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Coming up this week on The Nation: The Fonterra Crisis

9 August 2013

Coming up this week on The Nation

• Trade Minister Tim Groser
• Chris Claridge, dairy exporter
• Federated Farmer's CEO Conor English
• Co-founder of Open Country Cheese and former deputy prime minster Wyatt Creech
• Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, University of Waikato

Prosecuting murderers - Torben Akel investigates how our courts deal with murder

Too big for their own gumboots?

Government ministers met Fonterra executives on Friday and left the meeting with news of a fourth inquiry into what happened with the whey protein contamination scare at the company's Hautapu plant.

The story garnered interest internationally, with state-owned newspaper China Daily labelling the 100% Pure campaign a “festering sore”.

At home, the effects of the botulism scare were also being felt.

The New Zealand dollar took a hit, opening at 1 cent lower on Monday against the US dollar than its Friday close.

And now Fonterra is facing at least three --- probably four --- separate inquiries to get to the bottom of what happened in the mega dairy co-operative.

The affair has thrown the spotlight on Fonterra itself --- a company which was created under special legislation in 2000 which merged the Dairy Board with The Kiwi and NZ Co-operative Dairy Companies. This week, The Waikato Times in an editorial, asked whether the co-op had got "too big for its own gumboots".

The scare comes after other incidents this year involving New Zealand agricultural exports to China --- the DCD residue problem and hold-ups over meat inspection documentation.

Trade and Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Groser joins us with an update on our future trade outlook in the wake of the crisis and how effective the reponse has been.

Dairy milk exporter Carrickmore’s managing director Chris Claridge talks about how Fonterra’s discovery will not just affect his company, but other NZ milk exporters too.

Wyatt Creech, the co-founder of Open Country Cheese, which became New Zealand’s second largest dairy company, Open Country Dairy, on the state of the dairy industry.

Federated Farmers’ CEO Conor English on farmers’ concerns over the meltdown --- what do his members want to see happen now, and is Fonterra just too big?

And Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, an Agribusiness expert from Waikato University, will discuss criticism over Fonterra’s co-operative structure, and whether this structure poses a threat to the future success of the dairy giant.

Join us again on Sunday morning, 8.00am, when our media panel looks at how Fonterra has fronted the issue in the media.

Getting away with murder?

In November 2009, Hawea Vercoe died after being violently attacked outside a Whakatane bar. Vercoe was a 36-year-old local body politician, school principal and father of four, but he is now one of more than 1300 Kiwis who have lost their lives to homicide since 1994.

His 21-year-old killer, Isaiah Tai, was typical of a homicide offenders in many ways --- young, male and with a history of drunken violence. Tai was initially charged with murder but later plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and served two-and-a-half-years behind bars, to the dismay of the Vercoe whanau. Their disappointment is not unique to families of homicide victims in New Zealand either. Even with a murder conviction the killer can be out of prison after 10 years, and a third of murder prosecutions are not successful.

There are fears now, too, that in an era of a cost-conscious justice system, and the increased use of “plea bargaining”, even more killers could get manslaughter and end up serving just a few years behind bars.

In part one of a two-part report on homicide in New Zealand, Torben Akel looks at who’s committing homicide in New Zealand, why the homicides are happening and how those convicted of murder and manslaughter are being punished, including interviews with the Vercoe whanau and Tai’s defence lawyer, Paul Mabey QC; Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier QC; Auckland Crown Solicitor Simon Moore QC; and Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money.


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