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blog final may 4

PoliticsMay 4, 2021

Live updates, May 4: Colin Craig’s appeal against sexual harassment claim rejected by court

blog final may 4

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 4, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at

3.55pm: He Puapua, explained

You’ve probably seen the name, but do you have any idea what it means?

The report – designed to respond to the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples – has been causing controversy all over the show this week. But what does He Puapua actually say?

Leonie Hayden has written a helpful explainer, which you can check out here.

Here’s an extract:

Under article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori were (in the English version) guaranteed “exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties”. In the te reo Māori version, they were guaranteed “te tino rangatiratanga” or the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages, and all their property and treasures.

Continued breaches of Te Tiriti over the past 170 years have in fact already created separate health and justice systems, as well as drastically different outcomes in wellbeing and economic security for Māori. Institutional racism and widespread ignorance of the history of colonisation in Aoteroa has ensured that those inequities have stayed embedded in policy and our legal systems, in every area of life. Ignoring Indigenous approaches to kaitiakitanga of natural resources has also dangerously degraded our lands and waterways.

The idea that any of that might change by continuing with the status quo can be summed up by the whakatāuki: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

3.35pm: Luxon’s first question in parliament doesn’t end well

Political editor Justin Giovannetti explains:

National MP Christopher Luxon got his first crack at a question today in the house. However, the possible future leader of the National Party would probably like to forget his attempt at a supplementary.

The speaker tossed out Luxon’s question because it was phrased so poorly that in his view it was irrelevant to the point under discussion.

National’s questions today were dominated by He Puapua, a cabinet-commissioned report which aims to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in New Zealand. “Separatism” has become the opposition’s conclusion for the report’s findings.

Luxon asked whether the government would increase Māori ownership of the foreshore and seabed as recommended in the document. However, the question he was following up on from Labour MP Paul Eagle was about the state of the Māori economy. “That just doesn’t get close to a question within the responsibility of this minister or anything that flows from it,” said speaker Trevor Mallard to some chuckles.

Luxon then stood to challenge the speaker. “Because he’s relatively new I will be a little liberal with him,” said the speaker, turning to Luxon. “Generally when a ruling is made one doesn’t challenge it because that sort of results in getting tossed out.”

The MP, elected last year, then made his argument for why it thematically fit with the question. “It might well have been if the member had phrased his question well,” said Mallard, cutting off the debate.

Luxon did not speak with reporters after exiting the house a few minutes later.

The Single Object: The typeface that told the stories of Chinese New Zealanders

For decades it sat gathering dust in a Pukekohe garden shed. Now this set of heavy lead typeface has a fascinating story to tell about the history of Chinese New Zealanders.

Here’s a new episode of The Single Object for you to enjoy this sunny Tuesday afternoon.

1.50pm: Ron Brierley formally loses knighthood after conviction

Former businessman Ron Brierley is no longer a Sir, after his conviction for possessing child abuse material.

Jacinda Ardern indicated after the conviction at the start of April that the process of stripping Brierley of his knighthood had started.

According to a statement, Brierley wrote to the Clerk of the Executive Council to tender his resignation as a Knight Bachelor. The Queen has been informed.

Brierley may no longer use the title “Sir” and he has been asked to return his insignia.

1.15pm: Locations of interest linked to Perth Covid-19 outbreak grow

New locations of interest linked to a Covid-19 outbreak in Perth have been confirmed by Australian health officials.

There are now more than 20 locations connected to three cases of Covid-19, detected between April 27 and May 1. Anyone who visited a location of interest is unable to return to New Zealand until at least 14 days have passed.

“If you were at a location of interest at a specified time and you are still in Perth and are planning to travel to New Zealand, you are asked to follow the Western Australia health advice regarding isolation and testing,” a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, 29 people in New Zealand considered casual plus contacts in relation to a green zone breach at Brisbane Airport are today due for their day five test. These results will be available in the coming days.  So far, nobody has tested positive in New Zealand in relation to the breach.

In New Zealand., there is just one new case of Covid-19 to report, detected in a recent returnee in managed isolation. There are no new cases in the community.

12.40pm: Question time back after two week recess

The prime minister is set to face questions from Judith Collins and David Seymour during the first question time in over two weeks.

During today’s debate, Act’s David Seymour will ask Jacinda Ardern whether her government intends to “implement all of its policies”. That’s a clear reference to the new “implementation unit” announced today during a speech by Grant Robertson. The unit, which will sit within the prime minister’s office, will oversee spending in key budget areas such as health.

National’s Shane Reti will also question the health minister on the recently announced Māori Health Authority following several days of opposition attacks.

Meanwhile, the prime minister will be asked by Judith Collins the typical opposition question of whether she stands by all of her “government’s statements and actions”. While fairly inane, the question is a clever opposition tactic to allow the prime minister to answer subsequent questions that fall outside of her limited portfolio areas.

In 2015, Judith Collins told The Spinoff the question should be banned. “As soon as a minister sees that question, it signals that the questioner isn’t that confident of their position,” she said at the time.

So, Judith Collins: do you stand by all your statements?

11.40am: Colin Craig’s appeal against sexual harassment claim rejected

The Court of Appeal has rejected former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig’s appeal against a finding that he sexually harassed his former staffer Rachel McGregor.

Craig was leader of the Conservatives until mid-2015, contesting both the 2011 and 2014 elections. Since leaving politics, he has been engaged in numerous high profile court battles including with former WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

In 2018, Craig was found by the High Court to have harassed McGregor following the 2011 election. A court ruling said: “Craig’s conduct was intentional, sexualised conduct directed at a workplace subordinate”.

Both of Craig’s appeals were dismissed: the first, an appeal against the initial ruling that he sexually harassed McGregor, and the second, that he had a defence for defaming her.

Craig had claimed that his defamation of McGregor was defensible on the basis of privilege. Craig has been ordered to pay McGregor costs for the appeal.

In their ruling, the Judge said of Craig’s denial that he had harassed McGregor: “We have an employer in the public eye who sexually harasses his employee. Lacking insight, he believes his actions were not sexual harassment. Objectively assessed, they were.”

As Craig has not sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, many people will be hoping today’s ruling brings an end to the seemingly never-ending litigation brought by Craig.

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

10.35am: National, Act target Robertson after pre-budget speech

National has called the government’s plan to reallocate almost $1 billion of unspent Covid-19 recovery funds “irresponsible”, after an address by the finance minister this morning.

As detailed in the 9.50am update, Grant Robertson has teased what he is calling the “recovery budget”, around two weeks before it gets tabled on May 20.

National’s Michael Woodhouse said reallocating money prioritised for Covid-19 will burden future generations with unnecessary debt.

“Clearly the need for borrowing and spending was less than forecast, and rather than allocating this to new spending in the budget the government should avoid deepening the debt burden on future generations by not spending that money,” he said.

“The government has already given itself $10.5 billion in operating allowances for new spending in budget 2021. It’s clear from today’s announcement that even that level of new spending is not enough for this wasteful administration and it’s raiding the Covid fund to pay for its excesses.”

Meanwhile, Act is taking aim at the announcement of a new “implementation unit” to be set up within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The unit, headed by Robertson, will oversee spending in key areas. David Seymour’s called it an admission of failure by the government.

“Jacinda Ardern has given a hospital pass to this unit and is admitting that she doesn’t have confidence in her ministers to do their jobs,” he said. “We had the so called ‘year of delivery’ now we have the ‘unit of delivery’.”

9.50am: Robertson gets new powers over spending before no frills ‘recovery budget’

Political editor Justin Giovannetti reports:

Labour won’t significantly expand spending in its first budget since winning sole command of parliament, finance minister Grant Robertson indicated during a morning speech in Wellington.

Despite an economy that has surpassed all expectations over the past year, including an explosion in housing prices, the finance minister promised predictability and a continued focus on growing the economy and beating Covid-19. There were few rays of sunshine for Labour activists expecting a significant hike in benefits or new spending to help the country’s struggling workers.

Instead, he warned that real movement on issues will take the government’s full term.“It is simply not possible to fulfil every promise or commitment that we made or address all of our long term challenges in a single budget,” said Robertson.

After much publicised failures with Kiwibuild and Auckland light rail over the past three years, Robertson will be given more power to ensure spending goes to the right place. The finance minister will head a new “implementation unit” within the prime minister’s office to oversee spending in key areas, including mental health, infrastructure, housing affordability, climate change and child wellbeing.

The address to a business audience marks the start of nearly two weeks of teases from Robertson before he tables his “recovery budget” on May 20. A member from the Australian high commission pointed out to him after his speech that for all his talk of the economy and productivity, he failed to mention the government’s much publicised wellbeing approach.

Robertson, who is also the deputy prime minister, instead called for a debate about immigration levels to New Zealand. Having launched a review of the immigration system yesterday, Robertson said the government would prefer to train workers already here instead of bringing in people from overseas. “In some sectors immigration has seen an entrenchment of low wages and a failure to make technological changes that will improve productivity,” he said.

In a press release, Robertson’s office highlighted that nearly $1 billion of unspent Covid-19 emergency funding will be recommitted in the budget. The money, which his office called “savings,” will need to be borrowed and Robertson declined to say whether any of it will go towards ongoing programmes instead of a single year injection into a one-off project.

9.20am: MP Kiri Allan reveals 13% survival rate after cancer diagnosis

Labour MP Kiri Allan, who revealed her stage three cervical cancer diagnosis last month, has told The Hui she’s been given just a 13% chance of survival.

Allan said she found out after her diagnosis that Māori women are about three times more likely to die from cervical cancer.

“When I got told that I had cervical cancer, they said for somebody with stage 3C you have a 40% chance of survival. As a wāhine Māori, I have about a 13.3% chance of survival,” she said.

“Do the maths on that. I don’t know why that is, how that is, but it’s wrong. The disparity is too much, people are dying far too young. This is a korero that needs to happen again and again and again.”

Watch the full interview here

8.00am: New figures show 13 unvaccinated MIQ workers to lose jobs

New figures released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have revealed 13 people working in our managed isolation facilities will lose their jobs after not receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Since Saturday, it has been mandatory for anyone working at the border to have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But, according to RNZ, 127 of our 5000 border staff are yet to get the jab.

Of those, 23 were booked in to receive their first dose. From the remaining 104:

  • 57 have been redeployed;
  • 14 are on extended leave;
  • Three are undertaking alternate working arrangements (i.e. working from home);
  • 15 have been stood down to seek alternate employment;
  • Two have resigned; and
  • 13 undergoing termination process.

Just 15 of those unvaccinated are because of “health reasons”.

MBIE said that the 15 workers “stood down” could also lose their jobs entirely if they are unable to come to an agreement regarding redeployment, changing duties or taking leave.

Yesterday, it was revealed nine Customs staff had also lost their job as a result of not being vaccinated.

Speaking on RNZ yesterday morning, Ashley Bloomfield said border workers have had a “good opportunity” to get the jab and job losses was the last option.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

A travel bubble with the Cook Islands has been announced, and will open in two weeks. Our live updates reports that from March 17 quarantine-free travel will be in place, though it will not include those travelling from Australia. Ardern said if cases are discovered in the Cooks, New Zealanders will likely be brought home, to reduce any potential pressure on the vulnerable local health system. This is in contrast to the more ‘flyer beware’ approach with the Australian bubble. The standard final checks will still need to be done before the official opening date.

The bubble won’t be universally popular in the Cook Islands. Before the announcement was made, the Cook Islands News reports the opposition leader Tina Pupuke Browne reiterated a call for vaccination to take place before any bubble opened. “Our people must have the protection of being vaccinated because our population is so vulnerable,” said Browne. Ardern maintained that ‘realm countries’ – the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue – are part of New Zealand’s vaccine plans, but that logistical challenges had so far prevented any rollout.

For some businesses though, the opening of the bubble is a lifeline. One News spoke to several senior industry figures, who say that many tourism operators have basically had no customers, and an industry that accounted for more than half the country’s economy has suffered long-term damage. In fact, some spokespeople are even contrasting the country with Australia in a bid to drum up tourism interest – Chamber of Commerce President Fletcher Melvin told Radio NZ “I think we have a unique opportunity to open up, unlike Australia… we were safer pre-Covid and we’re still safe. We’re the best place to come to.” As for the impact on New Zealand tourism, Stuff reports it is likely that some money will now flow to the Cooks, but NZ industry reps are comfortable with that.

The Covid vaccine rollout is failing to reach rural doctors, raising concerns about the wider rollout for remote communities. Radio NZ reports the Rural GP Network head Grant Davidson said “anecdotally there very few and I haven’t met any rural GPs that have been vaccinated.” The problem is travel, with some doctors facing whole days of work being taken up with the round trip to a main centre. It was suggested that those communities have a day in which as many people as possible get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, you may have got a flyer through the letterbox recently advertising itself with ‘important Covid vaccine facts’. The flyer comes from the group Voices for Freedom, who have become prominent in the anti-lockdown, anti-vax sort of space in recent months. They’ve got every right to publish and distribute whatever they want, of course. But you might also be interested in what scientists have to say on each of those points described as facts. Newshub’s Dan Satherley did just that, and the scientists point out how the claims range from misleading to flat out wrong.

Keep going!