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LIVE UPDATES

OCR jumps to 14-year high

It’s Wednesday, November 23 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, back from the wilderness – a huge thanks to my colleagues for keeping this thing ticking in my absence. Got a story? Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • The official cash rate has jumped to a 14-year high of 4.25% – a 0.75% increase.
  • Gore’s mayor is facing scrutiny over the costs of his personal assistant.
  • Should we finally ban fireworks? A new survey suggests wide public suppport.
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OCR jumps to 14-year high

It’s Wednesday, November 23 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, back from the wilderness – a huge thanks to my colleagues for keeping this thing ticking in my absence. Got a story? Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • The official cash rate has jumped to a 14-year high of 4.25% – a 0.75% increase.
  • Gore’s mayor is facing scrutiny over the costs of his personal assistant.
  • Should we finally ban fireworks? A new survey suggests wide public suppport.
Nov 23 2022

Dusty Ponsonby carpark turned into four-screen cinema

Silky Otter’s Ponsonby location offers four screens and food delivery to your chair.

You can grab a pinot at the bar then have goat cheese rolls and sriracha salmon delivered to your chair. Behind a hidden door lies a secret screen capable of showing films in 3D. “We want to elevate the cinema-going experience as much as we can,” says general manager Matthew Garelli. “It’s a cinema for adults.”

Out the back of Ponsonby Central, in an area that used to house a dusty car park and a discount denim store, is the home of the latest Silky Otter cinema, a nationwide chain that, against all odds, flourished during lockdown. Its latest site, on Auckland’s Richmond Road, is having a soft launch this week before opening fully this weekend.

Silky Otter
Silky Otter’s Ponsonby location offers four screens and food delivery to your chair.

The Spinoff first wrote about Silky Otter back in June because it seemed like an anomaly – a cinema chain flourishing at a time when, thanks to the pandemic, no one was going to the movies. With people stuck at home, movies migrated to streaming services and many predicted they might stay there.

But Silky Otter is bucking that trend. Since 2019, Silky Otter’s built multi-screen complexes in the Auckland suburb of Ōrākei, Christchurch’s Wigram and Nelson’s Richmond. Ponsonby is its fourth location, and there are plans to add three more, including Takanini and Queenstown, in 2023.

How have they done this? “A little bit of crazy” has helped, admits CEO Neil Lambert. He’s a cinematic diehard, one who wants to recreate the movie-going experience he had as a kid for his generation. That means giant cinemas seating 400-plus people per screen are out, and boutique experiences are in. Silky Otter theatres have no more than 47 seats, offer a boutique range of food and drinks, and in Ponsonby, two executive chefs are making food to order.

Ponsonby, admits Garelli, has been their most difficult build yet. “This is one of the most challenging we’ve done so far,” he says. “There’s a carpark upstairs [so] we had to squeeze in. It’s a bit of a nook.” It is the first cinema in Ponsonby since the closure of the Brittania Theatre in 1969, and a secret screen with 24 seats will be used for special occasions, including 3D screenings of James Cameron’s upcoming blockbuster, Avatar: The Way of Water.

Tickets for any screening at Silky Otter Ponsonby cost $30 and its opening weekend films include Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the Harvey Weinstein takedown film She Said, and David Farrier’s Mister Organ.

Read the full Silky Otter story here

‘Kiwis are now paying the price’: National reacts to OCR hike

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis delivers a post budget address on May 20, 2022. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Reaction to today’s record though entirely predictable official cash rate rise has started to roll in, with the National Party sending out a press release simply titled: “Labour has lost control of the economy”.

The official cash rate now sits at 4.25%, the highest in 14 years. It’s predicted to rise by another 1.25% in 2023.

National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said the government’s “fire hose” approach to spending was hurting New Zealanders. “Kiwis are getting squeezed in all directions – rent, groceries, and mortgage payments. Under Labour, the only way these costs are going is up,” said Willis.

“New Zealand needs careful economic management and fiscal responsibility to get us through this difficult period.”

With the OCR on the rise, Willis said New Zealanders needing to find additional money for their mortgage repayments will be “kept up at night”.

She added: “Ominously, the Reserve Bank is not only forecasting a year-long recession, but it believes inflation has not peaked, and will still be higher at the start of next year than it is now.”

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis delivers a post budget address on May 20, 2022. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Official cash rate highest in 14 years after record 0.75% rise

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The official cash rate has risen to 4.25%, the highest it’s been in 14 years.

The 0.75 basis point jump is also the largest in the OCR’s history and comes as the Reserve Bank moves to tackle growing inflation, a cost of living crisis and ongoing international pressures.

In a statement titled “highest interest rates necessary”, the central bank said the OCR needed to reach a higher level and sooner than previously forecast in order to ensure inflation returns to within its target range.

“Core consumer price inflation is too high, employment is beyond its maximum sustainable level, and near-term inflation expectations have risen,” the statement continued. “Global consumer price inflation is broad based and remains heightened. Food and energy prices, and persistent core inflation, have combined to create very high headline inflation in many countries.”

In New Zealand, household spending remained resilient, the bank said. Employment levels were high and income growth and household savings were supporting spending. The rebound in tourism was also supporting domestic demand. “The productive capacity of the economy is being constrained by broad-based labour shortages, and wage pressures are evident. Aggregate demand continues to outstrip New Zealand’s capacity to supply goods and services, with a range of indicators continuing to signify broad-based inflation pressure,” the bank concluded.

The statement confirmed that the bank had considered a full 1% increase to the OCR, though ultimately concluded “a 75 basis point increase was appropriate at this meeting”. The Reserve Bank is now predicting the OCR to peak at 5.5% in 2023, with a recession forecast for mid-year.

Today’s cash rate update was the last the central bank will provide this year. Economists are picking another 0.75 basis point hike in early 2023.

Te Pāti Māori accuses government of ‘dangerous and reckless’ lawmaking

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/ Getty Images; additional design by Tina Tiller)

Te Pāti Māori has labelled the government’s decision to push through as many as 20 bills under urgency “dangerous and reckless”.

Legislation including the highly controversial three waters reforms along with extensions to Covid-19 laws will be debated this week.

Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of Te Pāti Māori, said it could endanger both Māori and democracy. “We advocate for Tiriti based legislation and if this is missed in urgency it will be dangerous for Māori interests and rights,” Waititi said.

The decision to push through major reforms under urgency could see the voice of Māori disadvantaged, added Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. “As Tangata whenua we are at the mercy of these major parties” she said. “It’s being pushed through because government hasn’t done what it was meant to do – make legislation.”

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/ Getty Images; additional design by Tina Tiller)

Cash rate tipped for unprecedented hike

The (Image: Getty Images)

The Reserve Bank will today reveal the latest movements to the official cash rate, with expectations it will jump by a record 0.75 percentage points.

That would bring the OCR up to 4.25%, the highest it’s been in 14 years. And ANZ’s chief economist Sharon Zollner told Newstalk ZB this morning that there’s even a slim chance the Reserve Bank could take things a step further and push the OCR up by 1%.

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, record inflation and everything else we hear about on the news each night – it’s not at all unexpected the central bank will be taking these unprecedented moves. That being said, the impacts could be substantial. A new Ipsos survey of New Zealanders’ mental health out this morning placed financial stress in the top spot for factors impacting mental wellbeing (you can read all about that in today’s Bulletin).

And for those of you reading this wondering either “what is the official cash rate” or “why should I care”? Check out this story on Stuff.

The OCR will be out at 2pm.

Gore’s mayor facing scrutiny over personal assistant costs

Ben Bell (Photo: RNZ / Facebook)

New Zealand’s youngest mayor, Gore’s Ben Bell, has faced scrutiny during his first full council meeting after requesting his own personal assistant at a cost of $85,000 per year.

The Otago Daily Times reported yesterday that Bell was the only mayor in Southland to have their own assistant, and a restructure earlier this year had already provided an executive assistant to the mayor and council chief executive.

Adding to the scrutiny was Bell’s decision to bring his assistant on a trip to Wellington last month, billing the council for $4584 – about half of which was for costs linked to his assistant. As RNZ reported, Bell yesterday backtracked on the bill and said he would cover it himself.

“I’d like to inform the councillors and the general public that all costs related to my personal assistant, I’ve accepted the cost as she was my personal assistant and I don’t think that it should be taken onboard by the council following the recommendation by staff and also conversations with councillors,” he said.

Gore’s council chief executive Steve Parry said the situation could possibly be “embarrassing” for the council. “The current situation is confusing and poses a reputational risk to the council,” Parry said. “To date, press releases have been emanating from the mayor’s private personal assistant and refer all media inquiries to her. This has seen press releases on the same subject, but with different content, being issued by both the mayor’s private personal assistant and the council’s communications team.”

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the country, Stuff has reported that Auckland’s mayor Wayne Brown could become the city’s biggest-spending mayor in terms of costs within his own office.

The Bulletin: Wellington man commissions own survey on fireworks use

Jonathan Hill has two kids and two dogs. He was so fed up with the constant banging for the week around Guy Fawkes, he commissioned Talbot Mills (they do Labour’s polling) to do a survey on whether people think private sales of fireworks should be banned. Two thirds of New Zealanders support a ban and less than a quarter support ongoing sale.

The story is here but I just want to add a bit of a warning as it contains images of very badly injured horses. Hill has shared the results with the prime minister and several cabinet members. Hats off to Jonathan Hill.

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