Friday Offcuts – 6 March 2020

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We all know the bush fires in Australia over the summer period have been huge. Details on just how large have been released by scientists at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. Comparing wildfire seasons across the globe, the researchers found that nothing even comes close to the scale of devastation seen in Australia over the summer. Wildfires in Australia and elsewhere typically burn up to 5 percent of the forest, and wildfires in a few regions of isolated forest in Africa and Asia have experienced burn rates of up to 8 or 9 percent. Described as “unprecedented in their scope”, research has shown that approximately 21 percent of Australia’s temperate forests were burnt during the summer of 2019-2020.

Anti-dumping or subsidised imports from Brazil and China also hit the headlines this week. A coalition of leading U.S. manufacturers of wood mouldings and millwork products have just won their first battle against what they allege are unfairly dumped and subsidized imports of Brazilian and Chinese wood mouldings and millwork products coming into the country. Dumping margins for the imports are claimed to be as high as 87% for Brazil and 359% for China. The U.S. International Trade Commission has unanimously found that there is a reasonable case. This now paves the way for the Commerce Department to move forward with its investigations. Comment locally on this decision from the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association is that overseas subsidies are also impacting on NZ domestic wood processors. They continue to push the case to Government to take urgent action to fix what is clearly not a level playing field.

We also cover this week another drone story. This time though it’s a case study on how drones are successfully being used in a major international logistics and shipping company’s operations. Danish logistics and international shipping giant, DFDS had been looking for a solution to help them improve freight inspections at their harbour terminals. The solution they’ve come up with allows DJI drones to fly autonomously around a terminal and pinpoint and relay the exact locations of each and every trailer on the site.

The story – and link to the full case study is contained below. And a heads up for all those involved in log scaling and measurement, wood transport and logistics. A two-yearly technology programme is being planned to run in both Australia and New Zealand in mid-late September. Early details can be found on the HarvestTECH 2020 – Wood Transport, Log Scaling & Automation & Robotics series on the event website, HarvestTECH 2020. This week, for the first time, we’ve included a notice calling for Expressions of Interest from companies, contractors or suppliers to this part of the industry, to present as part of this September series. Further information on the event will follow.

And finally, for the Kiwi forestry and associated service industries working through reduced wood production right now, it appears the situation linked to the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus (both for the forestry industry and now the wider business community) over this last week isn’t any clearer. What we do know is that Chinese ports are still full to overflowing with logs, it’s going to take many months to clear and pricing in the short term will be impacted. It’s gratifying to see forestry companies, contractors, industry associations and Government working together on this issue, particularly in our hardest hit regions. We’ll look to keep you updated on developments and announcements as they occur. And on that more sombre note, enjoy this week’s read.

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Appeal for support in logging slowdown

New Zealand's Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford was visiting Gisborne this week to see first-hand the impact of the coronavirus on the logging industry. A Stats NZ analysis revealed the coronavirus outbreak has cost about $300 million in lost exports to China in the past month, with the largest falls in meat, seafood, and forestry.

China's ports are at full capacity, causing significant disruptions to the supply chain in the forestry industry. That's of significant concern in Gisborne, where 85 percent of the region's logs are usually exported to China. Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said local firms were laying off employees or reducing their hours, and businesses that had big loans to purchase equipment were badly affected.

"We know in the next few weeks we might have as many as 400 employees affected. We see this going on for at least three more months." Regional leaders, the Ministry of Social Development and Trust Tairāwhiti were working together, and the mayor was now looking to the government for urgent support. "We will be asking how government can support us in a specific Tairāwhiti package".

She would urge government to try to keep workers in the region rather than the option floated last week to send forestry workers to conservation jobs in the South Island. "If the situation changes in a couple of months, or three months’ time, we need those workers on the ground, ready to work again."

Forestry Industry Contractors Association chief executive Prue Younger said at least 30 percent of contractors were without work and the numbers could increase this week. Younger said previous estimates that 1500 people could be without work now "probably on the low side", and the downturn could put 2500 people out of work.

Younger said many contractors on standby may lose their contracts this week. "We've had a workforce that's been out of work for the last two or three weeks. We're about to get another tranche I believe that will be finishing contracts this week. There needs to be access to benefits sooner rather than later," she said.

Last week the government refused a request from the forestry industry to scrap the benefit stand-down period for those finding themselves out of work because of the Covid-19 coronavirus. People affected by the economic fallout from Covid-19 can also apply for hardship payments.

Younger said the East Coast was one of the most affected areas but she hoped Twyford understood there were pockets around the rest of New Zealand were suffering as well.

Source: RNZ

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Early interest - HarvestTECH 2020

Early expressions of interest to present at this year’s HarvestTECH 2020 event are now, for the first time, being sought. The HarvestTECH conference and exhibition that ran last year SOLD OUT well in advance of the event being run. It was the largest gathering of its type ever seen in New Zealand.

Close to 500 harvesting contractors, harvest planners, forestry managers and equipment and technology suppliers into the region’s logging industry attended.

In addition to most major New Zealand contractors there, a large contingent came across from Australia, North and South America and SE Asia. It well and truly established itself on the international stage. This year, the previous wood transport and logistics event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) is being brought under the HarvestTECH brand.

HarvestTECH 2020 will be focussing on log scaling, log segregation and loading, wood transport, logistics and data integration through the wood supply chain.

It will be running on 16-17 September in Melbourne, Australia and then again for the New Zealand industry on 22-23 September in Rotorua.

What's being covered?

New technologies, new processing systems and case studies to showcase “new technology and smart operating practices” in log loading and wood measurement, wood transport and logistics will be profiled at the HarvestTECH 2020 series in September. Further early details on content can be found on the event website,

You may have a recent case study of technologies or systems that you have employed within your own business that you could share, you could have developed a product that’s really making a difference out on the skid site, in transporting wood to the processing plant or port, you may represent a tech or equipment supplier to this part of the industry or you will, come September, have completed research or trials that could be presented to the wider industry. If so, we’d like to hear from you.

If interested in being involved as a presenter, please email or phone: (+64) 21 227 5177 to discuss. Details on opportunities to exhibit in both countries will be available shortly but if keen on receiving information as soon as it is available, please contact

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Wildfires burnt 21% of Australia’s temperate forests

New research suggests Australia’s devastating wildfires were unprecedented in their scope. Analysis conducted by scientists at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment showed approximately 21 percent of Australia’s temperate forests burned during the summer of 2019-2020.

When researchers surveyed historical records for evidence of comparable wildfire seasons — not just in Australia, but across the globe. They found nothing approaching the scope of Australia’s devastation. They published the results last week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“We analysed the major forest biomes across Australia, Asia, Africa, Oceania and North and South Americas to determine the extent of annual areas burned by forest fires,” lead study author Matthias Boer, bush fires expert and professor of ecology at Western Sydney University, said in a news release.

Wildfires in Australia and elsewhere typically burn up 5 percent of the forest, and wildfire in a few regions of isolated forest in Africa and Asia experience burn rates of up to 8 or 9 percent. The fires that ravaged Australia for much of the 2019-2020 summer burned 21 percent of the continent’s temperate forests.

“This is a globally unprecedented scale of burning, not observed in any other forest biome over the last 20 years,” Boer said. The temperate broadleaf and mixed forest biome covers millions of acres in Australia. The biome’s forests are some of the most vulnerable to fire brought on by drought and heatwaves.

Typically, damp ravines and south-facing sloops slow the spread of fire through Australia’s temperate forests, limiting the odds of a megafire. But the years preceding the summer of 2019-2020 were especially dry. Researchers suggest fuel conditions were the driest they’ve been in 30 years. The combination of extreme heat, fierce winds and dry tinder encouraged the spread of fire.

Numerous studies suggest climate change is likely to increase the risk of large, intense fires across largest swaths of the globe. “Climate change predictions warned of higher temperatures, longer more widespread droughts and more extreme fire behaviours, and it seems that the future we feared has arrived sooner than expected,” Boer said.


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Forest hazard reduction burning in Australia

This week, considering the number of recent commentaries on the recent Australian bush fires and with hazard burning being looked at as part of the national Royal Commission, we’ve built in a guest editorial on hazard reduction burning in Australia by John O’Donnell, former forester with the then NSW Forestry Commission. Feel free to add to the opinion piece or comment below if you feel so inclined.

I have read the articles on the importance of forest hazard reduction burning in Australia, as a former forester I understand the importance of hazard reduction burning. The wildfires have had a massive impact across Australia, burning 5.2 million hectares in NSW alone, and in many cases extremely hot fires. I understand Australia wildfire area is over 18 million hectares.

Wildfires in 2019/ 20 have had huge impacts on communities, individuals, fire fighters, infrastructure, forest, fauna, water quality, waterways, fish, greenhouse gas generation, air quality and heritage sites. It is clear to me that all these factors haven’t been adequately considered in an integrated way before to understand the large and broad impacts of wildfires and used as critical base information to progress increased hazard reduction programs. It is understood over 1 billion animals have died in the 2019/ 20 wildfires, in NSW alone. Cool burning has much less impacts on each of the above factors, much less.

On information available to me. the average fuel reduction burning in NSW between 2010 to 2019 was 153,291 hectares. I personally believe the current approach is not adequately focussed on hazard reduction burning across landscapes, using cool season burning. It’s time to urgently review current policies and regulations across Australian states that excludes/ restricts/ minimises low intensity burning from much of the landscape. This approach focusses on individuals, a large number of listed threatened flora and fauna species and communities, reduced fire frequencies and inadequate assessment of the consequences of not burning. This policy environment reinforces the shift towards more widespread high intensity fire regimes in these same areas where fires are restricted.

The current approach to inadequate hazard reduction burning impacts on the health of forests as organic matter builds up, eucalypts decline. Look at the tree crowns and assess the dead branches, sick crowns and epicormic growth where fire hasn’t occurred for long periods. This issue is of national importance and is poorly understood or in some cases ignored. The time has come to use the research information tabled already in relation to forest fire, health, dieback and fauna and undertake cool burning in the required forests.

I believe hazard reduction minimum area standards for burning need be developed for the states. I suggest that this be no less than 10 % of forests per year using the landscape principle. Cool burning is achieved using a range of principles that vary, including spacing of ignition points, time of day, assessment of aspect, fuel load assessment, soil dryness, wind/ weather and other factors. I suggest that COAG/ Commonwealth/ State annual review of fuel reduction/ areas hazard reduced in each the states annually and that this be reported in the parliaments and media.

I consider state and federal Governments and landholders should review the legal action risks associated with inadequate hazard reduction burning across southern Australia and design effective hazard reduction burning programs in consultation with agencies, communities and landholders. Due to past and current inadequate levels of hazard reduction burning programs, the levels of fuel remain very high across many areas of Australia/ NSW and the state has become a tinderbox in many areas. There is already at least one legal action underway, I understand in regards to adequacy of hazard reduction burning.

I suggest that new legislation be enacted by states to implement a Bushfire Hazard Reduction Act, empowering sound an adequate hazard reduction programs across Australia, across all forest sectors, state owned, Council and freehold. I suggest that this legislation would be independent of the bushfire legislation in each state, although linked and be mirrored under Commonwealth legislation. The legislation would empower legislative hazard reduction programs, nominate minimum annual burning areas, use landscape burning, enforce compliance with planned/ required burns, include financial and non-financial measures for non-cooperation, remove restrictive environmental constraints/ prosecution to sensible landscape hazard reduction burning, set up a protection/ insurance system for any escapes and allocate hazard reduction funding arrangements.

I believe that more control regionally is critical, especially in hazard reduction planning. Bushfire Associations/ Regional committees in regional areas need to have a greater say in the planning and undertaking of hazard reduction burning at the local level and could be used to increase uptake of hazard reduction burning and reduce bureaucracy as much as is possible.

If we don’t learn from these wildfires and quickly adapt, more very large area, massive, intense wildfires will occur again.

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Coronavirus pulls down Port's profit guidance

Port of Tauranga has reduced its full-year profit guidance as coronavirus continues to cause trade uncertainty. New Zealand’s largest port, announcing a 1.4 per cent decrease in group net profit for the six months to end December, said its revised full-year profit guidance was $94-$99 million compared to the previous $96-$101m.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said the full impact of coronavirus on trade had yet to be determined. Log exports had been hardest hit, down 8.4 per cent to 3.4m tonnes, with volumes already impacted by lower international prices and demand since mid-2019. Log inventories in China had surged with resulting shipping cancellations and delays, a situation the port expected to continue into next month.

“Port of Tauranga continues to be well-positioned to weather market fluctuations as its customers are primarily large forest owners, who are less susceptible to commodity pricing volatility than smaller, at-the-wharf-gate log exporters,” Cairns said. However, the trade outlook for the second half of 2020 remained uncertain and dependent on the length of the market shutdown in China and any slowdown in other countries taking extreme measures to manage the coronavirus risk.

Chairman David Pilkington noted the revenue increase despite the 4.2 per cent dip in total trade, and said the longer-term outlook remained positive for cargo growth, particularly in containers. Container volumes rose 3.4 per cent to 642,209 TEUs. However global commodity cycles resulted in exported cargo dipping 2.6 per cent to 8.6m tonnes.

Source: NZ Herald

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New Forests to acquire W.A. forests

Australia-based forestry investor New Forests has announced that investment funds managed by the firm have agreed to purchase the hardwood plantation assets of Bunbury Fibre Plantations from Mitsui Bussan Woodchip Oceania (“MWO”).

The Bunbury Fibre Plantations asset includes around 12,000 hectares of certified plantation hardwood, located around Bunbury, Western Australia. The Bunbury Fibre Plantation assets will continue to be managed for long-term supply of certified woodchips, principally targeting export markets.

The plantation purchase includes the establishment of a long-term timber supply agreement to Bunbury Fibre Exports Pty Ltd, managed by MWO. Through the partnership, fibre from the plantations will continue to be processed through MWO’s port facilities in Bunbury.

The investment is the first made by New Forests’ third-round Australia New Zealand Forest Fund (“ANZFF3”) in Western Australia and brings the fund to greater than 70% deployment. The ANZFF3 portfolio now includes diversified exposure to core forestry markets across Australia, as the new acquisition complements an existing Tasmanian softwood estate. The fund also has investments high-quality softwood estates in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Source: New Forests

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R U OK? Supporting your colleagues and community

Many forestry professionals, forest growers and forest workers around Australia have been impacted by the recent bushfire crisis. As we continue with recovery and try to return to business as usual, we may come across colleagues and members of our broader community who are struggling to process or cope with the aftermath of fire.

If you would like more insights into how you can support your colleagues and community, we invite you to participate in the following webinar:

Webinar: The Fire Fallout: R U OK?

Psychological first aid: How to support your colleagues and community.

Date: Thursday 19 March 2020, Time: 12:30 – 1.20 pm, Location: Your computer.

This webinar is designed to provide resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of forestry colleagues and the broader community following the devastating bush fires. The webinar will offer advice on how to identify those who are not coping and then deliver practical tools and strategies to help you help others. Some of our colleagues will need professional support to recover from this very difficult fire season and this webinar will provide resources and information on where to get help as well as advise on how to encourage colleagues to seek additional help.

Speaker: Stuart Stuart, Ambulance Victoria.
Stuart has been involved in Emergency Management for 25 years and has completed a Masters in Emergency Management. As an accredited mental health Social Worker, Stuart has counselled trauma affected individuals and communities for many years, particular Transport Accident patients and Victims of Crime. Stuart is qualified in de briefing, de fusion and de mobilization in Australia and the USA through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Stuart has been a volunteer with the CFA since 1986 and has recently commenced work with Ambulance Victoria.

Listen live or listen later
If you are unable to listen to the webinar live, everyone who registers for the webinar will be provided a link to the webinar recording so you can listen later.

Registration for this webinar is complimentary to all working in forestry in Australia. To register, click here.

Source: Institute of Foresters of Australia

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South Australian Government visits Tarpeena mill

Timberlink has welcomed The Hon David Ridgway MLC, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, as well as the Member for MacKillop Nick McBride to its Tarpeena site. The pair were joined by Marcus Kuller, an Export Adviser for Tradestart South Australia as they inspected progress on Timberlink’s high-tech multimillion-dollar mill upgrade and its potential for further investment.

Last week Timberlink completed work on one of its signature pieces of the upgrade project, the second Contra Flow Kiln (CFK). The minister was impressed by the high-tech machinery that will cut down waiting times for drying timber and increase product quality whilst decreasing heat power usage by 30%. “This is the kind of world class technology that we want to see in Australia to help ensure that we are keeping our value-add manufacturing jobs here”, said Mr Ridgway.

The minister was also impressed with the high-speed scanning systems for grading structural timber, “this is a great example of Australian manufacturing in the 21st century, delivering quality, literally home-grown products to Australian businesses every day”, Minister Ridgway said.

The three also discussed the potential new Timberlink Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) & Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) plant. Timberlink will be constructing a new CLT & GLT manufacturing facility, to be opened in SA or Victoria in 2023. The significant investment will see the creation of Australasia’s first combined CLT & GLT manufacturing facility on an approximately 14,000sq m site, employing up to 50 people full time when complete.

Photo: (left to right), Nick McBride, Marcus Kuller, Roy Dias (Site Manager), David Oliver (GM of Sales, Marketing & Corporate Affairs) and Minister David Ridgway

Source: Timberlink

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The benfits of drones in logistics

Danish logistics and international shipping giant, DFDS, has been combining drones and AI to streamline terminal operations. DFDS provides transportation services, supply chain solutions and warehouse management, handling millions of trailers every year.

The company has been exploring the potential for drones to be used to improve freight inspections at their harbour terminals. Locating individual trailers has long been a pain point and an unavoidably manual task. But with increased scale and ever more complex and demanding supply chains, developing a better method was necessary.

Drone use has been on the rise in the logistics industry, but DFDS required an original solution to simplify terminal freight management. First, the company consulted UAS Denmark. That led to a partnership with drone software developer Lorenz Technology.

Working with DJI’s Matrice 210 and its onboard SDK, Lorenz Technology had the access needed to develop a customized solution. Also important was the payload: DJI’s Zenmuse XT2, which has visual and thermal sensors capable of supporting AI features, such as identifying objects.

The solution developed by Lorenz Technology allowed the DJI drones to fly autonomously around the terminal, pinpoint and relay the exact locations of each and every trailer by recognizing their unique IDs. As a result, truck drivers could quickly find their load in the terminal, saving time and streamlining the logistics process for all parties.

Beyond that, the ability to identify and confirm the position of trailers saved on average 15 minutes during loading and discharging trailers from vessels. In turn, there were significant fuel savings and a reduction of CO2 emissions, manpower and costs.

You can read DJI’s full case study, Leveraging Drone Automation for Terminal Inspections, here.


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Wilding conifers – the issue and eradication options

Wilding conifers have an adverse effect on both Canterbury’s native ecosystems and economic wellbeing, by reducing available grazing land and limiting future land use options. If you haven’t already seen it, this new video explains some of the reasons that wilding conifers are a declared pest plant and the ways in which both organisations and landowners can be working together to help to eradicate the problem.

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Wood mouldings case vindicated

The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously found there is a reasonable indication that the U.S. wood mouldings and millwork products industry is materially injured due to imports from Brazil and China.

The Commission’s vote comes in response to petitions filed January 8 by the Coalition of American Millwork Producers (CAMP), a coalition of leading U.S. manufacturers of wood mouldings and millwork products. The cases allege that unfairly dumped and subsidized imports of Brazilian and Chinese wood mouldings and millwork products are injuring the domestic industry.

“U.S. producers of wood mouldings and millwork products and their workers are suffering as a result of dumped and subsidized imports from Brazil and China,” said Timothy C. Brightbill, counsel to CAMP and a partner in the International Trade Practice at Wiley. “Today’s vote puts the domestic industry one step closer to restoring a level playing field in the U.S. market.”

On January 29, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the initiation of antidumping (AD) investigations into imports of wood mouldings and millwork products from Brazil and China, as well as a countervailing duty (CVD) investigation into imports from China. The dumping margins for wood mouldings and millwork product imports are alleged to be as high as 87% for Brazil and 359% for China.

The Commission’s affirmative preliminary injury determination paves the way for the Commerce Department to move forward with its investigations. Unless extended, Commerce is expected to issue its preliminary CVD determination in April 2020 and its preliminary AD determinations in June 2020. If Commerce also reaches affirmative preliminary determinations in these cases, provisional AD and CVD duties will be collected based on the preliminary margins calculated.

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City Council-owned forests on the market

Invercargill City Council-owned forests have hit the market after it was decided to sell them off last year. The 14 forests in Southland, Otago and Nelson/Marlborough have a combined area of 3599ha and a total productive area of 3,058ha, predominantly stocked with radiata pine.

The estate is being sold by Invercargill City Forests Limited – a subsidiary of Invercargill City Council's holding company, Invercargill City Holdings Limited. The decision to divest was made after a review of the holding company's investments in relation to the strategic objectives agreed with council.

In April, Holdco resolved that Invercargill City Forests Limited was not a good investment fit and would be sold. At the time, Holdco chairman Brian Wood said "this decision was not taken lightly but took into account the company's debt position, the forecasted reduction in harvesting revenue and the risks associated with owning forestry."

Colliers International's specialist forestry sales team has been appointed to market the estate for sale by way of a two-stage expressions of interest campaign. Forestry director Warwick Searle said the age profile of the estate was bimodal, with substantial areas planted between 1994 and 2000, plus a significant portion of the estate established from 2012 to 2019.

More >>


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Wood requirements for French public buildings

The French government has announced plans for a sustainability law that will ensure all new public buildings are built from at least 50 per cent timber or other natural materials. The measure will be implemented by 2022 and affect all public buildings financed by the French state, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"I impose on all the public establishments which depend on me and which make the development or the policy of land to build buildings with materials which are at least 50 per cent of wood or bio-based materials," the country's minister for cities and housing Julien Denormandie told the French news agency.

Bio-based materials are made from matter derived from living organisms, with examples including hemp and straw. Like wood, they have a significantly lower embodied carbon footprint compared to other construction materials like concrete and steel.

Source: Dezeen: Timber Architecture

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... the wisdom of the ages

A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

So, she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.

She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?

"Morris Feinberg," he replied.

"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."

"I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."

"I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to love their fellow man."

"I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people ahead of their own interests."

"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a *****ing Brick wall."

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

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

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