Rural round-up

September 8, 2017

 Auckland-based designer re-invents lamb docking tool named national winner of James Dyson Award:

A re-designed lamb docking or tailing iron has won the New Zealand leg of the prestigious James Dyson Award for design engineers.

Many sheep farmers can experience repetitive strain injuries from using traditional tools during the seasonal process of removing lambs’ tails, commonly known as docking. And it’s not just the farmers who have been suffering; fluctuations in blade temperatures can cause considerable pain for the lambs, often leading to ineffective cauterisation and stock mortality.

Auckland-based industrial designer Nicole Austin has helped solve these problems by inventing Moray, an innovative hand-tool designed to help improve usability, performance and stock wellbeing. . . 

“Black gold’: vanilla prices reach record highs – Alexa Cook:

A global shortage of vanilla has sent prices sky high, and the cost of vanilla is now more than double previous record prices. 

The last peak was in 2003 when it reached $US300 per kg, and it is now sitting about $US700 per kg.

Vanilla is a tricky product to grow: the flowers only open once a year and have to be hand pollinated within four hours of opening.

Heilala Vanilla chief executive and co-founder Jennifer Boggiss said vanilla, as a commodity, went through cycles, and at the moment it had record high pricing and short supply. . . 

Great Short and Great Day Walks announced:

Some of New Zealand’s finest tracks are set to become part of a new network of Great Short and Great Day walks, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have announced.

“We’re bringing new facilities and a new, higher profile to some of the best walking experiences New Zealand has to offer as part of Budget 2017’s $76m investment in DOC’s infrastructure,” Mrs Bennett says.

The Great Day and Great Short Walks, developed by DOC in partnership with Tourism New Zealand, are an expansion of the highly successful Great Walks brand aimed at promoting more of the fantastic walking experiences available across the country. . . 

Nominations for Fonterra Shareholders’ Council And Directors’ Remuneration Committee Open Today;

Nominations opened today for the 2017 Fonterra Shareholders’ Council and Directors’ Remuneration Committee Elections.

Following last year’s Governance and Representation Review undertaken by Fonterra, the Shareholders’ Council has given effect to the recommendation voted on by shareholders in late 2016 that: “Over the next 12 months, the number of Shareholders’ Council wards is reviewed to establish how they can be reduced within the range that is permitted under the current Constitution.” . . 

Substantial dairy farm and runoff block placed on the market for sale:

A substantial dairy farm and associated run-off block in South Canterbury – including approximately 1,100 cows plus young stock – has been placed on the market for sale as a going concern.

The properties are located under the rain shadow of the Hunter Hills and feature a 501.944 hectare dairy platform located at 3150 Back Line Road at Kohika plus a 119.9636 hectare self-contained run-off located at 316 Campbell Forrest Road, which is only four kilometres from the dairy platform on a quiet country road. . . 

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Tougher more consistent rules for freedom campers

August 27, 2017

A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.

“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.

“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”

National will:

  • Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
  • Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
  • Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies

Assigning the fine to the vehicle owner will incentivise rental companies to explain he rules and the importance of adhering to them to travellers.

“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.

“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.

“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.

“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”

This is a very good move.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles – providing they use their on-board loos and dispose of rubbish properly – don’t usually cause problems.

But people in vehicles which range from cars to camper vans without loos, do. Wayside parking areas have become littered with human waste and the problem of people defecating where they shouldn’t isn’t confined to the countryside.

A friend in Wanaka stepped in human pooh outside his gate when he went to get his paper in the morning. Another morning he saw someone who’d slept in his car walk out of the garden on the other side of the road, hitching up his trousers as he did so.

Tourism is good for the economy but the environmental and health costs are too high when travellers turn anywhere they stop into toilets.

Our tougher rules for freedom camping will protect public spaces & crack down on poor behaviour #PartyVoteNational #Delivering4NZers


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Solution needs science not politics

June 15, 2017

Science will provide the answers to lowering dairy farming’s environmental footprint.

Modern, science-based farming is the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming has a lower environmental footprint, says DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

His comment follows today’s announcement of the Dairy Action for Climate Change at National Fieldays 2017.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change lays down the foundation to reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, which represents all dairy farmers in New Zealand, and is in partnership with Fonterra. The plan has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dr Mackle says dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, are serious about improving the environment.

“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.

“Our farmers are already working on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to challenges, and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”

Dr Mackle says addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand.

“Tackling the reduction of on-farm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together and, as such, the plan is an important part of a broader work programme underway.”

Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Farm Source, Miles Hurrell, says it is crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare, to the protection of waterways – and all the while maintain productivity and the profitability of dairy.

“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“Some of their work – such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching, therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide – is already helping to address emissions. Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and a methane inhibiting vaccine.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. The BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what the sector can do on-farm to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. The BERG’s final report in late 2017 will be necessary to inform future policy development on agricultural emissions.

“New Zealand’s agricultural output of greenhouse gas is accentuated because we have a relatively small population, and we are not heavily industrialised. In other countries where there are larger populations the greater contribution is from the transport, manufacturing, construction, and energy sectors.

“Our agricultural sector is a very efficient producer of high-quality food – food that feeds many millions, not only in our country, but also around the world.”

New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as identified in a 2010 report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr Mackle says this position is the result of New Zealand dairy cattle being healthier and largely grass fed, unlike animals in many other agricultural countries which are fed grains and other supplements that are harvested and transported. Added to this, their animals are often housed in barns, sometimes year around, not just over the winter months.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change was launched during the opening of the 49th National Fieldays by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

There is more on the DACC here.

Opposition parties and environmental activists want a substantial reduction to the national dairy herd.

That might lower New Zealand’s emissions but would add to global emissions as less efficient producers in other countries increased production to compensate for less milk from here.

We need a sustainable solution which lowers emissions here without compromising production and increasing emissions elsewhere.

That will  come from science, not politics.


No use imposing pain for no gain

June 7, 2017

Why isn’t farming included in the emissions trading scheme?

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett nails the answer:

Let me take this opportunity to clearly state the Government’s position: until there is an economically viable way of reducing agricultural emissions through technological advances or otherwise, I will not be bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a Parliamentary debate on the recent Globe New Zealand report into climate change, Labour’s David Parker said “If we are elected, agriculture will be coming into ETS very fast. We have always said it should”.
Here’s my response to Parker.
We fully support our farmers here in NZ.
There is absolutely no point in cutting them off at the knees because more inefficient farmers across the world would pick up the slack and leave us worse off overall.
The greenhouse gas footprint from dairy here is less than half the global average.
We are a nation of four million feeding 40m – the world needs what our farmers produce
.

Imposing the ETS on farming now would cause financial pain to farmers and the country.

If there was an environmental gain that cost might be justified but it can’t be when less efficient producers elsewhere would step in to the gap left by lower production in New Zealand.

We should be backing our NZ farmers.
The actions farmers are already taking to improve water quality and reduce nitrogen fertiliser costs have climate change co-benefits.
Farms that are improving efficiency and productivity are also reducing emissions intensity.
Over the past 25 years farmers have improved the emissions efficiency of production by about 1% a year.
Without these gains, agricultural emissions would have increased by 40% to produce the same amount of product, rather than the current 15% increase in emissions.
We need to make sure actions to achieve these efficiency gains become standard practice and that we strive for further improvements that have both on farm economic and climate benefits.
A thriving and productive agricultural sector is pivotal to the health of NZ’s economy and farmers are natural environmentalists.
We’ll be working in partnership with farmers, not against them, to make the changes we need to make to reach our ambitious Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.
We continue to put about $20m a year into agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation research.
It includes improving our national forestry and agriculture greenhouse gas inventory and reporting, understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change, research on reducing methane and nitrous oxide and how soil can be used to store carbon.
The Primary Growth Partnership and the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre are examples of government industry partnerships to find new technologies and production systems that will make farming more productive and sustainable.
Fonterra has formed a 10-year, $20m partnership programme with the Department of Conservation to reduce predators and improve habitats and water quality.
This project looks at how sustainable dairying can be part of healthy, functioning ecosystems, highlighting the important two-way relationship between environmental health and economic prosperity.
NZ is working with other countries on many projects related to agriculture and recently signed an agreement with China to share technical expertise on carbon trading and agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation.
The Government continues to fund forestry schemes which provide additional income from marginal land, help improve water quality and act as a carbon sink.
We provide start-up support for community irrigation schemes which must meet regional environmental requirements.
NZ has a great opportunity to demonstrate that we have that integrity and to market ourselves as a really superb grower of premium food.
I have never met a farmer who didn’t want to leave the environment in a better state than they found it, for future generations.
We all need to work together to embed and accelerate good management practice and connect better with our consumers, both here and overseas.
A thriving and productive agricultural sector is pivotal to the health of NZ’s economy and farmers are natural environmentalists.

Quite.

Farmers might be a small minority in New Zealand now but farming still makes a large contribution to the economy.

Contrary to the anti-farming rhetoric most farmers are also doing everything they can to repair the environmental damage for poor practices in the past and ensure their current practices leave as small an environmental footprint as possible.


April 9 in history

April 9, 2017

32 Jesus Christ ascended into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

193 Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor by the army in Illyricum.

475 Byzantine Emperor Basiliscus issued a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite christological position.

1241  Battle of Liegnitz: Mongol forces defeated the Polish and German armies.

1413  Henry V was crowned King of England.

1440 Christopher of Bavaria was appointed King of Denmark.

1682 Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River, claimed it for France and named it Louisiana.

1850 – Nine Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland on the Oceanie with Bishop Pompallier and a number of priests.

Sisters of Mercy arrive in New Zealand

1860 The oldest audible sound recording of a human voice was made.

1865 American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.

1865 Birth of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, German-American mathematician and electrical engineer (d. 1923).

1867 Chris Watson, third Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1941).

1867  Alaska purchase: Passing by a single vote, the United States Senate ratified a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.

1898 Paul Robeson, American singer and activist, was born  (d. 1976).

1909 The U.S. Congress passed the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act.

1916  World War I: The Battle of Verdun – German forces launched their third offensive of the battle.

1917 World War I: The Battle of Arras  started with Canadian Corps executing a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.

1918 World War I: The Battle of the Lys – the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps was crushed by the German forces during the Spring Offensive on the Belgian region of Flanders.

1926 Hugh Hefner, American entrepreneur and publisher, was born.

1932 Unemployed workers in Dunedin reacted angrily to the refusal of the Hospital Board to offer assistance, protesters stoned the mayor’s relief depot and tried to storm the Hospital Board’s offices, before being dispersed by police batons.

Unemployed disturbances in Dunedin

1934 – Bill Birch, New Zealand politician, was born.

Bill Birch.jpg

1937 The Kamikaze arrived at Croydon Airport – the first Japanese-built aircraft to fly to Europe.

1939 Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied the right to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall.

1940 World War II: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

1942 World War II: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March – United States forces surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese Navy launched an air raid on Trincomalee; Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Vampire were sunk off the island’s east coast.

1945 World War II: The German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was sunk.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of Königsberg, in East Prussia, ended.

1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission was formed.

1947 The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes killed 181 and injured970 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride  started through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court’s 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.

1948 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán’s assassination provoked a violent riot (El Bogotazo) in Bogotá, and a further ten years of violence in Colombia known as La violencia.

1948 – Massacre at Deir Yassin.

1952 Hugo Ballivian’s government was overthrown by the Bolivian National Revolution, starting a period of agrarian reform, universal suffrage and the nationalisation of tin mines.

1957 The Suez Canal in Egypt was cleared and opened to shipping.

1959 Mercury program: NASA announced the selection of the United States’ first seven astronauts,-  the “Mercury Seven“.

1965 Astrodome opened and the first indoor baseball game was played.

1967 The first Boeing 737 (a 100 series) made its maiden flight.

1968 Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral.

1969 – Paula Bennett, National Party Cabinet Minister and Upper Harbour MP, was born.

Paula Bennett.jpg

1969 The “Chicago Eight” pled not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

1969 The first British-built Concorde 002 makes its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford.

1975 The first game of the Philippine Basketball Association, the second oldest professional basketball league in the world.

1978  Rachel Stevens, English singer (S Club), was born.

1989  The April 9 tragedy in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR an anti-Soviet peaceful demonstration and hunger strikes, demanding restoration of Georgian independence was dispersed by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

1991 Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 A U.S. Federal Court found former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

1992 John Major‘s Conservative Party won an unprecedented fourth general election victory.

1999  Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, President of Niger, was assassinated.

2002 The funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey.

2003 2003 invasion of Iraq: Baghdad fell to American forces.

2005 Charles, Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles.

2009 In Tbilisi, Georgia, up to 60,000 people protested against the government of Mikheil Saakashvili.

2011 – A gunman murdered five people, injured eleven, and committed suicide in a mall in the Netherlands.

2013 – A gunman murdered 13 people in a spree shooting in the village of Velika Ivanča, Serbia.

2014  – A student stabbed 20 people at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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.


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