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.

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”

Robertson sounded sanguine about Brexit – but he is urging NZ traders to have contingency plans

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”

Professor heads team to tackle the complexities of cancer control in small island states

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”

Long-distance Airbus airliner is among the options as NZDF considers its strategic transport needs

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”

Racing industry put money on NZ First but Peters has yet to come home a winner

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”