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Congestion charging for Auckland not coming anytime soon

It’s Thursday, November 10 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz. A huge shout out to our members!

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Congestion charging for Auckland not coming anytime soon

It’s Thursday, November 10 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz. A huge shout out to our members!

Nov 10 2022

Just some of the craziest Trump headlines out of the US midterms

Trump, talking, 2016 (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Donald Trump wasn’t running in the US midterm elections – and yet he was pretty much all the media wanted to talk about.

The former US president is expected to announce his 2024 run next week. But after the midterm election results saw pretty much all Trump-aligned candidates fall short, it’s possible he may see some sense (this seems unlikely).

Here are some of the headlines from today:

Wayne Brown: Don’t expect congestion charging soon

Wayne Brown meets Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Photo: Auckland Council/Jay Farnworth)

Auckland’s mayor has effectively put a stop to any suggestion of bringing in congestion charging for the city.

While Wayne Brown admitted congestion charging could be “part of the mix” sometime down the track, it was currently a “distraction” from the city’s existing public transport crisis and the impending threat of a $270m budget hole.

“Congestion charging could only make sense once every Aucklander has the option of catching a bus or a train that they know will show up on time, every time – and we are two years away from that, at the very least,” Brown said.

“Auckland’s immediate transport focus is solving our public-transport crisis by getting our existing public-transport services back into a credible state, including through the shake-up at Auckland Transport.”

It’s a fairly consistent position to that taken by Brown during the election campaign. The Herald took a look at which candidates were onboard with congestion charging during the mayoral campaign, to which Brown said it would only make sense once projects like the city rail link had been completed.

National leader addresses ‘heartbreaking’ school attendance stats

Christopher Luxon visits Michaela Community School in London. Photo: Facebook

National’s leader says the government risks “failing a generation” if it doesn’t turn around our dire school attendance statistics.

According to the Education Review Office, only three out of five students regularly attend school.

Christopher Luxon called it “heartbreaking”, also referencing stats showing 100,000 New Zealand students are chronically absent from schools, and said urgent action was needed. “This should be the government’s top priority in education,” he said. 

“Instead of waffly strategy documents, we need decisive action to get kids back in school regularly and learning the basics they need to thrive and become authors of their own destiny.”

Christopher Luxon visits Michaela Community School in London. (Photo: Facebook)

Under his leadership, National would “relentlessly target attendance”, said Luxon, and set clear expectations for both schools and parents. “We will hold ourselves, schools and parents accountable for ensuring that kids are regularly in school,” he said.  

“We will shift resources from back office bureaucrats in Wellington to the frontline, so schools have the support they need to give every child the opportunity to benefit from a world-class education.”

UK-NZ free trade deal takes a step closer

Trade and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Getty Images, Kai Schwoerer)

The passing of two bills in parliament has pushed the free trade deal between New Zealand and the UK closer to completion.

The United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill and the Apple Transitional Export Quota Bill passed their third readings today. According to the trade minister, these new pieces of legislation were necessary to ensure we can meet our obligations under the free trade deal.

“This is an important milestone in our ratification process and in delivering future economic security for all New Zealanders,” Damien O’Connor said.

Wondering what that apple-related law was all about? According to O’Connor this was split out from the original bill and will create a “new regime” for apple exports when the FTA comes into effect.

“The agreement will eliminate all tariffs on apples over three years, with a significant new duty-free quota for off-season exports during this time. This is a fantastic result for our apple growers,” O’Connor said.

Watch: Chris & Eli discover the cultural force of pornography

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After the excitement of finally getting to watch John, Aotearoa’s first gay pornographic feature film, Chris and Eli realise that porn can also be romantic and artistic while also being erotic, and that they absolutely have to meet its mysterious director, Astrid Glitter.

They sit down with freelance writer Sam Te Kani (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Tainui), to discuss the boom in erotic fiction in Aotearoa during the pandemic, and how porn can be a radically queer space in culture. The pair then jump on Zoom to talk to independent erotic film director Erika Lust in Barcelona about building an empire of ethical porn that both empowers performers and centres pleasure.

All this week on The Spinoff we’re talking about porn. Click here for more Porn Week stories.

Lorde cancels New Plymouth show after low ticket sales

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New Zealand pop star Lorde has provided an update for her long-anticipated summer tour, confirming she’s had to cancel a date in New Plymouth due to low ticket sales.

In a newsletter to fans, Lorde “reintroduced” the Solar Power tour, confirming it would go ahead. “I know it seemed extremely sus that the Down Under edition of The Solar Power Tour would ever happen,” the singer wrote. “But it’s almost that time! I’m honestly really glad it worked out this way, we’re playing so well, and I have so much to bring to these shows now I know it inside out.”

The New Zealand and Australian dates were meant to take place earlier this year before being pushed back due to Covid-19 concerns.

On cancelling the New Plymouth show, Lorde wrote: “I would love to wrap it in something to save face but honestly, it’s a pandemic and we haven’t sold enough tickets! I’m bummed, I love that venue, and I hope to play it some day in the future.”

A second date at the Black Barn in Havelock North has been announced, with Lorde promising something special and “one-off”.

Openers for the tour have also been confirmed, with Fazerdaze and Riiki Reid joining the New Zealand dates.

‘Open banking’ on the way as suite of proposals announced

Commerce minister David Clark (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Just days after the prime minister hit out at banks during her weekly press conference, the government has moved to take action.

A suite of new initiatives have been announced this morning by the consumer minister David Clark. They’re targeting at increasing competition and introducing what’s known as “open banking”, meaning customers will be able to easily change between banking providers.

“Open banking ensures banks must share customer information if they request it, making it easier for New Zealanders to compare mortgage rates, apply for loans and switch banks,” Clark said this morning.

“Under open banking if somebody wanted to re-fix their mortgage at a lower interest rate, they could ask their bank to securely share transaction information with a competitor. They could also instruct their bank to share specific data with a financial adviser of their choice – meaning more tailored and timely advice.”

Banks have been under increased scrutiny this week after the immense profits they’ve been pulling in made headlines. Jacinda Ardern called out banks for pocketing extra cash rather than helping out customers that need support.

The Bulletin: Red wave does not materialise in US midterms

We will not know the results in some of the key races for a while yet and control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate still hangs in the balance, but most media are billing US midterm results to date as a disappointment for Republicans. As the New York Times reports, both parties will be intently watching results in Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. In Pennsylvania, Democrats flipped a Senate seat as John Fetterman beat Mehmet Oz. Fetterman, who suffered a near fatal stroke in May, gave his victory speech in a hoodie, his now trademark arm tattoos visible, as he said he was proud of running on a platform of protecting a woman’s right to choose.

Abortion rights have been something of a lightening rod during these elections. Mehmet Oz is better known as Dr Oz, who found fame on the Oprah Winfrey show. The Guardian has some good analysis on early lessons from the elections so far. Candidates who banked on the power of association with Donald Trump haven’t done well.

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.  

Revealed: The number of parents happy for their children to miss school

Image: Getty

New figures have highlighted New Zealand’s low school attendance rates – and the fact that many parents don’t seem to care whether their children are turning up or not.

According to the Education Review Office, and reported by Newshub, only three out of five students regularly attend school. Meanwhile, four in 10 parents were comfortable with their child missing more than a week of school every term, and almost a quarter of students didn’t think attending school was actually important for their future.

Of course, while Covid-19 was responsible for a lot of disruption when it came to school attendance, figures were already on the way down in the years leading up to the pandemic. School attendance among students that were regularly going to class felt 12% in the four years between 2015 and 2019.

The ERO’s Education Evaluation Centre head Ruth Shinoda told RNZ that parents were potentially role modelling bad behaviour when it came to school attendance. “Missing school adds up. If students miss a week of school each term by the time they are 16 they will have missed a year of schooling,” she said.

“That’s a lot of learning time lost. There is no safe level of non-attendance, even just missing two days a term is linked to lower achievement.”