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Old mates (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images).
Old mates (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images).

The BulletinJune 15, 2018

The Bulletin: The Winston and Shane show

Old mates (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images).
Old mates (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images).

Tēnā koutou katoa, haere mai ki Te Bulletin, ko Simon Day tōku ingoa. I’m stepping in for Alex Braae this morning and in today’s edition: Winston Peters jumps Fonterra, Spark gives 1900 people five days to decide on their future, and Mycoplasma Bovis spreads in the North Island.

Prime minister proxy in waiting Winston Peters, has joined his colleague Shane Jones in demanding for heads to roll at Fonterra, reports Radio NZ.  Peters attacked Fonterra over its $750m investment in Chinese dairy company Beingmate. After a very Winston exchange with political journalists he eventually agreed with Jones’s assessment that the chairman should go.  

This followed the episode on Wednesday in which Jones, the Regional Economic Development Minister suggested chair John Wilson should “catch the next cab out of town”“The buck stops at the top,” Peters told journalist Jason Walls after he asked him four or five times if he believed John Wilson should resign.

And in rare comment from inside the dairy giant, Fonterra Shareholders Council chair Duncan Coull told Radio NZ’s Checkpoint that there is frustration over the dairy giant’s volatile earnings and substance to a government minister’s claims that the board is out of touch.

In March Fonterra wrote down the value of its Beingmate investment by $405 million to $244 million. Then Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings quit Fonterra in the same month. Beingmate has been struggling for much of the period since Fonterra spent $756 million on its 18.8% stake in 2015 and made a loss this year of about $208 million, Interest’s Walls writes.

Earlier in the week Jacinda Ardern attempted to distance her government from Jones’s comments and tried to palm them off as his rogue personal opinions. Can she do the same with her deputy and the soon to be leader of the country?

About 1900 people at Spark, around 40 percent of the company’s employees, have been given just five days to consider new contracts as the telecommunication company tries to transform into a low-cost digital services provider, Radio NZ reports.

The unions have described the pressure put on such a large number of employees by the five day “ultimatum” as unethical, and very tough for staff, to the NZ Herald. Spark says the five day window comes after months of consultation.  

Employment law experts believe Spark may be in dangerous territory, according to Stuff, as it asks employees to adapt to a way of working called Agile, made popular by the software industry.

“We are concerned that there may not have been sufficient consultation with employees as to whether an Agile business model will actually serve Spark’s needs. Generally untested in New Zealand, Spark also needs to consider whether the Agile business model is a legally compliant infrastructure,” said Barbara Buckett of Buckett Law.

In a good synopsis of the “essence of Agile”, Stuff business reporter Tom Pullar-Strecker writes: it’s is about making workers and managers more nimble and responsive and is about regularly delivering small but frequent improvements to software or the business.

Communications minister Clare Curran, appeared to have some sympathy for Spark, telling a select committee that the company was trying to “reorient in a way that is more focused on the fast-moving pace of technology”, while suggesting the government had a role to play in softening the impact of such changes on workers.

Two more North Island farms have been confirmed their cattle are infected with disease Mycoplasma Bovis, Radio NZ reports. Now there are concerns farmers aren’t revealing when their herds become infected to avoid culling their cattle.

A total of 38 farms have confirmed infections, and almost 24,500 cattled have been killed to try to prevent the spread of the disease.

In the newest development in attempts to gain entry to Pike River Mine, the agency charged with overseeing the process is considering three options: a new tunnel into the drift to act as a second escape route, drilling a large borehole, or re-entering the main drift as it is with no second exit point, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The re-entry programme remains on track to begin the re-entry later in the year, with completion next March, said Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn.

The developments come as former Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe, who has been called in to advise to the government on the Pike River Mine re-entry programme, says New Zealand has failed to properly deal with the tragedy, according to Radio NZ.

“I genuinely believe that this is an issue that as a nation we haven’t dealt with appropriately and so I wanted to contribute to see if we could do a better job for the families,” Mr Fyfe said.

New Zealand rugby league heartland the West Coast – which has produced 49 international players –  has been forced to cancel its premier club competition because they don’t have enough players, reports Stuff.

The West Coast supplied the entire Kiwis forward pack in the post Second World War era, when mining and forestry sectors were flourishing. But with the decline of those traditional industries, the decay of league was inevitable.

“It’s disappointing, and people who live away from the Coast have expressed shock and surprise. But it’s not a surprise to those of us living here. It’s been coming,” West Coast Rugby League (WCRL) president Peter Kerridge told stuff.

And some housekeeping, a correction from regular editor Alex Braae: In yesterday’s Bulletin, he wrote that Kevin Hague had attacked his former Green Party colleagues on Twitter over the water export plant. This was false, Kevin Hague made no such comments.

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Right now on The Spinoff: based on some timeless wisdom from a Dunedin property manager, Madeleine Chapman has a surefire solution to mould in New Zealand’s damp homes. Simon Pound speaks to Invivo Wines founder Tim Lightbourne about launching a wine brand at the height of the GFC. And even when he’s on holiday Alex Braae can’t stay away from the Bulletin. He’s searched for a disappearing parody page and found there may not be much difference between fighting fake news, and shutting down free speech.  

Every four years when the World Cup rolls around there’s one friend or colleague who thinks they’re a football expert. At The Spinoff, this is Toby Manhire, and he’s provided a primer to help you bluff football intelligence:

As beautiful and blemished as almost anything on this smudge of a planet, the World Cup has come around again, to the ineffable delight of millions of tragics everywhere who measure their lives in units of four years. New Zealand isn’t there, having been booted out by Peru, so you might not even have noticed it’s happening. But rest assured, in dozens of countries around the world the opening of World Cup 2018 in Russia is at this very moment generating quite a lot of discussion/deranged hysteria.

By the time you read this, Russia will have kicked off the 21st World Cup (beating Saudi Arabia 5-0, after Robbie Williams gives everyone the fingers), Zabivaka the wolf – a mascot which looks suspiciously like it’s been repurposed from a Winter Olympics – will have run a few laps, and hopefully the crowds will have distinguished themselves for something other than the racism and homophobia found in Russian stadiums.

All of the games are live on Sky, with Prime showing a bunch live and delayed. The details are here. The timings are pretty terrible for us, but on the other hand is there anything better in life, really, than settling down with a nice cup of tea to watch Uruguay and Saudi Arabia play out a scrappy nil-all draw at 3am on a Thursday morning?

To get yourself in the mood, Miguel Delaney’s curtain-raiser for the Independent is a decent start. This interactive feature from the Guardian is ridiculous and brilliant. Its modest task: a complete guide to all 736 players at the 2018 World Cup. The best writer on Spanish football, Sid Lowe, looks here at the awesomely dramatic 11th hour sacking of Spain’s manager. There are several dozen novelty animals enlisted by media outlets to predict the winners of various games but I am not linking to any of them.

This, by Sam Walker, is very good on the inarguable benefits of a bit of, gasp, bad sportsmanship. And for the nerds, FiveThirtyEight has crunched numbers (*cough* Trump *cough*), and there’s stats guru Opta Joe’s World Cup preview podcast. NZ might not be there but there is still a good bit of coverage around. RNZ, for example, has a podcast up and running, Squeaky Bum Time. Co-host Emile Donovan has penned a primer here.

In the days before the tournament, the 2026 World Cup host nations were announced, with Morocco being pipped by the US, Mexico and Canada – the first time it has been awarded to three nations. For a reminder of the extraordinary way that Russia won the current competition – and just as scandalously, Qatar was awarded the 2022 rights – this excerpt from Ken Bensinger’s Red Card: FIFA and the Fall of the Most Powerful Men in Sports is a gripping longread.

A central character, or more precisely a central villain, in those stories is the disgraced former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter. Not so disgraced that he won’t be there for the kicking around and caviar in Moscow, mind you. He’ll be the personal guest of Vladimir Putin.

In Bengaluru, India, the Afghanistan cricket team have completed the first day of their inaugural test with an admirable fight back after both Indian openers scored centuries. India finished on 347/6, and Afghanistan took five wickets in the final session. But this step onto cricket’s most important stage is about much more than sport, and cricket has become a sign of hope, and symbol of the war torn country’s potential.  

From our partners, Vector’s Bridget McDonald has looked at the government’s deep dig into the energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power?

That was harder than it looks! You’ll have Alex back on Monday, and the Bulletin will no doubt be on time.

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