Seizing blue green initiative

April 13, 2015

Environmental issues concern people across the political spectrum and solutions are not the preserve of the political left.

Environment Minister Nick Smith recognises the opportunity to seize the blue green initiative:

. . . There is more fresh thinking going on in National about how New Zealand can better manage its rich heritage of natural assets than any other party.

It was a telling comment during Election 2014 when the Greens co-leaders stated their preference for ministerial offices, with one wanting Social Development and the other Economic Development.

And there has been a vacuum in Labour thinking on environmental issues from Opposition. There was not a single major environmental plank from Labour in either of the 2011 and 2014 elections. The portfolio once attracted Labour heavyweights like Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Helen Clark in the 1980s, but their last Environment Minister Trevor Mallard was given the role as punishment for heavyweight behaviour of a different kind, with a bit of biffo with Tau Henare. There have been 10 spokespeople since.

With the Greens being distracted over leadership and identity, and Labour showing little interest in these issues, we have an opportunity to go after the Greens soft vote.

Our principles of marrying good economic and environmental policies; of underpinning our policies with good science; and of moving from a polarised conversation on environmental issues to a more collaborative approach – we can appeal to New Zealanders’ practical, down-to-earth brand of environmentalism.

Environmental protection and enhancement and economic development aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not only possible to have both, economic growth is essential to fund environmental initiatives.

Principles are important but it is results that matter most. Let me highlight 10 achievements that we have been able to deliver on in Government.

The first is this new Aotea Conservation Park opened yesterday on Great Barrier Island and championed by local MP Nikki Kaye.  We are protecting 12,000 hectares and New Zealand’s largest possum- and stoat-free forest, and some of the best stands of Maggie’s beloved kauri trees. Our $2.5 million investment in the new Aotea track opens up new opportunities for eco-tourism on the island.

The second achievement I want to highlight is our progress on marine protection. We’ve created a record number and area of new marine reserves. We are also the first Government to formally protect surf breaks, of which we have gazetted 17.

We are the Government that created the Environmental Protection Authority and a proper system for managing environmental effects in New Zealand’s huge Exclusive Economic Zone. Prior to our administration, many activities including deep sea drilling were allowed without any environmental assessment.

We also should take pride in the progress we have made in insulating over 300,000 old, cold, damp homes. The benefit from this energy efficiency initiative is not just in savings in power bills and greenhouse gas emissions, but in warmer homes and healthier families.

Nor should we be at all defensive about our progress in climate change policy. This area is notoriously difficult politics as you see in Australia where it has tripped up three consecutive prime ministers.

We successfully landed and implemented our moderated ETS in July 2010. Its initial impact has been small, with the carbon price being so low, but it is now $6.40, and is a sound platform on which to step up our efforts on climate change.

We should celebrate the progress we have made towards meeting our renewables target of 90 per cent by 2025. This is particularly telling in that through the previous two decades, New Zealand went backwards. Our policy prescription of time-constrained national consenting for major projects, genuine competition in electricity generation, and our policy of discouraging thermal generation with the ETS is working well.

Bluegreens have been at the forefront of our agenda to improve New Zealand’s freshwater management. When we came to Government, there was not even a requirement for those like irrigators extracting water from our lakes, rivers and aquifers to even meter what they took. We changed that with national regulations in 2009 in the spirit of you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Talk of a National Policy Statement (NPS) on freshwater started in 1995 but it had gone nowhere. The Land and Water Forum helped us deliver the first NPS on freshwater in 2010 and the limit setting and minimum standards in 2014.

And we have put our money where our mouth is. We’ve committed over $350 million to clean-up initiatives, a fivefold increase on predecessors and in much more constrained financial times. We are getting real results in lakes like Rotoiti, Taupō and Waituna. Over 20,000 kilometres of rivers have been fenced.

We have also been making good progress on air pollution with the air we breathe today being the cleanest on record.

In 2009, we introduced tighter environmental standards on new and second-hand imported vehicles and toughened them again in 2012.

Fuel standards have been improved, reducing the sulphur content from 150 parts per million in 2008 first to 50ppm, and then to 10ppm.

We have also funded 40,000 conversions to cleaner home heating. These air quality improvements are saving over 100 premature deaths per year, and are more significant than more highly reported reductions in the road toll or homicide.

One of our most challenging environmental issues is the loss of so many of our native species, and particularly our birds. There was a time when the principal threat was hunting and loss of habitat, but the threat today is the stoats, rats and possums that kill 25 million of our native birds each year.

Our ninth significant achievement is Battle for our Birds, the largest pest control initiative totalling over one million hectares last year.

The tenth achievement I want to note is the New Zealand Cycle Trails. I confess that this initiative, unlike the others, did not have its genesis at a Bluegreens Forum, but came from the Prime Minister and his 2009 Job Summit. Members like Jacqui and Scott will attest to the success of these Cycle Trails in rural communities.

I list these 10 significant achievements to remind ourselves how far we’ve come, but also to inspire our work programme going forward.

The public banks political achievements and then wants more and the government has more:

The next significant initiative is the passage of the Environmental Reporting Bill, and the publishing in July of Environment Aotearoa.

New Zealand is the only OECD country to not have a statutory framework for environmental reporting. It is an anomaly out of step with our clean green brand. This new Act will rightly put our environmental management under scrutiny and improve the integrity of brand New Zealand.

We should not underestimate the power of open reporting systems to improve performance. This new Act is the environment equivalent of Ruth Richardson’s Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1993. Prior to these financial reporting requirements, New Zealand had one of the worst records of public finance management, but in the 20 years since we have moved to one of the best. It is also consistent with this Government’s National Standards policy in education, requiring the open reporting on student achievement.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act has led to better public financial management and far greater transparency. A statutory framework for environmental management should have similarly positive results.

The environment information is to be framed around five six-monthly reports covering air, atmosphere and climate, freshwater, land and marine domains, and a comprehensive State of the Environment report summarising all five domains, produced at three-yearly intervals. The reports are to be produced jointly by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment, with the three-yearly report audited by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

This initiative is also part of our plan to strengthen New Zealand’s environmental institutions. The model we have been developing, not indifferent to the role of Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the Auditor-General, is a strong policy-focused Ministry, an independent regulator with the EPA we established in 2010, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment as the system auditor.

The second big reform we want to advance in this term of Parliament involves Maggie, Nathan and I in a substantive reform of New Zealand’s system of marine protection, of which we had an entrée with this morning’s panel discussion.

We should be proud of National’s heritage, being the first country in the world to legislate for no-take marine reserves in 1971, but the Act is now outdated.

It does not provide for marine protection in the huge Exclusive Economic Zone. The process for establishing reserves is cumbersome and divisive. Nor is there adequate recognition of Māori interests.

The most exciting part of the reform is providing for a range of different types of Marine Protected Areas, as has become best international practice. Our new Act will enable us to declare, as now, areas to be fully protected as marine reserves, but will also allow recreational-only fishing parks, species-specific sanctuaries, as well as seabed reserves.

This work is the logical next step to our new EEZ laws, and parallels the evolution of our regulatory system on land.

The EEZ law is about setting the rules of economic development, the ocean equivalent of our RMA. The new Marine Protected Areas law is the equivalent of our National Park and Reserves Act.

Our ambition with our fisheries quota management system, our new EEZ law and this new Marine Protected Areas law is for New Zealand to be a world leader in the responsible use and conservation of the ocean environment. The next step in this work will be releasing a discussion document.

Bluegreens recognise that the RMA is New Zealand’s most important environmental law, covering the management of water, air, biodiversity, land use, noise and the coast, as well as all the complexities of urban development, covering subdivision, building height and shading restrictions, and the provision of the transport, communication and water infrastructure to make our cities function.

In our first phase of reforms, we set up the EPA and a system for national consenting that is working well. We put together rules on councils to process consents on time that has seen late consents plummet from 15,000 per year to under 1000 per year. We passed specific law to prevent the misuse of the RMA for restricting trade competition. The more difficult issues over urban development, infrastructure and Sections 6 and 7 were put off to specialist technical advisory groups.

Pulling this advice together into a Bill that we can secure a majority in Parliament has always been challenging and even more so since the Northland By-Election but I am still confident we will be able to progress substantive change. To that end we are continuing discussions with our confidence and supply partners consistent with the direction of reform I outlined in my speech at the beginning of the year.

It is not my intention to recite those 10 priorities for National, but I do want to reemphasise the direction of travel.

The first key change is improving the plan-making process. The current Schedule 1 process is cumbersome, costly and is not serving New Zealand’s environment or economy well. It takes an average of seven years to produce a plan change, when a sector like housing can go from boom to bust in just three years.

We keep having to pass special legislation to get around these problems. We had to do it to get some limits on water takes in Canterbury, to get a new unitary plan for the consolidated Auckland councils, to get a plan for Christchurch’s rebuild and through the Special Housing Areas to get some progress on Auckland’s housing shortage.

I am a strong enthusiast for the collaborative process recommended by the Land and Water Forum for water plans, but am also keen to enable use of this sort of approach to a wider range of resource management issues.

The second key directional change is stronger national direction and standardisation. Very few National Policy Statements or National Environmental Standards have been advanced over the 25-year history of the Act. We’ve done more in the last five years, than in the last 20, and have more in the pipeline.

We are currently consulting on a new National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities. It has been attacked by the Greens as undermining the environment and community consultation, but we are not going to progress a world-class communication network with each of our 67 councils having different rules on what sort of wi-fi panel, street cabinet, antennae or microwave communications tower is allowed.

We will also finalise a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry this year.

Our phase two reforms will strengthen national standards and policy statements, and require councils to use standard planning templates so they get to decide where different rules apply, but the rules are standardised nationally.

Another key element of our reforms is how we balance between the rights of a person to reasonably use their property, and the wider community and environmental interests.

I have no difficulties with rules that limit intensification of land use where it results in pollution of public waterways or saying to a landowner you can’t remove a hundreds-year-old kauri tree. But how far should it go? I have constituents being denied consents for a home because the living areas face the sun rather than the street on the basis that there is a public good in them keeping an eye on the safety of the neighbourhood. I have another where the fence is deemed unacceptable because the gap between the pallings is too small. We do need to put some limits on how much we micro-regulate people’s lives.

We are a party that believes it is Government’s role to protect the environment but we also believe this should be limited and done in such a way that we don’t unduly interfere in people’s lives. We need new provisions that waive the need for resource consents where the environmental effects are negligible.

The issue of how we improve the way we deal with natural hazards, urban planning, housing affordability and infrastructure are key subjects in our discussions with our support parties.

The most straightforward should be increasing the status of significant natural hazards.

We will be doing a disservice to the people of Christchurch if we do not heed the lessons of the RMA policy failures of allowing new subdivisions in areas like Bexley, where the liquefaction risk was known and identified but ignored.

Kiwis value their environment, but they are practical people who recognise that we live in one of the most geologically active countries in the world with risks from earthquakes, floods, volcanic activity and landslides, and that our systems need to better manage these risks.

The most difficult issue to resolve is how we address the challenging problems around growth of our urban communities and housing affordability

The Special Housing Areas mechanism is working successfully by bypassing the normal RMA process. This law expires in September 2016 and we need to find a way in this package of reforms to maintain this momentum. Auckland’s housing supply issues go back over a decade, and will take many more years to resolve.

The underlying issue is that the RMA is not well-designed for dealing with urban issues. Most countries have a separate planning Act to resolve these. When we passed the RMA in 1991, we assumed other countries would follow suit and put their planning and environmental laws into one. It hasn’t happened, for the reason that it is not a comfortable fit. Dr Phil McDermott, a former Professor of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University, has recently written a paper on the case for new thinking in this area, suggesting separate resource and urban planning law. It is not an issue we should consider in this second phase of our RMA reforms, but is something Bluegreens need to think about in the longer term.

I want to conclude with comments on water reform.

Last week we reinvigorated the Land and Water Forum to advance the next stage of work in improving how we manage freshwater.

The most important goal will be in supporting the implementation of the National Policy Statement at regional and catchment level.

We have two further policy commitments on freshwater to deliver on this term.

The first is in developing a $100 million fund to support the retirement of buffer zones around sensitive lakes and rivers.

The second is on delivering a requirement for all dairy cattle to be excluded from waterways by 1 July 2017. The devil is always in the detail of such policies. We want to work with the Forum in ensuring this is done in a way that is both practical and effective. . .

Practical and effective – that is a good foundation for good policy.


Rural round-up

March 12, 2015

Extra controls on 1080:

The Government has introduced tighter controls on high purity forms of 1080 in response to the criminal threat to use 1080 to contaminate infant and other formula, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“I am satisfied that the controls for 1080 in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act are robust, but with this criminal threat we are putting in place extra controls,” Dr Smith says.

High purity 1080 is highly toxic. It is mainly used for the manufacture of pest control baits, but small quantities are also used for research.

“The current regulations have an exemption for research laboratory use, as is the case for dozens of similarly toxic substances. This threat justifies putting in place additional controls that will require tighter security of high purity 1080 in laboratories, tracking of the quantity of the poison stored and used, and requiring Environmental Protection Authority certification of importers of high purity 1080 into New Zealand,” Dr Smith says. . .

Fears for 1080 milk scare repercussions

There are real fears about the knock-on effect to our dairy industry as the story about the 1080 milk powder threat makes news around the world.

Financial news service Bloomberg reported New Zealand’s clean, safe reputation is at risk, while the New York Times wrote our market has shuddered at the threat.

Reuters and the BBC also pointed to the potential economic fallout.

China remains our biggest market for milk powder, buying one-third of our dairy exports, but the news hasn’t made their front page headlines yet. . .

Game Animal Condemns 1080 Threat

“The Game Animal Council condemns attempts to blackmail New Zealand into stopping the use of 1080 poison” said Don Hammond, Chairman of the New Zealand Game Animal Council.

The use of 1080 poison has been controversial throughout its history with many groups and individuals being opposed to its use. There has been a significant increase in its use over the last year largely due to the Battle for our Birds programme. . .

Maori orchard success story:

Maori Trustee Te Tumu Paeroa says the success of a kiwifruit orchard on the East Coast is an example of how small blocks of Maori-owned land can be utilised to provide jobs and make a profit.

The Hamama Orchard, owned by Te Kaha 14B2 Trustees, recently won the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award for commitment to people, community and passion for sustainable practice.

The Maori Trustee oversees the governance and management of the orchard. . .

Emphatic Winners in Northland Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brad and Lesley Roberts, were emphatic winners – claiming the title along with six of nine merit awards on offer.

“I don’t think anyone was surprised when they were named the winners at the end of the night, as the merit awards proved they are very strong across all areas of their farm business,” Northland regional managers Ian Douglas and Rowena Butterworth-Boord said.

Brad and Lesley Roberts won $8500 in prizes at the 2015 Northland Dairy Industry Awards held at Toll Stadium in Whangarei last night . The other big winners were Karla Frost, who won the 2015 Northland Farm Manager of the Year contest, and Mike Jensen, the region’s 2015 Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Alps to Ocean cycleway put to test – Hamish Clark:

My ankle is sore, thighs are still burning and bumasaraus. Did I think the Alps 2 Ocean cycle ride would be easy? Yes. Was it easy? Yes and no. The hills got me every time.

I did it – me and seven other mad mates.

Five days – 301km – from Mt Cook to Oamaru – the destination was always to get to the sea, but it was the journey along the way that was the real highlight.

The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail goes from New Zealand’s highest Mountain – Aoraki Mt Cook – past great lakes and rivers and down to the ocean. . .

 Big Fat Hen Marmalade Making Company produce great tasting home grown marmalade:

Formed in 2015, Heather’s Big Fat Hen Marmalade Making Company is New Zealand newest high quality marmalade company.

The knowledgeable and friendly team behind Heathers Big Fat Hen Marmalade Making Company, have a tradition of supplying the best quality jams and marmalades to the top hotels in New Zealand since last century.

These high-profile hotels include the Langham, Stamford, Millbrook and international flights out of New Zealand. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

February 26, 2015

Federated Farmers advises farmers to prepare Feed Budgets:

As stock feed becomes scarce Federated Farmers is encouraging farmers to get a feed plan and budget under way for the remainder of the year.

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson says “The dry conditions and reduced payout have left many farmers not only short of feed now, but facing a shortage for the rest of the year.”

“Farmers may have already done this, but given this is a pretty stressful time we want to remind them to keep it up to date.” . . .

A2 Milk’s premium payout attracts farmer interest with lower dairy prices this year – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says it’s had more interest from farmers interested in supplying the company since dairy prices have dropped this year.

A2 Milk pays a premium of around 5 to 7 percent to its small number of farmer suppliers in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, which has become more attractive as the farmgate milk price for standard milk has dropped markedly this season. Dairy exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group is due to update tomorrow morning its forecast milk price which was reduced to $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids in December compared to $8.40/kgMS last season. . .

 

Old Reefton mines to be cleaned up:

New Zealand’s most toxic contaminated site located near Reefton in two old mines are to be cleaned up in a joint funding agreement between the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation totalling $3 million, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in Reefton.

“The Prohibition and Alexander mine sites are acutely toxic and a blight on New Zealand’s clean, green reputation. The levels of arsenic are among the highest recorded anywhere in the world at 400,000 parts per million on land, or 500 times the safe level, and in water at 300 parts per million, or 33,000 times the safe limit for drinking water,” Dr Smith says.

“We need to clean up this site so as to prevent ongoing contamination to the surrounding environment and make the site safe for future generations. . .

It is time to stand up for agriculture – About Agriculture:

Ahhhhh, Sunday morning.  The perfect time to sit down with a cup of coffee and actually open and read some of those links I’ve been eyeing up on twitter and facebook.  This week I started jotting down a few ideas for a couple blog posts and now I am searching social media to help with some thoughts to finish one.  I read through a few posts and news stories until I stumble upon a newly posted video of a TEDx talk by Robert Saik on GMOs.  Knowing Roberts company (AGRI-TREND) and his values, I figure that I should take the 20 minutes and listen, and I am really glad I did.

Our farm is not a customer of AGRI-TREND so there is no conflict of interest, this is not a paid post, and I am not ‘shilling’ in any way.  It is sad that these are statements that I feel I have to make when speaking up for biotechnology and agriculture, but the accusation of somehow being employed by “big Ag” (whatever ‘big Ag ‘means) is all too common. . .

Hat Tip: Utopia

White clover rewards careful sowing:

Farmers can get up to 20% more white clover established in their new paddocks simply by sowing it differently, a Canterbury trial has found.

Agriseeds compared five different techniques for establishing new pasture in autumn, plus a control treatment, to find out more about what effect sowing method has on clover population in the sward.

Broadcasting clover and ryegrass seed on the surface, then harrowing and rolling it to simulate the effect of a roller drill, gave the best result when the swards were analysed nine months after sowing. . .

 

The World’s LOUDEST Apple:

SweeTango® apples are the hottest apple in the world right now and it’s all about texture! SweeTango® have cells that are twicethe size of normal apples which gives them their legendary crunch and makes them amazing to eat. It’s also the reason why they’ve been scientifically proven to be the loudest apple in the world!

Bred by the University of Minnesota, who are known for developing unique varieties, SweeTango® has a flavour that is rich and intense at a time when many apples are becoming bland.

SweeTango® apples are ready in late January, before any other fresh commercial apple varieties are available. And because The Yummy Fruit Company are the only company growing them outside of the United States it means we get to enjoy them first each season! . . .

 


Practical change

January 24, 2015

Quote of the day:
We need to reform the RMA to protect the great Kiwi lifestyle and the great Kiwi environment.</p><br />
<p>Like and share if you agree.


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2014

Offering to trade fines for sexual favours is not simply sleazy as the judge seemed to view it. It’s about a principle which is absolute, regardless of its nature or monetary dimension. It behoves the Police Commissioner to appeal against this ridiculous sentence so wiser heads can send a vitally important message, namely that corruption is corrosive, strikes at the heart of civil society and will absolutely not be tolerated. Sir Bob Jones

“I love to observe how they process the high school situation. Over the last couple of months I’ve just started to realise that, wow, people in the real world don’t care if your legs aren’t perfect.” Lorde

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Bill Keeler

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them. – Colin Espiner

To judge the dead may give some comfort to the living, but no matter how fervently the misdeeds of previous generations are condemned, they cannot be undone. Therefore, whatever justice we seek to do here and now, let it be to right the wrongs of the present – not the past.

We fair-skinned Polynesians are not – and can never be – “Europeans”. Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before colonisation. Both of us are the victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt.

And both of us have nowhere else to go.Chris Trotter

 

Just 380,000 individuals pay half of all income tax.

If you earn more than $80,000 you are in that group. Most tax is paid by businesses through corporate tax or receipted GST payments. Possibly 80 per cent of the country is taking more from the state than they are contributing.If you are a net contributor most of your money will go to paying for the welfare of others.Most of those who seek to reduce their tax obligations are net contributors to our society. The only complaints against them are they do not pay enough.Beneficiary cheats, by contrast, are providing nothing to start with and seek to enrich themselves further by deception and dishonesty.Judges understand this, which is why beneficiary cheats go to jail for longer, as they should. – Damien Grant

Democracy, certainly at candidate selection level, isn’t generally a process of exquisite delicacy, scrupulous manners and sensitivity to hurt feelings. Oftentimes it’s just a few steps removed from full-on internecine civil warfare, albeit conducted largely out of sight. – Southland Times commenting on Labour’s selection process for the Invercargill electorate.

“The other analogy I have learned quite a lot is this idea that life’s like the drafting race because you learn quickly, farming, all the things that begin with D like drenching and drafting, docking and dagging, getting into debt and dealing with DOC. If you go up the drafting race, even for a ewe you have to look good: You mustn’t limp, head up, eyes forward don’t show your teeth if they aren’t terribly good, clean bum, good digestion, good tits – the whole way – because you want to go to the right, to the mixed age ewe mob, because [then] you get kind dogs and good food. Straight ahead is not much fun because you will end up a chop on the table. – Christine Fernyhough

“Nah, no tear in the eye. I’m from south Dunedin,” he grinned. Brendon McCullum

‘‘A government is a periodic monopoly that needs the threat of other entrants to get it going.’’ – Bill English

We must avoid complacency that might flow from believing today’s good times are permanent.

We don’t want to make a habit of doing the hard work under pressure, then putting our feet up just when the serious long-term gains are within our reach.Bill English

If there are going to be on the ground and social media campaigns, they needs to be led by Australians.  We need to get Australians saying that they want the best products at the best price.  We need Australians to demand choice instead of supermarkets telling them what they’re allowed to buy.  We also need Australians to see how deeply cynical the supermarkets are by reinforcing the values we share, namely, freedom of choice.  This needs to turn Coles and Woolworths market research on its head and hit them where it’ll hurt the most; market share.  That’s the only language they understand.  It is also by reinforcing that Kiwis are kin, something the centennials of the Great War will strongly affirm. – Bruce Wills

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion.Willy Leferink

And perhaps that’s the every day wisdom of parents at the fore – it’s the minestrone soup solution of life – if you’re short of meal options, throw all the vegetables into a pot, with a sprinkle of flexibility and the seasoning of life, and see what you come up with. – Tariana Turia

The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. – Lynda Murchison

People’s first consideration when buying food was price, despite claims they might buy based on factors like organic growth, she said.

While people might think buying organically or from the farmers market was environmentally friendly, research showed carbon dioxide emissions were higher buying that way, Prof Rowarth said. – Jacqueline Rowarth

. . . Even during booms some businesses will fail, and even during recessions some businesses will soar. That is because what ultimately determines the fate of companies is not whether the economy grows 1% or shrinks 1%, but the quality of management and their ability to anticipate and handle changing conditions be they for their markets, their inputs or their processes. . . Tony Alexander

Members of the Opposition believe monetary fairies can make the exchange rate settle permanently lower by forcing interest rate cuts and printing money while letting inflation therefore go up. Given the non-zero possibility that such economically ignorant policies get introduced it is worth getting inflation protection by investing more in property – not less. Tony Alexander

 The global financial crisis was the worst economic meltdown in living memory.

“The 1987 crash was a a blip on the charts by comparison.”

On top of that, the Christchurch earthquakes dealt a massive hit to the government books. “The mythical observer arriving from Mars who saw the accounts in balance after two thumping great shocks like that – you’d have to say someone had navigated pretty smoothly through that.” Donal Curtin

Two thirds of the [welfare] liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.” – Bill English

That it can sweetly awaken, and joyously strengthen and that you need to give it to get it. Sarah Peirse answering the question: what do you know about love?

“I don’t think our native species care too much as to whether it is public land or private land. Whether it be iwi, or whether it be Sir Michael Fay, what we’re interested in in these partnerships is maximising conservation gain.” Nick Smith

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

. . . Taxes are not the price we pay for a civilised society. At best they are the price we pay for a civilised government. But they are also the price of overly bureaucratic procedures, unpredictable outcomes, and the loss of freedom to make our own decisions. – NZ Initiative

I make no apology for being a male. I hope I’m seen as a considerate, compassionate and communicable male; I make no apology for that. If I have faults, and I’m sure I do, well I don’t think  I can blame my gender for my behaviour without it being a cop-out. There ain’t nothing wrong in being a bloke if you behave yourself properly! – Chris Auckinvole

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things. – Colin King

“Talking about ponies and horse races, if you think of the economy as a horse race, you know it would be silly to put the hobbles on one of the leading horses so the rest can catch up,”Alister Body.

“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” . . . “I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,”  . . .  Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

. . . if democracy means anything, it means suppressing the savage within and submitting the issues that divide us as individual citizens to the judgement of the electorate as a whole. Even more importantly, it means accepting that collective judgement – even when it goes against our individual contribution to its formation.Chris Trotter

HONG KONG | How did this small city-state of 7.3 million people go from having a per-capita income of only a few hundred dollars per year to a per capita income that is equal to that of the United States in only 50 years? The simple answer is they had the British common law legal system, strong private property rights, competent, honest judges, a non-corrupt civil service, very low tax rates, free trade and a minimal amount of economic regulation. There was no big brother government looking after the people, so they had to work hard, but they could keep the fruits of their efforts. . . Richard W. Rahn

One of our human limitations is that we look at the problems ahead through the eyes of our current technology and from this perspective they can look overwhelming. This myopia traps us into negativity – we think we must go backwards to achieve our goals – Dr Doug Edmeades

For the health-conscious, the prevailing wisdom is that natural food is the best food. But no matter what studies of GMOs say, one scientific fact is inescapable: basically none of our dietary staples are natural. Some 10,000 years ago, our ancestors picked tiny berries, collected bitter plants and hunted sinewy game, because these are the foods that occurred naturally in the wild. Then came agriculture, and with it the eventual realization that farmers could selectively breed animals and plants to be bigger, hardier and easier to manage. David Newland

. . . Most of all they should embrace the modern age and recognise that social and economic salvation and uplifting the underclass does not simplistically lie in ever increasing taxes on the industrious and thrifty and their transfer to the indolent. There’s nothing positive or progressive about that. . . Sir Bob Jones

We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign. – Steven Joyce

I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.” . . .

. . . “One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.” John Key

“Make sure you know why you’re in it – politics is not about celebrities. And nurture your self worth.

“You can’t afford to mortgage out how good or bad you feel because of tomorrow’s headlines.” – Julia Gillard

New Zealand is not perfect, but we do now have a multicultural society based on a bicultural heritage.Philip Burdon


New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced the Cabinet for his third term:


“There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs,” Mr Key says.

“The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent.

“A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas.”

Mr Key says a number of Ministers have been promoted either to the front bench, or further up the front bench, to reflect their strong performance in recent years and their promise for the future.

“Paula Bennett has been promoted to number five in the rankings, and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

“Dr Jonathan Coleman becomes Minister of Health, and also picks up the Sport and Recreation portfolio, which will link nicely together.

“Amy Adams and Simon Bridges are promoted to the front bench, both with significant new responsibilities. Ms Adams becomes Justice Minister and Mr Bridges Transport Minister.

“Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, while picking up significant new responsibilities in the intelligence area. He becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB, working closely with me in my new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

“In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Housing continues to be a key area of focus for the Government, and a Ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith has been assembled to lead that work. Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government’s social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector.

Other changes include:

Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety – a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio.

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Mr Key says, in announcing his new line up, three new Ministers will be appointed. Maggie Barry is to go straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens. Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

“Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples.

“Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National’s nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.

A number of Ministers continue largely in their current portfolio responsibilities. These include Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

“The support party Ministerial and Under Secretary roles have already been announced, but I want to acknowledge again their contribution to the formation of a strong, stable National-led Government.”

Mr Key says the National Caucus will meet tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.

 


Whatever the weather

September 17, 2014

From Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s Facebook :

This morning I attended the opening of the Tasman Valley Road with Conservation Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith. This significant upgrade was a collaboration of NZTA and DoC to improve safety and accessibility to one New Zealand’s most beautiful alpine regions. It will have great benefits for the surrounding communities.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

This is #TeamKey working for New Zealand whatever the weather.

The announcement on the road says:

The completed $3 million upgrade of Tasman Valley Road at Aoraki/Mount Cook was officially opened today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The major upgrade of the Tasman Valley Road is about improving the safety and accessibility to New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine environment. This new road will enable over 100,000 visitors annually to enjoy the magnificent mountain, lake and glacial views of the Tasman Valley, and the unique flora and fauna including mountain lilies and daisies, and our unique mountain parrot, the kea,” Dr Smith says.

“The upgrade unveiled today – a partnership project between the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) – will improve one of New Zealand’s iconic ‘must-visit’ destinations, and provide significant benefits for the local tourism industry.

“The original road previously ran over a very dangerous and busy 2.2-kilometre bluff section, which has now been moved and realigned to run along the Tasman Valley floor, where it follows the contours of the nearby Blue Stream. This addresses a number of safety concerns associated with high traffic volumes on a narrow and winding section of road used by large buses and campervans. The new section also reduces the potential exposure to rock falls and avalanches.”

The capital costs of the upgrade have been shared by the Department and NZTA.

“This project is a great example of the Department working in partnership with other agencies to meet the aims of all involved. The upgraded road meets the strategic investment priorities for the Department with the area being an iconic site, while also meeting the NZTA’s priorities to make improvements where there are road safety issues and high traffic volumes,” Dr Smith says.

“I encourage many New Zealanders and other visitors to the area to make good use of this new road, and enjoy one of the great sights our country has to offer.”


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