Rural round-up

22/11/2022

Dairy producers gain fresh momentum so how sensible is it to impose a new levy on them – Point of Order?

After a slow start to the season, the NZ dairy industry has perked up,as at  the latest Fonterra  GDT auction prices firmed, after three successive falls.

That rise came on the heel of reports NZ dairy earnings from Australia have ballooned because processors there are short of milk and lining up to buy NZ dairy products.

Open Country Dairy, NZ’s second-biggest dairy processor and exporter, said it has had a 40% lift in demand for product from its Australian customers. South Island-based Westland Milk Products said it had been turning away approaches from across the Tasman.

Industry leader Fonterra, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said it was continuing to see strong demand from Australia. Fonterra had earlier earmarked for sale a stake in its Australian business,but only  last month announced it was not going ahead with that,a decision on which the board will be  congratulating itself. . . 

Alliance Group casts net for 400 seasonal workers – Luisa Girao:

The Alliance Group will look to the North Island and beyond to bring in 400 seasonal workers to cope with its employee shortfall.

Some of the imported staff may live on site due to the Southland accommodation squeeze.

Alliance manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese confirmed yesterday the company was recruiting up to 400 seasonal staff from across the country as well as from overseas for its Lorneville and Mataura plants.

They would help make up the shortfall in numbers Alliance could not recruit locally in Southland, he said. . . 

 

Agri commodity markets research outlook 2023: tightening the belt – Rabobank:

Agricultural commodities reached record nominal prices in May 2022, on the back of adverse weather, falling stockpiles, the war in Ukraine, the container shortage and various protectionist measures restricting food commodity exports. Between May and October, prices dropped 18% due to the USD strength, weak demand, a better container shipping situation, the temporary establishment of the Black Sea grain corridor and select bumper harvests. Presently, there are growing expectations for Brazil’s upcoming harvests of soy, sugar and coffee, as La Niña wanes and the wet season there has begun in a timely manner. Still, prices of agricultural commodities remain high, at about 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, which is when we last saw some sense of ‘normalcy’ in agricultural markets.

Report summary

High prices would normally stimulate supply, but production is currently relatively inelastic to prices: area availability is limited as swaths of very fertile land are lost in Ukraine, farm input costs are high, La Niña is active and the cost of finance has increased. So there is more pressure on demand to balance the equation. Here we start to see some weakness that might continue through much of 2023. Global inflation has resulted in a loss of purchasing power globally, and subsequent hikes in interest rates could result in some major economies going into recession. A global recession would limit demand on a number of fronts, from feed and energy-related commodities to non-essential commodities like cotton, coffee and cocoa. . . .

Fonterra announces divestment of Chile business :

Fonterra is pleased to announce the divestment of its Chilean Soprole business. The divestment comprises a number of transactions that result in aggregate consideration of 591.07 billion Chilean Pesos (approximately NZD1.055 billion).

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell, says that the divestment process for the Soprole business formally commenced in April 2022, following the launch of Fonterra’s strategy to 2030.

“A key pillar of our strategy is to focus on New Zealand milk. Soprole is a very good business but does not rely on New Zealand milk or expertise. We are now at the end of the divestment process and have agreed to sell Soprole to Gloria Foods – JORB S.A. (Gloria Foods).”

Gloria Foods is a consumer dairy market leader in Peru, with operations in Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.  Fonterra and Gloria Foods have a long-standing commercial relationship in South America. . .

Pig farmer tickled pink by top ham award :

 North Island farmer Jim Mather takes great pride in “growing fantastic animals” on his farm near Foxton – but he was still surprised to find a ham from one of his pigs had won the highly coveted Supreme Award in the 2022 100% New Zealand Bacon and Ham Awards.

Auckland’s Westmere Butchery won New Zealand’s best ham award for their bone-in leg ham, but a journey back along the supply chain to discover the provenance of the champion ham, leads to Jim Mather’s family farm.

“We know it’s fantastic pork – because our pigs want for nothing,” says Jim.

“But you don’t usually get a lot of validation for your product as a farmer. We really appreciate that the winner made a point of making sure we knew it was one of ours – we’re absolutely delighted.” . . 

The promise of seagrass pastures – Mel Silva :

In Lau Group in Fiji, seagrass meadows play a special and vital role for the environment, marine life and community. These underwater pastures help to maintain water quality, provide a habitat for diverse flora and fauna – while also supporting local industries and cultural practices.

On a broader scale, these marine environments are critical to the health of our global climate. Similar to forests on land, seagrass can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as it grows – storing it through a process called carbon sequestration. Seagrass is one of the world’s most effective carbon storage powerhouses, and it can store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

Measuring the carbon capacity of ecosystems allows nations to participate in climate discussions, evaluate their contributions and better manage their ecosystems’ vitality. However, gathering this information is much more complex in an underwater environment than it is on land. Traditional methods for carbon assessment of coastal and marine ecosystems have relied on remote geospatial and aerial sensing technology that can be affected by cloud cover, angle of the sun and weather – and getting results from this imagery relies on costly and time consuming manual image analysis.

Under the Digital Future Initiative, we’re launching a new ‘blue carbon’ project in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Tidal (an ocean health project within X) to address these barriers. Together, we’re exploring novel applications of artificial intelligence to measure, with greater efficiency and accuracy, the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to absorb and sequester carbon. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/11/2022

Southland consent boycott grows – Neal Wallace:

Nearly two-thirds of the 3500 Southland farms (pāmu) that intensively winter-graze stock may need resource consent, according to the ACT Party.

But for some of those farmers (kaimahi pāmu), that will be irrelevant, with about 1000 who attended a meeting in Invercargill last week supporting action that ignores the requirement to get consent for winter grazing.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there is no compulsion to take this approach, but the federation’s executive has agreed not to seek resource consent to show solidarity with farmers who take a similar stance.

“People will now know if they make a decision not to apply for consent, they are not the only person operating illegally.” . . 

Costs subdue sheep, beef outlook – Sally Rae:

The outlook for global sheepmeat and beef demand is positive for the 2022-23 season, although an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ margins, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook report says.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 4.5% to average $654,900 per farm, driven by lower sheep revenue, which was forecast to decline 7.7%.

That decline was driven by lower sheep prices, fewer store lambs sold and reduced lambing percentages because of drought conditions in autumn.

Snow storms in early October were also likely to impact lambing results for many, especially high and hill country farms. . . 

a2 Milk gets approval from American food authorities to break into the US infant formula market – Point of Order :

The  a2 Milk  Company has  made a  breakthrough  into  the lucrative  US  market, winning approval  from the  US  Food  and  Drug  Administration to  market  its infant formula product  in  the  US.

The company will be  able  to take  advantage  of  the  shortage  of  supply   there  because  one  of  the  main  local  manufacturers  went  out of  production.  Another  beneficiary   will be  Synlait  Milk  which  manufactures  infant formula   for  a2Milk.

Previously   a2 Milk has  been  limited  to  marketing  its  liquid  product  in  the  US.

Now, once  it  gets  a  foothold  in the  US  for  its  infant  formula,  it could  get  a  sharp  boost  to  its  revenue. In   its  most  recent  year, it  achieved  a net  profit  of  $114m,  59%  ahead of the  previous  year. . . 

Letting go of the reins – Russell Priest

Letting go of the reins can be hard for many farmers, but Mairi Whittle says her dad was happy to step back and take orders.

Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle has no regrets her dad, Jim threw her in at the deep end when she returned to the family farm, Makatote, 24km northeast of Taihape four years ago.

The 32-year-old Lincoln graduate and ex-rural banker has nothing but praise for her father, especially the way he managed the transition and the excellent state of the farm when she took over.

“Dad was happy to take orders but didn’t want the responsibility of running the farm any more,” Mairi says. 

Robotics to turn vines into no man’s land – Richard Rennie :

A concentrated five-year stretch of research and development by Tauranga-based agri-tech firm Robotics Plus is poised to pay off in coming months as the company goes commercial with its unmanned ground vehicle design.

Robotics Plus CEO Steve Saunders has just returned from California, where he oversaw the launch and demonstration of the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at FIRA USA, an event showcasing autonomous agricultural equipment and robotics for the United States market.

The company has already built a strong presence in the States, thanks to its automated apple-sorting and -packing equipment installed in the country’s apple-growing capital, Washington, among other states.

Saunders says the UGV is designed as a modular machine capable of having multiple tools interchanged depending upon the orchard application, whether that be spraying, pruning, harvesting or mowing. It can also be adapted to different crop types. . . .

Argentina set to permit wheat export delays amid drought – sources – Maximilian Heath:

Argentina’s government is set to announce measures, potentially within days, to allow wheat exporters to delay agreed shipments after a major drought hammered the crop, raising concern about domestic supply.

A source at the country’s CEC grains exporting chamber, which represents companies buying the grain, said measures would be released “in the coming days” to allow firms to reschedule agreed wheat exports without facing the normal 15% fine from authorities.

A government source with direct knowledge of the matter said that measures to permit wheat shipment delays were “probable”. “It’s being studied,” the source said.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that Argentina, one of the world’s top wheat exporters, will seek to delay exports of the grain amid a drought that threatens to cause the worst harvest in nearly a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

03/11/2022

More frustration as southern farmers meet on HWEN – Neal Wallace :

Farmers remain far from convinced of the merits of the government’s response to the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) agricultural emissions charging document.

A second meeting of southern farmers within a week was dominated by anger, exasperation, accusations that levy bodies are not fighting hard enough and claims political ideology is trumping common sense – all underpinned by contempt for the government policy.

About 50 people attended the Beef + Lamb NZ Southern South Island Farmer Council meeting in South Otago on Monday following a BLNZ meeting in Gore on Friday at which about 100 farmers expressed similar sentiments.

Discussion on Monday rapidly switched to the impact of the government’s proposal to cost agricultural emissions. . .

The pile-on effect gets worse – Peter Burke :

Farmers in many parts of the North Island are now facing a looming feed crisis.

The rain has been relentless during winter and spring and the ground is saturated in a way not seen before. This applies not only to dairy farmers but also horticulturalists and anyone who works the land for a living. Not only has there been heavy rain, stifling pasture growth, the lack of sunshine hours has meant that whatever grass that has managed to grow is ‘gutless’ and lacking in nutrition for animals.

Anyone travelling around the North Island in recent months would know: there is simply not enough grass available to animals compared to the norm for this time of the year. Travelling between Horowhenua to Napier over the weekend, I saw just two farms that had or were in the process of making grass silage and the cuts from those two were sparse to say the least.

Farm consultants are worried because dairy farmers are having to use their reserves of supplement to keep cows in condition for mating and the word is that many cows will not be mated on the first cycle due to their condition. . .

World dairy prices tumble further as farmers face the prospect of being charged for livestock emissions – Point of Order :

As debate rages in New Zealand’s farming industries over the Ardern  government’s  plan  for  charges  on  agricultural emissions, prices at Fonterra’s  Global  Dairy  Trade fortnightly auction  have fallen to their lowest level in nearly two years.

The average price at the sale fell 3.9%  to US$3537 (NZD$6054) a tonne, after falling 4.6% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March, and are now at their lowest level since January last year.

Whole milk powder fell 3.4%  to US$3279 a  tonne and  skim milk  powder 8.5% to US$2972  a  tonne, while  butter  was  marginally  up at US$4868  a  tonne  (though  a  long way  down  from  its peak  in  March  above  US$7000 a  tonne)  and cheddar 0.9% to US$4802 a tonne. . . 

NZ Battery Project has air of déjà vu – Jill Herron:

The prospect of Roxburgh having a second go-around as the host town of a major hydro project is starting to feel more real for residents as the government’s Lake Onslow scheme inches ahead

Massive disruption will be on the cards for residents of Central Otago’s Teviot Valley and a “treasure” lost if the government proceeds with the Lake Onslow pumped-hydro scheme, a community leader says.

Compensation should reflect that, says 78-year-old Pat Garden, and it should be structured to create benefits from the scheme that outlive the “boom and bust” of the build.

“The community needs to be recognised as a stakeholder and expects a shared benefit to compensate for the negative impacts,” he says. . . 

Full disclosure: I work to reduce the footprint of animal agriculture – Frank Mitloehner:

My response to The New York Times and Greenpeace articles on CLEAR Center Funding

There’s a shocking revelation out there, and I am at the heart of it. Are you prepared for this?

Animal scientists work with animal agriculture. That’s it. That’s the exposé, the conspiracy that so many activists and journalist want to share with you.

Oh, if you want more, try this on for size: Agriculturists work together to be more sustainable.

If you work in agriculture, these statements probably aren’t surprising. In fact, it would likely be concerning if that were not the case. Sustainability issues are too big to be tackled in in silos – metaphorically speaking, of course. One way the sector has come together to further sustainability is through the CLEAR Center. . .

A more sustainable approach to farming looks better together :

With a future focused on sustainable farming and growing, increasing demand for food products and an increasing regulatory environment, two companies have come together to aid the agricultural and horticultural industries.

Tokoroa based Blue Pacific Minerals Limited (BPM), has joined with AgriFert (NZ) Limited (AgriFert), in what Executive Chairman, Jamie Mikkelson, says “is part of our ongoing strategy to be ready for the future with innovative and science-led solutions. This partnering will benefit the future of farming and growing here in New Zealand. Like our agricultural community, we too are adapting to new trends and finding innovative ways, all while standing true in what we believe in, being clever by nature.”

“The future is exciting for farmers and growers with advances in science and technology. New Zealand farmers and growers are global leaders in efficiency and innovation. We have a part to play driving the sustainable farming and growing solutions” says Mikkelson. . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2022

Genetic modification in New Zealand – scientists call for 20-year rethink – Jamie Morton:

Twenty years after the Corngate scandal turned genetic modification into a political hot potato, leading science figures hope a new review will bring changes. Jamie Morton reports.

It’s called ciltacabtagene autoleucel.

Its trading name, Carvykti, doesn’t roll off the tongue any easier.

But it marks a major milestone in one of our most complex, contentious and enduring debates: genetic modification. . .

Fonterra’s competitors challenges its capital restructuring plan but the co-op has the backing of our agriculture minister – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s   big  dairy  company, Fonterra,  has  come  under  pressure   from  two  directions  this  week.  First,  its  fortnightly GDT auction registered  another   fall  in  prices. Second,  it  faced  fire   from   four  of  its  competitors which  lobbied  the  government against  its  capital  restructuring  plan.

On  the  first issue, the latest  sale  has  taken  the GDT index  to  the  lowest level  since  January  last  year, although  what  may  soften that particular  blow  is  the  devaluation  of  the  local  currency. The  NZ dollar is  now  trading well  down against  the  greenback at US56c ,  from where  it  was  then,  around US70c.

The average price at the  auction fell 4.6% to US$3723 a tonne, after falling 3.5% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. . .

Sharing story sustainability – Sally Rae:

As Becks Smith prepares to record her podcast The Whole Story, she puts a port-a-cot mattress on the headboard of her bed to help with sound quality.

Her bedroom doubled as a studio, given many of the rooms of the Maniototo farmhouse she shares with husband Jason and their three young children, were too echoey.

Occasionally, their working dogs could be heard barking in the background of the podcast, while rural connectivity issues sometimes also had to be worked through.

But it summed her up; rather than having a slick studio somewhere, it was authentic and real, based on a 700ha sheep, beef and deer property in the heart of rural Otago.

“To resonate with farmers, you don’t need polished and shiny,” she said. . .

Lambs to slaughter  – Clive Bibby :

Any farmer trying to get space for lambs that need to be killed before they cut their teeth will identify with this very apt description which could also be applied to a wider difficulty that is affecting the whole country.

Unfortunately the problem in all its forms is a direct result of the government’s obsession with an ideological target that is being increasingly seen as a misplaced interpretation of world climatic events – particularly in how we in New Zealand should react in mitigation to the perceived threat of global warming.

Most intelligent observers, especially those of us charged with rescuing the nation from the avoidable mistakes made during Covid, will be appalled, if not frightened by the government’s determination to pursue the disastrous path on which we have all been committed. 

As one approaching the twilight years of my life and a keen admirer of the farmers who have time and again over the years come to the rescue of the dangerous halfwits we have mistakenly elected to the highest office in the land, I am worried that this time, our collective effort may not be enough. . .

Southern Pastures measuring dairy for good :

Ethical investor Southern Pastures, the country’s largest institutional dairy investment fund, has been judged to be a Responsible Investment Leader for the seventh year running.

It remains the only organization from New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors to ever be included in the annual benchmark report released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

Southern Pastures owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is the owner of premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery and wholesale business NZ Grass Fed Products LP.

“So often the pastoral industry is judged by outputs such as emissions, but we’re not nearly as rigorously measured or assessed for the positive services that some of us provide,” says Prem Maan, Southern Pastures’ Executive Chairman. . . 

New Zealand’s top sausages announced :

New World Te Rapa in Hamilton and Zaroa Meats in Auckland have been announced as the Supreme Award joint winners in the 2022 Great New Zealand Sausage Competition. The judges couldn’t split New World Te Rapa’s Pork sausage and Zaroa Meats’ Aoraki Salami, instead crowning them joint winners of the Supreme Award.

The successful sausages were announced at a special Sausage Mixer event this evening where butchers from across the nation gathered to find out who had taken out the top spot. It’s not the first time there has been a tie, but judges were unanimous that both sausages had all the qualities they were looking for to beat out over 530 other entries.

Porsche Davis, of New World Te Rapa says “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I wasn’t expecting to win gold to start with let alone this” When asked the secret to their Supreme sausage, Porsche Davis was giving nothing away “We did recently update our pork sausage recipe, it’s made from New Zealand pork but I can’t reveal any trade secrets, you have to try it to understand!”

Marc Zabern of Zaroa Meats says “my father is the mastermind behind the supreme salami, he’s been designing the most incredible sausages for years now and when he created this Wagyu and Venison Salami we knew it was special. It’s a taste sensation.” . . 


Rural round-up

12/10/2022

Pricing farm emissions: it’s great to enable NZ to boast a world first – but how much culling must be done to achieve it? – Point of Order :

The Ardern government is claiming a world first in its policy to cut agricultural emissions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asserts  that its proposal “delivers a competitive advantage, enhancing our export brand”, and…

“No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers.”

Farmers  themselves  may be bemused, if  not bewildered, by  the Government’s spin because critics claim the  scheme  aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5%, to achieve  what   Federated  Farmers  labels “the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets”. . . .

Fake meat, false promises and real consequences  – Meg Chatham :

The impact of fake meat on people and the planet could be more damaging than that of well-raised livestock.

Last year, Bill Gates proclaimed that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” and advocated for the use of “regulation to totally shift the demand” in order to combat climate change.

Ultra-processed food companies tout artfully obfuscated health and environmental benefits of their fake meat alternatives to convince consumers that “meat doesn’t have to come from animals.”

However, upending meat and the livestock industry will not resolve our climate, health, or justice crises. . . 

Simon Upton methane and forestry – Keith Woodford:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says there are good reasons to allow forestry offsets for methane rather than for fossil fuels

Simon Upton, in his role as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has produced a new ‘Note’ for Parliament exploring the possibilities of using carbon sequestration from forestry to offset methane emissions. It is an interesting and some might say provocative paper. Here I present and discuss just some of the big issues that he raises.

First, some explanation about Simon Upton and where he fits into the parliamentary scene. . . .

Milk prices turning sour? – Sudesh Kissun :

Fears of a global recession and questions over global demand for milk products are pushing dairy prices down.

While a strengthening US dollar and lower milk production normally means higher returns for New Zealand dairy exports, a weaker NZ dollar isn’t all good news for farmers, according to Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

Penny puts last week’s drop in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices to the “rising dairy prices in local currency terms and a degree of cautiousness in dairy markets following the broader financial market nervousness of the last few weeks”.

Dairy prices have essentially given back their gains at the previous auction. Butter prices led the falls, plunging 7%. Whole milk powder and cheddar prices both posted falls around 4%. Penny told Rural News the result was worse than what futures markets had forecast. . . 

Paysauce launches National Farm Boss Appreciation day :

The first National Farm Boss Appreciation Day will be held this year on 23 November, to celebrate the great employers out on farms across New Zealand.

Nominations for the best boss open today, with farm workers invited to submit a picture and a short explanation of why their boss is the most worthy. The nominees will feature in an online gallery, and a national ‘people’s choice’ vote will take place during November to crown this year’s winner – who will receive an epic prize pack thanks to PaySauce.

“It’s all about celebrating the good sorts out there, the employers that have their team’s backs, dig in when times get rough and make the industry proud” said PaySauce CEO, Asantha Wijeyeratne. “As the payroll provider for over half the employers in the dairy industry, and with rural employers making up around 70% of our customers in New Zealand, we often hear about the employment challenges they’re facing and overcoming with their teams. We want to spotlight the heroes and celebrate them.”

As nominations are received, a gallery of great employers will be posted on PaySauce’s website, with the opportunity for the country to vote for the winner. . .

Sheer grit at record attempt – Leo Argent :

Woodville shearer Sacha Bond is training hard for an attempt to break the women’s strong wool lamb shearing world record in Southland next year.

Coming from a shearing family, Bond has been a dedicated shearer since her teenage years.

She taught herself how to shear when many others in the industry would not lend a hand to teach her.

However, as her shearing skills became more and more apparent, people came around to her talents. She eventually made her way into the first all-women’s shearing course in New South Wales in 2015. . .

Coromandel hero wins Outdoor Access Champion Award :

Ally Davey can turn her hand to just about anything to get things done, and she inspires others to do the same. Her incredible achievements have earned her an Outdoor Access Champion award from Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, presented tomorrow.

The Spirit of Coromandel Trust was set up in 2000 by Andy Reid and the late Keith Stephenson; it funds opportunities for people, particularly youth, to access outdoor activities. After 20 years of fundraising, the trust started building Ride Coromandel Bike Park on an ex-landfill site in 2020, with Ally at the helm as volunteer project manager.

“I remember when I first started, I sat on the grass, and I looked up and thought, ‘Woah, this is such an amazing opportunity. We’ve just got crap all around us and we can make this into something cool.”

The park is a hit and draws riders in from outside the region. It’s been called the little park with a big heart, and Ally is most proud of the difference it’s made for young locals. . . 


Rural round-up

10/10/2022

Wetlands bring adverse effects farmers struggling – Paul Melville :

For the last two years, many farmers have appealed what they view as unworkable freshwater regulations.

The chief culprits have been rules requiring resource consents for planting a winter forage crop, rules that make paddocks of weeds so-called protected wetlands, and rules that require fencing of thousands of mountain streams.

Some 11,000 farmers across New Zealand were in breach of new fertiliser cap rules because a website wasn’t ready in time for them to comply.

But farmers are not alone. The wetland rules in particular apply to the entirety of New Zealand. What has become apparent, however, is that, under the regulated definition of a wetland, we actually have many more “wetlands” than first anticipated. With rules that make it impossible to do any earthworks within 100 metres of a wetland, and wetlands potentially on every corner, the Ministry of the Environment released proposed changes to these rules in May that would create a pathway for quarries, landfills, clean fills, urban development, mining and critical infrastructure. . . 

Oops the world price dips for dairy products but low NZ dollar is a compensating factor – Point of Order :

Dairy prices have fallen  at the  Fonterra  GDT  auction this  week.  The average price at the fortnightly sale fell 3.5% to US$3911 ($NZ6830) a tonne, after rising 2% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. But   with the  NZ dollar  now  down around the US57c mark, the  impact   of  the  latest fall  on the  farmgate  payout  will not  be as  great as it  at  first appears.

The price of wholemilk powder, which strongly influences the payout for  farmers, fell 4% to US$3573 a tonne.

Prices for other products fell  also: butter was down 7% to $4983,skim milk powder down 1.6% to $3497,  and cheddar down 3.8% to $4,966. . .

This unrelenting wet is squeezing me dry – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There’s nothing glorious about mud, mate.

The big wet. There is no other term I could use for these past four months.

It’s been horrible.

Other regions have had heavy destructive flooding, which we’ve fortunately missed. It’s the constant persistence of rainfall and no drying that has been difficult here. . . 

There’s strength in numbers for future farms – Neal Wallace:

Data-driven transformation of farms is the way forward, panel says.

Rob Macnab believes New Zealand sheep and beef (ngā kau me ngā hipi) farming systems are on the cusp of an exciting era but warns that farmers need confidence – and assistance to collect and understand data to drive that change.

A consultant with Total Ag in the Waikato, Macnab was part of an online panel discussing how to match consumer expectation with farm business realities. 

He said collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions is a new skill set for many farmers (kaimahi pāmu). They need to be given the tools and scientific support to ensure collection is accurate and the information applicable. . . 

Keeping the cattle mooving – Shawn McAvinue :

Shawn McAvinue talks to Palmerston Saleyards chairwoman Anita Vickers before the start of the first Palmerston Spring Cattle Sale last week.
Q How long have you been chairperson of the saleyards?

You can say chairman, none of this politically correct bull… I’ve been chairman since 2020.

Q What does the role call for?

Looking after the saleyards, general maintenance and making sure everything is happening.

Q What will you do today? . . 

Dutch farmers face a major uncertainty – Sudesh Kissun:

European dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina has put on hold a cash payment to farmer members due to uncertainty over the Dutch Government’s nitrogen proposals.

Chief exectuive Hein Shumacher says the Dutch Government’s target for reducing nitrogen pollution in some areas by up to 70% by 2030 is “a major uncertainty”.

“For this reason, we are exercising extra caution in terms of our outlook for the rest of the year, and we have decided to forego the interim pro forma supplementary cash payment to our member dairy farmers.

” Dutch farmers have been taking to the streets in the Netherlands to protest, calling the targets unrealistic. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/10/2022

Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 

 

NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 


Rural round-up

05/10/2022

Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 

 

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .

 

 

 

New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 


Quotes of the month

01/10/2022

Today there are still a few who have faith in Jacinda’s Labour government despite the overwhelming evidence that it is an outmoded religion, lacking analytical and executive skills. Ministers tell you they’ll solve inflation by spending more; they’ll fix the shortage of nurses in hospitals by refusing to allow easy entry for foreign-trained medical staff; they’ll stop our locally trained nurses heading off overseas by getting them to settle their wage claims for half the current rate of inflation; they’ll lift kids out of poverty by persisting with failed methods of teaching literacy and numeracy in schools, and by teaching them Te Reo; they’ll improve Maori lives by giving co-governance powers to Maori aristocrats; they’ll fix all your problems by employing 17,000 more bureaucrats than we had five years ago, and inflation will waft away on the breeze, hopefully in election year…. –  Michael Bassett

The problem with this government is that many of its policies have been shown historically to work no longer. Even before the Labour Party was formed in 1916, rent controls led to landlords selling their rentals, causing central city slums in many countries. By the mid 1940s one European economist who had surveyed rent controls at work in Europe concluded that the only thing that did more damage to central cities than rent controls was pattern bombing. But we hear today’s crop of Labour ignoramuses still musing about possible rent controls. Learning from history is not something the current lot are prepared to risk instead of their doctrine. A caucus of trade union hacks, low level lawyers and lesser bureaucrats simply rely on Labour’s ancient religion: if it moves, control it, if it makes money, tax it, and if there’s still a problem, throw taxpayers’ money at it. – Michael Bassett

The banking lessons learned by the Fourth Labour Government in the 1980s where the ASB and then the BNZ under Jim Bolger quickly strengthened themselves by allying with expanding international entities, will now never be available to Kiwibank. You can count on it not growing much above its current 4% of the banking market. It will be tied hand foot and finger to the Minister of Finance and the government’s purse strings. A stagnant asset. – Michael Bassett

Come the next election, I suspect the Labour government will resemble those 1931 pilgrims, traipsing down the mountain like wet sheep. One has to hope, however, that eventually a brighter, better educated crop of political hopefuls comes along, a group that understands what works and what doesn’t, who aren’t tied to some old-time religion, and have been living in the real world. – Michael Bassett

It’s becoming more apparent every day that this Government is on its way out and I just wonder whether that’s why they’re spiralling now into the realm of the nutty. – Kate Hawkesby

I just don’t know how they’re so tone deaf. Their ability to try to barrel through policy that negatively impacts us, instead of doing anything that’s actually useful, is worrying. Kate Hawkesby

The Nats called it as they saw it; a government addicted to spending, and we know this with the free-for-all spray around treatment of the cost of living payment. – Kate Hawkesby

They’re lucky to be a two-term government – thanks to Covid – but at this stage I don’t think even another pandemic could save them.

This is a circus that fewer and fewer of us want tickets to. – Kate Hawkesby

The Ardern administration has finally confirmed — were confirmation required — that it is the most incompetent New Zealand Government in living memory, and perhaps ever. – Matthew Hooton

This Government has managed to “deliver” the biggest cut for at least 30 years in the real wages of the middle and working class — those a “Labour” Party supposedly represents. It is paying for it in the polls.Matthew Hooton

It took this Government’s special idiocy to decide that which wasn’t broken should be fixed, by moving the Reserve Bank away from its laser-like focus on inflation, approving the appointment of Adrian Orr as Governor and signing the so-called dual mandate in March 2018.

Meanwhile, it accelerated increases to the minimum wage and began putting greater shackles around the labour market, including abolishing automatic 90-day trial periods, and restricting access to foreign labour and preparing the ground for 1970s-style national payment awards for workers.

After all this — and most likely because of it — real wages rose by just 1.5 per cent in Ardern’s first three years, before any effect from Covid. – Matthew Hooton

Infamously, ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policy transferred about $1 trillion to property owners at the expense of wage earners and savers. Now the data is in on real wages.

From mid-2020, real wages began falling and have done so for eight quarters. Since the Labour Cost Index (LCI) began in 1992, that has never happened before.Matthew Hooton

Perhaps a government of political science rather than economics student presidents could be forgiven for putting votes ahead of sound money, but the Ardern regime has proven incompetent even at handing out free cash.

It turns out cost-of-living cash went to foreign landlords, Kiwis living permanently abroad and those who are no longer alive. – Matthew Hooton

Perhaps we should forgive them their confusion for, on everything except public emoting, it is clear that they know not what they do. This is a pattern. –  Matthew Hooton

 The defeat of the Ardern Government is increasingly likely, and more than deserved.

Labour governments can do many things and survive. Enriching property owners while slashing workers’ real wages isn’t one. – Matthew Hooton

I suspect that we are fast approaching a state of society in which pedantry will be the best defence against the prevailing moral and philosophical (not to say physical) ugliness. Find a corner of the world about which nobody cares, and immerse yourself pedantically in it. That will be the way to survive until you reach the bourne from which no traveller returns.Theodore Dalrymple

At its worst, and the worst was on display this week, the party puts too much emphasis on increasing the size of the state, and neglects to ask itself what it’s taxing people for. If no one can articulate a good reason for why the Government is taking citizens’ money, can you really blame them for getting upset? – Thomas Coughlan

Not only is increasing tax difficult at the best of times, but after committing not to introduce taxes beyond what it campaigned on at the 2020 election, Labour proceeded to break its promise in spirit if not letter, multiple times this term, most obviously in its extension of the bright line test, the removal of interest deductions for landlords, and now, on GST.

The party needs to regain the public’s trust on tax.  It won’t do that through stealth taxes on their savings. – Thomas Coughlan

If the Minister of Finance demands evidence on value-for-money in adjudicating between different budget bids, because there will always be more bids than there’s space to accommodate, that drives demand for rigour in analysis. If the Government wants everything put through a soft-focus wellbeing lens instead, then that razor gets dulled. And if you combine it with a ludicrously soft budget constraint where government borrows $50 billion, nominally for Covid, and then spends it on any darned thing that passes a comms test, you’ll get what we’ve had.  – Eric Crampton

It all looks pretty bleak. Europe’s heading for disaster if the energy futures market is anything to go by. Covid shocks were bad but what happens when European factories supplying critical parts into NZ supply chains can’t afford to run? There’s terrible mess ahead, we can’t afford for policy to continue to be this persistently stupid, and there’s no reason to hope that policy will stop being this persistently stupid.Eric Crampton

Lowering the bar means you allow yourself to dream but you don’t chase dreams that are ridiculously out of reach — that they are in the ballpark of possibility for who you are: Your genetic inheritance, talents, skills and work ethic.

And that you don’t hold off celebrating until you’ve smashed that dream over the fence. Instead, you enjoy, and celebrate, all the milestones — the twists and turns and tiny triumphs — along the way.

Because a successful life does not come down to whether you hit any high bar or not. It’s not in the fact that your name and achievement will the answer to a pop quiz question 20 years from now.

It’s in the life you quietly created below the bar, it’s in the people who joined you on your journey and the experiences you had, along the way. It’s in whether you stayed anchored to the things that mattered to you and found fun in the littlest things. – Karen Nimmo

I do not know quite where to place snobbery on the scale of vices, but wherever it is placed, I think it may be very serious in its effects, though it is probably ineradicable from the repertoire of potential human feeling and conduct.

Snobbery is the feeling of social superiority on the grounds of some quality over which the person believed to be inferior has little or no personal control, such as birthplace or parenthood. If this feeling is conspicuously displayed rather than merely felt, it is likely to provoke furious resentment, far more so than actual injustice. Disdain causes the rawest of wounds, which seldom heal. That is why people who triumph over snobbery in practice nevertheless often retain within themselves a strong core of resentment toward those of the type (not necessarily the actual individuals) who formerly disdained them. And this resentment often impels them to do seemingly self-destructive things.Theodore Dalrymple 

It is probable that intellectual and aesthetic snobbery are now more prevalent than the more traditional forms that attach to place of birth and parentage. Many of us are appalled by the tastes and interests of others and secretly, and not so secretly, congratulate ourselves on our superiority to them. I am far from immune myself from such feelings. I have to control myself not so much in my outer behavior—that is a relatively easy thing to do—but in my inner feeling, that is to say to limit my own feelings of superiority to the people whose tastes I despise. After all, there is more to people than their tastes or enthusiasms, and I have never talked to anybody who struck me as anything other than an individual. Just as we are enjoined to hate the sin but not the sinner, so we have to try to dislike the bad taste but not the person who displays it. This requires the overriding of emotion by conscious thought and self-control. – Theodore Dalrymple 

Fear of appearing snobbish is harmful because it threatens the willingness to make judgments between the better and worse; and since the worse is always easier to produce, it contributes to a general decline in the quality of whatever is produced. This fear of appearing snobbish and therefore undemocratic is now very strong and pervades even universities (so I am told), in which one might have supposed that elitism, in the sense of a striving for the best that has been said and thought, would be de rigueur.

One of the forms that snobbery now commonly takes is disdain of simple, repetitive, and unskilled jobs (which are generally ill-paid as well). The educated can imagine no worse fate than to be employed in such a job, no matter how necessary or socially useful it might be—the person at the supermarket checkout (increasingly redundant, of course) being the emblematic example. With a singular lack of imagination and sense of reality about their fellow creatures, they simply put themselves in the place of these people and imagine thereby that they are being empathic. But of course there are people for whom such jobs are not unpleasant and are even rewarding. Not everyone wants to be, or is capable of being, a master of the universe.Theodore Dalrymple 

The trouble is that snobbery toward the unambitious overvalues ambition as a human characteristic, and thereby helps to usher in the regime of ambitious mediocrities, or even sub-mediocrities, under which we now live. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, it is indeed very necessary; but it is harmful when allied with ambition.

Irrespective, then, of how bad a moral vice snobbery may be, it is socially harmful and must be guarded against—especially where it resides often in secret, that is to say in the human heart. – Theodore Dalrymple 

 The Pharmac Review Panel proposed that Pharmac’s spending be skewed to favour the needs of “priority populations”, notably Māori.

That approach treats Māori lives as being of higher value than those not in a priority population. The report illustrates how this might be quantified. It also shows how even Māori might end up worse off.

Official documents justify this racially polarising approach for health care generally. Their main grounds are relatively poor average health outcomes for Māori, ‘equity’, and the Treaty.

Non-Māori outnumber Māori by 40% in the bottom decile of according to New Zealand’s Deprivation Index. To favour Māori over others in this decile violates horizontal equity. To favour Māori in better-off deciles over non-Māori in the lower deciles violates vertical equity.Bryce Wilkinson

People who do not care for accurate diagnosis cannot care much if their remedy does not work.

Finding remedies that work for all is critical. The previous government’s social investment approach had that focus. The current racially polarising approach does not. – Bryce Wilkinson

While political risk management shouldn’t be the sole focus of any Government, it does actually serve a critical purpose, in applying a blowtorch to policies to make sure they are targeting the right people and there are no unintended consequences.

It’s hard to know which is more damaging in this instance. Devising a policy which would have had such a disastrous effect on peoples’ nest eggs at a time when inflation is already eroding their sense of wealth and wellbeing.

Or being so careless as to wave it through it without even understanding who it would hurt most. – Tracy Watkins

A lambasting by the Auditor General over the cost of living payment and the humiliating backdown on a plan to impose GST on KiwiSaver fees marked a torrid week for the Labour Government.

Both instances raise the question about whether Labour’s political antenna is broken – and its willingness to be take responsibility for stuff-ups. – Claire Trevett 

It may be too soon to tell how the public spending watchdog John Ryan will be remembered when his term finishes – but there are signs he is starting to get under the skin of the Government.

And looking at his work plan for the current year, it is easy to see why. – Audrey Young

What we don’t see on the other side is ‘what did we get for that money?’ For the $130-plus billion a year, what got better, what got worse, how are things trending? Where is the reporting on that?

We really want to push quite hard on agencies to really hold themselves to account for their performance and to connect that to the public in what they are interested in seeing the agency do. – John Ryan

The art of the political U-turn, flip-flop, volte face – call it what you will – is a delicate one. If you don’t call an end to an unpopular policy quickly enough, you stand to entrench voter outrage, which can result in an election loss. If you do too many of them your party is seen as inept and lacking in conviction, beginning with those within your own caucus. Janet Wilson

Then there’s the cost-of-living payment, in which the second of three instalments came out this week. Having earned a reprimand from the auditor-general, who said the Government should have made better efforts to make the sure the payment was going to its intended targets, and having shed a recalcitrant MP only last week, a prudent Government would be desperate to right the ship.

Instead, it finds itself in a conflagration of its own making, seemingly more interested in increasing its own coffers than helping cash-strapped Kiwis whose vote it’ll want next year. – Janet Wilson

The fact that it’s one of many, and is reminiscent of Ardern’s captain’s call in scotching the capital gains tax in April 2019, shows that when presented with either retaining its ideology or staying in power, this party will always choose the latter.

It also paints a party that can’t be trusted when it comes to tax. Janet Wilson

Not running a balanced Budget after the past couple of years is not a criticism, but the fiscal story has become unanchored from that basic discipline, and Robertson and Labour have not found anything significant to replace it.

The National Party, on the other hand, is forming a compelling narrative of economic turgidity with Labour at the centre of it – whether you agree with this or not. Its narrative is coherent, simple and builds a picture of failure, profligacy and incompetence that the current Government cannot fix. – Luke Malpass

Labour’s retirement tax plan might be their biggest mistake yet. It was huge.

It would’ve affected most of us. Three million in all. It would’ve left us poorer. Some would’ve been down $20,000 by the time they reached retirement. And it would’ve hit us when it hurts the most: our old age.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour will pay for this. The biggest price is trust.

This is the party that has now twice promised no new taxes and twice broken that promise. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour’s sneakiness will also cost them. The only thing worse than someone breaking their promise, is someone breaking their promise and trying to hide it.

Good luck to Labour trying to convince the public at the next election that they won’t introduce new taxes. If National plans to run a tax-and-spend scare campaign at the next election, Labour will have no defence. They can hardly ask us to trust them that there will be “no new taxes”. We’ve been there, done that, and we’re paying the taxes. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It’s been a tough few weeks for Labour. The Sharma allegations made them look dysfunctional. The Auditor-General slamming them for sending cost-of-living money overseas made them look reckless with our tax dollars. And now they’ve been busted trying to take more without telling us .- Heather du Plessis-Allan

So unless there is a total breakdown of the normal decision-making processes within government, which is highly unlikely, this decision and the underhand way it was announced was premeditated.

How on earth could you get to such a tone deaf point? After all, this is not a new government, it has been in office for five years. Ministers surely knew this decision would wind up ordinary New Zealanders and cement the perception they are a high tax, high spending government. They must also have known that trying to avoid actually announcing the change could be political suicide, particularly given the media had given them fair warning they were interested in this upcoming decision. – Steven Joyce

There is every sign the Government believes its own BS to an unwarranted degree, so maybe it thought it could spin its way through this issue in the same way as it has so many others. The Prime Minister is certainly adept at arguing black is white and that failure to deliver is the result of aspiration, so there’s plenty of evidence for this theory.

An even more likely possibility is that ministers are getting completely out of touch with the public they serve. There is a very long series of announcements suggesting that is the case. The TVNZ-RNZ merger, the bike bridge, Three Waters, Trevor Mallard’s appointment to Ireland and his pending knighthood, the bank credit changes, immigration policy, and industry pay bargaining are some that leap to mind. They are either completely inexplicable (think GST on KiwiSaver), or clearly designed to serve a part of Labour’s power base to the bemusement or downright hostility of the general public. – Steven Joyce

Whatever the final cause of the Government’s awry political antennae, it appears very likely the die has been cast and the public have made up their minds about this lot, and ministers increasingly know it. – Steven Joyce

Expect to see much more attacking of the opposition over the next 12 months. Labour’s strategists may not have been able to work out that adding GST to KiwiSaver this way was political poison, but they are aware that the only way to level the playing field for the next election is to drag the alternative government down and create as much doubt about them as there is about Labour. It’s the 2005 and 2008 playbook all over again. And it won’t be pretty. – Steven Joyce

The failures of letting government aspirations become unanchored from reality are becoming difficult to ignore. Doing a more limited number of things well might just be better than failing at many things simultaneously.Eric Crampton

What is being proposed by Andrew Little and his minions is morally abhorrent. It is a paternalistic, white-man’s burden re-imagined for a modern era.

As the Initiative report’s title states, every life is worth the same. – Damien Grant

If a workplace relations system requires armies of HR people and lawyers to work, it is too complicated.

These workplace relations reforms run under the name ‘Fair Pay Agreements’. It is a misleading label since there is little that is fair about them. And with the threat of compulsion, they are not much of an agreement, either. – Oliver Hartwich

Still, the Fair Pay Agreements approach is based on little more than voodoo economics.

In conventional economics, wages reflect economic conditions. If a company does well, if it increases its productivity and then its profits, that growing pie will be distributed between owners and workers. So, in this way, the wage increase reflects how well the company is doing.

In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of New Zealand Labour, things work differently. Their starting point is not a how the economy is doing but how it should be doing.Oliver Hartwich

This approach is courageous, in a ‘Yes, Minister’ way. No wonder even the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment warned its ministers about proceeding with their Fair Pay Agreements plan.

There is an obvious problem with banking on future productivity increases: They might not happen.

It comes down to companies deciding on paying above-productivity wages in the vague hope they will be able to afford them later.

But business does not work like that. And economies that see wages rise faster than productivity will sooner or later face rising unemployment, since companies will not pay their workers more than what they produce. – Oliver Hartwich

For negotiations to take place, it takes two sides. Though the unions are keen on going down the Fair Pay Agreements path, BusinessNZ has declared it is no longer prepared to represent the employer side. So either the government finds another organisation to represent business, or it must artificially create one.

Either way, while Australia has now started the process of reforming its broken employment relations system, New Zealand has started to break its working one.

That is good news for Australia. And terrible news for New Zealand.Oliver Hartwich

No sane person should be fooled. A climate-cult madness has infected governments and their activist agencies; exemplar, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Delusions of grandeur is a common manifestation of madness. Climate cultists fit the profile. Clothing themselves in virtue, they strut about proclaiming that they can save the earth from a fiery end if only we would give away the foundational building block of progress and prosperity; namely, fossil fuels. – Peter Smith

Sometimes the best people to fix the problems are actually those affected most by them. Kate Hawkesby

Rarely has a political party promised so much in an election campaign and achieved so little during its time in office.

Labour made extravagant promises to end child poverty, to build 100,000 houses over 10 years and make housing more affordable, to make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, and to improve our education system. Instead child poverty has increased on most measures; the number of new houses built has been trivial and, while house prices are at last easing somewhat, they are still among the most expensive in the world; we’re still burning imported coal to keep the lights on; and more and more kids are coming out of the taxpayer-funded school system unable to read and write.

And to top it off, New Zealanders are now facing the highest inflation in more than 30 years. Some record! – Don Brash

The Prime Minister pretends that local councils will still own the water infrastructure which their ratepayers have funded but by every measure on which “ownership” is judged, this is a total nonsense: local councils will have absolutely no authority over the water infrastructure in their area. Among other things, because any new urban development is dependent on water infrastructure being put in place in a timely way, this means that the great majority of the decisions which a council makes around urban development – where roads and houses should go – will be effectively determined by the four enormous “entities” into which all water infrastructure will be grouped.Don Brash

The legislation establishing the four entities makes it clear that it is tribal authorities which will control the four entities, not the local authorities which notionally retain ownership of the assets. – Don Brash

The audacity of the Government’s move is surely astonishing. The effective confiscation of billions of dollars in water infrastructure assets built up over decades by ratepayers throughout the country is astonishing enough in its own right. But then to hand effective control of those assets to tribal groups up and down the country is almost beyond belief: it is a full frontal assault on any concept of democracy.

This policy alone should cost the Government next year’s election. If it does not, it is a sad indictment on the Opposition parties, on the media, and indeed on every New Zealander. – Don Brash

But there’s another even bigger and more tragic irony that Gorbachev’s death forces us to confront. While we smugly complimented ourselves on winning the Cold War, the democratic, capitalist West was all along being systematically undermined from within by ideological forces far more insidious than Soviet communism.

Call it the culture wars, call it identity politics, call it wokeism, call it neo-Marxism … whatever the label, a multi-faceted assault on Western values has been fermenting for decades, mostly in our institutions of learning, and is now happening in plain sight.

It aggressively manifests itself in attacks on all the values that define Western society and culture: free speech, property rights, the rule of law, economic liberalism, history, science, literature, philosophy and, most damagingly, democracy itself. The attacks are sanctioned by our own institutions, including the media, and have largely gone unopposed by nominally conservative politicians who give the impression of being in a state of paralysis.

We watched enthralled as Gorbachev defied political gravity and neutralised what we regarded as a potential threat to the free world, but I wonder who will save us from the even more menacing enemy within. – Karl du Fresne

Organic beef farms, whose animals take longer to raise and need even more land, lose twice as much nitrogen for each kilogram of meat produced as conventional beef farms. They also create more methane during their extended lifetime.Jacqueline Rowarth

As for veganism and reducing animal emissions, the concept of removing animals from the diet might seem positive, but the reality is that for a human to stay healthy, supplements and more food needs to be consumed, with consequent greater calorie intake, and hence waste material excretion. The waste contains more nitrogen and this has implications in terms of increased greenhouse gases . – Jacqueline Rowarth

 Different people have different perspectives, but the science facts remain – more people, limited land, and organics and veganism are not the answer for the bulk of the population.

What is clear is that meat and milk produced in New Zealand has lower impact than that produced overseas. The global message should be minimising dietary impact by eating only what is needed – and, where possible, choosing New Zealand food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We’ve had five f——g years of this ‘be kind’ guilt-tripping propaganda shoved down our throats and everywhere you look the results are crippled systems and crippled people. Lindsay Mitchell

Another week, another demonstration of Government incompetence, nastiness and deceit. – Matthew Hooton

However good the political antennae of Ardern, Robertson and the rest of the 20-strong Cabinet, they can’t fulfil even that modest function without reading the papers they receive each Friday. Once upon a time, prime ministers required that every minister read every paper before showing up to Monday’s Cabinet meeting. There were even discussions and arguments before decisions were reached.

Apparently that rudimentary expression of Cabinet collective responsibility and basic political management is out of fashion.

With her PR talents, perhaps Ardern and her Cabinet don’t think they need to understand decisions they are taking or announcements they are making. Besotted cub reporters in other daily media let them spin out of anything that pops up. Matthew Hooton

While other countries are pulling out the stops to attract global talent to their shores, the New Zealand Government seems to think we can manage without it. It’s a decision based on archaic thinking, and it will cost our economy dearly. – Aaron Martin

At a time when we’re competing in a global talent shortage, Australia is rolling out the red carpet to skilled migrants, while New Zealand has put out a dusty old doormat.Aaron Martin

Not staying globally competitive means we’re not only falling behind in attracting the experienced people we need to build our own capability, but also puts us at risk of losing our own talent. – Aaron Martin

The New Zealand Government still appears to be stuck in the mindset that employers should be reducing their reliance on migrant workers. The philosophy of Australia is completely different – for them it’s not about reducing reliance, it’s about the very realistic approach of understanding what resources are needed to help their economy grow.

Reliance is ingrained in the modern economy, especially one that has a low birth rate and a low population – as New Zealand does. Not being able to offer certainty for migrants who are not on the Green List is going to make it hard to attract scarce and valued talent. That talent will be snapped up by countries who are taking a more progressive approach.Aaron Martin

The government is completely blind to the fact that skilled migration actually leads to job creation. Internationally experienced managers play a crucial role in upskilling local staff. Without it, staff capability and business growth is limited, and so is the potential of New Zealand’s economy.

So not only do we miss out on all the benefits of their expertise, but New Zealanders go looking for it offshore. If the government wants to put a stop to the brain drain and fix our skilled migrant shortage it needs to get its skates on to remedy our crippled immigration system. – Aaron Martin

Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example. Andrew Sullivan

She was an icon, but not an idol. An idol requires the vivid expression of virtues, personality, style. Diana was an idol — fusing a compelling and vulnerable temperament with Hollywood glamor. And Diana, of course, was in her time loved far more intensely than her mother-in-law; connected emotionally with ordinary people like a rockstar; only eventually to face the longterm consequences of that exposure and crumble under the murderous spotlight of it all.

Elizabeth never rode those tides of acclaim or celebrity. She never pressed the easy buttons of conventional popularity. She didn’t even become known for her caustic wit like the Queen Mother, or her compulsively social sorties like Margaret. The gays of Britain could turn both of these queens into camp divas. But not her. In private as in public, she had the kind of integrity no one can mock successfully.

You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger.

The Crown satisfies those needs, which keeps other more malign alternatives at bay. – Andrew Sullivan

The Crown represents something from the ancient past, a logically indefensible but emotionally salient symbol of something called a nation, something that gives its members meaning and happiness. However shitty the economy, or awful the prime minister, or ugly the discourse, the monarch is able to represent the nation all the time. In a living, breathing, mortal person.

The importance of this in a deeply polarized and ideological world, where fellow citizens have come to despise their opponents as enemies, is hard to measure. But it matters that divisive figures such as Boris Johnson or Margaret Thatcher were never required or expected to represent the entire nation. It matters that in times of profound acrimony, something unites. It matters that in a pandemic when the country was shut down, the Queen too followed the rules, even at her husband’s funeral, and was able to refer to a phrase — “we’ll meet again” — that instantly reconjured the days of the Blitz, when she and the royal family stayed in London even as Hitler’s bombs fell from the sky.

Every Brit has a memory like this. She was part of every family’s consciousness, woven into the stories of our lives, representing a continuity and stability over decades of massive change and dislocation. – Andrew Sullivan

The Queen was crowned in the cathedral where kings and queens have been crowned for centuries, in the same ceremony, with the same liturgy. To have that kind of symbolic, sacred, mystical thread through time and space is something that is simply a gift from the past that the British people, in their collective wisdom, have refused to return.Andrew Sullivan

Because, in a way, the Queen became a symbol for many people in the English speaking world, even if England itself meant nothing to them.

A symbol of what you may ask?

Maybe of times gone past, of an old way of doing things.  But maybe of a kind of ideal. A person of good character when so many news pages are filled with politicians and celebrities displaying the opposite.

A person who never stopped doing what she said she would. On her 21st birthday she said “I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

And she kept that promise.

Maybe also because we watched her publicly face the challenges of being a mum, a grandmother, and the head of a family.  That’s a job a lot of us know is hard enough without having to do it in public.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

She would say that Prime Ministers were always faced with difficult decisions to make, and real challenges and there often was not a right answer, but to do the thing that you believed was the correct thing to do, was not always the easy thing to do.

She had huge amounts of grace and warmth, but equally so much history and wisdom that you could ask questions and get answers that came from a perspective and vantage point that probably no other person had seen. –  John Key

In Britain, there have been few manifestations of extreme grief at the death of Queen Elizabeth.  But there is a profound and shared sense of loss, that everything has changed, and all expressed in a controlled way.  How very British.

She had breezed past the markers of mortality for so long, that in a quiet moment one could almost believe that she was a truly permanent fixture.

But the singing of God Save the King on the accession of King Charles was a marker of finality.  And a reminder that one can’t step in the same river twice. – Point of Order

One can guess that Her Majesty felt she had a great deal to live up to.  Most would say she did it superbly.  

And now that burden falls to her son.

Burkean conservatism is all about reconciling continuity and change, when change is necessary and can be undertaken in accordance with the traditions of the country and people.

Queen Elizabeth embodied something about ‘us’ and on her death, we need to reconsider just what ‘we’ means.Point of Order

Perhaps, just for a moment, reflection on her life and death can briefly refract our thinking and remind us that while it does seem impossible to love one another, we do sometimes need to try a bit harder. – Point of Order

Because a human being can embody something that otherwise defies expression. She (or indeed he) can make the intangible concrete in a different way to symbols like flags (New Zealanders might recall) or words in legal documents.  

Of course, in the beginning was the Word.  But don’t forget the still surprisingly widespread conviction that it became Flesh and dwelt among us.Point of Order

Media coverage has laid bare what locals have known for a long time: Rotorua has, whether deliberately or through absolute dereliction of duty, been transformed into a dumping ground. A place where the vulnerable are treated like cash cows, lining the pockets of a select few.

I despair that I’m at the point where I’m writing this column, knowing that more negative publicity will compound the impact upon Rotorua. But the situation is dire, it must change, and the people who have created this nightmare must be held accountable.- Lizzie Marvelly

I find the word “transitional” ironic. Transitioning to where? The people in these motels are stuck. The conditions are squalid, the social challenges are profound and danger is ever-present. Many of the rooms in these motels don’t even have functioning smoke alarms. Single mums and their tamariki have been housed next to 501 deportees from Australia. It makes you wonder whether they are better or worse off than they were before they landed on Fenton Street.

The people who are undoubtedly better off are those receiving millions of taxpayer money to house and care for the vulnerable. But what do we have to show for the money being thrown around? If the system was working we’d see the number of emergency housing motels decreasing. We’d see a reduction in negative social impacts as people received the support and assistance they needed.

We are seeing quite the opposite. What key performance indicators, if any, have been put in place? When organisations and the offshore owners of Fenton Street motels are receiving millions of dollars of public funding, surely the public have a right to know what the spend is achieving. Forgive the crass expression, but in my view millions of dollars of taxpayer money are being pissed into the wind in Rotorua.  Lizzie Marvelly

Rotorua has become a new kind of visitor Mecca, housing visitors who may never leave. – Lizzie Marvelly

It is undoubtedly vital that Rotorua looks after its own vulnerable citizens, with the appropriate support from Government agencies. It is outrageous, however, that such a small city, already decimated by the impact of Covid, is being expected to also take on vulnerable people from other cities and towns around the country. For a start, it fractures valuable social support that people may have in their home regions. Unsurprisingly, it has created a group of displaced, broken people. It’s time for other centres to look after their own people.

What is often missed in the soundbites is that the tourism industry was the biggest employer in Rotorua, and many of the Rotorua people in emergency housing landed there because they lost their tourism industry jobs. How on earth are they going to get back on their feet, and out of transitional housing, if the tourism industry doesn’t recover? And when walking around town in Rotorua can be objectively dangerous, why on earth would tourists want to come back?

It is the view of many at home that the current leadership, both locally and nationally, are destroying Rotorua. Locals have been voicing their concerns to officials for years, yet things continue to get worse. It is difficult to see how the city will recover. There must be an independent review immediately, followed by swift and lasting change. Lizzie Marvelly

What I look like or what my body is like has no bearing on whether or not I’m a good person, whether or not I’m smart, whether or not I’m attractive, whether or not I’m sexy, whether or not I’m fit or motivated. [My size] doesn’t have the relationship to those things that I had previously thought it did – Alice Snedden 

Anyone who’s fat or has ever been fat knows that’s always in the back of your mind because that will have been an insult people have levelled against you. It doesn’t feel like a good thing to be for the most part.Alice Snedden 

I’m interested in being a good person with the least inconvenience possible. It would be good if it were easy but what do we do in the face of knowing that it’s not? – Alice Snedden 

And I remember learning how flowers grow.
That flowers bloom not just with light from the sun, but also with rain from the clouds.

And then I realise that I can grow this way, too.

That grey skies will form and I will feel sad again, but I will grow understanding that my sadness is made of love.

That tears of sadness will come and fall like rain again, but I will grow knowing that my tears are made of life. – Ben Brooks-Dutton

The claims are unbelievable but I would venture to say that none of you has been through the emotional and physical trauma that being overweight can cause.

At first, I didn’t think anyone would believe it. Then I remembered how insecure being overweight made me. How I desperately looked for answers and beat myself up daily for the poor choices I made and my lack of self-control. The company is completely playing on people’s vulnerabilities. It is cruel and I am genuinely sorry for those who have been taken in by it. – Paula Bennett

I think it’s possible to feel ambivalent (at best) about the institution and what it represents, and at the same time a deep respect for the Queen herself as an individual.

In her case, the privileges of the role, the money and castles and special treatment, were surely offset by the extraordinary burden of service.

The figure that stuck with me on Friday was 21,000 – the barely fathomable number of private service engagements the Queen undertook during her reign.

No one on the face of the earth will know a life quite like it. – Jack Tame

In an increasingly tribal and partisan world, she was a steady, neutral force.

She was the steady force. I admired the Queen’s careful restraint.

The Queen lived through arguably the greatest period of change the world has ever seen.

And in that period of great change there is no figure on Earth who has represented a greater picture of stability. Queen Elizabeth was the constant. – Jack Tame

It is a sign of how dysfunctional Auckland Council is that it considers a debt-to-revenue ratio of 258% as a positive. It had budgeted for 290%. Damien Grant

I’m an engineer. We don’t do empathy. We fix things. – Wayne Brown

 New Zealand has amassed billions of dollars in debt trying to make it through a global pandemic. Our debt levels are huge. Businesses, employers….They’ve carried the brunt of it. And now we’re going to ask them to pay for everyone to have a day off, and at the same time face a 20 percent reduction in output and revenue. 

Madness. – Rachel Smalley

What I would say is this – and I realise I am slightly practical when it comes to these matters — but the Queen is dead. This woman who has lived through wars and great upheaval would tell us to crack on. I think she’d tell us that these are challenging economic times and we’ve already been disrupted by COVID and spent too much time at home, so she’d urge us to keep working.

Keep calm, and carry on, perhaps. – Rachel Smalley

 In a world of vacuous comment, more people than not these past few days have come to the party with their thoughts in an eloquent and kind fashion. The energy and effort was put in to say more than you would have expected on other occasions.Mike Hosking

 In a post-Covid world where we have indulged ourselves to a ludicrous degree, for the monarch little changed.

Little changed as we moved to the country, invented quiet quitting, started the great resignation, and all wound up and bound up in our own wee world of upheaval and change.

I wonder how many times the Queen wanted to quietly quit?

But duty, service, and a promise made all those years ago overrode it all. They are wonderful, uplifting, life-affirming characteristics that are so sorely and sadly missing too often these days.

And you didn’t have to be a monarchist to admire that. – Mike Hosking

Everyone is agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic drove people mad, but there is disagreement over who the madmen were, itself another cause of ferocious argument: a kind of meta-madness, as it were.

I am still not clear in my mind what I would or should have done if I had been in charge (would have done and should have done being very different, in all probability), or whether my darling scheme of concentrating efforts exclusively on those at significant risk would have worked.

What constitutes significant risk is, of course, not a purely scientific question. So-called listening to the science can never be enough—quite apart from the fact that the science does not exist where there are still many unknowns. It is not true that no scientific truths are indisputable: No one seriously expects it to be discovered, for example, that the blood does not circulate in the body. But even in the treatment of well-described diseases there are an infinite number of unanswered questions that could be asked.Theodore Dalrymple

Giving up a worldview is more difficult than giving up a bad habit.

That is why conspiracy theories are so attractive to us. We want the world to be tractable, and for events to have been wrought by human design, even if those who do the designing are evil. In fact, it is really quite reassuring that the bad things that happen in the world must be by evil design (as, of course, some of them are). This gives us the hope that, by removal of the evilly disposed persons, the world may be made perfect. Besides, searching out evil is fun. – Theodore Dalrymple

Plenty will say the nation has lost its grandmother, that we are a family bereaved of its matriarch – and that comparison is not so wide of the mark. Not because everyone knew or loved the Queen like a relative, because obviously that is not true. But the comparison holds in this much narrower sense: she was a fixed point in our lives, a figure of continuity when all around was in constant flux. Everything has changed since the day in 1952 when she inherited the throne. That country – of black-and-white television, gentlemen in hats, and Lyons Corner Houses – and this one would barely recognise each other. The one thing they have – had – in common was her.

She was woven into the cloth of our lives so completely, we had stopped seeing the thread long ago.  – Jonathan Freedland

As with parenting, so with serving as the national figurehead: a big part of the job is simply showing up. Elizabeth understood that very deeply, realising that continuity amid turbulence was the great value that a monarchy could add to a democratic system. – Jonathan Freedland

The result was that an epoch that witnessed enormous social upheavals, a shift to the demotic and democratic in manners and mores and an end to deference – an age that could have proved disastrous, if not terminal, for a feudal institution such as monarchy – instead saw royalty cement its position. Republicanism was a lost cause in the Elizabethan era, even as the notion of allocating any other role in public life according to genetic bloodline would have been dismissed as an indefensible throwback.

Advocates of an elected head of state struggled to gain traction for the simple reason that the Queen did the job so well. Republicans could only argue that it was a fluke, that although the lottery of heredity had thrown up a winner this one time, there was no guarantee it would do so again. But it was no good. For as long as she was there, the monarchy seemed to make sense – an illogical, irrational kind of sense, but sense all the same.Jonathan Freedland

But millions will now be mourning something more intimate and more precious: the loss of someone who has been a permanent fixture for their – our – entire lives. Her death will prompt memories of all that has passed these last 70 years, and all those others who we loved and lost. There is grief contained within grief. Today we mourn a monarch. And in that very act, we also mourn for ourselves.- Jonathan Freedland

If republicans want to succeed, they will need to offer New Zealanders something they can gain from a republic, not just something they will lose.Henry Cooke

The sadness I naturally feel at the passing of someone important, who had, in a sense, accompanied me throughout my childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and into my old age, Queen Elizabeth II, is accompanied by a sense of foreboding as to what might follow. It might give an opportunity for political mischief-makers to make mischief, not for the sake of human improvement or happiness, but for the sake of making mischief. – Theodore Dalrymple

There must surely be very few examples of such single-minded dutifulness in contemporary history. That is why she maintained her popularity from the moment she ascended the throne to the day of her death. Her conduct was as modest as her position was exalted. She never made the mistake of thinking that she was an interesting or remarkable person in herself, and thereby became remarkable.Theodore Dalrymple

And then, of course, there are also the republicans who want to fish in troubled waters. Starting from the irrationality of monarchy when considered from abstract first principles, they point to the deficiencies of any monarch, though this was harder to do in the late monarch’s case. In doing so, they forget that, in practice, people are infinitely more likely to be oppressed by their elected representatives than by their constitutional monarch, and indeed are increasingly oppressed by them every day of their lives. Like many intellectuals, they prefer to fight shadows rather than substantive beings: it is easier and more gratifying. – Theodore Dalrymple

Some MPs can swear an oath to the Queen and to “her heirs and successors” and then proclaim they are republicans. As they make promises they never intend to keep why should we be surprised that they do not keep their oaths?

A government that does not want to run on its record might be tempted to stage a diversion and hold a referendum to become a republic. Those who advocate holding a referendum first need to say what sort of republic. – Richard Prebble

Some nations have had parliament elect the president and others the electorate. Even if the head of state’s role is ceremonial the election by itself gives the president power. The temptation to use power is overwhelming.

The conflict between presidents and parliaments is one of the reasons presidential government is so unstable. – Richard Prebble

A hereditary head of state from another country is weird. Constitutional monarchy just works better than the alternatives. The World Economic Forum says New Zealand is the world’s third oldest democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit this year rated New Zealand the second most democratic country. Why fix what is not broken?

We are a small, isolated country. Having a shared monarchy with the UK and 14 other countries has been advantageous and will be in the future.

Monarchy is more fun. It has given me one of my first memories, a social success, a great embarrassment, a nice compliment and an honour.Richard Prebble

If we became a republic what would the Woman’s Weekly do? Seriously, the record is that our system of government is much more stable than a republic.

We have real issues but being a constitutional monarchy is not one of them. –Richard Prebble

Death holds up a mirror to everything — moments of love, stretches of strife, memories that punish and exalt. This is true if your family is far removed from the public eye, and it’s true if your family is ensconced in the world’s spotlight.  – Patti Davis

All of us know the difficulties and travails of the royal family. Each time the family members come together, the news media and the public analyze every gesture, every interaction. Did William and Harry speak? Embrace? Having been on the receiving end of such scrutiny, I can tell you that it’s a balancing act. You want to be present, available, sincere, yet there is a part of you that’s always aware you’re being watched and, in all likelihood, judged.

Queen Elizabeth had the ability to call her fractured family together to show up … because of her. My father was the beacon of light we all gravitated to, no matter how we felt about each other. When forces like this die, the fault lines in the family that were always there remain. Yet the beauty of memorial services and funerals is that for a while, that breakage is healed. – Patti Davis

Several times during that period, friends remarked on how hard it must have been to mourn in public. I always said, “No, that actually was the easy part.” I felt thousands of locked hands beneath me, keeping me from falling. That’s also why I didn’t want the week to end. Once it did, I would be left with the solitariness of my own grief, slogging through the waters that would inevitably rise around me.

Even if you are the royal family, the most famous family in the world, everyone doesn’t see everything about you. There is grief that spills out in the shadows. We need to remember that when we watch the public ceremonies surrounding the queen’s passing. Patti Davis

Driving home through dark quiet streets, I knew the river of grief that was waiting for me, and I knew I would have to cross it alone.

My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side. – Patti Davis

I have often been labelled a conservative. This doesn’t mean I am some unthinking reactionary.

Instead, it just means, to me, that we should always very carefully weigh the transaction cost of change.

When it comes to possibly moving on from the monarchy I believe those costs are much higher than would be commonly thought and indeed are too high to meet a threshold for change. – Simon Bridges 

The point of this minor heraldic history, if any, is simply that politicians are almost infinitely and hilariously corruptible, for reasons ranging from cynical to deeply idiosyncratic, at even the most minute level.

Most of this can be easily handled and harnessed by the process of democracy. But as the final constitutional backstop, in the event of uncertainty or chaos, are politicians what we should rely on?  – Ben Thomas

What we might really need is some institution stripped of agendas, aspirations, or even hope. And in the modern royal family, we have that. Of course, monarchy bestows wealth and privilege on the undeserving. And while no-one would overplay the hardships of royal birth in comparison with the vast bulk of humanity, who have something in the nature of real problems, it hardly measures up to ideas of what extreme wealth involves.

Elon Musk can potentially go to Mars. Her late majesty could go to Balmoral, where candid pictures showed a two-bar heater in the fireplace and council flat wallpaper. Mentions of her “life of service” are not a mere platitude, but a recognition of the daily grind of ribbon cuttings, ceaseless tours and banal social interactions.

Sitting up the front of a formal dinner or prizegiving while maintaining a facade of benign interest is fine for an evening. But smiling politely for 70 years?

Well, critics might say, we don’t all love our jobs. The contradiction is not so much dullness in the middle of excess, but the paradox of powerlessness at the very epicentre of the sovereign. Ben Thomas

But our head of state has almost no autonomy that they can exercise without receiving the imprimatur of Parliament or the advice of the prime minister.

The last remaining, ultimate power they have is deciding who has the right to be the prime minister, and will give them the advice to which they are beholden. This is the constitutional equivalent of carrying around the nuclear codes – a responsibility of last resort so great, and terrible, and absolute that it is generally unthinkable that it should ever be used. And in the meantime, sitting still, and acting interested. – Ben Thomas

If you were to take note of most public commentary on the issue, you’d be justified in thinking the weight of public opinion overwhelmingly favours a republic – but that’s only because republicans make up most of the commentariat.

Many of these commentators miss the point, I suspect wilfully. They treat it as an issue of personalities. Their argument, essentially, is that the Queen was popular whereas Charles is not (although the latest opinion polls in Britain show a sudden spike in his favourability rating). Therefore the time has come to sever the constitutional connection with the Crown.Karl du Fresne

Monarchists, on the other hand, view royalty strictly in constitutional terms. They ask the vital question: do our existing constitutional arrangements serve New Zealand well? Unarguably, the answer is yes. We may have acquired them almost by historical accident and they may be ill-defined and poorly understood, but they have made us one of the world’s most stable democracies.

Paradoxically, they depend on a head of state who appears to do little apart from merely existing. The monarch’s powers are more notional than actual, but they serve as a vital constitutional backstop in case they’re needed. It’s weird, but it works. – Karl du Fresne

The crucial point about the monarchy is that it gives us a head of state who is above politics. It provides an element of impartiality, stability and continuity that could never be guaranteed under a president.

Whatever method might be used to elect or appoint a New Zealand president, political factors would intrude.  There are no constitutional mechanisms that can guarantee us a wholly apolitical New Zealand head of state. And unless the post is held for life, which would never be acceptable, there would be the risk of instability and uncertainty whenever it came up for renewal.  – Karl du Fresne

There is another vital respect in which the monarchy works. As one authority has put it, the significance of the monarchy is not the power it possesses but the power it denies others. For “others” read “politicians”, who may not always act with the purest of motives. The fact that the head of state is unelected runs counter to democratic principles, but it means the monarchy is immune to political pressures. As I said: weird, but it works. –

In constitutional terms, the Queen’s death changes nothing. It may be true that people loved the Queen and don’t feel the same about Charles, but the constitutional underpinnings are unchanged. – Karl du Fresne

I feel I knew the Queen because she was almost indistinguishable from my mother. They were born within three years of each other and died within two. Their hairstyles kept pace for 90 years. Their hemlines also. Both married soon after the war, and both had a son, followed by a daughter, followed by two more sons. (Thank you for asking, I am Edward.) Disregarding the odd palace, the Queen and my mother could have swapped photo albums.

Both women, then, were prisoners of their time and their biology. Nothing odd there. Most of us are. But the Queen was also imprisoned by her role, and that role was one of paradox. She was limitlessly wealthy, but she never shopped. She ruled over kingdoms, but went nowhere freely. She was top of the pile, but her job was to serve. She was just an ordinary woman, but it was her lifelong burden to embody the myth of royalty, the big juju.Joe Bennett

Mentally, this country is already a republic. When royals visit, it is as characters from a soap opera, not as potentates or juju-mongers. No-one holds up a sick child for them to touch. So it would seem fitting now to sever the tie.

But there’s a difficulty. Consider Africa. It is thick with republics and I would struggle to name an incorrupt one. The problem as always is power. To whom do you entrust it? – Joe Bennett

If we ditched the monarchy, we could vest its power in an elected politician. But would you be comfortable with, say, a President Muldoon? The alternative is to give power to someone apolitical.

The obvious choice would be the All Blacks captain. All Blacks are already local royalty. But they do tend to be blokes, and blokes have a worse record with power than women. Also, they get knocks to the head. Perhaps a cricketer, then, would be more suited to the role.

In the light of which, and in the event of our becoming a republic, I propose our head of state be the captain of the White Ferns.

Or we could keep Charles.Joe Bennett

The critical minerals that will power green technology need to be mined somewhere. They cannot be recycled at the rate and volume they are needed, though of course the contribution of recycling will be valuable.

The West Coast has potential for such minerals, including, Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and Rare Earth Elements. GNS Science has assessed that much of that potential lies in the conservation estate.

It makes sense to keep the option open for mining on conservation land to access these minerals. That is not to say it will happen at scale, or that it will be open slather. – Josie Vidal

We don’t want to see opportunities for creating wealth, jobs and healthy regional economies lost overseas.

And we certainly don’t want to see our best and brightest off to Australia which is on the cusp of a mining boom to beat all others.

While we fully support the Government’s conservation objectives, we believe the negative impact of mining is overstated. The truth is that mineral extraction, suitably regulated, can and should contribute to the solution. – Josie Vidal

The real risk for biodiversity is with pests and predators, such as stoats, rats, and possums.

“Mining and other commercial activities can contribute to the funding of pest control. Mining is part of the solution to conservation, not the problem. – Josie Vidal

Of course, I knew that all men are mortal, etc., and therefore (if I had been asked) that the Queen would one day die, but I still entertained the faint and absurd hope than an exception would be made in her case. A locus of stability in an increasingly unstable and dangerous world, at least one thing was beyond contention except by a few professional malcontents. Theodore Dalrymple

For someone in office for seventy years to remain as popular at the end as at the beginning, while also being an immensely privileged person, is surely a most remarkable feat, and a tribute both to that person’s combined sense of duty and psychological canniness. Of course, it helped that she was a figurehead, at most someone with influence behind the scenes, rather than someone who exercised real political power, such exercisers of power retaining their popularity for a few months if even that. But the iron self-control she exercised in the performance of her duties—many of which must have bored her, and some of which, such as meeting and being polite to odious or even evil heads of states or governments, must have repelled her—was testimony to her sense of duty and her determination to keep her vow, made when she was twenty-one, to devote her life to service.

Another cause for astonishment, especially in the present day, is that she survived her seventy years of office, during which she was adulated, deferred to, and so forth, without becoming a monster of egotism. This was attributable, surely, to an existential modesty—an awareness that she received such deference and adulation not through any exceptional qualities, gifts, or virtues of her own, but by sheer accident of birth. Such modesty in celebrity is not exactly the characteristic of our age, to put it mildly. – Theodore Dalrymple

In Elizabeth’s reign of seventy years, the country changed as much as it had during the reign of the previously longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. In many respects, especially measurable ones, the changes were for the better. The infant mortality rate, for example, declined by nearly ninety per cent. The kind of poverty in which millions of people had no indoor bathrooms has been eliminated. Comforts that were once the perquisite only of the better off have come to achieve the status almost of unalienable human rights. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, rationing of some items was still in force, the legacy not so much of the war as of the economic policies pursued after it, though with the excuse of war indebtedness—levels of which we may soon approach without having had a war to account for them.Theodore Dalrymple

During her reign, money ceased to be a reliable store of wealth. In nominal terms, for example, it now costs eighty-eight times what it did in 1952 to post a letter. Many things that did not exist then are now deemed indispensable (invention being the mother of much necessity). Other things have become more expensive in nominal terms, but not by so much as postage. In terms of the labour necessary to pay for it, a house takes probably five or ten times as long to buy as it then did.

In intangible ways, the quality of life has deteriorated. At the beginning of her reign, Britain had a low rate of crime, but by its end it was among the most crime-ridden countries in the West. – Theodore Dalrymple

At the start of the Queen’s reign, the general culture had not coarsened to such an extent that decorum and seemliness meant nothing: they had not yet been mocked to death, with the result that coarseness and vulgarity have become marks almost of political virtue.

The Queen was responsible for none of this, of course. She was in no sense an intellectual, and even appeared to have no intellectual interests apart from her formal duties in affairs of state, and this saved her from subscribing to some of the idiocies subversive of conduct and culture that have resulted in the sheer ugliness, physical, spiritual and cultural, of modern Britain.Theodore Dalrymple

It is for their own lost virtues, exemplified by the Queen, that the people mourn, not least their distinctive understated humour and irony, now replaced almost entirely by crudity. – Theodore Dalrymple

Like all wordsmiths, Mr Bartlett understood that if one truly wishes to tell the truth, then one had best write fiction. – Chris Trotter

A government of the people, in Lincoln’s phrase, has changed by degrees into a people of the government. When one considers the number of duties or obligations one must fulfill to the government, it is clear who is boss in the relationship—and it is not we, the people.

Naturally, the government offers us all sorts of benefits, some real but many notional, in return for obedience to its diktats. But it is as unreasonable to expect it to confer those benefits without taking something for itself—especially power—as it is to expect a company to sell us its products at no profit. The trouble is that governments make John D. Rockefeller look like a disinterested do-gooder. – Theodore Dalrymple 

The fundamental point is, however, that the citizen (and bear in mind that I am not quite at the bottom of the social scale, at least not yet) is now so oppressed by his duties toward authorities that they are sufficient to convince him that he is of no more significance or account than is a single bacterium in a colony of bacteria on a petri dish .

And we call ourselves free!Theodore Dalrymple 

People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten. – Justin Welby

We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.

Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again.” Justin Welby

If it was not for the existence of, and the protection of, ’s sporting categories we would have no female medalists or even contenders on the international stage in any sport where strength, speed, or stamina matters. New Zealanders would have never heard the names of athletes like Alison Roe, Susan Devoy, Sophie Pascoe, and Lisa Carrington. As much as some people may wish to deny reality, biology and physiology matters because we play sports with our bodies, not our identities. – Rowena Edge

Save ’s Sports Australasia had heard from female athletes and the parents of girls across New Zealand who have been impacted by the inclusion of male transgender people in their sports category. They have included cricketers, cyclists, roller derby players, swimmers, netballers, runners, hockey players, weight lifters, and mountain bikers, among others. They have shared stories of how they have been injured and given up sports that they love. They have told how they have been ostracized by people they have previously considered to be friends, called bigots and transphobes, and dismissed by their sporting organisations when they raised concerns. – Rowena Edge

As another example, right now in a community cycling club in New Zealand there is a male transgender cyclist who holds the award for both best female cyclist of the season as well as best overall cyclist. Why? Because this cyclist not only cleaned out the ’s field, posting times so fast that no female had a chance of competing for first place, but on some occasions even beat the fastest male competing in the men’s category.

This is what kindness and inclusion now looks like. Female athletes being forced out of sports that they love and out of their rightful placings and recognition because including males in their category is considered to be a higher priority.

Sportswomen don’t need saving, but their category certainly does. – Rowena Edge

Today’s heirs of William the Conqueror are blank sheets that reflect the will of their prime ministers. Nothing emphasises this more dramatically than the speech from the throne, where a docile sovereign reads a speech written for them. Reducing the king to a ventriloquist dummy is a powerful statement.Damien Grant

It is better to have an excellent monarch, such as Elizabeth, rather than one less impressive as Charles threatens to be, but in a constitutional monarchy it does not matter.

Its success in the modern era relies on the impotence of the office. It works because ultimate political power rests with a person unable to exercise it, and it works because it gives us a focus separate from the state, from the nation, from the prevailing political authority. – Damien Grant

In a constitutional monarchy, those with political, administrative, military or judicial power have it on loan from the sovereign. Their time in office is limited and the boundaries of their authority constrained, yet what power they do have is legitimised due to the sovereign’s recognition of it.

No domestic president can compete. Replace Charles III, a literal and metaphorical descendant of Alfred the Great (warming-pan scandals notwithstanding), with some failed political apparatchik or even Richie McCaw, and we will have dropped something of inestimable value, simply for the pleasure of its destruction.Damien Grant

 As it is now common practice to accord sentencing discounts to criminals with childhood experiences beyond their control, what about surcharges for not exercising self-responsibility?

Every individual has the ability to exercise personal agency. It might be argued for some it is reduced to a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea but it is usually evident that arriving at that impasse could have been avoided. – Lindsay Mitchell

Effort and persistence go unremarked while failure and indifference mark out the victims among us. And don’t we love victims.

So long as, of course, the culprits are fashionable – colonization, capitalism, racism and patriarchal oppression. – Lindsay Mitchell

If it were my call, there would be no discounts. They make a mockery of the free will that defines us. They are in direct conflict with the very reason laws exist. Worse, they send an ambiguous and confused message to offenders and society.

If they are going to be handed out, they should be delivered with a surcharge and explanation.

“Yes, you had a terrible childhood, but so did many others who managed to avoid criminality. You knowingly chose the wrong path so here’s a matching surcharge for not exercising the self-responsibility that others with similar backgrounds managed to.” – Lindsay Mitchell

There is a dialectical relationship between human reality and the language in which we describe it, which is why semantic shifts are so important and often contested.Theodore Dalrymple

One of the shifts that I have noticed is in the use of the word depressed for unhappy. No one is unhappy any more, everyone is depressed. It is as if being unhappy were a moral fault, while being depressed is not merely to be ill, but to be laudably sensitive. How can any decent person be happy when there is so much suffering in the world? The news brings us evidence of fresh catastrophes every day: to be happy is to be complacent, and to be complacent is to be callous. To be miserable, therefore, is the only decent stance towards the world.

How did the shift come about? I do not think that anyone decreed or directed it, though no doubt it was convenient for some, for example the drug companies that were able as a result to sell their doubtfully useful wares to millions, even to tens of millions, of people. About a sixth of the Western world’s adult population now takes them, suggesting either the looseness of the diagnosis or the misery of modern life despite its material advantages. – Theodore Dalrymple

The linguistic termites (or police) are now every­where, and while no individual termite has much of an effect, hosts of them will eventually cause a building to collapse, often unexpectedly. I have in the past had one or two struggles with young sub-editors over the new moral correctitude of language, and so far I have been able to gain my point, though I am under no illusion that my little victories can be anything other than local and temporary. Apart from anything else, the struggle is asymmetrical. I do not want to turn myself into a monomaniac by engaging in prolonged struggles with monomaniacs. That is why monomania so often wins the day in the modern world: the subject of the monomania is only one among others for normal people, but it is all in all, the very meaning of life itself, for those who are in the grip of it.Theodore Dalrymple

Semantic shift when it is not genuinely spontaneous is a manifestation of a power struggle that is not solely, or even to a very large extent, semantic. Some words are genuinely offensive, but most of the concern over terminology is not about the elimination of such words from polite conversation. Rather, it is a question, as Humpty Dumpty pointed out long ago, of who is to be master, or perhaps I should say dominant, that’s all.- Theodore Dalrymple

We need unity now more than ever but some of our leaders can’t resist the temptation to focus on separate development as a means to an end. It is a false narrative that will only harm those who need help more than most – it is a lie.Clive Bibby

There’s a reason why most people aren’t engaged with local government, because by and large, the things it tends to do adequately are taken for granted (local roads, footpaths, rubbish collection), and people have busy lives getting on with making a living, looking after their families, their homes, and living their lives.  – Liberty Scott

Local government also attracts a particular type of person.  More often than not it attracts busybodies, planners, pushy finger-wagging types who think they know what’s best, over what people actually indicate according to their willingness to pay. It particularly attracts socialists who see local government as a stepping stone to central government for Labour and Green Party members. Liberty Scott

So vote if you must, but the real problem is that local government has too much power.  It has stuffed up water, the only unreformed network utility (except in Auckland).  Local government used to manage local electricity distribution, but that was taken off it in the 1990s.  At one time it was responsible for milk distribution, which is why until the late 1980s buying milk OTHER than by kerbside bottles was unusual, and indeed there was no plastic or cartoned milk.

So pick candidates who want to get out of the way, of new housing, of new supermarkets, of enterprise and don’t want to promise grand totemic projects that you have to pay for.  Don’t pick those who think that local government can “do so much good” by spending your money and pushing people around.  Maybe pick those who actually have some understanding of the limits of the ability of local government. – Liberty Scott

However, I’m largely quite pessimistic. People wildly enthusiastic about local government are generally the opposite of people I want in local government, because local government attracts far too many meddlers, regulators and planners.

Try to pick the least worst and hope for the best, at least until there is a central government that keeps them on the leash.  You’ll have to make some compromises.Liberty Scott

The pandemic response was the biggest public policy intervention in people’s lives, in our lifetimes. From lockdowns to the mask and vaccine mandates, from closing the schools to effectively closing the hospitals. Everybody was affected. Everyone’s life trajectory changed, some permanently.

People died, some from Covid and some from other things that could be traced to the choices we made about Covid.

We owe it to ourselves and to the memory of those lost to stop and take stock.

We need to examine what worked and what didn’t. What had the biggest positive effect and what was more trouble than it was worth? When should we have moved more quickly, including both into and out of restrictions, and when should we have waited longer?

A Covid inquiry should not be a journey of recrimination or blame. Responding to a pandemic like this was never going to be a game of perfect. This has been a crazy two-and-a-half years of big decisions on top of big decisions where there was no game plan to work from. Nobody could have got everything right.

Some things obviously worked, some obviously didn’t, and the jury is still out on many more. – Steven Joyce

If we do this inquiry right, we will have a game plan for next time. And to me that is the most important thing. The past two-and-a-half years have been a journey of policy experimentation by necessity. We now have a golden opportunity to perfect a blueprint for future pandemics.Steven Joyce

The sort of lessons I’m interested in vary from the big to the small. How much did hard lockdowns achieve versus what other lesser restrictions could have? Could we keep working on, say, big construction sites with strong health and safety protocols without adding significantly to the risk? Could we keep butchers and fruit and vege stores safely open in hard lockdowns? How could we manage our border more humanely and stay connected to the world without materially worsening the risk?

What should be the threshold for closing our schools, and what are the true costs to the children of doing so, balanced against the risks of virus transmission?

How do we scale up hospital capacity quickly without sending ourselves broke in the meantime?

Is there a better procurement system we should use for buying urgently needed equipment and vaccines? And how do we ensure contestable advice from others besides the public health people, while respecting their expertise? – Steven Joyce

A well-constructed commission of inquiry will encourage reflection and planning for the future while learning the lessons of the present. Contrary to the Opposition’s wishes and the Government’s fears, it would likely not offer an advantage to either political side. The Government would probably even attract public kudos if it instituted a clearly nonpartisan inquiry for the country’s benefit, rather than lapsing into its trademark defensiveness.Steven Joyce

On Roe v. Wade, I am with the Supreme Court ruling, though I am by no means as opposed to termination of pregnancies as some people. It seems obvious to me that if you can derive a right to abortion from the American Constitution, you can derive anything from it, for example a children’s right to teddy bears or an employee’s right to four weeks’ paid holiday a year at a resort of his choice. The proper aim of a constitution is not to secure all the things that people would like, but to provide a limiting framework of liberty in which laws should be made. By returning the legislation on the matter of abortion to the states, the Supreme Court was increasing the scope of democracy, not (as was dishonestly alleged) curtailing it. It remains open to believers in, or enthusiasts for, abortion to work for a properly worded constitutional amendment, granting the right they falsely claim to have found in the Constitution as it now stands; or alternatively (and more realistically) to work for changes in the laws of those states that are highly restrictive. That would be the proper way to go about it, if they believed in constitutional democracy, but they don’t: They believe instead in their own virtue and moral right to govern. – Theodore Dalrymple

From the outsider’s point of view, what is alarming about the situation in the United States is the complete polarization of opinion, precisely at a time when opinion is the sole measure of virtue. A man can be an absolute monster, but if he proclaims the right views at sufficient volume, he remains a good man. It follows from this that a man who disagrees with me does not merely have a different opinion from mine, but is a bad person, even a very bad person. And I am told by American friends whom I trust that people of differing political standpoints can scarcely bear to be in the same room together. They tell me (so it must be true) that the left is worse in this respect than the right, and that while a young conservative is happy to date a young liberal, the reverse is not true. It can’t be long before sexual relations with a person of differing political outlook come to be regarded as a sexual perversion, indeed as the only sexual perversion, all others being but a matter of taste.Theodore Dalrymple

Nevertheless, there seems to be something different about the present level of social hostility between people of different political outlooks, which has now become chronic. This cannot be a favorable augury for the future of a functioning democracy—or rather, for a free country (which is not quite the same thing). While a phenomenon that is more or less binary, sex, has become nonbinary, something that should be nonbinary, that is to say political opinion, has become binary. If you know a person’s opinion on one subject, you know his opinion on all, and you either clasp him to your bosom or cast him out of your sight. Tolerance is not an a priori acceptance of how someone is, however he may be; that is indifference, not tolerance. Tolerance is behaving decently toward someone some aspect of whom one dislikes or disagrees with. I have friends with whose outlooks I strongly disagree, and which I believe to be deleterious (as they probably believe mine to be); I have friends with whose religious views I find alien to me. There is a limit to the tolerable, of course, and where that limit should be placed is a matter of judgment and no doubt of circumstance. But I do not want to live in a social world in which there are only two blocs, akin to those of the Cold War. – Theodore Dalrymple

My record of failure does not prevent or even inhibit me from prognostication, however. I think we have entered a golden age of bad temper that will last some time, one of the reasons being that too many people go to university where they have learned to look at the world through ideology-tinted spectacles. There is nothing like ideology for raising the temperature of debate and eventually of avoiding debate altogether. Theodore Dalrymple

Poor evidence bases for major educational initiatives is, regrettably, nothing new. In fact, our education agencies have a history of flying in the face of evidence.

NCEA was introduced in 2002 against the advice of prominent professors of education. They warned that the standards-based assessment system would result in egregious variability in assessment results. In 2005, the Board Chair and Chief Executive of NZQA both resigned amidst a political storm caused by … egregious variability in assessment results.

I could go on: The literacy teaching methods promoted by the Ministry, their failed ‘numeracy project’ and the knowledge-poor New Zealand Curriculum are all examples of educational initiatives implemented against a preponderance of evidence. All have had disastrous results.

Perhaps the true inspiration for MLEs was the open plan offices in which public servants work. If so, the Ministry’s record of failure might be all the evidence we need that MLEs were a bad idea. – Dr Michael Johnston

I fear for New Zealand’s future when the mainstream news media, which not long ago championed free speech, are instrumental in creating a climate of fear, suspicion and denunciation that resembles something from George Orwell. It becomes even more dangerous when government departments appear to have been frightened or bullied by the media into succumbing to a moral panic.  Karl du Fresne

Cosyism: a new word for one of the most chronic problems in New Zealand public life. We are largely spared, thankfully, the envelopes-stuffed-with-cash corruptionthat infects other countries. But we’re suffused with overly close relationships: nepotism, jobs for the boys, all that jazz.

Some call it cronyism, but that doesn’t quite fit here: “cronies” sound too much like Mafia hitmen. “Cosyism” better describes those insidious processes by which public positions, jobs and contracts sometimes go not to the best-qualified applicants but to the friends, contacts and family members of people in power. It’s an apt term for a famously small society in which cousins and mates are always – cosily – rubbing up against each other in public life.

Cosyism isn’t solely an injustice to the well-qualified but poorly connected people who lose out; it can cost us all, since the winners – the well-connected but poorly qualified – often do bad work, expensively.

A cosy society also tolerates the most colossal conflicts of interest: situations where power-holders’ decisions could be biased by a personal incentive, be it to protect a business connection or aid a relative. Even just a public perception of bias can be harmful, corroding trust and promoting political disengagement. – Max Rashbrooke

No doubt the agencies will improve their protocols, at least to meet current standards. But given what they allow, are those standards fit for purpose? Could any public servant, in any department, deal confidently with a contractor – including, if necessary, rejecting substandard work – if they knew the latter were the minister’s relative?

What, too, about the advantageous information a minister could convey to their contractor relative? There may be no reason to doubt the integrity of current ministers, but that’s not the point. We must design systems for the most corrupt actors, not the least.

Some people respond to such problems with a shrug: in a small society, they say, these conflicts are inevitable. But that’s back-to-front: we have to be tougher on these problems precisely because we’re a small society, and they will crop up so often.

The current default is to “manage” a conflict of interest by leaving the room, sometimes literally, when a particular issue is discussed – as if this removes every opportunity to influence the decision. That default needs to change. – Max Rashbrooke

A cosyism crackdown would, of course, be hard on some people. Too bad. That’s the price we pay for probity, and for public faith in our institutions. – Max Rashbrooke

Voters don’t dislike cycleways. They are over the priority placing they get compared to other civic enhancements.

The misalignment between voter preferences and what their elected representatives do is not a local phenomenon.

New data by global polling company YouGov, not yet publicly available but presented to a Toronto conference I attended this week, reveals seismic changes in what voters want governments to do. – Josie Pagani 

Since Covid and rising inflation, our priorities have changed.

The cost of living worries 78% of people. It simply costs too much to exist.

This is an ‘’everyone, everywhere crisis’’: all incomes and political persuasions. It’s a survival issue for some, a top anxiety for others. – Josie Pagani

Seventy-six per cent of voters think that inflation is increasing inequality, and pulling communities apart. Even if you can weather the rise in prices, you’re worried about how this will divide the nation even further.

People expect governments to do more. A whopping 84% of citizens think that it’s a government’s job to help (followed by central banks at 79%).

But only 46% want a one-off direct payment of cash (assuming a government can even get the cash out the door to the right people).Josie Pagani

Here’s another seismic shift: People are prepared to pay more for public services, but with a sting in the tail – they want the services in their local region. More money spent on their parks, sports clubs, wifi, police stations and services, rather than increases in welfare, or even tax credits. Voters want a transfer of wealth to their communities. They resist paying for services if they see the cash being spent elsewhere. – Josie Pagani

People are willing to trade some growth to bring poorer regions up to the level of wealthier ones.

Even if you don’t live in a poorer region, rebuilding nations, and bringing citizens together after Covid, is a priority. Leave no town behind.

No-one in politics should ignore that there has been massive global shift to the left in the way people think about the economy. – Josie Pagani

The daily congestion on the harbour bridge costs the country money in lost productivity. People need to move to make money. They need to get to the pipes to fix them to get paid. They need to drop off the parcels to get paid. They need to open the shop to sell things. Refusing to build cars into the next crossing is actively choosing to keep Auckland and New Zealand poorer than they should be. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The next Mayor of Auckland should be building a city for future growth, not stealing ideas from the 1970s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to. – Paula Bennett

Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from.

Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives.Paula Bennett

Through almost every tier of the social spectrum, there seems to be an excess layer of tension and anxiety creating conflict and division.

Whether it’s the homeless fighting outside central city supermarkets, gang shootings, or the fisticuffs of middle-class parents at posh PTA fundraisers – the nation seems to be at boiling point. – Liam Dann

These females are walking, emoting examples of how women have risen to power in recent years and they are enough to put any sensible woman off.

It is increasingly obvious that the female ‘leaders’ held up as flagbearers for feminism, and who spend their time rubbing shoulders with celebrities, are painfully vacuous. They are promoted as ‘nice’ – gracing the covers of fashion magazines where they prioritise image ahead of competence, sound judgment, and the wellbeing of the people they are elected to serve.

No woman with serious mental firepower would want to be associated with such shallowness.Lillian Andrews

It is as if adopting a caring head tilt and sad eyes in Insta(gram)-ready propaganda photos serves as the equivalent of having actual solutions to critical social and economic challenges.

It is also no coincidence that they are uniformly Woke in their politics. – Lillian Andrews

They bleat about how committed they are to openness and transparency while using media teams to deflect scrutiny away from their actions. When politics gets difficult, they opine obsessively about equality and fairness – as if having a vagina bestows some special insight. At the same time, they turn a blind eye to the cold, hard statistics that show deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and more people struggling.

Powerful women like this can thunderously denounce bullying in public life and then attempt to shove under the carpet contentions of rampant bullying that happens under their watch. They fanatically adopt mantras about gender equality to substitute for having no idea about how to increase security and prosperity for all. Then they use this as an excuse to appoint equally dubious women to senior positions, turning a blind eye to subsequent displays of incompetence, nepotism, and cover-ups.

All the while, the only contribution these women make to public debate is to recycle vague, tired platitudes about inclusion, kindness, and social justice. – Lillian Andrews

The message that women in politics send is this: if you want power without principles, influence without intellect, and command without competence, we want you. Women who secretly yearn to be influencers, but instead delude themselves into the belief that they are policy giants who deserve leadership roles, gladly answer this call. However, it is not one that will be heard by those with the strength of character of a Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, or even Helen Clark.

The more this self-perpetuating cycle repeats, the more insecure lightweights are going to become the carefully botoxed face of women in power. – Lillian Andrews

Men in politics are frequently every bit as bungling and hypocritical as women, but men’s grandstanding is fittingly and increasingly ‘called out’ whereas women are allowed to hide almost interminably behind a cloak of faux-compassion and historical ‘systemic’ factors that were caused by somebody else. We are meant to believe that these systemic issues only become apparent after a woman gets elected on the back of promising to deliver a fix. Any woman of integrity rightly sees this as a demeaning and counter-productive double standard.

It is no coincidence that as the new wave of ‘look at how much I care, aren’t I lovely’ female politicians have risen, other women’s interest in being actively engaged in politics has languished.

Society believes it to be fashionable to denounce patriarchal oppression and sexism for causing this. In reality, the reason why women who should go into politics frequently choose not to, is because of the women who are already there.

For as long as their much-feted but ultimately fraudulent model of ‘success’ persists, the only women who will gravitate to politics will be the ones who are most interested in themselves and least suited for truly serving the public. And no amount of talk about childcare, sexual harassment policies, and flexible working conditions are going to change that. – Lillian Andrews

The expression “people of color” has always seemed to me in equal measure stupid, condescending, and vicious. It divides humanity into two categories, whites and the rest, or rather whites versus the rest; it implies an essential or inherent hostility between these two portions of humanity; and it implies also no real interest in the culture or history of the people of color, whose only important characteristic is that of having been ill-treated by, and therefore presumably hating, the whites. Compared with the phrase “people of color,” the language of apartheid was sophisticated and nuanced.

It should not need saying that, as the history of Europe attests, whites have not always been happily united, and that “people of color” do not necessarily form one happy, united family, either. – Theodore Dalrymple

The very phrase “people of color” is as mealy-mouthed as any Victorian prude might have wished for and, among other things, is a manifestation of the fear we now live under, sometimes without quite realizing it. Truth has now to be varnished so thickly that it becomes imperceptible.Theodore Dalrymple

On the whole I found listening to people and understanding where they were coming from was part of the job and actually made me better at it. Hiding from the public and hearing only the good stuff is ignorant and dangerous. – Paula Bennett

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to.Paula Bennett

 Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from. Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives. – Paula Bennett

These days we can no longer trust that what we’re reading or seeing is actual smoke, let alone fire. It’s a world where fake news flourishes on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and where any lie can easily be presented as fact – and swallowed as such by anyone who was already inclined to believe it.

But that’s why governments, and those in power, need to be even more mindful of the need for transparency. And that’s also why managing perceptions around issues like the current controversy surrounding Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is even more critical.Tracy Watkins

My thesis was that the Port of Tauranga, which had been partially privatised and therefore subject to market discipline, would do better than the Port of Auckland that was shielded from commercial scrutiny by being 100% owned by the Council.

No one paid attention and I didn’t expect anyone would. If my wife doesn’t take me seriously there is no reason why others should. Still. Haven’t events played into my hands?

The Port of Tauranga just declared a $111 million profit. The Port of Auckland, by contrast, declared a $10m loss. The red-ink down at Quay St, however, is far greater than what has been reported.  – Damien Grant

I have no view if the port should be moved or not. I think you need to own land in Ruakaka to have a strong opinion on this matter, but it is self-evident that the current governance model is broken and has been for far longer than a decade.

We know, through long and painful experience, that market provides a degree of discipline that those running a local council can never provide.

Perhaps we should try that; or just sell the cursed thing before any more harm is done. However, I am confident this will not happen, and I look forward to revisiting the topic in 2032. – Damien Grant

It’s not easy looking after kids, and I wonder how many people in charge of hiring have never been alone at home with small children for any period of time? They don’t appreciate how hard it is. It’s relentless. You can’t tell your kids ‘Oh you guys can stop needing stuff now, I need a break’. – Kelsey Ellery-Wilson

In early childhood you’re working with really vulnerable children who are going through a critical time in their development, and it’s hard work,” Cherrington says. “We know if we give them a good start now, they’ll do better later in life.

I think the pandemic provided a window into that, and then people just picked themselves up and went back to work and forgot about it. – Sue Cherrington

Obviously I’m a staunch monarchist, but I’ve always thought in this regard, for those who want New Zealand to be a republic, they might want to ask themselves what they would actually get for that. – Sir John Key

If you want to change government direction then stand for government get involved in national politics. If you want to deliver locally for the community within the rules of our nation then stand for local council and get involved in delivering for community today.Sam Broughton

It’s a good example of the disconnect between the media and the real world. When the Queen dies, the media thinks of what the next angle is. Given her death isn’t changing, all you are left with is the republic question. The poll result tells us we have better things to think about.

There are some suggestions the Prime Minister’s offshore presence might have played better for them. I think the reality is that we are over that. If you were ever enamoured with Ardern on the world stage, that has worn well and truly thin, as it’s become apparent that a lot of what she does amounts to literally nothing.- Mike Hosking

I think we’d feel better about the PM promoting New Zealand if and when her Government had addressed all the pressing issues really upsetting New Zealanders right now, like the upsurge in violent crime emergency housing, poverty, inflation and kids not turning up to school.

But if at home is a mess, there’s a fierce labour shortage where many places still don’t even have enough staff to open their doors, and then others who do are being ram raided and smashed into, then what does that say about priorities? Kate Hawkesby

It should not be scary, or dangerous, to go into a mall with your family at the weekend. It should not be dangerous for retailers to go to work and yet, here we still are. – Kate Hawkesby

No person should be judged by their identity but rather by their words and actions,Karen Chhour 

It feels like if you don’t agree with us, you’re not a real Māori, or you’re not Māori enough, or you don’t have the mana of a Māori, and I find that quite hurtful. – Karen Chhour 

But central government is not helping public perceptions of the effectiveness of local government. The more central government tries to centralise and control policy making as it is at present – in housing and water services especially – the more the public will see local government as ineffective. Therefore, to restore public confidence in local government, central government needs to pull back and allow local government more genuine say on these critical issues, rather than continuing to tell them what to do.

Until that happens, public apathy towards local government will continue, and the harder it will become to attract quality candidates for major leadership roles. The likely poor turnout at the coming election will undoubtedly shake local government leaders, but it should be an even bigger wake-up call for central government. – Peter Dunne

There is a modern superstition that for every terrible experience suffered there is an equal and opposite psychological technique that, like an antibiotic in a case of infection, can overcome or dissolve away the distress it caused or continues to cause. This superstition is not only false and shallow but demeaning and even insulting. It denies the depths of suffering that the most terrible events can cause, as well as the heroism and fortitude that people can display in overcoming that suffering. Fortitude can even be sometimes dismissed as ‘repression’. – Theodore Dalrymple

A psychologically fragile population is the delight of bureaucrats, lawyers and professional carers, and resilience and fortitude are their worst enemies. Repression in the psychological sense is deemed by them not only as damaging but almost as treason to the self. A person who does not dwell on his trauma must expect, and almost deserves, later trouble, as does someone who wilfully ignores the formation of an abscess.Theodore Dalrymple

Repression can also mean the deliberate putting memories of trauma to the back of the mind so that life can be got on with. It is not that such memories cannot be called to the conscious mind when necessary, or even that they never do harm: but the person who represses in this fashion has an instinctive understanding that dwelling on them is an obstacle to future life, rather than a precondition of it. They do not forget, either consciously or unconsciously; they choose to think of something else. – Theodore Dalrymple

Psychology seems often to forget or disregard the fact that humans live in a world of meaning, and that they are actors rather than mere objects acted upon. In the process, it destroys resilience, fortitude and self-respect.Theodore Dalrymple

A university is a community of scholars. It is not a kindergarten; it is not a club; it is not a reform school; it is not a political party; it is not an agency of propaganda. A university is a community of scholars. – Robert Maynard Hutchins

How many universities see themselves as lobbies, political parties, reform schools, and agencies of propaganda? I’d say a large fraction, for political statements and social-justice manifestos proliferate on college websites. And of course you know how universities behave as kindergartens: just look at the recent follies of The Evergreen State University, Yale University, or Oberlin College. Will we even recognize the university as a community of scholars in fifty years, or will it abjure its academic mission in favor of an ideological one?Jerry Coyne

There is a disturbing entrenchment happening in regard to attitudes to benefits and that is that it’s just easier to give people a hand out, when the focus really should be on giving people a hand up.- Kate Hawkesby 

But this is a government of ideology and no matter what you tell them, you must always remember that you are wrong, and they aren’t.Mike Hosking

What’s the point of funding a programme if no one hears it, sees it, or reads it?

What’s the point of the money and time if it plays to an audience of no one or one that barely registers? How much time and money do you want to spend on stuff people don’t use, want, or absorb? And how much damage do you want to do to the other players in the industry as you pump up your own little fiefdom with money that isn’t yours anyway?

The biggest issue with this issue is unlike Three Waters or co-governance it’s not a political hot potato. They won’t win or lose votes by doing it hence they’ll probably get away with it. Plus, they seem desperate to get it up by next year.

It’s only years down the track once they’ve been booted out of office that the damage will be done, and the folly exposed.   – Mike Hosking

 

But beyond all this, there is one other enormous and overwhelming reason, never mentioned in the debate, why we must cling to King Charles. The very fact that it is never mentioned is itself significant. It is obvious ~ and yet it is deliberately ignored. The reason is simply this ~ that if the monarchy were to be abolished, that abolition would undoubtedly be the pretext for introducing the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi into our fundamental law. The principles, of course, are a blank cheque. The latest announcement from the Waitangi Tribunal is that they require ‘co-governance’ ~ in other words, an end to democracy and racial equality. That not what they meant even a few years ago ~ and for all we know, we may discover a few years down the track that the ‘principles’ require complete Maori control of our country. That is, after all, what some radicals are saying right now.

But whatever the principles are, we can be certain that they would be to our disadvantage ~ and we would have them imposed on us in a new constitutional arrangement. The argument would be that the Treaty ~ in itself, of course, still a legal nullity, and in any case never anything more than a few vague words of general approach ~ was of course entered into by Queen Victoria’s representative. It was a treaty with ‘the Crown’. If we now do away with the Crown , the argument goes, the Treaty itself might somehow vanish, or be weakened ~ and so to avoid that heart-stopping eventuality the Treaty will have to be formally ‘enshrined’, as we enshrine other idols, in a special written constitution, so that it may last even when the ‘Crown’ has disappeared. –  David Round

And once we had the Treaty in our constitution, we would be sunk. No matter how mild the references to the Treaty might be, we can be certain that they would be used, not just by politicians but by politically activist judges in the courts, to impose apartheid on us for ever. Even without such a provision, our previous chief justice, the unlamented Sian Elias, raised the possibility that judges were entitled to ignore Acts of Parliament which did not comply with her own radical interpretation of Treaty principles, and there is no doubt that several decisions of the courts have already done just that.  What a disgraceful claim that was. But whatever we have in a constitution will be interpreted and applied by courts, and against the judgment of the highest of those courts there is no appeal. And even if a parliament far braver than today’s pack of racists, incompetents  and cowards were to say ‘No, that is not what we meant’, the judges would simply reply that parliament was breaching the constitution ~ was behaving unconstitutionally, and illegally ~ in saying that.  Even now, the law is not what parliament says, it is what judges say parliament says. Once we get a written constitution, a higher law which binds parliament itself, there will be no stopping judges as they interpret it as they please. The entire argument for a written constitution, a higher sort of law, is an attempt to remove matters from parliament’s’ authority and hand them over to judges. I have little respect for most of our politicians, as you gather ~ but all the same, I would rather have elected people in charge ~ and after an election or two we might even get some decent ones ~ than hand our entire future over to a tiny handful of unelected woke  racehorse-owning lawyers in the Supreme Court.   

There might indeed even be more in any new constitution. But can we believe that any new constitution we might acquire would be, as in Cromwell’s time, an opportunity for a new start and new just legal and social arrangements? For ending poverty and inequality, making the law available to all, attempting, in whatever way, to make our country a better and finer place? Dream on. At present, any new constitution would merely be the entrenchment of the intellectually bankrupt,  politically correct,  deeply intolerant and racist current establishment.

‘Monarchy’ and ‘Republic’ are but the battle cries. The battle is over what New Zealand is going to look like; what sort of country, in fact, it is going to be. The battle lines are being drawn. As in the English Civil War, when a hundred slightly different shades of support and sympathy for King and Parliament were forced by circumstances to coalesce into support for one side or the other, sometimes surprising alliances are being formed between different shades of opinion that realise that they have more to lose than to gain from standing alone.

Who is going to run our country? Them? Or us?David Round

Under our present constitutional arrangements, the ultimate law-making power rests in Parliament – and, through our elected representatives, voters. That has been our democratic strength as it continues to remind our law makers that they are answerable to the people.

Those calling for a new “written” constitution want to transfer that ultimate law-making power from voters, to unelected judges – who cannot be sacked.

If we want to preserve what little democracy we have left, any attempt to replace our present “unwritten” constitution, must be firmly rejected.

Right now, iwi leaders are scheming over how best to introduce a Treaty-based constitution without alarming the public. If we are to counter this grave threat to New Zealand, we must ensure other Kiwis become aware of the dangers a new constitution represents. – Muriel Newman

At least now, MPs are able to repeal Judge-made law and replace it with laws that voters want.

Imagine just how much worse it would be if Judges held the ultimate law-making power through a new constitution, that usurped the authority of Parliament.

Worse, with Maori supremacists determined to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in any new constitution, New Zealand would be turned into an apartheid society, where race would determine whether we are part of a privileged ruling class or are relegated to second-class status.

Anyone pressing for constitutional change in this political climate, no matter what their intentions, would be opening up the country to capture by separatists. There are no two ways about it – a new constitution would lead to Judge-led tribal rule. – Muriel Newman

But sadly, this looming crisis appears to be receiving scant political attention – across the board. Yet the future of our young people is one of the most important determinants of our country’s future overall. It ought to be taken far more seriously by all the political parties, whether in government or not, than appears to be the case at present.

Lofty speeches about the war in Ukraine, the risk of nuclear conflagration, climate change, and cyber security are of course important and deserving of much attention, but equally so too are the educational opportunities, attainments, and wellbeing of our children.

As New Zealand moves on from the pandemic and begins the slow process of recovery, looking after the future wellbeing and educational attainments of our children must become a top priority for all politicians, whatever their political stripe.Peter Dunne

The worst aspect of all this is that the government’s relentless pro-Maori push is seriously damaging race relations in New Zealand. The 83 percent of our population who aren’t Maori – people like Chinese and Indians who have come here to work hard and to get ahead, not to mention the many generations of Europeans – have to watch rewards going to people on the basis of ethnicity rather than work ethic. Hard-working, talented Kiwi without a drop of Maori blood – and that’s all that most self-designated Maori possess – are passed over for promotion and a place in the sun under this government. The hermit kingdom they call “Aotearoa”, with its tightly controlled borders, has become a social laboratory aimed at facilitating a takeover of authority by a small racial minority backed up by a false narrative. – Michael Bassett

When Kelvin Davis used Question Time to say that I view the world through a “pakeha lens” it was nothing I haven’t heard before: “You’re a whakapapa Māori but you’re not kaupapa Māori”; “You’re a plastic Māori”; “You’re a born-again Māori”. It just comes with the territory of being a Māori woman who doesn’t always fit the left’s comfortable stereotype.

Problem is, I don’t think Kelvin is the only Labour minister who thinks what he said. The others might be smarter at hiding it, but they also worship identity politics.

They believe that who you are can matter more than what you do or say. How do I know this? That attitude is all through the policies they promote. Oranga Tamariki, the area I was asking Kelvin about when he made his comments, is just one example.

I came to Parliament out of sheer frustration around these kinds of attitudes and to fight them. As Act’s Children’s spokesperson and as someone who grew up in state care, I’m starting by fighting against what I view as racism within Oranga Tamariki. Karen Chhour

In fairness to Oranga Tamariki, it was following the law, something called Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. Section 7AA means the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has to consider the Treaty when making decisions.

Sure, 7AA may be well-intentioned. But it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children.

I was a Māori child in state care. I could have only dreamed of a loving home like the one Mary was placed in.

What I needed was what every child needs. To be loved, cared for, clothed and fed.

I bounced between the system and family for years. I still carry the physical and mental scars from that time. It didn’t matter to me whether the adults I relied on were Pākehā, Māori, Chinese or African. I just wanted to be loved and cared for.

I came to Parliament to fight for that for other children. – Karen Chhour

Last week, my Member’s Bill was drawn from that Ballot. It repeals Section 7AA.

Since my Member’s Bill was drawn, I have been called a racist. If anything, the opposite is true. My Bill will make Oranga Tamariki colour-blind. It will have to focus on all of the factors that a child needs, instead of placing race at the centre of their decision-making.

When this Bill comes up for the first reading in Parliament, the predictable and tiresome responses will come from the Labour Party, the Māori Party, and the Greens.

I ask them, before they vote this down, to think about Mary and what was best for her. A family who loved and cared for her? Or returning to her abusers?

Mary’s foster parents traced their family tree back far enough that they could find enough of a link to say they were Māori. This twist also shows how bizarre the law is, Mary’s foster parents are the same people, but something that happened centuries before they were born made it okay for them to parent.

Mary still lives with them. She has come out of her shell, she is doing well at school, she has a home for life where she is safe and is thriving. Thank goodness for that branch they found on the family tree, or Mary’s story might have been very different.

I can only hope that my Bill gets a fair hearing because another child might not be so lucky.Karen Chhour

KELVIN DAVIS believes that Karen Chhour is looking at the world through a “vanilla lens”.

Racially-charged sentiments of this sort used to be reserved for embarrassing Pakeha uncles, a little the worse for drink following a big Christmas Dinner. Family members winced at the old man’s reliance on “Māori blood” fractions to determine who was, and wasn’t, a “real Māori”.

Equally embarrassing, however, is the spectacle of a Māori cabinet minister belittling an Act MP of Ngāpuhi descent for refusing to leave “her Pakeha world”. New Zealanders of all ethnicities now need to confront and deconstruct Davis’s objectionable ethnic dualism – because it is extremely dangerous. – Chris Trotter

Essentially, Davis was declaring the existence of two quite distinct realities – Māori and Pakeha. Viewed from the perspective of Pakeha reality, the behaviour of Oranga Tamariki may appear to be egregiously negligent – even cruel. But, viewed from Te Ao Māori, its behaviour may be construed in an entirely different way. The key to unlocking this profound ontological problem is Te Tiriti – or, at least, Te Tiriti as currently interpreted.

The contemporary interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi would have us believe that it set out to define the relationship between Māori, Pakeha, and their respective instruments of governance. That it was, indeed, a document intended to regulate the interaction of two very different realities. Two ethnic worlds, which were to remain separate but equal in perpetuity.Chris Trotter

However prettily the Treaty expressed the fiction of kawanatanga and tino rangatiratanga accommodating each other’s needs in peace and harmony, the Māori world would not long survive its collision with the rest of Planet Earth.

And so it proved. Call it the inexorable march of “civilisation”; call it “colonisation; call it the making of the New Zealand nation; call it what you will. Te Ao Māori soon ceased to be a description of reality and became, instead, a metaphor. And metaphors are poor armour against the real weapons of one’s foes. The Pai Marire faith may have reassured its warriors that a divine power would deflect the Pakeha bullets – or turn their soldiers to stone – but the imperial troopers cut them down regardless. In the end, there is only one world.

Kelvin Davis knows this as well as anyone. So why is he insisting on treating metaphors as if they were scientific facts? The only rational answer is that he, along with those controlling the increasingly powerful Māori corporations arising out of the Treaty Settlement Process, intends to alter the political reality of New Zealand in such a way that the Māori aristocracy, and the te Reo-speaking, tertiary-educated, professionals and managers of the Māori middle-class (the only Māori worth listening to?) will soon be wielding very real authority over the rest of New Zealand.

Included among “the rest” will be all those Māori without te Reo, without tertiary credentials, without six-figure salaries. Māori struggling to make it through the day in a world that has little sympathy for the poor. Māori without proper housing. Māori on the minimum wage. Māori lost to drugs and alcohol and crime. Māori whose kids suffer horribly for the sins of their fathers and mothers. Māori with backgrounds identical to Karen Chhour.

Chhour was demanding to know what Davis was doing for these, the most vulnerable inhabitants of her world, the real world, the only world. And all he could offer, by way of an answer, was a metaphorical bridge to a world that disappeared 250 years ago. A world which certainly cannot be conjured back into existence by a Minister of the Crown who does not care to be questioned by a wahine Māori who, all-too-clearly, sees him struggling to do his job.  – Chris Trotter

When political figures are powerful they need to be held to account, regardless of race. Allegations of racism are extremely powerful, precisely because of the history of appalling discrimination towards Māori in this country. But such allegations should not be used to shield those in power from scrutiny. Te Pāti Māori is a product of our democratic political system and, as such, has to be held to account in the same way as other political parties, especially on an issue so important and fundamental as the funding of political campaigns.  Double standards can’t be accepted by anyone wanting clean and fair politics – especially those of us worried about vested interests looking for ways to leverage their political donations. – Bryce Edwards

Thomas Coughlan, Dr Eric Crampton, Karen Nimmo, Tracy Watkins, Claire Trevett, John Ryan, Audrey Young, Luke Malpass , Janet Wilson, Dr Oliver Hartwich, Peter Smith, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Aaron Martin, Andrew Sullivan, Sir John Key, Point of Order, Lizzie Marvelly, Alice Snedden, Paula Bennett, Jack Tame, Wayne Brown, Rachel Smalley, Jonathan Freedland, Henry Cooke, Patti Davis, Joe Bennett, Josie Vidal, Rowena Edge, Liberty Scott, Dr Michael Johnston, Justin Welby, Max Rashbrooke, Josie Pagani, Liam Dann, Lillian Andrews, Kelsey Ellery-Wilson, Sue Cherrington, Sam Broughton, Karen Chhour, Jerry Coyne, Robert Maynard Hutchins, David Round, Dr Bryce Edwards,


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

14/09/2022

On how farmers overcome diversity – Sally Rae:

Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Those in the rural sector, in particular, can face adversity from multiple sources and additional challenges to other sectors of society.

For high country farmer Jack Cocks, adversity came in the form of a life-threatening brain injury in March 2013.

Then 36 years old, the father-of-two got a massive headache; he recalls the pain as being unimaginable. He did not know what the cause was but he knew the outcome could potentially kill him.

His wife Kate phoned 111 and he was flown from their home at Mt Nicholas Station, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to Dunedin Hospital in the middle of the night. . . 

Kaitiakitanga – the force propelling the Miraka marvel – Gerald Piddock:

A small company is taking a holistic approach in its business – and it’s paying off on the global stage.

A small central North Island milk company is proving it can do big things. Based in Mokai, north of Taupō, Miraka is showing it’s possible to operate with kaitiakitanga (meaning guardianship and protection or sustainability) and te ao Māori values, and punch above its weight on the global stage. Kaitiakitanga was not a strategy, it was embedded in Miraka values and everything it did, chief executive Karl Gradon says. It is one of Miraka’s key values. It means more than just being sustainable, he told farmers and industry leaders at the Primary Industries of New Zealand Summit in Auckland.

“That’s not the translation, it is much more holistic than sustainability and we are proving we can do this on a global scale.”

The $300 million dairy company based in Mokai just north of Taupō is a key player in the Māori economy, being one of its largest exporters. It collects milk from 100 local farms within a 120km radius of the factory, which gives it a farm-fresh advantage and results in superior quality products.  . . 

Firearms licence fears often unwarranted – Kathryn Wright:

One of the saddest — and most misinformed — reasons that has emerged in my research on young rural men and why they don’t seek help for mental heath issues, is a fear of losing their firearms licence, writes KATHRYN WRIGHT, rural counsellor.

Firearms are a serious topic and attitudes around them can be emotional and polarising.

Urban people tend to equate firearms with crime, whereas for rural people, they are an essential tool on the farm and beyond. Essential for quickly and humanely putting down sick stock, and for pest control.

The flip side of firearm use is that of recreational hunting, which several roles — killing wild animals to feed the family and then there is the social/emotional connection. . . 

Greenies challenge NZ food producers with push towards lab-produced tucker but Fonterra strikes back with Nutiani – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  food  exporters, on whom  this  country  depends  for  the  bulk of  its  export earnings, may  have  to  contend  with  fresh  opposition  from a  new  quarter. This  is  the  school  of  “greenies” who  preach  the  need  for  a revolution  in  creating  food through  precision  fermentation: growing  food   in  labs  from  microbes  and  water.

Leading  this  school  in the  United Kingdom is a  formidable  authority,  George  Monbiot,  who argues  that  before  long

 “… most  of  our  food will come neither from animals nor plants but  from unicellular  life”.   

Monbiot  and  others  like   him  argue  it  is  “indisputable”   that  the  farming revolution of  the  the  1950’s ,  with  its  widespread use  of  herbicides, pesticides  and  fungicides has  waged  war  on  nature. . . 

Dairy commodities sustain high price :

Price rises across dairy commodities drove an annual increase in the value of exports for dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended July 2022, the total export value of milk powder, butter, and cheese increased $2.8 billion (17 percent) to $18.8 billion, compared with the year ended July 2021.

“Dairy products had a strong finish to the export season with a continuation of high prices, especially in the second half of the season,” international trade statistics manager Alasdair Allen said.

The annual increase was heavily driven by exports of milk powder, up $1.1 billion to $10 billion and milk fats, including butter, up $1.1 billion to $3.8 billion from the year ended July 2021. . . 

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2022 :

This week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.

Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high calibre of this year’s award contenders.”

The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

13/09/2022

Research looks at breeding more climate friendly cows :

New research has confirmed bulls’ genetics play a role in how much methane they emit, highlighting the potential for farmers to breed low methane-emitting cows in the future.

The news comes following the first year of a research programme run by major New Zealand artificial breeding companies LIC and CRV.

The research, funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), measures methane emissions from the burps of young bulls set to father the next generation of New Zealand’s dairy cows.

Results from year one, where the feed intake and methane emissions from 281 bulls were measured, found there is genetic variation in the amount of methane emitted after accounting for the feed eaten by the bulls, with the lowest emitting around 15-20% less methane than the average. . .

David Parker must delay winter grazing regulations :

The Government is about to pile up to $100 million of unnecessary compliance costs onto farmers because its freshwater regulations are more than a year overdue, National’s Agriculture spokespeople Barbara Kuriger and Joseph Mooney say.

“Under Environment Minister David Parker’s regulations, farmers must have a certified freshwater farm plan for winter grazing on sloping land. If they do not have a certified plan, they must obtain a resource consent,” Barbara Kuriger says.

“Two years after the regulations were passed, the Ministry for the Environment has not completed the framework allowing farmers to certify freshwater farm plans. Officials have indicated the framework will not be ready this year.

“The regulations have already been delayed by David Parker twice, but are now due to come into force in November. Because the guidelines will not be ready, many thousands of farmers will have no alternative but to apply for resource consents for their winter grazing. . . 

How Miles brings smiles to the nation’s cowsheds this time by upgrading earnings guidance – Point of Order:

The giant  dairy co-op Fonterra  has  sent  a  shiver  of  excitement  through the  country’s   cowsheds     by   upgrading  its earnings guidance to between 45 and 60c per share, up from 30 to 45c per share for the 2022-23  season.

At  a  time  when  other  sectors  of  the  economy   are  under  pressure, and the  dairy industry is  coping with  difficult  climatic  conditions,  Fonterra in effect is signalling  that NZ’s export  mainstay can  do  even  better  than it  did in the  previous outstanding season  in sustaining its  export  earnings.

Some  might   say  Fonterra is  at  last  on  the  brink of  fulfilling  the  promise  its  founders held  for it 20-odd  years  ago.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell foresees  the  possibility  that if  current conditions  persist, the revised guidance  could be raised   again. . . 

Sheep farmers roll out woollen mate for the wellnes market – Country Life:

With crossbred wool prices remaining low, some sheep farmers are having a serious crack at adding value to the fibre they proudly grow.

Canterbury farmers Jane and Mark Schwass are making felted wool exercise mats from their crossbred wool clip.

“A daughter brought a woollen mat home that was made offshore and imported into New Zealand for quite a significant amount of money and we thought, ooh this is something we could be thinking about!”

Most people use the woollen mats for Yoga and Pilates, Jane tells Country Life. . . 

Whaitiri to promote dairy sector’s interests in India while O’Connor deals with the IPEF – but he aims to review dairy quota, too – Point of Order:

Two new announcements  have been posted on the Beehive website since our monitoring yesterday, one dealing with the dairy sector, the other with New Zealand’s trade relationships.

One announcement said Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri is headed for India to address the World Dairy Summit in New Delhi, the flagship event of the International Dairy Federation.

The other said Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor is in the USA where he has joined ministerial representatives from 13 other economies across the Indo-Pacific region to launch negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

A week earlier O’Connor had made another trade-related announcement with particular implications for the dairy industry, . . 

Central Australian cattle station saves big in maintenance after employing all-female crew – Hugo Rikard-Bell:

It’s about midday on Umbearra Station, and owners Angus and Kimberley McKay are sitting down for lunch with their crew, who are recapping the antics of the William Creek races held the weekend just gone.

Sixteen years ago, when Mrs McKay first arrived on the remote cattle property, 300 kilometres south of Alice Springs, the dining room set-up looked a little different. 

“I was the only female, and we’d have a whole table of males,” she said. 

Now, the tables have turned, and it is Mr McKay who is sitting at a full table of females, eating a lunch of freshly made quiche and salad. . . 


Rural round-up

06/09/2022

If GM opponents aren’t swayed by the potential of genetic science to help feed the world, might the health benefits do the trick? – Point of Order:

Is NZ  steering  itself  back  into the  Dark  Ages  with its  negative  policy  on genetic  modification?

Thanks  to the  pressure   of the  Green movement  20  or so  years  ago, releasing a genetically modified organism  in New Zealand without approval is illegal.

In New Zealand you cannot import, develop, field test or release a genetically modified organism without approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (previously known at the  Environmental Risk Management Authority).

Yet  because  of great strides in fundamental research, biology is becoming ever more programmable, as  The  Economist  reported last week. . . 

Councils talk Three Waters at Select Committee :

Two district councils have spoken to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee this week, expressing opposition and concerns regarding the controversial Three Waters Reform.

If passed, the Water Services Entities Bill would see the set up of new entities and transfer council management of water services to four water services entities. In return, councils would be made the sole shareholders in the entities, possessing one share per 50,000 people in their area.

A delegation from Manawatū District Council (MDC), led by Deputy Mayor Michael Ford, presented their opposition on Monday.

They expressed concerns around property rights and fair compensation for the investment made by residents, claiming there was a possibility that the transfer of Three Waters services into the proposed entities would stifle economic development. . . 

Huge rivers of gravel pose farming challenges – Brendon McMahon:

Parts of a Barrytown farm are slowly being smothered by gravel brought down from creeks in the Paparoa Range.

Dairy farmer Richard Reynolds said the blowout of creeks on to farmland had been remarkable in the past year, often triggered by sudden and localised cloud bursts.

The situation was not helped by the loss of vegetation flattened and killed off in the headwaters during Cyclone Fehi in 2014.

“The cyclone was the tipping point of it and it’s just taken off since then,” Reynolds said. . . 

Farmers look to ride on the sheep’s back once again – Georgia Merton:

Wool prices have languished in the doldrums for decades but the worldwide drive for a more sustainable future where natural fibres replace synthetics has raised hopes that strong wool can finally make a comeback

Once upon a time, strong wool was a major money spinner for New Zealand.

It was the golden fleece, with farmers rumoured to have paid off their mortgages in one wool clip during the boom of the 50s. Retired fourth generation sheep farmer Murray Urquhart remembers family tales from the famous boom. “My uncle was the biggest single taxpayer in Canterbury for three years in a row,” Murray tells Frank Film, and explains that this was mostly because of the US Army needing to keep their soldiers warm during the Korean War.

These days, though, it’s costing many farmers more to shear their strong wool sheep than they can get back for the wool itself. As Highfield Station farmer Michael Northcote points out, wool has almost become a by-product of meat – a nuisance, even. “Because there’s just no money in it,” Michael says. “It costs . . 

Mairi Whittle a Taihape farmer with two tiny tots in tow – Country Life:

A toddler on her back, a newborn in front and five dogs alongside… that’s how you might find Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mairi Whittle.

While Tad has now graduated out of his pack and sits alongside as Mairi feeds out to the cattle and rounds up ewes, things do take longer with two under two, she says. 

Mairi’s little boys are the fifth generation on Makatote – 600 hectares of steep but fertile hill country which has been in the family for more than a century.

Mairi has farmed it for four years and in April bought the block from her family. . . 

 

New Zealand Young Farmers launch FMG Young Farmer of the Year season 55 :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is proud to launch the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest into its 55th season.

The Contest kicks off on the 15th of October 2022 with the first of 11 District Contests to be held throughout Aotearoa. NZYF members are invited to register for the agricultural challenge where they’ll flaunt their practical and theoretical know-how in the bid to qualify through to the next round, the Regional Finals.

The District Contests are one-day events organised by NZYF Clubs. Whether it be through organising, competing, or coming along as support, all members are encouraged to get behind their local District Contest to be a part of NZYFs largest event.

The top contestants from each District Contest will progress through to the Regional Finals, where they will once again demonstrate the broad and varied skillset of a modern farmer. Seven Regional Finals will be held between February and April 2023. . . 


Rural round-up

05/09/2022

Feds call for halt to Three Waters – Jessica Marshall:

Federated Farmers has called for the controversial Three Waters Reform to be stopped before the legislation bill reaches its second reading.

In a submission to a parliamentary select committee, Federated Farmers expressed concerns about the Water Services Entities (WSE) Bill. If passed, the bill would establish four water services entities in place of more than 70 local authorities that manage the country’s water supplies, storm and waste water management systems.

Federated Farmers argues that the bill should not proceed to a second reading in Parliament.

“Many farmers are either self-suppliers or their water is supplied by private water schemes, meaning they should not be directly affected by the move to WSEs,” it says. . . 

Pastoral farming gets a lift from $26m for regenerative agriculture research but should scientists start by defining it? – Point of Order:

In   a  week  when the Ardern   government  achieved  one of the  biggest  stumbles of  the  modern  era,  with  its backdown over the  KiwiSaver  GST  move,  it  did record  one  positive  outcome   with  a  $26m  research  programme to prove to the world why New Zealand food and fibre should be always the number one choice.

That was the drum Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor   was  beating,  showing  again  he  is  one  of  the  few  Cabinet  Ministers  who  gets  a  pass mark  in his  field.

In  an era  when  climate  change warriors are  casting  doubt  on  New Zealand’s  farming industries, and  calling for the nation’s dairy herd to be culled, O’Connor  says he wants  to  enable farmers to make informed decisions on the financial and environmental benefits of adopting regenerative farming practices.

He said:

“The Government is backing a new $26.1m programme to undertake the most comprehensive study of pastoral farming in New Zealand.” . . . 

Afforestation still a concern :

Afforestation continues to have a negative impact on rural communities, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The statement comes after the release of the B+LNZ Stock Number Survey which showed farmers adapting to challenging circumstances including drought, processing delays and Covid-19.

The report, published this week, also highlights the extent of farmland being converted to forestry.

B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt says that while the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected to soon. . . 

We’re feeling a bit down on the farm – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Red tape and weird weather are taking their toll on farmers’ spirits but baby boomer farmers have seen tough times before.

I started writing this column back in 1995 so it has spanned 27 years, which is a fair bit of my nearly 40-year farming career – and life, for that matter.

The 1990s were still tough farming years after the change and turmoil, not to mention low returns, of the late 1980s.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the pressure started coming off and instead of just fighting for financial survival here we started making progress with the improved returns. . . 

Deer industry on mission to challenge Russia’s edge in velvet exports :

Representatives from New Zealand’s deer industry are travelling to South Korea this month in a bid to boost velvet sales. 

South Korea is New Zealand’s biggest market for the product, consuming over half of what is produced, but exporters have to compete with well-established Russian products.

The markets manager at Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), Rhys Griffiths, said Russian exporters have an established stronghold in velvet imports into South Korea, where velvet is used in health products like herbal supplements and teas.

“When we look at the traditional medicine market where the Russians have historically dominated, if we kind of segment that out even further, we can look at the older Oriental medicine doctors and the older patients, they’re more attuned to Russian velvet,” he said. . . 

WA’s Wheatbelt Stocky Jarrad Hubbard aims to change negative perceptions of farming though social media – Olivia Di Iorio:

Jarrad Hubbard, a livestock agent in Western Australia, wants to shine a light on the agricultural industry through social media.

The self-proclaimed Wheatbelt Stocky’s Instagram page is full of images and videos of sheep and cattle across regional WA.

He says he shares insights into his life as a livestock agent in the hope of showing that those in the industry “take a lot of care and put a lot of love” into what they do.

In his first post in early 2019, Mr Hubbard wrote, “Whether you are involved or even opposed, I look forward to your input”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/09/2022

The Huiarua / Matanui betrayal – Clive Bibby :

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government.

Who would have thought that it would be possible to have two views of the same cornerstone industry that are so diametrically opposed. 

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account.  . .

Dairy is fundamental to New Zealand’s future but it needs an informed debate – Keith Woodford:

The key message of this article is that dairy is of fundamental importance to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.  However, the journey to get there is not straight forward and it will be controversial.

First, I set out the reasons why dairy is so important, and hence the need to face-up to the challenges that lie ahead. This then leads towards necessary actions to address the challenges.

It is no accident that New Zealand’s most important export industry is dairy, comprising some 30 percent of the export value of goods that leave New Zealand’s shores. Add in sheep, beef, timber, fish, kiwifruit and wine, and New Zealand’s primary industries contribute a little over 80 percent of the export earnings derived from merchandise goods.

The remaining exports are led by aluminium and some machinery. However, with these and other manufactured goods, the net contribution is typically much less than the export earnings, given the imports that are required to feed into the manufacture of these exports. . . 

Tomato growers face skyrocketing energy costs, labour shortages – Sally Murphy:

Tomatoes NZ hopes feedback from growers about the issues they’re facing will show the government and consumers how expensive and hard it’s become to grow the fruit.

The industry group is getting feedback from growers to create a living document of information.

It highlights the main issues growers are having such as rising energy and production costs, labour shortages and biosecurity incursions.

The cost of energy used to heat glasshouses had skyrocketed, with coal between 45 and 65 percent higher in price and gas up 50 percent.

Sourcing labour remained a challenge, the document said. Tomato growing businesses were operating with 40-60 percent of employee numbers due to the effects of Covid-19 and border restrictions. . . 

Worsening labour shortages forces agricultural sector to evaluate next steps :

Agricultural businesses in New Zealand are currently experiencing one of the highest labour shortages in its history. Farmers, business owners, and growers are dealing with a range of issues that are being felt nationwide with multiple crop losses and recent floodings. These issues and the additional strain on expenses are forcing employers to step back and evaluate next steps. There has never been a better time for employers to be well informed and aware of their obligations when it comes to managing and paying their staff.

New Zealand’s leading employment relations and health and safety at work specialists, Employsure New Zealand have released resources for agricultural business owners. Having represented over 6,000 businesses, Employsure have used their experience and knowledge to create tailored and effective resources for small business owners who find themselves unsure of their responsibilities.

Employsure New Zealand’s Operations Manager, Laurence McLean has commented on the importance of employer obligations. Mr McLean commented, [1]“With New Zealand doubling its working holiday intake and offering a fast-tracked path to permanency for temporary migrant workers, it is vital for employers to be knowledgeable on how to manage their staff from all walks of life including vulnerable workers such as backpackers and migrants many of whom do not fully understand their rights as employees. . . 

A2 share price rallies sharply as the processor reports big jump in net profit – Point of Order :

A mixed  bag  of  news  came  down the  line  for  New Zealand’s  dairy  industry  over the  past  week.  On  one  side,  Fonterra trimmed   its  forecast  payout  for  the  season, while  on  another a2  Milk   surprised   its  critics  by  reporting  a  42% jump  in  net  profit  to $114m.

Any   company  listed  on  the NZX  and  sitting  on a  cash  mountain  of  $800m  must  be  doing  something  right.    Yet  some of  the  headlines  on   its  result  focussed  on  what  might  go  wrong   for   the  company  that specialises  in marketing  a2 milk  and  infant  formula.

For  example  Business  Desk’s  Jenny Ruth  says the    biggest source of uncertainty for a2 Milk right now is China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) deadline of February 21, 2023, for companies selling infant formula in China to get a new form of approval.  It’s called the GB standard, which is a Chinese national standard. Foreign companies won’t be able to manufacture formula for the Chinese market beyond that date unless they meet the new standard and have that all-important tick from SAMR.

But the  investment  community  was  cheered  by the  result in  what  is  currently  a rather downmarket climate. A2 Milk’s  share price rallied sharply after the company reported the  leap in profit which was driven by strong growth in its infant formula business in China. . . 

Integrated report shows strong progress for company against strategic objectives :

Ravensdown’s 2022 Integrated Report published today shows the fertiliser co-operative owned by primary producers is tracking well against its strategic objectives.

Highlights include:

  • A 12 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from fertiliser against the previous year.
  • A net reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions of 2,206 tonnes of carbon dioxide (14%) since the base year of 2018.
  • Confirming plans to convert the company’s Dipton, Southland coal-fired combustor to biomass eliminating at least 1100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, almost 10 per cent of Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/08/2022

MPI allays foot-and-mouth rumours while prices fall again at dairy auction – Point of Order:

It’s a tense time in New Zealand’s farming industries. Already the Ministry for Primary Industries has  had to shoot  down  an  overseas  news  report that  China  had  shut  its  borders  to  NZ  and  Australian  products  due  to  concerns   about  foot-and-mouth.

NZ  exports  to  China  are  continuing  as   normal, a Ministry  for Primary Industries spokesman said.

And Fonterra’s  fortnightly GDT auction  went  ahead  as scheduled  this  week,  with  keen  bidding   by   Chinese buyers.

Prices fell  for the  fifth  consecutive  time but  buying  caution  was  attributed to  the  fact consumers  are  worrying about soaring food prices. Other  observers  noted  the  impact on demand of disruption from Covid-19 lockdowns in China, an economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. . . 

Dairy man laments lack of recognition of sector’s progress – Peter Burke:

The man who has led the Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) for the past 15 years believes the dairy sector does not get enough recognition for what it does for NZ.

Malcolm Bailey, who steps down from his DCANZ role this week, has made a huge contribution to NZ and the dairy sector in particular for nearly four decades.

Bailey says one of the difficult things he’s had to overcome in his tenure at DCANZ is getting traction in the media about all the initiatives and works that the industry has done in the face of public criticism.

He says individual farmers – and the industry itself – have invested massively to minimise the environmental footprint of dairying and there have been some real success stories that have not been recognised. . . 

Fielding boy made good :

Malcolm Bailey grew up on a dairy farm near the township of Feilding in the lower North Island.

He still farms there today, with his son doing much of the on-farm work, while he focuses on his numerous other roles.

After completing a Bachelor of Ag Economics, Bailey left the family farm and took a job in the economics section of the Reserve Bank. One of his roles was to crunch some of the balance of payments numbers. It was here that he experienced the power of one Robert D. Muldoon, a man whose interventionist policies were eventually one of the reasons the young Malcolm Bailey went back to the family farm.

“As far as I was concerned, he was a lying crook who took the NZ economy in completely the wrong direction,” Bailey told Rural News. “The Reserve Bank could do nothing, despite a lot of the officials hating what was going on, but they couldn’t speak out publicly.” . .

A 50 year deer affair at Invermay – Shawn McAvinue:

A milestone of 50 years of science delivering for the deer farming industry will be celebrated in Mosgiel next month.

AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward is on the committee organising a celebration of 50 years of deer farming science at Invermay Agricultural Centre on Monday, September 26.

“I’m the one who did the math and figured out it all happened 50 years ago.”

In 1972, scientist Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter launched a deer farming research programme at Invermay. . .

How Seremaia Bai uses ag as a vehicle for rugby :

Fijian rugby star merges agricultural work, rugby and entrepreneurship to help create financial security for players.

He’s instinctively working the Colin “Pinetree” Meads model, only in an entirely different context. And Fijian international rugby star Seremaia Bai is making a real success of it – not just for himself.

While Meads trained in his King Country paddocks for his superlative rugby feats back in the day, and went back to farming after active rugby playing, Bai is operating in the new world of professional sport – which is not all rosy, and which has its own attendant challenges.

“The average professional career of a Fiji rugby player is approximately 10 years. But while so many young players have dreams, only 2% make it to the professional level. What happens to the other 98%?” Bai asked.. . . 

Scenic Rim agritourism farmers enforce measures to protect against foot-and-mouth disease – Heidi Sheehan:

Agritourism operators in south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim region are asking tourists to sign waivers — and some to avoid their properties altogether — due to increased vigilance about the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects pigs, cattle, goats and sheep.

It was detected in Indonesia in May and spread to Bali earlier this month, prompting fears a tourist could carry the disease into Australia on clothing or footwear.

In the worst-case scenario, billions would have to be spent on a national response while scores of painfully diseased cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats could be culled. . .


Rural round-up

08/08/2022

Gloves off in climate fight over He Waka Eke Noa – Jamie Mckay:

For the past couple of weeks, the gloves have really come off on my radio show over the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and its controversial chair Dr Rod Carr.

First up, fighting out of the Blue Corner, was local body politician and raconteur Jim Hopkins. This is what he had to say:

“If I was Doctor Carr, or indeed anyone in the Government, [such as] James Shaw, I might take a trip to a place called the Netherlands, and have a look at how they manage to deal with things like water, sea level rise and the like.

“And maybe instead of spending, say, $350 million to amalgamate Radio New Zealand, otherwise known as the Green Party at Prayer, and TV One, otherwise known as Jacinda’s little helpers – at least as far as the news department is concerned – maybe they could spend just a few million building bigger stop banks and taking gravel out of riverbeds! . .

All lines of defence are crucial – Mark Patterson:

If there’s one thing that keeps farmers awake at night more than climate, inflation or pending Government regulations, it’s the spectra of foot-and-mouth disease reaching these shores, writes Federated Farmers’ Otago president Mark Patterson.

So I’m guessing I’m not the only farmer watching with a degree of anxiety as it works its way down South East Asia into Indonesia.

Those of us old enough remember vividly the horrifying footage of culled stock being piled high and burnt on pyres from the United Kingdom in 2001. No-one would wish that trauma on their worst enemy.

That’s not to mention the catastrophic economic impact it would have on not only individual farmers, but the economy in general. The Government estimates 100,000 lost jobs and a $16billion economic cost. This disease would ruin us financially as a nation. . . 

Sentiment sours further down on the farm – production expectations slip to a net negative level for the first time in survey – Point of Order:

Warning  signals are  being  hoisted   in  New Zealand’s  rural regions,  the   mainstay  of  the  country’s  export  economy.

In January farmer confidence was at the lowest level recorded in biannual surveys that Federated Farmers has been running since 2009.  Last month’s survey found it had dropped further.

The  government,  seemingly oblivious to the  rural mood, meanwhile appears  to  be  pushing   ahead   with  a climate  change  policy   that – in effect – would tax  farmers  for   the  methane  emissions  of  their  animals.

Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw, under  threat  within  his  own party after elements  of  the Greens deposed him from his  co-leadership, is   under  the  whip  to  make  his  climate  change  policy  more  stringent. . . 

New Zealand Young Farmers announce new chair and two new board members :

Inglewood Young Farmer Jessie Waite has been announced as the new Chair of New Zealand Young Farmers.

Waite, 30, was elected to the position at the organisation’s latest Board meeting, replacing Kent Weir who ended his 12-month term as Chair.

“I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months working with the Board, NZYF National Office and members who are our key stakeholders. It’s going to be exciting , but also quite challenging which I think is a good balance,” she said.

South Waikato Young Farmer Chloe Belfield and Mackenzie Young Farmer Nicola Blowey have also officially taken their seats as Board members, after being elected at the NZYF AGM in July. . .

 

Farmers begging for real change :

“The results of Federated Farmers latest farmer confidence survey shows that farmers have had enough and election day can’t come soon enough so we can have real change,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson and Ruawai Dairy Farmer Mark Cameron.

“The survey reported the lowest confidence amongst farmers since its inception in 2009. The Labour Government has been a non-stop shop of on-farm compliance, they’ve introduced an excess of shoddy rules and regulations that has only made it harder for farmers to produce the food that grows our economy and feeds our families.

“Freshwater reforms, winter grazing rules, Zero Carbon Act, limiting migrant workers, other ideological climate policies, Significant Natural Areas, taxes on utes… The list goes on. Farmers have taken a hammering from this government.

“This is reflected by the top concerns in the survey being climate change policy and the ETS, regulation and compliance costs, input costs, debt and interest rates, and biosecurity amidst concerns about foot-and-mouth disease. . . 

Lake Alta, high in the Remarkables, Central Otago – Blog the Globe:

The Remarkables are a magnificent mountain range looming over Queenstown, in New Zealand’s South Island. High up in the mountains, is a glacial lake, the aptly named Lake Alta. It is accessible via the mountain road to the ski fields. The Remarkables are not only imposing, but they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world running north to south. As a result an early surveyor Alexander Garvie named them in 1857.

I’d never previously heard of the lake, but when a friend invited me to hike with her, I was keen.

From the base of the Remarkables Ski Area, we walked for about 40 minutes, following markers placed in the extreme alpine terrain. The alpine flora was beautiful. Succulent plant species seemed to thrive despite the inhospitable environment including rock, providing little in the way of nutrients and extreme winds. The walk was gradual and easy, stepping from rock to rock. If you are unsure about walking on uneven surfaces a walking pole can give you added security, and may be particularly helpful on the return journey. . . .


Rural round-up

05/08/2022

Foot-and-mouth – the stock disease that could inflict a huge economic cost on our economy if Biosecurity defences fail – Point of Order:

Ray Smith,  director-general  of  the  Ministry for Primary Industries,  sent  a  shiver  through  the  NZ  China  Summit in Auckland  when  he  warned  that  foot-and-mouth  disease  getting  into NZ   would  be  a  “scary”  and  a “gigantic thing”.

The  highly  contagious  disease has  been  sweeping  through Indonesia  and  since  it  was  first discovered  in  May  429,000 cases   have  been  identified    through  24   provinces  including Bali,  a  popular  holiday  destination  for many  New  Zealanders.

Indonesia  is  struggling  to  bring the  disease under  control, underlining  what  a problem  it  could  be  for NZ’s  main  export  industries.

The disease, which could cost the country billions of dollars and more than 100,000 jobs if it ran rampant among our livestock, is causing major concern in South Asia. After  the disease was discovered in Bali fragments of the virus that cause the disease have also been found in meat products entering Australia from Indonesia, creating fresh concerns about the possibility of it arriving in New Zealand.  . . . 

Red meat sector defies global supply chain issues :

New Zealand exported red meat worth $1.1 billion during June despite the ongoing global supply chain issues affecting sheepmeat and beef volumes, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The 15 per cent increase in value compared to June 2021 was largely driven by beef exports, particularly to China. Although the total volume of beef exports was down seven per cent, the overall value was up 23 per cent to $504 million. The value of beef exports to China was up 39 per cent to $217m.

The overall volume of sheepmeat exported was largely unchanged compared to last June, at 32,470 tonnes, with value up 15 per cent to $398m. Volumes of chilled sheepmeat exports, however, continued to drop, down 31 per cent to 2,253 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports to China saw a drop in both volume (21 per cent) and value (31 per cent) compared to the same period last year, but this was offset for by increases in exports to other major sheepmeat markets. . . 

Wool supply concern prompts Bremworth to consider contracting farmers –  Sally Murphy:

Carpet company Bremworth is looking at the option of providing farmers with long-term contracts to secure supply.

Strong wool prices have been subdued for years now – which has led many farmers to leave their wool in their sheds in the hope they will be able to get better prices in the future.

Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said it has been a challenging time for farmers so the company wanted to provide more security to them while ensuring a secure supply of wool.

“The foundation of our businesses is 100 percent strong wool and at the moment, the strong wool industry is under enormous pressure because of prices. It’s a commodity which is not being valued as much as it has been in the past. . . 

Farmers, there’s plenty to celebrate:

“Despite yesterday’s Federated Farmers Confidence Survey results, there are many positives for the agricultural and horticultural sectors right now,” says National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

Of the 1200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January, when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

“These results are mood driven by what is coming at them driven by other factors outside their control like the Government’s fiscal policy. But the biggest culprit is compliance, mounting regulation, economic, business, environment costs and debt. . . 

Wool stations put a new spin on teaching children :

A project that educates children about wool will see its 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.

As part of the Wool in Schools programme, schools can request one of two 20-foot shipping containers that have been converted into wool sheds to visit, so primary students can learn about wool and how it is used.

The half-hour experience involves interactive stations where children learn about wool processes and the different uses and benefits of wool and can even have a go at weaving on a mini loom.

The programme is run by the Campaign for Wool NZ, which aims to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool. . . 

NZ Winegrowers announce Fellows for 2022 :

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Dominic Pecchenino, Jim and Rose Delegat, Clive Paton and Phyll Pattie, and Chris Howell, by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

“The Roll of Fellows honours the modern pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. We wholeheartedly thank Dominic, Jim, Rose, Clive, Phyll and Chris for their years of service, and their role in shaping the New Zealand wine industry to be what it is today,” says Clive Jones, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

All the 2022 Fellows have worked over many decades for the “betterment of the wine industry,” says Clive. “The work of these individuals enables a small industry like ours to punch above our weight on the world stage, and we thank them for their efforts.” . . 


Planting seeds of division and dissent

05/08/2022

Labour and the Green party have voted to undermine democracy:

A bill allowing Ngāi Tahu to appoint two voting councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council was passed tonight with fractious debate in Parliament about whether it will diminish or enhance democracy and whether other councils will follow suit. . . 

If other councils stand up for the principle of equal representation with one person, one vote they won’t follow suit. But now a precedent has been set, they might not care about that, at least until there’s a change of government.

National’s Paul Goldsmith said National would repeal the law if it became the Government because it did not uphold equal voting rights for all New Zealanders and did not provide electoral accountability. He questioned the mandate for the bill.

“It is our view on this side of the House that the Treaty of Waitangi does not trump democracy and the country has not decided that,” he said.

It was a divisive bill that was pitting one group of New Zealanders against others.

“Ngāi Tahu get to appoint those two councillors forever and a day. They cannot be thrown out. There is no direct accountability. It astounds me that I’m having to make this argument.”

Goldsmith rejected a suggestion that the bill had its roots in a similar move National had made in Government in 2010 when it replaced the Canterbury Regional Council with commissioners, including two Ngāi Tahu commissioners.

It was a temporary appointment of commissioners when democratic elections had been halted and was different to permanent unelected councillors.

Ironically Labour and the Greens were very critical of the then-government appointing commissioners.

“It will set a precedent. There is no question about that across local government. I can’t how you could say this is modern expression of the treaty but it only applies to Canterbury.

“I am sure there will be many other councils to which this logic will flow to, and then potentially to central government.” . . 

Reading the transcript of the debate and trying to understand the arguments in favour of the Bill and the redefining of democracy brings to mind Through the Looking Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’

The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Point of Order quotes some of the speeches in favour of the Bill and concludes:

. . . But if adding two additional representatives strengthens democracy, then it is reasonable to suppose that adding three representatives would strengthen it further  – and four would make it even stronger.

Why not 20 more? Or 100?

We don’t have to be too sage to recognise the absurdity of that line of reasoning – or to condemn the outcome of the vote at the end of the debate.  

Labour’s reimagining and rewriting of the Treaty to give people of Maori descent and Iwi rights and power not available to other citizens undermines the democratic principles which treat us all as equal under the law, giving us one vote each and the right to vote against those people we don’t want governing us.

New Zealand is a young country but one of the oldest democracies.

This Act replaces democracy by planting the seeds of division and dissent.


Rural round-up

21/07/2022

Country Calendar uproar: Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on why Geoff and Justine Ross are right – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As the dust settles on the controversial Country Calendar Lake Hawea episode, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth says it’s time for Kiwis to get behind successful farmers – the same way we support our successful sports teams.

Geoff and Justine Ross are right. People pay for the story.

They were successful with vodka, and now with their enterprise at Lake Hawea Station, they’ve shown how to get the story out there.

Branding is everything, a picture paints a thousand words, and Country Calendar did a great job in creating discussion around the business. . . 

Global dairy auction prices fall again as consumer spending is bruised by inflation – Point of Order:

A slide  in  prices  at the  latest Fonterra  GDT  auction  may be  a  wake-up  call  to  dairy farmers    that  they   are  operating   in  a  global  market  hard  hit  by  inflation.

They  may be operating   in   a  higher-cost  environment but  consumers in their  markets  are suffering, too,  from soaring  costs.

The average price  at the fortnightly sale dropped 5% to $US4166 a tonne, after falling 4.1% in the previous auction.  That is the lowest price since early October last year and 18%  below the record set in March.

Prices have fallen in eight of the past nine auctions. . . 

Rangitīkei farm Tunnel Hill supreme winner at Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards – Judith Lacy:

Richard and Suze Redmayne of Rangitīkei farm Tunnel Hill are the 2022 supreme winners of the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the awards champion sustainable farming and growing. The Horizons awards cover the same area as Horizons Regional Council and were announced at a function in Palmerston North last week.

Richard’s great-grandfather bought Tunnel Hill in 1936, with future generations running the farm until Richard and Suze took over in 1993.

Sheep, beef, maize and forestry are farmed across 950ha of the property that features large stretches of coastal land. Their investment in forestry and additional native planting means Tunnel Hill is carbon negative. . . 

Donna Smit to retire from Fonterra board :

Long serving Fonterra Director Donna Smit has confirmed she will retire from the Fonterra Board when her current three-year term ends at the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 10 November 2022.

Smit was first elected to the Fonterra Board by her farming peers in 2016. She is also currently a Fonterra appointed Director of FSF Management Company Limited, Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund a role she will also retire from in November this year.

Smit says she has been honoured to serve her fellow farmer shareholders for the past six years and thanked farmers for their support.

“I’m proud of the progress we have made as a Board over the past six years and my contribution as part of that team. . .

Mainder Singh wins Gisbourne Young Grower competition :

Maninder Singh, from LeaderBrand, has taken out the title of Gisborne Young Grower of the Year for 2022.

He was up against 10 other amazing contestants.

“I entered the competition to increase my self-confidence,” says Maninder.

“It has been great to meet other people in our diverse industry and I feel there’s lots of learning to do. My aim is to help the horticulture industry meet the change challenges that it is facing.” . . 

Halt use of biofuels to ease food crisis, says green group –  Fiona Harvey:

Governments should put a moratorium on the use of biofuels and lift bans on genetic modification of crops, a green campaigning group has urged, in the face of a growing global food crisis that threatens to engulf developing nations.

Ending the EU’s requirement for biofuels alone would free up about a fifth of the potential wheat exports from Ukraine, and even more of its maize exports, enough to make a noticeable difference to stretched food supplies, according to analysis by the campaign group RePlanet.

About 3.3m tonnes of wheat were used in 2020 as feedstock for EU biofuels, and Ukraine’s 2020 wheat exports came to about 16.4m tonnes. About 6.5m tonnes of maize was also used for EU biofuels, compared with about 24m tonnes exported from Ukraine the same year.

Supplies of wheat and maize for export from Ukraine are already under serious threat from the Russian invasion, with shipments held up and harvests damaged by the war. Food prices are rising around the world, with the war in Ukraine a key factor. . .

 


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