Live updates, July 15: Quarantine-free travel with Victoria to be paused as state goes into lockdown

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for July 15, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7pm: Victoria to go into five-day lockdown

The entire state of Victoria will enter a five-day lockdown from midnight tonight, premier Dan Andrews has just announced. He said that “not much good” would come from waiting any longer.

“If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier,” he said.

The announcement came as the state dealt with an outbreak of community cases, many traced back to a team of three removalists who travelled to Victoria from Sydney on July 8. Following their visit to the Ariele apartment complex in Maribyrnong, a northwestern suburb of Melbourne, four residents tested positive, as did the parents of one of those residents, a man in his 60s.

That man also attended the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday July 10, with a friend who has since tested positive for Covid-19 along with two other family members. Also at the MCG that day were a man and a child who later tested positive. The MCG cases were not known to each other and were sitting in different sections of the stands.

6.25pm: Quarantine-free travel with Victoria to be paused from 1.59am

As Victoria awaits official confirmation it will be entering lockdown tonight, New Zealand has announced a pause of its travel bubble with the Australian state amid a growing community outbreak in Melbourne.

In a statement, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the decision followed updated public health advice from New Zealand officials and a growing number of cases and locations of interest.

The pause will run for at least four days from 1.59am tomorrow and be subject to further review on Monday

“As with previous pauses, we acknowledge the frustration and inconvenience that comes with any interruption to trans-Tasman travel, but given the ongoing level of uncertainty around transmission in Melbourne, this is the right action to take,” said Hipkins.

The pause means anyone who has been in the state of Victoria after 1.59am tomorrow cannot travel to New Zealand from any state in Australia until further notice, said the statement, and anyone who has been at a location of interest in Melbourne cannot travel to New Zealand. Those who are travelling tonight must have had a negative pre-departure test.

Anyone who has been in Melbourne in the last week and has since returned to New Zealand should monitor their health, and be aware that the number of locations of interest are increasing, said the statement.

3.45pm: Victoria tipped for fifth lockdown

Victoria is bracing for its fifth lockdown.

Reports are emerging from the Australian state that a snap lockdown will begin at 11.59pm tonight after a handful of new Covid-19 cases were reported today.

The Herald Sun (paywalled) has reported that the lockdown is now “unavoidable” with further details set to be announced shortly.

3.10pm: 18 border workers fined over missed Covid tests

Border workers who failed to get regular Covid-19 tests have been fined $300.

In total, 18 infringement notices have been issued to workers who have not complied with the “required testing order”.

The Ministry of Health’s director of public health Caroline McElnay said 269,658 tests of border workers have been undertaken since August 2020 when mandatory testing was first introduced. Overall compliance with the testing is 87%, she added.

According to the ministry, “many attempts” were made to contact the fined workers in advance of the infringements being issued.

The ministry has sent out 92 directive letters to border workers to date. In June, 52 letters were sent resulting in 29 border workers getting tested. Of the 18 who have now been issued infringement notices, five were subject to the seven day test cycle; and 13 were on the 14-day test cycle.

“Moving from monitoring to enforcement is a precautionary – but necessary – approach to keep Covid-19 out of our community,” McElnay said.

2.55pm: Australian PM denies ‘soiling himself’ in McDonald’s

In more Australian news, PM Scott Morrison has taken to national radio to deny… shitting himself in a Sydney McDonald’s back in the 90s.

The story has somehow been a long-standing urban myth about Morrison and this is not the first time he has fought back against it.

Appearing on the Kyle and Jackie O show, Morrison denied the rumoured 1997 incident ever happened.

“It is the biggest urban myth ever, it is complete and utter rubbish,” Morrison told the hosts today. “I found the whole thing incredibly amusing, I always joke about it … it is absolute and total rubbish.”

I wonder if Morrison knows about the Streisand effect.

2.20pm: Australia’s Covid worries worsen

New South Wales has recorded another 65 cases of Covid-19, with 28 infectious during their time in the community.

State premier Gladys Berejiklian told Australian media those numbers were likely to continue rising. “Based on the fact that we had 28 people infectious in the community in the last 24 hours, I am predicting that we will have higher case numbers tomorrow,” she said.

1.15pm: No new community Covid-19 cases

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 to report today, with five recorded in managed isolation. That’s in addition to the 16 cases reported onboard the Playa Zahara fishing vessel earlier today.

One previously reported case has now recovered, while another previously reported case has now been reclassified as ‘under investigation.’

The number of active cases in New Zealand is now 45.

On the Viking Bay ship, four crew members remain onboard while the additional 16 are in managed isolation in Wellington. One of those, who was transferred to MIQ yesterday after falling sick, has returned a negative test for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Playa Zahara has not yet reached its destination of Lyttelton after leaving Port Taranaki today. Whole genome sequencing is still under way t0 determine what strain of the virus those onboard have.

12.00pm: Beehive makes $2.5 billion offer to councils to support three waters proposal

Political editor Justin Giovannetti writes:

The government has added a sweetener to its three waters package, offering councils $2.5 billion as compensation for removing the country’s drinking, waste and storm waters from their balance sheets.

As currently envisioned by the Beehive, the three waters programme would remove the over 60 locally-owned water utilities from council control and transform them into four large entities covering the entire country.

For many councils, the water infrastructure they own is one of the largest items on their balance sheet. The new package isn’t a payment for the water system, the government has said, but $500 million is intended to help smooth the transition as the new entities are created. Councils will be given a further $2 billion to spend on local government and urban development.

“New Zealand’s water system is one of the country’s most significant infrastructure sectors, touching every aspect of our lives. Our communities will need to invest between $120-185 billion over the next 30 years to maintain, replace and upgrade ageing assets and to provide for growth,” local government minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.

The proposal has not been without controversy, with a number of councils considering opposition to the plan and some mayors saying outright that they won’t support it.

National leader Judith Collins has called today’s proposal a “bribe” and a sign that the programme is failing. “This entire sham exudes desperation from a government which has refused to listen to the feedback coming from councils in favour of pushing their own agenda,” said Collins.

11.30am: #FreeBritney – pop star moves to end her conservatorship

A slight diversion from Covid-19 to look at the second most important global story: #FreeBritney. 

This morning, there has been a major development in the pop star’s battle to end her conservatorship. According to the BBC, Britney Spears has been able to choose her own lawyer for the first time in 13 years. Until now, a court-appointed lawyer has represented her as she battled to remove her father from controlling her life.

Spears will now be represented by Matthew Rosengart. He is, reported Insider, a prominent “Hollywood attorney” who has represented other celebrities like Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg.

His first act in court was to request the conservatorship be ended.

At today’s court hearing, Spears reportedly broke down as she detailed life under the control of her father. “This conservatorship is literally allowing my dad to ruin my life,” she said.

“I’m here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse,” she said. “I want to press charges for abuse.”

10.25am: Playa Zahara crew confirmed to have Covid-19

Updated

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that crew onboard the Playa Zahara vessel have tested positive for Covid-19. It’s the second ship in our waters to succumb to the virus, after mariners on the Viking Bay moved into managed isolation in Wellington earlier this week.

In a statement, the ministry said 16 out of the 18 crew onboard the Spanish boat have tested positive for the virus.

“As with the Viking Bay vessel earlier this week, the public health risk from these results is considered to be low,” said a spokesperson.

“The swabs were taken in Port Taranaki on Tuesday after reports of a flu-like illness on board as a precursor to a scheduled crew change. Standard infection prevention and control protocol, including the appropriate use of PPE, was used throughout the crew’s testing.”

The ship is on its way to Lyttelton after departing Port Taranaki this morning. “Health authorities are working on arrangements for the crew once they arrive at Lyttelton Port. This includes whether they quarantine aboard the ship or are transferred to a quarantine facility on shore. If any confirmed cases are to be transferred, that will also be done using standard IPC protocol.”

At this stage, the variant of the virus has not yet been confirmed but the ministry said whole genome sequencing is under way. The Covid-positive crew of the Viking Bay were confirmed to have the delta strain earlier this week.

10.00am: Good riddance

9.35am: Dawn Raids apology rescheduled

The apology for the Dawn Raids has been rescheduled.

The event was meant to take place late last month but was postponed due to the rise in alert levels in Wellington.

It will now be held at the Auckland Town Hall on the afternoon of August 1.

9.15am: Top 20 Shortlist for APRA Silver Scroll Award 2021 Revealed

Sam Brooks writes:

The top 20 shortlist has been revealed for this year’s edition of the APRA Silver Scroll, along with the shortlist for the APRA Maioha Award, which recognises contemporary Māori songwriters and honours composers telling stories in the reo.

The judging panel included Anti Sami (She’s So Rad), Finn Andrews (The Veils), Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins), Marika Hodgson, Natalia Sheppard (MC Tali), Phil Bell (DJ Sir-Very), Sarena Close (Mousey), Sean Donnelly (SJD), Tom Scott (Avantdale Bowling Club) and Tyna Keelan.

The Maioha Award judges were Matai Smith, Nadia Marsh, Ngatapa Black and Pere Wihongi.

The shortlists are as follows:

  • ‘All Your Ships Have Sailed,’ written and performed by Troy Kingi
  • ‘Anna (On My Life)’, written and performed by Adam Tukiri and Rizván Tu’itahi
  • ‘BATHSALTS’, written by Clark Mathews, Daniel Vernon, Christan Pianta, Hakopa Kuka-Larsen, performed by DARTZ
  • ‘Brains’, written by Madeline Bradley, performed by deryk
  • ‘Broken Chains,’ written by Tyree Tautogia, Sidney Diamond, Fred Fa’afou, Ché Ness, Willie Tafa, Solo Tohi, Wasim A. Hussain, Darryl Thompson, Angus McNaughton, performed by Smashproof
  • ‘Don’t Run’, written by Sid Diamond and Nathan King, performed by Sid Diamond
  • ‘Dragon Fruit (Feat. Louis Baker)’, written by Tony Sihamau, Lance Fepuleai, Harry Huavi, Louis Baker, performed by Team Dynamite featuring Louis Baker
  • ‘Guilty Love’, written by Phillipa Brown, Georgia Nott, Tommy English, performed by Ladyhawke and Broods
  • ‘Hey Mom’, written and performed by Reb Fountain
  • ‘Hiwa-i-te-rangi’, written by Maisey Rika, Callum Rei McDougall, Chris Chetland, performed by Maisey Rika
  • ‘Jump Rope Gazers’, written by Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, Tristan Deck, performed by The Beths
  • ‘Laps Around The Sun’, written by Mark Perkins, performed by Merk (Published by Native Tongue Music Publishing)
  • ‘Leave Love Out Of This’, written by Anthonie Tonnon and Jonathan Pearce, performed by Anthonie Tonnon
  • ‘Lightswitch’, written by Mona Sanei and Frank Eliesa, performed by CHAII
  • ‘No Flowers’, written by Dallas Tamaira and Devin Abrams, performed by Dallas Tamaira
  • ‘Periphescence’, written by Daniel McBride, performed by Sheep, Dog & Wolf
  • ‘Stand In’, written by Deva Mahal and Aaron Livingston, performed by Deva Mahal
  • ‘Tangaroa’, written by Henry de Jong, Lewis de Jong, Ethan Trembath and Niel de Jong, performed by Alien Weaponry
  • ‘Turangawaewae’, written by Stephen Harmer, Maisey Rika, Troy Kingi, Tenei Kesha (10A), performed by Tipene, Troy Kingi, and Maisey Rika.
  • ‘Your Deodorant Doesn’t Work’, written by Stephanie Brown, James Fenimore Ikner, performed by LipsAND‘He Aio’, written by Hamiora Tuari, Matthew Sadgrove, Sam Eriwata, and Tei Nohotima, performed by Haami
  • ‘Karawhiua’, written by Logan Bell, Matthew Sadgrove, Stephen Maxwell, translated by Paraone Gloyne, performed by Katchafire (Published by Loop Publishing | Kobalt Music Publishing Australia)
  • ‘Te Pū’, written by Tame-Hoake Tuari, Tatana Tuari, Hamiora Tuari, and Sam Eriwata, performed by Tuari Brothers
  • ‘Toroa’, written by Mara Te Kahika and Cory Champion, performed by Mara TK
  • ’Waitī Waitā’, written by Maisey Rika and Seth Haapu, performed by Maisey Rika.

Both awards will be presented at a ceremony at Spark Arena on Thursday 14th October, which will also feature presentations of SOUNZ Contemporary Award Te Tohu Auaha, APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award, APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award and 2021’s NZ Music Hall of Fame Induction.

8.00am: No decision yet on whether to shut off Melbourne travel bubble

No decision has been made on whether to pause quarantine-free travel with Victoria.

The state yesterday recorded a handful of new Covid-19 cases, with links to the delta variant spreading across New South Wales. In a statement last night, the Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins issued a warning to New Zealanders holidaying in Melbourne: “get home as soon as possible”.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Hipkins added the government had not yet decided whether to shut off the travel link with Melbourne.

“We keep the evidence under review so we’re getting updates every couple of hours from our Melbourne counterparts,” he said.

At this stage, it was entirely possible the bubble would continue. “A pause is possible… but we don’t have enough information to say if it’s probable,” added Hipkins.

People who are currently in New South Wales could be forced to wait there for “months” before being able to secure a flight home.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The Reserve Bank has left the official cash rate unchanged, but quite a bit happened at yesterday’s announcement that is worth unpacking. Specifically, it now seems overwhelmingly likely that we will see the OCR go up before the end of the year. And as the NZ Herald reports, the “money-printing” stimulus (or Large Scale Asset Purchase programme) will come to an end. With the overall settings, there is seen to be a big risk of inflation cranking up beyond the Reserve Bank’s targets – some figures on the cost of living are due out on Friday, and will be closely watched.

What are we to make of the reaction? There was a useful analysis piece by Interest’s David Hargreaves, who noted both the RBNZ and bank economists are swinging to a more “hawkish” position – i.e, that rates will be raised sooner than previously forecast. “What you can say is that the RBNZ has not just cleared the table for a rise, but has sent the cutlery flying with the speed it has whisked the table cloth off.” In a curious bit of timing, before the announcement both ASB and Kiwibank lifted their term deposit rates, with ASB also lifting their mortgage rate. These aren’t directly tied as such to the OCR, but are strongly influenced by it, so it acts as another signal the banks expect the OCR to go up.

On the LSAP programme, a major criticism of it has been that it heavily juiced asset prices, particularly in the housing market. And the effects of that may be being seen in how homeowners are feeling right now. As Business Desk’s (paywalled) Dan Brunskill reports, they’ve told a Kiwi Wealth survey they’re feeling rather wealthy and economically confident right now. That’s good for them, but given we also know price inflation is hitting those with less harder, it won’t be a nationwide sentiment.


Words matter a lot in foreign policy, and in a major speech yesterday PM Ardern used the sort of wording that more closely aligns NZ with the US. Stuff reports the specific term that jumped out was “Indo-Pacific”, to describe the general region of the world we’re at the southern end of, though Ardern stressed that it wasn’t intended to be understood as exclusionary of China. Politik (paywalled) also noted a speech to the conference by senior US diplomat Kurt Campbell, describing the vibe that came out of it as a close friendship between the US and NZ, rather than an alliance.




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