Fonterra

Concrete Cancer Coverup – Winston has Nick Smith over a barrel

Like a shark, Winston Peters can smell blood from a mile away and his target this time is Minister of Building and Housing Nick Smith.

The Government has been warned about the concrete cancer issue for near on six months now, and yesterday we saw a flustered looking Nick Smith start the ol’ political trick of shifting the blame to his officials.

Nick Smith gets up and tried to crack a funny about carpets and curtains, then tries to fob off the seriousness of the concrete cancer issue happening under his watch by saying there’s competitive issues at play within the building sector.

Really? Is that the best you can do Nick? Of course there are competitive issues inside the building industry, just like there are competitive issues across all sectors – But it doesn’t stop the very simple fact that there is a very real problem here.

You’ve got to give Winston credit when credit is due. Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup, Ctd – What does the government know?

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You would think that with millions of tax-payers money being poured into the construction of the Manukau District Court, the Government would want to have confidence in the integrity of the building.

Following this explosive Concrete Cancer Cover-Up series on Whaleoil, government officials have had to rely on information from Rob Gaimster, the CEO of the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ).

If you listened to CCANZ, who on Monday quietly posted an update on their website, they are desperate to say that everything is all right, nothing to see here, move along.

That line didn’t work for Helen Clark.

WOBH is hearing that questions about high alkali cement problems are being raised in Wellington; not only about the potential exposure from the Manukau Court building constructed with dodgy cement from Vietnam, but whether buildings in Wellington are potentially affected.

But CAANZ seems desperate to keep digging the hole they have got themselves in, thanks in part to their support of member company Drymix.   Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup: What is industry body telling govt?

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We’ve seen a right palaver as Whaleoil has gradually unpicked and exposed the cover-up in New Zealand’s $400 million concrete industry.

We’ve also exposed how Fonterra’s $120 million Waitoa UHT plant and the Government’s $40.6 million Manukau Court Building was supplied dodgy cement that is likely to see those buildings subject to a problem called alkali silica reaction or more commonly known as concrete cancer.   Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup – More sunlight needed

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The Whaleoil investigation into a cover-up in the $400 million concrete industry now has documents that show the new $40.6 million Manuaku District Court and Fonterra’s $120 million Waitoa UHT factory have been made with dodgy cement.

As more documents are provided to Whaleoil, the more the cover-up becomes not only  a case of incompetence on the part of the officials responsible for overseeing construction of buildings, but also a desperate attempt at trying to confuse anyone that looks into this issue.   Read more »

Is Dairy Rooted?

The boom in the New Zealand economy has been led by massive dairy intensification. It is also the driver behind silly socialist projects like the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme where townie councillors have bought into government and Federated Farmers spin about the future being dairy and they are promoting economic models based on boom years that are unsustainable in bust years. Even so the proposals can’t work without massive subsidies or government grants even in boom years.

Yet no one has really stopped to question what the real long-term price of milk solids is, and if it is a sustainable long-term path to prosperity for New Zealand.

After last years boom prices there was not much consideration to what was going on world-wide, especially with the Chinese Market.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, their business editor wrote a good article comparing dairy in New Zealand to iron ore in Australia. I slammed it at the time, but have had a bit more of a think about it, plus some additional research over the holiday break.

Uppity Kiwis feeling boastful about their dollar approaching parity with the mighty Aussie might do well to stick to rugby for their kicks. Their China-driven boom is coming to an end as quickly as Australia’s. And they have less to fall back on when it does.

Meanwhile, reports of Gina Rinehart going long on dairy farms could prove as reliable a warning as many another billionaire diversifying outside his or her area of expertise.

The New Zealand economy’s resurgence has owed much to China’s demand for milk products and getting in early for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Middle Kingdom.

Trouble is, China has been busily investing and encouraging others to invest in increased and globally diversified milking. Just as iron ore miners have ramped up production both from existing provinces and new projects from Africa to Mongolia, New Zealand’s farmers are facing increased competition from South America to Russia and all points in between, including Australia.

[…]    Read more »

Perhaps if he cut down the beersies he might be able to afford Christmas [UPDATED]

UPDATE:  The missing headline:

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Some people really are too stupid to save themselves.

Check this article from Fairfax where a poor hard done by farmer has decided to cancel Christmas in his household because the forecast payout from Fonterra is projected to be low.

Dairy farmers Liam and Louise Zander won’t be giving each other presents this Christmas after learning that Fonterra’s downward revision of the milk payout will strip hundreds of thousands of dollars from their income.

Dairy NZ figures released yesterday showed the revision from $8.40 per kg of milksolids last season down to a forecast $4.70 this season would remove $1.8 billion from the Waikato economy and hit the average dairy farmer’s income by $500,500.

“No Christmas presents for us this year,” Louise, who has two young children, said. “But that is just life as a dairy farmer.

“I will also have to look for a part-time job to help.”

Liam was more philosophical about the cut.

“You can’t really do much. You just have to keep chugging along. It’s one of those ups and downs in dairy farming.

“I try not to let it affect me too much. There’s no point dwelling over things you have no control over.”

Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup, ctd

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This time last week Whaleoil continued with its series exposing a concrete cancer cover-up within the $400m New Zealand concrete market.

The tip-line has been abuzz with concerns from Wellington insiders close to the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ).

They are deeply concerned that CCANZ has hitched their wagon to the company at the centre of the cover-up – cement importer Drymix, and that the exposure of the concrete cancer issue is not going to end well for the industry body.

These insiders are worried that CCANZ’s position is compromising the integrity of the wider concrete industry and are not happy with how they are managing the growing concerns and unease within the construction and building sectors.

Last week CCANZ held a crisis meeting in Wellington where they obviously decided that they’re too deep in the hole and that the better option is to keep digging. Let’s see how that works out for them.   Read more »

Who else is big business going to back Fran?

Poor bitter old Ms. O’Sullivan, she has gone from defaming me and Cactus Kate to treating us like Voldemort in her latest column.

Now she is just spraying poop everywhere like a mad old bint. Not for her to discuss the slamming of her and her employers in the Chisholm report…oh no…instead she comes up with a crazy conspiracy theory that big business has gone cold on John Key because he talks to bloggers.

Who has she been consulting? The payroll clerk at Fonterra, or the person she sends invoices to at the Business Initiative?

Key needs to reflect. The Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom Election survey of CEOs found that 62 per cent felt “Brand Key” had been damaged by the Nicky Hager revelations, 66 per cent believed it exposed an unhealthy relationship between politicians and bloggers and 76 per cent of those surveyed raised issues of political probity concerning Judith Collins.

They wanted him to learn the lessons from the Dirty Politics scandal.

Really? Sounds like those business leaders need a remedial lesson in politics…did any of them notice the result of the election? Did Fran?

Dirty Politics won the election for John Key, not the other way around.   Read more »

Did Key never exploit weakness when he was at Merrill Lynch?

John Key has said that government officials have been telling privately owned companies that they shouldn’t exploit market gaps as a result of sanctions against Russia, because it would apparently be a bad look for NZ.

Mr Key also revealed that although New Zealand has not officially imposed trade sanctions on Russia, government officials had called in Fonterra and other companies to ask them not to exploit the gap left in the Russian market. Mr Key said it was made clear that would be a terrible look for New Zealand – and while the Government could not stop them doing so, he believed they were acting responsibly.

Fonterra general manager of trade strategy Robb Stevens yesterday confirmed the Government “has asked agricultural exporters, including Fonterra, to show restraint and not take advantage of the restrictions imposed on other nations”.

How pathetic.  Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup, Ctd

by Stephen Cook

THE COMPANY accused of using suspect cement imported cheaply from overseas in its precast concrete products has gone into damage control mode as the spotlight shifts to its role in the whole controversy

With nine years in the business, Concretech New Zealand Ltd claim to be one of this country’s leading pre-cast concrete suppliers with “strict quality control systems
 to meet any challenge, no matter how architecturally demanding.”

However, rhetoric is one thing – reality can be quite another.

The focus is now on Concretec’s role in the whole scandal after claims from industry insiders the company may have unwittingly used suspect cement from Vietnam in pre-cast concrete products it later supplied to several major construction companies.

That cement, which had higher than usual alkali levels, was imported by Drymix who control about five percent of the $400 million-a-year cement market and through Mitre 10 supply the domestic market with the highly-popular ‘Super Easy Mix In The Bag’ range of cement products.

In January, February and March this year Drymix imported tens of thousands of tonnes of cement, which according to their own test samples, failed to meet recognised industry standards.

Drymix supply cement to a company called Techcrete, who make readymix concrete which they supply to Concretec who supply precast concrete products to companies like Watts & Hughes and Ebert Construction,.

Both these companies are also facing questions after concerns that suspect cement may have been used in the $40 million Manukau District Court upgrade and Yashili’s $250 million plant at Pokeno.

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