NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

June 14, 2016

Old meets new on China’s farms – Sally Rae:

The vast region of Inner Mongolia is an important agricultural producer in China. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae pays a visit.

The sight of an elegantly dressed woman, complete with red high heels, unloading sheep at a saleyards in Inner Mongolia is a little unusual.

But it is China after all.

Expect the unexpected.

Having spotted a small truck carrying a load of sheep, a detour proves enlightening for a group of Silver Fern Farm shareholders as the truck is destined for a sheep-trading centre in Wuchuan county, surrounding the capital city of Hohhot. . . 

Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming Samantha Hayes:

The annual Fieldays farming extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday in Hamilton, bringing together farmers and 1008 exhibitors.

More than 120,000 people are expected through the farm gates at Mystery Creek between Wednesday and Saturday, but with falling dairy prices over the past two seasons will it be the money-go-round of previous years?

Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year. The trade show contributed $396 million to New Zealand’s economy, with Waikato’s slice of the pie totalling $132 million. . . 

Results of Fonterra shareholder voting at special meeting:

Fonterra’s Board and Shareholders’ Council will consider adjustments to the recommendations on the Co-operative’s governance and representation model with a view to bringing a revised proposal back to farmer shareholders before the end of the year.

This follows today’s Special Meeting where farmer shareholders did not pass a resolution regarding changes to Fonterra’s Constitution and Shareholders’ Council By-laws. 63.74 per cent of votes cast were in favour of the changes but under Fonterra’s Constitution 75 per cent support was required for the changes to be accepted. . . 

Back to the drawing board for Fonterra governance – Keith Woodford:

The key message from this month’s failed governance restructure vote is that Fonterra’s directors and the Shareholders’ Council must go back to the drawing board. Farmers do want change, but nothing can happen without 75% support from voting members.  So where to from here?

 Calculated over the total membership, approximately 37% of the voting electorate said ‘yes’ to the proposals, 21% said ‘no’, and 42% sat on the sidelines. Those 42% on the sidelines were either confused, disenchanted, or distracted by other events.

It is hard to believe that any of Fonterra’s farmers could consider themselves to be disinterested. This is because, unlike most investors who have diversified holdings across many companies, Fonterra’s farmers are totally dependent on Fonterra.   It is a very special relationship. . . 

Govt mulling options after velvetleaf outbreak:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says he had “strong words” with his Italian counterpart after seeds imported from Italy led to a potentially costly outbreak of velvetleaf.

Labour has called for the company behind the beet seed importation to be prosecuted, but MPI is still considering its options.

The contaminated seed has been sown on more than 250 properties from Southland to Waikato, and is linked to beet seeds imported from Italy. . . 

Horticulture Supports Primary Sector Skills Funding:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes a new pilot programme which aims to encourage tertiary education providers to work more closely with primary industry.

The new programme will introduce a competitive process to the allocation of the $35 million annually spent on tuition for study in tertiary level primary sector qualifications.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced the new approach saying it would increase the tertiary sector’s responsiveness to industry education and training needs. . . 

ViBERi – NZ’s own organic blackcurrants – Just A Farmer’s Wife:

This week I was introduced to a fantastic, locally grown, superfood that is produced organically,  just 15 minutes from my door step – Organic Blackcurrants by ViBERi, Owned by Tony and Afsaneh Howey.

The packaging has caught my eye many times on supermarket shelving, local cafes and health food stores. As I knew little about them I never took it any further but made a note in my blog diary to look into them. In a strange twist of fate, just one week later I bump into Afsaneh, at Strawberry Divine (The local ice cream shop). Had a quick chat and got handed her card and flier with an offer to stop by!

Of course I cannot resist and here I am! Afsaneh was fantastic and took me for a look around the pristine facility and popped my head through the door of the sorting and packaging room where the overwhelming smell of sweet berries and even sweeter chocolate hit me like a freight train. (If they could bottle that smell I would buy it!). . . .


Rural round-up

June 2, 2016

Friendly family rivalry at dog trials – Sally Rae:

Technically, Roger and Steph Tweed are rivals on the huntaway courses at the South Island and New Zealand sheep dog trial championships at Omarama.

But Mr Tweed (55) could not be prouder of his daughter as she competes with her dog, Grit, the offspring of his own champion trial dog, Gemma.

“It’s very special,” the Waitahuna farmer said, referring to the fact both he and his daughter had qualified to compete at the championships.

Miss Tweed (24), now a shepherd on a station at Taihape, started dog-trialling when she was still at school. . . 

Internet bargain takes on the best – Sally Rae:

Ben the heading dog was not a bad buy as far as internet purchases go.

The dog, which spent his early months as a pet, was bought by Nastassja Tairua for $300 after she spied him advertised for sale. He was 15 months old and had never seen a sheep. 

Miss Tairua trained the young dog and he proved to be a willing learner. He went on to win the Tux South Island maiden yarding event with her. . . 

Veteran still enjoys dogs’ life – Sally Rae:

Les Roughan has the distinction of being the oldest competitor at this year’s South Island and New Zealand sheepdog trial championships at Omarama.

Last year, the 92-year-old could have claimed another milestone, as one of the more senior Kiwis to undergo open-heart surgery. But he turned it down in favour of a heart valve.

“I wouldn’t have it. They said ‘why?’. I said … it would be six months away from my dogs. When I was fit to go back to them, they wouldn’t know me and I wouldn’t know them. . . 

Man admits abusing Waikato bobby calves:

A man who was captured on video abusing bobby calves in the Waikato has admitted animal cruelty charges.

Noel Piraku Erickson, 38, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of cruelty or ill treatment of an animal in the Huntly District Court on Thursday.

The seasonal worker was charged by the Ministry for Primary Industries after video emerged in November from animal welfare group SAFE which showed showed bobby calves being roughly handled. . . 

DairyNZ CalvingSmart events will set farmers up for a successful calving season:

DairyNZ is running CalvingSmart events in June and July to help farmers approach the calving season with confidence.

The CalvingSmart event is a full day programme for the whole farm team. Farmers can choose from a series of sessions for different experience levels, enabling them to develop practical skills that will help the calving season go well.

For senior management, there is a session on calf care and farmers’ responsibilities under the new draft animal welfare regulations. . . 

Govt approves updated AgResearch Future Footprint Plan:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has announced that shareholding ministers have approved AgResearch’s updated Future Footprint Programme (FFP) business case which will reconfigure the Institute’s operations across four sites with an investment of $133 million in buildings and other infrastructure.

“AgResearch has presented a strong business case for change,” Mr Joyce says. “The FFP will modernise its facilities and co-locate research staff doing complementary work at the Palmerston North and Lincoln campuses.

“These campuses will form part of larger innovation hubs with other partners including tertiary institutions, Crown Research Institutes and industry researchers. The hubs will focus on food science in Palmerston North, and land-based sustainable productivity at Lincoln Hub.” . . .

Fonterra Management Appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced new appointments for two of its senior leaders.

Mike Cronin, who is currently Group Director Governance and Legal, is stepping into the newly created role of Managing Director Corporate Affairs, effective immediately.

Announcing the appointment today, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said Mike’s connection with the business, and its risk and reputation drivers, makes him the natural choice for this role. . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2016

Forging a path for other young Maori women to follow :

Confidence and self-belief have always help Ash-Leigh Campbell achieve her goals in the dairy industry – and she hopes her success will inspire more young Maori women to follow her lead.

“You have to back yourself. If you know you can do it, everyone around you will eventually buy into that too,” she says.

The enthusiastic 25 year-old from Lincoln is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Awards and has big career ambitions.

“I don’t see myself as an industry leader now but the journey I’m on will hopefully fulfil that in future.

“I definitely want to make an imprint on Maori farming in New Zealand and become an ambassador for others. I especially want to publicise that Maori females can do it.” . . .

Up and coming Agri:

The children are the future, but how well do they know the in’s and out’s of agri? 17-year-old Greer Baldwin, an Agribusiness student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, sat down with us to give the inside scoop.

Despite not growing up on a farm, Greer has been around agri her whole life. Her Mum, Karen, works in Agri-tourism and the Baldwin family have been involved at National Fieldays for generations. Karen’s line of work allows overseas visitors to experience a real life Kiwi farm in action and is an interesting line of tourism a lot of young people aren’t aware of.

Thanks to Greer’s experience with her mother’s business, she has grown up fully aware that agri is more than gumboots and milking cows, and now has her sights set on studying agriculture at a tertiary level. Born and bred in the Waikato, Greer is excited to branch away from home and is tossing up between either Massey or Lincoln University where she will study agribusiness and tourism. . . 

New irrigation investments for Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $7.85 million into irrigation projects in Canterbury from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“These projects are a real boost to the Canterbury regional economy. A reliable source of water gives farmers certainty and options to invest in such as arable, intensive pastoral, dairy support or horticulture.”

The projects receiving funding are: . . 

Government supports Ashburton water study trial:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has allocated $312,000 to a trial project in the Hinds Plains area which aims to improve water quality and restore spring-fed flows.

The funding comes from MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) and the announcement was acknowledged by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, during his visit to Canterbury today.

David Caygill, Environment Canterbury Deputy Chair of Commissioners, welcomed the announcement which will allow the Regional Council to carry out the Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot Study in an area where groundwater nitrate concentrations are well above the national bottom-line. . . 

Central Plains schemes receive government support:

Government support for the Central Plains Water (CPW) Scheme was announced today by the Ministry for Primary Industries during a visit to the scheme by Minister Nathan Guy.

Through the Ministry for Primary Industries Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), up to $6.64 million has been allocated to CPW to support completion of Stage 2 of their scheme’s development as well as $898,000 for the Sheffield Irrigation Scheme (a sub-scheme of CPW).

CPWL CEO, Derek Crombie has welcomed the latest funding announcements for the two projects. . . 

Change in responsibilities for Crown irrigation bodies:

A change in responsibilities for the Government’s irrigation programmes will help streamline and speed up water storage projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

From 1 July, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will take over the responsibility for funding grants to regional irrigation schemes in the early stages of development, which are matched by local backers. This role has previously been carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“It makes sense to have a single agency looking after this funding as well as CIIL’s current role of commercially investing in projects which are investment-ready,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Hold on tight farmers, the future is bright – Farmers’ Forum experts:

Leading industry speakers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held in Hamilton this week reaffirmed the view that while another year of low milk prices is on the horizon, the long-term outlook for dairy remains bright.

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings and Rabobankhead of food and agribusiness research and advisory, Tim Hunt, all reiterated that global demand for dairy products will continue to grow.

Mr English said in the government’s view, the dairy industry will remain the engine room of growth as the second biggest New Zealand exporter behind tourism. But facing up to the reduced milk price is the current challenge. . . 

Fonterra expected to lift milk price – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra is expected to lift its farmgate milk price payout to farmers next season, although it’s likely to mark the third year of prices below the level required by most farmers to break even.

The company is scheduled to hold a board meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and may release its opening milk price forecast for the 2016/17 season early Thursday morning. Analysts in a BusinessDesk survey expect a payout of at least $4.43 per kilogram of milk solids for next season, up from a $3.90/kgMS forecast payout for the 2015/16 season, and from $4.40/kgMS in 2014/15.

DairyNZ estimates the average farmer required $5.25/kgMS to cover costs this season and hasn’t yet finalised a break-even price for next season. . . 

Sharemilkers lose 49 cows and $73,000 to nitrate poisoning – Gerard Hutching:

Waikato sharemilkers Cam and Tessa Hodgson have lost 49 cows to nitrate poisoning, which could cost them up to $73,000. 

Nitrate poisoning happens as animals graze, and often occurs after a drought when there are high levels of nitrogen in the soil, and is exacerbated by humid, cloudy conditions. 

Cam’s brother Matthew Hodgson has started a givealittle page for them, saying their passion is farming “and to see the cows die in front of them is heartbreaking to them”. . . 

Farmers can cope with stress during busy times – Jill Galloway:

Experts suggest the best way farmers can cope with busy times is by exercising, sleeping and eating well and to never stop talking with people.

Wairarapa farmer, phycologist and rural trust co-ordinator Sarah Donaldson gave stress hints to about 50 people, mainly farmers as well as bank people, trust organisers and rural professionals at last week’s Beef & Lamb New Zealand AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North.

She said it was hard to recognise stress. . .

Food Safety Science & Research Centre launched:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister JoGoodhew today launched the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Formed as a partnership between government, industry organisations and research institutions, the virtual centre aims to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world.

“The centre will use the best science available to protect and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a producer of safe and  trustworthy food,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

New Zealand Apple Industry the most competitive in the World:

New Zealand’s $700 million apple industry has again been named the world’s most competitive performer.

The World Apple Report, out this week, ranks New Zealand first over 33 major apple producing countries.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said it is a great achievement to have a competitive edge over the world and to keep holding the position. . .  

Johne’s disease solutions available:

Help is at hand for dairy farmers facing a problem with Johne’s disease in their cattle.

LIC is reminding farmers of the options available from their herd improvement co-operative to help them manage the disease, including diagnostic testing and a comprehensive Johne’s disease management guide developed by experts.

“We know Johne’s disease can be a stressful and frustrating challenge for many dairy farmers,” LIC GM Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. “We want to make sure farmers know there are tools available that can help them manage the disease in their stock.” . . 

 


Stuck in anger

February 23, 2016

After our first son, Tom, died I found myself getting angry over all sorts of things that normally wouldn’t have worried me.

It was only at a Women in Agriculture day, entitled beyond aspirin for feelings that are a pain in the neck that I worked out why.

I didn’t blame anyone for Tom’s death. He had a degenerative brain disorder and we had both had the best possible care from the start of my pregnancy.

But what I learned that day made me realise that although I didn’t blame anyone and it was no-one’s fault, I was still very angry that the son we’d loved had died.

The facilitator taught us to name, claim and tame our feelings. Once I’d named the anger and claimed it – worked out what I was feeling, why and the effect it was having on me – I was able to tame it and pull myself away from it.

I was reminded of this while reading about the man who allegedly chucked the muck at Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee:

The man who allegedly tipped a chocolate and flour mixture over Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee lost his son in the February 2011 earthquake.

John Howland arrived at the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday on what would have been the 20th birthday of his son, Jayden Andrews-Howland.

He said he attacked Brownlee “to prove a point”. . . 

“The Government, they’re heartless.” Howland said.

“They don’t listen to people. They don’t care about us, don’t care about nobody.”

Howland said he had been planning the move on Brownlee “for a few years” and hoped his actions would make the Government “get their s… together and sort this blimmin city out and all the people that are suffering. It’s just bulls…. I’ve just had enough”. . . .

The only point he’s proved is that he’s stuck in anger.

Attacking the Minister at any time would be wrong. To do it after yesterday’s memorial service to quake victims was also insensitive and lacked respect for the others who were at the service to commemorate their own losses.

This is the third time a government minister has had something thrown at them by angry people in the last couple of weeks.

The first was the dildo that Steven Joyce copped at Waitangi, to which he responded in good humour.

The second was the glitter-bombing of Prime Minister John Key at the Big Gay Out.

And the muck chucked yesterday completes the shabby trifecta.

In an editorial, published before yesterday’s muck-chuck, the Listener opines:

Josie Butler wasn’t exactly breaking new ground when she hurled a rubber dildo at Cabinet minister Steven Joyce on Waitangi Day. Her choice of missile may have been novel, but the nature of the act was ­wearisomely familiar.

Elements of the protest movement clearly regard physical assaults on politicians as a legitimate tactic. Don Brash, then leader of the National Party, was struck hard in the face with a clod at Waitangi in 2004. More recently, brothers John and ­Wikitana Popata assaulted Prime Minister John Key at Te Tii Marae in 2009 – an act that their uncle, Hone Harawira, then a Maori Party MP, gave every ­impression of excusing.

It doesn’t need to be Waitangi Day for the angry and dis­affected to justify hands-on attacks. Act MP John Boscawen was speaking in a debate during the Mt Roskill by-election campaign in 2009 when a rival candidate, campaigning on a “People Before Profit” ticket, smeared a lamington on his head. And when broadcaster Paul Henry tried to enter Auckland’s SkyCity Casino for a charity lunch – unconnected with politics – in May 2015, he was jostled, menaced, abused and spat on by a screaming mob purporting to be concerned about child poverty. . . 

Butler’s dildo attack prompted a commendably droll response from Joyce, who tweeted that someone should send a video to British comedian John Oliver – noted for his lampooning of New Zealand as a weird place – and “get it over with”. Sure enough, Oliver devoted more than four minutes of his HBO show Last Week Tonight to the item. But amid all the chortling, he made a serious point: “If you threw something at a politician in this country, you’d be dead before the dildo hit the ground.” That, at least, is a point of difference about which New ­Zealanders can be proud.

Levity aside, there’s another serious issue here. Physical attacks – whether with a dildo, a lump of earth, a lamington or a gob of spit – are not part of the repertoire of legitimate protest. They are an intrusion on the rights of others. They are also a sad admission that gestures of inarticulate rage are too often preferred over the skills of reasoned debate.

It matters not whether any serious harm is done in such incidents. In a civilised, liberal democracy, people engaging in politics are entitled to expect that basic rights, such as freedom of speech and movement, will be respected. It’s legitimate to ask what would have happened had the Waitangi attack been aimed at Jacinda Ardern, say – if she had been hit in the face by a big rubber teat thrown by a skinhead protesting about refugee immigration.

Some might consider it not to be funny if a woman gets hit. Yet a female journalist was in fact struck on the breast by Butler’s dildo after it bounced off Joyce.

There is no question that throwing a missile hard enough to hit two people constitutes assault, though Butler appears to have escaped prosecution. So what happens now if young people are punished for throwing rubber missiles at teachers or students with whom they disagree? Are they not entitled to cry “hypocrisy”?

The reality is that Brash, Key and Joyce were entitled to go to Waitangi to celebrate our national day without risk of assault. Similarly, Boscawen was entitled to take part in a political debate without being subjected to the humiliation of having a lamington planted on his head. The boundaries of reasonable protest will always be blurred but ­physical intimidation is never acceptable. It constitutes an assault on democracy itself.

It’s also counterproductive, since it conflicts with most New Zealanders’ views about how public life should be conducted. This may not bother hard-core protesters but it is a problem for the wider left, because as long as ideological zealots continue to parade their angry intolerance, the mainstream left will be tarnished by association. . . 

There is a place for righteous anger but there was nothing righteous about these protests.

The first two were political, the third partly political and partly what appears to be unresolved grief.

Regardless of the motivation, throwing toys, glitter bombing and chucking muck are not legitimate forms of protest.

Freedom of expression brings with it the responsibility to express it without infringing other people’s rights.

In New Zealand we have remarkably unfettered access to our Members of Parliament.

People who let their anger overcome them as these three protesters did, do nothing for their cause, potentially endanger their targets and innocent bystanders, and threaten the accessibility the rest of us have to politicians.

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

February 13, 2016

Proliant’s Feilding plant expected to bolster Manawatu economy – Paul Mitchell:

Proliant’s new cattle blood plasma manufacturing plant in Feilding is expected to be a huge boost to Manawatu’s economy.

The $30 million plant takes blood from cattle and makes it into products such as diagnostic test kits and vaccines for research and in drug production.

It was officially opened on Friday by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Vision Manawatu regional manager Mark Hargreaves said the benefits to the region’s economy started two years ago with the plant’s construction bringing a lot of jobs to Manawatu contractors and freight companies.  . . 

Proliant Biologicals Opens New Zealand Facility:

Proliant Biologicals is proud to announce the opening of its New Zealand Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) manufacturing facility. The facility is located on the North Island of New Zealand, in Feilding.

The facility was designed and constructed to replicate the “Closed Loop” system, developed and instituted in Proliant’s U.S. facility located in Boone, Iowa. The equipment design and installation was done to functionally duplicate the systems in the U.S. facility, with critical processing systems coming from the same vendors used for U.S. installations. . . 

All about fariness – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group is addressing inequality not accumulating fresh capital by deducting money from suppliers’ animal payments, chairman Murray Taggart says.  

From today the co-op will deduct 50c a head from lamb, sheep and calves, $2 a head from deer and $6 a head from cattle for shareholders who need to increase their shareholding to match their supply calculated on a three-year rolling average.  

Taggart said the move was about creating equitable shareholding and not a capital-raising move. . . 

MIE won’t get B+LNZ backing:

Two remits being presented by the Meat Industry Excellence to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting next month won’t get the industry-good board’s backing.  

The board considered both the remits and agreed not to support either, chairman James Parson said.  

In its push for reform, despite an agreement for Chinese company Shanghai Maling to buy into Silver Fern Farms, MIE last week notified two remits it would present to the B+LNZ meeting on March 23.  

The remits would be mailed with the B+LNZ voting papers this week with MIE chairman Dave McGaveston urging farmers to get thinking early. . . 

Dairy farmers visit Vatican for help – Chris McCullough:

European dairy farmers have reached out to Pope Francis for some spiritual blessing, in the hope it can help boost the ailing milk sector.

Around 140 dairy farmers, who are members of the European Milk Board, travelled to the Vatican in Rome to ask the Pope for some assistance.

They travelled from France, Lithuania and many other countries, all asking for the same thing, a future for their industry. . . 

Red wine and a dinner party – Grassroots Media:

I promise this isn’t a blog about the effects of red wine after a dinner party. Ok maybe it is, but not in the way you’re thinking.

In May 2015 I saw myself at a cross roads – ‘What did my future hold?’ I had a secure job, I was working with great people but felt I was missing a little something.

It turns out that little something, was a big challenge.

While having drinks with the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership cohort in Wellington, I came across participants of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator course, who were also enjoying a wine or two. There, I met two women who would eventually change the road I was travelling on. . . 

 

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank's photo.


Joyce writes to TPP protesters

February 11, 2016

Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce has penned an open letter to TPP protesters:

An open letter to all TPP protesters, 

Dear protesters,

I’ve been listening to you over the past few years, months and weeks. Last week I literally took it on the chin in defence of the TPP.

You have been accusing the Government of not opening up and giving information. So, I’d like to take the opportunity to set the record straight on a few matters. 

I would like to make the point that trade access is hugely important for a small country like New Zealand. Without fair and equal trade access we can’t sell as many of our goods and we get less for them. And that means fewer jobs.

In particular it’s about jobs in regional New Zealand and in our small farming communities like those in the Far North who are hugely dependent on whether our farmers and exporters can sell their goods. And that it’s really hard selling meat into Japan with a 38.5% tariff on what the locals charge.

Investor state dispute resolution is hugely more likely to help New Zealand than hinder it. We already have an independent justice system that protects the legitimate activities of all sorts of companies including large multi-national ones so nothing much really changes for us unless we start doing something like nationalising companies at a fraction of their value. However having an independent process might be helpful for our companies in countries where the court system is perhaps not quite as independent.

Some people who have been really loud in this debate just reject the whole concept of trade. People like Jane Kelsey would roll back the China FTA, the Korean one, the South East Asia one, any one of them. Because they just really don’t like trade for ideological reasons. I would point out, that without the China FTA we would have been a very quiet country after the GFC. A country that would be able to afford far fewer of the medicines that some are rightly concerned about access to.

There are others who say that they support free trade, but not this deal. They try to say that this one is worse and yet can’t point to why. It was negotiated by the same fine officials that negotiated all the other deals, contains very similar clauses, and the same trade-offs. You can’t help feeling that for those people this is about politics, not trade. Perhaps they are grumpy that their lot is not signing the deal.

There are those who say it sacrifices our sovereignty. Well, how can that be so? We have the sovereign right to withdraw from any trade agreement at any time. There is no one holding us to any of them. However there is a reason that we tend not to leave. We’d have to give up the benefits as well as the costs and so far the benefits have obviously outweighed any costs every time.

There are even those who say it’s anti-democratic; even though the current government was elected more than once on supporting the TPP, and the elected parliament has to approve the legislation. The next logical democratic test would be for the loud fence-sitters of the Labour Party to go to the next election promising to scrap the TPP, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that one.

There are also those that are opposed to the TPP because people don’t know enough about it. What a pity then that those at Te Tii Marae didn’t take up the rare opportunity of hearing from and discussing the issue with the elected leader of our country.
I too would have been happy to have this discussion last week and indeed just had it at the Iwi Leaders meeting, before one person decided the answer was to throw her toy. 

The most important point I’d want to make is the reason behind why this government is doing signing this deal. Because every one of us cares about the future of this country. We want it to provide good jobs for our people, good security for our families, and a big enough national income that we can afford the best health care and the best education services. It is our sincere belief that this agreement will help us do that for New Zealanders.

I have been privileged to follow at close quarters the progress of this deal over many months. I think our negotiators have done a great job for New Zealand. We didn’t get everything we wanted, and nor do we ever. But the result of their work is that more Kiwis will have jobs and opportunities to bring up their families while living in this country. And that’s worth signing up for.

He also used the response to the Prime Ministers Statement to speak about the TPP:

The transcript is here:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): Mr Deputy Speaker, firstly, may I say that I hope you had a good summer break. I hope it was relaxing. Mine was, thank you. I rode a horse, grew my vegetables, went to the Wairarapa and to the Hawke’s Bay and Coromandel. I went up north last week—pretty relaxing up there. I had a launch of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan. We had a visit from the occasional visitor to Northland, the current MP Mr Peters. I also had, it is fair to say, a reasonably well-reported experience with an unmanned aerial vehicle.

It was an interesting day indeed at Waitangi. I have been thinking about that day on the odd occasion since, and I have been thinking about the protesters. I have been thinking about them because they have had, obviously, a lot to say—and fair enough, too; it is the nature of protest. But a lot of what they have had to say has been very interesting. Primarily, they have accused this Government of not opening up and giving information.

I think the Trans-Pacific Partnership is very important. I think it is one of the political fault lines about whether we are going to be forward-looking as a country, embracing the opportunities that the world provides to us in an open, competitive environment that gives our exporters and farmers a chance to succeed; or take a backward-looking, defensive position, where the world is out to get us and we should just try to crouch down and hope the world goes away, which is what some of the other Opposition politicians promote.

So I would like to devote a small amount of time this afternoon to making a few points about trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I would like to make the point that trade access is hugely important for a small country like New Zealand. It is not just important; it is hugely important. Without fair and equal trade access, we cannot sell as much of our goods, we get less for them, and that means fewer jobs and lower incomes.

In particular, it is about jobs in regional New Zealand, in our small farming communities like those in the far north that I visited last week, who are rightly looking for opportunities for their young people to be employed. It is about the people who know it is really hard selling meat into Japan with a 38.5 percent tariff over what the locals are able to sell it for. It is about the people who are trying to sell kiwifruit , or ice cream , into Trans-Pacific Partnership countries.

I heard the Leader of the Opposition pooh-poohing the dairy benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership today. Well, there is a small ice cream company on the Hauraki Plains , which has been started by international investors, that is providing jobs to those people who would appreciate the opportunity to sell ice cream into the US and Japan. I am told by the protesters about investor-State dispute resolutions. Well, that is hugely more likely to help New Zealand than hinder it. We already have an independent justice system that protects the legitimate activities of all sorts of companies, including large multinational ones, which, if they feel wronged, can go to court in this country.

Nothing will change for us, unless we start doing something like nationalising companies at, I do not know, 5 percent of their value—and then we would have other problems anyway. But the investor-State dispute settlement provides opportunities for New Zealand companies in countries where the court system is perhaps not quite as independent. Some people have been really loud in this debate, but reject the whole concept of trade. Why would you listen to Jane Kelsey if you are actually interested in trade? Give Jane her due: she hates trade agreements. She would roll back the China free-trade agreement, she would roll back the Korea free-trade agreement, she would roll back the South-east Asia free-trade agreement—any one of them—so why would you get advice from her? She is hardly likely to provide advice that is reasonable and balanced.

I would like to point out that without the China free-trade agreement we would have been a quiet country after the global financial crisis , a country that would be able to afford far fewer of the medicines that those protesters claim to be concerned about having access to. There are others who say that they support free trade, but not this deal. They try to say “This one is worse.”, but yet they cannot point to why it is worse. They keep talking about all sorts of things. It was negotiated by the same officials—including Tim Groser , who used to be an official—who negotiated all the other deals. It has similar trade-offs , similar clauses—and it is just not good enough, apparently. Perhaps they are grumpy that their lot did not sign the deal. I do not know. But that is a ridiculous way to approach the arrangement.

Then there are those who say it sacrifices our sovereignty. I had an experience, as we know, with somebody who said that—well, not quite in those words—last week. How can that be so? We have the sovereign right to withdraw from any trade deal at any time—any trade deal at any time. I understand that with the Trans-Pacific Partnership it is 6 months’ notice, then you are out. We never do withdraw, but why not? Because we would have to give up the benefits as well as the costs, and every single Government has said that the benefits are worth having, and they have not walked away.

Then there are those who even say it is anti-democratic, though the current Government has been elected—I do not know, once, twice, three times on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the elected Parliament has to approve the legislation. That is democracy. I have got an idea: if it is about democracy, why do the protesters not persuade the guy who is trying to sound like he agrees with them to actually go to the country in 2017 with a commitment to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a commitment to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership? He should stop waffling around, and wander out there and say: “I’m with you, protesters. I agree with you. I’ll pull New Zealand out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” Then we can have a further democratic test about the future of this legislation.

The most important point I want to make today is the reason why this Government is doing this, because everyone on this side of the House cares about the future of this country. We wanted to provide good jobs for our people, security for our families, and a big enough national income so that we can afford the best health care , the best education services, and so on, that my friend the toy-thrower was worried about.

It is our sincere belief that this agreement will help do this for this country; otherwise, we would not be here. So I say to Andrew Little : at least the protesters have the excuse that they maybe do not know all there is to know about the agreement, but if you have been in this House, if you have been in the debate, you should be prepared to stand up for your country. He can stand up either way. He can stand up in favour, or stand up against, but enough of this mealy-mouthed going out—he spent half his speech, half his speech, nearly, saying how much he hated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but on the radio this morning he was saying that he would support it and would not withdraw from it.

Well, I say that if you really want to show any sort of leadership, then step up and say you will pull out, sunshine, because your rhetoric does not match what you are actually doing. You are playing politics with the future of New Zealanders. His colleagues know it, and it is not good enough.

This will be an important year for New Zealand. They all are, but this is an important one. In this year this Government, the John Key Government, will focus on building the opportunities for New Zealand, growing the skills, growing the innovation, building our infrastructure, improving our natural resources allocation, attracting investment in this country, and, most important , providing export access to our farmers and to our businesses to be able to sell overseas.

That is crucially important, so for any naysayer on the other side who has a speech-writer trying to write up stories about this Government having a vision, I say: look in the mirror, it is you who are playing politics and have no vision for this country. Thank you.


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