Mining personal grief for political ends

November 19, 2017

When politicians make promises do you take them at their word?

Under MMP that’s harder because they can always use the excuse, that was their policy but had to let it go during coalition negotiations.

But if it was a promise made by the two parties in government and their coalition partner outside government that one can’t be used.

In August, leaders of Labour, United Future, the Maori Party and the Green Party signed a commitment to reenter Pike River mine.

National, rightly, put lives before politics:

Environment Minister Nick Smith responded to the commitment and said the parties were either making empty promises to the families or proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies. 

“It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018,” he said.  

“It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.

“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men.

“The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry [into the Pike River Mine Tragedy].”

Winston Peters said he’d be one of the first to go back into Pike River and manned entry was one of New Zealand First’s bottom lines.

Such promises are oh so easy in opposition, but what happens when the reality of government bites?

Pike River Mine minister Andrew Little says he cannot guarantee a re-entry of the mine and has told family members that he will do what he can but safety is the top priority. . . 

“Ultimately, and the families are very clear, the first principle of the set of principles that are governing what we do is safety, the safety of anybody involved in the re-entry project. I’m not going to put anybody at undue risk. I’m simply not going to.”

He did not intend to legislate for any exemption to the health and safety laws or immunity from liability for the Pike River Agency.

Safety was the priority of the previous government in the face of harsh criticism from the Pike River families and then-opposition parties supporting them.

That was the right position.

The Pike River disaster was a tragedy. There are many unanswered questions on how it happened and the shortcoming that led to it happening.

Some of the answers to those questions might be found if it was possible to safely reenter the mine.

But safely is and must always be the operative word.

The bottom line that National and the mine owners stuck to still stands: no lives must be endangered, no lives must be lost, to retrieve the dead.

Some families have accepted this.

Some have not and put their faith in the politicians who promised them manned entry would be undertaken.

Little will be criticised for his safety-first stance, but this time it’s the right one.

The wrong one was making a promise that he and the other politicians, including his leader, Jacinda Ardern, should never have made.

Those politicians were mining personal grief for political ends.

It was despicable behaviour.

 

Advertisements

Rural round-up

October 25, 2017

Nitrogen-busting genetics could prevent millions of kilograms of nitrates landing on dairy farms – Pat Deavoll:

Nitrate reducing forage plants and bacteria, denitrification walls and now nitrate-busting bulls are being developed to lower farming’s impact on the environment.

Thanks to an international breakthrough by dairy herd improvement company CRV Ambreed, bulls have been identified that pass lower nitrate levels through their urine onto soils.

The company has selected bulls genetically superior for a trait related to the concentration of urea nitrogen in milk. . .

Sone up, some down, some firm – Nigel Malthus:

Lamb, sheep and deer prices are likely to remain firm, but cow and bull prices could soften, according to the Alliance Group’s projections for the new season.

Heather Stacy, Alliance’s general manager livestock and shareholder services, told a recent meeting of shareholder farmers at Little River, Banks Peninsula, that prime beef prices should remain similar to last year at $5.00 – $5.40/kg early season and $4.80 – $5.20/kg post-Christmas. . . 

Kiwifruit’s bright outlook – Peter Burke:

There’s gold for New Zealand growers in Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.
Overseas demand is high for the new Psa-free variety and prices continue to rise.

As a result, Zespri chairman Peter McBride is forecasting a net profit after tax of $96 million to $101m for the year ended March 31, 2018. Profit last year was $73.7m. . .

Science to rule on farming’s role in ETS:

Farmers are relieved that science – rather than politics – will decide whether agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Under the coalition agreement unveiled yesterday, a new Climate Commission will make the decision.

Other details made public yesterday include scrapping the controversial water tax, but introducing a royalty on bottled water exports, along with higher water quality standards for everyone.

Labour went into the election promising to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. . . 

Dairy fund takes stake in Lewis Road to support NZ, international expansion – Sophie Boot:

Dairy farming investment fund Southern Pastures has taken an undisclosed but significant stake in Lewis Road Creamery, with executive chairman Prem Maan set to join the Lewis Road board.

The investment “will enable further expansion of Lewis Road’s popular product portfolio in New Zealand, and support the company’s push towards exporting to lucrative overseas markets”, Lewis Road said in a statement. Founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane will remain the company’s largest shareholder. . . 

Increase in illegal seafood sales on Facebook prompts warning:

A significant increase in the number of illegal seafood sales via Facebook has prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to warn those offending that they will face penalties for violating the Fisheries Act.

Since the beginning of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood including crayfish, kina and pāua.That’s up on the previous year where 96 complaints were received and the year before that when 57 complaints were registered. . . 

The many paradoxes of life on and off farm – Joyce Wylie:

Paradoxes are part of our lives, and they are not skydiving medical teams. Paradox is defined as “a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics” which can make them both humorously absurd and irritating nonsense.

For example 3.57 million New Zealanders enrolled for our recent election. So, 79.8 per cent of us used our democratic privilege meaning 2.63 million votes were cast and counted. But amazingly after this major public participation the final result came down to a small number of candidates who didn’t win a single electorate seat between them. They made a choice behind closed doors about who holds power in the 52nd parliament of our country.

10 things only a farmer’s child would know – Hayley Parrott:

We recently had a chuckle at an article about 10 things anyone marrying a farmer can expect to encounter and it got us thinking. Lots of us in the Farmers Weekly office grew up on farms and here are a few memories we think those of you born and bred on a farm might empathise with.

1. Summer holidays. Or so-called “holidays”. For those six weeks you await with such anticipation, you will spend most of it helping to feed the chickens, walk the dogs and painting fences. You’ll be granted a well-earned break on the day of the county show. . .


Voters here and there

October 23, 2017
  1. Does this mean people living here and experiencing what was happening had a greater appreciation that National had the country going in the right direction than those living overseas who had to rely on the media?
  2. Will at least some of these people who voted Green in a much greater proportion than people living here did, come home and face the consequences now their party has some influence in government?

 

Votes within NZ: Labour 36.86%; Green 6.06%; NZ First 7.3% and National 44.61%.

Overseas votes: Labour 38.2%; Green 15.23%; NZ First 2.88% and National 37.35%

 


Free trade 2-way street

October 21, 2017

Free trade is vital to New Zealand, Horticulture NZ Mike Chapman says.

New Zealand is a trading nation. We rely on export earnings from free trade for our financial prosperity. But free trade is a two way street – the countries involved open up their borders to allow free movement of goods and services on an equal basis. This includes property ownership.

The pathway to premium export earnings is through innovation and having a point of difference. Access to the latest techniques and innovations is key to New Zealand remaining competitive and market leaders.

The truth here is that to do that, New Zealand needs strong links with the international science community, companies involved in innovation, market leaders and companies with scale and market penetration. Many of those international companies have operations based in New Zealand. Equally, New Zealand also has operations based in their home countries. That involves property ownership. Here, I’m not talking about residential properties.

The importance of trade was recently highlighted in a report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER). Here are a couple key points from their analysis:

– Trade accounts for $85 billion (43%) of New Zealand’s GDP.
– Trade gives each household in New Zealand improved product choice worth $3.9 billion, or $2,300 per household.
– A US study estimates that trade contributes about 30% to the average US household’s purchasing power. In New Zealand this would be far higher, given how trade reliant we are compared to the US.
– More free trade agreements will increase New Zealand’s GDP by $18 billion and create 42,000 skilled and 20,000 low skilled jobs.

Freeing up trade and keeping trade free are vital for New Zealand’s continued prosperity.

Tightening up on any aspect of our free trade may have a ripple effect. As a country, we do not want to slip into economic decline. So Horticulture New Zealand’s plea to New Zealand’s new government is to keep the previous Government’s free trade agenda running. Foreign investment in New Zealand enhances our economic prosperity.

We need to keep the door open for three key reasons:

– New Zealand’s prosperity depends on free trade – we can’t compete if, due to tariffs and other barriers, our goods and services are more expensive than those from other countries. Simply put, our goods and services will not be purchased.
– Many overseas companies that have invested in New Zealand enhance our ability to be market leaders and innovate, provide many jobs, and contribute to our economic prosperity and ability to buy goods from around the world.
– New Zealand’s companies need to invest in overseas countries to enhance our ability to compete for premium prices and keep ahead of innovations – it is a two way street.

We can’t win the fight to open doors for our goods and services if we close our own.

Successive Labour and National governments have agreed on the importance of free trade and worked to advance it.

We’ll all lose if the new government attempts to return to the bad old days of fortress New Zealand.


Still backing Bill

October 20, 2017

No sooner had Winston Peters finished anointing Labour last night than commentators were beginning to talk about a successor to National leader Bill English.

That might make good copy but leadership speculation is not in National’s best interests.

Bill led the party to a historic level of 44.4% support – that’s nearly 8% higher than Labour got in this election and higher than Helen Clark ever got.

The ODT nails it:

National’s share of the vote was lower than in 2014, but English secured about 20,000 more votes than Key did in 2014. He held National up against a stronger onslaught from Labour than Key ever faced, and ensured that fourth term was at least well within its reach.

His fate was delivered by the whim of Peters – not the voters.

He’s earned the leadership and it will be better for the party if he keeps it, at least until the new government’s honeymoon is over. After that the choice of staying on as leader or not should be his, for his sake and the party’s.

Someone whose grasp of history is better than mine might contradict me, but I don’t think New Zealand has ever had an opposition this strong in numbers. The MPs also have a formidable breadth and depth of experience and skills.

National was strong, united and loyal to the leader in government, the caucus and wider party need to remain strong,  united and loyal to the leader in opposition.

That’s an important part of the way back to government in the shortest possible time.

 


Bugger

October 19, 2017

Winston Peters has opted for a Labour-NZ First coalition.

I hope the anti-trade, anti-business rhetoric that characterised their campaigns is put aside and they govern for the good of the country.

I am very sorry Bill English won’t have the opportunity to carry on his good work – yet.

National with 56 MPs, and most of them holding electorates, will be a formidable opposition.


Which way will he go, what will it cost?

October 19, 2017

Winston Peters announced he’ll make an announcement on which party he’ll support to form a government sometime this afternoon.

Negotiations have been remarkable for the lack of leaks so nobody outside the parties knows what he and NZ First are asking for and nobody outside the parties knows what National and Labour have been prepared to offer.

It’s ironic that people who voted for MMP because they didn’t like politicians landed us not only with a system that gives us more of them but gave them more power too.

But that’s what we’ve got and sometime today we’ll know the government that the man who lost his seat and gained only 7% of party votes has chosen.

Which way should he go, which way will he go and what will it cost?

Bill English has the experience and skills that will make it more likely a government he leads will succeed and do better for New Zealand than one led by the much less experienced Labour team.

But only if the cost isn’t too high in terms of policy concessions and cabinet roles.


%d bloggers like this: