Third blue electorate needs new MP

26/07/2016

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson has announced he won’t be seeking re-election next year.

This follows the announcement by Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch that he’ll be retiring next year and East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully’s announcement he won’t contest his seat.

That’s three blue electorates which will be seeking candidates to become new MPs and that’s good for caucus renewal.


Stones from glass house

16/06/2014

The Labour Party has been caught throwing stones from a glass house – again:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China

But he said he was not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister. . .

Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared. . . .

Kiwiblog corrects that last statement:

. . . If a donation at an auction or dinner is larger than the disclosure threshold it must be declared with the identity of the individual who made it.

The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000. Liu donated $15,000 to Labour. The party should have declared him as a donor. . .

This is yet another Labour failure to abide by the disclosure rules.

There is another interesting aspect to this story – it comes from a party source.

That points to instability and unhappiness in the party’s ranks and raises some questions:

Who knew about the donation then who is in caucus now or still active in the party?

Why didn’t s/he/they warn the MPs attacking National over Liu that they were throwing stones from a glass house?

What has prompted the source of the story to talk now and what else does s/he know that the public ought to know too?


Wagner new minister

05/05/2014

Nicky Wagner is to become a Minister outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister John Key has today reallocated the portfolios made vacant by the resignation of Maurice Williamson as a Minister.

Christchurch Central MP, Nicky Wagner, will be made a Minister outside Cabinet and take on the portfolios of Customs, Statistics, Associate Conservation, and Associate Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

“Nicky has been an MP since 2005, and has done a great job in Christchurch and in chairing the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“As a Minister I expect she will treat her new portfolios with the same hard work and enthusiasm.”

In other changes, Nick Smith will take on the Building and Construction portfolio, and Michael Woodhouse will take on Land Information.

“I would like to thank them for taking on the extra responsibilities,” says Mr Key.

The Governor General will swear in Nicky Wagner on Wednesday 7 May. . .

Nicky won the Christchurch Central seat at the last election after serving two terms as a list MP and is currently a parliamentary Private Secretary.


How rumours start

01/05/2014

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn posts:

And then there’s this bit:

In a statement, Prime Minister John Key says he’s accepted Mr Williamson’s resignation.

“I have been made aware that Mr Williamson contacted Police some time ago regarding their investigation of Mr Donghua Liu,” Mr Key said.

Which raises the other obvious question: why didn’t Key sack him then? . . .  Or is corrupt behaviour only punished if it becomes public? . . .

IS has mis-read the sentence.

He doesn’t allow comments so I’m correcting him here.

The sentence means that the PM knows that the contact with the police was some time ago not that he’s known for some time.

If he’d known for a while he’d have said:

 I was made aware some time ago that  . . .

This is how rumours start. Someone misreads what someone says and accuses them of doing something wrong.

The wrong in this case is in the reading, and interpretation of that, by the writer not the actions of the speaker.


Maurice Williamson resigns as Minister

01/05/2014

Prime Minister John Key has accepted Maurice Williamson’s resignation from Cabinet:

 “I have been made aware that Mr Williamson contacted Police some time ago regarding their investigation of Mr Donghua Liu,” Mr Key says.

“Mr Williamson has assured me that he did not in any way intend to influence the Police investigation.

“However, Mr Williamson’s decision to discuss the investigation with Police was a significant error of judgement.

“The independence of Police investigations is a fundamental part of our country’s legal framework.

“Mr Williamson’s actions have been very unwise as they have the potential to bring that independence into question.

“I have advised the Governor General to accept Mr Williamson’s resignation as a Minister.

Mr Key said he will appoint a new Minister outside Cabinet early next week and in the meantime, Nick Smith will act in the Building and Construction portfolio, Nathan Guy in Land Information, and Simon Bridges in Customs and Statistics.

The Minister has done the right thing by resigning from Cabinet for this error of judgement.

The resignation is as a minister, he is still the MP for Pakuranga.


Oamaru on-line census trial worked

14/04/2014

Several trends have emerged following analysis of the 2013 Census online option, Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says.

Close to two million census forms, or 34 per cent of all forms, were done online, with the response rate peaking at 130,000 forms per hour on census night.

“The average time taken to complete an individual form was 10 minutes and eight minutes for the dwelling form.

“The Auckland and Wellington regions had the highest proportion of individual forms done online.  It was also interesting to note the online option was most popular for people who were born overseas, of Asian ethnicity and aged in their thirties,” Mr Williamson says.

Another feature of the 2013 Census was a trial in Oamaru that saw everyone receive internet access codes via mail, with paper forms only delivered on request.

“About 65 per cent of people completed forms online, which was nearly double the national rate.  It shows an online delivery and collection method for census can work in New Zealand.

“It also gives Statistics New Zealand a strong base to explore online options for other surveys,” Mr Williamson says.

As more people have reliable internet connections, on-line options should become more popular.

It will be considerably less expensive for Statistics NZ.

However, it might require an opt-in for paper as was used in Oamaru to prompt those less confident, or more reluctant, about using the internet to take the on-line option.


Lies, damn lies and Winston

22/02/2014

Winston Peters delivered his state of the nation speech yesterday.

It was full of the usual dog whistles against immigrants and Asians in particular.

One of the claims he made was that Huka Lodge had been sold to Chinese investors.

This has been denied by the lodge and Minister for Land Information Maurice Williams.

. . . “The Overseas Investment Office has spoken to Huka Lodge director and shareholder David McGregor, and he has confirmed no sale has been made or is being considered.

Huka Lodge was last sold in 2003, following Overseas Investment Commission approval, when a Labour Government was in power.

Peters has back-tracked ever so slightly:

Later, Peters modified his claim to say the lodge was for sale.

But only very slightly:

But Peters was unrepentant last night, accusing the OIO of having become a “political pawn”.

Such was the paperwork involved, the OIO may not know the status of the sale, Peters said.

“It’s for sale.”

This is in spite of Huka Lodge director and shareholder David McGregor confirming no sale has been made or is being considered.

But Peters has never let the facts get in the way of his stories in his quest for votes.

It’s just another case of lies, damn lies and Winston.


Rural round-up

08/02/2014

Waikato fast turning waste into wealth:

The Waikato is fast turning waste into wealth, thanks to New Zealand’s first and only independent product development spray dryer and a collection of the country’s world-class researchers.

Waikato Innovation Park is the first organisation in the region to receive funding from Bio-Resource Processing Alliance (BPA). The $28,000 is helping it develop a way to scale up commercial production of pure avocado powder – a project that was started on a small scale in 2013.

The BPA is a government funded initiative that helps New Zealand’s biological-based manufacturing businesses gain maximum value from waste and by-products, while reducing environmental impacts from primary production and manufacturing activities.

According to BPA general manager Trevor Stuthridge, the initiative has $2.5 million per year on offer to New Zealand companies and their research providers over the next five years. . .

Benefits tipped from Synlait takeover – Alan Williams:

New jobs and $6 million coming from overseas for farm development spending are among the benefits of the latest Shanghai Pengxin investment in New Zealand, Cabinet ministers say.

Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s majority shareholding in the company that is taking over Synlait Farms in Canterbury was approved by State Services Minister Jonathon Coleman and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.

In their decision released by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), they also referred to the benefits to NZ of the Shanghai Pengxin investment in 16 former Crafar farms in the North Island and the advancement of New Zealand’s “China strategy”. . .

Controls on fruit and vegetable movement lifted:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that all restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Whangarei have been lifted as of yesterday evening, Friday 7 February.

MPI Deputy Director General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says this marks the milestone where two weeks of trapping, fruit sampling and testing is completed.

“We have received our final results from trapping and fruit examination and I am delighted to say that our rigorous checks found no further sign of the Queensland fruit fly in the Whangarei area. New Zealand’s fruit fly-free status remains intact, as it has throughout this response. There is no longer any need for residents in the area to be restricted in their movements of produce.” . . .

Whangarei fruit fly operation comes to an end:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has thanked the people of Whangarei for their cooperation over the last two weeks in responding to the find of a single male Queensland fruit fly.



“It’s very pleasing that no other fruit fly has been found and that this appears to be a solitary insect.



“This detection is a very rare event and shows we have a high performing biosecurity system.



“I want to thank the people of Whangarei for their support and patience over the last two weeks.



“Locals have been very supportive of this operation. They realise how important it is to treat this response seriously, and their cooperation has been great,” says Mr Guy. . . .

Good news in seed export growth:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see exports of vegetable and herbage seeds still rising.

“To see total seed exports rise by 14 percent from 2012 levels shows arable farmers in New Zealand are doing their fair share for the economy,” says Ian Mackenzie, the Grain & Seed Chairman of Federated Farmers.

“What makes the $192 million contribution to the economy so good is that this contribution is heavily concentrated in mid and North Canterbury region, with almost all the production done between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“Dairy is not the only land use that is driving economic activity in Canterbury, and that deserves to be celebrated” . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Challenges remain for global industry:

• New Zealand harvest yet to commence, but favourable growing conditions indicate positive signs for the coming vintage.

• New Zealand wine exports are firmly back in growth given the higher supply available from the record 2013 vintage, and the share of bulk wine in the ‘product mix’ is rising.

• Australian harvest underway, expectations of a slightly smaller crop, with the recent severe heatwave potentially impacting yields. . . .

The full report is here.


Quote of the year shortlist

10/12/2013

The 10 shortlisted finalists in Massey’s annual Quote of the Year competition have been chosen and are open to public vote:

Dr Heather Kavan,  Massey’s speech writing specialist, started the competition three years ago because she found her speech-writing students had trouble identifying memorable lines.

. . . “The quotes I knew were too old for the students. Edmund Hilary’s “We knocked the bastard off” was said in 1953. Muldoon’s one-liner about Kiwis going to Australia “raising the IQ of both countries” and Lange’s “I can smell the uranium on your breath” quip were both said in the 1980s.

“I thought there must be some good contemporary New Zealand quotes, but no-one is collecting them.”

Dr Kavan and her judging panel narrowed down several dozen entries nominated throughout the year by Massey students and the general public to a top 10.

She describes the judging criteria: “Memorability is paramount. The gay rainbow line with its colourful imagery is a good example of this. However, many of the quotes appealed for different reasons. The GCSB one stood out because it was funny and most people can relate to having a frustrating experience with a government department.

“We were also keen to get quotes that were relatively spontaneous, such as Winston Peters’ ‘What didn’t he know and when didn’t he know it?’

“Another criterion was context. We chose ‘He’s an extraordinarily lucky cat’ because Moomoo’s story made international headlines and even the word ‘extraordinarily’ seemed like an understatement.” . . .

The shortlisted quotes are:

If there was a dickhead that night, it was me – MP Aaron Gilmore reflecting on how he got intoxicated and called a waiter a ‘Dickhead’ at the Heritage Hotel in Hamner Springs.

Why are you going red, Prime Minister? – Kim Dotcom at the Parliamentary enquiry into the GCSB spying on New Zealand residents.
I’m not, why are you sweating? – Key’s reply to Kim Dotcom.

The GCSB, the only government department that will actually listen to you – Unknown origin but repeated on social media.

Male writers tend to get asked what they think and women what they feel – Man Booker prize winning novelist, New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton.

I’m not a spreadsheet with hair – Auckland singer/songwriter Lorde.

What didn’t he know and when didn’t he know it? – Winston Peters querying John Key’s knowledge of the Parliamentary Service’s actions.

In New Zealand nobody takes you seriously unless you can make them yawn – author James McNeish at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer – Gareth Morgan’s Cats to Go campaign website.

He’s an extraordinarily lucky cat – Massey University veterinary surgeon Dr Jonathan Bray after removing a crossbow bolt from the head of Wainuiomata cat Moomoo.

One of the messages that I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate – Cabinet minister Maurice Williamson in his speech to Parliament supporting the gay marriage law.

To vote for the 2013 Quote of the Year, visit Massey University’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/masseyuniversity or http://on.fb.me/1dY9SUC

Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday December 19, with the winner announced on December 20.


Still need to keep purse strings tight

24/11/2013

The need for continued financial restraint hasn’t got through to the opposition and some of the public.

But Finance Minister Bill English has got the message through to his colleagues:

Cabinet ministers Steven Joyce, Nick Smith and Maurice Williamson are wary of Finance Minister Bill English. The three feigned fear when asked about a GST holiday for first-home buyers. “I can just see Bill English, in fact I can just about hear him back at the Beehive, alarms are going off at the Treasury as we speak,” Mr Joyce cracked before asking his colleagues if they felt like “running that one with Bill”. “I’ve got a low pain threshold,” Mr Williamson retorted.

The New Zealand economy is doing well in comparison to most others and that is projected to continue.

But we aren’t out of the woods yet and the need to keep the purse string tight is no less important than it was when National got into office and faced the prospect of Labour’s projected decade of deficits.


Rural round-up

01/11/2013

Drone helps Southland farmers check on stock – Dave Goosselink:

A Southland farming family have employed a set of digital eyes to help keep track of their stock.

They’re using a remote-controlled drone fitted with cameras to fly over their large farm, counting sheep and looking out for problems.

There are over 4000 sheep and cattle on the Gardyne family’s farm, and it was 13-year-old Mark who suggested turning to technology.

“Dad and I were watching TV and we saw the drones in Afghanistan for the military purposes and we decided how we could use that in agriculture,” says Mark Gardyne. . . .

Allan Barber:

The announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the reopening of its Finegand, Balclutha, casings plant eight years after it closed is an interesting example of history repeating itself. Of particular interest are the reasons behind resuscitating an operation which nobody would ever have foreseen as likely.

The first part of the explanation is both simple and inexplicable: simple because China has stopped accepting any shipments of green runners (sheep and lamb intestines) which were processed into sausage casings, inexplicable because nobody seems to know why. The second component of the explanation is belief by SFF that it can amalgamate substantial volumes of green runners from its South Island plants and add value to them profitably in the new facility. . . .

Progress for irrigation in Otago and Rangitikei:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Government on their commitment to sustainable irrigation in New Zealand.

“The Government’s $850,000 investment into the Central Otago and Rangitkei projects, through their Irrigation Acceleration Fund, will go a long way to improving these provinces economically and socially. It also bodes well for getting it right from the beginning,” says Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Water Spokesperson.

“The potential for these provinces to develop and profit from a more reliable irrigation source is huge – with only two percent of our rainfall used for irrigation right now. It also will play a major part in reaching the goal to double our exports by 2025. . .

Iconic lake benefits from weed control:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says great progress is being made to improve the health of Lake Wanaka through efforts to rid it of a noxious weed.

Lagarosiphon, also known as South African oxygen weed, chokes waterways, smothers native aquatic plant communities and it establishes quickly if left untreated.

Weed control at Lake Wanaka is carried out by a lagarosiphon management committee, led by Land Information New Zealand. . .

Stable wool pricing needed – Wools of New Zealand:

At an estimated average production cost of $4.50/kilo of greasy wool, cross bred wool growers have had only two years of profitable returns over the past decade, continuing a 30-year downward cycle.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, says the numbers make for sober reading. “The industry’s primary concern has to be with price volatility. When there’s a price spike manufacturers switch away from wool, eroding demand and fuelling further volatility. Wools of New Zealand have developed a stable pricing model designed to stabilise prices for growers and customers alike, which over time will provide incremental growth in demand and ultimately returns at farm gate.”

Writing in the just released Wools of New Zealand annual report – the first since the company’s successful capital raise was completed in February this year – Mr Shadbolt notes that the company has developed two six month stable price contracts direct with customers. . .

New programme to unlock Northland’s primary industry potential:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new programme to help unlock the potential for primary industry growth in Northland today.

“This is the start of a wider programme by the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with regions to help them further develop industries like agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and aquaculture.

“We chose to start with Northland because it has significant potential, with a good climate and a vast tracts of land suitable for further development,” says Mr Guy.

MPI is already working with two Māori-owned farms in Northland. One involves the conversion of 270 hectares of Māori land to a dairy farm. The other involves providing technical support for a 2480 hectare dairy and beef farm to increase productivity, with the support of key partners including Landcorp, Dairy NZ and Te Tumu Paeroa. . .

Special Year as 2014 Dairy Awards Entries Open:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are accepting entries in what is likely to be the most memorable awards competition to date.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the 2014 awards coincide with the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition – the country’s longest running dairy farming contest.

“We are taking some time to celebrate this achievement and are enjoying the trip down memory lane as we see where some of our past winners, entrants, judges and organisers are now. What has become apparent is the long lasting effect and impact their association with the contest has had on them and their dairy farming career.” . . .

Give it up for the dairy industry’s Oscars – Willy Leferink:

What do you call the dairy industry’s Oscars, Emmy’s or the Canon Media Awards all rolled into one? It’s the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

These awards are much more than a night for farmers to don a tux and hit the big smoke, although Auckland is where the finals are being held in 2014. Next year also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition. For those who don’t know much about sharemilking it is a unique New Zealand pathway into farming. There is lower order sharemilking which is the first rung on the ladder before progressing onto 50/50 sharemilking. There is also equity partnership, where a farmer manages the farm and draws a salary but also has an equity stake in the farm business. All three forms are businesses and mean people with little money but a great work ethic can make a great future for themselves and their family.

In order to recognise the best in our industry is why 25 years ago, Federated Farmers ran the very first Sharemilker of the Year competition in Stratford. . .

Award-Winning Amisfield Wine Company Ownership Returns to Its Roots:

Leading New Zealand businessman John Darby recently announced he has become the sole shareholder of multi award-winning Amisfield Wine Company.

Mr Darby, who was previously a majority shareholder, assumed full ownership following the buyout of other shareholders.

Founded in 1988 and originally known as Lake Hayes Wines, vines were first planted on 110 hectares of vineyards in Gibbston Valley in the early 1990s. . . .

New HALO reds show Hawke’s Bay’s class:

Hawke’s Bay’s classic red wine characteristics shine through in two Sacred Hill HALO premium red wines from the 2012 vintage, released this week.

Named after the distinctive halo in Sacred Hill’s logo, the HALO range has earned a reputation for handcrafted, richly textured wines and the Sacred Hill HALO Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2012 and HALO Syrah 2012 continue that tradition.

Chief winemaker Tony Bish says the wines are made from small parcel selections of fruit from Sacred Hill’s best vineyards. . .


Rural round-up

01/08/2013

Waikato land likely to be better used now:

Lands owned by two Waikato tribes will be better used thanks to an agreement by the iwi and Lincoln University.

Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua have signed a memorandum of understanding with the tertiary educator.

The document outlines an agreement to create an agricultural training centre in Waikato and to explore a new farm certificate course.

Tribal spokesperson Willie Te Aho, who affiliates to both iwi, says the programme is intended for everyone – not just tangata whenua. . .

Bee Aware Month – Love Our Kiwi Bees:

August is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging the government to take the threat to bees much more seriously.

Bees account for over 5 billion dollars of New Zealand’s economy through the pollination of crops and honey exports.

But bees are under threat. All wild bees have been wiped out by the varroa mite which is also threatening the rest of our bees.

“The varroa mite is one of the biggest threats facing our Kiwi bees. It has spread throughout the country and we desperately need to contain this dangerous pest,” says NBA CEO Daniel Paul. . .

Wilding pines cleared from shores of Lake Pukaki:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says the battle to preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage has taken a step forward, with 150 hectares of wilding trees cleared at the iconic Lake Pukaki.

Land Information New Zealand has completed an intensive 18 month eradication programme in an area between the western shoreline of the lake and State Highway 80.  It will enable the shoreline to return to its natural state.

“Wilding trees, including conifers such as lodgepole pine (pinus contorta), pose a significant threat to the environment by competing with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water.

“The Government is committed to minimising the impact of these trees by clearing them from Crown land and contributing to community programmes in areas such as Mid Dome, Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu,” Mr Williamson says. . .

Horticulture New Zealand elects new president:

Fruit and berry grower Julian Raine has been elected president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Julian is Nelson based and has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He takes over from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Julian has extensive experience both in growing and wide – ranging roles in industry organisations.

“Julian has been a director of the New Zealand Boysenberry Council and Nelson Seasonal Employers Inc, is chair of the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and a trustee of the Massey Lincoln Agricultural Industry Trust,” says immediate past president Andrew Fenton. . .

Southland and Otago Dairy Awards Regions Merge:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will take place in 11 regions, including a merged Southland/Otago region.

National convenor Chris Keeping says organisers made the decision to merge the Southland and Otago regions in late July as it is believed that the merged region will be stronger, creating a better competition for entrants.

“The executive committee has deliberated on the future of the regions for some time, and came to its decision on the basis that it is most important that entrants are guaranteed a competition and the opportunity to compete in the national finals,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. . . .

Taste Farmers’ Markets Award Winners celebrate the real flavours of NZ:

This growing popularity of Farmers’ Markets is something being seen worldwide and for a host of reasons. The awareness of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated produce, climate concerns and the investment into local communities and resources, sustainable agriculture and community hubs are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2013 Taste Farmers Markets Awards. Localvore Chef Judge Jonny Schwass said “The produce we tasted was fresh, crisp, alive and nourishing. The vegetables, preserves, meats and cheeses are the real produce of Aotearoa” As a Chef and now father, his cooking is about the beauty of well-chosen ingredients and simply prepared food. For Jonny food is the only thing that enlightens all senses. He believes food elevates our mood. It makes us better people. Food is more than energy, food is life. . .

And in celebration of our wine industry:

Looks good!


On-line retailers get tax advantage

12/07/2013

New Zealand retailers have a justifiable gripe about their international on-line competitors.

Purchases made here attract GST, those worth less than $400 purchased overseas, don’t.

That does give on-line retailers an advantage.

However, Customs Minister Maurice Williamson, points out that it would be virtually impossible to charge GST on purchases made on-line.

Some countries have a lower threshold before GST is levied on on-line purchases from overseas and lots of little bits of tax lost add up to a big amount over a year.

However, the hassle and cost of collecting all those little bits would almost certainly mean it simply isn’t worth trying.


Rural round-up

04/07/2013

To be or not to be questions for red meat: Speech by Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson, to the 2013 Meat & Fibre Annual General Meeting, Ashburton

In writing my address to you today, where we will be discussing the biggest change red meat has faced for a generation, the first four lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet come to mind. Especially since there seems to be something rotten in the state of our red-meat industry.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…”

Right there I seem to have exhausted my knowledge of Shakespeare!

Suffice to say Hamlet was a tragedy, which is not what we want for New Zealand’s red meat sector. Yet those lines pretty much sum up the position we are in. Do we leave things to chance, or do we do something about it? . . .

New pastoral lease rent system bedding in:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says 17 South Island High Country Crown pastoral leases are from this week on a new rent system.

There are 221 pastoral leases and each one has its rent reviewed every 11 years.

“The 17 leases were the first reviewed under new legislation (Crown Pastoral Land Amendment Act 2012) which bases rents on the earning capacity of the land and not on the value of the land exclusive of improvements. . .

Icebreaker Appoints Rob Fyfe as New Executive Chairman:

Rob Fyfe has stepped up his involvement in Icebreaker to become the Executive Chairman in September of this year.

Icebreaker founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Moon says he is thrilled to have Rob Fyfe more involved in the business.

“The chairman’s role is critical and works very closely with the CEO to steer the ship and set the priorities and objectives of the business for the future. I can think of no one better than Rob to be able to do this, given his wealth of experience. . .

Winter storms sends farm feed prices soaring:

Winter storms which which dumped heavy snow through much of the South Island and left some areas under water have sent supplementary feed prices soaring.

Southern farmers have been warned that feed shortages could become an issue if they get hit with more wild winter weather.

Otago Federated Farmers president Stephen Korteweg says farmers in the south did not go into winter with big surpluses of hay or straw. . .

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential:

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential for reducing hyperglycemia, weight gain and cholesterol levels.

“The blueberry’s ability to intervene in conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity is of critical importance,” says trial leader.

The results of a recently published research study highlight blueberries’ potential to play a significant role in helping to manage weight and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. . .


Make census important for NZers

27/02/2013

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says the census is important for all communities.

It is.

It’s just a pity that one of those communities – New Zealanders – is an afterthought in the ethnicity category.

The NZ Centre for Political Research has a poll asking people if New Zealander should be an option in the census.

Muriel Newman explains that a change in the ethnicity questions in the 1980s means that the number of Maori is exaggerated.

I don’t know if she is correct. My concern is that the current choices are discriminatory.

What message does having European New Zealander at the top of the list of choices and having to tick other send to people who consider themselves New Zealanders but happen to be of Maori, Pacific Island, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, African . . . or any other descent?

If statisticians want to know about race, that is what the question should ask. If they really want to know about ethnicity then New Zealander ought to be an option.

 

 

 


Time to count Kiwis

16/02/2013

The delivery of census forms starts today.

New Zealand is gearing up for the largest government-run activity this year, the Census on March 5th.

 Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says more than 7,000 census collectors will from tomorrow start delivering census forms to every home.

 “Included with forms is an internet access code for people to complete them online, which is a secure, quick and easy option.

 “The Government has set 10 Better Public Services results, including, New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the Government easily in a digital environment. The 2013 Census is an example of how we are doing that by making it easy for people to take part in this important event online.”

 Statistics New Zealand expects more than two million census forms will be completed online on Census day.

“If everyone in a household completes forms online then the census collector will receive a text saying they don’t have to return that address to collect them,” Mr Williamson says.

Official census collectors will be wearing a yellow identification badge and carrying a blue census bag.

The 0800 CENSUS helpline is also ready to take calls from the public.

The census is designed to count us all, but count us as what?

It’s entered the 21st century with the ability for people to complete the forms online.

But it’s still stuck in the 20th century with the options under ethnicity.

Ethnicity is defined as  a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship. 

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • a common proper name 
  • one or more elements of common culture which need not be specified, but may include religion, customs, or language
  • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
  •  a shared sense of common origins or ancestry 
  • a common geographic origin.

But the options given are are New Zealand European, Maori, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Chinese, Indian, Other such as Dutch, Japanese, Tokelauan.

This suggests that people of Maori, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Chinese, Indian and all sorts of other descent aren’t ethnic New Zealanders  which is divisive and does not reflect our multicultural society.

If it’s  ethnicity not race they’re measuring, why are the only people who count as Kiwis, European New Zealanders or those who choose New Zealander in the other category.

It is high time our statistics moved into the 21st century and gave New Zealander as a proper option rather than an afterthought.

If enough of us choose that option it might force a change for the next census.


Criticised for following law?

16/08/2012

What is David Parker saying? (starts at 1:01)

. . . it was that it was a legal decision not the right decision. The Court found that the Minister acted within his powers to approve the sale of the Crafar Farms to the Pengxin Shanghai syndicate but not that he acted reasonably because that’s not their mandate?

Is he criticising Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson for following the law?

If he had acted illegally would that have been reasonable?

It might be on Planet Labour. But in New Zealand under National the government follows the law.


Will there be a snap debate on this too?

16/08/2012

On Tuesday parliament had a snap debate on the sale of what were the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

It was called by the Opposition who, for reasons which are based far more on emotion than reason, are opposed to selling farm land to foreigners.

Last night Russel Norman’s Bill to restrict the sale of land greater in area than 5 hectares was defeated.

The bill was defeated by 61 to 59 with National, United Future and ACT opposed.

Quite why the Opposition have such an attachment to farmland when their policies show they have little understanding of farming or interest in its success escapes me.

I also don’t understand why farmland engenders such emotion when sales of companies like this go unremarked:

Foley Family Wines, owned by the California-based billionaire Bill Foley, will take control of New Zealand Wine Company, adding the Grove Mill, Sanctuary and Frog Haven brands to its suite of local wines.

NZ Wine Co shareholders approved the merger at a special general meeting in Blenheim today, with about 99 percent of votes cast in favour, the company said in a statement. 

The merger, which will see Foley take an 80 percent stake in the Marlborough-based company, has not yet been approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

Foley already owns the luxurious Wairarapa Wharekauhau estate and is chairman of two Fortune 500 companies, insurance firm Fidelity National and banking and payments technology company, Fidelity National Information Services.

He also owns the Vavasour, Goldwater, Clifford Bay and Dashwood wine brands.

NZ Wines shares are listed on the NZX alternative market and last traded at 92 cents.

I have no problem with this investment or foreign investment in general. Bill English explained earlier this week the country has a lot to gain from foreign capital.

But if the control of farm land and its produce by foreign owners exercises the opposition, why aren’t they equally concerned by what looks like a significant investment in another primary industry?

Could it be it’s not foreign investment per se but the nationality of the investors which is at the root of the opposition to the Crafar farms by the Opposition?

Contributions to Tuesday’s debate included speeches from Maurice WilliamsonTodd Mclay, Jonathan Coleman, and David Bennett.

And yesterday’s debate on Noramn’s Bill included this speech from Jonathan Coleman who had to withdraw the comment daconomics but introduced the term yokelnomics:


Fairer pastoral lease rents

04/05/2012

The passing of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act establishes a fairer and simpler system for pastoral lease rents.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said:

“This Act is a significant reform of the way rents are charged on pastoral leases in the South Island high country and will go a long way towards eliminating the years of tension that has existed between the Crown and lessees over rent issues.

“Under the Act, lessees of pastoral leases will be charged rents based on the earning capacity of the property.”

The new system, known as earning capacity rents, will be in place later this year.

“It’s a much simpler system to administer, is more transparent and provides a fairer rent,” Mr Williamson says.

“It will allow farmers to get on with the job of farming and helping to grow New Zealand’s economy.”

The old system was time consuming, expensive to administer and unfair. The new one will mean most if not all properties face higher rents but it is much fairer.

However, the anti-farmer Labour Party doesn’t think so:

A select few High Country farmers have been handed a sweetener from the Government in the form of cheap rents, says Raymond Huo, Labour’s spokesperson for Land Information.

“The passing of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act, severely compromises the Crown’s right to negotiate fair rents for the high country land it owns. Instead it offers a select few farmers special privileges,” Raymond Huo said.

“The Act will allow Crown leases to be determined purely on the “stock carrying” capacity of the land, not the land value.

This shows how poorly he understands pastoral leases. Rents were based on LEI – land exclusive of improvements. That is the land in its natural state before it was settled which has a very low value. The stock carrying capacity will give a much higher value than that.

The new system will reduce administration costs, increase transparency and is fairer to both the crown and pastoral lessees.


Ministers follow OIO law

20/04/2012

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have approved the new recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited to acquire the 16 Crafar farms.

“New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations around overseas investment,” Mr Williamson says.

“Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring, while providing a range of safeguards to protect New Zealanders’ interests. They are applied evenly to all applications, regardless of where they are from.

“We have sought to apply the law in accordance with the provisions of the Overseas Investment Act and the guidance of the High Court.

“We have carefully considered the OIO’s new recommendation. The OIO sought advice from Crown Law and independent legal advice from David Goddard QC. The Ministers also sought advice and clarification from Mr Goddard.

“We are satisfied that on even the most conservative approach this application meets the criteria set out in the Act and is consistent with the High Court’s judgment.”

The Ministers have followed the law, and the High Court’s stricter definition of it, as they are bound to do.

Opponents of land sale to foreigners won’t like it but the correct way to deal with that is to change the law, not to go against it.

Former Minister Chris Carter tried that with the Whangamata marina, was taken to court and lost.

Dr Coleman said the consent came with stringent conditions.

“These 27 conditions have been imposed to ensure Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Dr Coleman says.

The conditions require Milk New Zealand to invest $16 million into the farms and to protect and enhance heritage sites.

“The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial.”

The land is already in foreign hands – that of the banks and the receivers are bound to get the best price for it.

I’m not convinced they went about that the best way – the farms were offered for sale individually or as a package but I don’t know if they actively tried to market them to locals.

Whether or not they did, the best offer on the table now is the one approved today.

If the land was sold to New Zealanders they would not be required to do anything with it at all, they would not have 27 conditions imposed on them nor be required to make any further investment as the purchasers, Shanghai Pengxin, are.

A copy of the OIO’s new recommendation is here.

A copy of the OIO’s decision summary is here.


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