Friday Offcuts – 27 March 2015

growing trees cutting and milling timber forest products

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Further to last week’s reference to World Wood Day (WWD) which was celebrated on 21 March, a new report was launched by Planet Ark's “Make it Wood” campaign. It was timed to coincide with WWD and looks at the range of health and wellbeing benefits that come from working and living in wooden rooms along with wooden furnishing and fixtures. The link to the new 19 page report can be found in this week’s lead story.

On the other side of the world well known New Zealand “wood in buildings” advocate, Andy Buchanan of PreStressed Timber was giving an invited lecture as part of the WWD celebrations in Eskisehir, Turkey, after previous year's events in Tanzania and China. Andy was speaking on the opportunities for multi-story timber buildings constructed from renewable timber such as Radiata pine, with examples drawn from throughout New Zealand.

Out of Australia this week we’ve got two data sets that have been just released along with links to both for our readers; the Australian Pine Log Price Index for softwood logs that’s compiled every six months by KPMG and the latest quarterly report, the Timber Market Survey, which provides information on timber price movements and market trends for softwood and hardwood timber, panels and engineered wood products in eastern Australia. For New Zealand, Champion Freight have also provided detailed information on export values and markets for NZ logs and sawn timber for the month of January.

And finally, there is only one game in town this weekend. You know it. It happens in Melbourne on Sunday and it has New Zealanders on both sides of the Tasman – regardless of whether they’re cricket supporters or not – united as one. It’s reminiscent of the groundswell of national support that we witnessed way back in 1995 when kiwis were pulling on their lucky red socks to support of the America’s cup team. Of course it’s only fitting that the two 2015 Cricket World Cup hosts are going to be playing the final. For all you sporting diehards out there, enjoy the game – and we promise - there'll be no gloating next week.

Note that next week’s issue, because of the Easter break, will be sent out on Thursday morning. For stories or for advertising, if wanting to get material into next week’s issue, this should be with us by the end of play on Wednesday.

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Wood is good for your body and brain

Exposure to wooden furniture and fittings has real and measurable health and wellbeing benefits. These benefits are outlined in a new report launched by Planet Ark's Make it Wood campaign in the lead up to World Wood Day observed last weekend.

The report titled Wood - Housing, Health, Humanity examines the growing body of research showing the range of health and wellbeing benefits of living, working and learning in environments rich in wooden furnishing and fixtures.

Some of the findings include:

• Residents in aged care facilities interact more with each other when surrounded by wood,

• Students in classrooms that feature more wood have lower heart rates and stress responses than students in classrooms featuring plastic and metal and

• Two out of three workers prefer offices with wooden chairs, desks and blinds over the same office with those items made from plastic.

The studies examining the effects of wooden rooms and furnishings clearly demonstrate that the presence of wood has positive physiological and psychological benefits that mimic the effect of spending time outside in nature. The feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions. Wood products within a room have also been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity.

When asked 96% of Australians said they thought wood was ‘visually appealing' and had a ‘warm look and feel', however, less than one in every two people realised wood also has health and wellbeing benefits. From a professional perspective, however, the body of knowledge about these benefits is growing rapidly to the point that a number of architects and designers are specifically designing schools and health care facilities with significant amounts of exposed wood.

Source: Planet Ark

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Australian log price index data released

The Australian Pine Log Price Index is compiled by KPMG using data provided by Australian softwood growers. The Index documents changes in pine log prices achieved by large scale commercial plantation owners selling common grades of plantation softwood logs to domestic processors. Details for the period July through to December 2014 have just been released.

KPMG updates the Index biannually, with the two reporting periods being January to June and July to December. Contributions to the Index are made by major growers who are involved in the growing and management of softwood plantations in southern and eastern Australia.

The Index has a base period of January to June 1998. KPMG acts as the independent Index manager and collects confidential data on log volumes and stumpage values for all sales, including long and short-term contracts and spot transactions, at the end of each reporting period. Quantity information on export saw logs and export pulpwood is also provided.

Click here for a copy of the latest report.

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Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown

In a new study published on 6 March in the journal Science, a team of researchers led by University of Georgia ecologists reports that nutrient pollution causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.

The findings show that the in-stream residence time of carbon from leaves, twigs and other forest matter, which provide much of the energy that fuels stream food webs, is cut in half when moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are added to a stream.

"This study shows how excess nutrients reduce stream health in a way that was previously unknown," said the study's lead author Amy D. Rosemond, an associate professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology.

Stream food webs are based on carbon from two main sources. One is algae, which produce carbon through photosynthesis. Nutrient pollution has long been known to increase carbon production by algae, often causing nuisance and harmful algal blooms. The second source is leaves and bits of wood from streamside forests. This forest-derived carbon typically persists year-round, making it a staple food resource for stream organisms.

"Most people think of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in streams as contributing to algae blooms," said Diane Pataki, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "But streams contain a lot of leaf litter, and this study shows that nutrient pollution can also stimulate carbon losses from streams by accelerating the breakdown of that litter. That helps us better understand how fertilizer runoff affects carbon transport and emissions from streams and rivers."

Nitrogen and phosphorus play essential roles in the breakdown of carbon by microbes and stream-dwelling insects and other invertebrates, but cause problems when they are present in excessive amounts-as they increasingly are. Nutrient pollution is widespread in the U.S. and globally, due primarily to land use changes like deforestation, agriculture and urbanization.

Nutrient pollution's effects on algal carbon are well known and highly visible in the form of algal blooms. Little was known about how nutrient pollution affects forest-derived carbon in stream food webs, so Rosemond and her colleagues devised a set of experiments to find out.

Working at the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research site in North Carolina, they set up a system to continuously add nutrients to several small headwater streams. The first experiment ran for six years in two streams, and the second for three years in five streams, with different combinations of nitrogen and phosphorus to mimic the effects of different land uses.

The researchers found that the additional nutrients reduced forest-derived carbon in whole stream reaches by half. "We were frankly shocked at how quickly leaves disappeared when we added nutrients," said Rosemond. "By summer, the streams looked unnaturally bare."

"It's very apparent when excess nutrients lead to algal blooms in rivers and other aquatic ecosystems," said study co-author Jon Benstead, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama. "But their impact on accelerating the breakdown of dead organic matter, such as leaves and twigs, is a significant but under-appreciated effect on the health of freshwater ecosystems across large areas of the world."

Rosemond likened the impact of the loss of forest-derived carbon to the doubling of algal carbon that nutrient pollution can cause. Rosemond said she hopes the study's findings will be incorporated into policies aimed at reducing nutrient pollution, which currently focus on algae. Source: University of Alabama

For more information check out the latest issue of R&D Works.

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Sawdoctors to learn trade in Tumut

TAFE NSW Riverina Institute launched the region’s first Sawdoctor Trade Training Facility this week in Tumut. Recognising a need for Sawdoctor training in the forest products industry, Riverina Institute’s Forest Industry Training Centre (FITC) spent the majority of 2014 developing a one-of-a-kind training facility.

Featuring nearly a million dollars’ worth of specialist equipment, the addition of the Sawdoctor Trade Training Facility further cements Tumut’s place as the heart of New South Wales’ forest industry.

“It was a big commitment, but we felt strongly that this service was needed,” said David Priem, Manager, Forest Industry Training Centre. “We now have the most comprehensive forest training facility in New South Wales, right here in Tumut.”

“Our Sawdoctor Trade Training Facility provides a safe learning environment for the next generation of Sawdoctors,” said Institute Director Kerry Penton. “Our forest industry partners expect the best in training from us, and that is what we continually strive to deliver.”

Carter Holt Harvey, Hyne Timber and Grants Sawmilling have been quick to make use of the new facility with apprentices from all three companies commencing the Certificate III in Sawdoctoring this week. For more information contact the Forest Industry Training Centre on 1300 TAFE RI (1300 8233 74).

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NZ wood export trends

Sawn Timber - HS 4407

For the month of Jan 2015 FOB Timber Export value remained flat at NZD 34 mln when compared to Jan 2014. Export market declines in China (-42%), Vietnam (-26%), Taiwan (-13%) and Thailand (-35%) were more than offset by the US (+31%), Australia (+20%), Indonesia (+201%), South Korea (+28%) and Europe (+22%). The US was the largest export market on value for Jan accounting for 26% of export value, reflecting strong market conditions.

When comparing month on month (Dec 2014 to Jan 2015), total export value declined by 26 mln to a total of NZD 34.1 mln (-46%). This decline however was less than the year prior (Dec 2013 to Jan 2014) at 34 mln (-50%).

Export Value for 12 months to Jan 2015 declined by 9% when compared to the 12 months to Jan 2014, equivalent to NZD 73 mln. Year on Year declines were felt across a large portion of the major markets especially China and South Korea that were partially offset by Europe, Japan and Indonesia.

For full details click here.

Logs - HS 4403

For the month of Jan there was a decline in overall log export value when compared to the previous month (overall decline of NZD 61.6 mln - 33% in comparison to Dec 2014). This was a more significant decline on the year before at -16% (from Dec 2013 to Jan 2014).

Export value to China was down in comparison to Jan 2014 (down NZD 44.8 mln or -31%) and this was combined with export declines across all main markets aside from India that recorded a gain of 61% when comparing the same two periods.

Export Value for 12 months to Jan 2015 was lower by -8% (EQUIVALENT TO NZD 204 mln) when compared to the 12 months to Jan 2014, declines in China, South Korea and Japan were partially offset by significant growth in India (+25% / NZD 47.5mln).

For full details click here.

Source: Champion Freight

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Timber Market Survey for December quarter released

The latest edition of the quarterly Timber Market Survey (TMS) report has been released for the December Quarter 2014. The TMS provides comprehensive information on timber price movements and market trends in Australia. The latest report contains price indexes for softwood and hardwood products in eastern Australia.

The December quarter 2014 TMS has revealed price increases across major structural softwood timber products MGP10 and MGP12 ranging between 0.6 and 1.8 percent. Prices for all other softwood structural, outdoor, panel and engineered products have shown low to moderate increases over the period.

Hardwood structural grade product prices have for the most part shown moderate increases over the six months to December 2014 while some remained relatively flat. The largest price increases were observed in higher strength grades. Prices for all hardwood flooring and joinery products increased over the second half of 2014, with the largest nominal price rises within flooring products observed in Tasmanian Oak and Victorian Ash products.

TMS price data is collected through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain pricing information for softwood timber, panel and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include pricing information for hardwood timber products.

The Timber Market Survey (TMS) is prepared with funding from Forestry Corporation NSW, VicForests, Hancock Victorian Plantations, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) - Queensland Government, HQPlantations, ForestrySA, and Green Triangle Forest Products.

Click here to access the latest report.

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USNR acquires Söderhamn Eriksson

USNR announced this week that it has acquired Söderhamn Eriksson and all of its subsidiaries from Cellwoodgruppen AB. George Van Hoomissen, President and CEO of USNR, commented that he was very interested in the opportunity to acquire Söderhamn Eriksson because he felt that Söderhamn Eriksson’s strong market position in Europe would complement USNR’s strong position in North America, and that both companies’ positions would be strengthened as a result of a combination in South America, Australia/New Zealand, Russia, and Asia.

“We believe that Söderhamn Eriksson’s extensive sales, distribution, and service networks in Europe will help USNR to more broadly introduce and support its products in Europe,” stated Chris Blomquist, Vice President of Sales for USNR. “Lack of local support infrastructure can be a challenge, but now the combined organization has an extensive OEM support network spanning 15 time zones, 3 continents, 10 countries, and at least 9 languages.”

Within the Söderhamn Eriksson organization, this acquisition is also viewed as tremendously positive and transformative. Henrik Lefvert, Managing Director for Söderhamn Eriksson, stated “We have products that are very well-suited to the North American style of sawmilling, and we are optimistic that with the support of USNR, we will be able to successfully introduce these products into the United States and Canada.”

Söderhamn Eriksson has a long history, dating back to the 1860s. The Stenberg family acquired A.K. Eriksson in 1937, and then in the early 1990s acquired what had been Söderhamns Verkstäder and later Kockums Industries. A few years later, these organizations were combined to form Söderhamn Eriksson. Today, the company operates five facilities in Sweden in addition to maintaining local-language sales, service, and aftermarket support centers in the UK, Canada, Norway, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, and Germany. The company is known around the world for its high-quality log lines and edger systems, and for the Cambio debarker, which was invented by Söderhamns Verkstäder in the 1950s and subsequently sold many thousands of machines around the world.

USNR operates seven facilities in the United States and Canada, including three large manufacturing plants, plus a sales and service center in Russia. USNR is best known around the world for providing end-to-end solutions for sawmills and planermills, including log lines, curve sawing gangs, edger lines, trim-sort-stack systems, dry kilns, and the optimization and control technologies that maximize the output and performance of that equipment. USNR is also known around the world for its Coe brand products used in the manufacture of plywood and other panel products.

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Solomon Islands seek opportunities in Australasia

A group of Solomon Islands timber exporters and government officials is visiting Australia and New Zealand this week. The export mission starts in Brisbane from 22 – 25 March (Photo: Britton Timbers Photo 1: At Britton Timbers, Narangba, Brisbane - Mission team and importers looking at Rosewood timber imported from Solomon Islands in Brisbane) and moves to Auckland from 25-30 March 2015.

The visit aims to increase understanding among both exporters and importers of market requirements and opportunities for Solomon Islands sawn timber. At present, the vast majority of Solomon Islands timber is exported to China as unprocessed round logs, with wide recognition of the unsustainable level of harvesting. This delegation, however, is focused on promoting exports of sawn timber, as part of a wider goal of adding value to timber exports. Sawn timber exports from Solomon Islands are valued at around USD $9.5 million per year, and the industry employs more than 1000 people. Sixty percent of sawn timber is sold to markets in Australia and New Zealand.

A key part of the mission will focus on importers and exporters exchanging information relating to market requirements for timber legality and quality. Markets in the EU and the United States have already introduced the requirement to demonstrate the legal origin of imported forestry products. Australia implemented similar legislation in November 2014, while New Zealand (which currently has a voluntary code of practice) could also follow suit.

Other equally important discussions will include opportunities to improve timber quality and presentation, processing and end-product requirements, supply, consistency and potential markets for alternative species. Opportunities for potential collaboration with importers to improve timber processing quality in Solomon Islands will also be examined. The outcomes from the mission will be shared in the Solomon Islands adding to the further development of the timber export industry.

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Class action considered over defective cladding

Law firm Adina Thorn Lawyers is asking leaky building owners to join a proposed class suit against plaster cladding manufacturers, which it says could seek damages exceeding NZ$100 million.

The law firm wants to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturers of plaster and polystyrene cladding, including global building products maker James Hardie Industries. It is in talks with several international litigation funders who may be interested in backing the suit if it can gather momentum, principal Adina Thorn told BusinessDesk.

The suit will be open to all types of property owners, including residential and commercial buildings, and multi-unit dwellings. "If we get the interest we think we're going to get and continue to get, then we'll be able to get sign-off from an international funder and bring this action."

The suit would be different from many leaky building claims in that it would target product manufacturers rather than the builders, architects and project managers. Ms Thorn said the potential suit would be a smaller percentage of the estimated 42,000 houses affected by weather-tightness issues, which is where the law firm has drawn its $100 million damages figure.

Owners of leaky properties have often been dissuaded from taking action because of the time, cost and effort of pursuing an entity through the courts, but if they participated in the planned action, it wouldn't cost them anything, she said.

"It's very, very difficult to get a funded class action in New Zealand," Ms Thorn said. "This would be a really rare opportunity, if you own a plaster cladding building, to join something with bugger-all risk and you could get a potential recovery for nothing."

Source: Sourceable

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Forest Industry Safety Summit 2015 delivers stark reminder

The Forest Industry Safety Summit, run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association and sponsored by VicForests, this year hosted in Melbourne, delivered a moving and powerful reminder on the importance of keeping forest industry employees safe at work.

The event brought together forestry organisations from around Australia for two days to showcase new practices, systems and tools for improving forest safety and to focus on practical safety outcomes. Key note speakers included Ivan Pupalidy, Director of the Office for Learning with the US Forest Service, and Reynold Hert, Chairman and CEO of British Columbia Forest Safety Council.

Nathan Trushell, VicForests’ General Manager Planning said a particularly moving presentation with a powerful safety message was delivered by Wiremu Lee Edmonds, from New Zealand. Mr Edmonds is a fifth generation forest worker who spoke about tragically losing his son in a harvesting incident in 2013.

“It was a stark, confronting and very personal story that Mr Edmonds delivered to industry attendees on what can go wrong and the tragic impact it has on loved ones. It is an incredible story of tragedy but also of strength and courage and the need for every one of us to 'stand in the gap' to tackle workplace safety”.

“This story had such a profound impact that we plan to invite Mr Edmonds over from New Zealand to VicForests to talk to our staff and contractors about his experience,” said Mr Trushell. Robert Green, VicForests’ Chief Executive Officer, also made a presentation showing the substantial progress VicForests, its staff and contractors have made towards the organisation’s goal of Zero Harm to all workers.

Mr Green said, “The summit was a great success and included a line-up of world class speakers from North America, New Zealand and of course Australia. It was great to see participation, from harvesting contractors to CEOs, all in the same room and sharing the same messages.

“We are incredibly proud to be able to sponsor what we see as a crucial event in the forestry industry’s calendar. We need to keep striving to improve safety practices and keep people aware that a job in forestry can be, and often is, dangerous,” he said.

“In 2014 we achieved 10 out of 12 months of zero harm which is an improvement on last year and helps us strive towards our core aim to have every single worker return safely home each day. We have had some proud safety achievements this year but we can never be complacent and always need to strive for better safety outcomes,” said Mr Green.

Source: VicForests

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NZ export log prices record first drop in 8 months

New Zealand export log prices dropped for the first time in eight months as shipments to China, the nation's largest market, exceed demand, resulting in a build-up of inventory in Chinese ports.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $106 a tonne, from $110 a tonne in February, marking the first decline since July 2014, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China are at the lowest level since AgriHQ started tracking the grade in February 2012. In recent months, New Zealand log prices had been propped up by a decline in shipping costs and a weaker local currency even though demand in China had slowed.

"For the first time in eight months, export returns for New Zealand exporters have dropped, as the drops in the currency and shipping costs failed to offset the decline in prices for logs delivered to China," said AgriHQ forestry analyst Ivan Luketina. "Log prices in China have fallen due to deliveries continuing to outweigh sales off ports, especially during the quiet Chinese New Year period."

Luketina said Chinese inventories of logs on ports now exceed 4 million cubic metres, instead of the usual level closer to 2 million cubic metres. Once inventories are over 4 million cubic metres, some ports will start to run out of room which will lead to delays in unloading. That means prices tend to drop until the situation is corrected, he said.

Meanwhile, pruned log prices have continued to rise due to high demand and localised short supply, he said. "There is very tight supply in the Central North Island, and that has pushed prices up to between $155-$165 a tonne. A similar issue is being seen for structural logs in Canterbury, where S1 logs are in very short supply," Luketina said.

Source: Scoop

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NZ sawmill closure at Mamaku

A Mamaku sawmill will close at the end of this month, with the loss of 25 jobs and fears of a "ripple effect" on other local businesses. Mamaku Sawmill Co Ltd director Bill Taylor met with employees last Wednesday to tell them of the news.

He said the company had been losing money since 2012 and the losses were no longer sustainable. "Along with numerous other sawmills around New Zealand that have closed, Mamaku Sawmilling Co Ltd has struggled to combat the difficult trading conditions," the company said in a statement.

"The business has been adversely impacted by the increases in the price and availability of pruned logs, and the historically high exchange rate. A low production volume has made reinvestment in the ageing plant not viable."

A final decision on the sawmill's future was to be announced this week, following consultation with employees and the union. The company's processing site in Ngongotaha, where 20 staff are employed, would continue to operate while other options were considered.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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Sustainability monitoring frameworks being used in NZ

The role of criteria and indicators (C&I) in the sustainable management of forests in New Zealand. How is New Zealand tracking towards sustainable forest management in its plantations? How are reporting frameworks being used in the sector to show this?

2015 marks 20 years since the Montreal Process ( criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management were formalised. SCION is collecting examples of how this and other sustainability monitoring frameworks are currently being used in New Zealand. The aim is to provide a snapshot of where New Zealand is in terms of uptake and awareness of these frameworks that can be compared against similar undertakings globally - particularly amongst other members of the Montreal Process.

Experiences are sought from throughout the forestry industry. If your organisation currently addresses, measures or reports on forest sustainability issues (or is thinking about it), we would love to hear from you. Please complete our survey at: .

For any queries please email

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Tasmanian sawmillers taking up “pay to stay” package

Tasmanian sawmillers who put their hand up for industry exit packages are now being offered money to stay in business under the Liberal Government’s plan for the ¬forest industry reports the Mercury.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss has written to sawmillers who qualified for the AU$11.7 million industry exit program under the former government and has offered them the choice of taking a lesser payment to remain in business. So far six sawmillers have chosen to stay in the industry, with the program to remain open until the end of the month.

Greens leader Kim Booth said the plan was a “stupid and irresponsible” use of taxpayers’ money to prop up unviable businesses, while viable busin¬esses got nothing. “This is a slap in the face for those sawmillers who were ¬financially viable and chose to stand on their own feet, now to find that their competitors are getting free public cash to compete with them,” he said.

Source: Mercury

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on... working on the motor

A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the engine of a Honda when he spotted a well known cardiologist in the workshop.

The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?"

The cardiologist, a bit surprised walked over to where the mechanic was working on the Honda. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and said, "So Doc, look at this motor. I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired or replaced anything damaged and then put everything back in, and when I finished, it worked just like new.

So how is it that I make $24,000 a year and you make $1.7M when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The cardiologist paused, leaned over and whispered to the mechanic:... "Try doing it with the engine running, Son."

And one more for you. A doctor and a lawyer are talking at a party. Their conversation is constantly interrupted by people describing their ailments and asking the doctor for free medical advice.

After an hour of this, the exasperated doctor asks the lawyer, "What do you do to stop people from asking you for legal advice when you're out of the office?"

"I give it to them," replies the lawyer, "and then I send them a bill."

The doctor is shocked, but agrees to give it a try.

The next day, still feeling slightly guilty, the doctor prepares the bills. When he goes to place them in his mailbox, he finds a bill from the lawyer.

And on that note, enjoy the weekend. Stock up on Sunday, lean back and watch the cricket for the afternoon - and into the evening. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
PO Box 904
Level Two, 2 Dowling Street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 470 1902
Fax: +64 3 470 1904
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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