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Aug 16 2023

‘A number of serious allegations’: Greens respond to Kerekere speech

Elizabeth Kerekere gives her valedictory speech

The Greens have responded to accusations made by their former MP Elizabeth Kerekere in her valedictory speech in parliament earlier this evening, in which she said no formal complaints had been made against her and accused the party co-leaders of an “epic failure of leadership”.

Kerekere resigned from the Green Party in early May after bullying allegations emerged and the party launched an investigation into her behaviour, and has remained in parliament as an independent MP since.

In her speech this evening, Kerekere again “categorically” disputed any allegations of bullying and said her resignation stemmed from a “falling out with the co-leaders”. She said there had been “no formal complaints, no natural justice, and never a process, let alone a tikanga-based one”.

In a written response to the speech, a Green Party spokesperson said a number of people had wished to make formal complaints against Kerekere, and “we were in the process of agreeing how these would be addressed”. The process began in the days following Kerekere’s sending of messages considered unsupportive of her colleague Chloe Swarbrick on April 5. “Our primary concern was to establish a process that followed proper process while protecting all the people who came forward. Before that could be agreed, Elizabeth Kerekere resigned as a Green Party MP and Green Party member.”

Elizabeth Kerekere accuses Greens co-leaders of ‘epic failure of leadership’

Elizabeth Kerekere gives her valedictory speech

In an otherwise jovial valedictory speech, former Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere has accused Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson of an “epic failure of leadership” regarding her tumultuous exit from the party in May.

Speaking from the seat usually occupied by Act’s David Seymour, Kerekere spoke of her “falling out with the co-leaders of the Green Party” which led to her resignation from the party and retirement from parliament. Kerekeke again “categorically” disputed any allegations of bullying that were referenced at the time. Instead, she says, her lawyer received an email four weeks after the original incident (one “crybaby” message in a Greens group chat), stating that there had been no formal complaints received from anyone else. “So to recap: No formal complaints, no natural justice, and never a process, let alone a tikanga-based one.”

Shaw and Davidson were both in attendance but no other Green MPs were present. Kerekere then went on to offer some “tips on how to be a good leader” which included addressing staff concerns immediately and following a good-faith process. “If allegations have been made about someone, perhaps talk to that person to clarify the facts before you start vilifying them in public.”

Also: “If your organisation has a clear principle of non violence perhaps to not engage in ongoing abusive behaviour.” At that last one, a lone attendee could be heard clapping.

Kerekere went on to state that she still supports much of what the Green Party does and will continue to advocate for marginalised communities outside of parliament post-election.

The Green Party co-leaders have been approached for comment.

Parliamentary urgency prompts opposition pledges to repeal

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The final sitting block of parliament kicked off yesterday, bringing with it a final effort by the government to push through major piece of legislation.

Today saw one aspect of the government’s planned three waters Water Services Entities overhaul pass its third reading, while last minute debating will also see the replacement for the Resource Management Act pushed through the house.

The government has, of course, touted this as a success. But National has been quick to promise it will reverse these legislative changes almost immediately if it wins October’s election. Two press releases sent out in succession this afternoon saw the opposition promise to repeal both “RMA 2.0” and “three waters” – with the former set to be scrapped “by Christmas”.

“We can all agree the RMA needs fixing, but the new framework must actually improve things and be worth the considerable cost of change,” said Chris Bishop. “What the government has come up with is not the solution.” (On Twitter, Newsroom’s political editor Jo Moir expressed frustration over this and said “for the love of god people, get in a room and do something bi-partisan and enough with never doing anything from either side”.)

As for the planned water infrastructure changes, National’s Simon Watts said that would be scrapped within 100 days of a new government. “Three waters is broken and unworkable,” he said.

Auckland’s bus driver shortage declared over

AT’s Richard Harrison. (Photo: Supplied)

Auckland Transport has officially announced that the city’s bus driver shortage is over. In fact, Tāmaki Makaurau now has a small driver surplus to run the city’s bus services – three extra drivers than the required 2,306.

That is compared to the peak of the driver shortage eight months ago when Auckland was 578 operators short of running the city’s buses at capacity. AT’s Richard Harrison said this development will mean more reliability across the public transport network. All the bus services that were suspended during the driver shortage have been up and running since July and cancellations have since affected less than 3% of buses.

In contrast, in February RNZ discovered that bus cancellations were impacting all parts of Auckland, including 13% of northern services and 10% in the city’s central areas.

Although the bus driver shortage has come to an end, the ferry staffer shortfall remains in place across the Waitematā Harbour and Hauraki Gulf services. Currently, Auckland needs an extra 25 skippers and deckhands. Additional training within the existing workforce is due to commence shortly. 

Cash rate steady at 5.5%, economy ‘evolving broadly as anticipated’

The government funds lots of accelerators, with the hope that it will create more successful businesses Illustration: Toby Morris

The official cash rate has been held steady at 5.5%, in line with predictions.

The 2pm announcement was delayed a few minutes due to the Reserve Bank’s website crashing, with users directed to LinkedIn to learn how the economy was tracking.

In a statement, the Reserve Bank said current interest rate levels were “constraining spending and hence inflation pressure” as anticipated, agreeing that the OCR needed to “stay at restrictive levels for the foreseeable future”.

“The New Zealand economy is evolving broadly as anticipated,” the bank said. “Activity continues to slow in parts of the economy that are more sensitive to interest rates. Labour shortages are easing as overall demand softens and immigration adds to labour resources. Headline inflation and inflation expectations have declined, but measures of core inflation remain too high.”

However, it didn’t rule out future rates hikes as part of its longer term forecasting.

In the near term, the central bank noted there was a risk that activity and inflation measures may not slow as much as expected. “Over the medium-term, a greater slowdown in global economic demand, particularly in China, could weigh more on commodity prices and overall New Zealand export revenue,” the statement added.

There was confidence that inflation would return to within the 1% to 3% target over that timeframe as well.

Is this the most extreme attempt to win a Taskmaster task ever?

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Last night on Taskmaster NZ, Bubbah aka Sieni Leo’o Olo proved she officially has more skin in the game than anyone else in the history of the series. When asked to present “the most unbelievable thing” the comedian revealed a very large forearm tattoo of castmates Melanie Bracewell, Karen O’Leary, Dai Henwood and Ray O’Leary.

“Can I just say: we’ve never looked better,” said Mel Bracewell after closer inspection of the extremely fresh looking tattoo. Bubbah received five points from Taskmaster Jeremy Wells for her dedication, running rings around the other offerings which included a VHS player, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not book, and a certificate in backflip proficiency.

Bubbah confirmed to the NZ Herald that the tattoo was 100% real, but also that it was not her first choice for unbelievable thing. She had been trying to do something with Jason Momoa and had to pivot last minute because he was out of town. “So a few days before, I messaged production like, ‘Can you pay for this tattoo?’,” she said.

Although this is not the first time someone had tattooed themselves on Taskmaster – Josh Widdicome had “GREG” tattooed on his foot during the original UK season – the sheer scale and intricacy of Bubbah’s ink remains unmatched. “Production tried to talk her out of it” Melanie Bracewell posted after the episode on Instagram. “Bubbah is incredible.”

Taskmaster airs Mondays and Tuesday nights TVNZ 2 and here on TVNZ+

‘Sizeable rebound’ in population growth after Covid restrictions ended

Image: Tina Tiller

New Zealand’s population was up by 2.1% – or just shy of 106,000 people – in the 12 months ending June, growing to 5.22 million.

The new figures from Stats NZ show that the end of Covid-19 border restrictions allowed for a “sizeable rebound” in the country’s population. New Zealand’s population change is determined by combination of “natural increase” (births minus deaths) and “net migration” (migrant arrivals minus migrant departures).

Net migration over the period was 86,800, with the natural increase figure just over 19,000 – the smallest it has been since 1943.

“Natural increase had a smaller impact on population growth than in previous years, due to fewer live births and slightly more deaths,” said Stats NZ’s Michael MacAskill.

a crowd of small figures against a green bakground, with a sign pointing to New Zealand
Image: Tina Tiller

Newshub announces end of two off-peak news shows

The Newshub studio design

Newshub has announced the end of its super-early and midday news shows, citing audiences turning even more toward digital and social platforms to consume their news.

AM Early, the 5.30 to 6am show that precedes its regular breakfast programme, and Newshub Live at 11.30am will both end on August 25.

Sarah Bristow, Newshub’s senior director of news, said her team were “laser focused” on serving journalism to these audiences, while maintaining core broadcast offerings.

“Our talented colleagues who are currently contributing to the production of these shows will be broadening their focus within the newsroom to areas that concentrate on the growth and performance of digital and social,” she said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to extend their skills from working on broadcast TV, into new formats of video content on digital and social, as well as upskilling in these areas that are crucial to the future success of our newsroom.”

Newshub’s main competitor 1News retains a midday news show, however it never offered a pre-Breakfast programme.

The Bulletin: Minister responds as Corrections deputy chief quits

Newsroom’s Aaron Smale reported on Monday that Topia Rameka, the deputy chief executive Māori at the Department of Corrections, had resigned amid allegations about his behaviour. The allegations involve complaints from female employees.

Corrections minister Kelvin Davis responded to questions about the resignation yesterday, confirming he had been informed “there was an issue” relating to Rameka two weeks ago during his usual briefing, and he subsequently asked what the response had been to the concerns raised. Ultimately Davis said it was an employment matter for Corrections and not for him to be involved in any of those employment decisions.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 38,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture. 

National looks set to announce it would scrap foreign buyers ban

Ten thoushand new houses will be built in Māngere over the next 10-15 years as part of the government’s plans to tackle the housing crisis. (Photo: Kāinga Ora)

National’s leader won’t deny he’s looking to overturn the country’s foreign buyer ban.

Implemented by the current government in 2018, the ban strictly limited when foreign investors could buy properties in New Zealand.

Earlier in the week, a redacted document shared to Twitter allegedly included details of a possible National Party policy. And last night, Newshub’s Amelia Wade reported that it looked as though the party was set to announce a U-turn, after Christopher Luxon said “we will have more to say” in the next few weeks.

On the AM Show this morning, Luxon was asked about the issue again. “What I want New Zealanders to understand is that New Zealand is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region that is in an economic recession and our number one job has to be to grow this economy,” he said. “Foreign investment in this country is actually a piece of we drive economic growth into New Zealand… so it’s a piece of it and we’re considering that.”

There did need to be restrictions, although Luxon wouldn’t provide any further detail on what those might be.

Speaking to RNZ, Luxon was equally unprepared to rule in or out tampering with the current settings. “Some young people are really struggling, they have now had to pay more for a house over the last six years – average house prices have gone up hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “They’re now having to pay not 2.5% interest, but 6.5% interest, finding an extra $750 a fortnight on average.”

Meanwhile, Trade Me Property today revealed that the national average asking price for a house fell by 8% in the year ending July, down to $833,850. That’s a smaller decrease than seen earlier in the year, as the housing market looks to stabilise. Wellington saw the largest annual price drop, followed by Auckland and Hawke’s Bay.

And on Twitter, the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan noted that while first home buyers did hold a solid proportion of all property sales at the moment, it was only “high because the market has crashed”.