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Live UpdatesMay 30 2022

Supermarket regulation on the way

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 30. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund – a huge thanks to Alice Neville and the team who filled in for me on Friday. Want to get in touch with me? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The latest 1 News-Kantar poll has National ahead, but neither party likely able to form a government.
  • The government says it’s putting supermarkets on notice as it moves ahead with plans to tackle the existing duopoly.
  • Two members of the prime minister’s US delegation have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The hosts of TVNZ’s Breakfast have acknowledged the sudden departure of Kamahl Santamaria.
  • More allegations about Santamaria have come to light, this time from within his former workplace of Al Jazeera.
  • Covid-19 latest: Five deaths, slight rise in hospitalisations, 5,836 new cases.
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Supermarket regulation on the way

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 30. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund – a huge thanks to Alice Neville and the team who filled in for me on Friday. Want to get in touch with me? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The latest 1 News-Kantar poll has National ahead, but neither party likely able to form a government.
  • The government says it’s putting supermarkets on notice as it moves ahead with plans to tackle the existing duopoly.
  • Two members of the prime minister’s US delegation have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The hosts of TVNZ’s Breakfast have acknowledged the sudden departure of Kamahl Santamaria.
  • More allegations about Santamaria have come to light, this time from within his former workplace of Al Jazeera.
  • Covid-19 latest: Five deaths, slight rise in hospitalisations, 5,836 new cases.
May 30 2022

National ahead in new poll – but not by enough to govern

A new 1 News-Kantar poll has National ahead of Labour – but it still wouldn’t have enough seats to govern.

National was unchanged on 39% since the last 1 News-Kantar poll in March, four percentage points ahead of Labour, which had dropped two to 35%.

The Greens were up one to 10%, with Act down one to 7%. Te Pāti Māori was unchanged on 2%.

The poll results would give National 51 seats, which with Act’s nine would take them to 60 – just shy of the 61 needed to form a government. They’d need Te Pāti Māori, whose leaders have made it clear they wouldn’t work with Act.

Labour, on the other hand, would end up with 45 seats. Even with the Greens’ 13 seats and Te Pāti Māori’s two, the left block would also end up with 60 – resulting in a hung parliament.

In the preferred prime minister stakes, the Labour prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, rose one to 33%, while National leader stayed steady on 25%. Act leader David Seymour dropped two to 3%, with the Greens’ Chlöe Swarbrick – who is a not a party leader – on 2%. Winston Peters polled at 1%.

The poll was carried out from May 21-25, in the days following the release of the budget and the emissions reduction plan.

Broadcasting minister questions TVNZ over Santamaria hiring process

Broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi has asked TVNZ’s board to confirm the “appropriate recruitment process was followed” in the hiring of Kamahl Santamaria, whose resignation as host of Breakfast after just 32 days was announced on Saturday, but is still awaiting a response.

TVNZ initially said Santamaria had stepped down due to a “family emergency”, but Stuff has reported that at least one woman in the newsroom had complained about inappropriate behaviour from the former Al Jazeera journalist. The Herald yesterday reported that there were concerns about the hiring process that led to Santamaria’s appointment.

A comment provided to Stuff from Faafoi’s office said, “The minister has been assured by TVNZ that this situation is being managed appropriately with the correct support in place for those involved.

“The minister has asked the board of TVNZ to confirm the appropriate recruitment process was followed, we await their response.

“We will not be offering further comment at this time as this is an internal staffing matter for TVNZ.”

Meanwhile, TVNZ’s news head Paul Yurisich this afternoon sent an email to staff acknowledging the scrutiny they’d been under following Santamaria’s departure, reports the Herald.

“It has been a tumultuous, unsettling few days for everyone – I want to acknowledge how difficult it has been, with us in the spotlight – and especially for those who have been phoned and messaged by other media and for those in the newsroom,” Yurisich said in the email.

“The Breakfast team has been at the centre of so much and I salute their mahi this morning.”

‘The duopoly needs to change’: Supermarkets ‘put on notice’, regulation on the way

The government says it’s putting supermarkets on notice and is warning regulation is on the way as it moves ahead with plans to crack down on the existing duopoly.

It comes off the back of a recent Commerce Commission report that made 14 key recommendations. Commerce minister David Clark said the government has accepted 12 of the recommendations, but would be going further on the remaining two.

The commission suggested a three-year timeframe for reviewing the lack of competition between supermarkets, which the government has rejected. “These issues can’t be kicked down the road,” said Clark. “We need to address the underlying drivers of the lack of competition now.”

It was also recommended that a voluntary wholesale access regime be introduced, but Clark said the government was prepared to intervene if needed. “If supermarkets do not strike good-faith wholesale deals with their competitors, our regulatory measures will make it happen for them,” he said. “We are not afraid to unlock the stockroom door to ensure a competitive market.”

As recommended by the commission, a code of conduct will be introduced, an industry regulator will be brought in, and there will be compulsory unit pricing on groceries.

In this year’s budget, the government announced it was introducing urgent legislation to ban supermarket chains from blocking competitors trying to secure land for new stores.

Clark said that recent price rollbacks announced by supermarkets did not fix the systemic problem of a lack of competition within the sector. “I spoke with both supermarket companies this afternoon to make this very clear. They know what is expected from them and the length of time we are prepared to give them to change before regulation kicks in,” he said.

The government would get a regulatory backstop finalised by the end of the year, said Clark. “It is important to get this right and I look forward to continuing to engage with the grocery industry as we move forward with this suite of changes.”

Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson, speaking at today’s post-cabinet press conference, said that New Zealanders could expect fairer prices at the checkout as a result of the government’s actions. Increased competition was the key to making this happen, he said. Clark agreed, citing similar action in Australia. “We know that having bigger players come into the [Australian] market has been made a big impact,” he said.

David Clark (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The government’s announcement today has been quickly welcomed by Consumer NZ. Chief executive Jon Duffy said rejecting two of the Commerce Commission’s recommendations was the right move. “We need to create an even playing field for new and emerging grocery retailers,” Duffy said.

“The voluntary regime recommended by the commission would have left competitors at the mercy of the very companies they’d be competing with. Putting a regulatory regime in place will ensure that new and emerging retailers must be treated fairly.”

DGL’s Simon Henry kept on annual rich list despite Nadia Lim controversy

Simon Henry, the chief executive now best known for labelling Nadia Lim “Eurasian fluff”, remains on the list of New Zealand’s richest businesspeople.

The latest NBR list was released today, setting out the country’s wealthiest individuals.

Graeme Hart has once again come out on top, with an estimated net worth of $12 billion. Filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh joins the list for the first time after the 2021 sale of Weta Digital pushed their value up to $1.7 billion.

List editor Maria Slade said despite the controversy surrounding Simon Henry, NBR stood by its decision to keep him in the ranking. “Kiwis from all walks of life made their feelings about him well known, and NBR believes they are able to make up their own minds about his place in the New Zealand business community,” Slade said.

Henry has built a specialty chemicals company that is worth more than $900m, said Slade, making him a wealth creator.

Last week it was revealed that DGL, the company founded by Henry, had delisted from the stock exchange in the wake of the Lim comments.

Opposition parties accuse Nanaia Mahuta of being ‘missing in action’

Both opposition parties have questioned why foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta is remaining quiet on issues impacting the Pacific.

China’s influence in the Pacific appears to be growing, with the nation’s foreign minister on a multi-stop tour of the region in the aim of securing a 10-nation deal on security and trade. It’s seen officials in the US and Australia scrambling to make contact with their Pacific counterparts.

Australia’s foreign minister, only just sworn in last week, has already been in Fiji to show the new government’s attention to the Pacific Islands.

National’s foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee asked why Mahuta has not done the same. “While our traditional partners are out engaging with the region and demonstrating their ability to meet all the needs of the Pacific, minister Mahuta and this government have gone radio silent,” he said. “No media, no visible engagement, not even a tweet.”

It’s a similar message from Act, who has called for the prime minister to visit the region on her return from the United States. Brooke van Velden, the party’s deputy leader, said New Zealand was letting down its Pacific allies.

“Good foreign affairs ministers of the past have been known to barely set foot in New Zealand they’re so focused on international relations. Nanaia Mahuta has only made three trips outside New Zealand since becoming minister,” she said.

“Now the world is opening up it’s more important than ever to leave Zoom diplomacy behind and get back to face to face relationship building.”

It’s likely questions around Mahuta’s supposed absence will be put to deputy prime minister Grant Robertson at this afternoon’s post-cabinet press conference.

Covid-19 latest: Five deaths, slight rise in hospitalisations, 5,836 new cases

There have been five more deaths of people with Covid-19, bringing the publicly reported pandemic death toll up to 1,154 and the seven-day rolling average to 13.

Of the deaths being reported today, two were from Auckland, one was from Taranaki, one from Canterbury, and one was from the Southern region. One person was in their 70s, three were in their 80s and one was over 90. Three were male and two were female.

There are currently 403 people in hospital with Covid-19, a rise on recent numbers. There are 10 now in intensive care.

Another 5,836 community cases have been reported today. A lower number is to be expected after a weekend.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 6,881 – last Monday, it was 7,712.

There has been a noticeable dip in confirmed cases in Auckland today, with the supercity recording under 2,000 new infections – 1,923 to be precise. It’s likely this drop is, again, linked to the fact there are always fewer official Covid cases after a weekend.

A big day for media rebrands

Both RNZ and Stuff have unveiled updated branding today.

Listeners to RNZ will have noticed a new sting during Morning Report today, described by the broadcaster as a “sonic refresh”. The three key news programmes – Morning Report, Midday Report and Checkpoint – will share a new theme tune as part of an effort to unify the three flagship shows.

Meanwhile, Stuff has revealed a new logo and updated typeface across its website today. “We are rolling out a new look because we want to be really clear about what we stand for,” said Stuff’s chief content officer Joanna Norris.

“This is about the way we work and the role our independent journalism plays in New Zealand.”

NZTE podcast explores the investor/investee relationship

Join Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment on FIX (Image: Supplied)

Season 3 of NZTE’s Investment Fix podcast series has launched, and this time it brings together Kiwi start-ups and the investors who backed them. The result is a candid look at the importance of the investor/investee relationship, and some useful  

Over five episodes, Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment, joins the founders or CEOs of Mint Innovation, Narrative Muse, Natural Pet Food Group and SafeStack, as well as their investors – from venture capital and private equity firms to angel and Māori investors. There’s also a special bonus episode featuring venture capital guru and Silicon Valley legend Randy Komisar. 

Listen on Apple or Spotify, or go to the NZTE website.

Allegations made about Kamahl Santamaria at Al Jazeera

It’s been revealed allegations were made about broadcaster Kamahl Santamaria during his tenure at Al Jazeera.

Santamaria resigned from TVNZ’s Breakfast over the weekend, just a month after he took over as co-host from John Campbell. It followed “at least one” allegation against Santamaria from a female colleague.

But both Today FM and Newshub have since revealed that allegations were also made about Santamaria at his former workplace. Today FM host Tova O’Brien spoke to a source who worked at Al Jazeera who said Santamaria had been the subject of complaints from women colleagues.

“Allegations were made over a series of years about Kamahl,” they said. “It was reported to HR and senior management on numerous occasions as far as I understand, and having spoken to some former colleagues today, only one person ever brought up this issue with Kamahl despite numerous complaints being made.”

On last night’s Newshub bulletin, the network said it too had verified that complaints made to senior management about Santamaria while he was at Al Jazeera.

Kamahl Santamaria in his Al Jazeera days (Photo: Supplied)

Anthonie Tonnon wins the Taite Music Prize

Anthonie Tonnon has taken out the 2022 Taite Music Prize for his album Leave Love Out of This.

The annual award was presented at a ceremony in Auckland last night. Other finalists included Reb Fountain, Troy Kingi and Luke Buda.

As Stuff reports, Tonnon thanked his wife, parents and “people and places that this album belongs to” during his speech. “The album is the pinnacle of what I’ve aimed for as a musician. It’s the novel to us musicians,” he said.

Other winners on the night included Karyn Hay, who scored the Independent Spirit Award, and Jazmine Mary, who was awarded the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut for their album The Licking of a Tangerine.

Ardern’s US tour hit by Covid ahead of White House meeting

Two members of the prime minister’s US delegation have tested positive for Covid-19.

Andrew Campbell, who is Jacinda Ardern’s chief press secretary, and Chris Seed, secretary of foreign affairs, will both self-isolate in San Francisco after contracting the virus.

It comes just days ahead of the newly confirmed meeting between Ardern and US president Joe Biden. There is no indication at this point that the Covid scare will put the White House meeting in jeopardy, though a spokesperson for Ardern said the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC is in contact with US officials.

“The rest of the delegation is currently in air and en route to Washington DC,” the spokesperson said. “They produced negative RATs prior to leaving this morning. No one else is in the delegation is currently symptomatic.”

On Friday, hours after meeting with Jacinda Ardern, the governor of California Gavin Newsome announced he had Covid-19.

The Bulletin: More than a million eligible New Zealanders not boosted

The NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton has taken a look at why that is. 95% of New Zealanders have had two doses of the Covid vaccine yet only 72% of eligible people have had their booster shot. University of Auckland vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris makes an interesting point about semantics, saying having two courses should have been termed double dosed, rather than “fully vaccinated”. She thinks people don’t know that boosting makes a difference with the omicron variant.

While it might be that half the country has been infected with this variant of Covid, studies have demonstrated that boosting remains highly effective at keeping people out of hospital or from dying with the virus.

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.  

Breakfast hosts acknowledge sudden departure of Kamahl Santamaria

The hosts of TVNZ’s Breakfast have thanked viewers and acknowledged the sudden departure of Kamahl Santamaria.

It’s been revealed over the weekend that Santamaria, the ex-Al Jazeera broadcaster who had only been with Breakfast for a month, had faced at least one complaint from a female co-worker. He had been off air for over a week before his resignation was confirmed on Saturday.

While TVNZ had initially described Santamaria’s absence as being due to a “family emergency”, this was later changed to a “personal matter”.

Speaking this morning, Breakfast co-host Jenny-May Clarkson said she wanted to acknowledge the changes “your show” has undergone this year. “We want you to know how grateful we are for each of you who choose to make us part of your lives,” she said.

Indira Stewart added: “You continue to join us each day and invite us into your homes. We know that it’s a privilege to be a part of your morning routine and we will never take that for granted.”

Matty McLean said that Breakfast was committed to bringing the best “sprinkled with the usual joy, kindness and occasional tear”.

It was also claimed over the weekend that some TVNZ staff were concerned about the hiring process for Santamaria. The Herald reported that staff at broadcaster were unhappy with a lack of consultation.