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Live UpdatesJun 29 2022

Luxon reiterates claim he wouldn’t tamper with abortion laws

It’s a gloomy, wet Wednesday here in Auckland – welcome along to the dry reprieve of The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me via email at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Christopher Luxon’s morning media round has been dominated by the aftermath of the Roe v Wade overturn.
  • Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for a whirlwind trade tour that’s kicked off with bilateral meetings in Madrid.
  • Police minister Chris Hipkins says National has “a problem with women” after a fiery debate about diversity.
  • The Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan has been revealed –and it includes a new tunnel and light rail.
  • New poll: Around three quarters of Aucklanders want free public transport in the city.
  • There have been another 7,829 community cases, with 15 new deaths.
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Luxon reiterates claim he wouldn’t tamper with abortion laws

It’s a gloomy, wet Wednesday here in Auckland – welcome along to the dry reprieve of The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me via email at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Christopher Luxon’s morning media round has been dominated by the aftermath of the Roe v Wade overturn.
  • Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for a whirlwind trade tour that’s kicked off with bilateral meetings in Madrid.
  • Police minister Chris Hipkins says National has “a problem with women” after a fiery debate about diversity.
  • The Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan has been revealed –and it includes a new tunnel and light rail.
  • New poll: Around three quarters of Aucklanders want free public transport in the city.
  • There have been another 7,829 community cases, with 15 new deaths.
Jun 29 2022

NZ Herald joins world leaderboard as it hits 100k paid subscribers

NZME now has 100,000 subscribers to its NZ Herald digital premium service. When you add on those who subscribe to premium as part of a print subscription, that number jumps to 155,000.

It’s an incredible achievement for a local media outlet; a recent list of publishers with paid subscribers showed 29 outlets around the world could boast over 100,000 members. NZME will now become the 30th member of the “100k club” alongside outlets like The Boston Globe (237,000 subs), Bloomberg (385,000 subs), the Washington Post (2.7m subs) and the New York Times (top of the leaderboard with over 8.3m subs).

NZME’s managing editor Shayne Currie said it came down to the Herald’s journalists around the country “who produce this fantastic content”.

He added: “I’d also like to thank every one of our subscribers – individuals and businesses alike – for their ongoing support of our premium, trusted, quality news.”

NZ Herald Premium launched in 2019.

$7.4b Wellington transport plan won’t increase motorist capacity

The Act Party has criticised the newly announced Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan after it was revealed it won’t create any new capacity for motorists.

The proposal would see a second Mount Victoria tunnel created, but it would match the existing two lanes for traffic along with an additional two for public transport. The current tunnel will be converted into a walking and cycling link.

Simon Court, Act’s transport spokesperson, said the government was putting ideology ahead of common sense. “Treasury advice states that Wellington’s population will grow by 80,000 by 2050. It is totally bonkers to think that these people are all going to be able to move around without greater capacity than there is currently,” he said.

“Has anyone ever seen people lining up to use the walking track through the existing Mt Vic tunnel? The demand simply isn’t there.”

In contrast, the Green Party would prioritise work on the light rail element of the plan, along with public transport connections, before work begins on any new tunnel. “The tunnels will be high-carbon and high-cost, and could also delay the delivery of safe walking and cycling to the east,” said Julie Anne Genter, who questioned transport minister Michael Wood on the issue in parliament today.

The existing tunnel will be converted for walkers and cyclists (Image: Supplied)

A vital message from The Spinoff’s publisher, Duncan Greive

If you’re reading this, you’re hopefully getting value out of The Spinoff. Yet like many publishers, we’ve suffered a significant drop in members, despite our costs continuing to increase. On one level I understand why our membership has dropped away. As the cost of living has reached new heights and the pandemic has become less of an urgent news event and more of a part of day-to-day life, it’s totally normal to feel like you don’t need to support your local media organisation.

The promise we’re making to you is that we’re actually better suited to times like this than the pandemic itself. Of course we will continue to write about Covid-19 and the many effects it’s having on society, but our plan now is to return to something more of what made us, which is coverage of culture, politics, business, te ao Māori and more with heart and humour.

But we can’t do it without you. We need your support more than we ever have. So please, if you can, click here to support The Spinoff by becoming a member today.

Online grocer Supie asks shoppers to invest $1,500 to help it grow

Auckland-only online grocer Supie says it is progressing its expansion plans by opening up a capital fundraising venture to the public today, offering investor buy-ins for $1,500 and up. It’s looking to raise $5 million to “support its growth strategy” in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Supie has more than 23,000 members, who pay a $100 annual fee to receive benefits like free delivery and bonus items. It has delivered tens of thousands of orders, reached annualised revenue of $6.5 million, and has more than 6,000 items available, recently adding beer and wine.

Since it opened a year ago, founder Sarah Balle has become an outspoken critic of the lack of innovation and the sky high prices being charged at supermarkets owned by the duopoly, Progressive and Foodstuffs. “People go into their stores every week, do their grocery shopping exactly the same way. They haven’t had to invest in online,” she told The Spinoff in April.

Today, Supie opened its Snowball Effect capital raise up to the public. Balle said it made sense to bring customers in on the company’s journey, and let “mum and dad investors” share in any potential successes. “Supie has and always will be for the people, so to have everyday kiwis be able to invest in the supermarket they shop with each week just makes sense,” she said.

Read more: ‘I sleep on the floor … I sleep in my car’: What it’s like fighting NZ’s supermarket duopoly

Supie
Sarah Balle with some of her Supie staff members. Photo: Supplied

Covid-19 latest: Case numbers remain high after long weekend, 15 new deaths

There have been another 7,829 community cases, a drop from yesterday but notably higher than in recent weeks.

The Ministry of Health said that after the long weekend, it was “not unusual” to see more cases reported. “It will take more time before we are able to determine if this is part of a trend,” said a spokesperson.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is now 5,808 – a bump on last Wednesday when it was 4,873.

Another 15 people with Covid-19 have died, including a person in their 20s. All of these deaths occurred in the past nine days. It takes the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,503 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 12.

There are now 395 people in hospital with Covid-19, with eight in intensive care.

Luxon’s morning media round dominated by aftermath of Roe v Wade

National’s leader Christopher Luxon has been on the media trail this morning, where his interviews were largely dominated by his repeated claim that he wouldn’t interfere with New Zealand’s abortion laws.

The opposition’s been under scrutiny in the wake of the US Roe v Wade ruling, particularly after National MP Simon O’Connor’s now-deleted Facebook post that read: “today is a good day”. Luxon later said this post did not align with National’s values, despite personally holding an anti-abortion stance.

Over the past few days, Luxon has made it clear that New Zealand’s laws wouldn’t change under his premiership, should he be elected in 2023. However, deputy prime minister Grant Robertson extended the debate this week when he called for Luxon to further clarify his stance around abortion.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast, Luxon declared that National was a “a party for women” and said voters could be assured he wouldn’t tamper with our abortion laws.

“Women are most concerned at the moment around the cost of living crisis and where this country’s going,” said Luxon, who is a man. “They’re deeply concerned about our health system that’s falling apart. They’re deeply concerned about an education system with poor attendance and academic achievement, and they’re deeply concerned about rising crime and gang violence.”

Christopher Luxon (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Over on Newshub, Luxon said that Robertson’s comments this week were an attempted diversion. “We’ve got a lot of challenges and I can understand why people like Grant Robertson want to create a distraction around another issue. But I would say, ‘Focus on the day job and let’s get some outcomes for New Zealanders’,” he said.

Speaking to Today FM’s Tova O’Brien, Luxon described the repeal of Roe v Wade as beyond a “watering down” of abortion law, but a “wholesale” removal of established law.

Luxon has yet to confirm whether he will prevent his MPs from putting forward private members’ bills on the issue of abortion.

Check you’re ready to vote, reminds Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission’s launching an enrolment drive today just a few months out from October’s local elections.

Everyone on the electoral roll will be sent an “enrolment update pack” over the next week, where you can check your details and make sure you’re ready to vote.

“If you don’t get a pack by July 7, it means you’re not enrolled or you need to update your address,” said Ross McPherson from the commission. “And if you get a pack that’s not addressed to anyone at your house, please send it back.”

You can enrol or update your details online at vote.nz using your driver licence, passport or RealMe verified identity.

What’s Trump alleged to have done now?

The latest hearing of the January 6 committee has revealed new, extremely damning, allegations about former president Donald Trump. Most of the claims come from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide within the Trump government.

Here is a concise list of the most attention-grabbing claims (for more detail, visit CNN).

  • Trump was aware of possible violence from attendees at the rally on January 6, and knew that many had weapons.
  • Trump reportedly told staff to switch off metal detectors. “They’re not here to hurt me,” he’s alleged to have said. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons.”
  • Trump wanted to make an appearance at the Capitol himself and planned to walk there. Messages show staffers “begged” him to reconsider this.
  • A secondhand account claims Trump tried to take over the steering wheel from the driver of his presidential limo. He’s said to have lunged at the driver after being enraged they wouldn’t take him to the Capitol. “I’m the fucking president. Take me up to the Capitol now,” is the reported quote.
  • In a separate tantrum, Trump reportedly threw his dinner at the wall, with ketchup said to have been dripping down the walls. It sounds messy and frankly just rude.

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has denied all the claims. “I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and “leaker”)…” the ex-president posted on his own social media platform Truth Social. “She is bad news!”

He’s since gone on a posting tirade, sharing numerous rebuttals to the claims made by Hutchinson. “Her fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself,” wrote Trump. “Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing.”

Trump speaking at the White House (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

National has a ‘problem with women’, says Chris Hipkins after diversity debate

The new police minister says National has “a problem with women” after a fiery debate about diversity on Newstalk ZB. 

During a panel discussion this morning, Mark Mitchell, National’s police spokesperson, criticised the government for a lack of action on crime. He referenced a new survey that said 29% of New Zealanders over the age of 15 had been the victim of one or more crimes.

“You came in with fire and brimstone last week as the new police minister…[now] you’re in the house giving yourself patsy questions talking about diversity,” said Mitchell. “I don’t think that’s going to engender a lot of confidence in the police… it’s not a good start.”

Hipkins responded: “Mark, I think the fact you have a problem with the fact that a quarter of our police are women really speaks volumes about the National Party’s position on policing. I think it’s something we should all celebrate… I’m absolutely staggered you would take this opportunity to proactively attack me. I can’t quite believe that.”

Diversity in the police was not something new, replied Mitchell, who said the force had been increasing diversity for the past 30 years. “You don’t bring anything new to that table on that,” he said.

In a later tweet, Hipkins said Mitchell had “attacked” him on Newstalk ZB. “Wow!! National really do seem to have a problem with women at the moment,” he said, likely a veiled reference to recent comments by Simon O’Connor regarding the Roe v Wade overturn in the US.

The top comment in response to Hipkins’ tweet called his interpretation of the debate “disingenuous”.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan revealed: New tunnel, light rail proposed

Plans to build a second Mount Victoria tunnel in Wellington are finally moving forward, with the government today confirming details of its “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” proposal.

The project also includes light rail running from the central railway station to Island Bay as the “preferred choice” and upgrades will be made around the Basin Reserve and Arras tunnel.

Announced today by transport minister Michael Wood, the new Mount Vic tunnel will include two lanes for vehicles and two for public transport, with the existing tunnel converting into a walking and cycling link. That means no new lanes will be developed for cars alone.

“Our capital needs a linked-up rapid transit transport network that will serve Wellingtonians into the future, making it faster to move through the city, connecting communities, providing greater access to businesses, all while reducing congestion,” Wood said.

The plan to overhaul Wellington’s transport network was announced three years ago, with the opposition since criticising the government for a lack of progress. A report subsequently found the project was at risk of failing.

Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister, said the government had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. “Light rail will support more people living centrally, close to where they work, study and live their lives,” he said.

“The southern light rail option is our preferred choice for Wellington because of the significant potential it offers for new housing and neighbourhood growth. By 2050 we’re expecting up to 80,000 more people to be living within the city limits, and 25 percent more people coming into the central city each workday from across the region.”

Wellington city (Photo: MARTY MELVILLE/AFP)

The Greens are not fully convinced, and want a commitment the government will move forward with the light rail element of the plan first. They’ve labelled the proposal “not the best for the climate overall”.

“The tunnels will be high-carbon and high-cost, and could also delay the delivery of safe walking and cycling to the east,” said the party’s transport spokesperson, Julie Anne Genter.

“Successive governments have been stuck in the same old mind-set of trying to reduce congestion by building another expensive bit of road – and it seems this government is thinking the same way.”

Three out of four Aucklanders back free public transport – new poll

Around three quarters of Aucklanders polled for a new survey want free public transport in the city.

The Talbot Mills poll commissioned by mayoral hopeful Efeso Collins has revealed 73% support making public transport permanently free. Just 7% of those surveyed opposed this, with 17% neutral and 4% unsure.

And that result wasn’t just limited to traditional backers of Collins, who is Labour endorsed, either. A majority of National and ACT voters – 63% – support fares-free transport as well.

While public transport is currently half price nationwide in response to the cost of living crisis, the government has not signalled taking this a step further and making it free. In fact, prices are currently planned to roll back to being full price from August.

Collins said this poll result showed he would have a mandate to introduce the policy. “I will commit to this change as mayor, as well as committing to improving the reach of the network and the quality of services, as part of building a just, safe, and sustainable Auckland,” he said.

“Fare-free public transport is a quadruple win – good for easing cost of living pressures, lowering emissions, tackling congestion, and revitalising our economy and town centres.”

There were 772 people questioned for the poll.


In other news, Efeso Collins told the Herald he was nearly run off the road by an abusive driver while on the campaign trail. The incident was reported to police.

“I understand there will be people who will disagree with us – that’s cool. But what’s not cool is driving dangerously and causing an accident on the road. It’s not good for you or for us,” said Collins.

Trade deal with the EU ‘not a given’, says Ardern

The prime minister’s trip to Europe could wrap without a trade deal being finalised.

Jacinda Ardern, who is currently in Madrid, has met with her Spanish and French counterparts overnight, Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron. As the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan reported, both meetings were heavily focused on the case for a new European Union trade agreement – but getting them over the line was not a foregone conclusion.

While Sánchez was open to the idea, Macron was less convinced, said Ardern. Her pitch to the French leader focused on how New Zealand aligned with his country’s values on issues like climate change. “If you can’t sign up to an agreement with New Zealand, than who can you [sign an agreement with], because we see we are demonstrating how and why we put into action all those values France has been promoting around the world,” said Ardern.

According to Stuff, the Christchurch Call also featured in Ardern’s discussions with both leaders. Macron, in particular, has been heavily involved in the forum, launched after the Christchurch attacks in 2019. Ardern also used a speech at the Tech 4 Democracy in Madrid to comment on online misinformation and discussed the parliamentary occupation that took place earlier this year.

Jacinda Ardern and Emmanuel Macron in Madrid (Image: Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s meeting with Sánchez resulted in an unexpected extension to the working holiday visa scheme between Spain and New Zealand. While the cap on young people who could travel to live and work in our country was originally 200, the two leaders today revealed that had now been raised to 2,000.

A new “Global Values Partnership” which recognised the shared values of New Zealand and Spain was also unveiled.

I’m not sure whether exchanging football jerseys is one of these so-called global values, but the leaders did that as well.

Jacinda Ardern with Pedro Sànchez (Image: Getty Images)

Aside from the push for a trade agreement, Ardern’s trip to Europe will allow her intimate access to the world’s most powerful leaders. Later today she will join many of them – including US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson – for a dinner with Spanish King Felipe VI.

Along with a very particular dress code (“There’s a specificity on the length of dresses”), the prime minister said she will use the meal to build connections with her global counterparts.

Also on the subject of dress codes: Newshub’s European correspondent Lisette Reymer got a special shout-out from the PM during a press conference – because they were wearing an identical dress. Even in Europe, New Zealand is too small.

After her historic address to Nato later this week, Ardern will travel on to Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The Bulletin: Workforce shortages may see theatres go dark

A few interesting reports about the workforce and employment issues in our cultural sector at the moment. Worker shortages are hitting just about every industry right now and, as Newsroom’s Jean Bell reports, this includes the performing arts and events sectors.  She spoke to Auckland Theatre Company CEO Jonathan Bielski, who said “There’s a real possibility we might have to cancel performances or reschedule” because of the current shortage of skilled technical staff required to get shows up and running each night.

Newsroom Pro’s Jono Milne has a story on the current review of sick leave provisions, including for contractors (very common to be one in the performing arts), and speaks to New Zealand actor, Marianne Infante. Infante recently made a submission at select committee calling for fair pay agreements, holiday pay and sick leave for contractors. The Big Idea recently ran this feature on the number of arts leaders leaving roles this year.

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