Wairarapa News : February 8th 2012
10 WAIRARAPA NEWS, FEBRUARY 8, 2012 OPINION 4185048AA We also sell and hire Daily Living Aids, Care Products and Mobility Aids 262 Queen St, Masterton • Phone 06 3701023 Sales, repairs and servicing of • Mobility Scooters • Walkers • Wheelchairs • Golf Trundlers OPEN: MONDAY TO FRIDAY : 10AM -- 4PM SATURDAY : 9.30AM -- 12.00 NOON CANSPEAK - a bite of brain food from Cancer Society manager ANNA CARDNO 2142976EU Sun Shame Cancer Society Wairarapa - Minimising the impact of cancer on our community through information, research, health promotion and support services. 140 Dixon Street, Masterton, Ph 06 378 8039 Sunburn is no fun. Hiding ashamed in my office this week with my nose peeling, I catch my "Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap" ad playing on More FM and I cringe. Here's hoping you were more responsible than I was this summer with your sun protection regime. THE SHADE LOAN SCHEME Are you organizing an outdoor event over the summer? Public festival, Private function, Wedding or Sports Day? Cancer Society Wairarapa can provide you with umbrellas, sunscreen and gazebos to keep you safe in the sun. All we ask is you make a donation and promote the SunSmart message. Ring to book shade for your event now It seems I am never going to learn, and it's beyond embarrassing. Here I am, first week back at work after a lovely long break in January, and I have no nose. Again. It's not that I don't try. Spending the majority of my time out of the office in the horse paddock or out at events, I bleat bossily about sunscreen to everyone within earshot. I even screen my horse -- as one is obliged to do with pink nosed ponies. I reek of zinc. I have a reason, not an excuse, for my peeling nose -- I do distance riding. The sunscreen has a reapplication clause. I'm riding for four hours and the sunscreen can't keep up. I have a short memory and a burned nose. I am a Muppet. I am also toying with designing a riding helmet with a decent brim. I just can't get it to look pretty. John Hayes www.national.org.nz ELECTORATE OFFICE 82 Queen St, PO Box 904, Masterton 5840 Open 10am - 4pm Mon - Fri P: 0800 2 HAYES P: 06 370 1213 E: email@example.com ww w.johnhayes.co.nz MP FOR WAIRARAPA 4203261AB The land of the wrong white crowd THE LONG VIEW RICK LONG It is a comfortable feeling to know that you stand on your own ground. Land is about the only thing that can't fly away.'' -- Anthony Trollope Irecall reading a newspaper article some years ago about a dairy farmer from Northland who had been forced into retire- ment because the majority of his land was on Maori leasehold and the owners had increased his rent twenty-fold. He wasn't bitter about this. He said his family had farmed the land for two generations and had paid a peppercorn rental over that time. When the long-term lease eventually ran out it was only natural the Maori landowners would want a fair market return. He had retired to a modest sub- urb in Auckland and a few years later had gone back to Northland for a visit and saw that his once productive land had reverted back to scrub. Again he wasn't critical. He said the problem with multiple owner- ship was that no one person was responsible and even if the land had been farmed profitably the divvying up of the earnings would have produced minuscule returns for the myriad of titleholders. What did concern him however was that some years prior to that the government in their wisdom had brought in Indian labourers from Fiji to clear thousands of acres of scrub in Northland, which they had done, toiling over many years. He noted that now all that land had also reverted back. So perhaps the real problem of the North is lots of unrealised arable land, but no incentive to exploit the potential wealth. I thought about this when I read a letter to the editor in the local daily written by a correspon- dent with the unlikely name of M. Williams''. He or she was berating the gov- ernment for not creating jobs in the far North where unemploy- ment is endemic. Job creation is not the government's role, but they do need to create a climate where people with the will to work are not impeded. To be fair, I think they do that. I was reminded of a documen- tary I had seen on television a few months ago where Northland pov- erty was examined and a poignant illustration of the problem came when two young boys sitting on the front porch of their home told the interviewer there were five adults and six children living in the run-down dwelling. The adults were all unem- ployed, but presumably all receiv- ing a benefit so it probably meant that there was enough money coming into the home to allow them to live reasonably comfort- ably. What was noticeable, how- ever, was that the garden area that will have once graced the front of the house was overgrown and any flowers or shrubs pre- viously placed had long since dis- appeared. Weeding a garden and planting flowers is not an expens- ive exercise, but the colourful out- come lifts the spirit and may encourage further examination of cultivation. Now we have the uproar over the Crafer farms being sold off to Chinese interests. There is a good deal of xenophobia in all of this. Nobody batted an eyelid when Shania Twain bought three large sheep stations in the South Island which have apparently purposely recorded huge losses to be used for legal tax evasion. About the same time a wealthy American, John Griffin, bought the iconic coastal property, Young Nicks Head, in Poverty Bay, boasting at the time that he had paid more for his New York apartment. He also purchased the farm next door. All these transactions were done under Helen Clark's watch. Soitwasabitrichforthenew leader of the opposition, David whatshisname, to find fault with the government acquiescing to the Chinese bid. During Labour's tenure in office they allowed the sale of 650,000 hectares of prime New Zealand land to be sold off to foreigners -- albeit all white Anglo-Saxons -- and subsequently signed the much-heralded free trade agree- ment with China, giving them most-favoured-nation status. Under the terms of the agreement China is legally entitled to no lesser consideration than that shown to the most favoured of our trading partners. Some of the concerns expressed by those opposed to the sale are that the Chinese will bring their own workforce to farm the land. And they may well do. Recent experience has shown that people of Asian extraction have the energy often lacking in the local populous. They strive for educational excellence and like the scrub-cutters from Fiji are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves and taking care of business. Another anxiety signalled is that the new title holders of the Crafer farms will send their profits back to the homeland, but doesn't that already occur, unimpeded, with other ethnic groups? I suspect that Indian res- taurateurs and corner dairy owners send money to family in India; we know for certain that Pacific Islanders do. So too will the Aussie proprietors of Woolworths, Countdown and Foodtown as well as the ANZ, Westpac, ASB and National bank owners. I assume Rabobank gains are repatriated to The Netherlands. The Crafer's couldn't farm their land profitably and their animal husbandry was appalling. Mean- while the people of the North could be ignoring a fortune at their feet. You could argue that the poten- tial wealth of this country has been squandered by New Zealand- ers. . Ministerial secrecy negates open government TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL The briefings to incoming ministers written by departmen- tal officials have always been a useful way of assessing what the various ministers intend to do once they've got the business of electioneering out of the way. The briefings -- which hit ministers desks' mere weeks after the election result -- are also highly prized by the media, because they often contain nuggets of information and policy emphasis that were either not mentioned during the election campaign, or were downplayed, lest they scare the voters. Easy to imagine then, the sur- prise last week when several of these documents finally emerged from the Official Information Act process with their contents blanked out or withheld under OIA provisions to an unpre- cedented degree. Pride of place would have to go to the briefings to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully. Up to two-thirds of the content has been withheld from the pub- lic, who, apparently, are not to be trusted with knowing what New Zealand's foreign affairs priorities will be over the next three years. The document begins innocuously enough, with big- picture statements about New Zealand's place in the world -- we're in the South Pacific -- but the moment things get in the slightest way specific, only white space and a Restricted'' sticker are to be found. Pages 7 to 15, for example, which actually contain the mini- stry's priorities, are completely blank. McCully may be the prime offender, but he is not the only one. About half of the section on ports in the briefing to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is simi- larly missing, presumably so that the public will not know what action ministry officials have advocated with respect to the Ports of Auckland dispute. Cabinet rising star and new Information and Communications Technologies Minister Amy Adams has also restricted those parts of her briefing that refer to decisions and actions she will be needing to take in her first six months on the job. There's an obvious irony in a communications minister censoring communication in this way, apparently to give herself a bit of breathing space while she settles in. All governments like to play their cards close to the chest. However, briefings to ministers have until now tended to be made available in full. Restrictions to the level occur- ring with the current crop of briefings are at the cost of open and accountable government. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' case, being discreet about matters of diplomatic delicacy is one thing. But a blanket denial of all information on the priorities and perceptions that will guide how New Zealand's interests will be furthered in the world over the next three years is more the kind of thing you'd expect in North Korea. Open government has been at risk in successive administrations -- from the excessive use of urgency in Parliament to ram though legislation, to the way ministers pick and choose which topics they'll make themselves available for questioning, and to which media outlet. To be fair, there have been some notable exceptions. The 73-page approval paper by government on the Crafar Farms sale, for example, was released virtually in full with only some financial details kept back. Even so, certain ministers clearly need to be reminded again about the virtues of open govern- ment.
February 1st 2012
February 15th 2012