May 11 2023

Listen: Gone By Lunchtime on coalitions, coronations and chaos

Gone By Lunchtime (Image: Tina Tiller)

Christopher Luxon has ruled out working with Te Pāti Māori, lambasted the “coalition of chaos” and invoked “separatism”. On an all new episode of Gone By Lunchtime, Ben Thomas, Annabelle Lee-Mather and Toby Manhire assess the strategy, the timing and the rhetoric. Plus: the latest on Meka Whaitiri and the reasons for her defection, the resignation of Elizabeth Kerekere and what it means for the Greens, and important discourse on the oiling of Charles III, King of New Zealand.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app.

New poll shows bloc gridlock with 60 seats a side

(Photo: file)

National’s decision to formally rule out Te Pāti Māori means we have a firmer grasp on the so-called left and right blocs. And that means poll interpretation has become a whole lot more straight forward.

This new Talbot Mills poll reported on by the Herald shows a potential bloc gridlock, with a coalition of Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori pulling in 60 seats – a figure matched exactly by National and Act.

The poll has Labour down three points to 33%, with National ahead on 36 points. Act and the Greens remain static on 10% and 9% respectively, while Te Pāti Māori jumps up about two points to 4.1%. New Zealand First currently remains out of the conversation, on 3.4%.

Based on these numbers, National and Act would be able to pull in 60 seats to the 55 of Labour and the Greens. But the higher result for Te Pāti Māori and an expectation they’ll go with the left would put that side up to 60 seats as well.

This particular Talbot Mills poll was for a commercial client, however they are also Labour’s internal pollsters. It was taken at the end of April through until May 3, meaning it missed some of the drama with defecting minister Meka Whaitiri and ex-Greens MP Elizabeth Kerekere.

Food prices surge… again

Grocery shopping can be used as a form of control. Photo: Getty

Food prices have continued to surge, with new figures from Stats NZ showing an annual increase of 12.5% in the year ending April.

It’s the largest jump since September 1987, a period which took into account GST having been introduced the year before.

Compared with April last year, fruit and vegetables were up by 22.5%, groceries were up 14% and meat and fish prices were up 9.5%.

“Increasing prices for barn or cage-raised eggs, potato chips, and 6-pack yoghurt were the largest drivers within grocery food,” said Stats NZ’s James Mitchell. “These were the same drivers for grocery food last month.”

When compared month-on-month, food prices were up by 0.5% from March.

National announces first Tāmaki Makaurau candidate in 20 years

Hinurewa te Hau (Image: Supplied)

Hinurewa te Hau, a creative sector executive and governance professional, will contest the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate for the National Party.

It’s the first time since 2002 that the party has had someone stand in the seat.

“It’s incredibly humbling to have the opportunity to campaign for a National Government in Tāmaki Makaurau as the party’s first candidate in the seat for more than 20 years,” said te Hau. “The issues for whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau are the same issues we’re seeing across the country – namely a cost-of-living crisis that’s making it harder to pay the rent or mortgage and fill up the car and the shopping trolley.”

Te Hau said standing for National was embracing her own “mana motuhake”, citing her father’s three terms as National’s Māori vice president and her attempt to win the Māngere seat in the 90s. “The National Party’s values of equal opportunity, personal responsibility and rewards for achievement is pursuing mana motuhake,” she said.

National's Tamaki candidate Hinurewa te Hau
Hinurewa te Hau (Image: Supplied)

Auckland state of emergency ended

Flooding in Devonport on Tuesday May 9. Image: Supplied

Auckland’s state of emergency has ended after less than 48 hours.

It was declared by mayor Wayne Brown, who was in Sydney at the time, on Tuesday afternoon following torrential rain and flash flooding across the city.

In a statement this morning, Brown said there were no weather watches in place anymore, but warned there could still be rain, thunderstorms or even hail throughout the day.

“I would like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who contributed to this emergency response. Everything that could be done was done, or otherwise ready to go,” Brown said. “Once again, we saw a fantastic community-led response and our elected members were hard at work on the ground.”

There was always room for improvement, said the mayor, “and we will continue to learn the lessons from these severe weather events”.

Emergency officials would continue to work with those impacted by the floods. So far, more than 95% of building inspections have been completed.

1News reported that there were over 12,000 lightning strikes across the country in the 24 hours to 8am today. The Sky Tower was struck last night during a fairly epic thunderstorm that saw Auckland briefly blanketed in hail.

Robertson finds $4b in savings ahead of next week’s budget

Grant Robertson announces cost of living package extension on July 17 (Photo: Getty Images)

The finance minister has stuck his hand down the back of the couch and found a handy $4 billion to top up this year’s budget.

At a Wellington Chamber of Commerce speech this morning, Grant Robertson said the savings, which cover the four year forecast period, came from “a wide range of areas”, including the reprioritisation of some government projects.

“Ministers were sent a clear message that if they wanted to progress particular priorities, they needed to be looking for savings opportunities within their own agencies’ existing budgets,” Robertson said, as reported by the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan.

“The outcome of this exercise is that budget 2023 will include $4 billion of savings and reprioritisations over the four year forecast period. For the most part, this funding has gone toward funding agencies’ existing cost pressures.”

It’s not surprise, but Robertson said that cyclone recovery would be a priority for the government in this year’s budget. It would be put above some other areas that ministers would have liked to focus on, he added.

Prime minister Chris Hipkins and finance minister Grant Robertson

However, Act’s David Seymour isn’t impressed by Robertson’s speech this morning. In a press release, he said that $4 billion may sound like a big number, but was “minuscule” within the context of a government budget.

“That is simply embarrassing. In other words, Grant Robertson is standing by 99% of his spending. When you consider the utter waste that has taken place over the last six years, that is an extraordinary statement,” said Seymour.

And National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said it wasn’t enough. “In last year’s budget Mr Robertson sprayed the public money hose around with wild abandon, adding $38 billion in new spending over four years,” she said.

“Now he expects New Zealanders to be grateful that he’s cleaning up a small corner of the spending mess, having only been able to sacrifice less than 1% of overall government spending. It’s simply too little, too late. Mr Robertson should be doing far more to tighten the government belt.”

The Bulletin: Tax us harder, wealthy New Zealanders tell government

Almost 100 wealthy New Zealanders have signed an open letter to the government asking to pay more tax. Among the 96 signatories are tech entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor, Phillip Mills of gym chain Les Mills, company director Rob Campbell, actress Robyn Malcolm and Dame Susan Devoy.

The letter follows IRD research showing the very wealthiest New Zealanders pay an effective tax rate of 9.5%, less than those in the lowest tax bracket. The letter-writers say they recognise the current tax system is unfair. “We write as people who are frustrated with how much tax we pay. We want to pay more,” the letter begins. “As people leading financially comfortable lives, we might be expected to be anti-tax. But we recognise tax as a shared contribution to our collective success.”

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‘If we don’t do anything it’ll get worse’: Mayor Brown on budget blow out

Wayne Brown inspects flood damage in Auckland (Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown is hopeful he can get council onboard with his proposed budget in order to stop a growing hole.

It was revealed yesterday that the budget blow-out had reached a shortfall of $325 million, plus an additional $50m next year for the storm response.

Brown said that if nothing was done to fix it, rates could balloon by 22.5% (a call that one councillor has this morning labelled as “scaremongering“).

Speaking to Newstalk ZB today, Brown said that the hole keeps growing – “and if we don’t do anything it’ll get worse.”

He said not everyone in council was onboard his proposed budget, due to be finalised later this month, and laid blame on his predecessors for borrowing the council “into this mess”.

“Just using rates is too tough on everybody,” the mayor said. “I’ve proposed a mix of things. A lot of people don’t like cuts to service and I’m not mad about it either.”

Asked whether he regretted running for the mayor considering the ongoing trouble with the books, Brown said he just wanted to get on “fixing the things I came into fix, not just a hole from last time”.

He hoped that rates rises would be in line with inflation and not as high as feared. “But if we don’t sell the airport shares it’s going to be ugly,” he said.

On the state of emergency, declared on Tuesday while Brown was away in Sydney, the mayor said he issued it once he had been told to do so by officials. However, he hoped that it hadn’t become a “crying wolf” situation where states of emergency were issued without proper cause.