(Photo: Radio NZ/Richard Tindiller)
(Photo: Radio NZ/Richard Tindiller)

The BulletinJuly 22, 2019

The Bulletin: Leadership claims on agriculture and the ETS

(Photo: Radio NZ/Richard Tindiller)
(Photo: Radio NZ/Richard Tindiller)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Many claim leadership positions around farming emissions, concerns rise about deported gang members in small towns, and superyacht predictions panned.

Now apologies if you feel like this is repetition – we did have a Bulletin last week about the plan to phase agriculture into the emissions trading scheme. But as a long term question for the country, the relationship between farming and climate change is easily among the most important to grapple with. So it’s worth revisiting again so soon, especially with many individuals and groups emerging as leadership contenders on the issue.

First a couple of pieces from the farming worldFarmers Weekly reports on concerns farmers will face in maintaining profitability while also cutting greenhouse gases, but that active measure are being looked at regardless. It’s a hugely challenging situation of course. As a result of that challenge, many farming organisations have banded together in a nigh-on unprecedented way to come up with an alternative approach to pricing emissions – that’s also on Farmers Weekly. But overall, the mood from farming organisations has been one of pragmatism, writes the author of the Elbow Deep Farmer blog, who welcomes such an approach. He says it is better for the farming world to accept and embrace that change is coming, and work for more advantageous positions within that, rather than pointlessly fight it every step of the way.

But there is also some cynicism about the strength of the targets being agreed to. In fact, as Newsroom’s Rod Oram argues, farming organisations are in fact stalling for time, which is a victory in and of itself because it allows production to remain high. Oram’s argument is in large part a blistering denunciation of the idea that farming organisations are showing any leadership, saying “they are holding New Zealand’s economy, climate, natural environment and international reputation hostage to the political power of the lowest common denominator in their ranks.” After all, it just isn’t true any more that the only way to more profitability in farming is to increase production.

And many in the farming world are absolutely not on board with lower production. Just this morning, listening to The Country Early Edition on Radio Sport, there was utter hysteria about a display for kids at Te Papa that suggested fewer cows would mean lower emissions. “We talk about water quality, I worry about polluting our minds here,” said the host, while speaking about the “crusade against farming.” Truly, it was among the wildest rhetoric you’ll ever hear on the airwaves, and what was being railed against was basic mathematics. But it’s fair to say the words will have struck a chord with many listeners up early in the milking sheds.

Are there farmers who are leading? Certainly, reports Newshub, who have profiled the work done by Pauline and Adrian Ball near Matamata. A key part of the story comes at the end, after suggestions from climate change minister James Shaw that their business could benefit financially under the proposals as a result of their work to reduce emissions and plant trees. “The Balls are pleased to hear that, but they’ll continue to farm sustainably regardless.”

As for the politics of it all, there have been two fascinating pieces on the matter from the NZ Herald. Simon Wilson (paywalled) has accused the National party of trying to delay and drag their heels on any climate action, and says “National’s position on climate change will undermine our economy and damage us socially.” His beef is that despite the change in the party’s stance on climate change in recent years, Wilson argues they haven’t actually engaged with the substance of what is being proposed. And Heather du Plessis-Allen (also paywalled) argues that the Greens have secured a remarkable win just by getting the farmers to come to an agreement, even if many of the party’s core supporters will see the eventual outcome as far too mild and moderate.

As the head of the Waikato Mongrel Mob put it, better the devil you know. There are increasing concerns that gang members deported from Australia will inflame tensions in small town New Zealand, reports Stuff, as they try to move in on the turf of existing gangs. There have been reports from places like Te Kūiti of this starting to happen, and it has led to suggestions that the Mongrel Mob and Black Power form some sort of accord against the newcomers.

There’s increasing concern that super-yacht projections for the America’s Cup have been inflated and overstated, reports the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Tom Dillane. Super-yachts, which are effectively floating piles of money, were intended to comprise one of the major revenue streams around the Cup, with projections of around 160 arriving. But some industry insiders are openly skeptical anything remotely like that will eventuate, which would be another blow to the already shaky cost-benefit analysis around hosting the event.

The expenses and cash withdrawals of Porirua mayor Mike Tana are under scrutiny, reports the Dominion Post. He voluntarily handed back his expenses card in March, after officials raised concerns, and has also reimbursed several expenses. There was also internal controversy about cash withdrawals before a trip to China, which as Tana explained was necessary because of the difficulty of using credit cards there. He says he has in fact been very frugal with his spending, and says it has all been above board.

Tensions are reportedly mounting between the Greens and Labour over benefit levels, which the Greens say are too low, reports Newshub. It was a significant aspect of the party’s election campaign (costing them a co-leader, you might recall) and so far the government’s progress on welfare reform has been patchy. It comes amid a dramatic rise in the number of hardship grants being sought by people in need.

The dairy industry is on shaky foundations due to very high debt, reports the NZ Herald (paywalled) on the front page of their business section today. Agricultural debt is way up, particularly among dairy farmers, who are then left extremely vulnerable to falls in prices. Many dairy farms in fact already struggle to be profitable due to high debt to income ratios. The numbers come amid a bill from the government that would require banks to give mediation to defaulting farmers.

I highly recommend this short documentary about the end of an affordable community on the outskirts of Queenstown. Published by Crux, it doesn’t necessarily go into the rights and wrongs of Lakeview residents having to go, to make way for development. But it gives a glimpse into their stories, and as one older fellow put it – the old Queenstown.

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A tiny fragment of the stars NZ on Air has made and paid (Image: Tina Tiller)

Right now on The Spinoff: Look, this will be a long section today, because there’s been a bucketload of good writing published over the weekend, so first of all maybe just look at The Spinoff’s homepage. A few highlights though:

Sarah Thomson writes about immediate things Councils who have declared climate emergencies should do to make the words worthwhile. Duncan Greive dives deep into the NZ on Air model, and if it is still fit for purpose. Josie Adams gives another hilarious update to her month of living without waste. Meg Williams profiles the people behind the volunteer-run museum celebrating the history of lesbians in New Zealand.

Over on the cultural side of the site, Samiyah Alghamdi and Anna Knox write about the universal joy that classical music can bring listeners. David Farrier goes down the rabbit hole on an even stranger documentary than the ones he makes. And Tara Ward reviews Funny As, a warm and witty new series that charts the history of comedy in this country.

Among the difficult lives prisoners lead, being a mother behind bars is one of the hardest. This feature from The Hui looks deep into how they cope, what they hope for, and the people who are trying to help them transition back to life on the outside. For everyone involved, it’s really important work. Here’s an excerpt:

Angela Te Rangimarie has missed her kids too. She’s just finished serving a two-year sentence for burglary.

“What drove me while I was in prison was my daughter. She sent me a letter and that letter I used to hang up on my wall and read it every day,” Angela says.

Angela’s youngest son had been placed in foster care while she was in jail. Through the Mothers Project the 40-year-old was able to locate and reconnect with her son.

“His real family still loves him. That’s the message I wanted to give to him, that I love him. It doesn’t stop while you’re in prison, my children hurt as well,” she says.

The ‘fossils’ led from the front – so said Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua. And for the likes of Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Katrina Rore, who were brought back out of the international wilderness by Taurua, this triumph will be even sweeter. Stuff reports the 52-51 win in the final over Australia was the culmination of an 11 month turnaround, and built on the back of withstanding the mental pressure better. As Suzanne McFadden at Newsroom writes, it was Kopua who stood up when it counted, and grabbed the crucial intercept. It has been 16 long years since the Netball World Cup was last won by New Zealand, also over Australia.

A good week for Kiwis at German footballing giant Bayern Munich. Football Ferns captain Ali Riley has just been signed by the club, reports Stuff, which puts her into arguably the strongest Women’s league in Europe, going by Champions League wins at least. As well as that, young lad Sarpreet Singh has now played twice for Bayern’s first team in pre-season friendlies, and came within an offside flag of knocking in a goal against Real Madrid.

From our partners: A two-tier system of energy use is developing, with those on high incomes much more able to reduce their bills than households on lower incomes. Vector’s Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer Kate Beddoe outlines what the company plans to do about that.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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