Aug 23 2023

Hipkins to miss events after daughter hospitalised

Chris Hipkins at Brooklyn kindergarten. Photo: Toby Manhire

Chris Hipkins has announced he will will take some time away from the office and the campaign trail to spend time with his daughter, who is in hospital for treatment in relation to a blood disorder.

“I don’t normally talk publicly about my kids because I want them to grow up out of the public spotlight, but sometimes it’s unavoidable,” he wrote in a social media post. “Both my kids have a blood condition called Von Willebrand Syndrome. It means that sometimes when they get bleeding noses or other health issues they need a bit of extra medical help to get sorted.”

He continued: “Today my four-year-old is in hospital for some needed treatment, so for the rest of the day while that is happening I’ll be working from the hospital while I’m focused on her. All going well I’ll be back at work soon, but thanks to my colleagues for covering a few engagements over the next couple of days that I’m going to have to miss. Lots of New Zealanders rely on the generosity of those who give blood. Thank you to all those who help out people like my little girl.”

Chris Hipkins at Brooklyn kindergarten. Photo: Toby Manhire

Te Pāti Māori co-leader accused of ‘contempt of court’ in question time

David Seymour in question time (Image: Parliament TV)

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi today used a parliamentary question to ask the prime minister about something which he said was subjected to court-ordered suppression.

The speaker of the house Adrian Rurawhe intervened, saying the prime minister did not have responsibility for the claim detailed by Waititi.

However, Act’s David Seymour had his own issue with the line of questioning. “Both of those [statements] are in contempt of court, and, due to the long tradition of comity between this House and the courts, to make such statements is deeply disorderly, brings the House into disrepute, and should face very severe consequences from you, Mr Speaker. I can’t believe, frankly, what I’ve just heard. The tikanga of this House is well known and should be respected.”

Under standing order 418(y), it is indeed in contempt of parliament for an MP to discuss an event that is protected by suppression laws. However, parliament itself has protections – called privilege – that allow members of parliament to speak freely without being held liable for the things that they say.

After Seymour’s response, speaker Adrian Rurawhe asked MPs to calm down and said he would look at everything that has happened in question time. “The future of the House is in the House’s hands and every individual member in it,” he said. “I will go back and have a look at that particular one and everything else, but there’s a very clear procedure about what the member is talking about.”

Michael Wood forced to apologise over shares saga

Michael Wood has resigned all his ministerial warrants. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

Parliament’s privileges committee has recommended that former minister Michael Wood apologise to the House for the failure to declare his shareholding.

Wood was sacked as a minister earlier this year after it came to light that he had failed to disclose – and dispose of – shares in Auckland Airport and Contact Energy.

After being hauled before the committee to explain, Wood has not been found in contempt of parliament. Instead, “it is ultimately the reputation of the House that may be damaged by disregard for [the rules]. We therefore recommend that the member be required to apologise to the House.”

The committee acknowledged that Wood had corrected the record and expressed regret. “He has apologised to the registrar for his failure to declare his interests in AIA and Contact and his failure to correct previous returns sooner.”

However, it’s also been recommended that parliament’s standing orders committee look at clarifying the rules around how shares held in trusts should be declared. “It is crucial that the rules are clear and that members have a consistent understanding of their obligations,” the committee noted.

Cyclone-hit homeowners won’t be caught up in bright-line test

The Mangaheia river in the Tauwhareparae Valley, inland from Tolaga Bay, after cyclone Gabrielle. (Photo:

The government’s removed the bright-line test from properties being voluntarily bought out in cyclone-stricken regions.

While not strictly a “capital gains” tax, the bright line test does mean that properties sold within a decade of being purchase can have an additional tax added on. It’s meant to be triggered if a person has been out of their home for a year, meaning they start to be treated as an investor.

In the case of parts of the country impacted worst by severe weather, there has been concerns from homeowners that they may be caught up in the bright line requirements even though they could physically not return home.

Revenue minister Barbara Edmonds said she would ensure that did not happen. “In some cases, a voluntary buy-out may trigger the bright-line test or one of the other tests for land sales. This could be seen in the example of a property owner who has a rental home they have owned for less than 10 years,” she said.

However: “The government is clear that it isn’t appropriate to apply the bright-line test to these property sales because the impact of weather events gave the property owner little option other than to sell to the local authority.”

There was precedent for this type of change, said Edmonds, saying proposed amendments to the law had been modelled on processes after the Canterbury earthquakes. The changes will be made as part of a tweak to an omnibus set of tax laws being pushed through parliament at the moment.

“The amendment will ensure the bright-line and other time related tests do not apply following a government or local authority buy-out of a North Island flood or cyclone-affected property. It would be unfair for property owners to be taxed under these tests on compensation payments,” Edmonds said.

Act candidate quits over resurfaced comments on mandates and concentration camps

ACT leader David Seymour celebrates with his party on election night in Auckland. Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images

A candidate for the Act Party has quit after comments resurfaced in which she compared vaccine mandates to concentration camps, remarks party leader David Seymour has called “unacceptable”.

1News has reported that Elaine Naidu Franz, formerly Act’s Rangitata candidate, had offered to stand down after concerns were raised about the remarks, which had been made online. Franz was ranked 29 on the party list, so had been unlikely to make it into parliament on October 14.

“I don’t like the allusion to Nazism,” Seymour said. “I represent the biggest Jewish community in New Zealand as the MP for Epsom, so I think that’s a little unfair.”

Meanwhile, another candidate has apologised for comments he made 18 months ago, during the occupation of parliament grounds. Darren Gilchrist had called the former prime minister “Jabcinda” and suggesting drowning victims had died from the Covid vaccine.

“I was just asking questions… I don’t believe that… people drown for many reasons,” Gilchrist told 1News today. “I totally disavow that comment, that was made, gosh, 18 months ago – more than that. It was just asking a question. It wasn’t actually my genuine belief.”

Seymour said he wasn’t worried about candidates holding extreme views, instead saying there was a problem with people being “unable to speak freely”.

“Sometimes it’s good to have people with a range of views. There’s some views that I don’t agree with and some that I actually find unacceptable,” said Seymour.

Sky boss apologises over device woes

The new Sky Box: smaller and whiter than the old Sky Box

The boss of Sky has directly apologised to customers for recent troubles with the company’s new Sky Pod device.

As detailed by Chris Schulz back in March, the new Sky box appeared to launch prematurely, with technical difficulties impeding the user experience. The Herald’s Chris Keall was largely on the same page. “[I’m] pretty sure every single email and piece of social media feedback I’ve had about the new Sky Box has been negative – slow, buggy, finicky interface, etc,” he wrote.

In an email to customers, Sophie Moloney apologised to those “let down” by the device. “Undoubtedly there are some software issues that we are fixing that have caused customers frustration that they didn’t have with the old experience,” she wrote. “It does pain me, I don’t like letting customers down, nor do my team. We are fixing those as rapidly as we can and we’re prioritising the fixes based on feedback.”

The new Sky Box: smaller and whiter than the old Sky Box

Like Keall noted, there is a lot of negative feedback floating around online. Sky’s Facebook page has been inundated with complaints and anger from customers. “DO NOT CHANGE TO THE NEW SKY BOX,” wrote one person, while another simply added “SKY SUCKS!!!”

The Bulletin: Use of surgical mesh to treat a common childbirth injury suspended

Following an investigation by an oversight and monitoring group chaired by the Ministry of Health, the use of surgical mesh to treat a common childbirth injury has been suspended in New Zealand because of safety concerns. The announcement, made this morning by Te Whatu Ora, follows a campaign spearheaded by Sally Walker to highlight the harrowing mesh injuries suffered by her and many other women in New Zealand.

Walker’s story was featured as part of a Herald investigation into women’s health services last year. As Issac Davidson writes, the Health Qualify and Safety Commission and the health and disability commissioner jointly raised concerns about patients harmed by mesh in December. While noting the incidence of harm from mesh was difficult to quantify and report, when it occurred the impact on patients was “significant, and in some cases permanent,” they said.

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‘Diversity won’: Woodhouse speaks out on demotion, Luxon says ‘balance’ needed

National MP Michael Woodhouse in 2020 (Image: Getty Images)

National’s Michael Woodhouse isn’t angry about the low list ranking that led to his decision to quit. But, he told Newstalk ZB this morning, he is disappointed. “That’s life.”

The Otago Daily Times has reported today that Woodhouse suggested National favoured diversity in its list over experience, potentially explaining why the long-serving MP was pushed down into a position he felt was unwinnable. Woodhouse announced over the weekend that he had withdrawn from the list, just minutes before it was publicly released. While he will still contest the Dunedin seat for National, that’s unlikely to swing away from Labour.

“Firstly, there was a contest between diversity and experience, and in my case diversity won,” Woodhouse told the OTD. “Secondly, I think that there was a bit of naivety about using the list rankings as a process to send messages, and thirdly I think that there were other factors at play working against me that I won’t elaborate on, but I wasn’t part of the caucus club, that’s for sure.”

That interview was slapped with the headline: “Being male cost me my position: Woodhouse”. But speaking to Newstalk ZB, Woodhouse said that was a mischaracterisation of his words and accused the ODT of portraying him “as some kind of toy throwing misogynist”.

“I think we’ve got some fantastic female candidates on the list and I think the party will be better for it, there are other things at play here,” he said.

National MP Michael Woodhouse
National MP Michael Woodhouse in 2020 (Image: Getty Images)

Having a diverse list of candidates wasn’t a “problem”, said Woodhouse, but there had been a challenge for National in securing “more diversity in winnable blue seats”. And, he said, a lot of traditional National voters had in recent years found “their natural home” with the Act Party.

Asked whether he disliked Christopher Luxon, Woodhouse said he admired his skills – but wouldn’t go much further than that.

Luxon told RNZ that the list-ranking process was about finding a balance of experience. “There are a lot of men above Michael and a lot of women below,” said Luxon. “We’ve been at our best when we’re actually a national National Party.”

There were a “range of factors” that went into determining where people were ranked, but Luxon wouldn’t specifically acknowledge whether diversity was one of these. “I’m really proud that we’ve got a team that’s well balanced,” he said. “We need to think about the different contributions people can bring.”