Learning to be leader


As  backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.

On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.

That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.

For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.

Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.

It was only one week ago  that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.

For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.

I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.

I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.

As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.

The letter has been picked up by CoNZervative, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock.

When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.

An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.

This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.

The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.

I covered that here and the story has also been picked up by Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog.

When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.

This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and  it makes him look like a lesser leader.

Keeping it in perspective


A lot of the media have been referring to the contaminated whey scandal.

On Monday’s Farming Show, Jim Hopkins pointed out that it was a scare not a scandal and Macdoctor adds some more perspective to the issue:

With everyone all abuzz about the latest Fonterra debacle, the MacDoctor thought it may be helpful to inject a little perspective into the situation by comparing it with the SanLu scandal.

SanLu Fonterra
Contaminant: Melamine C. Botulinus
Introduced by: Deliberate, For profit Accidental
Discovered by: Investigation after death of children Routine Investigation
Time taken to public announcement: 5 weeks from confirmation 3 days from confirmation
Number injured 300 000 0
Number hospitalised 54 000 0

Last night’s media release makes the contrast even greater – there was almost no time wasted in making a public announcement.

Contrary to earlier reports, Fonterra didn’t confirm tests until Friday and immediately notified the Ministry of Primary Industries and the public notices followed within hours.

That the company’s inept public relations was responsible for earlier information doesn’t reflect well on it.

Thankfully its food safety standards are considerably better than its initial communication led us to fear.

And for a completely different perspective The Civilian says Chinese media says problem with New Zealand economy is that New Zealand isn’t a ruthless dictatorship:

Chinese media have lashed out at New Zealand this week following the potential contamination of thousands of tins of baby formula by dairy giant Fonterra, saying that it was only able to happen because the country’s economy was not governed by a ruthless authoritarian state willing to terrify its citizens and companies into compliance.

Writing in the China Daily, columnist Huan Bai blamed the recent contamination scare on New Zealand’s “individualist philosophy” which “puts emphasis on personal freedoms ahead of efficiency,” and a laissez-faire economic system that allowed human beings to make choices for themselves, pursue their dreams and be content in their own fallibility without living in continual fear of execution if something goes wrong. . .

Two tonne of urea could help save a life


An email from a friend asked me to spread the word about a TradeMe auction to help fund potentially life-saving cancer treatment.

The email said:

Hello friends
I know you are all busy people.    If you could take a few minutes to search the website mentioned below and to place a bid you would be really helping our friend Jane who is a real kiwi battler.  
Jane is fundraising for her own cancer treatment.  Its not some obscure drug treatment, its a drug that she would be getting on national health if she lived in Australia or the UK.  This drug has worked wonders and is giving Jane a good quality of life.   If you are not in a position to bid on any of these great offers from Jane’s friends and family, then please forward to any of your friends or work mates who might like a South Island holiday, golfing packages or some collectible art.   Any donation no matter the size will help.
. . .  The auction will close on Trade Me on Saturday 17th April – this Saturday – so you will have to be quick.

She attached this message from Jane:

It gives me much pleasure to make the fundraising auction live! Many thanks to friends and family who have helped me and to businesses who have donated – enjoy!

Go to: http://www.janewebdesign.co.nz and don’t forget to forward on to your own contacts.

In December 2003 I lost my kidney to cancer. Exactly five years later, I was told that the cancer had spread to several locations throughout my body.

Kidney cancer of this type does not respond well to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. My only viable option is a very expensive targetted drug therapy, which is not subsidised by government or covered by my health insurance. So far I have responded very well to this drug but because of the huge cost I am obliged to fund raise.

I have every reason to live and this drug gives me the quality of life to enjoy my two beautiful daughters and many wonderful friends. It was friends and family who provided the inspiration for this ‘on line auction’ web site which gives you the opportunity to place a bid for an incredible range of New Zealand art and fashion, specialist services and leisure time in some of the loveliest parts of the South Island.

I would like to thank all the many businesses and individuals who have supported me through their generous donations to this auction.

Jane Egerton

Items up for auction on TradeMe include art work, accommodation vouchers, a round of golf at Michael Hill’s course and a day with Burton Silver.

Jane’s cause has also been taken up by Jamie Mackay on the Farming Show where two tonne of Urea is being auctioned with the proceeds going to fund Jane’s treatment.

Click goes the keyboard


Jamie Mckay is running a competition with a prize of a $1500 broadband package from Farmside on the Farming Show.

Last week’s winner was South Otago farmer, poet and singer Ross Agnew.

As the Farming Show’s North Otago correspondent, I’m not eligible to compete, but penned an ode to the internet for my contribution to Jamie’s show this week.

In doing so I’ve taken a bit of poetic licence and ignored Paul L’s facts which got in the way of the good story about pigeon post beating email.

Alone in his office the grumpy farmer sits,

Trying to get his mind round megabytes and bits.

The computer is chugging out the things he needs to know

But the internet is hopeless when it goes so jolly slow.


Click goes the key board, click, click, click,

They say it’s the way to make the business process slick.

That’s okay in town where broadband makes it fast,

Out here in the country we’re dialling up the past.


The farmer prods the key board and peers closer at the screen

Only half a message though half an hour it’s been.

Ten emails are coming, the message brightly flashes

But attachments are so slow the system often crashes.


Click goes the key board click, click, click,

If the computer was a tractor it would get a hefty kick

The farmer knows the internet should keep him up to date

But with dial up the messages always come in late.


Invoices could be sent and bills all swiftly paid

If only transmission wasn’t frustratingly delayed.

Killing sheets and milk reports should easily be downloaded

But minutes turn to hours as patience is eroded.


Click goes the key board, click, click, click.

The computer age is on us but rural internet is sick.

The tyranny of distance means we need the service most

But email is still slower than old fashioned pigeon post.

Great mag & grubby kids


Young Country, the rural magazine which was launched earlier this year, continues to impress.

dairy 10006

The current edition profiles Anna Smith, who’s working towards a PhD in animal genetics;  Michael Short, the 2009 Rural bachelor of the Year; Craig Norgate and six young people who’ve made agriculture their career.

There’s advice on dog handling and the story of Sue Arthur the cheese maker at Over the Moon.

The cover story on Tim O’Sullivan who won the National Bank Young Farmer title this year was written by Kate Rivtett-Taylor. Her blog post on Getting Dirty caught the attention of Jamie McKay who had a chat about it with her on the Farming Show.

Doctoring assumptions


Listening to acting Prime Minister Tony Ryall talk to Jamie McKay on The Farming Show yesterday I was reminded of a conundrum which did the rounds about 30 years ago:

A father and his son were involved in an accident and both were very seriously injured. They were taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance and admitted to the emergency department. A general surgeon was summoned to treat the father and a peadiatric surgeon was called for the child.

The surgeon, took one horrified look at the wee boy and said, “That’s my son.”

Who was the surgeon?

If you can’t work it out, listen to Tony explain about the rural bonding scheme for medical graduates.

If you still can’t work it out, the explanation is after the break. Read the rest of this entry »

Gumboots for ice cream


The link between ice cream and gumboots might not be immediately obvious, but Jamie McKay is making one on  The Farming Show .

He’s asking all his guests where the best ice creams are sold and also inviting listeners to email him with their views.

So far Rush Munro’s in Hastings and the Hilltop Shop in Hampden (north of Moeraki and south of Waianakarua on State Highway 1 in North Otago) are leading.

I can recomend the ones at the Hilltop in Hampden, even if you ask for a wee one they give you a big one – and they’re always served with a smile.

If you want your vote to count – and be in for the draw to win a pair of Skellerup gumboots – email Jamie on jamie@farmingshow.com

Fonterra payout drops 90c


I was a little too pessimistic with yesterday’s prediction that Fonterra’s projected payout would drop by a dollar, it’s down 90 cents to $5.10 per kilo of milk solids.

That’s well below last season’s $7.90 and the opening projection for this season of $7 but it’s still ahead of the long term average.

However, it’s still a big drop in farmers’ income. The Herald reports the $5.10 payout will mean a substantial drop in income for farmers

Based on last season’s collection of 1.19 billion kg of milksolids a 90c cut means a loss to the economy of around $900 million to $1bn.

It’s not just the reduced income for farmers, it’s the impact that will have on the wider economy, including the tax take.

Then there’s uncertainty about the outlook which leaves a question over whether the payout will drop again before the season’s over.

But while the payout is out of farmers’ control, the expenditure side of the balance sheet is our responsibility and keeping a tight rein on costs will compensate, at least in part, for the drop in income.

I’ve quoted a speaker at a SIDE conference before and it’s worth repeating: he started dairying when the payout was $5 but had a better financial year the following season when the payout dropped to $3.60 simply by keeping costs down.

Jamie McKay is devoting most of The Farming Show to discussions on the payout.

PGW delays SFF settlement


PGG Wrightson couldn’t have chosen a worse time for its first payment towards its 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms.

PGG Wrightson is blaming “extreme financial market conditions” for a delay in settlement of the proposed purchase of 50 percent of Silver Fern Farms.

PGG Wrightson chairman Craig Norgate said a number of banks which had committed to participate in funding the transaction had since been unable to finalise their credit approvals in time for yesterday’s part-settlement.

This is only a delay, but Norgate says it’s likely to take weeks rather than days to get the funds. The first payment of $145m was due yesterday, the second of $75 is due next March.

Jamie McKay’s interview with Norgate on the Farming Show is on line here.

Tax cuts close to $50


National’s Finance Spokesman Bill English told Farming Show host Jamie McKay that the party’s tax cuts will be close to $50 a week.

The interview will be on line here soon.

The Herald reports on the interview here.

SFF votes for PGW offer


Silver Fern shareholders have voted to accept PGG Wrightson’s offer to take a 50% stake in their company.

The counting is still going on but they already have the 75% majority needed for the deal to go ahead.

Jamie McKay has just interviewed SFF chief executive Ketih Cooper about the vote on what happens next on The Farming Show. It will be on line here later.

[Update: TV3 reports on the result and what it means here.]

[U[date 2 – Rural Network reports more fully here.]

Peters unleashes flying pigs


Winston Peters has just told Jamie McKay on The Farming Show that the farming community will support New Zealand First’s stance on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Duck – a herd of pigs just took to the air.

The interview will be on line here later today – it begins with Jamie asking: are you a rabid old dog or a misunderstood senior statesman?

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