Rural round-up

June 11, 2011

Women are “half the equation” – Sally Rae:

Women play a crucial role in farming operations, Eloise Neeley [Otago Federated farmers junior vice-president] says.

They were often overlooked yet they made a very valuable contribution, Mrs Neeley said, describing them as “half the farming equation”.

Frequently, their work was behind the scenes, either in administration or organising what was happening on the farm, and they were also “bringing up future farmers”, she said. . .

New president after “fair deal on farms” – Sally Rae:

Richard Strowger [North Otago Federated Farmers president] wants to see farmers get a “fair deal”.

Although New Zealand had a population of four million, there were just 45,000 farmers who produced “the wealth of the country” and Mr Strowger wanted to represent the farming community to help “give them a fair shot”.

He has been a longtime member of the farmer lobby group, saying it was the voice for farmers and he was pleased to see membership growing. . .

Partnerships contribute to global picture of sustainability:

BusinessNZ and Landcare Research have partnered with the producer of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to provide an accurate and complete sustainability reports database for New Zealand.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and services. “Businesses providing transparent and comparable reporting on how they manage their economic, environmental, social and governance impacts is a valuable way for them to respond to consumers’ concerns and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development.” . . .

Contest winners entered to learn – Sally Rae:

It’s all about teamwork for New Zealand ewe hogget competition winners Phill Hunt and Lizzie Carruthers.

Ms Carruthers does the stock work on Fork Farm at Maungawera, near Wanaka, while her husband looks after the maintenance, tractor work and book work.

They give each other a hand when required – “not book work, though”, Ms Carruthers quickly quipped. . .

Bees working under radar

A TINY creature that plays a major role in the production of $5 billion worth of primary exports was recently celebrated by way of ‘Bee Week’.

The bee makes its greatest contribution by pollinating crops, but New Zealand also exports $100m-worth of honey products.

Daniel Poole, of the National Bee Keepers Association, says for many years bees have flown underneath the radar with people failing to recognise their value. He says this is now changing and people are starting to appreciate just how important bees are. . .

Why the Bee team is the A team

Since 2000, Varroa has seen the loss of at least 200,000 bee colonies.  Federated Farmers believes it doesn’t matter what hat farmers wear; sheep, kiwifruit, mohair or dairy, all farmers are on the bee team, which is actually, New Zealand’s A team.

“Last week, Bee Week celebrated the honey bee and the massive contribution it makes to our economy and farm system,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson.

“While our direct income as an industry sits at around $100 million, modest in the much larger agricultural scheme of things, bees enable almost all sectors except fisheries and forestry. . .

Federated farmers High Country conference  chair’s opening address:

The theme for this year’s High Country Conference is “Sensible Solutions”.

This could be viewed by some as being a bit optimistic. After all, this sector has been seeking sensible solutions for nearly 70 years and has found it an uphill struggle, particularly when faced with bureaucratic reticence and political ideology.

However, I believe we have seen more forward progress in the past 12 months in a variety of issues, than has been evident for many years. There is still much work to be done on a number of matters, but the fact that many people are constructively involved in that work is a positive sign . . .

Wet mowing kills weeds – Taranaki Daily News reports:

Research has provided evidence to show that mowing californian thistle in the rain really does help get rid of the weed.

It will come as no surprise to many farmers, but there is now evidence that mowing pasture in the rain helps to reduce the abundance of Cirsium arvense.

It is the most destructive pastoral weed in New Zealand.

Research has provided quantitative evidence that mowing in the rain really works, as well as uncovering a potential biological basis for the effect. . .

SC Finance receiver sued by Fonterra director – NZ Herald:

Dairy Holdings shareholder and director Colin Armer and his wife Dale have filed a High Court claim against their fellow shareholders, including South Canterbury Finance (SCF) receivers and government representatives Kerryn Downey and William Black of McGrathNicol.

They allege the receivers efforts to sell the company breach a shareholders’ agreement and that attempts to force the Armers out have stooped to blackmail. . .

Third milk inquiry looming – Andrea Fox:

A third official investigation could be imminent into how dairy giant Fonterra sets the price of milk for New Zealand after the chairman of Parliament’s commerce select committee said an explanation by government officials left her with more questions than answers.

Competition watchdog the Commerce Commission is due to report any day on whether a full price control inquiry into retail milk is warranted after official complaints, including an allegation from the processing industry that Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk. . .

Dags and fibre make grass grow – Owen Hembry:

An Auckland firm has rolled out an ingenious use for the byproducts of an unlikely combination; sheep and coffee.

Woolgro mixes dag wool – which is often exported for low grade products – and jute fibre from used coffee sacks to create a seed-infused mat to be rolled out over ground ready for a lawn.

Geoff Luke is a co-founder and director with a background in residential architecture and had struggled with different methods of laying lawns.

“The beauty of the mat is that it does create the perfect germination environment for the seed,” he said. . .

Success: funding helps make most of milk – Christine Nikiel:

Angel investors’ $500,000 aims to boost sales of dairy-based health products.

The word mastitis can strike fear into the heart of even the staunchest dairy farmer. The painful udder infection is the most common disease in dairy cows and can have a huge impact on milk production.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment, but using them means the cow must be isolated, sometimes for weeks, and the milk thrown away. . .

Honour shocks TB expert – Jon Morgan:

When Paul Livingstone opened the letter with the New Zealand Government seal on it he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I had to check the envelope to see if it had my name on it,” the Animal Health Board expert in tuberculosis in possums says.

The letter told him he was to be awarded the Queen’s Service Order for services to veterinary science. “I was astounded. It never entered my head that I could get an award like that.”

But it had entered the heads of many other people. Farming, ministry and veterinary leaders in New Zealand and overseas wrote in to back the recommendation of the award and Dr Livingstone’s name was included in the weekend’s Queen’s Birthday honours . . .

 Preserving for posterity’s sake:

The region has already lost 97 per cent of its wetlands, and 75 per cent of its forest cover. JILL GALLOWAY talked to He Tini Awa trustees about how they are helping to change the balance a bit.

The project we visit is an eight-hectare wetland near Pohangina village.

It is owned by Gordon and Anne Pilone and is home to dabchicks, mallards and paradise ducks – and lots of pukeko. . .

 Raising chooks and cash –  Terry Tacon:

 New Zealander bidding to double the size of his Australian-based broiler chicken business was back in familiar territory last week.

This interview with Max Bryant, executive director of ProTen, was conducted in what was his former office in the Agribusiness Centre in Weld St, Feilding, these days occupied by NZX Agri editorial manager Tony Leggett.

Bryant was a sheep and beef farmer on a 120ha property at Halcombe when in 1982 he “virtually went broke” from a failed kiwifruit venture in which he had invested. . .

Merino farmers given chance – Gerald Piddock:

Merino growers have a watershed opportunity to take ownership of their marketing business from the sale of PGG Wrightson’s 50 per cent shareholding of New Zealand Merino (NZM) to Merino Grower Investments Limited (MGIL), NZM director Ross Ivey says.

The sale of the shareholding valued at $7.625 million, is subject to approval by MGIL’s 630 grower shareholders who own 50 per cent of NZM.

Mr Ivey, who farms merinos at Glentanner Station near Aoraki Mt Cook, said he would be very surprised if MGIL’s shareholders rejected the proposal. . .

More to bees than honey – Gerald Piddock:

The New Zealand bee industry is in good heart and in good health, but there are challenges ahead, according to an industry representative.

Although varroa was widespread throughout the country, diseases such as European foulbrood, small hive beetle and Israel acute paralysis virus were present in Australia, but have not yet been found in New Zealand, National Beekeepers Association (NBA) joint chief executive Daniel Paul said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t want Australian honey imports, because they have the potential to bring in threats that could potentially undermine the health of the industry.” . . .

 


What happened to the mid-term toughie?

May 21, 2010

Mid term Budgets are generally the tough ones.

It’s when tough medicine is delivered in the hope people will have forgotten, or at least got used to, the taste by the time they vote.

This Budget hasn’t done that.

There were a few positive surprises and while there are a few complaints, the general response is positive.

From south to north:

The Southland Times says it was Cautiously corrective:

The Budget was more a series of cautious, reasoned calculations, political as well as economic, following a pretty well-signposted path. . .

Disinclined though most people may feel towards outbursts of impassioned applause, some acknowledgment is due that Finance Minister Bill English delivered, on balance, more by way of tax cuts than had been expected. . .

//

Mr English is entitled to claim that New Zealand now has a fairer tax system.

This does not, necessarily, amount to a mission accomplished. Far bolder measures such as capital gains and land tax options were discarded, but the bottom-line issue is less whether the changes were correctional – they were – than whether they were too meek.

Mr English and Prime Minister John Key would be happy enough if the debate in future weeks were to be primarily whether they were cautious to a fault in how far they went down the right track.

But it won’t be. Neither life nor politics is that simple.

The ODT says it’s A Budget gamble:

What really matters, though, is whether the changes will stimulate investment in jobs and in product-creating industries (without which there cannot be lasting economic growth) or simply leave New Zealanders’ habitual spendthrift ways unchanged.

. . .   The Government deserves commendation for – at long last – tackling a few of the seriously detrimental distortions in the taxation system; but for the rest, a mark of “achieved with credit” is some way off.

In essence, the Government has judged its measures to be long term: a brave and necessary conclusion.

The Dominion Post sees Bold steps towards an economic recovery:

Finance Minister Bill English has not gone as far in his second Budget as he was advised to go by the high-powered Tax Working Group earlier this year. But he has been bolder than most pundits expected. And, wonder of wonders, the Budget is a coherent document that should encourage saving and investment and discourage consumption and speculative investment in property. . .

There is something else for the naysayers to consider. Even before the financial crisis struck, economic growth had stalled in New Zealand. Without changes to make it a more attractive destination for investment and skilled workers, New Zealand was facing a further slip down world economic tables. Mr English has made a promising start to arresting the trend.

The Taranaki Daily News writes Budgeting on widening the gap:

But the Government’s `surprise’ package for middle-class earners and its across-the-board tax changes cannot hide the fact that despite being touted as something for everyone, a significant portion of our community will still be getting substantially more than others.

The NZ Herald says Budget puts NZ on course for stability:

If National’s second Budget has done nothing else it has restored reasonable personal tax rates. . .

The Budget was upbeat on the economic recovery, forecasting growth of 3 per cent a year for four years, which would reduce unemployment to 4.5 per cent in four years and return the Government’s accounts to surplus in five years.

Most important, those forecasts enable the Treasury to plan debt reductions.

National Governments are never happier than when they can reduce taxes, and never more determined than when they can remove a welfare rort.

They managed to do both in this Budget, stopping those who minimise their assessable income from claiming income support from the state. . .

The Government has not forgotten that only half the country’s top earners have been paying the top rate, and that those who do pay it provide nearly half of the revenue extracted from personal incomes.

It has given the payers a more reasonable rate. If the rest in the highest bracket have been induced to contribute fully, the Budget will have been a success.

Keeping Stock has a round-up of views from commentators.


On ACC they said:

October 18, 2009

Not all editorials and columns agree with the government view on ACC’s problems and solutions.

But there is concensus that there is a big problem in need of an enduring solution.

Southland Times:

That belt-tightening exercise we’re enduring with ACC – there comes a point where what you’ve got is no longer a tightened belt. It’s a tourniquet. Confuse the two and something’s going to blacken and fall off, writes The Southland Times in an editorial.

Many eyes are bulging at the severity of the huge rises to ACC levies, and the toughening up of the qualifying criteria. These measures, including an extra $320 a year coming out of the average wage (which actually seven out of 10 workers are on or below), do need scrutiny for over-reaching.

ODT:

Of greater concern is the growth of future liabilities, from $9.4 billion to $23.8 billion in four years, and a good deal of the responsibility for widened and costly coverage can be laid at the door of the Clark government.

An example is the physiotherapy benefit . . . According to the Government, the subsidy introduced by Labour in 2004 and budgeted to cost $9 million a year had by this year risen to $139 million and was projected to rise to $225 million by 2011-12, with no equivalent rise in rehabilitation rates.

It has quoted other examples of how the scheme has developed far beyond its original concept to cover diseases like leptospirosis and brucellosis and medical conditions like asthma, when, it argues, these should instead be paid for out of Vote Health.

To these might be added trauma of various kinds suffered by victims and perpetrators resulting not from accidents but from criminal acts, mental injury arising from workplace trauma, and sports injuries.

When it began with the 1972 Accident Compensation Act, only those who were employed were entitled to claim for workplace accidents. That soon changed to cover all accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, regardless how injury occurred.

Timaru Herald:

The unworkable or unprofitable parts will have to be bundled back into a Government scheme. And somewhere in the middle the romantic notion of a Government-funded no-fault system will have to be modified in a politically-acceptable way.

It is a Herculean task and one that will provide a stern test for the National Government. Whatever happens in the long term, what is crystal clear today is that taxpayers will have to dig deep to get ACC out of the mire. Having a unique highly regarded system is great in theory. It is also extremely expensive.

The Press:

What would really undermine ACC and its no-fault comprehensive coverage principle would be a lack of firm action taken now to control its costs, with major levy rises not just a short-term source of financial pain for New Zealanders but something that continues well into future years.

The Nelson Mail:

Though there has been no shortage of spin around ACC’s balance sheet and performance during National’s 11 months in office, it is clear some significant changes were needed in order to bring the scheme back under control.

Some of the proposals will sail in – no more entitlements for injured methamphetamine “cooks” for example – but increased levies have already provoked wide-ranging protest.

Dominion Post:

There is no such thing as a free ACC system.

That must be central to the honest conversation the Government is asking New Zealanders to have about the scheme. Stripped to its essentials, the scheme is an insurance one, and that means any entitlement in the scheme costs money, and must be paid for by levies.

The debate must also recognise that the ACC was established to compensate people who are injured. It was not meant to be an extension of the social welfare system, cushioning people against all misfortune. The distinctions it makes are arbitrary, and can be seen as unfair . . .

. . .  The job facing Dr Smith and his colleagues is to convince the public that what is being done is fair, and within the spirit of the deal that saw New Zealanders trade away their right to sue for a no-fault right to compensation.

That deal remains a good one. It should be made to work and made affordable, not torn up.

Taranaki Daily News:

The massive increases aimed at the two-wheelers just highlights what a sorry mess ACC has become. The corporation was introduced in 1974 on April Fool’s Day which probably says much about what it has become – a $24 billion liability to the taxpayer.National promised to put the boot into bureaucrats and under-performing government departments when it came to power last year.

ACC was clearly in its sights and so it should have been.

Quite apart from the horrific imbalance between money taken in and that dished out, New Zealanders have become sick of the tales that have leaked from the corporation throughout its 35-year existence.

Remember the outrage of the prisoner being paid ACC for injuries suffered during the act of crime?

While those criminal instances might be a fraction of the ACC’s overall costs it nevertheless highlights the stupidity of parts of its system.

Past abusers of ACC are partly responsible for the current tightening in all areas.

Deborah Hill Cone:

A benefit now has a cosier name – an entitlement – which is “a right granted by law or contract”. Big. Difference. . .

There has been a lot of talk of entitlements over the ACC-in-a-pickle problem. . .  And the punters who have “entitlements” are no longer called claimants; they are clients, lest it might sound as though they are putting their paw out. The ACC public relations dude told me the Labour Government had asked for the jargon change – Labour understood the power of Neuro-linguistic Programming. The theory was that people had actually paid their premiums and so shouldn’t feel they were getting summat for nothing. Dinky idea, but as we now know, the premiums do not cover the cost of the ACC scheme – so claimants are getting something for nothing. Actually. . .

. . . I am still waiting for someone to explain to me why it is that large corporates, such as Fonterra and Air New Zealand, can opt out of ACC and self-insure – but I can’t. Oh, I get the practical reason – that I don’t have a lazy mill to cover a claim – but where is the policy rationale? The opt-out clause (cosy name: the “partnership programme”) takes 15 per cent of the country’s workers out of ACC. So if these corporates can manage their health and safety liabilities more efficiently than ACC, what does that say about ACC?

Herald on Sunday:

. . .  in the 35 years since ACC was established, so many bits have been carved off and clipped on that it bears little resemblance to the original design.

Anomalies abound: people who work in dangerous jobs pay more in earner levies than people who work in offices, but rugby league forwards incur no more expense by way of premium payment than those whose leisure preference is macrame. . .

More profoundly, many of its conceptual assumptions have been corrupted by this piecemeal regulatory intervention. ACC has not been reviewed since the 1980s and, once it has dealt with the immediate crisis, the Government would do well to consider another reassessment of the entire system.

In 1974, we entered a social contract by which we surrendered the right to sue. As a society, we were keen to avoid the litigious and ludicrously expensive American model.

But it is not an absolute truth than our system is better. Anyone who spends time in the US will quickly notice the lengths to which people go to avoid posing a risk to others.

That carefulness flows from fear of being sued, of course, but it’s worth wondering whether we here have grown too accustomed to being reckless of others’ – and our own – welfare, in the knowledge that someone else will pay.

If nothing else, the crisis we face now reminds us that we are all that someone else.

Deborah Coddington

The Government can remain insurer of last resort for dangerous employers with bad track records, but why should safe, careful employers who look after their workers continue to pay high levies and cross-subsidise the former?


Editorials on Maori seats

August 26, 2009

The ODT says:

That Maori believe they are entitled to separate representation because of the treaty is a claim not tested in law, though it may yet be; that seats should be provided for them piecemeal, council by council, as a “gesture” is patronising and scarcely credible.

What next? That each tribe should have a seat? The Cabinet decision may appear to have effectively pre-empted change, but the issue will doubtless return when Parliament debates the legislation. The Government should not retreat from its position.

The Manawatu Standard  says Maori deserve better than this:

The Government’s decision to exclude Maori seats from the new Auckland super city council was the wrong one.

It is a victory for populism over courage, and political expediency over the much more arduous pursuit of justice. What is it that makes acknowledging that Maori hold a special status in this country as its indigenous people so utterly distasteful to so many? Why can we not see any further back than the myopia of Brash-era thinking and view the issue of Maori representation through a broader historical context?

If that were to happen, people like ACT leader Rodney Hide might cease his “one man, one vote” yammering and see an indigenous people whose sense of identity is inextricably linked to the land, and who were systematically marginalised as it was taken from them, divided up and sold for profit particularly in Auckland.

Is it such anathema to ensure they have input into how that land is governed now?

Just two editorials this morning on the issue and they have opposing views.

I’m with the ODT.

UPDATE:

The Nelson Mail says:

Maori are perfectly capable of being elected on their merits when they put themselves forward alongside people of other races. Special consultation is a good thing and already required of all councils by the local government legislation. Guaranteeing seats based on race is something else.

The Taranaki Daily News writes on giving up seats so they can stand:

Are they really so disparaging of their own political prowess that they feel they need a leg-up to compete with others in the political arena? . . . 

 . . . Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that Cabinet will not support separate Maori seats for the Auckland super city is a tip of the hat to the mature political force and nous within Maoridom, rather than a denigration of its status.

It is a recognition that a great deal has happened in the 140 years since Maori seats were established in Parliament in 1868, that much progress has been made to advance the Maori voice, and that they no longer need to stand on the shoulders of others to get noticed.

In fact, we would go so far as to say the idea that Maori need some kind of false apparatus or rigged game to secure their place at the table is patronising and potentially racist in its intentions, a colonial sop that gives the pretence of power while keeping the reins in the hands of the few.

That might have been appropriate 140 years ago, when Maori were a nascent political force still finding their way and learning the ropes.


Round up of Budget editorials – updated

May 29, 2009

The Southland Times calls it a pig of a budget:

The constraints on Bill English’s Budget were such that at times he must have felt like calling in Mike King and a documentary crew, writes The Southland Times in an editorial.

It was grimly inappropriate to hear the Finance Minister say his Budget marked a turning point.

Chance would be a fine thing. Instead, Mr English faced manoeuverability issues that could lead a man to commiserate with any crated pig.

He could trample forwards and backwards just a little, even try a few backflips, but there just wasn’t room for sidesteps.

Mr English simply wasn’t in a position to lead us swiftly out of the recessionary mire and into the meadowlands any time soon.

The Timaru Herald says Mr Prudent gets his scissors out:

No-one could accuse Finance Minister Bill English of delivering a charismatic Budget speech yesterday, but what it lacked in flair it more than made up for in guts.

Against the backdrop of the worst economic conditions in decades, the Budget had to be tough. It was.

The gutsy decisions include deferring the next two planned phases of tax cuts in 2010 and 2011, and suspending payments to the Superannuation Fund in the long term.

These are likely to be unpopular measures but, to be fair, there is no surprise in either of them. The Government has been slick at telegraphing the bad news, and the public has a good level of understanding about just how difficult the times we are living in are. In fact, the softening up programme has been so effective that any hint of a tax cut would have seemed reckless.

The ODT headline its editorial walking the tightrope and sounds a warning to individuals:

Most people will be happy benefits have been retained, and they certainly should be happy that state spending is to be curbed.

They should also be budgeting just as carefully as Mr English appears to be: with household debt increasing by 51% since 2004, and with $168 billion of net debt currently owed by the country to overseas lenders, the halcyon days of recent memory are decidedly over.

They will not return until national productivity improves, debt is paid down, our export trade improves and we pay our own bills.

Mr English is walking a tightrope, and so are we all.

The Dominion Post calls it a Budget for a rainy day:

Labour leader Phil Goff says that, by halting contributions to the super fund, the Government is digging a $20b hole for future generations. The truth is that Labour left National with little choice. For all its talk of Keynesian economics and putting money aside in the good times, Labour spent too much of the bounty that flowed into the state’s coffers during its nine years in office.

The $15b the last government set aside for a rainy day by reducing government debt and investing in the super fund will be consumed in less than two years.

Without the changes announced yesterday, debt would have ballooned by 2023 to the crippling levels last seen in the late 1980s. That would have left the state owing the equivalent of $45,000 for every man, woman and child a burden that would have severely limited the ability of future governments to meet health, education and welfare needs. The solution is not to gamble on international markets.

The Taranaki Daily News says move over Fluffy, here comes Bill:

Those of us who share a bed with a rubber hottie and a fluffy cat will welcome at least one bit of good news in yesterday’s dreary Budget.

Finance Minister Bill English has allocated $323 million over the next four years to insulate our appallingly cold homes.

The NZ Herald says it’s a Budget short on tough decisions:

The recession has shown Labour’s spending levels to be unsustainable, and the more since Labour and National have indulged in a round of tax cuts. Hard decisions on welfare entitlements for the well-off, interest-free tertiary loans, free childcare and the like – decisions Mr Key and Mr English were proud to avoid yesterday – will probably have to be made. Maybe next year.

Nine years of deficits is simply too long. The world economy will surely have recovered in half that time. The Government needs to be looking beyond its cushions. The country needs to be awake and well geared for the first signs of recovery.

The Budget has been constrained not just by the recession it’s also been constrained by politics.

National made an election commitment not to alter various Labour initiatives which turned middle and upper  income people into beneficaries. The direct expense and indirect costs – through the bureaucracy which supports it – of  that increased what had to be borrowed and severely limited spending available for more productive initiatives.

UPDATE:

The NBR ditorial is headlined timid steps on a hard road:

Faced with the worst economic conditions in 80 years, Finance Minister Bill English has tried to chart a path to recovery with his first budget.

This was always going to be a difficult task and the government has taken its first rather timid steps on a long road.

The speed of the global recession has highlighted the structural imbalances in the economy, namely excessive household and government spending against insufficient growth and productivity. . .

. . . The government gets another chance next year but politically it gets harder. As Mr English says, there is no long-term free lunch.

The government has been forced to cut contributions to the Superannuation Fund with only partial contributions to be decided on an ad hoc basis until 2023.

To be a wealthy nation, New Zealand has to reward enterprise and penalise waste.


There’s a nasty stench . . .

September 27, 2008

The ODT can smell it:

Indeed, contempt is a word many voters might well be employing to describe the poisonous state of affairs where the MPs’ behaviour and standards have sunk so low as to bring the very concept of the “people’s representatives” into serious disrepair.

The Timaru Herald can smell it:

To put Mr Peters out to pasture, as Prime Minister Helen Clark should have, would have been to admit Labour were wrong in supporting him. So the man who once made a show of shunning the baubles of office drifts to the end of this Government’s term still holding the baubles, but without the office. Enough said.

The Press can smell it:

So why is it that for the next two months or more, until the shape of the next government is known, he is allowed to retain his ministerial salary and the other perks of the job? The only answer is that it is still politically expedient for Labour to let him cling to the baubles of office.

The Tarankai Daily News  can smell it:

It’s a sweet lullaby of conspiracy and political back-stabbing, played on the strings of a David versus Goliath battle for survival; a lullaby perfectly pitched to filter out the clangs and bangs of common sense and truth and put the listener into a content, compliant trance over the next six weeks.

The NZ Herald  can smell it:

It is stating the obvious to say Winston Peters should have resigned as a minister some time ago. And that he should go now, after the censure delivered by Parliament’s privileges committee. He will not, of course, and, the New Zealand First leader may even see a silver lining in that dark cloud. The Prime Minister has said she will not reinstate him as Foreign Minister, but that he will remain a minister without portfolio. As such, Mr Peters is free to hit the campaign trail with the salary and perks of a minister but none of the responsibilities. This farce will end with voters having to deliver the Don’t Come Monday letter on November 8.

Michael Bassett  can smell it:

Overtly buying political influence by giving large donations to parties and murky private trusts like the Spencer Trust appears on the face of it to be corruption of a kind that has been foreign to New Zealand, and which is always likely to bring any Parliament into disrepute. When will these matters be investigated by the Privileges Committee? Why has Winston, who has always posed as a friend of the old and the vulnerable, been spreading tens of millions of dollars of public money on wealthy racing magnates who don’t need it, rather than on better health care and services for his supporters? And in particular, why has the Prime Minister been a party to all of this by allowing her ministry to fund Winston’s backers? There is much yet that needs unearthing about this whole murky business.

Colin Espiner  can smell it:

. . . it meant Labour and Winston Peters failed to pervert the cause of justice and will of the majority despite the most underhand of tactics. As I’ve said below in this post, Labour’s attempt to politicise the committee and discredit its findings was shameful – amongst the worst things the party has done in the past nine years, in my opinion.

We know Labour and New Zealand First can’t but we won’t know until election night how many of their supporters are prepared to hold their noses.

[ Cicero  and  Keeping Stock comment on Michael Bassett’s column]


But Miss . . .

September 26, 2008

The esteemed poet lauretae Jam Hipkins has lost is heart to the teacher who is moonlighting as a prostitute:

I love your lacy algebra

You ease my present tense

I regard your pleasure’s syntax

As a meagre recompense

For the poetry you’ve taught me

Writ on scented, satin sheet

In our one-on-one night classes

Where we shared our rhyming feet.

If my woodwork is improving

If, perchance, I top your class

It is you, sweet Cupid’s tutor

Who has shown me how to pass

Small wonder, then in Flaxmere

With no teacher of the night

That lonely boys’ testosterone

Can fuel a fiercesome fight.

But do not give them homework

Save love’s lessons just for me

You are the moon’s curriculum

You are my chemistry

If I’m A plus in the boudoir

Then I thank your lesson plan

I went in in short trousers

And I staggered out a man!

“Well, what do you think?” the laureate pleaded. “Will it work?”

“Perhaps,” I said sadly.

“But you may have to pay her to listen.”

You can read the rest of Jim Hopkins’ column here.

For other views on the issue:  Read the rest of this entry »


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