Off to battle in support of rural schools

July 30, 2009

Alf didn’t need to be kicked into action by angry constituents, when they learned that eight schools in the Tararua District are threatened with closure after a review of rural education in the region.

He was on the case already, although it’s hard slog, trying to turn the tide once the bloody education bureaucrats are on a roll. Especially now that all government spending is being so closely watched.

Alf’s mate Shane Ardern had a similar experience a few years back, when schools were closed in his patch in Taranaki-King Country.

Something the bloody number-crunchers just don’t grasp is the critical role a school plays in holding a community together. The local school becomes a centre for a raft of community activities, no matter how few the numbers of pupils.

The value of this just can’t be measured.
Read the rest of this entry »

Farm leaders go gunning for the Johnson mob

May 15, 2009

Great news in the ODT today.

Farm leaders are gunning for Bryce Johnson and his mob, questioning whether public funds have been misappropriated by New Zealand Fish and Game and calling for a review of the organisation’s powers.

Their demands follow the High Court’s finding in favour of pastoral lessees and against Fish and Game, the rods and guns outfit which sought a declaratory judgement on whether lessees have exclusive possession and to grant the public greater access to leasehold land.

The right to exclusive possession hadn’t been questioned in the past, because it was the clear intent of the government to grant it when the leases were created.

Federated Farmers is among those now insisting the Government look at the legislative privilege that enables Fish and Game to fund such “frivolous litigation.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Walking quango is kept on a leash

April 23, 2009

Bad news for those of us who want to see quangos go the way of the moa, into extinction.

Another one has been given a new lease of life with the confirmation of its board appointments, although it has had its budget trimmed. This should help keep it leashed.

Agriculture Minster David Carter – normally a red-blooded with a healthy rural disregard for this sort of carry-on – today announced the members of the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
Read the rest of this entry »

Rural patients given a shot for travel

March 30, 2009

More good news from Health Minister Tony Ryall on the rural health front: he has announced an increase in the mileage allowance that patients can claim under the National Travel Assistance (NTA) policy. It’s the first increase in 20 years.

He’s on the job, too, looking into rural doctors’ and nurses’ concerns about rural ambulance services.

Dr Carol Horgan, chief executive of Dunstan Hospital near Clyde in Central Otago, was among those who raised the matter at the Rural General Practitioners Network conference in Wellington over the weekend.
Read the rest of this entry »

A boost for rural GPs

March 29, 2009

Looks like steps are being taken to help ease the lot of our hard-working rural GPs.

The GPs and the Ministry of Health are to look into frontline support for rural primary care.

Health Minister Tony Ryall told delegates at the NZ Rural General Practitioners’ Network conference in Wellington this weekend the Rural GP Network and the ministry group would look at how to use the different components of rural primary care funding to best support rural general practice.

The announcement is so fresh, it hadn’t been posted on the Beehive web-site at the time Alf posted this item.

But Ryall said:

“A key focus of the joint work programme will be to ensure we are getting maximum benefit from existing funding – given the current financial environment facing the country.”

While the work is being done, rural funding (the rural bonus of $4 million and the rural premium of $11 million) will continue to be allocated using current mechanisms.

An extra $5 million will be shared among general practices active in providing rural after-hours services – funding, fair to say, set aside by the previous government.

Ryall said:

“Rural general practice faces particular challenges from working in more remote areas, and issues of recruitment and retention remain. The new government has announced additional GP training places and the voluntary bonding scheme for midwives, nurses and doctors.”

The news should go down well with the good folks of Eketahuna North, although most constituents are in great nick, from a health point of view. That’s one of the benefits of rural living.

Tararua’s $13m drinking problem

March 26, 2009

Gotta give it to Tararua Mayor Maureen Reynolds for optimism.

She says (according to the Manawatu Standard) it will be impossible to come up with the dosh needed to improve her district’s drinking water – a matter of more than $13 million – without help from the Government.

Doesn’t she know we are lopping public spending, or trying to, because of the widening budget deficit and Standard and Poors putting us on credit watch and all that fiscal stuff?
Read the rest of this entry »

Locals hosed off over Makakahi constraints

March 18, 2009

Looks like the Tararua District Council would prefer the lawyers aren’t kept too busy (and well watered) after the Eketahuna Community Board appealed to the Environment Court over a water take consent variation issued by Horizons Regional Council.

The council wants to talk with the board, presumably to try to talk it out of pursuing the case.
Read the rest of this entry »

Saving ourselves from an impulse to say no

March 13, 2009

Alf recommends rural people gallop down to the Homepaddock each day for some good reading with a rural focus.

City folk will find good stuff there, too, such as the idea of an “as you were” function on our computers. It would save a file when someone impulsively but wrongly clicks “no” after being asked if you want to save it.
Read the rest of this entry »

Phew! Feds finally find favour with CIF move

March 9, 2009

They’re a hard bunch to please, those Federated Farmers wallahs.

It took them a bloody week to say Alf’s mate, Agriculture Minister David Carter, has done rural people a favour by expanding the Community Irrigation Fund to enable local authorities to apply for rural water storage grants.

The decision was recorded here last week as something likely to be cheered by the rural community.

But the feds obviously wanted to think long and hard about it before they did any cheering.
Read the rest of this entry »

Allowing more snouts into the trough

March 2, 2009

Rural people should be heartened to hear the Government is making a bigger splash than Labour did on the irrigation issue.

In the Tararua area we don’t get desperately short of water.

But it’s big deal in Canterbury and the Government is widening access to the Community Irrigation Fund to enable local bodies to dip their snouts into it
Read the rest of this entry »