Rural round-up

April 11, 2020

Smart green growth requires investment :

An effective recovery from COVID-19 requires on the ground investment in projects that will bring immediate employment benefits and lasting environmental benefits.

Federated Farmer has written to Ministers outlining a range of practical, on the ground initiatives that could provide employment and environmental benefits post COVID19, building on existing work

“We need efficient and effective investment which provides both immediate benefits but also lasting environmental outcomes,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our approach to improving the environment needs to recognise the importance of a robust and strong recovery from COVID-19, to mitigate the economic and social impacts.

“The situation has changed significantly since regulatory proposals in respect to freshwater, biodiversity and climate change were released. Our responses to these challenges need to reflect this new reality.  . . 

Foresters say Shane Jones’ all to preference domestic timber supplies can’t work:

Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says a harvest of just about any forest will produce higher grade logs for domestic construction, some logs for export and some lower value wood which is only suitable for domestic chipping.

“We just can’t go in and cut down some parts of a tree to cater to one market without harvesting the whole tree for other markets too. That was clearly shown up when forest companies were unable to export earlier in the year and how difficult it physically was to keep our local mills supplied,” Phil Taylor says.

“It’s not true either that we send all our logs overseas. In most years, the majority of the export value of our forest products comes from added value categories, such as sawn timber and pulp and paper.” . . 

An open letter to Shane Jones, Ministry of Forestry – Adrian Loo:

Dear Minister Jones,

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian. I am an employee in the forestry industry, a Future Forester, a graduate of Canterbury University and, albeit very small, a forest owner.

Since starting out in the forestry industry 4 years ago I have been lucky enough to experience your leadership first-hand and hear your passionate encouragement of the forest industry and forest owners within it. During this time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak at the beehive and describe the amazing opportunities for people involved with forestry. For me the forestry industry represents a world of incredible opportunities, amazing people and is an industry that I am extremely proud to be a part of. . .

 

Kiwi fruit growers aggrieved by PSA outbreak decision:

Kiwifruit growers are aggrieved by today’s Court of Appeal decision that finds the Government was responsible for the 2009 PSA outbreak that devastated the industry but is not liable for the losses. The Kiwifruit Claim have confirmed they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal held that MPI was negligent in allowing a high-risk shipment of pollen anthers infected with PSA from China into New Zealand. But they found the Government does not owe a duty of care to ordinary New Zealanders and can’t be held liable for its actions, simply because it’s the Government,” said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman. . .

Where there’s wool there’s a way:

With shearing gangs mostly stood down under the level 4 lockdown, farmers face some challenges, reports Jill Herron.

Shearers and wool-handlers across the country are “very keen” to get back to work once Covid 19 restrictions ease – and farmers will be pretty pleased to see them.

As Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Industry Group Chairperson Miles Anderson points out, a trained shearer could crutch around 600 or 700 sheep a day, but the untrained far fewer. And he’s not relishing having to do his own crutching at his Timaru property.

“It’s not impossible for some farmers to do their own but with feeding out and lots going on at this time of year it could be difficult and could lead to some very long days. Myself, if I had to do a full belly crutch I’d probably do 200 the first day but only about 50 the next. It’s something you have to get fit to.” . .

 

Coronavirus: Supply chain urged to play its part supporting British livestock farmers :

NFU and NFU Cymru are urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market.

In an open letter, NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice-chairman Wyn Evans said that the supply chain has a moral responsibility to act in the interests of both consumers and farmers.

They reiterated that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply but warned that ongoing high demand for products such as mince would soon become unsustainable. . .

 


Do as I say . . .

March 7, 2020

Jacinda Ardern has issued a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do instruction to voters:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered her strongest rebuking of NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones yet, suggesting that if he was a Labour MP, he would face demotion. . .

How strong is that strongest rebuke?:

“If I had a member within my own party making statements like that, I would have a very obvious ability and course of action that I could take,” she said.

“I could demote, I could reprimand; [there is] a range of things that I could do.”

But all those things were off the table because – although Jones is one of her ministers – he is in a different political party. . .

That is weak and it’s tosh.

She is the Prime Minister and has the power to discipline, which could include sacking, any members of her cabinet.

At least that’s what the Cabinet Manual says, but could it be that the secret collation agreement between Labour and New Zealand First holds a clause that takes that power from her?

We can’t know while the agreement remains secret and in the absence of that knowledge this looks hypocritical:

“My message to voters is this: In election year, the power now sits with you. You determine who is able to form Governments and you have it within your power to decide what you make of those remarks, as well,” she said.

“What is within other’s powers is to join in the condemnation of statements, like those we have seen made by Shane Jones.

“I asked of voters to act on their values when it comes to election time.”

She’s expecting voters to act on their values when she isn’t acting on her own.

She could, as Simon Bridges has done, and as Cat MacLennan writes she should , rule out New Zealand First as a partner in a future government.

She’s failing to discipline Jones and rule out his party next time herself but asking voters to do it for her.,

That’s very much do as she says, not as she does.

In doing that she’s sending a message  to not only not vote for NZ First but to not vote for National because only with that party leading the next government can voters be sure it won’t include NZ First.

 


Coincidence or deliberate

March 2, 2020

Winston Peters is Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

It was wearing the latter hat that he went to India last week co-leading a business delegation to increase people and economic engagement with the world’s fifth-largest economy.

He is also leader of New Zealand First and on Saturday one of his MPs, and a fellow minister, delivered a racist rant against Indians on The Nation:

NZ First MP Shane Jones is drawing criticism after saying too many people “from New Delhi” are being allowed to settle in New Zealand.

“If you want another million, 2 million, 3 million people, we should debate it and there should be a mandate, rather than opening up the options, unfettered, and everyone comes here from New Delhi,” Jones told Newshub Nation on Saturday, arguing that New Zealand needs some kind of maximum population policy.

“I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he continued. . .

Debating immigration and the number of immigrants is acceptable. Targeting people from a specific country or location within a country is not.

That he did this as his leader was returning from a Ministerial visit to the city Jones cited could have been a coincidence.

It was far more likely to have been deliberate, but why?

Was he just playing to the gallery of anti-immigration supporters, or was this a thinly-veiled attack on his leader and if so what is his motive?

Whatever the answer to those questions is, a more important one is what is Jacinda Ardern going to do about it?

She can’t, as she is attempting to do with Peters and NZ First’s referral to the SFO, say it is the party’s business not hers.

Jones was on The Nation as a Minister, not as a NZ First MP.

She told him he needed to swat up on the Cabinet Manual after what sounded like an attempt to  bribe attendees at a forestry conference with assistance in return for votes.

She has already, justifiably, been labeled weak for the way she is at best slow, and often unwilling, to stand up to MPs and Ministers who cross the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Has she got what it takes to tackle Jones, or will she again lack the backbone to deal with what has become habitual boorish unbecoming of an MP, let alone a Minister?

And apropos of behaviour unbecoming, there’s been a deafening silence from the Green Party that is supposed to stand against this sort of degrading ranting.

 


More questions on slush fund

January 21, 2020

The Provincial Growth Fund is in the news for the wrong reason again:

A forestry company with close links to New Zealand First says it gave a presentation to Shanne Jones about a project it was seeking a $15 million government loan for – months before Jones says he first heard of it.

When NZ Future Forest Products (NZFFP) applied for Provincial Growth Fund money on 8 April, 2019, the company was asked whether the project had been “previously discussed” with the government.

The application form shows NZFFP ticked the ‘yes’ box and said it had made a “presentation to the Minister” about its forestry and wood processing plans “including descriptions of the applicant”.

Jones, a New Zealand First MP who is forestry minister and the minister responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, has consistently claimed he first heard about the NZFFP bid on 14 October last year. . . 

Jones refused to be interviewed over the latest revelation but in a statement said the presentation never happened. “There was no presentation as described by the applicants,” he said.

The statement said Jones “did not have any Ministerial meetings to discuss the application”.

After being asked if he had any meetings at all with any NZFFP representatives in 2019, he responded in a statement “no”. He went on to say he was “not involved in PGF-related conversations with the Henrys under the guise of NZFFP”.

But in an interview with RNZ, David Henry, who is Brian Henry’s son and the NZFFP director who signed the application form, said the presentation was a 15-minute meeting he and Jones had in Wellington.

“We had a discussion with Shane. I think it was about a 15-minute chat. Whether you want to call it a briefing or a presentation – it was a short discussion generally about the New Zealand wood supply chain and what we personally believed.” . . 

The application was turned down, but National’s Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says that still leaves questions to be answered:

“While no money changed hands, the process is even more important than the substantive outcome because of the close links between those involved and the historical murkiness of Shane Jones’ $3 billion slush fund.”

That is the nub of the problem – the PGF is a slush fund with few if any of the checks and balances in the allocation process which ought to precede any spending of taxpayers’ funds.


Rural round-up

December 23, 2019

Wairoa farmland sold for forestry angers 50 Shades of Green as Shane Jones extends olive branch – Zane Small:

Shane Jones is extending an olive branch to the pro-farming community after the Government approved more farmland to be sold for forestry, saying he wants to hear their concerns. 

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) – a Government agency – has approved the sale of 1065 hectares of land in Wairoa from Craigmore (Te Puna) Limited, a company that manages various farm and forest investments in New Zealand.

The land being acquired is currently run as a sheep and beef cattle farm, with small plantings of radiata pine and manuka. The OIO approved the sale of land on the understanding it’s erosion-prone and better suited to forestry. . . .

Skills will help grow careers – Sally Rae:

From fitness to farming, Luke Fisher is relishing his career move into the primary industries.

English-born Mr Fisher, a business manager for Farmlands at its Motueka branch, has been in Dunedin for six weeks as one of two interns in the AGMARDT-AbacusBio international internship programme.

He is joined by Emma Hinton, who is business manager at Farmlands’ Leeston branch in Canterbury.

Sales Slump in the dairy sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 54 less farm sales (-16.1%) for the three months ended November 2019 than for the three months ended November 2018. Overall, there were 282 farm sales in the three months ended November 2019, compared to 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019 (+8.5%), and 336 farm sales for the three months ended November 2018. 1,295 farms were sold in the year to November 2019, 12.8% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2018, with 44.4% less Dairy farms, 1.6% less Grazing farms, 23.4% less Finishing farms and the same number of Arable farms sold over the same period. . .

River clean-up energises farmer :

Invests $18,000 of his own money to help restore river after realising the impact on waterways.

He’s a “townie” turned dairy farmer and is enthusiastically embracing the clean-up one of New Zealand’s most degraded rivers.

Gerard Vallely, a 65-year-old who, with his wife Ann, runs two dairy farms in west Otago, has set aside a sizeable chunk of his property to be developed into a wetland – and has so far spent $18,000 of his own money doing so.

The farms border two streams, tributaries of the Pomahaka River, and the land he has ‘donated’ is part of an overall project in the district to restore the river, long considered one of the country’s best fishing locations, back to health. . .

Christmas market short of peas, strawberries – David Hill:

Locally grown strawberries and peas could be missing from the Christmas dinner menu.

As he prepares for the seventh annual Sefton Christmas Harvest Market on his farm near Rangiora, North Canterbury grower Cam Booker said Christmas strawberries, raspberries and peas were in short supply.

He said there would be no homegrown strawberries on the Booker Christmas dinner table this year . . .

New Zealand Hops confirms Craig Orr as new Chief Executive:

Food and beverage industry leader, Craig Orr, is confirmed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Zealand Hops Ltd (NZHL).

New Zealand Hops is a contemporary grower co-operative, based in Nelson, Tasman, the only region commercially growing hops in New Zealand. The co-operative represents the interests of 28 growers, many of whom are intergenerational families, having grown hops in the region for more than 150 years.

The co-ordination of the industry was first initiated in 1939 with the inception of the New Zealand Hop Marketing Board. . .


$484k per job yet there’s a worker shortage

December 9, 2019

The Provincial Growth Fund gets a lot of publicity but the results are a long way from matching the rhetoric:

An answer to a written question from National Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop reveals 1922 people are employed by PGF projects – and of that, just 616 are full-time jobs.

So far, $297.4 million has been spent so far on PGF projects. That’s $484,000 per full-time job, excluding those part-time jobs.

Jones insists infrastructure projects like roads and rail will take years to build, however in the long-term they’ll create jobs and further investment and increase confidence in the regions. . . 

Roads? We’re paying higher fuel taxes but that money is going on public transport in Auckland not much-needed upgrades to roads in the provinces.

And the bus and rail not roads policy is costing jobs as businesses finishing roading  projects have no more work ahead of them.

Rail? That’s a very limited option that doesn’t go very far from routes taken by State Highway 1.

While politicians squabble over whether enough jobs are being created in the regions, the PGF is managing to create well-paid jobs here in Wellington.

The unit in charge of the fund’s doubled in size over the past year. There are now 116 employees. And 71 of them earn a salary of more than $100,000.

That’s around one job in Wellington for fewer than 20, full and part time in the provinces.

David Farrar calls the number of jobs created pitiful:

By comparison in 2016/17 there were 137,000 new jobs created which was 66 new jobs every working hour.

So Shane Jones has spent $300 million over two years and created what was basically one day of job growth under National!

New and growing businesses creating more jobs ought to be applauded, but in some areas the problem isn’t no jobs, it’s a shortage of workers for the jobs in already established businesses.

Employers in dairying, horticulture and hospitality are struggling to find staff willing and able to fill their vacancies.

The provinces would get more value from initiatives that would provide employable workers than they’re getting from the money scattered through the PGF.


H is for

November 19, 2019

When Labour, NZ First and the Green Party were in opposition they were very critical of National’s Cabinet Clubs through which people paid to attend meals at which senior politicians spoke.

Their criticism has dried up now they’re in government and Labour is charging $1500 for a lunch with Jacinda Ardern who happens to be Prime Minister but will be acting as Labour leader.

Running a political party and election campaigns costs a lot of money. It can be easier to get a sum like this from a few people than it is to raise a similar amount from a lot more people in much smaller amounts.

Anyone who thinks a politician can be bought for $1500 (minus the GST that will have to be paid), or even a lot more, has a very jaundiced view of the world and politicians.

I don’t have any concerns about this method of fundraising. I do have concerns about those who suggest state funding of political parties as an alternative.

And I’m not impressed with the hypocrisy from those who criticised National for raising funds this way but are saying nothing now it’s their end of the political spectrum doing it.

On the subject of hypocrisy, the Veteran  has spotted another large dose of it in Northland:

It appears that Labour has disregarded my quite inspired and well meaning advice that if  ‘they’ want to see Winston First back in parliament then they should have Kevin Davis go List only giving the Jones boy a clear run at the Te Tai Tokerau seat which he would win at a canter …

the prodigal son returning and all of that. I can report that Labour’s well respected Willow Jean Prime has been told she’s going to have to take one for the team and confine her campaigning to anywhere but Northland … Chatham Islands perhaps. . .

Labour did that to allow Winston Peters to win the Northland by-election.

That he wasn’t able to hold it at the next election ought to be a lesson for Northland voters who think another NZ First MP would be any better for them than the party’s leader was.

They should also learn from Southland, the West Coast and Taranaki where this government’s policies are doing far more harm than can be mitigated by dollops of money from the provincial slush fund.


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