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”
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.
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”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson sounded very sanguine about the impact of Brexit on the New Zealand economy when he answered a “patsy” question from one of his own back-benchers in Parliament.
He noted NZ and the UK have signed two agreements that will help ensure continuity and stability in the regulatory arrangements underpinning New Zealand’s trade.
But (rather less confidently) he added that all NZ businesses which might be affected by Brexit should consider the implications of the full range of scenarios for their business and ensure that they have contingency plans in place.
“Current uncertainty means it is important for us to prepare for the full range of potential outcomes. Treasury’s assessment is that a no-deal Brexit would likely have a small overall negative impact on the NZ economy, mainly due to disruption of some specific NZ businesses and industries. For example, UK tourist numbers could fall, Kiwi goods could face delays at the UK border, and importers could face supply disruptions”. Continue reading “Robertson sounded sanguine about Brexit – but he is urging NZ traders to have contingency plans”
Parliament’s health and justice select committee heard harrowing tales this week from women afflicted with advanced breast cancer pleading for the politicians to help them access drugs which would prolong their lives.
The Dominion-Post reported cancer patient Marg Dobson appealed for an inquiry into Pharmac — which she called the “gatekeeper of the public purse” –— claiming women with stage four breast cancer deserved “gold standard treatment”, whereas NZ offered only bronze.
Imagine, then, the plight of a woman living in a Pacific Island country or territory contracting breast cancer. Many Pacific Island countries and territories don’t have adequate screening, pathology, oncology, surgical or palliation services.
These nations face the triple burdens of high rates of infection-related cancer, rapid transition to cancers relating to reproductive, dietary and hormonal factors, as well as ageing populations.
Many of them are unable to provide cancer services, so patients either don’t receive care, or are treated offshore where resources allow. This poses a huge economic burden on countries, the patient and their families.
But at least NZ is now doing its bit to help the island states to ease this burden. Continue reading “Professor heads team to tackle the complexities of cancer control in small island states”
The second element in the NZDF’s Future Air Mobility Capability addresses the replacement for the RNZAF’s two Boeing 757s which provide strategic transport. A major requirement is the ability to support New Zealand and US Antarctic operations from Christchurch.
The chosen aircraft will have a reasonable payload capacity and sufficient fuel reserves to reach the ice and return without landing.
The RNZAF much admires the Boeing C-17 Globemaster, but no matter what sort of leasing or shared arrangements were explored, nothing could overcome its eye-watering capital and operating costs, while the complexity of the aircraft was probably beyond the capacity of the RNZAF.
In an ideal political and budgetary environment, the Airbus A400M (once its technical issues are resolved) or the new Kawasaki Heavy Industries C-2 Airlifter might be suitable, but as explained in an earlier post, the limited size and resources of the NZDF likely rules either out. Continue reading “Long-distance Airbus airliner is among the options as NZDF considers its strategic transport needs”
Can Winston Peters revive the NZ racing industry?
Last year he famously said: “I’ve got no interest in being the Minister of Racing presiding over a dead horse.” But many within the industry fear that unless he moves swiftly, the animal, despite its staying power over the decades, will indeed expire.
The Deputy Prime Minister last year commissioned John Messara, described as a top administrator and stud owner in Australia, to review the NZ industry, which has been ailing for the past decade.
After he received the report last August, Peters noted Messara’s warning that thoroughbred horse racing “is at a tipping point of irreparable damage” and declared:
“My intention is to have officials produce a Cabinet paper with a set of recommendations for decision. While it is too early to say what Cabinet will agree upon, the severity of the situation means the status quo is unlikely to prevail.It’s reform or die, there’s no off-course substitute”. Continue reading “Racing industry put money on NZ First but Peters has yet to come home a winner”