National has risen 9.2 percentage points to 40.5% in a new Newshub Reid Research poll, overtaking Labour, which has dropped 6.1 points to 38.2%. It’s the first time the governing party has dropped into the 30s since Jacinda Ardern became prime minister in 2017.
Ardern has also fallen in the preferred prime minister rankings, down seven to 36.4%. She’s still well ahead of National leader Christopher Luxon, who has risen 6.1 to 23.9%.
Despite its surge, National still wouldn’t be able to govern on these poll results – which give it 51 seats to Labour’s 48. Even with the eight seats of Act, which polled at 6.4%, down 1.6, the centre-right bloc wouldn’t reach the requisite 61 seats. Neither would Labour and the Greens, the latter of which polled at 8.4%, down 1.2. That would give it 10 seats, and if it hitched its wagon to Labour’s, a total of 58 seats.
Either side would need Te Pāti Māori, which was up 0.5% to 2.5%. Presuming it kept Waiariki, the party would secure three seats and become the kingmaker yet again. But co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Newshub today Te Pāti Māori would not work with Act.
It’s the biggest red carpet day of the year: the annual Met Gala, a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s probably better known as the event where celebrities are invited to dress wacky, some of them rise to the occasion and some of them don’t.
The theme this year was “gilded glamour”, a reference to The Gilded Age that lasted between 1870 and 1900 in the USA. It was dubbed thusly by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in the title of their novel, a satirical reference to how wealth and glamour was used to conceal social unrest at the time. As Met Gala themes go, it’s a fairly loose one, and as per usual, some celebrities stayed on theme and some didn’t.
My early pick for the event was actress/non-alcoholic drink shiller Blake Lively, who very literally referenced New York and the Statue of Liberty with her dress. It’s appropriate, given that she and husband Ryan Reynolds are co-chairs of this year’s Gala.
Blake Lively's #MetGala dress is an homage to New York City — with the train paying tribute to Grand Central Terminal, the beading to the Empire State Building and her tiara to the Statue of Liberty. pic.twitter.com/xCAxEEO74P
Other things of note happened, like Elon Musk being photobombed by Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page on the red carpet, a non-celebrity proposing to another non-celebrity and the entire Jenner-Kardashian klan showing up together for the first time. Kim herself showed up in Marilyn Monroe’s iconic (meant genuinely) Jean-Louis/Mackie birthday dress, which she serenaded Kennedy in. However, because the dress is so precious and fragile, she wore it only for a few minutes on the red carpet and while she ascended the stairs before changing into a replica.
You can find a full slideshow of the photos over at The Cut.
Asylum seekers in New Zealand will no longer be held in prison facilities.
Immigration New Zealand has released an independent review carried out by Victoria Casey QC, who concluded that detention at Corrections facilities should not occur. In response, Immigration New Zealand has accepted the recommendation.
In a statement, Amnesty International’s campaigns director Lisa Woods celebrated the decision as a great win for human rights. “People seeking asylum should be welcomed, not further traumatised,” said Woods. “This review has vindicated what so many in the community have been saying for years -that imprisoning people seeking asylum is wrong.”
In her review, Casey said that “very short term detention” could be justified for some arrivals, though the current practice of how this is done must change. “The practice of long term detention of refugee claimants in Corrections facilities is wrong, at every level,” she wrote.
Work will now focus on changes to the laws, policies and practices that have led to the imprisonment of people seeking asylum.
The managed isolation network is expected to be gone by August, the ministry responsible has announced.
It was originally expected that the four remaining MIQ facilities would continue operating until the end of the year. But due to very low demand, that date has been brought forward. Currently just 95 people are using 54 rooms – 32 for isolation and 22 for quarantine across the four hotels.
“MIQ is now only being used in very limited circumstances,” said head of MIQ Andy Milne. “There is no longer a requirement for anyone arriving in New Zealand to enter MIQ. In addition, demand for MIQ from community cases, particularly during the omicron peak in Auckland has been lower than anticipated.”
Milne said that “everything possible” will be done to ensure MIQ workers are looked after over the coming months. “We know this is an unsettling time… The commitment from all our facilities and workers throughout this time has been extraordinary and we can’t thank them enough.”
Parties in parliament will be given the chance to discuss the trespass notices issued to attendees of the February-March occupation.
It’s been confirmed today that ex-MPs Winston Peters and Matt King have both been given two year bans from visiting the parliamentary precinct. While both attended the parliament occupation, neither were ringleaders of the event. It’s believed additional trespass orders have been sent out.
As Newsroom reports, Jacinda Ardern has directed speaker of the house Trevor Mallard to consult other political parties over the trespass notices. Mallard had previously claimed the decision to trespass people was not his to make, and suggested parliamentary security was responsible.
Ardern told media this was a matter for Mallard. “Ultimately, this is a decision for the speaker but we’ve spoken this afternoon,” she said. “I’ve encouraged him to give the opportunity for all of the parties within parliament to discuss the issue and see if we can reach some consensus about how the issue of trespass notices and how they apply to everyone should be issued.”
The all-party Parliamentary Service Commission will be convened later today.
At the Hobsonville Point Community Composting Hub, a web of Aucklanders, worms, microbes and kitchen scraps work in synergy to make compost. Charlotte Muru-Lanning went along and discovered the scheme is not just good for the planet, but good for the community too.
The Compost Collective is an organisation working with Aucklanders to reduce food and garden waste. Read more about how the collective is building communities, here.
Should we all be tuning into 1pm briefings on the state of the climate?
First reported by The Spinoff last month, 83 year-old climate activist Bernard Schofield is pressuring the government to deliver fortnightly climate emergency press conferences.
Schofield’s petition, which is live now on ActionStation, said that the government has failed to treat the climate crisis as a climate emergency, and that “it is time to take action which makes a vital and lasting difference and to hold government to account”.
“Regular press conferences specifically about climate change will encourage reporters with specialised knowledge to attend and will give them the opportunity to question government closely on this crucial issue.”
Unvaccinated permanent residents will be able to to travel in and out of the country from May 6 without a stint in managed isolation.
The government has announced a further easing of restrictions at our border that will apply to all residence class visa holders who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19. That includes Australian citizens who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the risk posed to our healthcare systems from overseas returnees was now low. That’s on the basis of “the high numbers of people in New Zealand who are vaccinated combined with how common the omicron variant has become”.
Hipkins said that a cautious approach has served the country well throughout the pandemic. “As we continue to move through the omicron outbreak and peak, we will continue to remove restrictions when advised it is safe to do so – as we always said we would.”
The Covid-19 death toll has risen by 20, bringing the total to 777 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 13.
The deaths being reported today include people who have died over the previous eight days, and include one person from Northland, one from Auckland; two from Waikato; two from Bay of Plenty; four from Tairawhiti; four from the Greater Wellington region; five from Canterbury and one from Southern.
One person was in their 50s; three in their 60s; three in their 70s; eight in their 80s and five were aged over 90. Of these people, 12 were women and eight were men.
There are now 481 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 10 people in intensive care.
The rolling average of new community cases has dropped slightly from one week ago. Today’s seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7,943 – last Tuesday it was 8,085. There are 9,109 community cases being reported today.
There are 2,678 new cases in Auckland today, a noticeably higher number than in recent days. The region continues to have the highest number of hospitalisations with 75 in Waitemata, 70 in Counties Manukau and 90 in Auckland City Hospital.
“With the new school term underway, it’s a timely reminder for people to continue to follow public health advice to stay at home and stay away from school or work if you’re feeling unwell,” said the Ministry of Health in its 1pm update. “Another way to protect you and your whānau is to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.”
At the border, 128 case of Covid-19 were recorded overnight. The increase in border cases comes as restrictions ease for most international arrivals.
Former deputy prime minister Winston Peters is seeking legal advice after becoming the latest person to be barred from parliament grounds over the February-March protest.
The New Zealand First leader has been trespassed for a two year period following his brief appearance at the occupation of the parliamentary precinct two months ago. While Peters did not speak at the protest, his maskless appearance attracted a large crowd and made headlines.
In a statement, Peters accused the speaker of the house Trevor Mallard of “dictatorial behaviour” and said his actions “should be reserved for third world banana republics”.
Despite Peters’ assertions, Mallard has claimed that the trespass decisions were made by parliamentary security and not him.
“The fact that Mallard has chosen to wilfully ignore the gaping holes in his reasoning, as well as the intent and application of the Parliamentary Services Act 2000 and the Trespass Act 1980, is as remarkable as it is evidence of his arrogance knowing no bounds,” said Peters, who claimed the trespass action was “supported by Labour”.
Peters said there was a difference between the actions of peaceful protesters and those who caused violence to escalate. “There is also a difference between those who were on parliamentary grounds taking an active part in the protest – and those who were not,” he said. “Remember the protesters asked me to come and speak with them – as they had asked every single current Member of Parliament who had refused to.”
Peters, like King, intends to run for parliament in the 2023 election. The trespass action showed that Mallard had “lost the plot”, said Peters. “New Zealanders should not put up with this type of totalitarian behaviour from the speaker – nor should the prime minister or parliament.”
Jacinda Ardern would not comment on the issue when questioned by Newshub. “I see it as entirely as a matter for the speaker how he chooses to deal with the aftermath of the protest and the attendance of protesters,” the prime minister said.
It’s not yet known who else has been formally trespassed. As noted by The Spinoff’s Toby Manhire, there’s nothing to suggest that those who were instrumental in running the event, such as the Convoy 2020 and Freedom and Rights Coalition leaders, have been sent similar letters.
Peters questioned whether those in the media who wandered among the protesters would also be banned from parliament grounds. The Spinoff was on the ground for one week of the event and has so far not received any trespass notice.
“Is this trespass order by Mallard reserved for only certain individuals in the media, and others, who share balanced views on the current government?” asked Peters. “Or does it come down to who he decides should and shouldn’t be the target of his dictatorial rule?”
Speaking to RNZ, Peters said he thought the notice was “a joke” when it first arrived in his mailbox. Asked whether he’d ignore the notice, Peters said he’d “do a whole lot more than that… It must not go unchallenged.”
Of course, smoking brings with it numerous other health harms – but the nicotine maths is still super interesting.
Here’s an extract:
Armed with some vape juice and tobacco pouches, Critic Te Arohi’s very real team of crack mathematicians (a volunteer writer with Google Calculator) set to work. We found that a 35mL bottle of 30mg vape juice contains 1,050mg of nicotine: the equivalent of 9.52 pouches of rolling tobacco, or 714 cigarettes (assuming each cigarette contains 0.4g tobacco). A 40mg bottle has about 12.69 (nice) pouches worth of nicotine: in other words, the same amount as 951 cigarettes.
So if you vape with a 40mg-strength bottle of vape juice, you’re taking in close to 1,000 cigarettes worth of nicotine.
Finance minister Grant Robertson today announced a new set of debt rules that will come into force after this year’s budget on May 19. Writing for his newsletter The Kākā, Bernard Hickey summarises the key changes.
The new rules will force the government to run budget surpluses of 0-2% of GDP on average over time, and to have a new net debt ceiling of around 30% of GDP – although a new definition of debt being used means the government is currently 10 percentage points below that level and that measure of debt is forecast to fall to 16.4% over the next five years.
That new 30% net debt limit, which now includes assets such as the NZ Super Fund and debt from Kainga Ora and other Crown agencies, translates into 50% under the old net debt limit definition. That limit has been around 20% for the last 20-30 years, formally and informally. So the new limit is effectively 30 percentage points higher than previous limits, but the government is choosing not to use about 15 percentage points of it over the next five years.
To that end, Robertson announced the budget will include a freeze on the current capital spending allowance plans, which will see the new net debt measure fall to 16.4% of GDP by 2027.
Essentially, the government has chosen to freeze its infrastructure growth plans to keep interest rates low, despite saying there is an infrastructure deficit of over $100b.
In my view, it is choosing today’s older asset owners over tomorrow’s young renters.
The Green Party has adjusted its leadership requirements in a move that could pave the way for a new leadership duo.
A vote over the weekend has seen the Greens ditch the need for a male co-leader. The party’s constitution now requires one woman co-leader and one person of any gender, meaning they could be non-binary or intersex. One co-leader also needs to be Māori.
The move, according to the Herald reports, was so that the Green Party could strengthen its commitments to te Tiriti o Waitangi and inclusiveness.
Party co-convenor Penny Leach said politics has never provided a level playing field for people from certain backgrounds. “We see this in the way that most political parties choose to structure their organisations, and we see it too in the way these groups are represented – or not represented – at all levels of government,” she said.
The decision to scrap the need for a male co-leader was foreshadowed several weeks ago by political insider Matthew Hooton. He claimed it could see Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick brought in to replace James Shaw at the top of the party. The Spinoff has approached Swarbrick for comment.
Matthewson was one of the show’s best performers and many expected he’d go a long way on the TV dancing competition. He became the second celebrity to leave the show, after TV personality Sonia Gray’s similarly surprise elimination in week one.
An existing Givealittle page for OutLine has been bombarded with donations in the wake of Matthewson’s departure. Last night alone saw $6,000 raised for the charity, while that number has risen to $7,927 as of this morning. And it’s climbing.
“Eli and Jonny you are incredible! Thank you for all you have done. We love you,” said one donor alongside their $100 payment. “Donating in support of Eli and Jonny, the real winners of DWTS,” said another.
OutLine’s general manager Claire Black told The Spinoff the response was “unlike anything” she’d seen during her time with the service. “It’s obviously heartbreaking to see them go out when Eli clearly had so much more left to give, but he’s been such a huge champion for us, and done such an excellent job spreading the word about what we do in the past two weeks,” she said.
“His huge passion for this cause clearly resonated with people, as seen in this response.”
Matthewson’s elimination seems largely due to the public vote. Based on the judges’ scores alone he was sitting third on last night’s leaderboard with an impressive 29 out of 40.
“I feel so lucky and privileged to have had the chance to do this,” said Matthewson. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better than to do it with Johnny. If we could do it all again, there’s nothing I would change. I’m just sad, ‘cause we had a lot of awesome things planned! I’m really, really gutted – but I had the best time.”
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern was questioned about a wealth tax on AM yesterday and said “You’re asking me to project into the next election and beyond. I am not going to do that because we haven’t formulated our tax policy for the 2023 election.” It was somewhat less equivocal than her 2020 statement when she said”I won’t allow it to happen as PM.” Both National and Act were quick to say that it amounts to a backtrack. Ardern was firm at the post-cabinet press conference saying ““nothing has changed” about her stance on a wealth tax – “end of story”. Stuff’s chief political reporter, Henry Cooke, has written a reflective column about this back and forth, or as he calls it, “the rule out game”.
Infrastructure strategy outlines need for $31bn annual spend
Climate change commissioner Rod Carr said we “cannot afford to put back everything that will be damaged” in his response to the new data on rising sea levels. Grant Robertson has been equally clear in his comments about a new 30-year infrastructure strategy, saying we also cannot afford to build our way out of an infrastructure deficit. The Infrastructure Commission report found we’d need to spend nearly twice as much as we currently spend to cover the deficit and build for the future. Thomas Coughlan at the NZ Herald (paywalled) provides clear analysis of the report. The government will respond to it in September.
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Former National MP Matt King has been barred from parliament grounds in a move he’s described as “undemocratic”.
King was a visible presence at the occupation of the parliamentary precinct earlier this year, and addressed those gathered on at least one occasion. However, he was certainly not the only speaker and at this stage it’s not clear who – if anyone – else has been officially trespassed.
On social media, King shared the document he received in the mail. It said that the ex-MP could be fined up to $1,000, or imprisoned for up to three months, if he visited parliament at any point over the next two years.
“What a corrupt [government] and speaker,” he wrote. “Who does this sort of thing?”
The document stipulates that the order to trespass King was given by a “person authorised by the speaker”.
“I thought it was disgusting and undemocratic and actually pathetic and petty by this Government and Trevor Mallard,” he said, the Herald reports.
King was a one-term National MP, leaving parliament in 2020. Since then he has become a vocal critic of the government’s vaccine mandates and his former party’s support of them. Despite his trespass, he still intends to run for parliament in 2023 as leader of the new party Democracy NZ.