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May 15 2023

Labour and Te Pāti Māori have some ‘shared views’, says PM after latest poll

Photo: Getty Images

Last night’s Newshub poll had Labour on top – but only by a whisker. Asked at this afternoon’s post-cabinet press conference whether it came as a surprise given recent events such as the sacking of Stuart Nash and the defection of Meka Whaitiri, PM Chris Hipkins said it showed the government’s priorities were resonating with the public.

“I think what it says is that New Zealanders want to know the government is focused on the most important issues facing them at the moment,” Hipkins said.

Te Pāti Māori landed in the so-called “kingmaker” position in last night’s poll. Despite this, Hipkins said the minor party shouldn’t be considered part of a wider left bloc. “I think people should vote for the party they want to be in election. I am 100% campaigning for party votes for the Labour Party,” he said.

It will become clearer as the election approaches which parties best aligned with one another. “There are areas where we have shared views with the Māori Party… it may well be as it gets closer to the election that there are some areas where we don’t agree with them,” Hipkins said.

On New Zealand First and Winston Peters, Hipkins wouldn’t comment on whether he could work with them again in government.

PM not impressed with National’s plan for ‘taxpayer’s receipts’

PM Chris Hipkins fronts a press conference. (Photo: Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images)

The prime minister’s not impressed with the opposition’s plan to tackle “fiscal discipline”.

This week is budget day and while Chris Hipkins has repeatedly rejected that “major changes” to the tax system will be announced, he today said any changes won’t be “hugely significant”. He refused to get into any other comments ahead of Thursday’s budget.

However, at this afternoon’s post-cabinet press conference, he said National’s plan to introduce “taxpayer’s receipts” wouldn’t be useful. “This is their opportunity to set out what they would do in government. If this is the best they can come up with, I think they need to go back to the drawing board,” Hipkins said. It would be a waste of money, added Hipkins, and showed National had “got their priorities all wrong”.

Also announced at this afternoon’s press conference was Hipkins’ travel to Papua New Guinea on Sunday night. It’ll be his first opportunity to meet with some Pacific leaders after he was unable to attend the Pacific Island Forum earlier this year. It’s also expected he’ll meet, albeit briefly, with US president Joe Biden who is scheduled to stopover in Port Moresby en route to Australia.

Chris Bishop says his in-laws aren’t ‘family’ after rental question

Chris Bishop (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

A National MP appears to have exiled his in-laws in an effort to get around a question on his renting situation.

Chris Bishop, the party’s housing spokesperson, has used his status as a renter to help promote and defend National’s recent housing announcements (you can read a bit more about that in this piece by Hayden Donnell for The Spinoff).

Asked recently by a Twitter user whether he was renting off himself, a family member or a trust he had an interest in, Bishop replied “no on all counts”.

But he’s since admitted to Salient that the property was owned by his wife’s parents. But: “That’s not my family,” he said. “I’m not related to them, only by marriage.”

Bishop will soon be out of the renting market, confirming to Salient that his new build in Days Bay will be completed within the next few weeks.

Luxon takes aim at lack of ‘fiscal discipline’ in pre-budget address

Christopher Luxon speaks in the house (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has delivered his pre-budget speech, taking aim at the government for “taxing, borrowing and spending” without maintaining “transparency or performance”.

Speaking from central Auckland, and after being introduced to the stage by his former rival for the leadership Simon Bridges, Luxon announced three initiatives that he said would boost fiscal discipline.

Each taxpayer would, under a National government, receive a “taxpayer’s receipt” from Inland Revenue, breaking down where their tax dollars have gone to.

“It’s taxpayers’ money and we all deserve to know what it’s being spent on but unless you’ve worked in the machine in Wellington, or have trained for years in accounting or economics, it’s impossible to work out how much money the government spends, and where it all goes,” said Luxon.

Public sector chiefs would also have part of their base pay linked to achievement, said Luxon, encouraging high performance.

Luxon said his party’s economic approach could be broken down into two pillars: “repairing New Zealand’s engine for economic growth and restoring fiscal discipline”. The National leader said he was “sick of taxpayers being treated like a bottomless ATM” that could be raided at any time. “National will respect taxpayers and bring fiscal discipline back to Wellington.”

Christopher Luxon speaks in the house (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Lloyd Burr returns to Newshub after Today FM closure

Lloyd Burr is returning to Newshub

Broadcaster and journalist Lloyd Burr will rejoin Newshub as a political reporter, just in time for this year’s election.

Most recently, Burr was a host on Today FM until it was dramatically pulled off air earlier this year.

In a statement, Burr said he was stoked to be heading back to his “old stomping ground” of Newshub. “Elections are the pinnacle of political journalism and I can’t wait to hit the campaign trail to cover the twists and turns and trials and tribulations that’ll undoubtedly unfold,” Burr said.

“It’s been a tough few months for me and I’d like to thank the Newshub team for welcoming me back with open arms.”

Another former Today FM host and Newshub political reporter, Tova O’Brien, has so far not revealed any new career moves. However, it seems unlikely she’ll be heading back to Three after the tense legal proceedings that saw her Today FM debut in 2022 delayed.

Pre-budget announcement sees funding for 300 new classrooms

Image: Getty

Another 300 school classrooms will be funded in this budget, the education minister announced this morning.

It will bring the total number of classrooms funded since the Labour government took office in 2017 up to 3,000.

Jan Tinetti, joined by prime minister Chris Hipkins at a Wellington school, said the funding would ensure students could learn in “fantastic conditions”. Hipkins added that it would ease pressure on school rolls “both in the short term with the immediate establishment of 2,200 places, and in the long term, with funding for a further 4,400 places to account for future roll growth”.

But National’s education spokesperson Erica Stanford said building new classrooms did not ensure they would actually be filled with students. “New classrooms are always necessary as the population grows. But the biggest concern in education is that only half of all students are attending school regularly,” she said in response to the pre-budget announcement.

“It’s all very well announcing new classrooms, but there are more pressing and fundamental issues with the direction that Labour is taking education in New Zealand.”

Today’s education package will likely be the final pre-budget announcement made ahead of Thursday, when finance minister Grant Robertson will formally outline the government’s financial plan for the election year and beyond.

The Bulletin: ACC, NZR swapped notes on Spinoff story – report

ACC briefed New Zealand Rugby (NZR) on its planned response to a Spinoff investigation on sports-related degenerative brain injuries – and highlighted that it was rejecting a link between concussion and CTE, the NZ Herald’s David Fisher reports (paywalled).

In March this year, independent journalist Dylan Cleaver contacted ACC with a list of questions regarding its decision to accept a claim of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from one-game All Black and former New Zealand First MP Tutekawa Wyllie. “ACC provided to NZR a chunk of its response to Cleaver – minus anything related to Wyllie’s personal situation – but assured the sporting body ‘our full response does not suggest that ACC accepts a causal link between concussion and CTE’,” Fisher writes, in a story based on documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA).

An ACC spokesperson responded: “Given the relevance of concussion and CTE to both organisations and increasing volume of research into CTE it is appropriate for ACC and NZ Rugby to share knowledge and information.” Read Dylan Cleaver’s story here.

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Gore mayor says allegations by own councillors ‘heartbreaking’, won’t resign

Ben Bell (Photo: RNZ / Facebook)

Gore’s mayor Ben Bell has rejected claims he acts with “presidential powers” and that his actions were causing mental stress on colleagues.

The country’s youngest local government leader will this week face a vote of no confidence from councillors – technically a symbolic move as Bell was elected by his constituents and cannot be forced to quit – over ongoing ructions around the council table.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Sunday last night, he described the claims, made by his own colleagues, as heartbreaking and said he would attempt to act even more humble in the future. But: “I don’t know how to fix something that I strongly disagree with,” Bell said.

Local Government NZ president Stuart Crosby, speaking to Newstalk ZB, said that there have been issues from the very beginning. “Ben attended what we call our mayor school and I found him to be a bright, articulate young mayor but even that matter of coming to our forum created issues back home so I think it’s an issue around relationships, style et cetera,” he told host Kate Hawkesby.

Before the weekend, Newsroom reported on long-running issues within the council that pre-date Bell’s election to the role. The Sunday piece also touched on some of these claims. Crosby said he was sure the Gore community wanted these issues resolved quickly and said it should have nothing to do with Bell’s age.

“We have always encouraged young people to stand for local government,” said Crosby. “To walk off the street and into the mayoral job… is challenging in the first instance and what you need to do, immediately, is develop practical working relationships with a range of people. The one with the CEO is probably the most important relationship you’ll need to build.”

Bell has thus far ignored calls from within his own council to step down.

Ben Bell (Photo: RNZ / Facebook)