Aug 3 2023

‘That is not in the public interest!’ Robertson quizzed over size of ‘his hole’


Parliament erupted into laughter this afternoon following a question from National’s Nicola Willis to finance minister Grant Robertson.

During question time, Willis was asking Robertson about an alleged fiscal hole in the government’s budget.

But one question in particular caught Robertson off guard. Willis asked: “How big is his hole, and…” before being interrupted by Robertson, who retorted: “That is not in the public interest, I can assure you!”

Willis eventually regained her composure and completed the question as it was intended, the far more boring: “How big is the New Zealand Government’s financial hole…”

(Ps – the parliament website is crashing so I can’t include the footage of this exchange, which is far more amusing than anything I could write).

Bill to overrule ‘racist’ anti-Pacific law pulled from the ballot

Members of the Sāmoan community at parliament for proceedings on the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act in August 1982 (Photo: Gail Jordan, The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, /records/23042006)

A member’s bill pulled from the parliamentary biscuit tin ballot today would restore the right to citizenship for people from Western Sāmoa born between 1924 and 1949.

The 1982 Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, rushed through by the Muldoon government, stopped Western Sāmoans from acquiring New Zealand citizenship.

Writing for The Spinoff in 2017, legal expert Graeme Edgeler  described the Act as “New Zealand’s most racist immigration law”, adding that it was “worse” than Donald Trump’s move in the US to deny entry to certain individuals based on their country of origin.

And Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Greens, agreed. “It is a racist law and it is time to strike it off the books,” she said in a statement.

The Restoring Citizenship Removed By Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill, put forward by Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono, would do exactly that – ensuring those who never formally became New Zealand citizens could do so and overriding the Muldoon-era rule.

“It is possible to trace a direct line from the inequities that Pacific peoples face today to the widespread anti-Pacific racism of the Dawn Raids era,” said Davidson.

“Aotearoa is a Pacific nation. The interconnectedness of our whakapapa and history across Te Moana nui a Kiwa is as extensive and deep as the moana itself.”

Members of the Sāmoan community at parliament for proceedings on the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act in August 1982 (Photo: Gail Jordan, The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, /records/23042006)

Claims of $20b hole in government accounts ‘utterly false’ and ‘farcical’ – PM

Chris Hipkins answers questions from the media (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

The prime minister has hit back at claims that his government’s budgets are spiralling deeper into the red.

Former deputy prime minister Winston Peters first made the allegation of a $20 billion hole in the Crown’s budgets, suggesting that public service bosses had been called in to try and make cut backs.

It’s since been confirmed that Grant Robertson, the finance minister, had met with public service chiefs. However, speaking from Auckland today, Chris Hipkins said it was “absolutely not” true that a mega fiscal hole had been found. “Thos reports are just totally and utterly false,” he told reporters.

“As we indicated at the beginning of the year we have been focused on reprioritisation, on finding any efficiencies that we can in the budget. But the idea we are trying to fill a massive hole like that is just farcical.”

Hipkins said the government’s books were some of the most transparent in the world and there was no excuse for political parties not know what state they were in because they’re released publicly every month.

Meanwhile, last night’s Newshub Reid Research poll brought bad news for Labour, with a swing to the right meaning the left bloc had no viable path to power. Hipkins said that polls at the moment were “very volatile” and there was no clear winner. “And that means it’s game on,” he said.

The preferred prime minister polling was the only saving grace for the incumbent government, showing Hipkins was still more popular – and trustworthy – than National’s Christopher Luxon. “I like to think I’m a likeable guy,” said Hipkins. “Ultimately voters are going to make their own judgements on that as we head into the election.”

The Bulletin: Oranga Tamariki Action Plan is working, says government

A year on from the launch of a plan to get agencies working together to protect vulnerable children, minister for children Kelvin Davis says it’s starting to get “real traction”. The Oranga Tamariki Action Plan (OTAP) was developed in the wake of the murder of Malachi Subecz, “a 5-year-old whose daycare had noted signs of abuse and who was known to Oranga Tamariki as being vulnerable”, writes Jody O’Callaghan for Stuff, and is designed to plug holes in cross-agency care for children like Malachi.

But advocacy group Voyce – Whakarongo Mai believes not enough is being done, and has launched its 6 Promises for 6000 (children in care) campaign and a petition to focus on the needs of children in care this election.

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Complaint laid with ComCom over ‘dodgy’ supermarket pricing

Image: Archi Banal/The Spinoff

The Commerce Commission has been asked to investigate reports of “dodgy” supermarket pricing.

It follows a long-running investigation by Consumer NZ, with the watchdog compiling dozens of examples of “unclear or misleading pricing and promotional practices” at stores owned by both Foodstuffs and Woolworths.

“The evidence sent to us in June includes 50 examples of misleading pricing, including 18 instances of people being charged more than the advertised price, 11 misleading multi-buys, and 21 specials that were not special,” said Consumer’s head of research and advocacy, Gemma Rasmussen. “There were also 30 instances of other potentially misleading pricing and promotional practices.”

According to Consumer, the supermarket duopoly could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act. “From September [2022] to the end of June, we received a total of 602 complaints from disgruntled shoppers,” said Rasmussen.

Interestingly, Consumer found “dodgy multi-buys” were most common at Foodstuffs stores, while specials that were more expensive than the original price were most common at Woolworths stores. And “mismatch pricing, which is where you’re charged a higher price than the price on the shelf, was common across all stores”.

A number of customers also complained to Consumer that supermarkets were becoming more frustrating to visit, noting confusing signage or “specials” that failed to display the regular, before-discount price.

Last month, The Spinoff reported that Countdown had incorrectly frozen the prices of two items at a higher rate during its “Great Price for Winter” promotion, which Rasmussen said was unsurprising. “At a minimum, shoppers should be able to trust the prices they see at the supermarket,” she said.