Rural round-up

August 25, 2019

Powering up well-beings could power up costs :

Federated Farmers is concerned the call on councils to “power up” the four well-beings re-introduced into local government legislation will pile on more costs for ratepayers.

“Councils up and down the country have lost the battle to keep rates increases in touch with inflation, and debt levels are soaring.  Many can’t keep up with the costs of activities and infrastructure maintenance/replacement that most residents would count as core – water, stormwater, flood protection, local roads, rubbish and recycling collection,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Yet Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has just exhorted councils to power up ways communities can realise their ambitions for social, economic, environmental and cultural priorities.”  . . 

Food giant Danone signs deal to grow Waikato sheep milk industry – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s emerging sheep dairy industry has graduated to the big league with the launch of a sheep milk toddler formula by global food giant Danone.

Nutricia Karicare toddler sheep milk powder will be 100 per cent New Zealand sheep milk from Maui Milk, which operates two farms on the western shores of Lake Taupo.

And Danone plans to launch a full sheep milk formula range next year under the Nutricia brand. . . 

‘Learn so much about yourself’ at dairy awards – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of Bridget Bell’s goals was to place in the top five of this year’s Southland Otago Dairy Industry awards.

She first entered the farm manager of the year section in 2018 and did not place, but she tried again this year and came second, which she was thrilled with.

Mrs Bell also won three merit awards: The Shand Thomson leadership award; the AWS legal employee engagement award and the Fonterra dairy management award.

”I really wanted the Fonterra award,” Mrs Bell said. . . 

Master farrier keeps his foot in the industry after 51 years – Gordon Findlater:

Brian Wilson (85) is a name anyone in the horse racing industry will recognise. The former farrier can still be found at Riccarton as the club’s plating inspector. On Saturday, August 10, race three in the Grand National Festival of Racing’s first event was named ‘Brian Wilson 51 years a farrier’ in his honour. Gordon Findlater catches up with him

Can you remember the first time you shoed a horse?

I would have been 14 or 15 on the West Coast and one of the guys that did have a horse was Jock Butterfield, who played for the Kiwis, and he wanted to put some shoes on this horse, so they gave me some tools and to this day I feel sorry for the horse. That was my first experience of shoeing a horse.

What was it like growing up on the West Coast back then?

I quite enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a great future. You worked in the forestry or the bush as we called it, or the mines. I came over here in 1951 and that’s when I really got involved in the horses. My brother was an apprentice jockey, so I thought, well, I’ll see how I go, but it wasn’t to be. . . 

IHC hopes for sheep farmers’ support:

This spring, IHC is launching its new Lamb Programme, urging sheep farmers to join with dairy farmers to support people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities.

IHC’s Calf & Rural Scheme was hit hard last year by Mycoplasma bovis, losing half its usual income, in what was an incredibly difficult year for many dairy farmers.

IHC National Fundraising Manager Greg Millar is hoping farmers will now pledge a lamb or sheep to support children and adults with an intellectual disability in rural communities. . . 

The average US farm is $1.3 Million in debt, and now the worse farming crisis in modern history is upon us – Michael Snyder:

We haven’t seen anything like this since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Leading up to this year, farm incomes had been trending lower for most of the past decade, and meanwhile farm debt levels have been absolutely exploding.  So U.S. farmers were desperate for a really good year, but instead 2019 has been a total disaster.  As I have been carefully documenting, due to endless rain and catastrophic flooding millions of acres of prime farmland didn’t get planted at all this year, and the yields on tens of millions of other acres are expected to be way, way below normal.  As a result, we are facing the worst farming crisis in modern American history, and this comes at a time when U.S. farms are drowning in more debt than ever before.  In fact, the latest numbers that we have show that the average U.S. farm is 1.3 million dollars in debt

Debt-to-asset ratios are seeing the same squeeze, with more farms moving into a ratio exceeding 80%. Barrett notes each year since 2009 has seen an increase in the average amount of total debt among farmers, and 2017 was no exception. Average debt rose 10% to $1.3 million. The biggest increase was in long-term debt, such as land.

Farming in the 21st century has become an extraordinarily risky business, and countless U.S. farmers were already on the verge of going under even before we got to 2019.

Now that this year has been such a complete and utter disaster, many farms will not be able to operate once we get to 2020.

Minnesota farmers Liz and Bob Krocak were hoping for better days ahead as this year began, but things have been really tough and their debts have become overwhelming.  During a recent meeting with their creditors, Liz was so distraught that she literally burst into tears


That was then . . .

April 18, 2018

Remember how hard Labour and the Green Party campaigned against the then-National Government’s appointing commissioners to Environment Canterbury?

That was then, this is now:

National Party spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has welcomed the decision by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to follow the previous National Governments’ approach to keep the current Environment Canterbury (ECan) board.

“Nanaia Mahuta is making a sensible decision to keep the current ECan Board and returning to a full democracy at the 2019 local body election, as the previous National Government had planned,” Ms Wagner says.

“Labour made plenty of noise about the lack of full democracy in Canterbury whilst in Opposition. Both present Ministers Eugenie Sage and Megan Woods led an aggressive campaign to have full elections immediately.

“Yet again, now that Labour is in Government it has abandoned its policy and is continuing with the plan started by National.

“Our long-term approach whilst in Government was designed to improve the standards at ECan. In 2009, the previous Government appointed commissioners to ECan following repeated poor performance by the council in achieving their regulatory requirements.

“Thanks to the hard work of the commissioners and the strong, sensible leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley and David Bedford, Canterbury now has one of the best performing regional councils in New Zealand.

“This has always been about making good decisions for Canterbury. The commissioners were put in to complete the water management plan for Canterbury which had languished under the leadership of the previous council.

“Nanaia Mahuta’s decision shows that the long-term plan started in 2009 has been effective. Half of the members on ECan were elected in 2016 and the plan had long been for the full council to be elected in 2019.”

ECan wasn’t working with elected councillors.

Commissioners have improved performance. Half the board are now elected members and as National planned, all members will be elected at the next local body elections next year.


Mahuta aiming for deputy?

October 15, 2014

Nania Mahuta says she’s in the Labour leadership race to win:

Senior Maori MP Nanaia Mahuta insists she’s “absolutely” in the race to win the Labour leadership. . .

But is she really aiming for deputy?

But not all in the party are welcoming Ms Mahuta’s candidacy with some saying it’s PC gone mad that the next deputy must be a woman or Maori. . .

She is both a woman and Maori but neither one nor both of those should trump merit for either leader or deputy.

If she is the best candidate, she deserves to win and given it’s not a particularly strong field she could be.

But if she isn’t the best and wins it could do more harm than good to her, women, Maori and her party.

Labour has more than enough problems without adding to them by adding to it’s reputation for focussing on what doesn’t matter to most people.

Update:

The four nominees for the leadership and those nominating them are:

Andrew Little
(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway)

Nanaia Mahuta
(nominated by Louisa Wall and Su’a William Sio)

David Parker
(nominated by Damien O’Connor and Jenny Salesa)

Grant Robertson
(nominated by Kris Faafoi and Rino Tirikatene).
The election will now proceed, with ballot forms being distributed electronically and by post from Monday 20th October onwards. Voting closes and the result will be announced on Tuesday 18th November.


If satirists were choosing the leader

September 1, 2013

Imperator Fish thinks David Cunliffe should be the next Labour leader.

I thought that was a genuine view as a member of the party.

But he’s also got a gift for satire and Steve Braunias’ Secret Diary of David Cunliffe made me wonder.

MONDAY

Hallelujah! A new day. A new day for New Zealand. A new day for New Zealand in a new way, and it only added to the excitement when I cut myself shaving with a new razor. I sent out a press release. A crowd gathered. They watched me bleed for New Zealand.

When they left, I got busy. There was a job of work at hand. I bent my head to the task. I applied a dab of Endymoion cologne (a sensual fusion of citrus, spices and leather, $225), ran a Kent switchblade comb (handmade from sawcut resin, $35) though my hair, and looked at my reflection in a pair of Joseph Cheaney shoes (oak bark soles, $895). I liked what I saw.

That left five minutes to kill before the press conference announcing my bid to lead the Labour Party, so I analysed the latest Treasury reports, studied the economic situation in Japan, Ghana, and Sweden, and ironed my Marcoliani socks (cashmere, $117).

The conference went well. A crowd gathered. I felt at peace.

TUESDAY

. . . Met with my own troops. Looked them up and down. Didn’t want to look too closely. Nanaia Mahuta. Louisa Wall. William Sio. Sue Moroney. Someone called Iain Lees-Galloway.

Oh well. It could be worse. Maybe. . .

THURSDAY

Mike Hosking has come out in support of Grant Robertson, and so has Titewhai Harawira.

Poor old Grant. No one deserves that. . .

Just as cartoonists favour certain politicians whose faces lend themselves to caricature, satirists might be biased towards those who make their work easy.

On that basis, if satirists were choosing the leader I think they’d opt for Cunliffe.


Minding the baby

May 28, 2013

If a mother took a young baby into a casino late at night she’d be criticised and possibly reported to CYFS.

The debating chamber is hardly any more suitable a place for a wee one with a similar level of noise and artificial light.

If an official complaint was made about Nanaia Mahuta taking a baby into the chamber late at night, it hasn’t been made public but there’s been plenty of justified criticism of her and her party.

Rodney Hide points out that was nothing more than a poorly executed political stunt.

Mahuta complained, saying she was “forced” to attend a late-night Budget debate with her 5-month-old daughter but had to leave before the vote because her daughter started crying.

She complained to Speaker Carter, declaring: “No child should be in the workplace from nine ’til midnight”. Mahuta is exactly right. Babies at night should be tucked up nice and warm in bed. They certainly shouldn’t be sitting in Parliament.

But her complaint to Speaker Carter is grandstanding and false. Mahuta’s workplace is already the most flexible on the planet. It’s not the Dickensian workhouse that she portrays. There is absolutely no need nor requirement for a mum to be with her baby in the debating chamber until midnight.

Not one of Labour’s 33 MPs was required by Parliament’s rules to be in Parliament that night. The only requirement is for a presiding officer and a Government Minister. Two MPs on their own can conduct the business of the House.

Indeed, if no Labour MP had turned up the Budget and associated Bills would have quickly passed. Everyone would have gone home early. And Labour’s absence would not have made one jot of difference. The Budget and all Budget legislation were guaranteed to pass whether or not the Labour MPs turned up. . .

That Mahuta was in the house with her baby late at night was her choice, bad organisation by Labour Whips and/or a sign that none of her colleagues cares about her or her baby.

Whichever is the case it’s a very poor reflection on all of them and it’s done nothing for the cause of mothers in the paid workforce.

Andrei asked: Could a minimum wage, supermarket checkout operator take her suckling infant to her place of employment?

It’s not just a minimum wage worker or supermarket, what other workplace would be suitable for a mother and young baby? A classroom, a hospital ward, a courtroom, a radio station, a restaurant, an office, a factory?

I don’t think so.

Mothers working in few other places except for parliament would be able to take their babies to work, for the sake of the babies and the workplace.

It’s not being baby unfriendly, it’s simply that few workplaces are appropriate places for babies who need what they need when they need it. Late at night that includes quiet and low or no light.

Whatever Mahuta was thinking of it wasn’t her baby and if she was trying to make a political point on behalf of nursing mothers wanting to return to the paid workforce, she’s failed badly.

Instead she’s given ammunition to those who believe babies should be at home with at least one of their parents – for the sake of the babies if not their parents.


Is the baby a political pawn?

May 22, 2013

Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta wants more baby-friendly rules for parliament after complaining she had to take her baby into the House during urgency on Friday.

But is it parliament’s problem or Labour’s?

Parties are permitted to have 25% of their MPs absent and Labour could give Mahuta priority. Was there no other MP who could take the late slot on Friday?

The House isn’t unlike a casino with its artificial light and noise. Was there no quieter, darker place for mother and baby than the chamber?

MPs have to be in parliament but they do not have to be in the House. If she had to be in the buildings, why didn’t Mahuta stay in her office with her baby?

Parties can ask for a pair – ie Labour could ask National to take away an MP to cancel out Mahuta’s absence. Did Labour seek a pair?

Ruth Richardson wrote in her autobiography that Labour refused her a pair when she was feeding her baby.

That was about three decades ago.

If Mahuta is using her baby as a political pawn the party hasn’t improved in that time.

Life with a new baby has its challenges under the best of conditions. Trying to balance breastfeeding and full-time work make it even harder.

But the cause of working mothers won’t be advanced by MPs playing silly beggars by deliberately making parenting more difficult for political purposes.


And then there were five

November 30, 2011

When Helen Clark resigned the leadership of the Labour Party on election night three years ago, there was no competition for her job.

Phil Goff was handed the worst job at the wrong time.

Leading a party thrown out of office after nine years in government in opposition to a new government and very popular Prime Minister is a thankless task. It was made worse by the ill-discipline and disloyalty of caucus.

In spite of dissatisfaction with him and his leadership, none of his colleagues had the courage to challenge him, preferring him to take the fall for the inevitable election loss.

Now that’s over and Goff has resigned, there are at least five lining up to replace him.

Among those to put up their hands for the leadership or deputy role were David Parker, David Cunliffe, David Shearer,  Grant Robertson, and Nanaia Mahuta, although Mr Goff said he could not rule out other candidates. 

With that many contenders it is possible the new leader won’t be the most popular, but the least unpopular.

 


Increase in women MPs slowed under MMP

September 25, 2010

MMP was supposed to help women enter parliament but has it?

Scrubone has a graph which shows the increase in the number of women MPs has slowed since MMP was introduced:

Pre the 1980s, clearly there was an upward trend for many years followed by some stagnation. But after 1978, numbers of women MPs shot up from 5% to 22%.

After the first MMP election however, something strange happened. The improvement has been much slower. Slower than the pre-MMP, and vastly slower than the 80′s and early 90′s trend. So things are getting better, but slowly – that’s point 1.

Now, think about this. Those big gains were made when all MPs were electorate MPs.

Scrubone also found that not only had the increase in the number of women MPs slowed, it was even slower for electorates.

There’s another, very obvious conclusion that can be taken from exactly the same data. MMP has meant that parties don’t need to take seriously the idea of equality anymore. Why bother to get a wide range of candidates in seats when you can just promote them in the list? That to me is a should be listed as a negative.

So is MMP really better for women’s representation in parliament? I see a reduction in the rate of increase that could hardly be more clear, plus a change in behaviour in that women are pushed from electorates into the list.

Is that really progress?

He’s got graphs to show that too . He worked on percentages so this trend has nothing to do with there being fewer electorate seats since MMP was introduced.

MMP has made electorates bigger geographically which makes them more difficult to serve and much harder to balance work and family responsibilities. That could put women off standing, but women MPs hold  some of the biggest electorates.

Rahui Katene is MP for Te Tai Tonga (161,443 square kilometres), Tariana Turia is MP for Te Tai Hauauru (35,825 sq kms), Jacqui Dean holds Waitaki (34,888 sq km),  Anne Tolley holds East Coast (13,649),  Nanaia Mahuta holds Hauraki-Waikato ( 12,580 sq kms),  Louise Upston holds Taupo (9,101 sq kms), Amy Adams is MP for Selwyn (7,854 sq kms) and Jo Goodhew is MP for Rangitata (6,826 sq kms).

Something which may partly explain why more women are on lists than in electorates is  that only three parties, National, Labour and the Maori Party, hold electorate seats so all Act and Green MPs are list MPs.

But that doesn’t explain why the increase in the number of women in parliament has slowed under MMP.

The may be other factors other than the electoral system which have impacted on the number of women MPs since 1996. But MMP was supposed to make parliament more representative and it hasn’t lived up to that promise when it comes to gender balance.


Labour not interested in Maori or provinces

March 15, 2009

Is Labour in denial or do they no longer care about the Maori vote and the provinces?

Their ill informed crticism on the extra funding to enable MPs in big electorates, including two of their own MPs, to employ an staff member suggest it’s the latter.

Maori Party leader Tariana Turia didn’t miss the opporutnity this gave her:

For Labour to suggest this is ‘outrageous’ or ‘secret’ is bizarre when they have sat on the same committee I have, year in, year out, hearing about the inequities of this issue”.

“Even more bizarre, when two of their MPs, Nanaia Mahuta and Parekura Horomia, have also been saddled with the burden of travelling across large electorates, and will also receive the extra support”.

“I guess it shows what value Labour places in meeting the needs of the Maori electorates”.

Wee parties might survive with niche support but it’s not good for democracy or the country if a party which is supposed to be a major one writes off Maori and provincial voters.


Wanna know a secret?

March 13, 2009

TV3’s expose on the “secret” deal  to fund a third staff member for Maori electorates and general electorates larger than 20,000 square kilomtres was really old news.

Kiwiblog points out, both he and I covered the story when the government announced it in November as part of the coalition deal with the Maori Party.

The shock-horror coverage of old news as a supposed cover-up puts the story in Macdoctor’s spam journalism category.

It also shows that the journalist doesn’t understand that a large part of electorate MPs’ responsibilities are in their electorates; nor that while each electorate has more or less the same number of people in it for a very good reasons , it is much harder to give them the service they require when they’re spread over 10s of thousands of square kilometres than if they’re contained in a city.

The extra money isn’t for the MPs personally, it’s to employ an extra staff member to help their constituents. That it doesn’t appear to be coming with any extra for office space, telephone and other costs means it’s not quite as helpful as it appeared to be at first. But it will still pay for a real human being to assist the people who require the services of an MP and in spite of technological advances like Skype, face to face meetings are what most constituents need when they’ve got problems.

However, TV3 has done us a service by showing us that Labour doesn’t understand the needs of their constituents either:

Labour believes the deal stinks and it is accusing National of secrecy.

Don’t they realise that they still hold two Maori electorates so their MPs get this extra funding too and ought to have known about it since it was announced in November?

What on earth do their MPs Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta do if they don’t know how many staff members they are entitled to employ?

The table below shows the area of each electorate, colour coded by the party which holds each one. Labour’s ignorance on this issue which shows they don’t understand the needs of people in the larger electortates  explain why there was a blue wash at the last election.

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23


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