Welcome to Emerson Online

There’s no bluff and bluster and no punches pulled.
He tells it as he sees it.

His opinions are entirely his own and he welcomes your feedback.

New blogs will be posted as they happen.

Click to find out why Emerson is online.

Alan Emerson tells it how it is. There’s no bluff and bluster and no punches pulled. He tells it as he sees it.

Welcome to Emerson Online

The aim of this blog is to inform those interested in provincial New Zealand of stories and opinions of relevance to them. My opinions are entirely my own and I welcome your feedback. Blogs will be posted as they happen.

I’m not associated with any political party, I’m not your traditional reporter and I’m not afraid of anyone. If it needs to be said I’ll say it.

There’s no bluff and bluster and no punches pulled. I tell it as I see it.

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Greenpeace Gets it Wrong

I was driving out of Auckland airport to be surprised by a billboard with the message ‘Ravensdown and Ballance Pollute Rivers’. It was from Greenpeace.

My view was that the billboard was wrong. Ravensdown and Ballance sell fertiliser, they don’t pollute anything., If you accept the Greenpeace message you then have to accept the sentence, ‘Ford and Toyota kill people’. Our road deaths last year stands at 379 with many of those killed driving a Toyota or a Ford.

The reality is that Ford and Toyota sell cars, end of story.

I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, (ASA) who found in my favour. I’d never dealt with the ASA before but found them independent and professional.

When the judgement came out you’d have thought by the Greenpeace reaction that the sky was about to fall in.

Greenpeace campaigner, one Gen Toop claimed the ASA decision could have a ‘chilling effect on environmental and social advocacy’.

The reality is that environmental and social advocates have to be truthful, honest and accountable, just like everyone else.

She added that it was ‘very disturbing that the ASA had taken the position that companies which pollute the environment are above criticism’ adding ‘free speech is a vital part of our democratic society’.

For a start the ASA did not take the position that companies that pollute the environment are above suspicion. They said the Greenpeace billboards were wrong in fact.

I agree that free speech is a vital part of our democratic society but again you have to be honest, truthful and accurate otherwise you have anarchy.

Greenpeace have lodged an appeal against the decision which is their right.

The Greenpeace release concludes with a rant about synthetic nitrogen which is the subject of my current article in Farmers’ Weekly. It is on the website.

The reality is that according to OECD research half the world relies on nitrogen fertiliser to survive.

Going to the Greenpeace website they wax lyrically on the evils of nitrogen quoting a United Nations report. I read the said report and my take on it is way different from Greenpeace.

So my take on Greenpeace is they’re there purely to farm donations from the gullible with their inaccurate and emotive ramblings which are not factually based.

I also wonder where Greenpeace supremo Dr Russell Norman stands on the issues Greenpeace is currently involved with.

When he was in parliament I found his statements measured and factual although I didn’t always agree with his conclusions.

With Greenpeace their statements are anything but.

For more on the Greenpeace saga you’ll need to read my next article in Farmers Weekly. It’s due out late Friday.

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Don’t Arm the Police

We’ve had considerable news and commentary over the last week about arming Police officers. I am strongly against it.

The main reason I am so strongly opposed is the lack of meaningful training and the gung ho attitude of the Police.

You just have to look at their record.

Just last week they put two shots into the top story of a two story building when people were having a meeting on the ground floor.

The target was on the street and not six metres high.

The Police excuse – it was a ‘panic shot’. Properly trained firearms users don’t panic.

We then had the officer who shot himself in the foot. If he’d been in the military he’d be Court Marshaled before he took a second breath.

We had an officer in Hawkes Bay who accidentally shot a person he was guarding lying harmlessly on the ground. The round drilled his shoulder. The officers’ excuse – ‘the safety catch was faulty’. You don’t rely on safety catches and rifles don’t fire unless you pull the trigger.

He got away with it.

Then there was the case in Auckland where an innocent bystander was killed and another wounded. They were some distance from the target who didn’t receive as much as a scratch.

In Kawerau we had a lone gunman wound four Police officers before giving himself up. That shows in my humble book an eye watering degree of incompetence by the Police.

I could go on. Last week we had all Christchurch Police armed which was ridiculous. A cavalier Minister in the form of Stuart Nash supported it.

We then had in the believe it or not category the Police union releasing a ‘survey’ where 66% of their members supported arming themselves.

One should remind them they’re servants of democracy and not leaders in the arms race.

It is all quite farcical. The highest support for arming the Police came from road policing at 73%. So a cop giving me a speeding ticket wants to be armed! It is ridiculous in the extreme.

It is important to consider that when we sent troops to Bougainville in the middle of a civil war NZ Defence mad a decision not to arm the soldiers who were I might add were highly trained in the use of firearms.

The situation was solved by negotiation and no soldiers were shot at.

My concern at the saga is you and I don’t know how many weapons are available to the Police, how often they are used and for what.

My further concern is that the arm the Police movement is being driven by the Police and not the democratic process.

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New Zealand Infrastructure Commission is a Great Idea

 

I’m really pleased that we are going to have an independent Infrastructure Commission that will deal with our considerable infrastructure needs.

I’ve been concerned that the money we spend on infrastructure in the past and there’s billions of dollars of it is more the subject of political whim than rational thought.

A prime example of political whim was the previous government’s Roads of National Significance (RONS).

These roads were designed to elicit votes more than freeing up traffic and wasted billions.

There’s also the problem with Auckland where we allowed massive immigration while totally ignoring infrastructure needs.

Minister Shane Jones tells us that the Infrastructure Commission will have two broad aims, strategy and planning and procurement and delivery support. They are functions we desperately need.

I remain totally unconvinced of the abilities of the New Zealand Transport Agency to achieve much and having the Commission involved is extremely positive in my view.

I also thought the makeup of the Commission was inspired. The people the government has appointed are entirely capable of getting the job done.

It isn’t as if we don’t need a high powered independent organisation to oversee infrastructure development.

Treasury tells us in that the government will be spending about $42 million on infrastructure from now until 2022. It is good that in independent panel is overseeing that rather than a hide-bound bureaucracy.

I view the creation of the NZ Infrastructure Commission both positive and vital to NZ going forward.

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Roundup Isn’t harmful Despite the Christchurch City Councils’ View

The front page of the normally conservative Christchurch Press had me in stitches. ‘Weedkiller ban busting Christchurch Budget’ it read.

We were then told that ‘phasing out toxic weedkiller has left the Garden City with a costly fix for getting rid of pest plants’.

Toxic according t my dictionary is ‘harmful or deadly – poisonous’. Roundup the chemical they’re talking about is neither harmful, deadly nor poisonous.

Then in the believe it or not category we read that the cost of getting rid of weeds by hand was costing an extra $two million over just a six month period.

You can only wonder what’s going to happen in Christchurch next, digging fields by hand instead of using Roundup to chemically plough. They obviously couldn’t use tractors because of the environmental footprint.

Looking at the scientific evidence abound Roundup. If you drank it 80% is excreted in 24 hours.

Despite the Christchurch City Council hysteria about it causing cancer the American Environmental Protection Agency said ‘Roundup was unlikely to cause cancer’. The European Chemicals Agency said ‘the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify Roundup as carcinogenic’.

The fact is that on the cancer rating scale alcohol is one followed by Roundup, red meat and frying.

My other question as the City Council seems to be using tarot cards rather than scientific fact is to ask how many of the gardeners and vegetable growers in the Garden City regularly use Roundup?

I’d imagine a lot. Mind you they haven’t the unlimited funds the council has to pay people to hand weed.

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Our Future is with China not Five Eyes

I can remember as a young journalist reporting on then Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s invitation to China to set up an embassy here. We were the first Western Nation to do so. Then National Party leader, Robert Muldoon was apoplectic talking at length of reds under the bed and the loss of democracy as we know it.

We then became the first country to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with China that was worth a massive $15.3 billion last year. It was a quarter of our total exports.

There are other advantages to New Zealand as well with, until recently, many Chinese tourists.

Then came a road bump. Spark wanted to develop a 5G telecommunications network using Chinese technology in the form of Huawei. New Zealand needs 5G and Huawei has the technology.

Sadly that wasn’t to happen due in the main to a chicken licken approach from our spy agency the GCSB.

Huawei responded by offering to build the technology in NZ using locals. No-one could accuse Spark of being an agency of the Chinese government. It is a local company employing locals.

Sounded good to me but no we stuck with our Huawei 5G boycott.. Now China is responding as you would expect by making life difficult at its borders and warning tourists against visiting here.

The problem I have is that no-one has explained how the wheels are going to fall off with a Huawei 5G network. A vast number of Kiwi’s use Huawei phones now and nothing drastic has happened. Are we going back to the good old days of reds under beds and the domino theory?

My simple view is I don’t believe the spy agency. Over the years I’ve had the threat of the Yellow Peril and that was decades ago. Then we had the Russian Bear poised to invade. There was the Domino Theory that said if Vietnam fell to the communists the whole of Asia would succumb. It fell to the communists nearly 50 years ago and nothing happened. Since then we’ve had the threat of India and Indonesia. As with all the other threats nothing has happened.

So our security partners in Five Eyes don’t want us to indulge China. So what? Our main threat from a foreign power is likely to be in the form of a biosecurity incursion not bombs. I don’t see a threat from China.

We need to re-establish our close links with China and do it now. That is our future.

In the current world order my view is that China is a lot more stable and progressive than a lot of countries and that includes the USA.

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I’m pleased the government is looking at the rules governing political donations.

The one part of the Jami-Lee Ross saga that I thought was positive was that the government is going to look at changing the rules over political donations.

My issue is that whether you have the best policies becomes irrelevant if you haven’t the resources to sell them. On the other hand if a person or organisation doesn’t like a party’s policies it can pour resources into the opposition to try and prevent them happening.

Fortunately New Zealand isn’t in the same league as the United States of America when it comes to political donations. By comparison we’re amateurs. We do take pride in our democracy, however, and to me that means cleaning up the political donations mess.

My issue with political donations is simple. All over a certain level and that level needs to be a lot smaller than the current amount should be public. I don’t accept the privacy issue. If a person or group wants to support a particular political party I believe I have a right to know who is doing it. After that I’m possibly in a position to answer why.

Ruth Richardson told me years ago that the way to affect National Party policy was through the funding chain.

That is possibly true of all parties.

The issue is no-one knows what deals are done and why and we have a right to know.

Politics should be open and not controlled by back room deals that everyone is blissfully unaware of.

Putting some of the issues to you.

If a person wants New Zealand citizenship a $50,000 political donation is a cheap way of getting it.

It someone wants recognition in the honours list the same applies.

If a person wants to purchase a NZ property a $100,000 dollar donation would be cheap.

If a foreign power wanted to manipulate the NZ election a $ million donation to the preferred party is a cheap way of control.

I’ve heard the argument about public funding of political parties. I don’t have a philosophical problem with that. The issue I do have is that the system is still open to manipulation.

What I’d like to see is an independent auditor with absolute power over political parties books who can monitor all money in and out and report to parliament.

We do it with our security services so why can we do the same with political parties?

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Why the Criticism of Tree Planters and Fencers?

I read a column on Stuff under the heading ‘Why you couldn’t pay me enough to plant trees or build fences’. It was written by a Jackson Thomas who was labelled on google as the ‘warriors reporter’. That tells me he’d have to be an Auckland metrosexual.

He obviously also comes from a position of blissful ignorance.

The column starts with the statement ‘why wouldn’t a young person want to dig holes, lug around heavy fence poles and collapse into bed every night exhausted because they’ve worn themselves out working for someone else?

The facts are than there are now post hole diggers so fencers don’t have to dig holes.

Fence posts actually aren’t that heavy. Strainers are but they’re used sparingly.

As far as collapsing into bed every night exhausted Thomas has no idea.

I worked long enough as a fencer, two nights a week I’d go to Rugby practice, Friday night to the pub, Saturday to play Rugby and then hit the town.

Yes, Saturday could be exhausting.

Thomas also takes issue at a fencer called Ray who went on to Stuff’s facebook page saying how he enjoyed fencing and prefers fencing on hills.

Thomas tells us that Ray hadn’t sold him on fencing.

His statement that ‘just having dried mud on my hands makes me physically ill’ suggests to me he should stay in central Auckland and drink his lattes with rubber gloves.

Thomas also didn’t see the benefit of a hard day’s work on decent wages as he’d have to think of his ‘deteriorating knees and sunburnt neck.

Hats work when you’re in the sun and despite building many fences I played active sport into my 60’s. My knees and neck are fine.

Finally Thomas admits that the thought of him being a physical wreck at the ripe old age of 40 wouldn’t get him fencing.

The local fencer here is into his 60’s and fine.

At 40 I was still playing competitive sport.

I enjoyed my time fencing. I was fit, it paid well, I was outdoors and you could see what you had built. I worked for a fencer for six months and then did my own thing.

The money was excellent. In passing the person who taught me to fence is now 80 and still working his farm.

The other option I suppose would have been for me to have completed a media studies degree and ending up unemployed.

I’m glad I went fencing.

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Wireless Communication is the Way to Go.

Last night we went to dinner courtesy of WIZ wireless, our internet provider. It was to say thank you for our support, in our case since their inception back in 2005.

We could have equally taken them to dinner to say thank you for your exemplary service, totally consistent, quick and reliable for all that time.

When we finally sold the company in Wellington and moved here full time we had to rely on, believe it or not, dial up. In addition there was no cell phone coverage. Sending anything or researching anything on dial up was almost impossible. In fact when I was commissioned to write a specialist article on labour laws I drove the 50 k into Masterton and back each day to use the internet at the library.

Telecom now Spark weren’t remotely interested in giving us a service, they’d promise the world and deliver nothing.

Then in rode WizWireless in the form of Bridget and Johnny Canning.

We immediately signed up and life hasn’t been the same since. We’ve enjoyed 14 years of super fast wireless broadband. I can work from home including editing DVD’s here. People come and tell me our service is quicker than their fibre in Wellington or Palmerston North. We’ve never had a problem.

In addition when we shifted house on the farm we were told a telephone connection would cost us ‘upwards of $8500’. I rang Cannings and they arranged voice over the internet at an initial cost of $600 plus $40 a month for all local and national calls.

We kept our Spark number and the system 2talk works extremely well.

The Cannings started WIZwireless by raising $200,000 on the farm and starting from scratch. Local farmers, as frustrated as we were allowed the erection of towers on their land. WIZwireless now has more than 1000 subscribers which is a credit to the professionalism and drive of the organisation. You can ring with a query, any query and you get an answer immediately. What’s more you’re dealing with locals who know and understand your position.

In a world where fast, reliable communication is a must Cannings effectively put their farm under financial stress to give the Wairarapa a great service.

They are to be thanked and congratulated for that.

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I don’t know if Fish and Game are really arrogant or stupid. I really don’t.

There was an innocuous enough article in Stuff talking about the fewer fishing licenses sold in Southland.

There were 8138 licenses sold compared with the previous year when we were told 9191 licenses were issued. Previously according to the article 12,431 were sold.

Fish and Game put it down to the bad weather but I have my doubts. In the old days I purchased a trout fishing license at the start of the season, end of story. The weather at the time was irrelevant.

Farmer, Bernadette Hunt affirmed the irrelevance of the weather in a tweet

Then in a follow up article we were told that farmers weren’t purchasing licenses as a protest against Fish and Game’s anti-dairy stance.

I can relate to that.

Bernadette Hunt who is also Southland Fed’s vice president made the point that ‘if there is an issue attributed to anything rural they’re all over it but if it is urban Fish and Game are silent’.

She’s right

Interestingly Federated Farmers president Katie Milne wrote to Fish and Game last year asking for constructive dialogue.

What she received from the organisation was effectively a two fingered salute.

So is Fish and Game now wanting to open dialogue, to be constructive and a good citizen as they’re obviously right off side with people fishing?.

Hell no. There reaction was to hammer the penalties that unlicensed fishers could suffer. They told us that fishing without a license could incur a fine of up to $5000 which is a ridiculous amount especially considering fine for rampant rubbish pollution is just $400.

We could also lose fishing equipment, vehicles and boats.

Fish and Game with its jackbooted approach told us that other charges could be laid including obstruction. The fine for that is up to $100,000.

What the organisation has totally failed to acknowledge is the general disgust they are held in. I’m just not going to fish for trout and salmon.

That way I don’t break the law and I’m not subsidising Fish and Games foibles by purchasing a license.

As an aside catching Kawhai on the beach is just as much fun with less bureaucracy.

That jackbooted response by Fish and Game should be concerning for all right minded Kiwi’s.

If a Police officer is suspicious you are committing crimes they need search warrants. The Police are responsible for their actions and transparent. Fish and Game have unfettered access to your property. They can ‘seize any bag’, ‘stop any vehicle’ and ‘at all times and without hindrance by any means whatever, enter upon, pass through or remain on any land’.

They certainly aren’t transparent or accountable

And that is New Zealand in 2019. We consider apprehending those who are illegally catching trout as being more important than dishonesty, theft or violence?

Further if there is an issue then give it to the reputable organisation that is the Department of Conservation and not a lunatic fringe group that I’m still undecided whether they’re stupid or arrogant.

 

 

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The Bizarre Debate on Drugs

The current debate on drugs totally ignores the key issue. We’re talking about testing young people at concerts which I’d suggest is a waste of time and discriminatory. We’re also talking about testing drivers which ignores the point.

Not all drugs were created equal and different drugs have different effects on people.

Until recently I hadn’t realised that marijuana stays in the system for some weeks yet P barely lasts 24 hours. Cocaine correspondingly lasts a few days.

So if I took P last night it wouldn’t show up on a drug test today yet if I smoked dope a couple of weeks ago it would.

You’d then have to ask who would be the safer driver and I’d suggest it would be last weeks dope smoker although they would pass positive for a drug test.

Also what’s testing at a music festival likely to prove? That the person took drugs. So what are you going to do about it? The event has passed and the police have been told to go easy on drug users.

So my view of the debate is that it is about politicians meddling and trying to look busy and not about achieving anything concrete or positive.

The drug debate in New Zealand has been going in ever diminishing circles for generations. I can remember back in the 1970’s there was a massive police drug sting at Massey University. They caught and charged about 50 people for smoking dope who were immediately expelled. The sting would have cost a fortune and for what, potential professors condemned to unskilled occupations?

We’ve had the police mantra since then that marijuana leads to hard drugs which is drivel. If that had been the case my entire university generation would have been hard line heroin addicts long ago.

We’ve now legislation legalising medicinal marijuana and we’re going to have a referendum on legalising marijuana for recreational use which is a step in the right direction but the reality is that the horse has bolted.

Marijuana has been readily available to my knowledge for half a century. Most other drugs are in a similar category.

The issue for me is that the drug industry which is massive is run by the gangs and other illegal organisations. It is in my view the supply of drugs and the massive profits from them that go, tax free into the underworld.

We have lost the war on drugs, game, set and match.

There are additional issues. I’m told by reliable sources that while dope isn’t addictive P is hugely so. Drug dealers are selling P for the same price as dope or lacing dope with it.

The answer for me is to forget the political posturing, legalise drugs and put them firmly under state control.

I was told once by a senior medical professor that marijuana, alcohol and tobacco had been around in one form or another since before the birth of Christ.

Judging by modern medical information the least harmful and addictive is marijuana.

The issue is that under state control you can regulate the product and the industry. It is a no-brainer so why not do it – now?

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