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LIVE UPDATES

Protesters block main road outside Ardern’s Auckland office

It’s Monday, November 28 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates – made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Got a story, feedback or just want to say hello? You can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • The controversial decision to entrench parts of the three waters legislation faces the chop.
  • Protesters angered at the death of an Auckland dairy worker have blocked the street outside Jacinda Ardern’s Auckland office.
  • Acclaimed musical Hamilton will debut in Auckland next year for a strictly limited run.
  • 3pm: Jacinda Ardern will front her weekly post-cabinet press conference.
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Protesters block main road outside Ardern’s Auckland office

It’s Monday, November 28 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates – made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Got a story, feedback or just want to say hello? You can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • The controversial decision to entrench parts of the three waters legislation faces the chop.
  • Protesters angered at the death of an Auckland dairy worker have blocked the street outside Jacinda Ardern’s Auckland office.
  • Acclaimed musical Hamilton will debut in Auckland next year for a strictly limited run.
  • 3pm: Jacinda Ardern will front her weekly post-cabinet press conference.
Nov 28 2022

Brian Tamaki’s Freedom NZ applies for formal party registration

An umbrella party. Photo: Toby Manhire

The Electoral Commission has notified an application for party registration by Freedoms NZ. The party encompasses the Freedom and Right Coalition, the anti-mandate group founded by Destiny’s Church leader Brian Tamaki, as well as Advance NZ, the now-deregistered party led by his wife, Hannah, and the New Nation Party. Tamaki had originally declared that the Outdoors and Freedom Party would be part of the umbrella group, but that has failed to transpire. The applicant and party secretary is listed as Jennifer Marshall, who is also Destiny Church’s operations manager.

DemocracyNZ, another party founded in opposition to Covid restrictions and led by former National MP Matt King, successfully registered with the Electoral Commission last month. Registration, which requires proof of at least 500 paid members, is obligatory to contest in the party vote at a general election. 

An umbrella party. Photo: Toby Manhire

Covid cases keep rising – more than 27,000 last week

Image: Toby Morris

The number of Covid cases continues to trend upwards, with 27,076 new community cases reported over the past week, up 3,008 on the previous week. On average, 3,863 new infections were registered each day, a jump from 3,434 the week prior.

Hospitalisations were at 328 at midnight on Saturday, a drop from 344 at the same time last week. However there’s been a significant increase in people in ICU, with 10 people requiring intensive care compared to three people the week before.

The seven-day average number of deaths is four, with 30 new deaths added to the official death toll in the past week.

Of those who died last week, one was in their 20s, two were in their 30s, two were in their 40s, two were in their 50s, eight were in their 60s, 18 were in their 70s, 16 were in their 80s and nine were aged over 90.

The total number of Covid-attributed deaths now stands at 2,212.

Protesters close road outside Ardern’s Auckland office

People calling for change gather outside the prime minister’s electorate office on New North Road.

The crowd outside Jacinda Ardern’s electorate office has swollen into the hundreds, with protesters spilling out onto New North Road.

The main road has now been closed to traffic in both directions, with police vehicles parked across the lanes.

The protest is one of dozens around the country prompted by the death of a Auckland dairy worker last week.

Placards being held display slogans like “harsher penalties” and “enough is enough”, while protesters were chanting “change the law” and “Jacinda must go”.

The protest risked turning ugly after one person called for the crowd to dissipate. “The goal was to deliver a peaceful message. That message has been delivered, clear the road,” he said. The crowd responded with an angry “no” and the chanting recommenced.

Ardern will front her weekly post-cabinet press conference at 3pm where it’s anticipated she will make a law and order announcement.

Protest for dairy workers underway at prime minister’s Morningside office

Protesters asking for a change of laws to protect those working in dairies (Image: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

A crowd of protesters has gathered for a vigil outside prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s office in Morningside. Protesters, some of whom have shut their dairies for the afternoon, are being given black armbands to wear. Two police cars are present, and The Spinoff estimates that there are about 100 protesters present so far. David Seymour and Brooke van Velden, leader and deputy leader of the Act party, are in attendance too.

Those in attendance are carrying signs saying “Harsher penalties”, “Enough is enough”, “More power to police”, “The law is too lenient” and “Save my life”. A fish and chip shop near the protest has a sign in the window reading “Justice for Janak”.

The protests follow a weekend of reporting on the death of a dairy worker in the nearby suburb of Sandringham in Auckland, covered in The Bulletin this morning. Vigils are planned around the country, with some dairy owners saying they want greater safety measures for neighbourhood stores and tougher consequences for retail crime.

Possible government interventions to support small dairy owners may be a focus at the post-Cabinet meeting today. The Spinoff’s Stewart Sowman-Lund is in attendance, and will have a full wrap-up this evening.

a crowd of protesters outside a labour office
People calling for change gather outside the prime minister’s electorate office on New North Road. (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)
blue sky blue/teal building two police cars and people milling on the road
Protesters asking for a change of laws to protect those working in dairies (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)
fish and chip menue through a window and a sign saying 'justice for janak'
Some small business owners are choosing to close as part of the protest (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)
Act leader David Seymour protests outside the prime minister’s electorate office (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Voting starts in Hamilton West byelection

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Voting has started today in the Hamilton West byelection, triggered by the sudden resignation of Labour MP turned independent Gaurav Sharma.

Sharma, who was first elected in 2020, was ousted from his own party after penning a highly critical opinion piece for the Herald, which he followed up with a series of Facebook posts that alleged bullying by senior cabinet ministers and the PM. He ultimately quit parliament, but opted to stand for reelection.

The Electoral Commission said eight voting places are open from today – including at Te Awa, the Base, and the Centre Place Shopping Centre in Victoria Street. The number of voting places will increase over the voting period and 20 will be open on election day, Saturday December 10.

Byelection voting numbers are traditionally lower than in the general election. The Tauranga byelection in June this year saw about 40% of eligible voters cast a ballot. While that byelection was won comfortably by National’s candidate, Hamilton West is a bellwether seat meaning it often shifts allegiances.

The Bulletin: $200m funding to address pay parity issue for healthcare workers

Andrew Little says he’ll meet Google again in the new year. Photo: RNZ

Health minister Andrew Little has announced ongoing funding of $200 million a year this morning to bring around 20,000 healthcare workers’ pay in line with their peers. The funding will deliver pay rises for workers in aged-care facilities, hospices and Māori and Pacific health-care organisations. It resolves an issue where nurses who worked for then-district health boards were earning more than their counterparts working for aged residential care facilities and other community health care providers, despite performing the same role.

The package will not deliver significant change for those working in GP practices at this stage. Little said data provided by the Nurses Organisation and the GPs’ organisation GenPro did not show any “real evidence of pay difference at this point” in that sector.

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.  

Controversial three waters entrenchment on the chopping block

Image: Archi Banal

The controversial decision to entrench part of the government’s three waters legislation, effectively making it harder for future governments to unravel it, appears to be on the chopping block after a weekend of political outrage.

A new provision added to the three waters bill last Wednesday made it so that 60% of MPs would be required to change the law or scrap it altogether – more than the usual simple majority of 50%. It wasn’t just politicians up in arms: in today’s edition of The Bulletin, Anna Rawhiti-Connell reported that a group of public law academics was urging the government to change the entrenching provision.

Missed the debate entirely? You can read Andrew Geddis’ excellent explainer on the significance of that decision here.

But while it seemed like the government would likely push along with the changes despite backlash from across the political spectrum, Jacinda Ardern has today admitted to RNZ it will be looked at.

“We agree [entrenchment] should be used rarely. Cabinet intends to have a bit of a discussion about that principle,” Ardern said.

“I don’t want to predetermine that conversation. No one is backtracking from the idea that we shouldn’t privatise water assets… we’ll have a discussion about the principle of entrenchment because we hear those concerns and I think they’re legitimate.” I expect we’ll hear the outcome of that conversation this afternoon.

Asked specifically whether the entrenchment decision would be “reconsidered”, Ardern said she wouldn’t get ahead of the conversation.

Minutes later on RNZ, Green Party three waters spokesperson Eugenie Sage defended the decision to entrench the provision. “It’s a 60% majority – the entrenchment for matters in the Electoral Act is a supermajority, 75%. A 60% would encourage consensus building across the parliament.”

Image: Archi Banal

Acclaimed musical Hamilton heading to New Zealand

Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton (Photo: Supplied)

Get excited: Hamilton – the acclaimed musical, not the city – is coming to Auckland’s Spark Arena next year.

Following on from a three-year run in Australia, the hugely popular Broadway show will be performed here for a strictly limited season starting in May.

“Australia has embraced Hamilton with an enthusiasm we could never have imagined,” Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller said in a statement. “Now it is time for our sensational Australian cast to continue their success in the southern hemisphere when the show premieres in New Zealand.”

I saw the show in Melbourne only recently and can attest to just how incredible this cast, which includes a handful of New Zealanders, is. Take my unsponsored endorsement: you really have to see this show.

Presale tickets will go on sale on this coming Wednesday at 11am, followed by a general sale next Monday at midday.

Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton (Photo: Supplied)