Monday, 23 May 2011

Taxing times for dairy farmers

# Big Farming Story of the Week: Taxing times for dairy farmers.

It was open season last week on dairy farmers when Labour’s Stuart Nash (who?) trawled out some out-of-date figures from the 2009 financial year to suggest dairy farmers only paid, on average, $1500 tax on an income in excess of $500,000 while the average wage earner forked out $8000 for their $50,000 income.

Wednesday’s Dominion Post headline screamed out “Is This Fair?” Perhaps more pertinently, it should have asked if its own reporting was fair. I don’t wish to sound like an apologist or patsy for the dairy industry, because the same tax rules apply to all businesses, but to quote gross incomes rather than taxable profits was misleading at best and downright mischievous at worst.

It would seem that the Great Clobbering Machine has singled out farming. The politics of envy is ugly, never more so than in election year, when the last thing this country needs is a widening rural-urban divide.

# Big Political Story of the Week: A Black Budget to get us back in the black.

While it was hardly a budget to match Arnold Nordmeyer’s 1958 effort or Ruthless Ruth Richardson’s 1991 “Mother of All Budgets” , it was none-the-less a parsimonious piece of oratory from Black Bill English. After the credit-fuelled splurge of 2002-2007, saving is now sexy and reckless spending is so last decade! And that’s the way it should be. Our Presbyterian forebears would be proud. My only gripe is John Key refusing to budge on the age of entitlement for old age pension.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: Dan Carter signs up for another four years in black.

Now all we need to do is get Richie to do likewise and we’ll be happiness-filled right through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Here’s hoping the dynamic duo will still be up for it at 33 and 34 respectively. While they’ll hardly be old age pensioners, their coach could well be if we’re to believe the rumour mill surrounding Graham Henry’s desire to do a Sir Alex Ferguson!

# Brickbat: Hone gets a week off in favour of Palmerston North airport.

Unlike the ungracious John Cleese, I think Palmy North’s a great place with a bustling rural economy, a seat of learning, in Massey University, for our future agricultural innovators and windmills on the hill.

My only gripe with Palmy is, that after a wonderful evening in Fielding at the Steak of Origin competition, I had to pay a $5 “domestic departure development levy” to depart turbine territory. And when I went to pay this usurious fee, the bloke at the payment counter did not accept eftpos. So I say to Palmerston North, this is bollocks! Air New Zealand has already had its pound of flesh, don’t expect me to pay for your failed international airport status.

# Bouquet: For the second week running, goes to Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Meaty Mike Petersen, the chairman of the fine aforementioned organization, was a bit miffed with my comments last week that maybe his beloved Red Meat Sector Strategy contained well-intentioned platitudes we’d all heard before. So just to prove I’m a fair and reasonable man, and not the bitter cynic Meaty Mike suggested, I’m going to once again sing the praises of B+LNZ.

Chief executive Rod Slater, the man who set up the Mad Butcher chain with Sir Peter Leitch, knows a thing or two about red meat. And he knows a thing or two about how to promote it. There can be no finer example than the B+LNZ stable of Iron Maidens. The Evers-Swindell twins, the two Sarahs (Ulmer and Walker) and Commonwealth Games golden girl Allison Shanks are pure marketing gold and worth every sirloin steak and lamb chop B+LNZ sends their way.

Footnote: Jamie Mackay is the host of the Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB. In a past life a Southland sheep farmer, these days he comments on farming, politics and sport for a living from the relative safety and comfort of his radio studio in Dunedin.


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