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Referendum possible for voting age debate

It’s the end of another week – welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for March 3. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, reach me on


Referendum possible for voting age debate

It’s the end of another week – welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for March 3. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, reach me on

Mar 3 2023

School climate protesters march through Auckland

Climate protesters in central Auckland (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Shanti Mathias joins protesters in central Auckland:

Protestors in the School Strike for Climate Change in Auckland gathered outside Britomart Station this afternoon to hear from speakers who advocated for worker rights, changing regulations to limit coal extraction, and preventing bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf. Thackeray, an activist from Banaba, spoke about the connection between phosphate mining and climate justice, while others spoke about the Protect Putiki movement.

As the protest got under way, marchers stopped outside buildings housing Air New Zealand and Fonterra, along with a BP petrol station, before heading to a planned block party at Victoria Park.

When outside Fonterra, the protesters, estimated to be at least several thousand, gathered to “boo” and sing Tutira Mai Nga Iwi.

One protester spoke about the connection between big dairy, industrial agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions, while protesters chalked messages to Fonterra on the street.

Climate protesters in central Auckland (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

The Labour MPs vying to replace Jacinda Ardern in Mt Albert

The list MPs and former employment lawyers share on office on Ponsonby Road.

Jacinda Ardern will remain an MP for about six more weeks. She’s stepping down as Mount Albert MP on April 15, after which one of two current Labour MPs will replace her.

Toby Manhire’s reported this afternoon for The Spinoff that either Camilla Belich or Helen White will be selected to contest the seat. It’s an important seat, too. Every MP for Mt Albert since 1981 – Helen Clark, David Shearer, Jacinda Ardern – has gone on to be Labour leader, with two becoming prime minister.

In the 2020 election, neither Belich nor White was successful in their own electorate races. White lost out by about 1,000 votes to Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, while Belich was standing in the Act-safe seat of Epsom (but still managed to come in second, and above National’s Paul Goldsmith).

Read the full report here.

The list MPs and former employment lawyers share on office on Ponsonby Road.

Rec Room: What to watch this weekend

Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian (Image: Brendan Kitto)

From The Spinoff’s weekly pop culture newsletter Rec Room, here is everything you could be watching over the weekend:

The Mandalorian is this week’s biggest TV release, a show kept so tightly under wraps that critics weren’t sent screeners until Wednesday, the day it was hitting Disney+ anyway. If you’re not into puppets, the second seasons of Aussie comedy show Upright and the Fresh Prince reboot Bel-Air have just hit TVNZ+.

Netflix has the second season of the raunchy Sex/Life, Neon has season six of the excellent cocaine caper Snowfall, and Apple TV+ has new Eugene Levy travel series The Reluctant Traveller and the third season of The Problem With Jon Stewart.

On Amazon Prime, people seem to be enjoying The Consultant, a black comedy starring Christoph Waltz. In theatres, boxing reboot Creed III is this week’s big new release, and it’s getting great reviews, while Olivia Colman’s Empire of Light is, apparently, delightful. But who are we kidding? You’re going to go see Cocaine Bear, aren’t you?

For all your pop culture needs every Friday, sign up to Rec Room:

Christchurch’s quake-hit schools get new $300m investment

Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins making the announcement of Wellington moving to level two (Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

An extra $301 million will help modernise, upgrade and, in some cases, rebuild schools damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.

It takes the total cost of the school rebuild project up to about $1.6 billion.

There were 115 schools damaged during the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury quakes. The plan to get them all back up to standard was expected to be finished this year but has since been punted out to 2025.

Speaking in Christchurch today, on his first visit to the South Island since becoming prime minister, Chris Hipkins said the new investment would help the 27 remaining schools that needed work.

“As education minister I have had the absolute privilege of seeing new schools open, built from scratch or restored around Christchurch over the past five years,” Hipkins said.

“I’m pleased to be back in Christchurch today to see further progress and to announce additional funding to complete all 115 of these significant school projects.”

Kamahl Santamaria made NBR staff ‘uncomfortable’ during newsroom visit

Kamahl Santamaria (Photo: Supplied)

Disgraced broadcaster Kamahl Santamaria met with the owner of publication NBR – but staff in that newsroom have made it known the visit left them feeling “uncomfortable”.

Santamaria left Al Jazeera to join TVNZ’s Breakfast early last year but vanished from the airwaves after just a few weeks. It was later reported that there were allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct at TVNZ and dating back throughout his time at Al Jazeera as well. The broadcaster has apologised but also said he intends to speak further about the claims when he is able to do so.

According to Stuff, Santamaria visited the NBR newsroom in late January for a meeting with owner Todd Scott. The meeting was reportedly in a “personal capacity” rather than a career move, but staffers at NBR reported they were still unhappy with the visit.

“After the meeting we made it clear to Todd we were uncomfortable with [Santamaria’s] presence and made it clear we had no interest in working with him,” the NBR’s co-editor Hamish McNicol said.

On his own personal website, Santamaria questioned why his visit to NBR was even news. “I am a private citizen, who met up with a personal friend at their place of work,” he wrote. As for the claims he made workers uncomfortable, Santamaria added: “When people eventually have the full story, I hope they will reconsider their previous views.”

Kamahl Santamaria (Photo: Supplied)

Prepare for Succession’s final season

The cast of Succession return triumphantly for season three. (Photo: HBO, Design: Tina Tiller)

It’s Friday so I think chucking a trailer into the live updates is entirely appropriate. Especially when that trailer is for the final season of Succession.

The HBO comedy-drama will return for a fourth round of Shakespearean madness on March 26 (new episodes will be available here on Sky’s SoHo and Neon).

Meanwhile can I direct you to two important reads ahead of Succession’s final season. One, this New Yorker interview with series creator Jesse Armstrong in which he explains why the show is ending at the peak of its popularity. And two, another mad interview with star Jeremy Strong (in which he is described as always wearing brown clothes).

Referendum a possibility in debate over voting age

(Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP via Getty Images)

New Zealanders may be given the chance to have their say on whether the voting age should be dropped down to 16.

The government has promised to look at the matter after the Supreme Court declared that the current voting age was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

Should the issue make it to parliament, it would almost certainly fail. A a super majority would be required to change the law, and National and Act have pledged to vote against it.

However, speaking to Newshub this morning, minister Michael Wood hinted that a referendum could be the best way forward. “We’ve always had the view that if the voting age was to be lowered, it would be really significant and there would probably need to be a process of the New Zealand public having their say on that,” he said. A decision would be made “in the next little while”, he added.

Youth lobby group Make it 16 said the government was dragging its heels. “A Bill is important because it gives parliament the power to actually change the law and uphold our human rights. Instead the government has waited three months, not introduced a Bill, and allowed just two weeks for young people to submit to the select committee on the declaration,” said the group’s co-director Caeden Tipler. “Young people and our human rights deserve better.”

On Twitter, they added that the prospect of a referendum was disappointing. “The majority should not be determining the rights of the minority,” they said.

Most regions move out of state of emergency

Heavy equipment starts to clear a beach of logs and debris in Gisborne. (Photo: Getty)

The nationwide state of emergency implemented following Cyclone Gabrielle has been narrowed, with many regions moving into a 90-day “transition period” instead.

At 7.56am this morning, minister Kieran McAnulty signed a notice terminating the states of national emergency over the Northland, Auckland, and Waikato areas and the Tararua District.

Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay are still in an “active response phase” and will remain under a state of national emergency at the present time. Civil Defence is working with affected districts in Wairarapa to understand whether they should also be included in the national transition period.

According to the minister, a national transition period will enable a “seamless transition from the emergency response phase to the recovery stage”. It provides local Civil Defence teams with the powers they may need during the early stages of the recovery, such as clearing roads and disposing of dangerous materials. The national transition period also enables remedial works to be carried out, for example to restore access to cut-off properties or make temporary infrastructure repairs.

“It’s going to be a long haul, and we are committed to a locally-led recovery, supported by central government. The transition period will ensure the planning is coordinated for building back better,” McAnulty said.

Listen: Is corporate greed the real culprit behind inflation?

Who is really winning from skyrocketing inflation? National Party finance spokesperson Nicola Willis went head to head with Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr this week, blaming him and the government for being an active contributor to inflation by printing mass amounts of money during the Covid response.

However, another factor may be to blame – corporate price gouging. Bernard Hickey explores how widening company profit margins may be the real reason behind the countries inflation issues in the latest episode of When the Facts Change.

The Bulletin: Ex-health chair reveals plan for ‘many hundreds’ of job cuts

Former Health NZ chair Rob Campbell has disclosed to Newsroom (paywalled) that Te Whatu Ora is preparing a full restructuring proposal that will impact a lot of its 80,000 staff, as well as contractors and staff in funded agencies. Te Whatu Ora provided Newsroom with a statement last night saying the restructuring proposal has not yet gone out to staff for consultation and it was working speedily on Friday morning to advise staff, to coincide with the article.

Campbell is not going quietly, that is for sure.

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National takes aim at so-called ‘app tax’

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 30: New National Party leader Christopher Luxon and deputy leader Nicola Willis pose after a press conference at Parliament on November 30, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand. The New Zealand National party caucus selected Christopher Luxon as their new leader and Nicola Willis as deputy leader. Former party leader Judith Collins lost a vote of confidence last week, following her sudden decision to demote MP Simon Bridges over comments he was overheard making in 2016. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The National Party’s unhappy with the possibility of GST being added to the cost of things like Uber rides and AirBnb stays.

Under the current rules, as Stuff reported, AirBnb hosts and Uber drivers are responsible for imposing GST on their services – but only if they are over the $60,000 annual revenue threshold. Many providers aren’t. But the new rules, approved during a select committee hearing yesterday, would see that widened to include all providers.

According to Inland Revenue, it’s estimated the new tax rule would raise $47 million a year. It won’t be an immediate change: there is an April 2024 enactment date and only a Labour-led government would see it come into effect.

National’s Nicola Willis described it as an “app tax” and told Newstalk ZB it was a big change from the existing rules. “It’s not fair, it’s not treating digital providers the same and it’s going to push up prices,” she said, describing it as inflationary.

“I think the government has closed its mind on this issue. It saw an opportunity to rake in some more tax, to fuel its addiction to spending… For your average New Zealand, according to Inland Revenue, it’s assumed the full cost will be passed on and it will increase the cost to consumers.”