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Live UpdatesJun 17 2022

Border worker Covid testing to stop

It’s Friday!! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • There’s a byelection tomorrow, in case you’ve forgotten. Early voter turnout is about half of the equivalent period in 2020.
  • A poll of 500 Auckland voters has revealed just how close the mayoral race is a few months out from voting day.
  • Petrol prices have bounced back above where they were when the government cut prices.
  • Border workers won’t need to be regularly tested for Covid-19 from Friday July 1.
  • Covid-19 update: 16 deaths, 370 in hospital, 4,869 new cases.
blog-june-17.jpg

Border worker Covid testing to stop

It’s Friday!! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • There’s a byelection tomorrow, in case you’ve forgotten. Early voter turnout is about half of the equivalent period in 2020.
  • A poll of 500 Auckland voters has revealed just how close the mayoral race is a few months out from voting day.
  • Petrol prices have bounced back above where they were when the government cut prices.
  • Border workers won’t need to be regularly tested for Covid-19 from Friday July 1.
  • Covid-19 update: 16 deaths, 370 in hospital, 4,869 new cases.
Jun 17 2022

Over $40m of light rail spend so far has gone on consultants

Over $40 million of spending on Auckland’s long-delayed light rail project has gone on consultants.

Newstalk ZB reported this morning that about two thirds of the government’s $58.9 million light rail spend – or $41.5 million – has gone on consultants, with construction yet to begin.

But transport minister Michael Wood has defended the cost, saying it was necessary. “The nature of the work of consultants is essential to the strategic approach to rapid transit in Auckland, which I note the member himself supports”, Wood said in response to a question by National’s Simeon Brown.

But Brown was unconvinced, writing in a press statement that light rail was going “nowhere” under Labour. “Labour is scrambling to do anything of significance on this project before the 2023 election to cover up their failure to deliver. Their panicked actions are the consultants’ gain, who continue to rake in millions,” he said.

Covid-19 update: 16 deaths, 370 in hospital, 4,869 new cases

The Covid-19 death toll has grown by 16, with 15 of these registered in the past week and one from April 23 now confirmed.

The total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 is now 1,390 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 12. Of the deaths reported today, all were people over 40. Four were women and 12 were men.

There are now 370 people in hospital with Covid-19, with nine in intensive care.

The daily number of new Covid-19 cases has dropped again, with 4,869 confirmed overnight. Auckland recorded 1,478 new cases.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5,247 – last Friday, it was 6,075.

Border worker Covid testing regime to end

Border workers won’t need to be regularly tested for Covid-19 from Friday July 1.

The Ministry of Health has announced that as part of “ongoing adjustments” to the pandemic response, the required testing order for border workers will be revoked. It follows the end of pre-departure testing for international arrivals from next week.

Testing of border workers was “crucial” early on in the pandemic, said the ministry. “However, as the pandemic moves into its third year, the response strategy has shifted to minimisation and protection, and with widespread community transmission infection in border workers is no longer seen as a greater risk than infection in the general population,” said a statement.

The ministry thanked border workers for the “critical role” they played in the country’s public health response.

Friday Quiz: How much have you been paying attention?

We come to the end of another big week of news. But do you remember anything? Test yourself below.


Te Papa’s new project highlighting diversity within Chinese New Zealand communities

(Image: Kwok Yi Lee 李国意)

Chinese Languages in Aotearoa is a project by Te Papa to highlight the complexity of cultural identity within Chinese New Zealand communities. To learn more about the project read our interview with curator Grace Gassin. In partnership with Te Papa, featured above is a panel from a new short comic created for the project by Kwok Yi Lee (李国意).

“I only learnt to speak Hokkien in my 20s to connect with my roots and communicate with my grandmother. There were next to no learning resources and I could only learn from my mother… it was not easy, but we gradually built up until I was able to start conversing with my grandmother in Malaysia. She has since passed on, but I will always have fond memories of her and our conversations” Hsen-Han Khoo (邱盛漢)

To read the full story, click here(Sponsored)

Petrol prices surge above pre-tax cut high

Despite the government’s efforts earlier this year to curb the growing cost of petrol, prices have soared back to early 2022 heights.

According to pricing app Gaspy, Costco in West Auckland remains the cheapest petrol in the supercity at $2.88 for 91. But only three service stations are selling 91 below the $3 a litre mark. At the Mobil closest to The Spinoff office (and therefore my personal gauge for how expensive petrol is), 91 is a sweet $3.24.

Earlier this week, AA strategy manager Terry Collins told Stuff he anticipated chaos when the government’s petrol support ends in mid-August. “There would be queues going out on to the road. It will be a big decision for the government to make,” he said.

In the same month, however, the government’s budget sweetener of the $350 cost of living payment will be paid out to middle income earners.

The Spinoff has asked commerce minister David Clark for comment on whether the government is satisfied with the current price at the pump – and whether more action could be taken.

The pain at the pump is real (Image: Tina Tiller / Getty Images)

Reminder: There’s a byelection tomorrow

Tauranga will go to the polls tomorrow in a byelection triggered by National MP Simon Bridges’ resignation.

A pair of recent TV polls showed National’s candidate Sam Uffindell safely ahead, though the second of those two (broadcast by Q&A last weekend) had Labour’s candidate Jan Tinetti closing in.

According to the Electoral Commission, we should have a rough idea of the byelection’s results by 9pm tomorrow when 50% of results will have been counted. The aim is to have counted 95% of votes by 10.30pm. Finalised results, including special declaration and overseas votes, will be released on July 1.

The latest advance voting stats show that roughly half as many Tauranga residents have already cast their ballot compared with the equivalent period leading up to the 2020 general election.

Normal media reporting rules apply tomorrow (so we won’t have any coverage until polls closed).

Inflation everywhere, except the housing market

When the Facts Change, The Spinoff’s weekly economics podcast, is back. And this week Bernard Hickey is talking all things inflation. It’s hitting food, petrol, rent, shipping and wages, but inflation hasn’t touched the housing market. Bernard is joined by Kiwibank economist Mary-Jo Vergara to unpack the surprisingly big and long spike of inflation that is cascading into every aspect of our day-to-day lives.

Follow When the Facts Change on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

The Bulletin: Speaker appointment could create opportunity for Te Pāti Māori

1 News deputy political editor Maiki Sherman has picked up on a potentially notable consequence of Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe’s appointment as Speaker of the house. The new appointment could see him move to the list at the next election and not stand in the Te Tai Hauāuru seat. Rurawhe’s majority in the 2020 election was only 1000 votes. Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer ran against him and came second. Ngarewa-Packer came into the house in 2020 on the list after special votes were counted.

Sherman thinks this might not be the only significant contest for the Māori seats with Peeni Henare making no secret of wanting to move to the list. Just 900 votes separated Te Pāti Māori’s John Tamihere and Henare at the 2020 election in the Tāmaki Makaurau seat.

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.  

Poll of Auckland voters shows no clear leader in race for mayor

A poll of 500 Auckland voters has revealed just how close the mayoral race is a few months out from voting day.

The Ratepayers’ Alliance-Curia poll, published by the Herald, has both Labour-endorsed candidate Efeso Collins and restaurateur Leo Molloy on 21.7%. Close in behind, former Heart of the City boss Viv Beck has 20.5% and businessman Wayne Brown lands on 20.1%.

Behind on 16% is Craig Lord, a candidate with prior experience running for Auckland mayor. He came third in the 2019 election.

Read more: Leo Molloy pledges ‘slugfest’ as first public poll for Auckland mayoralty shows dead heat

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesman Josh Van Veen called on National to endorse a candidate, saying the party should get off the fence. “In the interests of local democracy, we are calling on the opposition to endorse a candidate for change in Auckland,” he said.

The de facto centre-right candidate at this stage is Beck, though she has not yet been endorsed by National’s local government arm in Auckland, Communities and Residents.

Molloy told the Herald the race was really just between him and Collins. “Wayne Brown is yesterday’s man… [Beck] is obviously going to capitulate and wave the white flag…and that will leave me. When it comes to a toe-to-toe slug out with Efeso there is only going to be one winner,” he said.

While the result for Collins could signify bad news considering his major party endorsement, he remained confident he could win.

“I think it’s important that whoever wants to make a case for the mayoralty has the opportunity to do so and Aucklanders can judge for themselves who they think is the best candidate for the job,” he said.