Rinehart to invest $500 million in Chinese baby formula; Malaysian Airlines sacks steward after sexual assault allegation; Midday roundup

Rinehart to invest $500 million in Chinese baby formula; Malaysian Airlines sacks steward after sexual assault allegation; Midday roundup

Mining heiress Gina Rinehart is planning to invest $500 million to supply infant milk formula to the Chinese market, reports Fairfax.

Rinehart’s company Hope Dairies is seeking to acquire about 5000 hectares of farmland in Queensland to tap into the Chinese demand for formula, forecast to almost double over three years.

Demand for overseas milk formula has increased in China following a scandal that saw thousands of babies fall ill from milk powder containing melamine in 2008.

Fairfax reports Hope Dairies is seeking pasture in Queensland’s South Burnett region and a processing facility in Mary Valley.

The farms, which are among Australia’s biggest dairy farms, may produce as much as 30,000 tonnes of formula a year, co-investor and director Dave Garcia told Fairfax. All the output is intended to be exported to China.

Malaysian Airlines sacks steward after sexual assault allegation

Embattled air carrier Malaysian Airlines has sacked one its stewards, following allegations of sexual assault aboard one of its flights, reports the ABC.

The incident allegedly took place on board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris, where the steward was suspected of assaulting an Australian passenger while he “comforted” her about a fear of flying with the airline.

The passenger complained to authorities when the flight landed, saying she had told crew at the beginning of the flight about her apprehension of flying with the airline in the wake of the two previous disasters.

National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia says the steward was sacked without a hearing, after being detained Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport since August.

Aussie shares up on open

The local share market is up slightly this morning following a weak opening and record highs on Wall Street.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 0.5 points to 5442.7 points at 11:42am AEST. On Thursday, the Dow Jones closed up 0.23%, rising 40.59 points to 17,652.79 points.

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