Some light is thrown (but not much) on biodiversity working group’s line of accountability

Remember the consultative working group being established to develop the Wellington Regional Biodiversity Framework?

Sure you do.  It’s the group which gives more voting powers to Maori than to non-Maori members in electing co-leaders and – while it has been set up in the name of diversity – wants members to have a good grasp of Treaty stuff.

Elected members of the Greater Wellington Regional Council seem to have played no part in the way this working group is being established and the Wellington Regional Biodiversity Framework – which involves several organisations as well as the regional council – does not report to a council committee. Continue reading “Some light is thrown (but not much) on biodiversity working group’s line of accountability”

Comforting news for dairy farmers as companies report results and the world price rises again

Encouraging signs emerged this week that key elements in the structure of NZ’s largest export industry are whipping themselves back into the shape they should be.

The giant  co-op  Fonterra  has  gone back  into the  black  with a net profit of $80 million in the  first half,  after previously recording  a  net  loss of  $186m.

Meanwhile Westland Milk Products, NZ’s second biggest dairy co-op, is in line to be  sold  to China’s biggest  dairy company,  Yili,  in  a $588m  transaction that would inject nearly half a million  dollars into the operations of  each  of its  suppliers.

Alongside these co-ops, the Canterbury-based Synlait has underlined its strength in the  industry with a  solid result in  its half-year after  achieving   higher sales  volumes.  It reported a half-year net profit of $37.3m,  9.6%  lower  than   the  $41.3m  in the previous first   half,  but  with the  focus  on investing for  growth,  with a  second processing  plant due  to come on stream for  the  2019-20 season. Continue reading “Comforting news for dairy farmers as companies report results and the world price rises again”

Chinese organisations turn Aerospace aircraft into unmanned aerial vehicle

Hamilton’s Aerospace Ltd’s turboprop P-750 light utility aircraft has been developed into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in conjunction with a group of Chinese organisations for commercial and military applications.

The AT200 has been developed by Chinese company Star UAV with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Engineering Thermophysics and other Chinese state organisations.

Launch customer SF Express, a Chinese delivery services company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, and the second largest courier in China will acquire three AT200 for testing and evaluation.  Test flights have already begun.

SF Express provides domestic and international express delivery.

The plan is to use the aircraft for unmanned cargo flights. The AT200 will carry 1500 kg over ranges of up to 2000 km.

Attracting interest from agencies outside China is how SF Express would integrate the AT200 into its intensive network of logistical support for the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army, notably its new network of militarised islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Aerospace developed the P-750 from the legendary Fletcher Fu24 aerial topdressing machine. It is in widespread use around the world for tasks ranging from light freight to sky-diving.

The company says its extremely short capabilities put it in a class of its own.

It is certified in the US as well as NZ and is supported by major US firms including Pratt & Whitney, engine-makers.

In  China    where    skydiving    has taken off  as   a  recreational  activity,  Aerospace’s  P-750   is used extensively   because  of its ability to carry up to 17 skydivers to jump height fast and effortlessly and to return quickly to pick up more thrill-seekers.

Last year the company was taken to court and fined $74,000 for breaking UN sanctions by shipping parts to North Korea.

It is much too easy to win headlines – and then be treated leniently – for assaulting MPs

It’s rare for a politician in New Zealand to be mugged while out walking, broadcaster Barry Soper observed after Green Party co-leader James was assaulted in Wellington last week, although many had got into “skirmishes” when out doing their job.

The attack on Shaw prompted the PM to say New Zealanders should be proud of the access New Zealanders have to their politicians, whose job is to serve the people, but this assault showed they can’t take that for granted.

Soper recalled National’s Lockwood Smith once being forced to take a back door out of a university rather than face angry students as Education Minister.

But the last time a politician had been “supposedly attacked” while out walking was Keith Allen, a Minister in the Muldoon Government in 1983. Continue reading “It is much too easy to win headlines – and then be treated leniently – for assaulting MPs”

The Trough Monitor is alerted as more millions are poured into the Far North region

The announcement was made by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, whose Maori electorate happens to include the Kaikohe area which will benefit from the handouts.

He said the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $2.8 million “to further economic growth opportunities in tourism in the Mid-North and help lift the prosperity and well being of its communities”.

First, the PGF is investing $1.79 million to redevelop and enhance Te Waiariki Ngawha Springs, located near Kaikohe. Continue reading “The Trough Monitor is alerted as more millions are poured into the Far North region”

Air NZ’s response to Christchurch tragedy: regional flights were grounded while its fares soared …

Move over Shane Jones – Grant Robertson might be keen to join you in assailing Air NZ for its appalling exercise in yield management at the weekend in jacking up round fares to Christchurch to $747 and $787.

It took a crisp call from Finance Minister Robertson, who holds Air NZ’s shares for the Crown, to boot common sense into the Auckland warriors who run the national carrier.

Fares were capped and compassionate fares made available.

Air NZ furthermore cancelled 17 regional services from Christchurch, saying, it was not possible to screen customers and their baggage.

But wait a minute.  Those flights (on ATRs and Q300s) aren’t screened anyway.

So, there must have been another reason.

Perhaps the police wanted to prevent possible accomplices stealing away on non-screened flights. Continue reading “Air NZ’s response to Christchurch tragedy: regional flights were grounded while its fares soared …”

Extremism and intelligence: NZ should not be shortsighted about the benefits of Five Eyes

As New Zealand grapples with the enormities of the Christchurch terrorist attack and their implications for the country’s diverse social fabric, security and law and order, some issues are paramount.

High on the list is the importance to NZ of the Five-Eyes intelligence network, no matter what some the government’s coalition partners might think.   Five-Eyes has been forwarding significantly important information in recent months. Without it, NZ would be bereft.

For example, the presence of a noxious NZ Islamist in Iraq has been monitored carefully over several months, extending to the ​presence there of other New Zealanders, not extremists,  working in various nursing and assistance roles ​in precarious situations.

None of this important information could be provided to the prime minister without Five-Eyes. Continue reading “Extremism and intelligence: NZ should not be shortsighted about the benefits of Five Eyes”