Quotes of the month

01/07/2021

The cult of celebrity, as a quality in itself irrespective of the value of what it attaches to, is likewise mysterious to me. Many are those who seek celebrity detached from anything else of discernible worth. Fame for its own sake is sufficient for them. But what does it mean that people can be famous for being famous? – Theodore Dalrymple

The celebrity must be such that, fundamentally, he is one of us, the great mass of mediocrities. In fact, a celebrity could have been me if things had been only a little different. Modern celebrity is thus the screen on which mass daydreams are projected. Theodore Dalrymple

Where celebrity is both more desired and more prevalent, it will attach to people of less and less accomplishment. To be completely unknown becomes a wound, a humiliation, a sign of failure; celebrity is the sole guarantor of personal worth. To be known for nothing of any importance is infinitely better than not being known at all. – Theodore Dalrymple

There should be term limits of about 15 years and then you should have a compulsory sabbatical. If you want to come back, it’s over to you, but you’d be pretty stupid to. – Chris Finlayson

 Patel evokes such insensate fury in her opponents not because of her actual practical politics, which could be opposed or disagreed with in a normal way, but because she represents a threat to a worldview. She is the child of refugees, and she experienced racial insult and abuse as a child; therefore, it was her duty to play the professional victim for the rest of her life. Instead, she says that her heroine was Margaret Thatcher, who inspired her to go into politics. By not claiming to be a victim, and by climbing up the greasy pole through sheer determination, she has proved herself a traitor to her class and her race.

Worse still, Patel is a threat to all those who aspire to climb that same greasy pole by denouncing elitism, privilege, and racism as the principal sources of all evil. And there is a growing danger that a substantial proportion of various ethnic minorities will come to think like her. – Theodore Dalrymple

Labour’s record is going to be blowing 30 years of fiscal prudence and creating $100,000 of debt per household. Plus closing down the country and avoiding a mass outbreak of Covid, but how hard was that?Richard Prebble

What if making people dependent is a cause of poverty? What if Labour’s benefit increase traps more people in dependency? Bill English’s Better Public Services programme that provided wrap around services to assist beneficiaries off dependency achieved better results. – Richard Prebble

Spending $486 million restructuring health to a centralised system won’t provide a single extra operation. Andrew Little achieved nothing in three years in justice except expensive hui. He has yet to learn about project optimism. It is the rule that says projects cost twice as much and take four times longer than estimated. The unexpected always happens. – Richard Prebble

The evidence of the last thirty years is that, given the choice, workers prefer not to be represented in their wage negotiations by unions. Unsurprisingly, they choose to have a direct relationship with their employer. This may be bad news for unions, but it is not a systemic weakness in the labour market.

And that is the real reason why the claims in Minister Wood’s Cabinet paper don’t stack up. New Zealand’s labour markets are working well for both firms and workers. But they have not been working well for unions. That is the only “entrenched weakness” of the current framework. And it is only a weakness if you are a union official. For anyone else, the case for FPAs does not compute. – Roger Partridge

Of the services classed as essential during the Covid lockdowns last year, it is important to remember that the only ones supporting income for the country were those to do with food and fibre. The other essential services were … essential, but most, including the public servants now on a wage “pause”, were supported by the Government. 

Farmers and growers working through were not.

Just as the primary sector was vital to maintain the economy during Covid, it is now vital to contribute to debt repayment. It therefore makes little sense to shut down any part of it without considering the full implications and alternatives. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Organic, regenerative production systems do not and cannot yield as well as conventional systems. Globally, depending on crop and season, about 60 per cent of conventional is average.

Occasionally the yields are similar, but generally only on individual harvests – not on a five- or 10-year calculation. And most of the calculations overlook the need to bring in animal manure as nutrient replacement. Green-laundering refers to the fact that this manure has often been created by animals being given conventionally grown food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

The National Science Challenge Our Land and Water has funded research on organic versus conventional yields and people’s willingness to pay. The report indicated that a premium of 38 per cent would be required to offset yield decrease. People were apparently willing to pay an extra 36 per cent, though reality suggests that most people don’t.

It is also important to remember that a premium is paid for something that is not the norm. If everybody is organic or regenerative or whatever, there will be no premium. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Regulation cannot create excellence in anything but compliance, and compliance with regulations set in urban environments, where context is not understood, cannot assist with debt reduction for the country. – – Jacqueline Rowarth

In the four minutes it took to read this column, the national debt increased by $353,333.

Who will pay off this debt if the farmers and growers are out of business? – – Jacqueline Rowarth

Putting New Zealanders first when it comes to local employment is all very well. But it has to be based on more than wishful thinking. It needs to be properly evidence-based that the goal can be achieved. Despite the government’s optimistic rhetoric, there is no substantive evidence of a large number of New Zealanders showing any interest in doing the necessary work that migrants currently carry out. – Peter Dunne

The faster we get that jab into arms up and down this country, the faster we’ll be reconnecting with the world. Heather du Plessis-Allan

 So, her visit was disappointing. Confirming that dogma dictates decisions, while reason runs for cover. Grass doesn’t need water. Tractors don’t need drivers. Regenerative farming makes Lincoln redundant. Maori wards will make gangs evaporate. Pine forests make air travel harmless. Nevertheless, we pray that rain and sanity may one day return to us here in drought land. – Tim Gilbertson

Labour’s problem with the Bill is that it offers choice, when they believe there should only be one choice for the second language – te reo.

“One minute Labour MPs are celebrating Samoan language week in Parliament, next minute they are killing a piece of legislation that would better equip schools to teach Samoan – or Hindi, or Mandarin, or Tongan, or Punjabi or any number of languages widely spoken in communities around New Zealand.Paul Goldsmith

 Confirmed, yet again, is the unhealthily large number of “suck-up, kick-down” personalities currently at large in New Zealand’s Fourth Estate.

So many contemporary journalists appear to be in the job for trophies. Not the sort of trophies one displays on the mantelpiece (although they like them too) but the sort of trophies big-game hunters hang on their walls. The current Press Gallery’s definition of a good political journalist would appear to be based on how many politician’s they have “bagged”. As if stuffing someone’s career is something to be proud of. – Chris Trotter

There is already enough ego and ambition in Parliament to go around – we certainly don’t need to be stoking either in a person before they have even been selected or elected. Monique Poirier 

The victim is the modern hero and also the highest moral authority: for who would dare to question, let alone oppose, the opinion of a victim on the subject of whatever has made him or her a victim? Thus, we listen to victims with a kind of awed and uncritical, but also terrified, reverence even when they speak of abstractions. If they say something which we suspect or even know to be untrue, we fear to let on to others our derogation from the holy word. To disagree publicly with a victim, to question the undiluted veracity of their story, is to increase the harm they have suffered, and in effect to victimise them a second time. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It is small wonder, then, that in a cultural climate such as this, some people are willing and able to claim the status of victim even when what they suffered is only one of the inevitable inconveniences of having been born human. It is as if were prayed not for the Lord to make us strong but to make us fragile. Psychological fragility, of course, is romantic in a way in which strength of mind is not: it is the moral equivalent of the blood that romantic poets coughed up prior to dying early. Apart from anything else, psychological fragility gives one the standing from which to discourse at length upon one’s favourite subject, the subject on which one is a world authority, namely oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

If you’re ugly, old or badly-dressed, don’t expect crying to work; if you’re male, it’s a gamble; and if you’re not in the in-group, you can forget it. But if your face fits (and you don’t ugly-cry) then you can do what you like. And as long as you sob in public now and then, you’ll be considered a paragon of compassion. – Mary Harrington

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same. Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care? Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers. It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

Our current monetary regulatory regime works to protect the vested interests of those with capital at the exclusion of those seeking to acquire it. This applies to people wishing to purchase a house, obtain capital for a business or in some cases even open a bank account. This harms the poor and entrenches the wealthy. For historical reasons Māori are over-represented in our lower economic demographics. The Reserve Bank is not doing anything to improve their lot, and in many ways is making their lives harder. – Damien Grant

We’re losing a lot of the satire and the greater comment about what is going on, because people are afraid of what the reaction is going to be. – Matt Elliott 

It’s quite hard to navigate comedy, particularly if you want to do social satire, in these conditions… you really have to twist yourself in knots to not offend. – Ginette McDonald

Some people still continue to have the sense that comedy is the ability to say whatever you want, and that that has always been the case. That’s never always been the case. There’s always been lines and the audience will tell you where that line is, by reacting against it – Te Radar

The only reason we get away with that irreverence and edgy stuff is because on the flipside is heart. – Oscar Knightley

I don’t have rules but ‘stay in your storytelling lane’ is one anyone can trust. Everything (especially the painful stuff) should have an autobiographical pebble in it, because then it resonates. In my experience that’s how marginalised audiences feel seen, which is why I got into comedy writing in the first place. – Jessicoco Hansell 

But comedy’s not like ice skating. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty.” Sometimes, crossing the line can be thought-provoking. Laughter is a physical reaction. It’s honest and instant, and it’s interesting for the audience to laugh and sometimes wonder if it was OK to laugh.

The list of forbidden topics is always changing, and comedy evolves, like society, and it’s the job of the comic to feel where the line is. Sometimes you only find out by tripping over it. I’m sure if you’re the guest speaker at a KKK rally, the line is in a different place than for my audience. – Raybon Kan

The only rule in stand-up comedy from my perspective is tell jokes that you want to tell. Don’t tiptoe around other people because they might get offended. As a comedian, you have to stay true to your craft. – Dave Batten

There are some things that you can try and do something about. And if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, then you’d damn well better do something about them. – Arif Ahmed

Material living standards aren’t everything by any means. But they do seem to count for quite a lot.Michael Reddell

The conversations around the sustainability of red meat – which is often dominated by issues and matters prevalent in the northern hemisphere – means it is important to contribute a New Zealand-centric explanation of how we produce our meat.

The fact is, our system is the ‘EV car model’ of farming. Very efficient at raising animals on pasture and converting inedible grass into high quality, nutrient-dense food.Derek Moot

Kiwis must realise there’s no us and them – farmers are part of New Zealand; an integral part of our country’s welfare. A cursory glance at the rest of the world and we’d recognise how lucky we are here in Aotearoa.

New Zealand is the only OECD country with its economy based on agricultural production. It’s something that we do really, really, well. New Zealand farmers are good at agriculture and Kiwis can be proud of it. – Derek Moot

I’m reminded of the old Soviet Union, where word would spread like wildfire when a fresh delivery of bread or potatoes arrived at the supermarket and people would run to join the queue. Perhaps the government has chosen the same the mode of delivery for the Pfizer rollout. – Karl du Fresne

I don’t know who’s making these calls but I have to say, if you’ve got middle level bureaucrats sitting at their desk in Wellington, they do need to remember that their decisions will affect real people. – Dr Tim Mackle

New Zealanders, on the whole, are a tolerant, decent people, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. who abhor racism and inequality and indeed any other “ism” which purports to establish some sort of domination or superiority. “Jack is as good as his master” is a colloquialism long espoused in New Zealand to describe our egalitarian approach to life. There is no doubt whatsoever that any person in New Zealand today, if they have the ability, can aspire to and achieve whatever they want. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. In recent times, the highest offices of the land have been held by distinguished New Zealanders of multiple ethnicities – Maori, Fijian Indian, and yes, those of European or Asian descent. Ethnicity, gender or religion, amongst other political identities, has been no barrier to New Zealanders achieving their goals and dreams. We, all of us – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Asian, African – attended school together, have worked together, played sport together, served and died for our country New Zealand together, and have intermarried to the extent that virtually every person of Maori descent today has a European or Asian ancestor. Few other countries around the world can claim such egalitarian, inter-cultural and relatively peaceful outcomes. – Henry Armstrong

This is not to say we should not be indifferent to the cultural identification, beliefs, needs and practices of cultural minorities, including our Pasifika, Asian and Maori communities – we should of course acknowledge and respect those cultural differences where appropriate. But equally, the same attributes pertaining to the current ethnic majority also need to be acknowledged. Terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” are racist insults which have NO PLACE in New Zealand. – Henry Armstrong

Racism goes both ways and is equally hurtful, no matter what a person’s ethnic or cultural identity. My Irish and Polish ancestors, as well as our Pasifika and Chinese brothers and sisters, have all experienced racism in New Zealand. Let’s unite and stamp this out-wherever it comes from, including from Maori! . . .

There is no excuse for justifying and supporting insulting accusations of racism of any type in New Zealand, be it by Pakeha or by Maori, or indeed by anybody else who uses ethnicity as a point of difference. Let us condemn ALL racism, overt, covert or inverse. – Henry Armstrong

If it’s true that a new form of overt racial antagonism is emerging in New Zealand, then its origins are almost certainly domestic. I’d go further and say that the primary provocation is coming not from shadowy white supremacists, as the Dominion Post story speculates, but from the opposite direction – from proponents of critical race theory, the Marxist view that societies such as New Zealand are built on oppressive, systemic racism.

To put it another way, the divisive, polarising race rhetoric that we are bombarded with daily is coming overwhelmingly from one side, and it’s not from Pakeha. If we really to want to identify what’s destabilising race relations in New Zealand, we should point the finger at those who relentlessly promote an ideology of apartness – conveniently denying, as I’ve pointed out in this blog, that even the most strident activists carry the supposed curse of European blood. – Karl du Fresne

The problem for these part-Maori agitators (should we call them Maokeha?) is that if they acknowledged their European descent, the ideological narrative that we are two races, immutably divided into exploiters and exploited, would be deprived of much of its force. But as long as they continue to identify exclusively with their Maori heritage, they lay themselves open to the accusation that they do it because it enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.

These are the people who are dialling up the heat in the race debate, and no one should be surprised if a redneck backlash develops. Nothing is more likely to give oxygen to the small minority of true racists in New Zealand – people like the woman Tukaki encountered – than the perception that New Zealand is being reshaped along race-based lines that would advantage those of part-Maori descent. The danger is that the vast majority of New Zealanders who are liberally minded and racially tolerant are likely to get caught in the middle of an unlovely clash between extremes. Karl du Fresne

In reality, the world seems every more filled with what the French call “langue de bois,” that wooden language in which apparatchiks of various apparats, governmental, academic, and commercial, put words to their lack of thoughts. – Theodore Dalrymple

Sentences, which are no more meaningful in the negative than in the affirmative, and whose negative indeed confers nothing to the mind different from the affirmative, are uttered with a gravity intended to suggest that something important is being said.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that, just because the words and sentences uttered have no clear meaning, that they have no purpose. On the contrary, they have a very important purpose. The mastery of this kind of language is the managerial equivalent of freemasons’ ceremonies: it distinguishes the managers from the managed.Theodore Dalrymple

Again, if I may be allowed a paradox, meaninglessness is not without meaning. To talk in verbiage is to commit yourself to nothing, to promise nothing, and therefore to prevent yourself from being held to anything. It therefore excludes nothing.

It facilitates, or is a disguise or smokescreen, for complete ruthlessness: for having uttered something without meaning, without any tether to concrete reality, you may do anything you like without breaking your word.

Where such language is used, there can be no trust, only suspicion, for no one utters anything to which he can be held. All that is left is a struggle for power, the achievement of which has come, ever since Nietzsche and his death of God, to seem the highest, even the only, good. – Theodore Dalrymple

In an age where we are surrounded with everybody’s best version of themselves presented on social media, confidence is king. On reality TV, all shyness and self-consciousness is discarded for 15 minutes of fame. Contestants readily make fools of themselves to gain some notoriety. These incredible levels of confidence shouldn’t be our norm, nor considered healthy.

Before diagnosing yourself with imposter syndrome and chanting affirmations in the mornings, consider that being a little bit self-aware and self-critical is not, in fact, a problem, and perhaps a society which values confidence over self-reflection is.Rachel Peters

The mantra of ‘They Are Us’ repeated over and over like a prayer soon began to lose its meaning. After March 15, many of us felt more isolated than ever before. We looked over our shoulders when we walked through a crowd. We felt our chests tightening while walking into a mosque. Some of us stopped taking our children to Friday prayers.

Others questioned whether or not to abandon wearing the hijab in search of safety. We were all waiting for more attacks to come, and we did not know where they would come from, or when. – Mohamed Hassan

All of us were grateful for the beauty we witnessed in the days that followed, the empathy and warmth and shared grief we were able to experience as a country. It was a moment that shaped us, gave us a path forward through the darkness. But that process has not ended. We are not healed. We are not ready to move on, and the road is long and difficult. –

There were times when ‘They Are Us’ felt hollow. A promise made but not kept. A pat on the back for a job not yet done. – Mohamed Hassan

In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centered around white voices, white feelings and white heroism. The irony is nauseating. The lack of self-awareness is profound. – Mohamed Hassan

But this is not an inspiring story. It is a tragedy, one that must always be centered around the Muslim victims and their families. No one else.

And when they are ready to speak again, the rest of us must sit down and listen. – Mohamed Hassan

At every such juncture, we’ve been admonished to “believe the science.” But this is not science; it’s politics. Science demands a reflexive posture of skepticism toward received wisdom, tempered by trust in empirical evidence. Bowing habitually to expert authority on the strength of titles and credentials is the antithesis of the scientific mindset. Leighton Akira Woodhouse

The scientific establishment, like the political establishment, is a human institution. It’s not an impartial supercomputer, or a transcendent consciousness. It’s a bunch of people subject to the same incentives and disincentives the rest of us are subject to: economic self-interest, careerism, pride and vanity, the thirst for power, fame and influence, embarrassment at admitting mistakes, intellectual laziness, inertia, and ad-hoc ethical rationalization, as well as altruism, moral purpose, and heroic inspiration. Scientific experts deserve the respect due to them by dint of their education and experience, and they deserve the skepticism due to them by dint of their existence as imperfect actors functioning in complicated and deeply flawed human networks and organizations. If you “believe in science,” you don’t bow to their authority. You don’t transform them into living legends and teach your children to follow the example of their lives. You don’t light votive candles to them and castigate anyone who dares doubt their infinite wisdom.

Instead, you demand the best proof they can offer. You consider their motivations, their ideological biases and their conflicts of interest. You interrogate their advice, and weigh it against that of their critics. You exercise diligence. You ask questions. You trust in evidence, not in people. You think for yourself. – Leighton Akira Woodhouse

Never forget that if it was easy to be in business then everybody would be in business. –  Pita Alexander

Honestly, that whole ‘They Are Us’ phrase really bothers me. I know many disagree with me and I’m not gonna’ fight the fight again, but if we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ the Crusaders would have changed their name. If we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ then we might not have planned massacre anniversary commemorations, knowing that most Muslims don’t mark anniversaries.

If they were us then we wouldn’t us the word ‘They’ at all.    – Jack Tame

How is it acceptable that the cycleway is a velvety smooth carpet of asphalt, while the general roadway remains a rutted, dishevelled patchwork quilt of rough and ready repairs? Motorists feel like they’re being contemptuously treated by a rabidly anti-car council.Mike Yardley

 Up to now, this new “age of enlightenment”, as woke followers would call it, is largely constrained to traditional wealthy democracies found in Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, most of the world, by population, is yet to feel the woke wave or has decided it’s just not for them. Poor ignorant souls, still able to give their misplaced opinions on issues which have been ruled on by our woke leaders as unfit for public debate. – Derek Mackie

 It’s hard to tell how many people are secretly unwoke but I suspect it is a very large number indeed. Why don’t they speak out? If there’s one thing the woke brigade does well, it’s bully and intimidate. This is an age-old human tactic for getting your own way but what makes it particularly hypocritical in this case is the endless woke calls for fairness, kindness and freedom of expression. Like most movements born out of an urge for radical change and revolution, these laudable aims only apply to their own supporters. Anyone who dares to disagree or argue an alternative viewpoint is shouted down, vilified and verbally beaten into submission. –  Derek Mackie

In the last 70 – 100 years the great unwashed, that’s you and me by the way, have gained enormous freedoms and opportunities, not least regular baths and showers, which were denied to our ancestors. I don’t believe we will give these rights up easily. Like all radical movements, Woke will degenerate to more extreme and intolerant ideas, continuing to divide us by race, colour, gender and sexual orientation. These policies will become irreconcilable with preaching the same facade of understanding and fairness.

I hope that, despite the indoctrination planned for future schoolchildren, many will rebel and challenge the woke elite. However, this is likely another generation away, at least. In the meantime, the Great Unwoke need to band together, as best they can, and speak out at every opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. To stay silent and live a quiet life is no longer an option. Let’s bring on a new great age where we can discuss all issues in public life without fear of being branded something repugnant. –  Derek Mackie

I hope the greenies are still enjoying their gas ban and the fact we don’t mine much coal nowadays.

Because both of things mean we’re hurting the planet more than we otherwise would’ve done. Heather du Plessis Allan

That the CCC and the Government have got this far without encountering very much in the way of pushback from the public (farmers don’t count as the public) is because New Zealanders have no idea how much their day-to-day lives will be affected if Carr’s masterplan becomes Government policy. Everybody pays lip service to fighting global warming, but beyond occasionally catching a bus, or walking – instead of driving – to the chippie, it’s business as usual. Hardly anyone is prepared for the radical change of lifestyle which Carr’s recommendations would require. So, when the climate change penny finally drops, all hell is going to break loose. – Chris Trotter

Carr’s plans are typically elitist in their lofty disregard for the lives of ordinary New Zealanders. Indeed, the burden of this plan of his will fall most heavily upon those Kiwis least able to bear it. Is the cleaner living in South Auckland, who travels miles each day by car to reach her workplace, seriously being asked to buy an electric vehicle? And even if the government finances her into one, how is she supposed to power it up? – Chris Trotter

The fact that Labour is surprised at our outrage tells me they don’t understand Middle New Zealand voters.

They badly misjudged how much we would object to this spend and how much we would hate the pay freeze just a few weeks ago. They don’t know what we prioritise.

After years of living in a Wellington politics bubble or a university bubble or a union bubble they’ve stopped bumping into normal people. They are relying on focus groups to try to understand us, but focus groups have limits. Focus groups measure people through a series of questions. People are more complicated than that.

To Labour, Middle New Zealanders are a curiosity they occasionally venture out to study like a zoologist heading out to watch a pack of passing giraffes. –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

The crime committed around the harbour crossing is now two-fold. The ruinous waste of money for a whole new structure, the only positive aspect being it most likely will never happen. The government, by the way, might want to reflect on that widespread type of reaction.

Why are so many people sceptical? Because their delivery record is abysmal, and it’s now haunting them. Governments should make announcements like this and have support, what they get through their own ineptitude is scepticism. – Mike Hosking

In a country crying out for infrastructural reform, not to mention no money and a shortage of skills and materials, the best they can do is a massive cross water cycle lane.

If you don’t see that as the sheer insanity that it is, you’re either employed at a university, in the Green Party, or you’ve lost your marbles. Roads build economies, cycles don’t. – Mike Hosking

Sometimes you get so bogged down with the day-to-day graft that it is hard to see where small improvements can make a big difference. If we stop seeing health and safety as compliance and look at it as productive farming with thriving staff, we might see an improvement in our pretty miserable track record of injuries and deaths on farm.Jake Jarman

Pandemics require two things: The efficient administering of effective vaccines, and truth.

I need reassurance that the country is receiving both. – Gavin Ellis

An army of spin doctors in the ministry and an elite force of them in the Beehive may be responsible for narratives which, if not conflicting, are not perfectly aligned. Either way, information is being manipulated and we would be näive to think otherwise. It’s the way politics and government works.

Nonetheless, it has no place in a pandemic.

When “Can I believe it?” passes the public’s lips in these hazardous times, it’s a signal to reset the strategy. – Gavin Ellis

The truth has a wonderful habit of revealing itself but, with a deadly virus waiting for an opportunity to thrive, we can’t wait a year to hear it. – Gavin Ellis

We need to hear leaders condemn all support for terrorism and all terrorism equally whatever the source, target, and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so. – Juliet Moses

The Commission concedes that it is not possible to model the future but then bases its report on modelling.

A Shaman examining the entrails of a goat could make a forecast of GDP in 30 years’ time that would be just as valid. – Richard Prebble

The Commission is using climate change to advance an agenda for a transition to a “fair, inclusive and equitable” society, the eternal justification for socialism.

The report’s recommendations will make reaching zero emissions more costly while making New Zealand less fair, more divided and poorer. – Richard Prebble

If the term “the Establishment” means those who hold power in society and whose ideas dominate the public conversation, then what we thought of as the conservative Establishment in the latter part of the 20th century has long been extinct. We’ve done a 180-degree flip, to the point where what was then considered radical has become mainstream. But just like the old Establishment, the new one is oppressively conformist, authoritarian and intolerant of different ideas and different ways of doing things. That’s the nature of Establishments. – Karl du Fresne

When a major event occurs or a policy proposal announced, your first thought in today’s news feed culture is not your own original idea but almost inevitably a headline or commenter appealing to your worse biases.

Playing to the rawest elements of human nature, today’s social media-driven outrage machine has done great damage to intellectual life, destroying our ability to think independently, and discuss productively across lines of difference.   – Matthew Nisbet

When TV news does report on climate change, portrayals tend to exaggerate the threats, without providing information about what audiences might be able to do to protect against them, a style of fear mongering that can result in feelings of powerlessness or forms of denial. – Matthew Nisbet

In the quest for climate progress, the goal is not to broker cross-alliances between the center-right, center-left, and left wing, drawing on the best ideas that those factions can offer, but rather to build progressive power.

In doing so, the vast complexity of climate politics is reduced to a Manichean storyline that features a battle between the forces of “good and light” and “evil and darkness.” 

Progressives not only see climate change as an epic battle to stave off catastrophe, but also an opportunity to transform the world into their vision of an ideal society. – Matthew Nisbet

Absent the ability to read deeply, reason analytically, or argue effectively, generations of college students are at of risk of missing out on the most essential skills needed to sustain a liberal democracy. – Matthew Nisbet

I applaud and congratulate people who question the official line on any matter, even if sometimes they are in error. There is a freedom to err, a right to be wrong. – John Bishop

Those who say on any matter that the debate is over are propagating their ideology and advertising their power to squelch opposition. They are the enemies of free speech, freedom and democracy, even if they cloak themselves as being on the right side of history. – John Bishop

Today, if left unchallenged, cancel culture, de-platforming speakers, or decrying anyone who strays from the “correct” ideological line will lead inevitably to a denial of free speech rights. People will become afraid to exercise those rights. How can that ever be good?John Bishop

The Government’s announcement on Sunday of subsidies for electric vehicles did not make any case that the benefits to the public would plausibly exceed the costs. To fail to demonstrate positive net benefits is to fail to make a public wellbeing case for the measure.

The puzzle is why a Government that prides itself on having a wellbeing focus seems to have so little regard for it in this and other cases. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release covered the absence of a wellbeing benefit case with specious spin. For a start, its claimed environmental benefits are spurious. The ETS caps net emissions. If there are fewer emissions in transport, there will be more emissions elsewhere unless the cap is reduced. The same is true for other “chest-beating” policies such as decarbonising public transport and ‘revitalising rail’. Reducing the cap without subsidising electric vehicles could achieve more while costing less. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

On the Climate Change Commission’s analysis, the ETS could come close to achieving the government’s net zero goal at a cost of only $50 a tonne of CO2. Why then did the Commission propose a raft of choice-reducing measures that would cost up to and possibly beyond $250 a tonne?

The Commission’s answer in essence is that we, the public, would cut net emissions in the wrong ways. We would not inflict enough pain on ourselves. We would plant too many pine trees. We would also fail to walk and cycle enough. We would drive cars too much. Government needs to change our behaviour in specific ways.

In so doing, the Commission explicitly abandons achieving net zero carbon by 2050 at least cost, as perceived by those incurring the costs. It seeks to force on New Zealanders an unchanged net emissions result at a higher cost. That harms the public’s wellbeing, as perceived by those affected. It does so for no environmental gain. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The branch of economics that has studied how best to assess whether a policy might improve people’s experienced wellbeing is welfare economics. People’s own assessment of their wellbeing is at the heart of that analysis. That makes it inherently non-elitist.

The contrast is with paternalistic policies that treat people’s preferences as the problem rather than something to be respected. People who have choices will make the “wrong” choices. Instinctively, paternalists wish to reduce the public’s scope for choice. They may want to prohibit what is not mandated. The Commission comes close to both on petrol versus electric cars. The Government may have the same instincts. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release on Sunday is a masterclass in the use of a false comparison. None of the claimed benefits are benefits relative to the ETS.

To cap it all, a tweet a few days ago by a former senior Labour adviser decried heavy imports of SUVs. With supreme elitism it ended: “It’s surprising we allow this at all.” Well, whose country is it? – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

But if the goal of the rollout was to safely vaccinate New Zealanders in the fastest possible time, the government and our health ministry have surely failed. We can’t look back at the initial response to Covid-19 and toot our horns, comparing ourselves favourably with almost every other country on Earth, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that we are making the amongst the slowest progress with vaccinations in the developed World. – Jack Tame

It seems to me we’re in a funny middle ground. We haven’t done the noble thing. And for whatever reason, we haven’t done the fast thing, either. – Jack Tame

The whole thing has at times felt a bit ramshackle and inconsistent.
I’ve heard politicians say it’s not where we start but where we finish. It’s true that we won’t be entirely safe until our full population is vaccinated. Even then, we face a risk. But the speed of the rollout does matter. Every day someone in our community isn’t vaccinated, we face an increased risk of a community outbreak. The more people are unvaccinated at any one time, the greater the risk. – Jack Tame

The hypocrisy from the political left to conveniently ignore facts which do not suit their political agenda appears to have no shame.

Politicians constantly advertise what they claim are the sparkling clean, green credentials of EVs. I believe these politically driven, so called “noble” assertions are badly misleading and dangerous for the New Zealand public to blindly accept without debating the environmental credibility of EVs and fully understanding the downstream costs to taxpayers. – Troy Bowker

The point being missed, ignored, or not properly debated, is the total cost on the environment from the manufacture, use, and disposal of EVs versus petrol or diesel cars.

There is plenty of research to suggest EVs are actually worse for the environment overall than fossil fuel cars, just as there is research they are better.

None of that research properly deals with the CO2 emissions from the disposal and recycling of batteries. The EV industry lobby groups all tell us to not to be concerned and to “hope” that technology catches up so that the production and disposal of EV batteries will at some stage have a much lower carbon footprint. Surely this is putting the cart before the horse . Why can’t they address the elephant in the room regarding disposing of millions of EV batteries in a climate friendly manner and provide hard facts to support this? They can’t and they won’t because they simply don’t know. – Troy Bowker

A $6000 subsidy on a $60,000 EV is hardly relevant when all of your disposable income is paid in rent, food and heating your home.

I believe that when these issues are fully understood by the public, and the inconclusive message of how clean and green EVs are is replaced with reliable facts and sensible debate, Labour’s car tax will be seen for what is, political left ideology and hypocrisy at its worst. – Troy Bowker

To allow EVs to drive up to 500km in a single charge, these batteries weigh over 350kg and are made out of lithium, cobalt, copper, graphite, and nickel – mined in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The manufacture of these batteries does not come without an environmental cost. Once CO2 emissions from the production of batteries are taken into account, Germany’s Institute of Economic Research argued EVs do more harm to the environment than a modern Diesel engine. – Troy Bowker

Manufacturing is only the start of the problem. After an EV battery loses its ability to hold its charge, the metals and chemicals inside them contain toxic substances that are currently very difficult and expensive to dispose of cleanly. Technology hasn’t developed enough globally to come up with a way to either dispose of them safely, or recycle them in the volumes required.

If Labour wants all of New Zealand’s approximately four million vehicles to be EVs, then before they tax us even more can they please outline the plan to dispose of millions of toxic used EV batteries generally driven by the urban elite? This is not an unreasonable request. – Troy Bowker

Huge areas of land would need to be converted to graveyards for toxic used EV batteries. Suddenly the clean, green future with EVs that Labour advocates looks extremely dirty.

Used EV batteries are prone to spontaneous combustion, emitting poisonous gases into our air. The gases from the fires would travel large distances and be a huge risk to animals and humans. – Troy Bowker

Compared with normal fires, EV fires will be very difficult to put out. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) national manager Paul Turner recently warned of the risk to human life from EV battery fires.

He reports EV battery fires trigger an irreversible chain reaction called “thermal runaway”, with fires burning at 1000C. FENZ is currently warning of the risks with the influx of a few thousand more EVs, let alone the four million that Labour want to bring into New Zealand. – Troy Bowker

Even more horrifying are the human rights violations in the production of EV batteries in the Congo, where over 50 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined. A CNN investigation tracked the cobalt used for the production of luxury EVs to mass Congolese child-labour camps, involving children as young as 7. Adult supervisors were filmed assaulting children for not following instructions. – Troy Bowker

Proponents of identity politics and critical race theory, its ideological stablemate, hold that all people of Pasifika or Maori descent have experienced subjugation and have needs and interests that are at odds with those of the white oppressors. The aim is to secure political advantage to atone for their mistreatment, but unfortunately this can only come at the expense of social cohesion that benefits us all. – Karl du Fresne

Denial of one’s European heritage is a necessary starting point, because otherwise those claiming to be descendants of the oppressed must confront the fact that they are also descendants of the oppressors. The proponents of identity politics don’t seem to have yet worked out a way to reconcile this dichotomy without weakening their claims, so they ignore it.

Do they, at the same time as they cry out for justice on behalf of their dark-skinned forebears, also experience paroxysms of self-reproach for the behaviour of their pale ones? Karl du Fresne

It’s a sad reflection of the times we live in that there is an industry of fact-checkers. These usually come in the form of online services that you can access to check the facts surrounding something you’ve seen or heard.

In a world where documentaries, the current affairs reading material we choose, and even the words of our elected officials, don’t always present an accurate view of the facts, fact-checking has become a necessary service. – Bruce Cotterill

We live in a environment where anyone with a mobile phone and an ability to write can be a publisher. And there are many mechanisms to distribute one’s opinions, most of which rely on some form of social media.

As a result there is more information out there than ever before, none of which has been subject to the normal safeguards around checking what is true and what is false. And unlike the news-gatherers of old, there is no obligation on the new age publisher to be accurate. Or honest. 

In my opinion, this puts an even greater onus on the traditional media to call out the inaccuracies. Now, more than ever before, they should be our unchallengeable source of the truth.

In fact, while the old media companies are busy trying to find ways to remain relevant, I suggest that there is an obvious path for them: honest, accurate journalism that can be relied on by readers, viewers and listeners. – Bruce Cotterill

For most of us, when we make promises we should at least have an understanding of how we are going to deliver on them. For our current crop of political leaders, that doesn’t appear to be a consideration. In fact, they appear to see the ill-informed landscape not as a chance to put things right, but an opportunity to further confuse and mislead.

That’s a great shame. I don’t want much from our politicians. But I do want them to be people who tell us the truth, who give us the best information they can give us, and who make good decisions on behalf of the electorate, without hidden agendas, dishonesty or bias.

The problem with misleading people is this: the more you get away with it, the more likely it is to continue. At its worst, we must prepare for a Government that deliberately and frequently lies to us in order to hold on to power. Such behaviour, left unchecked, would put us into irreversible decline. – Bruce Cotterill

Can you credibly believe any policy that says plant your food productive land in exotic trees so you don’t have to change your behaviour? 50 Shades of Green

In normal times, fiscal profligacy is, at base, an act of selfishness at the expense of future generations. It is the same attitude that has seen us pollute our rivers, overfish our seas, use up non-renewable resources, plunder our forests and generally behave in a fashion without thought for our own grandchildren and their grandchildren…My fiscal policies were, as far as possible, about looking to the long term, not spending up to the hilt in the good times. Rainy days do come, and are more likely in New Zealand than in many other countries. – Sir Michael Cullen

Whanau is at the core of humanity. Let’s stop pretending we are ‘kind’. It’s a buzz word that no longer applies to the way we handle those suffering the most for the rest of us. – Sir Ian Taylor

Everybody needs a bit of luck, but luck isn’t a strategy. We need to have a system that holds up, – Sir Brian Roche

The unbelievably insane proposed $800 million ‘cycle bridge’ attached to the Auckland harbour bridge, WILL NOT HAPPEN. Why? Because the understandable uproar across the country has been such, no government could survive such craziness and all governments principal motivation is survival. – Sir Bob Jones

The second reason I suspect a conspiracy behind the $800 million cycle-bridge announcement is because no government is that dumb. It amounted to a plainly ludicrous straw man for the government to earn public points by subsequently cancelling it. Sir Bob Jones

I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think. – Yeonmi Park

Voluntarily, these people are censoring each other, silencing each other, no force behind it. Other times (in history) there’s a military coup d’etat, like a force comes in taking your rights away and silencing you. But this country is choosing to be silenced, choosing to give their rights away. Yeonmi Park

There is a problem and it needs to be fixed. It is one of short-sightedness in understanding that jobs defined by officials as low skilled, low paid and low priority are actually vital links in keeping a longer and deeper interconnected supply and delivery chain ticking all the way into the market to ensure we can sell the products and services we supply and in return contribute to our national, regional and local economies. – Michael Barnett

We classify our sports in order to pitch like against like and to keep people safe. Heavyweight boxers never fight flyweights. From puberty, the sexes compete separately in most sports most of the time. These are long accepted norms. Or were. – Tanya Aldred

By conflating gender and sex, I would argue we fudge the very reason we have sex categories in sport: the male performance advantage. Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals. – Tanya Aldred

The science is young. Stop. Breathe. Trans women should be able to live their sporting lives to the fullest so if research can find a way for them to participate in female sports without advantage, brilliant. Until then, remove the idea of gender altogether and revert to sex-based categories – a female category and an open category that can cater for trans men who have taken testosterone, trans women and men.

But above all, there needs to be a realisation that you can’t always have it all. Just as women and trans men can’t dominate in men’s sports; and men can’t enter women’s sport; trans women shouldn’t be able to push open a door that was locked for a reason. It isn’t fair. –  Tanya Aldred

Lowering of testosterone is almost completely ineffective in taking away the biological differences between males and females. – Ross Tucker

You take the best part of you, the thing you love and enjoy the most, and you take it away. It’s probably the cruellest thing you could do to somebody.Gray Todd

The so-called low skilled workers were essential and frontline workers through lockdowns. Prioritising visa relaxations based on workers’ skills or the capacity to generate wealth is not only against basic human rights, but is not aligned with brand New Zealand as known internationally. –  Anu Kaloti

Migrants here are left in no doubt whatsoever that this government does not want them and does not value them. – Alastair McClymont

As well as superior height and bone density, males gain a far larger amount of muscle and strength during puberty than females, and multiple studies show this is largely maintained even after an extensive period of testosterone suppression in adulthood. – Dr Emma Hilton

Too many today think that acknowledging the biological differences between the sexes is sexism. This is nonsense. Of course, cultural norms exacerbate biological differences, but there is no escaping the reality that most men are considerably stronger than most women.Jo Bartosch

It is no more offensive to admit that, on average, men outperform women in sport than it is to acknowledge that men can’t give birth. It is, however, offensive to reduce the biological reality of womanhood to a testosterone marker. With training and dedication there was a possibility that Hubbard could have become a champion male weightlifter. But what is certain is that Hubbard will never be a woman. – Jo Bartosch

It’s over-ambitious, under-endowed with talent and too impatient to re-invent the wheel. The bureaucracy is struggling to keep up, and it’s showing. A popular leader isn’t enough to compensate for (or disguise) incompetence, fatigue and hubris. – Karl du Fresne

Roads that keep farms supplied and enable crops and livestock to be transported for processing will be neglected so that affluent Aucklanders can cycle over the harbour on a summer’s day for a leisurely Saturday morning latte. – Karl du Fresne

A government that was rewarded only last year for its empathy and sensitivity is rapidly turning into one that looks arrogant, incompetent and defensive. – Karl du Fresne

Two years on, can we conclude the much-vaunted 2019 Wellbeing Budget was really just a feel-good budget? – Ben Thomas

We’re journalists, we’re not criminals. The fact that the Crown is treating the media like this when we have exposed bad practice in a government department is incredibly disappointing and very heavy-handed. 

If that’s the way Crown Law is going to treat the media then we should be afraid because that’s not the Aotearoa New Zealand that we believe that we’re living in.

Our job is to hold power to account. That’s what we did, that’s what we do and that is what we will continue to do. The Crown being so heavy-handed and ridiculous in taking this case is certainly not going to stop that. – Melanie Reid

Labour’s and the Greens’ sharp swing to the left, in cultural terms, may be acceptable to New Zealanders in the professions, the public service, the universities and the communications industries. After all, these are the highly-educated elites who, in practically all the advanced economies of the West, are the most comfortable, temperamentally, with the politics of race and personal identity. It is not acceptable, however, to the culturally conservative 7-15 percent of the electorate which “switched sides” in 2017 and 2020. They are becoming increasingly alarmed and confused by the Labour Government’s unheralded direction of travel. – Chris Trotter

What Labour would like us to believe is that they are skating on a solid sheet of ideological ice, more that capable of carrying the weight of their cultural revolution. In reality, the ice now bearing their electoral weight is wafer thin. Sadly, Labour’s leaders remain utterly oblivious to the currents surging just below their party’s fragile crust of support. They have no idea how very strong they are, nor how deathly cold.Chris Trotter

We live in a society that abhors discrimination on the basis of many traits. And yet one of the major forms of discrimination is lookism, prejudice against the unattractive. And this gets almost no attention and sparks little outrage. Why?

Lookism starts, like every form of bigotry, with prejudice and stereotypes. – David Brooks

The language of Critical Race Theory is designed to obfuscate, not to enlighten, and its use of language is key. Critical Race Theory has used English to hide within plain sight an entirely new dialect where nothing means what we think it means; where words may not be pronounced differently, but where they have different meanings to the initiated, and these meanings are deeply interlinked with one another, and referential to one another.  – Effi Lincoln

Western civilization has succeeded as much as it has because we have adopted the concepts of liberty, universal human rights, democracy, free enterprise and equality before the law.  We believe that there is an objective truth that is accessible through reason, and we believe in the concept of the reasonable person.

Importantly we recognise the imperfections of our society, but we know that through reason, through scientific method, and through the application of the law, we can continue to improve. –  Effi Lincoln

Liberalism seeks to understand where we are now, and how we arrived here, and to use reason to take people forward to a better future

And the breath of life for Liberalism; its oxygen, is free speech. –Effi Lincoln

To Critical Race Theorists and thus to the Woke, all inequity, no matter how random, is an expression of racism.

For them, any outcome gap between two identity groups must be due to racism – Effi Lincoln

Leftist ideology exists on a continuous downward slope to absurdity because it has no external arbiter of truth. In leftist thought there is no objective truth, no reasonable person standard.  There is only your truth and my truth. And these truths, which emanate from Lived Experiences, are ranked by identity grouping with the most oppressed identity always being bestowed the status of Most Truthful.

In Woke, even the way we speak is seen as part of the power matrix to be dismantled – Effi Lincoln

The aim of the Woke movement (and, integral to it, the Critical Race Theorists) is to enact a social and cultural revolution with the goal of seizing the means of cultural production and flipping society over in such a way that the cultural capital that holds our society together is destroyed;  destroyed in such a way that turns the perceived oppressors into the oppressed and makes those oppressors pay, in perpetuity, for the sins of themselves, in upholding systemic racism, and of their forbears, who first created the systemically racist institutions and then stole from the ancestors of the Critical Race Theorists, their utopian world. – Effi Lincoln

The fact that we have human rights, and a Human Rights Commissioner to uphold those rights is a direct result of Liberalism. 

Critical Race Theorists however see human rights as subservient to the group rights of the identity politics they practice instead. – Effi Lincoln

It’s not hard to see why wokeness is so frequently compared to a religion. The metaphors are everywhere: the washing of feet, the prostrations, the proclamations of faith, the sacraments, the martyrs, the confessions, the heretics, the hallowed ground, the Original Sin, the evangelism. Last summer’s protests for racial justice often had the look of a religious movement. Many of its practitioners saw it explicitly in thoseterms. Even the snarky phrase for this moment of mass political enlightenment, “The Great Awokening”, is derived from the name of an early American religious revival. – Leighton Woodhouse

If religion gives meaning to the lives of the faithful, there are a lot more Americans now who lack that meaning than there used to be, and they’re concentrated on the left side of the political spectrum. It’s not difficult to imagine these people seeking the kind of meaning that religion would otherwise have provided them  — a sense of belonging to a larger community; a feeling of collective purpose; an affiliation with a temporal reality that transcends the duration of a single human lifespan — in other things. In their politics, for example.

The problem is that politics is, in important ways, the very antithesis of religion, and in a democratic society, the more politics takes on the shape of faith, the more intractable and dysfunctional it becomes. That’s because politics, when put to its proper use, is the search for what disparate groups share in common, and the bargaining over their differences. Religion is practically its inverse; at its root, it’s tribal. And so as our politics have taken on the character of religion, they have become tribal, too. – Leighton Woodhouse

Once upon a time, politics served the purpose of weaving together livable compromises out of divergent interests and values. We didn’t rely on political identities to give our lives meaning. Political parties, factions, and institutions were merely the instrumental means through which we brokered a relatively peaceful co-existence with those who didn’t see eye-to-eye with us. Occasionally, and often heroically, it was the basis upon which we mobilized opinion to annihilate those with truly anti-social agendas. But ultimately, it was the toolset with which we built a practical working peace.

Today, politics is a competition for tribal allegiance, the means by which we proudly declare our intractable differences with others. Like religion, it is an instrument we use to forge communities of kinship with one another, but only by declaring war on those who lie outside of them. It is no longer the basis for co-existence in a pluralist society, but the stick with which we draw our battle lines. It is the domain of sectarian holy war. In a democratic society, it will be the vehicle for our undoing. – Leighton Woodhouse

While these reforms are often referred to, quite accurately, as free-market reforms, another way of looking at them is as the removal of an incalculable number of privileges that each benefited the few at the expense of the many. These privileges meant fewer opportunities for New Zealanders to reach their full potential. Once these shackles came off, innovative and entrepreneurial Kiwis started countless new companies and even created new industries. – Nicholas Kerr

While New Zealand has avoided large numbers of COVID-19 deaths or infections, it’s wrong to suggest that this is due to astute policy choices or excellence in their execution. Rather, it had few choices and got lucky. – Nicholas Kerr

New Zealand was able to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak for two main reasons. First, it’s fortunate to be a remote island nation, so it was feasible to shut down the country’s borders. Second, it has a unicameral legislature and no constitution. – Nicholas Kerr

Once again, New Zealanders will have more limited employment choices. While they might like to trade off salaries or conditions with their preferred employer, that will no longer be possible as the entire sector they are seeking work in will have those locked in place. The least skilled will be priced out of jobs altogether. – Nicholas Kerr

If you value liberty and free markets, you need to continually make the case for them.  – Nicholas Kerr

Free markets allow everyone to reach their full potential and deliver morally sound outcomes. Most of us who understand this would prefer to use our time producing and innovating. But if we truly care for the thing that allows us to be productive—the free market—we need to devote some of our energy to defending it. – Nicholas Kerr

At a business summit earlier this week, the subject of the Prime Minister’s occasional tendency to argue black is white came up. A particularly acute observation was that Ardern was really speaking to her base and giving them the message she wanted them to hear. When it comes to the OECD and Covid, a higher level of truth is required. Fran O’Sullivan

Throughout this pandemic, the burden of a slow government response has been borne by the general population. Excessive personal restrictions have become the go-to tool, in preference to officials having their feet held to the fire by impatient politicians. – Steven Joyce

When there is no clear and present danger, most people can’t be bothered pulling out their phone to scan a barcode every time they go into a shop or cafe.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like the government has the same attitude, shrugging its shoulders and wombling along with a slow vaccination rollout. It fills in its time instead writing policy papers on the utopia that awaits us once they have completely re-organised our previously successful economy some years after the pandemic has passed. – Steven Joyce

The difference between an overly relaxed population and a sleepy government is that we are paying them to look out for our interests. It is their job, and they should be working much harder and with more urgency at getting the place back to normal so people have the freedom to live their lives. – Steven Joyce

Great Britain, the US, Europe are all doing everything in their power to return to normality as quickly as possible. Certainly, they have had it tougher.

But they are also much more realistic that free money and constant government borrowing can’t work forever as a substitute for a vibrant, connected economy. And to them the freedom of their citizens and the ability to go about their lives is important. – Steven Joyce

Beyond the vaccines, the Prime Minister should show some leadership by declaring her intention to get our border back to normal and allow reasonable freedom of movement as soon as is safely possible. She needs to put the boffins and the Fabian Society theorists back in their boxes, and declare that our post-pandemic problem is a shortage of labour, not a surplus. – Steven Joyce

Most importantly, the government needs to grow a backbone when dealing with the public service. They’ve stuffed it full of money and people. It is not Ministers’ job to justify a lacklustre performance. It is their job to demand more on our behalf. – Steven Joyce

Winston Peters’ reappearance in public last weekend was a reminder of the damage he has done to our democracy. When he put the Labour Party into office after the 2017 election, he did not just disappoint the winning party and its voters, he distorted the election’s reflection of public opinion. – John Roughan

Supporters of the winning party assert their views with new confidence thinking most people now agree with them. People who do not share those views become less confident to say so, more likely to keep their concerns quiet for the time being.

This is what has happened since the 2017 election. Ever since Peters put Labour in power its supporters have believed they won that election, despite the fact National had received 44.4 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 36.9 per cent. Even when Labour and Green voters were added together they did not outnumber National’s supporters that year. – John Roughan 

Last year Labour was re-elected with a majority in its own right, the first time any party has won an absolute majority since 1951. It attracted a swag of National votes thanks entirely to Jacinda Ardern’s appeal in a pandemic. But the result has reinforced the confidence of progressive folk that New Zealand has radically changed. They think it might even be Aotearoa.

They are mistaken. You don’t have to be very clever to know there is a subterranean rumbling in the land about a suspected agenda of Māori empowerment. You need only move beyond the bubbles of media, academia and public relations to hear it. – John Roughan

New Zealand has been blessed with very stable government on the whole, because voters normally give plenty of notice when most of them want a change of government. Polls turn against the incumbent a good year or two before the next election, plenty of time for the alternative party to drop or dilute positions it has taken for opposition purposes. – John Roughan

We got a Government unprepared for power and we know how. It need never happen again – John Roughan

Over the last 20 years, the Treaty has been wrenched out of its 1840s context and become the plaything of those who would divide New Zealanders from one another, not unite us. – Don Brash

I love the punctuality and the cleanliness of Pākehā funerals, but I do think they lack a bit of time in terms of spending time with their loved one, with families and just being able to cry and talk and sing and laugh together, instead of having all turn up on the final hour on the day of the funeral and doing it all then. That’s a bit tough to be honest. – Francis Tipene

Among the positive things about journalism are creative listening and humanity, and the voice the media can give to the overlooked and marginalised, and to raise ideas whose time has come. – John GIbb

Twitter is the new Colosseum and its inhabitants are the new mob, deciding what opinions, statements and beliefs can be expressed publicly and what cannot. – Schreibmaschiner

Now it is true that the character of a person wrongfully killed is not germane to the wrongfulness of his death. The law does not distinguish between saints and sinners as victims of murder. It is no defence to a charge of murder that the victim was a swine. . . .a man does not become good by being wrongfully killed. A mother loves her son because he is her son, not because he is good, and therefore the grief of his family is understandable and easily sympathised with; but for others to turn him into what he was not, a martyr to a cause, is to display at once a moral and an intellectual defect. – Theodore Dalrymple

Hate speech laws are always confusing because the concept is subjective. There is no objective test. What makes you feel unsafe is totally subjective. Some people feel unsafe in the dark. Hate speech will be whatever the authorities decide. – Richard Prebble

The government wants to add groups that should be exempt from ridicule and has suggested “religion, gender, sexuality, and disability”. The paper does not explain why these groups. We can easily think of others. Why not the vertically challenged? Height matters. Most US presidents have been over 6 foot tall.

Then what about the most misunderstood? Old white men, a group with which I feel some affinity. There are university courses on “white privilege” that seem designed to make old white men feel “unsafe and unwelcomed”.

Once we are protecting people’s feelings the list of groups is infinite.  – Richard Prebble

Cancel culture is sweeping the West. It is identity politics. Persuading voters that they are victims who need protecting. – Richard Prebble

Why is free speech important? Free speech is the building block on which democracy is constructed. Out of discussion and debate we test ideas. Only by allowing the advancement of false propositions can we prove they are wrong. – Richard Prebble

It is important that the state protects religious freedom including the right to hold no religious belief.

Religious freedom does not extend to the state giving special protection to religious opinions. – Richard Prebble

In a democracy, it is not the role of the government to protect us from having our beliefs challenged no matter how “unsafe and unwelcome” that may make us feel. The risk of being offended is the cost we must pay for having the right to say what we think. Once we empower the state to protect us from being offended we are no longer a free society.

Free speech is our defence against tyranny. It is our ability to say that the government is wrong. – Richard Prebble


Rural round-up

14/06/2021

Dairy herd monitoring tech set to launch – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-created technology, designed to provide farmers with an “intelligent eye” over the health of their herds, will be launched at Fieldays at Mystery Creek next week.

Iris Data Science, which also created the world’s first sheep facial recognition system, is piloting the technology on five dairy farms in the lower South Island and hopes to extend to about 50, allowing it to develop it further.

The automated on-farm monitoring system, powered by artificial intelligence software, allows for early detection of conditions such as lameness, an issue which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars.

It uses a non-intrusive on-farm camera and monitoring system that collects tens of thousands of data points from every cow, every day, to provide an “intelligent eye” over livestock. . . 

Knees sore, head hurts – Pita Alexander:

The knees are sore, the back hurts and the tractor is noisy. Worse, the cash has gone and the only thing working well is the national superannuation.

Maybe it’s time to look at hanging up the farm boots.

If this is you, then don’t make any rash decisions. Firstly, you need to lead from the front and not get pushed too much from behind or from the side. Leading involves good thinking, planning, decision making, timing and cash. Being pushed from behind involves resistance, frustration and confrontation. Make sure you are on the right end of all of this as nothing well planned tends to happen overnight.

Your son – let’s call him Johnny – has been with you for 10 years and has been very supportive. Johnny’s wife likes shopping but this is his problem, not yours. Johnny has a 20 per cent share of the farm assets – that means land, stock, plant and debt – and is capable of managing the property’s sheep, cattle, vehicles and plant. Johnny works a lot harder than you, but plays a lot harder as well. You do though notice some of your own bad traits showing up in Johnny such as swearing at the wrong dog, being influenced by the tractor colour and feeling that the high overdraft is the bank’s problem. . . 

Good Bosses in action: Peter & Vicki Risi:

Waikato dairy farm owners Peter & Vicki Risi are nailing it at being good bosses, and their team approach has continued paying off despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Being a good boss makes perfect sense for our business and our team’s wellbeing. We milk 720 cows, employ four permanent staff, and are proud that our farm supports a good lifestyle for five families, including our own. Being a good boss means communicating well and holding on to valued staff.

The Risis say that in any business, the people you employ and work with are one of your biggest assets, so it’s important to value them because they can make or break your business. “We are very lucky to have this group of guys working for us.” Says Vicki.

Every morning the Risi farm team sits down to breakfast to plan the day. During the COVID-19 lockdown, breakfasts were on hold, and with them the accompanying banter – something everyone missed. . .

New ‘robust’ blueberry varieties available to New Zealand growers:

Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.

The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.

Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.

“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said. . . 

Vintage 2021: smaller harvest of superb quality:

Although the harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the 2021 vintage is being described as exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Dairy producer shares passion for industry with consumers – Amie Simpson :

Indiana dairy producer Jill Houin has a passion for teaching consumers about the dairy industry and the farmers caring for the animals.

“I absolutely am humbled to be able to share that story from our farm to teach people about the dairy farm families that are out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what they do, how they recycle, how they reuse, and I think it’s very important.”

A New Jersey native, Houin was new to the industry when she married an Indiana dairy farmer in 2004. She retired from teaching in 2016 and became calf manager of the family’s operation, Homestead Dairy.

“I had no idea before I married into it that dairy farming is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle, and they live every moment for the cows, the land, and to produce nutritious milk,” she says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/04/2018

The Polsons breed the best through artificial insemination at Mangamahu – Iain Hyndman:

The sheep industry is a constantly moving feast and Donald and Liz Polson have entered a joint venture with Focus Genetics in an attempt to stay ahead of the game.

The innovative Whanganui farmers joined with the 100 percent-owned Landcorp company to carry out an AI (artificial insemination) programme to improve the performance of their elite commercial Waipuna flock.

The composite breed was created from an original base using Romney, Finn and Texel stock on the Mangamahu hill country farm. . . 

Company faces up after swede  mix up – Nicole Sharp:

Compensation will be paid to farmers who are tied up in the PGG Wrightson swede mix up.

At the end of February, after the bulbs of swedes started appearing, the company learned 556 farmers were sold HT-S57 white-fleshed swedes after paying for a new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede.

The HT-S57 swede had been discontinued last year.

At a public meeting in Gore last week, organised by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker with support of industry bodies Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, PGG Wrightson seed and grain group general manager John McKenzie, PGG Wrightson Seeds New Zealand general manager David Green faced farmers. . .

Happiness comes before success – Pam Tipa:

The dairy industry has been successful, now it needs to be happy, says 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam.

And the former lawyer and human behaviour and leadership expert hopes a profile of the prestigious Dairy Womens Network national award will enable her to help get that conversation started.

The industry needs to shift from only one way of measuring success,” she told Dairy News.

“At the moment the one way of measuring success is financial success. Having that culture that measures our success purely on financial success or failure is a big contributor to the increasing rates of depression and suicide that we have. . .

Gore sheep farmers win Otago Ballance Farm Environemnt Awards:

A love of family, farming and the land has seen the successful succession of Waipahi sheep farm from Ross and Alexa Wallace to their son Logan… and also helped the family win the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka, on Thursday night (April 13).

The judges said the Wallace family was a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal setting and financial discipline. “They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn – taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes. They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Time to stengthen up your balance sheet as farming economy looks to be cooling – Pita Alexander:

The bottom line in any farm business is that our net farm profit needs to be at least 50 per cent higher than personal drawings.

Anything less than this and over time we will end up knowing our bank manager’s cell phone number off by heart, which is a bad sign. It would be much better to curb our spending.

There are other worrying signs that should have us thinking hard of the consequences.

Personally, I don’t like the feel of the whole palm kernel issue. There is a real risk, I feel, with the amount involved in New Zealand farming and the certification process and in particular the potential impact on our border security. The problem really is that it may take several seasons to replace this feed gap with other options such as fodder beet, maize, management and working capital. It is our fault though for letting the issue develop to its present state. What is the biggest single risk for us and the government? It must be border security because we are so dependent on our exports. . .

Birds call out 1080 silent forest claim:

The use of 1080 for pest control is supported by a range of conservation and farming organisations, but opponents claim forests fall silent when the poison is dropped, saying this is evidence of harm to native bird communities.

To investigate, Roald Bomans used bioacoustics to listen to the sound of native bird species in the Aorangi Ranges in June and the Rimutakas in July.

Bomans, a Victoria University Masters student, set up recording units in the forests five weeks before and after the 1080 aerial drops.

In the Aorangi area, there was no increase in the periods the forest was silent, and in the Rimutakas there was more birdsong after the toxin drop than before. . .

Rookie title last thing on bullrider’s mind – Nicole Sharp:

Ask 23-year-old Matt Adams why he started bull riding.
”I’ve always been in to adrenaline sports,” is the reply.

But when he started bull riding last rodeo season, it was purely for the adrenaline and he never thought only two years down the track he would be crowned the 2017-18 New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association National Rookie Bull Riding champion.

Starting bull riding last season (2016-2017), it was a homecoming of sorts for Mr Adams, as he had wanted to compete for a few years. . .


Rural round-up

14/12/2017

Out of pocket by hundreds of thousands – Sally Rae:

A South Otago farmer who estimates  he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak remains concerned about the future of his main income earner.

It was not just the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group — on whose farms the disease was first detected in the Waimate district — that was affected, Ross Clark said.

“A lot of other people are hurting because of this,” Mr Clark, who farms at Glenore, 5km southwest of Milton, said yesterday while in the middle of weaning lambs on his father’s farm near Lovells Flat.

He said the main part of his income was from providing service bulls to the dairy industry, either by lease or sale.

The business, built up over the past decade, had about 600 bulls destined for properties throughout the South Island.

In June, he bought 52 calves from a property in North Otago that later tested positive for the bacterial disease. . .

We will always be here’ – a young farmer’s passionate message to animal rights activists – Alison Waugh:

Animal rights activists have been staging protests at livestock auction marts across the UK over the last couple of months.

Young farmer and student Alison Waugh, 20, has seen enough…

I, like many of my contemporaries, am proud to be part of British agriculture. Farming is the oldest way of life, and the only way we know.

Practically born wearing wellies, I grew up jumping in puddles and feeding pet lambs. My teens were spent perusing science, eyeing up the strapping great young farmers at the shows, and gaining a voracious appetite for all things agriculture. . . 

Dairy farmers clean up act in response to public pressure – Pat Deavoll:

Public pressure is working and Canterbury’s dairy farmers are knuckling down and making an effort to improve the state of the waterways, says a dairy leader.

There has been a “significant shift” in the attitude of dairy farmers towards water quality over the past couple of years, said Mid Canterbury farmer Tom Mason, a member of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Network.

“The lead up to the last election reminded anyone who was a bit reluctant in shifting their practices that they didn’t have much choice – that’s public pressure,” he said. . . .

Farming needs to cultivate a positive image – Peter Burke:

Telling the real dairy story is crucial in being able to attract the next generation of farm staff, scientists and rural professionals, says DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Arrends.

Arrends gave Wellington secondary school teachers, attending the agri-teachers’ day out, insights into the range of career opportunities in dairy science and business.

The teachers also learnt about future farm systems and the range of skills that will be needed as the dairy sector maintains and increases productivity and profitability, while meeting animal welfare and environmental expectations. . .

Botulism poisonings spark warnings over homekill sold on social media

The increasing amount of hunted and homekill meat being offered for sale illegally over social media is causing concern in Ruapehu.

Phoebe Harrison, environmental health officer for Ruapehu District Council, referred to a recent case of a Waikato family falling gravely ill after eating wild boar.

She said the meat was suspected to be contaminated with the potentially fatal botulism toxin.

“This highlights the dangers in eating meat that had not been prepared properly. . . 

When poor listening, financially phobic and wheel-loving farmers go bad – Pita Alexander:

A few weeks ago I referred to the characteristics of top New Zealand farmers, and the response to that has been both encouraging and strong.

To get some balance here, I need to refer to characteristics that people exhibit who do not survive well in business.

Towards that end, here are some less than desirable traits. All going well, you should tick very few of them. . .

 


Popular but

30/11/2017

Would-be foreign buyers of rural and forest land will face tougher requirements under new government directives to the Overseas Investment Office :

Today’s announcements will apply from Dec. 15 and will catch any land sale applications already before the OIO that have not been approved by that date. They do not change the rules regarding acquisitions of significant business assets, Parker said in a statement.

Buyers claiming they intend to move to New Zealand will need to do so within 12 months of purchase rather than the current five years and buyers’ donations to local causes to ease their applications will be treated as a less significant factor than in the past. Criteria for consent do not change although today’s statement notes that can be achieved “by amending the (Overseas Investment) Act”.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones would shortly make announcements to strengthen the requirement of foreign investors in forestry assets to “support New Zealand wood processing and manufacturing, which will also support regional communities”.

Parker said the existing directive to the OIO was “too loose”, applying only to “very large farms more than 10 times the average farm size”.

“In practice this meant restrictions in sales generally applied to sheep and beef farms over 7,146 hectares or a dairy farm more than 1,987ha. This new directive tightens how we assess overseas investment in New Zealand to ensure authorised purchases provide genuine benefits.

“Too often we see investors buy a New Zealand farm, and then use existing systems, technology and management practices which don’t substantially add anything new, or create additional value to our economy.

“We want to make it clear that it is a privilege to own or control New Zealand’s sensitive assets, and this privilege must be earned. We campaigned on these changes and they won’t come as a surprise to potential investors,” said Parker.

All applications which are being assessed by the OIO at, and from, Dec. 15 will be subject to the new directive letter, with all applications not determined by that date being given a “fair opportunity to make additional submissions under the new approach”. . .

This will be popular with those who don’t like foreign ownership of land.

It will also be popular with those wanting to purchase farms if, as is likely, it depresses prices, at least in the short-term:

. . . A specialist farm accountant based in Christchurch, Pita Alexander, said he supported the rules but warned the move was likely to affect the farm property market.

“In principle I’m not against the main thrust of the new directive, I think it tightens up the existing arrangements and I’m not uncomfortable with that.

“But if you take these overseas buyers out – and let’s face it, they’re not completely out or banned – but if you take them out of the system you’ve got less purchasers so it would have a downwards effect probably on values over time, on the bigger farms in particular.”

He said having fewer potential buyers would affect the land value.

“It would be a downwards effect [on the values] because they are the ones who bring in bigger money.” . . 

A real estate agent told us there are 60 Southland dairy farms on or coming on to the market soon. That number alone is likely to depress prices. Taking potential buyers out of the market will have an even more depressing affect on values.

While those wanting to buy a farm will be happy about this, the move will be unpopular with anyone wanting to sell a farm, especially any whose equity was low.

It will certainly make a difference to how much they get and, if prices drop too far, could be enough to leave some sellers with nothing or even owing money.

The directive will also be unpopular with those who have signed up to sell to foreigners under the old rules for whom the goal posts have been moved.

The OIO process was already a difficult and time-consuming process with no certainty about the outcome.

This change will make the process more difficult and even less uncertain.

Whether it will have any longer term impact on prices and sales is doubtful.

The number of sales to people from overseas isn’t known but it was estimated as being only about 2% of total sales, and that would have included sales from foreigners to foreigners.

But it will mean less foreign exchange comes in to New Zealand, and some sellers will be forced to accept less for their farms and therefore have less to invest elsewhere.

It also opens the country up to accusations of hypocrisy.

Individuals and businesses own farms in other countries, amongst them is the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

If it’s fine for our pension fund to own farmland in foreign countries, why is it wrong for foreign pension funds to own farms here?


Rural round-up

01/11/2016

Heartland: Grass is greenest for environment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Streams of traffic at Labour weekend, with boats, jet skis and trail bikes loaded on or behind four-wheel drive vehicles, heralded the start of the summer outdoor life, part of the New Zealand heritage. 

The fact that fossil fuel consumption was involved, thereby increasing the contribution to global greenhouse gases (GHG), was probably not considered by most people as they took to the road. Nor was the decision to make 1.09 million overseas holiday trips in the September 2016 year. Statistics New Zealand data indicated residents took 71,200 more holiday trips than in the September 2015 year. 

But, overall, New Zealand produces less than 2% of the global GHG emissions, so people are getting out there and enjoying life. . . 

MP Chester Borrows says hidden camera footage threatens New Zealand’s economy – Sue O’Dowd:

Hidden-camera footage of on-farm practices not only breaches farmers’ security but also threatens New Zealand’s economy, says politician Chester Borrows. 

The Whanganui MP and one-time police officer turned lawyer is urging Taranaki farmers and rural residents to attend the rural crime prevention national roadshow – a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative – when it visits Stratford and Tikorangi on November 10. 

Figures presented at FMG’s annual meeting in Taranaki in September showed rural crime cost the company $21 million in claims in the last five years. . . 

From the Lip – bobby calves and Big Brother – Jamie Mackay:

The latest bobby calf cruelty video released by Farmwatch is yet again another salutary reminder of how careful farmers and farming have to be, in an age where social media rules and where the consumer is king.

I have to be bit careful when dishing out advice from behind the safety of a keyboard because I’ve never loaded bobby calves on to a truck, save for a few we bought and reared as kids on to the back of a car trailer.

But I have spent many years, in a past life, working with livestock and can understand the pressures and fatigue farmers and farm workers face in the course of a 14 hour working day at calving or lambing time. . . 

More tertiary graduates needed to grow a savvy agri-industry – Pat Deavoll:

The agricultural and horticultural industry will need more than 60,000 more workers by 2025 to be sustainable.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates horticulture will need an extra 7800 workers and meat and wool 16,500 fewer unqualified workers through the natural attrition of the industry but will need 11,400 with tertiary qualifications. The arable sector will need another 4700 workers and dairy 2300 more workers.

However, the biggest demand will come from the support area with as many as 30,000 more jobs required. . . 

Global Farmer Network ‘amazing’ – Sally Rae:

When Jane Smith headed to the Global Farmer Roundtable discussion in Iowa earlier this month, she was not sure what she should expect.

But it turned out to be an “amazing’ character-building trip for the North Otago farmer who was the sole representative from New Zealand.

The Global Farmer Network is a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world who support global expansion of trade and a farmer’s freedom to access the technology they need to be productive and sustainable. . . 

Farmers praised for ability to cut costs:

Not surprisingly, the 2015-16 dairy season has been officially declared the most challenging year yet for dairy farmers.

The $3.90 kg/ms milk price was the lowest in more than a decade and affected farmers who were, on average, operating at a break-even cost of $5.25 kg/ms, figures released at DairyNZ’s recent annual meeting in Ashburton showed.

Despite an obvious shortfall in farm income, farmers made positive steps in reducing their costs of production, chairman Michael Spaans said.

In August, DairyNZ revised the average farm’s break-even cost down to $5.05 kg/ms for 2016-17.‘‘This is a rare positive from a period of low milk prices and something farmers should be immensely proud of. . . 

Good points about US farming trumped by low profits – Pita Alexander:

In the middle of a fascinating election campaign any prayers you have would be reserved for the American people rather than their new president

Some years ago a reporter asked Pope XXIII about how many people worked at the Vatican.  His reply was: about half.  The sooner the United States election is over the sooner about half the population can get back to work.

Many years ago Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilisation.  His reply was: he thought it was a good idea.  Yet I counted 22 serious confrontations around the world on October 28 where lives were being lost every day.  Mr Gandhi would not be happy about this.  I did not include any of the internal US confrontations in my total.

At the farming level, do not get the idea that the typical US family farm has a good net income.  The median figure for this year is estimated to be about $109,000 (US$76,282), but most of this  comes from off-farm income. . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2016

World trends that will influence future farming – Pita Alexander:

The oldest son in a farming family has returned home from a trip overseas after completing his degree at Lincoln University.

Before coming back to the farm and making a career of farming the son spent a year in Australia, North America and Europe. He wanted to obtain a picture of where farming might be heading during his tenure.

Among his many observations in a report he prepared for his family were the following:

– A formal licence to farm is looking like a certainty for New Zealand within the next 10 – 15 years and the banks may lend at lower interest rates with this certificate.

–  Killing farm animals before they are fully grown is getting some air time in some countries.

– Traceability from the farmer to the eating and buying consumer is already present, but is going to get more complicated and will hopefully bring more value to the farmer.

–  About 25-30 per cent of the world’s food production ends up being wasted and not eaten  – this will have to be improved upon well before 2050. . . 

ASB punts on Fonterra sticking with $4.25 milk price – Jamie Grey:

ASB Bank is punting on Fonterra leaving its 2016/7 farmgate milk price forecast unchanged at $4.25 a kg of milk solids when the co-operative releases a market update on Monday.

However the risks were “skewed” to a figure as low as $3.90/kg because of a consistently strong New Zealand dollar, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said in a research note.

Penny said it was still early days in the season, which started on June 1, and that there was plenty of time for dairy prices to rise. . . 

More research is needed if farming is to progress – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Climate variability, farm gate prices for food and fibre, and increased concerns about the environment are combining to create unsustainable farm systems.

Alternatives need careful evaluation before decisions are made in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences.

The latter can be worse than the current state – Brexit, for example. 

Increased warm temperatures, drought, floods and long cold springs mean that farmers are adapting systems to cope. Use of supplementary feed has been part of the development of resilient farm businesses, but the urban perspective is that costs have increased without an increase in income. . . 

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector? – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options.

In his introductory remarks MIA chairman John Loughlin said the volatile global situation contrasted with a relatively stable environment at home with a predictable meat industry, while Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons highlighted the need to reduce on farm costs while achieving incremental gains across the supply chain. . . 

Queenstown tracks to get ratepayer funding:

Queenstown’s council has agreed to pay to maintain 11 walking and biking tracks being developed across two high country stations.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday agreed to pay $10,000 a year to maintain the existing and planned tracks, which will go across Glencoe and Coronet Stations.

The land is partially owned by the Crown under pastoral lease, and partially by Soho Properties, which has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust to protect the land. . . 

Better baits and better trapping – Kate Guthrie:

Peanut butter has long been used as a lure for rats. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common urban pest species. Home trappers might like to give these food lures a go too…

Many tests of trap lures are done with laboratory animals, but in this project the researchers compared food-based products on free-ranging, wild rats and possums. They assessed the chew card results for attractiveness and consumption and found that wild rats preferred cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnut to the peanut butter standard. Possums statistically preferred apricot and almond to cinnamon. . . 

Farmers need to be bank ready:

With the dairy pay out remaining stubbornly low and equity positions becoming more precarious many farmers are seeing more of their bank manager, according to Crowe Horwath’s Head of Corporate Agribusiness, Hayden Dillon.

Dillon is quick to point out that this increased level of contact isn’t always a bad thing and proactive discussions between banker and farmer are an important step to take in dealing with the current financial pressures both parties are facing.

However, it can be intimidating for some and a recent Federated Farmers’ survey found that one in ten farmers were feeling an ‘undue’ level of pressure from their bank. . . 

#431AM top ten calving tips:

We asked our #431AM farming community how to get through #calving16.

Here are some of our farmers’ top tips for the calving season. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

We’d love to hear your #calving16 tips – hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #431AM. 

 

  • Eat well, sleep well, know your body’s limits. Good communication amongst your team and don’t let things get to you. It’s farming, it’s life and things go wrong. It’s how you manage the situation that counts. Being negative will make time go so much slower, and above all think of our girls. We get days off during the season but they don’t, without our girls we are grass growers. Richard H
  • We have 3 meetings a day. We have a work safe meeting to work out what safety gear we will need before we’re out the door. Yesterday with snow on the ground it was too dangerous for workers to leave the house. You have to have more meetings. 1 a day is not enough. Ann-Maree G
  • Take time to get off farm, even for an hour. Keep in touch with others, especially when things are at their toughest. Chances are others are also feeling the burn. Sue M
  • Set a roster, keep the fridge stocked with food snacks, have morning meetings with coffee and snacks and last thing at night after milking. Ask what people want to discuss at tomorrow’s meeting and what was their highlights and/or best achievements for the day. Geoff M . . .

 

South Island Wool Bounces:

New Zealand Wool Services International LTDs CEO Mr John Dawson reports that despite a strengthening NZ dollar, the varied selection at this week’s South Island auction attracted strong support.

Of the 7700 bales on offer 85 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was up 2.06 percent compared to the previous week’s auction.

Mr Dawson advises that a selection ranging from 21 micron merinos to 42 micron coarse wools with a cross section of styles and lengths provided attractive options to buyers which overrode the possible negative impact of the stronger dollar compared to the similar South Island offering on 14 July. . . 

Fine wines of New Zealand revealed:

Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have come together to create “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – a list of the country’s most prestigious wines.

A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.

This group of leading New Zealand wine experts met several times in late 2015 and in the first half of 2016 to define the criteria that had to be met for a wine to earn the prestigious Fine Wine of New Zealand status. One of the key criteria is consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an exceptional standard for a minimum of five consecutive years. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2015

Rural professionals asked to be vigilant for signs of personal drought pain – Tim Fulton:

Men have a habit of carrying forward problems in the recesses of their mind, farm accountant Pita Alexander has come to believe.

Most of his career has been social work with accountancy on the side, he quipped to peers at the Railway Tavern in Amberley.

Stock agents, bankers, accountants and farm advisors were offered the customary round of sandwiches and savouries at Wednesday’s mini meeting, but the mood was subdued. One speaker labelled the drought – not to mention the crash in dairying – a “precipice”.

That’s financial – millions upon millions in lost income – and very personal. . .

Forest safety director appointed:

A National Safety Director, Fiona Ewing, has been appointed to advance the work of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC).

This is a key role in the recently-formed Council, set-up to lead safety culture change and to drive improvement in safety performance across the sector.

Ms Ewing has 30 years’ experience as a health and safety professional in a wide range of industries including energy, engineering, construction, agriculture and forestry in the United Kingdom. Her most recent position was Group Manager Health Safety Environment and Quality for Powerco. . .

Hurunui irrigation project on hold:

A company developing an irrigation scheme in North Canterbury has put plans on hold while it waits for the Environment Court to give a final ruling on consents.

The board of the Hurunui Water Project has decided to not continue spending money on the $400 million Waitohi Irrigation Scheme, to conserve funds it might need for potential legal costs.

The proposed water storage is planned to sit along the length of the upper Waitohi River and provide irrigation around the Hawarden area. . .

New Māori aquaculture agreements signed:

New regional agreements for Māori commercial aquaculture have been signed by Government Ministers today, including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Three regional agreements have been signed with iwi from the Auckland, Tasman, and Marlborough regions following successful negotiations between the Crown and regional Iwi aquaculture organisations.

The agreements are the result of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, which requires the Crown to provide Iwi aquaculture organisations with 20% of new commercial aquaculture space consented since October 2011, or anticipated to occur into the future.  . .

King Salmon looks at Southland expansion:

The world’s largest king salmon farmer is looking to move into Southland once space for a new fish farm can be found.

New Zealand King Salmon says the project would be worth $100 million a year and create 150 jobs.

But first it has to find a place to put its new farm.

The company’s chief executive, Grant Rosewarne, said the company was ready to expand so searched around New Zealand and decided south was the way to go. . .

New seafood and marine centre welcomed:

The decision by Plant & Food Research to invest with Port Nelson in a new purpose-built research facility in Akersten Street is great news for Nelson, says local MP Dr Nick Smith.

“This investment helps lock in Nelson’s status as the seafood capital of New Zealand. The industry already contributes $300 million per year in GDP and 3,000 jobs to the regional economy but the future depends on an ongoing investment in science and technology to generate more value, maintain high food standards and ensure sustainability of the resource,” Dr Smith says.

The total investment of $7.5 million, including shared facilities, specialist fit-out and tenant fit-out is to be built by Port Nelson but leased by Plant & Food for a term of 25 years to house the government research company’s 38 science and support staff. . .

 


Rural Round-up

09/03/2014

Agriculture sector asked for input on health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand has released a suite of draft health and safety guidelines for those working in the agriculture industry for public consultation.

WorkSafe NZ’s National Programmes Manager, Francois Barton said that the draft guidelines are based on accepted best practice and have been developed in partnership with industry bodies and subject experts to ensure they meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Good guidance is critical for farmers to know what safe work looks like, and these guidelines will play an important role in helping farm owners and managers understand and comply with their obligations and duties,” Mr Barton said.

“This is a really important opportunity for those most affected to have their say about agricultural health and safety. These are the people closest to the dangers and their views are very important. . .

West Coast cutting rights sold:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the sale of 22,800 hectares of Crown forest cutting rights on the West Coast to Ngāi Tahu Forest Estates Ltd (NTFE).

“The Crown’s forests are being sold to NTFE under a first right of refusal dating back to Ngāi Tahu’s 1997 Treaty Settlement,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The land the forests are on was previously purchased by Ngāi Tahu as part of their Treaty Settlement.

“Since 1990, government policy has been to exit from commercial forestry on commercial terms. The sale of forests to Ngāi Tahu is consistent with this policy.” . . .

Invermay vital for the sheep industry:

The Southern Texel Breeders Association has called on the AgResearch Board and management to attend a meeting to explain what science will be left at the Invermay campus following the proposed restructure to Lincoln.

Tom Richardson (CEO of AgResearch) and Sam Robinson (Chair) will be attending the public meeting to be held at the Heartland Hotel in Gore at 1.30pm on Wednesday 12th March.

The association says that the retention of Invermay fits with Government strategy in all aspects of regional development, economic growth and knowledge transfer. . .

Upper North Island dryness a concern:

Federated Farmers is increasingly anxious over soil moisture deficits in Waikato, south Auckland and the West Coast of Northland.  In some areas, the effects are worse than last year’s record-breaking drought.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the next few weeks,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.

“We’re hoping to get some rain relief but the MetService’s Monthly Outlook doesn’t give me much hope.

“Farmers know summer means sunshine, heat and a lack of rain.  We can cope with that, but what we can’t cope with is when autumn fails to deliver its essential dose of rain. . .

Four pillars of wisdom – a farm accountant’s take– Pita Alexander:

Pita Alexander is a specialist farm accountant at Alexander’s Chartered Accountant in Christchurch. He shares his thoughts with NBR ONLINE on how the agricultural commodity cycle, capital gains tax, escalating volatility and New Zealand’s debt quagmire may affect the economy in the coming years.

12.15 on the clock of the agricultural commodity cycle

“I find that five to seven years is the average cycle over the last 40 years. It just cycles. It’s nobody’s fault. I will be very surprised if those cycles change much. Maybe they will get a bit shorter, such as four to six year, but who knows.”

“Thinking of it as an economic clock, I would suspect right now we are about 12.15 o’clock. It’s a matter of opinion, of course but we are close to the top.

“Within three years, for various reasons, things will turn on us and we need to be ready for it. We need to make money when things are going up on this side of the cycle but we need to make sure we are building our reserves. . .

Barrys Bay Cheese wins New Zealand’s supreme award:

Storms may have lashed Banks Peninsula over the last week with power blackouts common, but the spotlight was on Barrys Bay Cheese as it took out 11 medals including six golds and the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The hand-crafted Aged Gouda was described by judges as boasting tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel. Barrys Bay also won golds for its Maasdam, Peppered Havarti, Gouda, Aged Gouda, Gruyere and Nettle Gouda.

The judging panel was made up of 28 of the country’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs and included over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses. Judge Smith rated New Zealand cheese as “ranking with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world class.” . . .


Rural round-up

20/01/2014

EU economist predicts fall in meat consumption – Carmen Paun:

Meat consumption will never reach previous levels, Tassos Haniotis, director of economic analysis at the European Commission’s directorate general for agriculture said on Tuesday. . .

Taking a shot at NZ farming’s next seven years – Pita Alexander:

Can we really forecast accurately what might happen with agriculture over the next, say, seven years and what the key issues may be for New Zealanders?

The answer is no, but in honour of Nostradamus and other great crystal bowl devotees let’s take a shot at what lies ahead.

Over the next two columns I will lay out 26 points for farmers and others to mull over. Who knows, 70 per cent of them might come to pass in some shape or other.

1 – There will be more volatility in the next seven years than there has been in the past seven on all fronts. You must include this, and cope with this, in your business plans.

2 – The importance of Fonterra for New Zealand will increase – it is important now but expect a further increase. . .

 

Farm cropping for the love of it – Jacquie Webby:

Nigel Wilson has been a cropping farmer pretty much “since he can remember” and for this South Canterbury farmer, it’s a full-on occupation with a serious array of equipment to help keep the wheels of his farming operation turning.

“I knew I didn’t want to be a dairy farmer and my parents had run a cropping operation, so here I am,” he says.

One of Nigel Wilson’s most productive (and picturesque) crops is white clover and he has about 100 hectares which is in full flower.

“White clover is grown for export to the United Kingdom,” says Nigel. . .

International Year of Family Farming in 2014:

A United Nations organisation is running the International Year of Family Farming in 2014 with the aim of raising the profile of family farmers and smallholders in developing and developed nations.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation is running the International Year of Family Farming in 2014 with the aim of raising the profile of family farmers and smallholders in developing and developed nations.

One of the New Zealand ambassadors for the year is Lake Grassmere sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery who says family farms are incredibly important as they provide people with what they need to exist – food.

He says worldwide families are responsible for most of the world’s food production which gives meaning to the slogan ‘every family needs a farmer’. . .

Dairy farmers from across the nation oppose supply management – The Bullvine:

Dairy producer groups from around the country have teamed up to urge Farm Bill conferees to oppose Supply Management. Dairy Farmers do not want a dairy Supply Management proposal known as the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP). A letter has been signed by following dairy farmer associations; The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA), California Dairies Inc. (CDI), National All Jersey, the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative (DBMMC), the Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC), the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), and the Kentucky Dairy Development Council.
The letter urges conferees to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, which rejected this controversial new dairy program to impose milk quotas on dairy farmers by a more than two to one margin — 291-135– and replaced it with language that allows farmers to participate in a margin insurance program without being required to participate in the DMSP. “It simply is not factual when Representative Peterson states that all dairy farmers want the government to control the milk they produce on their farms through the (DMSP). Many dairy farmers from all over the country are aligned and opposed to Supply Management,” said Laurie Fischer, Executive Director of the Dairy Business Association. . .

A young dairy farmer with a passion for cows and education – Art 4 Agriculture:

I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.

Let me introduce myself, I’m a dairy farmer with a passion for education.

Yes, that’s right, I milk cows on my family farm, 10 minutes from the beach on the mid-north coast of NSW, and I’m about to commence my career as a teacher.

My name is Emma Polson, I’m 24 years-old and I love being a farmer. . .


Rural round-up

26/10/2013

CHB dam supporters back Wilson – Marie Taylor:

Ruataniwha dam supporters filled the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council offices to over-flowing to back Fenton Wilson’s re-election as chairman last Wednesday.

At the council’s meeting in Napier Wilson was returned for a second term as chairman by the narrowest of margins – only one vote – in a meeting which was testy at times.

Wilson, from Wairoa, won the vote 5-4 against new councillor and former Labour MP Rick Barker.

About 150 farmers turned up to this first meeting of the new nine-person council, which has six new members. Only Wilson, deputy chair Christine Scott and Alan Dick from Napier were returned. . . .

One share ruse fails – Alan Williams:

Would-be board candidate John Monaghan says Alliance Group should have had an independent authority decide on his eligibility to stand for election as director.

“There shouldn’t be any hint of interference from the board,” the Fonterra Co-operative Group director said after Alliance ruled he did not qualify as a candidate.

Monaghan called for Alliance to separate governance from representation, as Fonterra has done, to ensure fair and transparent elections. . .

Pita Alexander tells dairy farmers to ‘make financial hay’ before milk prices fall; and sheep farmers turn to shine is coming:

It struck me the other day that within five years it’s more than likely that Australia and New Zealand will be able to sell more lambs than they will have available.

It’s no secret that our lamb flock has been on the wane and we are another couple of million down from last summer’s drought.

The law of supply and demand would indicate that better prices will result.

Scarcity is a marketing tool of a type, but it is not the whole answer. . .

Molesworth Station road opening early:

A 200 kilometre road through New Zealand’s largest high country station is opening to members of the public early this year.

Molesworth Station in Marlborough is opening Acheron Road from Labour Day Weekend (October 26) to Easter Weekend (April 21).

Previously the road had opened from December to April.

The 207km unsealed road, which runs between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs, will be open to four-wheeled-drive vehicles from 7am to 7pm subject to safety and weather conditions, the Department of Conservation says.  . .

Raise a Glass to Success Campaign 2013:

Raise a Glass to Success is an exciting new online campaign being launched by one of New Zealand’s premier wine brands to celebrate six everyday Kiwis whose passion inspire us all.

The six finalists will be individuals who demonstrate innovation perseverance and a determination to succeed in their chosen field – even when those around them said it couldn’t be done.

They can be involved in any area including the arts, fashion, design or hospitality or they could be up and coming innovators in sustainability or science research. . . .

Mortgagee sale a crushing finale for winery:

A boutique winery and hospitality operation in the Hawkes Bay has been placed on the market for sale by mortgagee tender.

Park Estate located at 2087 Pakowhai Road comprises a winery, restaurant and function centre located next to the expressway, linking Hastings and Napier. The property, in two titles, is being marketed by Bayleys Hastings by salespeople Glyn Rees-Jones and Hadley Brown.

Park Estate was started in the mid 1990s, and produced several varieties under the label of the same name. However, in recent years the business has diversified production into an organic fruit juice and beverage operation currently leasing the land and building. . .


CGT would hamper farm succession

01/08/2011

Two of the country’s most respected farm advisors, Andy Macfarlane and Pita Alexander,  say a capital gains tax would hamper farm succession and lead to larger land holdings owned by fewer people.

The founder of Macfarlane Rural Business in Ashburton said a CGT would make succession very difficult and there would be fewer families able to pass on land to their children.

“We have seen that in the UK where intergenerational transfer has been extremely difficult. What families tend to do is hold onto the land until they are very old, but they stop farming it and you get big corporates farming land owned by multiple families.” . . .

It would also deter the next generation of farmers striving for farm ownership, Mr MacFarlane said. When retiring farmers sold their farm, the price they received would be the only superannuation they received and the price equivalent was often no better than a good super scheme.

Land values responded up and down to the availability and cost of credit, optimism to the future and investment that increases productivity.Those three things drove land prices and were more important than the tax impact on land as a storer of value, he said.

“The perception that putting a CGT on is suddenly going to make big behaviour changes, I don’t think is necessarily correct.”

A CTG hasn’t kept land prices down in other countries. If anything it has boosted them by making owners more reluctant to sell.

Labour’s policy would slow down farm succession, increase the price of land and encourage both absentee ownership and sale to foreigners who would be better able to pay.

It would help the rich pricks they despise and hurt younger, less wealthy people.

Well-known Canterbury farm accountant Pita Alexander said a CGT had been promoted as being easy to manage but it would not be.

“It will be complicated, slow to produce much real tax income for the Government and will increase incomes for all accountants and solicitors, probably indefinitely.”

New Zealand had three world class industries in dairying, tourism and sheep and beef farming. It was unfortunate that all three of those industries involved substantial land values in terms of a potential CGT, Mr Alexander said.

He doubted, based on worldwide evidence that a CGT would improve the distribution of capital so that it would improve productive investment for New Zealand as a whole.

He also doubted it would fix New Zealand’s farmland and housing shortage.

“Is a CGT going to fix these two key areas? Hard to see with one being a physical shortage and the other going to be exempt.”

The absence of a such a tax had not held down production on New Zealand farms, he said.

“New Zealand farmers’ production output has been affected by climate, prices received and costs. Lower interest costs which a CGT may bring about in time may improve profitability, but the production output is already high and still increasing gradually.”

Real care was required in ascertaining what effect a CGT would have on New Zealand’s land based export sector. Very few of other developed countries with a CGT would have this particular export and economy `mix’, he said.

New Zealand is the only developed country with such a reliance on primary production.

Anything which got in the way of productivity and made it more difficult for people to enter wouldn’t just be bad for the primary sector, it would have a negative impact on the whole economy.

Massey University professor Jacqueline Rowarth  puts it simply: farms need more capital not more tax.

Hat tip: Tony Chaston


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