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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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    The Reserve Bank’s decision to leave loan-to-value ratio mortgage restrictions in place is further confirmation of National’s housing policy fiasco, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Reserve Bank would have lifted LVRs if they had seen any increase in...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Let’s see if it is plane sailing Mr Bridges
    Comments by Transport Minister Simon Bridges that Far North residents' anger over cutbacks to regional flights will be allayed by larger planes and cheaper fares out of Kerikeri, are just pure arrogance, says Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis....
    Labour | 11-11
  • Commerce Commission inquiry needed into building supplies monopoly
    The Commerce Commission must stop dragging the chain and urgently investigate the anti-competitive practices in the building industry that are driving up the cost of building materials, says Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Competition in the building materials market is...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Air New Zealand grounds Far North
    The announcement by Air New Zealand to close services from Kaitaia to Auckland will be an absolute disaster for the Far North, Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis says.  “Air New Zealand is sending a signal to the...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Pulling West Coast flights a savage blow
    Air New Zealand’s decision to withdraw its Westport service is another kick in the guts for an already struggling community, West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor says.   “Having been involved in the West Coast’s efforts to get Air Nelson to return...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Air NZ cuts economic lifelines to neglected regions
    Air New Zealand’s plans to cut its Eagle Air regional services to already struggling regions is a hammer blow to Westport, Whakatane and Kaitaia, says Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The regions of New Zealand are being abandoned by this...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Christchurch on the rent rack
    A jump of 20 per cent in weekly rents in the past year is a disaster for Christchurch, says Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “The Trade Me Property Rental Price index has rightly described the city as being a ‘...
    Labour | 11-11
  • Past time to act on warnings about palliative care
    Health officials have been warning the Government about a critical shortage of palliative care specialists for years, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Annette King says. A stocktake carried out for the Ministry of Health shows New Zealand’s end...
    Labour | 10-11
  • Report must spur Government into action
    The soaring cost of domestic violence and child abuse highlight the need for the Government to prioritise and act on the issue, says Labour's spokesperson for Social Development, Sue Moroney.“Findings from the Glenn Inquiry that show the problem is estimated...
    Labour | 10-11
  • Family safety paramount, then urgent review
    Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has some serious questions to answer over why a dangerous prison escapee, convicted of further crimes while in jail, managed to abscond while he was on approved temporary release, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“Phillip...
    Labour | 09-11
  • LVRs a failed experiment from Bill English
    Loan to value mortgage restrictions are a failed experiment from Bill English to tame Auckland house prices, that have caused collateral damage to first home buyers and other regions, says Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The possible end of LVR...
    Labour | 09-11
  • Govt books getting worse as economy slows
    National’s economic credibility is under serious scrutiny with its search for surplus becoming harder due to an economy far too reliant on the dairy industry, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker. “National promised New Zealanders would get into surplus by...
    Labour | 06-11
  • Kiwis in pain because of Government underfunding
    New research showing one in three people needing elective surgery are being denied publicly-funded operations shows the Government must properly fund the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “For almost two years Labour has been warning about the...
    Labour | 06-11
  • National’s promised surplus looking doubtful
    Budget figures for the first quarter of the financial year released today by Treasury show the Government's goal of achieving a budget surplus is looking doubtful, the Green Party said today."National has staked its credibility on achieving a budget surplus...
    Greens | 06-11
  • Kevin Hague speaks on the Gambling Amendment Bill (No 3)
    I rise to give this speech on behalf of Denise Roche, who handles the gambling portfolio for the Green Party. This bill deals with class 4 gambling—pokies in pubs and clubs—and it is the result of changes that were suggested...
    Greens | 06-11
  • Kevin Hague speaks on the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill
    I would like to start off where the previous speaker left off, on the issue of balancing rights or balancing harms. All law is in some way a restriction of personal liberty. That is the point of law. When we...
    Greens | 06-11
  • Joyce backs away from yet another target
    Steven Joyce has backed away from two targets in two days, refusing to acknowledge that his Government has an unambitious aim to get unemployment down to 4 per cent in 11 years’ time, says Labour Associate Finance spokesperson David Clark....
    Labour | 06-11
  • Pacific peoples incomes and jobs falling under National
    The Minister of Pacific Peoples is attempting to bury the ugly facts of Pacific unemployment and income levels worsening since National took office in 2008, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson, Su’a William Sio. “If the Minister doesn’t acknowledge how bad...
    Labour | 06-11
  • The Block NZ doing a better job than Nick Smith
    Nick Smith should consider calling in producers of The Block NZ with participants in the TV series completing more houses in two seasons than the Government’s failed Special Housing Area policy, says Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The Block NZ...
    Labour | 06-11
  • Meridian moves to kill competition from solar homes
    Big electricity companies are using their power to make it harder for families and businesses wanting to go solar and the National Government is doing nothing to help them, the Green Party said today. Meridian Energy announced today a 60-72...
    Greens | 06-11
  • Has John Key done all he could for Pike families?
    It will be forever on the conscience of John Key whether he did all he could to recover the remains of the 29 miners who died in Pike River, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says.  “The Prime Minister...
    Labour | 05-11
  • National further dashes hopes of new parents
    The National Government has once again shown its disdain for working parents by voting down proposals to extend paid parental leave, Labour MP Sue Moroney says.  “The Government vetoed an amended proposal that substantially reduced the cost of extending PPL...
    Labour | 05-11
  • Honouring the Ampatuan massacre victims as fight for justice goes on
    A grim reminder of the Maguindanao, or Ampatuan, massacre on 23 November 2014. Photo: DanRogayan A TOP Filipino investigative journalist will be speaking about the “worst attack” on journalists in history and her country’s culture of impunity in a keynote...
    The Daily Blog | 23-11
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – what are they afraid of: the erosion of democ...
    Today the Hamilton City Council has put on a big party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of European colonisation of the area.  There have been a series of events during the year to mark this event, including a civic ceremony. ...
    The Daily Blog | 22-11
  • #JohnKeyHistory
    John Key has done it again. This week our lovely Prime Minister has showed us how little he knows about the history of the country he is supposed to be running. Apparently “New Zealand was settled peacefully”. Was it really?...
    The Daily Blog | 22-11
  • G20 growth targets and growth model offer more problems than they solve
    At the recent G20 in Brisbane, member countries agreed to accelerate growth to an additional 2% on top of current trajectories. But ongoing public sector cuts, asset sales, and reducing workers’ rights indicate that at least part of the growth...
    The Daily Blog | 22-11
  • GUEST BLOG: Bill Courtney – Charter Schools: The Shroud of Secrecy Contin...
    The Ministry of Education yesterday released another batch of information relating to the five existing charter schools and the four new ones proposed for opening in 2015. As we have seen before, the release of such information, often requested under...
    The Daily Blog | 22-11
  • EXCLUSIVE: Campaign reflection, Laila Harré reaching out for radical minds
    Today I’ve announced that I will be stepping down from the Internet Party leadership in December. This will happen once options for the future have been developed for discussion and decision among members. My absolute focus in this election was...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • The Ebola crisis, capitalism and the Cuban medical revolution
    “Ebola emerged nearly 40 years ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure? Because Ebola has been, historically, geographically confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • MEDIA WATCH: TVNZ Reveals Insane Deadlines For Māori and Pacific Island Pr...
    Last Tuesday, November 18th, TVNZ requested proposals from producers for the four Māori and Pacific Island programmes they will no longer be making in-house. Marae, Waka Huia, Fresh and Tagata Pasifika will keep their existing names, existing formats and existing...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • The Daily Blog Breakfast Club Ep. 1
    TDB Video, Live from Verona Cafe on K-Rd, Auckland – a weekly current affairs show with TDB Editor Martyn Bradbury. This week’s panel: Chris Trotter & Selwyn Manning.The issues: 1 – What now for the New Labour leader? 2 –...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • Performance-demonstration at Auckland’s High Court to demand justice for ...
    People outraged at the lack of justice in the so-called ‘Roast Busters’ case and 99% of other rape cases in this country are holding a visually powerful mass action at the Auckland High Court at 1 o’clock on Saturday. They...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • IES vote may weaken defense of public education
    PPTA announced today that secondary teachers have voted to include the IES (Investing in Education Success) as a variation to their collective employment agreement with the government. At one level it’s an understandable decision by PPTA members because through engaging in a consultation...
    The Daily Blog | 21-11
  • NZ History lesson on Planet Key – the lies white people tell themselves
    John Key’s bizarre claims about our ‘peaceful history’ comes across like the apartheid history of South Africa where white people discovered Africa first… New Zealand ‘settled peacefully’ – PM New Zealand was “settled peacefully” by the British, the prime minister...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • Universal Basic Income and Labour Policy
    On Radio New Zealand’s None-to-Noon on Wednesday (19 November), new Labour leader Andrew Little intimated that he would like to put Universal Basic Income (UBI) on his policy agenda (What policy changes will Andrew Little usher in?) Predictably Kathryn Ryan, despite being...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • The New Notes : They Ain’t Mint
    Hulk Queen Angry. Hulk Queen smash.   Yesterday, the Reserve Bank announced its new designs for our banknotes. Now, I’ve historically been pretty sketch about this entire process; variously feeling affronted that the government could find eighty million dollars to fund a...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • MSM under-mining of new Labour Leader already begun?
    . . It did not take long. In fact, on the same day that Andrew Little won the Labour leadership*, the first media reporter was already asking if he would be stepping down  if Labour failed to lift in the...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • GUEST BLOG: Simon Buckingham – invisible disability voices
    Today I am ranting. The Disability Advisory Group has been announced by Auckland Council. This is the body that represents the interests and views of people with disabilities in Auckland. Whilst I would not have applied this time as I...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, Andrew Little
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, Andrew Little...
    The Daily Blog | 20-11
  • Why labelling Little as a ‘Unionist’ is a joke and how he beats Key in ...
    The line being used to attack Andrew Little as a ‘Unionist’ is just an absurd joke, and it comes from people who clearly don’t understand the modern NZ Union movement. Andrew ran the EPM Bloody U, they are easily one...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • 5AA Australia – Labour’s New Leader + China’s President In New Zealan...
    Recorded on 20/11/14 – Captured Live on Ustream.tv. 5AA’s Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.ISSUE ONE: The New Zealand Labour Party has elected its new leader, the vote going to a third round after no clear outright winner was found in...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • Did Roger Sutton think he was running the Rock Radio Station?
    Visible G-String Fridays? Full body hugs? Jokes about who you would and wouldn’t have sex with? Honey? Sweety? It’s like Roger thought he was running the Rock Radio Station, not a Government Public Service department set up to rebuild a...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • US Politics
      US Politics...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • Amnesty International – The conversation that needs to be had with China
    Caption: Police officer watching Hong Kong pro-democracy march, 01 July 2014 © Amnesty International    Yesterday’s edition of The New Zealand Herald features an open letter to all New Zealander’s from Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China. Along...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • GUEST BLOG: Patrick O’Dea – “Liar”
    LIAR! ‘Privatised social housing to benefit tenants’ English “Housing Corp was a poor performer and about a third of its housing stock was the wrong size, in poor condition and in the wrong place. That stock was worth about $5...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • Too Close For Comfort: Reflections on Andrew Little’s narrow victory over...
    THE TRAGIC SCREENSHOT of “Gracinda” in defeat bears eloquent testimony to the bitter disappointment of the Grant Robertson-led faction of the Labour Party. And, yes, ‘Party’ is the right word. The Robertson machine has now extended its influence well beyond...
    The Daily Blog | 19-11
  • How to defeat child poverty
      How to defeat child poverty...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • Little’s Shadow Cabinet
    Now the horror of trying to pacify the factions begins. The only thing Little’s new shadow cabinet must do is create the pretence of unity. The reason voters didn’t flock to Labour wasn’t the bloody CGT or Superannuation, it was...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • A pilgrimage with my sister – Rethink the System
    We’ve both wanted to do a pilgrimage for many years. But, unlike many modern pilgrims, we wanted to be pilgirms in our own country and get closer to our communities, rather than seek greater distance from them. We are both...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • Lack of policy ambition is Andrew Little’s main problem
    I’ve met Andrew Little a few times and he’s a pleasant man who will make a reasonable job leading what the Labour Party has become in recent decades. He will preside over a much less divided caucus and will be...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • Journos, film makers, media freedom advocates join Asia-Pacific political j...
    A candlelight vigil for the 58 victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre – 32 of them media people. Still no justice for them today. Renowned investigative journalists, film makers, academics and media freedom campaigners from across the Asia-Pacific region will...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • And the new Labour Leader is ZZZZZZZZZZ
    The victory lap by Caucus over the members choice of Cunliffe has ended and the new leader of the Labour Party is Andrew Little. Yawn. The dullness and caution of the latest Leadership race will be served well by Andrew,...
    The Daily Blog | 18-11
  • Allow the Facts to Get in the Way of the Neolib Stories
    One of the weaknesses of the political left in New Zealand over the last 30 years has been to allow the neoliberal storytellers to get away with lots of fibs and half-fibs. On TVNZ’s Q+A on 16 November, in a...
    The Daily Blog | 17-11
  • Defending The Boomers: A Response to Chloe King
    THE BABY-BOOM GENERATION (49-68 year-olds) currently numbers just under a quarter of New Zealand’s population. Even so, there is a pervasive notion that the generation of New Zealanders born between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s exercises...
    The Daily Blog | 17-11
  • This weeks Waatea news column – Waitangi Tribunal ruling enshrines Treaty...
      This weeks Waatea news column – Waitangi Tribunal ruling enshrines Treaty as a living document...
    The Daily Blog | 16-11
  • Key now says SAS will be needed to protect ‘trainers’ behind the wire
    Well, well, well. What do we have here? Government could send SAS to Iraq New Zealand’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) could be deployed to Iraq to protect Kiwi troops sent to train local forces. Prime Minister John Key confirmed...
    The Daily Blog | 16-11
  • Do You Want to Build a Meth Lab? (Frozen x Breaking Bad Parody)
    Do You Want to Build a Meth Lab? (Frozen x Breaking Bad Parody)...
    The Daily Blog | 16-11
  • Soft soap for the rich – harsh taxes for the poor
    It’s no surprise to see New Zealand has one of the world’s lowest tax rates for the rich and the superrich. A survey by the global accounting network UHY shows New Zealand’s highest tax rates are lower than even Australia,...
    The Daily Blog | 16-11
  • Phillip Smith and the rehabilitation process
    The dominant media narrative in horrible murder cases is that the perpetrator is unlikely ever to be rehabilitated. When it appears the offender may get parole the media turns first to family members of the victim who commonly (and understandably)...
    The Daily Blog | 16-11
  • The Nation review: Finlayson’s terrifying definition of who is on terror ...
    Terrifying Nation today on TV3. Chris Finlayson is on justifying the Government’s Muslim fear mongering and extension of even more surveillance powers. It was jaw dropping. Finlayson says ‘alienated people with a chip on their shoulder’ is the threshold to get...
    The Daily Blog | 14-11
  • A brief word on The Block NZ
    Is it just me or did The Block manage to sum up everything that is wrong about our culture and economy? Fetishised property speculation as mass entertainment in a country of homelessness & poverty. I wonder if State House tenants...
    The Daily Blog | 14-11
  • Waitangi Tribunal ruling
    That spluttering choking sound of a thousand rednecks being informed Maori still have sovereignty is a hilarious cacophony of stupid… Crown still in charge: Minister Chris Finlayson on Waitangi Treaty ruling The Waitangi Tribunal’s finding that Maori chiefs who signed...
    The Daily Blog | 14-11
  • A brief word on Phillip Smith
    We can arrest student loan & fine defaulters at the airport – but not convicted child molesting killers? Before we ban manufactured ISIS ‘terrorists’ from having passports, how about we just manage to stop child molesting killers from fleeing first?...
    The Daily Blog | 14-11
  • Free Me From Religion
          The meeting begins – or at least it’s supposed to begin – but someone interrupts proceedings. She wants everyone to pray with their heads bowed while she can “thank our Father who art in Heaven.” I close...
    The Daily Blog | 14-11
  • Key capitulates on TPPA while big money NZ set up propaganda fund
    So Key has capitulated on the ‘gold standard’ of free trade deals… The primary objective for New Zealand at Apec was to see some urgency injected into the TPP talks and to keep leaders aiming for a high quality deal....
    The Daily Blog | 13-11
  • Why Phillip Smith is the least of our worries
    Well, it turns out Phillip Smith wasn’t half as clever as he thought he was, and he’s been arrested within a week. If the Prime Minister is through with making tasteless jokes, perhaps we can ramp down the media hysteria...
    The Daily Blog | 13-11
  • Constraining Credibility
      Most economists and members of the public – on both the right and the left – believe that economies are constrained by resource scarcity most of the time. In this view, economies are supply-constrained, and that the economic problem...
    The Daily Blog | 13-11
  • Migrant Labour, exploitation and free markets
    Once more we read about a horror story of virtual slavery for a migrant worker in a restaurant in Christchurch. The silver lining that in this case compensation should be paid is not assured. Often in situations like this the employer winds up...
    The Daily Blog | 13-11
  • On baby boomers who give my generation unhelpful advice: JUST DON’T
    One of my mum’s colleagues recently told her that there is no money in what her daughter was doing; volunteering at a women’s refuge and writing on politics. This guy, dispensing all his pearls of wisdom, told my mother that...
    The Daily Blog | 13-11
  • Morbid Symptoms: Can Labour Be Born Anew?
    THE CHAIRS in the final meeting venue have been stacked away. All that expensive signage, commissioned for the benefit of the television cameras, no longer has a purpose. For the second time in just 14 months, Labour’s Leadership Contest is...
    The Daily Blog | 12-11
  • What’s Small, White, and Having Trouble Attracting New People?
    If your answer was something intimately connected to the person of Peter Dunne … then you’d be right. Last night, P-Dunney decided to bring his comedy and/or hair stylings to the twitterverse; penning a potentially somewhat ill-advised tweet in which he compared...
    The Daily Blog | 12-11
  • LATE at the Auckland Museum review – Slacktivisim: Its not just for Slack...
    Monday night is my yoga night. I’m not really very good it, I don’t really have the bendy, but I made a New Years resolution. This Monday however, I decided to put the yoga on prone and attend a gig...
    The Daily Blog | 12-11
  • Domestic violence problem bigger than Sky Tower
    Domestic violence problem bigger than Sky Tower SKYCITY’s Sky Tower in Auckland will be lit up in white on Monday evening Nov 25th at 10pm, on the eve of White Ribbon Day. The anti-domestic violence network SAFTINET (Safer Auckland Families...
    Scoop politics | 23-11
  • State Services Commissioner ‘unfit for the job’ says Little
    State Services Commissioner ‘unfit for the job’ says Little The new Labour leader Andrew Little has called for the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie to be stood down after his handling of the Roger Sutton sexual harassment case. "The idea...
    Scoop politics | 23-11
  • Patrick Gower interviews Laila Harre
    Patrick Gower interviews Laila Harre Headlines: Laila Harre to quit as Internet Party leader by Christmas when the party has completed its review, but would love to return to parliament Says party considering options for its future including winding...
    Scoop politics | 22-11
  • Lisa Owen interviews Labour leader Andrew Little
    Lisa Owen interviews Labour leader Andrew Little Headlines: Andrew Little says the shape of his front-bench for the 2017 election may not be clear until the end of next year Indicates next week’s appointments may be temporary: “So I may...
    Scoop politics | 22-11
  • Phillip John Smith – statement
    Police and the New Zealand Embassy in Brasilia are aware of a decision from the Brazil Federal Court requiring the deportation of Phillip Smith within 10 days. Further assessment is required to ensure there is a full understanding of this...
    Scoop politics | 22-11
  • Green’s ‘not speaking out about human rights abuses in China
    Right to Life challenges Russell Norman the co-leader of the Green Party to explain why, he was prepared to ask Prime Minister John Key to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping about human rights abuses in countries bordering China but...
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • Goodfellow congratulates Key on IDU election
    Goodfellow congratulates Key on IDU election National Party President Peter Goodfellow has congratulated Prime Minister John Key on his election today as Chairman of the International Democrat Union (IDU)....
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • Taxpayers’ Union Congratulates PM on IDU Appointment
    The Taxpayers’ Union is today congratulating Rt. Hon. John Key on becoming the Chair of the International Democrat Union , as former Australian Prime Minister John Howard retires from the role after 12 years. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director...
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • High demand for Consumer NZ’s “Do Not Knock” stickers
    Consumer NZ has distributed nearly 100,000 “Do Not Knock” stickers since the launch of its campaign to fight back against dodgy door-to-door sellers.The “Do Not Knock” campaign was launched on 3 November 2014. Free “Do Not Knock” stickers...
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • Phillip Smith decision still pending
    Detective Superintendent Mike Pannett is returning to Washington DC where he will continue to closely monitor a pending decision from the Brazilian authorities on the process to return Phillip Smith to New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • High Court demonstration to demand justice
    People outraged at the lack of justice in the so-called ‘Roast Busters’ case and 99% of other rape cases in this country are holding a visually powerful mass action at the Auckland High Court at 1 o’clock on Saturday. They...
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • NZ Society Wins Global Award For Fighting Animal Testing
    New Zealand banning animal testing of legal highs has been acknowledged with an award given in London. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) was awarded the 2014 LUSH Prize for lobbying against animal testing. The prize was given at the...
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • Poor govt advice to workers on petrol station drive-offs
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has raised concerns with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ('MBIE') regarding their reported advice to workers about the petrol station drive away issue....
    Scoop politics | 21-11
  • New Ombudsman opinion
    The Ombudsman has published his opinion on a complaint concerning the Police refusal to release information about a charging decision....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Kindergarten support staff achieve pay rise in tough climate
    The valuable contribution of kindergarten support staff has been recognised with a pay increase, despite the significant funding cuts that the kindergarten associations are experiencing....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Democracy and Conservative Religion: The Case of Islam
    “Is Islam compatible with democracy?” is a frequently-asked question. Recent rethinking of secularism and democracy have opened up new possibilities to think about religion and democracy. This question is important particularly in the case...
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • NZ fiscal watchdog needed to guard the public purse
    New Zealand needs tighter fiscal rules and an independent watchdog to improve the quality of government spending and reduce the risk of a return to deficit spending as the country’s population ages, if not before....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • NZSMI disappointed ANZTPA proposal shelved
    November 20, 2014: Consumer healthcare products industry body, the New Zealand Self-Medication Industry Association (SMI) says it is disappointed Government has once again shelved plans to create one medicines regulatory agency for both New Zealand and Australia....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Democracy Action Welcomes Tauranga Vote
    Responding to Tauranga Council’s unanimous vote not to establish separate Council seats on the basis of ethnicity, Lee Short, Democracy Action founder says: “The establishment of a Maori ward would have damaged the relationship between Maori and...
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Employer caught abusing new ‘teabreaks law’
    Employer caught abusing new ‘teabreaks law’ to exploit workers The government passed the controversial ‘teabreaks’ legislation only a few weeks ago and already Unite Union has caught an employer using this law as an excuse for ill-treating their...
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • FGC response to Commerce Commission report
    The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council is not surprised by the Commerce Commission’s findings, given New Zealand’s current legal framework....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Bascand: Brighter Money
    Seeing people’s initial reactions to the new banknote designs is a heartening reminder of what an important role currency plays in our lives, and what a sense of pride and heritage our notes evoke....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • RBNZ releases Brighter Money designs
    New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year....
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • 25 years of children’s rights
    UNICEF and OFC celebrate 25 years of children’s rights with Just Play Sports Days On Universal Children’s Day (20 November) and as part of the Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) inaugural President’s Cup, UNICEF will celebrate 25 years of children’s...
    Scoop politics | 20-11
  • Xiamen delegation to Wellington has business focus
    Stronger business, education and cultural ties with our Chinese partners will be the focus when a 20-strong government and business delegation led by Xiamen Mayor Mr Liu Keqing which visits Wellington tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday as part of the...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Warriors promote White Ribbon Day message
    Warriors promote White Ribbon Day message Shine and Orakei Health Services On Tuesday, the Vodafone Warriors will promote the White Ribbon Day message to the community at Eastridge Shopping Centre, Mission Bay. The Warriors are supporting their charity...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Superannuitants to protest unethical investments
    A delegation of Auckland superannuitants will deliver a protest-card petition and protest letter to the New Zealand Super Fund this Thursday afternoon to call on the fund to divest from companies which support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Manukau job cuts ‘running the place into the ground’
    Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) confirmed to its staff yesterday that 54 jobs will go before Christmas....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Newcore Looks Pretty Rotten for Ratepayers
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that the IT system commissioned by Auckland Council to consolidate the eight systems the Super City inherited from its precursor councils could be facing a budget blowout of $100 million, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Ben...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Accountability following quake response inquiry not achieved
    Lessons still need to be learned from the search and rescue efforts following the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, a leading New Zealand lawyer, Nigel Hampton QC, says....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Our kids say: We are failing in our duty to protect them
    Our kids say: We are failing in our duty to protect them More than a quarter of Kiwi kids say children’s right to be safe and protected isn’t being upheld in New Zealand, identifying protection from violence, abuse and murder...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • PARS & Turuki Health Care collaborate on health and services
    Auckland-based PARS (People at Risk Solutions) have partnered with the Turuki Health Care Trust, to offer improved healthcare services to those in need. PARS works closely with former prisoners, providing mentoring, housing, and social services to ensure...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Children’s Plea
    A plea has been sent to all Members of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, to accord urgency and priority to children's issues. These issues include vulnerability, safety and childhood poverty....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Treasury off track in search for sound policies
    Treasury is unlikely to find the ideas it is looking for to improve outcomes for children while its primary driver is cost-cutting, says Child Poverty Action Group....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Commission calls for answers on handling of CERA harassment
    EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue is deeply concerned about the way in which the State Services Commission has handled sexual allegations made against CERA chief executive Roger Sutton this week and is calling for answers....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Ashley Dwayne Guy v The Queen: Appeal Upheld
    The appellant, Mr Guy, was found guilty by a jury of a charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection. After the verdict it was discovered that, by error, the jury had been provided in the jury room with two...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • Zonta Club to Take a Stand Against Gender-Based Violence
    During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence (25 November – 10 December), the Zonta Club of Wellington, along with members of the local community, will join nearly 1,200 Zonta clubs in 67 countries for the Zonta Says NO...
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • New UNFPA report links progress and power to young people
    A UN report launched today calls for investment in young people as they are essential to social and economic progress....
    Scoop politics | 19-11
  • The Resignation with the Golden Handshake?
    Commenting on the settlement the State Services Commission has reached with former CERA CEO Roger Sutton, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says: "Only in the public sector do you receive a payout for ‘resigning’....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • NZ must not turn a blind eye to China’s human rights record
    Amnesty International is calling on New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key to raise China’s shameful human rights record during President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Zealand this week....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • The Resignation with the Golden Handshake?
    Commenting on the settlement the State Services Commission has reached with former CERA CEO Roger Sutton, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:...
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • Treasury’s covert & extremely odd welfare consultation
    A report this morning that Treasury is ‘crowd sourcing’ ideas on welfare policy is news to Auckland Action Against Poverty, even though we are currently one of the most active groups in the area....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • NZ invites Pacific peers to review development cooperation
    New Zealand has volunteered to be the first development partner in the Pacific region to undergo a review of its aid programme by Pacific island peers. The review will focus on New Zealand’s development cooperation and will give greater insight...
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • EPMU joins Pike River families to mark fourth anniversary
    Representatives of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union are proud to stand with the Pike River families to mark four years since 29 men lost their lives. “This is a particularly solemn day given the recent announcements of Solid Energy...
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • 2013 Assessment of New Zealand’s National Integrity Systems
    SPEAKER TUILOMA NERONI SLADE: Former Judge, International Criminal Court in the Hague, former legal counsel at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum 2008-2014. Introduced by Helen Sutch, Victoria University Council,...
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • Green Party ignoring Waimea’s environmental benefits
    Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty has overlooked the environmental benefits the proposed Waimea Community Dam will bring the Tasman community, says IrrigationNZ Chairperson Nicky Hyslop....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • Women’s use of violence in violent relationships
    More than 80 percent of women who live with a physically violent partner will not initiate violence when they are not being hit, according to new research....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • Poor credit rating linked to poor cardiovascular health
    Poor credit rating linked to poor cardiovascular health A credit score doesn’t only boil down a person’s entire financial history to a single number and somehow predict their credit-worthiness, it might also be saying something about a person’s...
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • State Services Commissioner on Roger Sutton Investigation
    State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today said the investigation into Roger Sutton’s conduct was robust. Roger Sutton chose to resign as Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) yesterday....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
  • Predator Free NZ project welcomed
    Federated Farmers and the conservation organisation Forest & Bird are welcoming the Predator Free New Zealand initiative as an ambitious but achievable project that will have real benefits for conservation and the economy....
    Scoop politics | 18-11
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