61% support 4-year term

24/11/2020

A research New Zealand poll found 61% of respondents support a four-year parliamentary term.

. . . Three-fifths (61%) of New Zealanders would support increasing the Parliamentary term from 3 to 4 years.

This was consistently supported across the regions.

Younger respondents were less in favour with 53% of 18 to 34 year olds in support compared to 62% of 35 to 54 year olds and 67% of those aged 55 years or older.

Forty percent would support the introduction of compulsory voting in New Zealand. There was strongest support from Aucklanders at 45%.

Twenty percent support lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years.

Not surprisingly, support was strongest amongst younger respondents, with support from 28% of 18 to 34 year olds, 23% of 35 to 54 year olds and just 11% of those aged 55 or older.

Male respondents were more in favour at 24% compared to females at 17%, and Wellington was the region most in favour with 29% support. . . 

In one of the election debates National leader Judith Collins and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern found common ground in supporting a four-year term. Most other political parties prefer that option too.

If the views reflected in that poll are correct, the public is coming round to the idea of an extra year between elections too.

The Maxim Institute found three-year terms are very much in the minority internationally:

New Zealand’s House of Representatives is one of only seven parliamentary chambers with a term of three years. The others are
in Australia, Mexico, the Philippines, Qatar, El Salvador, and Nauru. . . 

Australia, Mexico and the Philippines are bicameral.

Focusing on unicameral parliaments paints a similar picture, with the majority of countries surveyed favouring a four or five-year term.  More specifically: fifty-three countries (46.9 percent) have a five-year term, and fifty countries (44.25 percent) have a four-year term.

Local Government New Zealand favours a four-year term:

. . . Newly elected president Stuart Crosby said there were high levels of frustration with the three-year term, and all the processes councils had to go through to make a decision.

He said three years was not enough time to get action on increasingly complex tasks.

Crosby said councils were going backwards faster than they were going forward.

“To get a decision made can take a long time, then a new council comes in and wants to review it so you take a step back before you go forward.

“That doesn’t happen on every decision but on the major, big strategic decisions I’ve seen it happen time and time again.” . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union supports the idea, with a proviso:

“A four-year cycle would help to focus local councils on longer-term projects such as major infrastructure works. But the downside would be a loss of accountability: if voters elect a mayor or councillor who soon disgraces the office or breaks a major promise, we’ll be stuck with them for the full four-year term.”

“There’s a simple fix for this problem. Any extension of the electoral cycle should come with an option for recall election. This means that during the electoral term voters could petition to recall a representative. If enough signatures are gathered, a recall election is triggered for that position, meaning voters can replace a dysfunctional representative with someone more effective.”

“LGNZ has advocated for recall elections previously. If they’re serious about extending the electoral term, they’ll need to address justified concerns about democratic accountability. A recall option will serve this function well.”

The Taxpayers’ Union made the case for local recall elections in a recent briefing paper available at www.taxpayers.org.nz/recall_paper.

No-one is suggesting recall elections for central government and opposition to the proposal of a four-year term is usually based on the view we don’t have enough checks on governments and four years is too long to let them loose.

The answer to that would be to ensure there are more checks should a four-year term be enacted.

Three year terms are a handbrake on progress and productivity.

It takes at least the best part of a year for a new government to get up to speed, the second year some progress is made but everything slows down for the election and its aftermath in the third.

A one-term government is very rare in New Zealand, and most rule for three which means we effectively have a six or nine-year terms with a hiatus after three for an election.

Let’s save some money and increase government efficiency by having three elections every 12 years instead of four.


Rural round-up

17/09/2020

Rethink needed:

Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”.  . . 

Waikato A&P Show cancelled due to uncertainty around Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The Waikato A&P Show, due to get underway late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty around Covid-19.

The event was meant kick off in Hamilton on 30 October, marking its 128th year.

Showing Waikato said uncertainty about the Covid-19 alert levels which would apply on the traditional dates meant instead it would be holding a handful of small events open to competitors only.

There would also be an inaugural National Online Show involving other A&P show associations. . . 

Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions:

Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.

“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions. . . 

Kiwi dairy innovation leading the way:

Dairy is New Zealand’s top earner following the impact of COVID on tourism and education. Much now rests on the shoulders of busy farmers, some of whom are still struggling to get key staff back through New Zealand’s borders.

Annual breeding is a key pressure-point in the dairy calendar that requires skill and experience. A local Hamilton company is now attracting global attention for an imaginative solution to a perennial farming headache.

Kiwi dairy farmers need to know exactly when to artificially inseminate cows. FlashMate was created to stick to cow hair during the breeding period to interpret cow behaviour. The red light comes on at just the right moment when the cow is on heat and the unit is easily removed after breeding without bothering cows. “Reading body language when you have as many as 1,200 cows isn’t easy” says Matt Yallop, one of the creators of FlashMate. . . 

NZ Plant Producers issues its manifesto for the 2020 election:

Our organisation represents more than 100 plant producers who produce the plants growing food Kiwis eat and export, regenerating New Zealand’s forests, beautifying our urban landscapes, and being planted by millions of Kiwis in their backyards.

New Zealand Plant Producers is a voluntary organisation with more than 100 plant producer members, comprising New Zealand’s most respected nursery leaders and businesses. While our work benefits all New Zealand plant producers, it is funded by our members as proof of their commitment to our industry and the benefits it produces for New Zealand’s economy and well-being.

This election we raise eight issues which much be addressed so our members can continue to thrive and produce the plants New Zealand so badly needs. . . 

Pacific seasonal workers could be a lifeline for horticulture:

John Fiso, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), believes New Zealand can achieve a win-win by providing financial support for Pacific people from neighbouring island nations to head to New Zealand and help our horticultural sector in the upcoming fruit picking season.

“Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific islands are struggling for income due to the collapse of tourism in the region, this is a way to help them – and help our growers who are extremely concerned about labour shortages,” says Mr Fiso.

New Zealand is heading into a busy summer fruit season with a shortage of 60,000 workers. The impact of this on the economy could be $9.5 billion according to New Zealand Apples and Pears.

“Bringing seasonal workers in from the Pacific could be a win-win for the severely short staffed orchardists and fruit growers of New Zealand, and the people struggling in the Pacific,” says Mr Fiso. “The reality is, bringing in the Pacific workers would be hugely beneficial for humanitarian reasons in the Pacific and at the same time prevents millions of dollars of produce in New Zealand going to waste.” . .


Local govt wants local flexibility

01/11/2019

Local Government New Zealand submission on freshwater is asking the government to back away from a one-size-fits-all approach :

The submission, which was led by regional councils, strongly supports the outcome the Government is looking to achieve, the focus on freshwater ecosystem health, and regulation to manage contaminants.

However, the local government sector, which comprises all district, city, unitary and regional councils in New Zealand, is calling on Government to walk back from the proposed one-size-fits-all regulatory approach, and partner with local government to right-size the freshwater reforms.

One of our biggest concerns with the package is that it oversimplifies the problem with freshwater quality by assuming the issues are severe and urgent everywhere, and so we need regulatory intervention on a national scale,” said Chair of LGNZ Regional Sector Group, Doug Leeder.

“We absolutely acknowledge the challenges facing freshwater bodies, but the data shows that different waterways face different problems. That means we need tailored solutions to restore these ecosystems to a healthy state, not broad-brush regulation.” . . .

Councils must have the flexibility to work on different problems and solutions in different catchments.

The submission is supported by 13 case studies, which extensively examined the impact the proposed package would have on a variety of regions, from Northland to Southland.  These case studies underline that local context is everything when it comes to understanding impacts.

The submission is further supported by an independent economic analysis of the Government’s Regulatory Impact Assessment, and a distributional analysis to assess how the costs will affect different communities across New Zealand.

“One of the key things to get right as we develop freshwater regulation is to ensure we take communities with us, whether they are urban or rural,” said LGNZ President Dave Cull.

They need to have the confidence that the new rules will actually translate into measureable improvements on the ground, not just more red tape and reports that do nothing to deliver on what we all want to see – healthier waterways and greater environmental sustainability.”

The rural community has no confidence in the proposals.

If attendance at consultation is a reliable reflection of interest, urban communities are a lot less engaged in the process.

That’s unfortunate because they too would face huge costs if there are not major changes to what’s been proposed.

Unless the legislation takes a much more reasoned and science-based approach than the proposals, the government will not be able to take communities, rural or urban, with them.

LGNZ’s freshwater Q+A is here.

LGNZ’s submission and supporting material is here.

 


Playing for the payer

18/09/2019

What’s the value of dairying to the economy? It depends who you ask:

The recent NZIER report trivialises the significant role the dairy sector plays in New Zealand’s economy – and fails to look at the specifics of the Government’s freshwater package, according to DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the report, commissioned by Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace, is less an economic report and more a high-level commentary on the dairy sector’s role in the economy – and paints an inaccurate picture.

“This is yet another case of environmental lobbyists targeting dairy farmers – who are people trying to do the right thing by the environment and who are actively working to make changes on-farm to protect it,” said Dr Mackle. “By singling out dairy farmers, they are ignoring other contributors to water quality and, therefore, are limiting our ability to actually fix the problems where they exist.

“The NZIER report trivialised dairy’s role in the economy – 3 percent of GDP equates to 28 percent of merchandise exports and one-fifth of goods and services exports coming from the dairy sector.

“The NZIER report does not analyse the economic benefits of dairy to regional communities – which is a critical aspect of dairy farming’s contribution to NZ Inc. Dairying is the engine of the regions, in terms of income and jobs. For example, it is the top income earner in Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

“Yesterday we saw the latest MPI Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which showed dairy makes up $18.1b of $46.4b exports to June 2019. Dairy exports were up $1.47b last year – this has flow-on effects to our communities, where we employ 46,000 people on and off-farm.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) recently completed an advisory report on the Essential Freshwater Package that showed that national limits for nitrogen and phosphorus would potentially impose very large costs on agriculture.

“In that report, it referred to a Waikato modelling study which found that land-use change was required to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus limits proposed – with changes resulting in a dairy revenue loss of $140m per year,” said Dr Mackle

The LGNZ report showed that these goals require an enormous amount of land use change to take place, with many farms becoming uneconomic and communities being impacted negatively due to rural depopulation and a loss of annual income.

“Modelling for Southland showed that achieving a 9 percent reduction in nitrogen loss would reduce dairy profits by $17m a year,” said Dr Mackle.

“In terms of innovation, dairy farmers are an extremely innovative sector but the reality is that all land users play a role in water quality and more than innovation is required – it also needs broadscale adoption by all land users.

“As a sector, we are solutions-focused – and have been for years, and our farmers have been voluntarily working to look after their land and waterways. Our Water Accord shows a range of great progress, including fencing 98% of significant dairy waterways and stock crossing points or culverts for almost all waterways nationwide.

“We all acknowledge there is more work to be done – but we need to work together and recognise when good work is happening and allow time for change to occur.”

NZIER produced a report that played the tune the payers – Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace – wanted.

In doing so it seriously undervalued the economic importance of dairying in and to New Zealand and seriously underestimated the devastating impact the freshwater proposals would have on rural communities and the country.


Rural round-up

17/09/2019

Government freshwater proposals a blunt instrument:

The Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“We know that freshwater is at the centre of many New Zealanders’ way of life and that collectively we need to continue to improve,” says MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

“MIA generally welcomes the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways. Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.

“The meat processing sector has  also invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.

“However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater. . .

Canterbury farmers unhappy with freshwater plan -Eleisha Foon:

Some Canterbury farmers are dismissing the government’s plan to clean up the country’s waterways as a pipe-dream.

Regional councils across the country have been organising meetings to debate the best ways to reduce nitrates from dairy farming.

According to the Institute of Economic Research, Canterbury is the second highest dairy-producing region, behind Waikato, but many farmers there feel unfairly targeted by what the government has proposed.

“Farming is the art of losing money, while trying to feed and clothe the world while the world thinks you’re trying to poison them, the atmosphere and the environment,” Canterbury farmer Jeremy Talbot said. . . 

Fewer sheep and more trees outcome of freshwater proposals:

Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.

“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.

“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable. . . 

Water reform challenges a key focus of this week’s Water NEw Zealand conference:

Water reforms and the long term sustainability of water will be a key focus at the Water New Zealand conference and expo this week (18-20 September) in Hamilton.

The conference is being opened by the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker and Local Government and Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta is speaking later in the day.

“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome key government Ministers to this year’s conference, especially given the ground-breaking reforms that the government is embarking on and the impact they will have across the entire country,” says Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert.

“This year one of two pre conference workshops will help update those working in the sector with the likely impact of the new regulatory process, while another will look at issues around wastewater – a key aspect of the Government’s recently announced Freshwater Programme.” . . .

A2 Milk and Synlait Milk shares jumped in early trading as a A$1.5 billion takeover bid for Bellamy’s Australia revived optimism that Chinese demand for dairy products remains strong. 

ASX-listed Bellamy’s today said it’s received a A$13.25 per share offer from China Mengniu Dairy Co and that its board will support the bid. That’s a premium to the A$8.32 price the shares closed at on Friday. China Mengniu is familiar with the Australasian market through Yashili New Zealand and Burra Foods Australia. It was also one of the unsuccessful suitors of Murray Goulburn. Bellamy’s soared 51 percent to A$12.55, less than the A$12.65 cash component of the offer which also allows for a 60 cent special dividend. . .

How to make more dirt down on the farm and make money from it – Pip Courtney and Anna Levy:

There’s an old saying about soil: they’re not making any more of it.

But some farmers are.

In just five years, Niels Olsen used his own invention to build more soil on his property in Gippsland, Victoria.

It delivered him the title of 2019 Carbon Farmer of the Year and it’s vastly improved the health of his land — but it requires an unconventional approach.   .


Rural round-uup

18/01/2017

Brexit – Pommy Rogernomics? – Adolf Fiinkensein:

It appears British PM Theresa May is going for a hard landing.  Cut the ties to the EU and go it alone, right from the word go.

What will this mean for UK fat lamb producers?  What opportunities will this provide for NZ and Australian frozen lamb exporters?

It seems to me UK farmers will undergo the same shocks that beset NZ farmers when Roger Douglas delivered the much needed coup de grace to the now notorious Supplementary Minimum Prices. . .

Silver Fern Farms payout ‘used as a sweetener’ – Alexa Cook:

Silver Fern Farms’ dividend of 30 cents per share will be a one-off because it was only used to sweeten a deal with a Chinese company, according to one shareholder.

The company is New Zealand’s largest meat company and has confirmed today it will pay $35.5 million in dividends to its shareholders on 14 February. 

The government approved the controversial $260 million deal with Chinese company Shanghai Maling last year after a group of shareholders fought for more than a year to keep the meat company in New Zealand ownership, arguing the original shareholder approval of the joint venture was unlawful. . . 

Apples in short supply across the country – Laura Wlaters:

Apples are in short supply due to a slow start to the New Zealand season.

The popular fruit is usually available year-round but this week shoppers were shocked to see empty shelves where the granny smiths and royal gala would usually sit.

A Countdown spokeswoman said there were apples in their stores at the moment but they were not New Zealand apples.

“We’re in between seasons at the moment,” she said. . . 

Three NZ shearers set world shearing record – Che Baker:

A former Southland shearer made his way into the world record book again after breaking the three-stand strong-wool ewes shearing record for eight hours.

Eru Weeds, of Ohai but now based in Roxburgh, was joined by shearers James Mack, of Weber, and Luke Mullins, of Te Awamutu, at Waitara Station, inland northwest of Napier, to smash the record of 1347 by 264 sheep, finishing with a tally of 1611.  . . 

Constant rate increases irk – Pam Tipa:

THE DAYS of New Zealand having an undue reliance on property taxes to fund local government are coming to an end, claims Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) chief executive Malcolm Alexander.

He was answering Federated Farmers’ questioning of the priorities and fiscal discipline of New Zealand’s councils, as rates continue to outstrip cost indexes. Alexander says it is pleasing to see others parties like Federated Farmers and the tourism industry are picking up on the need for more flexible funding tools for rates.

This is an issue which no longer can be ignored, he says. The Feds say between 2006 and 2016 there has been 77% hike in rates by the country’s 13 city, 54 district and 11 regional councils.  . . 

Four chartered 747s carry cherries to Asia for Chinese New Year – Amanda Cropp:

Singapore Airlines has put on four special charter flights to get hundreds of tonnes of South Island cherries to Asia in time for Chinese New Year.

The first two 747 “cherry flights” each carrying up to 95 tonnes of fruit flew out of Christchurch on Thursday and Friday.

Another two are scheduled over the next week to get fruit to Singapore for distribution to South East and North Asian markets. . . 


Rural round-up

27/05/2016

More charges laid in reponse to Waikato bobby calves footage Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The Ministry for Primary Industries has laid a second set of charges as part of an investigation into the alleged abuse of bobby calves in the Waikato.

MPI began investigating after TVNZ’s Sunday programme broadcast footage which showed the calves being thrown onto trucks and being left for dead.

Ten charges were laid against an individual in March, with a hearing due to take place on June 2. Four charges have been laid against a company and a different individual today, with a hearing due at Huntly District Court on June 21.

MPI acting director of compliance, Steve Gilbert, said the investigation is onoing and had been “careful, methodical”. . . 

Farmers applaud responsible budget and urge tax cuts for 2017:

Federated Farmers supports the Government’s prudent financial management and maintenance of surpluses announced in today’s Budget.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston said: “The Government has clearly decided to invest surplus proceeds in a series of funding initiatives for the future including science and skills.

“We strongly support the increase in funding for science and technology and also welcome new spending on skills, transport, establishment of a Freshwater Improvement Fund, regional development, and commitments to fund TB control and to contain the spread of wilding pine. . . 

Funding good start in tackling Wilding Pine but biosecurity incursion response needs more:

Federated Farmers welcomes funding for the control of Wilding Pines but warns that more money is needed for biosecurity incursion response measures.

The Wilding Pines initiative sits within MPI’s existing allocation for Biosecurity Incursion Response and Long Term Pest Management, which for 2016/17 will increase by $1 million from 2015/16 (from $34 million to $35 million).

High Country chairman Simon Williamson said: “The money allocated to Wilding Pines is the bare minimum we need to demonstrate that the long term strategy for wilding control, worked on for the past 18 months, is of both environmental and economic benefit to the country. . .

Budget 2016 boost for regional economies, infrastructure, social housing and biodiversity:

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in four key areas LGNZ has been advocating for: stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

“Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community wellbeing are key areas of focus for LGNZ. We are pleased to see Government focus on these priority areas for communities,” says Mr Yule.

“$44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans is a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ has been asking for,” says Mr Yule. . . 

 

Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016:

There might be no silver funding bullets for rural health in the Government’s latest Budget but there should be trickledown benefits across a range of health initiatives nationally, says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive Dalton Kelly.

“For example the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley will host the start of a bowel screening programme, both of which areas have rural populations, especially the Wairarapa.

“All DHBs are to receive a total of $400 million extra funding and again this should have positive implications for rural New Zealanders across most, if not all, DHB areas. . . 

Safely.nz’ app targets better farm health and safety without the hassle:

With the launch of a new app specifically tailored for New Zealand’s farms, professional services firm Crowe Horwath is making it easier and more convenient to institute sound health and safety practices in rural workplaces. Dubbed ‘Safely.nz’, the app is the result of a partnership between Crowe Horwath’s Human Resources division, Progressive Consulting, and developer Peak Software.

Safely.nz is customised to Kiwi farms and agricultural support businesses, such as agricultural contractors, transport providers, fertiliser spreaders, vets and shearing contractors. . .

Milk price prediction means farmers will tread water for another season:

Farmers are resigned to another tight season after Fonterra confirmed its milk price at $4.25 for the coming season.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said: “Many were hopeful of a price in the vicinity of $4.50, so optimistic farmers will be feeling disappointed.

“The reality is we have seen the opening forecast price change quickly as the market has changed. Unfortunately it has changed for the worse in the previous two seasons. Hopefully with this conservative forecast, we won’t see any further drops. Especially as there are some more positive signs out there in the markets presently. . . 

New Zealand Avocados Break Record for New Zealand Sales at $41 million:

New Zealand’s love affair with avocados has produced record-breaking domestic sales of $41 million during the 2015-16 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced impressive end-of-season results of $134 million in industry value from export and New Zealand market sales.

Strong global demand also delivered outstanding returns from the Australian market and strong returns from the Asian export markets. . . 

Wool Celebrates Its Place In The Built Environment At One of the Biggest Architectural Events:

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2016!

For the first time ever wool is being celebrated at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, with an installation in the New Zealand Room and a hosting event set down for September.

The Architecture Biennale kicks off on Thurs 26th with the Vernissage (an exclusive launch) and runs for six months. This Biennale, sister to the Art Biennale, attracts over 3000 media and more than a quarter of a million global visitors.

“This is a highly attentive and influential audience, and it’s great to see New Zealand companies with a strong design focus appreciate the opportunities the Biennale offers,” says Teen Hale Pennington, CE, New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA). . . 

Stoned sheep invade Welsh village:

Stoned sheep have gone on a “psychotic rampage” in the small Welsh village of Rhydypandy after eating cannabis plants.

The plants, left-overs of an illegal cannabis factory, were dumped at the side of a road near the village and there are fears things could get worse.

“There is already a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance,” said County councillor Ioan Richard.

“They are getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.” . . .


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