Jonathan Coleman’s valedictory

April 12, 2018

Jonathan Coleman delivered his valedictory statement last night:

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote): One of the things I’ve often been asked is “Why on Earth would anyone want to go from being a doctor to becoming a politician?” And, indeed, there’ve been one or two occasions over the years—and, in fact, some in more recent times—when I’ve asked myself that very same question. But despite my job coming with a permanent open invitation to go on Radio New Zealand National Checkpoint and notwithstanding the maligned motives that some less generous citizens might attribute to politicians, the fact is that it is a very real and rare privilege to serve in this place, to represent one’s community, and to be allowed in to the lives of a wide range of New Zealanders as they experience the best and worst of what life has to offer in this country. That is also because if it’s possible to get in to Government and make it to the Cabinet table, there is the chance to effect real change to improve the lives of our fellow New Zealanders. That is the reason why we all come to this place regardless of our political views.

Twelve years, six months, and 29 days as a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives is a career probably longer than most but shorter than many. I’ve felt honoured to serve as the member of Parliament for Northcote with nine years as a Minister of the Crown. I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had over that period. When I look back on that time, there’s been some incredible political and life experiences, but above all I’ve gone to work every single day determined to make a positive contribution for my electorate and for our country. I was aware that each day I spent in this place was because I’d been sent here by the people of Northcote, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Some leave this place under duress, some too early, and some too late. For me, now is the right time, and I’m looking forward to the future and to the new challenges ahead. There is so much to fit into a valedictory, but having listened to a few over time, the best have a bit of reflection, maybe a little advice, a little bit of philosophy, a whole lot of thanks, and, believe it or not, not too much politics.

I was lucky enough to secure the nomination to contest the Northcote electorate for the 2005 election. My time as a candidate was pretty eventful, with an intense campaign of door knocking, human hoardings, and pub canvassing. It culminated in winning the seat from the sitting Labour member, which, of course, was a massive achievement for the whole Northcote team. That turned out to be a defining point in my political as well as personal life, as Sandra and I moved in to the electorate and built our family life there. And Northcote is now well and truly home. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent an electorate within which the previous five generations of my family have all lived, since 1846, and that has meant a huge amount to me over my career. I believe it’s a pretty rare thing, especially for an urban seat.

That first term as an MP pretty much determines your future in this place, both in the electorate and in this Chamber. I was lucky enough to be part of a health team run by the inscrutable Tony Ryall. He was prepared to share the opportunities around, especially at question time. That certainly enabled me to build a bit of a profile, clashing with the then Minister of Health Pete Hodgson who would scream across the Chamber in response to naïve questions from a young backbencher, which was a bit of a win as far as I was concerned. Yes, I felt like screaming at times as Minister of Health but I never actually did it. Anyway, the point is that politics does not have to be a zero sum game; it’s often described as being that. But sharing the opportunities with colleagues, especially junior colleagues is an approach I’ve tried to follow. Yip, there was the odd career-threatening moment in that first term but I survived to become part of the three-term National-led Government that swept to power in 2008.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to spend nine of my 12 years here as a Minister. My ministerial career kicked off with a short phone call monologue from the new Prime Minister, who had already had to wade through party negotiations and discussions with multiple colleagues. By the time he got to me he wasn’t about to enter into any debates, he just said “You’re doing immigration, broadcasting, associate health, and associate tourism. I’m the Minister of Tourism so you’ll be doing all the work. Catch you Monday.” John Key was a great guy to work for. Ministers agreed priorities with him and if he had confidence in an individual he just let them get on with it. He was, of course, arguably the most talented politician we’ll see in our life time, and to serve as part of that Government was at times a pinch-yourself-to-make-sure-it’s-not-a-dream type of experience.

He could also be pretty forgiving. As his erstwhile attending physician I was with him when as Prime Minister he tripped heavily on the stage stairs while running up to give a speech at Chinese New Year celebrations in 2009. Returning to the seat beside me he commented that his arm was a bit sore. I advised him of a treatment plan with which members of my family are very familiar, namely take a couple of Panadol, forget about it, and all would be well. However, it seems the Prime Minister did not actually follow this advice because the next day he rang to inform me that his arm was actually broken in two places. Anyway, I already had my Cabinet warrant so that was that. Being the Cabinet doctor certainly gave an interesting insight into the constitutions of various colleagues, several of whom seem to think I had an unending appetite for graphic descriptions of their symptoms. Let’s just say there seem to be a lot of very serious man flu running around.

Bill English made a remarkable contribution to New Zealand politics, and it was great working with him across my time as a Minister. Of course, his time as the Prime Minister was all too short but he made a massive intellectual contribution both to the National Party and also to New Zealand politics.

I’ve never been that keen on being dictated to and that is aligned with my political philosophy, namely that while it’s up to the Government of the day to draw up the boundaries of the playing field, if you like, it’s important to then allow New Zealanders to get on with it because they, not the Government, are the best people to determine how they live their lives, spend their money, and raise their children. And that’s what has always attracted me to the National Party’s philosophy. In line with this, on conscience issues that result in massive societal change my instinct has always been that the people should decide, not the Parliament. While thankfully our politics in New Zealand is not as polarised as in some jurisdictions it’s still important to note that philosophical differences are certainly there. While the votes are in the centre, political parties have to be able to mark out clear territory on the electoral spectrum in order to survive.

I came to politics through a background in medicine and business, and I believe that it was the former that stood me in greater stead. Because politics, in the end, is about understanding people. It’s about listening, it’s about dealing with the full range of human nature and emotion, it’s about making decisions and charting a course of action when sometimes there is no right or wrong obvious answer. Medicine also gave me daily contact with New Zealanders of every type and background imaginable. My time working as a doctor in south Auckland remained a long-term private reference point as we sat around the Cabinet table taking policy decisions. Ten dollars to see the doctor was a lot of money for many of my patients and I never forgot that. Later on when faced with really tough issues like cancer patients seeking funding for life-saving drugs I was able to reflect on my bedside experiences.

But there’s no blueprint for being a Minister of the Crown apart from a little known and, I suspect, a little read tome entitled How to be a Minister by the late Gerald Kaufman, an English MP. And I suggest some members of the new Government get hold of a copy pretty quickly. Considering its somewhat limited audience the author probably didn’t make a lot of money from book royalties. I withdrew it in my first week as a Minister and had it on continuous loan from the Parliamentary Library for quite some time, by which time I think two colleagues had actually been dismissed from the Cabinet. I felt a bit bad that my long-term loan of the library’s only copy may have deprived them of career-saving advice. Basically though, new Ministers have to make their own way and it’s very much a sink or swim environment. A Minister has to have a few very clear big picture priorities if they wish to achieve anything. Understanding details is important but it’s the agenda that counts.

My ministerial career started in immigration, which I soon discovered makes one a very popular guest at ethnic events. Some of the representations to my office were slightly unconventional, including one which arrived accompanied by a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whiskey, which needless to say left the office in the custody of the owner. Right from the start I focused on attracting migrants with the skills and capital to make a contribution to New Zealand, including a highly successful business migration programme and the introduction of the silver fern visa to attract promising qualified young people who are likely to make a long-term contribution. We also drove the reconfiguration of the Immigration New Zealand network, aligning the footprint to important markets across the globe while moving processes online and eliminating as much bureaucracy as possible. It’s my view that New Zealand must continue to position as an outward-looking internationally-engaged open economy and immigration is central to that.

However, that term wasn’t always totally rosy. One night in September 2010, Peter Dunne offered me the generous opportunity of reading for him a bill on tax, entitled the Taxation (International Investment and Remedial Matters) Bill. Unfortunately, he sent me down with a copy of a speech he’d given two years ago, on the Taxation (International Taxation, Life Insurance, and Remedial Matters) Bill. Tell me if you can tell the difference. In fact, no one in the Parliament could, until about minute seven or eight, when Stuart Nash suddenly realised there was something eerily familiar about the words that were being uttered. But in the end, of course, the bill passed its reading and as far as I can see hasn’t been repealed yet.

My period as Minister of Defence was extremely interesting and satisfying, and there was a lot going on. The New Zealand Defence Force had three large missions in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste, all of which we withdrew from over those years. At the same time, there was a major review of defence capabilities required to deliver on New Zealand defence policy. We were also engaging with the US on defence matters, after a considerable hiatus, and all in all this was a period of major change.

I came away from my time in that portfolio with a deep respect for the men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force. I’ve never met a group of people more dedicated to the service of their country and with greater pride in their vocation.

There were many poignant experiences, including three visits to Afghanistan, returning the veterans to El Alamein and Monte Cassino, and speaking at the Gallipoli Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2013. But there was none more intense and emotional than travelling the length of New Zealand twice in the space of 10 days to visit the parents and close family of young men and women who had been killed in the service of our country in Afghanistan literally two days before.

One of the things I’m absolutely proudest of, and you wouldn’t have read much about it in the news at the time, was getting the families of those killed and wounded in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste into this Chamber for the dedication of new plaques commemorating those deployments, and those are there, above the entrance to the Chamber. I know that recognition made a huge difference to those people.

To maintain an active, engaged New Zealand Defence Force, operations are absolutely crucial. In that regard, present and future Governments need to think carefully about how they will maintain the important strategic capability that is the New Zealand SAS.

My biggest message on defence, though, is that despite what the sceptics might think, New Zealand’s contribution really does count and has a huge flow-on effect in terms of our overall standing with like-minded nations. I know it definitely helped reopen doors in Washington over the last 10 years.

As stimulating as defence might be, health is actually a much more dangerous portfolio for any Minister. It’s on the front line of politics, and I was delighted to take up the challenge for my final three years as a Minister. It’s certainly a great way to boost your profile, up to a certain point—in fact, even beyond the point you’ve announced your retirement. It’s a portfolio where there is always more to do. Every day in my office, the overriding priority was to continue to increase and improve access to clinical services for all New Zealanders. I’m not pretending the system is perfect, and there will always be pressures in health for any Government. But some critics do the country a disservice by their portrayal of the New Zealand health system.

We delivered results, and the figures tell the story: increased access to surgery, increasing numbers of specialist appointments, decreased waiting times for cancer treatment, vastly improved immunisation rates, and more doctors and nurses. There was also $3 billion of new health facilities the length of New Zealand and a $5 billion lift to the health budget—fully funding population growth and inflation over our time in Government.

Perhaps the biggest single initiative I was involved in delivering was the $2 billion pay settlement for some of the most deserving people in New Zealand—the 55,000 care and support workers, and of course most of those people are women. I know it made a huge difference to them and their families. If the new Government, in the end of their time, can have matched our record of delivery they will be doing very well indeed.

Apart from the focus on clinical results, my big-picture drive was on a new New Zealand Health Strategy, which lays out the blueprint for a sustainable health system. That was delivered, and its implementation will now set up the system for New Zealand for decades to come. The National Government also laid the foundations for an electronic health record, and that will make a patient’s key health information available through the system. It is the only way we’re ultimately going to unlock productivity in healthcare, and I sincerely hope that this is work that the current Government will prioritise.

There were other portfolios too: State services, where I was Minister at a time of the biggest reform of the Public Service in a generation—important, but it certainly seemed like work; sport, where we linked participation to better health outcomes while continuing to drive high performance results—important, but it certainly did not seem like work.

There’s so many people to thank for the past 14 years, first as a candidate and then as a member of Parliament. To colleagues across the House, it’s been a pleasure, mostly, to work with you over the years. To Wayne Mapp, to Nathan Guy, to Judith Collins, to Gerry Brownlee, to Maggie Barry, to Simon O’Connor, to David Bennett, and to Sam Lotu-Iiga, thank you for your friendship. We all need people we can talk to in this place, and I had that, and I’m thankful for it.

To Simon Bridges, National Party leader, and the rest of the National team here in Parliament, thank you for your support, especially since my announcement but over many years before that. Simon, I wish you and the rest of the National team all the best. You will make a great Prime Minister, and you are supported by a very talented caucus.

I had fantastic people around me during my career here in Wellington: my senior private secretary of nine years,

Melissa Turner, Oliver Thurston, Nikki Grant, James Watson, Martin Watterson, Steven Parker, Angela Keneally, Michael Johnson, Kirsty Taylor-Doig, J2 Jonathan Franklin, and Margaret Lawrie. Former Nelson Under-21s fullback and political soothsayer Peter McCardle became a close friend and mentor, and I thank you Peter for all the excellent advice, some of which I even took.

Thank you to the huge number of Public Service secondees and various officials with whom I worked over my career. I always placed the emphasis on building a team in my office over those nine years, and we had a huge amount of fun, as well as working long hours with great intensity.

Electorate teams are special, and I had a wonderful electorate agent for a decade, Anne Lyttelton—utterly loyal, a great friend, and, best of all, she never failed over the years to take the bait when I’ve rung the office impersonating various demanding constituents. Gavin Cook, you’ve given 43 fantastic years of service to the electorate committee, and you’re like a close uncle to me. Colin and Helen Hartwell, you’ve been with me from day one and I thank you for all the times we’ve had over many years. We will still all catch up.

To electorate chairs Callum Dixon, Jason Shoebridge, Kevin Kline, and Alex Foan, thank you so much for all your work, support, and loyalty. To Angela Hare, Karen Meldrum, Valerie Taylor, Adrienne Moat-Wilson, John Palmer, Geoff Parry, Paul Lahore, Martin Cooper, John and Ali McFetridge, and Julie Fenning, to Peter Kylie, to Alastair Bell, Margaret Voyce, the Ellis family, to Martin Gummer, and to Tim Hurdle—thanks for the tremendous part you’ve all played along the way.

One of the toughest parts of being a member of Parliament—a long-term member in an electorate—is the people you lose along the way. I want to remember the late Bob Mitchell and the late Bill Plunkett; sterling guys, who left a big hole to fill.

To former Birkenhead and Northcote MPs Sir Jim McLay and Ian Revell, I’m absolutely thrilled that you’re here today. You’ve been staunch supporters over many years—my whole career—and I thank you.

To the National Party, to presidents Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, thank you for the opportunities of the last 12½ years. To the people of the Northcote electorate, representing you has been the greatest privilege. You were so loyal in your support over five elections, and I thank you. I’ve been truly moved by the reaction to my resignation, and it has meant everything to me. Being an electorate MP is not a job; it’s a whole life. I feel privileged to have lived it for nearly 13 years.

Northcote is not an electorate I ever took for granted, but it will reward sheer hard work with loyalty. I wish the new National candidate and the team all the best in the upcoming by-election.

To personal friends, many of them from well outside politics, including the Northcote Book Club—thank you for your support and forbearance over the years. It’s going to be great, actually, now to be able to see a lot more people than I have been able to for quite some time in some of my favourite haunts, like the Northcote Rugby Club, the Northcote Tennis Club, and the Northcote Tavern. I’ll be able to spend quite a bit more time there, although hopefully not too much time in the tavern. But it will be good to be back home much more often.

To the wider Coleman and Keeney families, thank you for being there at a personal level. To my mother, Pat, and her husband, Jack, thanks for everything over more than just these last 13 years. To Kay, Richard, and Matthew, and families; to Judy, my mother-in-law, thank you. And I honour the memory of my later father, Ron, a Northcote boy. He would have been amazed to see how it’s all turned out.

Above all, to Madison and Jack, you’ve had a taste of the political life and are just two awesome kids who have grown up thinking it’s normal to see Dad on TV. Jack, you were born when I was a Minister and you’re now 10; so, you know, that’s a long time. I know you don’t like being mentioned too much, but your name is in the Hansard now. Madison, you are the same. You’ve been a fantastic inspiration to me over many years, and it’s now great to see where you’re going and the next stage, when you move off to intermediate school next year. Actually, Jack is eight; Madison is ten. I’ve spent so much away from home! I knew he was shaking his head for a reason, and he’s pointing his finger.

Anyway, to Sandra, who never liked being known as the Mayor of Rotorua’s daughter and had a very healthy sense of perspective on being the MP’s wife, this has been a long and important and fun chapter for us, but I couldn’t have started that chapter, I couldn’t have moved through it, and I certainly couldn’t have successfully finished it without you. Thank you. I still can’t believe I didn’t tell you I was contacting the National Party about being a candidate, but I guess that’s a while ago now. You’ve been with me every step of the way since that time, and you’ve seen and done it all, from delivering pamphlets to emotional support. Yes, I am in debt to you big time.

Finally, to distil political advice into succinct verse, look no further than a poem by an old white guy called Rudyard Kipling, called “If”, which he wrote as advice to his son. I’m not going to recite it in its entirety but it’s worth the read for any politician—or, actually, for any one at all.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—

Yours in the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thank you, and kia ora. It’s been a pleasure to serve

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What does a heart attack look like?

July 10, 2017

Would you recognise a heart attack?

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is welcoming the return of a campaign which tells people how to identify the signs of a possible heart attack.

The Heart Foundation campaign includes an award-winning TV commercial which shows people acting out what people often expect a heart attack to look like, while another person is quietly experiencing actual symptoms.

“Heart disease is New Zealand’s biggest killer, it’s responsible for more than 6,000 deaths a year or around 16 deaths a day,” says Dr Coleman.

“A recent survey from the Heart Foundation found our awareness around heart attack symptoms is fairly low, with almost 80 per cent unable to identify all the major signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

“The survey also found that over 40 per cent of us would hesitate to call 111 if we were suffering the symptoms of a heart attack.

“The return of this successful awareness campaign should help further educate people about both the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and the need to act quickly.”

Symptoms of a heart attack include prolonged discomfort or pain, frequently in the chest, but occasionally in the jaw, neck or arms. Associated symptoms may include nausea, breathlessness and excessive sweating.

The Heart Foundation’s Heart Attack Awareness campaign will run from today until the end of the month, with support from the Ministry of Health and the Milestone Foundation.


Warning signs include:

Are you experiencing… In any of these areas? You may also experience:
  • heaviness
  • tightness
  • pressure
  • discomfort/pain
  • chest
  • shoulder
  • jaw
  • arm
  • neck
  • back
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

$50m children’s hospital gift

July 10, 2017

Wellington benefactor Mark Dunajtschik will build and gift a new $50 million children’s hospital for the region.

A media release from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says:

The announcement was made this morning at Wellington Hospital where a heads of agreement was signed between Mr Dunajtschik and Capital and Coast DHB.

“Mr Dunajtschik is a very successful businessman with a very big heart and his offer to build a new children’s hospital for Wellington is extraordinarily generous,” says Dr Coleman.

“While gestures on this scale are not unheard of, they are extremely rare.

“Mr Dunajtschik has said his philosophy is that people blessed with a sound mind and body can look after themselves, but those born with or suffering illness and disability need our support.

“Although he has been a substantial benefactor in the areas of health, sport and education for forty years, this latest act of ‘giving back’ is unparalleled.”

This development will benefit the 4,000 children and their families admitted to child health services at Wellington Regional Hospital each year, as well as over 5,000 children who attend nearly 38,000 outpatient appointments.

While many details are still to be confirmed, the new hospital is expected to be around 7,000m², and is likely to be three floors. It is expected to include 50 inpatient hospital beds, as well as space for families to be together.

Existing child hospital and outpatient services will move into the new hospital. The services and staffing levels are expected to remain the same.

Mr Duanjtschik and his team will now work alongside DHB clinical teams to design a fit for purpose, family centred hospital for the region’s children.

The new hospital will be situated in the Wellington Region Hospital campus, and is expected to begin construction early next year and will take around 18 months.

When we were in Houston a couple of months ago a local told us the city doesn’t really do much for tourists. With the space programme and health precinct it doesn’t need to.

The health precinct covered several blocks and included the The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center . It was established by the University of Texas which funded half the cost, the other half came from the MD Anderson Foundation.

New Zealand health has benefitted from the generosity of  philanthropic people before, for example the T.D. Scott Chair of Urology at Otago University was established when a $1m donation from Trevor Scott was matched by the same amount from the Government’s Partnerships for Excellence Programme.

The $50m donation for the children’s hospital is a very generous one and it comes from a man of whom most of us have never heard.


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 

One in a million

May 11, 2017

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more than one million doses of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine have now been distributed.

“A recent New Zealand study showed that most people infected with influenza in 2015 didn’t experience any symptoms, but could still have spread the virus without realising it,” says Dr Coleman.

“By being immunised, we not only protect ourselves, but we help to ensure we don’t pass on influenza to our families, friends and colleagues.

That’s a point people who think they don’t need to be vaccinated often miss.

“This is the sixth year in a row where more than a million doses have been distributed. Most influenza immunisation takes place in late autumn, as such we expect to reach our target of 1.2 million doses by early August.”

It takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to start providing protection, so immunisation is recommended before the beginning of winter. . .

I am one of those in the million plus who have had the jab, so’s my farmer and most of our staff for whom we reimburse the cost.

We encourage our staff to get vaccinated for their own sakes and that of the rest of us.

Flu is a serious illness. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective but they’re more effective than any other anti-flu measures.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.

366 days of gratitude

December 8, 2016

The left and the more excitable of the commentariat have been acting like Chicken Little.

Prime Minister John Key has announced his resignation but the sky isn’t falling and the National caucus is not falling apart.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English has more than enough support from his colleagues to become party leader and PM when they meet on Monday.

Minister Judith Collins and Jonathan who were keen for a contest have withdrawn and pledge their support for the PM in waiting.

The leader of the party and the country is changing but stable government, focussed on the issues that matter, maintaining careful management of finances to enable better public services will continue.

I’m very grateful for that.

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