Fairer pastoral lease rents

May 4, 2012

The passing of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act establishes a fairer and simpler system for pastoral lease rents.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said:

“This Act is a significant reform of the way rents are charged on pastoral leases in the South Island high country and will go a long way towards eliminating the years of tension that has existed between the Crown and lessees over rent issues.

“Under the Act, lessees of pastoral leases will be charged rents based on the earning capacity of the property.”

The new system, known as earning capacity rents, will be in place later this year.

“It’s a much simpler system to administer, is more transparent and provides a fairer rent,” Mr Williamson says.

“It will allow farmers to get on with the job of farming and helping to grow New Zealand’s economy.”

The old system was time consuming, expensive to administer and unfair. The new one will mean most if not all properties face higher rents but it is much fairer.

However, the anti-farmer Labour Party doesn’t think so:

A select few High Country farmers have been handed a sweetener from the Government in the form of cheap rents, says Raymond Huo, Labour’s spokesperson for Land Information.

“The passing of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act, severely compromises the Crown’s right to negotiate fair rents for the high country land it owns. Instead it offers a select few farmers special privileges,” Raymond Huo said.

“The Act will allow Crown leases to be determined purely on the “stock carrying” capacity of the land, not the land value.

This shows how poorly he understands pastoral leases. Rents were based on LEI – land exclusive of improvements. That is the land in its natural state before it was settled which has a very low value. The stock carrying capacity will give a much higher value than that.

The new system will reduce administration costs, increase transparency and is fairer to both the crown and pastoral lessees.


Who else would they vote for?

March 7, 2012

The Sunday Star Times was excited by the 100 emails Prime Minister John Key received from people opposed to the sale of the Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin, calling it a heartland backlash.

One farmer said he had been a National supporter for 45 years but the agreement to sell the farms to Chinese interests ahead of New Zealanders was the “final nail in the coffin”.

Key received more than 100 emails or letters opposed to the sale, most within days of the announcement of the deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

“For many years I have voted for National and I believe in the philosophies. I am utterly disappointed at the decision to sell the farms to a foreign buyer … 2011 will be the last time I vote for National,” one said.

Another wrote: “We have always supported you, and National, but we aren’t with you on this. We have to let you know how strongly we feel about this.”

One wonders how much these people understand about the National Party’s philosophy and principles because there is nothing there that would restrict the freedom of people to sell their own land to the highest bidder nor is there anything that would support xenophobia.

Regardless of that, 100 emails isn’t many on a hot-button issue.

“Pretty much on any issue in New Zealand I’ll get 100 emails,      and sometimes I get 10,000 emails if it’s a significant      issue. So there’s a mixture of views, no doubt about that,”      he told TV One’s Breakfast show.   

Mr Key said the Crafar farms sale was not the main issue farmers raised with him.   

“Certainly I’ve been around a lot of rural events – the      Waimumu Field Days, the Golden Shears on Saturday night – and that’s not really the issue they’re coming up and talking  about,” he said.   

“Some farmers come up to me and say `Look, I own the farm, it’s my property right and I should be able to sell it to      whoever I like.’ Others say they don’t want the farmland going overseas. There’s definitely a range of views but I don’t see it hurting National support.”  

People who change allegiance on a single issue aren’t strong supporters to start with, and any farmers who think they’re not happy with National only need to look at yesterday’s debate on changes to pastoral lease rentals to see how much worse off they’d be with a Labour-led government:

The Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill will replace the land valuation basis for setting rents on  pastoral leases (on mainly high country farms) with a system based on the income earning potential of the  farm land.

Labour MP Raymond Huo said his party was opposing the bill because it was subsidising some high country farmers and did not reflect the real worth of the Crown owned land.

Agriculture Minister David Carter accused Labour of the politics of jealousy and envy and said their policies in Government had shown a “lack of care for the most fragile farming environment’’ in the country.

He said former prime minister Helen Clark had attempted to “drive’’ the farmers off the land and turn it into part of the conservation estate.

The Government now wanted to allow farmers to pay a rent based on the income they could take off the land while maintaining it for future generations. The Crown, he said, had proven to be a poor caretaker of the high country land.

The loss of tussock at the top of the Lindis Pass is a sad reminder of what happens when the Crown tries to replace the high country farmers who have looked after pastoral lease land for generations.

Another example of how poorly Labour understands farming was last year’s beat-up on how much tax they pay.

As Cactus Kate asks, if farmers aren’t going to vote for National, who would they support?

. . .  Labour who will tax the sale on their farm at 15% who along with the Greens will make them pay for their pollution and treat them as the rich pricks they deserve to be treated as?  NZ First…hehe…..

The small number of farmers who have their noses in a knot over the farm sales are shooting the wrong target.

I have nothing against the sale of the farms to foreigners but those who do should be directing the ire at the receivers who insisted on selling the farms as a job lot rather than individually.  That would have opened up a far larger number of would-be buyers and made it much easier for locals to make realistic offers.


Westie wins Waitakere

December 16, 2011

Proud Westie and Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett has reclaimed Waitakere in a judicial recount.

She won the seat on election night from Carmel Sepuloni by 45 votes, lost it in a recount by 11 and has reclaimed it by nine.

This means Sepuloni is out of parliament and Labour list MP Raymond Huo is in.


8 new names on Labour list, but where?

August 31, 2008

TV3, The Herald and Stuff all carry news that the Labour list had eight new faces who were promoted over some sitting MPs.

However, none have the whole list nor do they say where the newcomers are placed on it. The Labour website is paid for by parliamentary services so won’t mention candidates either.

On the running average of polls Labour is likely to have no more MPs after the election and may have fewer so Helen Clark will have the task of keeping disaffected MPs in line to add to her troubles.

The new people on the list are:

Rajen Prasad, former Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner;  Jacinda Ardern, a senior policy adviser to British Home Secretary Sir Ronnie Flanagan; Raymond Huo a lawyer and writer;  Phil Twyford, former global head of policy for Oxfam;  Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont;  Maori education advocate Kelvin Davis; Carmel Sepuloni,  an equity manager at Auckland University; and Stuart Nash, who stood in Epsom last election and if memory serves me right conetested and lost the selection for Napier.

I wonder if the CTU will have the same problems with their secretary standing for Labour as the EPMU does with Shawn Tan standing for Act?

Update: I see on Keeping Stock that I should have checked Scoop which has the full list.

Exactly who gets in on the list depends on the party vote and which canidates further back on the list win seats because each seat won puts those in front of them on the list back a slot.

On current polling anyone past the mid 30s will be unlikely to get in unless they win a seat which could include some MPs.

Damien O’Connor at 37 followed by  Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora to  Louisa Wall at 43 will be unlikely to still be in parliament unless they win seats. Lesley Soper doesn’t have a show at 77 and unless she requested to be in a totally unelectable position it’s an insult to put a sitting MP so low.


Labour list a test for Clark

July 22, 2008

Ranking a party list is never easy, but it is even more difficult when polls suggest that the election might result in a party having fewer MPs in parliament.

Colin James  discusses the test facing Helen Clark over Labour’s list in this morning’s Herald:

The question for Clark is whether she will assert her authority to insist on a bold list that cleans out has-beens and injects the abundant energy ready in the wings or leaves too much of it waiting for 2011. And will that list reflect closely her politics or can she inject diversity (by, for example, getting business-experienced Stuart Nash, Epsom candidate in 2005, well placed)?

Clark has promoted 40-somethings in her Cabinet and they are starting to show through, though too late to impress voters. Of the 15 MPs elected in 2005 who are retiring one way or another, seven vacate electorate seats. New candidates should win at least six. All but two of those candidates are 47 or under, which is the rising half of the electorate.

But if all sitting MPs are given priority places on the list, there is little room for new blood there unless Labour gets 38 per cent – 35 per cent if New Zealand First doesn’t make it back into Parliament and 1 per cent less if Damien O’Connor loses West Coast-Tasman.

For Labour to be sure of getting people like Chinese lawyer Raymond Huo, ex-Oxfam heavy Phil Twyford (slotted eventually to follow Clark into Mt Albert), rising youngster Jacinda Ardern, promising Maori Kelvin Davies and Nash, some of the half-dozen or so underwhelming list MPs need demotion.

But demoting sitting MPs risks destabilising caucus and the last thing Clark needs is tetchy MPs whose high opinion of themselves is not reflected by their places on the list.

But a leader’s legacy is not just action while leader. It is also what is set up for the next leader. Clark sometimes surprises. Her list will be a test.

And it will show if how she handles her short term political needs when they’re in conflict with the long term health of the party.


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