Money where it matters

July 30, 2018

The National Party has committed to funding more primary school teachers when it returns to government.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.

Too many children start school unready to learn.

They don’t have the necessary language and social skills and current staffing levels stretch teachers to thinly to address their needs.

“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them. 

While deprived children need more help, so too do the bright and gifted.

“More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

“To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need less Facebook and more face time with teachers.

“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

More teachers by itself won’t make a big difference, unless there are enough to substantially reduce class sizes, but it will help as will improving the attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Teachers aren’t always valued. One reason for that is that teaching isn’t highly regarded as a profession and one reason for that is that their pay and conditions aren’t as good as those for many other professions.

Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.

“Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government. We’ve got a multi-year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.

“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.

“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”

Labour failed at Opposition, Its MPs spent more time there on in-fighting and self-sabotage than policy development.

It was ill-prepared for government and the policies it did have were ill-thought out.

There’s no better illustration of that than the fee-free tertiary education.

Every government does something stupid that even many of its supporters struggle to justify.

They don’t usually do it as early as Labour did with this policy and I hope that National has the courage to say they will drop it.

It would be hard for even those who directly benefit to say that the more than $2 billion that policy will cost would be better spent on them than on more teachers to give all children the best possible start at school.

Good governments put money where it matters.

Fee-free tertiary education doesn’t. More and better primary teachers do.


Bill’s proven most capable

August 25, 2017

A Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS poll shows people think Bill English is most capable of running the government.

English, the National Party leader and Prime Minister, is streets ahead of the newcomer and he has improved on his ratings in the Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS poll.

English was rated most capable by 45 per cent compared with his rating of 41 per cent in July.

Ardern was rated the most capable by 32 per cent, a huge improvement on the 10 per cent that former leader Andrew Little got last month. . .

The PM’s leadership is proven.

His first time as National Party leader came too early. He learned from that, put his head down, worked hard for his constituents in his electorate and brought data-driven innovation to his portfolios. He proved his worth as Finance Minister and Deputy PM through very difficult times and has continued to perform well as PM.

On the other side there’s someone who couldn’t unseat Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central, which was once a safe Labour seat, has had less than a year as an electorate MP, and a very few weeks as a party leader.

Would you put someone with less than two months leadership experience in charge of a school, hospital, any business or organisation?

Why would we risk the country with someone so unproven?

 


Just a Little extra tax

April 3, 2017

The ink is barely dry on the Labour and Green Parties’ attempt to convince voters they won’t overtax and overspend which includes a promise for no tax increases.

But Andrew Little is already calling for a new tax:

Labour leader Andrew Little wants a “tourist tax” charged at the border to help pay for tourism infrastructure, rejecting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett’s concerns it risked making New Zealand look like a “rip-off.”

Little said a “modest” levy would be ring-fenced to pass on to local councils to use on tourism-related infrastructure. . . 

On Friday Rob Hosking pointed out the difficulty with the Labour-Green framework:

The real question is about the other promises Labour and the Greens are making and how these might fit within that framework.

The short answer is, they don’t.

The ability to fund free tertiary education and start payments into the NZ Superannuation Fund alone will test the limits of that framework. Those two policies alone will cost literally billions of dollars.

That is going to make it difficult to fit within one of the other joists in the Labour-Green fiscal framework: keeping government spending at around 30% of GDP.

One of these things is sheer spin: either the promises of new spending policies or the fiscal framework itself.

Take your pick.

Little’s suggestion of a new tax just days after the attempt to convince us of the Labour and Greens fiscal prudence has shot a very big hole in the framework.

There is a case for more spending on tourism infrastructure but Lincoln University professor of Tourism David Simmons has calculated that the government made a $630m surplus once tourism related costs – such as those for Tourism New Zealand and Department of Conservation visitor services – were deducted from the GST take.

We don’t need a new tax, whether it’s levied on New Zealanders or visitors.

A new tax is a tax increase by another name. That Little is considering the idea shows how flimsy the fiscal framework is.


Rural round-up

March 8, 2017

Farm recruiter backs PM’s claims around drugged up Kiwi workers –  Gerald Piddock:

A Hamilton-based farm recruitment agency is backing Prime Minister Bill English’s claims that Kiwi workers’ inability to pass drug tests are why overseas workers are needed.

Cross Country Recruitment managing director Ben De’Ath​ said that since December 4, 2016, 21 individual farm owners have contacted him seeking new staff because they have had to instantly dismiss staff due to failed drug tests for methamphetamine or cannabis.

Three-quarters of these farm owners were in Waikato and the rest were in the Central Plateau. These farmers were now short staffed purely because of illegal drugs, he said.

De’Ath said his company started to record why vacancies were arising in December because it helped make a case to Immigration New Zealand for foreign workers on behalf of farm owners. . . 

Plea to pay tribute to rural women:

Rural women are vital to resilience in rural communities and families and New Zealanders should pay tribute to their role tomorrow, which is International Women’s Day, a rural health leader says.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says women are often the glue which holds families together in tough times.

“They are essentially the backbone of the NZ economy. After all, about 600,000 Kiwis live in rural areas and agriculture and tourism are the powerhouses of our economy,” Thompson says.

“Each year, more than two and a half million tourists visit rural New Zealand. In 2011-2012, $40 billion, or 19 percent of GDP, was generated directly or indirectly by the agri-food sector.

“If the spending power of rural people is considered, then the contribution of the agri-food sector is $53 billion, or one dollar in every four dollars spent in the economy. Rural women play a crucial role in making all this happen. . . .

New youth opportunities in agriculture sector:

TeenAg, an agriculture sector youth programme run by New Zealand Young Farmers, will receive $146,000 of support under a new partnership announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This is about supporting more young people to develop skills such as leadership and learn about potential career opportunities in the primary sector, which is such a vital part of our economy,” says Ms Kaye.

“TeenAg aims to promote a positive picture of agriculture and raise awareness of agricultural careers from an early age.

“The funding announced today will support around 500 more young people to participate in the programme.” . . 

Hunter Downs irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a funding grant of $1.37 million for Hunter Downs Water from Crown Irrigation Investments announced today.

“This development grant funding will be used by Hunter Downs Water to complete the next stage of its programme as it works toward becoming construction ready,” says Mr Guy.

Hunter Downs Scheme is a farmer and community led scheme with the capacity to irrigate 21,000ha in an area located between Waimate and Timaru in South Canterbury. …

A Celebration of Women in the Seafood Industry:

Nelson will launch a rolling programme of events around the globe tomorrow, International Women‘s Day, to celebrate the role women play in the seafood industry.

Seafood women in Iceland, the United States, Chile, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are taking part.

Donna Wells of Nelson’s Finestkind is organising a breakfast, the first event of rolling celebrations around the globe.

Around 60 women in the seafood industry are attending the breakfast to be opened by the Mayor, Rachel Reese. . . 

Lamb flap prices hit record high as NZ slaughter rates decline – Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – A shortage of lamb meat in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter, is pushing up prices, with lamb flaps hitting a record high and prices for many other cuts lifting in export markets.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.60 per kilogram in February, from US$5.50/kg in January and US$3.45/kg in February last year, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report. That’s ahead of the previous record set in January 2014.

New Zealand slaughter rates for lamb so far this season are tracking 13 percent below the same period a year earlier at 7.17 million lambs, according to NZ Meat Board data. . . 

Over $15m in Developments for Winter 2017 at Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Developments for the 2017 winter season at Cardrona have totalled over $15million, with continued investment in the resort’s facilities and infrastructure. The investment includes a new high speed cabin lift, Base facility development, and improvements in terrain, carparking and snowmaking.

The biggest development for Winter 2017 is the new McDougall’s Express Chondola. The Doppelmayr “combined” lift of eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs will replace the old McDougall’s Quad Chair. It is the first cabin-style lift on any ski area in New Zealand. . . 


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Nikki Kaye fighting cancer

September 5, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced that Nikki Kaye will be taking leave from her Ministerial portfolios after being diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday.

“I have spoken with Nikki and assured her she has the full support of her colleagues and I as she deals with this difficult diagnosis,” Mr Key said.

“Her medical team is working hard to ensure a full recovery. Nikki will be dedicating her energy towards getting well, and I wish her all the best.

“I appointed Acting Ministers to Nikki’s portfolios on Friday and this will continue until she is able to return to her role.”

Gerry Brownlee will act as Minister of Civil Defence. Nathan Guy will act as Minister for ACC. Anne Tolley will act as Minister for Youth. Ms Kaye’s Associate Education responsibilities will be taken by Hekia Parata.

I first met Nikki before she was elected, when she was campaigning to win the Auckland Central seat – which she did. I wasn’t surprised when the promise she showed then was rewarded with promotion to cabinet.

She is fit – she runs marathons – and determined and those will help her as she undergoes treatment and recovery.


Rural round-up

September 3, 2015

The great job-creating machine – Not PC:

. . .  In 1980, almost a quarter of the world’s employment was still in agriculture. Now, only around 15% of the world’s workers are engaged in agricultural labour. Yet we are feeding more people, undernourishment is at an all-time low, and food is becoming less expensive.

Technological advances liberated humanity from toiling in fields by mechanizing many processes and boosting productivity, allowing more food to be produced per hectare of land, and freeing hundreds of millions of people to pursue less gruelling work. 

The elimination of so many unsafe jobs in manufacturing and agriculture means fewer worker deaths. According to data from the International Labour Organization, from 2003 to 2013, the number of work fatalities in the world decreased by 61% (i.e., over 20,500 fewer deaths). This occurred even as the world population grew by over 700 million over the same time period. . . 

Update on recovery in storm-affected regions:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says recovery from the severe storm in June is going well, but latest estimates show its economic impact could be around $270 million. Areas hardest hit by the storm included parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu. “Much of the cost of the storm will be met by private insurance, but the Government will also contribute significant support. “We do this in several ways. We make support available to individuals through things like contributions to local relief funds.  . . 

Extra $2.6m support for storm-affected regions:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have announced an extra $2.6 million of Government support for communities worst affected by the severe storm in June.

“Today’s announcement extends the support we can usually draw on to help communities recover from an emergency such as this,” says Ms Kaye.

“This was an unusual event because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

“The new support package includes one-off initiatives that take into account the severity of localised damage that occurred in parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu.”

Today’s announcement adds to previous Government funding and welfare support, and includes: . . .

What’s happening in China – and what does it mean for New Zealand’s agri-food? – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been traveling in Western China. It is just over a year since I was last there, and as with every visit the changes are visible: more fast railways, more four lane highways, and lots more apartment buildings.

This visual perspective contrasts with what we are reading in the media about China’s declining economic growth. Which is correct? Well, both perspectives are valid.

There are many ‘Chinas’ but for simplicity I will divide China into two. There is the eastern seaboard comprising Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and other big seaboard cities. And there is another China west of the seaboard, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Kunming, and Xining. . . 

New judging coordinator appointed for Canterbury sustainable farming awards:

Farming journalist Sandra Taylor has recently been appointed Judging Coordinator for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award application period is open and Sandra is encouraging farmers to show how important environmental management and enhancement is to the industry.

“Farmers take great pride in their farm environments and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provides a fantastic opportunity to both benchmark and showcase all the great work that is being done on farms throughout the Canterbury region.” . . .

Ballance holds pricing to help farmers through spring:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has today announced it is holding nitrogen prices to help shelter customers from the significant drop in the dollar and support production on farm this spring.

“We know this is a crucial period for pastoral farmers, and with nitrogen a key feed source in farm budgets we are doing our best to help out where we can and support our customers to plan their feed requirements for spring,” said Ballance CEO Mark Wynne.

Ballance Science Manager Aaron Stafford advised farmers to focus on the nutrient inputs that drive production in the current season or year when planning budgets. . . .

Job Done Wins Idea Pitch at Fonterra Activate to Bring Tech Innovation to Dairy Farms:

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.

The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor. . . 

Simcro Limited acquires ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips PTY

Simcro Limited, a leader in the global animal pharmaceutical delivery device industry, has acquired ISL Animal Health (Hamilton, NZ) and NJ Phillips PTY (Gosford, NSW, Australia) from Forlong & Maisey and the Maisey family of Hamilton, New Zealand.

The agreement is effective from 1 September 2015.

Simcro Executive Chairman, Will Rouse, said, “After the Riverside Company became our majority shareholder in 2013, we began looking for opportunities to exponentially grow Simcro’s international market strength. We’ve been in discussions with ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips for quite some time.

“Internationally, animal health companies are amalgamating at a rapid pace. These industry changes are creating opportunities for companies like ours. These opportunities, however, create the requirement to meet ever-increasing quality and compliance thresholds for our global customers. . . 


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