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Open Mike 24/05/2017

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 24th, 2017 - 78 comments
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78 comments on “Open Mike 24/05/2017”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    A Mark Jennings (formerly of Mediaworks & TV3) article on Newsroom, about the changes that have been made at RNZ.

    He makes a point that the changes at RNZ should result in ending RNZ’s funding freeze in this week’s budget. Myself, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    I think it’s great that RNZ are moving away from a siloed approach and linking with other media organisations,a s well as using video to great effect. The danger in doing this, is in loss of editorial independence to the commercial imperatives of RNZ’s commercial media associations.

    This bit on the approach used by Guyon Espiner is interesting:

    The early days of the Espiner/Ferguson combo were rocky. Morning Report’s ratings were in the doldrums after RNZ misjudged its coverage of the 2014 Election campaign.

    Espiner concedes his tone was a problem: “I think too often I was too aggressive and that turned people off. I was striving for accountability but that turned into ugly exchanges.”

    “I got quite a lot of feedback that it was terrible to listen to. Paul [Thompson] and Martin [Gibson] spoke to us about it, there were conversations but they let us work this stuff out on our own.”

    The change in style hasn’t been dramatic but much of the bluntness and haranguing has gone. The show is a smooth and comprehensive three hours of news and current affairs, unrivalled by any competitor.

    Espiner says he and Ferguson have tried to use more “humour and humanity” when eliciting information.

    I agree that haranguing interviewees could be a turn off for many Kiwis. The concern is that, using humour and humanity” needs to be done carefully in order to hold those in power to account. Kim Hill can do it. Can Espiner?

    • ianmac 1.1

      But on important issues holding politicians to account is vital in a democracy. So does that mean that wriggly patronising ratbags like Joyce should be treated politely and with humour and with humanity? As it is Ministers fail to front up on RNZ but if they know that the interview will not be rigorous then they will smarm their way onto the airwaves.

    • Bearded Git 1.2

      @ Carolyn Agreed.

      To me it looks like the pro-National RNZ management leaned on Espiner to back-off because he was actually forcing the pollies, especially the Nats, to give answers. We can’t have that can we?

  2. bwaghorn 2

    hay Weka is there any truth to the rumour that the green s ”organic farmer ” candidate John Hart is really an it consultant with a 20 ha lifestyle block.?

    [1. why are you asking me? 2. This conversation has run long enough re Hart and unsubstantiated speculation. If you want to discuss John Hart and his farming, you now need to put up some links with evidence. Putting you in premed until you do. Otherwise withdraw the accusations, and then you can continue the conversation in the general about what is farming without reference to him – weka]

    • AsleepWhileWalking 2.1

      Can you not be both?

      • bwaghorn 2.1.1

        i wouldn’t call 20 ha a farm if its sheep and beef as it would be unviable[it’s a nice hobbie} .also you can’t prove organic farming is viable if you fund the farm from the outside , imo

        • weka

          It’s interesting to consider what farming is. For me it’s not how you are defining. It’s simply when someone grows on the land with primary purpose of providing food or other useful things for other people. As opposed to growing things on the land for one’s own use. Size has nothing to do with it. There are people urban farming on less than an acre.

          If you are objecting to him calling himself a farmer because he can’t get all his income off what he grows, then I’d suggest we take a look at how conventional farming gets subsidised in various ways. And how many subsidised inputs they need.

          Likewise organic viability. For me the test is whether one can grow actual food (etc) using organic principles and then market that. The model you are talking about is inherently unsustainable, so it’s hard to see why one would want to make organics (really, the lowest of sustainable ag) to that test. But of course there are plenty of large organic farms doing just fine and have been doing so for decades.

          • bwaghorn

            from me at 2.2.1
            ”,(though it doesn’t have to be all their income)”

    • 20 hectares isn’t a farm, bwaghorn?
      How about 25? 30? 300? What hectarage is needed before your “farm” status is reached, I wonder? I’ve been surprised, over the years, to watch and hear “conventional” farmers belittle farmers who choose unconventional methods of farming; it amazes me that the industry would have infighting like that. I’m not saying you do this, just that it happens. I previously imagined that farmers would exhibit a strong “brother or sisterhood” and support all practitioners of the ancient art of farming, but no, divisions are rife. I wonder why that is? In any case, you sound as though you’ve got a sniff of something exciting up your nostrils – “really” an it consultant with a 20 ha lifestyle block? Pffttt! He’s no farmer and in any case, organic. That’s not real farming.

      • bwaghorn 2.2.1

        Under the current settings a real farm is one that pays all its own costs plus provides the person running it a dividend,(though it doesn’t have to be all their income) if Mr Hart is not getting that from his block he is just arming the anti greens with ammo by billing himself as a organic farmer.
        And yes size matters
        20ha of fruit would be a different story

        • Robert Guyton

          “Under the current settings a real farm is one that…”
          Can you link me to those “current settings”, I don’t recall seeing them. Ditto for the size question; a link to that information would be most valuable. In my ignorance, I didn’t know that there was a minimum size for a farm, nor did I know that dividends were a measure, nor that unprofitibility mean’t disqualification from farm status. Cheers, bwaghorn.

        • Sacha

          When farms start paying the full costs of the pollution they impose on the environment, then you can try that equation.

          • bwaghorn

            I wonder if Mr Hart can fit enough trees on his 20 Hectares to mitigate his flying round the country consulting in it land? as well as the nasty farts his cows are emitting
            or does he buy some eastern european carbon credits

            • Robert Guyton

              So yours is an attack on Mr Hart, not a general questioning of what constitutes a farm. I too wonder if Mr Hart is as assiduous as the Green MPs with mitigating their flights. He’s only a candidate still, so we’d be expecting a lot from him in that regard. Still, good question, bwaghorn, I expect you’ll want to know whether Bill English, who knows full well the situation with aviation fuel and its role in accelerating climate change, mitigates his flying and requires his National Party MPs to act responsibly. Note on “it land” – most consulting would be done, I imagine, on line? Correct me if I’m wrong; “IT” is kind of a remote thing to most people, I’d have said. And “nasty farts”? – revealing some sort of Victorian prudishness there, or do you really find farts to be nasty. In any case, Mr Hart would surely steer you straight about belching, rather than farting, being the primary delivery vehicle of methane from ruminant animals; it’s the sort of stuff clued-up farmers know. Your reference to “eastern european carbon credits”, I’m guessing, must be intended as a slight on the National Party, given they’ve mired themselves in their purchase and are being slated for that in the news just now. Your arguments seem all over the show, bwaghorn, but it might be that I’m misreading you.

              • bwaghorn

                ”misreading you.”
                no your misleading me and others away from the very simple question i asked at the start.
                sasha was jumping in with horse shit so i thought i’d throw a bit back

                • Your “very simple question” was too vague to be answered simply, bwaghorn. I’m guessing you farm. I know you comment on blogs. Though it’s said you are a farmer, rumour has it you’re really a blog commenter! True or not?

                  • If you work on a farm you are a farm worker not a farmer? Farm workers know about working on a farm but not much about farming how could they they are just farm workers. A hobby/lifestyle farmer knows more than most farm workers because they have to think within tight confines and do it not just do what the farmer says to do. ☺

                    • weka

                      I would say each in their own field. Farm workers build up some impressive skills and varying levels of responsibility.

                    • Of course – I’m poking waggy to show how flawed his reasoning in his original post was.

                    • “poking waggy”

                      That made me laugh out loud. Gotta go; got a kid’s “nature club” to lead; we’re out on the sands of the estuary, feeding whelks today; that’s more gruesome than you can imagine, and they love it!

        • mpledger

          Many dairy farmers at the moment wouldn’t meet your definition of a farmer.

          I suspect a lot of farmers are in the red pretty nearly all the time.

      • Bearded Git 2.2.2

        Around 1000 ha is the minimum for a genuine farm in Central Otago

        • Robert Guyton

          That doesn’t sound like a very efficient use of the land, bearded, especially in light of Stuart Munroe’s comment about the size of some Asian farms. What are they “growing”

          • Bearded Git

            Sheep mostly, some cattle, some cropping.

            • Robert Guyton

              Anyone on a smaller block profitably producing something else?

              • Bearded Git

                Not much around here (Wanaka area). Wheat on one farm, several vineyards on not particularly large lots; some walnuts. Mostly sheep, cattle and one large dairy farm….and heaps of creeping residential subdivision gradually eating up the landscape but producing the same or less than when part of a larger farm.

                • It can be done though, profitability from a block smaller than 1000 ha?
                  Tough, admittedly, in a degraded landscape. Around Alexandra looks like a moonscape but perhaps there are crops; thyme, grapes, saffron that could return good profit from an arid farm. I agree that there are critical dimensions for a farm that’s running ruminants; perhaps they’re the problem?

                  • weka

                    lol, that was sneaky.

                    Do you know the Hobbs near Roxburgh? 25+ years of organic orcharding. Can’t remember how big their place is, but it’s small. They sell everything from the gate or via direct selling to customers. Large variety of fruits coming on over the season. Very cool model.


                    • Very cool, and living at Hercules Flat – great address! I’m growing apricots from that area, heritage ones collected by an elderly Roxburgh orchardist from trees that somehow remain. She sent the pits to me, all sucked clean, in a box 🙂

                    • weka


                      While we’re on the subject of real farming, the Real Farmers are busy pulling out the mature orchards further down in the Teviot Valley and putting in dairy cows. Unreal.

                    • All that will change; shame about the trees though. I enjoy discussions around farming. I’ve been putting together a possible guest post that begins:
                      “The most pernicious, aggressive and destructive invasive plant in the history of New Zealand; the plant that has usurped, displaced, and rendered near-extinct our unique native flora, is ryegrass, the pasture species chosen by farmers in their ongoing battle to dominate the natural world.”
                      How do you think that might fly, weka, and will bwaghorn be freed from moderation in time to engage in meaningful discussion? 🙂

                    • weka

                      I look forward to that! (and yes I expect b will extricate himself in time).

                      The thing that bothers me about the orchards is that it takes a year to chop them down and put in cows, but much longer when we need to go back the other way (esp given we don’t know how climate change will affect farming). A mature orchard is not something to be killed lightly. Stop trying to grow money and grow food instead, grrr.

                      Not that I need to tell you any of that, but maybe someone else is reading 🙂

                  • Bearded Git

                    Much more profitable to chop it up unfortunately, and Nationals RMA reforms (backed by the Maori Party-may they rot in hell) mean that this is easier to do.

              • bwaghorn

                purchase price would be the defining point as to how economic a block is, and unfortunately the smaller they are usually the more costly they are.

    • bwaghorn 2.3

      you put him up as proof of the greens inclusiveness the other day so i thought you might know , if you don’t like my approach ban away .

    • greywarshark 2.4

      Having a go at tenants. And some smart female lawyer so cool that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, explains how tenants can now demand details of the landlord’s insurance blah blah… as if they were on an equal footing.

      I imagine the conversation between landlord and prospective tenant:
      “Tell me, my good man, have you reasonable insurance in case of our causing a mishap, and how much excess would there be for us to pay?”
      “Oh fuck off, I don’t want the likes of you causing trouble.”

      The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2), introduced to Parliament yesterday, implements changes meaning tenants will have to pay their landlord’s insurance excess if they have caused damage due to carelessness….

      “The changes are needed to ensure tenants have an incentive to take good care of a property, and for the landlord to have appropriate insurance,” Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith said.

      But Renters United spokeswoman Kate Day said the proposed law was unfair on tenants, who were already paying rent that factored in costs for the landlord such as rates and insurance.
      “We see insurance costs as part of the cost to the landlord of running the business of a rental property,” she said.
      “They pass those costs onto the renters, so the renters already pay the costs of the insurance. It’s not fair that the renter pay twice – through their rent, then through the excess as well.”

      The proposed law caps the amount charged for excess at four times the weekly rent.
      Tenants will still be liable for damage caused intentionally.

    • Bill 2.5

      Is there any truth to the rumour that seems a fair enough question, but no idea why you’d ask for clarification from a specific individual. What’s that about?

      you can’t prove (show?) organic farming is viable if you fund the farm from the outside , imo

      Yes and no. Within the current economic paradigm, it’s true that “viability” is measured in monetary terms. But there are plenty of meaningful ways to measure viability and there’s a cogent argument that current paradigms run counter to those other measures.

      So what if by non-monetary measures something is viable, but not viable in terms of the measures provided by current contexts? Should we throw away the context or the otherwise viable project/enterprise/hobby?

      Purchasing off-sets. Best I don’t get started on that front, eh? 😉

  3. The decrypter 3

    Is Mr Fnglish a farmer? What’s a Queen street farmer?

    • bwaghorn 3.1

      if he has input into the running of the property then yes , if not then he’s a queen street farmer ie an investor , queen street farmer is a term of ridicule .

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        Queen Street farmer was a term for men who had a lot of spare money to invest who were city professionals and put that money into the new gold rush which at that time was deer farming. They drove in the city in Landrovers etc which everyone thought they had bought and written off as a tax deductible farm vehicle. So there is a lot of background to that term. (The Queen Street would be the main street in Auckland’s CBD.)

    • There will certainly be a measure, a cut-off point connected with time spent on farm, where a person, Mr Fnglish in this case, fails the “farmer” test and becomes something else. bwaghorn will know.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Many of the farms I saw in Asia were not 20 hectares – we could learn a thing or two from many of them.

    • bwaghorn 4.1

      did the owners live in a comfortable house with good health etc or were they subsistence farmers that you enjoyed gawking at from the comfort of your intrepid journey

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        I think you have unknowingly hit on the point of this argument bwaghorn.
        In Asia they were probably subsistence farmers, and living according to their means. The farmers here are getting to the point where they have leveraged themselves into poverty, living and investing beyond their means and believing that they will be able to pay it all off out of continuing profits as in the present buoyant market. They may yet end up as subsistence farmers too, and it will be their own fault, foolishness, and lack of financial discipline.

        I believe that some clear-headed financial studies find that many are farming in an extraordinarily profligate manner, and are practically insolvent, ie their farming methods and cost basis and receipts make their enterprise on present earnings, a failure. The reason could be that they have bought paid too much for land, or spent too much converting to dairy, to actually make a decent buck. Have you heard the term “He was hoist on his own petard” bwaghorn.

        Townies can feel sorry for struggling farmers, but some of us need to think and understand what their actual problem is. Perhaps my comment will encourage some informed person to come on to the post and give some background to this skewed theme, of poor, honest, hardworking farmers being unreasonably, unfairly criticised by ignorant townies living a life of ease, warmth and comfort sitting on their bums in the cities. That is partly fair criticism from farmers who actually work their own farms, but only on an 80/20 basis with 20 referring to the farmers.

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.2

        They had hanoks for the most part – low ceilinged earth walled houses with tin roofs instead of the traditional tile or thatch. The ones who had 20 hectares would also have a large two-storied house, outbuildings, multiple vehicles, and typically several sources of income – rice, table grapes, mushrooms, dogs, hand reared beef, chillis, soybeans, ginseng, baichu. These ones also often supplied customers directly to improve prices, or sold through the massive markets that are a feature of the successful Asian regional development initiatives.

        • greywarshark

          Interesting info Stuart Munro. We are going to have to learn from other countries experience as ours are so set in the ruts of the past, and are determined to learn nothing new that is applicable to our present, and forecast future. We have a government that is there on the votes of people who consider themselves learned and intelligent, but measure everything in money.

          A couple I know of are dying, but have a number of attractive houses, and are building another for something to do in the meantime. After a lifetime they end up with the same stunted ideas they grew up with and can’t see how damaging it has been for this country and the world.

          • Stuart Munro

            NZ is unfortunately a very poor learner. Our economists for example, think they are rockstars, and the balance of payments confirms that whatever they may be, they are certainly not economists.

            Our dairy is stuck in the production mentality – 1960s thinking – our fisheries are 1% of Japans. We have little or no land-based aquaculture, and virtually no intensive sustainable operations.

            It’s as if they have ignored everything written in my lifetime. We should be a model country – but we are a nation of sheep led by goats and monkeys.

            • Robert Guyton

              ” we are a nation of sheep led by goats and monkeys.”

              Have you ever wondered, Stuart, why some animals consented to domestication, where others rejected the offer? Sheep, it seems, were easy.

          • Robert Guyton

            We’re all a bit like your dying couple, Grey; finding it difficult to grasp the reality of the situation and even more difficult to change our ways to accommodate what we sense is happening; our responses are a matter of degree. The “mythical” Asian subsistence farmer would shake his or her head at our behaviour, perhaps, and wonder at our stunted ideas. Un-stunting those is the first thing we have to do. This sort of discussion helps, imo, but individuals have to do the real, background work if they are to even approach becoming grandfathers (the use of that term will puzzle you, probably, but here’s the link if you’ve the time and inclination to read the article that provided it for me 🙂


        • bwaghorn

          thanks ignoring my intrepid grumpyness, would you drink the water from the creeks in these intensive small block ares?

          [you’re in premoderatimon b, please have a look at yesterday’s moderation and respond. Thanks – weka]

          • Robert Guyton

            Can we loose him from his bounds, weka? He’s owned his surlyness and the topic is a great one 🙂

            • weka

              He’s only in premod, which means his comments will still appear, there’s just a delay until he deals with the issue I raised in moderation (or if it ignores it there will be long delays).

              Grumpyness isn’t a moderation offence 😉

              • weka

                I agree the topic is a great one and I hope he comes back soon.

              • bwaghorn

                Can you point to what accusations i made , i only see as yet unanswered questions , i would have stopped at the one first question but all the utopian dreamers leap in boots and all so i reacted..
                If people can’t see that the greens are setting themselves up for ridicule by
                billing Mr Hart as organic farmer when all he has is 20ha then they aren’t very bright.
                I’d also like to see proof of these subsidies that farming gets , i’d prefer proof of real subsidies rather than rekons from people who know fuck all.

                [the whole subthread is based on the premise that Hart runs 20 ha and is a consultant and doesn’t make a living from his farm. That is an idea that you brought into the conversation and have continued to use as the basis of your argument, even now. I have no idea if that is true or where you even got that idea from. You can either put up some evidence or acknowledge you made it up. It’s not ok to run lines about public figures that are factually incorrect, especially about candidates in election year. What is happening now is there is an ongoing conversation based on rumour. Again not ok in election year. Plenty of other ways to make your point or it should be pretty easy to provide evidence for if it is true. – weka]

                • greywarshark

                  I’m afraid that you are mired in cowpates bwaghorn. and we are thinking of beyond today, our shrinking other industries besides dairy ie they can’t get round how to make money from sheep and many farmers are putting all their eggs in the dairy basket for commodity prices, and adding to the poollution from stock. The cities have to keep their own under control with so many eyes watching them, but the red-neck country guy, the worst he has to worry about is his friendly neighbours pinching his stock.

                  The problem is not the farms being broken down into smaller less economic units as far as scale is concerned. It is farmers who are farming for a quick buck, instead of a lifestyle and business combined. It’s not for everybody but the rural population don’t need to think of themselves as bold business initiators, they are just finding ways to squeeze more money out of farms that many have paid too much for.

                  Turning your nose up at 20ha ‘farms’ is a mistake, small patches like that being intensively managed, with organic well established, with spelling and fallowing and haymaking, will be the backbone of the country when dairy goes belly up when it can’t get fertiliser and someone blows up the pipelines for the irrigation. Which will probably happen.

                • weka

                  You may very well have a point about the Greens b, and I’ll be happy to continue the conversation about that and subsidies, but not until we establish that there is actually an issue.

                • Jeeze, bwaghorn, suffering another bout of grumpyness, so soon?
                  Subsidies for farming…let’s see. How about total exemption from paying for the greenhouse gas emissions their animals produce which equal 47% of New Zealand’s total, an amount that has to be paid for with tax payer money. How is that not a subsidy, I wonder?
                  How about irrigation schemes, Ruataniwha et al. where farmers are the beneficiaries of public money through a very generous loan arrangement, not available to non-farmers? How about the exemption for all farms from the rules around contaminated land? A blanket exemption from rules that affect non-farm land? Subsidised? You bet. These are just my introductory examples. There are more that show how polluter doesn’t pay.
                  Oh, and tax. Kettle of fish.

                  • weka

                    Drought bail outs too. I’m actually in favour of people being helped by the govt during hardship, but it irks to have farmers creating drought with their farming methods and then getting help and then dissing smaller farmers who farm moderately more sustainably but apparently aren’t real farmers because they subsidise their farms themselves.

  5. Bearded Git 5

    This is what I’d like to see in Joyce’s budget. From Bernard Hickey’s May 9th article on the Newsroom:

    “..Australia’s banks have had a tough 24 hours at home with the surprise announcement in the Australian Budget of a A$6.2 billion tax on liabilities…

    Don’t hold your breath. But the Labour/Green bloc should be penciling in a similar tax in its manifesto.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Of importance on Radionz today.

    business rural
    9:28 am today
    What is the future for the sheep industry?
    From Nine To Noon, 9:28 am today
    Listen duration 19′ :28″
    Falling sheep numbers, meat works closures, low wool prices and a ban on fresh NZ lamb in some UK supermarkets – we look at the future for the sheep industry with Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre chairman Rick Powdrell and to sheep farmer, and former chair of the now defunct Meat Industry Excellence farmer group, John McCarthy.


    business environment
    9:47 am today
    What’s the deal with “trading” water?
    From Nine To Noon, 9:47 am today
    Listen duration 6′ :54

    Last night a story broke about a Christchurch wool scourer with a consent to extract 1.5 billion litres of water being sold to a foreign company – which is likely to become New Zealand’s second largest water bottler. Kathryn Ryan discusses the issue with Guy Salmon, executive director of the Ecologic Foundation.

  7. The United States and Britain are funding and arming Saudi Arabia despite knowing full well that the war it is waging in Yemen involves war crimes whereby hospitals, schools and homes are being bombed.

    How do they possibly expect to win the “War on Terrorism” when they fund and arm a despotic regime that has no time at all for human rights and bombs its smaller neighbour with flagrant disregard for civilian welfare?

    Why do we have anything to do with a despotic regime that commits the aforementioned war crimes? The Government of New Zealand is like “so what? We need to do business with them”.

  8. Ad 8

    OMG I think the US has just found a better international diplomat than Obama; killed it in Saudi, rocked it like a mensch in Jerusalem:


  9. ianmac 9

    Well well well:
    “Auditor-General Martin Matthews to stand down pending independent inquiry.
    The Offices of Parliament Committee decided unanimously to undertake an independent inquiry into Auditor-General Martin Matthews’ suitability for the position.

    He will stand down in the meantime. Review is expected to take a fortnight and will be done by Sir Martin Weevers. ”


    • Muttonbird 9.1

      Nice to see opposition pressure doing the trick again when the government wanted to sweep this under the carpet as usual.

      I expect this investigation to be another whitewash with very narrow terms of reference, though, and for Matthews to be reinstated.

    • Ad 9.2

      Great work.
      Good practise for what senior public servants should expect from a fresh government.

  10. Muttonbird 10

    Lol. Tolley backs down from yet another incredible poorly thought out idea. This pressuring of NGOs and charities aligns with Ngaro’s bullying of the same organisations at the Nats conference the other day.

    No wonder Tolley has backed down because the media have been very vocal in their criticisms of the Nats’ arrogance on this issue.


    • ianmac 10.1

      I suspect that the pressure on some of their unscrupulous activities is beginning to tell Tolley and others to back off. They have an ends justifying the means mentality.

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