blog may 26

Live UpdatesMay 26 2022

Plan to tackle ram raids announced

It’s Thursday May 26, welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The latest

  • PM Jacinda Ardern has met with US lawmakers in Washington DC. Gun law reform was top of the agenda. A meeting with president Joe Biden has not been confirmed yet.
  • Covid-19 latest: 16 deaths, 355 in hospital, another 7,591 cases.
  • A $6 million package to help prevent ram raids has been announced.
  • Eleanor Catton is back with first novel since The Luminaries was published in 2013.
blog may 26

Plan to tackle ram raids announced

It’s Thursday May 26, welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The latest

  • PM Jacinda Ardern has met with US lawmakers in Washington DC. Gun law reform was top of the agenda. A meeting with president Joe Biden has not been confirmed yet.
  • Covid-19 latest: 16 deaths, 355 in hospital, another 7,591 cases.
  • A $6 million package to help prevent ram raids has been announced.
  • Eleanor Catton is back with first novel since The Luminaries was published in 2013.
May 26 2022

Ram raid support package just a ‘band-aid solution’ – National

The National Party is labelling the government’s new ram raid support package a “band-aid solution”.

It’s the same word the opposition used to describe the cost of living payment announced in last week’s budget.

Mark Mitchell, National’s police spokesperson, said the $6 million crime prevention plan is too little, too late. “Youths stealing cars and driving them into retail premises have been causing thousands of dollars of damage for businesses and communities for months,” he said.

“The minister’s announcement of $6 million won’t stretch very far, forcing some businesses to fend for themselves.”

The package, announced earlier today, will see money from the proceeds of crimes fund go towards solutions such as installing bollards for small businesses. It’s an approach similar to that taken by the government to counter dairy robberies, when funding for smoke cannons was provided.

It comes following weeks of pressure on the government to act after a spike in ram raids and youth crime around the country.

Mitchell said the announcement amounted to nothing more than a photo op for police minister Poto Williams. “Labour is good at announcing funding but fails to deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders,” he said.

Covid-19 latest: 16 deaths, 355 in hospital, another 7,591 cases

There have been 16 more deaths of people with Covid-19, bringing our pandemic death toll up to 1,102 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 12.

Of the deaths being reported today, seven were from the Auckland region, three were from Canterbury, three were from the Wellington region, one was from Lakes, one was from Bay of Plenty, and one was from Southern.

Two people were their 60s, two were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90. Nine were female and seven were male.

There are now 355 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 12 in intensive care.

Another 7,591 community cases have been announced nationwide. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 7,095 – last Thursday, it was 7,981.

In Auckland, another 2,520 cases were confirmed overnight.

The problem with literacy

In partnership with Massey University, we’re very excited to announce the third season of Conversations That Count – Ngā Kōrero Whai Take, our thought-provoking podcast series about the issues facing Aotearoa and te ao whanui. The season’s first episode takes a close look at what’s wrong with literacy education in New Zealand.

We know that our learners are falling behind global benchmarks, but do we know why? And what can we do to correct this worrying trend? Join host Stacey Morrison and guests Dr Christine Braid, Helena Baker and Josie Woon for an insightful, challenging and ultimately optimistic kōrero about this hugely important issue – click here to listen on The Spinoff Podcast Network, and make sure to subscribe for new episodes monthly. (Sponsored)

Ardern-Biden meeting appears locked in

It looks as though prime minister Jacinda Ardern will be getting her sit-down meeting with president Joe Biden after all.

1News’ political editor Jessica Mutch McKay has reported that the US Ambassador to New Zealand has flown to Washington. That’s a strong indication that a meeting between the two leaders is back on track, or at least that final logistical discussions are under way.

The reason for the delay in confirming a meeting stems from Ardern’s Covid-19 infection last week. While the prime minister recovered over the weekend, the White House has strict protocols around people who have caught the virus.

Speaking to media today, Ardern remained coy on whether discussions between the White House and NZ government officials had progressed but hinted that arrangements were being made.

Ram raid prevention programme announced

The government has announced a $6 million crime prevention package as it hopes to counter a spike in ram raids.

The money comes from the proceeds of crimes fund and will go towards solutions such as installing bollards for small businesses.

Police minister Poto Williams has been under pressure from the opposition to act on ram raids and an apparent rise in crime. She said the government has heard the concerns of small businesses. “This funding will enable police to work closely with vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each location,” she said.

“Police will also look at the range of crime and security risks each small retailer may face, and other options such as fog cannons, security alarms, or screens may be considered,”

It’s a similar approach to that taken by the government back in 2018, when it provided funding for dairy owners to have smoke cannons installed.

Police will establish and manage the programme of funding for small retailer crime prevention, with work beginning in Auckland and expanding if required.

 

$36m to lower bowel screening age for Māori and Pacific peoples

The bowel screening age will be dropped from 60 to 50 for Māori and Pacific peoples.

The government’s spending $36 million from this year’s budget over the next four years, with the aim of allowing an additional 60,000 people to receive a screening each year.

Associate health minister Peeni Henare said that Māori and Pacific peoples are more likely to develop bowel cancer before they reach 60. “Approximately 21%, compared to 10% for non-Māori,” he said.

“This initiative now means this age group will be able to access screening when they need it the most and is an example of the system changing to better meet the needs of whanau.”

It’s hoped that the earlier screening will also mean earlier detection of cancer, potentially saving 44 people every year.

The government’s previously been called on to push for wider breast cancer screening as well. As Sela Jane Hopgood reported for The Spinoff, more than 50,000 New Zealand women are overdue for their mammograms and the biggest decline in screening throughout the Covid pandemic has been among Pasifika women.

The Bulletin: Cost of living payment ‘evaporated’ as OCR rises

As predicted the Reserve Bank lifted the OCR to 2% yesterday. More noteworthy, however, was the forecast for the OCR. It indicated the cash rate may now peak at 3.9% in June 2023 instead of 3.4% by mid 2024.

As the NZ Herald’s Liam Dann writes, the forecasts and tone of the statement suggest an increasingly aggressive approach to inflation. Speaking to RNZ’s Checkpoint last night, Kiwibank’s chief economist Jarrod Kerr said the government’s cost of living payment for those with a home loan had essentially evaporated and the risk of recession increases the more monetary policy tightens. He questioned whether the cash rate needed to go to 4% at all, saying “We’re only a few hiccups away from a recession with the rate at which mortgage rates are rising”.

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.  

Gun debate dominates Ardern’s conversations in the US capital

The prime minister has met with US lawmakers in the country’s capital, where conversations were dominated by talk of gun law reform in the wake of yet another deadly school shooting.

At least 20 people were gunned down at a Texas primary school yesterday, on Jacinda Ardern’s first morning in the United States.

After arriving in Washington, Ardern met with the likes of Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Amy Klobachar. A meeting with president Joe Biden has still not been confirmed, though Ardern’s language suggested the final logistics were now being worked through.

Speaking to media, Ardern said there were “common themes” across the discussions she had had in Washington. “[There was] a real interest in trade issues,” she said. “Gun law reform was discussed, there was an interest in hearing about New Zealand’s experience and a chance for us to hear the perspectives of legislators here.”

Jacinda Ardern chats with (L-R) Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Whip John Thune (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Asked whether she had anything in common with someone like Romney, who had accepted around $20 million worth of donations from gun lobby group the National Rifle Association, Ardern said that wasn’t the point. “New Zealand has had an experience, in March 15, of a horrific terrorist attack,” she said. “Today I was not here to do anything more than share the experience that New Zealand has had, our own reform and the role it’s played in providing greater protection.”

Other issues canvassed included that of China and the war in Ukraine.

Eleanor Catton back with first novel since The Luminaries

Booker Prize-winning New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has announced her new novel, described as a “gripping thriller”, will be released early next year.

Titled Birnam Wood, it’s Catton’s first novel since The Luminaries swept the literary world in 2013. Since then she has focused on screenwriting and was behind the 2020 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma along with the BBC miniseries based on The Luminaries.

Speaking about her new novel, Catton said it will explore modern politics without being partisan or propagandistic. “I wanted it to be fateful but never fatalistic, and satirical, but not in a way that served the status quo,” she said.

“Most of all, though, I wanted it to be a thriller, a book of action and seduction and surprise and possibility, a book where people make choices and mistakes that have deadly consequences, not just for themselves, but for other people, too.”

Like her previous work, Birnam Wood is set in New Zealand. Here’s the blurb:

A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass in the South Island of New Zealand, cutting off the town of Thorndike, leaving a sizable farm abandoned. This land offers an opportunity to Birnam Wood, a guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice. But they hadn’t figured on the enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine, who also has an interest in the place. Can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

Birnam Wood will release in New Zealand next February.

Eleanor Catton in 2014 (Photo / Getty Images)