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Live UpdatesJul 25 2022

Chlöe Swarbrick ends Green co-leadership speculation

Welcome back to another week of news! It’s Monday, July 25 and this is The Spinoff’s live updates, bringing you everything you need to know from around the country today. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • James Shaw has confirmed he will try to retain his position as Green Party co-leader.
  • The prime minister has thrown her support behind Shaw, saying he has been an excellent minister.
  • Chlöe Swarbrick won’t seek the co-leadership but has not endorsed Shaw at this stage.
  • There are now 836 people being treated with Covid in hospital, up from 720 yesterday. That includes 27 people in intensive care.
  • New Zealand is on high alert for foot and mouth after a recent Indonesian outbreak.
blog-july-25.jpg

Chlöe Swarbrick ends Green co-leadership speculation

Welcome back to another week of news! It’s Monday, July 25 and this is The Spinoff’s live updates, bringing you everything you need to know from around the country today. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • James Shaw has confirmed he will try to retain his position as Green Party co-leader.
  • The prime minister has thrown her support behind Shaw, saying he has been an excellent minister.
  • Chlöe Swarbrick won’t seek the co-leadership but has not endorsed Shaw at this stage.
  • There are now 836 people being treated with Covid in hospital, up from 720 yesterday. That includes 27 people in intensive care.
  • New Zealand is on high alert for foot and mouth after a recent Indonesian outbreak.
Jul 25 2022

Parliament could move to close political donation loopholes, says Ardern

Following last week’s High Court acquittal of two individuals connected with the NZ First Foundation in relation to political donations, Jacinda Ardern has indicated that parliament may seek to close loopholes that breach the “spirit” of the law. Stressing that she was speaking in general terms rather than about the specific case, she said: “If we have an illustration where the intent or principle of any of our electoral laws is not necessarily being upheld in the spirit it was intended by parliament, you would want an avenue to go and look at that.”

An op-ed on last week’s verdict in The Spinoff this morning put it this way: “The effect of this judgment is that it is entirely legal for a party to set up a shadow, off-the-books funding enterprise to pay for all its activities.”

Speaking at this afternoon’s post-cabinet press conference, Ardern noted there were two processes currently under way, in the form of legislation to change the donation disclosure levels and an independent review of electoral law. She said that, given the “complexity of electoral laws”, it was unlikely any changes in response to a court case would be in place before the 2023 election.

Ardern reiterates backing of James Shaw, denies he’s ‘Labour-lite’

The prime minister is doing her best to stay out of the Greens internal disputes – but has been questioned yet again on the issue.

Speaking at parliament moments after Chlöe Swarbrick ruled herself out of seeking the co-leadership, Jacinda Ardern reiterated her “full support” for Shaw in the climate portfolio. Ardern called him the best person for the job and said she didn’t just put him into the climate role because of his position within the Greens.

“All I can do is reflect on the minister that I’ve worked alongside… my reflection would simply be that, as you can expect, a minister that is a member of the Green Party he advocates for climate action,” Ardern said. “But I push back very hard that on any suggestion that as a government we have not been ambitious.”

On the issue of whether Shaw was simply a “Labour-lite” minister, Ardern added: “I believe Labour came in with a significant agenda around climate action. Where I think we’ve had value added is that this is a highly complex area and if we had a minister who had been in this area for three years… it enabled a continuity that has been really important to us.”

Despite not being a member of the “governing party”, Ardern said he added a lot to the current government.

(Photo: Labour Party)

Chlöe Swarbrick rules out run for Green co-leadership

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has announced she will not nominate for the role of Green co-leader following the vote at the party AGM to reopen nominations and, in effect, require James Shaw to reapply for his job. “What happened at our AGM was unprecedented and I, like all of our Green MPs, wanted to respect the process and take time to reflect and listen. That reflection will continue in the coming days and weeks,” she said in a social media post. “I am not in the running for the co-leadership. Thank you to all of the lovely and kind people who’ve expressed their confidence in me. I will continue my work as Auckland Central’s MP, in my Parliamentary portfolios and on Finance and Expenditure committee.”

Chlöe Swarbrick (Photo: Benjamin Brooking)

Swarbrick did not throw her support behind Shaw, but noted: “Party process is that MPs do not endorse any candidates who put themselves forward.” Shaw announced this morning he would seek a fresh mandate as co-leader. MP Elizabeth Kerekere said she was “considering options” and would announce her decision tomorrow. Eugenie Sage said she “strongly” supported Shaw. Other MPs to rule out a run for the role include Golriz Ghahraman and Ricardo Menéndez March. Nominations close on the weekend.

Swarbrick’s post concluded: “As we continue to navigate a global pandemic, our planet is burning. The top 10% sit on 70% of this country’s wealth while 2.5million New Zealanders are being told to fight over 2% of the scraps … Our Green movement was built to transform the systems which gave us these problems and I will continue to put everything I have into that. If the media wants to talk leadership, let’s talk about it. We’ll find it in the young people putting their futures on the line for the climate movement. We’ll find it on union pickets for fair pay and conditions. We find it in our classrooms with our teachers, in our hospitals with the nurses and midwives and health workers who deserve healthy conditions and quality wages. Those are the leaders who need our backing and that is where our energy is needed to change the politics – and the power dynamics – of this country and this world.”

‘Doomsday disease’: NZ on high alert for foot and mouth

A new outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Indonesia has prompted a harsh warning from the government, with the agriculture minister calling it the “doomsday disease” for our farming sector.

The outbreak has New Zealand on high alert, with the disease having reached Australia.

Speaking at parliament, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said an outbreak here would “devastate” our livestock. “New Zealand has never had an outbreak and we want to do all we can to keep it that way,” she said.

“We can and will increase measures where there is the smallest risk of foot and mouth entering New Zealand.”

Ardern called for all New Zealanders and arrivals into the country to “be honest” and “thorough”.

Joining PM Ardern at the Beehive podium today was agriculture minister Damien O’Connor, who said the risk of foot and mouth arriving into New Zealand had “increased” since the disease was confirmed across the Tasman. “We’re working with Australian authorities to make sure they have the most robust systems in place,” he said.

The impacts on New Zealand’s economy would be “significant”, though minister O’Connor did not know the exact damage that would be caused.

All containers coming in from Indonesia have been inspected, said O’Connor, to check for any risks. Asked about the possibility of shutting off the border to Indonesian travellers, Ardern signalled this was unlikely.

New online safety code attacked as ‘a Meta-led effort to subvert a NZ institution’

Critics have lambasted as “window dressing” a new code of practice for online safety. Issued today with the major US social media players on board, the code has been hailed by Netsafe as “a joint agreement that sets a benchmark for online safety in the Asia-Pacific region”, but New Zealand based internet advocacy groups argue that it looks like an effort to “subvert” the organisation that tackles online harms and operates as the approved agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

The launch signatories are Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), Google and its subsidiary YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Amazon, which owns streaming service Twitch. The self-regulatory code, which obliges the companies “to actively reduce harmful content on their relevant digital platforms and services in New Zealand” will be administered by NZTech, a non-profit industry body that represents about 1,000 technology companies.

The draft code, and the consultation process through which it was developed, was last year criticised by Internet NZ and advocacy groups Tohatoha NZ and the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono. In an interview with The Spinoff earlier this month, the new Netsafe CEO Brent Carey acknowledged the need to “involve more civil society voices”, saying: “When it was first developed we should have involved more multi-stakeholder voices, and that’s what I’ve been looking at already in the role – how to get a broader perspective.”

In a statement on behalf of the three groups today, Mandy Henk, CEO of Tohatoha NZ, said their concerns had not been met by some measure. “This code looks to us like a Meta-led effort to subvert a New Zealand institution so that they can claim legitimacy without having done the work to earn it,” she said. “In our view, this is a weak attempt to preempt regulation – in New Zealand and overseas – by promoting an industry-led model that avoids the real change and real accountability needed to protect communities, individuals and the health of our democracy, which is being subjected to enormous amounts of disinformation designed to increase hate and destroy social cohesion.”

She added: “This Code talks a lot about transparency, but transparency without accountability is just window dressing. In our view, nothing in this code enhances the accountability of the platforms or ensures that those who are harmed by their business models are made whole again or protected from future harms.” Henk questioned whether NZ Tech was equipped to take on the role overseeing the code, saying: “They have no human rights expertise or experience leading community engagements. While we have no qualms with what they do, they are not impartial or focused on the needs of those who are harmed by these platforms.”

Government work on a Content Regulatory Review, overseen by Internal Affairs, continues.

Gone by Lunchtime co-host joins lobby firm

Ben Thomas, co-host of The Spinoff’s politics podcast Gone by Lunchtime, has joined PR agency Capital as a director.

The firm is largely dominated by those on the political left – such as its founder, Neale Jones, an ex-Labour staffer – with Thomas the first hire from the right side of politics. He’ll be based in Auckland, while the firm is largely Wellington-operated.

“Ben has extensive experience in New Zealand politics, media and public affairs,” said Neale Jones in a statement. “As press secretary in the previous National government for attorney-general Christopher Finlayson QC, he handled communications on some of that government’s most high-profile issues including the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed legislation and Treaty settlements.”


As far as I’m aware, Ben will remain a key part of Gone by Lunchtime – so don’t worry! But do enjoy how the Herald referred to him by his new moniker Pundit Thomas.

Introducing… Pundit Thomas

Meet Labour’s newest MP

Remember a few weeks back when Kris Faafoi resigned? Well now we have confirmation of his replacement.

The Electoral Commission’s officially confirmed that Dan Rosewarne will be elected as a Labour list MP. He’ll be sworn in shortly.

Rosewarne’s attempted to enter parliament as a contender in the Waimakariri seat the last two elections, but has been beaten on both occasions by National’s Matt Doocey. But at number 56 on list, he’s now been called up. According to Stuff, Rosewarne is an army officer who has served on overseas tours, including two to Afghanistan.

Dan Rosewarne (Image: Supplied)

Covid-19 update: Hospitalisations back above 800, nearly 7,000 cases

There’s been a big overnight jump in the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital.

There are now 836 people being treated with Covid in hospital, up from 720 yesterday. There are now 27 people in intensive care.

Most of the people – 108 – in hospital are in Waitematā, with 98 in Auckland and 86 in Waikato.

Another 16 people with Covid-19 have died, all over the past three days. It takes the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 2,006 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 24. All of the latest deaths were people over 70-years-old.

There are 6,910 new community Covid-19 cases and the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers sits at 8,498.

Goff: Auckland protest was ‘incited by [Brian] Tamaki’

Auckland’s mayor is really not happy with Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, the ringleader of Saturday’s disruptive protest event through the city centre.

About 1,000 people marched onto the busy southern motorway on Saturday afternoon, driving traffic to a halt.

Phil Goff told RNZ it was illegal and dangerous. “It’s not appropriate behaviour, it’s illegal behaviour and I would expect them to be held to account for breaking the law and acting dangerously,” he said.

Tamaki should be held accountable for his role as organiser. “This was incited by Mr Tamaki. Everybody’s got the right to protest, but nobody has the right to break the law and Mr Tamaki time and again seems to show the belief of self-entitlement that he is above the law. Of course, he is not.”

James Shaw remains defiant: ‘It’s made me more determined than ever’

James Shaw wants to co-lead the Green Party into a renewed government in 2023.

He’s just addressed media where he reiterated his commitment to stand for the co-leadership again and said the Green Party had “a lot more work to do” in this term.

On the events of the weekend, Shaw said he did take them seriously. “It’s only made me more determined than ever to fight for the action that we need,” he said. “If I am successful I will redouble my efforts and push for bold action on climate change, to heal our native wildlife and to end poverty.”

Like this morning, Shaw would not speak on behalf of his caucus and therefore remained coy on whether he had spoken directly to Chloe Swarbrick about her leadership intentions. However, he said he received an enormous amount of correspondence from Green Party members up and down the country and had engaged in direct conversations with many people too.

“That has reassured me that I have the support necessary,” he said.

Shaw said that he understood why some felt the Greens needed to move quicker on issues, but that the machinery of government is “glacially slow”.

The solution, he said, was to get more Green MPs to parliament in 2023 to exert “more pressure” on the next government.

National and Labour donation fraud trial begins

A combined trial starting this week will see allegations of fraud relating to both the National and Labour parties aired.

The 10-week hearing will cover two $100,000 donations to National in 2017 and 2018, along with about $35,000 in donations to Labour in 2017.

The National Party element of the trial stems from the Jami-Lee Ross saga that saw the former MP make serious allegations against ex-leader Simon Bridges.

As RNZ reports, Bridges has denied breaking electoral laws and has never been charged. Ross, however, will defend his role in the saga in court.

The trial follows the conclusion last week of a separate fraud investigation into donations to New Zealand First and the separate, though mysterious, New Zealand First Foundation. It ended in a no guilty verdict.

The Bulletin: School’s back as concern about disruption and staff continues

School goes back today for term 3 and principals are worried about more disruption, staffing levels and the lack of a mask mandate in schools. As RNZ’s John Gerritsen reports, top of the South Secondary Principals Association chair Richard Dykes said in term 2, schools had been averaging about 20% of staff absent on any given day and teachers had been having to give up free periods to cover classes.

Secondary Principals Association president and Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault said staffing would continue to be a big problem this term and that the government needed to make it a lot easier to hire teachers from overseas.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

Shaw’s ministerial role safe even if he loses co-leadership – Ardern

James Shaw’s position as Green Party co-leader may be somewhat up in the air, but the climate change minister has one significant supporter: Jacinda Ardern.

The prime minister confirmed she fully supports Shaw as he prepares to seek the votes of his party members. “Minister Shaw retains my full confidence and I have no intention of making any changes to his responsibilities,” Ardern said.

Speaking to Newshub’s AM this morning, the PM reiterated this support and acknowledged that should Shaw lose his role within the Greens, that would not impact his ministerial responsibilities.

“It was my decision not to attach ministerial portfolios to co-leadership… the agreement names Marama [Davidson] and James,” said Ardern.

Shaw had performed “exceptionally well” as climate change minister and his dual position within both the Green Party and the government was “difficult”. As co-leader, his party may want him to go further or faster or issues but as a minister that was not always possible, explained Ardern.

Should Shaw lose his role as co-leader, his replacement would not have a position within the government, confirmed Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw at the confidence and supply agreement signing ceremony on October 24, 2017. (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

‘I’m in it to win it’: James Shaw confirms he wants to stay Green co-leader

James Shaw will seek to continue his tenure as co-leader of the Greens.

Over the weekend, 32 of 107 Green Party delegates voted to reopen nominations for Shaw’s co-leader position, effectively forcing him to reapply for the job. Until now, Shaw had not confirmed he would run again, telling media he would first take time to consider his options.

But speaking to RNZ this morning, Shaw confirmed he’s all in. “I’m not done,” he said. “The climate crisis is not abated, we have huge wealth concentration and people who are locked out of housing… and as long as those kinds are challenges are there, they need the Green Party more than ever.”

Shaw said he made the decision to run yesterday. He would not confirm whether all his caucus colleagues backed him, rather saying he will let them speak for themselves. He also did not comment on whether he’ll have a leadership challenge.

There is speculation Chloe Swarbrick could seek the co-leadership, though she has remained silent on the matter. Shaw called her an “extraordinary political talent”, but would not reveal whether she had expressed interest in the role.

To retain his co-leadership, Shaw will require a 51% backing from party delegates – although he said he’d like a stronger mandate. “I’m in it to win it,” he said.

On why Green delegates backed Marama Davidson but not himself, Shaw said he did not know the exact reason. However, he acknowledged that holding the climate change portfolio attracted additional scrutiny.

“What I hope is that people can look at the Greens and say, actually, it’s quite a good thing that they keep their leaders accountable, humble and connected with their grassroots,” he said. “We are the only party that elects their leaders on a one-year cycle.”

Read more in today’s Bulletin: How unexpected was the vote against James Shaw’s re-election?

Green Party co-leader James Shaw October 13, 2017 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)