Aug 2 2023

Left bloc has no path to power, according to new poll


Tonight’s Newshub-Reid Research poll has bad news for Labour’s hopes for forming a new government. The party has dropped 3.6 points since the last poll in mid-May, to 32.3%, while its potential allies still lack the support to ensure the left bloc reaches the all-important 61-seat threshold.

National is up 1.3 points, to 36.6%. With Act on 12.1% (up 1.3 points), the two parties could govern alone based on this polling.

Newshub-Reid Research

Of the other smaller parties, the Greens are on 9.6%, up 1.5 points. New Zealand First is on 4.1%, up 1.1 points and getting closer to the 5% threshold needed to return to parliament.

Te Pāti Māori is down 0.8 to 2.7%, the Opportunities Party is down 0.5 to 1.5%, and the New Conservatives are at 0.7%, no change.

On this polling, a left bloc consisting of Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori would only get 57 seats. Together, National and Act would have 63 seats – enough to form a government.

Labour votes down parental leave bill

Finance minister Nicola Willis said the ferry upgrade was too expensive, as costs had shot up from initial expectations.  Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Nicola Willis, deputy leader of the National Party, has accused Labour of “picking politics over parents” after the party voted down her member’s bill recommending ways to modernise parental leave.

The bill aimed to make parental leave more flexible, allowing parents to share leave between them, take leave in overlapping instalments, or separate leave into different chunks.

“My bill comes at no extra cost to the taxpayer, it simply supports parents and caregivers to make the decisions they believe are best for their own family. Labour seem to think it knows better than parents on what leave arrangements they should choose,” said Willis, in a press release.

All other parties supported the bill. Speaking in support of it in parliament, Willis said it was a “shameful day” and that the party had “insulted every parent in New Zealand”.

“I have birthed four children, and I find it insulting to imply that it is wrong for men, for fathers, for lesbian partners to say ‘we should take parental leave at the same time’.”

The bill was a “no brainer,” she said, in her impassioned speech. “I think what Labour really wanted to do today is deny National a win… The members have left values at the door and New Zealand parents will ensure you pay the price.”

Watch the full speech below.

‘Historic’: Teachers poised to receive pay bump as government comes to the table

Image: Getty

From parliament:

The government will help boost teacher pay, supporting a recommendation to increase the base salaries of secondary school teachers by 14.5% by the end of next year. And it’s the government’s “final” offer to teachers.

Education minister Jan Tinetti, speaking from parliament this afternoon, called this an “historic offer” and said the increase offered by the government would see beginner teachers receive an annual increase of close to $10,000, on top of a $7,210 lump sum.

“We are absolutely committed to investing in our teachers to attract and retain the best to teach our young people and set them up to succeed and have a life full of choices,” Tinetti said.

“The offer provides an increase of 36% for teachers at the top of the pay scale since we’ve been in government, compared to a 10% increase under the last National government.”

Tinetti said the cash would be provided through $374 million in savings out of the education budget, including departmental funding and “forecast staffing underspend mostly as a result of newer teachers being employed”. The remaining $306 million will be pre-committed to the Budget 2024 allowance.

“This is a balanced approach to increasing the pay of an important front-line workforce, while dealing with the broader fiscal pressures that the government faces,” said Tinetti.

Jan Tinetti speaks at parliament (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Recent disruption at schools had been an issue for students, said Tinetti, and the announcement today acknowledged this. “We have been through this in many ways and we have looked at many options,” she said.

As for whether this offer would be accepted, Tinetti said she was hopeful but the ball was in the court of the teachers union. “I certainly think our teachers have told us that pay and conditions is a big part of what is keeping people away from the sector,” she said. “Arbitration is a pretty strong method of our industrial action landscape in this country. The government has put a stake in the sand to say we are taking this seriously… I’m very hopeful that members will see it that way.”

Tinetti said this was a “really good offer” and added that it was the government’s “final offer”.

The PPTA’s acting president Chris Abercrombie said he was pleased the government had put this offer forward. “We commend the arbitration panel for its mahi and its commitment to finding a satisfactory settlement of our collective agreement. Of course, it is not everything we wanted but it’s a significant step on the path to making secondary teaching a profession that people want to join and stay in.”

Unemployment stays low, wage inflation steady

Human hand holding empty wallet

New Zealand’s unemployment rate has stayed low with Stats NZ reporting it at 3.6% over the June quarter. That’s a 0.2% rise on the previous quarter.

The country’s underutilisation rate – which includes unemployment along with underemployment and the potential labour force – rose from 9.1% to 9.8% in the last quater, with the largest increase coming from growth in underemployed part-timers, those who wanted and were available to work more hours.

“Despite the strong quarterly increase, the June 2023 quarter underutilisation rate remains relatively low compared with historic averages,” Stats NZ’s Becky Collett said.

Meanwhile, wage cost inflation remained at 4.3 percent and had been continuing to increase “at historically high rates”, said Stats NZ.

A brief but delightful flurry of snow in Dunedin

Snow! (Photo: Tara Ward)

Tara Ward reports from Dunedin, where there was 15 minutes of excitement over some morning snow:

Good morning from the hill suburbs of Dunedin, where we have breaking news: it is snowing. At 10.17am this morning, flakes of ice began falling steadily from the sky, and one eyewitness (me) confirmed it is still snowing twelve minutes later. The weather god formally known as “the internet” tells me the current Dunedin temperature is 4 degrees, but feels like -3, although the local man I just saw wearing a t-shirt and shorts suggests it’s really not that cold.

(10.35am update: it has stopped snowing).

Snow in Dunedin
Snow! (Photo: Tara Ward)

Trump indicted over efforts to overturn 2020 election

One-term president  Donald Trump. (Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images)

The former US president Donald Trump has been formally accused of attempting to derail the 2020 election.

A grand jury has indicted Trump on four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, CNN has reported.

He’s also facing a claim of obstructing and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

The White House has opted not to comment on the investigation.

Trump, talking, 2016 (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Luxon backing MP accused of ‘intimidating’ behaviour

National party leader Chris Luxon speaks at East Pier in Napier. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

National’s leader says he’s supporting one of his MPs facing an appearance before the Privileges Committee.

Tim van de Molen will appear before the powerful committee, which functions something like parliament’s court. Yesterday, Speaker of the House Adrian Rurawhe said that a complaint against van de Molen had been made by Labour’s Rachel Boyack. It “could amount to threatening or intimidating a member acting in the discharge of their duty or threatening a member on account of their conduct in parliament”.

Reports have since come to light that suggest van de Molen stood over Labour’s Shanan Halbert in a physically threatening manner, as other MPs came to his defence.

Christopher Luxon told Newshub’s AM that the facts were disputed and he couldn’t comment on what had happened. However, he said he’d never personally witnessed van de Molen being aggressive. “He’s a hard-working member of our team, he’s a great representative for the Waikato, he advocates very strongly for rural issues in particular and, as I said, the facts are disputed and it’s before the Privileges Committee,” Luxon said.

“In terms of our caucus meetings, he can raise the issues that are going on for farmers and for the rural community… he’s doing his job which is representing his constituency.”

Luxon was made aware of the issue within “the last few days” he said, despite the alleged incident happening in June.

The Bulletin: School leaver attainment worst since 2012

The number of students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, The Press’s Tatiana Gibbs reports (paywalled). The education ministry report shows that 75% of school leavers reached that attainment in 2022, a 3.7% decrease from 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, industrial action were among the factors named in the report as impacting the numbers.

The stats are worse for Māori. “Since 2019, the most recent year prior to the pandemic, the proportion of Māori school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above decreased by 8%, almost double the overall decrease of 4.8%,” Gibbs writes.

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