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Live UpdatesJul 13 2022

Cost of living crisis drives cash rate to seven year high

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Wednesday, July 13. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Plan to tackle gangs: New intimidation offence, police search powers upped.
  • Covid-19 latest: Hospitalisations still trending up, another 11,464 cases.
  • For the third time in a row, the Reserve Bank has upped the official cash rate by 50 basis points – up to 2.5%.
blog-july-13.jpg

Cost of living crisis drives cash rate to seven year high

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Wednesday, July 13. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Plan to tackle gangs: New intimidation offence, police search powers upped.
  • Covid-19 latest: Hospitalisations still trending up, another 11,464 cases.
  • For the third time in a row, the Reserve Bank has upped the official cash rate by 50 basis points – up to 2.5%.
Jul 13 2022

Luxon taking advantage of parliamentary recess

National’s leader isn’t letting a week of parliamentary downtime go to waste.

Christopher Luxon has fronted for the media once each day this week – and it seems likely that will continue tomorrow and Friday as well.

The Spinoff asked Luxon’s staff whether there was any particular reason for the repeated media conferences or if it was simply an opportunity for face time with the National leader. “More of a chance to ask Christopher questions,” a spokesperson from Luxon’s office said. “As he was overseas last week, we are endeavouring to ensure he is available to media as much as possible this week.”

Luxon was indeed out of New Zealand last week, visiting parts of Asia and Europe for a 10 day policy searching tour.

Since returning to New Zealand, Luxon has faced criticism for some of the comments he made while overseas, particularly around businesses “getting soft”.

But with parliament not sitting this week, what better opportunity for the opposition leader to get some near-guaranteed air time on the news than by making sure he’s in front of the cameras every single day.

Christopher Luxon (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Do New Zealanders know enough about money?

As chaos reigns in global financial markets, you could be forgiven for feeling a bit despondent about the state of your investments. But the difference between stress and security could come down to education.

BetterSaver offer trustworthy, expert advice for KiwiSaver investors, and you can even access their services online. Read our interview with CEO Joe Taylor here, and visit their site to learn more. (Sponsored)

Cash rate jumps to highest in almost seven years

For the third time in a row, the Reserve Bank has upped the official cash rate by 50 basis points. 

It now sits at 2.5%, the highest it has been since December 2015.

It comes as New Zealand, like much of the world, faces growing inflation and a cost of living crisis, driven by factors including the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

In a statement, the central bank said it remained appropriate to continue tightening monetary conditions. “The committee is resolute in its commitment to ensure consumer price inflation returns to within the 1% to 3% target range,” the statement said.

“The level of global economic activity, combined with the ongoing supply disruptions largely driven by both Covid-19 persistence and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, continue to generate global inflation pressures. Food and energy prices are especially affected by geopolitical tension. However, the pace of global economic growth is slowing. The broad-based tightening in global monetary and financial conditions is acting to reduce spending growth.”

Spending in New Zealand was being supported by “high employment levels, resilient household balance sheets in aggregate, continued fiscal support, and a strong terms of trade”, said the bank. The reduction in Covid-19 restrictions was also enabling increased demand. “Labour and resource scarcity are also contributing to upward price pressures which are currently exacerbated by seasonal illness, a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, and a net outflow of labour abroad,” added the Reserve Bank.

Centre-right C&R group endorses Viv Beck for Auckland mayoralty

Viv Beck has won the endorsement of the Communities & Residents group for her Auckland mayoralty bid. “Viv’s values closely align with C&R’s,” said C&R president Kit Parkinson in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with her and sharing our compelling proposition to voters.”

C&R, which stands candidates in council ward and local board races, is the local body equivalent of the National Party, which does not participate in local body elections. In an interview with The Spinoff in April, Beck said of her link to C&R, “I do have their support,” but it has taken almost four months for formal confirmation.

“Having an endorsed centre-right candidate gives clarity for voters and I look forward to working with C&R and other like-minded candidates to make the change needed,” said Beck today.

In a crowded field on the centre-right, Beck’s campaign team will be hoping the endorsement delivers a boost in fundraising, organisation and momentum. The only publicly released poll to date suggested that there was almost nothing in it between the five candidates put to respondents. Its most compelling message was the don’t-know or undecided answer offered by more than half of those surveyed. Sitting councillor Efeso Collins was endorsed by the Labour Party and the Greens earlier in the year.

Viv Beck on the corner of Customs and Queen Streets. Photo: Toby Manhire. Illustration: Toby Morris

Covid-19 latest: Hospitalisations still trending up, another 11,464 cases

Covid-related hospitalisations have risen again, with 729 people now seeking treatment with the virus. That’s up from 710 yesterday and continues the daily trend in hospitalisations seen since the winter surge began last month.

There are now 18 people in intensive care.

The number of Covid infections has dropped slightly on yesterday, but it remains well above where we were just a few days ago – there have been 11,464 new community cases reported overnight.

“The increase in cases and hospitalisations emphasises the importance of everybody doing the basics well to help prevent infection and serious illness,” reiterated the Ministry of Health.

“Wearing a mask remains one of our best measures to reduce transmission against infectious respiratory illnesses, including Covid-19.”

There have been 29 people with Covid-19 die over the past five days, bringing our nationwide total to 1,737 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 19. The latest deaths were all people over the age of 50.

Government says Waikato expressway fully open, then realises it’s not

The government had to backtrack on its celebratory statement that the final section of the Waikato expressway was open. Because it’s not.

The final 22 kilometre segment of the road was formally opened this week. But while a press release from minister Michael Wood last night announced the stretch of highway was “now open”, a follow-up from his office earlier today amended that.

“Just an update off the back of yesterday’s official opening ceremony to say that the road is not yet open for traffic but is due to open shortly,” a spokesperson said.

The Beehive website quietly updated the press statement to say the road would open “this week”.

Wood, who is transport minister, called completing the motorway “a milestone moment for Hamilton”.

‘No silver bullet’: Ministers say new gang crackdown part of a long term plan

There’s “no silver bullet” to curbing gang activity and growing gun violence.

That’s the message from the new ministers for police and justice, who have just unveiled a suite of proposed changes they hope will ease firearms crime.

But while Chris Hipkins and Kiri Allan say the measures will “make a difference”, they weren’t prepared to say they’d take responsibility if gun violence doesn’t lessen in the wake of the proposed changes.

“My message to people who are concerned about the escalating level of gang activity across the country is so are we, and we’re taking measures that will make a difference, we’ll continue to look at more things we can do,” said Hipkins in response to a question from The Spinoff.

“This is not just simply a one-off, this is not going to suddenly mean that gang-related activity disappears overnight.”

Hipkins said the government also wanted to “choke off the supply of new recruits” and was planning further announcement on this in the medium term.

As for when these changes will be implemented, Hipkins said he was anticipating a “relatively speedy” legislative process. “We can’t simply announce something and then say it’s the law, but we’ll be aiming to make it as efficient as possible,” he said.

Kiri Allan and Chris Hipkins (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

It was hoped, said Hipkins, that the announcement would get backing from parties across parliament. He had not yet canvassed the opposition but was “optimistic” he would get their support.

Minister Allan said National’s Chris Bishop had told her he was “impressed” with some elements of the package, particularly around the new offence for gun intimidation. Bishop confirmed to The Spinoff he had indicated some of the announcement seemed “promising” during a panel appearance on Today FM this morning.

But a press release in the name of National’s Chris Penk showed little support for the government’s gang crackdown. “The announcements today simply tinker around the edges of a problem that the government is not taking seriously,” he said. “The new proposals don’t go far enough. We need to back police and give them the tools they need to tackle gangs so our communities can feel safe again.”

Succession, Ted Lasso and White Lotus lead the 2022 Emmy nominations

After what felt like the most stuffed year of TV ever, the nominations for the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning. HBO’s Succession, every Twitter account’s favourite show, leads the nominations at 25, trailed by Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso and HBO’s The White Lotus at 20 apiece, with HBO Max’s Hacks and Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building following close behind at 17.

Without throwing shade on the deserving nominees, it’s a pretty expected slate of nominees. The eight nominees for Outstanding Drama are Better Call Saul, Euphoria, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Succession and Yellowjackets (all well-liked, well-received shows) while the nominees for Outstanding Comedy are Abbott Elementary, Barry, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hacks, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Only Murders in the Building, Ted Lasso and What We Do In The Shadows (also all well-liked, well-received shows).

Special shoutouts have to go to Melanie Lynskey, the first New Zealand actress to score a lead acting nomination ever, for Yellowjackets and both Julia Garner (Ozark, Inventing Anna) and Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria, The White Lotus) for scoring double nominations for those shows. If there’s anything to be disappointed by, it’s that the Emmys played it a little bit safe this year – it would’ve been great to see less buzzed about shows like Reservation Dogs, Somebody Somewhere, and my personal fave The Other Two get a look in. Until next year!

You can read the full list of nominees here.

Editor’s note: Just jumping in to say I am incredibly chuffed to see the long-overdue nomination for Rhea Seehorn in the supporting actress category for Better Call Saul. Did anyone else have a panic attack in last night’s ep?! – Stewart

Plan to tackle gangs: New intimidation offence, police search powers upped

Police will be given new tools to combat growing gang and gun violence.

Announced this morning by the new police and justice ministers, the package includes new targeted warrant and search powers to find and seize weapons from gang members during a gang conflict, and a five-year prison sentence for a new offence discharging a gun with the intent to intimidate.

That new offence closes a current loophole in our crimes legislation.

Police will also be able to seize cash over $10,000 when it’s found in suspicious circumstances and it’ll be easier for them to seize and impound vehicles.

Chris Hipkins, the police minister, said recent gang activity had been unacceptable. “Police asked for legislative changes that will give them more tools to crack down on violent offending and other criminal activities. We have listened, and will introduce a package of changes that target this activity as an omnibus amendment bill as soon as possible,” he said.

It’s not specified what “as soon as possible” means, but given the public interest in tackling violence it’s likely to happen quickly.

“These are practical and targeted measures that will help the police do their job to keep communities safe,” added Hipkins. “We are interested in real solutions, not empty slogans.”

While National will likely support the increased police power, the opposition had advocated for going further with plans to stop gun crime. That included a total ban on gang patches and stopping gang members from gathering together.

Justice minister Kiri Allan said work was also under way to address the drivers of crime. “We know people don’t become gang members overnight, and that the causes are complex and often intergenerational,” Allan said.

“The changes we are introducing today are targeted interventions that will give New Zealanders confidence that police have the required powers to tackle gang behaviours that make people feel unsafe, and that they are proportionate.”

Luxon explains what he meant by businesses ‘getting soft’ comment

Christopher Luxon has continued to defend his comments about New Zealand “getting soft”.

The comments were made after a speech Luxon gave at a right wing think tank during a recent trip to London.

After returning to New Zealand, the National Party leader suggested that quote had been taken out of context. Appearing today on RNZ, he said the same. “It was in the context of a policy speech where we’re talking about how we make New Zealand wealthier and more productive… but we’ve got a government that doesn’t support small or medium enterprises whatsoever.”

Pushed specifically on the comment about businesses “getting soft”, Luxon said he “meant that businesses need to be able to go out into the world and build their expertise and knowledge… in New Zealand we really struggle with that”.

He wanted businesses to go out and export and be backed by “pro-business” policies from the government. “Under this government… it’s getting really tough to do business, and businesses don’t want to make the investment they need to grow their business.”

Luxon repeatedly said his comments were “very clear” and was confused why he had been asked the same questions multiple times.

Crackdown on gangs and gun violence set to be announced today

The new police and justice ministers are poised to announce how they plan to tackle the growth in gun violence.

Chris Hipkins, who took over the police portfolio from the embattled Poto Williams, will join Kiri Allan in Auckland today for an announcement on gang behaviour. The pair had previously teased a suite of changes would be announced when they were moved into their new portfolios, though refused to reveal any details.

According to the Herald, the announcement will tie up a legal loophole that will make all uses of a firearm for the purposes of intimidation a “threatening act” under our current crimes legislation. It’s expected the potential prison penalty for intimidation will be upped.

The National Party recently proposed a total outlawing of gang patches, which, the Herald reports, is unlikely to feature in today’s announcement. However, further search powers for police will likely be confirmed.

The Bulletin: Fixed price of $683m set for Christchurch stadium build

A decision will be made by Christchurch City Council on Thursday on whether to proceed with plans to build Te Kaha, the Christchurch stadium. Ahead of that decision the council announced yesterday that a fixed price has been negotiated with the project’s lead contractor for its completion. The price is still $150m more than the figure in the planned budget.

I listened to RNZ’s The Panel last night which included former mayor of Christchurch, Garry Moore. Moore thinks the council needs to get someone without a vested interest in the council finances to look at the numbers. 77% of the submissions made during the council’s recent consultation were supportive of the project going ahead despite it costing the average property owner $144 a year between 2025 and 2027.

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