Red Alert

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Tough going on the West Coast

Posted by on November 8th, 2012

Today’s news that we now have the highest jobless rate in 13 years will surprise no one on the West Coast.

Things are getting tough on the West Coast. Unfortunately through Government failures at a number of levels our communities are reeling from the loss of family in Pike River mine and jobs at Solid Energy’s mines. National hasn’t a clue what to do in the regions to stop the exodus of great people who have to leave for new work.

David Shearer has been down on the coast talking to some of the people who have lost their jobs. Here is a video of part of his chat with Darryl, who has just lost his job at the Spring Creek mine. I hope Darryl and family can find a way to stay.


Filed under: employment, jobs

Key Pikes Out

Posted by on May 30th, 2012

The CEO of Solid Energy and some engineers last night told family members of the 29 Pike River miners whose remains are trapped in the mine that there is little hope of recovery. Solid Energy doesn’t own the mine yet but was delegated the tough job of fronting the difficult task. All the families have ever asked for is the truth and if possible a recovery. Time and time again they were given assurances that everything that could be done would be done. AND money wasn’t an issue. Most were suspicious but nothing was presented to families that indicated no hope of recovery but a plan was never developed. The families have hoped and prayed for progress and we offered our support. Why then did Ministers of the Crown who promised so much were unable to front the hard truth when they knew it. The Budget took away the $5M for Pike Recovery so officials and the Prime Minister knew for months. The families deserved to know the truth when it was known not when it was convenient. We pray for and support the families as they now move through another stage of their agonizing grief. Kia kaha

Destroy Dangerous Dogs

Posted by on January 22nd, 2012

It is about time we stopped pussyfooting around and advocated and implemented the destruction of any dog and breed of dog that is considered dangerous in New Zealand. No one is allowed to carry around a loaded gun and these dogs are just that. The defenseless children are the premanent victims of this outrageous situation. If you love dogs and have to own one get an intelligent but obedient retired working dog. And rid New Zealand of these dangerous weapons


Posted by on November 24th, 2011

It is clear what the National party considers important. It has made much of social welfare reform and forcing people into work regardless of the circumstances or costs incurred. It has promised to further reduce public sector jobs in spite of promises before the last election to cap not cut those jobs. BUT have they got the guts to push the receivers of the Crafer Farms to cut their losses and sell to Landcorp so the farms can remain in NZ ownership. OR do they have the guts to tell the receivers of Pike River Mine to commit to action and recover the bodies from the mine before the sale of the mine takes place.

The National Government is too gutless to take on it’s mates with money but happy to kick around those who are so often trapped by circumstances. It’s always a question of priorities and we can see clearly theirs. New Zealanders should be outraged. The bodies of the dead miners can be recovered but the families have no power to push ahead with action. It is all in the hands of two Johns, John Fisk and John Key. It’s about time they both got “dear John” letters so New Zealand can be a better place and get our priorities sorted.


Posted by on July 25th, 2011

I thought we lived in a free democracy. Since when did a sign become illegal when expressing an opinion or encouraging people to act? Does this ban all signs at marches that may in any way be linked to a movement or political party. The EC needs to pull their heads in. This is not the 1930s in Europe.

field days special

Posted by on June 14th, 2011

I am going to the Field Days tomorrow at Mystery Creek. I have my helmut and guess I will be bombarded with views on the ETS and taxes that farmers pay. Labour has a stall in the rural lifestyle section so I look forward to meeting with a range of Kiwis who attend this great event. The hundreds of exhibitors display the range of activities that are proud to connect with rural NZ. The diversity of innovation and science based participants is always inspiring. What I do hope to discuss with as many as I can will be the proposals by the National Government to start selling our State Owned Enterprises and privatize ACC. Both these outrageous acts will result in greater costs and risks for people who live a long way from mainstream power and health facilities….. Farmers and their families. No doubt John smiling key will do his best to charm and distract attendees from these issues but I get the regular feedback that inspite of the good times for agricultural returns, farmers and business leaders are tiring of the lack of a vision, a plan or solid leadership for New Zealand. The best efforts of National Party spin doctors cannot hold back the growing unease over the weak and erratic actions of the National Government. I look forward to a couple of robust days in the heart of rural New Zealand

Pike River Families

Posted by on February 15th, 2011

John Key visited Greymouth to talk to families in an attempt to explain his appalling announcement that the mine would be sealed. This was made before the programme of drilling and investigation had been completed. It still has not been. While he has now said central government will pay for recovery costs if the receivers can’t how can we be sure?? After promising to support the community and contractors the only help so far is money for lawyers so contractors can be represented at the National governments own royal commission. The support so far for our region from a PM who promised so much has been limp and skimp.

Mum and dad

Posted by on February 8th, 2011

John Key once again tries to convince us that he will give Kiwi mums and dads preferential rights to shares in the sell off of SOEs. Well my mum and dad and everyones mum and dad owns them now !!!! What Key means is that the select number of mums and dads who received the bulk of the tax cuts will get preferential access because they are the only ones who will be able to afford to buy them. This is stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Robin Hood would be ashamed and so should every New Zealander. I know my Mum and Dad are. And theirs would be too.This is not the country my ancestors set about to build.

Selling Our Country

Posted by on January 28th, 2011

While we now know John Keys plan for NZ ….. Sell it all and give your mates a commission on the trades, there are alarming moves in the private sector also. Banks are squeezing businesses and foreign investors are lining up to take control of some of our important sectors. A recent announcement that Agria, an Asian company is applying to raise it’s stake in PGWrightsons from 19% to 51% is one more such move. PGwrightsons is our biggest primary sector service company and benefits from a huge part of every activity in our primary economy. The silence by farmers and their leaders has been concerning also. People must realize that the land is important but only part of our rural economy. The businesses that operate on and associated with it need also to be owned by us unless we are prepared to be servants to our future, not the owners of it.
Put this with John Keys selloff of SOEs and we should be worrying. Time to vote this Tory Government out of office as we did in 1999!!


Posted by on January 23rd, 2011

National Ministers Carter and Wilkinson intervened to allow the continued grazing of land around Lake Ellesmere for a farming mate. Carter has been saying to farmers, dairy in particular that they must change their farming practices to improve water quality and safeguard our international reputation. That is not just inconsistent but outright hypocrisy. Farmers have every right to be angry. Most of them are making changes and paying money to reduce their impact on the environment. Why should one farmer be given the continued right to degrade Lake Ellesmere? No one else would be allowed and it makes a mockery of Nick Smith’s proclamations that Lake Ellesmere desperately needs protection. In Parliament we can’t use the word but in the real world it is called hypocrisy …… At it’s best !!!

Pike support needed

Posted by on December 15th, 2010

The announcement of a possible package of support for the Grey District and miners is no more than hope for many of the families affected by the Pike River disaster.At a time when some security is needed so families can plan their new year the absence of clarity will be disturbing for many. John Key was also a little vague on the commitment to pay for the recovery costs at the mine site. Answers to my questions in the house today did not add to the clarity or security for families. I will continue to offer support wherever I can help. This is not the time for reneging on promises made during the emotional and harrowing days while we waited in hope. Now we must deliver our support, including the Government.

Private Prisons

Posted by on December 14th, 2010

The tough Minister of law and Order today announces that a British company will now incarcerate our New Zealand prisoners. These are people who whatever they did, we hope will be safely reintegrated into our communities after they have served their time. it seems abhorrent that the country we and the Australians left for a better life will now deliver on a justice system that treats too many of our indigenous population. The irony seems to have been missed by our media. But I guess we should not be surprised. Many might call it colonization and repatriation of unjust profits. Now where were we prior to the treaty ????


Posted by on November 10th, 2010

The outbreak of Psa is a grim reminder how exposed we are as an economy to the effects of biological attack by unwanted organisms. Why then, would a party that claims to represent farmers reduce the border protection efforts to help pay for tax cuts.

The farmers and orchardists at risk from this ridiculous stance should reconsider their loyalty to a party that has deserted their needs. I have been contacted by people working in the system who say this is just the beginning of incursions that will occur because they can’t do their job properly.

Money and resources have been shifted internally to set up Smartgate and smoother passenger processing at our airports. Delays coming into this country are rarely long compared to the US process or the chaos at some larger international airports.

We should never compromise our biosecurity for convenience. The US dont do it for their security, why should we?? I wonder if Hilary passed that wisdom on to John or was he too starstruck to hear?

A Shortcut to Disaster

Posted by on October 28th, 2010

I have learnt today that the Food Safety Authority in collaboration with the meat Industry are about to conduct a trial on a new system of meat inspection at freezing works without the assistance of Meat Inspectors.

It is an interesting contradiction and my fear is that industry self regulation is the object of the exercise. Such ideals have proven all too often to be disastrous from international experience. At a time when the meat industry is under extreme pressure at every level from farmer to marketplace the risk is that inadequate inspection leading to any form of contaminated export meat would cripple our meat exports and reputation as a quality food producing nation.

Apparently no details have been made available to the meat inspectors so the assumption is that chain workers will carry out assessment of the health of the carcasses and the Vets will sign off the consignments for export. If you presume no skill is necessary to be a meat inspector we might be ok. But as I know to get the inspections spot on takes training, skill and experience. One mistake identified by our trading buyers and we are doomed.

The question is, does the risk justify the cost savings if any over time?? It is also ironic that in Select Committee today the Food Safety Authority was trying to convince us of the importance of robust systems for food safety under the new Food Bill.

There will be a few hard Questions for them at the next meeting !!!


Posted by on January 26th, 2010

The announcement that farmers have taken up about 1/3 of their entitlement to additional shares in their cooperative company is a good result given the circumstances. The levels of debt driven by hyped expectations of milk prices and banks throwing money at dairy farmers means many were never in a position to take up the 20% allocation. Some could say it has been planned this way so that the inevitable call for further outside capital will lead to the listing of Fonterra on the NZX. For investors and naive money traders this may seem like progress but for farmers it will lead to less money for milk and more for share dividends. This is all basic commercial opportunism and the board of Fonterra should be made to answer some hard questions before they are handed a mandate to move further forward on any capital restructure of New Zealand’s only fully owned multinational company.


Posted by on November 24th, 2009

The Nats have just passed a motion to put the house into urgency to get their ETS passed. What a dog’s breakfast. They have fuelled the fires of division and prejudice by doing exclusive deals with sectors and corporations that shift costs onto poorer and less priviledged Kiwis. In opening up the Conservation estate to select iwi corporations and foreign investors, there will be inevitable suspicion about every other part of the legislation and it’s objectives. Horsetrading  to get support for the Bill has been far from transparent and Nick Smith consistently misleads the country with statistics that suit his purposes in both ACC and now around the ETS. Given the statement that farmers are supposed to be the beneficiaries of this deal why does Don Nicolson, President of Fed Farmers, think this whole process “a mess”, “a shambles” and “a growing disaster”, to use his own words. Makes one wonder whether we should start from scratch?? Feds even suggested a carbon/emissions tax. Shame they campaigned against what they called the Fart tax. Hope they show more vision in the future. The country needs agriculture.

Filed under: agriculture, ets

Rural ACC

Posted by on October 20th, 2009

The National Party wants to privatise ACC. It is the favour their funders want in return for the huge money poured into their campaigns. Only they haven’t been honest enough to admit it.

ACT on the other hand have always been honest with their intentions. Now they are close to moving their plan forward and rural NZers`should be alarmed. While farmers were offered cheaper insurance costs when National tried this last time in the late 90’s only a few had dealt with the reality of getting compensation for serious long term injuries.

Think of the long term approach that insurance companies will inevitably take. Farmers and rural workers often live and work far from emergency and hospital services. They work with animals, utilise machinery in challenging and risky environments. Insurance companies like banks are there to make money and the naive view by some, that they will provide cheaper comprehensive cover for rural industries needs to be checked and challenged.

Talk to farmers from other parts of the world. Insurance costs will cripple future farmers if ACC is opened up to competition and privatisation.


Posted by on September 18th, 2009

Fonterra announced it’s capital restructuring plan. Now the farmers will get a chance, maybe if they are not too busy on their farms, to attend a meeting to discuss the plans. This process is one of the most important facing NZ in the near future, up there with ETS consideration. This is arguably our largest and only truly NZ private company. Its success is our success. In a low payout year with high debt levels already, Fonterra’s ability to raise capital internally could not be proposed at a worse time for many farmers. I hope they can but I have concerns that the ultimate outcome of the restructure is the inevitable float of Fonterra on the open market. Who then might get to control of our biggest company and second biggest export earner next to tourism??? Sir Henry Van der Hayden should have an inkling having served on the board of NZX until recently. I’m sure he can see the danger looming.


Posted by on September 16th, 2009

I would not normally comment on Auckland issues as there are plenty of others who do. But on behalf of the 2/3rds of the country who dont really care what happens up there, all I ask is that whatever this indecisive Govt decides and imposes on us all, it must be real progress. Seems to me that political interference will once again destroy any chance of that occurring. The rest of the country subsidises Auckland and provides it with the wealth to exist. While we accept that reality we dont want to waste the chance to sort a few things out and give it a chance of becoming a truly world class city supported by the right infrastructure and functional governance. I trust the Royal Commission over the greedy ACT objectives that now seem to be prevailing. Poor old unprincipled Maori Party gets done over again.

Dairy Industry

Posted by on September 13th, 2009

The self serving city editorial in Friday’s Herald is a sad reflection on the level of real knowledge, or lack of it as is the case, on the dairy industry.

There is currently the ability of any one person or company to process and export milk products. They can be low value or high value. That decision is up to the commercial interests. Allowing the float of shares in Fonterra will provide opportunities for share traders and NZX, and ultimately foreign ownership of our only globally significant entity.

Advocacy by the Herald for ownership outside the hands of farmers is classic market ideology that has seen most large NZ companies fall into the hands of foreign owners. Think  carefullybefore and after you read about the industry