Quote of the Year?

December 8, 2017

Voting has opened for Massey University’s Quote of the Year.

The finalists are:

“It’s deeply disappointing, but it’s not gay.”– Actor Jatinder Singh after Nigel calls a dropped pie “gay” in Rainbow Youth’s advertisement. 

“Excuse me for laughing, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been ravaged by a toothless sheep.”– Winston Peters on Gareth Morgan. 

“This is my generation’s nuclear free moment.”– Jacinda Ardern on climate change. 

“I’m embracing my new feather duster status.”– Paula Bennett, ending her tenure as Deputy Prime Minister. 

“First ladyman? Who knows? …Aiming for Michelle Obama, probably gonna be a little bit closer to Prince Philip.”– Clarke Gayford. 

“I am a different shade of brown.”– Student Jai Selkirk of the Dilworth School team winning “Word – The Front Line Poetry Slam” competition. 

“Please tell me that’s not your penis.”– Shortland Street’s Dr Chris Warner (actor Michael Galvin) confronting his son about a photo. 

“If humour is common sense dancing, John Clarke was Nureyev.”– Don McGlashan on the death of John Clarke. 

“…in NZ elections, we all vote then take the ballots—chuck them out—and ask a man called Winston Peters who won.”– Ali Ikram. 

“I’ve not seen the data about the risk factor of death by falling fatty; I’d imagine it’s similar to the risk factor of death by Sharknado.”

– Fat activist and scholar Dr Cat Pause, when asked if fat people are a hazard because they could fall on you.

I’m not sure what the criteria was but for brevity, conviction and passion I would have added Bill English’s line from an eleciton debate – I got up again.

 

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Rural round-up

November 29, 2017

Not all gloom and doom on farming environmental front – Pat Deavoll:

I was on a field day at Mt Somers a few weeks ago sitting in a paddock with about 200 others listening to Nick France speaking on lambing his hoggets. Over the fence was a paddock of legume plantain mix. The plantain I recognised as Ecotain from having written an article on the plant a few weeks beforehand.

Apparently, Ecotain promises to significantly reduce nitrogen leaching in the urine patch. It works in four ways; by increasing the volume of cows urine which dilutes the concentration of nitrogen; by reducing the total amount of nitrogen in animals urine; by delaying the process of turning ammonium into nitrate in the urine patch; and by restricting the accumulation of nitrates in soils growing Ecotain. . .

Young horticulturist hoping to pave the way for more women as industry faces accusations of sexism – Sean Hogan:

Shanna Hickling’s typical day could involve getting her hands dirty checking soil quality along the vines, or testing and experimenting in her research lab.

“The business is very diverse, dynamic, what you are doing today will be completely different to what you’re doing the next and that makes it exciting,” the 25-year-old microbiologist told 1 NEWS.

Her passion is being recognised as she claimed the 2017 Young Horticulturalist of the Year award, becoming just the third woman to do so. . .

‘No guarantees’ for red meat trade post-Brexit:

UK and New Zealand ministers have been discussing the future of post-Brexit trade between the two countries.

Britain’s international trade secretary Liam Fox, in New Zealand on a four-day visit, has met Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker.

New Zealand exports about $2 billion of red meat to the EU and has a tariff-free quota of 228,000 tonnes of sheepmeat a year.

Exporters are worried about what will happen to this quota during negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Announce New Chief Executive’:

Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors has appointed Simon Limmer as its new Chief Executive.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair Rob Hewett says Mr Limmer has an excellent set of skills and experience to continue the strong progress Silver Fern Farms has been making as a leading red meat food company.

“The Board is excited by the leadership Simon will bring to Silver Fern Farms. Simon comes with deep commercial experience in the food, manufacturing and service sectors both here in New Zealand and in several of the key international markets in which we operate,” Mr Hewett says. . . 

It’s been 30 plus years and dairy farmers are still giving:

Rural Exchange and RadioLIVE are proud to promote IHC and to help DairyNZ spread the word about dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers are not just about kissing babies and smiling for the camera. Sure, they like babies, including ones that moo – and when the weather’s good and the grass is growing, they’re known to crack a smile.

Over the past 33 years, dairy farmers around the country have raised more than $30 million for people with intellectual disabilities. . .

More robust biosecurity measures a necessity says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is toughening its stance on visitors who ignore New Zealand’s strict biosecurity laws.

MPI revealed it has increased fines by 50 percent since 2014 to air passengers who flout entry requirements, with 9100 infringement notices issued to date this year. . .

Central Otago winemaker wins Enterprising Rural Women Awards:

Central Otago winemaker Debra Cruickshank is the supreme winner of the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Cruickshank, of Tannacrieff Wines, was one of four finalist vying for the award at the RWNZ National Conference in Invercargill on Saturday.

At DC Wines, Cruickshank, has created Central Otago’s niche market for not only port but also provided a solution for fast-growing boutique vineyards wanting to create wine. . .

 


Satire or serious?

November 29, 2017

Act’s newsletter Free Press says it’s learned from a usually reliable source what’s in the secret coalition document:

First Things First: Why is it Secret?
It is very damaging in a democracy for Jacinda Ardern to keep secret what the Government has pledged to its coalition partner. Why the secrecy? There are significant new extra spending promises. Labour does not want the Treasury to know or the extra spending will be added to the Treasury forecasts due to be published shortly.

Running out of Other People’s Money
Already the treasury forecast will show Labour’s election spending promises were understated and there is a blow out. Add the new secret spending promises and New Zealand’s credit rating is at risk. A credit rating decline means everyone’s mortgage payments go up.

Second
There are or were 38 pages to the Labour-New Zealand First agreement. As the PM has almost admitted it has been edited down to 33 pages and Labour is trying to get it lower. The missing five pages are still part of the coalition agreement but both governing parties have conceded it will be very damaging if they are ever published.

The Two Governments Agreement
What is in the agreement? In effect the document creates two governments, A Labour/Green government and a New Zealand First government. Winston Peters is granted a veto over the Labour/Green government but in the New Zealand First government his powers are untrammelled.

Labour/Green Government
The government budget must be submitted to NZ First (Winston) for approval
Labour has agreed to a 10 percent a year increase in the Foreign Affairs budget.
Labour has agreed that NZ First manifesto promises will have priority. The Northland port and railway, for examples
New Zealand First nominations will be approved. For example to the port inquiry.
No concessions can be made to the Greens without prior approval from New Zealand First, think Kermadecs
No new policy not contained in the coalition agreement can be advanced by Labour Ministers without NZ First approval.
All government appointments must be approved by NZ First
New Zealand First Government
Foreign Affairs budget to be increased and Mr. Peter’s Foreign Affairs budget requests cannot be vetoed. Mr Peters can spend his budget how he chooses.
All budget requests from New Zealand First Ministers that have been approved by Mr Peters must get priority.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Peters has the sole right to nominate all Ambassadors and other diplomatic posts not just Washington and London but he cannot be stopped from appointing his mates to be consuls as he tried with Owen Glenn.
As Minister of SOEs Mr Peter’s has the sole power to appoint all the chair and directors of every SOE. Dozens of appointments.
New Zealand First can nominate, over three years, six people to be knights (or, theoretically, Dames) and its nominations will be favourably considered for other honours.
New Zealand First will appoint the next Chief of Defense
A provision requires all Ministers to refer any request from or to a New Zealand First Minister to go through Mr Peters office.
The PM has agreed that she will not dismiss any New Zealand First Minister, MP or appointee without Mr Peter’s approval and the PM has also agreed to dismiss any NZ First minister, MP or appointee if asked to by Winston Peters.
Unbridled Power
No previous Prime Minister has had the power and patronage that Winston Peters has been given. He can appoint his cronies to be Ambassadors, SOE chair and directors and he can give them knighthoods. He has an iron grip over his party. Winston in effect controls the government budget and can spend billions of dollars on his pet projects while vetoing the plans of both Labour and the Greens.

Snookered
No wonder the Prime Minister, who foolishly thought none of this would become known, is desperate to keep it secret. We suspect that at some stage some of the document will have to be released but as the PM is now denying even the existence of five pages of the secret deal it may be years before we know.

We Need Some Responsible Adults Here
The Secretary of the Treasury should demand to see the full 38 pages. If the government will not let the Treasury see the full secret coalition agreement then the Secretary of the Treasury must tag the Government accounts saying that the Treasury had asked and been denied access to the full coalition agreement and future spending may be significantly greater than the forecast.

For the country’s sake I hope this is satire, but I think it’s serious.

We’d know which it is if the document was released to the public as Peters said it would be but Jacinda Ardern is refusing to do.


Mining personal grief for political ends

November 19, 2017

When politicians make promises do you take them at their word?

Under MMP that’s harder because they can always use the excuse, that was their policy but had to let it go during coalition negotiations.

But if it was a promise made by the two parties in government and their coalition partner outside government that one can’t be used.

In August, leaders of Labour, United Future, the Maori Party and the Green Party signed a commitment to reenter Pike River mine.

National, rightly, put lives before politics:

Environment Minister Nick Smith responded to the commitment and said the parties were either making empty promises to the families or proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies. 

“It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018,” he said.  

“It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.

“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men.

“The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry [into the Pike River Mine Tragedy].”

Winston Peters said he’d be one of the first to go back into Pike River and manned entry was one of New Zealand First’s bottom lines.

Such promises are oh so easy in opposition, but what happens when the reality of government bites?

Pike River Mine minister Andrew Little says he cannot guarantee a re-entry of the mine and has told family members that he will do what he can but safety is the top priority. . . 

“Ultimately, and the families are very clear, the first principle of the set of principles that are governing what we do is safety, the safety of anybody involved in the re-entry project. I’m not going to put anybody at undue risk. I’m simply not going to.”

He did not intend to legislate for any exemption to the health and safety laws or immunity from liability for the Pike River Agency.

Safety was the priority of the previous government in the face of harsh criticism from the Pike River families and then-opposition parties supporting them.

That was the right position.

The Pike River disaster was a tragedy. There are many unanswered questions on how it happened and the shortcoming that led to it happening.

Some of the answers to those questions might be found if it was possible to safely reenter the mine.

But safely is and must always be the operative word.

The bottom line that National and the mine owners stuck to still stands: no lives must be endangered, no lives must be lost, to retrieve the dead.

Some families have accepted this.

Some have not and put their faith in the politicians who promised them manned entry would be undertaken.

Little will be criticised for his safety-first stance, but this time it’s the right one.

The wrong one was making a promise that he and the other politicians, including his leader, Jacinda Ardern, should never have made.

Those politicians were mining personal grief for political ends.

It was despicable behaviour.

 


Organisation matters

November 7, 2017

Until just a few weeks ago, one of the big questions over Labour’s suitability for government was its inability to organise itself.

Those questions quietened when Andrew Little resigned and was replaced by Jacinda Ardern.

But Labour still hasn’t got it all together:

Ceremonies to open New Zealand’s 52nd Parliament have kicked off with National threatening to gatecrash Labour’s party over the election of new Speaker Trevor Mallard.

The election is normally straightforward and comes straight after all MPs swear an oath of allegiance.

However, things threatened to go pear-shaped when National MP and shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges asked whether MPs who were not present today and therefore not sworn-in could vote. . . 

However – in what is an embarrassing oversight for the new Government – at least five of its MPs were absent.

That meant it lacked the numbers to have Mallard elected, and things threatened to go pear-shaped when National MP and shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges raised a point of order.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker are on their way to Manila for APEC. Green MP Gareth Hughes was also absent.

“Where’s Winston when you need him?” Bridges taunted the Labour benches.

“Get used to it,” another National MP commented.

After hurried discussions between Bridges and Labour’s leader of the House Chris Hipkins, Mallard was finally confirmed as the new Speaker. . . 

National’s delaying proceedings can open it up to accusations of pettiness.

Probably only political tragics will take any notice.

But the government has a wafer-thin majority and it can’t afford to be sloppy over process.

Organisation matters for a party and even more for a government.

UPDATE: In discussion over Labour’s lack of a majority, National got Labour to agree to increase the number of select committees from 96 to 108.

UPDATE 2: Counting and calmness matter too – Labour did have the numbers but panicked when challenged.


Waka jumper law shows lack of faith in own

October 25, 2017

NZ First’s waka jumping bill shows a distinct lack of faith in the loyalty of their own:

An unexpected crackdown on ‘waka jumping’ suggests the new Government is bracing for instability, says ACT Leader David Seymour

“The incoming Government has quietly announced a bill to ban waka jumping in Parliament. This was never forecasted to voters, and for good reason. It suggests the new Government expects instability and defections. Today’s ceremonious unity will not last.

“Winston Peters is particularly paranoid because it’s his last parliamentary term. He’s been burnt by waka jumpers in the past, but this term could be his party’s most divisive yet. Why wouldn’t his caucus jump ship if they believe New Zealand First is doomed in 2020 anyway?

Why would you waste parliament’s time and resources if you trusted your team’s loyalty?

And how can we trust a government which doesn’t trust itself?


First confidence test fail

October 24, 2017

Winston Peters used his speech announcing who he would anoint as Prime Minister to give a lament about how dismal the outlook is.

We in New Zealand First believe that an economic correction, or a slowdown, is looming, and that the first signs are already here:

– In the housing market slowdown
– In Reserve Bank and trading banks nervousness
– In the cessation of hot money into our economy
– In property ownership concerns
– In receding consumer optimism, and
– In ebbing retailer confidence

There were great risks in whatever decision we made and despite our having had no influence on these risks, some will attempt to heap the blame on us.

That those blame caricatures are both spurious and misplaced, won’t stop attempts to misdescribe the cause of events.

That’s why we are putting this scenario out front, right now, so that such attempts will fail.

No-one can blame Peters and his party for events beyond their control.  But now they’re in government we can hold them responsible for how they prepare for and react to them.

It won’t be ‘misdescribing’ at all to blame him and the government he’s part if they don’t take a prudent approach to preparing for a gathering storm.

National inherited a projected decade of deficits when it came to power in 2008.

New Zealand was already in recession and then the global financial crisis hit.

It then faced other natural and financial challenges including earthquakes, droughts and a dairy downturn.

No matter what was thrown at them, Prime Minister John Key and his deputy and Finance Minister Bill English projected calmness and confidence. They promised to protect the most vulnerable and were open about making tough decisions.

Thanks to their efforts, and of course all those of the individuals and businesses who contributed to economic growth,  the incoming government has inherited a far sounder financial base and outlook.

Peters by sorry contrast has failed his first confidence test with his gloom and doom but don’t-blame-us speech.

This is reflected in a reader survey by the NBR.

Asked if they expected their businesses to thrive, survive or nosedive, 50% opted for survival with 35% picking nosedive and only 15% picking thrive.

That’s not a scientific survey but businesses need confidence to take the risks to invest and Peters has given them none.


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