OCR down to 5%

December 4, 2008

The Reserve Bank has announced a drop of 1.5% in the official cash rate, taking it to 5%.

That bank’s media release said:

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard commented that “ongoing financial market turmoil and the marked deterioration in the outlook for global growth have played a large role in shaping today’s decision. Activity in most of our trading partners is now expected to contract or grow only very slowly over the next few quarters.

“Economic activity in New Zealand will be further constrained as a result, compared with our view in October.

“Inflation is abating here and overseas as a consequence of these developments. We now have more confidence that annual inflation will return comfortably inside the target band of 1 to 3 percent some time in the first half of 2009 and remain there over the medium term. However, we still have concerns that domestically generated inflation (particularly local body rates and electricity prices) is remaining stubbornly high.

“Today’s decision brings the cumulative reduction in the OCR since July to 3.25 percent, and takes monetary policy to an expansionary position.

Given recent developments in the global economy, the balance of risks to activity and inflation are to the downside. Thus it is appropriate to deliver this reduction quickly to support the economy and keep inflation from falling below the target band.

“Monetary policy is working together with the depreciation of the New Zealand dollar and the fiscal stimulus now in train, to provide substantial support to demand over the period ahead and to create the conditions for some rebound in growth as global conditions improve.

“To ensure the response we are seeking, we expect financial institutions to play their part in the economic adjustment process by passing on lower wholesale interest rates to their customers. . .”

The silver lining to the comparatively high interest rates we’ve faced is that the bank has had more scope for cuts and it has certainly acted on that since July when the OCR was 8.25% as this Herald graphic  shows:

Graphic / Christoph Lukasser
Graphic / Christoph Lukasser

People on fixed mortgages won’t get an immediate benefit from this but businesses which have overdraft facilities and farms which need seasonal finance ought to get a reduction in their interest rates.

There is a flip side of course in that people who depend on savings and investments will face a drop in income.

Kathryn Ryan discussed the issues  on Nine to Noon.


2nd Glenn letter increases heat

September 4, 2008

A second letter from Owen Glenn to the privileges committee contradicts WInston Peters again.

The letter said: “There is absolutely no doubt that the request came to me from Mr Peters. I would not have made the donation on any other basis through any intermediary. I did not do so.”

It was also revealed today that Mr Glenn will appear in person at the committee on Tuesday.

Implicit in Mr Glenn’s letter is a claim that Mr Peters telephoned Mr Glenn on December 14, 2005 and that Mr Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry followed up the call later that day with an email.

Mr Glenn said in the letter that he gave the authority for the payment instructions to be made on December 20, 2005 to be made to the account of Mr Henry.

“Mr Henry supplied the ASB Bank account details in an email from him addressed to me on Wednesday 14 December 2005,” Mr Glenn’s letter says.

That email from Mr Henry refers to an earlier telephone conversation between me and person Mr Henry refers to as ‘my client’ that same day.”

Mr Henry has given testimony to the privileges committee that he approached Mr Glenn to ask for a donation after being an advised to do so by a client of his, but he has emphatically stated that that client was not Mr Peters.

The committee prevented Mr Peters’ lawyer making a full statement at a hearing today.

Following tense exchanges, lawyer Peter Williams made a truncated presentation to the committee in which he said the decision it makes on New First’s donations should not be made on party lines.

He did not address the specifics of the donation from Mr Glenn to NZ First.

The committee had ruled that the broad statement Mr Williams was intending to make went outside its standing orders.

Mr Peters was present at the hearing but did not make any presentations of his own.

The committee is investigating whether Mr Peters broke Parliament’s rules by failing to declare a $100,000 donation from Mr Glenn towards his legal costs.

In a letter to the committee, made public last week, Mr Glenn said Mr Peters sought the $100,000 donation from him in 2005 and then thanked him for it at the Karaka yearling sales in early 2006.

Mr Peters has said it was his lawyer Brian Henry who approached Mr Glenn.

Parliament’s rules only allow legal counsel to talk about issues of process, but Mr Williams repeatedly argued that contributions to MPs’ legal petitions have never been considered a pecuniary matter.

He was repeatedly warned by committee chair Simon Power, but ignored those warnings and continued to outline Mr Peters’ argument.

After 25 minutes Mr Williams concluded his argument and the committee went into closed session.

Mr Peters has said he had no knowledge of the donation until Mr Henry advised him of it on July 18 this year.

Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards is discussing the issue with Kathryn Ryan now. It is on line here.


Peters-speak is contagious

September 3, 2008

Kathryn Ryan is interviewing Winston Peters’ lawyer Peter Williams on Nine to Noon.

It sounds like he’s been learning from his client: it was only a little mistake, other parties have done worse, it’s the media’s fault…

It will be on-line here soon.


Can blustering be genetic?

July 29, 2008

Ever wondered why Winston Peters can’t give a straight answer to a simple question?

There is an indication that it might be genetic in his brother Wayne’s interview with Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon  yesterday which is transcribed here. When asked about the Spencer Trust and donations to New Zealand First his response was:

“You can read between the lines. . .if anyone is suggesting there was somehow some misconduct with respect to the Spencer Trust they’re going to be sadly embarrassed,” he said.

Responding to that remark, Sir Robert said Wayne Peters sounded like a Winston Peters clone.

“He’s obviously implying it did reach the party and if that’s the case why not say so?” he said.

“This is just silly, it’s fudging the issue. I’m not holding my breath for an accurate answer.”

Silly, yes and whether it’s a result of nature or nurture this shows there is obviously a family failing when it comes to giving straight answers. 🙂

P.S. Ryan has just interviewed University of Otago associate law professor Andrew Geddes on how donations to political parties might have been legally channelled through trust funds prior to the Electoral Finance Act. It will be on-line here  soon.


Nine to Noon on NZ First

July 28, 2008

Kathryn Ryan interviewed former NZ First staffer Rex Widerstrom, Sir Bob Jones and Wayne Peters over allegations about donations to NZ First on Nine to Noon this morning.

Widerstrom said he remembers at least one conversation in which Winston Peters discussed money going in to the Spencer Trust. Sir Bob was quite clear that he was giving money to NZ First and said a journalist told him that party insiders said money given to the party had not got to it.

Wayne Peters had the same difficulty giving straight answers as his brother. Perhaps

Ryan then discussed the issues with Matthew Hooton and Laila Harre.

Harre summed it up: “The more opportunites Winston Peters has to respond to the issues and allegations the more questions that arise.”

And the more questions arise the muddier the answers become.


Choosing Gender

June 24, 2008

After our second son died someone said what a pity it was the boys who died, because of the farm.

I’ll put to one side the fact that we could have had any number of sons who might not have wanted to farm and any number of daughters who might have choosen to and concentrate on the issue: would the death of a daughter somehow be less distressing than that of a son? Of course not.

Among the many things I learnt from the short lives and early deaths of my sons was the truth in the words expressed so often by prospective parents, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl, as long as the baby  is happy and healthy.

No doubt that colours my view in the debate surrounding the Bioethics Council recommendation that parents undergoing IVF be allowed to choose the gender of their chidlren.

I don’t agree with  Rev Dr Michael McCabe and John Kelinsman  who said:

Catholic teaching on human dignity asserts the inviolable right to life from the moment of fertilisation to death. This right is totally unrelated to questions regarding the quality of life.

We are disturbed that there is a growing trend among some to equate the right to life with the absence of disease or with a certain notion of normality.

From a Catholic perspective, all embryos are equal and deserve unconditional respect. Therefore, embryos with genetic abnormalities have as much right to exist and be selected as those who are supposedly free of genetic abnormalities.

I loved my sons inspite of their disabilities which meant they passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day they died than they could the day they were born at 20 weeks and five years respectively.  But if I was a prospective parent undergoing IVF and could choose an embryo with or without a disability, I would not hesitate to choose the one without.

But I am hesitant about the next step to allow choosing gender, even if as the ODT says:

On the face of it, there is much that could be said in favour of this, not least its logic.

The parents-to-be will have made a number of challenging, potentially life-changing decisions to progress their status to this point and it can be argued, as the council has indeed done, that there are simply insufficient reasons to withold that final decision from the persons involved.

But:

It comes back to such broad concepts as “interfering with nature”, “designing babies”, manipulating genetic material for shallow or unethical ends, and so on.

For while the council was recommending sex selection in the most narrow of circumstances, many would see the move as a dangerous precedent: an open invitation for the advancement of other selection crtieria for “social” reasons.

Whatever one’s cultural or spiritual background and beliefs, there is something inherently disturbing about the prospect of a world in which babies are pre-selected according to a set of supposedly desirable genetic traits and characteristics – which is where opponents of the sex selection report can see this ultimately headed.

After our sons died a lot of people said we were lucky we still had a daughter. It’s hard to appreciate luck when you’ve just buried a child, but I understood what they meant. However, I am not sure if they would have understood if I’d explained that one of the lucky things about having a healthy child was that it taught me to be realistic about parenting.

Had none of our children survived I might have harboured romantic ideas that I could have been the perfect mother of a perfect child. As it was I learned from experience perfection and parenting are mutually exclusive and that we carry on loving our children inspite of the imperfections – theirs and ours.

Parenting, at least as much as marriage is for better and for worse and the idea that a certain number of girls or boys would make a family better just buys in to the false idea that that there is a “right” number and gender balance for a family.

I have no problem with choosing the sex of a baby to avoid a gender-linked health problem. But I am uncomfortable about taking that extra step to allow choosing a boy or a girl to gender balance families.

Professor Lord Robert Winston discussed this on Nine To Noon  this morning.


Riverstone Kitchen

June 23, 2008

Lauraine Jacobs waxed lyrical about the delights of Riverstone Kitchen  duirng her guest chef slot on Nine to Noon this morning.

The praise is well deserved. Chef Bevan Smith serves delicious food in simple but elegant surroundings. Most of the fruit and vegetables served are grown on the property and he features as much local produce as possible.

If you’ve time, a wander round the adjourning gift shop run by Bevan’s mother, Dot, is a delightful way to finish your visit.


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