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PoliticsNovember 1, 2020

Live updates, October 31-November 1: Two new Covid-19 cases in MIQ; Greens sign ‘win-win’ agreement with Labour


Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 31-November 1. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

1.00pm: Two new Covid-19 cases in managed isolation

There are two new cases of Covid-19 today, both detected in managed isolation during routine testing, says the Ministry of Health. On arrived from Amsterdam via Singapore on October 23, and the other from the UK via Dubai and Malaysia on October 19. Both are now in the Auckland quarantine facility.

New Zealand now has 77 active cases and 1,603 confirmed cases.

Yesterday, there were 4,401 tests for Covid-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,101,067.

‘Rubbish bin’ cluster closed

The cluster that began with a person who became symptomatic after leaving managed isolation having returned two negative tests has now closed, as it’s been more than 28 days – the length of two infection cycles – since the last case.

A Ministry of Health investigation found the most likely source of infection to be via a rubbish bin with a lid shared with their neighbour who had developed the infection between the two tests in the facility.

Seven cases are linked to the cluster – six announced as cases in the community (on September 19, 20 and 23) and the seventh (September 9) detected while still in managed isolation, but subsequently linked to the other six cases.

Lessons from this cluster have resulted in changes being made, says the Ministry of Health, including “informing our ongoing auditing and strengthening of our managed isolation procedures and processes”.

12.50pm: For Labour, the drive for cannabis reform is over, but the Greens aren’t giving up

Political editor Justin Giovannetti reports from this morning’s cooperation agreement signing at the Beehive:

The cheap pens with black ink scribbled four names on the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement this morning and New Zealand’s next government is set. It’ll be a Labour majority, with the Greens both helping the government from the inside while prodding it to do better from the outside.

Jacinda Ardern used the word “stability” during her prepared remarks to talk about the agreement and what it ensures: three years of Labour rule. She signed along with deputy Kelvin Davis.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, along with James Shaw, took a different approach, twice uttering “we are running out of time” as she briefly talked about the agreement and New Zealand’s future. On climate change and biodiversity, the Greens will remind the government that sand is pouring through the hourglass.

There was one area, drug reform, where the two parties have already shown that they’ll push ahead, while also clashing. The new agreement allows the two parties to disagree publicly and keep working together. “We agree to agree to disagree,” Davidson said. New Zealanders should get used to seeing it.

Speaking with reporters in a small conference room outside the prime minister’s office on the ninth floor of the Beehive, Ardern reiterated Labour’s view that the drive to liberalise cannabis use is over. The Greens have interpreted the narrow loss of the cannabis referendum, based on early results, in very different way. “There has been really positive ground gained in the area of mature and sensible drug reform. The referendum showed a huge increase in support for sensible drug reform law, so again, that’s an area that the Green Party will be able to build consensus and keep working,” said Davidson.

The two parties did agree on pill testing at festivals, something that had been blocked by New Zealand First. While it might be too early to promise it this summer, the leaders bobbed their heads that this can now happen, and soon.

11.15am: Greens sign cooperation agreement with Labour

Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have signed the cooperation agreement accepted yesterday in the prime minister’s office on the ninth floor.

In a press conference happening now, Davidson and Shaw played down reported dissatisfaction with the deal among Green members, calling the agreement a “win-win”, saying the fact 85% of delegates voted yes to it showed a “really clear mandate”.

Shaw said he and Davidson are “deeply honoured to be named as ministers”, emphasising the expanded caucus of Green MPs that would have a “valuable and significant contribution to play in parliament”.

In response to reporters’ questions, Davidson said the Greens would continue to speak out on areas outside of their ministerial portfolios or areas of cooperation. Responding to a question from Māori TV about Ihumātao, Davidson said “ka taea e au te tūkaha te kaupapa o Ihumātao” – meaning she will be able to keep pushing hard on the issue. Later in the press conference she quipped, “We already agree to agree to disagree.”

James Shaw, Marama Davidson, Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis signing the cooperation agreement in the prime minister’s office this morning (Photo: Justin Giovannetti)

8.40am: The day ahead

The Greens and Labour leaders will be signing the cooperation agreement that was announced yesterday at 11am today at the Beehive. There will be a press conference afterwards and we’ll bring you all the details here.

Saturday, October 31

7.45pm: Greens accept Labour deal

Green Party members have voted to accept the proposed “cooperation agreement” with Labour with reportedly close to 85% support.

A press release from Labour’s chief press secretary Andrew Campbell confirmed the agreement had been accepted, quoting Jacinda Ardern as saying: “Labour won a clear mandate to form a majority government on our own to accelerate our recovery from Covid-19. This agreement respects the mandate voters provided Labour while continuing our cooperative work with the Green Party in areas where they add expertise to build as strong a consensus as possible.

“On election night I said Labour would govern for all of New Zealand and continue to build as much consensus as possible – this agreement achieves that objective.

“We showed in the last government we can work well with the Green Party. On environmental and wellbeing issues there is much we agree on that is good for New Zealand and I want to draw on our shared goals and expertise to keep moving forward with that work.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson is quoted in the press release as saying: “The Green Party is thrilled to enter into this governing arrangement with Labour, after three years of a constructive confidence and supply relationship.

“We entered into this negotiation hoping to achieve the best outcomes for New Zealand and our planet. This was after a strong campaign where we committed to action on the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and the poverty crisis.

“New Zealanders voted us in to be a productive partner to Labour to ensure we go further and faster on the issues that matter. We will make sure that happens this term.”

Davidson’s co-leader James Shaw, meanwhile, is quoted as saying: “We are very happy to have secured areas of cooperation in achieving the goals of the Zero Carbon Act, protecting our nature, and improving child wellbeing.

“We have a larger caucus this term who are ready to play a constructive role achieving bold action in these areas.

“In the areas of climate change, looking after our natural environment and addressing inequality, there’s no time to waste. Marama will do incredible work rapidly addressing the issues of homelessness and family violence.

“We are proud to have achieved a first in New Zealand political history, where a major party with a clear majority under MMP has agreed to ministerial positions for another party, as well as big areas of cooperation.”

The move has angered former Green MP Sue Bradford, however, who has called it “a sad day for the party”.

7.30pm: Green Party members voting on Labour deal now – and it’s close

Green Party delegates are currently voting on whether to accept the proposed “cooperation agreement” with Labour – and sources say it’s close, with many more “no” votes than there were during 2017’s vote on a confidence and supply agreement last election.

Seventy-five percent of the 150 or so delegates who have been on a Zoom call discussing the proposed deal since 4pm must vote yes for it to be accepted by the party.

4.35pm: Both Green co-leaders offered minister roles in deal with Labour

Keep going!