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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 | 05-09
  • Labour: Providing more opportunities for young Kiwis
    A Labour Government will ensure every young Kiwi under the age of 20 is given the opportunity to be in work, education or training, and plans to develop a conservation apprenticeship scheme to help do that, Labour’s Youth Affairs spokesperson...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Candles out on teachers’ slice of birthday cake
    Today may be Novopay’s second birthday, but there’s little to celebrate, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Novopay has cost the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars already, and the cost is still climbing....
    Labour | 04-09
  • National’s blatant broadband pork barrelling misses the mark by a country...
    National’s blatant pork-barrelling ICT announcement today should reinforce a growing sceptical electorate’s view that they are all about the gift wrap and not the present, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Instead of addressing the real issues - the woeful...
    Labour | 04-09
  • More evidence of the need to clean up the system
    The latest release of emails and messages between disgraced Minister Judith Collins and blogger Cameron Slater are more evidence of the urgent need to clean up politics, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. "This new evidence confirms a near constant flow...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Labour commits to stable funding for voluntary sector
    A Labour Government will establish long-term funding and streamline contract accountability for community and voluntary groups, says Labour’s spokesperson for the sector Louisa Wall. Announcing Labour’s policy for the community and voluntary sector, she said this would give much greater...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Better trained and skilled workforce under Labour
    Labour is committed to a skilled workforce that benefits businesses as well as their workers, and will increase workplace training to improve productivity and drive innovation, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Labour believes the Government should support New Zealanders into...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will make renting a better option
    Labour will provide greater security of tenure for renters, and build more state and social housing, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour believes every kid deserves a decent start in life. That means a warm, dry and secure home....
    Labour | 03-09
  • At least 15 new taxes under National
    John Key is the last person to talk about creating taxes, presiding over a Government that has imposed at least 15 new taxes, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “John Key tried a novel line in the debate last night claiming...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will strengthen New Zealand’s democracy
    A Labour Government will act quickly to protect and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as one of the most open and least corrupt countries in the world, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “The health of any democracy is improved by greater...
    Labour | 02-09
  • MANA Movement says tax cut on GST must be first priority – Minto
    “If Prime Minister John Key has money available for tax cuts then cutting GST must be the first priority”,  said MANA Movement Economic Justice Spokesperson John Minto. GST is a nasty tax on low-income families”, said Minto. “People in the...
    Mana | 02-09
  • The Maori Party’s Mana-Enhancing Relationship with National – Minto
    “First we had Cameron Slater and David Farrar backing Labour’s Kelvin Davis bid to unseat MANA Movement Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira.  Now we have Slater writing a pro-Te Ururoa Flavell article on his website, Whale...
    Mana | 02-09
  • There’s Only One Poll That Counts
    “One of the oldest sayings in politics is that there is only one poll that counts – the one on Election Day – and that’s the one that I am focusing on” remarked the MANA Movement candidate for Waiariki, Annette...
    Mana | 02-09
  • Local communities critical to Civil Defence
    Labour will focus on empowering New Zealand communities to be resilient in Civil Defence disasters, says Labour’s Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran. Announcing Labour’s Civil Defence policy, she says that Labour will work with schools, voluntary agencies and community groups...
    Labour | 02-09
  • Labour looks to long-life passports, gambling harm review
    A return to 10 year passports and a review of gambling laws are highlights of Labour’s Internal Affairs policy released today. “More than 15,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling on the Government to revert to the 10 year system...
    Labour | 02-09
  • MANA Movement Leadership stands strong behind Internet MANA relationship
    “There is now, and always will be, a range of views about many issues within our movement and members are free to express them, but Georgina’s views on Kim Dotcom are not shared by the MANA Movement leadership or the vast majority...
    Mana | 01-09
  • Rebuilding the New Zealand Defence Force
    A Labour Government will make it a priority to rebuild the capacity of the Defence Force to carry out the tasks expected of it, says Labour’s Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff. Releasing Labour’s Defence Policy today he said the NZDF has...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Voting turnout affected by bad weather?
    . . NZ, Upper Hutt, 20 September –  Cold, wet weather in the Hutt Valley, north of Wellington may be impacting on voter turn-out. A head-count of people visiting the Trentham School Voting Station in Moonshine Rd, Upper Hutt, indicated...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Final total of advance voting
    And the final total for the advance voting was a staggering 717,579 advance votes against 334,558 in 2011       Tonight, I’ll be watching the TV3 election coverage because I could bare Paul Henry’s smugness one inch more than Mike Hosking’s...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Vice article on NZ election
    Here is my Vice article on the NZ election....
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • The attempt to kill off Internet MANA
    It’s the last day of campaigning today and the long list of those attacking Internet MANA got longer yesterday with Winston Peters backing Labour candidate Kelvin Davis against the MANA Movement’s Hone Harawira. Davis is now supported by Labour, National,...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • A final word on the election – it’s now all up to you
    Brothers & Sisters, the fate of Aotearoa is now all in your hands. We here at the Daily Blog have thrown everything we can at this bloody Government and have spent every waking hour of this campaign trying to highlight...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • I can’t tell what is National Party advert and what is the NZ Herald – ...
    I can’t tell what is National Party advert and what is the NZ Herald – but then again, I never could...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • TVNZ election coverage – white people telling other white people why Nati...
    TVNZ election coverage – white people telling other white people why National Party is great...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • REVIEW: Royals of Kihikihi
    What an absolutely stunning show.  I had to ask twice to check I’d heard right that this is the first staged production for Samuel Christopher, who also played a raw, real, but vulnerable, Wolf Royal, home from London for his...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • 800 Cops to detain 15 ‘terrorists’ – why Australia’s hysterical Isl...
    I’m sorry but I can’t take this current Australian terror threat seriously. 800 cops to detain 15 people and arrest one of them? A week after Abbot decides to send in Australian forces to the cluster fuck of Iraq, suddenly...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Unbelievable corruption inside Government to attack Kim Dotcom
    The corruption inside this Government just more and more filthy – we now have an ex-Customs Lawyer quitting  after being told to bury information that could embarrass the Government, specifically to do with Kim Dotcom… Curtis Gregorash said he was told...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Everyone Loves A Win-Win That Keeps G...
      Permit me to quote some figures at you… -68% of New Zealanders think political news on television focuses too much on politicians’ personalities and not enough on real issues. This is the key result of a recent UMR survey commissioned by...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, another week of ...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, another week of being the most in demand broadcaster in the country...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • EXCLUSIVE: Te Tai Tokerau independent poll (44% Hone-27% Kelvin) vs Maori T...
    The Te Tai Tokerau Maori TV poll on Monday this week painted a bleak picture for Internet MANA supporters, and it’s results have been seized upon by Labour, NZ First and even the Maori Party (who seem set once again...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The time for TPPA weasel words is over
    Almost every day of the election campaign there has been a policy announcement that would potentially run foul of what I understand is currently in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA):  more constraints on foreign investment or investors … regulation of...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • MELTDOWN – Maori Party turns on their own Te Tai Tokerau candidate – ag...
    The tensions are building in Te Tai Tokerau with the Maori Party on the verge of meltdown. Days out from the election, the Maori Party Executive has tried to heavy their own Te Tai Tokerau Electoral Committee and their own candidate, Te Hira Paenga,...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • We Can Change this Government
    We Can Change this Government – Mike Treen at the First Union stop work election meeting...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Election 2014: For and Against
    With the general election tomorrow, we have had a very noisy campaign but little sign that the electorate wishes for a fundamental change of governmental direction. This reflects in part the fact that the economic cycle is close to its decadal...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Eye To Eye Uploaded: Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury
    This interview was filmed a couple of weeks ago between Willie Jackson and myself, I was a tad off with my prediction of NZ First....
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed
      . . – Special investigation by Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules‘ Speculation that the Beehive office of Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, was behind the release of a letter linking Labour leader, David Cunliffe, with controversial Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu, is...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • As if you needed another reason to boycott Telecom/Spark – they sold NZ d...
    It should read ‘never stop spying’. As if you needed another reason to boycott Telecom/Spark – they sold us down the river to the US by allowing the Southern Cross cable to be tapped… The ability for US intelligence agencies...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The NZ First-Labour Party attack strategy against Internet MANA better work
    The final days of the campaign are ticking down and Labour and NZ First are manoeuvring to kill off the Internet MANA Party by both backing Kelvin Davis for Te Tai Tokerau. It’s a risky gambit that they better pray to Christ...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Bill English’s latest insult to beneficiaries – apparently they are lik...
    National’s hatred towards the poor continues unabated as National desperately try to throw raw meat to their reactionary voter base in the hope to inspire enough hate and loathing to win back their redneck voters from the Conservative Party and from...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Eminem ain’t happy with John Key
    Eminem ain’t happy with John Key...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Key claims he did not inhale
    Key claims he did not inhale...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Final prediction on election result 2014
    What an election campaign. The character assassination of David Cunliffe kicked things off with the Herald on Sunday falsely claiming $100 00 bottles of wine, $15 000 books and $150 000 in donations  from a donor that turned out to be...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Live blog: Bainamarama takes commanding lead in Fiji elections
      Interview with Repúblika editor Ricardo Morris and Pacific Scoop’s Mads Anneberg. PACIFIC SCOOP TEAM By Ricardo Morris, Mads Anneberg, Alistar Kata and Biutoka Kacimaiwai in Suva WHILE the results are provisional at this stage, it is clear today that...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • 5AA Australia: NZ Elections Two Days To Go! + Edward Snowden + Julian Assan...
    Recorded live on 18/09/14 – Captured Live on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/multimedia-investments-ltd 5AA Australia’s Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning deliver their weekly bulletin: Across The Ditch. This week, they discuss the latest news as New Zealanders go to the polls on...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • What has Colin Craig done for his Press Secretary to quit 2 days before ele...
    This is VERY strange.  Colin Craig’s Press Secretary Rachel McGregor, has quit 2 days before the election, allegedly telling ZB that Colin Craig was a “very manipulative man”. I’ve met Rachel many times in the past as Colin’s Press Secretary, she is...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • “If you want steak, go to the supermarket and buy steak,” – A brief w...
    “If you want steak, go to the supermarket and buy steak,” said Key in the final leaders debate. Problem of course is that the 250 000 – 285 000 children living in poverty can not afford steak, milk, butter, eggs...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • National’s final bash of beneficiaries before the election
    On cue, whenever National feel threatened, they roll out a little bennie bash just to keep their redneck voter base happy. Nothing like a bit of raw meat policy to keep National voters focused on the evil threat solo parents...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • With All Of This In Mind, I Vote
    This is my last blog before the election and I really just want to speak from the heart. Right now in this country it seems to me that a lot of people consider the “essentials” in life to be simply...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Left has to vote strategically this election
    The dedication, loyalty, and tribalism of party politics means that sometimes the left lets itself down by not voting strategically. We all want our favoured party to get maximum votes, naturally, but the winner-takes-all approach doesn’t always suit multi-party left...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Dear NZ – as you enter the polling booth, stand up for your rights
    The last days before a NZ general election are a busy time as politicians make their pitch and party activists prepare to get out the vote. It is sort of weird watching from the distance of Europe the strangest election...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • What is Waihopai, John, if it isn’t a facility for “mass surveillance...
    John Key assured us on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme yesterday that “In terms of the Fives Eyes data bases… yes New Zealand will contribute some information but not mass wholesale surveillance.” How does this square with the operation of the...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Catherine Delahunty – Mass Surveillance and the Banality of E...
    Renowned journalist and intellectual Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the normalisation of genocide in Nazi Germany. I thought of her phrase when I was listening to Glenn Greenwald and other international whistle-blowers talking about...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Election. Down. To. The. Wire
    Funny how last week it was John Key winning by 50%, now it’s neck and neck. I have always believed this election would be down to the wire and it is proving so. The flawed landline opinion polls the mainstream...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • 3rd Degree uses Whaleoil for story ideas as if Dirty Politics never happene...
    TV3s 3rd Degrees smear job on Kim Dotcom last night doesn’t bear much repeating. It was pretty pathetic journalism from a team who have brought us some great journalism in the past. It is sad to see 3rd Degree stooping...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Live blog: Bainimarama takes early lead in Fiji’s election
    Pacific Scoop’s Alistar Kata reports from yesterday’s voting. By Alistar Kata of Pacific Scoop in Suva Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama took an early lead in provisional results in the Fiji general election last night. With provisional results from 170 out...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Has The NSA Constructed The Perfect PPP?
    Former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, Edward Snowden – speaking live to those gathered at the Auckland Town Hall on Monday September 17, 2014. Investigation by Selwyn Manning. THE PRIME MINISTER JOHN KEY’s admission on Wednesday that whistleblower Edward Snowden “may...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • No way – Key admits Snowden is right
    After claiming there was no middle ground. After claiming there was no mass surveillance. After calling Glenn Greenwald a henchman and a loser. After all the mainstream media pundits screamed at Kim’s decision to take his evidence to Parliamentary Privileges...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Bad luck National
    ...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • The incredible changing John Key story on mass spying – why the Moment of...
    While the mainstream media continue to try and make the Moment of Truth about Kim’s last minute decision to prolong his battle against John Key past the election into the Privileges Committee, the reality is that the Moment of Truth...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Themes of the Campaign
    There’s one area of a political campaign that just about everyone, at some point, falls afoul of. The campaign song. I’m not sure quite why it is, but it seems to be almost impossible for political parties to come up...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • GUEST BLOG – Denis Tegg – The NSA slides that prove mass surveillance
    The evidence presented by Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden on The Intercept of mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB is undeniable, and can stand on its own. But when you place this fresh evidence in the context of...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland
    The Ukrainian civil war discomforts me. It seems to me the most dangerous political crisis since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. And it’s because of our unwillingness to examine the issues in a holistic way. We innately prefer to...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • John Key’s love affair with a straw man – the relationship intensifies
    John Key’s love affair with the straw man is now a fully-committed relationship. It’s now the first love of his life. Sorry Bronagh. Yesterday I pointed to Key’s constant assurances that there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • A brief word on why Wendyl Nissen is a hero
    Wendyl Nissen is a hero. The sleazy black ops attack on her by Slater and Odgers on behalf of Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich is sick. All Nissen is doing in her column is point out the filth and...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!
    . . NZ, Wellington, 15 September – ‘Tina’* is 50, a close friend,  and one of the “Missing Million” from the last election. In fact, ‘Tina’ has never voted in her life.  Not once. In ‘Tina’s’ own words, politics has...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Eminem sues National Party for unlawful use of ‘Lose yourself’ bhahahah...
    …ahahahahahahahaha. Oh Christ this is hilarious… National Party sued over Eminem copyright infringment US rapper Eminem is suing the National Party for allegedly breaching copyright by using his song Lose Yourself in its campaign advertisements. The Detroit-based publishers of Eminem’s...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Are the Greens about to be snookered by a Labour-NZ First Government?
    I wrote last week that it was smart politics that the Greens pointed out they could work with National, the soft blue vote that’s looking for a home in the wake of Dirty Politics isn’t going to Labour, so the...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Daily Election Update #12: NZ First to hold balance of power
    Winston Peters’ NZ First Party will hold the balance of power after tomorrow’s election, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. Mr Peters is then expected to back a National-led...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Election Day is Time to Refocus on Policies
    Over the course of this election campaign there has been a lot of focus on dirty politics and spying, and not a lot on policy. With election day looming, Gareth Morgan is calling for people to refocus on the issues....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • The Kiwi FM Alternative Election Commentary
    Saturday 20 September from 7pm on 102.2 Auckland, 102.1 Wellington, 102.5 Canterbury, or KiwiFM.co.nz...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Beneficiary Bashing unacceptable
    Kay Brereton of the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand says “ the comment made by Bill English yesterday comparing beneficiaries to crack addicts is shocking and incredibly poorly timed.”...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • UN Experience Beneficial
    Acclaim Otago representatives have just completed their participation at the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability examination of the New Zealand government in Geneva, Switzerland. "It was an interesting two days which we believe has...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Changing face of NZ should be reflected in newsrooms
    With Fairfax Media’s Journalism Intern search closing on Sunday, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is urging aspiring journalists from Maori, Pacific and ethnic communities to apply. The deadline was recently extended to 10pm, Sunday...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • SPCA expresses concern over toxin in waterways
    Ric Odom CEO of Royal NZ SPCA has expressed concern over the toxic poison 1080 entering waterways, but DoC, Council’s and Ministry of Health have colluded to make it legal....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • NZ 2014 Election Index – 13-18 September
    Below is iSentia’s final weekly Election Index, covering the period 13-18 September and showing the relative amount of coverage of nine Party Leaders in the lead up to the National Election across news media and social media. The methodology used...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Epsom Candidate (Adam Holland) More Liberal Than ACT
    For the past four years I, like 500,000 other New Zealanders, have been illegally smoking cannabis for medicinal purposes and/or even just for the occasional laugh with friends on the weekend. We don't hurt anybody, we don't cause nuisance, we...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Left Coalition Will Save Dolphins
    A left coalition would safeguard both Māui and Hector’s dolphins, as well as revive our inshore ecosystems. Labour, Internet Mana and the Green Party all have strong policies in place for dolphin protection. The Maori Party, and to a certain...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Waihoroi Shortland: Ngāti Hine is not standing alone
    The Chairman of Te Rūnanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Sonny Tau is blowing smoke worthy of a Dotcom rally with claims that Ngati Hine is standing alone in its opposition to Tūhoronuku says the Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngati...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Oceania voices on environment loud and strong
    While money and energy continues to be spent on global talks about climate change, Pacific islanders are scrambling to build sea walls out of sticks, stones, shells and coral, to protect their lands and homes from erosion and rising sea...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Prime Time with Sean Plunket – Tonight
    No MPs tonight --- the campaign will be over at 9 30. Instead we will look back --- and possibly forward on what we have learned and what might happen. Listener Political Columnist Jane Clifton Editor in Chief, NZ Herald,...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Election fails to address youth financial wellbeing
    Young people don’t feel included in New Zealand’s financial success and believe inequality is a problem, according to a new survey conducted by Westpac’s Fin-Ed Centre at Massey University....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Winston’s Waffle doesn’t hide the facts
    The Conservative Party is celebrating the ASA's finding announced today that rejected all but one of the complaints raised against its controversial “Conservatives or Peters” pamphlet. “Despite pages of complaints from Peters legal team the only...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • NZ Independent Coalition looking forward to tomorrow
    “Our team is looking forward to tomorrow. It is a real opportunity to reclaim politics for the people,” said NZ Independent Coalition leader Brendan Horan....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Insights Issue 35/2014 – 19 September 2014
    Insights Issue 35/2014 - 19 September 2014 In This Issue • RMA reform the golden unicorn of policy | Jenesa Jeram...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Special voting arrangements made for NIWA crew
    One of the most unusual polling stations for this year’s general election is in the middle of the ocean miles from land. NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa, has been doubling as a polling booth for crew and scientists at sea....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Tourism operators urged to vote strategically
    Tourism operators should make sure they know their local candidates’ view on tourism and use their vote to support the country’s second largest export industry, says Chris Roberts, Chief Executive, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA)....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • WGTN: March for free education
    We are students, university staff, and members of the community. Whichever parties form a government after September 20th, we are demanding an end to corporatisation of education....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Evidence of Corruption a National Scandal
    Internet Party leader Laila Harré will take evidence of corruption to international forums if there is not a full Royal Commission to investigate the growing evidence of the systematic use and abuse of democratic institutions and processes for political...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Govt continues to throw money at charter school experiment
    Official documents reveal the three primary sector charter schools approved last week will cost $2 million to set up as well as divert another $1.5 million of potential taxpayer investment from local state schools next year....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • ACT Final Election Rally
    Elections campaigns are an opportunity for political parties to put candidates and policy to enable voters to choose what sort of New Zealand we want. In this campaign there have been three tests by which you can assess the electoral...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Taxpayers on Hook Again for Solid Energy
    Responding to the Fairfax article that taxpayers are extending another $103 million to keep Solid Energy afloat, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Invermay Petition Tops 10,000 Signatures
    People across New Zealand continue to express their disgust at the downgrading of Invermay, says Dunedin North MP David Clark, as the Save Invermay petition he instigated earlier this year topped the 10,000 signature mark just days before the 2014...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • McVicar vows to continue fight for police
    Garth McVicar stated at a public meeting last week that he would fight to retain a 24/7 Police Station in Napier and no reduction in the number of police staff for the Hawkes Bay region, some said he was simply...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Party Vote Our Weapon in Fight Against Government Corruption
    Internet MANA urges New Zealanders to use their party vote to confront corruption in any new government....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Election day is tomorrow – make sure you’re a part of it!
    Tomorrow, Saturday 20 September, is election day, and New Zealanders’ last chance to have a say on who leads the country for the next three years....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Is the Shape of our Government out of the hands of Voters?
    In the last stuff.co.nz / Ipsos Political Poll before Saturdays election, National is down 5.1% to 47.7% and Labour up 3.7% to 26.15%. These results are remarkably similar to the 2011 election where National received 47.3% of the vote and...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Spirit of Suffrage a Call to Action for All Kiwi Women
    Internet MANA is drawing on the courage and integrity of New Zealand women on Suffrage Day – Friday, September, 19 – to encourage them to pay tribute to the spirit of their foremothers who gained women the vote....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Live Election Night Coverage on TV And Online
    Māori Television’s KOWHIRI 2014 – ELECTION SPECIAL kicks off at 7.00pm this Saturday with a five-hour broadcast focusing on the Māori electorates....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Judge’s Decision Disappoints Fish & Game
    Today’s decision to give a Temuka man 100 hours of community service for selling sports fish to the public has disappointed Fish & Game, which believes the sentence handed down was “too lenient and will not go far enough to...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Cutting-Edge Graphics Fire up TV3’s Election Night Coverage
    TV3’s Election Night coverage, hosted by John Campbell, will be enhanced by cutting-edge graphics that will showcase the night’s results....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Govt rushes to open charter schools in New Year
    The government’s decision to approve four new charter schools last week to open in January next year goes against the Minister of Education’s own advice that the schools ought to have at least a year’s preparation time....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • 7 Days And Jono And Ben at Ten Hijack Election Weekend
    The 7 Days and Jono and Ben at Ten (JABAT) comedians are running their own version of election coverage, with a schedule of entertainment and comedy across TV3, Kiwi FM, the web and social media this Friday and Saturday under...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Fewer Prisoners Equals Less Crime
    In its latest blog, ‘Abolishing Parole and other Crazy Stuff’,’ at http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/09/krill-and-womble-independent-policy.html , Rethinking Crime and Punishment urges government to rethink its approach to releasing prisoners. “The public expectation is that the excellent reductions in the crime...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • McVicar slams his political opponents
    I want a safe and prosperous society and that can only be achieved if we have strong and vi-brant families – McVicar...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Falling economic growth – wage rises overdue
    “The lower GDP growth in the three months to June is further evidence that growth has peaked. New Zealand’s economy is on the way down to mediocre growth rates,” says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. “Yet wage rises are still weak...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Get Out and Vote campaign a success
    Tens of thousands of workers from all around New Zealand have embraced the Get Out and Vote campaign and have created their own personalised voting plan, the CTU said today. “With three days of voting left in the 2014 General...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Animal Research Failing – So Do More Animal Research?
    Victoria University of Wellington is about to host a lecture on why the success rates of pharmaceutical development is so low and what can be done about it. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) welcomes discussion on this important...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • ALCP welcomes Prime Minister’s cannabis comments
    Mr Abbott's comments came on the same day as New South Wales and Victoria states announced they would be doing clinical trials of cannabis....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Conservative Party Press Secretary Resignation
    The Conservative Party is given to understand that this morning Press Secretary, Miss Rachel Macgregor resigned althought no formal advice of this has yet been received....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • By ACT’s logic, Epsom should vote for Conservative Candidate
    “Polling released late in the campaign shows that ACT is a busted flush and that by ACT’s own logic, centre-right Epsom voters should vote for the Conservative candidate”, says Labour candidate for Epsom Michael Wood....
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • New online medical system
    Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is seeking registrations of interest for a new onshore panel physician network to support an online immigration health processing system....
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • Students, You Have a Choice, Vote!
    The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) is imploring students to ensure they make their voices heard this election, and join the many thousands who have already heeded the call....
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • Party vote ACT for three years of stability.
    Voters who are concerned that on the latest polls we may be heading for three years of instability have it in their hands to deliver a decisive result....
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • Women’s Suffrage Movement – Get Out and Vote!
    Tomorrow, Friday 19th September, MANA Movement Candidate for Waiariki, Annette Sykes, will cast her vote at 12 noon at the Zen’s Building, Rotorua. This will follow a march through Rotorua that will assemble at 10am at City Focus, Rotorua. The...
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • iPredict Daily Update
    David Cunliffe and Labour have made gains over the last 24 hours, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict, but John Key’s National is still strongly expected to lead the next...
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • Conservative’s Proposal to Abolish Parole Fatally Flawed
    The Conservative Party’s proposal to abolish parole doesn't stack up, however which way you look at it, concludes Kim Workman in Rethinking Crime and Punishment latest blog, ‘Abolishing Parole and Other Crazy Stuff’ at http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/09/krill-and-womble-independent-policy.html...
    Scoop politics | 17-09
  • Special Edition : The letter 18 September 2014
    Dr Jamie Whyte has been giving thoughtful speeches largely unreported. So we thought we would put out an edited version on the speech he gave yesterday. The full speech is on the website....
    Scoop politics | 17-09
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