Rural round-up

27/04/2022

The loneliness of the long distance rural midwife – Vanessa Bellew:

Pregnant women in one town in Southland have lost the last remaining midwife and are now served by maternity care based 100km-160km away

Te Anau’s only midwife is the latest casualty of the beleaguered maternity system in the South and now it appears the town’s maternal and child hub is being downgraded before it is even fully up and running.

The Southern District Health Board told Newsroom the town and nearby area did “not have sufficient” pregnant women or baby numbers to sustain a maternal and child hub and a full-time midwife in the town.

Health professionals Newsroom spoke to were concerned that the health board was using inaccurate and outdated statistics to justify reducing maternity services further and for not funding a locum midwife. . . 

Christopher Luxon on IPCC climate change report NZ’s dairy herd – The Country:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is not a fan of culling New Zealand’s dairy herd.

“I’ve got no time for that whatsoever,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Recently, Greenpeace called for the Government to “halve the herd”, following the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Luxon said there was no need for this, as Kiwi farmers were already “the most carbon-efficient in the world”. . . 

Solar powered smart cow collars come to Taranaki farms – Elijah Hill:

The best dressed Taranaki dairy cows this year may just be the ones wearing solar-powered, time-saving, smart collars.

New Zealand tech company Halter, which fits solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars to cows, is expanding to the region as well as Central Plateau, Otago and Southland.

Cows are trained to respond to sound and vibrations from the collars which allow farmers to ‘steer’ the cows around the farm.

This allows farmers to call cows to the milking shed using their phone, or set ‘virtual fences’ and break feed while having a cup of tea at home. . . 

Are pine trees the problem or the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Pine-forest regulation proposals are creating lots of heat with big implications for land-use and the landscape. 

Right now, there is a fervent debate underway as to where pine trees fit within our future landscape. On one side stand Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. They are proposing that existing legislation should be reversed so that pine trees would only be for production forestry and not so-called permanent forests.

Minister Nash has recently come to a position that only native forests should be permanent, and he is supported by many who hold strong environmental values. Dame Anne Salmond is one of the leaders in that camp.

In contrast, Minister Shaw is concerned that if permanent pine forests are allowed, then too much carbon will be stored in this way and urban people will no longer be forced to modify their carbon emitting behaviours. There are some huge ironies there. . . 

The great Kiwi muster – an ancient tradition with a bougie hut – Olivia Caldwell:

Every autumn, teams of musterers take to the South Island high country to corral flocks of sheep for winter. It’s a custom resistant to change, technology and modern living. Almost. OLIVIA CALDWELL reports.

It’s three o’clock on a cold autumn morning up in the mountains of Lake Heron station.

The first and fittest musterer gets out of bed and walks several kilometres to find where the sheep are scattered around hills.

He’s 17, and it’s called delegating. The seven other team members get to sleep-in until 4am, when they get a wake-up call, followed by a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs. They will need it. Over the next 12 hours, they’ll cover 20 kilometres and 2000 metres elevation on foot. . . 

 

New service to help Ukrainian seasonal farm workers in Scotland :

A new service is to be established to offer vital advice and urgent practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers in Scotland.

Ukrainian workers play a key role in soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland, but due to the war they are facing a range of concerns about their work, their homes, and their futures.

The new Worker Support Centre, run by Scottish charity JustRight Scotland, will provide key support to workers on these issues.

It will also provide immigration advice to enable them to stay and work in Scotland while returning to Ukraine is still unsafe. . .


Award for most incompetent Minister goes to . . .

07/04/2022

Who is the government’s most incompetent Minister? There’s plenty to choose from.

Transport Minister Michael Woods is a contender for the $50 million spent on the Auckland bike bridge to nowhere and for continuing to work on the far too expensive light rail project:

While New Zealanders are in a cost of living crisis with record inflation, it is unjustifiable and irresponsible for the Government to steam ahead with their plans to build their light rail vanity project, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Documents released by Treasury today show Michael Wood’s commitment to light rail could explode to an eye watering $29.2 billion – nearly double the cost of what was announced in January, which was already a staggering amount of money at almost $15 billion.

“Treasury’s advice was scathing of the project, saying the Government should not pick a preferred option for light rail until further analysis could be undertaken – advice the Government has clearly ignored.

“Labour’s commitment to this vanity project will cost taxpayers a whopping $100 million before the next election, with no guarantee of spades being in the ground.

“The cost for this project is entirely unjustifiable and the Government needs to accept that this project is simply not worth it. Especially when New Zealanders are dealing with a cost of living crisis, which will only get worse if the Government doesn’t rein in its wasteful spending.

Kris Faafoi is a contender for the way Immigration treated families of essential workers stuck overseas and for failing to fast track residency for essential workers already here.

Immigration policies are also likely to lead to job losses in the tertiary sector:

The Government urgently needs to get international students into the country to prevent looming job losses in the tertiary sector, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“Universities and polytechnics are currently considering staff redundancies as a way of coping with declining enrolments this year.

“Labour is allowing 5000 international students into the country next month – but universities and polytechnics can only access 2150 students, or 43 per cent, with the remainder of students heading to high schools, Private Training Establishments and English language schools.

“This will do little to ease the urgent staffing issues facing the sector.

“Given that student visas are currently taking Immigration New Zealand three months to process, students applying in April won’t be processed in time for semester two, putting further stress on our valuable tertiary teaching staff.

On top of that, international research now shows New Zealand is falling out of favour with international students, being ranked last among the major English-speaking education destinations in a survey of more than 10,000 people from 93 countries.

“And the effects are obvious – according to the Ministry of Education in 2019, New Zealand had about 22,000 fulltime international students paying total tuition fees of $562 million. The figures for 2021 and 2022 are estimated to be 70 per cent of that 2019 figure.

“The Government must explain what the rational is for limiting international student numbers, our fourth biggest export earner, when the border is reopening.

“It is appalling that this Government has allowed international education in this country to decline to this level. We must act urgently to prevent further deterioration in this sector and that means not restricting international student numbers coming here.” . .

He’s also fallen short as Justice Minister:

Victims of crime missed out on support they were entitled to because Justice Minister Kris Faafoi failed to sign off the criteria for a $3 million victim support fund for more than five months after the fund was announced, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Earlier this month it was revealed that zero victims were supported by the fund announced in Budget 2021, despite applications being open since July 2021.

“Labour was content to let Victim Support take the blame for this lack of delivery, but it turns out Minister Faafoi didn’t bother to sign off the eligibility criteria until November 2021 – more than five months after the fund was announced and four months after applications opened.

Rather than letting Victim Support take the rap, Minister Faafoi should have fessed up that his incompetence is the real reason why victims are missing out on support the Government promised them.

“Governments spend months finalising the Budget every year so he would have known well in advance that this fund would be open for applications from July. What is his excuse for doing nothing for over five months to ensure victims could access the support? 

“Even worse, the Police Minister has conceded agencies who are meant to advise victims of support they are entitled to were not provided information about the fund until February 2022. . .

That Police Minister Potu Williams is another contender for the silence when police were facing the protesters at parliament, silence over repeated examples of policing by consent that let gangs disregard lockdown rules and terrorise the law abiding while doing it; and her refusal to allow National police spokesman Mark Mitchell to meet the Commissioner or district commanders:

. . . He said: “I don’t think she’s [Williams is] very good at her job and I don’t think she’s across her portfolio, but for her now to use her political power and position in government to start blocking me from meetings – that’s Third World stuff … she may as well go and join the Cabinet in Somalia.” . . 

Trumping that is her denial of an increase in gang violence:

. . .Mitchell asked Williams in Parliament on Wednesday if gang violence had increased or decreased under her watch, to which she replied: “I reject the premise of that question.”  . . .

And this:

Then there’s waste in health with expired vaccines:

Thousands of meningococcal vaccines have been left to expire instead of being given to those most at risk, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“It has been revealed that 17,122 meningococcal vaccines have expired in the last two years, at a cost of $1.6 million, and who knows how many lives.

“The Ministry of Health has a strict eligibility criteria for the meningococcal vaccine, but these vaccines that were left unused could have been made available to those most at risk, to help protect them from this deathly disease.

“The lost opportunity to protect people is a tragedy and that $1.6 million that ended up being wasted could have been spent on other areas of health that desperately need it.

“Last week a meningitis petition was presented to Parliament, pleading to the Government to fund vaccines against the disease. This news will be a cold comfort to those petition supporters.

“This is becoming a concerning pattern of behaviour from Health Minister Andrew Little who has already wasted $8 million worth of measles vaccines in a botched catch-up campaign, and now he can add this one to the growing list.

“Minister Little needs to commit to making expiring meningococcal vaccines available to primary care for use inside and outside of the strict criteria to avoid a tragedy like this happening again.” . .

And the botched measles programme costing $1900 per person:

The botched $20 million measles vaccine catch-up programme is worse than it appears, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The other week it was revealed that $8 million of measles vaccines were left unused and had expired.

“However, information shows that only 11,206 people of the targeted 300,000 received the vaccine – representing a cost of nearly $1900 per person and reaching only 3 per cent of the targeted population.

“It was also revealed that Labour spent $1.8 million on public relations to frame a campaign ‘with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific people’, yet only 1181 Māori received the vaccine – a PR cost of $1,500 per person.

“Worse still, to date the programme costs show that $2.2 million has been spent on public relations while only $1.61 million was spent on actually delivering the vaccine to Māori.

“Andrew Little seems more interested in PR and spin than actually delivering measles vaccinations to Māori.

“The list of health failures is mounting under Andrew Little’s watch. He failed to deliver any extra ICU beds during a global pandemic, has completely missed every health target set and now he can add a botched measles campaign to his growing list.”

The government put so much effort, and spent so much money, justifying locking us down and persuading us to get vaccinated so that the health system wasn’t over whelmed yet did little or nothing to retain existing staff and recruit more.

That’s left  hospitals understaffed and health professionals overworked :

Their employers have warned them not to speak out but nurses say they won’t be silenced. Overworked and understaffed, they’ve told Sunday that they’ve had enough of a health system under real pressure.

The Omicron surge hasn’t helped, but there was a serious nursing shortage long before Covid struck, and now burnout and resignations are high while the pandemic shut off the supply of overseas nurses.

Nurses still on the job worry patient safety may suffer because they are so short-staffed.

Is the government listening?

No it’s not. Instead it’s going ahead with the complete restructure of the health system that will do nothing to improve pay and conditions for health professionals and nothing to improve services, and outcomes, for patients.

That would be bad enough at the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic it’s a complete waste of scarce funds and people’s focus.

While on health and the pandemic lets not forget the shortage of PPE, the delay in securing vaccines which left the rollout starting late and the RATs debacle.

Then there’s paying more and getting less in several areas.

Carmel Sepuloni has overseen an increase in MSD staff and deterioration in performance:

Our welfare system is less responsive than ever as phone wait times for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) surge, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Whether it’s superannuitants, students, people out of work, or a family who needs help to cope with soaring living costs, New Zealander’s deserve timely answers from the department responsible of administering the welfare system.

“Since 2017, the number of MSD staff answering calls has increased from 650 to 1220 people, yet the average wait time has also increased from 4 to 18 minutes, even reaching close to 40 minutes some weeks this year.

“That’s an 88 per cent increase in staff numbers, a large deterioration in performance and no better outcomes for Kiwis.  

“Appallingly, some people have waited longer than three hours while others have reported it took weeks to receive a call back.

“The cost of living crisis has increased demand for hardship grants and there is almost an extra 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit, which means preparations should have been made to cope with more inquiries.

“New Zealander’s deserve a better service given the substantial taxpayer dollars poured into MSD. Simply increasing staff numbers is not going to cut it.

“Minister Sepuloni needs to hold MSD accountable for their plummeting performance and ensures it fulfils its core responsibility to answer New Zealander’s questions and help people access their entitlements.”

Corrections is spending more money on prisoners with worse outcomes:

Taxpayers are spending more money on prisoners, yet violent crime continues to go up, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.

“New Zealand taxpayers are now spending $151,000 per prisoner, per year – an increase of over $30,000 per prisoner from 2018/19.

“Overall, there has been an increase of $139 million poured into the Corrections system over the period between 2018/19 and 2020/21, despite fewer prisoners.

“At the same time, there has been a steep decline in the number of prisoners accessing rehabilitation services. Prisoners accessing alcohol and drug programmes alone has dropped from 6311 in 2015/16 to 1065 in 2019/20 – a decrease greater than the drop in prisoner numbers.

“More money is being spent, but we’re getting worse outcomes.

“Rehabilitation is a key way for prisoners to turn their lives around, but in 2019/20 the number of prisoners taking part in rehabilitation programmes plummeted to 2399, from 5845 in 2015/16.

“It can hardly be a surprise then that violent crime is up 21 per cent since 2017, as reported by the Salvation Army, and that we have one of the highest recidivism rates in the OECD.

“This is typical for a Government who are experts at spending taxpayer money with no expectation of results.

“On top of this, Labour is taking soft-on-crime approach which is clearly not working.

“Without effective rehabilitation, re-imprisonment rates and violence will only keep climbing.”

And more is being spent on mental health for no positive results:

The mental health monitoring report out today shows that the Government’s $1.9 billion investment in mental health has delivered no benefit to Kiwis, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“This is emblematic of a Government that is all spin and no delivery. Labour’s only measure of success is how much it spends on things. But it needs to be about the outcomes that we achieve for New Zealanders.

“The report released today by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission reinforces what many mental health groups and services have been telling me for some time – that they’re not seeing any of the money promised for mental health and can’t point to where it’s gone.

“They have been raising these concerns with the Government for months about staff shortages and growing waiting lists, but have not received a response.

“The findings in the report also show that our specialist services are facing increased demand since the beginning of the pandemic, especially from younger people seeking mental health support.

“The Government says it has invested in the sector, yet services are harder to access. They must explain where the money has gone and why it hasn’t made a difference to improving people’s mental health.

“Making announcements with good intentions isn’t going to solve the growing mental health problems that New Zealand is facing, but strong leadership and a well-managed plan to execute change will. We need targeted spending that delivers outcomes for Kiwis.”

Then there are virtue signalling environmental policies that are nothing more than taxes that increase costs but do nothing at all for the environment:

The Government’s car tax comes into force today, piling on yet another cost for Kiwis facing a cost of living crisis, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Hardworking Kiwis will be hoping that this is just an April Fool’s joke, but sadly they will still have to live with Labour’s new car tax after today.        

“The so-called ‘Clean Car Discount’ gives a rebate for expensive electric vehicles while imposing fees of thousands of dollars on many other vehicles. For example, buyers of a Toyota Hilux* will face a $5175 tax when they first register the vehicle.  

“This will have a negative impact on our farmers and tradies who need utes to do their jobs and contribute to our economic recovery.   

“The Government is penalising farmers and tradies for their choice of vehicle despite there being no viable electric ute available. Even Toyota had to correct the Prime Minister last year that it has no plans to bring an electric ute to New Zealand within the next two years.

“LDV will have an electric alternative, the EV-T60, coming from China later this year. But it is two-wheel drive and can only haul a max of 1,000 kgs for 162km. This is not enough to meet farmers’ needs, who need strength and reliability.

“While the Government gives with one hand, by temporarily reducing fuel taxes, it takes with the other by imposing the Auckland regional fuel tax, a car tax, and is now proposing a biofuels mandate which will further increase the cost of fuel. 

“All of these policies drive up the cost of living for motorists struggling to get by under rapidly rising inflation and fuel prices.

An environmental and transport failure is the train from Hamilton to Auckland:

The Te Huia train today marks its first birthday with news that it has spent more time off the tracks than on them, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There is not a lot to celebrate about this service which has failed from day one.

“Not only has the train spent more time off the tracks than on them over the past 12 months, taxpayers have poured $98 million into a service which very few people use and which takes much longer than driving between Hamilton and Auckland.

“Furthermore, research produced by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce shows that based on current passenger numbers the train actually emits more carbon emissions than someone who drives their petrol or diesel vehicle between these two cities.

“Patronage is significantly lower than what it was when the service started despite repeated calls to ‘build it and people will come’.

“This painfully slow train is simply not fit for purpose. It doesn’t achieve the outcomes that the Government claimed it would one year ago.

“The Transport Minister is so completely focussed on his legacy projects, he is prepared to waste almost $100 million of taxpayer dollars on a train that isn’t fit for purpose and hardly anyone wants to use.

“Quite frankly this is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money which would be better spent on extending the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.”  

If all this isn’t bad enough, there’s the incompetence with funding the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) 

The Auditor General’s Report on the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) confirmed what many businesses have been saying – that this Labour Government has been biased and unfair, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Every tourism business in New Zealand has done it tough over the last two years and this report has shown that this Labour Government favoured some and left others to suffer.

“In May 2020 the Government and former Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis opened a $290M fund for struggling tourism businesses. When applications opened, some businesses were accepted without any evidence that they were in financial difficulty, and didn’t have to go through the same process as other businesses.

“The Government seems to believe that only Queenstown exists when it comes to tourism in New Zealand, when in reality there are tourism operators up and down the country who are suffering just as much.

“In typical Labour fashion, they simply threw money at a problem without having a well-managed plan. Current Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has blamed the uncertainty of Covid-19 for these mistakes, but the reality is they failed to think things through at a time when tourism businesses needed them most.

“New Zealanders deserve to have a Government who are responsible with their spending, but this Labour Government has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to make wise or fair spending decisions.

“I am calling on Minister Nash to find those funds that were given out incorrectly, take them back and redistribute them to all Kiwi tourism operators so that they can open up quickly for international tourists.”

Bryce Edwards says the report raises questions of integrity:

Was political favouritism involved in the dishing out of millions of dollars by government ministers to tourism businesses? We can’t know, because the Government didn’t keep sufficient records or have proper processes for the handouts. That’s the obvious question arising from a scathing report released by the Auditor General on Thursday, which has received far too little attention.

The Auditor General’s report investigates a scheme set up by the Government early in the Covid crisis (May 2020), called the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme. The report is one of many that have criticised government procedures during Covid for their lack of integrity. . . 

Harman draws attention to the fact that there have been a number of other reports from the Auditor General’s office that have pinged the Government for poor processes in regard to government departments dealing with private vested interests during Covid – especially the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development.

Of course, one of the most problematic has been the multi-billion-dollar Wage Subsidy Scheme, which was seen to be poorly designed and administered.

There’s a theme building up from these reports – that of crony corporate welfare getting out of hand in recent years. This is one of the blind spots in New Zealand politics and society. Recent governments are prone to giving generous subsidies to business interests, often without any great systems of integrity or best practice. And unfortunately, the public never seems to mind much when it becomes apparent.

It could well be that New Zealand is just too eager to believe the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index results that show this country to be the least corrupt nation on earth. In ignoring reports such as this latest from the Auditor General, the Government is undermining that status.

On the subject of Ministerial oversight of money wasted, there’s plenty to choose from :

So much incompetence, it’s hard to choose which is worse but there’s one person who is supposed to be on top of all the portfolios and those presiding over them. That’s Jacinda Ardern.

Would any other recent Prime Minister have tolerated this litany of laxness from Ministers? Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark? No.

There’s a lot more to leadership than announcing announcements and serving word salads no matter how caring they sound.

Ensuring Ministers are up to the jobs they’re supposed to be doing and holding them to account if  and when they fall short is a very important one by which measure of competence this PM falls short.


Rural round-up

05/03/2022

Climate change and food security: we should act on both because it’s the right thing to do – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers are currently working with a wide range of stakeholders on how to best develop an appropriate pricing mechanism that achieves a wide range of outcomes. This partnership is called He Waka Eke Noa, or The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and the outcomes sought include reducing emissions, maintaining food production, and protecting the wellbeing of rural communities. A core challenge we have faced is that these principles conflict with each other at times. As the Federation undertakes consultation with its members, we have heard from a number of farmers who are frustrated that the Paris Agreement is not being promoted by He Waka Eke Noa as clear reason for why New Zealand should not cut food production to meet climate targets. The two points most often cited by farmers in consultation so far are:

In the Preamble:

“Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change…”

In Article 2:

“(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production…”

To put it simply, we agree. At Feds, we agree with farmers who point to these sections of the Paris Agreement as text that should be carefully considered when attempting to develop an appropriate pricing mechanism for the New Zealand agriculture sector. . .

ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further – Point of Order:

The first expressions of support for a shift in government thinking about carbon farming, radiata pine and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) came not from the Greens but from ACT.

From 2023, under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and indigenous forests to be registered in the scheme and earn New Zealand Units (NZU).

The government is now proposing to exclude exotic species – such as pinus radiata – from the permanent forest category.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas for better forest management. . . 

New rules proposed for carbon farming of exotic forests in future :

A new proposal to better manage carbon farming could see future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas to better manage afforestation.

“Climate change is a challenge we cannot postpone. The government wants to encourage afforestation to help meet our climate change targets, offset carbon emissions, and also help farmers, landowners and investors diversify their income streams,” said Stuart Nash.

“We want to balance the risks created by new permanent exotic forests which are not intended for harvest. We have a window to build safeguards into the system, prior to a new ETS framework coming into force on 1 January 2023. . . 

ETS must back native forests not pine monoculture :

Forest & Bird strongly backs the Government’s suggestion that pine forests should not be counted as permanent carbon sinks in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The organisation says the ETS should instead support investment in native forest and wetland restoration, which will provide much better long-term carbon storage than pines and other exotic trees.

“A native tree planted today could still be sucking up carbon in 800 years, but a pine planted today will likely be dead in 100 years and releasing carbon,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

“The Climate Change Commission told the Government that native forests and wetlands are a much better long-term carbon solution, and Forest & Bird completely agrees. Native forests stabilise land, create resilience in a rapidly changing climate, provide habitat for native species, and overall lock in more carbon for the long term.” . . 

New Zealand is world leading in agri-chemical management:

As a leader of sustainable food production, the agrichemical industry will continue to collaborate with the government to safely manage agrichemicals in the environment, following a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, released today.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says, “we’re confident that the measures for managing and using agrichemicals and veterinary medicines are robust and support our environmental outcomes.”

Our industry aims to play a central role in collaborating with government and farming communities to support positive outcomes for our primary sector and environment – and is open to sharing knowledge and innovation to continually improve them.

“The safe and effective use of these tools can protect our environment from invasive weeds, disease and imported pests while providing food security and economic growth,” says Ross. . . 

Growth in Australian ewe numbers associated with non-Merino sheep – Kristen Frost:

The fast paced rebound in Australian sheep numbers, fuelled by the current favourable seasonal conditions, would normally be viewed as a key lever for expected higher Merino wool production.

But according to industry experts, medium Merino wool prices will need to rally in coming months if they are to compete in the fight for mixed farming as well as battle anecdotal reports of a renewed switch to prime lamb production.

Executive Director of NCWSBA Paul Deane said an increasing flock wont necessarily point to an increase in wool supply, with data from MLA’s latest sheep survey revealing most of the growth in Australian ewe numbers are associated with non-Merino sheep.

“The data shows some evidence that the relative proportions of different sheep breeds has changed within the flock in recent years,” Mr Deane said. . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2022

RATs and lanyards keep top cheese company rolling in Phase 2 – Checkpoint:

A top cheese company is relying on rapid antigen tests (RATs) to keep it going as New Zealand heads into phase two of the Omicron response.

Whitestone Cheese has sourced the rapid antigen tests itself and is waiting to be confirmed as a critical business.

Under the test to work scheme, critical staff who are close contacts of cases can bypass isolation as long as they return a daily negative RAT test.

The aim is to keep food production and critical infrastructure operating as Omicron spreads.

But for Whitestone it has been a maze of rules and an expense to get this far.  . . 

Discussion paper outlines carbon farming threat to sheep and beef sector :

Urgent national policy changes are required to ensure the increase in carbon farming to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations does not come at the expense of the country’s rural communities, according to a discussion paper released today.

The Green Paper by former Hastings Mayor and MP Lawrence Yule, Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon, calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It has been released ahead of a workshop next month involving a range of key stakeholders including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Local Government New Zealand.

Mr Yule said the paper outlines the real risk that short-term land-use decisions will be made to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

Mixed message – Rural News:

Farmers and growers can rightly feel somewhat confused about the mixed messaging coming from the Government about the risks to the sector from Omicron.

On the one hand, last week Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced that the Government had allocated $400,000 to support primary producers for contingency planning and response if farmers or growers get Covid-19.

“The Government is committed to keeping vital workforces going. Primary producers have always been essential workers throughout the pandemic, but as Omicron reaches further into our communities, we are stepping up to ensure we can protect the wellbeing of our rural communities,” the Minister claimed.

“Contingency planning by farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners will minimise the risk of further Covid-19 related disruptions, which can occur anywhere along the supply chain.” . . .

Sheep genetic potential holds challenges – Richard Rennie:

Growing pressure on sheep farmers over welfare concerns and climate change are demanding some shifts in what defines the ideal sheep. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch animal genomics scientist Patricia Johnson about her team’s work in trying to redefine sheep genetics in a shifting world.

Patricia Johnson likens the recent review she headed on New Zealand sheep and the potential to improve them through genetics as something of a “genetic warrant of fitness” for the species here.

“The work has really been a chance to reflect on where we are going with our sheep in NZ. After generations of breeding for more production, the industry is having to consider the complexities of breeding now for climate change and its impact,” Johnson said.

She acknowledges the significant and world-leading advances made in identifying methane inhibiting genetics in sheep. . . 

Multiple benefits of planting natives on farms :

Multiple potential benefits from planting native shrubs for use as sheep fodder are being researched as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

The project, led by Dr James Millner, Academic Dean – Agriculture, at Massey University, was launched in 2019. It currently has three trial sites for a range of native shrubs, looking at palatability, digestibility, protein content and other nutritional charactersistics as well as the Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) for a range of species.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m programme focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainabiity and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.

Overall, the research focuses include improving animal productivity, animal welfare, biodiversity and soil health, while mitigating soil eroision and climate change. . . 

Ag tech to drive labour efficiency no longer a now a must – Shan Goodwin:

ADOPTION of agtech that drives labour efficiency is fast becoming a necessity, rather than an option, in the cattle production business.

From drones doing water runs, fence checking and mustering to spraying weeds using artificial intelligence or remote devices removing the need for on-the-ground water and animal monitoring, the need for technology that replaces or improves labour has never been more intense.

Consultants and livestock agents say labour shortages are arguably the single largest issue producers are currently facing.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in the rangelands or in a high rainfall area close to services – labour shortages are real,” said NSW farm business consultant John Francis, Agrista at Wagga Wagga. . . .


Rural round-up

14/02/2022

Right tree, right place, right now – Graeme Williams:

The Minister of Forestry and Economical and Regional Development Stuart Nash said at the end of January that the “right tree, right place, right reasons” was his attitude to forestry development.

My response to that is, “right on” and crucially, “right now”.

You only get one chance to give a eulogy at a funeral and very rarely does anyone have the opportunity to prevent one.

But given Nash’s portfolios, he has the power to do that. . .

Agriculture’s greenhouse gas proposals need a reset – Keith Woodford:

Refocusing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions from CO2e to a genuine split-gas approach requires a reset of thinking, with big decisions ahead

The coming weeks are crucial in sorting out the long-term charging framework, right through to 2050, for agriculture’s greenhouse-gas emissions.  Right now, things are not going well.

The cross-industry plus Maori plus government group charged with developing the framework is called He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN).  Currently, there are two options out for discussion among farmers. 

If no consensus is reached as to the path ahead, then the backstop is that agriculture comes into the emission trading scheme in 2025, with that legislation already in place. . . 

Charlie Perry takes out top agri award in Australia :

Leadership, vision and humility were the standout qualities that resulted in Charlie Perry taking out the 2022 Australian Zanda McDonald Award on Thursday night.

Perry, who lives and works on his family owned and operated wagyu beef farm at Gurya in Northern NSW, returned to his passion for agriculture after a successful career in business consulting, and hasn’t looked back. Since taking over management in 2016, he’s overseen substantial growth in their family business, despite some of the worst years of drought on record, with a focus on productivity gains, genetic indicators and sustainability. He also serves as president and chair of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA).

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Perry will receive an impressive trans-Tasman prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs. . . 

Tia Potae wins inaugural primary industries award at 2021 New Zealand Women of Influence :

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is delighted to congratulate Tia Potae for winning the inaugural Primary Industries award in the 2021 New Zealand Women of Influence awards, which were announced last night. The Women of Influence awards recognise the exceptional achievements of women, and the new Primary Industries category acknowledges leaders and innovators whose work is having a positive influence in the primary production sector.

Pouārahi Helen Leahy is beyond proud to see Ms Potae recognised on the national stage for her achievements and contributions to the sector. A top wool handler and wool classer, she was recruited into the role of Whānau Ora Navigator when COVID-19 first appeared on our scenes in March 2020. Based at Tokomairiro Waiora in Milton, Ms Potae became an amazing ambassador for whānau in rural communities.

“Tia has been in the shearing industry all her life, representing New Zealand in wool handling in 2005 and 2013. Her contribution to Whānau Ora; to rural wellbeing; to healthy shearing sheds, is remarkable”, says Ms Leahy. “Alongside former Navigator Manukura Serena Lyders, she developed an online service for wool, forestry and fishing industry workers who find it difficult to access services after hours.” . . 

East Coast Farm Expo will go on… but differently :

Organisers of the East Coast Farming Expo are confident the annual event will be able to happen despite stricter Covid restrictions now in place.

Event manager Sue Wilson says they are well prepared to cope and have a robust plan in place.

“The Expo is all about quality rather than quantity, so our numbers are very containable,” says Wilson. “We are determined to make this work.”

Extra staff will be brought on to help manage the additional workload for the event, which is backed by the Wairoa Community Development Trust. There will be a one-way system in place around the site. The six defined zones of the Expo will be limited to a maximum of 100 people at any one time. . . 

Top rated New Zea;and blueberry orchard placed on the market for sale :

A high-tech’ blueberry growing operation ranked among the top five horticultural operations of its type in New Zealand has been placed on the market for sale.

The orchard at Kerikeri in Northland is an intensive growing venture – sustaining some 6,653 plants within 1.1-hectares of framed and enclosed tunnel and greenhouse structures. The orchard’s blueberry crop consists of multiple varieties – including Sky Blue, Centra Blue, Velluto, Sunset Blue, O’neals, Eureka and First Blush.

Harvesting of fruit at the Kerikeri orchard is spread over early, mid, and late season varieties – spreading the risk and harvest window over six months. This practice also results in a higher average price per kilogramme and per hectare when compared to the industry average. . . 


Rural round-up

29/01/2022

Urgent action needed to stop carbon farming rort – William Beetham:

Federated Farmers is calling on the government to live up to its pledge and review the Overseas Investment Act ‘special forestry test’ and be fair to sheep and beef farmers

We understand that Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have been lobbying for this fair and sensible step but Cabinet is dithering, and this is profoundly impacting our rural communities.

It’s well past time for action.  This is hurting rural people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are multiple factors driving the alarming and accelerating trend of productive sheep and beef farmland being sold for pine tree carbon farming, and a multitude of changes government must make to restore balance to land use policy. Sorting the special forestry test is straight-forward. . . 

Omicron outbreak may leave rural hospitals precarious staffing  levels – Rowan Quinn :

Rural communities could be left without local medical services for a time when Omicron hits.

Staffing is precarious in many small towns – and doctors, nurses or key administration workers will have to stop working if they get the virus.

Hospitals have predicted 30 percent of their staff could be off with Omicron at the height of the outbreak.

Rural doctor Jeremy Webber said it was hard to gauge the impact that would have on very small hospitals, which tended not to have staff to spare. . .

Horticulture, meat processors push for private RAT orders to protect supply chains – Maja Burry:

The horticulture and meat processing industries are among those advocating for the government to allow the private importation of rapid antigen tests, saying they’re worried Covid-19 testing capacity could impact on staffing.

The industry group Horticulture New Zealand said if Covid-19 testing capacity slowed that would impact monitoring – as well as return to work decisions – at a time when the sector needed as many hands on deck as possible.

Chief executive Nadine Tunley said it was imperative there was a focus on maximising the number of people available, to keep the supply chain operating during the Omicron response.

“We have strenuously pointed out to the government that our industry cannot withstand any further labour shortages as growers will be faced with having to leave vegetables in the ground and fruit on trees.” . . 

The taonga on fire: 40 days at Kaimaumau – Matthew Scott:

The fire at overlooked natural treasure Kaimaumau wetland began before Christmas, and it’s still ablaze

It’s been burning for more than 40 days and 40 nights.

Despite summer rains and being largely left behind by the media cycle, the fire in the Kaimaumau wetland in the Far North rages on.

The burning area is 2800ha, with a perimeter of 38km as of Day 41 – larger than Rangitoto Island. “On a national scale, that’s probably one of New Zealand’s biggest fires,” said incident controller Wayne Martin. . .

Robo tractor could revolutionise viticulture :

A driverless tractor able to perform up to three tasks at once is on the cards for New Zealand orchards.

The Government is contributing $622,360 through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to develop a prototype tractor, which is set to transform the productivity of trellised orchards while reducing carbon emissions. The Smart Machine Company Limited is taking the lead on the three-year project, and is contributing a further $945,520.

“The tractor will be able to perform several tasks, including canopy spraying, mulching, mowing, trimming, and leaf defoliation,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“As well as lowering carbon emissions, we could expect to see reduced spray drift, and improved soil and tree health. . .

Canterbury teen wins beekeeping scholarship :

Canterbury-based Alyssa Wilson (17) is the 2021 recipient of Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Alyssa topped a strong field of candidates to win the scholarship, which includes $2000 to support training and set-up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership with industry body Apiculture New Zealand and attendance at Apiculture New Zealand’s industry conference to be held in June 2022.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges identified Alyssa as showing great potential. “She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in and learn as much as she can. With a strong work ethic and a real interest in bees, she is going to be an asset to our industry,” says judge Neil Mossop.

Alyssa says she was “pretty chuffed” to win and is planning to use the scholarship to help fund her involvement in the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand. . . 


Ministers paid to do hard stuff

13/01/2022

East Coast farmers are justifiably angry that 5,000 hectares of good pastoral land could be turned into a foreign-owned carbon farm:

Newshub understands the sale is all but final – it’s pending approval from the Overseas Investment Office. 

Locals are devastated and say it’s the beginning of the end for not only farming in the region but the region itself.  . . 

“Buying good land and planting it in trees, with the idea of just shutting the gate, is ridiculous,” says local farmer Dan Griffin.

Under the Emissions Trading Scheme, set up to help New Zealand meet its carbon-neutral goal by 2050, carbon has become a currency. The trees earn ‘credits’ for the carbon dioxide they soak up and those credits can be sold to a company needing to offset its emissions.

It’s a lucrative business, but Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz is worried it will drive out communities because it won’t offer jobs. 

“Those families living there are the lifeblood of our smaller communities. Those are the families that fill up our schools, are the bus drivers, and if you take that away those smaller communities die,” Stoltz says.

Huiarua employs at least eight people, meaning that’s eight families left without work. There’s also the shearing gangs, wool buyers, the meatworks in Wairoa, and even the local school. . . 

The government’s policy of allowing foreigners to buy farmland for carbon forest but not for farming is economic, environmental and social sabotage.

And what does Forestry Minister Stuart Nash say?

“Taking out a 5000-hectare station for carbon forestry, that is not a good use of land. If it was true, I’d be very disappointed,” he says.

It’s why the Government promised to give councils more power to stop fertile land from being converted to forestry. But more than a year later, nothing has changed.

“It’s not as simple as I initially imagined, and I’m the first to concede that. We’re doing a lot of work in this space to get this right,” Nash says. . . 

It was simple enough to enact legislation that allows land sales to foreigners for carbon forests, how hard can it be to reverse it?

Even if sorting out this mess of the government’s own making isn’t simple, Ministers are paid to do hard stuff and the need to correct this very expensive mistake, in social, environmental and economic terms, is urgent.

 


Rural round-up

12/07/2021

Govt sends mixed signals on forest cap – Richard Rennie:

Putting a cap on exotic forest plantings is still an option on the table for the Government as it considers its response to the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations.

Last year in the lead up to the election, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor undertook to make resource consent a requirement for landowners seeking to convert over 50ha of higher-quality land into forestry.

The decision came amid mounting concern that greater areas of farmland were being lost to forestry, some to unharvested carbon forest plantings.

But Forestry Minister Stuart Nash signalled recently that the Government plans to back away from planting restrictions. . . 

Calls to diversify and integrate – Annette Scott:

New Zealand agriculture is missing the opportunity to diversify and integrate and come up with one good story.

Sectors are pushing their own barrows and not achieving maximum potential as an industry, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

Speaking at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit, Stewart urged collaboration.

“We do not work in a cohesive world; when are we actually going to agree to come together?” she asked. . . 

Caution urged for dog owners as lambing season approaches:

SPCA is urging dog owners, particularly those living near lifestyle blocks, to take extra care and keep track of their pets at all times, as early lambing season gets underway.

Every year sheep and lambs are injured or killed by roaming dogs in attacks that are not only traumatic for animals and people involved, but are often completely avoidable through responsible dog ownership.

With 175,000 lifestyle blocks nationwide and rural properties continuing to grow in popularity, SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan says it’s important for dog owners – particularly those living in rural areas – to make sure their dog is secured and unable to roam. . . 

Emma Boase named emerging leader at Primary Industry Awards:

Horticulture New Zealand People Capability Manager Emma Boase was among a stellar line-up of primary industry excellence at last night’s 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards in Christchurch.

Recognised as one of seven winners from a pool of 65 nominations, Emma took out the title of the Lincoln University Emerging Leaders Award for her efforts in attracting new talent into the horticulture sector.

The award is testament to Emma’s outstanding leadership and ongoing commitment to championing horticultural careers. . . 

Craig Muckle named Wheat Grower of the Year:

The champion wheat grower for 2021 is Craig Muckle.

Craig, who farms at Dorie in mid-Canterbury, was presented with the Champion Cup at the awards ceremony in Christchurch for winning the premium milling wheat award and also won the United Wheat Growers Bayer wheat grower of the year award with his wheat entry ‘Reliance’.

The judges said Craig’s entry’s quality specification was “bang on”. Craig was presented with the Champion Cup, by Garth Gilliam from Champion.

Craig was also the winner of the UWG Bayer wheat grower award. This award is to recognise excellence in the industry. . . 

Agronomist of the year award for what industry announced:

Kerry Thomas from Luisetti Seeds, was recognised as Agronomist of the Year in the United Wheat Growers Bayer Wheat Awards held in Christchurch on Wednesday 7 July.

The award was open to all industry professionals involved in seed and grain crop production.

The inaugural Agronomist of the Year Award, sponsored by the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association, is designed to recognise an agronomist who has an endless knowledge of crop production and goes above and beyond to make sure the best possible crop is produced by growers said NZGSTA Grains & Pulses Chair Ed Luisetti. . . 

Sponsors sustain support for Dairy Industry Awards:

Planning for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continues at pace with National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm Meridian have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years along with a name change to the merit award. . . 


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Something smells fishy

01/07/2020

New Zealand First is smelling fishy again: :

Newshub has obtained an explosive audio recording of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash talking about NZ First MPs Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

The recording was from February 2018, around the time the Government first delayed the rollout of cameras on nearly 1000 fishing boats – since then it’s been delayed again until at least October next year.

In it, Nash points the finger of blame squarely at them for delaying plans to put cameras on commercial fishing boats to make sure they don’t break the law. . . 

Michael Morrah has done a public service in reporting on this, not just because of questions over the delay to cameras but because of the link between the policy and donations.

Fishing company Talley’s donated $10,000 to Shane Jones’ 2017 election campaign. RNZ also revealed that Talleys donated $26,950 to the NZ First Foundation.

Newshub has verified these donations.

Talley’s Andrew Talley told Newshub “within the right framework cameras have a place in modern fisheries management”.

He says there’s “no connection” with donations and the camera delays. . . 

It would be hard to either prove or disprove whether there is a connection.

But there is a problem with NZ First and its foundation which the Serious Fraud Office has referred to the police.

Referral does not mean guilt and for everyone’s sake this must be cleared up before voting starts.

Whether or not it that happens, this story provides yet another reason for National to keep its resolution to rule New Zealand First out as a potential coalition partner.

Labour won’t be able to do that without collapsing the government unless but they agreed to having the dog as a partner and have to put up with the fleas.


Where are all the Ministers?

08/04/2020

Several questions have arisen in the wake of Health Minister David Clark’s admission he breached lockdown rules twice, one of which is why was he in Dunedin rather than in Wellington during this unprecedented crisis?

That leads to another question, raised by Chris Trotter:  where are the other Ministers?

Beyond the sterling example provided by the Prime Minister and her Finance Minister, New Zealanders could be forgiven for wondering if there is anyone else in the Coalition Cabinet equal to the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 Pandemic. One has only to consider the curiously disengaged behaviour of Health Minister, David Clark. Yes, there was that ill-advised bike ride, but of even more concern is the fact that, in the midst of a national health emergency, New Zealand’s Health Minister has isolated himself in his Dunedin family home – 600 kilometres south of the capital. Moreover, as citizens’ rights are being necessarily curtailed, why do we hear so little from the Justice Minister and the Attorney-General? With more and more “idiots” flouting the Covid-19 rules, where is the Police Minister?

Shouldn’t Police Minister Stuart Nash be in Wellington, working with officials and available to answer questions given the draconian powers police have under the state of emergency?

Shouldn’t Justice Minister Andrew Little be concentrating on the crisis rather than trying to rush through the contentious Bill on prisoner voting?

Civil Defence officials are regularly fronting the media, where is their Minister Peeni Henare?

MBIE has a huge job working out what’s an essential business and what’s not. Where is their Minister Phil Twyford and why isn’t he at the media briefings?

Phone and internet enable good communication but conversations and deliberations at a distance are second best when compared with being on the spot.

The response to Covid-19 has been likened to a war. Shouldn’t there be a war cabinet, albeit at the two metre distance required for anyone outside their bubbles, working to not only deal with the health crisis but formulating the plan that will be needed to counter the economic and social challenges that are already apparent?

It doesn’t need a whole of government approach – and given the three parties in this one that wouldn’t be advisable. But it does need more than a cabinet of two.

Could it be that the crisis has shown the shallowness of talent in the government and that as Chris Trotter says, we could be forgiven for wondering if there is anyone else in the Coalition Cabinet equal to the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 Pandemic? 

Is the reason the reason there isn’t a new Health Minister because there isn’t anyone else up to the job?

This begs another question: if they’re not equal to dealing with these challenges, are they equal to dealing with the challenges the recovery will pose?


Mixed message

03/01/2019

Police Minister Stuart Nash thinks testing drugs at festivals is a fantastic idea.

Independent testing tents that let you know what’s in recreational drugs could become a regular feature at New Zealand festivals, Police Minister Stuart Nash says.

“I think they’re a fantastic idea and should be installed at all our festivals,” he said. “But I need to see how it works and better understand the implications of it first.”

The idea behind recreational drug testing is not to stop drug use but reduce harm, by letting consumers of illicit pills know if the drugs they are taking have been mixed with other dangerous chemicals.

This sends the message that if there are no other dangerous chemicals mixed in the drugs they will be harmless when they may well not be.

“The war on drugs hasn’t worked in the past 20 years, so it’s time to change to a more compassionate and restorative approach,” Nash said. . . 

The war on drugs hasn’t stamped them out but is there any data to say what its impact has been?

Would more or fewer people take drugs if they weren’t illegal?

What about the danger of drug driving and would it be any less if drugs weren’t illegal?

Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances which cause multiple problems.

Condoning recreational drug use as the testing would do, while devoting a lot of resources to persuade people of the ill-effects of smoking and drinking too much alcohol sends a very mixed message.


One year on

26/10/2018

It’s a year since the Labour-led (or, if you’re pandering to Winston Peters, the Labour-New Zealand First without mentioning the Green Party) – government was formed.

The sun is still rising in the east as it does regardless of who is in government just as most people’s day-to-day lives carry on regardless of the government.

But governments do stuff and what stands out about the first year of this one is that it’s done a very good job of spending money on people who don’t need it.

One of its first big spends was $2.8 billion for fee-free tertiary study, an expensive misdirection of education dollars to people, most of whom would have been studying anyway and who will go on to earn far more as a result of the qualifications they gain.

Another was the $60 a week payment to people who have babies. This is another scattergun approach that goes to everyone regardless of their circumstances which leaves less for those in genuine need.

The winter energy payment to beneficiaries, including superannuitants, was similarly misdirected. Requiring people to apply for it would have weeded out most of those who didn’t need help and making it less expensive to help those who do.

Then we have KiwiBuild – helping a few people on well above the average income buy a house while failing to address the underlying causes of the housing shortage.

Let’s not forget tax breaks for good looking horses and the regional slush fund.

And of course the plethora of working groups – the latest of which is charged with advising on whether to set up another:

Small business owners will be disappointed to hear that the Government’s Small Business Council is too busy to listen right now because it has been asked to advise on establishing a new working group, National’s Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“In a classic ‘Yes, Minister’ scenario, the Council has been tasked with advising Small Business Minister Stuart Nash on the establishment of a Small Business Institute, or to put it plainly, a working group will advise on whether to create another working group.

“The Council, which will also advise on its own future beyond June 2019, is one of more than 180 working groups hatched by a Government that came to office without having worked out its policies during nine years in Opposition. It prefers to use $135,000 of taxpayer money to pay for this working group.

“Not only that, but we haven’t heard anything from the Small Business Council since it was unveiled by Mr Nash two months ago. Mr Nash has also been silent, other than to tell us this week that he’s off to Australia to meet his counterparts.

“Small business owners might have thought a priority for this Government would be to listen to a group that makes up 97 per cent of all New Zealand firms and employs more than 600,000 Kiwis, given their confidence has slumped to a 10-year low. But that will have to wait. . . 

It’s not only small businesses that are waiting.

One-year on we’re all still waiting for policies which will make a positive difference where it matters.

This government, whatever you call it, has been very good at rhetoric, very good at giving money to people who don’t need it and sadly very good at mistaking more spending for better spending.

 

 

 

 


Deaf and mentally disabled don’t count?

16/07/2018

Last week we learned the government had withdrawn funding for cochlear implants, this week it’s a pilot for mental health support workers:

The Government’s decision to axe a universally-supported pilot to improve the response to 111 mental health calls is nothing short of disgraceful, especially after Labour pledged to make mental health a priority, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“It has been revealed that Labour has scrapped a pilot in which a mental health nurse would attend mental health incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored to their needs.

“Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls. They do a good job, but are not mental health professionals so having a mental health nurse deployed to incidents with police would make a real difference.

“The increasing demand on police to respond to mental health crises is set to continue. That’s why the National Government set aside $8 million for the pilot as part of our $100 million mental health package.

“Police Minister Stuart Nash confirmed in answers to written questions the day of the Police Estimates hearing that the pilot would be canned, yet Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the hearing that police were very hopeful it would continue – in front of Mr Nash.

“Mr Nash has admitted that police are dealing with more and more mental health cases. The pilot would have eased pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.

“It beggars belief that this Government would axe the potentially game-changing pilot which had universal support from those on the frontline dealing with mental health, including mental health expert Nigel Fairley who said in February that the pilot was top of his spending list.

“The Government is again wilfully disregarding the expert advice and belittling calls from police and mental health experts to improve first responder processes.

“People need more help now. The Government must listen to the experts and reinstate funding for this pilot immediately.”

The government has an inquiry into mental health underway and last week announced the setting up of a criminal justice advisory group.

I will be very surprised if both don’t find a link between lack of support for the mentally ill and crime.

Deisntitutionalisation of mentally ill people was a humane policy but it hasn’t been backed up by enough support for many of them and their families.

That is one factor contributing to our high crime and incarceration rates.

Having mental health support people as first responders would not only help people in desperate need, it would make the work of the police less difficult and improve public safety.

Both Labour and the Greens say they stand for the most vulnerable, NZ First says it stands for improved law and order, withdrawing this funding is another example of their actions contradicting their rhetoric.

It is letting down the most vulnerable and their families and will make the work of police much harder.

It is also another example of wrong priorities. Had the government not wasted money on fee-free tertiary education, good looking horses, and other fripperies there would be more than enough for the deaf and mentally disabled.


If only there’d been a teal deal

16/02/2018

The governing coalition is all at sea over fisheries monitoring:

Evidence given to the Environment Select Committee from the Department of Conservation (DOC) today just goes to show the deeply divided factions occurring within the Coalition Government, National’s Fisheries spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“Speaking at DOC’s annual review, the Director General Lou Sanson was asked what input his department has had on the new Government’s decision to firstly postpone and then, this week, cancel the introduction of cameras on fishing boats.

“Mr Sanson and DOC have always been spirited advocates of on-board cameras as one of the best practical measures needed to protect our declining marine bird species.

“He told the committee that DOC ‘absolutely’ maintains its position that cameras on fishing boats are essential if we are to reverse the decline in the sort of seabird species we see in our waters.

“It’s therefore quite extraordinary that his Minister, Eugenie Sage, has so quickly and thoroughly distanced herself from Stuart Nash’s decision to cancel the roll-out that the National Government initiated.

“It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to work out that Mr Nash is being leant on by Coalition partner, New Zealand First.

“I’m surprised that as a junior Coalition partner, the Greens have allowed themselves to be side-lined in this way,” Mr Brownlee says.

The Green Party has had to swallow a lot of dead rats in its agreement to support Labour and New Zealand First in government.

Had they been able to countenance a deal with National last year, there would be no compromise over on-board cameras.

If the Greens could moderate their radical left economic and social agenda, they could sit in the political middle, able to go left and right.

A teal deal would have been better for both the economy and environment than what we’ve got – a red and black one with a weak green off-shoot.


Simple taxes better taxes

24/11/2017

Former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen will chair the working group which is taxed with finding a fairier tax system:

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced the terms of reference for the group, which will come up with a series of recommendations by February 2019 which the government will then use to inform its policy direction at the next general election. Robertson said he isn’t making a grab for cash. Reforms could be fiscally neutral and he had an open mind on whether a capital gains tax would be necessary.

“The main goal here is to create a better, balanced and fairer tax system for New Zealand,” Robertson said. “Our belief at the moment is that we do not have that.”

The group has been told to consider the economic environment over the next five-to-10 years and how that’s affecting changing business models, demographics and business practices; whether some form of housing, land or capital gains tax would improve the system; whether a progressive company tax with lower rates for small businesses would improve the system and business environment; and what role tax can play in delivering environment benefits. . . 

The group has been told not to look at increasing income tax rates or the rate of GST, inheritance tax, a tax on the family home, or the adequacy of the personal tax system and its interaction with the transfer system. It has been directed to look at technical matters already under review such as international tax reform targeting multinational profit shifting, and the tax department’s business transformation programme.

While the issue of applying GST to goods and services bought online from overseas could be dealt with separately and was not part of the working group’s brief, Robertson said the group could examine exemptions from GST for particular categories of goods. Labour’s coalition partner in government, NZ First, has campaigned for years to remove GST from fruit and vegetables.

Robertson said the group will be able to look at the tax treatment on savings and investment, which has cropped up in previous reviews as an area in need of reform.

The best taxes are simple taxes.

Taking GST off fruit and vegetables sounds simple but it isn’t. If it’s all fruit and vegetables it will include processed ones which might have lots of sugar and salt added. But if it’s only fresh fruit and vegetables luxury imports like pomegranate will be exempt while frozen vegetables won’t.

Our GST is lauded around the world for its simplicity. Once you introduce exemptions it gets complicated, inconsistent and more expensive to administer.

National’s Finance spokesman Steven Joyce says the working group is underwhelming:

“Its Terms of Reference is written so that it will propose one significant thing at the end of it, a Capital Gains Tax,” Mr Joyce says.

“Yet Mr Robertson’s assertion on the current taxation of capital gains in the property market remains incorrect. People who buy and sell houses for a profit have those profits treated as income for tax purposes under the law today.

“So people can only assume once again that his unspoken desire is to introduce a Capital Gains Tax on farms and small businesses.” . . .

“Nothing will come out of this group that Grant Robertson doesn’t want. And all he wants is a recommendation for a Capital Gains Tax.

“Mr Robertson would be better to dispense with the expense to taxpayers and write out his tax policy for the next election when the time comes in the normal manner.”

I’m not opposed to a CGT per se, if it was fiscally neutral through reductions elsewhere. But as with GST, a simple CGT would be a better one.

Once there are exemptions there are loopholes which will be very good for lawyers and accountants but much less so for the aim of balance and fairness.

 


Labour doesn’t understand business

01/03/2016

Labour said it’s worried about jobs which will disappear but is complaining the increase in the minimum wage isn’t high enough.

The minimum wage is just that, the minimum. It’s a floor not a ceiling.

Any business which can afford to pay its workers more than that can and many will.

But not all work is worth more than that and imposing higher costs on businesses without lowering other costs or increasing returns will put other jobs and whole businesses at risk.

It will also increase the move to replacing people with machines which is supposedly one of Labour’s big worries.

In another example of Labour’s lamentable lack of understanding of business principles, the party wants to force forests to sell logs to local mills.

Forest owners responded:

Forest owners say they are keen to sell their logs to local mills, so long as the terms of sale match those from export markets.

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes says there have been cases where local mills have been unwilling to do this.

“It’s not just about price. It’s also about the payment risk, the length of the contract and the quality of the logs on offer. Many modern mills have tight specifications for log supply. Logs that don’t meet those specifications are usually exported. This will always be the case,” he says.

Responding to a call from Labour Party MP Stuart Nash that “foreign forest owners” should be forced to sell logs to local mills, Mr Rhodes says owners of forests – foreign, corporate, private companies, iwi, partnerships or individuals — look for terms and conditions that give them the best overall returns.

“In many cases they get only one chance to do this, having spent 27 years growing their trees. This is crucial – forestry is not a one-way bet. Just ask those forest owners, particularly in Northland, who are not replanting after harvest, because log prices are not high enough to justify re-investment.”

Mr Rhodes says it is unfair to single out overseas owners of large plantations as the reason for mill failures.

“It may appeal to the emotions, but does not advance public understanding one iota. Overseas owned forestry companies are among the leaders of the industry. They make significant investments in jobs, worker safety and the environment.”

 

He says forest owners understand the importance of New Zealand having a viable wood processing industry and are partners in the Wood Council which is committed to having more value added to logs in NZ.

“We are talk regularly with politicians from the various political parties about policies that will assist the forest and wood processing industries remain vibrant, viable industries providing employment in the regions. Mr Nash’s proposed policy is not one of them.”

Forestry is a risky business with a long time between planting and payment.

Forest owners aren’t charities. They’re businesses and need good returns to if they’re going to continue in business and employing their own staff.


Apology for a team

23/07/2014

Today’s general debate began with some apologies:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Hon Member: What about Annette?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, actually, not Annette. She is not really on the team, either, or Phil, because they work hard. They get out in the country, working hard. Clayton is not really on the team. To be fair, I do not think he has ever been on the team. Trevor is not so much on the team—not really on the team. But, aside from Shane, Dover, Andrew, Damien, Rino, Annette, Phil, Clayton, and Trevor, this is my team. This is my team. Well, actually, you have got to exclude Grant, to be fair, because Grant is not really on my team, or David Parker—he is not on the team—or Chris Hipkins. He is not on it. I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. That is my team. It is game on—it is game on. The Labour Party is marching to the election, united as a single team. That is what is going on. And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.


Cunliffe says nah yeah to Internet Mana

07/07/2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe isn’t ruling out going into coalition with the Internet Mana Party:

Deal or no deal? That’s a question Labour Party leader David Cunliffe is facing.

He’s trying to have it both ways with Internet Mana, leaving the door open to working with them in government, but not to the cabinet table. . .

Rousing the party faithful, Labour has one goal in mind – to change the Government. That means hello Internet Mana and its cash-cow, Kim Dotcom.

“After the election we will work with whomever we need to work with to change the Government,” says Mr Cunliffe. “We will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the Government.”

It’s a political dead rat Labour may have to swallow. Some are fighting against, wanting to rule out working with Internet Mana in government.

That includes some of his caucus and at least one candidate.

Phil Goff is on record calling the deal a rort, with Dotcom buying influence. Chris Hipkins says they’re “unprincipled sell-outs” and Dotcom is a “discredited German”.

“I don’t have much time for Kim Dotcom at all to be honest,” says Napier candidate Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash says the same about Hone Harawira. . .

Mr Cunliffe knows he may need the Dotcom, Harawira, Laila Harre combo but doesn’t want them too close.

“Frankly I would be surprised to see anybody other than the Greens and perhaps New Zealand First at our cabinet table,” says Mr Cunliffe. “I think that’s extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, they’ll be ministers – extremely unlikely.”

So that means no seats in cabinet but a deal still possible.

Internet Mana is a political weakness for Labour and Mr Cunliffe is trying to have it both ways. . .

Like a lot of his other positions it’s a yeah nah – or in this case a nay-yeah one.

He doesn’t want them but he’s not ruling them out and neither Hone Harawiara nor Laila Harre are the sort of people to roll over without being thrown a bone or two which may well include a place in the top kennel.

That won’t go down well with some in Labour on principle and also because they are already facing missing out on cabinet places to accommodate Green and NZ First MPs.

It won’t go down well with either of those other prospective partners and it won’t go down well with most voters.


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