Bridges & Reti up, Clark down

July 2, 2020

National leader Todd Muller has announced two promotions in the wake of Paula Bennett’s decision to retire from politics:

Dr Shane Reti will be ranked number 13 and will take on Associate Drug Reform. Shane has demonstrated a huge intellect and capacity for work, supporting Michael Woodhouse in our Covid-19 response, as well as achieving much in the Tertiary Education portfolio.

Simon Bridges will be picking up the Foreign Affairs portfolio and will be ranked at number 17. Simon has been leader and a minister for a number of years in the last National Government. He expressed a desire for this portfolio and his experience will be valuable in this important role.

Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye will pick up the portfolio of Women and will make several announcements associated with this portfolio in the coming months.

Amy Adams will take the portfolio of Drug Reform. She will work with Shane Reti in this area. . . 

These are all good moves, I am especially pleased that Simon’s experience and skill will be put to good use.

Gerry Brownlee did have the Foreign Affairs portfolio. I have no idea what negotiations went on, but Gerry stepped aside to allow Bill English to be John Key’s deputy when John became leader for the good of the caucus and party. It looks like he has done so again which shows commendable loyalty and grace.

Meanwhile, a mess has been tidied up for the government.

David Clark has resigned as Health Minister:

The embattled MP for Dunedin North said he had become a “distraction” and that the “time is right” for someone else to fill the role, but he will stand as an MP in the upcoming election. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement Dr Clark contacted her on Wednesday to “confirm his wish to resign as a minister” and that she had accepted his resignation. 

The Prime Minister has appointed Labour MP Chris Hipkins as Health Minister until the election. Hipkins is currently the Minister of Education.  . . 

Clark is the third of Ardern’s Ministers to lose his warrant – Clare Curran resigned, and Meka Whaitiri who was sacked.

It has taken a while, had Ardern had more steel the resignation would have been accepted weeks ago when Clark first offered it.


Talent vs tokenism

May 26, 2020

Some of us see people as people.

Only when the media started questioning why there are no Maori in the top few places of National’s new lineup did I begin thinking about race and so had a look at Labour’s lineup.

They’ve got one Maori in their top 10, it’s Kelvin Davis, the party’s deputy.

National’s number two is Nikki Kaye.

I’d back National’s talent over Labour’s tokenism any day.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Team National

May 22, 2020

Todd Muller is the new leader of the National Party:

Todd Muller has been elected Leader of the New Zealand National Party, the party caucus announced today.

Nikki Kaye has been elected as his Deputy.

“There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else – there is only Team National,” Mr Muller said.

“National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals – National is the party for all New Zealanders.

“New Zealanders need a National Government with the experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the Second World War.

“My focus as leader is our country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.”

I wasn’t impressed that the announcement was leaked from caucus.

The leaking must stop. Caucus must be disciplined and united and focus on what matters – holding the government to account and running a winning campaign.


Is it Muller?

May 22, 2020

Newshub reports  :

12:40pm – Sources have told Newshub Simon Bridges has lost the vote. Newshub understands the vote has been won by Todd Muller.

Update: – Nikki Kaye is now deputy.

My loyalty is to National and to its leadership, I congratulate Todd and Nikki.

My sympathy is with Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett who have worked very hard in what proved to be an impossible task.


Leader must be gracious, caucus must be united

May 22, 2020

If Simon Bridges wins today’s leadership challenge he must be gracious.

Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye are both suited to their respective roles as spokespeople for agriculture and education.

Demoting them would be understandable. But leaving them their would demonstrate statesmanship and mean no valuable time would be wasted as their replacements came up to speed with new portfolios.

If the challenge succeeds the new leader must also be gracious.

Opposition leader is never an easy job and the last couple of years have been particularly difficult.

Circumstances have given the Prime Minister opportunities to shine which has left Simon in the shade. On top of this he’s faced sabotage from within and almost unrelenting negative media exposure.

There is no worse example of that then the totally unprofessional and vindictive word cloud which featured in the news a few days (and to which I’m not going to link). That crossed the line from political commentary to personal abuse, even bullying.

But time and time again he’s defied predictions of his political death and should he not do a Lazarus today, he deserves respect for tenacity and focus.

Should he make it one more time he deserves more than respect, he deserves loyalty and unity from his caucus, for his sake and the party’s.

Neither Simon nor Todd is going to out-popular the Prime Minister in the short term, but as Liam Hehir writes, personal unpopularity can be overcome by a policy platform that resonates, and a sound strategy for getting it out there.

There is, however, a big problem. Inter-party divisions do not generally affect the voting intentions of party stalwarts. There is evidence that voters who aren’t partisans, however, will use internal disagreement as a shorthand for evaluating a party’s policy chops. 

So, the path forward is clear. The first thing that must happen is settlement of the leadership question. The next thing is an end to public dissension. 

That means the winner is going to have to strike a careful balance of utu and clemency. Not enough of the former, and he (or she) will have no chance of being anything other than a lame duck. Not enough of the latter and the risk is that disagreements will be intensified. 

Any time National is talking about anything other than the economy it will be bleeding votes to Labour. If it drags on much longer, it will also start bleeding votes to NZ First. It’s the second of those which could turn a tough election into a 2002-level bloodbath. 

MPs who leak and gossip with hostile media should be called to account for risking the jobs of their compadres. Talented MPs should be brought into the fold even if they supported the unsuccessful candidate. Those who would rather reign in hell should be encouraged to explore other options. 

The shenanigans of late are a slap in the face to every unpaid volunteer who has ever stuffed mailboxes or sat through boring committee meetings or parted with their hard-earned cash to support the party’s activities. 

Those people may not abandon the party, but its parliamentary section should not be so careless about letting them down. 

I was an electorate chair when National lost the 2001 election so badly. The following year I was stuffing hundreds of envelopes asking members to pay their subs when the radio news informed me someone was publicly undermining the leader.

I fired off an email to the underminer which started with “bloody hell” and went on to say very, very clearly, how members felt about disunity.

Leaders and MPs come and go, some members do too but the base stays and if there’s one thing that upsets those who remain loyal to the party through good times and bad, it’s MPs who don’t.

New Zealand is facing dire economic times. Job losses already number in the thousands and the social consequences will soon be apparent.

The country needs an opposition focused on holding the government to account.

It needs an opposition able to show it has a plan for a better way to deal with the crisis than the current one which is focused on the quantity of its spend rather than the quality.

And it needs an opposition that shows it has the people to implement the plan who are united and working with their leader

If there’s anyone in National’s caucus who isn’t prepared to get behind whoever wins the leadership vote today s/he should get out and let those who are get on with what must be done for the sake of the party, and the country.


If it were done

May 21, 2020

Macbeth was talking about murder when he said, If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.

That also applies to leadership tussles and National leader Simon Bridges has made the right call in summoning his caucus to settle the matter on Friday.

Every day’s delay is a day more when the issue festers with all the negative media attention that accompanies it leaving little clear air left to hold the government to account.

I am not going to give my opinion on who should be leader.

I support the party and whoever leads it and will continue to do so whether that is Simon with Paula Bennett as his deputy or Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye.

But I will say that whatever the outcome of the caucus vote, all MPs must be loyal to the leader and the party.

The leaking, the criticism and any show of disunity and disloyalty must stop.

Just a few months ago National was polling higher than Labour.

What changed was Covid-19 and the response to it.

The government’s abysmal record of doing very little it said it would until then has not changed.

KiwiBuild, child poverty, climate change  . . . it’s been lots of talk and very, very little action.

What has also changed is the economy.

The lockdown flattened the Covid curve and in the process has flattened the economy.

The government has voted itself so much money in response most of us can’t comprehend the amount. But worse, it doesn’t have a clear plan on how to spend it and at least as important, it doesn’t have a plan on how to repay it.

As Heather Roy explains in a letter to her children:

. . .By way of explanation, this is why I am sorry about your inheritance. Debt is what you have to look forward to and growth will take some time to return. In the short-term, New Zealand is facing a large rise in unemployment, predicted to peak at nearly 10 percent before falling back to 4.6% in 2022 (optimistic I suspect). Government debt will explode to more than 53 percent of GDP, up from 19% now. . . 

Not all debt is bad of course. It often allows you (and countries) to invest wisely in areas that will be of benefit later, but I fear the lack of vision and planning associated with the government borrowing an additional $160 billion means ‘wisely’ isn’t part of this equation. Vision and hope are important for people. We need to know where we are going – what the end game looks like and that the pain is worth bearing because a better life awaits. Hope too, is important. People will endure a lot if they have hope. I’m afraid I saw neither in the Budget last week. There was lots of talk of jobs, and lots of picking winners but not much in the offing for those already struggling and those who will inevitably lose their jobs when businesses go under.

Figures are tricky things. If you say them quickly, especially the billions, they don’t sound so bad. Most people can imagine what they could spend a million dollars on. Billions are a different kettle of fish. Many of us have to stop and think, how many 0’s in a billion? When figures are inconceivable, people give up trying to work out what they mean. After all, the politicians will look after the money side of things, won’t they? I hope you realise that is very dangerous thinking. To start with it’s not the government’s money – it’s yours and mine, hard earned and handed over to the government for custodial purposes.  We hope it will be spent wisely on health, education, social welfare, but after we’ve voted every three years, we don’t have any say on where it goes.

Beware of those saying we can afford to borrow this much money. Just as when we borrow from the bank to buy a car or house, when government’s borrow, repayments must be made and this limits the amount in the pot for spending in extra areas. The state of our economy is your inheritance: to contribute to your tertiary education, to educate your future children, to provide medicines and hospital treatments when you are sick, to help those who for whatever reason have no income. A mountain of debt places the prosperity of your children in peril.

Picking winners is dangerous too. Government’s love picking winners, especially in an election year. Election year budgets often resemble a lolly scramble with media reporting the “winners and losers”.  The simple fact is when you confer advantage on one group everyone else is automatically disadvantaged. Giving to the vulnerable is understandable but private industry winners are not. As an example, those who had been promised Keytruda (last year) to treat their lung cancer only to have that rug whipped out from underneath them now must be devastated to see the racing industry handed $74 million to build/rebuild horse racing tracks around the country. Flogging a dead horse instead of funding up to date medical treatments is folly and unfair in a humane society. 

I know fairness and equity are important to you all. Your generation has a more egalitarian outlook on life. Partly I think this is because you have not experienced real poverty and why New Zealand’s debt doesn’t bother you as much as it does me.

I have recently read two excellent writings by people I respect and I want to share them with you. The first is a report written by Sir Roger Douglas and two colleagues called “The March towards Poverty”. . . 

The report concludes “ For too long, we have lived with the fiction that we are doing well, lulled by successive governments into believing we truly do have a ‘rock star’ economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Starting with Grant Robertson’s post-Covid budget, we must admit to the problems facing our economy and begin to deal with them. Otherwise, current inequalities will remain entrenched, we will continue to fall further behind our OECD partners, and the prosperity of our younger generations will be placed at peril”.

While I’m on the topic of legacies, the second article I want to share is by Chris Finlayson, Attorney General in the Key/English Governments for 9 years starting when I was also a Minister. I’ve been worried about the legality of many of the impositions we have experienced since the country was plunged into lockdown. I know you sometimes think all this theoretical  stuff isn’t that important, but in a well functioning democracy how the law is made and enforced is central to an orderly society we can have faith in. Chris has eloquently described these matters much better than I can in his opinion piece  on the rule of law:

“Some readers will no doubt respond that this rule of law stuff is all very interesting for the legal profession and retired politicians but is hardly of any practical impact given what New Zealand has just avoided.

I disagree. The former Chief Justice, Sian Elias, once said that if only judges and lawyers concern themselves with the rule of law, New Zealand is in trouble. She was right. Adherence to the concept of the rule of law would have helped avoid some of the basic failures of the past eight weeks – failures that should give all New Zealanders pause for thought.”

I’m afraid it’s too late to put Ardern’s debt genie back in the bottle. I apologise on behalf of my generation and older that you and your kids will carry this debt for all of us. My advice to you is to do what this government should have done. Cut costs and minimise your liabilities. Spend only on the essentials and invest in assets that will produce a safe dividend. Perhaps most important of all, stay engaged in our democracy and encourage your friends to do the same. If COVID-19 has taught the world anything it is this: politicians need to be closely scrutinised at all times but especially in crises like these.

The government’s arrogance was exposed a couple of weeks ago when ministers were ordered not to speak in the wake of the Covid document dump. It’s carried on this week when Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis refused to attend the Epidemic response Committee because, doing a Facebook Live session instead.

The country needs an opposition focussed on the government’s mistakes and formulating a plan to do much, much better, not on itself and a leadership struggle.

Whatever happens at Friday’s caucus meeting, this is what National must be doing, and doing it together in step with the leader.

And whether or not there’s a change of leader, one thing must not change – and that’s the decision to rule out any deal with New Zealand First.


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. . . 


Key #1

December 4, 2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.

 

 


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.

 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2014

Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ:

The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI. . .

From the outside looking in – Craig Littin:

If you are a dairy farmer, things will be flat out on the farm at the moment, and for those driving by some paddocks may be looking a little barren.  Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time, ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as, break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition whilst they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm Kernel, hay or silage. By feeding this level of feed per animal it allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day. All of this happens at the time of year when pasture growth does not normally grow as much as the cows need, hence the muddy paddocks and the need for supplements and break feeding. . .

Northland dairy farms selling out en-masse to cash-rich ‘out-of-towners’:

The dynamics of dairy farming in Northland are undergoing the biggest shake-up the sector has seen in more than 50 years – with a wave of ‘out-of-towners’ coming into the region to take advantage of the comparatively cheap land on offer.

In the past 18 months, $20 million dollars of Northland dairy farms have been sold to Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Canterbury, and Westland farmers moving into the province. The sales were brokered by real estate agency Bayleys – which is now looking to accelerate the trend this year.

Among the Northland dairy farming units which changed hands to ‘out-of-towners’ in the past year were: . . .

Fonterra Director Retires:

Long-serving Fonterra director, Jim van der Poel, has announced that he will retire from the Co-operative’s Board in November, after 12 years of service.

Chairman John Wilson said Mr van der Poel had been a conscientious and hard-working director with a deep knowledge of the business.

“Jim has served as a great ambassador for Fonterra and our farmers both here in New Zealand and our markets around the world.

“Jim is a successful commercial farmer with farming interests in Waikato, Canterbury and the United States. He was a New Zealand Dairy Group director for several years before Fonterra’s formation, and was elected to the Fonterra Board in 2002. . . .

Blue Wing Honda celebrates four decades of Kiwi success with launch of new facility:

As a nation dependent on primary industry, with more than half of our land used for farming, having the right means to navigate varying terrain can be a challenging task.

Blue Wing Honda met that challenge in 1972 when it entered the market as New Zealand’s importer and distributor of Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

That wealth of experience has helped put the company at number one in the New Zealand ATV market. . . .

Sheep’s wool makes woolly sheep – Mary Alexander:

DRAB winter colours in Hamilton have given way to a vibrant collection of artwork as the city gears up for its annual celebration of wool.

Bright life-size sheep have formed a flock at the art gallery, parking meters and trees lining the main street have been yarn-bombed and shop displays depict the characters in the children’s book Where is the Green Sheep?

“It looks amazing,” artist Jacinta Wareham said yesterday. “I’ve got a whole lot of happy people here saying that Hamilton looks so vibrant and colourful.”

The community arts project is part of the inaugural Woolly Wool Fest being held in the lead-up to Sheepvention from August 3 to 5. . .

Introducing the new, naturally produced Mission Estate Pinot Gris: lighter in alcohol, lower in calories (and full of flavour)

Mission Estate has enjoyed a reputation for winemaking innovation spanning an extraordinary 163 years. Pinot Gris, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to New Zealand but, as nzwine.com observes, “has enjoyed a dramatic rise to fame and is now the third most popular white variety”.

Combine these two forces with the growing trend for lifestyle wines, and the result is the new organically grown, naturally crafted, lighter in alcohol Mission Estate Pinot Gris. . .


Rural round-up

July 12, 2014

Trade deal with Japan could prove too costly:

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, must have noticed a striking difference between New Zealand and Australia when he visited the countries on consecutive days this week. In New Zealand he found a firm commitment to a comprehensive trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership. In Australia he was able to sign a soft bilateral “free trade” agreement, settling for much less on agriculture than other food producers hope to gain from the TPP. Australia is not a team player on trade – it is prepared to undermine collective efforts when offered a lesser but exclusive deal. Japan’s attitude is more important.

It is a country in economic and demographic decline but it is still one of the world’s largest economies, second only to the United States among the 12 nations negotiating the TPP. Its side-deal with Australia was disappointing, bearing out New Zealand’s expressed doubts that admitting Japan to the talks was a good idea. But elsewhere hopes persist that Mr Abe is serious when he uses the TPP as leverage for much needed and long overdue reforms of Japan’s economy. . .

Council not investing in water scheme:

Another potential investor has decided against putting money into Hawke’s Bay’s controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says it believes the proposed $600 million scheme, which could irrigate about 25,000 hectares, could be a huge money- and job-spinner for the region.

But deputy mayor Ian Sharp said on Friday the council won’t be investing in it, now that residents have overwhelmingly opposed borrowing the $5 million needed to do so.

“I think it’s important we distinguish between support for the water scheme and borrowing money to invest in the water scheme,” he said.

“A number of the submitters who did not want us to borrow money to invest are 100 percent behind the scheme, they just felt it was fiscally irresponsible for the council to borrow money to invest in the scheme.” . . .

Reappointments to FSANZ board:

Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced the reappointment of Andrew McKenzie and Neil Walker to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Board.

Dr McKenzie has a background in veterinary public health, food safety, food regulation, international and financial management.  He has extensive knowledge of the New Zealand food regulation system having led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority from its inception in 2002 until 2010.

Mr Walker is a food scientist and has spent 35 years working in senior roles in New Zealand’s dairy industry.  He has strong governance experience and has been a chair, director, trustee and committee member of public councils and authorities.

The reappointments were proposed by New Zealand in a formal process that required acceptance by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. . .

Fonterra and Abbott to Form Strategic Alliance for Dairy Farming in China:

First Farm Expected to Produce Milk in First Half of 2017

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd and Abbott today announced the signing of an agreement to develop a proposed dairy farm hub in China. The strategic alliance, which is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, will leverage Fonterra’s expertise in dairy nutrition and farming in China and Abbott’s continued commitment to business development in China.

Dairy consumption in China has been rising steadily over the past 10 years. The continued development of safe, high-quality milk sources is essential to meeting this growing demand from Chinese consumers. Fonterra and Abbott are pleased to be able to work together and through this alliance to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of China’s dairy industry. . . .

Fonterra seeks Hokkaido farmers for dairy study:

Fonterra is seeking four Hokkaido dairy farms to take part in a study to increase the efficiency and profitability of grassland dairy farming in Japan.

The study, which begins in December this year, will involve the collection and monitoring of physical, production and economic performance data from four leading Hokkaido grassland dairy farms. The analysis will take place over one production season and include data collection over summer outside grazing periods and during indoor winter housing.   . .

Top food science award for Massey professor:

MASSEY UNIVERSITY Professor Richard Archer has been awarded the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology’s most prestigious honour, the JC Andrews Award.

The annual award is in memory of Massey’s first Chancellor, Dr John Clark Andrews, who proposed that New Zealand’s first food technology degree be established in 1964. The award recognises institute members who have made a substantial contribution to science and technology and leadership in the food industry. . .

A brilliant new wound care products – Medihoney:

Now available at the SummerGlow Apiaries online store is the Comvita Medihoney range of products.

Medihoney combines leading wound care and therapeutic skincare products made with an exceptionally high quality medical grade Manuka Honey.

Comvita uses advanced scientific knowledge to maximise this honey’s potential in all of its therapeutic products.

Medihoney products challenge the reliance on synthetic medicines and treatments and provide a natural alternative for wound and skin care, suitable for use by the whole family. . .

It's Cow Appreciation Day! Let's pause for a little moment and think about all the  amazing cows in the world. It’s easy to forget how awesome these animals are and how integral to our daily life. #CowAppreciationDay


Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .


Free computers? Yeah Nah

July 6, 2014

You’d think a party with so many teacher-union friends would know what’s happening in today’s schools, but no, Labour’s playing catch-up on 21st century schools:

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says Labour has clearly not done its homework in the education area and is promoting “new ideas” that have already been put in place by National.

“Most of what Labour has announced today is already being delivered by the Government through its 21st century schools programme. We have a massive build plan underway to modernise school facilities, upgrade school broadband networks and partner with communities to provide digital hubs through those networks. Our Ultrafast broadband and rural broadband initiatives are delivering fibre broadband with uncapped data to nearly every school in New Zealand.

“Labour’s announcements today prove they have no idea what is already going on.”

Labour want to put money into professional learning development for ICT over the next few years. National has already invested $35 million in Professional Learning and Development, specifically targeted at learning with digital technologies.

Labour want to build an unspecified number of new schools and classrooms by 2030. Under the National government, hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent building new classrooms and upgrading older schools with the help of the Future Investment Fund, which Labour opposes. National has opened 12 new schools in the past three years in areas of growth.

And Labour wants to enable students to access the internet at home. Last year, National announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home.

Ms Kaye said the device subsidy programme also did not appear to have been thought through.

“There is an amazing lack of detail. Are they really going to make the subsidy available to every one of the 580,000 children in years 4 to 13? How do they plan to deal with rapid changes in technology? Is the plan limited to one device throughout the period of the student’s time in school? If not, how many devices? How are they planning to deal with the interest costs? All these questions must be answered.

“Labour has simply not done their homework. It really does make you wonder what they have been doing over the past six years.

“Our Future Focussed Learning report, sets out the direction the National government is going.

“Labour really needs to research what’s happening and catch up,” Ms Kaye says.

This ignorance of 21st century education schools isn’t surprising when Labour spends more time looking backwards than forwards and appears to be stuck in the 20th century, fighting old battles.

But that isn’t the only problem with the policy announcement, it’s yet another yeah nah one.

It sounds like every child would be given a computer but that’s not the story in the fine-print:

. . . For those schools that opt in, the policy would require parents to pay about $3.50 a week to pay off the cost of the device, estimated at about $600 each – and the Government would put in a $100 kickstart payments. The device would belong to the child after it was paid off.

For the poorest families which could not afford the payments there would be a $5 million hardship fund to call on. Teachers would also be given training in how to get most use out of the devices through a $25 million programme in 2016 and 2017. . .

The party that thinks parents can’t afford a $100 donation a year now want them to pay six times more than that.

The policy is based on the Manaiakalani Trust programme in Tamaki, which works with 12 lower decile schools to provide students with a netbook and 24/7 access to the internet.

Keeping Stock points out that is essentially a public-private partnership.

But Labour would rather spend taxpayers’ money on an initiative when there’s already a very good model supported by sponsors and trusts they could use.

Is it any wonder even they don’t expect to be in government for another 27 years.

 

Maybe they'll have their shit together by then. #Labour2041


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