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National celebrates tax u-turn

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Thursday, September 1 (yes, it is September I am not making this up). I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me via email on

It’s local election season: Check out to help you decide when we get to polling day.

The agenda

  • National’s claimed victory over the tax u-turn – and confirms it won’t change KiwiSaver if it enters government in 2023.
  • Christopher Luxon has, finally, admitted he won’t work with Brian Tamaki.
  • Firefighters call off further strikes.
  • We’ll have the latest Covid-19 numbers at around 1pm.

National celebrates tax u-turn

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Thursday, September 1 (yes, it is September I am not making this up). I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me via email on

It’s local election season: Check out to help you decide when we get to polling day.

The agenda

  • National’s claimed victory over the tax u-turn – and confirms it won’t change KiwiSaver if it enters government in 2023.
  • Christopher Luxon has, finally, admitted he won’t work with Brian Tamaki.
  • Firefighters call off further strikes.
  • We’ll have the latest Covid-19 numbers at around 1pm.
Sep 1 2022

Foreign affairs minister expresses ‘grave concerns’ for Uyghurs following UN report

A demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, on December 21, 2018. The protesters demanded that China stop detaining thousands of minority Uighur Muslims in camps and political indoctrination centers in its Xinjiang region. (Getty Images)

New Zealand remains “deeply concerned” for the welfare of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, says foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta, responding to the release of a UN report on the region earlier today.

The report, issued by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet following a visit in May, concludes that serious human rights violations have been committed against ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and that the extent of the violations may constitute a crime against humanity.

Mahuta called on China to respond to the report.

“We are particularly concerned about the report’s conclusions regarding arbitrary detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, forced medical treatment, widespread surveillance, violations of reproductive rights, restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and forced labour,” she said in a statement.

“Aotearoa New Zealand has a strong history of promoting and protecting human rights at home and internationally, as an integral part of our independent foreign policy. As a committed proponent of universal human rights, we will continue to speak out when we see human rights under threat, in line with our interests and values.”

When the Facts Change: A tale of two epic tax fails

Revenue minister David Parker steered the government into a political minefield this week with his extension of GST to all KiwiSaver fees that was gone by lunchtime within a day. On the latest episode of When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey talks with tax expert and historian Terry Baucher about why this epic fail pales in comparison to another from 33 years ago when Labour’s David Caygill failed to introduce a Capital Gains Tax to match our “perfect” GST and income tax systems.

Follow When the Facts Change on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Covid-19 latest: 286 current hospitalisations, 2066 new community cases

Image: Toby Morris

The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 continues to drop, with 286 new hospital admissions in the seven days to yesterday. Three people are in ICU.

There are 2,066 new community cases, with a seven-day rolling average of new community cases of 2,023. Last Thursday the seven-day rolling average was 3,061.

The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 319. Last Wednesday it was 416.

Nine people have been confirmed to have died with Covid as a cause or contributing factor in the past day, with another eight deaths with Covid.

Of the 17 people whose deaths are reported today two were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Whanganui, three were from Wellington region, four were from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, and one was from Southern.

One was in their 50s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and 12 were aged over 90. Nine were women and eight were men.

There are now a total of 1,908 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now 7.

Second cost of living payment due today

The second of three cost of living payments is due to be paid out to eligible recipients today, with the definition of eligible still being refined. The government announced on Monday that more screening would be put in place to filter out ineligible New Zealanders (think: those residing overseas) who received the first payment on August 1. Revenue minister David Parker said the extra screening will affect approximately 31,000 people.

For those who are eligible and received the first payment, no further action is required. IRD will be staggering payments throughout the day as there are many (nearly 1.4 million received the first payment) so some payments may not appear until tomorrow.

This week’s instalment will again be one third of the $350 payment made out to middle and lower income earners currently residing in New Zealand.

Happy first day of spring and happy second day of $116 to all those who celebrate (and are eligible).

Tim Shadbolt admits he’s a ‘long shot’ to retain Invercargill mayoralty

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt (Photo: Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images)

Long-serving Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt has acknowledged he’s unlikely to win the top job again this time around.

First elected to the role in 1993, Shadbolt has become a well known figure nationwide. Questions have been asked, however, around Shadbolt’s performance since the last local election.

In mid-2021, his deputy Nobby Clark pushed for a vote of no confidence against Shadbolt, who later claimed to have been the victim of workplace bullying.

In a candid interview with Stuff, Shadbolt said he had “no regrets” about his lengthy career but concluded he was a “long shot” to win again in October. “It is hard to claw your way back. “That is why I am not campaigning as vigorously as I have in the past,” said Shadbolt, who believed the Marcus Lush “juggernaut” was pulling ahead in the race.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt (Photo: Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images)

“I know people don’t follow polls, they say they are unscientific, but I am a great believer in polls,” he said. “In life sometimes you have got to accept defeat and be prepared to retreat … Napoleon would not retreat and he got dealt to, so I don’t see anything dishonourable about defeat.”

The Spinoff will have live coverage from on the ground in Invercargill during the election campaign. We’ve requested an interview with Shadbolt, but have so far had no response.

Marlon Williams, Troy Kingi, Tami Neilson score APRA Silver Scroll nominations

Marlon Williams’ ‘My Boy’ (Photo: supplied)

APRA has this morning announced the nominees for the 2022 Silver Scroll Award (Kaitito Kaiaka), New Zealand’s most prestigious award for songwriting. Previous recipients include Lorde, Neil Finn, Scribe and Benee.

The five nominees are:

  • ‘Girl At Night’ written by Natalie Hutton, Minnie Robberds, Joel Becker, Angus Murray, performed by There’s A Tuesday (Native Tongue Music Publishing)
  • ’35’ written by Rob Ruha, Kaea Hills, Te Amorutu Broughton, Ainsley Tai, Dan Martin, Whenua Patuwai, performed by Ka Hao and Rob Ruha
  • ‘Beyond the Stars’ written by Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson performed by Tami Neilson and Willie Nelson (Native Tongue Music Publishing)
  • ‘He Ōrite’ written by Troy Kingi*, Iraia Whakamoe, Ryan Prebble, James Coyle, performed by Troy Kingi and The Nudge (*LOOP Publishing Limited/Kobalt Music Publishing)
  • ‘My Boy’ written and performed by Marlon Williams (Native Tongue Music Publishing)

Other awards handed out on the night include the APRA Maioha award, celebrating exceptional waiata featuring te reo Māori, the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, celebrating excellence in contemporary composition, and this year’s inductee into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.

The award will be presented on October 18 at an event at Spark Arena.

Leo Molloy endorses former rival Wayne Brown in Auckland mayoralty

Leo Molloy meets with staff in mid-June (image: Tina Tiller)

Auckland businessman and former mayoral candidate Leo Molloy has revealed he’ll be voting for Wayne Brown in the upcoming local elections.

Molloy dropped out of the race last month after a poll showed he had slipped back into third position, behind both Brown and frontrunner Efeso Collins. At the time, Molloy, who had led an at times controversial campaign, said he had not anticipated the poll result. He chose not to endorse a candidate at the time.

In a video shared by the Brown campaign, Molloy called his former rival “pretty ruthless” and said he’d “make the books look good”. Molloy added: “He’s fiscally responsible and he won’t put up with any rubbish from the likes of Auckland Transport who are out of control.”

Brown said while he didn’t agree with everything that Molloy stood for, he was grateful for the endorsement.

Finally, Luxon rules out Tamaki coalition: ‘They’re crazy’

Luxon has ruled out a Tamaki coalition (Photo: Getty)

A week after about 1,000 anti-government protesters marched to parliament, the National Party’s Christopher Luxon has finally ruled out a coalition with the group’s ringleader.

The protesters held a “people’s court” where they deemed the government guilty for “crimes against humanity”. And yet, the day after the chaos had cleared, Luxon told media it was too soon to comment on possible coalition arrangements. That’s totally reasonable when you’re being questioned on entering government with Act or the Greens – but Luxon was being asked whether he would consider forming a government with a Tamaki-led party.

It prompted a furious display in parliament yesterday from deputy prime minister Grant Robertson, who demanded of Luxon: “Do not say to young gay New Zealanders that they don’t matter, do not say to the women of New Zealand that they don’t have a place in leadership.”

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Luxon relented. “What I’ve tried to say consistently is that I’ve got nothing in common with Tamaki. I think they’re crazy, I don’t think they’re serious, I don’t think they’re going to make it and you saw that coalition fall apart if you read between the lines.

“If it helps Mike, I’m very happy to give you a Mike Hosking exclusive that I’ll certainly rule out Tamaki and never work with him.”

Luxon has ruled out a Tamaki coalition (Photo: Getty)

The Bulletin: Firefighters call off further strikes

After two strikes over the last fortnight, firefighters have called off further strikes and agreed to mediation with Fire and Emergency (FENZ). Minister of internal affairs Jan Tinetti said she had brought the two parties, FENZ and the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU), together to discuss a way forward in the collective bargaining dispute.

FENZ will also withdraw its request that bargaining be facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority. Probably a sensible and necessary intervention based on the amount of tooting in support of NZPFU members I heard while driving through Auckland last Friday. There will be no further communication from either party until at least September 30.

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National promises it won’t bring in any changes to KiwiSaver

Nicola Willis. (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

National’s finance spokesperson has ruled out making any changes to KiwiSaver should the party enter government next year.

It’s been a big 24 hours for the opposition after they took credit for the government’s swift u-turn on plans to impose GST on KiwiSaver fund fees. The proposal had been widely condemned after it was revealed billions in retirement savings would be wiped off over the next 50 years.

Speaking to RNZ, Nicola Willis confirmed her party would stick to the status quo. “We are not proposing to change KiwiSaver, we are not proposing to add extra taxes to KiwiSaver,” she said. “People have been pretty happy with the status quo… it’s not something that’s been on the agenda.”

Willis said “tens of thousands” of New Zealanders had spoken out against the policy, helping make it clear to the government that it was untenable. “The advice was very clear: if the government had gone ahead with putting this GST on, it’s New Zealand Kiwi savers who would have paid,” she said. “The fees would have been passed on and it would have reduced the value of those savings at retirement.”

Revenue minister David Parker admitted the backtrack was embarrassing for the government, but has maintained that he believed it was closing a tax loophole rather than imposing an additional burden.