Free Speech Coalition has funds to take ACC to court

July 12, 2018

The Free Speech Coalition has succeeded in its first goal – raising enough funds to take the Auckland City Council to court.

In less than 24 hours, the Free Speech Coalition has reached its $50,000 fundraising goal and will be engaging lawyers to bring judicial proceedings against Auckland Council for its ban on Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux at Council-owned venues.

Chris Trotter, who is supporting the Coalition, says, “Thank you to every New Zealander who has dug deep to support such an important cause.”

“We had hoped to raise this money by 5pm Friday. However, within the first day of this campaign we have been completely swamped by people pledging money to the cause – from $5 to $5,000.”

Melissa Derby, another supporter of the Coalition, says, “We look forward to setting a strong legal precedent that shows the use of publicly-owned venue cannot be dictated by the political whims of those in power.”

“For us this is not about helping these particular speakers, but in defending the rights of all New Zealanders to express and hear controversial views.” 

Stephen Franks calls Goff’s actions in denying the speakers the right to use council-owned venues a partisan abuse of political power:

He has claimed the power to decide which political views can be discussed in Auckland public halls.

If the Mayor of Auckland has that power it is no local matter. With it he could deny nearly half the population of New Zealand a practical chance to see and to assess for themselves any speaker the Mayor decided they should not be free to judge. He may claim he has that power to ban things he sees as inimical to the “social” or “cultural” health of his subjects.

The law deliberately gave the Auckland Mayor presidential authority plus a Council with limited power to control him. But even if the Councillors had normal council powers over Council officers and the Mayor, a Council should not have the power to stop people from meeting in public halls to hear and judge unpopular speakers.

The long established legal boundaries on freedom of expression are all the “protection” Councillors should be allowed to assert. Public authorities at both central and local government level should now be scrupulously secular and politically neutral in their stewardship of public assets.

The bitter struggle to win freedom of religion, thought and expression was marked by majority tyranny. . .

Freedom of assembly and speech may be even more important now, in the era of social media echo-chambers and bubbles. Most political and religious discourse is now in soundbite abbreviations. Many political debates never reach the public, except as a species of comedy, lampooned by ignorant scoffers in media programmes that specialise in mockery. There is little chance for people to get the kind of sustained sequential argument and discussion that happens at public meetings.

Mr Goff, somewhat ludicrously, said he will not allow divisive speech. He wants speech for unity. What about diversity Mr Goff. Have you turned your back on that? What do you seek from it? All thinking and speaking in unison? If our society has become so fragile it can’t handle awkward or unsettling speech or challenge, then it may be because young people have had too little practice.

STEFAN MOLYNEUX AND LAUREN SOUTHERN gave New Zealanders an opportunity to test their values – most especially their tolerance. Controversialists, almost by profession, these two Canadians espouse ideas which most Kiwis find extremely jarring. We have come to accept human equality and religious tolerance as the unequivocal markers of all decent and rational societies. For a great many people it is deeply offensive to hear these concepts challenged openly.

Over the past few days Molyneux and Southern have very skilfully tested our tolerance – and we have failed. They’ve also tested our ability to re-state, re-affirm and justify our commitment to freedom of expression. We failed that test too. . .

Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right provocateurs and a politically-correct Mayor.

When people across the political spectrum unite to protest, as they have over this, it pays to listen.

Few if any of them will support the speakers and their views. They are not fighting for them or their beliefs but for their right to express them.

Now that it has enough to take the council to the court, any further funds will be used to fight the case. You can donate to the FSC here. I have already.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2016

Hard to see where sheepmeat solution will come from – Allan Barber:

Not surprisingly farmers are dissatisfied with the state of the sheepmeat market. The impact of drought has brought about a near 20% increase in the kill for the first quarter in a season where the full year lamb kill is forecast to be 1.7 million lambs below last year.

Consequently this season, already characterised by a falling schedule, will come to an early finish. Meat processors will need to manage their capacity and seasonal plant closures very carefully if they are to avoid incurring unwanted costs. From the farmers’ point of view, uneconomic prices for lambs are accompanied by a lack of killing space for ewes, of which there are plenty waiting for capacity to free up. . . 

Another tough season ahead for farmers:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the on-farm cash income of farmers from all milk production this season will be under $4 per kgMS as a result of today’s news from dairy co-operative Fonterra that it is dropping its forecast Farmgate Milk Price to $4.15 per kgMS.

“That’s because some extra Fonterra payments for this season are shifting forward out of the 2015/16 season into 2016/17. Very little was carried over from 2014/15.

“This will have ongoing effects on farmers’ cashflows, their business equity and their ability to keep managing debt. The reduced milk price announcement today means our industry is facing a reduction in dairy revenues by around $800 million. That means $67,000 less in cash revenue for the average farm producing 150,000 kgMS. . . 

Farm scarce wildlife to take profits from poachers – Stephen Franks:

Cheaper DNA identification could soon end lucrative illegal trading in protected New Zealand wildlife. All it needs are some careful law changes. Maori could once again routinely feast on (farmed) kereru, without risk to wild populations.

Current law prohibits buying and selling threatened species. That is meant to prevent profiting from poaching. Illegal supply to meet legal commercial demand could strip wild breeding populations. But the prohibitions perversely increase the scarcity value that makes poaching lucrative.

Now DNA technology can cheaply and quickly identify the family of individuals in a population. It could tell which are descended from an authorised commercially bred line and which are from the wild population. . .

New Zealand wine exports reach record $1.5 billion high:

New Zealand wine exports have reached a new record high of $1.54 billion for the 2015 year, up 14% on 2014 according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

‘The new record level of wine exports is an outstanding achievement for New Zealand wine exporters and testifies to the strong global demand for our wines,’ said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries, and is New Zealand’s 6th largest export good. . . 

Man plans tractor trek after wife’s death:

Ten vintage tractors will travel the length of New Zealand next month to raise awareness and money for Hospice New Zealand.

Auckland man Phil Aish came up with the idea after the death of his wife Janice 15 months ago.

The Tractor Trek will begin in Bluff on 22 February and end almost a month later on 18 March in Cape Reinga.

Mr Aish said some tractors had been bought in Southland and some were being freighted to Bluff before the big trip. . . 

Purple haze proves a hit – Sally Rae:

Blake Foster has contemplated putting a warning sign on State Highway 80 that reads ‘‘caution, purple distraction ahead”.

For visitors to the Mackenzie district can now stop and smell the lavender – all 99,000 or so plants of it.

Situated on the Mt Cook highway, New Zealand Alpine Lavender is the largest certified organic lavender farm in the southern hemisphere. . . 

Wool Eases Slightly:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island wool auctions saw targeted buying with some categories firm to slightly dearer and others marginally easier.

Of the 19,800 bales on offer 93.7 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies remained similar to the last sale on 21th January, softening by 0.23 percent. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints new CEO:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed Sam McIvor as its new Chief Executive Officer. He will also have the role of CEO of the New Zealand Meat Board.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said McIvor is an experienced CEO who brings a range of strategic thinking and management experience to support both organisations’ work for sheep and beef farmers, and the broader sector.

McIvor is currently the Group General Manager Farm Operations at Ospri and he has held the roles of CEO Preston Corp Ltd and CEO of New Zealand Pork. . . 


Some would owe us

July 22, 2014

Stephen Franks has an innovative suggestion on incentive pay for MPs:

. . . When the Remuneration Authority was asking MPs about reform of the system 10 years ago, I urged that parties be given a material amount they could distribute among their members according to their pre-Parliament incomes, to do three things:

  • reduce the income cut involved in going to Parliament for people for whom there is much more to lose, and
  • reduce the overpayment of the kind or people who would never be thought useful enough outside Parliament to get anywhere near their Parliamentary income, so they don’t cling quite so desperately to their places; and
  • have the supplement reduce each year after entry to Parliament, to encourage turnover of people who have not progressed. . .

It would be very interesting to know how many MPs take a pay cut when they enter parliament and how many get an increase.

I can see why Franks’ suggestion could appeal but wages and salary are best based on what people are being paid to do rather than what they did in a previous position.

An MP like mine, Waitaki’s Jacqui Dean, has to service an electorate of 34,888 square kilometres which places far more demands on her than those with smaller electorates or in parliament through a party list.

However, while paying on performance would have appeal, how to judge that would be debatable.

Although this Twitter exchange, brought to my attention by Kiwiblog,  provides evidence some MPs are paid far more than they could possibly gain outside parliament:

Asenati Lole Taylor  could be a Minister in a Labour, Green, NZ First, Internet Mana Party government.

If this exchange is a fair reflection on her competence and she was paid on performance she’d owe us.


Rural round-up

April 18, 2014

A sense of proportion about risk, and be grateful for farmer success – Stephen Franks:

I look forward to playing with my latest farm toy. The family call it a ‘golf cart’. It is a UTV ( said by a Jim Mora Panel listener to mean ‘Utility Task Vehicle’) but more commonly referred to as a “side by side”.  As dairy farmers upgrade their gear in the dairy bonanza, the rest of rural New Zealand benefits from their second hand off-road wheels.

The farm bike then quad bike largely replaced the horse several decades ago. Now they in turn will be replaced by UTVs.

The safety over-lords expolit the injury rates on ATVs to get ordinary people to cower apologetically before them. Ignoring the drive of many of us to use our machines to the limit for the same kind of satisfaction as we get from mountain climbing, or playing rugby, or skiing fast, or even perhaps binge drinking, they force industry leaders into snivelling apologies for accidents that are inevitable if people are to continue to be free to choose their preferred levels of risk. . .    

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest have been released for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Dairy Women’s Network appoints Atiamuri dairy farmer to North Island convenor role:

Atiamuri dairy farmer Karen Forlong has been appointed North Island convenor coordinator for the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN).

In the 20-hours per week role, Forlong is charged with supporting 18 regional volunteers who run the Network’s regional groups from the top to the bottom of the North Island.

DWN chief executive Zelda de Villiers said the Network was delighted with Karen’s appointment.

“Karen brings a wealth of farming and leadership experience to the Network. Alongside her farming responsibilities she is on the board of Rotorua District Vets and is about to complete the Agri-Women Development Trust’s Escalator Programme. . .

 

Spreading the word on alternative tree species:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has announced that a project which aims to provide information for growers on alternative tree species has been approved for a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) grant.

“The project will focus specifically on cypresses and eucalypts. Both species groups have been successfully grown here on a wide range of site types for many years, but on a limited scale,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“When grown well, both cypresses and eucalypts produce high-value timber with a wide range of possible uses. They have a valuable role in soil conservation, improving water quality, providing shade and shelter, and increasing biodiversity.” . . .

$9.9m in funding for new sustainable farming projects:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the latest round of projects receiving funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), covering a range of issues from water quality to climate change.

“There are 31 approved projects in this round, with $9.9m in funding over three years coming from the Government and $8.7m from the project’s co-funders.

“The one common factor is they will deliver real economic and environmental benefits to New Zealand’s primary industries. They are driven from the grassroots and will make a real difference to regional communities.

“For example a project addressing water quality issues in the Opihi catchment aims to increase profitability and productivity while reducing the environmental impacts on catchment farms.   . .

Delegat’s founder Jim Delegat to step back from daily operations – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Jim Delegat, founder of Delegat’s Group, is stepping down from running the winemaker’s daily operations to focus on the company’s strategic direction.

From next month Delegat will take on the role executive chairman, where he will provide strategic direction and monitor performance, the company said in a statement. Graeme Lord will take over as managing director and will be responsible for developing growth plans, building a high performing organisation and executing business plans. Lord has been the general manager of global sales and market for the past six years. Current Delegat’s chairman Robert Wilton will remain on as a director. . . .

 

 


Bias in business as usual?

February 26, 2014

TVNZ has announced the panel to review the misuse of company resources and alleged political bias.

It includes media law expert Steven Price and broadcasting figure Bill Francis.

Price is a barrister specialising in media law and lectures at Victoria University of Wellington’s law school. Francis is the Chief Executive of the Radio Broadcasters Association with more than 45 years broadcasting experience. . .

The review panel will be chaired by Brent McAnulty, TVNZ’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs, and be joined by others as needed – to provide Maori language expertise, for instance.

The panel will investigate the inappropriate use of TVNZ resources within its Maori and Pacific Programmes department for political means between February 2013 and February 2014.

It will also determine whether any obvious political bias can be identified in the department’s programmes during that period or in Q+A interviews conducted by the former General Manager of Maori and Pacific Programmes, Shane Taurima, during his time on the show (March to November 2012).

Stephen Franks has a defence for Shane Taurima whose activism in the Labour Party sparked the investigation.

He and his colleagues may have grounds to claim to the just announced enquiry, that they thought the employer had acquiesced in their activism, or tacitly approved it. In other words they were simply getting with the programme.

Employment Courts often over-ride terms of employment contracts and express workplace rules, if they’ve been ignored in practice.

State broadcasters work in a milieu of implicit support for the left, and barely suppressed contempt for and suspicion of others. Maori in State broadcasting have been allowed for decades to act as if they’ve had an exemption from Broadcasting Standards requirements for balance. They’ve almost universally acted on a right to promote “Maori aspirations” (often equated to the Maori Party), to call the ‘race card’ on anyone who questions those “aspirations” irrespective of the legal orthodoxy of the question or challenge. . .

It would not take much diligence to find plenty of examples of decades long practice from which Maori broadcasters might assume that the obligations of objectivity and political neutrality were waived for them.

Any regular audience members of Maori and Pacific programmes on TV and radio could find examples to support this view.

Topics chosen, the angle taken on issues, the people chosen to comment on them as well as the questions asked and the way they’re asked can all result in a lack of balance and fairness.

Business as usual can easily be biased, intentionally or not, if a particular world view is accepted without question.

 

 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2014

Syndicate farming a growing venture – Sue O’Dowd:

School didn’t fit the bill for a young Taranaki man wanting to party and make money.

The man behind Taranaki’s Farm Venture, a business that establishes syndicates to buy and operate dairy farms in Taranaki and the King Country, wanted to get on with life.

Tim Barrett was a pupil at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth and principal Brother Peter Bray was adamant he wanted the 15-year-old to stay at school so he could go to university.

“But I had stuff I wanted to do,” the now 50-year-old millionaire businessman said, “and I needed money to do it.” .

So Barrett got his way and embarked on a farming career. He managed to fit in some partying but he was more focused on becoming a farmer, so he followed the traditional path of working for wages and as a variable order and 50/50 sharemilker to dairy farm ownership at Te Kiri in South Taranaki. Along the way he also spent a year in Canada working on beef and cropping farms. . .

Changing world for sheep farming and sheep meat – Allan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the world for sheep farming, processing and sheep meat has changed dramatically, particularly in the past 30 years.

The age of massive single shift plants, high wool prices, large stations, the frozen carcase trade with the UK and farm subsidies has disappeared for ever. It has been replaced by a new era in which the main characteristics are no subsidies, less sheep and lambs, smaller, more flexible plants, an increasing proportion of chilled product, higher value co-products with less income from wool, and progressively more trade with markets other than the UK and Europe.

To a casual observer or time traveller who has spent the last 30 years elsewhere, there are still some obvious similarities, but a more careful study would show the differences pretty quickly. For example the swathes of irrigated land from mid Canterbury to Southland with dairy cattle instead of sheep grazing, thousands of hectares now covered with vines in Central Otago, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, the size of lambs going to slaughter, the volume and price of wool at auction and the number of saleyards round the country would all indicate more than a token shift in farming practice. . .

The South Island’s best farmer grows grapes:

The colourful Peter Yealands, who was named 2013 South Island Farmer of the Year, is hosting the winner’s Field Day at his multi award winning Marlborough winery this Thursday (13 February).

“Federated Farmers congratulates the Lincoln University Foundation for recognising the best of South Island farming through its South Island Farmer of the Year competition,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“This Thursday, farmers will have a chance to see just why Marlborough entrepreneur and winemaker, Peter Yealands, was named the South Island’s best farmer for 2013.

“From biological lawn mowers using “baby-doll” sheep to his overall ‘vine to bottle’ approach, the Lincoln Foundation is right to say the knowledge shared at this field day will not just be inspirational, but have relevance to all primary industries. . .

Loyalty and contribution to the betterment of the people of Sarawak honoured:

A man whose career has been marked by an outstanding ability to relate to people across a wide spectrum, from poor indigenous farmers and their communities through to commercial agribusiness and industrial companies, senior government officials and political figures at state and federal level, was today (11 February) awarded the Lincoln Alumni International Medal.

Datu Dr Ngenang Ak Jangu of Sarawak, Malaysia has made an outstanding contribution in his home country, in his chosen field of agriculture.

The Lincoln Alumni International Medal is awarded to a former student, or a past or current staff member of Lincoln University who, in the opinion of the Lincoln University Council, has made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field, and brought credit to Lincoln University through achievements in a country other than New Zealand. . .

Weakened milk price predicted to fall back to $7 – Gerald Piddock:

An expected softening in milk prices in mid 2014 has bank economists predicting a milk price of around $7/kg milk solids for the 2014-15 season.

This weakened payout is predicted to occur when northern hemisphere production peaks later this year. The resulting extra supply would push prices down, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said. The bank had forecast an opening price of $7.10/kg MS for the 2014-15 season.

“We’re expecting dairy prices to soften a little bit over the course of 2014 as global supply increases.

“It was still a good price. It’s not quite as good as 2013-2014, but not too bad either.” . . .

A floral fight against green terrorists:

Flower power is alive and well in the Waikato. No, it’s not a hemp-wearing, nettle-tea drinking hippy commune promoting pacifism. Rather, depending on where you stand in the food chain, this one’s a bit more sinister. In fact, it’s designed for death.

No need to alert the authorities, however. The horror is taking place at a more microscopic level, and it’s all for a good cause.

To promote biodiversity and reduce the use of pesticides, award winning food company Snap Fresh Foods has teamed up with Lincoln University to harness the pest-killing attributes of flowers. More to the point, the flowers are being used to attract the right kind of killer insects. . .

Enjoy your kiwi heritage – rafting the Clarence – Stephen Franks:

I’ve just come off 6 days rafting down the Clarence River with 13 friends. We’re raving about good times that surpassed all expectation.

The river starts above Hanmer and reaches the sea near Kaikoura. Rafting it should be on every New Zealander’s heritage ‘must do’ list, like the Otago Rail Trail.

Do it for the scale of the country, its emptiness, the clarity of the sky, the alternating serenity and rush of rafting. Do it to enjoy the chatter of your raft-mates, the walking and climbing from campsites among scrub and snowgrass. Do it to swim in deep blue pools and drink the water you swim in all the way down. Do it to boil the billy on wood fires and taste the difference between manuka  and willow smoke in your tea. Do it to be without electronic contact for the entire trip.

Do it to sip your Waipara wines as the swallows zip and dart over your camp after insects in the evening. . . .


Booklet botch-up update

October 4, 2013

The public is responding to a call from Franks & Ogilvie for information on the scale of the election booklet botch-up:

“It appears that the problem could be more widespread than hoped” says Stephen Franks, a principal of the firm.  “We now know that whole families have received booklets missing up to 18 candidates.”

“Some New Zealanders overseas appear to have been badly affected.  For many the election booklet is their only source of information.  They can’t follow the campaigns in local media or go to meetings.”

“To be eligible for the prizes, booklets containing missing pages must be sent to us and received by Monday the 7th of October.  We encourage all New Zealanders to check that the information booklet they received has all of the pages, and contains every candidate that is listed on the voting paper.  Once voting is over and the books discarded, it will be much harder to ascertain whether the integrity of local body elections has been materially affected,” concludes Mr Franks.

It’s a sorry reflection on political engagement that information in the booklet could influence voters to any significant degree.

That it can, makes it vital that entries are correct and comprehensive.

Incorrect details or missing out even one candidate is concerning, that is is more widespread needs to be investigated.


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