Despite very serious allegations from former Sanlu CEO Tian Wenhua that an unnamed Fonterra board member influenced her decision to not cease production of milk powder known to be contaminated, on RNZ’s Checkpoint Fonterra Chairman Henry van der Hayden was adamant Fonterra would not be disclosing documentation to prove it advised Sanlu only a 0% melamine content was acceptable in its products (Sanlu issue starts at 4:04).
When Gail Woods pressed him to provide evidence that Fonterra had acted properly, van der Hayden sounded increasingly lame and worried as he repeatedly cited that “it was a matter of Chinese law…. We don’t have to do anythink [sic]”. And with that we’re meant to accept that Fonterra’s part in the Chinese infant milk formula tragedy would remain a closed book.
Actually that’s just not good enough.
New Zealand relies so heavily on Fonterra for export earnings, and our entire primary exports reputation is so enmeshed with the Fonterra brand, that it deserves special scrutiny and needs to be held to the highest standards of accountability. Clearly van der Hayden doesn’t share this view going by the way he almost choked at Wilson’s apparently sacrilegious suggestion that perhaps Fonterra CEO Andrew Ferrier might even consider resigning.
I can understand if legal and commercial sensitivities mean Fonterra can’t lay everything bare to the public, but perhaps our Government might consider it prudent and ethical to formally investigate the evidence, on behalf of the New Zealand public, to establish the precise involvement of Fonterra in the Sanlu affair. Perhaps they could start with investigating exactly what Fonterra did advise and what actions Fonterra declared it would take if Sanlu didn’t comply with their 0% advisory? Some time-lines establishing exactly who knew what and when would also be helpful.
You may recall National screeching for enquiries when Clark was in the back of a Crown car exceeding the speed limit on a rural highway. Perhaps a matter of somewhat greater gravity, a matter involving the fatal poisoning of six infants and injury to hundreds of thousands more, might actually warrant a Government enquiry?
Will National hold our largest corporation to any standard of public accountability, or are we just meant to take Fonterra’s word and leave it at that? Seems an oddly uninterested stance from National for such an important issue.