Home' Greymouth Star : May 16th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, May 16, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1770 - Marie Antoinette, aged 14, is wed to
France’s King Louis XVI, aged 15.
1868 - US Senate fails by one
vote to convict President Andrew
Johnson on one of 11 articles of
1929 - In Hollywood, the first
Academy Awards go to actress Janet
Gaynor and actor Emil Jannings; the
best film is Wings.
1943 - In World War Two, British
Lancaster aircraft bomb the Mohne and the
Eder dams in Germany ’s industrial Ruhr basin,
using a bouncing bomb.
1975 - Japanese climber Junko Tabei becomes
the first woman to reach the summit of Mount
1987 - Fijian military coup eader, Sitiveni
Rabuka, calls for a new constitution to block the
1990 - Death from throat cancer of entertainer
Sammy Davis Jr in Los Angeles at age 64.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Henry Fonda, US actor (1905-1982); Betty
Carter, US jazz singer (1929-1998); Pierce
Brosnan, Irish actor (1953-); Debra
Winger, US actress (1955-); Mare
Winningham, US actress (1959-);
Janet Jackson, pop singer(1966-);
Gabriela Sabatini, Argentinian
tennis player (1970-); Danielle
Spencer, Australian singer/actress
(1970-); Tori Spelling, US actress
(1973-); Megan Fox, American actress (1986-).
“Ideas won’t keep; something must be done
about them.” — Alfred North Whitehead,
“ We must always give thanks to God for you,
brothers and sisters, as is right, because your
faith is growing abundantly, and the love of
everyone of you for one another is increasing.”
— (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
Snow made an
to the sea coast
yesterday when it swept through the streets of
Greymouth, covering surrounding hills. And
soon it engulfed the whole of the West Coast
in a cold blitz. This morning roads, lawns, cars
and every type of structure appeared with a
thick coating of frost after the temperature
here dropped to the lowest point in nine
Many of Greymouth’s oldest residents can
only remember two other occasions in the
last 50 years in which snow has fallen here.
The first was in the early thirties and the last
time was about 25 years ago. For many young
Greymouth children it was the first time they
had seen snow and certainly the first chance
they had to build snowmen in their own
The Greymouth RTA strike committee’s
blacklist is growing. It is in possession of a list
of truck names — names that are not usually
seen on the West Coast. It will circulate
this list to the various strike headquarters in
Canterbury and will keep the list “for future
Road transport operators from Canterbury,
Otago, Marlborough and the West Coast
today continued to move goods throughout the
South Island, according to a Press Association
“Goods are moving quite smoothly and I
would expect all the urgent items to be cleared
from Canterbury Court, Addington, by
Thursday,” said the chairman of the Chamber
of Commerce’s committee today. He estimated
that had the backlog not been cleared, “people
in manufacturing and retail might be out of
uFood for thought
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onterra’s farmers are in a
happier place these days.
Milk prices have recovered,
the dairy co-op’s earnings
are up, the outlook for next
season is broadly favourable
and world supply looks to be better
attuned to demand.
Farmers will be thanking their lucky
stars that two successive seasons of
desperately low milk prices did not
extend to a third, as some had predicted,
and that a string of freakish food safety
scares is now in the past.
It has been a testing time for Fonterra
and its farmers, to say the least, but
chief executive Theo Spierings says he
always felt support from the “80% silent
majority” of its 11,500 or so farmers.
“In difficult times, including the low
milk price period, we always had approval
to keep to our strategy and keep our
focus on our strategic choices, and I think
that has paid off,” Mr Spierings said.
Now the price is $6 for the current
season, which ends in about a month.
“It means farmers can have faith at $6
to $6.50, and consumers can buy,” he said.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for the
In his near six-year tenure, the milk
price hit a record of $8.40/kg in 2013-14
before slumping to $4.40 and $3.90 in
the two following years.
Then there were the well-publicised
food safety scares.
“ We were not in crisis mode, but we
had incident management teams running
for 18 months,” he said.
“It was a day job, then it was a night
At the same time, the co-op invested
about $3.5 billion in New Zealand and
abroad, based on its strategy of putting
more milk to work, faster, and into the
higher value end of the market.
Mr Spierings said the extraordinary
run of setbacks — traces of the chemical
DCD being found in milk, a false
botulinum test, and the 1080 poison
extortion case — “tested our resilience”.
“ We faced big challenges, but we came
out stronger,” he said.
“Right now, in terms of our
performance, and in terms of others
wanting to enter partnerships with us, we
are well placed.”
“The heat has gone out of the situation,”
ANZ rural economist Con Williams said.
“The milk price has gone up and the
dividend is holding. The share price is
holding well, too, but there is still a lot of
work to be done.”
In the dairy heartland of the Waikato,
Federated Farmers provincial president
Chris Lewis said farmers seemed happier
with their co-op these days.
“They (Fonterra) have put a lot of effort
in over the last couple of years, in making
sure that they support their farmers —
not just collecting milk and paying them
a cheque,” Mr Lewis said.
“Five years ago there was a lot of talk
about their direction, but it’s now a
matter of fine-tuning business going
Mr Spierings’ predecessor, Andrew
Ferrier, was in the job for eight years, and
Mr Spierings, who is coming up to six, is
not making noises about moving on just
“There is a board and there is
management and we need to agree
together on what the future is, but I am
working hard on the next five years and
the board is extremely engaged on that,”
“ Yes, it was a roller coaster and yes, we
got stronger, so I think that we are very
well placed to do this.”
Chief executives tend to stay in the job
for just a few years, but Mr Spierings,
who came from Fries-land Campina in
the Netherlands, does not accept there is
a standard tenure.
“I have seen many chief executs who
have been in companies like Fonterra for
a very long time,” he said.
In Australia, historically a problem
market for Fonterra, the co-op has been
restructuring over the past three years to
slim down its business.
At the same time, its main opposition,
Murray Goulburn, has run into trouble,
turning a $A31.9 million ($NZ34.3
million) loss in its first half-year and
suffering a 20% fall in milk supply as
farmers vote with their feet.
Australia’s consumer and competition
watchdog, the ACCC, has instituted
Federal Court proceedings, alleging
Murray Goulburn “engaged in
unconscionable conduct ” by misleading
farmers about milk prices.
Mr Spierings said Fonterra was focusing
on its own operations over the Tasman.
“It has taken a lot of pain over the
last three years but we are fit, agile and
focused on our Australian milk pool
The Australian strategy has involved
cutting out the extraneous operations to
focus on cheese, whey and nutritionals
The company ’s factory in Stan-hope,
northern Victoria, which was damaged by
fire in in 2014, has been rebuilt and will
soon be up and running, and the Darnum
infant formula joint venture with China’s
Beingmate is already operating.
“ We have made strategic choices in
Australia and I think that that has paid
off,” Mr Spierings said.
Murray Goulburn’s decision to close
three factories did not mean Fonterra
was in the market for more acquisitions,
mostly because its own facilities were not
“ We can still increase our milk supply
by 20% and fill our assets; after that we
might think about acquisitions,” Mr
But while Fonterra has streamlined its
Australian operation, the country remains
a difficult market.
“The biggest problem for everybody in
Australia is the inefficiency,” he said.
“It’s a highly fragmented market
that has never been rationalised or
“Milk supply (in Australia) is coming
down. The milk pool is shrinking.
There is way too much stainless steel
“ We should fight for market share and
to fill our factories.”
Fonterra has hitched its wagon to China
in no uncertain terms.
Analysts have questioned its investment
in Chinese infant formula company
Beingmate, whose performance has gone
from bad to worse.
And Fonterra’s extensive farming
operations in China have yet to turn a
But Mr Spierings said those parts of the
business belied what had been a “highly
profitable” experience for Fonterra over a
The farms were close to making a profit,
and Beingmate’s problems reflected a
formula market that was in a state of flux
before regulation took effect this year.
Some players were in for the long haul,
but those who were poised to exit were
flooding the supply channels before they
“The name of the game now is who
will get registration first, and we believe
that we will be in the first batch,” Mr
Close to home, he questioned whether
New Zealand production could keep
growing by 2% to 3% a year, because of
He believed New Zealand farmers
needed to keep grazing their cows on
grass, and not go the feedlot way.
“I don’t think that New Zealand farmers
will let go of the pasture-based system
and highly cost-efficient system.
“And we should not let go of that,
because that ’s our strength.” — NZME
A brighter future
It is a question that provokes fierce debate
but experts think they have finally cracked
the perfect place to store eggs, the Daily
And while those who advocate fridge over
cupboard will doubtless feel vindicated,
they may want to think twice before
popping them in that rack on the door.
According to Good Housekeeping, eggs
should be kept in their original box on
the middle shelf to prevent temperature
changes and contamination.
Sara Benwell, consumer editor for the
magazine, wrote: “Not only is the door the
warmest part of the fridge, it ’s also the most
susceptible to temperature fluctuations.
“Eggs are best when stored at a consistent
temperature, so we recommend keeping
them in the fridge on the middle shelf.”
The British Egg Information Service
advises that for ‘optimum safety ’ eggs
need to be stored in boxes at a consistent
temperature below 20degC away from
strong-smelling food as eggs easily absorb
It says: “ Try to avoid moving them too
often between very cold and very warm
temperatures such as between a hot car and
fridge, or fridge and hot kitchen.
“Best practice is to store eggs in the fridge
— that way the temperature is always at a
constant and your eggs will be fresher.”
While Good Housekeeping admits eggs
are not refrigerated in supermarkets, it
maintains this is because most stores have
an average temperature below 20degC.
Two experts at Bristol University ’s School
of Veterinary Sciences, Dr Rosamund Baird
and Dr Janet Corry, agree that storing eggs
in the fridge is the safest way to combat the
risk of salmonella as this prevents it from
It is advice likely to be endorsed by
celebrity cooks Jamie Oliver and Nigella
Lawson, who have both spoken of the
advantages of keeping eggs cool.
Both say that while keeping them in the
fridge is not necessary, it does help keep a
batch fresher for longer.
But for those who have the time, Miss
Lawson does recommend leaving the eggs
to warm up for an hour before cooking
them. Michelin-starred chef Raymond
Blanc comes down firmly on the other
side of the debate, however.
He has criticised the way ‘people
have got into the habit of refrigerating
absolutely everything when often there is
And Financial Times restaurant critic
Tim Hayward argues that eggs should be
stored on the kitchen counter.
He wrote: ‘A fresh, free-range egg should
last beautifully at room temperature for
at least a week. The racks in the fridge
door are the worst place to store eggs. The
constant shaking thins the whites and the
flavours of other foods can penetrate the
In 2013, the Daily Mail attempted to put
an end to this debate once and
They commissioned the Yorkshire-based
Food Test Laboratories to compare the
effects of keeping Lion-branded British
eggs out of the fridge for two weeks and
And its conclusion? There was no
difference between the two batches
— New Zealand Herald
Don’t put your eggs in the fridge door!
Child poverty is regularly identified as
one of the most important issues facing
this country. Indeed, in some polls it tops
the list. This is not surprising given the
extent of the problem — the numbers
are significant irrespective of how it is
Benefit increases in the last budget will
make some difference, but they won’t
reduce the level of child poverty because
those below the poverty line are so far
below that the increase will not bring
them up to meet it.
As a country we have done well
preventing poverty among older people.
Our poverty rate for those over 65 is
among the lowest in the world. But
the child poverty rate is high when we
compare New Zealand with similar
countries. So, why have we treated our
children so badly, and indeed why do we
continue to do so? More importantly, how
do we change this so that child poverty
receives the political and public attention
and action that it requires?
A simple answer to the questions above
is that children do not vote while older
people have a comparatively high voting
rate. This, however, is too simple. After all,
parents have a vote and many older people
are very concerned about our child poverty
rates and the effects poverty is having
on their grandchildren and the wider
community. Rightly, we accept a public
responsibility to ensure older people have
enough income to ensure an acceptable
standard of living and enough money to
provide for themselves.
The same public responsibility needs to
be extended to children and families.
Too often a range of arguments are
made about families/parents making poor
choices which, it is claimed, result in
children living in poverty. We don’t worry
about the choices older people make —
the income is provided irrespective of
their other resources, but we apply quite
different rules to children and families.
Benefit rates are much lower than
national superannuation rates and are
not adjusted as regularly. The real value
of tax credits, an important support for
families in work and on low wages or with
an inadequate income, have been steadily
weakened by adjustments and changes
to the rules surrounding the effects
of earnings on Working for Families
payments. And this says nothing about
how Working for Families payment rates
discriminate against those not in paid
We should applaud how well we have
done in providing for older people and
extend the same approach to families and
children. Imagine if we started by asking:
what do children need to be well fed,
adequately housed, with access to good
health ser vices and good education, and
have sufficient income to allow them to
take a full part in recreational and cultural
activities along with their peers?
Then we might move on to ask: what can
families do, and how much support can
we as a society give, to ensure all children
have the opportunity to both develop their
abilities and contribute to New Zealand
society as fully as possible?
Only a minute number of families fail to
put their children’s interests at the top of
their priority list, but somehow we assume
and argue that child poverty comes from
parental failings and inadequacies. It
doesn’t. It happens because as a society we
do not put enough value on supporting
children and their families.
Looking around the world, those
societies which provide good support
for families and children — Scandinavia
and many of the European countries
— regularly have the best results on
different international league tables. This
is no accident; it reflects the value and
importance they attach to giving good
support for all children.
We could match those countries if
there were a strong enough will and
commitment to making children’s
wellbeing our first priority. Child poverty
continues because, as a society, we allow it
to continue. It is long past time for us to
demand that this change, and to make this
demand of our politicians, of one another
and of ourselves.
As Dame Ann Salmond said a number
of years ago, a society that does not
provide and care well for its children has a
Michael O’Brien is Associate
Professor in the School of Counselling,
Human Ser vices and Social Work at
the University of Auckland’s Faculty
of Education and Social Work. He is
currently researching child poverty and
the effect of welfare changes.
Child poverty continues because, as a society, we allow it to continue, the
University of Auckland’s MICHAEL O’BRIEN writes for Newsroom
Finding the will to heal child poverty in NZ
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