has been saved.

The feedback so far gives us hope that with the dedication of those in the sector, and a new way of working together, we can reduce family violence across New Zealand.

That is our aim.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has been carrying out a legislative review over the past two years that has led to the changes I am outlining today.

We will create a legislative regime that is built on best practice and ensures high-risk domestic abuse can be recognised, recorded and responded to properly. . . 

 

These changes are by no means the end of creating the effective, prevention-focused system that we aspire to — but they will provide its essential building blocks.

It will take time for services to be redesigned to appropriately meet the needs of the range of victims and perpetrators of family violence, and for the necessary capacity to be built.

We also need to ensure these services are integrated with existing initiatives like children’s teams.

These changes have the potential to significantly reduce family violence.

The increase in protection orders alone is expected to lead to 1200 fewer violent offences each year.

The increased imprisonment of violent offenders is expected to prevent a further 1100 violent offences per year.

These will be significant gains.

We know that half of all young people exposed to family violence will themselves be on a benefit before they turn 19.

We know that boys who witness family violence are twice as likely to grow up to abuse their own partners and children.

We know the cost of such violence to individuals, families, neighbourhoods and our country.

So we also know that every step we take to reduce this level of harm is worthwhile.

I want to personally make a couple more points, very plainly.

First, I want to say to victims: you are not alone.

You deserve and are entitled to a life free from fear, and your children deserve and are entitled to that too. Help is available.

Secondly, to the perpetrators of this misery I say this: recognise what is going on in your home and take responsibility for it.

A good father, a good step-father and a good man does not hit, intimidate or control his spouse, partner, ex-partner or her children. The same goes for women who are abusers.

You do not create a better family by hitting them, belittling them, or by making them live in fear of you.

You do not own your spouse, your partner, your ex-partner, your children or your step-children.

If you act in a violent and controlling way, you can change that behaviour.

Own the problem.

Nothing will get better until you do.

Ask for help. There is no shame in that.

This audience knows that family violence is not restricted to the poorest communities, or only to violence by men against women.

A quarter of women who live in a home that earns over $100,000 a year have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner.

Around one in four women with a university education have been assaulted.

20 per cent of all adults experience violence at the hands of their partner at some point in their lifetime.

Kids from abusive homes are three times more likely to end up in violent juvenile offending and three times more likely to try to take their own lives.

Just as the effects of family violence are widely felt, so is the challenge of reducing family violence widely shared — by the Government, the police, social agencies, families and by everyone who knows that violence is occurring, including those who are inflicting it.

None of us should be deterred by the difficulty of the problem. Rather we should be motivated by the positive difference we can make. . . 

 

So, increasing support in practical ways for those who need a hand has been a consistent theme of this Government and has been well supported by New Zealanders since we were first elected.

If this focus has surprised some commentators, it should not have.

In 2007, I stood up in the Burnside Rugby Clubrooms in Christchurch and made a speech about defining the sort of country I wanted New Zealand to be.

At the heart of that speech was the belief that every New Zealander deserves a fair chance in life.

A belief that all kids should have the kind of start that will enable them to make the most of their potential, and the most of the opportunities out there in the world today.

That does not mean that kids need to have everything.

No kid needs everything.

But they all need love, care and encouragement in order to flourish, and those can only be provided in homes where children feel safe and secure, because they are safe and secure.

Ministers in this Government are united in condemning abuse in the home.

All kinds of abuse.

Nothing justifies it. Nothing excuses it.

Succeeding in reducing family violence will save lives, and transform lives.

For some, it will feel like a new life.

There is so much to be gained.

This Government intends being part of the solution. I am sure you do too.

We have moved a long way from the bad old days when violence in the home was only a domestic but there are still homes which aren’t safe and families who live in fear of at least one of their family members.

Changing the law won’t make a difference by itself but it is part of the chain of change which must happen to help everyone whose homes aren’t the safe havens they should be.

 


Different in real world

September 6, 2016

Why do we bring in immigrants when there are so many people on benefits?

Prime Minister John Key gave the answer:

“We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying ‘well, OK, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke’s Bay, and so why can’t we get them to pick fruit’, and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme.

“But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won’t pass a drug test, some of these people won’t turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on. So it’s not to say there aren’t great people who transition from Work and Income to work, they do, but it’s equally true that they’re also living in the wrong place, or they just can’t muster what is required to actually work.”

He said geographic location was a major factor in matching unemployed people up with available jobs, and filling a position like a hairdresser in Queenstown could require a migrant to fill the role. . . 

He was criticised for this but employers back him up:

The New Zealand Seasonal Workers Scheme, is designed to give unemployed locals a job and aims to help them move to  areas with staff shortages.

But fruit growers said they were frustrated by the number of ‘no shows’ involved in the trial.

Central Otago wine grower James Dicey said he had tried several times to get workers in the trial to pick grapes for him.

“I’ve tried the scheme and worked hand in glove with Work and Income in the past and the level of suitable candidates who are prepared to turn up on a reliable basis and do an honest day’s work is pretty skinny on the ground. The last attempt I made on this, we tried to import some people from Dunedin. We had 1400 people be interviewed and we struggled to fill an eight-seater bus,” he said.

Mr Dicey said even before the scheme he tried to get a van full of beneficiaries to do seasonal work for him, but to no avail.

“Usually in a van of 10, if you can fill a van, two people won’t turn up to work the first day, another two people will last a couple of hours, the next two people won’t turn up the following day, then two of those people will see the harvest out, then when we offer them winter pruning work maybe one or two will do that.”

Mr Dicey said trying to get the workers left to do what was necessary to become full time – such as get their restricted licence – was difficult.

“I’ve offered all sorts of incentives for these two kids that I’ve got working for me at the moment to try to get them from their learners to their restricted licence, they’re not motivated. I’ve offered them money, I’ve put things on the table and I don’t understand what more I can do with these guys to get them across the line. And it’s a constant source of frustration. It’s just one illustration of something that makes it very difficult for me to be able to offer full time employment.” . . .

It’s not just in horticulture, dairying depends on foreign workers, in particular backpackers who, like Kiwis when they travel, are willing to work while they explore the country.

In the political world of the Opposition who want fewer foreigners every unemployed person has the attitude and ability to work.

But in the real world it’s different.

Unemployment is now around 5% nationally and lower in some of the places where there’ are staff shortages.

That’s getting down to the unemployable – people who can’t or won’t work.

When you’ve got fruit and vegetables to pick or cows to milk, you need people you can rely on to do what’s required when it’s required.

The alternative to foreign workers, be they visitors or immigrants, when locals won’t work is more mechanisation.

A friend who with a horticultural business installed a new sorting machine which took the place of five workers.

It was expensive but he said the difficulty of finding staff and increased complexities and costs of employment meant it was worth it.

This is the choice employers face when they can’t find locals who can and will work – foreigners or machines.


Rural round-up

September 1, 2016

How NZ dairy is trying to rule the world – a Bloomberg view – Emma O’Brien:

International news agency Bloomberg has taken a close look at Fonterra – see what it’s telling the world about our dairy giant and its plans to pay out more to its farmers.

In the shadow of a snow-dusted volcano on New Zealand’s North Island, a sprawling expanse of stainless steel vats, chimneys and giant warehouses stands as a totem of the tiny nation’s dominance in the global dairy trade.

The Whareroa factory was until recently the largest of its kind, churning out enough milk powder, cheese and cream to fill more than three Olympic-sized swimming pools a week.

The plant has helped make owner Fonterra Cooperative Group the world’s top dairy exporter and its farmer-suppliers among the greatest beneficiaries of China’s emerging thirst for milk. . . 

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It will not be enough for New Zealand to produce the best products in the world. Our produce will also have to reamin among the most sustainable. – John Key.

Seafood industry recognises its “stars”:

New Zealand seafood industry members who have made a significant contribution to the industry have been recognised in Wellington tonight in the inaugural Seafood Stars Awards.

The awards are part of the industry’s celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the fisheries Quota Management System with awards for excellence and innovation within the industry.

“Every day in fishing communities around the country thousands of people go to work to contribute to our $1.8 billion export industry whether it’s putting to sea in our inshore fisheries, working away from home in our deepwater fisheries, working on salmon and mussel farms, or onshore processing and marketing our products,” says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst. . . 

Sealord to make significant investment in fishing fleet – Shareholders back $70m new vessel purchase:

The country’s first new deepwater fishery vessel in 20 years
Will bring operational efficiency, sustainability and 80 new local jobs
New Zealand deep sea fishing company Sealord is to make a $70 million investment in its fishing fleet with the purchase of a new state-of-the-art vessel.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Yung says Sealord’s shareholders, Maori-owned Moana New Zealand (Aotearoa Fisheries Limited) and Japanese company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd (Nissui), have committed to the vessel purchase, which they will part-fund.

“This will be the first new vessel for the country’s deepwater fishery in 20 years, since the introduction of Sealord’s FV Rehua, and the backing of our shareholders is clear demonstration of their long-term commitment to the business and support of our commercial and operational strategies. . . 

Zespri volumes, returns grow:

Zespri’s Annual Meeting today recapped the strong 2015/16 season for the kiwifruit industry – record sales and highest-ever total grower returns – as well as charting the industry’s future as the government approves amendments to the Kiwifruit Regulations.

2015/16 season recap

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season grew to hit a record high of $1.9 billion, up 22 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit also grew 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

Cracker potential for NZ cheese exports – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand needs to realise the export potential of its cheese market, UK industry veteran Juliet Harbutt says.

Mrs Harbutt, who established the British Cheese Awards, said New Zealand should pay as much attention to the value and money that could be made with cheese as it did with its wine industry.

“The extraordinary thing in New Zealand is that we’ve got all this wonderful land and fantastic grazing and all these cows, yet we still seem to be producing the vast majority of it into milk powder and cheddar,” said Mrs Harbutt, who has worked in the UK cheese industry for 30 years. . .

Exports could be affected by horticulture worker shortage – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand’s exports could suffer if demand for horticulture workers isn’t met, a primary industries training organisation says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is aiming for the horticulture sector to reach $5.7 billion in exports by 2020, up $1.6 billion from the end of last year.

An MPI report shows that the horticulture industry needs nearly 8000 skilled workers by 2025 to cope with the predicted rise in production and export earning.  . . 

Farmers should get ready to cast their votes – Chris Lewis:

When you exercise your vote in October, make it count towards candidates who understand the rural community.

Last week I spoke about uncontested local election candidates who get a free pass on any accountability for their part in current issues.

It is so important that farmers get out and vote for candidates who can better represent them. If we don’t it makes the job of Federated Farmers so much harder.

The sad truth is the farming community is stuck with an old system of capital-based rates versus the central government’s existing tax on earnings.

Comparable to other residents, farmers pay significant sums of money to fund community services. It feels like we’re the ATM machines that keep councils’ lights on. . . 

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Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy cows.


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