Monday, 16 January 2012

A long time between drinks!

# Big Farming Story of the Week: A long time between drinks!

They say a week is a long time in politics. Well a month is certainly a long time in farming, especially when it hasn’t rained for over a month. Last month (Dec 5) in this very column I wrote “The top of the country has been on the lookout for rain. The bottom end has had it in bucketfuls. And the bits in the middle are looking an absolute picture!”

Six weeks later and the weather gods have done a complete about face. The bits in the middle are still looking a picture, the top has been inundated with rain while Southland and Otago have gone from a wet November to a screaming January drought. Rain is forecast for the region as I write. I hope when you read this the drought is past tense.

# Big Political Story of the Week: The US Presidential Primaries.

While John Key holidays in Hawaii, the man with the name to warm the heart of Kiwi sheep farmers, Mitt Romney, has done the business in Iowa and New Hampshire. But is America ready to elect a Mormon money man accused of being a former corporate raider? They elected a black man but he had substance and charisma. The jury is out as to whether Romney has either of those qualities.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: SBW refuses to go away.

When our attention should be focused on the Australia/India test in Perth, two wonderful Manchester soccer sides, the tennis in Auckland and the domestic twenty/20 competition, we’re being sidetracked yet again by the Sonny Bill sideshow. The NZRU is acting like a lovesick puppy and SBW is wagging the dog. With the likes of McCaw, Carter, Smith and cockies Hore and Woodcock, the All Blacks have some wonderful role models and ambassadors. The Sydney Roosters are welcome to SBW.

# Brickbat: The Auckland Wharfies.

Good on Fonterra for taking its business elsewhere. The rhetoric coming from the union leaders reeks of that dreadful period in industrial relations, the 1970s and 80s, when New Zealand ground to a halt on occasions because of the bloody-minded attitude of unions. Farming was especially hard hit with the meat industry bordering on the farcical at times.
Been there, done that. No thanks this time round.

# Bouquet: My Mum.

Santa brought me some brand-spanking new Taylor Made golf clubs. This should have made for a merry Christmas with plenty of golf and the prospect of a happy new year (inflicting yet more defeat and embarrassment upon Steve Wyn-Harris on some golf course somewhere around the country). But it wasn’t a happy new year because my mum passed away on January 2.

I lost my father 33 years ago and that was tough because I was just a pup. But nothing prepares you for losing your mother. I guess it’s the maternal bond. She brought you into the world and you have to sit around helplessly watching while she departs it. Mum was born at the height of the Great Depression and spent her formative years in the dark shadow of World War II. Mum was tough. She had to be. Her father deserted the family and her mother tragically died when she was young. She made it her life’s work to make sure we never endured the same fate.

Her last days were spent in an under resourced health system that seems to think sickness takes a break on statutory holidays. Thankfully she was surrounded by her four children because doctors were few and far between. This is not an indictment of the wonderful health professionals who staff our hospitals, rather it’s a sad commentary on their lack of numbers.

My resolution for 2012, other than beating Wyn-Harris, is to use every publicity resource at my disposal to hold the government to account for a health system that needs more money, not less. Austerity is the buzz word for 2012 and we can all expect belt-tightening to be the order of the day, with government leading the way. But health spending is like eyeballs and the other balls on the rugby paddock. Sacrosanct! Not to be touched. Watch out John and Bill. Me and mum are on your case.

Jamie Mackay is the host of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB.


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