One Question Quiz
blog-sept-8.jpg

LIVE UPDATES

Political donations loophole to be closed

It’s Thursday, September 8 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can send me a message on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • An investigation into police has concluded that the illegal photographing and filming of young people and adults by officers was widespread.
  • Existing Covid rules could be dumped by next week.
  • Apology calls start after Northland lockdown revelations.
  • Taxpayers forked out more than $23,000 in legal fees after former speaker of the house Trevor Mallard trespassed ex-deputy PM Winston Peters.
  • Covid-19 numbers remain the lowest in months, with 1,653 new cases nationwide.
blog-sept-8.jpg

Political donations loophole to be closed

It’s Thursday, September 8 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can send me a message on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • An investigation into police has concluded that the illegal photographing and filming of young people and adults by officers was widespread.
  • Existing Covid rules could be dumped by next week.
  • Apology calls start after Northland lockdown revelations.
  • Taxpayers forked out more than $23,000 in legal fees after former speaker of the house Trevor Mallard trespassed ex-deputy PM Winston Peters.
  • Covid-19 numbers remain the lowest in months, with 1,653 new cases nationwide.
Sep 8 2022

Still no end to Kawerau mill lock out

Union members at a Kawerau paper mill remain in negotiations with the factory’s operator over fair pay.

It’s been a month since 145 workers at the Essity-operated mill were locked out by the manufacturing company. Since then, legal threats have been levelled at workers and thousands has been raised by the community to support staff unable to work. For the past week, facilitation between the union and Essity has been ongoing.

Those negotiations were initially expected to wrap up last week, before being pushed out to Tuesday. The Spinoff has not been able to reach union reps since then.

Earlier this week, I visited Kawerau to experience the mood on the ground and see what locals made of the ongoing lock out. You can read my report here.

Essity in Kawerau remains closed (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Severance’s creepy title sequence gets the honour it deserves

Severance (Photo: Apple TV+)

Severance was probably the most exciting thing I’ve watched in 2022. The first season is out now on Apple TV+ (the second season is coming next year and Apple slipped some hints into its iPhone launch event today).

A couple of days ago the show’s understated yet very creepy title sequence scooped an Emmy, so I thought I’d share it here.

Covid-19 latest: 254 people in hospital, case numbers stay low

Image: Toby Morris

Here are today’s key Covid-19 numbers from the Ministry of Health.

  • There are 1,653 new community cases across the country – another sub-2,000 case day.
  • The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 1,595. Last Thursday, it was 2,023.
  • 254 people are currently in hospital with Covid-19, including seven in intensive care (a bump on recent days).
  • The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 259. Last Tuesday, it was 319.
  • There are now a total of 1,941 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 five.
  • The overnight Covid death toll has risen by 12, including six deaths directly linked to the virus.

Our Covid tracker page can be found here.

Image of the day: Mega-Clarke fan art

(FB)

We’re fans of political fan art, and the Ardern era hasn’t disappointed on that front. This is from a father’s day post in a Facebook group called “Jacinda Ardern (PRIME) Supporters” and we applaud the wondrous imagination. (And hope Mega-Clarke didn’t crush too many houses or squash anyone.)

Clampdown on political donations confirmed

Kiritapu Allan (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The government’s moving forward with changes to our electoral laws that it says will close a loophole exposed by the NZ First Foundation case.

That case saw the High Court determine that a person receiving a donation must be involved in the “governance and management oversight of all the party’s affairs” for it to be considered a “party donation”.

Justice minister Kiri Allan said that made it easy for third parties to receive donations for a party that could slip through undeclared. “These amendments clear up any ambiguity about what a donation to a political party is intended to be,” Allan said.

“The amendment clarifies that a party donation is when a person donates to a political party or any other person with the intention that the donation is for the benefit of the party.”

Justice minister Kiritapu Allan (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The changes will be finalised before next year’s election, said Allan, and there will be an opportunity for feedback and submissions to be made.

A new offence has also been created that carries a potential $40,000 penalty. “Currently, the act requires every person to whom a candidate and party donation is sent to transmit it to the candidate or party secretary within 10 working days. However, if they fail to do so, there is no corresponding offence in the act,” said Allan.

Spitgate is over

Yesterday I briefly referenced #spitgate – my favourite news story of the year. I recommend you go and do some independent research on the subject if you’re not familiar.

However, we won’t be talking about it anymore because of this video. The matter is now finished. If I had to see this, so do you.

View post on TikTok

Bombshell report concludes illegal photographing by police ‘widespread’

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

An investigation into police conduct, sparked by reporting by RNZ, has concluded that the illegal photographing and filming  of young people and adults by officers was widespread.

It follows a 2020 RNZ investigation that found Wairarapa police were illegally photographing young Māori in a series of incidents that appeared to be racial profiling.

Now, a joint report by the The Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Privacy Commission has determined that the issue was systemic and not just isolated to one region.

According to RNZ, people were photographed for reasons like looking “out of place” or “suspicious”. Thousands of photos of potentially innocent members of the public were taken, stored on officers phones and, despite requirements, not destroyed.

The investigation backed up concerns the police behaviour was racially motivated. Of the tens of thousands of photos held in just one police database, half are of Māori. “Rangatahi and their whānau… consistently raised concerns that their treatment was as the result of their race,” the report said.

The report also found a “widespread belief” that there was no difference between photographing adults or youths for intelligence-gathering or investigative purposes. Some officers said they “did not believe that youth are afforded any extra rights or protection in these circumstances”.

In a statement, police said it accepted the report’s findings but expressed some concern that the recommendations could make it harder for staff to carry out their duties successfully.

“Intelligence gathering, including the taking of photographs and voluntary fingerprints, enables Police to carry out its core functions as set out by the Policing Act 2008, particularly the prevention and investigation of crime,” said commissioner Andrew Coster.

“We accept that aspects of our intelligence gathering policy require refinement, particularly in relation to retention and disposal of information that is no longer needed for the purposes of investigation.”

Coster added: “We already have robust systems and processes in place around the retention of fingerprints.”

Apology calls start after Northland lockdown revelations

THE STREETS OF LOCKDOWN (PHOTO: THE SPINOFF)

It was revealed yesterday that Northland’s 11-day lockdown in October last year was partly caused by a clerical error – a revelation that has sparked calls for an apology.

Three women were held responsible for the lockdown after they made it through Auckland’s border and into Northland. But despite claims they had gang links or were sex workers, it’s since been revealed their permit to leave locked down Auckland was approved by officials.

The government yesterday said it wouldn’t apologise, citing the fact a lockdown was necessary in Northland regardless of what caused it.

However, two central figures in the saga have said that’s not good enough.

One of the women involved in the initial border crossing told the Herald she was glad the truth was out there now – but wanted more. “My main concern is the accountability and integrity of our government and the lies in which the public clearly believed – if not direct lies, then the comments made to give the public the impression and idea of who we are,” she said.

“I truly hope that the lesson learnt here is a lesson for the government and that the people of New Zealand will not stand for misleading or false information and antics carried out by those of whom we choose to lead our country.”

Meanwhile, Mongrel Mob leader Harry Tam, who was alleged by former deputy PM Winston Peters to have helped women travel into Northland, has also requested an apology.

“I got named,” he told RNZ. “If anyone should be getting an apology it should be me because those officials could have cleared that up right away. When they knew who those women were and they had no gang affiliation. They should have spoken up but they didn’t.”

How much it cost to wrongly trespass Winston Peters from parliament

Winston Peters at parliament on Feb 22 (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Taxpayers forked out more than $23,000 for legal fees after former speaker of the house Trevor Mallard trespassed ex-deputy PM Winston Peters from parliament grounds.

I’m sure you all remember the details of this, but here’s a little refresher. Peters visited the parliamentary occupation in February for about an hour. Though not an instigator or participant in any of the more violent acts of the protest, he was later identified among a handful of public figures that attended the illegal occupation. Subsequently, he was trespassed from the parliamentary precinct for two years.

Peters pursued legal action against Mallard that ultimately determined the trespass order was unreasonable. Mallard was forced to apologise.

But as Newstalk ZB’s Jason Walls reported, the cost of that whole saga was $23,500. The figure was unearthed by the National Party in written questions to the speaker. MP Chris Bishop described it as Mallard’s final insult to taxpayers (Mallard will become our ambassador to Ireland in the new year).

Winston Peters at parliament on Feb 22 (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

The Bulletin: Māori media strategy released

If you cast your minds back to May and an edition of The Bulletin that looked at a few stories behind Budget 2022, you might remember RNZ’s Mediawatch asking where the Māori media strategy was. The government agreed to spend $40m on the strategy at the 2022 Budget, after a $42m investment in the 2021 Budget. Yesterday broadcast minister Willie Jackson released a Cabinet paper outlining his three-year strategy for the Māori media sector.

The strategy is aimed at “normalising and revitalising” te reo Māori and included direct funding for Whakaata Māori – Māori TV. The proposed changes are part of broader reform of the public media sector.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

Goodbye traffic lights? Covid restrictions could be dumped by next week

FeatureImage_850x510_TrafficLight_V3

We’ve touched on the future of our traffic light framework a little bit over the past few weeks, with reports and rumours almost daily about what could be in store for our Covid restrictions. And here’s another – because according to the Herald, the entire Covid-19 response framework will be on the chopping block after the weekend.

Cabinet will meet on Monday to consider our existing Covid restrictions, a move confirmed by the prime minister at a press conference yesterday. While a move to green is still possible, it’s been reported that the more likely option is an entire rethinking of the framework that would largely see the end of restrictions entirely. Mask mandates would be gone (except in high risk settings) and it would be up to individual retailers and business owners to determine how they want to manage the threat of Covid.

It will be a decision made with the assistance of health officials. Documents released to The Spinoff live updates confirmed, for example, that the decision to keep the country in orange back in July was in line with advice made by the director general of health. That included the somewhat controversial decision not to implement a mask mandate in schools.

Daily case numbers and hospitalisation rates have been steadily trending down and we’re now back to where we were just as omicron started to take hold in the community. As the Herald claims, the government would be looking to treat Covid-19 more like the flu.

And should the government want to move forward with dumping current restrictions – they’ll be gone as soon as next Wednesday. Get ready for the next era of the Covid response.