Newly-independent MP Gaurav Sharma briefly spoke in parliament this afternoon – before he was shut down by the new Speaker of the House.
Trevor Mallard officially stepped down as Speaker this afternoon, being replaced by Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe.
All party leaders were able to give a speech congratulating Rurawhe – and that included Sharma. After acknowledging that he was now sitting on the opposite side of the house to his former Labour colleagues, Sharma used his speech largely to criticise Mallard. “Some people today mentioned about transparency and integrity,” he said.
Sharma then claimed he had tried to raise his bullying claims with Mallard and had asked about financial assistance with legal costs.
The speech was then interrupted, with Rurawhe saying the debate was only to be about the new Speaker and Sharma had gone off topic.
This was met by applause from across the house. To make matters worse, Mallard’s new seat is right next to Sharma at the back of the debating chamber.
As of this very minute, Trevor Mallard is no longer the Speaker of the House.
His departure after five years in the role was signalled earlier this year by the prime minister but only confirmed yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours before his resignation took effect.
Mallard has had a lengthy and oft-colourful career in politics. His resignation, to take up a diplomatic posting in Ireland next year, was met with little sadness from opposition MPs.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, prime minister Jacinda Ardern was asked whether Mallard was suitable to become an overseas ambassador. Ardern said a 30-year career in politics had given Mallard a “depth of understanding” around New Zealand’s priorities and relationships.
The PM denied that Mallard had caused “the most headaches” for her. “Every single Speaker that I have ever observed has always caught the ire of opposition parties,” she said. “There’s been no Speaker… who has been without critique. He’s done a hard job on behalf of us and I know he will continue to do a hard job in Ireland.”
Deputy Speaker Adrian Rurawhe will take up the position from Mallard and likely have the support of opposition parties as well. Ardern said Rurawhe had managed to balance the “to-and-fro” of parliament. “He’s very well respected and well regarded,” she said, before asking: “He is firm but fair, often soft by hard – how do you do all that in one person?”
There’s been a substantial drop in the number of Covid-related hospitalisations, with numbers now below 400.
Currently, 373 people are in hospital with Covid-19 while six people are in intensive care. Most of the current hospitalisations, 62, are in Waikato, with 54 in Auckland and 52 in Waitematā.
The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 436 – last Wednesday it was 541.
Another 3,140 community cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed overnight. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 3,303, down from one week ago when it was 3,975.
There are now a total of 1,845 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now seven.
Overnight, the death toll increased by 16. Of these, four have been directly linked to the virus, with six ruled out as not being Covid-attributed and six currently undetermined.
The government has doubled down on its efforts to shake-up the grocery sector and drive down prices.
The supermarket duopoly of Foodstuffs and Countdown will be forced to sell groceries to their competitors at set prices and terms if they fail to voluntarily open up their wholesale stockpile. It’s a move that was signposted by the commerce minister David Clark earlier this year, as part of plans to counter the cost of living crisis.
“No ifs or buts, greater competition, a wider range and cheaper products will be provided to New Zealanders through these changes,” Clark said in a statement.
“Ultimately we have decided to take stronger action than the Commerce Commission suggested. They said any wholesale regime should be voluntary. We’re not confident that will deliver the results consumers deserve.”
It’s hoped the government will have legislation drafted by the end of the year to implement these changes, and it will then scrutiny via the select committee process. Speaking at a press conference, PM Jacinda Ardern said she was “confident” that changes would be observed before the process had been completed. “This will benefit consumers,” she said.
According to Clark, today’s announcement will help smaller retailers and new market entrants by allowing them to source and sell a wider range of groceries at cheaper prices.
But the opposition was less convinced. Act’s David Seymour said the addition of “more rules” would disincentivise new retailers and prevent competition within the grocery sector.
“This is just another dangerous stunt policy that is made for PR but sure to backfire. Labour wants to distract from the real cause of rising food prices – rampant inflation caused by their economic mismanagement,” he said.
Ardern will tomorrow visit the first local Costco store in West Auckland. The US-based grocery giant is the first major overseas chain to try and disrupt the duopoly.
National’s leader doesn’t expect the new Brian Tamaki-founded Freedoms New Zealand party to make it into parliament come September next year. However, Christopher Luxon also wouldn’t rule out a deal with the umbrella party.
Announced at yesterday’s anti-government protest, Freedoms NZ will likely comprise at least three fringe parties: Vision NZ, New Nation and the Outdoors Party (although there appears to be some disagreement about this).
Luxon told RNZ it was too early to be discussing possible coalition arrangements, but wouldn’t say whether or not he’d consider working with Freedoms NZ. “I think if people want to change the government, which I was united in around the protest yesterday, they should party vote National,” he said.
It was “way too early” to be having any conversations about the shape of a National-led government, Luxon added.
Tamaki also suggested he’d like to talk with NZ First’s Winston Peters and newly-independent MP Gaurav Sharma about them joining Freedoms NZ.
Auckland mayoral candidate Viv Beck was forced to relaunch her bid after she was locked out of her campaign Facebook account and website.
According to the Herald’s David Fisher, Beck launched a second Facebook page – Vote Viv Beck for Mayor – and matching website at the end of July. However, her previous page – Viv Beck for Mayor – can still be found but has not been updated since the end of April.
It’s been reported that the campaign pages were locked after a dispute over an unpaid six figure bill, prompting Beck to move to a new campaign company. The Campaign Company, a group that previously worked with ex-competitor Leo Molloy, has taken over Beck’s online campaign.
The Campaign Company’s director is Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
Another pick up from Monday’s piece by Stuff’s Luke Malpass. Malpass indicated that there would be an announcement on supermarket sector regulation this week. That has come to pass and Stuff’s Tom Pullar-Strecker has the news this morning that the government is expected to announce today that it will make a law change forcing supermarket groups Countdown and Foodstuffs to wholesale groceries to rival retailers.
Competition advocate and Monopoly Watch spokesman Tex Edwards have previously invoked the classics, describing any such move as a “pyrrhic victory’, named for King Pyrrhus who suffered heavy losses in victory against the Romans.
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Brian Tamaki’s newly announced umbrella party have already hit a roadblock.
The Destiny Church leader yesterday led about 2,000 protesters to parliament, where a “people’s court” found the government “guilty” for crimes against humanity. But Tamaki also took the opportunity to confirm a new coalition of fringe parties would join forces to contest the next election.
Dubbed Freedoms New Zealand, Tamaki said it would include the New Nation Party and Vision NZ (led by his wife Hannah), while signalled that The Outdoors Party, led by conspiracy theorist Sue Grey, would also be involved.
In a post on Facebook, the Outdoors Party said Tamaki “jumped the gun” when announcing they would be part of the new coalition. “As a party we have been doing our own work behind the scenes and have requested time to discuss the issues together as a party and come to a consensus as to the way forward,” they said. “We emailed him last week telling him this. It was inappropriate for him to do what he did today, saying that Outdoors and Freedom was going under his umbrella.”
At the last election, the parties comprising Freedoms NZ received about 8,000 cumulative votes. However, in the Tauranga by-election, candidates representing the Outdoors Party and the New Nation Party scored over 6% when combined – though not representative, this would translate to a seat in party if replicated nationwide.