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blog late nov 24


Judith Collins ousted as National Party leader

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 25, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch? I’m on

Today’s headlines

blog late nov 24

Judith Collins ousted as National Party leader

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 25, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch? I’m on

Today’s headlines

Nov 25 2021

NPA seeks authorisation to engage in collective bargaining with Facebook and Google

The Commerce Commission has this evening issued a press release announcing that the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, which represents major print news titles in New Zealand, has sought permission to “collectively negotiate with each of Facebook and Google about the terms on which their news content appears on each platform”.

NPA members include NZME, publishers of the NZ Herald and a number of regional papers, Stuff, publisher of the Dominion Post and The Press, and Allied Press, publishers of the Otago Daily Times. The Spinoff has also elected to join the collective, while the NPA is actively seeking other independent media to join up, or to share in the benefits of whatever deals might be struck should they be granted permission.

It comes in the aftermath of Australia’s equivalent of the Commerce Commission introducing a bargaining code that prompted acrimonious scenes across the Tasman, including Facebook banning news from its platforms and Google threatening to withdraw its services. Both companies eventually made deals with the vast majority of large and small publishers in Australia.

The Spinoff has published an op-ed explaining the backdrop, and its decision to join the NPA action.

Gone By Lunchtime on who could lead the National Party next

The Gone By Lunchtime team has assembled for an emergency podcast to discuss a spectacularly messy 24 hours of politics and who might step up to replace Judith Collins as leader of the National Party. Listen now on Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favourite podcast provider.


Watch: Political journalists running

There’s something beautiful about watching people publicly perform out of their comfort zone. Seeing your teacher at the mall, or your favourite athlete giving a formal speech. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, but it gives you pause. That’s what it’s like seeing press gallery journalists walk-running (or in Tova O’Brien’s case, sprinting in heels) across the Beehive courtyard, trying to get an exclusive comment from National Party MPs. It doesn’t happen often, but today we as viewers and participants in democracy were treated to the crumbling of an opposition party as well as the strengthening of reporters’ calves. Enjoy.

Phil Goff offers ‘formal apology’ after election error

Tāmaki Makaurau’s mayor, Phil Goff, has issued a formal apology after an Auckland Council clerical error left hundreds of Bulgarian-New Zealanders unable to vote in their recent elections.

As The Spinoff reported on Wednesday, a clerical error left the city’s Bulgarians unable to participate in their home country’s parliamentary elections earlier this month.

The mistake meant they also couldn’t vote in the subsequent presidential elections. It is estimated the mistake impacted more than 250 eligible voters.

The venue, Takapuna’s Mary Thomas Centre, had been booked well in advance of November 14, but when organisers arrived the day before to set it up they found the venue locked and were unable to enter.

Bulgarian election
Bulgarian-New Zealanders were barred from voting in their recent election over an Auckland Council clerical error. Image: Tina Tiller

Auckland Council staff members told them the booking had been cancelled because of Covid-19 protocols and they weren’t allowed inside the building.

Organisers hadn’t been warned of the cancellation. Because of the tight time frame they were left without enough time to set up another venue.

In an email response to a complainant, Goff apologised for what had happened and blamed the situation on a “system error”.

“I know that the opportunity to participate in the elections of your home country is of great significance to you all and I apologise sincerely that you were unable to do that,” he wrote. “I also acknowledge the impact this has had on your community and that there is no way to recreate that occasion.”

Goff also confirmed a review was underway to make sure the error didn’t happen again.

“Staff unreservedly regret that more communication with the venue hirer was not undertaken and are reviewing the current system to ensure that that this error is not repeated in future,” he wrote.

“While this does not make up for the loss of civic participation you have experienced, please know that I greatly value the strong contribution that the Bulgarian community make to our city.”

Scratched earns second NZTV Award nomination

For the second year in a row, Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends has been nominated at the New Zealand Television Awards for Best Sports Programme. The show is produced by The Spinoff through Hex Work Productions and is nominated for its second season after winning the award last year.

Scratched celebrates the sporting heroes, from tennis champions to dance craze inventors to skateboarding legends, that have been forgotten in New Zealand’s history books. Director Madeleine Chapman, speaking on behalf of the production, said the nomination serves as a great reminder that there is an audience out there for sports stories told off the field and about codes less mainstream.

“It’s of course an honour to be nominated and I hope this means more people will learn the incredible tales of the Ruia Morrisons, Lee Ralphs, and Meda McKenzies of Aotearoa,” she said.“Nominations very rarely become headlines but thanks to a very slow news day today, I’m looking forward to this announcement taking over The Spinoff site.”

Watch the full season here and see all the NZTV nominations here.

Today’s key Covid-19 numbers, charted

Today saw a slight drop in new Covid-19 cases compared to the past two days: 178 were recorded across the country.

Here are some of the key numbers from today’s 1pm update, as available on The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page.

Simon Bridges won’t rule out leadership challenge

Simon Bridges has not ruled out challenging for the National Party leadership.

Speaking to media, he said he will be making up his mind over the next few days ahead of next Tuesday’s caucus meeting.

“I’m older and a bit wiser, I think I have a sense of what New Zealand needs at this time,” he said.

Until yesterday, it was believed that Bridges was the most likely frontrunner to replace Judith Collins in the top job. It’s now understood other MPs including Christopher Luxon and Mark Mitchell are considering throwing their hat in the ring.

Bridges reiterated his apology to Jacqui Dean following comments made in her presence five years ago. However, Bridges would not repeat those comments today but said media reports about them were “on the money”.

“I share her desire for a modern, inclusive workplace and environment and today I’ve again offered my apology for what happened several years ago,” said Bridges.

National’s best when it focuses on issues that matter, said Bridges, who believed the party had lost its way.

Bridges also hinted that whoever the next leader is would have to address issues with party’s board. “I think the new leader of the National Party will have to think through how they deal with the board and the president,” he said.

(Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Jacqui Dean releases statement: ‘Bridges’ remarks upset me’

National MP Jacqui Dean has spoken out for the first time.

She was revealed last night as the complainant who had gone to the party leadership with concerns about comments made by Simon Bridges. It’s since been revealed those comments – of a sexual nature and about conception – were made by Bridges in Dean’s presence five years ago, when Bill English was the leader.

“About five years ago, Simon Bridges made remarks that upset me at the time,” said Dean in a statement. “They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear.”

She added: “At the time there was an apology, but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in parliament the feelings have been brought back up.”

Dean said that what matters to her is that people have a clear understanding of the behaviour expected in a modern workplace. “Simon and I have spoken a number of times over the past few hours and he has reiterated his apology,” she said. “As I’m sure can be appreciated, the publicity around this has been upsetting and I ask that my privacy is respected on this.”

Shane Reti speaks after Collins rolled: ‘Not our best day’

Shane Reti has made his first address as leader of the National Party. He’s taking over from Judith Collins on an interim basis following a vote of no confidence held this morning.

A new leader will be determined on Tuesday, however it is believed that Christopher Luxon and Mark Mitchell are the two frontrunners.

Reti said that the no confidence vote today was triggered after “concern” by some in the party about Collins’ late night press release in which she revealed Simon Bridges had been demoted. That press release was ostensibly sent out with the support of the party board following historic comments Bridges made in the presence of MP Jacqui Dean. Collins claimed they were unacceptable, and stripped Bridges of his portfolios.

“This is not our best day,” said Reti.

It’s believed Jacqui Dean will soon make a follow-up statement.

178 new Covid-19 cases, one more death

There are 178 new community cases of Covid-19. Of those, 149 are in Auckland, 16 are in Waikato, nine are in Bay of Plenty, two are in Northland, one is in the Lakes DHB area and one is in MidCentral.

There has also been another Covid-related death: a patient in their 50s who was admitted to Auckland City Hospital on November 5.

Of the two Northland cases, one is based in Whangārei and linked to a known case. The other is Ruakākā and yet to be linked. In response to the Ruakākā case, a pop-up testing site is opening this afternoon at the Ruakākā Racecourse.

Of the 16 new cases in Waikato, eight are in Te Kūiti, five are in Huntly and three are in Kawhia. All cases are linked to known cases. One case reported yesterday has now been confirmed as being in Piopio, south-west of Te Kūiti.

In the Waikato region, health staff are now supporting 144 cases to isolate at home.

The nine new cases in the Bay of Plenty are all in the Tauranga area. Six are known close contacts and were already in isolation. Interviews with the remaining cases are under way to determine the source of their infection.

The new Lakes case is based in Rotorua.

A case announced yesterday in eastern Bay of Plenty is self-isolating and being supported by Tūhoe Hauora. Additional testing is available at the Nukuhou North Settlers hall until 4pm today. Testing will also be available at Med Central in Whakatāne today from 9am-4pm.

The new MidCentral case is in Pahīatua, and comes after multiple wastewater detections of the virus from samples taken in Pahīatua in the past fortnight. The source of the infection is unknown and investigations are under way. Initial case interviews have identified a small number of household contacts, who are isolating with tests arranged, and seven initial locations of interest across and Pahīatua and Palmerston North, which have been added to the ministry’s website. Further locations are expected.

There are 77 people in hospital, including eight in ICU.

Magic Talk to be replaced by new network ‘Today FM’

MediaWorks has formally announced its new talk radio brand, set to debut in early 2022.

Called Today FM, it will include a mixture of existing Magic talent like Leah Panapa and Lloyd Burr, along with newcomers such as Tova O’Brien and Polly Gillespie.

The full Today FM weekday lineup is as follows:

  • 5am-6:30am: First Light with Rachel Smalley
  • 6:30-9am: Tova w/Tova O’Brien
  • 9am-midday: Duncan Garner Today
  • 12pm-4pm: Leah & Mark w/Leah Panapa and Mark Richardson
  • 4pm-7pm: Lloyd Burr Drive w/Wilhelmina Shrimpton
  • 8pm-midnight: Polly w/Polly Gillespie

Today FM will be broadcast on FM frequencies across the country and is set to become the main competitor to talk giant Newstalk ZB.

Judith Collins gone as National leader: ‘It’s been a privilege’

Judith Collins has officially been ousted as leader of the National Party.

In a series of tweets, Collins confirmed she was now just the MP for Papakura. “It’s been a privilege to take over the leadership of [the National Party] during the worst of times and to do so for 16 months,” she said. “It has taken huge stamina and resolve, and has been particularly difficult because of a variety of factors.

“I knew when I was confided in by a female colleague regarding her allegation of serious misconduct against a senior colleague, that I would likely lose the leadership by taking the matter so seriously. If I hadn’t, then I felt that I wouldn’t deserve the role. I didn’t ask for the allegation to be given to me.”

Read more: National caucus dumps Judith Collins

Collins said she was proud of the support she received from her deputy Shane Reti, “a man of principle”.

“I will continue to advocate, not only for Papakura, but for those who have no voice,” said Collins. “I’m so pleased that I can spend more time with my family and friends, and I will not miss the gruelling media schedule.”

Collins sent a follow-up tweet to confirm she will stand for parliament again at the next election in her Papakura seat.

It’s now understood Shane Reti will now assume temporary leadership of the National Party. Next week, a formal decision will be made to determine whether Christopher Luxon or Mark Mitchell will become the new leader.

Simon Bridges, who until last night was widely expected to become the new leader, will likely now become collateral damage in Collins’ dramatic exit.

Collins is unlikely to speak to media, but it’s now believed Shane Reti will front a 1pm press conference (but not to reveal today’s Covid numbers).

Collins gone, Reti in… for now


Judith Collins has been ousted as leader of the National Party.

MP Stuart Smith has confirmed to The Spinoff that the party’s deputy under Collins, Shane Reti, will now assume temporary leadership of the National Party. Next week, a formal decision will be made to determine whether Christopher Luxon or Mark Mitchell will become the new leader.

There is no mention of Simon Bridges, who until last night was widely expected to become the new leader. He will likely now become collateral damage in Collins’ dramatic exit.

Watch live: PM addresses media during visit to Auckland

While the focus of the day is squarely on Judith Collins v Simon Bridges: politics does continue!

Jacinda Ardern is in Auckland today for her second visit across the 100-day delta lockdown.

‘Paranoid storms’: An insight into the state of the National Party from September

While we wait for the National caucus to emerge from its marathon meeting, here’s an insight into the state of the party from September, when Duncan Greive interviewed Janet Wilson, Judith Collins’ former chief press secretary, on The Fold.

Here’s an excerpt of Wilson on Collins: “That’s part of the problem of her leadership, I believe, that she is consumed. As I said in the piece, she prizes loyalty above all else. But then her ugly stepsister, paranoia, steps in, and she has these almost paranoid storms.”

Throwback: Simon Bridges on the first time he met Judith Collins

Recorded in May this year, here’s an extract from our web series FIRST about the time Simon Bridges first met Judith Collins.

No sign of Judith: National MPs take ‘water break’

Our man in the room Justin Giovannetti has confirmed that National MPs are taking a brief water break during what’s likely to be an incredibly tense caucus meeting.

Judith Collins, Shane Reti and Jacqui Dean were expected to front media at 10am. That’s now likely to be sometime before midday.

For those wanting to know how best to watch the fireworks when they happen, there’s an absolute masterclass in TV padding from Ryan Bridge on Newshub right now. Or, for those who prefer to watch fidgeting press gallery journos, the RNZ livestream has you covered.

Government announces $1.5b funding for Covid self-isolation support, testing and medicine

A new “care in the community” model for Covid-19 cases self-isolating at home has been launched by the government, following concerns about a lack of support for Covid-19 patients.

The new model includes initial contact from a healthcare provider within 24 hours of a positive result, a designated point of contact, a health pack to manage recovery, ongoing clinical monitoring and a health assessment at day 10, health minister Andrew Little announced this morning.

Housing, food and income support will be provided by regional welfare teams working under the Ministry of Social Development alongside other government agencies, iwi/Māori and community providers, with $204.1m funding allocated. An 0800 Covid-19 welfare support helpline will be set up for Covid patients isolating at home.

Meanwhile, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall launched a new national testing strategy, with nearly $1 billion set aside for testing, contact tracing and case investigation. Daily laboratory capacity will be increased to 60,000 PCR tests in the first quarter of 2022, and businesses will be able to directly source approved rapid antigen tests (RATs) for use within their workforce from December 1. RATs will also be rolled out more widely across the health system, including in aged residential care, and will be available for the general public at pharmacies from December 15.

A telehealth case investigation service is also being set up, with 475 investigators being trained by the end of this month, and a focus on recruiting Māori and Pacific staff.

The government also announced $300 million in funding for Pharmac to buy more new medicines to treat Covid-19.

The wait is on at parliament

Reporters have gathered at parliament’s ornate legislative council chamber this morning for a press conference with someone from the National party. I write someone because it’s unclear who might show up and when.

The party had said last night, but not in any official media release, that it was planning on a 10am appearance with leader Judith Collins and deputy Shane Reti to address Simon Bridges’ demotion. Whether that’ll happen now is a mystery.

Some National MPs, going into parliament this morning, were clear that they want Collins to go. So now it’s a wait, on the red carpet of the LCC. It could be minutes or hours. Because of Covid-19 regulations, reporters can’t wait outside caucus doors as they otherwise might have.

Press gallery reporters wait
(Photo / Justin Giovannetti)

Watch live: Media on stand-by as Judith Collins poised to speak

Media are on stand-by as Judith Collins is expected to front after last night’s dramatic demotion for Simon Bridges.

She’s set to be joined by her deputy Shane Reti and MP Jacqui Dean, who is understood to be the woman who complained about Bridges’ remarks five years ago.

Watch live below or follow our keep the live updates feed open for comprehensive coverage.

Peeking behind the media curtain of Simon Bridges’ morning press conference

Simon Bridges made a brief appearance before the media this morning, where he accused National Party leader Judith Collins of doing anything possible to hold onto the leadership.

It was a dramatic, if brief, media appearance; viewers of The AM Show would have seen political editor Tova O’Brien, decked out in a bright yellow coat, dashing across the parliamentary precinct to get Bridges’ first words.

Here’s how the media pack looked to a bystander:

Who could replace Judith Collins?

National MPs are gathering at  parliament for an emergency 9am caucus meeting, one which Simon Bridges told media this morning he demanded last night after Judith Collins suddenly stripped of his frontbench roles. She said it was necessary because of a serious complaint about an offensive remark in 2017; he said it was “truly desperate stuff [that] shows that she’ll go to any length to hold on to her leadership”.

It’s likely the caucus meeting will allow each to lay out their case, after which there’s every chance Collins will face a confidence vote. If that happens, I strongly suspect she’d lose. At which point, the question is who comes next.

These are the people who might put their names forward, and their strongest argument to take the helm.

  • Simon Bridges: Experienced, revitalised, ready.
  • Chris Luxon: Heir to John Key.
  • Mark Mitchell: Safe pair of hands, unity candidate.
  • Shane Reti: Capable deputy, an actual doctor.
  • Nicola Willis: Strong performance this term; urban liberal appeal.
  • Chris Bishop: Most effective MP in recent months by some distance in Covid role.

Judith Collins remains defiant: ‘I will still be leader by the end of the day’

Under fire National Party leader Judith Collins has given a brief statement to media on her way into parliament, claiming she will remain the party’s leader.

She’s set to face a leadership challenge at a 9am caucus meeting following her late night move to strip Simon Bridges of his portfolios. It’s not known whether Bridges will be the one to make the move for the top job, but until last night he had been widely expected to make a challenge.

Collins told Newshub her decision to demote Bridges was a matter of principle. “Every woman and every man should feel safe in their workplace. What is really important is that you don’t deal with allegations by sweeping them under the carpet.”

The allegations are said to relate to comments Bridges made five years ago in the presence of, but not about, his colleague Jacqui Dean. Media reports this morning suggest they were addressed by then-leader Bill English at the time, and Dean was apologised to directly by Bridges.

Does the door now open for Christopher Luxon?

National MP Christopher Luxon – long touted as a future leader of the party – won’t rule out having a go at the top job today.

It’s widely expected that Judith Collins will face a leadership challenge at 9am after her shock decision to demote Simon Bridges late last night. The question now: who will go for the job?

Speaking to media on his way into parliament, Luxon refused to rule out challenging Collins. Instead, he simply said he was waiting for this morning’s caucus meeting.

Former Air NZ boss and prospective future National candidate Christopher Luxon (Radio NZ, Dan Cook)

Auckland hits 100 days in lockdown

It’s day 100 of Auckland’s lockdown.

Triggered by a single case of the delta variant on August 17, the number of cases has since passed 7000 with around 200 recorded each day.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern will visit the city today for just the second time in the past 100 days. She’ll be joined by a number of ministers related to health, who will make an announcement a week out from the move into the traffic light framework.

National MP: ‘There must be a change of leadership’

Two National MPs, other than Simon Bridges, have now publicly denounced Judith Collins and called for her resignation.

Auckland-based MP Simon O’Connor told RNZ that Collins’ actions were “outright appalling” and said “there must be a change of leadership immediately.”

He did not know if there would be a leadership challenge this morning, but said “Judith’s leadership is no longer sustainable”. O’Connor said he would hand in all his portfolios immediately and will not work for Collins.

O’Connor cited “polling [and] bad decision-making” were also impetus for Collins to leave. “This is just ongoing dirty politics,” he said.

According to Newshub, National MP Mark Mitchell has also condemned Collins’ actions and called them “deeply disrespectful”.

Shots fired: Bridges says Collins ‘desperate’ to hold onto leadership, will go ‘to any lengths’

National Party MP Simon Bridges has fired back at his leader Judith Collins.

Bridges has just fronted media outside parliament, where he labelled Collins “desperate” and said “she’ll go to any lengths to hold onto the leadership of the National Party.”

It follows a late-night bombshell from Collins yesterday. At 9.23pm last night, the National Party leader sent out a press release to media saying Bridges had been stripped of his portfolios and demoted over allegations of “serious misconduct”.

It’s now known the misconduct occurred five years ago while Bridges was in the presence of ex-MP Jami-Lee Ross and current MP Jacqui Dean. Bridges was said to make comments of a “sexual nature” that left Dean feeling uncomfortable.

The gist of the comments, as The Spinoff understands it, were around conception.

According to media reports, Bridges later apologised for those comments to then-leader Bill English. However, according to Judith Collins, she was “left with no option” but to demote Bridges.

Collins is due to front media herself at 10am today, following a National Party caucus meeting. She has claimed Jacqui Dean will also appear.