Aug 18 2023

Rec Room: All the new stuff you can watch this weekend

Sky Box offers Sky TV with other streaming services in one device. (Photo: Sky TV)

This is an extract from The Spinoff’s weekly newsletter Rec Room, edited by Chris Schulz.

You might think Depp v. Heard – the Netflix series based around the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard domestic abuse court case that only ended in June – is a rush job. But the overwhelming ruling from early critics seems to be confusion over whose side Emma Cooper’s three-part doco wants to be on. The Daily Beast calls it a “tactless win for pro-Johnny fans” but The San Francisco Chronicle says its bias towards Heard is obvious. Cooper told Vanity Fair she wasn’t trying to change anyone’s minds, so you may need to watch this one and see for yourself. Or don’t. That’s totally fine too.

Elsewhere, Neon has the seventh season of Billions and legal drama Waco: The Aftermath, TVNZ+ has the tennis drama Fifteen-Love and the second season of the Craig Robinson comedy Killing It, and Disney+ has the movie Miguel Wants to Fight and Prime Video debuts the first season of Harlan Coben’s Shelter, based on the popular mystery series. If you need a horror film, Shudder has the well-reviewed Bad Things.

If things are looking a little light on streaming, you might have a better time at the movies this weekend. Blackberry, the tech film about the rise and fall of the keyboard phone might be late to our shores but it lands with rave reviews. “A compelling portrait of a company that flew too close to the sun,” says The Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere, Strays is Will Ferrell’s adult comedy about talking animals, and Jules looks even more bonkers. I can’t explain this one: honestly, just go watch the trailer.

For more try our weekly New to Streaming guide.

Emissions reduction plan bumped to late 2024, will ‘future proof’ farming sector

Trade and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Getty Images, Kai Schwoerer)

The government’s unveiled its finalised emissions reduction plan, which it claims will give farmers “certainty” while future-proofing the agriculture sector.

It includes a plan for mandatory reporting of farm-level emissions from the fourth quarter of next year – a delay on the earlier plan – with emissions pricing to start the following year, meaning farmers will be forced to cut down on emissions in order to sell to overseas markets.

“The reality is, government required or not, our agriculture sector will have to adapt over the coming years and reduce emissions,” the agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said. “It’s a fact of business in the 21st century, but with the support of government we can make that transition in a pragmatic way with the sector.”

Future export growth for our food and fibre products will depend on farmers being able to demonstrate their sustainability credentials, the minister said. “The decisions announced today set out a path that gives farmers certainty and addresses the ever-strengthening market signals from overseas on climate,” he said.

Trade and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Getty Images, Kai Schwoerer)

Decisions taken by the government took into account “key issues” raised on timelines and also set a framework for the factors that will determine the farm-level levy price. “Our plan is one that supports farmers’ transition, helps secure their future export growth, and works alongside our other climate policies to continue reducing our emissions,” O’Connor said.

It’s been a five-year plan to get to today’s announcement, O’Connor said, but it would be “fiscally reckless” for these steps not to be taken. “It would cost us more in the long run.”

Greens ‘agree to disagree’

The Green Party said today’s announcement falls short. “In my role as the minister of climate change, I have made clear to my Labour colleagues why I do not support their preferred option for pricing agriculture emissions,” said James Shaw, Green Party co-leader. “We have agreed to disagree.”

Shaw said he did not believe the plan would actually work to reduce emissions, noting there will be no cap and also that it could be subject to sector lobbying, as a result of ministers setting the price.

“Rather than encouraging more environmentally sustainable farming practices, a low price is likely to just be absorbed into business as usual and passed on to customers,” he said.

Alan Hall awarded $5m in compensation for wrongful conviction, imprisonment

Abstract illustration of hands holding prison bars, on blue background.

After 18 years behind bars, Alan Hall has received close to $5 million in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. It’s the largest compensation payout for a wrongful conviction.

Hall was convicted of the murder of Arthur Easton in 1986. He lodged four failed appeals during his time in prison and only had his name cleared last year, when the Supreme Court quashed his convictions.

A subsequent claim was made for compensation in September 2022, with retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen asked to provide “independent advice on Mr Hall’s application for compensation and the question of Mr Hall’s innocence”.

Cabinet today announced it had accepted advice to offer Hall compensation totalling $4,933,725.75.

“I recognise that Mr Hall suffered significant losses as a direct result of his wrongful convictions and imprisonment,” said associate justice minister Deborah Russell. “I acknowledge that the apology and compensation can never completely remedy the injustice Mr Hall has suffered. But I hope they go some way in helping Mr Hall rebuild his life and will enable him to pursue the things he wants to.”

Interestingly, the statement from Russell’s office names her as the acting justice minister. A spokesperson told The Spinoff that Russell was transferred oversight of the compensation from the justice minister Ginny Andersen due to a “perceived or actual conflict of interest”. Andersen is also the police minister.

Police complaint after men verbally harass staff at Pacific ministry


Two men verbally harassed staff at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples yesterday morning, prompting a complaint to police.

In a statement provided to RNZ, the ministry said the two people arrived at the ministry to demand answers over expenditure. It follows reports the ministry had spent thousands of dollars on a leaving party for a former boss.

The incident happened, reported Stuff, at about 8.30am yesterday morning. “Staff safety across our offices is our number one priority,” said the secretary for pacific peoples, Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone. “In response to this incident, the ministry took swift action to ensure staff safety was upheld. This included lodging a police report with accompanying video footage of the incident.”

Footage supplied to police showed the men filming ministry staff and asking questions in, Stuff said, “what was considered a reasonably hostile manner”. There was no threat of violence.

Later yesterday, after the incident though before it had been reported, Act Party leader David Seymour said in a radio interview that “in my fantasy we’d send a guy called Guy Fawkes in [to the ministry] and it’d be all over”. Seymour has pledged to abolish the ministry should he enter government come October. He’s so far refused to apology for the remarks, which were condemned by government and opposition MPs, calling it a joke.

“I don’t agree with that, right?” National’s Christopher Luxon told a public meeting last night. “The point is I’m not the leader of the Act Party, I’m the leader of the National Party … Don’t imbue me with comments from him.”

Deputy prime minister Carmel Sepuloni told Newshub: “This is so typical of David Seymour, particularly with Pasifika and Māori, just constantly race baiting and causing division where it doesn’t need to happen.”

The Spinoff has asked whether Seymour intended to apologise for his remarks.

Stuart Nash brandishes The Spinoff during valedictory speech


Outgoing Labour MP Stuart Nash has formally farewelled parliament, delivering his valedictory address yesterday evening.

Nash was sacked as a minister earlier in the year after a series of conflict of interests, with the final nail being a leaked email showing he had shared details from a cabinet discussion with donors.

Speaking in parliament last night, Nash saved his final jab for Newstalk ZB broadcaster Mike Hosking. The pair had made a bet over New Zealand’s vaccination rates back in 2021, with Hosking claiming the country would never reach the 90% target. “Come on Mike, honour your bets,” said Nash, holding up a print-out of a Madeleine Chapman article titled: “I can’t believe Stuart Nash was right”. He said it was the best headline he’d ever had.


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Nash also said that he wanted parliamentarians to be capable of calling out the judiciary, a move that first landed him in hot water this year. “Of course, as a legislator, I understand the principle of judicial independence – but as a legislator, when I occasionally see members of the judiciary seemingly ignoring the very clear guidance parliament’s legislation has sent to both them and our communities, then I think as an elected representative, I have earned the right to call them out.”

Listen: The company transitioning businesses to a low carbon economy

In this week’s episode of When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey talks with CoGo founder Ben Gleisner about the potential to use bank data on spending to help businesses and consumers monitor and tweak their climate emissions. Gleisner talks about Aotearoa’s rocky and long pathway to open banking and the options for a type of ‘nudge’ economy towards decarbonisation.

Listen below or wherever you get your pods

The Bulletin: Work visa scam prompts review of controversial scheme

Immigration minister Andrew Little has ordered a review of the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme after around 40 immigrant workers were found to be living in a single three-bedroom house. As Newshub reported on Monday, the men called police on Sunday after their food ran out and they were forced to turn to begging. In the days since, MBIE says it has found a total of 115 Bangladeshi and Indian nationals living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in six houses across Auckland, all apparent victims of AEWV scams.

The AEWV ties an immigrant’s right to work in New Zealand to a single accredited employer, which critics say raises opportunities for exploitation and abuse. When the scheme began, Immigration NZ (INZ) set an annual target of conducting checks on about 15% of all accredited employers. However, these checks only began in April this year, reports Mahesh Kumar of the Indian Weekender. “As of mid-June, the INZ had completed post-accreditation checks for a mere 257 out of over 23,000 accredited employers.” As of August 9, five employers have had their accreditation suspended, and six others have had their accreditation revoked, RNZ reports.

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.  

‘Is it magic money?’ Parker takes aim at National over fuel tax criticism

Revenue minister David Parker (Image design: Archi Banal)

The Labour Party is calling on the opposition to “come clean” over how it would fund major roading projects up and down the country.

Yesterday, David Parker – in his capacity as transport minister – unveiled the government’s long-term priorities for roading and transport infrastructure, including new busways, train lines and major new motorways.

It would be paid for, in part, by “modest” increases to fuel tax – four cents per year – alongside billions in other funding.

But, as detailed in The Bulletin, National took aim at the proposed tax rise and said it wouldn’t do the same until inflation is back below 3%. (Labour then retaliated, saying that inflation is due to be back below 3% at about the same time as the proposed fuel tax rise would come into place – something of an own goal).

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Parker said that people wanted reduced traffic congestion and understood that it needed to be paid for somehow. “Of course we have to spend more on maintenance… we’ve already pumped a billion dollars extra into that this year and road users have to pay part of that,” he said.

He doubled down on his criticism of National, asking how it would propose to pay for roading projects without asking the public for a little extra. “The National Party say that they’re not going to increase these fuel taxes: Well how are they going to pay for it? Is it magic money? How would you pay for it,” he asked RNZ host Corin Dann.

Revenue Minister David Parker in black and white, wearing a suit. There are green bubbles in the background
David Parker (Image design: Archi Banal)

When it was suggested that more tolls could be used, Parker noted that National had opposed a toll being used on the Penlink extension north of Auckland. “I actually agree some roads should be tolled but you can’t do that for general road maintenance or to recover your public transport costs.”

As for whether the government would choose not to act on raising fuel tax should inflation not lower to predicted levels – or whether they may actually remove fuel excise again – Parker said he didn’t think that would be the case. “I’ve got great  confidence that inflation is already coming down and it’s predicted by the Reserve Bank by September next year to be in the 1% to 3% range,” he said.

Luxon responds to Seymour’s Guy Fawkes fantasy about Pacific ministry

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)

National leader Christopher Luxon has faced questions about his likely coalition partner David Seymour – and the Act leader’s explosive wishes for the Ministry of Pacific Peoples – during a Get NZ Back on Track meeting in Onehunga, Auckland. It followed Seymour declaring yesterday that, “in my fantasy we’d send a guy called Guy Fawkes in [to the ministry] and it’d be all over”.

“I don’t agree with that, right?” said Luxon when the comments were raised by an audience member at the school hall meeting. “The point is I’m not the leader of the Act Party, I’m the leader of the National Party … Don’t imbue me with comments from him.” 

Asked “how much are you going to let David Seymour pull the strings when you lead the government?” Luxon stressed that there were no deals being done with minor parties, but that “we have worked constructively with Act in the past” and “there’s a lot of goals that we might be aligned on”. Any coalition he assembled would be more stable than the “coalition of chaos” on the other side, he said.

Seymour had earlier told Newstalk ZB: “In my fantasy we’d send a guy called Guy Fawkes in there and it’d be all over, but we’d probably have to have a more formal approach than that”. The remarks, which Seymour later said were “clearly a joke”, came as Act pledged to abolish the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, which was recently rebuked by the public services commissioner for spending $40,000 on a farewell function. 

The Get NZ Back on Track meeting in Onehunga. Photo: Toby Manhire

Alfred Ngaro, a former National cabinet minister and recently appointed leader of the Christian fundamentalist NewZeal Party (renamed from the One Party), lambasted Seymour in a social media post. He wrote: As a former Minister of Pacific People David’s fantasy is to bomb the only ministry for Pacific people to have a voice and view in the governance decisions of our nation. To excuse this as a joke is not only insulting but he’ll be telling us next that he has a Pacific neighbour who helps clean his house.”

Deputy prime minister Carmel Sepuloni told Newshub: “This is so typical of David Seymour, particularly with Pasifika and Māori, just constantly race baiting and causing division where it doesn’t need to happen.” Seymour responded to a Newshub request for comment by accusing it of “waging war on humour”.

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)