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Muddying the Waters

Written By: - Date published: 10:43 am, February 13th, 2014 - 62 comments
Categories: Economy, Environment, farming, farming, Steven Joyce, sustainability, water - Tags: , , , , , , ,

We can go on subsidising the crippling pollution of the ag sector, argues Dave Hansford, or we could use that money instead to bring about urgently-needed change.

region-beziers-st-nazaire-pont-vieuxLast month, I was walking over the Pont Vieux – the old stone bridge that links the French city of Carcassonne to its mediaeval progenitor – when I noticed a flurry in the waters of the Aude River. A pair of otters was frolicking in plain view of the hundreds of tourists plying the bridge, and just a few hundred metres from the contemporary city centre. To see wildlife, especially aquatic wildlife, thriving so close to society and industry is not something New Zealanders are used to. Even if we had otters, I seriously doubt they’d be cavorting in the dull brown reaches of the Whanganui, or the squalid Manawatu.

I live five kilometres from the small Aveyronnaise village of Coupiac, through which a small stream flows. I can stand on its banks any weekday and watch bullies, trout and other fish chase a myriad of pond skaters, water striders and mayfly larvae through its clear waters. I don’t want to portray French water bodies as somehow unsullied – overall, they’re in better shape than New Zealand’s, but they still have their problems – but they have an integrity both reflected and protected by the surrounding countryside. In this corner of the world, rolling cultivated downs nestle within hill tracts of oak and chestnut woodland that offer habitat to roe deer, foxes and badgers.

Around here, farmers have specialised in milking sheep for a niche product: high-quality, high-value Roquefort cheese, a delicious blue that directly and otherwise employs some 4,500 people on an estimated 2100 farms. The regulations around its production are tight: all ingredients must be sourced locally, especially the tiny bacterium that supports the entire industry, Penicillium roqueforti, which must be cultured in just one natural cave complex in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. All processing must similarly happen within the district.

Roquefort sheep must be grazed outdoors as often as weather permits, but spend the rest of their time indoors on supplementary feed, which the farmers are required to grow themselves. That means much of the land use round here is cropping, on spreads the European Commission estimates average around 53 hectares. Sheep flocks average 150 to 200 animals, and – I kid you not – when a farmer calls from the gate, they go running to him. I’ve watched it.

If all this sounds like some bucolic, pastoral planet away from the intensified New Zealand broadacre, high input, thousand-cow dairy herd approach to farming, you can bet that it is. New Zealand has instead banked its fortunes on trying to be the world’s biggest and cheapest producer of a distinctly low-value and fiercely-contested global commodity – milk powder – the price of which dances precariously at the whim an online auction system.

Whipped to the gallop in this race to the bottom, New Zealand farmers have enslaved themselves to frightening debt levels in pursuit of ever-greater production. The Reserve Bank says Kiwi farmers are among the most debt-laden in the world – three times higher than their Australian brothers of the soil. Average per-dairy farm debt has almost tripled in the last decade, to the point where New Zealand’s dairy sector alone owes some $30.5 billion.

cow in riverThis industrial-scale model of agriculture has had another crippling consequence: New Zealand’s lowland fresh water bodies are now in a parlous state, so polluted with effluent and nutrients that in 2012, the Ministry for the Environment reported that the quality of just over half of 210 monitored river swimming sites around the country was either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Around the country, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has found nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to be climbing, in step with dairy cow numbers which now number more than 6.5 million, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Here in Aveyron, everyone accepts that Roquefort doesn’t always pay its way, so farmers are paid to sustain their benign land use practices. Under the contentious European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), smallholders here receive an average of €208 (NZ$ 335) a year per hectare (and set to get more, after Francois Hollande recently promised to smooth out huge historical inequities that saw large-scale cereal croppers cream more than their share of subsidies).

The CAP has been the prime target of trade ministries, free-marketeers and even environmentalists since its inception in 1962, but Brussels has doggedly stuck with it, regularly drafting reforms aimed at solving inevitable imbalances and unintended consequences.

Subsidies, of course, are a dirty word in New Zealand. Kiwi farmers will proudly insist that they’ve successfully stood on their own two feet since they were abruptly cut adrift in 1984, when the repeal of subsidies here saw farmers promptly lose up to 40 per cent of their income. Internationally, free trade think tanks like to hold our farmers up as the poster boys of market reform. But few make mention of the crippling environmental cost those reforms have brought, the astronomical debt levels, and doubtless none will concede that in fact, the New Zealand taxpayer still spends a fortune supporting the industry and profits of the country’s producers in a variety of ways.

We could begin with the greatest rort of all: that Fonterra has successfully convinced New Zealand consumers that they must pay the going global rate for locally-produced dairy products, so that a working mother in Hamilton pays the same – and suffers the same spikes and hikes – as a businessman in Beijing. But let’s talk instead about all that polluted fresh water: to date, the Government has committed just under $14m to try to rehabilitate such fouled reaches as Lake Ellesmere, and the notorious Manawatu, found by the Cawthron Institute to be the filthiest river in the western world.

The bid to try and stem nutrient pollution of Lake Taupo was projected to cost at least $80m, but has needed extra funding. The Waikato River has so far had $210m of taxpayer money directed at its rehabilitation. The Rotorua Lakes cleanup will cost at least the same. Al these projects are funded by some mix of central and local Government funding. All up, according to Environment Minister Amy Adams, New Zealanders have already had more than $450m of their tax bill committed to cleaning up their own lakes and rivers after farmers have finished with them. That, in any language, is a subsidy.

Then there’s the successful bid by New Zealand farmers to avoid paying for their share of air pollution under the Emissions Trading Scheme, from which they have been serially exempted, most lately until 2014. Agriculture is directly responsible for nearly half of all our greenhouse gas emissions – which, if we can’t reduce them, will cost us under deals we’ve variously committed to (and more recently, reneged on, but may well rejoin).

But while farming produces by far the lion’s share of climate-changing pollution, farmers have convinced successive governments that they cannot afford to pay for it, as the Emissions Trading Scheme requires them to. Instead, we’ve seen the more benign forestry and energy sectors get nailed. Meanwhile, the rest of the eventual bill for all those greenhouse gases has been pushed again to the taxpayer – ironically, the same taxpayer that farmers turn to when climate change bites down, seeking emergency drought relief.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a $400m seeding fund – the Irrigation Acceleration Fund – to help farmers water a further 420,000 hectares of land. Much of that irrigation is tipped for Canterbury where, this month, the region’s medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, reported that nitrate levels in a third of tested Canterbury groundwater supplies were already so high they posed a risk to infant health.

We shouldn’t be surprised that farmers keep externalising their costs – depleted and polluted water, climate emissions and eroded soils – onto consumers and taxpayers: most businesses do. But can we at least be honest about the fact that all these programmes – along with the vast-scale appropriation of fresh water that actually, the public was using for its own enjoyment, thank you – represent state support for farmers? In other words, subsidies. The semantics we’ve heard from Federated Farmers and Fonterra over the years have successfully obfuscated this obvious truth, but we badly need to revert to plain, honest language before we can have the next vitally important conversation.

First; let’s acknowledge that if farmers continue to insist that they cannot afford to pay for the costs of their own environmental damage, they are ipso facto admitting that their businesses are neither environmentally nor truly economically sustainable – a point freshwater campaigner Mike Joy has repeatedly made. So, in truth, farmers are not standing on their own two feet, but leaning heavily against us, the taxpayers. That gives us moral representation around the boardroom table. Nobody wants to put farmers out of business, but we’re entitled to a say in what happens next.

Second, given that we’re subsidising farmers anyway, shouldn’t we just put the Friesian before the cart? In other words, seriously consider a version of the European CAP system which, detractors frequently prefer to forget, is in large part conceived to encourage environmental sustainability (it also seeks to encourage diversification and local employment, but those are whole other stories of direct relevance to New Zealand).

It has been repeatedly shown that it’s far cheaper to pay farmers upfront to adopt more environmentally sustainable business models and practices, than it is to clean up after them. By one estimate, it would cost $6000 to stop a tonne of nitrogen and/or phosphorus entering Lake Rotorua. It costs around $240,000 to try to get it out. That’s a lot of cash we could instead be using to promote change for the good, while liberating farmers from the intensification treadmill. We could call such payments anything we like: after all, we’ve come all this way without using the “s” word. Let’s call them incentives, so that we don’t run foul of the World Trade Organisation. Lets administer the payments through the Sustainable Farming Fund, which would need better resourcing to cope with all the demands of monitoring, compliance and diligence.

Let’s stop farmers blocking regional councils’ attempts to enforce water quality limits and nutrient caps. Let’s back incentives with tougher legislation to deal with premeditated polluters. Let’s develop a rigorous, standardised water quality assessment and monitoring regime, so that all farmers are bound by the same rules, and all governance is informed by the same values and thresholds. In other words, National Environmental Standards.

Meanwhile, let’s enforce water pricing, and levies for the demand management and allocation of water. And finally, should some farmers resist all overtures to clean up their act before the fact of pollution, can we please start charging them directly for the costs of cleaning up after it? It’s called polluter pays.

And then let’s have the really tough conversation: is a low-value, mass-market business model really the best we can do? Are cheap, anonymous, industrial commodities our finest work? And are they worth the hidden cost to farmers, taxpayers and the environment?

Subsidies might be a dirty word at the WTO, but here in France, they’re targeted and administered with a view to promoting diversification, and supporting high-value, environmentally-responsible enterprises. The neoliberals hate them, but I bet the trout would have a different view…

Dave Hansford

62 comments on “Muddying the Waters”

  1. Cnrjoe 1

    Thank You and brilliant.

  2. Chooky 2

    +100….tourists notice what is happening to New Zealand rivers, lakes ,waterways and they are not impressed

    …on purely economic terms alone the tourist dollar must be factored in

    ….and in the end NZ’s Clean Green brand image will be affected, which affects all products and produce from NZ

  3. Bill 3

    I wonder what the average acreage is for a French farm compared to a NZ one.
    I wonder how many French farmers are in the slave like position of NZs share milkers.
    I wonder at what rate French farms are amalgamated and corporatised.
    I wonder how much the lack of subsidies pushes amalgamation/corporatisation.
    I wonder if most French farmers are locked into selling their produce to one buyer as in NZ.

    And I wonder how many French children go seriously hungry because the agricultural sector sells its produce overseas in the first instance and then only over priced sub-standard (from an export perspective) produce to the domestic population as a secondary afterthought.

    Anyone out there got a good reason as to why we should tolerate NZs corporatised agricultural sector?

    Finally, here’s one possible (arguably inevitable over the long term) real world effect of corporate agriculture pursuing export profits…

    Life a struggle for Pygmy family, Globe & Mail (Toronto), December 17, 1991, p. A15. “A diet consisting mainly of manioc flour, beans and rice has affected [northeastern Brazilian laborers'] mental development to the point that they have difficulty remembering or concentrating. Fully 30.7 per cent of children in the Northeast are born malnourished, according to Unicef and the Brazilian Ministry of Health. . . Brazilian medical experts have known of undernourishment in the country’s poorest region for more than two decades, but they confirmed only recently the existence of a much more startling problem — a severe lack of protein in their diet that is producing a population of Brazilian Pygmies known by some medical researchers in Brazil as homens nanicos. Their height at adulthood is far less than the average height recording by the World Health Organization and their brain capacity is 40 per cent less than average. . . . In the poorest states of the Northeast, such as Alagoas and Piaui, homens nanicos comprise about 30 per cent of the population. . . . Much of the Northeast comprises fertile farm land that is being taken up by large plantations for the production of cash crops such as sugar cane.”

    • Murray Olsen 3.1

      Away from the coast, the people of the northeast of Brazil are noticeably short. I expect that this will become a problem along the coast as well, as many of the rivers and mangroves are being taken over for prawn farms. Sugar cane, soy beans, and now prawns have caused a huge increase in the number of landless peasants right through Brazil. The “colonels” who own the land these days are basically slave holders, with their own armed militias. It’s not hard for me to imagine Fonterra doing the same to Aotearoa. How long before we see homeless encampments under black polythene along the sides of country roads? Fonterra is our equivalent of the United Fruit Company.

      By the way, I saw trout in the canals in the middle of Ulm. The Germans have made huge strides in cleaning up their rivers. I also pay less for Mainland cheese in Brisbane than I would in Auckland.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        It’s not hard for me to imagine Fonterra doing the same to Aotearoa

        Well, it’s not as though a different species runs Brazilian corporations…it’s the same people there as here.

    • Sean 3.2

      Not sure where many of your points come from – I use the term “points” as the majority aren’t able to be called facts as they are incorrect. The only one worth discussing would seem to be child hunger – which, where it exists, no one can countenance. But thats not driven by the price of food products – its driven by a combination of poverty and bad decisions/prioritisation by parents.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1

        Let’s just drill down into that unsubstantiated assertion about “bad choices”. There are well established links between income inequality and a range of social ills, infant mortality, for example.

        You think this is about “bad choices”? Perhaps you mean bad choices made by blind ideologues who say things like “no sensible company owner would treat their employees badly, so we don’t need to regulate”. Who say things like “Minimum wage increases lead to unemployment”.

        Of course, you are welcome to provide citations that support your thesis that parents are responsible for employment law and economic policy.

        Good luck.

  4. fender 4

    Excellent article on an increasingly serious set of problems we are making for ourselves. I hope Nathan Guy reads it, rather than his usual bending over for the people responsible for these crimes against the environment. But unfortunately there are too many National MP’s who own dairy farms for them to act in any ones interest but their own short-sighted ones.

  5. Ad 5

    Fully appreciate the well written comparisons, but dairy – unlike the well-diversified France – is the closest thing we have ever had to an industry that can get us rich beyond the standard boom-bust 20-year extractive horizon. There is as yet no alternative, and we’ve done well to alter our economy this far.

    Having said that, I like your practical directions at the end. I believe the “really tough conversation” about bulk commodities should be first. Farmers will take production where their dairy companies lead them.

    When the legislation was passed that enabled Fonterra to exist, there was supposed to be a focus on high-value products from the beginning.

    I believe the next government should review the legislation, and review Fonterra, to see if that is what they are doing.

    Right now, because they are following the route of infant formula demand from China and India, their business is driven by the massive production plants – and farms – needed to sustain them. Fonterra is becoming less and less a value-added business and more akin to a utility company that is driven by its Asset Management Plans. Whither depreciation and supply certainty go, goes Fonterra.

    Turn Fonterra towards requiring more complex inputs and less bulk, and you turn most of the dairy farmers. Review them first, and the water standards will be a logical next.

    • Saarbo 5.1

      “When the legislation was passed that enabled Fonterra to exist, there was supposed to be a focus on high-value products from the beginning. ”

      I think with the huge growth in capacity in the South Island, Fonterra simply had to build capacity as quick and as cheaply as possible…hence the focus on powder…as things settle down I suspect they can focus on branding/higher value products. Milk Powder is a commodity and wont stay at the current $5k usd per tonne for ever.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        It’s the reverse.
        Fonterra and other dairy companies respond to demand in the markets they operate, determine the kind of product they want, and the farmers supply it.

        • Saarbo 5.1.1.1

          Ya reckon Ad? I don’t think so. Farmers convert as much farm land into Dairy then Fonterra builds capacity to process it into exportable product. Don’t forget, Fonterra is owned by the farmers that are converting farm land into Dairy. Fonterra is selling a commodity so they will sell everything that they can get their hands on…customers are coming to Fonterra via their auctions.

          • Ad 5.1.1.1.1

            The auction isn’t for Mars Bars. It’s for milk powder. That milk power doesn’t go from from Mr Bob from Temuka direct to Kraft. It’s supplied to Kraft by the dairy company, who tell the market loud and clear it’s worth converting land. Change the waterways? Sure needs doing, but start with the retailer.

            • weka 5.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s not just about water ways. You can’t have industrial dairying and an intact environment, it’s just not physically possible. Better to be honest about this.

              • Ad

                I was seeking to stick with the focus of the post – go ahead and widen if you like but it’s a big enough topic as is.

      • Mary 5.1.2

        I think you will find the focus on powder is the fact that it is a product that can be stored for longer if there is less demand, as opposed to cheese and butter, which has a much more limited shelf life.

        • Sean 5.1.2.1

          Correct Mary – and also worth people when commenting thinking about the milk supply curve (you need to have more processing capacity in Spring than the rest of the year as thats when the most milk (by far) is produced), the cost of transport (powder is cheaper to transport), what customers want to buy, and profitability (selling something for more $$ doesn’t mean more profit if the cost of processing, transport etc are higher or if the wastage levels are higher).

          And to other comments on this particular thread – Fonterra responds to supply when building processing capacity. farmers make the decision to convert to dairying if they want to.

    • weka 5.2

      “Fully appreciate the well written comparisons, but dairy – unlike the well-diversified France – is the closest thing we have ever had to an industry that can get us rich beyond the standard boom-bust 20-year extractive horizon. There is as yet no alternative, and we’ve done well to alter our economy this far.”

      Sorry mate, but if dairy farmers like yourself want to get rich at the expense of everything else you can go fuck yourselves. Hansford is being generous when he suggests that we should spend so much time and effort supporting current industrial farmers to transition to something else. There is a window here for such farmers to change, but that window won’t always be there. In my life time farmers have gone from being the backbone of the country to becoming one of the most loathed professions, largely thanks to dairying. The really shit thing here is that it appears that industrial farmers will wait until they are forced to change, and by then hugely more damage will have been done.

      There are real alternatives. Why not educate yourself about what they are and then see if you can make the arguments you make.

      • Ad 5.2.1

        No argument that things need to change.
        You can lay out the whole-industry alternatives thanks.

        • weka 5.2.1.1

          I’m not interested in the industry. If saving the industry is your agenda, that’s up to you to find solutions, ones that don’t included fucking the country. Also, I seem to remember the convo we had about this recently where various ideas were put out and you came back with TINA, so I’m not yet convinced you’re interest is genuine.

          Farming should be about producing food for NZers. It should be done sustainably (in the true sense of that word), and it should make the farmer and their family a decent living as well as the other people that work there (note, I don’t meant make them rich). All those things are possible, and there are farmers in NZ already doing them to varying extents. Industrial dairying isn’t, it’s just making a big mess of the environment and tying NZ even further into the oil and global finance economies. Both those things make us much more vulnerable as well as reducing quality of life considerably.

          • Ad 5.2.1.1.1

            Your position is too far removed from New Zealand’s reality to be real.

            New Zealand’s economy will not survive without exporting. New Zealand’s exporting economy is almost exclusively built on natural resources whether they be minerals, agriculture, or tourism. Even the key ingredient to value-adding to reources – electricity – is in New Zealand based on natural resources.

            New Zealand’s food economy will never be reduced to servicing the tiny local market.

            We base our exports on agriculture. To start with farmers as the origin of changing the land for good has never worked here, and will never work here. They are and will remain highly conservative in practise and in demeanour. Start with the companies who respond to international standards and tastes. They above all drive the kind of production New Zealand’s farmer produce.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1.1.1

              New Zealand’s economy will not survive without exporting.

              It’d survive fine without exporting. IMO, we’d be far better off if we minimised exports and so would the rest of the world.

              New Zealand’s food economy will never be reduced to servicing the tiny local market.

              Yes it will. It’s just a question of how that comes about – by choice or by force. That’s what depleting resources means.

              • Ad

                Perhaps you could write a post about your economy without exports.
                Some other time.

                We have been going for 150 years depleting resources, no argument. And every time we expect the loggers, gold miners, farmers to change. Rarely does. the power is with the retailers and processors ESP in dairy.
                By the way, compare this debate to be Countdown one.
                Different farmers, but the power centre is same and writ large.

                • Flip

                  The problem with primary production exports is that the markets are a long way from NZ. When oil prices go up so will our export prices. Production then must become more efficient to be competitive and thus more industrialised, not to mention attempts to manipulate currency to stay competitive. This is not going to be good for our future. Everybody can see the train coming. Question is are we smart enough to get off the tracks?

                  • weka

                    Exactly.

                    Ad, I’m curious how you see Peak Oil, AGW and the GFC fitting into your picture. You seem to be saying that we have no choice therefore we will just continue polluting until NZ can’t support export farming any more. Then what? Or do you think we can do this indefinitely.

                  • dave

                    the train is turning the bend and the oligarchy will grab as much as possible before it hits then blame the public with propaganda like bad choices. and if the their caught they run just like bandits.

                    lets not forget that a lot of farmers run there farms at a lose to avoid paying taxes they take the capital gain. So they rape the the environment ,constantly demand corporate welfare ,push loses and costs on future generations and when busted run for the hills with there plunder.

          • Sean 5.2.1.1.2

            If it were just supplying food for NZers then 1) we’d only need approx 5% of what we currently produce (so majority of farmers are out of work) 2) we can’t produce many of the products we would still want and 3) we wouldn’t have the funds to buy the things we want but can’t supply (you do realise we struggle to produce the appropriate wheat for bread making?? – little things like that). Not sure what thigns we buy with overseas funds we aren’t going to going forward – medicines perhaps.

            I get the feeling yours is an emotive position rather than one well thought through.

            • weka 5.2.1.1.2.1

              Do you have some backup for the 5% statement? I’m bound to disagree with your point (I think there are many ways for farmers to make a living from their land, so long as the debt issue is resolved), but I would be interested to see how that number was arrived at before I respond.

              What you say makes a kind of sense within the current economic model. But it’s not the only model that exists (Draco would be the one to ask about how NZ would manage with a greatly reduced export economy).

              However, what you say is also predicated entirely on the idea that we have a choice in the matter. If you take Peak Oil, AGW and the GFC into account, then the choice is around timing and whether we use the resources we have now to transition or wait until we have no choice and face a much harder power down. Industrial farming for export is only possible because we use farm inputs that are completely dependent on cheap oil. Once that’s gone, you can’t farm like that any more. What do you think will happen then?

  6. adam 6

    Our dairy farmers are all welfare capitalists – who have there very own form of vulgar communism, albeit a strange world were they get to keep the land, profits, and we pay the costs.

    Maybe we should be involved in co-operative’s more – Maybe the whole country should start join co-ops more and more. I know my banking is now done with a co-op. I buy at farmers markets – as the majority of farmers I deal with are great.

    So I just have a problem with an economic system which defers the real costs of dairy farming onto the rest of the population. I suppose you do to.

  7. Saarbo 7

    Fascinating article Dave. I am amazed at the number of farmers (not only corporates but generational farming families) who request debt from their banks to buy more and more farmland. These farmers are buying for ONE reason: Capital Gain. Amazingly these farmers no longer go to their Accountants to assess whether they can afford to purchase another farm, they go to their Banks. The Banks don’t look at the feasibility of the Farm being purchased but simply whether there is enough equity in the overall Group…so the banks effectively set the price of affordability at the point where total costs = total revenue for the target farm being purchased. So what this means is most farmers cant afford to put money into mitigation of adverse environmental practices because they simply don’t make financial surpluses. And then even worse, to pay for their farms, farmers OVERSTOCK their farms, feed additional supplemental feed (Buying in PKE, Maize, Spread Urea, whatever…)…many farmers are really in the shit at the moment because of their DEBT. Rabobank recently did a presentation which clearly showed that the cost to produce Dairy Produce in NZ is reaching parity with the US and other high cost nations; the main driver is, surprise, surprise…INTEREST costs.

    I don’t know what the answer to our massive dairy farm driven environmental degradation is but I know that the BANKS are in part to blame, our obsession with Capital Gains is also to blame and of course Greed…Dairy farmers are one of the most greedy groups of people I have ever known.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The Banks don’t look at the feasibility of the Farm being purchased but simply whether there is enough equity in the overall Group…so the banks effectively set the price of affordability at the point where total costs = total revenue for the target farm being purchased. So what this means is most farmers cant afford to put money into mitigation of adverse environmental practices because they simply don’t make financial surpluses.

      As Steve Keen proved – when you run a business on the margins you go broke. The banks are doing well out of it though.

      • Saarbo 7.1.1

        Yep…and why they will do anything to ensure we don’t get a Labour/Green govt later this year introducing a CGT. The banks are relying on capital gains for growth in their loan portfolio…

    • dave 7.2

      the last thing these farmers want is a labour greens government there dirty little game would be up !
      CAPITAL GAINS TAX

  8. scotty 8

    Excellent post.

    Federated Farmers ,Dairy nz , irrigation Nz, latest co-ordinated defence strategy is to highlight degraded Urban waterways in an attempt to frame ‘townies” and Regional Councils as the ‘real’ polluters.
    Straight from the Joyce / Key playbook, imo

  9. Flip 9

    + Nitrogen tonnage going into waterways.

    Well said.

  10. greywarbler 10

    Questions. And another – Am I right in thinking that NZs tend to go for the low hanging fruit most of the time? The practical man or woman’s approach rather than the advanced, careful, researched and environmentally sound way.

    The only theories that get accepted are ones connected with neo lib management of money and any that seem to favour the near or already wealthy.

  11. xtasy 11

    Quote:
    “New Zealand has instead banked its fortunes on trying to be the world’s biggest and cheapest producer of a distinctly low-value and fiercely-contested global commodity – milk powder – the price of which dances precariously at the whim an online auction system.”

    “This industrial-scale model of agriculture has had another crippling consequence: New Zealand’s lowland fresh water bodies are now in a parlous state, so polluted with effluent and nutrients that in 2012, the Ministry for the Environment reported that the quality of just over half of 210 monitored river swimming sites around the country was either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.”

    NOW we are TALKING!

    Yes, while I would not recommend the EU model for farming as the perfect solution for New Zealand to follow, farmers and society as a whole here could learn a lot from the more sustainable practices described in this post here! In many EU countries they are years ahead of New Zealand, not just in environmentally friendlier farming practices, but also in value added production.

    There is much to learn, and Fonterra and others should start to focus on producing cheeses and more, made from milk here, also developing unique New Zealand products, that could be patented, copy righted and found nowhere else, earning more dollars than bulk milk powder. Bring it on, that is if the industry “wants” to bother!

    The government can set the needed framework, but this one we have will certainly not do so, as they rather carry on as usual, and take the easy solution, producing ever more quantity of the same, instead of top of the shelf, and unique quality products.

  12. Ashton Lovell 12

    I think it is greatly unfair to criticize New Zealand farmers on not investing in value added products. This is not a farmers job in the slightest, it’s Fonterra’s job and it is something that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into already and will no doubt continue to do so because it’s in their best interests to diversify their income sources.
    The fact that the vast majority of dairy exports are milk powder has more to do with the fact that we produce such huge quantities of milk, more than we can add value to.

    I think however that the gist of the environmental portion of the article is right, there is too much nitrogen being applied at obviously diminishing returns.
    Subsidizing the cleanup is obviously also just dumb. Farmers already have strict compliance requirements, why not have a code of compliance in regard to nutrient usage?
    Limit the per acre amount that farmers can apply and we will limit the pollution.

    I agree that methane emissions are a huge issue and farming could be added to the E.T.S. Perhaps there are other more specific ways to compensate for the huge emissions of farming though?
    Seemed pretty unpopular when Helen Clark tried that however.

    • Flip 12.1

      “…more than we can add value to.”

      Then Fonterra should do a better job at marketing high value products. The execs are paid enough.

      • Bill 12.1.1

        Execs are there to ensure a constant return to shareholders. Nothing more. Milk solids work just fine. There’s a steady return. Value added products would involve investment and a loosening of the vice like grip over farmers and their product. That would result in a dip in short term returns.

        Not happening.

      • dave 12.1.2

        if have chance go to one rod orams presentations “value added will not be fonterra there just a commodity producer supplying the big boys where the real value added is the likes of nestley

    • xtasy 12.2

      Fonterra though is OWNED by farmers, so farmers have a say, or should have at least! As owners they can tell Fonterra what they should develop and do with the milk they produce.

      See:
      “The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council is an elected national body of farmer shareholders”

      http://www.fonterra.com/nz/en/About/Our+Governance/Fonterra+Shareholders+Council

      “Representing Farmers

      The Council represents the views of Fonterra farmer shareholders. The Council consults frequently with farmers, and meets regularly with the Board to ensure Shareholders’ voices are heard and considered. This is particularly important when major change is proposed or significant issues are being addressed. The Council also provides a Shareholder perspective when new policy is being developed.”

      • Bill 12.2.1

        One farmer one vote, is it? The farmer with 20 heads has the same voice as the corporatised entity with 1000s of heads spread over multiple properties? I doubt it.

    • Colonial Viper 12.3

      has more to do with the fact that we produce such huge quantities of milk, more than we can add value to.

      This really is a bit of a cop out.

      Who decided to keep encouraging farmers in the production of bulk volume, undifferentiated milk?

      Who decided to keep building milk powder factory capacity to take on more and more bulk volume undifferentiated milk?

      Who decided to keep shipping milk in the form of products from the 1960s and 1970s?

      Seemed pretty unpopular when Helen Clark tried that however.

      That’s the fucking out of touch Feds for you.

    • Bill 12.4

      more than we can add value to…

      Erm…Bollox. But here’s the thing, Fonterra is a co-operative in name only – in reality it’s an iron fist. Dairy farmers have no option but to pass their product through ‘the co-operative’. What the fuck do you think the reaction would be, should a farmer decide to hold on to some of their product and develop a ‘value added’ enterprise? They’d be fucked over and cut out of the market or ‘their’ farm taken under management..

      Am I wrong? Then someone will easily show me the clauses in the agreements/contracts that allows a farmer to hold onto, or pass their product through any other avenue apart from ‘the co-op’.

      And I say the above on the naive premise, a premise I don’t actually believe, that there is some conglomeration of small farmers rather than a sprawling industrial/corporate unit marked by a reality of ‘farmers’ as employees.

      • Ashton Lovell 12.4.1

        You are right about the fact that many farmers are essentially forced to be a part of Fonterra, though in many areas(such as the Waikato) there is alternatives.
        That said Fonterra is still largely supplied by small farms, I heard(and this was from a farmer with no supporting evidence so I’m sorry if it’s untrue) that Fonterra is still over 50% supplied by farms with under 300 cows, this essentially means that the majority of Fonterra voting rights are still held by family farmers. Unfortunately they often do not chose to use them.

        • Bill 12.4.1.1

          So, let’s go with the line that small farmers…even family farmers… supply Fontera (50%). What alternatives exist for them? I’m punting that it’s a monopolistic buyers market. They, Fonterra, own, operate and control all the distribution networks/infrastructure, and have locked down supply agreements/contracts, no?

      • weka 12.4.2

        I’m not sure how this works re the ‘co-op’ but afaik there are farmers in NZ who are doing the value added thing and selling excess milk to Fonterra. Mostly they’re selling within NZ. The value-added businesses operate outside of Fonterra afaik, and we know that Fonterra is not supporting organics in NZ. Fonterra is about making money not supporting creative initiatives, and it does this with an iron fist.

        But I think that big hurdles for more farmers getting out of that are: knowledge and experience; lack of support from govt agencies relative to what conventional farmers get (including R and D); lack of support from the farm advisors; and debt. I reckon it’s the last one that is the hardest to overcome, because once they are tied into that above a certain level there is probably no way out other than to play the game as you are told. That doesn’t explain the numbers taking on that debt in the first place though.

        • Bill 12.4.2.1

          Maybe ‘convention’ and ‘received wisdom’ goes a way to explain your last point – ‘it’s the way *this* is…’ always been this way’ etc. That, and that we’re all geared to ‘make a buck’ – sadly.

    • Tracey 12.5

      Do farmers have no choice who they sell to?

      • Bill 12.5.1

        Let’s say I’m a farmer with x output. Do I have access to a distribution network to reach customers? If I don’t, and my output is beyond what I can sell at ‘the farm gate’, then I guess I’m signing a supply contract with Fonterra. So sure. There’s choice.

        • Tracey 12.5.1.1

          Is Fonterr the only plyer, or is the “competition” only regional, nd not Nationwide?

          I’m sking cos it seems like farmers have hobson’s choice, which is the same for, say, average employee “negotiating” directly with their boss?

          • weka 12.5.1.1.1

            afaik Fonterra is the only nationwide player for selling milk in the mainstream. There are alternatives in some regions.

            Bill, the companies I linked to above use non-Fonterra distribution networks. Have a look at Clearwater’s retail list, they’re definitely getting their product out there.

            • Sean 12.5.1.1.1.1

              There are alternatives in: Westland (WMP), Canterbury (Synlait, WMP, CMP and others), Otago (OCC), Southland (OCC), Manawatu/Wanganui, South Taranaki (OCC), Waikato (Tatua, OCC, Miraka)…… No one HAS to supply to Fonterra – in some regions they are the only processor that will pick up milk as other players don’t find it economic to do so. On the other hand Fonterra HAs to collect supply from those who want to supply them within some very generous (to the suppliers) criteria. Even when Fonterra may not want to collect the milk (economics, because they don’t support dairying occurring in certain places etc).

              And Fonterra suppliers can supply a significant volume of their supply to others (was up to 20% at one point – not sure what it is now).

  13. Philj 13

    Xox
    And when interest rates rise and milk powder price falls?

  14. nodtheplod 14

    Hang a minute all you well educated twits. None of you have answered the question of how are we going to clean up our polluted waterways. maybe all of you can take me to a factory manufacturing fresh water. Just remember that there is no substitute for fresh water. It is our only life surviving force on this planet. We cannot survive without fresh water and we are sysematicly destroying this life giving force. Maybe just one of you could give me the answer or do we have to watch while the dairy industry increase their output and pollute our remaining waterways and yes cattle will be absorbing the pollutants via drinking contaminated water. What effect could that have on our children?

  15. captain hook 15

    this country is overpopulated and ramped up to the max.
    every farmer wants to have enough surplus cash to go to the Super Rugby final, buy a hotrod, or a hardly davison or some other toy or buy another proeprty and ramp up their debt level and do the same thing over again.
    Anything that gets in the way will be swept aside by fed farmers and the national party.
    This country has gone mad and that is the long and short of it and the great fat dotcom of it.

  16. aerobubble 16

    A business needs passing traffic. So often I see a business retail start up in the wrong place and disappears after a few years. And its because they need a core consumer base that will carry them
    (and that means a unassailable market niche).

    The problem with NZ is unlike France, where restaurants are low taxed, and food culture naturally grows out of that, hates the idea that any common citizen should also get fraternity. NZ has imported the class snobbery of the British, or maybe some insipid left over racism toward the Maori… ..or imported apartheid… or whatever divisive views that rich are show how the Randian betters.

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    Labour | 23-08
  • Housing under National: the facts
    1.       House prices in Auckland Council valuations indicate Auckland house prices have gone up by one-third over the last three years. (Auckland Council) The average Auckland house price has gone up by nearly $225,000 since 2008, up over $75,000 in...
    Labour | 23-08
  • Labour irons out low income tax issue
    The increasing casualisation of work has led to many New Zealand families being disadvantaged through the tax they pay, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. "Many low paid workers are having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Cornered Government comes out swinging
    The National Government is so desperate to keep its dead-in-the-water expert teachers policy alive, it has refused to rule out forcing schools to participate through legislation, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “John Key today attacked the Educational Institute for...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Pacific people continue to go backwards under National
    A report from Victoria University highlights the fact that Pacific people are continuing to go backwards under a National Government, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “The report shows the largest inequality increases were in smoking, obesity, tertiary...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Wellington transport plan needs to keep moving
    The failure of the Transport Agency to properly look at alternatives to the Basin Reserve flyover is not a good reason for further delays to improving transport in Wellington, Labour MPs Grant Robertson and Annette King say. “The Board of...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Labour’s focus on inequality, kids and better job prospects
    Tackling child poverty and removing barriers to people working part time to enhance their prospects of moving into a fulltime job are highlights of Labour’s Social Development policy. Releasing the policy today, spokesperson Sue Moroney said while part-time work was...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Political staff should give answers under oath
    The Inspector General of Security and Intelligence should use her full statutory powers to question witnesses under oath about the leak of SIS information, says Labour MP Phil Goff. “Leakage of confidential information from the SIS for political purposes is...
    Labour | 21-08
  • High dollar, hands-off Govt sends workers to dole queue
    The loss of up to 100 jobs at Croxley stationery in Auckland is devastating news for their families and the local Avondale community, Labour’s Employment, Skills and Training spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The company’s inability to compete in international markets...
    Labour | 21-08
  • National’s flagship education policy dead in the water
    National’s plan to create executive principals and expert teachers is effectively dead in the water with news that 93 percent of primary teachers have no confidence in the scheme, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The fact that teachers are...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Dunedin will be a knowledge and innovation centre under Labour
    Dunedin will become a knowledge and innovation centre under a Labour Government that will back local businesses, support technology initiatives and fund dynamic regional projects, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Nowhere has the National Government’s short-sightedness been more apparently than...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Inquiry into SIS disclosures the right decision
    Labour MP Phil Goff says the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has done the right thing by launching an inquiry into the disclosure of SIS documents about a meeting between himself and the agency’s former director-general. “This inquiry is necessary...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Labour – supporting and valuing carers and the cared for
    Placing real value on our elderly and the people who care for them will be a priority for a Labour Government, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. Releasing Labour’s Senior Citizens policy today David Cunliffe promised that a Labour Government would...
    Labour | 20-08
  • By Hoki! It’s Labour’s fisheries policy
    A Labour Government will protect the iconic Kiwi tradition of fishing by improving access to the coast, protecting the rights of recreational fishers and reviewing snapper restrictions, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Catching a fish from the rocks, beach...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Mighty River – Mighty Profits – Mighty hard to swallow
    Mighty River Power’s profit increase of 84 per cent is simply outrageous, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “Demand for electricity is flat or declining yet the company has made enormous profits. It is the latest power company to celebrate...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Collins’ actions were wrong, not unwise
    John Key’s moral compass remains off-kilter as he cannot bring himself to declare Judith Collins’ actions outright wrong, not simply ‘unwise’, said Labour MP Grant Robertson. “Under pressure John Key is finally shifting his stance but his failure to condemn...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Public servants behaving with more integrity than their masters
    The State Services Commission's new report on the integrity of our state services reflects the yawning gap between the behaviour of public servants and that of their political masters, Labour's State Services spokesperson Maryan Street says. “This report, which surveyed...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Phil Twyford Speech to NZCID
    "Labour's plan to build more and build better: how new approaches to housing, transport and urban development will deliver cities that work" Phil Twyford, Labour Party spokesperson on housing, transport, Auckland issues, and cities.  ...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Labour commits to independent Foreign Affairs and Trade
    “Labour is committed to New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs and Trade policy being independent and proactive, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “We are a small but respected country. Our voice and actions count in international affairs. Labour will take a...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Key must sack Collins over abhorrent actions
    The latest revelations that Judith Collins sent the contact details of a public servant to WhaleOil in a desperate attempt to divert media attention from a bad story is abhorrent, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. “John Key and Judith Collins...
    Labour | 19-08
  • It’s downhill from here under National
    The forecast drop in exports and predicted halving of growth shows that it’s downhill from here with National, Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker says. “Growth under this Government peaked in June and halves to two per cent in coming years....
    Labour | 19-08
  • John Key loses moral compass over Collins
    John Key has lost his moral compass over Judith Collins’ involvement with Cameron Slater and lost touch with New Zealanders’ sense of right and wrong, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. “Whoever is Prime Minister there are expectations they will not...
    Labour | 18-08
  • Mana Movement General Election 2014 List confirmed
    The MANA List is now confirmed with all the candidates as below (the numbers are the respective Internet MANA rankings). Candidate, Electorate, Internet MANA List Position Hone Harawira, Te Tai Tokerau (1) Annette Sykes, Waiariki (3) John Minto, Mt Roskill (4) Te Hamua Nikora, Ikaroa-Rawhiti...
    Mana | 18-08
  • PREFU likely to confirm dropping exports
    National’s economic management will be put under the spotlight in tomorrow’s PREFU given clear signs the so-called rock star economy has fallen off the stage, with plummeting prices for raw commodity exports, Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker says. “Under National,...
    Labour | 18-08
  • Record profits while Kiwis face a cold winter
    The record profits by two of New Zealand’s largest electricity companies will be a bitter pill for New Zealand households who are paying record amounts for their power, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “No doubt the Key government will...
    Labour | 18-08
  • Time for John Key to answer yes or no questions
    John Key’s train-wreck interview on Morning Report shows he is no longer capable of a simple yes or no answer and has lost touch with what’s right and wrong, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. “John Key has become so media...
    Labour | 18-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Déjà Vu All Over Again: John Ansell confirms his participation...
      THE MAN BEHIND the Iwi-Kiwi billboards that very nearly won the 2005 election for Don Brash and the National Party has confirmed his involvement in businessman John Third’s and former Act MP Owen Jennings’ campaign to drive down the...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Public Broadcasting Auckland debate 6.30pm tonight now with Colin Craig &am...
    The Coalition for Better Broadcasting debate on public broadcasting happens tonight at 6.30pm in Auckland at the Pioneer Women’s Hall, High Street, Auckland City.  In the light of Dirty Politics and the manipulation of the media, public broadcasting is more important for...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Winners & Losers in Collins sacking plus what’s the latest on Slater...
      Make no mistake, there was no way this was a resignation, it’s a face saving way out for Collins, she was sacked.  My understanding is that National internal polls are haemorrhaging and that the powers that be within National...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Third party propaganda attacks incoming Labour-led government
    . . Further to a report by Daily Blogger, Chris Trotter, on receiving information regarding planned attack-billboards, the following billboard is highly visible to traffic on the southbound lane of the Wellington motorway, just prior to the Murphy St turn-off....
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Labour wins the Internet
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who tried to vote online for the leaders debate and couldn’t because the website was down. The next option was the txt vote, 75c a pop of course. So I’m not surprised that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Rotherham and the need to challenge willful bl...
    I haven’t been following the events in Rotterham too closely.  I’ve read about the basic issues and the culture of silence that stopped action been taken even after complaints were made.  That culture of silence is incredibly familiar, and described...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Review: Hairspray
      Oh Hairspray! What fun! Somehow I managed to miss the movie when it came out, I had no idea really what it was about though I felt it had a vague relation to High School Musical. In retrospect, that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Mounting global pressure against Timor-Leste’s ‘death sentence’ media...
    East Timor’s José Belo … courageous fight against ‘unconstitutional’ media law.Image: © Ted McDonnell 2014 CAFÉ PACIFIC and the Pacific Media Centre Online posted challenges to the controversial ‘press law’ nine months ago when it emerged how dangerous this draft...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Spies, Lies and When Campaigns Are Fried
    Like most of the rest of the nation’s political classes, I was eagerly affixed to TV One from 12:30 on Saturday afternoon to witness the downfall of Judith Collins.Whenever we witness the crumbling of a titan of the political landscape...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Whaleoil crushes Crusher
    Judith ends up shooting herself A new email has been released suggesting that Collins was attempting to undermine the head of Serious Fraud Office with the help of far right hate speech merchant Cameron Slater. Unbelievable!   She has been forced...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Rumours Judith Collins gone at lunchtime
    Brook Sabin first of the mark with rumours Judith Collins is about to resign – PM announcing a statement at 12.30pm… …Paddy follows… …Vance confirms..   …if Collins is gone by lunchtime, it will be because the PM understands the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • BREAKING: UPDATE on DIRT ALERT!
    Thanks to the information passed to Chris Trotter by “Idiot/Savant” from No Right Turn it is now possible to identify at least some of the persons involved in this latest example of attack politics. What follows is Chris’s response to Idiot/Savant’s timely assistance: Well done...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Comparing burning puppets, hip hop lyrics and drunk student chants to black...
    Watching the mainstream media try and obscure Cunliffe’s surprise win in the leaders debate  is a reminder the Press Gallery is in depressed shock. The current spin line from the Wellington bubble media in the wake of Dirty Politics is that...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Why has it all gone quiet on Charter Schools?
    They’re one of ACT’s flagship policies and the National Party have been gung ho in supporting them. So how come we’re not hearing Hekia Parata, Jamie Whyte, Catherine Isaac, et al singing from the rafters about what a resounding success charter...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall
    Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Dirt Alert! Are the Greens and Labour about to become the target...
    WE’VE SEEN IT ALL BEFORE. In 2005 pamphlets began appearing all over New Zealand attacking Labour and the Greens. For a couple of days both the parties targeted and the news media were flummoxed. Who was behind such an obviously...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision
    . . 1. Prologue . The Donghua Liu Affair hit  the headlines on 18 June, with allegations that David Cunliffe wrote a letter in 2003,  on  behalf of  business migrant, Donghua Liu. Four days later, on Sunday 22 June, the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The difference between Cunliffe & Key in the debate
    It was with much interest that I watched the leaders debate on Thursday night.  I watched with an open mind, always happy to have my opinion changed.  Maybe John Key is all the wonderful things that many say about him,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Denis Tegg – When Did We Agree To Our Data Being Shared with ...
    New shocking evidence has emerged from Edward Snowden’s trove of documents about a program called ICREACH under which data collected by the GCSB is shared with 23 US spy agencies. Under new sharing agreements which appear to have commenced immediately after...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Why Internet MANA are the best political friends the Greens could ever get
    Metiria at last nights #GreenRoomNZ: standing on the shoulders and camera cases of giants  NZers, regardless of political spectrum or apathy level, have a wonderful beach cricket egalitarianism about us. If we can objectively conclude a winner, then that person...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Sick of the Sleaze? Protest against National’s dirty politics THIS SATURD...
    Sick of the Sleaze? Protest now dammit! Three weeks before the election, action is being taken across the country voicing a rejection of the National Government’s track record and direction. Rallies are being held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Sir Edmund Thomas – Address at Nicky Hager public meeting
    I regard it as privilege to chair this public meeting. I have long had the greatest admiration for Nicky Hager’s work, and nothing I have read or heard in the media over the past week or so has caused me...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Labour and New Zealand Superannuation
    The kerfuffle in the wake of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics has had a detrimental impact on our discussion of economic policies. Signs are that the main beneficiaries of the dirty politics revelations will be Winston Peters and Colin Craig; certainly National suffered...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Mike Hosking and the Leader’s Debat...
    A few weeks ago I blogged that Mike Hosking was a terrible choice as moderator for the TV One Party Leader’s Debate, because he is so embarrassingly biased in favour of John Key. So I watched the show with curiosity,...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Democracy and Cancer: A critical analysis of Dirty Politics
    Twenty years ago, England’s renowned television playwright Denis Potter died of pancreatic cancer.  Readers may recall his two masterpieces ‘Pennies from Heaven’ and ‘The Singing Detective’.  During a final television interview with Melvyn Bragg, Potter declared that he had named...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Cunliffe beats Key in First Leaders debate
    I watched the First Leaders debate at the Green Party #GreenRoomNZ, they were very kind to include me and the atmosphere was great. The debate was a resounding victory to Cunliffe. He won Round 1, Round 2, Round 3 and...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • LIVE STREAM: The Green Room Leader’s Debate from 6:30pm
    The Green Room will be hosted by media commentator Russel Brown, and will feature Green Co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman responding to the debate live, along with comment from thought leaders and commentators. ‘The Green Room’ 6pm – 8.30pm...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • How many taxpayer funded staff does John Key need to prepare for a Leaders ...
    John Key is currently at the Auckland Stamford Plaza with 40 staff, 4 undercover police cars and an entire floor booked out in preparation for tonights Leader’s debate. Isn’t 40 staff including coms, flown up to Auckland for a debate...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • A brief word on National Party Rodney MP, Mark Mitchell
    MP considers legal action against Nicky HagerThe National MP says he is considering taking a defamation case after the September 20 election.“Someone needs to be held accountable,” he said. Oh really champ? Brothers and sisters, there is a long way...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Greens advertise on Whaleoil – but not on The Daily Blog?
    PaknSave have shown ethical compass and blocked adverts on Whaleoil, yet the Greens are advertising on Whaleoil, and not The Daily Blog? I would imagine there are far more potential Green voters on The Daily Blog then ever are on...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • It’s about the stupid economy stupid
    In focus group meetings, the sleepy hobbits of NZ by a staggering amount all believe that National are better economic stewards of the country than Labour, that’s why, instead of answering questions about blackmailing MPs, trawling brothels for dirt on...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Labour Policy vs National Policy
    John Key’s favourite defence spin at the moment is people want to talk about policy and not hear answers on the ethics of trawling brothels, why Slater was given SIS information, blackmailing MPs into standing down, rigging candidate elections and hacking...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • The Green Room live streamed on TDB 6.30pm tonight for First Leaders debate
    The ‘Green Room’ will stream 6.pm tonight on The Daily Blog during the TV One leaders’ debate.Use #GreenRoomNZ to join in. The Green Room will be hosted by media commentator Russel Brown, and will feature Green Co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman responding...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • Manukau East – the next Coalition in action
    A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of opening Voice Up – a youth forum run by young people in Otara. I had been asked as Chair of the Local Board to set the scene, encouraging young people...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – The Big Bang Theory
    It’s a shame that it took a brain injury for me to start seeing things with such startling clarity. The realisation that lawyering, fishing, parenting, selling cars and racing yachts had common themes was stunning. Not perhaps as stunning as...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, how much Key aro...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking on Radio Hauraki...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • 5AA Australia – New Zealand’s Dirty Politics Aftermath and Polls
    MIL OSI – Source: Selwyn Manning – Analysis Headline: 5AA Australia – New Zealand’s Dirty Politics Aftermath and Polls 5AA Australia: On this week’s Across the Ditch bulletin on 5AA Australia, host Peter Godfery and Selwyn Manning discuss the aftermath...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • La’o Hamutuk calls for inquiry into Timor GAP ‘mismanagement’ of oil ...
    The Suai project on the South Coast … “liberated” land but confused communities.Photo: La’o Hamutuk David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific. AN INDEPENDENT Timor-Leste development and social justice agency has called for an inquiry into the Timor GAP corporation...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • What Is Nicky Hager?
    WHAT WILL HISTORY MAKE of Nicky Hager? That slight, perpetually boyish, journalist who descends periodically, like the admonishing angel in a medieval mystery play, to trouble our consciences and wreak merry havoc with the orderly conduct of our political affairs....
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • Can anyone in msm explain how after Dirty Politics that they all got played...
    Would you not think, that after reading Dirty Politics, that our mainstream media wouldn’t allow themselves to get tricked and played again by the VERY SAME discredited pundits? The best new feature on Radio NZ is their ‘Blog Watch’ and their...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • Crusher Collins caught out lying about Privacy Commissioner – is this her...
    Crusher angry. Crusher smash own career. Crusher more angry. You would think that after getting outed as such a nasty, vicious piece of work in Dirty Politics, that Crusher would be scrambling to dial back the lies and manipulations. Apparently...
    The Daily Blog | 27-08
  • Cunliffe vs Key – first leaders debate
    This is your election ‘moderator’ – just one more reason an incoming Government need to sack everyone at TVNZ and reform it into an actual public broadcaster. The first leaders debate happens this Thursday, 7pm on TV One. I have...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – An Old and Honourable Profession
      When Dirty Politics started to reference an ex-prostitute I began to get antsy. My first response was “come on Nicky, we decriminalised in 2003. Its sex worker.” My second response was “Ah oh. Who was it and did they...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • Bought and paid for: the dirty politics of climate denial
    Has climate denial in New Zealand been bought and paid for by corporate interests? We already know that the ACT Party’s routine denial is closely linked to the financial support the party receives from wealthy free market fundamentalist Alan Gibbs,...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • If the msm read The Daily Blog, THIS wouldn’t be a surprise – explainin...
    Yawn. How embarrassing for Hamish Rutherford and Andrea Vance, their breathless article today suggests that the idea of Labour and NZ First cutting a  deal over the buy back of assets  is some how new news. Silly mainstream media  journalists. If...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • How much tax does John Key pay compared to a minimum wage worker??
    Yesterday I did some calculations to find out what tax John Key pays compared to a worker on the minimum wage. And I put out this media release for the Mana Movement: MANA Movement Economic Justice spokesperson John Minto is...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • Hip hop death threats – the selective outrage of our media
    PM death threat in hip hop songAn Auckland hip-hop crew slammed for releasing a song with lyrics that apparently include a threat to kill Prime Minister John Key are urging young people to enrol to vote. Kill The PM, by...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • Watch Slater turn into Key right before your eyes
    Watch Slater turn into Key right before your eyes...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • I don’t always agree with Patrick Gower – but he didn’t deserve this!
    I don’t always agree with Patrick Gower – but he didn’t deserve this weird spear tackle from behind by his own company. I was listening to this interview at the time, and the awkwardness of it must be the worst...
    The Daily Blog | 26-08
  • Is it weird Radio NZ ban me yet still have….
    Is it weird Radio NZ ban me for life because I criticised the Prime Minister yet still have Matthew Hooton, David Farrar and Jordan Williams, 3 of the main protagonists revealed in Dirty Politics as part of their ongoing political...
    The Daily Blog | 25-08
  • Bill English: allegations against Judith Collins are serious
    Deputy Prime Minister Bill English told TV1’s Q+A programme that the allegations against Judith Collins are serious and that’s why an inquiry is needed....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Culture Change Required
    "There are serious issues raised in an Employment Relations Authority judgement released this week. The culture within the Whangarei District Council (WDC) organisation must change. The culture of any organisation is defined by its leadership starting...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Reducing Reoffending Statistic Challenged
    In Rethinking’s latest blog, http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/08/th-bps-reducing-crime-and-reoffending.html it closely examines the current claim that reoffending in New Zealand has reduced by 12.5% since June 2011, and reveals how that figure has been achieved. It argues...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • University economics team studying workers’ comparing wages
    A University of Canterbury economics research team is looking at fairness of the job assignments and whether workers are sensitive to the wages of their co-workers....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Statement by State Services Commissioner
    30 August 2014 "The State Services Commission was contacted by the Prime Minister's Office over the last 24 hours on this issue." “Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Christchurch Council Circus … Continued
    In 2010 the UK Daily Mail investigated the antics of a major bureaucratically bloated London Local Authority and reported with THE GREAT INERTIA SECTOR ....
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • The Nation Housing Debate
    Patrick It's the great Kiwi dream, but is owning the roof over your head now just a pipe dream for many Kiwis? Homeownership is at the lowest level in half a century. National's answer is to double subsidies to first-home...
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • Time to Shine Light on Shadowy Spies
    Internet MANA has promised to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, with a view to transferring oversight of spying operations to a new, independent authority....
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • New Zealand’s biggest problems are Economic Issues
    New Zealand’s biggest problems are Economic Issues (41%) while the World’s most important problems are War & Terrorism (35%) just three weeks before NZ Election...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • NZ 2014 Leaders Index – week ending 29 August
    Below is iSentia’s first weekly Leaders’ Index, showing the relative amount of coverage of nine Party Leaders in the lead up to the National Election across news media and social media. We will produce these reports for the next three...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Judgment in Paki v Attorney General
    Tamaiti Cairns said that today’s Supreme Court decision is complicated, but, in essence opens the door for Maori people to go forward with their essential claims to water. Further work is required and Pouakani Trust will continue to pursue its...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Supreme Court Decision on Maori Water Rights
    “ … the Supreme Court refused to give Pouakani people what they asked for, but may have given them something much, much better instead. The Appellants had argued that the Crown’s ownership of the River was as a fiduciary for...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Leaders Dinner with Campbell Live, Dessert with RadioLIVE
    John Campbell is hosting Colin Craig, Winston Peters, Laila Harre, Metiria Turei, Peter Dunne, Jamie Whyte and Te Ururoa Flavell LIVE from Auckland’s Grand Harbour Restaurant on Wednesday 3 September at 7pm....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Credit unions in the political spotlight
    Dirty politics was put aside last night as senior politicians outlined their universal support for growing the cooperatively owned credit union and mutual building society sector in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Maryan Street on issues of importance to older people
    Liam Butler interviews Hon Maryan Street MP on issues of importance to older New Zealanders...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • John Hanita Paki and others v The Attorney-General
    JOHN HANITA PAKI, TORIWAI ROTARANGI, TAUHOPA TE WANO HEPI, MATIU MAMAE PITIROI AND GEORGE MONGAMONGA RAWHITI v THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF NEW ZEALAND FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE CROWN (“THE CROWN”) (SC 7/2010)...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Last Nights Leaders Debate Drives The #nzpol Wordcloud
    Following last nights leaders debate on TV One between John Key and David Cunliffe, the data insight organisation Qrious collected all tweets that used the hashtag #nzpol from approximately the last 24 hours to produce this wordcloud....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Campaign suggests reason behind suicide gender statistics
    An online campaign about meaning and belonging has revealed an interesting connection with the difference in suicide rates between men and women....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Act Policy Vindicated by Sensible Sentencing Data
    ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte says the Sensible Sentencing Trust's just released analysis of 3 Strikes legislation "proves ACT was right to promote the policy and that it has made New Zealand a much safer country. The figures show beyond...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • “Robin Hood tax and other clever ways to help our kids”
    It’s time to talk about tax. Not just income tax but other kinds of tax too....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Cannabis Laws Breach Treaty – ALCP
    Cannabis prohibition is neo-colonial oppression resulting in the disproportionate imprisonment of Maori, the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party says....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • 2014 Variation Broadcasting Allocation Decision Released
    The Electoral Commission has released a variation decision on the amount of time and money allocated to political parties for the broadcasting of election programmes for the 2014 General Election....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • New Zealand Shoppers- Demand Blue Tick Accredited Products
    Following ongoing concerns surrounding the issue of animal welfare in farming, particularly in the layer and broiler chicken sectors, the RNZSPCA is now asking consumers to purchase only eggs, pork, turkey and chicken that have been Accredited by the Blue...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • EDS welcomes Labour’s Environment Policy
    The Environmental Defence Society has welcomed Labour’s Environment Policy which recognises that New Zealand cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Candidate calls for an end to institutional racism
    29 AUGUST 2014 Tāmaki Makaurau candidate, Rangi McLean has spoken up in support of Irie Te Wehi-Takerei who was wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a Warehouse store in Manukau. "Over the last month, two different supermarkets have been...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Making tertiary education more accessible to Māori
    29 August 2014 The Māori Party launched its tertiary education policy today at Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga, the national hui for the Māori Teritary Students Association in Palmerston North. Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Chris McKenzie says the...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • NZ Sign Language programmes receives $11 million boost
    Deaf Aotearoa are thrilled with Education minister Hekia Parata’s announcement this week that $11 million in funding will go towards a range of New Zealand Sign Language initiatives, including First Signs – a programme that involves sign language...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Abortion violates the Human Rights of Fathers
    Fathers1Right to Life is concerned at the glaring imbalance that exists in law, in regard to the rights of men to defend the lives of the children they have fathered. Fatherhood commences at conception. Children in the womb, just like...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Hundreds to join march against male violence in Auckland CBD
    Hundreds of supporters are expected to join the 'Take Back the Night' march through central Auckland streets tomorrow night in solidarity with making the streets safe for women and the rainbow community to walk without fear of male violence....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Classic example of need for Conservative policy
    The Conservative Party Justice Spokesman, Garth McVicar believes the sentencing of killer Aaron McDonald is a classic example of why an overhaul of the parole and sentencing system is required.”...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Greens & Labour Politicising Bullying in Schools
    Family First NZ says that both the Greens and Labour are wanting to politicise and sexualise school children under the guise of bullying programmes rather than deal with the school bullying issue as it should be dealt with....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Wellington National Is Not Our Future Rally 30/8/14
    Thousands of people will march and rally at National is not our Future events on Saturday. Auckland is the main rally centre with supportive actions in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch and Hamilton. In Wellington, marchers will assemble at Te Papa...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • EPA grants marine consent for OMV exploration well
    The Environmental Protection Authority has granted a marine consent to OMV New Zealand Ltd for its Whio-1 exploration well in the Taranaki Basin....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • First anniversary of the horrific chemical attacks on Syria
    Members of the Syrian Community and friends are commemorating the first anniversary of the horrific chemical attacks on Syria, in Aotea Square on Saturday 30 August 2014, between 11-3 pm. The Assad regimes chemical attacks on al Ghouta were responsible...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Anniversary of the NZ Occupation of German Samoa
    Today, 29th August 2014, marks the 100 years centenary of the occupation of Samoa by New Zealand forces at the request of the British empire, ending the German rule of Samoa. It is also the starting point for the special...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Submissions sought on mosquito repellent
    The Environmental Protection Authority is calling for submissions on a portable mosquito repellent for use outdoors. The repellent consists of a strip impregnated with metofluthrin, a substance from the pyrethroid family....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Spot the difference – the leaders debate
    I watched the Leaders' debate last night and was struck by the fact that John Key accepted all of David Cunliffe's basic assumptions. For example, he did not say that the government should not tell farmers who they could sell...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Colin Craig’s tax figures do not add up and are dishonest
    “Colin Craig’s tax plan is to have two rates of income tax: 0% up to $20,000 and 25% above that. This will leave a $6.4 billion hole in the budget even before the new spending proposed by the Conservatives. The...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Dirty Politics Impacts National Party Support
    Media Release – For Immediate Release Dirty Politics Impacts National Party Support Support for National has dropped by 4.3% to 50.8%, the latest stuff.co.nz / Ipsos political poll shows....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Labour’s environment policy welcomed
    The independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird says that overall the Labour Party’s newly released environment policy would go a long way towards protecting New Zealand’s natural heritage....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • National: Not our Future Marches across New Zealand
    Three weeks before the election, action is being taken across the country voicing a rejection of the National Government's track record and direction. Rallies are being held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to oppose National's...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Tune in to tonight’s debate from 7pm
    The countdown is on! You can watch the first leader’s debate for 2014 tonight, 7pm, on TV One ....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Gamblefree Day 1 September
    It's Gamblefree Day this Monday 1 September, the national awareness day for problem gambling in New Zealand. While traditionally celebrated on the first day of September, many events and activities are held both before and after this day to raise...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Success through captioning should be a given as a Right
    Success through captioning should be a given as a Right per the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Alcohol Marketing Committee Questions Government’s Motives
    An Independent Expert Committee on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship (IECAAS) has been formed out of concern amongst alcohol and public health researchers about the government’s Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship (MFAAS)....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • How Much Higher Can Auckland Prices Go?
    National's plan to liberalise the use of Kiwisaver funds and its proposal to raise ts cheap "Welcome Home" loan thresholds to help buyers purchase a new home has been welcomed by home building companies but attacked as a "welfare scheme...
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • OPC submission period extended
    We have extended the submission period for the modified reassessment of a bee control affecting five organophosphate and carbamate insecticides (APP202142)....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Vinay Deobhakta struck off roll of barristers and solicitors
    The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered former Tauranga lawyer Vinay Deobhakta to be struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Major parties to front up for Climate Voter election debate
    New Zealand’s main political parties will take part in ‘The Great Climate Voter Debate’ on September 3....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
  • Family violence… too big to be ignored
    As Annah Stretton gears up for her New Zealand Fashion Week show on Thursday she is utilizing her spotlight to help change the face of family violence in this country saying “the problem is far too big to ignore”....
    Scoop politics | 28-08
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