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Hipkins: Labour not rushing into leadership questions

It’s Wednesday, October 18 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

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Hipkins: Labour not rushing into leadership questions

It’s Wednesday, October 18 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

Oct 18 2023

National says it’s not backing down on Whangārei Hospital pledge

Health minister Shane Reti (Photo: Lynn Grieveson – Newsroom via Getty Images)

National’s Shane Reti, who is likely to be the next minister of health, has doubled down on his party’s pledge to complete a rebuild of Whangārei Hospital.

1News reported this morning that the hospital redevelopment wouldn’t be delivered within the first three year term of the incoming National government.

That prompted a number of claims online that National was backing down from its promise to improve the facility.

In a tweet, Reti rejected this. “National is committed to rebuilding Whangārei Hospital,” he said. “It’s what I’ve campaigned on, and it’s what National will deliver.”

The Spinoff requested further clarification from Reti’s office as to the commitment but was told that as National had not yet formed a government, nothing could be said beyond what was in Reti’s tweet.

The outgoing Labour government had invested $759 million into the first stage of a hospital redevelopment in Whangārei and committed about $200m for stage two.

Winston Peters silently returns to Wellington

Winston Peters speaks to his followers at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall (Photo: Twitter; additional design by Archi Banal)

The first evidence I saw that Winston Peters was returning to Wellington was this excellent Auckland Airport pic.

And then I watched this truly exhilarating footage from 1News that showed Peters slowly walking through Wellington terminal without saying a single word (except to a supporter who yelled out something about the Gold Card).

There were 27 questions fired at the New Zealand First leader in total, ranging from “how are you” to “is it true that they offered you the role of Speaker” to “have you noticed they changed the Air New Zealand safety video” to “what’s the reason for keeping silent?” He said zip.

As Peters heads into negotiations with National, I’m sure he’ll have more to say.

Te Pāti Māori demands expulsion of Israeli ambassador if ceasefire not reached

Māori Party Co-leader Rawiri Waititi(Photo by Lynn Grieveson – Newsroom/Newsroom via Getty Images)

Te Pāti Māori says the Israeli ambassador should be expelled from the country if an immediate ceasefire isn’t agreed to and a humanitarian corridor for Gaza opened.

In a statement, co-leader Rawiri Waititi said the party condemned Hamas for murdering civilians and taking hostages.

“We also condemn the retaliatory actions of the Israeli government. The indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, by destroying hospitals and civilian apartment buildings, is unconscionable,” said Waititi.

“Targeting civilians is a breach of international law, as is collective punishment – there can be no justification for blocking civilian access to water, power and humanitarian aid.”

Western countries were “wilfully in denial” about the long term aggression by Israel against Palestine, said Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. “They have instituted an apartheid regime and have blockaded Gaza by land, air and sea.”

Twitter testing new anti-bot subscription in NZ

It will cost $1 a year to create a new Twitter account in New Zealand and the Phillipines as the platform tests a new feature designed to counter fake accounts.

The subscription will allow accounts to post and interact with other posts, according to Twitter. Existing accounts will not be impacted.

“This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver.”

Green leaders say no decisions yet on if they’ll stay with the party

Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw (Image: Tina Tiller)

Much like Chris Hipkins, the current leaders of the Greens are facing questions about their ongoing roles with the party.

While the Greens had a much better night than Labour on Saturday, picking up seven new MPs and two new electorates, they’ve also been turfed out of government as a result of National’s victory.

Speaking to media outside parliament, neither James Shaw nor Marama Davidson would commit to a full three years as co-leader.

“We’re here right now and we’ve had a fantastic campaign,” Davidson said, as reported by 1News. “We want to grow on that and those decisions will continue to have the space to be made.”

Shaw said decisions on the leadership would be made in the future, pointing to the party’s leadership election which takes place at every AGM. Last year, Shaw was briefly removed as co-leader as a result of this meeting, but was ultimately reinstated.

Asked for any advice they might offer the National Party about working with Winston Peters, Davidson said: “thoughts and prayers”.

Read more: Who are the new Green and Act Party MPs?

Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw (Image: Tina Tiller)

Hipkins ‘incredibly disappointed’ by Labour failure in Māori seats

Chris Hipkins on election night (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Labour leader Chris Hipkins says he was particularly disappointed by his party’s performance in the Māori seats.

Based on the preliminary count, four of the Māori seats were secured by Te Pāti Māori – an increase of three from Election 2020.

And the remaining two remain on a knife edge ahead of special votes being counted.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Hipkins said the result was unfortunate. “I was incredibly disappointed by the Māori seats [but] there were some bright sparks in there, I was really heartened to see Cushla [Tangaere-Manuel’s] result in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and she’s going to be a formidable member of our team,” said Hipkins. “But overall, yes of course I was disappointed with that result.”

Hipkins said this isn’t the first time a resurgent Māori party has swept up some of the electorates. “It comes and goes a little bit. We’ve seen it in this election and we’ll take some time to reflect on what that tells us as well,” he said.

Labour also underperformed in several Auckland strongholds, losing Mount Roskill and New Lynn and only retaining Mount Albert by the slimmest of margins. Hipkins said he acknowledged the 2021 Covid lockdown was particularly hard on Auckland, but remained proud of his government’s response to the pandemic.

‘Underlying coherence’ between National and new coalition partners – English

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 08:  National leader Bill English speaks at Parliament on November 8, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was sworn in on 26 October as the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Former prime minister Bill English has offered some advice to the incoming prime minister about negotiating with coalition partners.

Speaking on a Sharesies podcast, the ex-National leader said Christopher Luxon was clearly a fast learner but needed to remember he wasn’t running a business.

“Winston Peters is now negotiating with a National Party who has no particular history with him. That makes for a clearer air, probably, than in the past,” English said of the ongoing closed doors discussions. Peters opted to go with Labour in 2017 reportedly in part because of personal issues he had with English and other members of the then-National caucus.

Secondly, said English, Peters was “not exercising a choice between National and Labour” after the election as he had made clear his only choice was National.

Between Luxon, Peters and David Seymour, there would be a “pretty good understanding” of what needed to be on the table, said English. However, National would have to “trim” its agenda given it was now forced to work with other parties. “There’s an underlying coherence there that won’t be negotiated,” he said of the parties’ bottom lines.

“If I was in National’s shoes… I wouldn’t get overly legalistic about all the coalition positions upfront. They’ll get time and space to get a lot more done than they’ll have even thought of now…”

English said the previous government had “run its course, run out of energy” and voters were keen to see a change.

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Biggest shake up since the super city was formed

As Stuff’s Todd Niall reports, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown is proposing to cut the number of local boards in Auckland from 21 to 13, while giving them more power and funding. The council will also decide whether to add dedicated Māori seats to its 21-seat governing body this month. Brown says he’s neutral on that and will “go with the flow”.

Auckland has had 21 local boards since the super city amalgamation in 2010. Reports from officials point to the inefficiency of “running 21 monthly board meetings, producing 21 consulted annual plans each year, as well as producing 21 annual reports.” Niall also has a good round-up of projects that are heading in the right direction in Auckland, “a reminder that Auckland can make progress, even while the biggest ticket items such as light rail, moving the port, continue to bounce around between interest groups, the council and government.”

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. 

Labour not going to ‘rush into’ leadership decisions, says Hipkins

Chris Hipkins (Image: Tina Tiller)

Chris Hipkins says he will stay a member of parliament for the entire three year term, but can’t answer whether he will remain Labour leader.

Yesterday saw the outgoing and incoming Labour caucuses meet at parliament for the first time after election night, which Hipkins told RNZ was a “pretty rough” few hours.

“We took the time in the morning to acknowledge the contributions of people who have given at least three years, in same cases six years of their lives to serving people and we thanked them for that and acknowledged the contributions they’d made and that’s pretty tough.”

As reported by The Spinoff’s Joel MacManus, members of the Labour caucus were understandably a bit testy yesterday, especially when confronted with media questions over the election result. Damien O’Connor, a senior Labour MP, was caught on camera telling reporters to “fuck off” while the presumptive MP for Mount Albert Helen White defended her slim victory in what was traditionally the safest Labour seat in the country.

The Herald’s Derek Cheng has a comprehensive write-up on what went wrong for Labour over the past three years, halving its support between election night 2020 and 2023, while Henry Cooke on The Spinoff has looked at Labour’s legacy.

Yesterday also saw the end of Andrew Little’s political career, who opted to resign from parliament and give up his list spot. Speaking to Newshub, he chucked his support behind Hipkins as leader. “For leader of the opposition you need to take the fight to the government of the day,” Little said, describing Hipkins’ “inner mongrel” on the campaign trail.

On his own political future, Hipkins said the party wasn’t going to “rush into” any decisions around the party’s leadership – which isn’t the most convincing answer as to whether he’ll be sticking around. “We have to support the new government to transition in and we’ve got to continue to execute our responsibilities as the caretaker government while they figure out what the shape of that new government is and we will do that,” he said.

“I think all of that conversation [about the leadership] is premature… we’ve got to spend some time listening to New Zealanders and then of course refresh.”

Chris Hipkins at the podium on election night
Chris Hipkins on election night (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Hipkins told Newshub that the results in electorates like Mount Roskill and Mount Albert showed that Labour had work to do to reconnect with communities. And, he said, the party had to be a strong opposition. “We have to make sure that the Labour Party is focused on being a good, robust opposition. We’ll need to scrutinise what the government are doing, hold them to account… we need to be challenging them.”

There “may well be” further resignations from inside Labour, said Hipkins. He said that Grant Robertson still had a contribution to make to the Labour Party at this point.