Fonterra adds expertise to inquiry panel

August 15, 2013

Fonterra has added more expertise to the panel inquiring in to the contaminated whey protein concentrate.

An independent inquiry into the circumstances of quality issues with a whey protein concentrate (WPC80), announced by Fonterra’s Board early this week, is now underway.

Inquiry Chairman and Fonterra Independent Director Sir Ralph Norris said the first Inquiry Committee meeting held yesterday had confirmed terms of reference for the Inquiry and noted the appointment by the Fonterra Board of a further independent member – Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland – who will join the Committee, effective immediately.

“Professor McCutcheon is a respected New Zealander whose independence, strong credentials as a scientist, and governance experience will further ensure the Inquiry is conducted at the right level and addresses the right questions without fear or favour,” Sir Ralph said.

Professor McCutcheon holds a PhD, has completed post-doctoral work as a Harkness fellow at Cornell University and published extensively in the fields of endocrinology and metabolic physiology. He is a previous Director of the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and is presently Chair of the Universities New Zealand Research Committee.

Professor McCutcheon joins retired High Court Judge Dame Judith Potter as the two independent members on the committee, alongside five Fonterra Directors, and Chapman Tripp QC, Jack Hodder, who is undertaking a review of events for the committee.

To assist with technical aspects of this review the WPC80 Inquiry Committee has also confirmed the appointment of an international expert on the manufacturing and safety of foods and food components. He is Jacob Heida, an expert in whey production processes and standards for infant food ingredients and current member of the Disciplinary Committee of the Netherlands Controlling Authority for Milk and Milk Products. . .

This is a high-powered and well qualified group and it needs to be to reassure shareholders, customers and the public.

The inquiry is expected to take about six weeks.


Word of the day

August 15, 2013

Slangwhanger – one who verbally attacks others; one who uses abusive slang; a ranting partisan; a newspaper columnist who was free to express personal opinions; political orator; bar-room pundit; hell-fire preacher;  bullying court lawyer.


Rural round-up

August 15, 2013

What Fonterra critics can learn from Sir Henry – Willy Leferink:

In the space of a few days farmers went from the heights of Mt Everest to the bottom of the Marianna Trench. That is what it seemed lurching from the fantastic payout forecast into Fonterra’s product recall.

We now know that a product, worth a few hundred thousand dollars, will likely end up costing Fonterra tens of millions. That is what CEO Theo Spierings told TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday and will likely be customer claims relating to the recall. Fonterra’s recall was a shock and we absolutely must do the right thing by our customers and consumers. That is not in question. But if you were a consumer abroad and went off the New Zealand media coverage, you would have thought that Fonterra was some corporate version of Sweeney Todd.

In my years of farming, I have come to learn that things are never as good or as bad as they first seem, they are just what they are.

I do not think that Fonterra has done everything right but there’s a huge ‘damned if you do, dammed if you don’t’ reality when facing some feral media. Especially when the most feral are those in our own backyard. As the days went on the initial fever pitch whipped up was slowly replaced with a growing sense of perspective; testing had led to a precautionary recall. . . .

We must prove to customers that our high standards are more than words. Critical self-examination and then action, will go a long, long way – Bruce Wills:

. . . Last Thursday there was celebration that the 2013/14 forecast payout would clear overdrafts built up over the drought.

Then came news Clostridium botulinum had been found in the whey protein concentrate, WPC80.

I sense we may just be getting through the worst of this initial crisis.

Yet one unsanitary pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu factory must not be allowed to define 120-year’s worth of hard work. . . .

Fonterra food scare claims scalp of NZ Milk Gary Romano:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s tainted food scare has claimed its first scalp with the resignation of NZ Milk Products managing director Gary Romano.

Romano, who initially fronted for Fonterra to New Zealand media while chief executive Theo Spierings went to China, has resigned effective immediately, the dairy company said in a statement. Spierings will personally assume interim responsibility for the daily operations of NZ Milk, which collects milk from New Zealand farmers and manufacturers it into dairy products ready for export.

Romano’s focus was “to drive profitability through a customer-centric approach to business that delivers world-class standards in productivity, quality, safety and service,” Fonterra said on its website . . .

Fisherman’s new net may save young fish – Michael Morrah:

A commercial fisherman in Napier has taken the unusual step of speaking out about wasteful practices in the industry. Rick Burch says he’s sick of needlessly killing juvenile fish, and has developed a type of net he thinks can help.

Mr Burch is the first to admit that he’s seen a lot of waste since first taking to the water in the 1960s.

“You step back and say, ‘Do I really need to continue killing everything in the ocean?'”

But he says making just small alterations to the standard pattern of a fishing net would save fuel and help release young round fish like gurnard. . .

Mild Winter Leads To Early Spring:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 82 more farm sales (+23.0%) for the three months ended July 2013 than for the three months ended July 2012. Overall, there were 438 farm sales in the three months to end of July 2013, compared to 474 farm sales for the three months ended June 2013 (-7.6%). 1,536 farms were sold in the year to July 2013, 6.7% more than were sold in the year to July 2012.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to July 2013 was $20,667; a 15.1% increase on the $17,955 recorded for three months ended July 2012. The median price per hectare rose 4.8% compared to June. . .

Introducing The Collective’s Limited Edition Kiwi Gourmet Probiotic Yoghurt:

Kiwifruit, fresh and furry, this vibrant wee fruit is irrevocably Kiwi, to the core. And now, partnered with its best-ever comrade – The Collective’s signature gourmet yoghurt, the ever-vibrant kiwi begs the question; who needs wings when you’ve got ridiculously tasty New Zealand dairy?

Never being ones to disappoint we can tell you that the first taste of The Collective’s Kiwi will have your taste-buds tingling for more… a huge dash of national pride and a pairing of delicious dairy and kiwifruit, this gourmet treat might as well be called New Zealand in a tub… no bull! . . .


Thursday’s quiz

August 15, 2013

It’s another busy week and you did such a good job of providing the questions last Thursday, I’m prevailing upon you to do it again.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win an electronic bunch of daffodils.


Poverty doesn’t cause abuse

August 15, 2013

The first topic of discussion on Afternoon’s Panel on Tuesday was Paula Bennett’s proposals for countering the scourge of child abuse.

One of the panelists, Gary McCormick, asserted that the root cause of the problem was poverty (starting at about 9:01).

Host Jim Mora said there was disagreement about the extent to which poverty is related to child abuse.

McCormick disagreed.

Guest Anthea Simcock from Child Matters then came on (about 12 minutes) and said while poverty was related to the issues it was not the primary cause and child abuse wouldn’t be fixed by fixing poverty alone.

McCormick came back in (13:56) and told her she was wrong and poverty was the cause of the problems.

She countered that by saying it was a co-existing factor but not a causal one.

He came back and eventually said he refused to believe what she was saying.

This is a prime example of someone not letting the facts getting in the way of their convictions and he’s not the only one.

Lindsay Mitchell blogs:

John Minto says that Labour needs “a kick up the backside” for not pushing the message that poverty is the “key factor” behind child abuse.

He says there are NEVER any excuses for child abuse but there are REASONS behind it.

Unfortunately reasons becomes excuses very easily.

Can I take you back to just a couple of things that people like John Minto ignore.

Child abuse rates are not high amongst all groups with high poverty rates. In fact they are lower amongst poor Asians.

Household incomes of Maori and Pacific families are growing faster than the median, yet the rate of Maori child abuse is not declining. . .

Poverty is a problem but a lot of very poor people love and care for their children and some who aren’t poor abuse them.

The problems of poverty and child abuse both need to be addressed but it is wrong to assert that solving the former will solve the latter.


AgResearch’s purpose is ag research

August 15, 2013

Delegates to a southern summit in Dunedin yesterday were united in their call for more investment in Invermay agricultural research centre.

And the message would be delivered in person to government ministers and the AgResearch board by a southern delegation within days, Mayor Dave Cull said yesterday.

His comments followed yesterday’s AgResearch-Invermay summit in Dunedin, which drew more than 50 delegates from organisations across the lower South Island.

The delegates spent much of the day discussing ways to save Invermay and boost the regional economy, before emerging with an action plan that was big on potential but light on detail.

The ”alternative proposition” would be for more investment to expand Invermay, while emphasising the national, as well as regional, economic benefits that would result, he said. . .

AgResearch’s purpose isn’t to provide economic benefits from its location,

It’s purpose is to do agricultural research.

. . . There was also agreement about the threats posed by AgResearch’s plan to shift 85 Invermay jobs to either Lincoln or Palmerston North.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said that included Invermay’s ”vital” research into improving water quality in Southland as land-use patterns continued to intensify.

She told delegates the Southland environment was ”very different” from Canterbury’s, and Invermay’s research needed to occur in southern conditions and be presented ”first-hand” to farmers to change habits.

”That won’t happen in Canterbury. It won’t happen in Massey University. That science needs to happen in Southland.” . . .

This is a valid argument, but AgResearch’s plan is not to close the research centre completely and it is possible that those who remain could still do this work.

Agricultural research can and does result in economic benefits at local, regional and national levels.

But it should be done where it is done best with the best use of limited money.

Whether or not that is at Invermay as it is, as a smaller centre or as a bigger one is debatable.

Morale has been low for years with scientists complaining they spend more time applying for funds than doing science.

That feeling probably isn’t peculiar to Invermay, or agricultural research but it reinforces the importance of making best use of what money AgResearch has.

As for regional development, the southern leaders should be looking inland to Queenstown where the winter games are taking place and will pump millions of dollars into the economy.

Games chief executive Arthur Klap said . . .  ”there is a direct economic flow of somewhere between $3 million to $5 million” and on top of that the games spends around $3 million on organisation such as wages, stages and local bands.

”Fifty percent of our budget is locally spent.”

A key economic benefit of the games, he said, was that they attracted a large number of international athletes and their management, meaning ”it’s new dollars into the country”.

This year the games was investing $1 million in television coverage.

Thirty-eight broadcasters in more than 100 countries would be screening events. . .

Whether or not the delegation will alter the decision to reduce the Invermay workforce, southern leaders need to be looking to a range of opportunities for economic development.

Those in local government must also look at themselves to ensure they are doing all they can to reduce the costs of setting up and growing businesses.


GSCB Bill explained

August 15, 2013

In between interruptions and attempted justifications from John Campbell, Prime Minister John Key explained the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Amendment Bill.

Do people care?

“We got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill, and 30,000 on snapper,” he says.

Mr Key says he spends a lot of time touring the country, but the GCSB bill is not a topic that comes up in his discussions.

“People do not raise GCSB. I have public meetings, I have question sessions at everything I do. I probably have half a dozen meetings a day with public engaging with people…People don’t raise this issue,” he tells Campbell Live. . .

Whether or not people care, doesn’t change the facts:

*  The GCSB will need to obtain a warrant from the Commissioner of High Security Warrants – a retired court judge appointed by Mr Key.

* The surveillance of] Kim Dotcom was illegal under the old law and it’s illegal under the new law.

* Mr Key says some discussion around the bill has been misrepresented, and the organisation will not be able to spy on New Zealanders.

* the original problems with the GCSB stem from a section passed by the Labour Government in 2003.

Another couple of points from the video (at about 18:15)
* The only legal things they [GCSB] can do is provide assistance, and they do that about nine times a year.
* Anything else they might do in cyber searches would require a warrant, they wouldn’t have access to content and it would be a bit like virus protection.
Some other points not covered in the interview:

The Bill clarifies the law that the GCSB operates under.

* The GCSB had been assisting other agencies like the NZSIS, Defence and Police for years, under the previous Labour Government as well as under the National-led Government. The Labour administration knew about this activity and signed off on it.

* The GCSB believed that it was operating within the law at all times, but it is now clear that there are difficulties in interpretation in the law.

* The Prime Minister is responsible for for national security and takes it seriously. That’s why the Government is moving to clarify the law so that it is legally clear the GCSB can assist other agencies, as it has done for years.

This Bill won’t change what can be done, the SIS can do anything the Bill would permit the GCSB to do.

This isn’t a debate about whether a particular New Zealander will have intelligence gathered about them and about their activities.

It will happen with appropriate oversight and safeguards.

The question is whether the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) does it, or if GCSB does it under a warrant gained by the SIS.

The GCSB has the capability to do it now, the SIS doesn’t. If the Bill isn’t enacted what would have been done by the GCSB will be done by the SIS, more expensively.

I thought the Prime Minister won the debate, so did Gravedodger who reviews the interview here.

But it’s not only those of us in the blue corner who weren’t impressed with the interviewing.

Whaleoil found this on Twitter:

@JohnJCampbell Raving is not interviewing, John. A graceless and embarrassing performance. This from your greatest fan. Brian

 

 

 

 


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