Column on Millie Elder-Holmes ‘a tacky, condescending piece of work’ – but reacting gets you nowhere

Mike says reacting gets you nowhere and simply drags out the headlines. Source: Seven Sharp

Government to step in to resolve planning stoush hampering farmers

Woodhaven Gardens owner John Clarke grows seventeen different vegetables on about 200 acres of fertile soil in the Horowhenua District.

The vegetables are eaten around the North Island and a small amount reach the south.

But there’s currently no consent for this work as the nitrogen run-off and leaching is too great to meet limits set by Horizon Regional Council’s One Plan.

“To some degree, it’s out of our hands, we can only try and introduce the best practices we can and farm according to those,” Mr Clarke said.

Last year, the Environment Court ruled the way the council issued consents was unlawful.

That’s left 155 intensive land users in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, made up of 115 dairy farmers and 40 horticulturists, without consents and waiting for the council to act.

“Of course we’d like to have some certainty around this but I don’t think we can ask to have that straight away,” Mr Clarke said.

The council, Fish and Game and the Environmental Defence Society met with Environment Minister David Parker this year, with the minister hoping to end a ‘stalemate'.

“There’s been no progress made towards the solution despite the fact that the status quo was unacceptable so I’ve tried to intercede and provide some help so that the matter can be resolved,” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker said the Government will fund lawyers and planners to help the council.

Following calls from the public for a commissioner to be appointed to the council, council chairman Bruce Gordon said he’d made an offer to David Parker to investigate.

“Come in and investigate the processes which our council has followed, the advice that we’ve been given and if we’ve been seen to be lacking in anyway, appoint a commissioner but until that becomes evident that we’ve failed in any way I stand by the fact that our councillors made the right decisions,” Mr Gordon said.

In mid-August the council announced its plan to alter consent regulation.

Mr Gordon said a proposed change to nitrogen limits, due to the OnePlan’s nitrogen allowances being set by out-of-date technology, should see 70 dairy farmers gain consent this year.

“There are people that have got nitrogen limits/leachings that are not going to be acceptable and there’s going to have to be some changes made and yes, I accept that going forward there will be some pain felt by some people within our community,” Mr Gordon said.

The council’s aiming to make further changes to make “a practicable consenting pathway” by the middle of next year at the latest, he said.

There’ll also be further work and community consultation on the council’s freshwater management for seven catchments in the area.

“Of course once we get onto plan change three, yes, it will be running into the millions again – it will be very, very expensive for that third process,” Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon said creation of the council’s proposed One Plan in 2007, which was taken to the Environment Court, cost $10 million and the total cost of the latest proposed changes will be impacted by Government resource management changes.

The council’s aiming to have work complete by 2025, in line with the Government policy on freshwater.

At Woodhaven Gardens, flax and grass has been planted near crops to act as a filter for nutrient run-off.

John Clarke’s also using a new test to monitor nitrogen levels in crops as vegetables are growing.

“With the mitigation work that we have planned around silt control and nitrogen use I think, yes, our business is certainly in a lot better place.”

Mr Clarke said he’s trying to take a positive approach to the need for change.

“I can see better things to us, to the environment and to our business out of it.”

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei president Richard Morrison said the lobby group is supporting farmers in the area and working with the council on possible solutions.

Mr Morrison said there’s angst and uncertainty in the area with hundreds of farmers, including those without consents and those that will need to re-apply for one in the future, concerned their business won’t be able to continue due to the financial impact of change.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said district councils could also be impacted.

“We’ve got all these upgrades done with wastewater treatment plants, district councils having done the right thing and bought land, done further treatment and applied for a discharge to land that cannot meet the (nitrogen limit) tables,” he said.

Mr Gordon said the council had to find a middle-road on the situation.

“You can’t ignore economic impact and you can’t go 100 per cent the other way either,” he said.

He’s calling for the community to support the council’s proposed changes and affected farmers and growers.

“We’re not about to shut any of our market growers down, it’s just a matter of working through this process and coming out with robust evidence that can vindicate their continuance,” he said.

Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said the council needs to hurry up as there’s been no material change to the plan since the “overdue wake-up call” from the Environment Court eighteen months ago.

“It’s not just a question of the council getting itself into compliance with the law, it’s actually providing certainty and clarity to its people,” Mr Taylor said.

He said a reduction of intensive land use is required around the country to be compliant with freshwater limits.

“At present, catchments in the Horizons and in other regions in the country are over-allocated for contaminants… in layman’s terms – pollution.”

He said nitrogen leaching is responsible for algal blooms that kill native fish and lake nitrification.

A spokesperson for Fish and Game said while nitrogen limits will be altered by the council, a complete new plan isn’t necessary.

“What is needed is proper implementation of the One Plan as the Environment Court told it to do,” he said.

This comes after it was found Horizons Council had been issuing consents illegally. Source: 1 NEWS

Unions urge Labour against making changes to flagship employment reform after NZ First calls bill a 'work in progress'

Unions are urging Labour to resist making any late changes to its flagship employment law reform at the request of its coalition partner.

New Zealand First this week said the employment legislation currently making its way through Parliament is a "work in progress", prompting fears the party will seek to water down aspects of the reforms.

New Zealand Council of Unions (NZCTU) president Richard Wagstaff said, "the Prime Minister understands well that these are very important issues for working people's and unions".

While employment reforms aimed at bolstering the wage bargaining power of Kiwi workers have been through Cabinet, Labour's coalition partner New Zealand First this week signalled it may seek late changes to the legislation.

Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters said, "it's a work in progress, yes. Will that work in progress result in the bill being passed in parliament? Yes".

Mr Wagstaff, however, says the NZCTU is "disappointed", saying they believed the bill was a Cabinet decision.

Q+A host Corin Dann says NZ First appears to be concerned over stronger collective bargaining provisions for multi-employer pay agreements, known as mecas, and whether they will take regional differences in pay into consideration.

BusinessNZ's Kirk Hope said, "if you have an Auckland employer dominating those pay rates, it will be hard for those small businesses in the regions to be competitive".

However, business lobby groups say the collective bargaining reforms in the bill go too far, and they welcome New Zealand First's stance.

"I'm sure they're getting the message from businesses all over the country that some of these provisions are going to hurt them and if they can do anything about it, I think business would be grateful," Mr Hope said.

But Mr Wagstaff says NZ First "needs to remember the people who put them in power".

"It's not just the votes of big business, it's the votes of freezing workers – it's the votes of working people."

They want the government to resist pressure to make any late changes. Source: 1 NEWS


Australasia suffers the highest cancer rate in the world

Men are most at risk of the 35,897 new cases of cancer expected in New Zealand in 2018, says the World Health Organisation.


Close to half the men in New Zealand and Australia are at risk of getting cancer, giving Australasia the highest regional rate in the world, latest estimates from The World Health Organisation (WHO) show.

WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimates the risk of New Zealand men developing cancer before the age of 75 years is 46.27 per cent.

The agency estimates the risk for women in New Zealand at a third.

"The increasing cancer burden is due to several factors including population growth and ageing, as well as the changing prevalence of certain causes of cancer linked to social and economic development," the agency's report said.

"This is particularly true in rapidly growing economies, where a shift is observed from cancers related to poverty and infections to cancers associated with lifestyles more typical of industrialised countries."

Cancer Society of New Zealand chief executive Mike Kernaghan said an ageing population and lifestyle factors including diet and exercise were contributing to the rising risk of getting the disease.

"All of those factors contribute, as we get older, to an increased risk of cancer and the concern is that we don't appear to be paying enough attention here in New Zealand to those issues," Mr Kernaghan said.

He said cancer caused 30 per cent of deaths in New Zealand with lung cancer and prostate cancer the most prevalent.

"Survival rates are… improving because of new treatments that are available and the care available.

"Having said that… we've still got a long way to go in terms of improving our performance here in New Zealand."

Mr Kernaghan said access to new and proven medicines in New Zealand lagged behind other countries around the world, particularly Australia.

The IARC report also highlighted a worrying rise in lung cancer in women, with highest incidence rates in Hungary, North America, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Protesters block major Tauranga highway to call on government to fix deadly stretch of road - 'stop letting people die like this'

Protesters have blocked a major Tauranga highway today to call for major safety updates to be made to a deadly stretch of road.

Busy weekend traffic came to a halt as hundreds marched across Wairoa Bridge, which has already claimed dozens of lives.

Fix the Bloody Road safety campaigner Andrew Hollis said, "I've spoken personally with tow truck drivers that tow trucks away still with bodies in them. It's happening about once every quarter."

The protesters blocked State Highway 2 for half an hour to call for upgrades to the road.

"Just fix the road, man. Stop letting people die like this for no reason," one protester said.

In the last six years to March 2018, 21 people have been killed on the 37-kilometre stretch of road between Katikati and Tauranga.

While the National Land Transport programme recently allocated billions to improve regional roads, the Tauranga road is still under evaluation to see how it can be made safer – a process which could take four months.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said, "that bit of road is about to get significant safety improvements. We're investing in 26 intersection upgrades, side barriers and widening the central barrier."

$100 million will be spent on safety between Waihi and Omokoroa, but protesters say a four-lane highway must be built.

"What we're trying to do is get four lanes with a median strip from Takatimu Drive in Tauranga to Francis Road in Omokoroa," Mr Hollis said.

The government says they do not want more lives to be lost and has acknowledged that the infrastructure is not up to speed.

Hundreds of campaigners marched across Wairoa Bridge today. Source: 1 NEWS