Steggles ‘free to roam’ chicken cramped in sheds: court

Steggles chickens sold as “free to roam” were being held in cramped sheds and given less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper in space, the Federal Court has found.

Two of Australia’s largest poultry producers who supply Steggles branded chickens – Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises – were found to have made false, misleading and deceptive claims on their packaging and advertisements in a finding delivered on Monday.

Court documents show the poultry producers’ sheds were holding an average of 30,000 to 40,000 chickens, or almost 20 chickens per square metre.

At the same time the two companies, which control a significant share in the Australian chicken meat market, were spending an estimated $5 million on advertising, assuring their customers that their chickens were raised in “large carefully ventilated barns with comfortable bedding material covering the floor, where they are free to roam and have easy access to food and water”.

Justice Richard Tracey disagreed with the companies’ reality of “free to roam”, saying the ordinary and natural meaning of the phrase “free to roam” was “the largely uninhibited ability of the chickens to move around at will in an aimless manner”.

For the majority of the chicken’s life (42 days), the chicken could not move more than a metre without being obstructed by a barrier of clustered birds, Justice Tracey said, after touring the sheds near Griffith, in regional NSW.

Yet without legislated definitions, terms like “free-range” and “free to roam” will continue to be misused by producers keen to cash in on the higher prices these labels attract, Greens NSW MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi said.

“Cramming birds into sheds with less than an A4 sheet of paper to move and conning consumers into thinking that the birds are ‘free to roam’ represents the worst kind of consumer deception.”

Dr Faruqi said the term ‘free to roam’ is a marketing thought bubble, not a genuine reference to animal welfare standards, .

The Federal Court finding was a good result for the the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission which instigated legal action against the two poultry producers in 2011.

The misleading claims not only deliberately deceived ethical-conscious consumers, but created unfair competition between poultry providers who paid additional costs to ensure their chickens were “free range” or “free to roam”, the ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“We know that consumers are willing to pay premium prices for foods that have credence claims about them, such as free to roam or organic,” Ms Court said.

These “free to roam” claims were plainly directed at enticing consumers, who may have had ethical concerns about the treatment of animals, she said.

The peak industry body for Australia’s chicken meat, The Australian Chicken Meat Federation, was also found to have engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct, by claiming on its website that chickens produced in Australia were ‘free to roam’ or able to ‘roam freely’ in large barns.

The companies all risk fines of $1.1 million per penalty.

Justice Tracey will hear penalty submissions on a date to be fixed.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

The world’s most profitable company

The top ranked Australian company is BHP Billiton at No. 115. Photo: Tim WimborneDespite its recent fall from shareholder grace, Apple is still riding high as the second most profitable company in the world.Table: The 20 biggest companies in the world

According to Fortune Magazine’s latest Fortune Global 500, Apple recorded a cool $US41.7 billion in profit. The only company to come in higher was Exxon Mobil, with a $US44.9 billion profit.

Since hitting a peak of $US702.10 in September last year, Apple shares have plummeted 40.9 per cent to $415.05. But according to Fortune, Apple has done anything but slow down.

‘‘The introductions of the iPhone 5 and a the 7-inch iPad Mini helped propel the tech giant’s revenues up from $US108 billion in 2011 to $US157 billion last year,’’ said Fortune.

Fortune ranked the world’s 500 largest companies by revenue, a measure which puts Apple at a much lower 19th spot.

Royal Dutch Shell retained its top spot, with $US481.7 billion in revenues, while Wal-Mart snuck up from third in last year’s ranking to take the No. 2 position from Exxon.

The top 10 are dominated by oil companies, with Exxon Mobil at No. 3, Sinopec Group No. 4, China National Petroleum No. 5, British Petroleum (BP) No. 6 and Total no.10.

Despite being in the throes of an economic recovery, US companies maintained their lead in the ranking, taking up 132 places on the list. China came in second with 89 companies.

Samsung will be boasting its position over bitter rival Apple, sliding in at 14th in terms of revenue.

‘‘For Samsung, 2012 proved another banner year. While the South Korean electronics maker remained unchallenged in the TV business for the seventh consecutive year, it also became the No. 1 mobile phone maker,’’ said Fortune.

There were eight Australian companies in this year’s rankings, down from nine last year.

Australia’s top ranked company was BHP Billiton at No. 115 with $US72.2 billion in revenues producing $US15.4 in profit.

Conglomerates Wesfarmers and Woolworths followed at No. 153 and No. 159 respectively.

The big four banks and Telstra were Australia’s other ranked companies.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Jake White disappointed not to get Wallabies job

Missing out on the Wallabies coaching job hasn’t tempered Jake White’s desire to return to international rugby and lead a team to the World Cup again.

The ACT Brumbies mentor confirmed on Tuesday morning the Australian Rugby Union interviewed him to be Robbie Deans’ replacement before the Wallabies’ second Test against the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne.

The ARU will announce on Tuesday afternoon that Queensland’s Ewen McKenzie will take over from Deans, who has been sacked six months before the end of his contract.

White fronted the media at Brumbies headquarters.

He admitted he was disappointed he had missed a chance to lead the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup.

White is contracted to the Brumbies until the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season, but the ACT franchise was happy to let him leave to be the next Australian coach.

He said he was committed to remaining in Canberra until the end of his four-year deal before chasing another international job.

‘‘The ARU asked a while ago if I would be interested [in coaching the Wallabies], I’ve always been interested in returning to international rugby,’’ White said.

‘‘It hasn’t panned out, they’ve gone for Ewen and that’s fantastic. He’s got a fantastic record and I wish him all the best.

‘‘My job is to make sure the Brumbies get to a better place, everyone knows that. I’ve got a Brumbies job.’’

White led South Africa to a World Cup triumph in 2007.

But the ARU has opted to put an Australian in charge of the Wallabies after the experiment with New Zealander Deans failed.

Deans’ last night in charge was the Wallabies’ dismal loss to the Lions in the series-deciding third Test in Sydney last weekend.

McKenzie has won a World Cup as a player, was a Wallabies assistant under Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones, coached NSW into two Super Rugby finals and led the Queensland Reds to the 2011 championship.

White was relieved a decision had been made so he could focus on the Brumbies’ finals charge.

The Brumbies resume their Super Rugby season with a clash against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.

‘‘It’s not so much disappointment, what’s nice is I can get on with it now,’’ White said.

‘‘There’s been a lot of speculation and anticipation … the decision is made and that gives us clarity. The players know now who the coach is and who’s going to the World Cup.

‘‘For anyone in Australian rugby there’s a bit of clarity now.’’

White said it wasn’t just a perception that McKenzie got the nod over him because of his Australian heritage.

‘‘It’s not a perception. It’s a fact,’’ White said.

‘‘It just happened. You fired the cricket coach, put an Aussie in, fired the rugby coach and put an Aussie in.

‘‘It’s not a case that I’m fearing about it. South Africa pick a South African, Kiwis pick Kiwis. England rugby pick English people to pick the team.

‘‘They’ve tried foreigners and I appreciate that. That doesn’t mean that I have to agree or disagree with it. That’s the nature of the game we’re in.’’

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Pies’ eyes on the ball

Harry O’Brien and Nathan Buckley. Star Collingwood player Harry O’Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression. Photo: Jason South

Harry O’Brien at training. Photo: Jason South

O’Brien battling depressionGreg Baum profile, 2010O’Brien on his father’s suicide, 2009

While showing compassion, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has made it clear to Harry O’Brien the club’s focus must return to on-field matters, having endured a week of controversy about the premiership defender.

O’Brien, who has had ongoing counselling, has revealed he went to Sydney – and not Port Douglas – to help clear his mind over the weekend after falling out with Buckley last week. He said comedian friend Scott Dooley had done ”a great job of hiding me in Sydney”.

O’Brien returned to the Magpies on Tuesday and trained with the main group, although he left the field before match practice. He was then joined by president Eddie McGuire, with the pair leaving arm in arm and sharing a joke. They had been at loggerheads in recent times after McGuire’s racial gaffe.

O’Brien, who also has a floating bone in his ankle, will not play against Adelaide on Friday night but the club believes he could return to face Gold Coast a week later.

He has ceded his spot in the leadership group as he battles ”personal demons” and looks to regain his place in the team.

O’Brien and Buckley had agreed for the half-back to step down from his leadership role when they met on Monday.

Buckley said the week’s events had been a learning experience, but had overshadowed a superb win over Carlton on Friday night.

”Learning every day, not just about Harry, learning about myself, learning about what the group is capable of. This has largely overshadowed what was a committed and very strong team performance on Friday … when the club was under a bit of pressure and duress,” he said.

”That’s the beauty of what we do. There are plenty of dark days … you need a lot of resilience and strength of character and support to be able to get through those dark days.”

Buckley would not disclose specifics of what was said during the team meeting last week, and immediately afterwards, which led to O’Brien swearing at his coach and other team officials and leaving the club.

It’s understood O’Brien had taken offence to being asked whether he approved of a nickname given to teammate Paul Seedsman.

The Brazilian-born O’Brien said on Tuesday that his spat with Buckley was not a major issue compared with the personal issues he faced, revealing depression, sexual abuse and suicide – his father had committed suicide in 2009 – were behind his decision to take personal leave.

A member of O’Brien’s family has been sexually abused, but it was O’Brien who witnessed a murder in Brazil on Christmas Day in 2011.

”I’m going through a history … of things for a long time, including a long and very complicated history of sexual abuse, suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing who murdered that person and not being able to say anything, knowing that person will probably murder you,” O’Brien said.

”When the time comes right, I will open up about these issues, but this is my personal experience and I have to do this in the public eye.

”And it’s really tough, so if you guys [media] could just give me a bit of space, because I am going through some real stuff … It’s really tough, really tough stuff.

”The club has been fantastic in supporting and protecting me and they have tried to do that. I ask you guys to co-operate because I am going through some real stuff here.

”That’s the real issue here, you know, my demons that I’m starting to face. I just rattle off those issues and there’s even more, even more that I don’t feel comfortable in sharing.”

Buckley said he was happy for O’Brien to continue to be outspoken on social issues, but reminded him why he had been able to have a platform.

”But I think Harry needs to understand the reason he has that forum is because of the Collingwood Football Club,” he said.

”He has a great and healthy respect for this footy club and what it has done for him and … one of the reasons he has a voice is because he has just been a good footballer and done his job very well.

”I think at the moment it’s clear, from a welfare perspective, that Harry needs to have that focus on himself and getting himself in good shape physically and mentally.

”I get the impression everyone thinks he is a basketcase. He has been through some things that I couldn’t imagine what that feels like. He has carried these things for a long time and he feels by sharing them it shares the load a little bit – that’s what a footy club is for.”

For help and information about depression contact Lifeline, 131 114, or www.lifeline杭州夜生活.au; Beyondblue, 1300 224 636, or www.beyondblue杭州夜生活.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Tailored pitch reveals England’s Ashes anxiety

Vote: series resultVote: First Test result

There’s been plenty of rain in England this summer, but you wouldn’t know it from the 22 yards in the centre of Trent Bridge. A wicket that was the traditional home of English pace bowling now resembles something from the maidans of Mumbai.

Perhaps it’s no surprise in England, a land whose national dish is chicken tikka, but a warm week has put the final crust on the type of surface that will follow the Australians all summer, for a cable has arrived from the Raj informing the MCC that these colonials don’t take well to the turning ball.

Cricket has changed since this kind of thing was condemned as ‘doctoring’. In 1956, the only time in the past century that Australia lost a third straight series to England, off-spinner Jim Laker took 46 wickets at 9.60, including 19-90 at Old Trafford. Sand and marl had been mixed into the pitches to maximise the advantage of Laker and left-arm tweaker Tony Lock, and the Australians were at daggers drawn with curators and county clubs. Such a thing was considered tantamount to cheating, and remained so in 1972 when Derek Underwood exploited a Headingley pitch that had been supposedly taken over by a fungus called fusarium, though it was noted that no other part of the ground, including the rest of the wicket square, was similarly affected.

Nowadays, there has been a subtle change of occupation: doctoring is now called tailoring, and it is accepted practice around the world. When England prepared a subcontinental surface at the Oval in 2009, Australia were seen as fools for not selecting a spinner. England weren’t knaves for employing a tactic that used to cause international incidents. As Lance Armstrong says, if everyone’s doing it, it’s not cheating anymore.

The question for this series is, have England been too smart by half? The curators’ guide has been events in the last six months in India, where, on pitches that spun backwards, England won 2-1 and Australia lost 4-0. While Australia were at sea on those wickets, England’s Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar outbowled the locals and Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen played innings of great substance. If they could, England would happily stage the Ashes at the Wankhede.

But the risk for England is that their tactics might play the inexperienced Australians into form. In India, all of England’s pace bowlers struggled except the redoubtable Jimmy Anderson. Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan failed badly, and only Anderson obtained dangerous reverse swing. This week’s Trent Bridge wicket and surrounds have the texture of sandpaper. Expect the English fieldsmen to throw the ball with the trajectory of boys playing skippers with stones at the beach (roughing the ball up in this way is another practice that used to be frowned upon but is now accepted). After 20 overs the ball will look like something from the bottom of the team kit. That’s all very well, but in doing so, will England be nullifying what has been a very effective conventional pace battery, just as, in 1956, they didn’t use Frank Tyson? England seem to be so spooked by Australia’s strong suit in fast bowling that they are prepared to neuter their own, like a swap of queens in a chess game.

The other potential weakness in the plan is that Australia’s batsmen will not be as clueless against spin as they were in India. Many other factors were amiss with that team at that time. Whatever the effect of the renewal at the top, the simple fact is that the Australian batsmen will have learnt from the Indian experience and be better for it. Phillip Hughes, Ed Cowan and Steve Smith were conspicuously better players of spin bowling in April than they had been in February. They’re not world-beaters yet, but they won’t be as bad as England seems to expect. Likewise, Nathan Lyon is on an upward curve, and will have conditions to suit. As Jack Gibson said, if they keep improving, you don’t know where they’re going to stop.

For England to be overconfident in an Ashes series is implausible to anyone who has been alive for more than 10 years, but the current puffed national chest offers Australia’s cricketers a sneaky opportunity. England expects its cricketers to win. On paper, they exceed Australia in all departments. These teams were mismatched in 2010-11 on (bouncy, true) Australian wickets, and England have improved more than Australia since then. Michael Vaughan’s forecast of a whitewash doesn’t seem as far-fetched as his hairline. English supporters find some kind of inexorable logic in the sequence of Olympic Games-Tour de France-British Lions-Wimbledon-Ashes. Their cricketers have had a psychological edge over Australia since 2009. So why, with all that in their favour, would they also doctor their pitches for spin? What can they possibly be afraid of?

In that hint of insecurity lies, for the Australians, a glimmer of hope. It’s only a glimmer, and in all likelihood Australia may produce good sessions and good days, but not three winning Tests. Yet if English sport has one historic constant, it’s the gift for stuffing up the golden chance. In drying out their wickets the way they have done at Trent Bridge, they are leaving no stone unturned. It’s called thoroughness. It’s also called anxiety.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.