David Clark is set to announce he’s retiring from parliament, according to Newsroom.
The current commerce minister was first elected in 2011 and has held the Dunedin electorate since then. It’s a role that’s allowed Clark to take aim at the supermarket duopoly, especially during the cost of living crisis.
Before holding his current position, Clark was the health minister at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. He was eventually demoted after breaking the rules his own government had established. He was also responsible for the following moment on Newshub, a moment I can still feel.
New Zealand’s richest man helped bankroll the Wayne Brown mayor campaign, Stuff has reported.
Grame Hart’s Rank Group donated $58,265 to the Brown campaign – the largest single donation registered. Hart has previously given financial support to political parties National, Act and New Zealand First.
Overall, Brown spent about $470,000 on his mayoral campaign. Most of his outgoings were to NZME, the owners of the Herald and Newstalk ZB for advertising.
Meanwhile, The Spinoff’s Toby Morris has written a beautifully headlined opinion piece following disparaging comments made by Brown yesterday about Auckland’s art gallery.
Somehow this news slipped me by until an excited text arrived from The Spinoff’s Alice Neville earlier today. “Huge news,” she said, with a link to Auckland Council’s announcement it would be allowing (small) pets on buses.
In March this year, Neville wrote a passionate plea to allow her and Stanley (who is a dog, not a person) to travel via bus. “For me it would be a nice-to-have, but for those who don’t own cars, don’t drive or struggle to afford petrol, being able to take a sick pet to the vet without relying on finding someone to give them a lift or shelling out on Uber Pet (which adds around $5 to a standard fare) could be vital,” wrote Neville.
As of right now, it’s a reality. In a statement, the council said taking pets on the train had proven successful. “In the coming months, we know there will be many regular train customers who will be taking buses instead – due to KiwiRail’s Rail Network Rebuild programme – so we wanted to provide pet owners with the same service on our buses that they have enjoyed on trains,” Darek Koper, group manager of metro services, said.
“This is another fantastic step towards making Auckland a more pet-friendly city. We are finally catching up with international cities where pets are welcome on all forms of public transport.”
There are some conditions, however. Pets are to be enclosed in a suitable pet carrier that is “small enough to be stored securely under the seat or held on the passenger’s lap”. And pets are only permitted on off-peak and weekend services.
For owners of larger dogs, you shouldn’t have too long to wait. Auckland Transport said it will look to allow muzzled animals on-board buses in the near future.
The broadcasting watchdog said it’s had to deal with growing “vehemence” over the past year, particularly around issues like Covid-19.
A new report from the Broadcasting Standards Authority examined the growing number of “passionate responses” that viewers had to the pandemic. It found that the overwhelming majority of cases broadcasters had covered “the vicissitudes of the crisis” correctly and accurately.
“Some of our complainants think otherwise and have mis-used information to support their opinions,” said authority chair Susie Staley. “The authority has taken a very consistent line on this, rejecting such misrepresentations through rigorous research while trying to understand the factors behind such complaints.
“There is a difference between the right to share opinions and being accurate with facts. The co-regulatory environment in which the BSA works plays a key role in ensuring people receive accurate information from broadcasters that they can trust and use.”
In the year to June 2022, complaint numbers were high across the board – though down on the near record of 2021. The BSA received 849 enquiries from the public or broadcasters and 185 formal complaints.
The percentage of decisions upheld this year fell to 4% from 9.4%. News and current affairs was by far the most complained-about programme genre, with 126 complaints – more than five times the number for radio and talkback.
The government’s controversial three waters legislation will become law after it passed third reading this morning. But, it passed with support just from Labour – with all other parties in parliament voting it down.
Local government minister Nanaia Mahuta said the legislation’s passing would protect New Zealanders from rising rates, an argument that’s been proffered by the government throughout the debate over water infrastructure. And as such, the government has positioned the bill’s passing as a “cost of living issue”.
Here’s what Mahuta said: “The passage of today’s bill is an important step in addressing a fundamental cost of living issue that will affect all New Zealanders for decades to come if left unfixed.
“Everyone agrees that change is needed to ensure that communities have safe, reliable drinking water at an affordable price. By sticking with the status quo, independent research shows households are facing water costs of up to $9,000 per year and more failures of basic water services.”
The Greens had largely supported three waters up to this time and had voted in favour of it at first and second reading. Newsroom’s Jo Moir said the lack of changes made before the third reading caused the party to change positions.
The Green Party has voted against the Three Waters third reading. Had supported it through all stages but made a decision in caucus on Tuesday to not support the third reading today as it lacks anti-privatisation provisions and other changes.
It will take a surge in the last couple of days of advance voting and election day itself for turnout in the Hamilton West byelection to hit even 30% turnout of enrolled voters. As of yesterday, 7,900 people had cast their votes. At the same point in the Tauranga byelection, with three days to election day, 11,997 had voted. In the 2020 general election in Hamilton West the corresponding figure was 19,996.
The total turnout in the June byelection in Tauranga was 20,784, or 40.5% of those enrolled. That’s fairly typical. Other recent byelection turnouts include 43,9% in Northcote, 30% in Mt Albert, and 38.5% in Mt Roskill.
The Hamilton West byelection was triggered by the resignation of Gaurav Sharma from parliament, which followed a series of claims about bullying that led to his expulsion from the Labour caucus. A Curia poll for the Taxpayers’ Union puts National’s Tama Potaka in the lead, on 46%, with Labour candidate Georgie Dansey on 33% and sitting list MP for ACT on 12%. Sharma trails on 4%.
Kaipara’s mayor has backed down on his decision to ban karakia at council meetings.
According to 1News, Craig Jepson said he made the decision after “an open and frank discussion” with councillors.
The story hit headlines last week after it was revealed Jepson had repeatedly interrupted his councillor Pera Paniora after she attempted to begin a meeting with karakia. The mayor said that council events should be secular and not include any specific religions or cultures. As Leonie Hayden pointed out in a piece for The Spinoff, the mayor should probably be working on Christmas day if he’d like to be consistent with that view.
Jepson said each councillor will have the opportunity on “a rotating basis” prior to the opening of the ordinary council meeting to “recite karakia, make statements of choice and forms of reflection”.
Finance minister Grant Robertson told 1News that cabinet is considering its options, taking into account the current inflation rate. “But we also have to balance that against the fact this is a very expensive policy,” he said. In other transport news, Newsroom’s Marc Daalder reports on the progress government agencies are making towards electrifying their fleet. More than a third of government agencies still don’t own a single electric or plug-in hybrid car.
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.
There’s been a lot of talk this week about Pharmac’s approach to the announcement it would be funding Trikafta, the potentially life-saving cystic fibrosis drug. You can read Emily Writes’ analysis of the media chaos around that on The Spinoff here.
Meanwhile, the health minister has today announced another “important” drug will be granted public funding: Spinraza. It’s a medicine for people with spinal mascular atrophy and according to Andrew Little it has the potential to make “a huge difference” to young people with the condition.
Pharmac will fully fund the drug those under the age of 18.
“I have also directed the Ministry of Health to develop the country’s first rare disorders strategy, as recommended by the Pharmac Review panel, and I am pleased that Pharmac is using the extra funding we’ve provided to make medicines available for people with rare diseases,” said Little in a statement.
“Coming on top of Pharmac’s announcement on Sunday that it proposes funding Trikafta for people with cystic fibrosis, this is real evidence that the extra money we’re putting into the health system and into medicines is paying real dividends for people with rare diseases.”
“Since being elected in 2017, the Labour Government has increased the pharmaceuticals budget by 43 per cent, including an extra $71 million this year and $120 million next year, making more than 200 medicines and vaccines available to more people.
According to Little, the government’s upping of the pharmaceuticals budget since 2017 has allowed an additional 70 new medicines to be funded, with access to another 134. And, Little said “many more” are in the pipeline.
Health officials were last night granted guardianship of a critically sick baby whose parents were seeking “unvaccinated blood” before allowing life-saving surgery to ahead.
As you can read in today’s edition of The Bulletin, the baby, who cannot be named, is to be placed under the guardianship of the court “from the date of the order until completion of his surgery and post-operative recovery to address obstruction to the outflow tract of his right ventricle and at latest until 31 January 2023″. It’s possible the surgery could happen within the next 48 hours.
According to Today FM, the parents were at one point considering lodging an appeal. That would likely have delayed the surgery even further. It’s now being reported that appeal won’t go ahead.
Lawyer Sue Grey, who is also a prominent figure in the misinformation movement, said this morning: “Baby W is in remarkable health. He has been gaining weight and his heart has been stable. He has been surround by love from his family, their support team and many millions of well-wishers around NZ and the world (sic)…
“The priority for the family is to enjoy a peaceful time with their baby until the operation, and to support him through the operation.”
Earlier in the week, we published comments from two health experts on the science behind blood transfusion and vaccinations. It explained the risks and difficulties associated with “direct donation” and the fact that the Covid-19 vaccination would not impact the safety of the blood being used during the surgery. “There is no evidence of harm from antibodies being present in blood, which are produced in response to both natural infection and vaccination,” said the immunisation centre’s Nikki Turner.