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Government cuts bite back

Written By: - Date published: 6:42 am, November 13th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: farming, food, labour - Tags: , , ,

So our kiwifruit industry is in peril.  PSA may be here to stay, vines may start being burnt today, and a $1.36 billion industry is in trouble.

Last year National sacked 54 front-line biosecurity staff, and slashed the budgets by millions.

The PSA (Public Service Association) warned at the time that inevitably disease and pests would get through, and that we’d lose the skilled people to even replace those staff when needed.

In September 2009 Federated Farmers knew to be wary of the government wanting to spread pest eradication costs – they knew that when the weakened front line inevitably failed, they’d then have to pay.

The Hadda beetle arrived in January, and there were more warnings, as potato and tomato industries were threatened.

And last month, before this disease was discovered, Labour and Federated Farmers were calling for an independent review after a further 2 types of pest had got in during the year.

It’s all been so predictable, it’s all playing with the future of our farm/orchard dependent country, and it’s only going to get worse with all the visitors coming for the Rugby World Cup next year…

24 comments on “Government cuts bite back”

  1. salsy 1

    Labour needs to really get some milage out of this. Its another example of very, very poor judgement by the Nats. “Balancing the environment with the economy” – one of their Key policies – epic fail.

  2. tea 2

    PSA is undoubtedly the fault of the evil Australian actors union,. As a result we need to pass quick legislation to clarify the situation.

    More from the party that brought you leaky home and deregulation!

    I wonder how Gerry is going in Christchurch with no oversight and unlimited power?

    • ianmac 2.1

      Bill English on automatic said in the House today, “PSA is the fault of the previous Labour Government. They had nine long years of mismanagement, wasted money and reckless borrowing and ……” 🙂

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    But but but but co-relation doesn’t equal causation!1!

    Tea’s on to it!

    All these damn bugs are unionised, david’s got the emails!! It’s all just a damnable Gramscian plot to make the guvmint look bad I tells ya.

  4. Bob Stanforth 4

    Given there are investigations underway regarding whether it – PSA – has been around for much longer than expected, might be a little bit early to start saying the sky is falling and its Nationals fault. Records of previous viral outbreaks and infestations are being reviewed right now.

    Just think, if those previous outbreaks are proven to have taken place during Labours watch, wow, huge headline. Not.

    How pathetic. Watching the flailing is still, however, compelling viewing. Keep posting, its a right giggle.

    Maybe instead of making capital from a situation like this, it might be best to be quiet and see what transpires. Or is waiting for facts not sport enough?

    • freedom 4.1

      No-one is saying there have not been earlier incidents, and of course some happened under previous governments, even Labour one’s. Big deal!

      The issue is National’s funding cuts led directly to the gutting of the monitoring programme. This means there was less monitoring, hence more opportunity for full outbreaks , like what is currently happening.

      How is that too difficult for you to comprehend?

      These are short life infestations that cause prolific damage, do not suddenly arise after two years of dormancy, are very difficult to recover from.

      “Trying to save money by playing Russian Roulette on the New Zealand border is worse than false economy; it’s putting our economy at serious risk.”

    • salsy 4.2

      @Bob
      Even if PSA arrived under Labour’s watch, it serves to further the arguement that National must not cut costs in biosecurity. If those outbreaks occur within a well funded, robust organisation – think what can happen in one financially crippled, and without rescource.

    • bbfloyd 4.3

      that was weak, even for you bob.. isn’t it about time you just got with reality long enough to realise there is more to life than partisan politics?

      • Bob Stanforth 4.3.1

        You do realise the irony of your post, on this site, in response to mine, right?

        • freedom 4.3.1.1

          BOB
          , and from your regular dialogues here I do see a resemblance to the star of Monsters and Aliens, except the animated film star is a little more astute than you are and has better lines

          The Standard, IMHO, is the only political site in the New Zealand blogsphere that welcomes all equally, regardless of personal flag-waving fanboy status. It is my opinion that what escapes from your mind is more important than who lied to you less in the last election.
          The Standard has shown itself to be concerned with where our contributions can take the discussions on New Zealand.

          do you follow the context of that word? ‘contribution’,
          Only asking because very few Nacters seem aware of it outside of Political Party Dinners, so wanted to check you were not confused
          P.S.
          I don’t support any party in the current NZ climate (esp. since CERRA) and I believe we will have a stronger Government if Independants were voted in
          At any rate, the shit that goes on sure wouldn’t get any worse

  5. Good post and thanks,
    The association between the cuts and outbreak needs to be highlighted because it was inevitable and avoidable. The argument that PSA has been around a long time and is somehow attributed to the previous government is a pathetic attempt to cover up the consequences of callous cost cutting by national. I’m looking forward to msm scrutiny on this disaster.

    • salsy 5.1

      Agreed. Hoping to see Rod Oram get involved, he creates a good arguement for protecting NZ biodiversity as the underpinning of our economic future. No one an argue that cutting DOC funding by 50million, and lapsing Biosecutiry could ever be in the interests of a small commodities driven country like NZ – Its criminally negliglient.

  6. Joe Bloggs 6

    Posters at The Standard have shown restraint and commonsense up until now – not posting about Psa. Phil Goff hasn’t shown that restraint or cvommonsense and has been left stranded like a mudfish.

    There are a heap of major issues with this post

    1. Given the increasingly widespread nature of the disease and the comments from growers about recognising the symptoms, the disease has been here for more than 2 years. Kiwifruit Growers president Peter Ombler says that it’s possible Psa has been present in New Zealand for up to 10 years.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10686691

    2. do you remember the Varroa Bee Mite? Happened on Labour’s watch …
    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/varroa

    3. do you remember Didymo? happened on Labour’s watch …
    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/didymo

    4. do you remember Didemnum/Sea Squirt? Happened on Labour’s watch …
    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/didemnum

    5. do you remember the South African Brown Mussel? Happened on Labour’s watch …
    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/perna-perna

    There are plenty more examples of unwanted pests making their way into New Zealand under both National and Labour governments.

    This is just another cheap shot from the opposition – white-anting hyperbole that does nothing to help; cheap, pathetic and gutless.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      So obviously, cutting biosecurity resources is the way to go. Right morans?

      • felix 6.1.1

        So-called “bio-security” is a c0mmunist plot. Leave it to the market to sort it out.

        We should be glad that the insects are taking such an interest in our produce. It’s xenophobic to exclude them from our markets just because they’re exoskeletal.

    • lprent 6.2

      Ummm…

      A simple question – do you think it is a good idea to reduce biosecurity staffing levels?

      That is the question I see in this post. It is also the question you ignored… Instead we got your Bill English impersonation

      • tea 6.2.1

        and don’t forget- biosecurity is less important than having to wait for 20 minutes in the queue if you are coming from Aussie! John boy organised that one himself

      • Bob Stanforth 6.2.2

        Not at all – but linking that with PSA outbreak is hugely tentative and most likely spurious – and truly pathetic.

        But keep going, its so much fun to watch. The writhing of the tortured soul is amazing, the death rattle will be a beauty!! 🙂

      • Joe Bloggs 6.2.3

        Instead we got your Bill English impersonation
        Thanks for the compliment.

        Clearly the change in funding for biosecurity staffing levels is of no great relevance – it’s quite clear that there were biosecurity breaches during times of high spend (when Labour was squandering the tax take) as well as during times of lower spend on front line staffing.

        Pascal’s Bookie refers to correlation versus causation – when you look at the biosecurity breaches dispassionately there isn’t even a correlation between the number of breaches and front line staffing.

        The question posed in this post is immaterial to the issue of the Psa outbreak. And in answer to your question I support the more effective use of public funds; if that means reducing biosecurity front line staff because technology has become more effective then I’m all for it.

        • blacksand 6.2.3.1

          Instead we got your Bill English impersonation
          Thanks for the compliment.

          Clearly the change in funding for biosecurity staffing levels is of no great relevance – it’s quite clear that there were biosecurity breaches during times of high spend

          one of the sad things is that you really don’t get how or why being compared to Bill English is not a compliment. You follow it up by demonstarting just how idiotic an analysis you think suffices. Are you actually that stupid, that you can say that there’s no difference in the effectiveness of staffing levels, just because there were breaches when there was more support for frontline work?

          Reducing frontline staffing levels because the technology has become more effective? It hasn’t occured to you that with better technology you could get better frontline results from the same money? Your sort of thinking is exactly why our productivity increasingly lags behind Australia – idiots who don’t actually want to improve anything other than what it cost to output the supposed same. So cutting the resources to do what we can to protect a whole lot of chunks of the agricultural/ silvicultural/ horticultural sectors of our economy makes sense because some plonker has decided it’s more effective use our public money. Would love to see the cost benefit analysis of that one. Oh that’s right, no cuts to the front line; just wasn’t going to happen…

          • Joe Bloggs 6.2.3.1.1

            take a chill pill baby….

            You clearly have no idea about the effects of randomness and as a result you see causality where none exists. The Deputy Head of MAF Biosecurity no less has said that these events happen irrespective of screening protocols.

            • blacksand 6.2.3.1.1.1

              You clearly have no idea about the effects of randomness and as a result you see causality where none exists.

              Wow. You clearly have no idea of the effective use of public funds in a field where constancy and randomness need to be balanced. FYI, I work in biosecurity, in an area where you have to balance getting better data about what you don’t know with progressing the various infrastructures to respond to potential threats. The thing about applied ecology is that it’s not just random; there are strong tendencies that may not tell you exactly what you’re looking for (how far will a stoat move in a given day, where will the bulk of an invasive vine’s seed disperse across the period of its mature phase…), but will indicate where you best put your efforts.

              This is what the incoming Government calls bureaucracy. This analysis is strongly dependant on the information you have from the front line, and feeds back to front line deployment. It also feeds back what further research is needed, and when you know that, you can begin looking at what further needed research will be the most effective, which by and large will return more effective use of resources.

              What the government have done, and what you seem to think is a bright idea, is cut front line staff. Going by what you’re saying, that’s fine; you seem to think it’s a zero sum game. What you are saying that is particularly idiotic, is that there were breaches before the cuts, and breaches after – therefore no change. You are then further saying that this vindicates cuts to front line staff as staffing levels are clearly having no impact.

              Do you really not get how thick this is? You’re right in a very limited sense; it is not possible to attribute this (or any) particular outbreak to cuts in frontline staff. The point being made by Bunji is that cutting frontline staff will inevitably mean that the ability to detect threats will decrease. This will mean that our primary production sector (or at least the biosphere part of it, kind of a big chunk…) will be more vulnerable to threats.

              You do get that cutting front line staff means cutting the ability to intercept random events, don’t you?

              The politicians that you are being compared to remind me of the worst managers I’ve ever had to deal with – they don’t have any clue about what they are managing other than telling people that they have to do more with less. They also don’t have a clue that when there is more that needs to be done, by retaining staff and improving systems, you can do more with the same. Experience staff and sytems respond to emergencies better.

              I somehow doubt that these frontline cuts have been decided by ministers understanding their portfolios well enough to know where it is a good idea to trim. They spent the last election campaign harping on about all the savings they were going to make by trimming fat, and sure enough the only cuts they can make are into muscle and so be it.

              You do recall Bill English’s line by line highly paid razor gang who found 2/5ths of SFA that they could cut, don’t you?

              Thick as pigshit.

        • lprent 6.2.3.2

          Ummm.. It wasn’t a compliment.

          Now we get your John Key impersonation – waffling around a question without saying anything that might commit you to anything.

          So if I understand you correctly through the waffle, you could extend your argument to say that we should have no biosecurity at all. You seem to be saying that because there are some breaches even with biosecurity staff, then the breaches that they prevent are irrelevant? Is that correct?

          I’m going to be interested in who you imitate from the National pathenon this time..

  7. tc 7

    It’s not about cuts to frontline or anything of the sort…..it’s a labour/greens conspiracy designed to undermine the strength and vision of this awesome NACT gov’t.

    Well everything else that’s bad seems to be according to sideshow and his clowns.

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