Electorate accommodation could backfire on both parties

October 18, 2017

Is an electorate accommodation on offer in an effort to woo Winston Peters?

Many commentators think this will be his last term. That has been said    before and while each time it’s said he’s a bit older, there’s no certainty he’ll be any keener on retirement in 2020 than he has been before.

Whether or not he stands again, the party is at risk of slipping below the 5% threshold and out of parliament unless it wins a seat.

But even if Peters wants to contest another election, it’s unlikely he’d risk standing and not winning an electorate. He’s won three but also lost them, he won’t want to lose another.

His repeated criticism of National for allowing electorate accommodations for Act and United Future, would open him to criticism should he ask for one to give him a better chance. But doing what he’s criticised others for doing isn’t usually a problem for him.

However, the people of Northland tired of him in less than a term and voted for Matt King instead. He will spend the next three years doing the hard work a good electorate MP does and winning the loyalty of voters by doing so.

They are unlikely to show enthusiasm for ignoring that and voting Peters back in, even if they’re given a very strong message from National to do so.

Other electorates that have been suggested where National might stand aside are Whangarei and Wairarapa.

Accommodations worked in Ohariu and Epsom. But Peter Dunne already held Ohariu when National’s then leader Jim Bolger gave the wink and nod to voters to give his party the party vote but vote for Dunne as the electorate MP.

Act’s Rodney Hide didn’t need an accommodation to win Epsom the first time. He won the seat from Richard Worth without any help from National.

In successive elections, National’s candidate campaigned only for the party vote making it easier for Hide and then David Seymour to win the electorate vote.

But that is very different from asking voters to drop support for a sitting MP to allow a New Zealand First candidate to win the electorate.

There will be no enthusiasm for that from National members and absolutely no guarantee that enough voters would be prepared to turn their backs on their MP in favour of the NZ First candidate.

It would be a very risky move which could backfire on both parties.

 


Rural round-up

October 7, 2017

Time to end cartoon days for meat industry – Pam Tipa:

Meat Industry veteran Sir Graeme Harrison reckons the sector was summed up by a 1994 cartoon captioned, ‘we can’t see, we don’t hear and we don’t talk’.

“I think that is pretty typical of a lot of New Zealand’s export sector to be frank,” the ANZCO Foods Ltd founder and chairman told the recent ExportNZ conference in Auckland.

“Really what we’ve got to do is join hands and collaborate. That is certainly what ANZCO has done in its business relationships around the world.” . . 

Commodities and cost savings drive Fonterra’s performance – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s 2017 financial performance was a solid result, despite profits dropping 11 percent to $745 million. The main cause of the drop was the higher farm-gate price of milk supplied by its farmers, which is a cost to corporate Fonterra.

This farm-gate price is based on commodity returns and is largely beyond the control of Fonterra. The decline in profit would have been much greater if it were not for a six percent reduction in operating costs.

It is these operating cost savings which have fuelled the more than $5 million bonus payments this year to CEO Theo Spierings. These savings can be directly attributed to the so-called V3 strategy which was Spierings’ baby. . . 

Fonterra’s payout may be at risk after global dairy prices undershoot – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices undershot expectations in the overnight auction and some economists say it points to weaker demand and stronger supply, threatening Fonterra Cooperative Group’s forecast payout.

The NZX Dairy Derivatives market pointed to around a 5 percent lift but instead the GDT price index – which covers a variety of products and contract periods – fell 2.4 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago to US$3,223.

“The fall was a surprise and must be telling us something about demand that the market did not already know,” said Westpac Banking Corp chief economist Dominick Stephens. . . 

Meet the  new King of the North – Pam Tipa:

New National MP-elect for Northland Matt King, who took the seat off Winston Peters, is not taking anything for granted until the special votes are counted.

Although he is about 1300 votes ahead and has been told that is a safe margin, he will wait and see before making any big decisions.

They will include whether to lease out the 283ha beef farm at Okaihau that he bought only six months ago from his father, having leased it himself for the past 10 years. He has lived on the farm most of his life.

But he says there is no way he could give his best to his new role as an MP and continue to run the farm himself. . . 

Farm Plan focus in Central Hawke’s Bay:

Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s land advisors met with 34 Farm Plan providers in Waipawa on Wednesday to tackle the challenge of delivering 1,100 Central HB farm plans by 31 May 2018.

The regional council’s Tukituki Plan will lead to better water quality in the Tukituki catchment through land use practice improvements and landowner-led innovation. At this stage, the pressure is on individual landowners to commit to work with Farm Plan providers. The Farm Plans are not a solution in themselves, but spell out the adjustments to make to reduce individual farm impacts on the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

March 9, 2017

The big deluge: Fresh weather warnings as slips affect Coromandel homes, close roads, power off:

Fresh dire weather warnings have been issued as slips force people out of Coromandel properties and roads remain closed across sodden parts of the North Island.

As water recedes and slips are cleared off roads from yesterday’s massive one-in-a-100-year deluge, Northland is being told to be on watch for potentially damaging thunderstorms to hit mainly south of Kaitaia as the region comes in for a period of torrential rain. . .

Lange, manager get access awards – Guy Williams:

The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ”Mutt” Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange’s award on his behalf, said it was ”very nice” to be recognised..

How I beat the black dog within myself –  Jon Morgan:

The latest person to come out and admit they have had problems with depression is a young Methven farmer, Sam Robinson.

Writing on NZ Farming’s Facebook page, he spoke movingly about how bleak it can be to feel so down that you want to kill yourself.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for those who have no experience of mental illness to recognise the signs and be supportive.

He had one suggestion for what they could do – just to say to their mate next time they are in a social situation something like, “I think you are a good sort and I bloody like you“. . .

Cattle lost in fire: it’s horrible out there, the things I saw – Michael Pearce:

Larry Konrade of Ashland likes hunting everything from doves to huge whitetail bucks.

But when he left his house Tuesday morning with a favored rifle, he was dreading the day. He felt even worse when it was over.

“It’s horrible, just horrible. I left the house with (60) shells and used them all,” Konrade said. He said he probably killed 40 cows, “and in a lot of places there weren’t even very many left alive to put down.” . .

Nuffield scholars identify challenges for NZ – Richard Rennie:

Last year’s Nuffield Scholars are uneasy at competing countries’ ability to match or outpace New Zealand agriculture.

In a summary of their experiences the unbalanced rhetoric around emerging technologies was also noted.

Wellington based government agricultural development manager Jessica Bensemann reported her concern over New Zealand agriculture’s level of disconnectedness from global trading trends and patterns after visiting Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Instead she warned New Zealand’s primary sector appeared to be transfixed within the farm gate. . .

Rugged rural fellas wanted:

The call has gone out for young, gallant rural gents to compete for this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 14-17.

The competition is in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March. . .


Rural round-up

January 30, 2017

Farmers speak up for industry during a hostile year – Gerald Piddock:

Being named as one of Waikato’s top environmental farmers has given a platform for John Hayward and Susan O’Regan to show that agriculture is not the villain it is made out to be.

Nearly a year after being named supreme winners of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards, the couple’s farm has hosted countless individuals and groups, ranging from the former United States ambassador Mark Gilbert to cabinet ministers, MPs and school children.

O’Regan said they had tried to do their best to improve people’s understanding and perspective of dairying in what had been a pretty hostile year. . . 

Dairy strategy about more than just producing extra milk – Andrew Hoggard:

All manner of self-appointed experts have recently been making claims around the dairy industry’s strategy, and how we associate with others.

About the only thing they got right is that we actually do have a strategy. Its official title is The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. Its purpose is firstly to inform DairyNZ’s funding priorities, but also to co-ordinate industry action on the various strategy objectives.

The strategy is focused primarily around on-farm, but also covers domestic issues that will take into account the processors. So it’s not about telling the various processors which markets to operate in, and what products to sell. . . 

Shearing champs labour of love falling into place – Sally Rae:

“Imagine the biggest roller coaster in the world and being on it.”

That is how World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson describes preparing for the event in Invercargill next week.‘‘Some things have happened easily and the next minute you’ve got to really dig in with something a bit more challenging. ‘‘It is a bit of a labour of love but you work through it. Everything’s falling into place,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson, shearing great Sir David Fagan and Gavin Rowland, from Shearing Sports New Zealand, made the bid at the previous world championships in 2014 to hold the 2017 event in New Zealand. The bid was successful and planning began in earnest for the championships which will be held at the ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11. The championships have a 40-year history, dating back to when they were first held at Bath and West in England in 1977.Mr Wilson’s involvement stretches nearly as far, contesting his first world championships in Masterton in 1980. . . 

Finalist looks forward to tough competition – Sally Rae:

Alan Harvey is looking forward to next month’s Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is one of eight regional finalists who will compete in the event in Roxburgh on February 18. The winner will go on to the grand final in the Manawatu in July.

Organisers have touted it as shaping up to be the toughest competition of the seven regional finals nationwide. Mr Harvey (25) was fourth in the Tasman regional final last year. Brought up on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, he joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club when he was 15 and was involved in setting up a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

Summer heats up for Hawkes Bay farmers – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are selling stock because they don’t have enough food or water for them, livestock agent John Kingston says.

Mr Kingston, who works for Carrfields, said although the region had had a good spring, weeks of wind had dried out the land.

“We normally have a dry season here but it’s getting beyond a joke now.

“Stock water is the biggest issue. Some people have had to buy water for houses. The feed is absolutely swept around most of Hawkes Bay.”

Dry weather spells trouble for Northland farmers – Sarah Robson:

Extra blankets and raincoats haven’t been far from reach in many parts of the country this summer, but farmers in Northland are worried they’re in for another prolonged dry spell.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said while there was a welcome burst of rain last week, strong winds have whisked most of the moisture away from the soil.

Dairy farmers were trying to source extra feed and looking at culling their herds. A lot of sheep and beef farmers had already de-stocked, while a wet October meant many crops had failed. . .

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Quote of the day

April 2, 2015

To their credit, National has already identified that one of the key barriers to progress and development in many parts of the country is the Resource Management Act (RMA). This is certainly the case in Northland, which is rich in natural resources but poor in economic activity and jobs. But ironically for the people of Northland, by electing Winston Peters they may well have blocked the RMA reforms that are required to improve access to such resources.

The RMA is one of those Acts of Parliament that most people have little contact with. They are the lucky ones.

It’s the property owners and business people with initiatives that come into contact with the Act. Most come to dislike it intensely because they encounter first hand the extortionate demands of ‘affected parties’, the manipulation by activists, the huge costs extracted by the RMA industry, and the barriers put up by consenting authorities.

As a result, consents will often take years to go through the process – council hearings, the Environment Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, all costing applicants such vast sums of money, that in the end many are forced to abandon their project altogether. . .

While there are no doubt a multitude of ideas about how best to move resource planning forward to benefit the country – including the use of council case managers as advocates to guide applicants through the regulatory process and gain the cooperation of government agencies – at the heart of this matter is a realisation that holding back progress is not in the country’s best interest. Yes, we must be careful to minimise the impact of development on the environment, but we must also recognise that New Zealand families need economic growth and jobs if they are to thrive and prosper.

The irony is that as a result of the Northland by-election, the fate of the RMA is now in the hands of Mr Peters. Does he truly care about the long-term well-being of Northlanders, or is he too going to deliver more show than substance for his constituents – some new bridges and a bit of tar seal, when what they really need are jobs.  – Dr Muriel Newman,


Let’s get back on-message

March 31, 2015

One of the big disappointments of the Northland by-election was that National went off-message.

Until then the message was clear and consistent – a growing economy is the means for improved services and infrastructure, without compromising the environment, and National’s recipe for that is working.

We’ve had sustained growth, without inflationary pressure, in spite of the financial and natural crisis the government has faced.

That has been achieved by careful management of public finances while looking after the most vulnerable.

A big part of the plan, and its success, is addressing the causes of long-term problems and thereby reducing the costs which go with them.

This is why National has increased money for education and put more in to helping those most at risk from long term welfare dependence.

It is why it has made delivering Better Public Services one of its priorities.

To do this, we set 10 specific measurable targets in 2012 that we expected the public service to achieve over four to five years to improve the lives of New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable.

These 10 targets are in areas that have been challenging to governments, not just in New Zealand but all around the world – such as welfare dependency, crime, child abuse, and educational achievement.

This focus on results, and being accountable for achieving them, is changing the way the public service is thinking and operating.

Three years on, we are making progress on all 10 targets and it’s now starting to make a difference that improves the lives of New Zealanders.

In February 2015, we released our twice yearly update on the Better Public Service programme.

Key highlights of the latest update include:

  • Immunisation rates of young babies have reached an all-time high.
  • Rheumatic fever rates have dropped considerably.
  • Crime numbers continue to fall – the crime rate is now at a 35-year low.
  • Last year nearly 5,000 people came off long-term JobSeeker Support benefits and into work.
  • More 18-year olds are achieving NCEA Level 2.
  • More young people are achieving higher qualifications.
  • And the number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse has decreased by almost 200, or 5.6 per cent, over the past year.

There’s still a lot of work to do and we will continue to focus on making strides on the things that matter to New Zealanders and their families.

These matter everywhere in New Zealand, including the provinces.

But there is no doubt Northland had an itch to which Winston Peters applied his usual prescription of charm without substance.

It is possible that no matter how good a campaign National ran it wouldn’t have been able to counter Peters’ persuasion.

But there would have been a better chance of success had it stuck to its message and it must get back on to it.

It has the right prescription and it must keep applying it everywhere including those parts of the country which, fairly or not, feel it isn’t yet addressing their ills.

 

 


One against too many

March 29, 2015

The Northland by-election delivered a 4,000 vote majority for Winston Peters which is being described as a hiding for National.

But how could our candidate, Mark Osborne, counter all of the left plus some of the centre and centre right who might, or might not, not have understood the consequences of their voting?

One against too many others united in opposition to him was too much.

Given what he was up against and how little time he had, he did well, but sadly not well enough.

I’m not pretending this is anything but bad for National. The party will be doing serious soul-searching and must learn from this.

But National isn’t the only loser.

After the knee-capping by Labour leader Andrew Little, that party’s candidate wasn’t expected to do well but just 1,315 votes must be galling for Willow-Jean Prime.

What does the result say for the left as a whole? The Green party didn’t stand and Mana scraped up only 55 votes.

This wasn’t a win for the left who have lost any moral high ground they might have had from which to criticise National for not campaigning to win electorates.

Previous Labour leaders struggled against Russel Norman who did a better job in Opposition and now Little will have to counter a stronger Peters.

What does this result do for Northlanders? They’ve now got an MP who doesn’t live in the electorate and who will be distracted by his party-leadership responsibilities.

They’ve got two and a half years to work out whether that’s what they need.

And New Zealand, after nearly getting a majority government on election night is back to where it was in the last term with National dependent on Act and the votes of at least one other party to pass legislation.

Ah well, that’s politics and today we’ve got sport to enjoy – Go the Black Caps.

 


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