rugby: All Blacks finish on a High

By Roger Childs

There was no way the national rugby team was going to lose three tests in a row. After defeats to Australia and Argentina in consecutive weeks, the All Blacks roared back yesterday to thrash the Pumas in Newcastle 38-0. It was the sort of form the fans expect, and players and coaches were well aware that their reputations were on the line. As expected the New Zealanders were on the offensive from the start and never let the Pumas get into the game. 

It was just 10-0 at half time and after missing some early scoring opportunities in the second half, Ardie Savea eventually crashed over for a try from a well worked lineout movement. The Argentines had had to make a large number of tackles as they held off wave after wave of attacks for much of the game, but finally in the last quarter the pressure told and there were three late All Black tries.

Passion, commitment and discipline

Two weeks ago the Pumas had played out of their skins and soundly beat the lack-lustre All Blacks 25-15. Surprisingly their selectors chose two new props in the run-on team at Newcastle and they proved no match for Joe Moody and Nepa Laulala. In the scrums the New Zealanders invariably shunted their opponents back meaning that there was quality front-foot ball for Smith to set the backs alight with rapid passing or for the number eight to launch attacks on the blindside.

This was not a flawless performance and there was still too much ball kicked away, Mo’unga normally accurate cross kicks were too long and there were some poor options taken in the backs.  However generally the All Blacks ran hard at the opposition, the passing was slick and Caleb Clarke on the left wing was particularly impressive. They were also quick to capitalise on the many handling errors made by the Pumas and late in the game Will Jordan coming off the bench shows tremendous pace to pick up two tries from intercepts.

Unlike two weeks ago the All Blacks dominated the rucks and mauls, and the forwards running in mid field always got over the advantage line.  As usual the tackling was strong and the Pumas never looked like scoring.

Looking ahead

Ian Foster and his coaching team will have been pleased and relieved with the team’s performance. There was plenty of commitment in this last test of the year and the discipline was impressive apart from some flurries in the last few minutes, The future for New Zealand rugby looks good, as all 23 players who took the field in Newcastle showed they were worthy of wearing the coveted black jersey. It is uncertain who the All Blacks will play 2021 however whoever their opponents are, the team will be looking to play consistently at the level of their test victories in Auckland, Sydney and Newcastle.

1080 poison drop in the Tararua Range — fibs and fallacies

By Tony Orman

The Tararua Ranges’ 1080 drops scheduled by OSPRI and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have no justification says the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust.  The OSPRI (formerly The Animal Health Board) planned drop east of Levin is founded on false beliefs.

Trust spokesman and conservationalist Laurie Collins of the West Coast says current 1080 aerial drops on public lands in the Tararua Ranges and other areas are based on the two fallacies –

  • of possums spreading TB 
  • that the country has a bovine TB problem.

“Neither is true,” he says. “It’s irresponsible of OSPRI to be wasting public funds and damaging the ecology of public lands with 1080 and telling fibs.” 

Laurie Collins says the belief in possum-spread bovine Tb has been disproven a few years go when in Parliament the Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, disclosed that of 9830 possums autopsied, none had Tb. “Yet in 2020 we have OSPRI carrying out mass aerial 1080 poisoning in several areas including public lands such as the Tararua Ranges,” he says.

New Zealand is virtually TB-free

Laurie Collins says New Zealand is virtually TB free and probably one of the most TB-free countries in the world. The world standard for a country to declare “TB free” is 0.2% for TB infected herds and 0.1% for infected cattle. New Zealand rates of TB infection in cattle were slight, i.e. 0.0019% average generally over the last decade. 

“It is so far below that required by world standards for a TB-free declaration  — New Zealand must be one of the world’s most TB-free countries.”

“Of deep concern to New Zealanders who are outdoor Kiwis whether tramping, hunting, trout fishing or seeking whatever recreation in mountain areas, is the indiscriminate spreading of a poison that kills anything which ingests it.”

The poison 1080 has no “species boundaries — whether an insect, bird or animal, it kills.” he says. “Basically 1080 is an eco-system poison.”

Laurie Collins, now retired, has long and extensive experience of 1080, having been involved as a Forest Service trainee in the trials of the toxin’s first use in the late 1950s in the Caples Valley, Lake Wakatipu and in subsequent pest management work.

Transporting stock has spread TB

In the past there have been cases of farmers wrongly transporting stock from infected areas with resultant TB outbreaks on farms. OSPRI had ignored the stock transportation factor, proceeded to wrongly blame possums and then aerially spread 1080 over adjoining public lands. Laurie Collins cites such an instance in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.

NZ’s extremely low TB infection rates raises the question whether OSPRI has a continuing role. “Instead of celebrating New Zealand’s TB-free status, OSPRI remains in denial and states its aim is total eradication of TB,” he says. “Is it that OSPRI want to continue its existence and jobs, funded by taxpayers and from farmer levies?”

Even from the first discovery of TB in possums near Westport in the late 1960s, no-one ever seems to have questioned whether the possum infected cattle, or cattle infected the possum. The default position has always been that it is possum that have infected the cattle. 

the Council is inviting the public’s views on the Waikanae library

Last month we asked several questions about the building that was being used until its forced closure in December 2018, and the responses are shown below. It’s fairly clear from them that no firm plans or even ideas yet exist.

The reality, however, is that gutting and refurbishing that building is the economically sensible option, given the bad state of KCDC finances.

“As communities evolve and develop, so does the role a library plays. Libraries are no longer just about books; they’re about people. They can play a vital role in promoting and building a community’s well-being by providing opportunities for social interaction and learning activities. Alongside the development of a new library for Waikanae, we are investigating the future role of libraries in our communities. We want to ensure our libraries are shaped to support our communities now and into the future.”

The Council webpage to make statements on is here

warhawk tipped to be Biden’s Secretary of Defense

No, not Hilary Clinton — even Biden isn’t that stupid — but his pick is little better; like Hilary (and Biden) she is an enthusiast for internationalist intervention, of the military kind, and like Hilary clearly fond of big bang wargasms.


Flourney

According to numerous media reports, President-elect Joe Biden is giving serious consideration to selecting Michèle Flournoy, a former Obama administration official, as Secretary of Defense. Based on her track record, Flournoy would neither serve Biden nor the country well.

Regardless of who Biden eventually selects, his next Pentagon chief should be someone who recognizes the world we live in today is different than the one we inherited after the Cold War.

Flournoy may look impressive on paper. She was the third highest ranking official in the Department of Defense during President Barack Obama’s first term, serving as under secretary of defense for policy and formerly the chief executive officer of the influential Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

But throughout her tenure in the Obama administration, Flournoy was often wrong on key matters of war and peace. In 2011, for example, she testified before the House Armed Services Committee that Obama’s Afghan surge was working.

Read the rest

Surprise! Royal Commission evidence to be suppressed for 30 years

A short piece in today’s NZ Herald is below. Back in August we predicted there would be no major release to the public of any significant evidence relating to the terrorist rampage in Christchurch and what preceded it. After all, incompetence by top bosses in the Public Service, whose considerable salaries are met by taxpayers, can’t be revealed, can it?

The interview with Tarrant probably repeated most of what he put in his manifesto at the time, which was promptly banned on Jacinda’s orders.


AlNoor

Evidence given by ministers and public sector bosses to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack will be suppressed for 30 years.

And an interview with the Australian-born terrorist will never be released out of concern it could inspire and assist further attacks.

The inquiry’s report was provided to Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti yesterday and will be publicly released on December 8, after first being shared with victims’ families and political party leaders.

It will detail any failings by police, spies, and other government agencies in the leadup and aftermath to the mosque shootings on March 15, 2019, in which 51 people were killed.

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rugby: a Must-Win for the All Blacks

By Roger Childs

The All Blacks have had two wins, two loses and a draw in the tests over the last two months. This is not the sort of record that the players or supporters are used to. In the games against the Wallabies in Auckland and Sydney the team played with passion, flair and commitment to score plenty of tries and nail decisive victories. The fans would love to see this approach on Saturday in the return match with the Pumas.

Lessons learned?

The All Blacks will have learnt a lot from the earlier loss to the Argentines, and both players and coaches will know that their reputations are on the line. They need to take the game to their opponents and vary the tactics. 

 In the first test the All Blacks were far too predictable and telegraphed most of their moves. They also kicked away too much precious possession. There was also the overuse of forward bashing up the middle instead of getting the ball out to the fast men.

Make it a guessing game

Tactically, if you are going to win, you need to keep the opposition guessing. On Saturday the All Blacks need to vary the play in the backs with a combination of quick passing, double rounds, kicking over the top into space and occasionally running two lines. Forwards out in the backs slow the game down and in the clutter the opposition can easily nail the man with the ball. If there are to be high kicks they should be designed to allow players to have an even chance of retrieving the ball.

The front row has been strengthened with Nepo Laulala named at prop in the run-on team. At rucks, mauls and lineouts all eight forwards should be contesting for possession instead of having players standing off.  A bad feature of Super Rugby and the tests this year has been two or three defending forwards watching the opposition eight advancing from lineout drives and rolling mauls. Once the opposition gets momentum going forward push-back becomes impossible.

Speed to the loose ball is critical to win possession or create turnovers. The inclusion of Akira Ioane on the flank for Saturday’s match will hopefully make the All Blacks sharper in this vital facet of the game. 

Discipline is critical

This aspect is vital to provide the basis for success. It is always tempting to retaliate to off the ball illegal play, but the All Blacks must focus on not giving away stupid penalties, Puma’s goal kicker Nicolás Sánchez has slotted 11 penalties in his last two outings and will happily kick more in the up-coming match, if given the chance. Sam Cane needs to be much more assertive as captain in maintaining discipline and being able to change the game plan should it be necessary.

The All Blacks have the team to win on Saturday and will definitely not want three losses on the trot. There should be plenty of motivation to end the season on a high, but it will take a combination of tactical nous, strict discipline, forward commitment and flair in the backs to pull it off. 

The Root Cause of Councils’ Lack of Accountability

Almost everyone in Kapiti knows that KCDC is one of the most problematic councils in the country — among other things, it has bloated inefficient staffing, very high indebtedness, and a record of bad decisions combined with mismanagement over more than a decade — but other councils are problematic too.

This article on the BFD deals with the accountability issue, and backs up Cr Gwynn Compton’s call for a Royal Commission on local government.


Kremlin

In the week I am writing this, Wellington City Council has announced it is facing a whopping 23% rates rise, and Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell has resigned amidst calls to replace elected councillors with a government commissioner.

There is something seriously wrong with our council system.

In order to have any chance of fixing the problems, we need to be clear and honest about what the root causes are. To do that, we need to understand the structure of councils and how they operate.

The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) effectively creates two separate organisations. We elect councillors. We do not elect the council.

Councillors have very limited power and are supposed to keep out of operational matters. The councillors employ one person – the chief executive. All council staff are employed by the chief executive. This is the root cause of the lack of accountability. Staff do not answer to the councillors, who are our elected representatives. Therefore staff do not answer to citizens or ratepayers.

We are led to believe we can change council by voting out councillors once every three years. The reality is that our elected representatives are the fall guys for poor performance by staff. We, the people, get angry and frustrated at waste and poor service, but we cannot change the council’s processes or staff agendas.

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