Haulier swaps the high road for burgeoning home deliveries after family farm shop purchase


A former haulier-turned-shopkeeper has stepped into the driving seat of a long-established rural retail outlet after securing funds to fuel his entrepreneurial aspirations.

Michael Fisher parked a career as a long-distance driver when his father-in-law John Money decided to hang his apron at the popular Stallingborough Farm Shop.

And the 30-year-old business is now increasing its presence on the road, having bought three vans to expand a burgeoning home delivery service.

Nine new staff members have also been hired to meet demand for fresh fruit, veg, meats and flowers.

He said: “I always like the idea of running my own business and when the opportunity arose to secure the future of the business and give my father-in-law a long and well-deserved retirement plan, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I knew from the outset that running my own business would be a challenging and exciting journey, but when we signed on the dotted line, little did we appreciate just how much and how quickly the business would need to adapt as a result of Covid-19.”

Funds initially stopped the dream, with a need to purchase the business and stock. After exploring different ways of raising money needed, a friend suggested Finance For Enterprise – a delivery partner of British Business Bank-backed Start Up Loans UK.



Michael and Maria Fisher at Stallingborough Farm Shop.

He discussed his plans with Grimsby-based investment manager Jane Cusse who helped Mr Fisher and his wife Maria to secure £40,000 through two start-up loans, topped up by funds provided direct. “The financial support we received helped us to manage our cashflow, particularly during our first few months of trading when we didn’t know how lockdown would affect the business,” he said.

“The Farm Shop had always offered a home delivery service, but the funds we were able to secure from Finance For Enterprise enabled us to continue trading by delivering the fresh produce to the doors of our customers and as a result, we’ve managed to grow the business and create new jobs, something I feel incredibly proud to have achieved.

“Jane was amazing, she took the stress and worry away and kept us regularly updated through the application process.”

A willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty has seen the company receive rave reviews from its growing numbers of customers, with plans afoot to further expand the delivery fleet.

Jane said: “The retail sector has been particularly hard hit during the Covid pandemic, Michael and Maria spotted an opportunity to build and diversify their new business and they seized the opportunity.

“After spending time reviewing their business plans I put together a lending package which enabled them to not only acquire the existing company, but one which would help them to put their own mark on the business.

“Despite working in a challenging business climate, Michael and Maria’s hard work has really paid off and the amount of positive feedback they’ve received from their customers is a testament to their dedication and hard work. The Farm Shop is something of an institution in the Grimsby area and it’s great to see that its future is in safe hands.

“Accessing finance is one of the greatest challenges that many new business owners face, but the Start Up Loans scheme was specifically created to support new entrepreneurs. Michael and Maria presented a well thought out business plan, backed by forecasts based on the historical performance of the business and under their leadership the business has gone from strength-to-strength.”

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Agnico Eagle bulks up Arctic presence with purchase of troubled TMAC mine


Article content continued

We bought it because we think there’s a potential to find a lot more gold

Sean Boyd, chief executive of Agnico Eagle

“We didn’t buy it for synergies,” Sean Boyd, chief executive of Agnico Eagle, told the Financial Post. “We bought it because we think there’s a potential to find a lot more gold, in a part of the world we already know, and it’s already got infrastructure up and running.”

The property represents the smallest mine in Agnico’s portfolio of scattered operations, mostly in Canada, but also in Mexico and Finland. Boyd said it would attribute capital to explore the geological potential of the land based on the merits.

The company stock fell 2.3 per cent to $93.95 on Tuesday. Meanwhile, TMAC stock jumped 38 per cent to $2.18 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Boyd said the company would move slowly. TMAC has long faced operational issues with its mill that have prevented it from recovering the expected amount of gold from its ore, and is currently operating at 40 per cent of its previous capacity. A report last year suggested the operations need $600 million in investment.

TMAC also had roughly $167 million in debt, and about $71.5 million in cash at the end of the third quarter.

Still, the purchase price represents about one per cent of Agnico’s $23.3 billion market cap, and the Hope Bay mine, even at its reduced operating level, could add 100,000 ounces, or roughly five per cent, to Agnico’s expected 2021 gold production of two million ounces.

“We come into it with our eyes wide open because we know Nunavut is not an easy place to do business,” said Boyd, adding that his senior team plans to travel to Hope Bay on Wednesday to assess the property again.

Thank you for stopping by and seeing this post on Canadian and Political news titled “Agnico Eagle bulks up Arctic presence with purchase of troubled TMAC mine”. This news update was shared by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

#Agnico #Eagle #bulks #Arctic #presence #purchase #troubled #TMAC



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Integrating circuits – How Nvidia’s purchase of Arm could open new markets | Business


WHEN SOFTBANK, a Japanese technology group, paid $32bn for Arm in 2016, it was the biggest deal in chipmaking history. That record held until September 13th, when Nvidia, a big American chipmaker, announced its intention to buy the Britain-based chip-designer for $40bn.

Although they share an industry, Arm and its prospective owner are very different. Nvidia makes GPUs: pricey, specialised accelerator chips for gamers and artificial-intelligence number-crunching in data centres. Arm licenses blueprints for general-purpose chips used in everything from smartphones to cars and computerised gizmos that make up the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Customers ship more than 20bn Arm-designed chips every year.

Arm’s keystone position was SoftBank’s rationale for buying the firm. But it has languished under Japanese ownership. Revenues have stagnated, and the firm has made a small but persistent loss (see chart). Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight, a firm of analysts, blames a slowdown in the smartphone market, and low margins on IoT gear. Arm’s $40bn valuation is only 25% higher than when SoftBank bought it—and just 5% higher if you deduct the $1.5bn Nvidia has offered Arm employees to stop them from leaving and a mysterious $5bn cash or stock payout that SoftBank may qualify for under some conditions. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s market capitalisation, four years ago not much bigger than what SoftBank paid for Arm, now stands at $309bn. Its sales have surged.

One motive for Nvidia’s purchase is a desire to expand beyond its existing markets. Arm’s technology could help it build its own versions of the general-purpose processors that power the data-centre computers into which Nvidia’s accelerators are installed, a lucrative market dominated by Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker by revenue. Nvidia, for its part, hopes that baking its GPU expertise into Arm’s designs will make them more attractive to the firm’s customers.

Those customers, which include Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung, have kept a stony silence. Arm’s business model relies on being what Hermann Hauser, one of its founders, has described as “the Switzerland of the semiconductor industry”—ie, not competing with its customers by selling chips or gadgets itself. Nvidia’s purchase will threaten that neutrality if it tweaks Arm’s products to favour its own goals, or gives itself preferential access to Arm designs.

Nvidia has vowed to keep Arm’s business model intact. Having given such public assurances, says Patrick Moorhead, a chip-industry analyst, Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s boss, is unlikely to risk the opprobrium—or possible lawsuits from aggrieved licensees—that could arise from breaking them. But other analysts point out that Arm’s licensing revenues are, by Nvidia’s standards, small beer. If the Arm deal can be used to vault Nvidia into new markets, then cold commercial logic may encourage Mr Huang to push his luck. Custodians of RISCV, a set of freely available designs, lost no time in noting that it remains independent and free of such conflicts.

Regulatory problems loom, too. Britain’s government is in an interventionist mood and is likely to attach strings, such as keeping Arm’s headquarters in the country. China may also object. It is already upset over American attempts to strangle its technology firms (see article). A takeover by Nvidia would bring Arm—a crucial supplier—firmly under American control. Even in normal times, says Mr Blaber, China might balk at such a prospect. It will be even less keen in the middle of a technological cold war.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Integrating circuits”

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Was former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate correct when she said taxpayers’ money wasn’t used to purchase Cartier watches?


The claim

With the budget mired in debt and deficit, fresh questions are being asked about whether governments and the companies they own are spending the public’s money diligently.

Christine Holgate recently resigned as chief executive of Australia Post, conceding a decision to reward four senior employees with Cartier watches did not pass the “pub test”.

Ms Holgate had earlier defended the purchase of the watches on a corporate credit card while giving evidence to a Senate committee.

“I have not used taxpayers’ money,” Ms Holgate said.

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Is it correct that the purchase of the Cartier watches did not involve the use of taxpayers’ money? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

The question of whether the purchase of the watches involved the use of taxpayers’ money is not cut and dried.

Australia Post — wholly owned by the Commonwealth — is required by law to operate commercially. And, as Ms Holgate pointed out during her Senate estimates appearance, it does not receive funding from the Federal Government.

As experts consulted by Fact Check noted, Australia Post has considerable flexibility and independence when it comes to its daily operations, including the ability to create incentives and to reward staff for hard work.

However, Australia Post also faces stringent public accountability rules and is ultimately answerable to the Parliament.

It is regulated as one of nine Government Business Enterprises under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act (PGPA), and is sub-classified as a “Corporate Commonwealth Entity”, along with one other government-owned business, Defence Housing Australia.

As the explanatory memorandum of the PGPA Act clearly states, money and property held by Government Business Enterprises “are still public resources”.

It adds that the notion of taxpayer funds “cuts a broad sweep” in the sense that money and property managed by Commonwealth entities are “entrusted to them by the Parliament on behalf of the Australian people”.

Australia Post is owned by the Commonwealth, pays the Commonwealth dividends, and it must manage its resources with the interests of the public in mind.

However, within these parameters it is also afforded significant flexibility to earn its own revenue and spend money in a bid to generate profits, unfettered by government.

Although not addressed explicitly, this would appear to include incentivising and rewarding staff with physical items such as a watch.

The extent to which Australia Post could go in offering such rewards in the normal course of operation remains unclear, although first and foremost such remunerative measures would likely be subject to the scrutiny of Australia Post’s board.

Ms Holgate’s claim that Cartier watches were not purchased with taxpayers’ money is not cut and dried.(Nic MacBean: ABC News)

Background to the claim

Ms Holgate appeared before the Senate’s Environment and Communications Committee on October 22.

After claiming she had not used taxpayers’ money when purchasing the watches, she added: “We are a commercial organisation” and “[w]e do not receive Australian Government funding”.

She told the committee that the watches had been provided to four senior staff for an “inordinate amount of work” negotiating a November 2018 deal under which three of the four big banks agreed to pay Australia Post for providing financial services.

Ms Holgate initially told the committee the watches had been worth $3,000 each, although Australia Post later released a statement clarifying the four watches were worth a total of $19,950.

News about the purchase of the watches provoked an angry response from the Government, which announced an independent departmental inquiry.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “appalled and shocked” by the “disgraceful” behaviour.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Video. Duration: 3 minutes 7 seconds

Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls for Ms Holgate to stand aside in Question Time.

“The chief executive has been instructed to stand aside and if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go,” Mr Morrison told Parliament.

Ms Holgate resigned on November 2.

The inquiry is being undertaken by the Department of Finance, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and an external law firm.

According to the terms of reference, it will examine Australia Post’s governance arrangements and corporate culture “concerning the proper use and management of public resources, in relation to gifts, rewards and expenses, including personal expenses of executives”.

A brief history of Australia Post

As Australia Post explains in its heritage strategy, its origins can be traced back to 1809, when former convict Isaac Nichols became the colony’s first postmaster, charged with collecting the mail from newly arrived ships.

A commemorative stamp entitled "Birth of the first post office 1809" three men step onto a boat in England
Isaac Nichols is considered Australia’s first postmaster.(National Museum of Australia)

But it wasn’t until the Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Act of 1902, and the establishment of a national Postmaster General’s Department shortly after federation, that Australia had a national postal service.

This system, placing thousands of post offices under the control of a single federal department, prevailed until 1975.

In that year, the Whitlam government scrapped the Postmaster General’s Department and replaced it with two statutory authorities: the Australian Postal Commission (known as Australia Post) and the Australian Telecommunications Commission (initially known as Telecom, but which became Telstra).

The postal commission was established as a body corporate, overseen by seven commissioners.

In 1988, the Hawke government announced it would improve the efficiency of eight government businesses in the transport and communications sectors, and created a new financial structure for a renamed Australian Postal Corporation.

The then communications minister Ralph Willis told Parliament: “A myriad of unnecessary government controls over day-to-day management decision-making will be removed.”

The current structure of Australia Post

A further step was taken the following year with the passing of the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989, which remains in force today.

Mr Willis said the legislation “places commercial, community service and general obligations on Australia Post to perform its functions in a manner consistent with sound commercial practice”.

As the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications records on its website, these obligations include requirements about frequency, accuracy and speed of mail delivery via street post boxes and retail outlets.

The department notes that Australia Post remains “a government business enterprise, wholly owned by the Australian Government”, with two “shareholder ministers” — the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Communications.

A board and management is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation.

This arrangement is reflected in an organisational chart, published on the Australia Post website.

A red and grey organisational chart showing shareholder at the top, then Aus Post board, then a group of committees, then CEO
Though Australia post functions like a corporate entity, it has a slightly different management structure.(Australia Post)

Australia Post’s structure is broadly similar to that of a private sector company, except that the Commonwealth is the organisation’s only shareholder.

Australia Post’s relationship with the Commonwealth

The Department of Finance describes the Commonwealth’s relationship with its various government business enterprises — including Australia Post — as “similar to the relationship between a holding company and its subsidiaries”.

The main features of this relationship include:

  • A strong interest in the performance and financial returns of the business
  • Reporting and accountability arrangements that facilitate active oversight by the shareholder
  • The ability of the shareholder to take action in relation to the strategic direction of the business
  • Management independence, balanced with regular reporting of performance to shareholders
  • Boards that are accountable to shareholders, and shareholders that are accountable to Parliament and the public

In other words, as the sole shareholder, the Commonwealth can play a role in setting the strategic direction of Australia Post, and ensuring it is accountable and behaving appropriately.

However, Australia Post is also free to manage itself independently, within certain parameters put in place to ensure it is accountable.

Andrew Podger, a former public service commissioner and departmental secretary who is now a professor of public policy at Australian National University, pointed out that for decades government business enterprises had deliberately been given “very considerable management flexibility” subject to accountability for performance (including in regard to profits) of the board to the “shareholder” ministers and the Parliament.

“Remuneration of the CEO is set by the board subject to a reference level set by the Remuneration Tribunal, and private sector type performance bonuses have been paid regularly for years,” he told Fact Check.

The department also notes that the Australian Postal Corporation Act contains specific provisions on “factors to be considered in determining dividends”.

The legislation says the board must recommend that Australia Post pay a specified dividend, or not pay a dividend. The relevant minister must then either accept the recommendation or “direct the payment of a dividend or a different specified dividend, as the case requires”.

What is the legal status of Australia Post?

The obligations and freedoms of Government Business Enterprises vary.

In the case of Australia Post, specific aspects of its structure and governance are set out in the Australian Postal Corporation Act.

Woman posts a letter in the express Australia Post box.
Australia Post is one of two “Commonwealth companies”, which are regulated much more lightly than “Commonwealth corporate entities”.(AAP: Nikki Short)

But it is also subject to a broader law. As set out in its annual report and its corporate governance statement, it is subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

This legislation is administered by the Department of Finance, which has oversight of nine Commonwealth Government Business Enterprises.

As the department sets out on its website, there are currently seven “Commonwealth companies” (including NBN Co and Australian Rail Track Corporation) and just two “corporate Commonwealth entities”, Defence Housing Australia and Australia Post.

The public governance legislation has separate chapters devoted to “Commonwealth entities”, such as Australia Post, and the more lightly regulated “Commonwealth companies”, such as NBN Co.

The explanatory memorandum for the legislation says: “A corporate Commonwealth entity has a separate legal personality and can act on its own behalf in exercising certain legal rights such as entering contracts and owning property.”

So, Australia Post has obligations and freedoms similar to those of private sector companies under the Corporations Act, while at the same time being regulated as a government business enterprise, and more strictly so than a “Commonwealth company”.

Yee-Fui Ng, a senior lecturer at Monash University’s Law Faculty who specialises in corporate accountability, told Fact Check the corporate form means Australia Post is obliged to operate commercially.

However, she said that as a corporate Commonwealth entity, Australia Post is also accountable to Parliament, including over its administering of expenses.

Is Australia Post ‘a commercial organisation’?

Ms Holgate told the committee that the purchase of the watches did not involve the use of taxpayers’ money because “we are a commercial organisation”.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications also notes on its website: “Australia Post is required by law to operate commercially”.

If operating “commercially” meant operating the same way as a private sector company, the ownership of the money used to buy the watches would be clear, according to corporate law expert Ian Ramsay, director of Melbourne University Law School’s Centre for Corporate Law.

Postie.jpg
Is Australia post a “commercial organisation” as Ms Holgate suggested?(Suppied)

Professor Ramsay said the general principle was that shareholders of a corporation do not in a legal sense own the property of the company.

Rather, that property is owned by the company itself.

“In this sense, the funds spent on the watches do not belong to the taxpayers,” Professor Ramsay told Fact Check.

However, Professor Ramsay also pointed out that the relationship between the shareholders and Australia Post “is not the usual one that we see for companies in the private sector”.

“The Minister can direct that Australia Post pay a dividend to the Government,” he said.

Australia Post’s 2020 annual report shows it paid the Commonwealth a dividend of $42.2 million in 2018-19 (the year the watches were purchased), down sharply on the previous year. The following year, the dividend was halved to $21 million.

Whether the purchase of the watches would have reduced the dividend available to the Commonwealth, and by extension taxpayers, is unclear. Arguably, corporate-style incentives for executives could have led to an increased focus on profitability, underpinning dividend payments to the Commonwealth.

Jennifer Hill, director of the Centre for Commercial Law and Regulatory Studies at Monash University, said it was “questionable whether a purely commercial analogy” is appropriate when the Commonwealth is the sole shareholder.

“For example, payment of bonuses reduces surplus or increases the deficit of Australia Post, which has implications for taxpayers,” Professor Hill told Fact Check.

She said when the analogy is applied to the commercial sphere, it is also important to note that there are numerous constraints on the ability to award bonuses to directors and executives of public companies under the Corporations Act.

She nominated three examples: related party transaction provisions; unreasonable director-related transaction provisions; and transparency and remuneration disclosure in the annual directors’ report.

“And, of course, another constraint that applies to public-listed companies in Australia is that they are subject — on an ‘if not, why not basis’ — to Principle 8 (Remunerate fairly and responsibly) of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations,” Professor Hill said.

What does the legislation say about ownership of money?

When the public governance legislation was introduced in 2013, the then Labor government said one of its aims was to eliminate the risk of operational independence being confused with “ownership” of operating funds and assets.

“The money and property held by [government business enterprises] are still public resources, in the sense that they should properly be regarded as being managed for the Australian people,” the explanatory memorandum for the 2013 legislation said.

“Whether resources are provided by the Parliament, generated by commercial operations or cost-recovered activities, or provided through donations and bequests, those resources have been entrusted to the custody of a Commonwealth entity. The governance and funding arrangements of a Commonwealth entity do not change the inherently public nature of the resources entrusted to their care.”

Particularly relevant to Ms Holgate’s claim, the explanatory memorandum said: “The notion of ‘taxpayer funds’ cuts a broad sweep. The money and property used and managed by Commonwealth entities is entrusted to them by the Parliament on behalf of the Australian people to provide desired public goods and services, to an appropriate standard.”

It is interesting to note that the legislation in force from 1997 until 2013 explicitly said: “All money that a body holds is taken to be held by it on its own account.”

This referred to any “body corporate that is incorporated for a public purpose by an Act”, a category that included Australia Post at the time.

The 2013 legislation, still in force, uses different terminology in relation to a “corporate Commonwealth entity”, which is the case for Australia Post.

It refers to money “either in a bank account of the Commonwealth or a corporate Commonwealth entity; or held by the Commonwealth or a corporate Commonwealth entity (this is intended to refer to cash in the custody of the Commonwealth or corporate Commonwealth entity or an official in the entity)”.

Does the Government put funding into Australia Post?

Ms Holgate told the Senate committee that Australia Post does not receive Australian Government funding.

This statement is backed up by the Communications Department’s website, which says Australia Post “does not receive funding from the Government” and by a report on Australia Post by the Australian National Audit Office which talks of it as “a self-funded entity”.

As a government business enterprise, Australia Post “is required to operate efficiently, price efficiently and earn a commercial rate of return,” the Audit Office says.

Professor Podger said Ms Holgate was “mostly correct”.

“It does not receive direct tax revenue support, but it is of course owned by the government and hence its assets are publicly owned,” Professor Podger told Fact Check.

However, others suggested that the Commonwealth’s status as the sole shareholder made it difficult to sustain the argument that the money used to purchase the watches did not ultimately belong to the Government and, consequently, taxpayers.

Stephen Bartos, a former senior official with the Department of Finance, who is now a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, said the money in Australia Post’s bank account ultimately belonged to the Commonwealth, the sole shareholder, although it was controlled by Australia Post management.

“Australia Post does own the money but the Government owns Australia Post,” Mr Bartos told Fact Check.

Principal researcher: Josh Gordon, economics and finance editor

factcheck@rmit.edu.au

Sources

  • ABC News, ‘Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate resigns ‘with immediate effect’, November 2, 2020
  • Commonwealth of Australia, Hansard, Senate, Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, October 22, 2020
  • Australian Government, Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • Australia Post, Statement attributable to Australia Post Chair, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, October 23, 2020
  • Commonwealth of Australia, House of Representatives Hansard, October 22, 2020
  • Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Shareholder Departments investigation into Australia Post – Terms of Reference, October 26, 2020
  • Australia Post, Heritage Strategy, November 2005
  • John Quiggin, ‘It’s not about the watches: is Australia Post a commercial operation or a public service?’, The Guardian, October 29, 2020
  • Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Australia Post
  • Australia Post, Corporate Governance Statement, 2019-20
  • Australia Post, Annual Report, 2020
  • Australian National Audit Office, Australia Post’s Efficiency in Delivering Reserved Letter Services, ANAO Report No.11 2017–18.
  • Yee-Fui Ng, ‘In the Moonlight? The control and accountability of government corporations in Australia’, Melbourne University Law Review, Vol 43(1):303, 2019
  • Department of Finance, Government Business Enterprises
  • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013, Explanatory Memorandum



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U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Turkey Over Russian Arms Purchase


The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency after the NATO ally defiantly bought Russia’s S-400 air defense system.

“Today’s action sends a clear signal that the United States will fully implement (U.S. law) and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

President Donald Trump’s administration said it was banning all U.S. export licenses to the Presidency of Defense Industries and refusing any visas for the agency’s president, Ismail Demir.

Russia last year delivered the S-400 air defense system despite warnings that it is not compatible with being part of the NATO alliance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned that sanctions would be “disrespectful,” although his government went ahead with testing.

“The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of U.S. military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry,” Pompeo said.

“Turkey nevertheless decided to move ahead with the procurement and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, NATO-interoperable systems to meet its defense requirements.”

The United States already evicted Turkey from joint efforts in developing the F-35 fighter jet.



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US imposes sanctions on NATO ally Turkey over Russian missile purchase


The Trump administration has approved sanctions against Turkey as retaliation for buying a Russian missile system, the first time such measures have been used against a NATO ally.

An export ban and US visa restrictions will be imposed on the Turkish government agency that oversees defence purchases.

The decision came as European leaders delayed a decision on sanctions over a separate dispute — oil drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean — until March.

The US says Turkey decided to purchase the S-400 air defence system from Russia even though it is incompatible with NATO equipment.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added that his country had “made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of U.S. military technology and personnel.”

A statement on Monday added: “today’s actions are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of Turkey or any other U.S. ally or partner, but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its wide range of malign activities.”

But Turkey called the decision “completely senseless” and said claims the system was incompatible with NATO equipment were “devoid of any technical merit”.

The US had previously removed Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter development programme last year over the S-400 dispute.

But many analysts believe President Donald Trump’s close personal relationship with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan influenced the decision to hold off from sanctions until now.

Turkey tested the missile defence system in October for the first time, drawing a condemnation from the Pentagon.



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Twiggy Forrest’s purchase of RM Williams shows Australian consumers want to buy local, experts say


Iconic outfitter RM Williams is back in Australian hands, with its new owner vowing the company will manufacture more of the brand’s footwear and clothing locally as support grows for Australian-made products.

The Australian cattleman’s brand was sold offshore in 2013 to LVMH Group, which owns French luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. LVMH Group was rolled into a private equity firm L Catterton several years later.

After years owning RM Williams and trying to market it to an overseas audience, L Catterton tried to sell it again in mid-2019.

Investment company Tattarang, owned by mining magnate and Australia’s second-wealthiest person, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, and his wife Nicola Forrest, announced on Monday it had bought the brand, returning it to Australian ownership.

RM Williams is based in Adelaide and was founded by bushman Reginald Murray Williams 88 years ago.

Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman confirmed the company had been circling the bootmaker for close to a year.

Andrew and Nicola Forrest own the Tattarang investment firm.(ABC Great Southern: Tom Edwards)

“I was fortunate enough to go to the workshop in Salisbury in Adelaide back in December before coronavirus started to have its impact,” he told the ABC.

Mr Hartman said Tattarang had no plans to close any of RM Williams’ 63 Australian stores.

It also has one store in New York and one in London.

Mr Hartman said Tattarang decided to buy the luxury brand in the middle of Australia’s first recession in decades due to the opportunity it presented.

“In business, sometimes you have to take an approach to get a reasonable deal,” he said.

“We all are aware it’s a challenging time for many in the community.”

Calls for manufacturing of textiles to return to Australia

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has taken to social media in the wake of the purchase, describing it as “great news for local manufacturing and local jobs in SA”.

RM Williams has a factory in Salisbury where its boots are made. The factory expanded last year to hire 100 more people.

While some production has moved offshore in recent years, Mr Hartman said most of its products were still made in Australia.

An RM Williams store sign.
RM Williams stores have reopened after closing temporarily due to the pandemic.(ABC News: Nic MacBean)

“There are a few products made offshore but it’s only 1 or 2 per cent,” he said.

“In this time of reflection on our manufacturing base, we’re certainly committed to maintaining the Australian manufacturing focus.”

There’s also an affordability challenge — people often will need to pay a bit extra for Australian-made products.

Mr Hartman said Tattarang would “work through” the idea of moving manufacturing entirely back onshore in “coming months” but made no firm commitment to going 100 per cent Australian made.

“The business strategy is one of growth.”

After decades of seeing Australian brands moving production offshore, RMIT design and technology teacher Andrew Robinson said he was happy RM Williams was back in Australian hands.

He said it could become the catalyst for the growth of local manufacturing and help Australia bounce back from the COVID-19 recession.

“Governments need to invest in onshore manufacturing to skill up a new generation,” he said.

“It would be fantastic to bring manufacturing back here.

“It’s been dwindling for the last 25 years and going offshore, but with COVID-19 pandemic people are starting to realise we need to bring it back.”

Mr Robinson said there was talk of several Australian brands bringing manufacturing back onshore.

Consumers show support for Australian-made products

Australia Made chief executive Ben Lazzaro said the coronavirus pandemic had created demand for goods that would support Australian jobs — despite the extra cost of buying Australian-made products.

Research by Roy Morgan in July found 90 per cent of Australians surveyed wanted more products produced locally, up from 88 per cent in January.

The most common reason given was the pandemic had “highlighted Australia’s reliance on other countries”, the second was new employment opportunities needed to be created in Australia.

Mr Lazzaro said there was “a very pro-Australian sense in the marketplace at the moment”.

Mr Lazzaro said since state-based closures associated with the pandemic began in late March, Australia Made’s social media platforms had reported a 300 per cent increase in traffic.

“Consumers are taking time to consider the impact of their purchasing decisions given what we are going through,” he said.

RMIT marketing lecturer Marian Makkar said there was “a lot of potential” to sell the luxury product locally and overseas, even during a global recession.

“People aren’t going anywhere so they’re are shopping online, and the brand experience of RM Williams is really highlighted online,” Dr Makkar said.

“This brand is powerful and there’s an Australian trust that goes with the brand.

“People want to support their country, especially when so many have lost their jobs.”



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Iran arms embargo expires, opens nation to purchase and sale of foreign weapons


FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, an Iranian clergyman stands next to missiles and army troops, during a manoeuvre, in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Majid Asgaripour/Mehr News Agency via AP, File)

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UPDATED 3:20 PM PT – Sunday, October 18, 2020

A 13-year-old United Nations arms embargo against Iran came to an end this weekend, giving the Middle Eastern country to the ability to purchase foreign weapons. The embargo, which expired on Sunday, came as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iranian officials have called the ban’s lift a “momentous day.”

Iran has said it doesn’t have plans to purchase any new weapons, but the country does have the ability to purchase upgraded weapon systems or sell weaponry it produces.

“What Tehran will be looking for will be maybe cooperation with countries like Russia and China,” stated political analyst Abbas Aslani. “When it comes to buying maybe some arms from those countries, Iran might be thinking of buying some missile defense system, like S-400 from Russia.”

In the meantime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the U.S. is prepared to sanction any entity that contributes to the sale of arms to or from Iran.

MORE NEWS: Israel, U.S. Delegates Board Flight To Formalize Diplomacy With Bahrain





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Mark Kelly Denied AR-15 Purchase from Gun Store



On March 26, 2013, Breitbart News reported that Mark Kelly was denied an AR-15 purchase by Tucson, Arizona’s Diamondback Police Supply.

Diamondback store owner Douglas MacKinlay made clear he was denying Kelly the rifle because he was concerned Kelly was not purchasing the gun for “his own personal use.”

The AR-15 was a trade-in rifle, which meant there was a 20-day hold before the firearm could be transferred to someone else. Kelly wanted it, but in between the time he spoke for it and the time he could have taken possession of it, he went on CNN to suggest he was not keeping the gun for himself. Rather, he planned to give to the Tucson PD. Moreover, Kelly mocked the background check for the gun during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, describing the AR-15 as a “deadly” weapon and suggesting “public access to these [weapons] is too easy.”

It is important to note that Kelly was making clear his plans to give the AR-15 away prior to passing a background check for the rifle.

MacKinlay released a statement explaining the necessity of Kelly passing a check and Breitbart News published MacKinlay’s statement March 13, 2013:

On March 5, 2013 Mr. Mark Kelly purchased a Sig Sauer 45 caliber pistol and a Sig Sauer M400 5.56 AR style rifle from my company, Diamondback Police Supply Co. in Tucson, AZ. The rifle, having been purchased in trade from another customer, cannot be released to Mr. Kelly or any other customer for a minimum of 20 days in accordance with local ordinances. Mr. Kelly did not ask for any modifications to the rifle, nor are we making any. Once the hold period is up, Mr. Kelly must then show proper identification, complete the Federal Firearms Transfer Record (Form 4473) and successfully complete the NICS background check prior to his taking physical possession of the firearm. [emphasis added]

But Kelly’s talk of giving the AR-15 away put him in jeopardy of not passing the first question on ATF background check form 4473, which says, “Are you the actual transferee of the firearm(s) listed on this form?”

The question is followed by a warning: “You are not the actual transferee/buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.”

In light of Kelly’s talk of giving the gun away, MacKinlay canceled the sale. MacKinlay said:

While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible way, his recent statements to the media make it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer 5.56mm rifle was for reasons other than his own personal use.

Kelly is now running as the Democrat candidate for Senate against Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), and his campaign website makes clear he wants to expand background checks and empower police to seize firearms from certain people. But he is not discussing his gun control intentions during his campaign speeches around the state.

Mission for Arizona’s field organizer Angelica Carpio told James O’Keefe that Kelly “just wants to get elected first and then he wants to go further.”

She added, “[Kelly’s] trying to be elected, and then he’ll implement the measures.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.





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