Rural round-up

June 24, 2019

The race to future-proof our farms – Tracy Watkins, Paul Mitchell and Piers Fuller:

Fielding farmer Ian Strahan was at the dairy buying milk when he picked up the Sunday Star Times and read about Hollywood heavyweight James Cameron calling for a meatless future to save the environment.

A frustrated Strahan felt like once again farmers were being used as the whipping boys.

Cameron told TVNZ’s Sunday programme we weren’t living up to our image as clean, green New Zealand and had harsh words for our reliance on meat and diary.

Strahan got angry, then he decided to take action. He wrote to the Star Times and asked why no one had bothered to investigate the huge change and innovation already well underway in the agriculture sector. . . 

Veteran environmentalist tells farmers to brace themselves for change – Gerald Piddock:

Change is coming and farmers can either take it by the hand or it will grab them by the throat.

The magnitude of this change meant farmers have to begin planning to avoid future pain, environmentalist Guy Salmon told dairy farmers at the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds group conference at Lake Karapiro.

“If we don’t, it’s going to be much more difficult to make those changes.” . . 

Machinery sales steady, challenges loom

Sales of tractors and farm machinery so far in 2019 are steady versus 2018 but challenges loom, says Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president John Tulloch.

TAMA’s year to date figures to April 30 show 1104 sales across all sectors vs 1111 in 2018. North Island sales fell by 4.7% to 713 (2018 – 748). South Island sales rose by 7.4% to 390 units delivered (2018 – 363). April 2019 sales figures are down 11.7% on April 2018, says Tulloch.

This is partly due to 10% fewer sales of smaller (20 – 50hp) machines typically used by small commercial operators and lifestyle block owners. . .

 

Dealing with the on-going complexities of wool – Brent Mountfort:

Wool has so much potential yet we do not seem to be making any progress, writes Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty Meat & Wool Chairman Brent Mountfort.

Many of the issues farmers in the Bay were facing last year are still exactly the same a year on.

Wool is still in the doldrums. Beef and lamb/mutton returns in the main are still good.

Plenty of regulations and uncertainty surrounding these different regulations are ongoing. Most meat and wool farmers will most probably agree this past season has had its challenges due to the lack of rain at different stages of the year. . . 

Strong plea to Westland farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland dairy farmers have been urged to very carefully consider the costs as well as the benefits of selling the co-operative.

Shareholders will vote on July 4 on a proposal to sell to the Chinese Government-owned Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group for $588 million.

A group of shareholders extremely disappointed at the lack of any viable alternative to Yili’s purchase read a powerful statement to six pre-vote meetings of Westland farmers.

The meetings followed distribution to all shareholders of the notice of meeting, scheme booklet and an independent evaluation by Grant Samuel.

Westland chairman Pete Morrison said the documents will not be made public. . . 

Why I ditched manicures for life with Thrusty the randy ram! Farmer’s wife who left an office job to live on her husband’s farm reveals what a year in rural Britain is really like – Helen Brown:

When Sally Urwin married a farmer, she had visions of ‘harvest picnics in our stubble fields in lovely sunshine, with apple-cheeked children wearing tasteful Boden clothes . . . eating wholesome homemade sausage rolls with lashings of ginger beer’.

When an August picnic eventually materialises, she realises that ‘the fields are prickly, the kids are arguing over who last went on the iPad and they hate my homemade sandwiches’. 

Urwin’s account of a year on High House Farm, with its mix of arable land and 200 sheep in windswept Northumbria, is no rural idyll. But it’s full of passion for the realities of life lived knee-deep in the countryside. . . 

 


Politics Daily

June 9, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Electoral Act breaches

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Some thoughts on Electoral Act breaches

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why won’t the Police act with complaints from the Electoral Commission?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Andrew Little just drew a great big target on the backs of his Labour pals

Beehive

Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall – $78m in health research funding announced

Murray McCully – NZ support for new Pacific eye care centre

Tim Groser – Address to business chambers event – Philippines

Act

Dan Satherley @ TV3 – ACT ‘determined to play straight’ – Whyte

Pete George @ Your NZ – Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

John Banks

TV3 – Sympathy for Banks despite differences

Rob Hosking @ NBR Banks’ departure will clear the air

Michael Fox and Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff –  John Banks’ votes would’ve been rejected

Audrey Young – Conviction delay blindsided Act MP

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Banks departure a less messy solution

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – Silly Laws

TV3 – IPCA considers John Banks inquiry

Labour

Gerry Brownlee – A lawyer’s field day at the taxpayers’ expense

Insurance Council of NZ – Earthquake Court approach misguided

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour’s insurance court

Pete George @ Your NZ – Labour soul searching

No right Turn – A paucity of vision

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour has lost their lost their raison d’etre

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Comment of the Day – 9 June 2014

IMP

Pete George @ Your NZ – Dotcom and citizenship

Russel Brown @ Public Address – Meanwhile back at the polls

Green Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Taliban’s “3D blueprint” for the future nothing but hype

Other

Education

Hekia Parata – Teachers take role in leadership plan

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Parata on the IES programme

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The “Tea Party” left

Matthew Beveridge – Leaving on a jet plane 2

Matthew Beveridge – A blast from the past

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff –  Civilian Party ‘a joke on taxpayers’

Eric Crampton @ Offsetting Behaviour – Value for Money election broadcasting edition

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why readers are turned off by main stream media and voting with their dollars


Politics Daily

June 7, 2014

John Key in the Pacific

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – Key’s Pacific visit an election entrée

John Banks

Brook Sabin – PM to consider refusing Banks’ vote

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Don Brash on John Banks

Liz Banas @ RadioNZ – Power Play

Fran O’Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Act needs to move on and Banks needs to do the decent thing

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Farcical options for Banks

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Move along please, sir.

IMP

Matthew Beveridge – The Internet Party candidates on Twitter

Internet Party – Internet Party candidate shortlist

Ian Apperley – Mana and Internet Party unholy alliance is an insult to all NZ ICT workers

Election

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour candidate seeking a poor person

Taxpayers’ Union – Election funding for satire no joke

Abbie Napier @ The Press – Electoral commission grant to ‘fun’ political party criticised

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Broadcasting allocations

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald – Right-left jockeying real news of the week

Verity Johnson @ NZ Herald – Make politics sexy

Other

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR – TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Sledge of the day 7 June 2014

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Saturday, June 7

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Can you name the politician?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A bit of a history lesson

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter Stats : 6 June


Mud sticks

March 30, 2014

Tracey Watkins asks do smear campaigns work?

Short answer – of course.

If they didn’t, they would not be a time-honoured political tool.

But the trick is maintaining the appearance of keeping your hands clean. . .

That’s the difficult party because mud sticks – to the person to whom its thrown and the hands of the one throwing it.

Politics is – relatively – clean in New Zealand and for good reason.

Most people aren’t interested in the dirty games that take the focus off what matters and if the dirty stuff goes on too long it can backfire with people feeling sympathy for the victim and derision for the attacker.

 


Why National is popular

November 2, 2013

Tracy Watkins has identified five reasons for National’s continuing popularity:

– John Key. As the world plunged towards doom and gloom in 2008, Key seemed like a leader for the times – cheerful, optimistic and a tonic for voters ready for a change after nine years under Labour.

He has also been National’s first genuinely charismatic leader in a long time. . .

Middle New Zealand also instinctively trusts Key as someone who understands hard times. But it is also a case of “what you see is what you get”.

I first met John when he had been an MP for only a few months. He hasn’t changed. He’s comfortable in his skin and doesn’t try to be anything he isn’t.

– Steering a course through the global financial crisis. In his speech to the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce this week, Key made a point of highlighting National’s determination not to slash and burn in response to the global financial crisis and the massive debt burden that welcomed it into office.

Previous National governments would have worn the scorched-earth label as a badge of honour, and Key’s government came under pressure from some quarters to hack into government spending under cover of the crisis. That National resisted doing so – and even increased spending on welfare initiatives at the height of the GFC – has earned Key a reservoir of goodwill with voters and neutralised Labour’s attacks on him as a Right-wing wolf in sheep’s clothing. . .

The focus has been on getting more for less, and it’s working.

– Softly, softly government. Change may not be fast under this government, but the cumulative effect of many of its decisions will be far-reaching.

Small movements on the tiller can result in big changes of direction over time, taking people with you.

–  Tragedy and disaster. National might have thought it had enough on its plate when it won power in the midst of a world wide economic crisis and the domino-like collapse of finance companies, including South Canterbury Finance, which required a $1.7 billion bailout. But it has also been tested by a succession of New Zealand’s worst tragedies and disasters, including the Pike River mining disaster, killing 29 men, and the Canterbury earthquakes, which cost 185 lives and left a repair bill of billions of dollars.

It has been a staggering run of bad luck, but electorally it did National little harm since the events were beyond its control and enhanced its credentials as a safe pair of hands.

–  Raising the bar for ministerial performance. Key is known to keep his ministers on their toes by putting them through yearly performance appraisal reviews and laying out his expectations during individual chats at the start of each year. . .

Ministers know they are there to make a positive difference, not as of right, and there are other capable and talented people in caucus ready to step up.

#gigatownoamaru understands you have to work to meet targets.


Illiberal left

June 9, 2013

Do LabourGreen and New Zealand First understand what they’re doing in calling for a police investigation over the leaking of the GCSB report?

Politics lecturer Brent Bryce Edwards rightly says they’re being illiberal:

“There’s always problems when the police get involved in the political and media realm. It can have a very chilling affect on politics and journalism,” Dr Edwards says.

Threshold not reached
Generally those that regard themselves as politically liberal will not want the police involved unless utterly necessary, says the Politics Daily compiler.

“Therefore the threshold for calling the cops into Parliament and newsrooms should be very high. It’s hard to see that this threshold has been reached in this case,” Dr Edwards says.

“Normally those that call the police in on their political opponents are from an authoritarian political philosophy. By contrast, liberals generally regard those that leak government department reports as heroic whistleblowers that are enabling the freedom of information and the right of the public to know what those in authority are doing.”

That was certainly the case when, Tracy Watkins reminds us,  Labour’s Phil Goff was gleefully leaking sensitive Cabinet documents relating to Foreign Affairs.

He almost certainly got the papers from a public servant who, like an MP, is supposed to keep confidential matters in confidence and, unlike an MP, be non-partisan in his/her work.

Jane Clifton reminds us:

The affair does underline the dichotomy we in the political firmament face over the issue of leaks, though. Labour and New Zealand First are harrumphing like scandalised Wodehousian aunts about Dunne’s behaviour. Yet both have received, publicised and gloated over similarly spicey leaks in their time.

Leaks have come to the Opposition from two of the most sacred departments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Security Communications Bureau, at times in farcical quantity. Information from these bureaucracies have the potential to harm this country’s security and trade.

It’s a very unhealthy sign that such officials are prepared to undermine the Government by leaking information that could also undermine the welfare of the country. Yet the Opposition has trafficked in them with abandon, and never has a single Labour, Green or NZ First politician called the police about such documents, as they have done over the Dunne situation.

Clifton goes on to remind us that leaks are undeniably desirable for the media and the public who learn from them.

Calling for a police investigation is at best baffling and definitely hypocritical when all three parties have benefited from leaks, the most recent being of the Henry report to Peters.

Would he like an investigation into that one too?


Guided by conscience

May 5, 2010

Should MPs be whipped when they vote on alcohol laws?

Tracy Watkins think s not and Kiwiblog agrees with her.

Me too.

There are good reasons for whipping MPs on most matters.

List MPs are there because people voted for their parties not them as individuals. Good electorate MPs will gain some votes in spite of their parties, but the foundation for their support is still the party under whose colours they stand.

However, there are some matters which don’t comfortably fall along party lines, where democracy is better served if MPs are free to vote was they wish, guided by their personal rather than political beliefs.

One example of an issue best left to MPs’ consciences is tobacco. This heartfelt post by Chris Tremain on his father’s death shows why.


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